Friday, September 27, 2019

"Weak and vicious minds..." Plus: Impeachment

My favorite American speech is the one given by Theodore Roosevelt on October 14, 1912 -- the year he mounted a third-party challenge to Wilson and Taft. He was shot by an anarchist. We have many anarchists among us today, on both the right and the left; the ones on the right are more worrisome.

TR, being TR, gave the speech anyways:
Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. But fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet there is where the bullet went through - and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so, that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.

And now, friends, I want to take advantage of this incident and say a word of solemn warning to my fellow countrymen.
Much in this speech speaks to us today. Here's the section that spoke to me on this re-reading:
Now, friends, of course, I do not know, as I say, anything about him; but it is a very natural thing that weak and vicious minds should be inflamed to acts of violence by the kind of awful mendacity and abuse that have been heaped upon me for the last three months by the papers in the interest of not only Mr. Debs but of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Taft.

Friends, I will disown and repudiate any man of my party who attacks with such foul slander and abuse any opponent of any other party; and now I wish to say seriously to all the daily newspapers, to the Republican, the Democratic, and the Socialist parties, that they cannot, month in and month out and year in and year out, make the kind of untruthful, of bitter assault that they have made and not expect that brutal, violent natures, or brutal and violent characters, especially the brutality is accompanied by a not very strong mind; they cannot expect that such natures will be unaffected by it.
There was some interaction with someone just off-stage, who became concerned when the former president seemed to lose track of his words momentarily. TR got hold of himself.
I am not sick at all. I am all right. I cannot tell you of what infinitesimal importance I regard this incident as compared with the great issues at stake in this campaign, and I ask it not for my sake, not the least in the world, but for the sake of our common country, that they make up their minds to speak only the truth, and not to use the kind of slander and mendacity which if taken seriously must incite weak and violent natures to crimes of violence. Don't you make any mistake. Don't you pity me. I am all right. I am all right and you cannot escape listening to the speech either.
He may have been the epitome of macho bluster -- that was what made him appealing -- but TR was far more progressive than moderns understand. This was not a man who reflexively favored the capitalist over the commoner. He also was a friend to the immigrant, and movingly described how he promoted and rewarded fighting men born in other nations:
I make the same appeal in our citizenship. I ask in our civic life that we in the same way pay heed only to the man's quality of citizenship, to repudiate as the worst enemy that we can have whoever tries to get us to discriminate for or against any man because of his creed or his birthplace.

Now, friends, in the same way I want our people to stand by one another without regard to differences or class or occupation. I have always stood by the labor-unions.
It is essential that there should be organizations of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize. My appeal for organized labor is twofold; to the outsider and the capitalist I make my appeal to treat the laborer fairly, to recognize the fact that he must organize, that there must be such organization, that the laboring man must organize for his own protection, and that it is the duty of the rest of us to help him and not hinder him in organizing.
I don't care for many modern progressives. But Teddy Roosevelt was the real thing.

And now, let us turn to the current scandal.

Ukraine. Many people are wondering if the Ukraine scandal ties in with the Russia scandal. My answer: Zelensky is not what he seems. The hairs on the back of my neck stand upright in fear whenever I hear Trump speaking highly of Zelensky, or when I hear this conniving antipresident predict peace between Russia and Ukraine. Zelensky is a creature of the oligarch/crime lord Ihor Kolomoisky. When Trump says that Russia and Ukraine may soon make peace, what he really means is that Kolomisky and Putin are secretly colluding.

I hope to have more on that soon. In the meantime, you may want to check out Ezra Klein's argument as to why we must screech to impeach, even if impeachment does not result in removal.
Impeachment acts as a form of public disgrace. To be one of only four impeached presidents in American history, even if you are not convicted by the Senate, is to know an asterisk will be forever attached to your presidency, your offenses prominently recorded. It’s a humiliation for you and a warning to your successors.
But the Senate isn’t the only possible judge of an impeachment case. In 2020, Americans will go to the polls to vote for the next president. If the House conducts a serious, thorough impeachment investigation, the revelations of that inquiry will inform their choice. Indeed, if Senate Republicans are stonewalling accountability for a clearly corrupt president, it may affect Americans’ choices in Senate elections, too.
That one could backfire, particularly if assholes like John Solomon and Peter Scheizer churn out sufficiently insidious propaganda. Remember, we are facing some of the cleverest operatives within the intelligence services of several nations. These people know how to concoct bogus evidence, and they also know how to backstop it with seemingly-credible testimony.

The big questions: Fast impeachment or slow? A full range of charges, or should everything hinge on the Ukraine scandal?

I strongly favor tossing everything at Trump -- including the kitchen sink. I also think that Dems can and must move rapidly.

Yes, both things are possible. It would not take more than a day or two to summarize the obstruction section of the Mueller report. As for the rest of it -- oh, hell: Screw the hearings. Just write up the goddamned charges. Include emouluments, campaign finance violations, obstruction of congressional investigations, the pattern of lying, the gross mismanagement of the government, all of it. It wouldn't take more than a week to create such a document. How much time do the Dems need? Write up a document, put it to a vote, let the chips fall where they may.

Show some balls. Ask yourself: What would a bull moose do?
Ah but you see TR was an imperialist and enabled Woodrow Wilson, a racist, to get elected, so according to Woke Twitter, he's cancelled.
Sorry for the double post, but I think Dems should focus on Ukraine plus obstruction. Ukraine is the easiest and clearest argument you can make, and you always make the simplest case you can. But since Ukraine now also involves an obstruction element, you can add in Mueller's obstruction report to the impeachment. Make sure McGahn (the Mueller obstruction's star witness) testifies, and now you've got the two clearest elements of Trump's corruption on trial and on TV.

Going back and adding in everything will just look vindictive and political. Remember they had this debate with Nixon and decided to go with just the most dramatic acts of obstruction instead of throwing in stuff like bombing Cambodia and abusing the IRS. Throw in everything, and not only does it look vindictive, it will bog down the entire process into small, pointless debates about what is and is not impeachable, and the big picture will quickly be lost. Keep it small and keep it simple.
nemdam, I would argue that an all-inclusive list of charges will look LESS vindictive and political. If the list is restricted, then the Republican message will be "They smeared Trump incessantly and then finally they found something." But if the list is broad, the message will be "All that other stuff was not a smear -- it was real. We didn't pursue impeachment only because doing so wasn't politically possible (in Nancy Pelosi's judgment). But it was real nonetheless."

I REALLY don't want Mueller's efforts to be perceived as fruitless. Although I remain perplexed and angered by the restrictive scope of his report.

I know that you were mocking the "woke," but the thing about TR is that he was not nearly so imperialist as he pretended, or as "Wind and the Lion" made him out to be.

And he was running to win in 1912. I'd say that the rotter in that race was Taft. Wilson, for all his faults (the faults typical of a man of his time), did a lot of good.
McKinley was shot by the anarchist Leon Czolgosz, Roosevelt was shot by John Schrank, a lunatic bartender who thought he was avenging McKinley. By the was John Petrosino warned that an Italian anarchist group was planning to assassinate McKinley. Was McKinley's assassination part of a conspiracy? By the way, there is a new book called "Chaos" about the Manson case. It apparently touches on the JFK assassination, though I'm not sure how much. While you haven't convinced me about Kennedy's assassination, I'm coming around to your view of the Manson murders. Anyway, I've got too many books in my queue to ever get to that book. If you'll read and review the book, I'll buy it for you. You could pick it up at the nearest Barnes and Noble.
We'll have to agree to disagree except to say we both agree that it must move quickly. Dragging it out will kill it. Thankfully, the background chatter is that Dems want to get this done before the year is over, so they're doing it.

And yeah, you're completely right about TR. Hard to call someone an evil imperialist when they win a Nobel Peace Prize. And for all the faults of Wilson, he's way better than Taft.
@joseph. Since it has come up, I will put in a few good words for “Chaos” by Tom O’Neill.

A huge story that took 20 years to research and write. O’Neill was just a boy in 1969, so when a magazine editor suggested a piece on how the Manson murders changed Hollywood for the 30th anniversary back in 1999, he had a lot of work to do to understand how things were then.

He found that few people would talk with him, but did get a few leads. He proves to have the necessary skills in the archives, and this is where the book breaks new ground. Vince inexplicably left some archive material (manuscript notebooks). So to did The Grand Dr. Jolly West (typed letters signed by Sidney Gottlieb).

Over the past few decades, I’m sure I’m not alone in having hoped, if there’s only an archive...or a collection of letters...

Like Nancy MacLean’s “Democracy in Chains,” Tom O’Neill really delivers new material and new insights.

The reception has been mixed, of course, since any book that shakes things up the way this one does brings out the right wing trolls. Just like MacLean’s did. Ignore ‘em! Particularly humorous are the reviews that say, in sum, “It’s so long and complicated and filled with big words.” Simply not true.

“Chaos” stands with “The Family” as necessary to understanding what The Manson gang was and surpasses it by showing how it was possible.


"What would a bull moose do?"

Try to pull a rabbit out of a hat?


I really would like the Cliff's Notes version of the book. I know the conventional wisdom theory of the case, basically based on Bugliosi's book. I would like to know what O'Neil's version is.
joseph, I was a little surprised when you said that you were becoming converted to my theory of the Manson case. I don't really HAVE a theory, just a strong suspicion that more went on than we were told. I was going to write about the new Manson book, but decided not to, on the grounds that readers were probably uninterested. Maybe I was wrong!

I have not actually read the new book, by the way. I heard on interview with the author. fascinating stuff.

At this age, I tell people that I once met Susan Atkins, though the truth is that the girl in the park that day may not have been her. What sticks in memory is that voice -- that breathy, whimsical "little girl lost" voice that young hippie chicks had back then. Nowadays, no young woman speaks like that, but one heard voices of that sort rather frequently in the late 60s and early 70s. (Think young Goldie Hawn, but a bit more whispery.)

That was the way "the girl in Chatsworth Park" spoke. And that is the way Susan Atkins speaks in the oldest video interviews available on YouTube.
Saying TR was a friend to the immigrant must be followed with an asterisk and a big footnote. Preventing “race suicide” was quite a favorite cause of his. Roosevelt thought the declining birthrates of “old-stock” white Americans was threatened by the higher birthrates found among immigrants whom he called “inferior races.” By 1898, his views had become even more radicalized, writing that “evil forces” were causing “the diminishing birthrate among the old native American stock,” and any who chose to not to have children were “race criminals.” He encouraged France, Germany, and England to take interest in “race suicide” birthrates in their countries while denouncing people in southern Italy as the “most fecund and the least desirable” race in all of Europe.

Well, if you want to read the book, and give me a good synopsis (Spark's Notes?), I will buy it for you.
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