“The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line,” W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903) .
All in Politics
Seventy-seven years ago yesterday, at four in the afternoon, the first wave of German bombers, 348 in all, flew without warning across the English Channel to bomb London and other cities in England. This was the beginning of the Blitz, which went on nightly for eight months and left 43,000 British civilians dead. Shakespeare’s “sceptred isle . . . this fortress built by Nature for herself” turned out to be little protection “against infection and the hand of war.”
Jeannie Rousseau de Clarens died last week at her home near the Loire River in France. She was 98. During World War II, she served as an interpreter for a French business association during the German occupation – and also as an amateur spy whose charm, flawless German, and incredible courage enabled her to gather and pass along information on the development of the V-1 and V-2 rockets that saved thousands of English lives.
As entire groups of his former supporters abandon him in waves – business leaders who have pushed for both economic and environmental deregulation, military commanders, a growing number of Republicans in Congress – Donald Trump hunkers down and lashes out. He shows no interest in bringing us together, in healing our wounds. He seems a man, a president, wholly without empathy, and without that he is no good to us now, for he cannot, he will not, heal us.
To combat a vision as malevolent as that currently hovering over America, it’s not enough to counter it with a series of bland policy bullet points aimed at attracting disparate groups of people by offering each something that won’t drive the others away – the way the Democrats keep trying to expand their coalition by appealing to just one more identity group.
Think like a mountain, Aldo Leopold exhorted us 68 years ago in A Sand County Almanac. But how does a mountain think, I wondered one recent peaceful morning in Acadia National Park, as I climbed Brown Mountain (elevation: 852 feet)?
One of the problems raised by the Trump creation story I wrote about last time is that America already has a creation story of its own. It begins in Boston Harbor in 1630, when John Winthrop counseled his parishioners to build “a city upon a hill.” His was an exclusive vision, his community included only the Puritan elect, but over the course of our history that vision expanded in response to an increasingly diverse America.
Two questions kept recurring to me as I returned briefly to western Pennsylvania where Donald Trump won overwhelmingly in November.
Bob Hollick and Larry Maggi are Democrats, one a local officeholder, the other, a current county commissioner, is the biggest vote getter in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Both enthusiastically voted for Donald Trump in November, and they’re frustrated the constant sniping and bickering that has become its aftermath.
It was raining heavily the morning I drove into Johnstown, Pennsylvania, which gave me pause as I drove down the steep gorge where, 128 years ago, 20 million tons of water breached the South Fork dam, gathered force as it surged 14 miles down Little Conemaugh Creek, and hit the city at 40 miles per hour. Ten minutes later, Johnstown was gone.
Although it’s a traditionally Democratic region, with a strong labor history and an 8.5% edge in Democratic voter registration, this is Trump country. Donald Trump crushed Hillary Clinton by 25 points in the county, and he remains hugely popular here.
“I have heard this with Boston hockey fans too, being pretty racist towards PK Subban when he played for the Canadiens,” my son Daniel wrote me reflecting on the racist slurs recently shouted at Baltimore Outfielder Adam Jones at Fenway Park. “Dad, is the city really this notoriously racist?”
Early in 2001, Alan Greenspan,the 20-year chairman of the Federal Reserve, worried publicly about future federal surpluses so large they would wipe out the national debt, pour billions into the economy, and strangle private markets. So he proposed a tax cut as “a pre-emptive smoothing of the glide path to zero federal debt.”
President Rutherford B. Hayes introduced the Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn in 1878.
"If at first you don't succeed - call an airstrike."