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Josh Hawley Declares 2024 Candidacy: Run, Josh, Run!


Expectations for the House Select Committee presentations were not high before it began.

“Don’t Expect Must-Watch TV” Jacob Bacharach (NYT 6/9/22)

But the Capitol riot hearings, which begin on Thursday night, may well be a dud.

            Even if they manage to drag a few million eyeballs away from the streaming platforms for a few evenings and days with some measure of spectacle and the promise of comeuppance for some minor and expendable figures from Trump-world, their scope and impact are likely to be minimal….
            They will serve as great font of rambling commentary on Twitter for a few days, among the relatively few people who regularly tweet about politics.   

Wouldn’t you like to have the opportunity to be so wrong in the lead editorial in The New York Times!

He concludes his piece with:

A terrifying historical counterfactual is that the only thing that might have gotten enough of the G.O.P. on board to matter would have been if the rioters had actually hung Mike Pence, and even then, it is hard to be sure.

We will never know what the reaction would have been if the insurrectionists had succeeded in killing Pence, Pelosi, or Hawley. It is possible that would have caused the 25th Amendment to be invoked and not just talked about. I have not seen any polls or interviews with Stop-the-Steal proponents about how they would have reacted then.

The Jan. 6 Committee Has Already Blown It

The op-ed below this editorial was “The Jan. 6 Committee Has Already Blown It” by David Brooks. He took issue with the Democratic goal of recasting the midterm election message by casting Republicans as being responsible.

They are expected to use witnesses like the former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson [who testified on June 28, 19 days later] to show exactly what went on inside the administration that day and in the lead-up to it. One lawmaker told The Washington Post that voters have shifted their attention to issues like inflation and the pandemic, so it is key to tell a gripping story that “actually breaks through.”
No offense, but these goals are pathetic.

Perhaps he spoke too soon in his dismissal of Cassidy Hutchinson!

However his larger point in his final sentence about the threat to bring American democracy to its knees is valid as Liz Cheney well knows. Brooks is right to be concerned about the 2024 election and civil war in America. If anything, he should be concerned about the 2022 elections.

Eventually, skeptics saw the light about the hearings.

“I thought the Jan. 6 committee wouldn’t matter. I was wrong” by Max Boot (Washington Post 6/14/22)

The committee’s hearings are exceeding expectations, because it is not behaving like a typical congressional committee. There is no grandstanding and no preening. There are no petty partisan squabble…. There have been no anti-Trump, much less anti-Republican, rants. The committee members are focused with forensic, factual intensity on the question of Trump’s responsibility for the events of Jan. 6.

The House Select Committee has set a standard which the Hunter Biden investigations and Joe Biden impeachments won’t come even remotely close to matching. Those Republican clown shows will only be shown on Foxhub.

…There is only the relentless march of evidence, all of it deeply incriminating to a certain former president who keeps insisting he was robbed of his rightful election victory…. Trump’s own aides have made an open-and-shut case that he I not fit to run Mar-a-lago, much less the United States of America.

It would seem the Murdoch Wall Street Journal and New York Post agree as well. More to come.

Paul Krugman has joined the bandwagon as well:

Crazies, Cowards and the Trump Coup (NYT 6/30/22)

Like many people, I expected the worst from the Jan. 6 committee: long, droning speeches, grandstanding by posturing politicians, lots of he-said-she-said.
            What we’ve gotten instead has been riveting and terrifying.

The reviews are in. The House Select Committee is boffo at the box office. It has sustained an 8-show summer series with a sequel promised.

What “more”? Second seasons often do not live up to the promise of the original series. It looks like we may be teased with “leaks” while the show is on hiatus.

There is a spinoff. In fact more than one. The DOJ appears to be gradually upping ante for the insurrections. There should be a slew of subpoenas in the coming weeks. Even if the Hitman indictment is delayed until after the election, there are plenty of subordinates who could be indicted before the election season. How about the day before Trump announces his candidacy, the DOJ indicts the first round of insurrectionists? That would make for must-see TV.

The second spinoff is in Georgia. Fulton County is moving ahead with subpoenas and target letters. It is only a matter of time before the indictments.

In the meantime, we can content ourselves with some of the more amusing aspects of the work of the House Select Committee. We can anticipate that on Josh Hawley’s tombstone, the words “Run, Josh, Run” will be inscribed. The phrase will join “Tricky Dicky” and “Slick Willie” as a defining nickname.

When the movie version is made the scene of ketchup on the wall and plates on the floor are sure to generate gales of laughter.

The scene of grabbing the steering wheel of the car and the throat of the Secret Service will play differently depending on the audience. For the people who believe in the rule of law, it will be seen as the desperate attempt of the Loser at the last moment possible to salvage victory by leading the coup at the Capital in person. For the people who believe in the rule of Trump, it will be seen as their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name, fighting to the very end to save the country.

Keep in mind that Rusty Bowers has been excommunicated by the Arizona Republican Party for telling for truth.

Unfortunately, there is one area where Liz Cheney is seriously wrong. She stated that Trump “is a 76-year old man”: true. And he is “not an impressionable child”: false. He temporarily appointed Sidney Powell a special prosecutor to wreak havoc with his enemies.  Kurt Bardella, a former House GOP staffer speaking about the upcoming 2024 announcement said, “This guy has the impulse control of a freaking toddler.” He echoed the words of Mary Trump about her uncle having the emotional maturity of a three-year old.

The problem with trying to prove intent to overthrow the Constitution is that Trump lacks the mental necessities to understand what the Constitution is and or what he was doing to it. All he knows is that he wanted to keep playing President and people were telling him playtime is over. Perhaps the next hearings will address the fact that he is an immature child and not Rambo.

P.S. No matter what, Trumpican minds will not be changed.

Star Trek: The Antidote to Anne Applebaum’s Twilight of Democracy

On August 24, 2020, NYU John Brademas Center and NYU Votes presented an online discussion between two ex-Republicans:

Anne Applebaum, Staff Writer at The Atlantic; Senior Fellow of International Affairs and Agora Fellow in Residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; author, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism

Moderator: Max Boot, Columnist at the Washington Post; Global Affairs Analyst for CNN; Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations,

The topic was Applebaum’s new book:

In the United States as well as around the globe, democratic institutions have begun to deteriorate, while authoritarian movements continue to gain traction. Anne Applebaum, journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, argues that this trend should come as no surprise given the “seductive lure of authoritarianism.” In her new book, Twilight of Democracy, Applebaum focuses on the surrogates who enable autocracy.

What role do writers, academics, journalists, and other members of the cultural elite play in the ascent of nationalist rule? To what extent are these figures propelled by ideology versus their own financial or political gain? And what patterns emerge when we observe weakening democracies across the world from the U.S. to Poland?

During the conversation, Boot noted Applebaum’s fairly pessimistic view on democracy’s fate. The book definitively states that we are living through the twilight of democracy right now; there is no question mark in the title. She is not raising a question about the present, she is making a statement about it and it is a negative one.

In her response, Applebaum left some room for hope. She declared that she doesn’t do predictions. However if her book is a statement on the present twilight of democracy, then there is no real need of predictions: the dye is already cast. Applebaum considers it irresponsible for people in her generation to be pessimistic because that is not fair to the younger generations. Her book should be treated as a warning and not a prediction. Democracy could die but it is not inevitable that it will die. She asserts that decisions made now can affect the outcome. Her responses suggest the title should have ended with a question mark. I wonder who made the decision for the bolder more shocking title.

Boot followed up by inquiring from where does the threat to democracy emanate and what is the appeal of authoritarianism? Applebaum responded by raising the issue of uncertainty. People prefer something more predictable and certain for the future compared to the fragile and unstable world in which we live. As a result people are distressed over future.

Earlier in the discussion, Applebaum had mentioned two specific events leading to the current uncertainty particularly for conservatives like herself but not only for them. The first followed the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989. That was a triumphal moment for a generation of conservatives, a time of great optimism. Unfortunately the complacency in the 1990s afterwards was misplaced. The result was a loss of certainty in the inevitability of democracy.

She did not specifically refer to the current situation in this discussion. For the President of the United to be subordinate to the Russian leader who has a free hand to violate American presidential would have been a shocking concept after 1989 had it even occurred to anyone.

The second date was 1999 especially for Republicans but also for all Americans. The country went from celebrating what had happened in the decade just ending to a world where we often are no longer talking to each other. Along those lines, the article “Our Love Is Forever, as Long as We Vote the Same Way” in the Sunday Styles section of the NYT (August 30, 2020) reports on this very issue in a quite personal way. Dating companies now are obligated to include a line on political preferences given the impossibility of pro- and anti-Trump people to talk to each other. Once upon a time Mary Matalin and James Carville were the example of an unusual political couple. Now George and Kellyanne Conway are the mystifying couple. They recently had to take a timeout from politics for the sake of their children, their family, and their marriage AND THEY ARE MEMBERS OF THE SAME PARTY!

Applebaum added that in this new millennium people feel disappointed with what has happened for themselves, for their country, or both. Drawing on her own experience, she observes that the Polish thought the transformation of democracy would be better than it had been for themselves in their career and their country. She concluded that when you really feel disappointed, it can lead to radicalism. People become angry, convinced that there is nothing left to be done, that democracy has failed. Consequently disruptive change is needed.

There was more to their conversation than presented here. Still the major points are clear. The old order of the Cold War is over. Regardless of one’s position in that confrontation, it provided clearcut alternatives. You had a decision to make about where you stood. That decision provided meaning and purpose in life. Now everything seems up the air. Uncertainty dominates. Fear follows and that can lead to bad things. Very Bad things. Not to worry. Only I can save the country.

People deal with uncertainty in multiple ways. One way is to create certainty in the mind. For example, pilots train on simulators. They practice again and again. They learn how to recognize a dangerous condition. They learn what should be done in a perilous situation. They practice, practice, practice until it becomes so ingrained that that they can even land a plane ON the Hudson River if its engines are clogged with birds. The police practice and practice as well but not for dealing with the mentally ill, domestic disputes, or facing intensely emotional and overwrought people in a crowd.

At the end of the movie Hidden Figures, Katherine Johnson exhibits another form of mental preparation. After the successful landing of John Glen in a risky space flight, the Kevin Costner character asks her if we are ready to go to moon. She replies, “We’re already there.” She had seen the future in her mind again and again and was quite confident that it could be reached in the real world. The only question was when that world was going to catch up to her mind.

Imagining the future is one way of preparing for. We live in dystopian times so it is not surprising that our science fiction reflects these circumstances. We see a future of hate not hope, nightmares not dreams, conflict not peace. The more overwhelmed we are by the present, the more willing we are to accept drastic solutions, solutions that won’t work but which may give peace of mind for the moment without the use of drugs.

Science fiction like those simulators can help prepare us for the future. It has the possibility of generating hope. The one that did that in a way no other ongoing series did was Star Trek. The show was not just about special effects or entertaining stories. It expressed a confidence about boldly going where no one had gone before, about a confidence in facing the unknown, about a willingness even eagerness to engage the future. All these attributes and desires are lacking in a world where we have the dark carnage relentlessly promulgated by the Trumpicans and the relentlessly toppling of our past by the Woke.

We are not a Starship Enterprise country today. We cannot communicate with each other yet alone live with each. The intensity of distrust and hate ratchets ever upward making our time the twilight of democracy. Kirk’s hero was Lincoln, a name used and abused today by people who are full of malice and reject America’s vision as the last best hope of humanity. Neither candidate seeks to inspire us; we are a country without vision. Still even people who are not science fiction fans know the message of Star Trek. I suspect they yearn for a candidate who can overcome our fear of fear itself with the message that best is yet to come.