Harriet Vane

A long history of racial, ethnic, class (& money) violence: background to this coup attempt

Friends and readers,

Built quickly a scaffold this January 6th -- by the mobs of people, ready to execute (it's said) Pence
for disloyalty to Trump and anyone else in congress they disapproved of

The familiarity of this simple but agonizing death machine (often accompanied by desecration of the corpse left hanging there) is suggestive of the long history behind the insurrection that was planned executed by various groups of people, including police, congress people, donors to white supremacist groups, and then incited, egged on by Trump. A successful impeachment was carried out last night in the House with still 197 Republicans refusing to impeach. This is also a refusal to condemn what happened - the white insurrectionists or mob. there is a long history of allowing white mobs to do what they want, including form private militias. There is a long history of appeasement of confederacy types starting shortly after the civil war. I don't say I think what officers were doing their jobs should have charged and massacred the white mob as they would have any Black protest but when you break the law, try to overturn a gov't and the refuse to admit you did anything wrong, far from it, threaten to do it again (from Jan 17-20), you should be arrested and punished by law.

On DemocracyNow.org for two nights in a row Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez have had historians talking about deep past and why this was expected: Tom Synder whose best known book seems to be On Tyranny: Ten Lessons of the Twentieth Century and the night before  Equally important and boding ill is Waldo Bello's experience in recent history that just the sort of violent mob attacks are the way a fascist minority typically has taken over democracies in the twentieth century.

And, you know, things that came back, came to my mind, were, for instance, the right-wing gangs in Chile that created the chaos that resulted in the military intervention that ousted President Allende back in 1973. And, you know, we had these groups like Patria y Libertad that pretty much were like this, the Proud Boys in the United States and the other right-wing gangsters.

Another image that flashed into my mind was the fascist squadristi of Mussolini, you know, that took power first by taking over the streets. And because the socialists in Italy at that time were becoming quite popular at the ballot box, the ruling class fought back mainly by promoting the fascist squads in their very violent ways of repressing the left.

I have something of my own I want to add tonight.

From reading Jill Lepore's history of the colonial period of the US and now Heather Cox Richardson's own book, on how the South won the Civil war, and other essays and books (Howard Zinn's History of the People of the US is as important as ever), I want to call attention to at least 300 years (starting 17th century) of violence between different ethnic, racial, cultural groups continuously across the US. Not all countries are "born" or invented this way. The US has been -- it was born from aggressive settler colonialist practices. Sometimes the violence and taking of land and property from the powerless and them taking it back or getting back violently -- the elite whites with their weapons most ragingly until the revolution was over -- and sometimes having decades of consolidation, a compromised peace where the elite and powerful whites get on with making money and garnering productive property (real estate, manufacturing, industrial agricultre. Again and again the resort to war to make the country larger, to take back more land, beginning pretty quickly with the war of 1812 (which was US versus Canada, the settlers then trying to expand also into Mexico), with enslavement and lynching central tools of the powerful white European elite and their coopted groups.

This result in a massive crisis when one part of this ruling group wanted to end enslavement so as to make a modern country and get jobs for the whites and make more prosperity by freedom for all for movement and work. For all means the huge number of enslaved people. To do this we had a civil war killing 600,000 (but now we've now had 300,000 allowed to die over this year), which did not finally end the conflict for the whites down south, the elites did not accept what would have been the results of the civil war, an assimilation of non-whites into the US population and powerful institutions too. The winners did not punish the losers but let them back into positions of power all over again.

Then decades of violent suppression lynching of blacks and minorities, very poor education for them, giving them the most menial jobs, ending finally in WW2 -- a genuine on-again off-again period from the 1950s where assimilation again tried, with more success until an attempt by law for powerful whites to share power (1965), which did happen until another solution emerged: put Black people with leftists into jail by huge numbers and then disenfranchise. Meanwhile (from 1970s) start stealthy but ceaseless campaign to foster rightist groups (1987 end of Fairness Doctrine in news) and spread of guns -- these militarist groups have been fostered by the US right, helped by a reinterpretation of the 2nd amendment. There was no right to carry a gun, there was a provision for civilian militias within states.

These groups were aligned with the Republican party -- their evangelicalism and the wealthy who want to pay no taxes insofar as they can -- by the use of open racist propaganda. The refusal of the elites to stop globalization has led to huge numbers of whites across the US are also impoverished and encouraged to blame the Blacks for taking "their" world of good manufacturing jobs away from them, with the democrats framed as their accomplices (of course they have mistaken the college elite from the elite in both parties who have destroyed their economic lives.)

Another aspect is while the Enlightenment was part of the US founding so were these fanatic religious groups -- to give people communities to belong to fiercely. Multi-culturalism has only gotten to the democratic part of the US -- there are a lot of people, 39% who vote consistently liberal democratic who are for a multi-cultural mulit-ethnic, secular tolerant modern society but they are fiercely opposed by this 20% who want a closed society, intolerant, one ethnicity, one race gets to vote -- so it is two visions of life.
So racism has to be seen in this larger context of an imperial unameliorated capitalist class-ridden country an outgrowth of settler colonialism -- violence just below (or not even) the surface. "Save the America march" means save White Christian America

I might as well include Heather Cox Richardson's most recent newsletter
: https://tinyurl.com/y4ugvr6z

Miss Sylvia Drake
Harriet Vane

A Real Coup Attempt

Friends and readers,

It is now clear yesterday was long in planning. A bandstand was built; Giuliani and Trump spoke to the mob first, both openly (Guiliani) and by indirection (Trump still wily) urging the mob to attack the building and people inside. To get people there took considerable planning. It's also clear that quite deliberately National Guard was withheld, and when the police came in, they were as gentle as they could be.
My question: what did Trump hope for? did he hope that a huge number of people in the USA would rejoice, come out for what was happening and thus allowed him to order the military to take over the gov't and he then could make himself dictator and hollow out the congress the way he has all the agencies under his control?
He must have hoped for some reinforcement and to take over, no? Did he not realize he needed to plan and organize more? put the groups attacking the statehouses closer in contact? Was this another botch, another instance of his laziness and incompetence?
Or was this a stunt he knew would not produce a country wide coordinated coup -- so what was in yesterday for him? He carried on tweeting deranged lies, made a video to incite more violence -- it was at that video that Twitter finally cut him but it's still said for only 12 hours (is he back?) and indefinitely from Facebook & Instagram.
The line conceding the presidency strikes me as written by someone else. So too did Amy Goodman clearly believe it was written by someone else. It lacks his usual withering anger tone of passion and arrogance.
Never has he said one word of belief in Biden's win -- even now.
What was or is the point? What did he hope to gain? Do you have any theories? It was a real coup attempt.

A small photo of the bandstand early on December 6th, the crowd waiting for Trump & Co to arrive

Keep hope alive
Harriet Vane

13 Days Is a Long Time

The coup is not over. Most of the mobsters (heavily armed) have not been arrested. Most of all, the instigator (Trump) has not gone and is not showing an iota of regret. Mulvaney resigned this morning. Trump must be impeached & convicted, or 25th out. He is feral.

Update as of 1/9/2021:

Black pedestrian attacked by Trumpster mob, this one in LA

The really bad news is this was a much wider conspiracy for Wednesday than was thought; it has the support of Republican Attorney Generals and State lawmakers (plus one of the Supreme Court Justices, Clarence Thomas) -- as well as what we know that it was very hard to get the National Guard in to do a job of protecting the Members of Congress (and reporters too). The good news is the gov't is holding firm, enough individuals in positions of power and authority don't want a dictatorship, especially by Trump -- but the atmosphere and what is happening is still worrying.
Meanwhile Trump continues to lie that he won the election, carries on to try to foment another insurrection. There is not enough time to do an impeachment, McConnell is still Majority leader of the senate and Republicans do not want to split the party over impeachment and conviction. Without these Trump gets a huge pension, money for travel, military protection and other perks he could use as a base to start a civil war. Richardson has lots of details put concisely. Trump has been removed from central social media; he howls but he could call the press ....
Here is Heather Cox Richardson's Newsletter for January 8, 2020


It's not all over. Although Trump's twitter account has at long last been suspended, it's only for 12 hours. Last night at midnight he was tweeting these same unhinged crazy tweets, he's won, by a landslide, these are loving beautiful people and not for a second did he concede anything. It was not he who ordered the police in, but Pence and Pelosi and McConnell and the two minority leaders; then the governors of Virginia and Maryland. These mobs were not arrested -- they were celebrating at midnight in the streets after a curfew had been called. They are all, so to speak (except maybe a couple of leaders) still at large. There is nothing from Trump to suggest he is going to stop this. And these are not an isolated band of very stupid crazed people; they were supported by speeches earlier, among them Trump and Guiliani, and there were assault and mob scenes across the US state houses

He is (like Bonnie Prince Charley) hoping to see the whole country rise - or enough ordinary people. They did not yesterday or last night. But 13 days is a long time. To go back to my original worry weeks ago now (months): I worried Trump would refuse to leave the white house and asked who would take him out? I offer the idea he is still determined not to leave office.
As of noon on January 20th Trump is no longer president and Biden is -- but Biden is not charge of these mobs. They attacked state houses across the country. They are armed fiercely. Yes Biden will then be able to order in the military and they can stop this -- but will the inauguration be permitted. 13 days is a long time. This was a concerted effort. Two nights ago Trump was out there inciting these people. Just before they crashed the building, Guiliana was out there inciting them (let's have trial by combat).
Congress must get rid of Trump. The Republicans are not convinced he is truly a liability. They went back to the congress and over 100 people carried on objecting and voted against this last declaration -- I saw some woman in black with a black mask on her face reiterating the same lies -- she did not say Trump won (nor did Cruz -- Cruz said this huge number of people believe he won and should we not respect their ideas? ). This after this attack on the Capitol Building. I understand McConnell cut short the debate. 13 days is a long time.
2/3s is needed to impeach and then remove. Heather Cox Richardson last night said it is more difficult to use the 25th amendment because you need the heads of cabinets. I add to this the heads of cabinets are by this point acting or lackeys corrupt. Impeachment is not that hard; maybe conviction. And then Pence must have him arrested.
Where was the FBI yesterday? There was violence all over the US.
Here is Cox Richardson's Letter from last night around midnight: She was actually calm last night as she video-chatted. Michael Moore during the day live-chatting was very shaken.


Keep hope alive.

Harriet Vane

Campaign for a National Popular Vote & First Cat/Last gasps: disease spreader allows hacking

Dear friends and readers,

I've been holding off celebrating this past Monday when the electors across all 50 states met and made Joseph Biden officially the President-Elect about to be inaugurated on January 20th as the 47th President of the US, with Kamala Harris his Vice President. By Wednesday, it appeared that the ruthless lying Republicans who had been supporting Trump's attempted coup were beginning publicly to accept the truth, that a vast majority of Americans in an election in which more people voted than ever before voted in Biden, the congress prepared to assemble on January 5th and declare him President.  That situation still obtains and if I sound at all anxious it's lest my heart breaks yet -- because this truly evil man somehow holds on to power illegitimately.  Among others, another very bad man but still powerful, Mitch McConnell  congratulated Biden and held a meeting telling fellow Republican senators, it was time to move on, and they should accept as a body Biden as president. Of course not much later Trump was tweeting  insults at McConnell and declaring he won everywhere and there is new fraud discovered in Nevada ...

(It is said that McConnell made his move because the Republicans are being clobbered as early voting in Georgia for the two Senate seats begins: Georgians are sickening, dying, in bleak situations so many without food, jobs, and at risk of eviction. Thus a stimulus bill  is about to be signed giving ordinary people and small business desperately needed money to carry on.  But only a minimal amount, tiny in comparison to what is needed.


But this article and conversation on The Campaign for a National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is too important and I worry I won't find it again.  On DemocracyNow It's called the Campaign for a National Popular Vote Interstate Compact to elect presidents.  John Koza, Chair and the increasingly group is working to change the Electoral College so that it will not be winner takes all in each state, but all the votes at the end of each state election gathered together from each as a whole and then counted as a single group -- that would make the electoral reflect the popular vote.
You don't need a constitutional amendment. He maintains Congress could not stop the states if they all decided to do this as counting the votes (how they do it) is specifically left up to them. Indeed the how right now is quite different but each submits a winner takes all in that state tally. That is what would change.
That's why Trump could not force state officials to do what he wanted -- he has no power over the state elections. He can pressure, bribe, threaten individuals but he has no standing (he's learned to say the idea of "standing in court" is a technicality oh no it's not). This Professor said quite a number of states have signed onto this, either in one of their houses or both -- four small states — Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont — and eight medium-size states — Colorado, where, by the way, the voters just reaffirmed the action of the Colorado Legislature and governor and approved National Popular Vote — Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington — and then three bigger states — California, Illinois and New York.

They need states with 74 more electoral votes to put this into effect, hopefully in time for the 2024 presidential elections. And in terms of progress in that direction, there are nine additional states, with 88 electoral votes, where at least one house of the legislature has already passed the National Popular Vote bill. So we’re optimistic that we can succeed in putting this into effect in time for the 2024 election.

They are optimistic about Virginia. The bill also passed one house in Maine in 2019. And in Michigan in 2018, 25 of the 38 state senators sponsored the bill, including a majority of both parties. And then it passed the Minnesota House in 2019, and some other states.

The fault-line does not appear to be size nor necessarily party. This would counter gerrymandering too. The reason you get such extreme Congressman is outrageous egregious gerrymandering.
Of course Republicans and Southerners are against it -- but not all Republicans. For the way the election is done there are these battle ground states and all other states are ignored as in effect their electoral input is nullified. Now the ignored states don't like that one little bit. It nullifies their participation in an election. The frightening truth is Trump could have won -- be once a wrong-winner as this man put it -- had some 21,000 votes gone another way in the "key" states at the same time as Biden still have 7 million votes more.

Said Koza, 5 out of our presidents have lost the popular vote, and recently Bush in his first term and Trump in his. Koza calls them "wrong-winners."

Here is our hope for democracy -- there is a bunch of reforms in Congress now to stop fraud, including watch dogs, measures to prevent states throwing out votes - - but what we want is an electoral college that reflects the popular majority across the US so each state has to be fought for and there is no battle ground and no state that doesn't count because since it's winner take all will seem to be either democrat or republican before the campaigns even start.

See also Goodman's column making the case, telling about this new campaign.


Also the cleverness and insight of the PBS reports where they interviewed some people who emigated to the US some time ago to escape a dictator and find that Trump's behavior after this election resembled that of the dictators in the countries the people fled. So PBS and its team are not themselves saying Trump's behavior is that of a dictator but ordinary people who have experienced dictatorships outside the US do. The story is Yamiche Alcindor's and it's labeled immigrants hear echoes from [their dictatorship] past in Trump

For example,

  • Noorjahan Akbar has known conflict most of her life. She was just three months old when Soviet Union troops withdrew from her home country of Afghanistan.

    When she turned six, the Taliban took power. Her family escaped their harsh rule for Pakistan and a chance at an education. Akbar moved to the U.S. permanently in 2014. But she says, in the echoes of President Trump and his administration, she hears the turmoil she and her family fled in her home country.

  • Noorjahan Akbar:

    None of these are signs of a democratic leader. These are all signs of an autocrat who is drunk on power and doesn't have people around him who would call him out.

Go over and click and listen and learn.

No one ever loses elections in Haiti. And if they — you tell them they lose, they arm their gangs. They go around shooting everybody, burn down homes, burn down offices, burn down electoral offices, so that they can intimidate people, and, finally, they're self-declared winners.

What happens is that, when you have people really buying into the news that the — President Trump won, even though he didn't win the election, and he has all these people out there mobilizing for him, and these people are armed, they're threatening people, sooner or later, they can go out there and start violence. And then, eventually, people will be afraid
The American public doesn't understand that democracy is a fragile system that can wither away if you don't take care of it.

Last one:

  • Infectious disease Dr. Nada Fadul knows what it means for a democracy to slip away. She grew up in Sudan and saw a democratically elected leader overthrown by military officer Omar al-Bashir, who then ruled for 30 years.

    She says the American dream includes being able to choose your own leader. President Trump's rhetoric reminds her of her past, and she's worried he will set a dangerous precedent.

  • Nada Fadul:

    The fact that he refused to concede reminded us of those times. So, we had almost like a PTSD type of reaction.

    That model of transition of power that we have witnessed every four years in this country is now at risk, because future presidents might follow his footsteps and say: He did it before. Why can't I do it?


Now for the celebratory story:

It was later on Tuesday the New Yorker rejoiced  with  the second of the three articles I want to call attention to in this blog:  a fun article telling readers that the Bidens have acquired exquisitely adorable First Cat. He is clearly not a kitten. A kitten would not make it in such a sophisticated place. In said article, he outlines his strategy: When Proud Boys and such-like Trumptrash ilk go low, he'll go lower: right under a nearby bed. He is moving in January 20, 2020. I feel confident he will the sniff out any remaining rats.


Finally I recommend reading Heather Cox Richardson's Letter from an American for December 16, 2020. Information that explains why the US in such a bad position today, why so many sickening and dying. You will learn that the Trump administration did deliberately try to infect as many young people as possible -- did everything they could while trying to disguise this. That's why Trump was demanding schools and colleges open up. It  is now confirmed that young people die and are maimed in great numbers too. This encouraged all sorts of people to refuse to wear masks, social distance, close their economy -- lose money. A terrific backlash has gone on against people running public health organizations has gone on and we are very weakened in all our institutions to help us to stay healthy.

Secondly, absolute indifference and incompetence has led to the biggest most profound hacking by the Russians into US cyberspace information.  It was the result of an incoherent policy. The way to stop such spy attacks is everyone in an administration works together to a coherent policy and we work with our allies. In the Trump years the exact opposite was done.

She then presents more signs
some significant now powerful Republicans are turning away from Trumpism (which includes encouraging people to do things which make them sicken and die, refuse to send any kind of help to average people or businesses.  And of course trickle down theory is nonsense. If you give rich people and corporations more money it does not trickle down at all.  But these kinds of ideas are getting play in the media which they have not for a long time .... since say the Clinton and Carter years.

Just now millions of doses of vaccines are bought but (as usual) the Trump administration has no plan (he is too lazy and against anything that does not bring him money or power) to distribute them among the states so it will take much longer than it should -- which is not something easily done quickly anyway.

Miss Sylvia Drake
Harriet Vane

Heather Cox Richardson

Here is an unusual blog:  I write it to urge readers to read another text daily:  Heather Cox Richardson's daily newsletter, Letters from an American; and to watch her twice-a-week videos. You will in brief compass learn as much as you might perusing the best US newspapers daily on what is happening over the election of Joe Biden, Jr for president. He is now President Elect Biden, with Kamala Harris the vice-president.

Heather Cox Richardson seems to me the best daily commentator on what's happening across the country and in politics. She's enormously learned in precisely the areas needed  to understand why and how Trump is getting away with what seem to me to be treasonous and criminal acts  -- thwarting the  electoral process right in front of us, demanding governors throw
out votes,  the man who won the election be thrown out. According to her (and in her latest  book this is part of the terrain):  during the reconstruction era all the cracks in our constitution which can be used to undermine democracy, and the deliberate elements put into the constitution in the first place to make it an oligarchy of white males who can own people (enslave them) to work them to death for profit.  Her book, How the South Won the Civil War explains how in the reconstruction era when the Republican party switched allegiances to the very rich and businessmen, and became fundamentally structurally racist as by the later 19th century (the "gilded age") did the democrats down south); the behavior Trump is exhibiting has happened before. Today's fervent open (not hiding away like the discreet wealthy) are the direct descenants, and first were seen as a group in Barry Goldwater's campaign and defeat.

The John Birch Society of the 1950s, vitriolically against Eisenhower's moderate Republicanism, belongs here too.

Here is her Facebook page  where you can read her biography and find out where to sign up for the daily newspaper and find the bi-weekly video chats:


Here is my Sylvia II blog where I am autobiographical but one day after I found her presence, work and began to read her book, I recommended her strongly


She is strengthening and consoling by her very presence and what she has to tell and to advise.

For today I record:  Trump did not buy the 100 million doses offered by Pfizer las spring, and now we have the left-overs. He walked out of WHO. Now we learn they have no plan: Azar may fool with empty rhetoric but what he says is they will send what they havd to governors: I wonder if that includes democratic governors. I also want to point out that the people within Trump's circle get extraordinary treatment for COVID that saves them and is not available to anyone elso so a horrible crook like Guiliani is saved and thousands of others die.

The UK is beginning to vaccinate millions this week, and the US has to look forward to a whole winter of sickness and dying because this group of people did not purchase enough vaccine when they could have. Why? The contrast could not be more stark.
Each day Biden is not yet in office, he and they do all they can to sabotage Biden's presidency (before it begins) and cause more misery for most people -- not to omit trying to undermine the election. It's "Safe Harbor" day and still absurd lawsuits are filed, hard pressure on legislatures to overturn the electoral college results.
But it's the totally unnecessary sickness and deaths that are so stark. Especially compared to other countries where they can look forward to a better & immediately hopeful Christmas season. Just think if Trump had really won, we'd be losing our social security, ACA would be gone, prisons expanding ever more.

Harriet Vane

Heart-breaking film by Pete Souza; depictions of preludes to dictatorships: Naipaul & Olivia Manning

A deeply moving vindication of the idea that a president of the US must be not just competent and truthful, but empathetic, pro-active on behalf of all the people, dignified, and hard working. Souza was also photographer for part of Reagan's -- no where near as long but the pictures are inspired. Apparently for some 4 years Souza has been responding to Trump's slanderous smears of Obama with photos that refute whatever his hellish man says. Worrying, disquieting depictions of the early stages of outright dictatorships and fascism in Naipaul's Bend in the River, Olivia Manning's Balkan Trilogy, even Arnold Bennett captures this in Old Wives Tale.


Last night I watched Pete Souza's The Way I See It: it's a movie documentary directed by Dawn Porter and made from thousands of photos Souza took of Obama at work for 8 years and probably several hundred from a stint at the Reagan white house.

It is heart-breaking to watch two men working at really being President of the US: if you do not agree with Reagan's POV or what legislation he passed, you have to grant he was doing the job as legally and morally required.

Obama emerges as a supelatively competent, caring, dignified hard working president as well as a beautifully loving, active husband and father.

Heart-breaking because we know who is there now and what he has destroyed, made rotten and is now in the throes of trying to over turn altogether in order to make himself a dictator. Apparently Souza has spent some of these four years on Instagram responding to each and every outrageous false smear of Obama from this malicious delusionary con-man by producing a photo and caption to refute it.

It's $5.50 at YouTube:


Also on MSNBC, and NBC Peacock feed on TV.

I was going to say I have been buoyed today by the New York Times whose front page seemed to me to show that slowly
what-ever-it-is that makes up the actual active gov't is turning against Trump's lies and defiance. It's like watching tea-leaves in a cup except all we see is the surface movement. But I am now worrying about a projected MAGA march of crazed bigots (including the sect that believes Trump is fighting Satan on behalf of the world). Last night I was worrying Trump will succeed in pulling off a coup if the armies obey him - - will they obey the people who run them and are Trump's puppets. I'd like to say I don't think anyone foresaw this when Trump took the office over and the WH and all the hold on legal violence and so many other powerful agencies in this country  We are dying like flies because he won't do anything to stop this - nor let anyone else in his power. But I recollect early on how his personal lawyer warned us -- you'll never get him out or it will be very difficult. I hope I'm wrong.

Most people keep saying Biden will take office but these are the same people who said Clinton would win, and
for Biden there might be a landslide.  I did think the latter. And no one tells me how this will happen; they seem to think it just will, somehow Trump will give in. Now this morning in the newspaper I see some yielding but not yet from him or the powerful Republicans who apparently are okay with a dictatorship as long as it's right wing, ruthless and white supremacist.

I keep asking people how, tell me how and no one comes up with anything concrete except the idea Trump & junta will give in. If the electoral college certificates Biden, they will ignore it.  Can we get up a general strike? millions demonstrating in the street?  Trump will send police out to kill us, fire the whole federal gov't who he thinks he doesn't want or need.

OTOH, I read his feed on twitter for the very first time in 4 years and discover
it's incessant assertions that he won, that votes for him were not counted and over and over he won. He attacks the press, including Fox News. He sits there and does nothing else. None of the president's duties. Doesn't he have work of some kind he's supposed to be doing? The man comes across as crazed with obsessive falsehoods, out of touch with the realities (and people probably) around him. His (like so many a fat-hard-faced obtuse type) appointee, Emily Murphy (GAO) is still obstructing the transition process. Pressure is being exerted by (among others) Republican congressmen.

A long period of apparent quiet before a sudden on-rush of armies and off stage or on stage killing and destroying buildings is depicted in the first volume of Olivia Manning's The Balkan Trilogy as prelude and early stages of fascist Roumania as controlled by Nazi Germany; in V. S. Naipaul's Bend in the River, as store keeper watches from afar an analogous process; you can even ger this from Arnold Bennett's now old Old Wives Tale as his heroine Sophia working as a landlady/housekeeper of a hotel in Paris, watches from afar the events (Franco-Prussian war and invasion, attempt at rebellion and creation of a democratic state in 1870 and 1871 in that city.

Harriet Pringle (Emma Thompson) and Yakimov (Ronald Pickup) in Fortunes of War (Balkan Trilogy BBC film adaptation): they are watching fearful events as silently troops maneuver in a square

Harriet Vane

Biden & Harris have won, there is hope for the future: Morning has broken ...

I was going to wait until the inauguration itself, but find I'd prefer to feel hopeful now.

Cat Stevens singing a Gaelic hymn written in 1931 by a Mary M. Macdonald, translated by Eleanor Farjeon (she of "Cats sleep anywhere") to a Highland Scottish tune. It was printed in a hymn book called Songs of Praise.

From Wikipedia, under "Bunessan"

Mary M. Macdonald (Màiri Dhòmhnallach in Scottish Gaelic) (1789–1872), who lived in the crofting community of Ardtun near Bunessan and spoke only Gaelic, wrote her hymn "Leanabh an àigh" to a traditional melody. When the words were translated into English in the 1880s, the melody was named after the village of Bunessan by the translator, Lachlan Macbean. A monument to Mary Macdonald can be seen about 1.5 miles east of the village, on the road towards Craignure. The ruins of the house where she lived are also nearby.

"Bunessan" is also used for the James Quinn hymns, "Christ Be Beside Me" and "This Day God Gives Me," both of which were adapted from the traditional Irish hymn "St. Patrick's Breastplate", and for Michael Saward's hymn "Baptized In Water".

Sometime before 1927 Alexander Fraser heard the melody in the Scottish Highlands and wrote it down so that it came to the attention of Percy Dearmer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Martin Shaw. In turn, these editors of the hymn book Songs of Praise requested Eleanor Farjeon to write a further hymn text to the tune. This was "Morning Has Broken", and since 1931 the tune has become most familiarly identified with this hymn. In 1971, a version of "Morning Has Broken" was recorded by British singer Cat Stevens, helping popularize the tune.

Harriet Vane

Huge Latino vote helped Biden; but white women voted for Trump & white voters endorse colonialism

Friends and readers,

I suggest an important story or truth overlooked in the mainstream media is the one described and backed up by statistical analysis by Juan Gonzalez on DemocracyNow.org.  The record Latinx vote turnout helped Biden Worryingly, a part of the large turnout were white voters voting for Trump, more white women for Trump: they want a white supremacist world in which colonialism on their behalf reigns unchecked.

Arizona Latino votes for Biden

I quote the central part of Gonzalez's remarks:

So, now people say, “Well, but there was a slight percentage increase among African Americans and Latinos for Trump.” Well, percentages don’t win elections. Votes win elections. Right? And that’s what you’ve got to understand. Would you rather have 70% of 12 million votes, or would you rather have 68% of 20 million votes? The increase has been so large, whereas the percentages have stayed roughly the same, that there has been — there was enormous increase in the vote by Asian Americans, Latino Americans and African Americans for Biden and the Democratic Party.

And I think the enthusiasm and the turnout of the Latinx community was fueled by four years of constant Republican scapegoating and attacks on Latinos, from the disastrous response to Hurricane Maria for the Puerto Rican community, to family separations, and also to the terrible response of the Trump administration to the coronavirus. And it is why Arizona and Nevada and Colorado are likely, it seems, to go for Joe Biden. And what has happened now is that there is a new Brown Belt voting bloc that is developing in the Southwest, that includes Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and very soon Texas, as well.

Years of grassroots organizing and proselytizing behind this: teaching people

So, the real underperformers in this election were white voters, who not only did not have a qualitative increase in their vote totals — they dropped from 71% of the electorate to 65% of the electorate — but they voted in an even higher percentage for Trump this time than last time or than they did for John McCain in 2008. And this is especially true among white women. So, now, how is this possible, given the years now of sexual — of allegations of sexual assault against Trump, his denigrating of women, his family separation policies, that white women increased the percentage of the vote that they gave to Donald Trump? What’s up with that?

Later on in his talk, Gonzalez said:

I think the key thing to understand is that, unfortunately — and I’ve been saying this now for years, when I get a chance to do analysis rather than just ask questions — is that there is a significant portion of the American people, including among African Americans and Latinos and other groups, who are perfectly happy with the United States being the world’s imperial power, and who, to some degree or other, believe that they are invested in the continued national chauvinism and expansionism and bullying of America around the world. So, this vote also represents, even if Joe Biden wins, that there are many Americans who are perfectly happy with our country being a rogue state in the world and lording over the rest of the world and insisting that its interests are first. There is a national chauvinist movement in America and a movement that believes authoritarianism is the way to go.


I teach at two Oscher Institutes of Lifelong Learning, one at American University and one at George Mason University.  Almost all the people who are in the classes and teach them are white middle class or upper middle class. I know that hardly any of them were for Bernie Sanders; his name produced frowns and statements of dislike and distrust. But I have learned that they are more than merely centrist democrats at least in a course where Kipling and colonialist texts are being read.

There was complacent acceptance of racist colonialism in Kipling; the rationale is of course this is history. But it isn't. Two stories for children by the teacher were assigned; in both the norms taught a boy was never negotiate; kill rather than show mercy; if you make a bargain, it's fine to break it; it is glorious your self to die. Prisoners of war are despicable; better to die than accept being a prisoner of war.  These norms were accepted as things to teach children.  Kipling's poem,"If," apparently given to a number of them as children in schools they went to (not in those I did, public schools in the Bronx). provoked nostalgia! The poem is mindless cant; you must do all that you can pro-actively to achieve conventional admiration; there is no "if" about ideals; you must win out, and if you don't, you are contemptible. The teacher at one point said that Kipling's idea of the white man's burden included a sense of responsibility for the whites: that period we were reading a story by Kipling where the heroine just wants to be his slave, she and her child out of wedlock are hidden by him: they die - of course happy they were his. Had they not died, and had the hero, he provided nothing to enable them to live; they'd be thrown off the streets. The heroine spends her life dressing up in fancy dresses and jewels. No sense in the class discussion his military stories set in India are repulsive.  I'm with Chinua Achebe that Conrad's Heart of Darkness while critiquing the worst cruelties of colonialism, nonetheless presents Africans as subhuman; Kurtz has led a depraved life.

I know there are people in the zoom "rooms' in the two classes I'm teaching who react with hostility when I point out that the US trials are producting not guilty verdicts on murderous cops hostility. One man said the court system is set up to allow jurors to come to such verdicts in a way that showed he was justifying such a verdict.

OTOH, there is nothing in any women I know or come across writing on the Net to suggest why they can possibly vote for Donald Trump -- he is himself flagrantly a sexual predator, denigrator of women as there just as sexual objects (Barbie dolls).
Is it they long to be raped and abused by white male thugs in suits?  Not likely.  They do want "their" men to have the high-paying jobs so they can lead lives of leisure and prestige as upper class women with children going to Ivy League colleges their own jobs could never support. 

I know this: I see white women online complacent to reprint photos of Trump when they reprint supposedly anti-Trump stories. Repeatedly I suggest to a few and write generally on FB and twitter to click on the "x," and remove and replace his photo with anything else.  The women's refusal to do anything about these continuous images goes beyond their failing to see or denying they are providing free publicity.

They are simply not overwhelmed with loathing for this man. I assume they have never been raped, gang-raped and if they were harassed by men like him, the experience didn't really hit them deeply where they exist.

Of the very few white women I have written to, to ask please stop reprinting his picture:  a few were resentful and clearly wanted to carry on reprinting the photo, claiming this was for people who hated him; one was so resentful of my suggestion, she unfriended me. A third has stopped reprinting the photo (she clicks the "x" and substitutes another picture most of the time, or does not refer to stories with Trump's picture, which is hard as newspapers sell copy by attaching pictures -- it is wrong to think this is the author's choice or work; it's imposed by the seller of the copy). She was finally persuaded this practice is free publicity for Trump.


Whites trying to stop the voting in Detroit: the crowd cry: stop the counting

It has been a very sobering election to see that 64 million people this time voted for Trump after he has been singlehandedly just about spreading sickness and death to the point we are into the tens of thousands a day (past 230,000 in deaths), we have an unemployment rate higher than any time since the depression concentration camps with children in cages separate from their families or dumped in remote states they have no relative in.  It is foolish to say Biden underperformed; that somehow he or the Democrats have been to blame. A large proportion of the white electorate is racist and wants low taxes and no social safety for others if it costs them any thing.

Yes these people stopping the democracy, for suppressing the vote want a dictatorship -- if that's what it takes because a majority of the electorate wants a social democracy, social helps, a secular tolerant open society.
These whites openly attack offices who are counting democratic votes and try to stop them voting. They come with Ak-15s to protect voting places which are white and reactionary.  They are showing us who they are. They’re showing everyone who they are.

Miss Drake

Harriet Vane

Acts of civil war; subverting, undermining the Constitution; refusing to obey the law ...

Dear friends and readers,

The header describes what the Republicans have been openly doing since Trump took office, more overtly yet since the election began. They want to provoke violence from the democrats so that they can send violent heavily armed militia to maim and wound protesters and demonstrators or if people try to remove the fake ballot boxes the Republicans have been putting out in California. Openly in courts and elsewhere they are working to stop people from voting.

Police beating up a demonstrator:

Let's face the reality that what we are seeing in the US are acts of civil war. When one large group refuses to obey the law openly, they are challenging those they are determined to rule in order to hurt to _force them_. The republicans are now openly disobeying flouting laws as well as customs. The appointing of Am Coney Barrett is flouting custom and open lying.
Thus far the democrats have been unwilling ourselves to initiate violence but tried instead to act out the first amendment. The first amendment is now so hemmed in it hardly protects us when we try to assemble and demonstrate. We have not literally fought back; we have demonstrated and when attacked, defended ourselves, and yes fought back with screams (and the traditional) fires and projectiles and sticks. Now increasingly reports show that the federal and Trump's and republican police are deliberately wounding hurting maiming people immediately. If a democrat has a gun, then police have the right to murder him or her with impunity because courts refuse to indite or to convict. The attempt to kidnap the governor of Michigan has resulted in only a few arrests of those immediately in charge and the Republicans led by Trump are increasingly supporting this act. Now in California Republicans are putting out false ballot boxes and refusing openly to take them away.
The open use of the supreme court to change the laws to destroy the social contract we've had (decent medicine, social security) is part of this. I do see in these OLLI classes where I teach individuals who suddenly look sullen (the majority of people in these places democrats, if centrists ones) because I will say things like juries refuse to convict police who murder someone and now (as the election comes up) I got someone defending that, not on the grounds it was done, to allow people to murder blacks, but that the law in courts is set up to allow such nullification. I didn't respond, no, it's that we cannot make anything so airtight that we can prevent people from manipulating language. What I saw in a Kipling class (support for ideas that "the white man's burden" to support egregious colonialism, complacency in the face of racism, misogyny), in a class on health care (hostility to universal health for all as a right when the system that will bring it about is described) is the same.
And a few Trump signs are appearing in my neighborhood and others near by. No with his name but "law and order matter;" these are responding to many signs all over my neighborhood -- "black lives matter." I have one on my lawn. Law and order is code for we are allowed to crush you, for the republicans are not following law. Many who vote for Trump are ashamed of him but they are for his policies. A white supremacy with unqualified uncontrolled capitalism and militarism is their identity -- those who vote republican and openly for Trump want that.
Open violence here too. People sent by Trump, Republican party officials and people taking it upon themselves to come to polling places and (with guns some of them) attempt to stop people voting by intimidation.
To me it's no coincidence that around the world for decades (since WW2) the US gov't has crushed social democracies wherever it could when they emerge in new countries


William Barr by John Cuneo

Trump is glad that armed militia tried to kidnap with an intent to torment or lynch the governor of Michigan (and overturn the local gov't); he rejoiced when militia murdered an older man it's said was an anti-fascist; he does all he can to encourage police to move outside what is legally allowed as coercive violence.

Both together put a woman, Amy Coney Barrett, on the supreme court who is extremist in views (she will not endorse the right to vote, the idea there should be a peaceful transition of power after an election) and lies under oath, such as her claim she will be fair and observe precedent when it comes to Rowe v Wade or any other legislation. Here is a typical decision of hers: a case where a 19 year old pregnant prisoner was repeatedly raped by a guard; he forced her to perform oral sex on him after she gave birth; when she went to court and was awarded compensatory money (a good deal but nothing will erase the experience), Barrett was one of those who overturned the decision and stopped the compensation. She said the case was outside the court's jurisdiction. In other words, there is no place a girl like this can find protection. The basis of justice is empathy and equity and Barretts recognizes none. It has long been the custom not to fill an appointed office during an election; asked why they act in such bad faith, Lindsey Graham's reply is, You can do this when you are in the majority (take power). In other words we no longer have a consensus gov't but one side willing to break convention to set up tyrannical courts or whatever they please. This is not gov't for all the people by the people.

My goal in this blog since Trump took office has been to share relatively unknown but important essays -- or essays that won't attract wide popular attention. I can't always find such writing but I do have one today: Fintan O'Toole on William Barrr (New York Review of Books. Trump's Enabler-in Chief, [the career, writings and father of] William Barr

In reality, the contrast between Trump’s statement and Barr’s is one of tone, not of substance. Barr was answering a question about the election at a press conference in Milwaukee. His reply began, “Obviously I’ve been outspoken and concerned about a last-minute shift to universal mail-in ballots.” In his quieter, more restrained way, Barr was actually supporting Trump’s case—the peaceful transfer of power depends on the validity of the election, but such legitimacy is undermined if there is a large number of mail-in ballots.

Barr has been echoing Trump’s baseless accusations that voting by mail is inherently fraudulent for many months. In an interview with Steve Inskeep on NPR on June 25, Barr raised the possibility of widespread counterfeiting of ballots. Inskeep asked, “Did you have evidence to raise that specific concern?” Barr replied, “No, it’s obvious.” There is only one reason to point to threats for which there is no evidence—to lay the ground for a challenge to the election’s results. In this light Barr’s statement in Milwaukee, far from contradicting Trump’s strategy, could in fact be imagined as the opening premise of a brief from the attorney general to the Supreme Court arguing why huge numbers of votes should be discounted.


Senator Whitehouse explaining how Trump and junta are managing to pack the courts: dark money, huge contributions by corporations to protect themselves from taxes, from having to follow regulations for public health, from having workers with any rights ...

I have a third presentation (this time not written except in a transcript, which is attached when you click on the URL), which people may have overlooked and is important.

So what we are seeing occurring in front of our very eyes on TV is an act of war, an open subversion (undermining of constitutional norms) in the case of the fanatic religious woman, Amy Conan Barrett. You really must submit yourself to "advisors" told about your private life in the Praise of God group, and all women to husbands.

We need an explanation of how she got there: how is it Trump unerringly picks for courts the most reactionary and extreme right-wing and religious men and women? They are selected by the Federalist Society for Trump (he acknolwedges this openly -- they are among his strongest rich supporters); who are they? one of several interlocking groups of super-rich donors who have transformed the US courts so as to render powerless most individuals bringing economic injustices before the supreme court, and those who want regulations to help our environment remain healthy and our natural resources last, and to reinforce (put back) a reactionary conservative social agenda (especially against any forms of sexuality but heterosexual and any liberties for women as individuals apart from men). It was explained during the hearings by Senator Whitehouse of Rhode Island. In case you missed this, here it Is:


I do worry people will not realize that Trump is deliberately spreading the disease and so too his Republican colleagues: they want to preclude lockdowns doing any good, and fight off any demands that the gov't help support people in need during quarantines, any money for PPE for hospitals, any more unemployment benefits than the bare minimum of ordinary life. This is seen in story after story of their behavior -- but it is not made explict so I make this explicit here -- the fifth reality people must not overlook, must face as shocking it might seem that a group of people in power are working to spread a potentially deadly and maiming disease among us.

Dr Fauci on PBS Reports ....

Trump deliberately doing what he can to spread COVID19; every single demand he makes on how to get there, how to be there is a determined way to spread the disease. He and Junta refusing to pass a bill to help sick, unemployed people and small businesses. Seeking to overturn ACA with Amy Coney Barrett, as handmaid.
When Trump issues dire threats to republican governors: if he does not win, he will get back at them. Stupid people see how stupid he is about the constitution. No, he is telling them to cheat massively or he will get back. "I'll fire you" is the way he talks -- from the Apprentice. He has faced he might lose and is saying he will leave the country -- he does fear prosecution because now he's president he has forced on wide public notice all his crimes -- especially to be seen in his tax returns: see this story about what he's doing in Wisconsin: New York Times: it has hit us with a vengeance. Dr Fauci, this is a systemic disease, not at all an ordinary flu: it maims your organs and different systems. Trump openly ridicules Fauci to run interference so Fauci's message is lost and all the papers talk of is how Trump dismissed the well-known doctor's words as foolish.

This is where the US is today, why we are now over 220,000 deaths, mass drug and alcohol addiction, high suicide rate, blighted areas of the US where Trump's most ignorant supporters live. They vote for him because they want to derive their pride and identity from his white supremacist, macho male, seething angry stances.

Harriet Vane

The importance of symbols

I have again been watching the French series about WW2 in France, centering on the Nazi occupation of 1940-1945 and then fast forwarding briefly to 1946-7, 1975 and then 2002:  A French village.   Gentle readers, you must see it to learn about what is happening in the US today. I have written about it on three blogs: Seasons 1-2, Seasons 3-4, Seasons 5-7

Gretchen Whitmer -- an attempt to kidnap and probably kill her -- militia groups are interconnected across states.  See

I will be making parallels with US this week:  a deliriously sick 73 year old (as the NYTimes has demonstrated through reporting on his taxes a criminal grifter), diseased old man pumped up with super-sophisticated drugs is permitted to seem to "run" the government (while he steals continuously from it, ignores its laws, as in the White House Lawn rallies). He also is allowed to do these rallies (he will be leaving WH) where he enables hundreds to infect one another, and all of them go out to where they came from to infect yet further people. What kind of insanity of a govt do we have?

On the recent right-wing plot to overthrow gov't (not symbolic), spurred on by Trump's encouraging, see "Liberate Michigan."

In A French Village it is tremendously significant when the Resistance manages to have a parade on 11/11: symbols matter. Also effective deadly political acts even when they don't come off matter. That's why the Nazis are so ferocious in their retaliation: killing 100 French people for every dead Nazi soldier.

As in the US the police will not give up their understood right to kill black, disabled, and (to this society) unimportant people with impunity, to imprison them at will. Those who think that Biden can take power and use it effectively are not seeing what is in front of them. Not just Trump being allowed to stay in office and have these killing rallies in the WH, but the Michigan attempt to overthrow a local gov't -- Trump encouraged it, and he has justified it. Yes he cannot get the machinery to put his enemies in jail and cannot stop this election. Let us see if it is not a farce. My father told long ago how important it was that all over the US these right-wing militia groups were allowed to flourish (that was during WACO).
There is probably a coming civil war in the US if the present course of action, law, behavior, is not changed.  While the overt symbols are racism -- intense anger by these white groups that other white groups want to let into the body politic blacks, hispanics, immigrants - the core cause is economic. The several large white groups supporting these republicans and their crazed mascot, Trump, want to return - have returned -- to an unmitigated capitalist military state. Huge give-aways during this pandemic on top of a crazed tax "reform" which is going to continue this trend of a few billionaires, monopolies everywhere, the shrinkage of the middle class. The target now is social security. People fight over symbols like religion or "democracy" (a republic) or nowadays ethnicities and identities but I think that is not what this is fundamentally about. What supports Trump are the top 20% whites in charge of a lot. They want to pay very little taxes and that only to protect their property and privileges. What put and kept Hitler in power was the hatred of communism and socialism. Trump screams he word socialism at the crowds.

Various academic friends of mine (mostly tenured people) are again saying how Biden will win and then Trump go out --- like in 2016 they said (and other various middle class retired people at OLLI at AU who had had successful middle class careers mostly in gov't) Hilary would win. They are people comfortably well off.  The naivete of these people is seen in how they reproduce Trump's image over and over in their Internet messages, mimicking the media which is trying to keep a gov't going where they can continue to operate -- and make money on this apparently irresistible image. Well I resist it and I tell others to resist it.

We do need the Press.  Without the Press, we would not know how sick Trump is, and how at least 20 officials in the WH are now infected (we don't know how many "underlings"). Meanwhile a creeping acceptance of 4 more years of the Trump junta can be found in news outlets and social media platforms. We would not know Trump is probably guilty of tax fraud, corruption while in Office (taking bribes openly even). Read The Swamp That Trump Built.

I should say one of the elements that this French series makes plain is  the Germans loathe the French (as groups, those in charge) because they lost WW1 and were 'punished' by the Versailles so any mention of 11/11 is needling them. They could not pull off hat parade without the help of many not overtly in the Resistance.  The retaliation is as ferocious as the Germans dare - hanging innocent people, anyone just to get back, two more of our heroes die -- but it is a tremendous moment of pride. A symbol - they dance in the square, leave flowers.

It will be said, look the FBI have arrested them, stopped this local take over.  Only just. Will these people be put in prison? a local sheriff has justified them. What happened to those people in Oregon who said they had the right to control gov't property and not pay taxes. Who makes the massacres -- disgruntled young white men left out. These Nazi-fascist white Americans loathe those who want to let the non-whites in and who are not upper middle. They resent bitterly social security and health for all. They want their privileged chartered airplanes. And they use the above thugs the way the Nazis used male white thugs.

Singing in Square -- it resonates everywhere, brings tears to people's eyes

But when war is over, Antoine is no longer appreciated and is lucky to become a low status farmer, with Angselme not homeless because he's given a job by Antoine's brother-in-law, the sawmill owner who spent much of the war as a collaborating businessman and returns to his business when all is over--the French state remains capitalist with socialist ameliorations distributed grudgingly


The people in my neighborhood for Trump don't put out signs with his name: no they put out flags, and signs saying they will vote on 11/3 -- as threats -- they need the need only make a show, as long as Biden has no landslide, they and Trump will take over as they did in 2000 (with help of the supreme court) and again 2016.
Miss Drake