Grassroots Campaigns: Restoring Democracy

Everyone tends to scoff at the idea of a grassroots campaign, at least at the federal level. After all, ‘corporations are people’. Money is speech. Unlimited money can be poured into elections. Huge financial entities have the same rights as individuals. Many big donations can be anonymous. Sounds like Orwellian ‘double speak’ doesn’t it? But these things are the law of the land in our democracy/republic. And not everyone is happy about it. Corporation are. Rich folks with a political axe to grind are.

We the people, of limited means, are not exactly delighted as we find our democracy turning into a corporatocracy, worse, a kakistocracy. We find our puny personal budgets unable to contribute enough to political campaigns to ever exert any kind of individual pressure on policy. We find ourselves losing ground in the policy wars. Tax cuts favor the wealthy. We see that people with money are avid to cut programs that benefit less fortunate Americans. People who need food stamps must prove they are working. Medicaid is always on the chopping block. Trump’s new budget suggest cuts to SSDI. Small wonder people are becoming tribal. There is power in numbers.

The mentality that has been trending for quite a while is that the safety net is being used by a bunch of deadbeats. Since the courts keep assisting these people in getting benefits so that the government cannot find the takers, indiscriminate cuts will please those Americans who insist they are being ripped off. The problem is that cuts to SSDI will probably end up hurting honest disabled folks who need help most.

Bending over backwards to protect the rights of giant corporations has given us a government that panders to giant corporations. As long as the Citizens United decision allows rich folks to dominate our democracy, we the people find that federal money is not making its way into our communities. Our corporations no longer act as benefactors. Although infrastructure is a recurring topic, nothing is happening to improve the aging infrastructure in our towns, villages, cities. Working parents find their wages stagnant, and they get no help with child care. Our medical system is still too random and does not help everyone. Medical bills are sending far too many families into bankruptcy. Many seniors cannot afford all the care they actually need. Corporate money has influenced state governments to bust unions that used to fight for citizen’s rights.

It often seems that corporations, who have abandoned America in droves, have more rights than citizens do. They have aggregate rights equivalent to their dollar value and their political contributions and their lobbying. How can we the people compete?

This is why I see great value in the current push by Democrats to fund candidates for 2020 with grassroots money. Overturning a court decision can be very difficult. It could take many years to reform the whole ‘corporations are people’ routine which brought us to Citizens United, a very bad ruling for we the people. Ignoring the ruling, blithely going about the business of a major election without big money donations would not be at all illegal and could take all the air out of a common complaint that ‘there is too much money in politics’.

Using grassroots funding is a brave thing to do, an act that is revolutionary in spirit but does not break any laws. If every Democrat agrees to run on a level playing field it could work. Joe Biden is clearly not willing to stake his presidential run on small money donations. He is asking for big money donations. If even one Democrat goes against the grassroots campaign model will that make the whole issue moot? Does it give Joe Biden an edge in the race or will it work against him? Are the Democrats who are running grassroots races being too unrealistic to compete against Republicans who have no compunctions about tapping big donors and who don’t mind promising favors in return. Didn’t we always find quid pro quo pretty shady? There seems to be a lot of shade around lately.

We do live in interesting times and I find myself admiring the steel of the new Democrats who are taking the party out of the corporate sphere and back into the domain of the American people. It will be interesting to see if showing some ethical backbone will be a winning stance for the Democrats to take and if it will begin to restore some perspective in a society that has come to believe that money is all and that a good economy is enough to give us the democratic society our forefathers dreamed up. Hint: it’s not.

March 2019 Book List

March 2019 Book List

I slipped and fell on my icy driveway, and after just getting a manicure too (which I rarely indulge in). My productivity declined in a fog of muscle relaxers that were a bit too mild for the job for the three weeks it took for my back to recover. When your body fails you, however temporarily, you begin to understand all the trendy talk about a mind-body connection. I had to fit my blogging in when I was functional, but my brain was not exactly firing on all cylinders. All of this is my excuse for why this book list is so late. The dog did not eat my homework; I blame this one on winter. Hope you find some good books in here. It looks very promising.

Amazon

Fiction

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

The Wall: A Novel by John Lanchester

The Old Drift: A Novel by Namwali Serpell

The Altruists by Andrew Ridker

A Woman is No Man: A Novel by Etaf Rum

The Parade by Dave Eggers

Daisy Jones and the Six: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself: A Novel by William Boyle

Little Faith by Nickolas Butler

The River: A Novel by Peter Heller

Mysteries and Thriller

The Lost Night: A Novel by Andrea Bartz

Wolf Pack (A Joe Pickets Novel) by C. J. Box

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Terminal List: A Thriller by Jack Carr

Run Away by Harlan Coben

The River by Peter Heller

Unto Us a Son Is Given (Guido Brunetti) by Donna Leon

The Border: A Novel (Power of the Dog) by Don Winslow

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Cemetery Road: A Novel by Greg Iles

Biographies and Memoirs

Louisa on the Front Lines: Louisa May Alcott in the Civil War by Samantha Seiple

The Sun is a Compass: A 4,000 mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds by Caroline Van Hemert

Era of Ignition: Coming of Age in a Time of Rage and Revolution by Amber Tamblyn

Good Talk: A Memoir on Conversation by Mira Jacobs

I.M.: A Memoir by Isaac Mizrahi

Too Much is Not Enough: A Memoir of Fumbling Toward Adulthood by Andrew Rannells

Magic is Dead: My Journey into the World’s most Secretive Society of Magicians by Jan Frisch

The Impossible Climb: Alex Honnold, El Capitan, and the Climbing Life by Mark Synnott

No Happy Endings: A Memoir by Nora McInerny

First: Sandra Day O’Connor by Evan Thomas

Nonfiction

The Human Tide: How Population Shaped the Modern World by Paul Morland

The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity by Amy Webb

The Lost Gutenberg: The Astounding Story of One Book’s Five Hundred Year Odyssey by Margaret Leslie Davis

An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago by Alex Kotiowitz

The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviors by Matthew O. Jackson

Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11 by James Donovan

Skeleton Keys: The Secret Life of Bone by Brian Switek

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves by Frans de Waal

Horizon by Barry Lopez

All That Remains: A Renowned Forensic Scientist on Death, Mortality and Solving Crimes by Sue Black DBE FRSE

The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Giant Superbug by Steffanie Strathdee, Thomas Patterson

Science Fiction and Fantasy

One Way by S.J. Morden, Bk. 1

No Way by S.J. Morden, Bk. 2

Winter World by A.G. Riddle

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

Women’s War by Jenna Glass

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Municipalists: A Novel by Seth Fried

The New York Times Book Review

Feb. 8

Fiction

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, 1stvolume, Dark Star Trilogy by Marlon James

Same, Same by Peter Mendelsund

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

I Am God by Giacomo Sartori

Nonfiction

Unexampled Courage by Richard Gergel

The Unwinding of the Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams

A Bright Future by Joshua Goldstein and Staffan A. Qvist

Maid by Stephanie Land

An Indefinite Sentence by Siddharth Dube

The Short List – Einstein’s Legacy

Einstein’s Shadow by Seth Fletcher

Einstein’s Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes by Chris Impey

Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects by Chad Orzel

New and Noteworthy

The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman

Only in New York by Sam Roberts

Jimmy Neurosis by James Oseland

The Missing Pages by Heghnar Zietlian

The Wild Bunch by W. K. Stralton

9 Books Recommended by Editors

Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary: Selected Works of Kathleen Collins by Kathleen Collins

Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe called Quest by Hanif Abdurraqib

As Long as We Both Shall Live by JoAnn Choney

The Plotters by Un-Su Kim, trans. by Sara Kim-Russell

Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe by Roger McNamee

Antisemitism: Here and Now by Deborah E. Lipstadt

Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why it Matters Now by Alan Rusbridger

Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts by Jill Abramson

The Dakota Winters by Tom Barbash

Political Tell-Alls

Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in Trump’s White House by Cliff Sims

Let Me Finish by Chris Christie

The Threat: How the FBI protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump by Andrew McCabe

Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law by Preet Bharrara

Feb. 15

Fiction

Landfall by Thomas Mallon

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Nonfiction

All the Lives We Never Lived by Katharine Smyth

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Wild Bill by Tom Calvin

Lady First by Amy Greenberg

Walk This Way by Geoff Edgers

The Short List – 5 Essay Collections by Women of Color

Womanish: A Grown Black Woman Speaks on Love and Life by Kim McLarin

Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary: Selected Works of Kathleen Collins by Nina Lorez Collins

Brown White Black: An American Family at the Intersection of Race, Gender, Sexuality and Religion by Nishta J. Mehra

Black is the Body: Stories From My Grandmother’s Time, and Mine by Emily Bernard

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottam

Blockchain Tech

Blockchain and Law: The Rule of Code by Primavera De Filippi and Aaron Wright

The Blockchain and the New Architecture of Trust by Kevin Warback

Crime

Stalker by Lars Kepler

Careless Love by Peter Robinson

The Wedding Guest by Jonathan Kellerman

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

New This Week – Audio Books

Atomic Marriage by Curtis Sittenfelf

The Stranger Inside by Laura Benedict

Power Moves by Adam Grant

The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm by Christopher Paolini

The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson

9 New Books We Recommend

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham

Nobody’s Looking at You: Essays by Janet Malcolm

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring by Richard Gergel

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything that Comes After by Julie Yip-Williams

An Indefinite Sentence: A Personal History of Outlawed Love and Sex by Siddharth Dube

Einstein’s Shadow: A Black Hole, a Band of Astronomers, and the Quest to see the Unseeable by Seth Fletcher

Feb. 24

Nonfiction

How to Disappear by Akiko Busch

Silence by Jane Brox

Separate: The Story of Plessy v Ferguson, and America’s Journey from Slavery to Segregation by Steve Luxemberg

Notes on a Shipwreck by Davide Enia

If We Can Keep it by Michael Tomasky

Sleeping with Strangers by David Thomson

Shortest Way Home by Pete Buttigieg

Fiction

The Cassandra by Sharma Shields

Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman

Leading Men by Christopher Castellani

New Fantasy Fiction

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyon (Series – Chorus of Dragons

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

Fiction

Wella and Hesper by Amy Feltman

Coming of Age Overseas

What Hell is Not by Alessandro D’Avenia

99 Night in Logas by Jamil Jan Kochai

March 1

Nonfiction

Mama’s Last Hug by Frans de Waal

Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

Empires of the Weak by J.S. Sharman

The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison

The Third Pillar by Raghuram Rajan

Memoirs of Love and Loss

How to Be Loved by Eva Hagberg Fisher

Joy Enough by Sarah McColl

The Art of Leaving: A Memoir in Essays by Ayelet Tsabari

Fiction

The White Book by Han Kang

Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa

Zuleikha by Guzel Yakim

Crime

The Border (last in a trilogy) by Don Winslow

Unto Us a Son is Given (Guido Brunetti) by Donna Leon

A Friend is a Gift Yourself by William Boyle

Cemetery Road by Greg Iles

Fiction

The Heavens by Sandra Newman

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

NYT’s article – Sabra Embury, a writer, asks authors to draw 10 second drawings of rabbits (bunnies). Not a book, but fun to check out.

www.nytimes.com/2019/03/01/books/sabra-embury.html

A few books recommended by editors

The Threat by Andrew McCabe

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval by Saidiya Hartman

Sleeping with Strangers: How the Movies Shaped Desire by David Thomson

Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman

Publishers Weekly Tip Sheets

Feb. 4

Stalin’s Scribe: Literature, Ambition, and Survival: The Life of Mikhail Sholokov by Brian J. Boeck NF

Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson NF

Europe: A Natural History by Tim Flannery NF

El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America by Carrie Gibson NF

Lady First: The World of First Lady Sarah Polk by Amy S. Greenberg NF

What We Did: A Novel by Christobel Kent F

A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams F – short story anthology

The Ruin of Kings: A Chorus of Dragon’s, Book 1, by Jenn Lyons F

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken F

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides F

Magical Negro by Morgan Parker F

I Am God by Giacomo Sartori F

The Age of Light by Whitney Sharer F

Off Season by James Sturm F, graphic novel

The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang NF, essays

The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber F

Feb. 11

The Pianist from Syria: A Memoir by Aeham Ahmad NF, Memoir

Leading Men by Christopher Castellani F

The Night Tiger by Yongsze Choo F

Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving by Caitlyn Collins NF

Parkland by Dave Cullen NF

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts F

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli F

Rag by Maryse Farrar F, short stories

Honey in the Carcase by Josip Novakovich F

The Reckoning by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, trans. from Icelandic by Victoria Cobb F

Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima, trans. from Japanese by Geraldine Harcourt F

American Spy by LaurenWilkinson F

Feb. 18

Trump Sky Alpha by Mark Doten F

Where Oblivion Lives by T. Frohock F

In the Dark by Cara Hunter F

How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr NF

The Darkest Year: The American Homefront, 1941-1942 by William K Klingaman NF

Broken Stars (Anthology) edited and trans. from the Chinese by Ken Liu F, science fiction short stories

American Heroin by Melissa Scrivner F

Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II by Adam Mako NF

Nobody’s Looking at You: Essays by Janet Malcolm NF, essays

The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America edited by Nikesh Shukla, NF, essays

Feb. 25

Vacuum in the Dark by Jen Beagin F

The Very Best of the Best: 25 Years of the Year’s Best Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozios F, short stories

After She’s Gone by Camilla Grebe, trans. from Swedish by Elizabeth Clark Wessel F

Buying Gay: How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked a Movement by David K Johnson NF

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe NF

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie F

Mother Country by Irina Reyn F

PTSD by Guillaume Singelin “This is a glorious meditation on the lingering horrors of war.” F

Hot Protestants: A History of Puritanism in England and America by Michael P Winship NF

 

You can find my book blogs at:

https://thearmchairobserver.com/(both books and politics)

https://nbrissonbookblog.com  (book blogs only)

on Goodreads.com as Nancy Brisson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bad President? – Graphic Testimony

When during his campaign a President calls on Russia to find his opponent’s emails.

When he hires a campaign manager with connections with a pro-Russian Ukrainian leader and a history of overspending requiring foreign loans and a penchant for activities which seemed to involve money laundering, a man who is going to jail for at least seven years.

Is he going to be a bad President?

When a man who is running for the office of US President says he can grab women by their “lady parts” or just kiss them without permission because he is famous. When he pays off two women he slept with while his wife was pregnant. When his lawyer paid hush money so this wouldn’t derail his election campaign and then he paid his lawyer back for the payoff while he was a candidate and while he was the actual President.

Isn’t that what we would think of as a man who would be a bad President?

When the President exaggerates the crowd that shows up for his inauguration and spends twice as much on it as was spent on the previous President’s much-better-attended inauguration. When it has been demonstrated that is man lies all the time.

When a President of the United States gets his advice from white supremacists like Steven Bannon and Steven Miller.

Is he a bad President?

When a President appoints people to his Cabinet who intend to deconstruct the agencies they head, people who act like royalty and insist on being treated as such – when he puts someone who does not believe in climate change in charge of the EPA, and someone who had never been in a public school in charge of Education, and someone in charge of HUD who feathers his own nest with a $31,000 dining room set while lots of city tenants still put their children to bed in apartments full of lead paint.

Is that guy a bad President?

When a President separates mothers and children seeking asylum (or fathers and children) and puts them in cells. When this same President has ICE agents hunt down working people with families who happen to be here without papers, or checks documents of citizens on public transit hoping to catch someone who is undocumented, instead of racking up arrests of all the MS-13 gang members, criminals and thugs he is always warning us about. When a President refuses to accept a decision of Congress and vows to find any way, even one that oversteps accepted practice so he can build an unnecessary wall.

 

Is he a bad President yet?

When a President ignores sensible traditions of our democracy. When he will not keep his business interests in a separate trust while in office. When he won’t let us see his taxes. When he flaunts the law and the hotel agreement he made that he is violating every day. When he ignores taboos against nepotism which resulted from centuries of governing experience. When we have almost a family-run government which is not at all what our forefathers designed.

Does that make him a bad President?

When this man who is our President told his political base, the very people who elected him that he would turn the clock back to when America was a bustling industrial hub and then he says that rich CEO’s will make that happen. Then he gives those rich guys big tax breaks – except that when they get those tax breaks everyone finds out we can’t reboot that old Industrial Age. Time has moved on.

Are we there yet? Is that a bad President?

OK, maybe the jury is still out on the economy for some of you but what if those tax cuts are just an obscene bribe to powerful monied people to keep that President in power.

 

 

Is that a bad President?

When a President loves leaders who make their citizens fear them; who call themselves democratic but who are not, leaders who are actually dictators; or even when that President only flatters them to ingratiate himself with them (does he think these paranoid guys can’t see through this ploy?) When a President protects leaders who are murderers. When this same President attacks our friends and allies.

Is he a bad President yet?

When a President explodes the deficit to give rich people huge tax cuts and then cuts the social safety net (Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Food Stamps) and our health care as Trump does in his newest budget.

Doesn’t all this (and much more) make 45 a bad President?

At what point does everyone realize that a bad President is in fact bad?

Everyone keeps saying we have no proof that Donald J. Trump is unworthy to be the President of America, but how much proof will it take?

How do you get rid of a bad President? We have put all our cards on the 2020 election. It’s a huge risk, a risk that could destroy our democracy. I hope we can ‘make it so’. Register to vote asap. Don’t forget. Pay attention to the election. We the people are a branch of the US government. Don’t forget to vote.

and

If your President threatens violence against Democrats vote anyway.

“You know, the left plays a tougher game. It’s very funny,” Trump claimed in the interview first published Wednesday. “I actually think the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher.”

“I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point. And then it would be very bad — very bad,” he continued. “But the left plays it cuter and tougher — like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress . . .  with all this invest[igations]. That’s all they want to do is — you know, they do things that are nasty.”

“Republicans never played this,” the president concluded.

https://www.salon.com/2019/03/15/donald-trump-suggests-things-could-get-very-bad-for-democrats-who-dont-support-his-presidency/

Photo credits: From Google Image Searches -YouTube, Daily Mail, Extra Newsfeed, SF Chronicles, CNN.com, Haaretz, CBS News, Clyde Fitch report, Daily Beast, the Nib, Boston Globe, Getty Images, sometimes interesting.com, Biloxi Sun Herald, Quartz, Pinterest, alethonnews.com, theglobepost.com, doodlethenews.com, Fortune, WaPo, the renewal notice.jpg, connect FM

Annie Leibovitz, President Maker

The photographs that Annie Leibovitz took for the Vanity Fair article on Beto O’Rourke make him look like such a quintessential American that they bring to mind a president as authentic as Abraham Lincoln. They are archetypal, especially the one of Beto with his family and the photo in his vehicle tooling around dusty roads in Texas. And he cooks. We can just see a new informal vibe, emblematic of the style of most Americans, inhabiting the oval office and the halls of Congress. We can feel ourselves sort of longing for that young family to occupy the White House and play on those lawns with their pets. Perhaps they will play their music for guests of state. His policies are not at the outer edges of the party, but are not too moderate either. Is he too young and too quirky with his journeys of self-discovery? I must admit I had not taken him seriously until I saw Annie Leibovitz’s photographs, better than but reminiscent of Life magazine and Norman Rockwell. One more word: iconic.

Annie Leibovitz

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker – Book

The Dreamers by Karen Thomas Walker is a story of a viral outbreak, think ebola, only without bodily fluids. This virus hits a small college in the middle of nowhere, a tiny town, one road in-one road out. Where did the virus originate? Some said a strange haze moved through their college town one day. The town is in the middle of a drought. Is that the cause? The author suggests that letters from earlier centuries hint at a similar infection.

The virus strikes in the freshman college dorm first. Mei is a new student at Santa Lora who is finding social life difficult, but her roommate Kara connects with the other students easily. Kara is the first to feel woozy, she is the first to fall into her bed fully dressed after a night of drinking and partying, and she is also the first to die from whatever this is.

Caleb is the only person in the dorm who has the social skills to deal with Kara’s grieving parents. When the students drown their seriousness in a party that is pure escapism Caleb puts the moves on Rebecca, child of a religious family, home schooled, but finding herself a social success at school When he wakes everyone up in the morning with his screaming there is Rebecca in his bed and she has the virus.

The author tells us, “The first stage of sleep is the lightest, the brief letting go, like the skipping of a stone across the water. This is the nodding of a head in a theater. This is the dropping of a book in bed. Rebecca falls quickly into that first layer. Ten more minutes. She sinks further, just the beginning of the deep dive. This is when a sudden dream floats through her. She is at church with her parents. A baby is being baptized,”

The virus turns people into dreamers who cannot be awakened. If they are not fed through tubes and given water through IV’s they die of dreaming. It seems just a gentle virus, and few discussions of gross bodily functions trouble that dreamy quality (although such care must also be required).

I enjoyed reading The Dreamers but it left me with more questions than answers. Is it symbolic that this happens in a college town? Is it symbolic that the woods are dying from an attack by insects, that the lake is drying up from a long string of perfectly sunny days – a drought? Is it symbolic that the college administrators house the dreamers in a library?

The author takes us through the disciplines of thinkers who have dealt with dreaming, with mental time travel, with the past, present and the future – the Classics, the Psychology section, the Philosophers, the Physicists, the Linguists. Time does seem to morph for these dreamers in subtle ways.

Is it symbolic that Rebecca sleeps with a “sleeper” – a baby growing inside unknown to all, a baby whose every stage of development is described. Why does Rebecca dream that she has a boy child and then lose her sweet boy when she is delivered of a girl. She goes through the rest of her life loving her daughter but missing her son, who seemed more real in that dream state than what turns up in her actual life?

As with any virus some who fall to dreaming never wake up.

Is the small fire that begins in the forest and is quickly put out a foreshadowing of another key fire in this story?

The isolation of the college perhaps stops the virus from becoming widespread. So many volunteers show up to tend to the dreamers. In spite of protective suits and masks some get ill anyway and take their place on a cot. Some defy their suits to offer some personal gesture to a dreamer and get infected. Once you come into the village you cannot leave.

I just don’t know if this book simply takes us through an experience, the way an epidemic does, or if it has a point, a meaning, is perhaps a conceit, an extended metaphor. It strikes me as a skillful exercise in writing, immersive, beautifully realized, but, except for the baby growing in the midst of all that sleepiness in that lovely dying landscape, it seems without relevance, especially since it happens in a place almost as remote in time and place as Brigadoon. Perhaps a deeper message will dawn on me at some later moment. However Walker truly created a dreamy quality and that is skillful, like a painter who can capture transparency.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – The Bibliofile

There, There by Tommy Orange – Book

Cover photo of There There, by Tommy Orange

The acclaim There, Thereby Tommy Orange has earned is well deserved. I would think that there is nothing quite like it in the catalogue of the literature of indigenous people. There have been successful books, both fiction and nonfiction, by Native Americans, but this has a very modern sensibility and form.

Native Americans for the most part do not occupy their ancestral lands and we all know why. Although we cannot change what our nation’s forefathers did through arrogance, their misguided assurance of their supremacy as white-skinned people, their social structure which favored populated cities surrounded by farms, and their fear of warriors who were trying to make these settlers leave for reasons we can well understand, when Tommy Orange exposes the way we have turned a multiverse of Native Americans into a single stereotype we see that we are guilty.

Tommy Orange keeps these guilty realities sometimes in the foreground and sometimes tucked away in the background. We arrive early in his novel at the occupation of Alcatraz in 1969. What seemed like a fine symbolic gesture and a bid for active resistance against being assigned to reservations without any choice proved to be an untenable situation, in terms of supply lines, the harshness of the island itself with its dilapidated prison, and interpersonal relationships that went off the rails without strong leadership.

Orange makes it a point to tell us that it was believed that Native Americans would either hate cities or be assimilated into American cities, but then he shows us that urban areas have actually allowed Indians to keep their culture alive. I use the word Indian only because the author does. In every city there are Indian Centers and the stories, songs, and dances are keep alive and shared. If they aren’t shared person-to-person, they are shared on the internet.

“But what we are is what our ancestors did. How they survived. We are the memories we don’t remember, which live in us, which we feel, which make us sing and dance and pray the way we do, feelings from memories that flare and bloom unexpectedly in our lives like blood through a blanket from a bullet fired by a man shooting us in the back for our hair, for our heads, for a bounty, or just to get rid of us.”

At first we seem to be reading a series of essays and short stories about Orange’s characters, but we can feel the pull of some event that ties all the elements together. Opal Viola Bear Shield and Jacquie Red Feather are sisters (to understand their non-matching surnames, read the book). Around these two revolve the stories of many other characters, mostly men and young boys. Overall looms the Pow Wow planned for the Oakland Coliseum towards which everyone moves to finally meet on a single fateful day.

I would have wished for a more upbeat ending, for more hope and the promise of positive outcomes. But this book, while it invites us all to read it, may not be something all of us can understand in a soul deep way, at least not without some time and thought. The ending, along with other factors, is what makes this book literature instead of just fiction. I may not belong at the pow wow, but we all may be headed for some sort of urban apocalypse, after which life will probably still go on, for good or ill.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – NPR

Churchill on Brexit, the EU, Immigration, Diversity, and more

Winston Churchill was 90 by the mid-sixties, but he was born at the end of the 19 th century, the Victorian Age. Since he played such a prominent role on the world stage his positions on important issues affected decisions made in concert with other world leaders and set the world on pathways that reflected the closely-held positions of these leaders. Many issues trending in today’s conversations were addressed by Churchill and other world political and military figures, especially at the end of two wars that began in Europe and eventually affected nations on every continent. Some of those issues included: what should happen in Europe after two world wars, Churchill on isolationism, a Churchill design for a European union of sorts, what Churchill wished for the relationship between Great Britain and America, Churchill on immigration, and on diversity. I used Andrew Robert’s book Churchill: Walking with Destinyas my source because it is chock full of primary source material. (When Andrew Roberts is speaking you will find double quotes in use; when Churchill is quoted directly, single quotation marks will be found.)

Europe after the World Wars, Isolationism, and the Relationship between the UK and the US

Pg. 163

In 1911

‘It must always be a guiding star of British Statesmanship, not only to federate the Empire, but to draw nearer in bonds of friendship and association to the United States. The road to unity of the English-speaking races is no doubt a long one, and we cannot see the end of it.’

Andrew Roberts

“Churchill’s mind was starting to move along the lines that were to climax with his suggestion of joint Anglo-American citizenship at Harvard in 1943.

Pg. 793

‘Twice in my lifetime the long arm of destiny has reached across the oceans and involved the entire life and manhood of the United States in a deadly struggle.’ ‘There is no use in saying we don’t want it, we won’t have it, our forebears left Europe to avoid these quarrels; (America is speaking) “we have founded a new world which has no contact with the old.” There is no use in that. The long arm reaches out remorselessly and everyone’s existence, environment, and outlook undergo a swift and irresistible change.

There is no halting place at this point. We have now reached a stage in the journey where there can be no pause. We must go on. It must be world anarchy or world order.’

Roberts

“Churchill defined what connected the English-speaking peoples as ‘Law, language, literature – these are considerable factors. Common conceptions of what is right and decent, a marked regard for fair play, especially to the weak and poor, a stern sentiment of impartial justice, and above all the love of personal freedom.’

“To those isolationists who believed the United States should not have gone to war, he said,”

‘The price of greatness is responsibility. If the people of the United States had continued in a mediocre station, struggling with the wilderness, absorbed in their own affairs, and a factor of no consequence in the movement of the world, they might have remained forgotten and undisturbed beyond their protecting oceans: but one cannot rise to be in many ways the leading community in the civilized world without being convulsed by its agonies and inspired by its causes.’

Pg. 795

‘The gift of a common tongue is a priceless inheritance and it may well someday become the foundation of a common citizenship. I like to think of British and Americans moving about freely over each other’s wide estates with hardly a sense of being foreigners to one another.’

‘If we are together nothing is impossible. If we are divided all will fail. I therefore preach continually the doctrine of the fraternal association of our two peoples.’

Pg. 894

‘Neither the sure prevention of war nor the continuous rise of world organization will be gained without what I have called the fraternal association of English-speaking peoples. This means a special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States.’

Roberts

“He wanted this to go so far as to involve the joint use of all Naval and Air Force bases in the possession of either country all over the world.”

Pg. 959

On Socialism – 1959

‘Among our Socialist opponents there is great confusion. Some of them regard private enterprise as a tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Only a handful see it for what it really is – the strong and willing horse that pulls the whole cart along.’

Pg. 972

On Democracy

‘I was brought up in my father’s house to believe in democracy. “Trust the people” – that was his message. I used to see him cheered at meetings and in the streets by crowds of working men way back in those aristocratic Victorian day when, as Disraeli said, “The world was for the few, and the very few.”

Pg. 903

‘No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time; but there is broad feeling in our country that the people should rule, continuously rule, and that public opinion, expressed by all constitutional means, should shape, guide, and control the actions of ministers who are their servants and not their masters.’

How to Prevent Another War in Europe, ‘the United States of Europe’,  Britain and Europe – Churchill and Brexit

Why was Europe such a contentious area? How could we achieve long term peace in Europe and end that awful pattern of conflagration, high dungeon, and woeful destruction? Churchill, like his American counterparts had some ideas about government, how to quell German aggression, how to keep the peace in Europe, and how to stave off dissent in the coming iteration of the United Kingdom. Churchill believed that a united Europe, that worked to lower barriers among European nations would help keep the peace. He did not see this as one government over all of Europe. He saw this as a ‘United States of Europe’ where nations maintained their autonomy. Since he did not see this alliance as either military or economic it is difficult to see what he actually had in mind.

But what Churchill’s position was on whether Britain should be a part of this European alliance is quite telling. Churchill was opposed to a United Kingdom presence in the ‘United States of Europe’. Churchill was flexible and could change somewhat with the times. Would he ever have favored joining the EU? From all he said it seems unlikely. Since he would never have joined I assume he would favor Brexit once the UK made what he considered the mistake of joining in the first place. Interesting anyway to see the roots of the EU in the aftermath of WWII. Churchill did evolve, so he might have changed his mind on this. That we cannot know.

Pg. 624

On Allied post-war decisions

‘When the war is won by this nation, as it surely will be, it must be one of our aims to work to establish a state of society where the advantages and privileges which hitherto have been enjoyed only by the few shall be far more widely shared by the many and the youth of the nation as a whole.’

Pg. 632

“Once the war had been won, in about twenty months-time, he predicted,” ‘there would once more be those who wished to help Germany on to her feet. Only one thing in history is certain: that mankind is unteachable.’

Roberts

“After the peace had been won, Churchill believed the world would have a brief ‘opportunity to establish a few basic principles.’ “He thought future international relations could be based on Christian ethics, and the more closely we follow the Sermon on the Mount the more likely we are to succeed in our endeavor.”

On Britain and Europe – (Brexit)

Pg. 899

United States of Europe

“A speech on Sept. 19, 1946, picked up on a phrase from a speech of April, 1944 in which he had mentioned a future ‘United States of Europe’.”

Roberts

“Churchill recognized that the two greatest tragedies of his life time had both stemmed from Franco-German wars, and he pledged a new Franco-German amity that would be the essential first step along the road to European Unity, and which he hoped would be a counterpoise to Soviet Communism.”

“In Europe he said: ‘Let Europe arise!’

Roberts

“This was his Western Europe counterpart to the Fulton speech, a passionate statement in support of European unity which still reads very well today. In his peroration, he as usual made it perfectly clear – as he always did whenever he spoke in public or private on the subject – that he did not intend Britain to join the United Europe.”

‘In all this urgent work, France and Germany must take the lead together. Great Britain, the British Commonwealth of Nations, mighty America, and I trust Soviet Russia, for then indeed all would be well, must be the friends and sponsors of the new Europe and must champion its right to live and shine.’

Roberts

“Churchill made another emotional appeal for a united continent at an important meeting of the United Europe organization at the Albert Hall on 14 May 1947. Germany and France ‘would form a major regional entity in the new post-war world. There is the United States with all its dependencies; there is the Soviet Union; there is the British Empire and Commonwealth; and there is Europe, with which Great Britain is profoundly blended. Here are the four main pillars of the world Temple of Peace.’ “He intended Britain to be , as he put it a friend and sponsor and ‘profoundly blended with a United Europe, though not an integral part of it.’

“Why the European federalists should have apparently thought at one time that he was thinking of British membership of a federal Europe I have never understood. He always made it quite clear that Britain, if he had anything to do with it, would stand aloof.”

10 Dec. 1948 in a foreign policy debate

‘We are not seeking in the European movement…to usurp the functions of government. I have tried to make this plain again and again to the heads of government. We ask for a European assembly without executive power. We hope that sentiment and culture, the forgetting of old feuds, the lowering and melting down of barriers of all kinds between countries, the growing sense of being a good European – we hope that all these will be the final eventual and irresistible solvent of the difficulties which now condemn Europe to misery. The structure of constitutions, the settlement of economic problems, the military aspects, these belong to governments. We do not trespass on their sphere.

Pg. 936

Harriman, Acheson, General Walter Bedell Smith, and more on the question of a European Army

“They got nowhere with him over the opposition to fusing the European countries’ armed forces into one outside NATO, which therefore never happened.”

Of course Europe became more unified and less contentious before the advent of the EU probably through a combination of partition, the ‘iron curtain’ that divided Eastern Europe from Western Europe, the numerous American bases in Europe, and the democratic practices that pertained in Western Europe along with economic prosperity.

Churchill on Immigration and Diversity

Churchill’s Victorian roots in British aristocracy show up more when he speaks about diversity. After WWII immigrations to the UK started to bring people to England who did not fit Churchill’s love of uniting English-speaking nations. They came mainly from the West Indies at that time and were often neither white nor English-speaking. Would Churchill have liked the idea of remaining separate from the EU even more if he was still in charge of a nation flooded with 21 st century refugees. Andrew Roberts who wrote the book Churchill: Walking with Destinybelieves that Churchill’s views on race (skin color) were deeply embedded in his aristocratic soul and that they might have proven to be a thing he could not change. Churchill had a paternal interest in the nations that made up the British Empire, nations he saw as undeveloped. He thought it was the responsibility of leading nations to bring order to less developed nations. We understand this kind of arrogance but it is no longer in favor; this sort of noblesse oblige. Even the American leaders Churchill met with during the last years of WWII had little patience with his passions to include the needs of nations in England’s far-flung Empire in their military plans, although at the end of the war we added certain protectorates to our own empire, perhaps because the war in the Pacific tromped all over these island nations.

On Diversity

Pg. 943

‘Problems will arise if many coloured people settle here’ “Churchill told the Cabinet on 3 February 1954. ‘Are we to saddle ourselves with colour problems in the United Kingdom? They are attracted by the Welfare State? Public opinion in the United Kingdom won’t tolerate it once it gets beyond certain limits.’

“Although Churchill did not like the implosion of the Empire he had so loved and fought for, and denounced what he called ‘the magpie society’, he did not attempt to impose curbs on immigration, which were not introduced until the early 1960’s. On the issue of West Indian immigration, on another occasion he told the Cabinet that a good slogan was ‘Keep England white,’ indicating that his view on the matter of ethnicity had not materially changed since his adolescence.”

Churchill has been gone from this world for over 50 years now, which is why so many primary sources were available to his biographer, Andrew Roberts. But it was surprising to me to learn how contemporary his thoughts actually were and how once again he seemed to own a certain prescience about the future concerns of the modern world. Nations are grappling with all kinds of ways to form unions that boost their influence and power, in both military and economic spheres. We constantly go to war and obsess about how to stop having wars. We may agree that Churchill’s views were those of a modern white supremacist but we are all learning that living with immigration and mixing people of different nationalities and races in relatively safe nations with healthy economies is creating cultural difficulties for everyone that will require patience and tolerance to resolve. If we can’t cope with living in populations that are more global in scope then a world conflagration more deadly than any ever experienced could result. Churchill made me think about what the world needs to do to avoid WWIII. I am not the only one who wants to avoid that. People work for this outcome every day. Churchill was not a perfect man; but he was a great man. We could use another. (Autocrats need not apply).

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Katy Jon Went

 

Fox and Dems

There is a lot of talk in the media about why the Dems turned down an offer to hold one of their primary debates on Fox News. It seems relatively uncontroversial to me. After all, Fox New is not really a news channel now is it? However, apparently during daytime broadcast hours there are a few actual journalists, like Chris Wallace, on Fox News doing actual news. These journalists who make up a minority of commentators on Fox News are wounded at the rejection by the Democrats.

It turns out that there are more reasons than just the Fox News reputation as a propaganda outlet to say no to Fox News. There isn’t much data available but there is some. A 2017 study found that 50% of the people who watch Fox are Democrats, but this data is old.

Another study from 2018 found that the Fox News audience is overwhelmingly white. This would make Fox News a poor venue for a party that is a “big tent”.

2019 study of the demographics of Fox viewers found that the median age for people who tune in Fox News is 65, although the same was true for people who watch MSNBC. This study also backs up the study from 2018 and found that 94% of the Fox audience is white.

In addition to the content of Fox News it seems that there are other compelling reasons for declining the offer to hold a primary debate at Fox, and it is difficult to think of any reasons beyond not hurting the feelings of a few TV journalists for putting such an important election debate on a channel that is not watched by many of the voters the Democratic Party hopes to attract.

There is also the problem that folks on the right are not allowed to refer to the Dems as the Democratic Party because it makes them sound like the keepers of democracy. Right-wingers now chance being ungrammatical and consistently refer to the party on the left as the Democrat Party. They also insist that our democracy be called a Republic, probably not so much because it is a republic (a democracy based on a written document) but because the word Republic is reflected in the name of the Grand Old Party, the Republicans. Parsing words, using semantics as propaganda is what we do now. I believe the Democratic Party made the correct decision. Why go on a TV station that is reluctant to use the party’s actual historical name?

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – the hill.com

One Nation United Against Trump – Why Not?

One Nation United Against Trump – Why Not?

You would think when we elect as President (and I use that term loosely because I will never be sure that the 2016 election was a fair election) – a man whose only loyal friends and employees are crooks (8 have been indicted and convicted, excluding Russians) – a man who lies to the American people he is supposed to serve over 5,000 times in 2 years – a man who uses intimidation regularly and publicly – a bad, bad President who trashes American institutions (the IRS, the FBI) to hide his own wrong-doing and much more; you would think the Republicans and Democrats would be united in trying to get this shyster out of the oval office. But Republicans deride the Dems and back the bad President for their own reasons.

Watching the House Oversight Committee in Congress question Michael Cohen shows how very adversarial the relationship is between our two major political parties. But I have to keep asking myself, why? The answer goes all the way back, several years back, to events that reached a crescendo in the two terms of Barrack Obama.

Many bemoan the fact that our Constitution and the body of laws that keeps it current seems to have no teeth. But the Constitution is not at fault. The Republican Party members are the real culprits. They are the very ones who decided to exploit loopholes, and sections in the Constitution that our forefathers left deliberately vague, to make it possible to keep the Republican Party in power far into the future.

The Republicans set out to take over our federal government. They did not act alone. They were backed and pressured by many wealthy Republicans and conservative and evangelical organizations. Americans for Tax Reform, and their enforcer Grover Norquist, turned a pledge Republicans signed to never raise taxes into an instrument that extorted compliance through threats to destroy the career of anyone who broke his/her pledge and demonstrated that the threats were real.

Republicans were backed in their attempt to turn our government into a one-party government by the NRA whose leaders created and spread a conspiracy theory which made Americans believe that Democrats wanted to overturn the Second Amendment and take away guns from private citizens, when they knew this was not true.

Republicans were backed by the Koch brothers and a web of conservative organizations who claimed to be 501 C-3’s – nonpolitical groups, but who then found sly ways to be political. These groups then claimed that the IRS was being partisan in only examining the Republican 501-C-3’s and since that was basically true, because Democrats were not abusing nonprofits, the IRS ended its perusal of Republican nonprofits. This began the Republican strategy of declawing the IRS. Trump continues to use partisan labelling to control the IRS and keep his tax returns secret.

This Republican Party had to stick to a list of demands made by their donors/owners* which they called “talking points”. They have to try to pursue limited federal government and stronger state governments; they have to overturn Roe v Wade; they have to dismantle the social safety net (they call them entitlements); they have to sabotage the ACA; they have to do all in their power to suppress Democratic votes; they have to deny climate change; they have to lower taxes; they have to stuff the courts with conservatives. In other words the Republicans are following marching orders from wealthy donors (our Capitalist overlords) to take over and turn the US into a single party puppet government fulfilling capitalist and Christian demands. (I do not say this because I am opposed to capitalism; I am not. I am opposed to unfettered capitalism, so don’t just write this off as the rantings of a socialist.)

Every action of the Republican Party explains why they will never unite with the Democrats to unseat a bad President. Every action explains why every member of this House committee hearing who is a member of the Republican Party uses their five minutes to discredit this witness, Michael Cohen, who is trying to offer proof about the criminality of our current President. Cohen is also trying to help us understand that Trump continues to be a criminal even while he sits in the oval office of the government of the United States of America. If proof was also available to show that Trump is treasonous, that would be a relief.

The Democrats are in a fight for the life of their party, for our democracy and for the Constitution which underlies our government. The Republicans are acting like this hearing is about unseating the President, but that is not the goal of this committee hearing. However, it should be a goal of a nation that is allowing itself to be dragged through the mud and muck by a man who is unsuited to be our leader and whose election was possibly assisted by the Russians.

The Democrats and Republicans should be united on this. The reasons why they aren’t are frightening and possibly apocalyptic. This is not just incivility, although Republicans would like us to think this. This is still an on-going attempted coup designed to turn America into a one-party government with no checks and balances.

 

*Parts of the Conservative Web:

Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation

American Academy for Liberal Education

Ethics and Public Policy Center

Capital Research Center

Mercatus Center

Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow

Sarah Scaife Foundation

Americas Future Foundation

Allegheny Institute for Policy Research

Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

David Horowitz Freedom Center

And at least 50 other foundations and research center.

From a muckety.com or mucketymaps.com graphic published in or around 2013. This graphic was later taken down. I captured this and one other pertinent graphic. They appear in my book: The US Republican Constitution: A Nonfiction Constitutional Thriller, by N. L. Brisson, 2016, ISBN 9780692793206 – on Amazon.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Fox News

Churchill – Aprés La Guerre

Churchill: Aprés La Guerre

Having read about treaties and the formalities that end a war, but never having given much thought to what actually goes on after a war, reading Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts, offered some detailed insights. Wars do not end when treaties are signed or agreements as to punishments and rewards are reached. Cities are in ruins and must be rebuilt. People do not forget their wounds and hostilities so easily. Feelings run deep and memories of wrongs are long. Even without armies, hostilities can continue. Whole nations can nurse resentments long after treaties are negotiated. Vengeance may be fomented inadvertently, and a war may erupt again. Once there was a Hundred Years War. It was a war that just wouldn’t stay ended. This same dynamic, Churchill believed, is how Europe ended up in WWII so soon after what Britain called The Great War.

Winston Churchill was old enough to be an adult during the two “world” wars in Europe, both of which centered in Germany. Not only was Churchill an adult, he was in Parliament, he was influential in the decisions made during and after these wars. Actually, Churchill tended to serve the nation best when Great Britain was at war. Churchill, though, had a sort of fixation with trying to win wars in Europe by going east towards Turkey through the Dardanelles as he did in WWI (big mistake) or capturing the Dodecanese Islands in WWII which was a strategy his American allies disagreed with. Roberts thinks Churchill had the protection of the far-flung members of the British Empire in mind when he made these decisions. The Dardanelles decision was a disaster, so much so that Churchill, sidelined by opponents, left the government and joined the British troops (actually the Scots Fusillars) dug in in France for a while in order to at least feel useful. In WWII, America had no interest in preserving the British Empire and after Pearl Harbor America had different priorities. Before Pearl Harbor Britain’s only ally was Stalin in Russia, an alliance that was a necessity but went against Churchill’s strong opposition to the Bolsheviks. Churchill was also privy to some top secret news about a mass execution of Poles in Russia. America eventually did decide to help end the war in Europe first, and the war in Japan second as Churchill wished.

Churchill was unhappy with the way the nations who won World War I dealt with the nations who lost the war. He worried that Russia and Germany would become allies. He felt that the harsh treatment of the Germans led to the rise of Hitler. Churchill knew what Hitler was from the moment he appeared on the scene. He wanted to be sure to do better after that second World War. But Churchill’s main fears after WWII were about Russia. There was little that could be done to weaken Russia however. Without Russia Hitler might have eventually annexed Great Britain. Millions of Russian soldiers lost their lives in WWII. Forcing Germany to fight on two fronts, or counting North Africa, on three, kept Britain in the fight until America joined the allies.

According to Andrew Robert these are some of Churchill’s reactions to WWI and its aftermath:

Pg. 266

“Repair the waste,” he said, “Rebuild the ruins. Heal the wounds. Crown the victors. Comfort the broken and broken-hearted. There is the battle we have now to fight. There is the victory we have now to win. Let us go forward together.”

He later regretted saying of the starving Germans, “They were all in it, and they must all suffer for it.”

Pg. 266-67

“His true policy of advocating large grain shipments to Germany was the one he summed up with admirable brevity to Violet Asquith: “Kill the Bolshie; Kiss the Hun.”

(Churchill was 43)

Pg. 267-68

“Instead, on 10 January 1919, to the press’s almost  universal displeasure, Churchill became secretary for war and air.”

“Churchill faced enormous problems in demobilizing an army of 2.5 million men. His primary task was to get as many men back to their homes and jobs as quickly as possible, but he also needed to find enough troops to police the German occupation zone, Constantinople and the Dardanelles, Palestine and Iraq, and to reinforce a small contingent that in 1918 had been sent to help White Russians fight the Bolsheviks.”

Pg. 270

“He had been unimpressed by the way that Wilson had kept the United States out of the war for as long as he had, almost two years after the sinking of the Lusitania, and he thought that the President’s haughty treatment of the Republicans in 1919 was not the way to build the necessary consensus in Washington for the country to join the new international body set up by Versailles, The League of Nations. His estimation of Wilson in The World Crisis was therefore harsh. ‘The spacious philanthropy which he exhaled upon Europe stopped quite sharply at the coasts of his own country’ he wrote. ‘His gaze was fixed with equal earnestness upon the destiny of mankind and the fortunes of his party candidates. Peace and goodwill among all nations abroad, but no truck with the Republican Party at home. That was his ticket and that was his ruin, and the ruin of much else as well. It is difficult for a man to do great things if he tries to combine a lambent charity embracing the whole world with the sharper forms of populist party strife.’”

‘The aid which we can give to those Russian armies which are now engaged in fighting against the foul baboonery of Bolshevism can be given by arms, munition, equipment, and by the technical services,’ he said at the Mansion House in February. Churchill’s extravagances in his anti-Communist language served to undermine the very accurate predictions he made about the vast numbers of Russians that the Bolsheviks would kill’

Pg. 273

“The Versailles Treaty was signed on 28 June 1919. Churchill deplored the harsh economic and financial provisions the Treaty imposed on Germany, which had been insisted upon by Clemenceau, but he was not in a strong enough position to do anything about them. He later described these clauses of the Treaty as ‘malignant and silly to an extent that made them obviously futile’ and ‘a sad story of complicated idiocy.’ He instead urged the humane treatment of Germany, warning of the ‘grave consequences for the future’ should the Russians and Germans ever come together.”

Pg. 276

‘Since the Armistice,’ he told Lloyd George on 24 March, ‘my policy would have been “Peace with the German people, war on Bolshevik tyranny.” Willingly or unavoidably, you have followed something very near the reverse.’

 

Here are some of the things Roberts tells us about Churchill after WWII: (pg. 894-95):

“[Churchill] was already also denouncing the tyrannical behaviour of the Communist government of Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Bulgaria, the night-time ‘knock at the door’ from the secret police of these countries prior to the disappearance of citizens.”

“Churchill’s speech at Fulton was officially entitled “The Sinews of Peace” but was quickly called ‘The Iron Curtain Speech’, Andrew Roberts tells us.”

“The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power’, [Churchill] began…It is a solemn moment for the American Democracy. For with primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future. If you look around you, you must feel not only the sense of duty done but also you must feel anxiety lest you fall below the level of achievement.”

“Of the United Nations, [Churchill] said, ‘We must make sure that its work is fruitful, that it is a reality and not a sham, that it is a force for action, and not merely a frothing of words, that it is a true temple of peace in which the shields of many nations can someday be hung up, and not merely a cock-pit in a Tower of Babel”….

“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, he declared ‘an iron curtain’ has descended across the continent. Behind that line all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe: Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all those famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high, and in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow”….

“The dangers would not be removed by appeasing Russia, [Churchill] argued. “From what I have seen of our Russian friends and Allies during the war, I am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness, especially military weakness.’ He urged that therefore ‘the old doctrine of a balance of power is unsound.”

 

America did not react well to this speech. Russia had lost so many to the war. It was obvious they needed to be rewarded, but Churchill also proved to be correct. Russia could not be appeased.