“Is there in all republics this inherent and fatal weakness? Must a government of necessity be too strong for the liberties of its people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?” – Abraham Lincoln, July 4, 1861
“Mr. Lincoln never did get a direct answer to his question, nor did he really need one. He…answered it himself (in the course of his Presidency), and his answer was this: that in all republics there is not this inherent and fatal weakness, that a democratic, constitutional government beset by a severe national emergency can be strong enough to maintain its own existence without at the same time being so strong as to subvert the liberties of the people it has been instituted to defend.” – Clinton Rossiter, Constitutional Dictatorship: Crisis Government in the Modern Democracies, (1919-1933), 1948
“I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts. These are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.” – Judge Learned Hand, 1944
“Coercion…by force as well as persuasion…needs fanatical faith to rationalize our cowardice.” – Eric Hoffer
“When the white man turns tyrant, it is his own freedom that he destroys.” George Orwell, 1936
“‘All too many men still seem to believe’ she (Shere Hite) said in 2011, ‘that what feels good to them is automatically what feels good to women.’” – THE WEEK, 9/25/20
“The real cause of the (Peloponnesian) war was not this or that trivial disturbance…or the like. It was something far beneath the surface, deep down in human nature, and the cause of all the wars ever fought. The motive power was greed, that strange passion for power and possession which no power and no possession satisfy. Power, Thucydides wrote, or its equivalent wealth, created the desire for more power and more wealth.” – Edith Hamilton
“The right to vote. The right to an education. The right to life and liberation. Students and educators are at the forefront of these fights–and they always have been.” – “Teaching Tolerance,” Southern Poverty Law Center, Montgomery, AL, Fall, 2020
“Step up and shake the hand, of someone you can’t stand.” – Tom Lehrer
Because we elected a garbage mouth for Commander-In-Chief four years ago, we, and the rest of the world, were obliged to watch one of the necessary steps in America’s raucous efforts at sewage disposal in the first Presidential Debate in Cleveland, OH last night. Embarrassing? Yes. But, not yet a civil war, despite President Trump’s best efforts to ignite one in order to forestall an electoral defeat that, even he, knows is coming at the polls on November 3rd. America’s tax dodging Nero fiddles with the integrity of Articles II & III of the Constitution. Majority Leader Moscow Mitch McConnell (R-KY) burns Senate civility and Republican Party integrity to the ground for the sake of one more reactionary Justice to help him and his greedy plutocrats stifle Earth’s “last, best hope.” Covid-19 and climate change burn and flood their way around the “Big Blue Marble.” However, despite natural disasters and unnatural hatreds of a few old men and myopic women against fairness, liberty and justice for all, there is cause for optimism.
With long, long lines of men and women of all ages and colors casting their votes early, John Lewis’s “good trouble” is about to sorely afflict the “bad trouble” of all would be King’s horses in the White House and would be Emperor’s men in the Kremlin, Istanbul and Riyadh. If Russia’s rock group “Pussy Riot” took heart from 1968 in the U.S.A., they are going to love 2020/21 in the “land of the (oft confused) free, and home of the (oft betrayed) brave.”
One of the encouraging signs in the determination of many white Americans to rid themselves of Donald Trump in 2020, are individual and collective demonstrations that a critical majority of these folks finally believe that black lives matter as much as their own. Obviously, such a resolution has been due for 400 years. That it was going to happen at all, was not obvious, until police sponsored homicides (or any term, you care to use) of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor brought crises of conscience for heretofore, unconscious bystanders. This newly turned leaf promises to put the “All” into Thomas Jefferson’s “All (Women and) Men Are Created Equal.”
America’s crusades for freedom in World Wars I and II lacked total sincerity, simply because the U. S. still practiced Jim Crow, Segregation, and “Law and Order” as cover for putting people of color in prison or behind the 8 Ball. Since 1945, public and private health, real wages, physical and environmental security for all of us, regardless of color, continue to lag well behind the rest of the industrialized world Americans had fought and died to free in hot and cold wars well into the 21st Century. Brave ones fallen in those causes need not be faulted. Nor can blame be found “in the stars.” It’s been our bull headed, collective American commitment to racial and gender injustice that has been holding us back all along. I needed advice from my KGB animal friends.
High Plains Reader: Dear Friends. On February 20, 1933, 24 German industrial tycoons (Gustav Krupp, Hugo Stinnes Jr.,etc.) agreed to back Adolf Hitler and the Nazis with their enormous financial resources. All Hitler had to do was to get rid of democracy and other pesky labor issues that were getting in the way of greater and greater profits. Is that what has motivated democracy hating tycoons in the U.S. to hire Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Donald Trump for the Presidency; their job to destroy the democratic process, and then democracy itself, all to keep the price of labor down for the sake of profits?
Schickelgruber: Of course! Money and power are the only things motivating Nazi supporting tycoons back then, or Trump supporting tycoons nowadays. After all, what is the difference in intent between renting slave labor to die for the sake of profits in Hitler’s concentration camps, overseen by SS bodyguards, and renting wage-slave labor to suffer and die for the sake of profits in meatpacking plants in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa, overseen by a bodyguard of lies from Trump’s political control of the Center for Disease Control? Tycoons profit. That’s all they ever have cared about. Their corporations live on and to hell with the rest of you.
Torquemada: Voters are a different matter. They have to be divided among themselves by race, class and gender hatreds to allow for the success of tycoons and oligarchs using combinations of deceit and force. It took World War I and anti-Semitism (Christianity’s racism) to produce the opportunities for Germany’s tycoons to hire a psychopath to do their dirty work.
Mr. Swamp Fox: American tycoons had had the advantages of slavery, Jim Crow, religious, and other divisions, until Americans elected a black President in 2008. Then, with Republican (“Tea”) Party leadership, they decided that they needed to hire a psychopath in 2016 for those purposes, like Krupp, et.al. in 1933. For eons, white guys without a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, had been trained to think they were superior to women and people of color, but if white folks like that were backing black politicians, the end of plutocrat dominance was near.
Rasputin: The problem with tycoons hiring psychopaths as heads of State to do their labor crushing dirty work, is that these wackos are not stupid, but have their own, soul crushing, dirty work agenda, apart from mindless corporate greed. In Germany’s case it was a disaster for the world. In the case of the U.S. in 2020 it is primarily a disaster for Americans. Whether it will become a disaster for the world is to be decided on November 3rd and January 20th, 2021.
Lena: By next year at this time, realistic observers might be tempted to thank President Donald Trump and Moscow Mitch for being so unsubtle and artless in their disdain for ordinary Americans and their basic needs, not to mention the democratic process. As their lies pile up, so do their inconsistencies. Early voting shows that Americans are paying attention this time.
Kim Dog Un: Pundits and historians trying to explain the Trump phenomenon, are learning to seek analogies elsewhere than American history; where racism has been your companion along with your Constitution. Instead, they are heeding the advice of Timothy Snyder and others to look at the fundamental assaults on Constitutionalism itself by Soviet Communism and European Fascism. Donald Trump, not as a failed President, but, potentially, a successful Fascist leader.
HPR: But real dictators don’t let the New York Times publish the truth about their tax dodging.
Mr. Crying Wolf: Mussolini murdered opponents like Giacomo Matteotti. Trump uses lawsuits and subverts Main Justice, but it’s his henchmen who end up in jail, not journalists; random victims of his targeted incompetence who die, rather than specific targets of malevolence. As dictators go, Trump will be a loser in that, as well. “Par” for Trump’s golf course of life. He has only succeeded so far with willing executioners, but many are bailing on him now – fast!
Señor Perro: Tycoons who are soft on the Mussolinis of this world, and who love Trump and Moscow Mitch are really more upset by the de facto $15 an hour minimum wage standard established by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in the first Covid-19 relief bill than they are by racial injustice or oligarchic Supreme Court Justices. They know that wealth for the few depends on the misery of the many. Only brute force will work now, and there may not be enough bright brutes left for AG William Barr to hire; only dumb ones seem to be available.
Ms. Recovering Republican Lap Dog: Democracy hating plutocrats also have no problem with nihilists Trump and Moscow Mitch nominating a pious religious zealot, who might seek to do away with church and state separation, and marry religious dogma to politics, like Iranian Ayatollahs. As long as the Supreme Court guarantees personhood of their fat cat corporations with cases like “Citizen United,” tycoons could care less about the personhood of a woman, a fetus, or the “gleam in a lustful rapist’s eye.” “All the better to keep wages low my dear!”
Prudence Possum: These dilemmas cause endless anxieties for “Benito” Bill Barr, Trump’s Badass Barracuda Barrister. My fellow swamp creatures heard him complaining to Trump’s beleaguered Chief of Staff, Mindless Mark Meadows, now dimly aware that his boss is nuts.
B-6th Power: Fear and loathing doesn’t work the way it used to. I miss the days of “swift boating” John Kerry in 2004 for Bush II; scaring whites for Bush I in 1988 with Willy Horton, the convict released by Michael Dukakis, rather than Willy Horton, the Detroit Tigers ballplayer.
3M: Those guys were black. White people didn’t think that black lives mattered back then.
B-6th Power: They do now, dammit! Tolerance is breaking out worse than Covid-19. Even Vlad Putin is throwing us under the bus, with his talk about détente in cyber warfare last week.
3M: In the good old days, racist cops used to kill blacks who were unsympathetic, not obviously law abiding and helpless, like George Floyd. Activists Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in 1969, could be successfully demonized in Chicago. Like Louisville, KY’s health care worker, Brionna Taylor, these “Black Panthers” were asleep when they were killed by the Cook County States Attorney’s police, but the local right wing TV station, WGN, lied about nail holes in their West Side ghetto apartment being out-coming bullet holes, and whites in the suburbs bought that B.S.
B-6th Power: Actually, Mark, that didn’t work out so well. “Liberals” at NBC TV sent a reporter and cameraman out to the killing site, and exposed the truth. In 1983, Chicago elected a black Mayor, Harold Washington, the inspiration for Barack Obama as America’s first black President.
3M: At least WGN is still willing to help you push our efforts to scare white voters about “absentee ballot fraud” enough to justify martial law at election time. How did that go?
B-6th Power: Hard to tell. WGN also broadcasts the games of one of two Chicago Major League Baseball teams to the Red America surrounding Blue Chicago, those cute Chicago Cubbies. Both the Cubs and the White Sox are in the playoffs this October, and, unfortunately, sports fans have enough sense to watch their teams’ fates; not worry about our fake stories.
3M: Didn’t the Cubs win the World Series in the same year as our Donald won the Presidency, their first in over one hundred years? A good omen, perhaps. Such a millennial event!
B-6th Power: Covid-19 is a millennial event also, Mark, and our Donald has to explain his loser performance with regard to the pandemic in a different sporting venue than baseball — the quadrennial prize fights known as the Presidential debates.
3M: Hoo boy! Joe Biden’s not as tolerant of Donald’s rants as Hillary Clinton felt obliged to be.
B-6th Power: He wasn’t, but that was FOX moderator, Chris Wallace’s problem, not Biden’s. The usual approach with a pig like our Donald is to never wrestle with him, which the White House Press Corps feels obliged to do, and Chris Wallace tried to do. You usually just get filthy dirty, and the pig loves it.
HPR: Wow, Prudence, I suppose Barr and Meadows have plenty to worry about. Joe Biden kept his cool under the duress of Trump’s tantrums, lies and slanders, and still talked sense to the American people. He landed factual punches with real answers to the real problems they care about. Trump ranted and raved, and signaled that he prefers violence to an orderly election. If he calls for a Biden drug test again, Biden should demand Trump be given a saliva test for rabies.
Prudence Possum: Chris Wallace wasn’t as supine (or as rabid) as Sean Hannity or Tucker Carlson, but he needed an “off” switch for Trump’s mike. Maybe next time, but I doubt it.
Mr. Swamp Fox: Joe Biden has faced down braver bullies than the Donald. He’s already tagged Trump with the “loser” label. Metaphorical pigs can be “stuck” with the facts, “boiled” with humor, and “roasted” with defiance, no matter how much they squeal. But the tried and true instrument for dispatching Trump’s piggy persona, his corrupt entourage and Republican enablers from public trust positions they have defiled, is the vote. They know it and are terrified.
Agatha Alligator: Even professional political, “blood sport” watchers found this one painful to endure. As usual, Bill Barr confided his inner thoughts to swamp creatures only:
Barr’s Lament #2…………………………………………………………Headless Horseman
The problem with a psycho for a boss
Is that he never does just what you want.
You save his ass with guile and with cant,
But then he turns your win into a loss.
The Donald thinks he knows it all, of course;
But fears the consequences of his boasts
And bluffs that will not quell the coming ghosts
Of crimes that push his fate from bad to worse.
I fear that one more judge to tip the scale
Against democracy, will scarcely slow
The angry tide that moves a voting base;
Aroused against us. It will change the tale
Of tyranny triumphant we did know;
Into more justice for the human race.