NBC News, Sept. 18, 2022 – The GOP’s American psychosis didn’t start with Trump. It won’t end with him, either.
A line runs from the 1964 Republican National Convention to Trump’s Jan. 6 riot. It has zigged and zagged over the years. But there is a path.
By David Corn, Washington, D.C., bureau chief for Mother Jones
This piece has been adapted from “American Psychosis: A Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy,” by David Corn:
Nelson Rockefeller stared into a sea of hate.
Standing at the podium of the Republican National Convention of 1964, the 56-year-old patrician politician who symbolized dynastic American power and wealth was enveloped by waves of anger emanating from the party faithful. Delegates and activists assembled in the Cow Palace on the outskirts of San Francisco hurled boos and catcalls at the New York governor.
He was the enemy. His crime: representing the liberal Republican establishment that, to the horror of many in the audience, had committed two unpardonable sins. First, in the aftermath of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, these turncoat, weak-kneed Republicans had dared to acknowledge the need for big government programs to address the problems and challenges of an industrialized and urbanized United States. Second, they had accepted the reality that the Cold War of the new nuclear age demanded a nuanced national security policy predicated on a carefully measured combination of confrontation and negotiation.
Rockefeller’s crime: representing the liberal Republican establishment that, to the horror of many in the audience, had committed two unpardonable sins.
Worse, Rockefeller had tried to thwart the hero of the moment: Barry Goldwater, the archconservative senator from Arizona, the libertarian decrier of government, the tough-talking scolder of America’s moral rot, and the hawkish proponent of military might who had advocated the limited use of nuclear arms. Continue reading David Corn on the Origins of the Trump Disorder→
“Too much hate that’s fueled extremist violence [has] been allowed to fester and grow.
You know, as a result, our very own intelligence agencies — our own intelligence agencies in the United States of America, have determined that domestic terrorism rooted in white supremacy is the greatest terrorist threat to our Homeland today.
I’ve been around a while.I never thought I’d hear that or say that.
[NOTE: Modern war, like politics, makes strange bedfellows. The Ukraine war shows this in the case of economics columnist Paul Krugman. He’s a wonk, not a warrior, but his career has some intriguing parallels to that of Army General Mark Milley, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
No wait — consider: they both served early on at Princeton & MIT. Of course, later their paths diverged a bit: while Krugman wonked out publishing 27 books, Milley was accumulating about as many ribbons & medals. Milley wound up earning four stars; Krugman settled for a Nobel Prize.
But comes the Ukraine invasion, and their paths converged, sort of: while the Ukrainians’ courage and fighting skill properly get most of the attention, their battlefield prowess rests on a vast flow of imported weapons, and all those guns and drones and shells cost money. Further, we are told that soon winter will bring a full-on continental energy crisis to Europe, where the most crucial battle, to include tens of millions of civilians, will be to keep warm. And capturing this warmth too will be, above all, about money.
Krugman doesn’t know much about drones or AR-15s. But he knows about money. The dominant idea about money among Russian authorities from Putin on down (and their U. S. MAGA cheerleaders) seems to focus on stealing it. Ukrainian officials are no angels, but their army leans more on using it to get the tools for winning battles. Combine that with guts and brains, and they have survived a brutal invasion and are currently on a roll.
Krugman explores this conjuncture here, from his ivory tower redoubt. I expect general Milley gets more vivid briefings; but even economists — well, they also serve who mainly crunch the numbers.]
On Aug. 29 Tucker Carlson of Fox News attacked President Biden’s policy on Ukraine, asserting among other things: “By any actual reality-based measure, Vladimir Putin is not losing the war in Ukraine. He is winning the war in Ukraine.” Carlson went on, by the way, to assert that Biden is supporting Ukraine only because he wants to destroy the West.
Carlson’s timing was impeccable. Just a few days later, a large section of the Russian front near Kharkiv was overrun by a Ukrainian attack. It’s important to note that Putin’s forces weren’t just pushed back; they appear to have been routed. As the independent Institute for the Study of War reported, the Russians were driven into a “panicked and disorderly retreat,” leaving behind “large amounts of equipment and supplies that Ukrainian forces can use.”
The Russian collapse seemed to validate analyses by defense experts who have been saying for months that Western weapons have been shifting the military balance in Ukraine’s favor, that Putin’s army is desperately short on quality manpower and that it has been degraded by attrition and missile attacks on its rear areas. These analyses suggested that Russian forces might eventually reach a breaking point, although few expected that point to come so soon and so dramatically.
“My hope is that people remember this about the royal family: In the end, though they breathe rarefied air, they grapple as we all do with life and death, with the mystery of what it means to be human. When darkness falls, and they are alone, they sink into the same waters that everyone does when a loved one dies. And they wonder if they’ll make it to the other side..”
Jamelle Bouie quoting Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address: “‘A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people,” [Lincoln] said. “Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism.”
“You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government,” Lincoln added, “while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect and defend it.’ ”
SERGE SCHMEMANN: Part of [the Queen’s] appeal was the extravagant — some might say excessive — pomp and ceremony that accompanied her every royal appearance. While Scandinavian countries deliberately decontented their monarchies until their kings and queens could barely be distinguished from normal citizens, Britain proudly maintained the full medieval monty: gilded carriages, bearskin helmets, liveried footmen and volumes of tradition.
It was marketing, to be sure; the royals are central to Britain’s brand and identity. But Queen Elizabeth was prepared to treat it all, from wearing a five-pound crown while reading a canned message in Parliament to feigning delight in some tropical ceremony, as the service to which she dedicated her life. . . .Though democracy left her no real governing power, she was ahead of her time in championing equality and diversity in the Commonwealth and, by most accounts, she made her views discreetly known to successive prime ministers, whom she met weekly.”
Eugene Robinson: “I once had the opportunity to attend an investiture, the palace ceremony at which the queen conferred knighthoods and other honors to the great and the good. It was the first time I had seen her in person, and what struck me was how tiny she was.
This woman who had been a larger-than-life presence on the world stage since before I was born — the first prime minister who served under her was Winston Churchill — was minute, dwarfed by her regal accoutrements and surroundings. Her voice was thin and soft, her words hard to follow.
Yet she did have a presence that dominated the vast room. On reflection, it occurred to me that this aura of authority and command was not emanating from the queen herself. It was being projected upon her by the audience.
And so it is with all the anachronistic stature and privilege the British royal family still enjoys in an egalitarian age. Elizabeth’s character, stamina and skill persuaded her subjects to suspend any possible disbelief in the divine right of a mostly German family to reign over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Will they have such faith in Charles? In William?
“Après moi, le déluge,” King Louis XV of France is thought to have said, decades before the French Revolution. After Elizabeth, the British monarchy will find itself in rising waters and struggle not to be swept away.”
Seattle: Later that day, the congresswoman [Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington] was driving from her house to an event in Seattle, celebrating the introduction of a trans bill of rights. [Rachel] Berkson, her district director, was behind the wheel. In the passenger seat, Jayapal pulled out her phone and played some of the voice mails she’d received.
A man’s voice filled up the car.
“ … Your f—in’ day is coming. God damn, as soon as the president’s installed, like on Nov. 4 or 5, we’re f—in’ coming after all you motherf—ers. You’re gonna be scrubbing f—in’ floors for the rest of your life, you f—in’ wh—.”
Another man, a trace of a smile in his voice. “ … Get ready for the worst year of your life. It’s gonna be turmoil every day. This is gonna be fun. This is gonna be fun. Your life is gonna be miserable. And we’re gonna get rid of that corrupt Biden, and that socialist Kamala, and the rest of the group, and you’re going right along with them.”
His voice deepened. “You stupid f—in’ b—-. Get ready for turmoil. You’re gettin’ it. You’re gonna get exactly what you deserve, b—-. Have a nice day, b—-.”
Then another man. “ … I’m gonna send you some knee pads, you f—in’ b—-. You worthless f—in’ c—.” “ … We’re coming. And we’re really pissed off.” “ … You are an evil b—- and you need to die and I hate you and I will never vote for you again.”
Jayapal stopped the recordings. Berkson, in the front seat, was one of the staffers who screened the messages. She decides what to forward to Capitol Police, and what to bring to Jayapal’s attention. As she drove, she started to cry. “Sorry,” Berkson said. “I honestly don’t think about it that much.”
At home later that night, Jayapal listened again to the threatening voice mails that [Rep. Adam] Kinzinger and [Eric] Swalwell released this summer. She thought about how violence begins with the ability to dehumanize the subject of that violence. And she spent that evening replaying the voice mails that had been left for her. There was one calling her an animal. “The unleashing of it everywhere creates this space for other people to be unleashed as well,” she said.
She thought about her decision to talk about what happened. What would she and [her husband] Williamson be saying, to themselves, to each other, to their loved ones, if they did?
“I don’t really want to admit that we’re in danger,” Williamson said, “because that’s not a place I want to occupy.”
“But at the same time,” said Jayapal, “it’s important people understand how ubiquitous this is, and how much a part of our psyche it is taking up.”
She thought about why she had never shared the voice mails before. “Why didn’t I?”
“Is it like, ‘Oh you’re supposed to take it?’”
“Or you’re not tough enough if you release it?”
These were questions the congresswoman couldn’t answer.
Instead, she asked, “Have we somehow conditioned ourselves to think this is what we should expect?”
[NOTE: Gwynne Dyer makes important points here, e. g.: too much is Classified; many “secrets” conceal mostly the spooks’ plentiful failures & evil deeds rather than actually dangerous stuff; and many others who took & disclosed secrets at heavy personal risk have served justice, truth, the nation & humanity. But if 45’s super-stash does any public good, it will be more by accident and the labor of others.]
I never thought I’d be writing a column in defence of Donald Trump, but a journalist has to go where the evidence leads.
Over the years, I have written columns in defence of Daniel Ellsberg, Mordechai Vanunu, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, so how could I abandon Donald Trump in his time of need?
Admittedly, Trump is not your traditional whistle-blower, driven by high motives and a need to speak truth to power. He’s more of a pack-rat, whose motives for stealing government documents may be obscure even to himself. (I use the word ‘stealing’ because that’s the word that was used for all the honourable men in whose footsteps he has followed.)
Maybe Trump was taking the documents — and clinging to them fiercely, despite insistent demands for their return from the National Archives, the Justice Department and the FBI — with some vague notion that they might prove useful one day. But for what? Blackmail? Selling them to the Russians? Writing his memoirs? Continue reading Trump a “Whistleblower”? Gwynne Dyer on Those Secret Papers→