From Masha Gessen**:

In “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” Hannah Arendt identifies a paradoxical pair of qualities that characterize the audiences of totalitarian leaders: gullibility and cynicism.

“Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given…


This** is a very worthwhile interview of Dr. Michael Jensen, a Senior Researcher at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland, where he leads the center’s team on domestic radicalization and manages data collection for the Global Terrorism Database.

When the House Impeachment Managers warn about the need to stop Trumpism now, this article makes clear that the threat really is dire, and that January 6 was not an aberration at all. Of particular importance is the data Jensen and his colleagues have collected concerning the speed of radicalization

Presidential impeachment is a funny thing.

It’s similar to, but not the same, as a criminal process. In a criminal prosecution, specific laws, based on statutorily defined elements of a crime, must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Impeachment is brought when the House of Representatives alleges that the president has committed “high crimes” or “misdemeanors,” otherwise undefined in the Constitution. Conviction is not bounded by reasonable doubt or even a preponderance of the evidence, but by head count: When two-thirds of the senators present vote to convict, the deed is done. …


The LawFare Blog article referenced below is very worthwhile. The authors assume that in some fashion, a Federal Commission will be formed to investigate the January 6 Insurrection, akin to the 9/11 Commission. They pose areas of inquiry that such a commission might explore, including intelligence failures, social media culpability, possible involvement of foreign powers.

Apropos of our recent discussion of the Trump II impeachment trial, concerning Trump’s conduct, they say this:

What can investigators reasonably conclude regarding the personal responsibility of President Trump?

What made the Capitol assault distinct from other forms of political violence that America has witnessed…

Forty-five Republican senators sought today to short-circuit the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump by voting to dismiss it on grounds that it is “unconstitutional.” Five Republicans (Collins, Murkowski, Sasse, Romney and Toomey) voted with fifty Democrats to let the trial proceed. It will proceed.

Rand Paul, the noted constitutional ophthalmologist, brought the motion to dismiss on grounds that:

Private citizens don’t get impeached. Impeachment is for removal from office, and the accused here has already left office,” Mr. Paul said, calling the trial “deranged” and “vindictive.”

Just as they did in the first impeachment trial, Republicans are hiding behind…


All the talk of packing the Court and admitting two more states has subsided. Not only did we fail to flip six seats in the Senate for a comfortable majority, we didn’t get a majority at all. All prayers and cash are now being directed to Georgia, where, even if we get a two seat gain in the January runoffs, we’ll still wind up with a 50–50 Senate split. (Yes, Vice President Harris would make it 51–50, but don’t count on Joe Manchin to vote for Puerto Rican statehood or a 14-member Supreme Court.)

In the House, we were confident…

For some time, we’ve been following the legal turns of this case. It was not entirely unexpected that Trump would issue a pardon to Flynn.

Predictable but still disgraceful.

When we last saw this case, US District Judge Emmett Sullivan had finally held his hearing on the DOJ’s motion to withdraw all charges against Flynn, who had twice pleaded guilty to the felony of lying to the FBI about phone conversations he’d held with the Russian ambassador to the US, just before Trump was sworn in. Flynn, in pleading guilty, agreed to cooperate with Federal investigators in the Mueller matter…


In 1961, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., resigned his post as a Harvard historian to serve as a special assistant to President Kennedy. In that capacity, Schlesinger was a speechwriter and “court historian.” He went on to write a Pulitzer-Prize-winning memoir of the Kennedy Administration, “A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House.”

Schlesinger was part of the Kennedy “Brain Trust,” revered by supporters during Kennedy’s tenure, but tarnished by acquiescence to (or promotion of) Johnson’s policies in Vietnam. This was the focus of David Halberstam’s “The Best and the Brightest.” …

Watching McConnell and Trump play bad-cop/worse-cop with the Coronavirus Relief package, it’s apparent that nothing will be done before the election so that if the Republicans get the drubbing they deserve, they will be in a position to leave the economy in shambles for the incoming Biden Administration.

Too bad for the human lives caught in the fray. After all, we can’t be driving up this crazy deficit just helping out the little people. Multi-trillion-dollar deficits are reserved for tax cuts for the wealthy.

Randy Newman nailed it (in 1974):

Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man)

We’ve taken…

Yesterday, an evenly divided U.S. Supreme Court let stand a decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that, under the circumstances of the pandemic, the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots could be extended by three days. The Pennsylvania Court’s decision was based exclusively on its interpretation of Pennsylvania statutes and the Pennsylvania Constitution.

The result has been generally cheered by Democrats since it expands the number of mail-in ballots which will be counted. The US Supreme Court did not issue an opinion. Rather it issued an Order denying the stay which had been sought by Republicans. [ Order:]


Jim Yulman

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