Tony Piel reports:
The Mueller Report is now available at your favorite bookstore as published by Skyhorse Publishing (2019). Liz and I purchased it at Barnes and Noble for $12, for the sole purpose of having access to the exact words and findings of the Mueller Report.
The only hesitancy I had about buying this particular book version of the Mueller Report was the fact that it is "introduced" by Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus of the Harvard Law School. After the "Introduction," you have to go to page 38 to start the actual (if still "redacted") Mueller Report.
Why is this important ? Because the "average" reader will probably be snowed under by the legalistic language, detracting and misleading statements up front by Professor Dershowitz and by Trump's appointee Attorney General William Barr. How so ? The Dershowitz "Introduction" concludes quite simply:
"The report is a complete exoneration" of Donald Trump, and therefore "We should put the allegation to rest both as a legal and factual matter."
We all know, or should know by now, that this statement of "complete exoneration" by the Mueller Report is utterly false. If the casual reader swallows the Dershowitz "Introduction," then why bother to read the actual report, which begins on page 38 ? If Trump is completely exonerated, why read further?
Oddly, there is no mention of who put the book together. Who decided to give first place to Dershowitz, followed by Barr, before getting to what the Mueller team actually wrote ? Did some partisan group want to get the report out first, precisely to undercut it ? Does Dershowitz not read or speak plain English ? Too many lunches at Mar-a-Lago ? Would you want to send your child or grandchild to Harvard at the risk of being taught, judged and graded by the likes of Dershowitz? I don't think so.
See, what did I tell you?
Up to 200,000 uninsured people may soon have access to a medication that prevents the transmission of HIV.
The Trump administration announced on Twitter that health officials have worked with the biotechnology company Gilead, which developed the drug Truvada or PrEP (pre-exposure prophalaxis), to secure a donation of the medication, CNN reports.
Tony Piel reminisces:
Anyone interested in understanding where our nation is headed internationally under the leadership of President Donald Trump, with the influence and incitement of his National Security Adviser, John Bolton, will do well to read Dexter Filkin's "On the Warpath" in the May 6, 2019 issue of The New Yorker.
I had the occasion to meet with John Bolton when he visited the World Health Organization back in the 1990s, intending to straighten us out for promoting international cooperation to control malaria and other communicable diseases. Bolton's view was that international collaboration and agencies like the UN, UNICEF and WHO were unneeded and wasteful. All that was needed, said Bolton, was for "the US to take the leadership, and have all the other countries just to fall in line."
In the first thirty seconds, I could see we were talking with an arrogant, born "Neo-Dictator," defined as an unalterable opponent of social democracy, one who seeks to employ a violent ideology to promote disunity and create a "Me First" political state, to rule America, and indeed the rest of the world. As National Security Adviser he had no respect for diplomacy, and faced with enemies abroad, Bolton would bomb first. (No matter that, like Cheney and Trump, Bolton dodged the Vietnam war draft. He didn't want to "die in a swamp." That's for other people.)
"On the Warpath" confirms our initial impression of Bolton, and probably yours too. To pick a single example: Bolton once made an impromptu entry to the office of Jose Bustani, then heading the US involvement in the International Convention to Ban Chemical Weapons, and demanded that Bustani resign. Why ? Because, said Bolton, the job was NOT to ban chemical weapons, but to ban the ban! Sure enough, the White House cut short Bustani's term. Result? Last year Bustani was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Trump wasn't.)
Trump's extreme unpredictability combined with Bolton's extreme predictability makes for a highly combustible mixture, with serious future risk of chemical and nuclear disaster for our country and the entire world. The choice is between War and Peace. It couldn't be clearer.
From the last interview given by novelist Philip Roth, who died last year:
No one I know of has foreseen an America like the one we live in today. No one (except perhaps the acidic H.L. Mencken, who famously described American democracy as “the worship of jackals by jackasses”) could have imagined that the 21st-century catastrophe to befall the USA, the most debasing of disasters, would appear not, say, in the terrifying guise of an Orwellian Big Brother but in the ominously ridiculous commedia dell’arte figure of the boastful buffoon. How naïve I was in 1960 to think that I was an American living in preposterous times! How quaint! But then what could I know in 1960 of 1963 or 1968 or 1974 or 2001 or 2016?
From Fat Donny’s fake autobiography, The Art of the Deal, available at all fine bookstores:
Instead, Conrad Hilton used his will to disenfranchise his children and grandchildren. At the time of his death, Conrad’s stock in Hilton was worth perhaps $500 million. But Conrad believed very strongly that inherited wealth destroys moral character and motivation. I happen to believe that it often does.
Anthony Piel writes:
President Donald J. Trump filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Manhattan this week, aimed at blocking Deutsche Bank from turning over Trump's personal and corporate business and tax records in response to a "friendly subpoena" by the US Congress. Here's the How, What, and Why.
Over two decades Trump has borrowed billions of dollars from. Deutsche Bank (DB) because he could no longer get it from American banks. How did DB get this kind of money ? When the Soviet Union collapsed back in 1991, a clique of "oligarchs," led by former KGB agent Vladimir Putin, took over all formerly State-owned assets (mineral reserves, manufacturing facilities) and sold them back and forth among themselves at ridiculous prices.
But then, to conceal all this from the "ordinary" Russian people, the "oligarchs" had to transfer billions abroad via secretive tax havens, disguised "investments," and, oh yes, DB. However, DB couldn't cook up enough legitimate business lending to match the excessive "oligarch's" deposits.
And then along came the Trump and Kushner families and organizations with the opposite problem: not enough cash to cover mounting debts and mortgage payments for their various towers, hotels, skyscrapers, failed casinos, failed university and other fiascos. A perfect match made in heaven (or hell).
For years the Trumps and Kushners engaged in (and are still doing it) a wide range of business fraud and tax evasion. For example: They dipped into a federal EB-5 program for rural development and stole millions of dollars for personal use and to defer mortgage payments in their urban developments — exactly what the law was NOT intended to do. For background on the hundreds of criminal scams, fraudulent tax-evasion schemes committed by the Kushners and Trumps, see Vicky Ward's "Kushner, Inc. — Greed, Ambition, Corruption," (St. Martin's Press, 2019).
Little wonder. Trump is absolutely, insanely opposed to disclosure of the truth.
…since Joe Biden flunked it so spectacularly way back when, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. From the New York Times of October 11, 1991:
In a telephone interview Wednesday night, Mr. Biden made it clear that he viewed the problem before him as how to walk the fine line between guaranteeing that a person who sexually harassed a colleague did not acquire a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court and fairly treating both Mr. Thomas and Ms. Hill.Really? Consider this then:
"I must start off with a presumption of giving the person accused the benefit of the doubt," he said. "I must seek the truth and I must ask straightforward and tough questions and in my heart I know if that woman is telling the truth it will be almost unfair to her. On the other hand, if I don't ask legitimate questions, then I am doing a great injustice to someone who might be totally innocent. It's a horrible dilemma because you have two lives at stake here."
…Mr. Biden told reporters today that if he had to conduct the hearings again, he would not change the decisions he made.
Nearly two decades after Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his fractious Supreme Court confirmation hearing, it remains unclear who was lying… Lillian McEwen, a retired administrative law judge who said she dated Clarence Thomas from 1979 through the mid-1980s, told The Washington Post: “The Clarence I know was certainly capable of not only doing the things that Anita Hill said he did, but it would be totally consistent with the way he lived his personal life then…”And at least two other women waited in the wings to testify against Judge Thomas, but Biden never called them. Not that they would have been needed actually. Not in a fair trial.
Anybody with an ounce of common sense had to know that the liar in the room was not Anita Hill. And no senator could have believed Clarence Thomas for a minute. The judge, after all, had flat-out flunked the Pubic Hair Test, which was first described in the literature by me in January of 2001 and which I now repost as a public service:
Fans of political theater will recall that Professor Anita Hill had charged her former boss with a pattern of sexual harassment which included showing her a Coke can with a pubic hair sticking to it. Judge Thomas swore that he had never in his life done such an ungentlemanly thing.
How could we, the millions of spectators at this morality play, know what to think? Was it the future Supreme Court justice who was telling the truth, or was it the demure law professor? How could anybody possibly know? Could common sense help, maybe?
Was there anything in Professor Hill’s much-investigated background to suggest that she was a pathological liar? Even if she was, why would she had come up with such a peculiar lie? Did she suffer from hallucinations? Was she “creative?” Perhaps even an aspiring screen writer?
But even if she were, why would she have dreamed up such an unlikely scenario? Would the Coke can business be more destructive to her presumed harasser than any other lie she could just as easily have dreamed up?
No to the first question. Professor Hill seemed depressingly literal and humorless. It was hard to imagine her engaged in a flight of fancy. And no to the second. The tale of the pubic hair and the Coke can was so meaningless and bizarre that even the most simple-minded of senators would have realized that it was too weird not to be true. A competent liar would have stuck to such old standbys as indecent exposure, groping, and dirty pictures.
The Pubic Hair Test therefore indicated with zero probability of error that this particular woman could not and did not invent such a senseless, incomprehensible story. It had to be true.
God knows whose pubic hair that was, or what the future Supreme Court justice thought its presence on a Coke can signified, or what made him imagine that his weird performance might be seductive, but the incident plainly happened pretty much the way Professor Hill said it did.
Well, TAKE THIS, Grease!!!!@realDonaldTrump
In the United States, about 55 percent of adults said they had experienced stress during “a lot of the day” prior, compared with just 35 percent globally. Statistically, that put the country on par with Greece, which had led the rankings on stress since 2012.
Here are excerpts from a recent Sunday school lesson taught by Jimmy Carter, the only president in our lifetimes to have taken seriously the Fifth Commandment. Had he been willing to kill in order to free the American hostages in Iran Carter would have been a two-term president.
“The United States is the most warlike nation in the history of the world… Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody? None, and we have stayed at war… We have wasted, I think, $3 trillion on military spending. It’s more than you can imagine. China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they’re ahead of us. In almost every way…
“And I think the difference is if you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure you’d probably have $2 trillion leftover. We’d have high-speed railroad. We’d have bridges that aren’t collapsing, we’d have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of say South Korea or Hong Kong.”
…said this at a dog and pony show in South Carolina for GOP presidential hopefuls:
There’s a strong tradition of being anti-war in the Republican party. It is the constitutional position. It is the advice of the Founders to follow a non-interventionist foreign policy, stay out of entangling alliances, be friends with countries, negotiate and talk with them and trade with them.
Q: Congressman, you don’t think that changed with the 9/11 attacks, sir?
No. Non-intervention was a major contributing factor. Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we’ve been over there; we’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years.
We don’t understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we’re building an embassy in Iraq that’s bigger than the Vatican. We’re building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. (Applause.)
Q: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attack, sir?
I’m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we’re over there because Osama bin Laden has said, “I am glad you’re over on our sand because we can target you so much easier.” They have already now since that time killed 3,400 of our men, and I don’t think it was necessary.
I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem.
They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free.They come and they attack us because we’re over there.
I mean, what would we think if other foreign countries were doing that to us?
This is the only time I can remember that any remotely serious presidential candidate, of either major party, has even posed the basic question that Osama bin Laden once suggested that we ask ourselves: Why didn’t his men attack Stockholm?
Asking it at last was Ron Paul, an obstetrician who at the time — 2007 — was an obscure Texas congressman from Tom DeLay’s old district.
…he is still us:
Lately I have been re-reading the history of my own times, and it turns out to be a discouraging exercise. Even a frightening one.The excerpt below is from a 1968 essay by the great I.F. Stone in the New York Review. Substitute the “War” on Terror, switch the names of the politicians as appropriate and the piece could run almost unchanged today. We’ve come a long way, baby — only in a circle. Stone had the 2016 election figured out a half century ago:The average man approaches the problem of war with simple reactions of anxiety and threatened virility thousands of years old. There is a strong movement for peace, but there is also a strong contingent of cavemen among us, and it is hard to see which is the majority; the same people often belong to both categories. Reagan and Wallace speak for large constituencies, too. In Vietnam as in Korea the Democrats have kept the wars limited while Reagan, like MacArthur before him, speaks for a Republican right wing which thinks the whole business can be ended in no more time than it takes to go from the 17th to the 18th hole by dropping a bomb on Peking and another on Moscow.
The two urgent issues are the Vietnamese war and the black revolt. Both require solutions for which we are poorly conditioned. One is to give way in Vietnam to a communist, though also nationalist, tide. The other is to deal with the aspiration of the blacks, the other poor, which can only be met by fundamental changes, a real redistribution of income from haves to have-nots, and an intervention of the state deeper and more far-reaching than anything America has ever known before. The only party less prepared for this than the Democrats, though not much less so, is the Republican Party.
The issues, however, are beyond that unspoken ideological consensus within which the two-party system operates. The Democratic Party, unlike the Republican, has some legitimate claim to being the party of “the people.” But the people for whom it speaks turn out on closer examination to be middle-class owners of property, white-collar workers, or the organized working class.
The urban and rural poor, and all but the thin upper strata of the blacks and our other “colored” minorities, are not really a part of its constituency. They are outside “the people” in whose name it claims to speak. Unfortunately for revolutionary theorists, the more fortunate, those with something to lose, are the overwhelming majority. The poor, white and black, are but a lower fifth of the population. Should the Democratic Party move too far in the direction of taking them in, and serving their interests, it is likely to lose much of its white skilled worker followers to the Republican party. It is this which makes the Democratic Party look so unsatisfactory to the black radicals and the new left, purveyor of half measures rather than fundamental change. But in this the party faithfully reflects a majority constituency, and in this sense it is truly representative.
The new radicals generally are unwilling to face up to this reality. They prefer to believe that there is something wrong with the party, or with something called “the system,” or that society is sick, rather than admit that what they are revolting against is the majority itself. To admit that would be too difficult and too untactful a break with the dominant ideology of democracy. Black nationalist separatism is fantasy based on despair but in one respect is more realistic than the New Left, for in proposing separation it recognizes that what it is combating is the white majority and not some clique, conspiracy, or perverse ruling elite which has somehow led “the people” astray.
In a democratic society it is always assumed that the people are good, as in theology it is always assumed that God is good. Evil is an accident, or the work of the devil. When large numbers of ordinary men commit some outrage against humanity, it is tacitly assumed that somehow they are not part of “the people." That myth, the Common Man, is the theoretical sovereign of democratic society, and when he turns up in a racist mob or a typical veterans organization, ideology literally turns off our vision. Democratic political stereotypes remain stalwartly non- and pre-Freudian because you can't win elections by telling voters that they themselves are at fault. It is easier to let them off the hook by blaming some abstraction. Adam’s sins are still attributed to some serpent which crept into the garden.
It is the nature of the white majority, and of man, that brings the two-party system to the verge of breakdown when faced with the need to swallow a military defeat and to tax the whites for the benefit of blacks. The danger is that the white majority may choose instead to follow a simplistic demagogy which advocates as the way out a get-tough policy at home and abroad. Against that darkening a backdrop, McCarthy is a wan hope.
“Little Pencil-Neck Adam Schiff,” Trump said, prompting boos from the crowd. “He has the smallest, thinnest neck I have ever seen. He is not a long-ball hitter. But I saw him today — ‘well, we don’t really know, there could still have been some Russia collusion.’ Sick. Sick. These are sick people.”
From Beard’s Basic History of the United States, on the election of the Republican Herbert Hoover in 1928:
Gross inequalities in the distribution of wealth, long the subject of populist, progressive, and socialistic criticism, Hoover had frankly faced, to the alarm of conservatives, and he proposed to attack them by the use of the inheritance tax. The inheritance tax, he declared in 1919, “does redistribute overswollen fortunes. It does make for equality of opportunity by freeing from the dead hand control of our tools of production. It reduces extravagance in the next generation and sends them to productive service.” To Republicans who had assailed the income tax of 1894 as communistic that must have sounded like treason to the Grand Old Party; and to scholastic economists, a foolish flouting of “natural law.”
…Trump plagiarized after his crushing 2020 defeat.
William Holden in Sunset Boulevard:
“You're Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.”
“I am big! It's the pictures that got small."
Gov. Matt Bevin (R-KY) told WKCT radio on Tuesday that he opposes mandating vaccines to send children to school — and as evidence that there are alternatives, explained that he had deliberately infected his children with chickenpox.
Bevin, who has nine kids including four who were adopted, explained that after contracting the virus, they were “miserable for a few days” but “they all turned out fine.”
Found in my files, but timeless:
August 8, 1997, Washington Post story on medicare fraud... Billions are taken, all by prosperous and (to take a wild guess) Republican folks. Dwarfing not only all welfare fraud but, perhaps, all welfare. Turns out it was childishly easy to defraud Medicare. No doubt investigation would show that the Republicans and Republicrats were behind efforts to cut enforcement in this area, as in so many others.
Conservatives are hell on wheels for law enforcement in those areas where the laws are broken by the poor, such as dope and street crime. But they consistently oppose hiring more cops when the request comes from HHS, IRS, EPA, NLRB, SEC, and so forth. Which is to say in those much more lucrative areas of crimes which are largely committed by Republicrats themselves. In those cases it becomes not law enforcement but government interference.
Graft, Corruption and Malfeasance | Regulation for the Benefit of Public Health, Safety and Welfare | Republicans
From Jill Lapore’s excellent history of the United States, These Truths:
Hoover set to work with his customary businessman’s briskness. He had a telephone installed on his desk in the Oval Office. He scheduled his appointments at eight-minute intervals. He began reorganizing the federal government. “Back to the mines,” he’d say, after a 15-minute lunch break.
…his mouth was open. From Axios:
Republican donors in attendance called it one of Trump's weirdest lies ever. On Friday night, under a tent erected over the pool at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, President Trump claimed the media were spreading "fake news" when they said he called the CEO of Apple "Tim Apple."
Trump told the donors that he actually said "Tim Cook Apple" really fast, and the "Cook" part of the sentence was soft. But all you heard from the "fake news," he said, was "Tim Apple."
Two donors who were there told me they couldn't understand why the president would make such a claim given the whole thing is captured on video. Nobody cared, they said, and Tim Cook took it in good humor by changing his Twitter profile to Tim Apple.
"I just thought, why would you lie about that," one of the donors told me.
From the Institute for Policy Studies, the full transcript of remarks the GOP is using to demonstrate Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s hideous anti-semitism. Enjoy.I know that I have a huge Jewish constituency, and you know, every time I meet with them they share stories of [the] safety and sanctuary that they would love for the people of Israel, and most of the time when we’re having the conversation, there is no actual relative that they speak of, and there still is lots of emotion that comes through because it’s family, right? Like my children still speak of Somalia with passion and compassion even though they don’t have a family member there.
But we never really allow space for the stories of Palestinians seeking safety and sanctuary to be uplifted. And to me, it is the dehumanization and the silencing of a particular pain and suffering of people, should not be ok and normal. And you can’t be in the practice of humanizing and uplifting the suffering of one, if you’re not willing to do that for everyone. And so for me I know that when I hear my Jewish constituents or friends or colleagues speak about Palestinians who don’t want safety, or Palestinians who aren’t deserving I stay focused on the actual debate about what that process should look like. I never go to the dark place of saying “here’s a Jewish person, they’re talking about Palestinians, Palestinians are Muslim, maybe they’re Islamophobic.” I never allow myself to go there because I don’t have to.…Read on
Andrew Sullivan has an equally useful (and convincing) piece on the whole overblown “anti-semitic” battle of words referenced in my previous post.
Go read it here. Please.
Here, from FlaglerLive, is a sample from the best and most informative piece on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s “anti-semitism” that I’ve come across:
Like most American Jewish youth, I grew up knowing Israel. During holidays, I sang prayers about Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel. In Hebrew school, I learned about the country’s culture, its cities, its past prime ministers. At my Jewish summer camp, we started every day with the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah.
My image of Israel was a rosy one. When I finally visited it in college, I was spellbound by the lush landscapes and sparkling cities, certain I would one day move to this golden ancestral home myself…
I haven’t been paying close enough attention to see if Trump is one of them, but many successful politicians say things like, “Bob Dole doesn’t run negative campaigns.” This peculiar use of the Royal He is also common among serial killers. The Boston Strangler and Ted Bundy habitually used the third person when describing their murders to police. They saw themselves as witnesses to their crimes, as uninvolved observers. Spectators rather than actors, and how can you blame the audience for the play?
…explains The New York Times today. I found this paragraph deeply disturbing:
Trump is an entertainer and an agitator, which Graham says he can relate to, in a way. “The point with Trump is, he’s in on the joke,” Graham said. I asked Graham if he is in on the joke, too. “Oh, 100 percent, 100 percent.” He laughed. “Oh, people have no idea.” I asked him to explain the joke to me. “If you could go to dinner with us. … ” he said, shaking his head.This seems to mean that Trump knows perfectly well, for example, that his “wall” is useless and impossible. He and Graham giggle privately over the thought that anybody could be so stupid as to swallow such nonsense: Jesus, Lindsey, all you got to do is holler nigger and spic loud enough and you can make these morons believe any shit you want.
Somehow, and I know how irrational this is, I’d feel better if I thought that Graham and Trump believed their own shit.
From The Associated Press:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The ecstatic sailor shown kissing a woman in Times Square celebrating the end of World War II died Sunday. George Mendonsa was 95…
Friedman said in a 2005 interview with the Veterans History Project that it wasn’t her choice to be kissed. “The guy just came over and kissed or grabbed,” she told the Library of Congress…“It was just somebody really celebrating. But it wasn’t a romantic event.”
The other day our so-called “president” lurched from his customary verbal ramblings down into total, baffling incoherence. He seemed to have poured those “best words” of his into a pot and stirred the resulting mess with his eyes closed. You’ve heard snippets on TV (one is below), but I urge you to puzzle your way through the whole transcript. And be afraid. Be very afraid.
They say walls don’t work. Walls work 100 percent. Whether it’s El Paso — I really was smiling, because the other night I was in El Paso — we had a tremendous crowd, and — tremendous crowd. And I asked the people — many of whom were from El Paso, but they came from all over Texas. And I asked them. I said, “Let me ask you, as a crowd: When the wall went up, was it better?” You were there, some of you. It was not only better; it was like 100 percent better. You know what they did.
But that’s only one example. There are so many examples. In El Paso, they have close to 2,000 murders right on the other side of the wall. And they had 23 murders. It’s a lot of murders, but it’s not close to 2,000 murders right on the other side of the wall, in Mexico.
So everyone knows that walls work. And there are better examples than El Paso, frankly. You just take a look. Almost everywhere. Take a look at Israel. They’re building another wall. Their wall is 99.9 percent effective, they told me — 99.9 percent. That’s what it would be with us, too.
The only weakness is they go to a wall and then they go around the wall. They go around the wall and in. Okay? That’s what it is. It’s very simple. And a big majority of the big drugs — the big drug loads — don’t go through ports of entry. They can’t go through ports of entry. You can’t take big loads because you have people — we have some very capable people; the Border Patrol, law enforcement — looking.
You can’t take human traffic — women and girls — you can’t take them through ports of entry. You can’t have them tied up in the backseat of a car or a truck or a van. They open the door. They look. They can’t see three women with tape on their mouth or three women whose hands are tied.
…and Dick Cheney, of course, is free at the moment. From the New York Times:
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka, intent on reviving the death penalty after a 42-year moratorium, first has to find a hangman.
To that end, the government has placed advertisements in local newspapers, seeking male candidates between 18 and 45 years old with “excellent moral character” and “a very good mind and mental strength.”
This piece of mine ran in the New York Times of Sept. 20, 1973. Change a name or two ––Yemen for Cambodia, say –– and it could run tomorrow. After all, we still bother:
WEST CORNWALL, Conn. — The Pentagon's most recent lies about bombing Cambodia bring back a question that often occurred to me when I was press attaché at the American Embassy in Vientiane, Laos.
Why did we bother to lie?
When I first arrived in Laos, I was instructed to answer all press questions about our massive and merciless bombing campaign in that tiny country with: “At the request of the Royal Laotian Government, the United States Is conducting unarmed reconnaissance flights accompanied by armed escorts who have the right to return fire if fired upon.”
This was a lie. Every reporter to whom I told it knew it was a lie. The Communist Pathet Lao knew it was a lie. Hanoi knew it was a lie. The International Control Commission knew it was a lie. Every interested Congressman and newspaper reader knew it was a lie.....
This from Truthout:
In 1920, Davenport wrote to Madison Grant, a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History, and a fellow eugenicist: “Can we build a wall high enough around this country … so as to keep out these cheaper races, or will it be a feeble dam … leaving it to our descendants to abandon the country to the blacks, browns and yellows.”
Such a remark needs to be understood within the history of eugenics. Davenport’s suggestion here wasn’t merely a comment about a physical structure. It was a suggestion that stemmed from a eugenic worldview that the “unfit” were taking over the nation and putting in jeopardy the survival of the “fit.” Immigration policy wasn’t enough. Even forcefully sterilizing thousands wasn’t enough. To keep out the “unfit,” the nation needed a structure that signified that “defectives” from “shit-hole countries” were not welcome.
In our present moment, Trump’s perpetual insistence to build a wall mirrors these ideas. Indeed, according to this mindset, a wall must be built to “keep out these cheaper races,” lest the country be abandoned “to the blacks, browns, and yellows.” To understand the gravitas of such a claim, we must place Trump’s xenophobia in the context of a nation that, for decades, advocated for similar policies while sterilizing those deemed “unfit” within its borders.
From These Truths, by Jill Lepore:
Before the Civil War, however, the federal government raised revenue and regulated commerce almost exclusively through tariffs … tariffs appeared to place the burden of taxation on merchants, which appealed to Jefferson. “We are are all the more reconciled to the tax on importations,” Jefferson explained, “because it falls exclusively on the rich.” The promise of America, Jefferson thought, was that “the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone.”
I really just don’t care about the Super Bowl. I don’t care about it any more than I care that Testiculus Maximus beat Biggest Dickus in the Roman Coliseum in 90 A.D. It’s just one more empty reality TV show, and it’s so sickeningly drenched in commercialism and military worship you feel like you need to take a shower afterwards.
Go on YouTube and find clips from any Super Bowl from, say, the seventies and eighties, and compare them to the hypertrophied cartoon spectacle you’ll see today. They’re low-key and down-to-earth. They’re actually about the game, not the effing Tostidos commercial at half time or the tedious personal mini-dramas involving this or that player. The announcers, for the most part, didn’t come across like the three loudest, most obnoxious salesmen on the lot, jostling and elbowing past each other to get in the last word. The screen wasn’t cluttered with graphics. It was just a football game, a big one, but just a game. Go figure.
P.S. I’ve been living in self-imposed exile in the Arctic for the last seven months, hence my silence on the blogs. I wanted to get as far away from civilization as I could while remaining in the United States. I wound up in Barrow, Alaska, where I teach U.S. government to indifferent Eskimo kids. Oh, well. It’s a living, a weird one, but a living (teachers do quite well up here because of the, uh, challenges of the job, to put it mildly.) I’ll provide the gritty details in a future post. Do tell your climate denying friends that while its freakishly cold down there, it’s unusually warm here. The average temperature in Barrow, Alaska in February is minus 30. Last Monday it was 28 degrees. Today it is 15, and the highs are forecast to be above zero all week.