Harriet Vane

Very sad news: Bob Lapides died Jan 1, 2021: Hail & Farewell

Dear readers,

Here is a brief publication that may indeed be overlooked -- and I hope now will not at least by those who read anything I write in several places.

Kenneth Reeves, group moderator of the Inimitable-Boz [Dickens] group (now at groups.io) contacted me to tell me that Bob died.  I had noticed -- as had some people on had also on Inimitable-Boz and perhaps Trollope&Peers (at groups.io) that Bob had not emailed for some time and about a month and a half ago I emailed him, and he never replied. Now he had periods where he didn't contribute for all sorts of reasons.  But I knew he had been very ill, had had a rough operation of some sort and a hard road to recovery.

The good most recent news is his family, friends, associates  will be publishing (posthumously) the work he had been writing for some years on Dickens's creativity. His book of many documents retelling what happened at Lodz during WW2 will remain an important book as long as there are books:  Lodz Ghetto: Inside a Community Under Seige, compiled and edited by Alan Adelson and Robert Lapides.Penguin 1989. The second half of this blog is on Lodz Ghetto.

Bob was among the ten people who first came onto Trollope-l when Mike Powe opened it in October of 1997, a break away from a Trollope list run on majordomo by Elizabeth Thompson. Two other people of that original ten have died too.  I remember when Jim died, Bob sent me a beautiful poem -- by a famous poet.  So after the obituary sent me by Kenneth (from Bob's college's Human Resources webpage),  I reprint Catullus to his brother.

Robert Lapides, professor emeritus in the English Department, husband of Professor Diane Dowling, died on January 1, 2021. At BMCC for over 40 years, Professor Lapides will be remembered for his passion, his life-long fight for social, economic, and racial justice, and his commitment to building communities where differences can be expressed. Never afraid to speak up or ask questions, he was genuinely interested in his students and colleagues. His intense curiosity about people, places, politics, history, literature, psychology, religion--about what it means to be human--informed all his efforts. He encouraged his students to embrace their humanity, including the parts of themselves they felt they needed to hide, building their courage to write honestly. His legacy can be found in his influence on the many students and colleagues he worked with, the online communities he created, in his faculty magazine Hudson River, and for editing Lodz Ghetto, collected writings left behind by Jews confined to the Lodz Ghetto in WWII. Until the end, he was working on his book about the creative development of Charles Dickens, which will be published posthumously. Condolences to Diane and their children Isaac and Rachel may be sent to ddowling@bmcc.cuny.edu or to 137 W 12th St. New York, NY 10011. Donations may be made to the charity of your choice


Hail and Farewell

By ways remote and distant waters sped,
Brother, to thy sad grave-side am I come,
That I may give the last gifts to the dead,
And vainly parley with thine ashes dumb:
Since she who now bestows and now denies
Hath taken thee, hapless brother, from mine eyes.
But lo! these gifts, the heirlooms of past years,
Are made sad things to grace thy coffin shell,
Take them, all drenchèd with a brother’s tears,
And, brother, for all time, hail and farewell!
--Gaius Valerius Catullus (ca 85-ca 54 B.C.),  translated by Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898)


I will miss him.   We exchanged countless emails over the years . In the email Kenneth sent me, there is line by Bob noting that he once asked me if it was okay that he had plagiarized a line of mine in one of my blog-reviews, this one on Lillian Nayder, The Other Dickens: A Life of Catherine Hogarth (Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 2011).  He knew I wouldn't mind.  I don't have a picture of him; I met him once in New York City, not  far from where he lived and we had a huge lovely breakfast together.  He was a genial older man in looks.  We talked for a couple of hours. I recall that he told me I should not meet people face-to-face if I wanted to "make some sort of impression" --  I took that to mean I was very different in person for all that people thought I gave myself away (or seemed formidable) in my writing. I am working class in origins, with a New York City accent.  Someone else told me "he should not have said that to you."  I don't know. He was telling what he thought was the truth.  Bob was a compassionate, intelligent, moral and good man. He so admired, nay loved Dickens; his way was to analyse Dickens's writing psychoanalytically.

Harriet Vane

A 1984 GOP telling Orwellian lies all over; we must end the filibuster & pass Voting Rights Acts

Dear Friends and readers.

What needs to be done is first thing to say. Break the filibuster, pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and stop all these measures intended to make it hard to vote.  Then get after the FFC and refuse to give licenses to news shows which are propaganda and repeats these lies that we do not have a legitimate gov't.  Meanwhile try to pass at state level the National Electoral College act which would have the Electoral College votes for each state brought to a central place and counted as a whole.  Then you would always have as a president someone who was  popularly voted in.

I understand Biden has taken an important first step towards helping people to communicate by the post office -- getting and receiving mail has ever been at the heart of democracies. 
Biden has placed three members on the US Postal services board.  From the news headlines online I see that he is reversing Trump's cuts to finances of democratic cities (who often pay much more state taxes to the federal gov't than Republican ones which tend to be smaller or rural).

This is bye-the-bye but is a visual: Biden has also withdrawn the order that federal and municipal buildins should be in classical colonial style (which Trumps identified with autocracy).


Why is this so urgent - it  is urgent. The GOP would like to make the USA a new version of the 1990s white supremacist South Africa with a very few imposing an iro will on a majority of people.

what Heather Cox Richardson has brought together from this past weeks' news.

" ... party leaders appear to be lining up behind Trump and the big lie that Biden stole the election, entrenching them as a hostile opposition rather than giving them any room to work with Democrats to move the country forward. They are devoting their energies for the future primarily to voter suppression. Studies of Republican voters suggest that they continue to support former President Trump and are turning against anyone who accepts Biden’s victory as legitimate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) popularity has dropped 29 points among Kentucky Republicans since he broke with Trump. Republicans appear to be solidifying their identity with the former president, at the state level, at least ..."

On Voter Suppression read Ari Berman:  Republicans are taking voter suppression to new extremes

e.g., According to a new analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice, 253 bills to restrict voting access have been introduced in 43 states already this year. Georgia is ground zero for the GOP’s escalating war on voting, targeting the voting methods that were used most by Democratic voters in 2020 and which contributed to flipping the state blue and electing two Democratic senators.

On Tuesday, Georgia’s Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan introduced a bill repealing no-excuse absentee voting, which 1.3 million Georgians used in 2020, including 450,000 Republicans


This consolidation around a terrible man who was/is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, and lies show these people wanted to kill off as many Black, minority and poor people as they could. They  don't have an agenda except that gov't should do nothing for its people and there should be few taxes for anyone -- except the middle class and poor.

Do not underestimate what could happen if this GOP could get into power again. In Congress right now they are demonstrating their unwillingness to compromise; their unwillingness to work with another party.  Trump is a base hating man, the last few months he behaved openly as a criminal, taking bribes for pardons, pardoning criminals and anyone who was absolutely loyal to him.  The Lancet itself has said he was responsible for more than half of our death toll -- his policies caused these deaths. This consolidation around a terrible man who was/is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, and lies show these people wanted to kill off as many Black, minority and poor people as they could. They don't have an agenda except that gov't should do nothing for its people and there should be few taxes for anyone -- except the middle class and poor.

I'm going to go out on a limb here to make my point about these dangerous lies and how we need to act to end them.
If you keep repeating a lie over and over, if those in power and then those writing books and movies repeat it, it becomes thought truth. I know no one or few here will believe that Russia did not intend to take over Poland as a deal with Germany but rather when Germany was about to invade Poland tried to find allies among the capitalist countries and could not, so Stalin signed the pact and himself invaded  Poland to stop Hitler from reaching Russia.  As in the UK, the Russians were not ready for any kind of real war and rushed then to arm. But the other version, has been told so often (to blacken Russia as communists) it's become a kind of truth.   Only if you watch films at the time (especially gov't ones) is the version Russia was protecting itself found.  Here and there in much older texts and sometimes very occasionally in socialist ones.  The most striking persuasive places I've seen the truth that Russia was seeking to protect itself and once the allies got going Stalin joined them -- obviously and took the Russia people into terrific hardship and devastating battles to defeat the fascists.  Hitler's armies when they went into any slav country decimated the people and treated them like subhuman slaves.

Orwell's 1984 is powerful but it is just a fiction.  My above paragraph is true.  This is not the only place where lies have won for a long time. The way the Civil War was taught throughout the US as not being about slavery, about ending slavery but to keep the union together, and for states' rights.  Why was the union ending is the reason:  throughout the south and in the midwest and many northern businesses were  making huge sums based on the brutal enslavement of 4 million people.


The way to counter this is end the filibuster -- a tool left over from states with enslaved people to make the senate a dictator, re-hauled out to allow the South to pass a Jim Crow society repressing a vast minority of their population and now to thwart the popular will in all sorts of issues, including Biden's very popular Rescue package

Again read Cox Richardson

The pandemic has crippled the nation’s economy, and a new The Economist/YouGov poll reveals that 66% of Americans said they support Biden’s $1.9 billion American Rescue Plan; 25% of Americans said they oppose it. This means it is the most popular piece of legislation since the 2007 minimum wage hike. Also popular is the proposed $15 minimum wage hike, which is supported by 56% of Americans and opposed by 38%, making it more popular than anything former president Trump did while in office. More than 150 of the nation’s business leaders are now backing the rescue plan, saying it is necessary for “a strong, durable recovery.” And yet, Republicans are, so far, united against the proposal.

See  my previous blog: Campaign for a National Popular Vote

Democrats and party members are working against the Republicans with now a POTUS at their head.  They have 57 proposals out, he is working to replace all empty judgeships with fair decent and yes (one must) democratic leaning judges.  But it's not enough with the crazed passions and determination of fascism, bigotry (hatred and fear of non-whites and immigrants) and the billions available to corporations who have been growing exponentially since Reagan upended the older fairer (but not truly progressive) tax system.


Harriet Vane

2nd Impeachment: a dangerous man who has committed criminal acts is acquitted

Dear friends and the few readers of this blog,

To me the bad outcome of the trial is Trump got plenty of money for the rest of his life and the ability to run again. Had he been convicted his career in anything legal would be over.  I take him to be  a
criminal: His last acts in the WH -- for some 4 weeks were undisguised criminalities -- taking outright bribes for pardons (many for criminals or people who did some favor for him, or who he thought could
do some favor for him), raking in money from supporters and putting that in his pockets, and then helping to engineer this attack.  I include the photo of someone who gouged out the eye of another person (a police officer), the FBI number to call if you recognize him, and report him to the police.  This man was one of those Trump unleashed on the public 1/6/2021 and would not call any military to stop it.

In this blog I am trying to further disseminate Ralph Nader's conversation with Amy Goodman.


In this conversation with Amy Goodman, Nader  said:

The purpose of this impeachment effort is prophylactic. It is designed not just to hold Trump accountable under the Constitution, but to prevent future wannabe Trumps from behaving in the same way. Therefore the only really result of a guilty verdict would be disqualifying Trump from running for federal office anymore.

While as usual, Heather Cox Richardson told us in her newsletter what we want and need to know about what happened yesterday (I did not know Trump's lawyers had the temerity to repeat his lies about the election and thus lie themselves, nor that they defended previous violent white supremacist riots approved by Trump where people died (Charlottesvillee); to be candid, she lacked the rigorous critique of what has happened over the past few days that Ralph Nader made last night on DemocracyNow.org

Nader predicted the acquittal not on the grounds the GOP could not have been convinced, but on the grounds as in the first trial, Pelosi refused to accuse him fully of all he had done and thus prevented the Democrats and American people from seeing the true case why he should have been removed from office before the pandemic, and why he should not ever be let to run for a office of public trust again. Now he is let loose with $90,000 a year for the rest of hife life, a million dollar travel fund and money for body guards.

A grave act happened today which could lead easily down the road to more riots, more violence, more killing and in the case of elections, no more peaceful acceptance of the democratic majority winner.

Listen to how Nader put it:

She was running the show. And she has two approaches, which she used in the first impeachment. One is she likes to rush the trial. The second is the reason why she likes to rush the trial without witnesses and subpoenas is that she has prejudged the result. She basically says these Republicans are intransigent, they’ll never change their mind, our duty is to impeach in the House and send it over to the Senate. Now that is a prescription for defeat, period. And as a result, the narrow approach of the articles of impeachment keep the Democrats from having a full hand. They have like ten arrows in their quiver and they are using one or two.

Now, what they should do is call witnesses. The witnesses they should call are not surprising: Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, some of the families of the victims, Garrett Miller or others who said they went down to the Congress on orders of their commander-in-chief who spoke to them and John Bolton who said that obstruction of justice was a way of life in the White House. He is the national security advisor before he resigned.

Otherwise, what the Republicans will do is simply say, “This is a video show trial. A lot of the material was taken out of context. And the protagonists were entirely Democratic partisans, members of the House Democratic Party.” If you have witnesses, you have the potential of breakthrough testimony."


Nader felt that her behavior both times was defeatist -- it reminds me of how Obama refused even to consider a single payer system, followed the Republican prescriptions for a controlled capitalist medical world, and what the gov't would do was help people to pay. So it is easy to destroy: you merely defund it. You get rid of the controls. There is no system, and everything is super-expensive, with unexpected terrifying bills. That is part of the reason Americans have died in such huge numbers. Here he is speaking again?

"Mike Pence, for example. Jay Rosen, for example. Brad Raffensperger. They might be required to testify about far deeper crimes than simply a telephone call to the Justice Department by Trump or to the Georgia Secretary of State twisting their elbows to try to change the course or the count of the election.

That is the unfortunate aspect of it, Amy, that they had an opportunity. Because here you have a president who has seized congressional power day after day in four years. He spent money without authorization. He has violated congressional mandates in health, safety and economic regulations. He has defied over 130 subpoenas and dozens of formal demands by congressional committees to testify in terms of his subordinates, cabinet and sub-cabinet levels.

So there are two layers here. His street crime attack on the Congress, that was well argued by the House Democrats. But then there’s the institutional separation of powers attack that was far more fundamental in terms of its long-range impact, in terms of its current impact on hundreds of millions of the American people. That was not part of the Articles of Impeachment. They didn’t go with the full hand. And had they gone with the full hand, they could have shown the intransigent Republicans exactly what price they’re going to pay if they vote to acquit Donald Trump.

This is a trial for the future of our Constitution, for whether we are going have a monarch, for whether we are going to have more of the sordid, cruel, violent type of electoral politics that is going on with voter suppression and voter intimidation"


Here is the kind of thing witnesses could have told us of. This man gouged out someone else's eye (a police officer); if you recognize him, tell the FBI so they can arrest him and put him where he cannot do such horrifying acts/damage to anyone else:

Kevin McCarthy is reported as phoning Trump and pleading with him to stop the violence as Trump had the levers of power to do it immediately; Trump replied that the crowd cared more about who was elected than McCarthy did. Actually there were curse words and McCarthy became livid as he felt the intoxicated anarchy in Trump's tone: "who the fuck do you think you are talking to?"

A bitter blow, I wanted to see Trump effectively defanged, and no longer a threat to all Americans. He still is that.

Harriet Vane

Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President -- do see it -- what we longed for for 4 years ...

In spirit of my previous blogs, here is something I fear my readers might overlook, only it's a movie instead of an essay.

I strongly recommend seeing JC Rock & Roll President. This review will give you the gist of it and why you will so enjoy it:


It is a film which shows a good man who meant well and did a lot of good things but was done in by his own goodness had an odd effects on me: it made me sad, brought tears to my eyes when I thought of what replaced him. Reagan took us down the road that has lead us to vast inequalities, was the first to put in charge of agencies people intended to destroy them or who knew nothing about the fields the agency was to take care of -- he set up the death squads, and yes with his genial smile behind the curtain allowed the growth of militias and fascism -- as he did nothing for the whites who voted for him on the same grounds as they voted for Trump.

So the end of the film where you see how Carter refused to do anything violent to retrieve the hostages and bought it on himself by supporting the Shah (and inviting him to the US to go to hospital) is very sad. He was humiliated-- all the while he actually succeeded in bringing them home safe, unharmed, with not a gun shot -- during his four years no one anywhere was bombed, no squad killing, no drones, no wars. But until then -- about 7/8s of the film it's a portrait of him, of his his connection to musical bands -- and the church with them -- was part of what propelled him into the presidency.

The argument of the film was his sincere connection with these various left-liberal and often church-connected musical groups was a basis for his win. They raised money, gave money, created an atmosphere around him. And for him it was not a show. We saw how he defied the Georgia culture and establishment when he, his wife and children actively integrated with Black people in Plains and then again as Governor. He did win -- showing the Blueness of Georgia before Stacey Abrams proved it.

Not incidentally part of the enjoyment and fun of the film are the groups who perform. We see that in Georgia he was the first for integration and how the White House insofar as entertainment went and some positions Black Americans were central. The choices of songs was much better than the bland Ken Burns and were contextualized for real.

As Robert Daniels says, Wharton’s “Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President” is fresh water in the middle of a desert. It’s a fun soulful documentary that’s rarely ever invasive, depicting the type of statesman we’re sorely missing today.

It's available on Amazon Prime Video.

See also Glenn Kenny of the New York Times. The Trailer:

Harriet Vane

A new turn -- Biden returns the US Gov't to working for its people & to the truth; winter pictures

Dear long-time readers and friends,

With the continual destruction of the US gov't insofar as Trump and his junta could achieve, and now these last weeks an attempt first to overturn a fair and free election, and that failing, overthrow the US gov't, for the four years over, and the worst impulses and ideas in the US body politic no longer encouraged (but rather discouraged), and a long hard road of re-building and improving our society for for all, I feel I no longer need to try to find the best political articles this week, or myself argue strongly against what's happening or who''s being hurt -- because for four years fascism was both a direct threat and being enacted. As many other forces and groups of people carry on doing evil, I won't give up using this as a political platform altogether, but right now think I've nothing to add uniquely worthy or knowledgeable when it comes to a now complicated -- democratic oligarchical -- political administration in the US which we return to once again, for my part with relief, though not happy at the Republican anti-democratic and fascist and other reactionary right groups still at work.

Biden is president, Harris vice-president, I celebrated their election the day he won -- with Morning has broken.  See November 9th, where I rejoiced that Biden and Harris had won, and had been declared winners by the TV and written presses with a rendition of Morning has Broken by Cat Stevens.  The election was seriously threatened, but  it now seems that has passed. I wrote an autobiographical entry on Sylvia II of my and Izzy's experience of Biden and Harris's Inaugural day, which ended with a spectacular display of fireworks:

So a new turn is needed. This blog is an old one -- it goes back to before the year 2000. I opened a blog in LiveJournal because both my daughters blogged here; this was well before blogs became an omnipresent, and when wordpress and other sites opened, my daughters both left. I stayed on and Jim, my husband, opened another blog for he and I to write about culture, politics, ourselves. I began to use this to work out ideas for a book (on the Austen movies) and other projects. When the blog Jim and I had opened was attacked, and he took it down, salvaging what he could to put into my new wordpress blogs (three), this blog began to go in desuetude.

Then as Obama was running for president, I felt moved to make this into a political blog and thus it's been for some 12 years now. On my three blogs I write about culture in general (popular and otherwise, on the Net and elsewhere), or women's art, the 18th century and Jane Austen topics, or autobiographically. I make daily entries on facebook nowadays and I tweet that way too (more briefly).

So what's left? I have been concentrating on sending articles and essays that people might overlook about worrying developments in the four years Trump did all he could to turn the US back to a 1920s govt with him as a lawless tyrant making money, playing at looking powerful where he can or think he has to (while doing nothing) and in short making a sinister spectacle of himself

What I will do for now is help distribute Heather Cox Richardsons' newslettters most days -- with occasionally essays from Naked Capitalism; the London Review of Books, New Yorker, less so but New York Review of Books, TLS, and the Nation, Intercept, DemocracyNow.or, PBS reports. I'll also send items from a circle of blogs who daily send very good essays on important topics that the current US administrations and people are working on and care about.

So here is HCR last night around midnight:


Biden taking steps to replace all Trump sycophants with people who are experts in the  fields of agencies  whose leading position he appoints them to; he is also returning to the idea that a govt is supposed to serve the people of the state who want good services, a social safety net, regulations to make sure they and our environment are not destroyed by people who run companies ruthlessly for profit today: the consensus that arose from the New Deal, the Eisenhower Years, and LBJ's legislation.  It was people loyal to law, the state, the expertise of their fields who refused to allow Trump to take over and turn our government into a one man totalitarian fascist site operating at his whim.

And as my contribution for the days I do this kind of posting or blogging:  I do love pictures and as the days pass I often see lovely one, which I copy and save  to my files. Or occasionally beautiful music or movies and plays (or clips of these) on YouTube So now I think what I'll do is share these here too -- for now. I'd send poetry but it is so difficult to control the kind of lettering that appears here, and to relicate stanzas correctly is often hopeless. 

Tonight I begin with an artist who paints beautiful watercolors.  I have two images of theseby Roland Hilder (1905-93) -- here is
a wikipedia article where you can learn about him and some further sources to explore.

A February Day

Hadrians Wall  -- where I did stand in August 2018 on a trip organized by and in  the company of other Road Scholars.

Miss Drake
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.