“What is the Singing Revolution and where will it lead? One émigré told me, laughing, that it is not all flowers and songs and that people must remember how centuries of oppression have toughened the Balts. I have seen more than one activist grit his teeth and say: ‘Moscow wants to provoke us, to make us fight, but we will not fight and we will not give in!” – Clare Thomson, The Singing Revolution: A Journey Through the Baltic States, 1992
“The USSR broke up 30 years ago, but Vladimir Putin’s Russia now has the resolve, public support and military power to claim a place on the world stage…Putin is determined not only to make Russia a major player in world affairs, but to make the U.S. pay for what he rightly perceives as having gone back on promises that then-President George H.W.Bush made at the time the USSR split apart.” – Edward Lotterman, Bismarck Tribune, 11/21/20
“The most intelligent of the Nazis,…Carl Schmitt, explained…the essence of fascist governance. The way to destroy all rules…was to focus on the idea of the exception. A Nazi leader outmaneuvers his opponents by manufacturing a general conviction that the present moment is exceptional…then transforming that state of exception into a permanent emergency. Citizens then trade real freedom for fake safety.” – Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny, #17
“It’s always useful to accuse people of something they haven’t done, in order to mask something you’re doing.” – Mr. Swamp Fox
“It is not by accident that the Negroes of the South are making faster progress, culturally, than the masses of the whites…No Southern composer has ever written music so good as that of half a dozen white-black composers…Even in politics, the Negro reveals a curious superiority. Despite the fact that the race question has been the main political concern of the Southern whites for two generations…they have contributed nothing to its discussion that has impressed the rest of the world so deeply and so favorably as three or four books by Southern Negroes… Obviously, it is impossible for intelligence to flourish in such an atmosphere. Free inquiry is blocked by the idiotic certainties of ignorant men.” – H.L. Mencken, The Sahara of the Bozart, 1920 (1917)
“A murderer sets himself aside from the whole of humanity forever. It’s a kind of death. (He’s) like a dying man now, the problems (he’s caused) are still there, but (he’s) moving away from them into a new dimension. (He) forfeited so many rights…even the right to feel pain.” – Adapted from P.D. James
“There is absolutely no substitute (or remedy) for lack of preparation.” – Adapted from Carol Christianson
One of the things I’ve missed most during this pandemic is karaoke. A regular since 2006, I was at my favorite Bismarck spot last February, while Donald Trump was lying that the Corona Virus was going to go away, “just like a miracle.” Unlike many in this Trump happy part of North Dakota where I live, I had watched the virus move from Asia into Europe, and respected science. It was headed this way. I looked at the shared microphone and thought: “goodbye for now!”
In June, as North Dakota’s scientifically informed, but politically challenged Governor began our so called “Smart Restart,” my friends at the karaoke joint called to ask me back. Why? Abstinence from cigarette smoking, and a penchant for lap swimming have kept my vocal chords and lungs in good enough shape to toddle up to the mike and “hit it.” “Old school” faves include Bobby Darin, Fats Domino, Kool & the Gang, Commodores, Beach Boys, Eagles, Blues Bros., Willy Nelson, John Conlee, Seals and Croft, John Denver, Bob Seger, James Taylor, Elton John, Huey Lewis, and David Lee Roth/Luis Prima. Every age cohort digs these “Oldies.” I told my guys that I loved them, but that I’d see them after a vaccine came out, because, at 81, I was 20 to 60 years older than the other regulars, despite a younger sounding voice. They ‘got it,’ of course.
The karaoke scene in Bismarck/Fargo is a “hot bed of tolerance:” an accepting atmosphere in a North Dakota that is simply written off by folks who see America only in political hues of red and blue. At my favorite place there are two bathrooms for women, one for men — the ratio of updated Major League Ball Parks. The few Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and African Americans, who join us white bread folks there are quite comfortable, because management will not tolerate otherwise. One young African American from a North Dakota family is amazing. Besides being an adept pianist, he does Frank Sinatra as spectacularly as Stevie Wonder. Another gentleman with a Bismarck address and an international itinerary had a “country” accent that placed him from Africa rather than from Nashville or west of the Missouri River. He is a hoot: he only does country singers: not just Charlie Pride, but also Merle Haggard.
The power of singing to salve social and political divisions stands out in hopeful contrast to the incompetent and malevolent Trump Presidency. These would be dictators attempt to shred the U.S. Constitution and impose “Facebook Fascism” on election officials of both political parties. Trump fires, and then rails against Cyber-security Chief, Chris Krebs, for daring to ensure a safe, honest election. Death threats follow for Georgia Republican officials who dare certify Democrat Joe Biden as winner, simply because he got more votes. – White guys, getting a dose of the black experience in America of 400 years, in Donald Trump’s U.S.A. Trump’s “imitation Nazism,” by proxy, and structurally inept, is still Nazism. His racism, as loud echo of the real GOP message of 60 years, is new only for Republicans who refused to see it until it hurt their own kith and kin.
The antidotes to organized political hatreds — organized tolerance and due process of law — have also been with us for quite a while, and now are surging into powerful pluralities. In 2020, one witnesses black folks endorsing white folks and their music; in the wake of white folks endorsing Black Lives Matter. I recently watched two black youngsters from Gary, IN, on the TNT/NBA wrap up with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, and Charles Barkley. Their appreciation of the songs of Phil Collins and Dolly Parton has become a sensation on social media, but it is also, I think, a reflection of how racial tolerance finds ways through music and sport that always defy the norms of political pundits and practitioners.
While better angels of American nature have come to the fore in Red and Blue America alike in President Elect Joe Biden’s defeat of President Donald Trump, the dirty devils of (Senator) Moscow Mitch McConnell (R-KY) still threaten to keep anything from getting through Congress that will actually benefit more Americans than a few billionaires. I asked my KGB animal friends to weigh in on the possibilities of defeating Trump’s appeals to tribalism, vigilante fantasies, and racial hatreds over the next few weeks, months and years.
High Plains Reader: I’m worried about lawlessness that is encouraged by the Donald’s pardon of Mike Flynn, a man convicted, essentially, for treason. Americans die like flies from Covid-19, yet Trump continues his “Charles Manson” Jihad against all that is human in his quest for a second term. His acolytes sell a lunatic litany of bogus “Voter Fraud,” “Deep State,” “left wing-Socialist-Communist-antifa-police-defunding-bad breath-Democrat” conspiracies. Trump’s cynical fund raising through panic peddling is an imitation of the 1933 “Reichstag Fire,” that gave the Nazis their chance to turn a coincidental event into permanent dictatorship.
Putin: Stop wasting time worrying about last gasps of his dying 4 year disaster, and enjoy how Trump’s madness is screwing up Moscow Mitch’s bid to still control the Senate! If Democrats take both Senate seats in Georgia due to Trump’s attacks on local Republicans, Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks, and even a helpful bill or two, will have smoother sailing through Congress.
Rasputin: Winning by 7 Million votes, and 36 Electoral College votes, President Elect Biden can select an Attorney General real criminals fear; not Bill Barr, who’s never tried a serious case.
Pavlov, the Dog: It’s hard to say how many of the 74 Million who voted Republican, stick to Trumpism after January 20th, seek a subtler advocate of racism, drift away, or respond to Joe Biden’s message of healing. Many, of course, won’t vote Democrat, Trump or no Trump, but the Donald’s consistently violent and anti-democratic behavior now uses a bullhorn rather than a dog whistle, as he steps up his vandalizing of functioning government on his way out of D.C.
Jake the Snake: State and Local officials, seeking a political “life after Trump,” hesitate to play along. A few refuse openly. But with Senate Republicans still cringing, the only Law and Order Political Party left is the Democrats. A strong, fair Attorney General will be welcome in Red and Blue America. Bad news for white collar criminals, as well as white supremacy vigilantes.
Agatha Alligator: I think former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates would make a terrific head of DOJ because of her resistance to the Muslim Ban and Mike Flynn’s sell out to the Russians that compromised Vice President Mike Pence. This got her fired by Trump in 2017, a badge of honor for the Civil Service, but a signal to Republican Senators of their complicity.
Mr. Swamp Fox: How about Congresswoman Val Demings (D-FL)? Her background in law enforcement is extensive, and she was just warming up on the House Impeachment Committee for the kind of indictments that will be needed to detoxify the Trump/McConnell Swamp.
Chicago Dog: An African American like Val Demings would be welcome, but America’s racist mess was created by white guys, and should be shut down by one. I prefer Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), who nailed KKK goons for killing those black girls in Birmingham in 1963. It would be cathartic, as well as politic, for white guys like Jones to lead prosecutions of domestic terrorists on the watch list of the Southern Poverty Law Center, as well as embedded in too many Police Departments in the U.S. now that Trump’s “birtherism,” is reborn as a “stolen election” myth.
Prudence Possum: Our “Swamp” critters heard Moscow Mitch and Senator John “Twitter Sensitive” Cornyn (R-TX) discussing Joe Biden’s possible DOJ choices with fear and loathing.
Moscow Mitch: You have to step up your slander game, John. Georgia isn’t Texas. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton got their black and liberal judges on the courts, because they took Georgia. Attacking a woman with South Asian roots (Biden’s Office of Management and Budget Nominee, Neera Tanden) just because she tweeted something truthful about us, doesn’t play as well down there as it did sixty years ago. Who do think you are, Ted Cruz (R-TX)?
Sensitive John: Well, somebody has to bring out the bigot vote. Trump isn’t cutting it. He’s telling yahoos down there not to vote, while Stacy Abrams is making sure the entire SEC football crowd gets out the vote for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff along with Asians, Latinos and suburban white women. At least I’m subtler than (Senator) Lindsay (Graham, R-SC).
Moscow Mitch: Anybody is subtler than our boy Lindsay. The only reason he won reelection was because white South Carolina couldn’t handle two black Senators, especially since the one they’ve got (Tim Scott), often sounds more Trump than Trump, a “Republican two-for-one” in 2020. What we do need to worry about is the Department of Justice (DOJ). If we can’t stop an honest man or woman there, we are going to see more Republican convictions than Watergate.
Sensitive John: Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) have told me they are warming up the “Benghazi,” “Impeachment Hoax” crowd to go after Sally Yates. That should be fun!
Moscow Mitch: Naaah. The one I’m really worried about is Doug Jones. He’ll put (Post Master General) Louis DeJoy away for killing off senior citizens who didn’t get prescriptions in time, while he tampered with mail-in balloting to help Trump. We can cry “Biden persecution” all we want, but the Post Office is more popular than the Republican and Democratic Parties combined.
Sensitive John: What happened to all those Conservative Judges we rammed through Mitch? Weren’t they supposed to rule against Democrats on everything?
Moscow Mitch: Not if the Democrats got more votes, John. Most judges are conservative enough to block arbitrary use of power by Republican Presidents as well. We should privately thank them, and Biden, for getting rid of Super Spreader Trump. It’s about tax breaks, stupid!
Sensitive John: You mean we should work with Joe Biden and (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi?
Moscow Mitch: A little bit, if Wall Street wants us to work with Main Street; and next year there won’t be Trump to screw things up. He’ll be dodging subpoenas. If we win in Georgia, I won’t let Joe have judges he wants, of course, or a minimum wage that makes big donors gag, but I’ll condescend to give Democrats a few crumbs for the sake of Republican Senators up for election in 2022. I might not even force Joe to make his DOJ choice “Acting Attorney General.”
Sensitive John: But Trumpism isn’t going to go away after January 20, 2021. He’s stirred up too much hatred for that to happen. Many of these wannabe Nazi types are just as loony as he is.
Moscow Mitch: On second thought, maybe a Doug Jones bloodhound-kind-of-guy is a good idea. He’ll put away the Trump crazies for us, and Democrats will get the blame.
Sensitive John: Good thinking! I also have to commend you Mitch for your tears following the Last Speech by our colleague Lamar Alexander (R-TN). I could see that they were heartfelt.
Moscow Mitch: Heartfelt, yes, but those weren’t tears for Lamar. They were for the end of my control of the Senate. Trump and our two worst GOP grifters (Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue) are blowing the Georgia runoff election. The gavel likely will go to Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Prudence Possum: Such are the great thoughts emerging from Republican Senate Leadership. Their staff leaked their own observations on the cowardly conversations of Republican Senators:
Joe’s Acting DOJ/Could Still Put Us Away…………………………..………Headless Horseman
We fear Val Demings, or a Sally Yates
At DOJ, means that our days are done
Of using Trump to guild the wealth we’ve won.
So, we must strive to foil the jailor’s gates.
If we can slander them with Ukraine “Hoax,”
Then maybe we could slow their ‘Justice’ down;
But Joe might turn our grins to panic’s frown
And choose Doug Jones, or other righteous folks.
“Consent” or not will scarcely stop the wheel
Of Justice going after grift and graft;
In all that Trump’s Crime Family hath wrought.
There soon will be a lid on what we steal,
Or glean from giving Democrats the shaft.
We must protect the scams for which we fought!