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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Farewell to Fritz Mondale, who told the truth in ways today’s pols won’t

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Margaret Sullivan/WaPo:

By bearing witness — and hitting ‘record’ — 17-year-old Darnella Frazier may have changed the world

Her motivations were simple enough. You could even call them pure.

“It wasn’t right,” said Darnella Frazier, who was 17 last year when she saw George Floyd pinned under a Minneapolis police officer’s knee. She said that to the jury last month as she testified in the murder trial of that former officer, Derek Chauvin.

No, Darnella, it wasn’t right, a Hennepin County jury agreed on Tuesday, finding Chauvin guilty of second- and third-degree murder as well as second-degree manslaughter.


More to come from the pundits.

As for the rest of the news…

Charlie Sykes/Bulwark:

Saying The Quiet Part Out Loud

The “Replacement Theory” goes mainstream

Of course. Anglo-Saxon.

Let’s stipulate that it is unlikely that either Marjorie Taylor Greene or Paul Gosar could distinguish Edward the Confessor from Æthelred the Unready or were deeply familiar with the traditions of the Witan.

But that wasn’t the point was it?

Lest the reference was too unsubtle, the document went on to add that “societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country.”

In other words, as the late Stephen Miller might say, your huddled masses and other wretched scum yearning to breathe free can piss off. Especially if those masses came from non-Anglo Saxon places like Central or South American, Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, or the Mid-East.

Nate Cohn/NY Times:

Why Political Sectarianism Is a Growing Threat to American Democracy

The country is increasingly split into camps that don’t just disagree on policy and politics — they see the other as alien, immoral, a threat. Such political sectarianism is now on the march.

It’s an outlook that makes compromise impossible and encourages elected officials to violate norms in pursuit of an agenda or an electoral victory. It turns debates over changing voting laws into existential showdowns. And it undermines the willingness of the loser to accept defeat — an essential requirement of a democracy.

This threat to democracy has a name: sectarianism. It’s not a term usually used in discussions about American politics. It’s better known in the context of religious sectarianism — like the hostility between Sunnis and Shia in Iraq. Yet a growing number of eminent political scientists contend that political sectarianism is on the rise in America.

That contention helps make sense of a lot of what’s been going on in American politics in recent years, including Donald J. Trump’s successful presidential bid, President Biden’s tortured effort to reconcile his inaugural call for “unity” with his partisan legislative agenda, and the plan by far-right House members to create a congressional group that would push some views associated with white supremacy. Most of all, it re-centers the threat to American democracy on the dangers of a hostile and divided citizenry.

Jane Mayer/New Yorker:

Remembering Walter Mondale

The former Vice-President and Presidential candidate told voters the hard and politically costly truths they didn’t want to hear.

Two seminal moments capture Walter Mondale’s long-shot 1984 Presidential bid, which I covered as a neophyte reporter for the Wall Street Journal. The first was his effect on a cavernous campus gym in the Midwest filled with cheering supporters. The place was crammed to the rafters with college students who had been raucously awaiting Mondale’s arrival and were primed for excitement. The crowd applauded wildly as the former Vice-President strode onto a stage festooned with festive bunting and balloons. But, when Mondale launched into his stump speech, he told the eager young students that not all of them would go out into the world and succeed. Many of them, he warned, would find that life could be hard, and that they might have setbacks. He predicted that some members of the audience would someday need the help of government services, and that, in the future, many would rely on Social Security. When I looked out across the room, it was as if a field of wildflowers was wilting before my eyes. One could feel the crowd’s optimism plummet, as soon-to-be college grads pictured themselves as needy old folks waiting for their government checks. Everything Mondale said was true. But it was not what American voters wanted to hear.

The second instance was more famous. It was a moment during his acceptance speech at the 1984 Democratic Convention when, to the shock of many, Mondale chose to deliver the bad news that, if elected, he would raise taxes. At the time, Ronald Reagan, who was seeking a second Presidential term, was promising “morning again in America,” with a series of gauzy television ads featuring white picket fences and golden sunrises. But Mondale refused to peddle the magical thinking of Reaganomics—the phony claim that slashing taxes would produce an economic boom so great that it would make up for the lost tax revenue. To the contrary, Mondale accurately argued, it was instead producing vast federal deficits, degraded social services, and runaway economic inequality. Rather than endorsing the ostensibly pain-free path of “supply-side economics,” Mondale declared that something had to be done to reduce the mounting federal deficit. “Let’s tell the truth. It must be done. It must be done,” Mondale declared, during the most important speech of his life. “Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.”


News and Observer:

Cooper, Whitmer lead national call for businesses to ‘speak out’ on voter restrictions

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have helped organize a bipartisan letter calling on businesses to speak out against a flurry of bills introduced across the country that would restrict voting access.

The open letter, obtained by McClatchy, was signed by more than 50 current and former governors, lieutenant governors, state attorneys general and secretaries of state, who described themselves as “deeply concerned about the wave of voter restrictions sweeping the country.”

“We are asking the business leaders in our states, and throughout the country, to add their voices to the growing chorus of corporations standing on the right side of history,” the letter reads.


Federal turf wars over coronavirus rescues created ‘health and safety issues,’ watchdog concludes

Bureaucratic infighting put evacuees, officials and U.S. communities at risk of the coronavirus, a report says

The U.S. government-led missions, which included an operation to evacuate Americans from a virus-stricken cruise ship off the coast of Japan in February 2020, were plagued by “serious fundamental coordination challenges,” the Government Accountability Office concluded in a report requested by Congress and released Monday.

The episodes have already been the focus of a whistleblower complaint that sparked a pair of investigations, including a review conducted by lawyers at the Department of Health and Human Services. Those prior reports documented safety lapses, including health officials being told to remove protective gear when meeting with the Wuhan evacuees to avoid “bad optics.”

Greg Sargent/WaPo:

The latest GOP efforts to bury Trump’s insurrection call for a tougher response

The prospects for a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection are looking increasingly grim. Republicans are pretending they have substantive objections to the makeup of the committee, and a lot of people are pretending to believe them.

Yet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continues to hope for a compromise on the commission’s structure that Republicans will accept.

If this must continue, here’s how Democrats should proceed. In a broad sense, they should commit to an approach that embodies three basic premises:

  1. The assault on the Capitol happened because then-President Donald Trump incited it.
  2. The mob was inspired by Trump’s months of effort to overturn the results, which he unambiguously intended to do, and by months of lies about the outcome’s legitimacy amplified not just by Trump but also by large swaths of the GOP.
  3. The single greatest threat posed by political radicalization in this country comes from violent right-wing extremism.

The Kerner Commission in 1968 that looked at “long hot summer” riots and protests was set up by an Executive Order from LBJ.


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