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Weekly Reader: A baker’s dozen

This Weekly Reader features links to articles that grabbed my interest or tickled my fancy. I hope you find something that makes you laugh, think, or cry.

There’s a lot going on this week, so I’ve pulled in a baker’s dozen of articles and videos — everything from impeachment to people who coronasplain to a beautiful duet by two musicians featured in recent Saturday Soundtracks. I’ve tried to limit descriptions and quotes to just enough to entice you to dive deeper without getting too discouraged by the length. So let’s jump in!

We’ll begin with four impeachment and insurrection-related articles. First up, historian Lindsay Chervinsky, writing in Governing magazine, looks backward in As Trump’s Trial Nears, Here’s a History of Unusual Impeachments. Each of the cases she cites offers valuable insight and demonstrates that there is no such thing as a typical impeachment. 


Writing at Mother Jones, Mark Follman explains How Trump Unleashed a Domestic Terrorism Movement—And What Experts Say Must Be Done to Defeat It.

Even the wifi password was a signal. Attendees at President Donald Trump’s rally in Dalton, Georgia, on January 4 who wanted to log in to the Make America Great network had to enter the phrase into their devices: ‘SeeYouJan6!’ Trump was in town that night ostensibly to boost two Republican Senate candidates, but he spent much of his speech railing about the ‘stolen’ 2020 election—and inciting supporters to descend on the nation’s capital two days later. ‘They’re not taking this White House,’ he declared, Marine One spotlighted behind him. The crowd roared. ‘We’re going to fight like hell.’”

This is a long and important piece worth your time.


At Just Security, Jason Stanley writes that scholars on the Nazis and anti-Semitism have seen this all before in Movie at the Ellipse: A Study in Fascist Propaganda.

The video begins with Trump’s eyes in the shadow, and its second frame focuses the audience on the Capitol building – America’s Reichstag, where the decisions being denounced by the rally’s organizers were being made that day. The third frame of the video is the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. This image immediately directs the attention of an audience attuned to an American fascist ideology to the supposedly elite class of Jews who, according to this ideology, control Hollywood. The appearance of the Hollywood sign makes no other sense in the context of a short video about an election. The next two images, of the UN General Assembly and the EU Parliament floor, connect supposed Jewish control of Hollywood to the goal of world government. As we have seen, according to Nazi ideology, Jews seek to use their control of the press and the entertainment industry to destroy individual nations. The beginning of the video focuses our attention on this supposedly ‘globalist,’ but really Jewish, threat.

Another long but important read.


In the last of the four insurrection/impeachment articles, Deirdre Sugiuchi writes about her personal experience in Religion Dispatches. I Grew Up Evangelical and the Christian Nationalist Insurrection Did Not Surprise Me rings true to some of my personal experience as well.

However horrifying I find the spectacle of white Christians storming the Capitol in hopes of keeping Donald Trump in power, I do not find it at all surprising, because I grew up in the Christian nationalist movement. Growing up I came to understand firsthand that many Christian nationalists view people who don’t practice their form of Christianity as illegitimate. I also came to understand how racism is ingrained in the teachings of the white evangelical church.


Here are two articles on the obvious hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell, and why serious people should stop listening to his lies. The first, by Jamelle Bouie in the New York Times, is the more straightforward of the two. He simply says, I’m Not Actually Interested in Mitch McConnell’s Hypocrisy. You might find Bobbie Armstrong’s take on McConnell’s hypocrisy in McSweeney’s more fun. Take a look at I Am Dr. Frankenstein, and I Condemn the Actions of the Monster I Created and Did Nothing to Stop.


While we’re bringing humor and hypocrisy together, I also recommend Eli Grober’s short imagined monologue in McSweeney’s by a certain member of Congress from Georgia in The Terrible Things I Have Said and Done My Entire Life, and Right Up Until a Few Days Ago, Do Not Represent Me As a Person.

Right.


David Leonhardt, writing in the New York Times, answers the question that should be asked more often in Why Are Republican Presidents So Bad for the Economy? It goes against Republican talking points about their economic prowess, but historians could have told you this if you’d asked!

Since 1933, the economy has grown at an annual average rate of 4.6 percent under Democratic presidents and 2.4 percent under Republicans, according to a Times analysis. In more concrete terms: The average income of Americans would be more than double its current level if the economy had somehow grown at the Democratic rate for all of the past nine decades.

…Democrats have been more willing to heed economic and historical lessons about what policies actually strengthen the economy, while Republicans have often clung to theories that they want to believe — like the supposedly magical power of tax cuts and deregulation. Democrats, in short, have been more pragmatic.


Speaking of false talking points. It is time to stop the “Unity” charade, and a good place to start is by taking the GOP talking points away from the beltway press. Eric Boehlert, writing in Press Run about Biden, the press, and the “unity” charade makes the case that it is time for the press to grow up.

Three days into Biden’s presidency and the press was demanding to know when he’d start placating the GOP by pushing “Republican priorities.” (Answer: That’s not how elections work.) That same day, CNN interviewed Trump supporters in Texas who wanted Biden to be ‘less divisive.‘…

Here’s the press’ skewed perspective: When Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by three million votes, it wasn’t seen as a sign of weakness when he couldn’t find common ground with other side. When Biden wins the popular by seven million votes, he gets dinged for not being bipartisan.

As Boehlert notes, let’s stop the “unity” charade and see it for what it is.


I’ll just say it right up front: I love to read The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Angry Grammarian. And this one from late January updating the pandemic dictionary was a classic. Are you a covidiot who coronasplains? he asks. And what is a covidiot you may ask?

Definition of covidiot. Credit: Philadelphia Inquirer.

After reading that, you can probably figure out that coronasplaining is something done by a covidiot.


Let’s finish with three pieces that have nothing to do with impeachment, insurrection, fascism, pandemics, or conspiracy theories. In other words, normal stuff that we are now beginning to see again after four years of lunacy.

We’ll begin with entrepreneur Robert Glazer, writing on Friday Forward about Why Businesses Need More Common Sense.

Lindstrom has discovered a link between empathy and common sense: the better we understand each other, the more problems we can solve through common sense. We treat others the way they want to be treated.

Unfortunately, studies have shown our ability to empathize has declined visibly, driven by social media, technology use and even the prevalence of Botox, which makes it harder to read people’s expressions.

Perhaps this is why common sense seems to be in such short supply today. As we lose our ability to understand each other, we struggle to find solutions that are both logical and widely accepted, based on a shared understanding of each other’s needs.


Muriel Vega, writing for Preservation magazine, the publication of The National Trust for Historic Preservation (my old employer) has a short piece about The Meticulous Restoration of NASA’s Mission Control at Houston’s Johnson Space Center. For those of us who remember watching all those space flights in the 1960s, with pictures from Mission Control, this brings back a lot of memories.


Finally, we’ll end this Baker’s Dozen with an absolutely lovely piece by two musicians who have been featured in More to Come’s Saturday Soundtrack: John Smith and Sarah Jarosz. Eye To Eye is a beautiful tune for our time of separation.

I cry out, but I feel like you can’t hear me
I need it, and I wish that you were near me

Eye to eye
Remember when you looked me in the eye
Eye to eye
No, I don’t wanna have to wait in line
Can we stand
Eye to eye?

Enjoy the reading and the music.

More to come…

DJB

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