Tag: Politics

Adam Kinzinger – Fresh Air Interview

Rep. Adam Kinzinger on investigating Jan. 6 and being a ‘Renegade’ in the GOP
The former Illinois congressman reflects on confronting the “fanaticism of the hardcore” of his own party. Kinzinger served on the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol.

KINZINGER: It’s been life-changing in a number of ways. So, you know, my father’s cousins, I guess, basically sent me a letter disowning me at one point, which was…

GROSS: Wait, wait, wait, she said you served in Satan’s army when you joined the committee.

KINZINGER: Yep. That’s it. That’s it. I was a member of the devil’s army. But it said things like, you serve in the devil’s army, you’ve lost the trust of great men like Mark Levin and Sean Hannity. And it goes to show, to me, the brain rot – right? – the rot going on, the absolute abuse of people that put their trust in some of these – you know, these radio folks or these TV folks. I had – you know, a year ago, I had – my copilot in Iraq sent me a text that said he was ashamed to have ever served with me. I mean, I can’t imagine what goes through somebody’s head, how angry you have to be to wake up, for whatever reason, to send a person that you fought with in a war that you were embarrassed to have served with them.

I mean, that’s just some of it – having a 24-hour security detail when I’m in D.C., wondering if my family’s protected while they’re back in Illinois. I mean, these are a lot of the sacrifices. But – and a lot of the ways it changed. And now I’m obviously a much more public figure than I was even prior to that. But I have no regrets. If I had to go back in time, knowing everything I know now and how it would turn out, I would still do it.

GROSS: I don’t want to ask you anything that further threatens your security, so if this question does, let me know. But you got a lot of threats after joining the committee. You got voicemails saying things like, I hope you die quickly.

Reelection and the Fear of Death in the U.S. Senate

DAVIES: You write that Romney called the Senate a club for old men, meaning what?

COPPINS: (Laughter) Well, this was a really interesting insight. He basically said, on some superficial level, you know, it’s a lot of old people. We have on-site barbers and doctors, and everybody wears orthopedic shoes. But, you know, on a more serious level, he told me he had not realized just how much psychic currency his Senate colleagues attached to their jobs. It almost was as if, you know, losing reelection was akin to death for them, right? There were – a lot of his colleagues were in their 60s, 70s, even some in their 80s. And to them, the relevance and power and importance associated with their position was essential to their lives. It was central to their identities. And what it meant was that every decision they made came back to, will this help me get reelected? In fact, he had a Senate colleague tell him explicitly, when you’re mulling a vote, the first question you should ask yourself is, will this help me get reelected? And then secondary, he said, was, will this help my state and my constituents? I mean, that one, to me, was kind of the shocking one because that is remarkable – right? – to think that his Senate colleagues are just saying out loud that reelection is the most important thing to consider. And it seems like that’s a fairly widespread sentiment in Washington in the Senate, even if they would never say it publicly.

Mitt Romney biographer offers a startling account of dysfunction in the Senate
Fresh Air

Elise Stefanik, Gumby, and Groucho Marx – Letter to Editor, NYTIMES

To the Editor:

Elise Stefanik’s Gumby-like transformation from moderate Republican to ultra-MAGA Trumpster is emblematic of today’s G.O.P., which has now given us George Santos. Malleability and dissembling have replaced honesty and conviction.

Groucho Marx famously said, “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them … well, I have others.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/03/opinion/letters/elise-stefanik-trump.html

Jared Kushner White House Memoir – NYTIMES Review

“Breaking History” is an earnest and soulless — Kushner looks like a mannequin, and he writes like one — and peculiarly selective appraisal of Donald J. Trump’s term in office. Kushner almost entirely ignores the chaos, the alienation of allies, the breaking of laws and norms, the flirtations with dictators, the comprehensive loss of America’s moral leadership, and so on, ad infinitum, to speak about his boyish tinkering (the “mechanic”) with issues he was interested in.

This book is like a tour of a once majestic 18th-century wooden house, now burned to its foundations, that focuses solely on, and rejoices in, what’s left amid the ashes: the two singed bathtubs, the gravel driveway and the mailbox. Kushner’s fealty to Trump remains absolute. Reading this book reminded me of watching a cat lick a dog’s eye goo.

Jared Kushner’s ‘Breaking History’ Is a Soulless and Very Selective Memoir
In this lengthy book, Kushner recounts the time he spent in the White House during his father-in-law’s term.
Dwight Garner

Anti War Perspective from Russia – New York Times Opinion Piece

Russian has become the language of fear. My parents avoid discussing politics over the phone; they’re not alone. Since the Kremlin has strangled freedom of speech, most Russians I know are afraid to publicly express their opinions. They’ve gone back to Soviet-era’ kitchen conversations to share their views on politics.

We have seen the Kremlin crack down violently on protests about elections and political prisoners like Aleksei A. Navalny. On the day Putin launched his full-scale assault on Ukraine, the government issued a statement warning that Russians who protest could face prosecution.

I was heartened, and scared, to see that the warning did not stop Russians from turning out in force that same day. Protests took place across Russia, from Moscow to St. Petersburg to Khabarovsk. Signs bore messages like “No War” and “Do you see evil and keep silent? Partner in crime!” Nearly 1,800 people were arrested.

This War Is Not in My Name
By Irina Kuznetsova
Dr. Kuznetsova emigrated from Russia to Britain in 2014. She is an associate professor of human geography at the University of Birmingham.

Liz Cheney vs Her Gutless Colleagues

“And it’s very important, if you look at what’s happening today in my party, the Republican party, rather than reject what happened on (January) 6th, reject the lies about the election and make clear that a president who engaged in those activities can never be president again, unfortunately too many in my own party are embracing that former president, are looking the other way, are minimizing the danger. That’s how democracies die, and we simply cannot let that happen.”

Liz Cheney says too many in GOP are ‘looking the other way’ on Jan. 6: ‘That’s how democracies die’
The Wyoming congresswoman says media and members of her party who try to downplay the attack on Jan. 6 “ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

Ms. Cheney was the only Republican leader telling Mr. Trump to move on from the election. A year later, while many in her party have backed down from their criticisms of the former president’s actions, she has remained steadfast — a conviction that has cost her leadership position.

In the second part of our look at the legacy of the Capitol riot, we speak to Ms. Cheney about that day and its aftermath, her work with the Jan. 6 commission and the future of the Republican Party.

The Daily

Flatulent Rudy Guiliani – Fart, Farting Problem

Rudy Giuliani came once, but no one wanted him back. His phone rang constantly, and he couldn’t shut it off. He shuffled endless pieces of paper without being able to find what he was looking for. He couldn’t work his iPad to bring up what he wanted to show, reliably stalling meetings. And he went down rabbit holes—they could get Hunter Biden, if they could just find the guy who signed the forms to get Hunter the waiver to get into the military. And he passed gas, constantly.

The room had not been cleaned since Election Day, eleven days before. Refuse filled the trash cans and overflowed onto the floor. There was a heavy sour or rotting smell—in the trash was a week-old Buffalo chicken sandwich—mixed with Giuliani’s reliable farting.

Everyone sheepishly held to the president’s preference that the virus be mostly unacknowledged, masks eschewed and superspreader events overlooked, but there was, nevertheless, even without a formal tracking program in the White House, a reflex to blame each infection on someone, as the president had continued, at the least opportunity, to blame his own case of it on Chris Christie.

Now, in fact, the president was worried that the press was going to leave the impression that Giuliani had gotten the virus from him. “They blame me for everybody getting it,” he pronounced, looking for sympathy.

Then Jenna Ellis got it two days later (the West Wing joke being that she got it from a Giuliani fart).

Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency
Wolff, Michael

Politics as Sport – Metaphor

When any political movement loses all sense of self and has no unifying theory of government, it ceases to function as a collective rooted in thought and becomes more like fans of a sports team. Asking the Republican Party today to agree on a definition of conservatism is like asking New York Giants fans to have a consensus opinion on the Law of the Sea Treaty. It’s not just that no one knows anything about the subject; they don’t remotely care. All Republicans want to do is beat the team playing the Giants. They aren’t voters using active intelligence or participants in a civil democracy; they are fans. Their role is to cheer and fund their team and trash-talk whatever team is on the other side. This removes any of the seeming contradiction of having spent years supporting principles like free trade and personal responsibility to suddenly stop and support the opposite. Think of those principles like players on a team. You cheered for them when they were on your team, but then management fired them or traded them to another team, so of course you aren’t for them anymore. If your team suddenly decides to focus on running instead of passing, no fan cares—as long as the team wins.

Stevens, Stuart. It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump

You’ll never understand how politics works if you don’t understand Anna Nicole Smith

After a lecture, David Rieff, perhaps America’s most important writer on humanitarian issues, made this surprising comment: “You’ll never understand how politics works if you don’t understand Anna Nicole Smith.” What could Anna Nicole Smith have to do with politics—or brain scans, for that matter? Abundant clues to the answer could be found on any TV channel that night. There were viewers calling in, recounting their emotional responses to Anna Nicole’s life and death. Most of them were women, mourning her, idolizing her. To others, she was a gold digger, an empty-headed celebrity, a celebrity only because she was a celebrity. Her life and death resonated so profoundly with so many people because she exemplified a remarkable variety of narratives. Those narratives exist outside the body – in our culture – and inside the body – in the very building blocks of our brains. David Rieff was completely right—understanding the importance of Anna Nicole Smith will help us understand politics.

Lakoff, George. The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist’s Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics 

The Trump Hustle, Example of

…the leader slow-walks toward us, fist pumping slowly, with that trademark ponderous tread of his (dating back at least to his boardroom entrances in The Apprentice), adjusts the mike, leans slightly sideways, and lances into it all with a stark declaration: “We brought you a lot of car plants, Michigan! We brought you a lot of car plants. You know that, right?”

Comes in prompt response the ear-splitting roar of affirmation, clear as clear can be: Yes, Mr. President, we know that! A joyful knowledge, a knowledge to celebrate: all those jobs in all those car plants! But what exactly is it possible to know about those car plants? I could not have been the only one in that obstreperous crowd, made up overwhelmingly of Michiganders, to know the presumably important fact that, well…those car plants didn’t exist. Any member in good standing of the ancient “reality-based community” could have told you that since the coming of Trump no new car plants had been built in Michigan, that since his ascension not less than three thousand Michiganders had lost jobs in the vital auto sector.

Perhaps it wasn’t Trump’s fault, but it was a fact. But what was a fact exactly?

He had promised Michigan new car plants and within the chilly expanse of his own mind he had delivered. And the roar of worshipful approbation meant that he had carried these thousands of souls to that place with him. “Dang!” a sweatshirted middle-aged woman told me afterward as we waited in line to buy hot dogs and lemonade. “I had no idea he had done so much for the state! I mean, people hardly even talk about it…” She was a nurse, trained in anatomy, physiology, biology—science, that is to say. But to her the president’s word was Truth; the idea that “people hardly even talk about” the car plants because they don’t exist was not only heretical but inconceivable. She couldn’t conceive it and neither could the thousands of others shouting around me.

Mark Danner
New York Review of Books
The Con He Rode In On
Why do people hardly even talk about all the car plants Donald Trump has brought to Michigan?