Archives for the month of: December, 2022

I had two personal experiences with the late Barbara Walters, although I don’t claim to have known her.

Many, many years ago, my then-husband was active in New York City political and civic life. We had a dinner party for 10 and he invited the financier Alan (Ace) Greenberg of Bear Stearns. Ace brought Barbara W as his date. Trying to make conversation with my famous guest, I asked her if she had interviewed the current President, Jimmy Carter. She said, rather haughtily, “I have interviewed every president!” I felt humbled. Put down.

The second occasion was years later, in 2010. I got a call from Robert Silvers, the editor of The New York Review of Books. He asked me if I would like to review a movie called “‘Wating for ‘Superman.’” He had two tickets for a preview. Of course I did. My partner Mary went with me to a large corporate building in midtown Manhattan. There were about 50 people in the plush setting. The aisles were pitched, carpeted steps.

As we settled in to the dimly lit screening room, we looked around to see if we knew anyone. We didn’t. Then the last person entered, and it was Barbara Walters. Unmistakable. She walked down the stairs, and a few rows past us, she tripped and fell flat on her face. Everyone saw it but for an instant, no one moved. Mary was on the aisle, and she leapt up, ran to BW, and helped her to her feet. She told me “she was light as a feather.”

The incident told me more about Mary than Barbara W. Mary was like that. Quick to jump in and help. Fearless. I remember one time near Lincoln Center when we saw two young men breaking into a car to steal its radio. Mary yelled at them, gave a loud whistle, and chased them for a block. Meanwhile, I yelled at her, “Watch out, they might have a knife!”

Those are my Barbara Walters stories. I have a large supply of stories where I had small and insignificant brushes with celebrities, incidents they would not remember but I did.

The upshot of the screening of “Wating for ‘Superman’” was this review-article. A magazine called “The Hollywood Reporter” cited it as one of the reasons that the film was not nominated for an Oscar (the most important reason was that one scene was staged, and another reason was that it was anti-union).

If you are on Twitter, watch Barbara Walters eviscerate Trump. Don Winslow⁦‪@donwinslow‬⁩Barbara Walters knew Donald Trump was a FRAUD.

pic.twitter.com/p53dyt2iMA

That’s one heck of an interview!

[The reason the beginning of this post appeared at noon is that I started writing it late last night, then decided to delete it before finishing. My deletion failed, so I decided to finish it a few minutes ago.]

A friend sent this list of some of the curiosities of the Trump administration in this article at Huffington Post. Just in case you forgot. I don’t know who compiled it.

I expect that a complete list would contain thousands of items. I, for one, will never forget the COVID briefing when he urged the public to drink bleach and speculated that the virus could be killed by some kind of rays or radiation. Most amusing to watch Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx flinching in the background. I can never forgive him for calling the free press “an enemy of the people,” echoing Stalinist rhetoric. Or his reception of the tortured body of young Otto Warmbier, followed by his exchange of “love letters” with the North Korean dictator responsible for killing Otto.

The worst sin of Trump, to me, was his demand for constant attention. It was impossible to close him out. What crazy thing would he say or do today? I spent four years living in a state of heightened anxiety because of him, worrying about what he would do or say next. COVFEFE.

The good news about Biden. He’s a normal person. He does not tweet several times a day. He doesn’t do or say crazy things. Days go by when I don’t think of him at all. What a relief.

1. he incited an insurrection against the government,
2. mismanaged a pandemic that killed a million Americans,
3. separated children from their families, lost those children in the bureaucracy,
4. tear-gassed peaceful protesters on Lafayette Square so he could hold a photo op holding a Bible in front of a church,
5. tried to block all Muslims from entering the country,
6. got impeached,
7. got impeached again,
8. had the worst jobs record of any president in modern history,
9. pressured Ukraine to dig dirt on Joe Biden,
10. fired the FBI director for investigating his ties to Russia,
11. bragged about firing the FBI director on TV,
12. took Vladimir Putin’s word over the US intelligence community,
13. diverted military funding to build his wall,
14. caused the longest government shutdown in US history,
15. called Black Lives Matter a “symbol of hate,”
16. lied nearly 30,000 times,
17. banned transgender people from serving in the military,
18. ejected reporters from the White House briefing room who asked tough questions,
19. vetoed the defense funding bill because it renamed military bases named for Confederate soldiers,
20. refused to release his tax returns,
21. increased the national debt by nearly $8 TRILLION,
22. had three of the highest annual trade deficits in U.S. history,
23. called veterans and soldiers who died in combat losers and suckers,
24. coddled the leader of Saudi Arabia after he ordered the execution and dismembering of a US-based journalist,
25. refused to concede the 2020 election,
26. hired his unqualified daughter and son-in-law to work in the White House,
27. walked out of an interview with Lesley Stahl,
28. called neo-Nazis “very fine people,”
29. suggested that people should inject bleach into their bodies to fight COVID,
30. abandoned our allies the Kurds to Turkey,
31. pushed through massive tax cuts for the wealthiest but balked at helping working Americans,
32. incited anti-lockdown protestors in several states at the height of the pandemic,
33. withdrew the US from the Paris climate accords,
34. withdrew the US from the Iranian nuclear deal,
35. withdrew the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership which was designed to block China’s advances,
36. insulted his own Cabinet members on Twitter,
37. pushed the leader of Montenegro out of the way during a photo op,
38. failed to reiterate US commitment to defending NATO allies,
39. called Haiti and African nations “shithole” countries,
40. called the city of Baltimore the “worst in the nation,”
41. claimed that he single handedly brought back the phrase “Merry Christmas” even though it hadn’t gone anywhere,
42. forced his Cabinet members to praise him publicly like some cult leader,
43. believed he should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,
44. berated and belittled his hand-picked Attorney General when he recused himself from the Russia probe,
45. suggested the US should buy Greenland,
46. colluded with Mitch McConnell to push through federal judges and two Supreme Court justices after supporting efforts to prevent his predecessor from appointing judges,
47. repeatedly called the media “enemies of the people,”
48. claimed that if we tested fewer people for COVID we’d have fewer cases,
49. violated the emoluments clause,
50. thought that Nambia was a country,
51. told Bob Woodward in private that the coronavirus was a big deal but then downplayed it in public,
52. called his exceedingly faithful vice president a “p—y” for following the Constitution,
53. nearly got us into a war with Iran after threatening them by tweet,
54. nominated a corrupt head of the EPA,
55. nominated a corrupt head of HHS,
56. nominated a corrupt head of the Interior Department,
57. nominated a corrupt head of the USDA,
58. praised dictators and authoritarians around the world while criticizing allies,
59. refused to allow the presidential transition to begin,
60. insulted war hero John McCain – even after his death,
61. spent an obscene amount of time playing golf after criticizing Barack Obama for playing (far less) golf while president,
62. falsely claimed that he won the 2016 popular vote,
63. called the Muslim mayor of London a “stone cold loser,”
64. falsely claimed that he turned down being Time’s Man of the Year,
65. considered firing special counsel Robert Mueller on several occasions,
66. mocked wearing face masks to guard against transmitting COVID,
67. locked Congress out of its constitutional duty to confirm Cabinet officials by hiring acting ones,
68. used a racist dog whistle by calling COVID the “China virus,”
69. hired and associated with numerous shady figures that were eventually convicted of federal offenses including his campaign manager and national security adviser,
70. pardoned several of his shady associates,
71. gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to two congressmen who amplified his batshit crazy conspiracy theories,
72. got into telephone fight with the leader of Australia(!),
73. had a Secretary of State who called him a moron,
74. forced his press secretary to claim without merit that his was the largest inauguration crowd in history,
75. botched the COVID vaccine rollout,
76. tweeted so much dangerous propaganda that Twitter eventually banned him,
77. charged the Secret Service jacked-up rates at his properties,
78. constantly interrupted Joe Biden in their first presidential debate,
79. claimed that COVID would “magically” disappear,
80. called a U.S. Senator “Pocahontas,”
81. used his Twitter account to blast Nordstrom when it stopped selling Ivanka’s merchandise,
82. opened up millions of pristine federal lands to development and drilling,
83. got into a losing tariff war with China that forced US taxpayers to bail out farmers,
84. claimed that his losing tariff war was a win for the US,
85. ignored or didn’t even take part in daily intelligence briefings,
86. blew off honoring American war dead in France because it was raining,
87. redesigned Air Force One to look like the Trump Shuttle,
88. got played by Kim Jung Un and his “love letters,”
89. threatened to go after social media companies in clear violation of the Constitution,
90. botched the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico,
91. threw paper towels at Puerto Ricans when he finally visited them,
92. pressured the governor and secretary of state of Georgia to “find” him votes,
93. thought that the Virgin islands had a President,
94. drew on a map with a Sharpie to justify his inaccurate tweet that Alabama was threatened by a hurricane,
95. allowed White House staff to use personal email accounts for official businesses after blasting Hillary Clinton for doing the same thing,
96. rolled back regulations that protected the public from mercury and asbestos,
97. pushed regulators to waste time studying snake-oil remedies for COVID,
98. rolled back regulations that stopped coal companies from dumping waste into rivers,
99. held blatant campaign rallies at the White House,
100. tried to take away millions of Americans’ health insurance because the law was named for a Black man,
101. refused to attend his successors’ inauguration,
102. nominated the worst Education Secretary in history,
103. threatened judges who didn’t do what he wanted,
104. attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci,
105. promised that Mexico would pay for the wall (it didn’t),
106. allowed political hacks to overrule government scientists on major reports on climate change and other issues,
107. struggled navigating a ramp after claiming his opponent was feeble,
108. called an African-American Congresswoman “low IQ,”
109. threatened to withhold federal aid from states and cities with Democratic leaders,
110. went ahead with rallies filled with maskless supporters in the middle of a pandemic,
111. claimed that legitimate investigations of his wrongdoing were “witch hunts,”
112. seemed to demonstrate a belief that there were airports during the American Revolution,
113. demanded “total loyalty” from the FBI director,
114. praised a conspiracy theory that Democrats are Satanic pedophiles,
115. completely gutted the Voice of America,
116. placed a political hack in charge of the Postal Service,
117. claimed without evidence that the Obama administration bugged Trump Tower,
118. suggested that the US should allow more people from places like Norway into the country,
119. suggested that COVID wasn’t that bad because he recovered with the help of top government doctors and treatments not available to the public,
120. overturned energy conservation standards that even industry supported,
121. reduced the number of refugees the US accepts,
122. insulted various members of Congress and the media with infantile nicknames,
123. gave Rush Limbaugh a Presidential medal of Freedom at the State of the Union address,
124. named as head of federal personnel a 29-year old who’d previously been fired from the White House for allegations of financial improprieties,
125. eliminated the White House office of pandemic response,
126. used soldiers as campaign props,
127. fired any advisor who made the mistake of disagreeing with him,
128. demanded the Pentagon throw him a Soviet-style military parade,
129. hired a shit ton of white nationalists,
130. politicized the civil service,
131. did absolutely nothing after Russia hacked the U.S. government,
132. falsely said the Boy Scouts called him to say his bizarre Jamboree speech was the best speech ever given to the Scouts,
133. claimed that Black people would overrun the suburbs if Biden won,
134. insulted reporters of color,
135. insulted women reporters,
136. insulted women reporters of color,
137. suggested he was fine with China’s oppression of the Uighurs,
138. attacked the Supreme Court when it ruled against him,
139. summoned Pennsylvania state legislative leaders to the White House to pressure them to overturn the election,
140. spent countless hours every day watching Fox News,
141. refused to allow his administration to comply with Congressional subpoenas,
142. hired Rudy Giuliani as his lawyer,
143. tried to punish Amazon because the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post wrote negative stories about him,
144. acted as if the Attorney General of the United States was his personal attorney,
145. attempted to get the federal government to defend him in a libel lawsuit from a prominent lady who accused him of sexual assault,
146. held private meetings with Vladimir Putin without staff present,
147. didn’t disclose his private meetings with Vladimir Putin so that the US had to find out via Russian media,
148. stopped holding press briefings for months at a time,
149. “ordered” US companies to leave China even though he has no such power,
150. led a political party that couldn’t even be bothered to draft a policy platform,
151. claimed preposterously that Article II of the Constitution gave him absolute powers,
152. tried to pressure the U.K. to hold the British Open at his golf course,
153. suggested that the government nuke hurricanes,
154. suggested that wind turbines cause cancer,
155. said that he had a special aptitude for science,
156. fired the head of election cyber security after he said that the 2020 election was secure,
157. blurted out classified information to Russian officials,
158. tried to force the G7 to hold their meeting at his failing golf resort in Florida,
159. fired the acting attorney general when she refused to go along with his unconstitutional Muslim travel ban,
160. hired notorious racist Stephen Miller,
161. openly discussed national security issues in the dining room at Mar-a-Lago where everyone could hear them,
162. interfered with plans to relocate the FBI because a new development there might compete with his hotel,
163. abandoned Iraqi refugees who’d helped the U.S. during the war,
164. tried to get Russia back into the G7,
165. held a COVID super spreader event in the Rose Garden,
166. seemed to believe that Frederick Douglass is still alive,
167. lost 60 election fraud cases in court including before judges he had nominated,
168. falsely claimed that factories were reopening when they weren’t,
169. shamelessly exploited terror attacks in Europe to justify his anti-immigrant policies,
170. still hasn’t come up with a healthcare plan,
171. still hasn’t come up with an infrastructure plan despite repeated “Infrastructure Weeks,”
172. forced Secret Service agents to drive him around Walter Reed while contagious with COVID,
173. told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,”
174. fucked up the Census,
175. withdrew the U.S. from the World Health Organization in the middle of a pandemic,
176. did so few of his duties that his press staff were forced to state on his daily schedule “President Trump will work from early in the morning until late in the evening. He will make many calls and have many meetings,”
177. allowed his staff to repeatedly violate the Hatch Act,
178. seemed not to know that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican,
179. stood before sacred CIA wall of heroes and bragged about his election win,
180. constantly claimed he was treated worse than any president which presumably includes four that were assassinated and his predecessor whose legitimacy and birthplace were challenged by a racist reality TV show star named Donald Trump,
181. claimed Andrew Jackson could’ve stopped the Civil War even though he died 16 years before it happened,
182. said that any opinion poll showing him behind was fake,
183. claimed that other countries laughed at us before he became president when several world leaders were literally laughing at him,
184. claimed that the military was out of ammunition before he became President,
185. created a commission to whitewash American history,
186. retweeted anti-Islam videos from one of the most racist people in Britain,
187. claimed ludicrously that the Pulse nightclub shooting wouldn’t have happened if someone there had a gun even though there was an armed security guard there,
188. hired a senior staffer who cited the non-existent Bowling Green Massacre as a reason to ban Muslims,
189. had a press secretary who claimed that Nazi Germany never used chemical weapons even though every sane human being knows they used gas to kill millions of Jews and others,
190. bilked the Secret Service for higher than market rates when they had to stay at Trump properties,
191. apparently sold pardons on his way out of the White House,
192. stripped protective status from 59,000 Haitians,
193. falsely claimed Biden wanted to defund the police,
194. said that the head of the CDC didn’t know what he was talking about,
195. tried to rescind protection from DREAMers,
196. gave himself an A+ for his handling of the pandemic,
197. tried to start a boycott of Goodyear tires due to an Internet hoax,
198. said U.S. rates of COVID would be lower if you didn’t count blue states,
199. deported U.S. veterans who served their country but were undocumented,
200. claimed he did more for African Americans than any president since Lincoln,
201. touted a “super-duper” secret “hydrosonic” missile which may or may not be a new “hypersonic” missile or may not exist at all,
202. retweeted a gif calling Biden a pedophile,
203. forced through security clearances for his family,
204. suggested that police officers should rough up suspects,
205. suggested that Biden was on performance-enhancing drugs,
206. tried to stop transgender students from being able to use school bathrooms in line with their gender,
207. suggested the US not accept COVID patients from a cruise ship because it would make US numbers look higher,
208. nominated a climate change sceptic to chair the committee advising the White House on environmental policy,
209. retweeted a video doctored to look like Biden
210. had played a song called “Fuck tha Police” at a campaign event,
211. hugged a disturbingly large number of U.S. flags,
212. accused Democrats of “treason” for not applauding his State of the Union address,
213. claimed that the FBI failed to capture the Parkland school shooter because they were “spending too much time” on Russia,
214. mocked the testimony of Dr Christine Blasey Ford when she accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault,
215. obsessed over low-flow toilets,
216. ordered the rerelease of more COVID vaccines when there weren’t any to release,
217. called for the construction of a bizarre garden of heroes with statutes of famous dead Americans as well as at least one Canadian (Alex Trebek),
218. hijacked Washington’s July 4thcelebrations to give a partisan speech,
219. took advice from the MyPillow guy,
220. claimed that migrants seeking a better life in the US were dangerous caravans of drug dealers and rapists,
221. said nothing when Vladimir Putin poisoned a leading opposition figure,
222. never seemed to heed the advice of his wife’s “Be Best” campaign,
223. falsely claimed that mail-in voting is fraudulent,
224. announced a precipitous withdrawal of troops from Syria which not only handed Russia and ISIS a win but also prompted his defense secretary to resign in protest,
225. insulted the leader of Canada,
226. insulted the leader of France,
227. insulted the leader of Britain,
228. insulted the leader of Germany,
229. insulted the leader of Sweden (Sweden!!),
230. falsely claimed credit for getting NATO members to increase their share of dues,
231. blew off two Asia summits even though they were held virtually,
232. continued lying about spending lots of time at Ground Zero with 9/11 responders,
233. said that the Japanese would sit back and watch their “Sony televisions” if the US were ever attacked,
234. left a NATO summit early in a huff,
235. stared directly into an eclipse even though everyone over the age of 5 knows not to do that,
236. called himself a very stable genius despite significant evidence to the contrary,
237. refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power and kept his promise.
238. Don’t forget that he took many classified & top secret documents with him when he left the White House, many of which have not been recovered & may have been compromised.
None of the above comes close to whatever is on Hunter Biden’s laptop, of course.
But other than that he wasn’t so bad…

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a history at New York University who specializes in fascism and authoritarian leaders.

She wrote:

Authoritarianism is about having the power to get away with crime, and waging a genocidal war against another country without othercountries intervening in ways that force a cessation of conflict counts as a big win in the autocrat world. In fact, from the minute they receive intelligence about a planned invasion, autocrats watch carefully to see what happens to transgressors of the international order–and adjust their own plans for aggression accordingly.

Allowing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war of annihilation against Ukraine to continue by not giving Ukraine the arms it needs to definitively repel the Russian invaders increases the risk that other autocrats will ramp up their own imperialist aspirations. Autocrats interpret any ambivalence about shutting down their peers’ territorial expansions as license to proceed with similar aggressive acts.

History is clear about what happens in such cases. Most people are familiar with the folly of the September 1938 British and French-brokered Munich agreement, which allowed the Third Reich to annex the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia six months after it annexed Austria.

Far fewer know about the earlier appeasement that set the stage for Hitler’s actions: Benito Mussolini’s war on League of Nations member Ethiopia, which started in October 1935. This was the biggest military operation since World War I, with Italy’s formidable air force dropping hundreds of tons of illegal chemical weapons on Ethiopians.

The weak sanctions levied on Italy by the League of Nations did not deter Il Duce from continuing to commit war crimes. He declared victory in May 1936, and occupied Ethiopia until the Allies drove the Italians out in 1941. “Was it ever likely to be effective?” Winston Churchill wrote critically of the sanctions in June. “Was it real or sham?” That same month, exiled Emperor Haile Selassie I denounced the war crimes to the League of Nations, but no action was taken against the Fascists.

By then, Mussolini’s admirer Hitler had all the information he needed about the consequences a despot might face for military aggression. In March 1936, while Mussolini’s war entered its sixth month, the Führer remilitarized the Rhineland, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.

Twenty-first century autocrats watch their kindred spirits’ fates with equal interest. Since the start of Putin’s war on democratic Ukraine, the world has become far less safe. A few weeks before the Russians invaded, Putin and Chinese head of state Xi Jinping issued a joint statementabout the new “multipolar” era of international relations. The premise of this new era –unrestrained imperialism for Russia and China– has become all too clear.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping together in Beijing, Feb. 4, 2022. Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP/via Getty Images

Xi Jinping has since become far more aggressive towards the West. His government has increased its rhetoric about its imperialistic claims on Taiwan. He has consolidated his personal power with a third term, while further puffing up his personality cult in ways not seen among Chinese premiers since Mao Zedong.

Turkey has also ramped up its bellicose and expansionist rhetoric regarding Syria and Greece. It has also persecuted Armenians, through its ally Azerbaijan, in the disputedterritory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Autocrats are transactional beings. You have a deal with an autocrat until you don’t, meaning no one should think that Putin will negotiate with or about Ukraine in good faith. That also holds for their relationships with each other (as Joseph Stalin discovered when Hitler invaded Russia despite signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact).

Even as dictators cheer on lawlessness that goes unpunished by the democratic order, they also circle each other like vultures, looking for signs of weakness that they can exploit. And everyone knows that Putin is more vulnerable as a player in the sphere of influence game with his resources and attention focused on Ukraine. Turkey, along with China, will seek to fill any power vacuum Putin’s weakness opens up in Eurasia and beyond.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s relationship with Putin has always been volatile. In the course of a few months in 2016 they went from almost going to war to being “best friends,” dining on plates that immortalized their friendship. I was skeptical of Erdogan’s early claims that he would be a “peacemaker” and mediator between Russia and Ukraine. Turkey intends to exploit this international crisis to increase its own power and prestige.

Now Serbian President Aleksandr Vucic has become the latest authoritarian to be galvanized by the possibilities created by the prolongation of Putin’s war. He has put his military on high alert, citing rising tensions with the Republic of Kosovo. Serbia does not recognize the sovereignty of Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

All of these conflicts have long histories that are independent of the new climate created by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Yet democratic powers’ acceptance of a continuance of Putin’s war will only further destabilize the international order. It also increases the chances that democratic strongholds such as Taiwan will be targeted for “reunification” –the word of choice for autocrats since the days of Hitler to market their imperialism to their peoples and the world.

That’s why Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was right to state in his speech to U.S. Congress that supporting Ukraine is an investment in global security. He knows that when an autocrat gets away with an imperialist and genocidal war it only increases his megalomania and hubris, making it far more difficult to rein him in later on. It also increases the likelihood that other autocrats will commit their own aggressions toward targeted territories.

And it’s why the warning that economist Anders Aslund issued to his fellow Europeans should be heeded, not least because it builds on historical precedent. As an expert on Putin’s kleptocracy, Aslund knows the value and prestige impunity has among autocrats. “If you don’t deliver enough of arms & funds to Ukraine now,” he tweeted, “you might have to face Russian troops yourselves later on.”

Melanie Stansbury was elected to Congress in New Mexico to fill the seat of Deb Haaland after she was named Secretary of the Interior. Stansbury had one audacious goal: she wanted the federal government to fund the construction of a new school for a tribal school in her district.

Jennifer bender of Huffington Post explains the saga of one Congresswoman’s quest to keep her promise:

WASHINGTON — Buried in the 4,155-page omnibus spending bill unveiled in the Senate on Tuesday is a single sentence that’s likely to go unnoticed by almost everyone — except the first-term congresswoman who fought for it with everything she had for the last year and a half.

“For an additional amount for ‘Education Construction,’ $90,465,000, to remain available until expended for necessary expenses related to the consequences of flooding at the To’Hajiilee Community School.”

It’s the only line item in the bill under a section titled “Bureau of Indian Education, Education Construction.” It’s money to rebuild a K-12 school in TóHajiilee, New Mexico, a remote community about 35 miles west of Albuquerque.

This school was built on a floodplain. For decades, walls of water have poured down from a nearby canyon and drowned the campus. School officials here routinely pull children from their classes and race to get them onto a bus to shuttle them to safety. Teachers scramble to move their cars to higher ground before they get washed away.

The constant flash floods have left the buildings in appalling disrepair. In March, the high school was abruptly vacated and shut down because it was literally sinking into mud, and its foundation was crumbling. The walls had visible cracks. Water poured through the roof every time it rained. There was nowhere else for the high school students to go, so they went home, where their teachers, somehow, carried on teaching virtual classes that previously involved hands-on work in chemistry labs, culinary arts classes and in woodworking classrooms.

The To’Hajiilee Community School has been neglected and massively underfunded since its founding. It’s one of 183 K-12 schools overseen by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), responsible for providing education to more than 48,000 Native American children around the country. Of these schools, 86 are in “poor condition,” and 73 don’t have the money for needed repairs, according to BIE data from 2021. An additional 41 of these schools are in “fair condition.”

The school isn’t just substandard; it’s a site that carries historical trauma. Like many of today’s BIE schools, the To’Hajiilee Community School is also a former Indian boarding school. For about 150 years, the U.S. government forced tens of thousands of Indigenous children to attend these schools to try to assimilate them into white culture. As a result, these kids endured physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Some died. Others disappeared.

Despite having such few resources, the To’Hajiilee Community School has still managed to thrive culturally, said Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), who represents this district. School officials have reclaimed the space and built a strong community around it, grounding its activities in Indigenous language and cultural revitalization.

Stansbury has made it her number-one priority to find money for the school ever since she won a special election in June 2021 to fill the House seat vacated by now-Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. And if anyone knows how the congressional appropriations process works, it’s Stansbury.

The lawmaker previously worked on BIE’s budget at the Office of Management and Budget and was a staffer on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. For the last 18 months, Stansbury has been aggressively, if desperately, lobbying anyone who has a say in tribal school funding — House appropriators, congressional leadership, White House officials, Interior Department officials — to fund the To’Hajiilee Community School adequately.

Over the past few weeks, as lawmakers scrambled to get their priorities into the $1.7 trillion year-end spending bill, Stansbury says she spent “every day, all day long,” dogging House and Senate appropriators, Hill leaders and administration officials to include money for the school. She didn’t know until Tuesday morning, when the bill was publicly released and she pored over its text, that her efforts had paid off.

“We’ve been working so hard on this, for so long, I literally woke up … and bawled my eyes out,” Stansbury told HuffPost in an emotional interview on Tuesday. “I invested everything I had to get funding for this school. The To’Hajiilee community is only a short distance from Albuquerque, but the people out there have so much need, and the community hasn’t had its needs and priorities met. It’s just so huge for this community.”

Good work, Cong. Stansbury. I’m pleased to add you to the honor roll of this blog at the urging of a member of our blog community.

Heather Cox Richardson shares news about the fissure in the Republican Party between Trump crazies and responsible elected officials.

Today, President Joe Biden signed into law the bipartisan year-end omnibus funding bill passed by the House and the Senate before lawmakers left town.

The $1.7 trillion measure addresses key goals of both parties. It funds the military and domestic programs. It funds public health and science, invests in law enforcement, and funds programs to prevent violence against women. It funds veterans’ services, and it provides assistance to Ukraine in its struggle to protect itself against Russia’s invasion. It updates the Electoral Count Act to prevent a president from trying to overturn a presidential election, as former president Trump did.

Biden said, “This bill is further proof that Republicans and Democrats can come together to deliver for the American people, and I’m looking forward to continued bipartisan progress in the year ahead.”

But on his social media platform, Trump took a stand against the bill that funds the government. “Something is going on with [Senate minority leader] Mitch McConnell [(R-KY)] and all of the terribly and virtually automatic ‘surrenders’ he makes to the Marxist Democrats, like on the $1.7 Trillion ‘Ominous’ Bill,” Trump wrote. “Could have killed it using the Debt Ceiling, or made it MUCH better in the Republican House. Nobody can be this stupid.” Then he went on to blame the deal on McConnell’s wife, Trump’s own Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, using a racist slur.

This exchange reveals the dynamic dominating political leadership at the end of 2022. Biden and the Democrats are trying to show that the government can produce popular results for the American people. They are joined in that effort by Republicans who recognize that, for all their talk about liberty, their constituents want to see the government address their concerns. Together, they have passed the omnibus bill, as well as the CHIPS and Science Act, the bipartisan infrastructure law, and gun safety legislation.

This cooperation to pass popular legislation is an important shift in American politics.

But Trump and his cronies remain determined to return to power, apparently either to stop this federal action Trump incorrectly calls “Marxism” or, in the case of extremist Republicans, to use the government not to provide a basic social safety net, regulate business, promote infrastructure, or protect civil rights—as it has done since 1933—but instead to enforce right-wing religious values on the country. They reject the small-government economic focus of the Reagan Republicans in favor of using a strong government to enforce religion.

The determination of Trump and his team to dominate the government, and through it the country, has been illustrated powerfully once again today with the release of more transcripts from testimony before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol. Former White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Griffin recalled how Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, dismissed the idea that the Trump administration should coordinate with the incoming Biden officials over the coronavirus pandemic. “It was the first COVID… meeting that Jared led after [Biden won],” Griffin recalled, “& Dr. Birx… said, “Well, should we be looping the Biden transition into these conversations?” & Jared just said, ‘Absolutely not.’”

Similarly, in an extraordinarily petty exchange, the chief of staff to former first lady Melania Trump, Stefanie Grisham, recalled that Trump wanted to fire the chief White House usher, Tim Harleth, for being in contact with the Biden team about the presidential transition. (Secret Service agents told Trump about the contact, raising more questions about the role of the agents around Trump.) Melania Trump stopped the firing out of concern for the stories Harleth could tell about the Trump family, but he was let go just before Biden’s inauguration, leaving the Biden’s standing before the closed doors of the White House for an awkwardly long time when they entered for the first time.

This determination of far-right Republicans to bend the country to their will presents a problem for the Republican Party. Establishment Republicans came around to backing Trump in 2017 after he promised them lower taxes and less regulation, the goals they had embraced since the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

But Trump managed to stay in power by feeding the reactionaries in the party: those who reject the idea of American equality. Trump’s base is fiercely opposed to immigration and against the rights of LGBTQ Americans, while also in favor of curtailing the rights of women and minorities. Rejecting the equality at the heart of liberal democracy, many of them hope to enforce religious rules on the rest of the country and admire Russian president Vladimir Putin and Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán for replacing democracy with what Orbán has called “Christian democracy,” or “illiberal democracy” that enforces patriarchal heterosexual hierarchies. As Trump encouraged them to, many of them reject as “fraudulent” any elections that do not put their candidates in power.

Now, as Republican establishment leaders recognize that Trump’s star is fading and his legal troubles seem likely to get worse—his tax returns will be released tomorrow, among other things—they seem eager to cut Trump loose to resurrect their anti-tax, anti-regulation policies. But those Americans who reject democracy and want a strong government to enforce their values are fighting for control of the Republican Party.

The far right has turned against Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, whom Trump hand-picked and who helped arrange the false electors in 2020. Trump loyalist Mike Lindell, the pillow magnate, is challenging McDaniel. Of more concern to her is the challenge of Harmeet Dhillon, a prominent election denier who has provided legal counsel for Trump in his struggles against the January 6th committee, calling it “a purely political witch-hunt, total abuse of process & power serving no legitimate legislative purpose.” Orbán supporter and Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson and Turning Points USA founder Charlie Kirk are backing Dhillon.

Kirk, who is a prodigious fundraiser, has warned the RNC that the party must listen “to the grassroots, our donors, and the biggest organizations and voices in the conservative movement” or it would lose in 2024. “If ignored, we will have the most stunted and muted Republican Party in the history of the conservative movement, the likes of which we haven’t seen in generations.”

The far right is also challenging the bid of House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for House speaker, creating such havoc that today former Republican representative, senator, and secretary of defense William S. Cohen and former congressional staff director and presidential senior fellow emeritus at the Council on Foreign Relations Alton Frye published an op-ed in the New York Times warning that “the Republican caucus is dominated by campaigns and commitments that gravely encumber efforts to define common ground in the political center.” They urged House members to recruit a moderate speaker from outside the chamber and to “fortify those Republicans who seek to move the party beyond the corrosive Trump era.”

They called for a secret ballot, so Republican members won’t have to fear retaliation.

Cohen and Frye suggested that organization of the House by an outsider would allow for “meaningful coalition building,” but the Republicans about to take control of the House have so far indicated only that they intend to investigate the Biden administration before the 2024 election, a throwback to the methods party leaders have used since 1994 to win elections by portraying the Democrats as corrupt.

Representatives James Comer (R-KY) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), who are expected to take over the House Oversight Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, respectively, have already demanded records from the White House. When White House Special Counsel Richard Sauber said the White House would respond to those committees after the Republicans were in charge of them—a position administrations have as taken since the 1980s—Comer and Jordan took to social media today to complain that “at every turn the Biden White House seeks to obstruct congressional oversight and hide information from the American people.” (Jordan, of course, refused to respond to a subpoena from the January 6th committee.)

The year 2022 has seen an important split in the Republican Party. The party’s response to voters’ dislike appears to be either to reject democracy altogether or to double down on the old rhetoric that has worked in the past, although you have to wonder if they have gone to that well so many times it’s drying up.

In the meantime, the Democrats have worked with willing Republicans to demonstrate that lawmakers in a democracy really can accomplish big things for the American people, and for the world.

Which vision will win out will be a key political story of 2023.

Send us your thoughts on best/worst events for our schools in 2022 & your hopes for 2023 so @danielalicea & I can share them on @WBAI Sat. at 1 PM EST on #TalkoutofSchool w/special guest @dianeravitch! Instructions here; or DM me. nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2022/12/for-ou… Deadline: Fri at noon.

You can send your thoughts on the best and worst things that happened to schools this past year by writing a tweet @leoniehaimson

Or writing her directly at “leoniehaimson@gmail.com”

Timothy Snyder, a pre-eminent scholar of fascism, summarized the report of the January 6 Committee:

What did Trump know, and when did he lie about it? How did his Big Lie lead to specific actions to overturn and election and bring down the American system? What did the coup attempt of 2020-2021 look like from within the Trump administration itself?

Thanks to the excellent “Final Report of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol,” we now know the answers to these and many other questions. I provide here just the briefest of summaries of the report’s recounting of the events of November 2020-January 2021.

It is very easy, when a long report is released, to underplay its basic findings. There is a temptation to act as if something is not shocking if we have heard part of it before, as though this were a mark of political sophistication. The American tendency to normalize threats to democracy is also present in retrospect.

What is described in palpable and convincing detail in the Final Report is indeed profoundly shocking: a planned and coordinated attempt by the president of the United States and his allies to carry out regime change in the United States of America on the basis of a Big Lie.

Here is my very brief summary of the factual part of the report, in fifteen quick points. I am deliberately understating here; the evidence, in the Final Reportitself, permits much broader conclusions.

1. Trump knew that he was likely to lose the 3 November 2020 election, and planned in advance to declare victory (to tell a Big Lie) if he lost.

2. On 3 November 2020, Trump knew that he was very unlikely to have won the election of that day, and declared victory anyway. In the days following, aware that he had lost, he continued to declare victory.

3. Over and over again in November, December, and January, Trump publicized specific claims of electoral fraud shortly after being informed that they were false.

4. Aware that his advisors, campaign officials, and cabinet knew his claims of fraud to be false, Trump promoted people, such as Rudolph Giuliani, who would lie for him in public.

5. In the full knowledge that he had lost the election and that his claims of fraud were false, Trump made several deliberate efforts to overturn the election results and thus American democracy.

6. In states he had lost, Trump personally pressured state officials to fraudulently and illegally alter the electoral outcome.

7. Informed that the Department of Justice had investigated and found no evidence of fraud, Trump nevertheless sought to use its powers, via Jeffrey Clark, to intimidate state officials to change electoral outcomes.

8. Knowing that he had lost the electoral college vote, Trump oversaw an effort to create fake slates of electors. These entirely bogus documents were then sent to the vice-president (who refused them).

9. Though aware that it was the vice-president’s role only to count the electoral votes, Trump pressured the vice-president not to do so, on the theory that the vice-president could, in effect, choose the president.

10. Even the person who devised the plan regarding the vice-president, John Eastman, knew it to be illegal.

11. Knowing by January 6th that all that remained was the formality of certifying Biden’s victory, Trump encouraged supporters he knew to be armed and angry to halt this procedure and violently overthrow our form of government.

12. Trump’s call to violence was successful because enough of his supporters believed his lies and understood what he wanted them to do: prevent a peaceful transition of power.

13. At a time when the Capitol was under attack, the vice-president was in flight, and the members of the vice-president’s security detail feared for their lives, Trump urged his supporters on to further violence.

14. After the failed coup attempt, a number of Republican legislators sought presidential pardons, thereby acknowledging their fears that they had acted illegally.

15. Even had Trump believed that he had won the 2020 election, which he did not, his coup attempt would remain a coup attempt, and his crimes would remain crimes.

These are some of the simple facts, as we now know them, two years on.

Two years ago, I wrote a long essay about the January 6 insurrection, entitled “American Abyss.” It could be published right after Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol, because I had written it beforehand, as a study of the Big Lie and its consequences. Thanks to the work of some excellent reporters and editors, I could add details from the horrors of the day before the final text went to press in The New York Times Magazine.

Trump’s coup attempt itself was predictable, and I had been predicting it throughout the autumn of 2020. Indeed, since the publication of On Tyrannyin early 2017, I had been trying to make the case that something like this could happen in the United States, and in late 2020 I spent a lot of time saying that it would happen. I like to think that this helped to prepare some of us for the coup attempt when it did come.

Trump is obviously personally responsible. But the techniques he used are not unique to him, and could be perfected by others. The weaknesses he exploited are structural. Now that a coup attempt has taken place, and we know a great deal about how it happened, it is important for us to ask some of the deeper questions about why it could have happened, not least to make sure that nothing similar takes place in the future. In posts to come, I will be interpreting the report, returning to some of the themes I established these last few years, such as the Big Lie.

Heather Long is a member of the Washington Post editorial board. She pinpoints the reasons for the national teacher shortage: low pay, but also pandemic stresses, and the ongoing political attacks on the teaching profession by extremists who want to prevent any teaching about racism or sexuality.

Message: pay teachers as professionals and let them teach as professionals, without censorship or interference by busybodies.

Long writes:

The U.S. economy hit a milestone this year: All 22 million jobs lost during the coronavirus pandemic were fully recovered. But that doesn’t mean workers went back to the same jobs. One of the sectors struggling the most to rebound is K-12 public education, which is still down more than 270,000 employees.


There is an educator shortage in the United States, but it is crucial to understand the details. First, this is about more than teachers. That 270,000 figure includes a lot fewer bus drivers, custodians and other support staff. Second, education isn’t simply about getting enough warm bodies into classrooms; it’s about having effective and qualified teachers and staff. The best analysis of the situation this fall, from the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, indicates a teacher shortage of nearly 2 percent, but more than 5 percent of positions are currently held by under-qualified teachers. Third, the shortage isn’t nationwide. It’s much worse in some schools and in some subjects.

In October, nearly half of public schools were still struggling to fill at least one teacher vacancy, according to a recently released Education Department survey. But schools in high-poverty neighborhoods were significantly more likely to have unfilled positions. Similarly, school districts report having an especially hard time finding special education, computer science and foreign language teachers, and bus drivers and custodial staff.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, but many signs indicate it worsened during the pandemic. Teachers experienced extreme levels of burnout from Zoom classes and safety concerns during the early days of the pandemic. Then came the culture wars that put teachers and staff under constant scrutiny over any conversations involving history, racism and sexuality. Throw in the Great Resignation, a tight labor market and rapidly rising pay in other professions, and the net result has been some teachers and staff retiring early. Others have quit and gone to work in different professions. And some recent graduates have decided not to enter education at all.

A reader who signs as “Wait, What” left the following comment:

Dear Florida Woke Police:

You must ban these documents and prominent figures’ quotes from our schools’ textbooks and bookshelves immediately! They are clear examples of content woke schools teaching of “systemic injustices in our society”

Abraham Lincoln
“There is no greater injustice than to wring your profits from the sweat of another man’s brow.” –

George W. Bush
“Laura and I are anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country.

We have often underestimated how radical that quest really is, and how our cherished principles challenge systems of intended or assumed injustice.” –

P.L. 94-142
“more than half of the handicapped children in the United
States do not receive appropriate educational services which
would enable them to have full equality of opportunity”

National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage
They stated that the interests of women and men were generally the same, and that women were not “suffering from any injustice” that having the vote would change. They also believed that women and men had different duties in the government, as they did in the home, and that the woman suffrage movement was a “backward step in the progress of civilization.”

Attorney General Eric Holder – 2009 on The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009

It also creates a new federal criminal law which criminalizes willfully causing bodily injury (or attempting to do so with fire, firearm, or other dangerous weapon) when:

(1) the crime was committed because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin of any person or (2) the crime was committed because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person and the crime affected interstate or foreign commerce or occurred within federal special maritime and territorial jurisdiction.

Abraham Lincoln, speech on Repeal of the Missouri Compromise, 1854
This declared indifference, but as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I can not but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself.*

And, the granddaddy of them all..
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice…”

*Continuation of Lincoln’s statement on Missouri Compromise – HA! TAKE THAT GOP – ah, the foreshadowing of the last phrase about “self-interest”

“…I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world — enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites — causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty — criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.”

The short answer is: Nothing. At least in Washington, D.C.

The story in New York is different.

Federal and local prosecutors are investigating whether his multiple lies broke any laws. Anne Donnelly, the local prosecutor in Nassau County, where he was elected, is a Republican, and she too has opened an investigation.

The New York Times, which broke the original story, reported last night:

Federal and local prosecutors are investigating whether Representative-elect George Santos committed any crimes involving his finances and lies about his background on the campaign trail.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have opened an investigation into Mr. Santos that is focused at least in part on his financial dealings, according to a person familiar with the matter. The investigation was said to be in its early stages.

In a separate inquiry, the Nassau County, N.Y., district attorney’s office said it was looking into the “numerous fabrications and inconsistencies associated with Congressman-elect Santos” during his successful 2022 campaign to represent parts of Long Island and Queens.

It was unclear how far the Nassau County inquiry had progressed, but the district attorney, Anne Donnelly, said in a statement that Mr. Santos’s fabrications “are nothing short of stunning.”

Why are the Republicans in Congress silent?

Charlie Sykes, who used to be a conservative Republican, writes in The Bulwark that Kevin McCarthy needs Santos’ vote. End of story. His colleagues are saying “He’s learned his lesson,” although he remains defiant. Santos says “Everyone embellishes his resume.” But the proper word is not “embellish,” it’s “lie.” The Congressman-elect lied about his education, lied about his employment, lied about his religion, lied about his family. What part of his resume is true? No one knows.

Probably none of it except his name.

Sykes writes:

Of course, a political party with any sort of intact immune system would move quickly to send this sociopath back to ScamLand, whence he came.

But this is the GOP circa 2022, and so it faces a painful dilemma. With a narrow majority in the House, Republicans (and especially Kevin McCarthy) need his vote, of course.

But that’s not the real problem here, is it?

After years of ignoring, enabling, and rationalizing Big Lies and small ones, it will now be exceedingly difficult for the GOP to find their misplaced conscience that might morph into outrage and something like a moral standard. As Nick Catoggio writes:

Anyone willing to set aside their qualms about Trump for the sake of holding executive power logically should be willing to set aside their qualms about Santos for the sake of holding legislative power

So, not surprisingly, GOP leaders are either silent, or in a forgiving mood.

To deepen the puzzle of Santos, read this article in The Daily Beast about one of his big donors.