Jamelle Bouie | Why We Are Not Facing the Prospect of a Second Civil War – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/15/opinion/why-we-are-not-facing-the-prospect-of-a-second-civil-war.html

“. . . .  Plantation agriculture rapidly exhausted the soil. The sectional balance of Congress aside, planters needed new land to grow the cotton that secured their influence on the national (and international) stage. As Karp explains, “Slaveholders in the 1850s seldom passed up an opportunity to sketch the inexorable syllogism of King Cotton: the American South produced nearly all the world’s usable raw cotton; this cotton fueled the industrial development of the North Atlantic; therefore, the advanced economies of France, the northern United States, and Great Britain were ruled, in effect, by southern planters.” The backlash to slavery — the effort to restrain its growth and contain its spread — was an existential threat to the Southern elite.

It was the realization of that threat with the election of Abraham Lincoln — whose Republican Party was founded to stop the spread of slavery and who inherited a federal state with the power to do so — that pushed the Southern elite to gamble its future on secession. They would leave the union and attempt to forge a slave empire on their own.”

David Lindsay: This is a great essay, and it had me struggling with the hope it is right. The following comment helped articulate some of my reservations.

haigh

The majority of southerners did not benefit from slavery and even the plantation owners could have paid salaries and possibly made higher profits, as F.L. Olmstead believed he had proven after taking a year off from his practice to study the issue. He was shocked that friends who owned plantations were not interested in his findings- he decided the reason was that it was absolute power and not profit that motivated devotion to slavery. However, civil wars, like traffic accidents, are caused by different things in different countries in different eras, and they are often the result of ethnic hatred, often hatred exploited by politicians seeking power. Ignorance and resentment are key and the GOP donor elite has spent the last 50 years recruiting voters who embrace ignorance and resentment. These mostly boil down to very superstitious religious constructs and resentment, even hatred, of the professional class and “non-whites”. These people, seemingly allergic to exercising deductive reasoning, have never in our history been so concentrated in a single party, and like drunk passengers on a boat, if they all congregate on one side, the boat may capsize. This has led to a largely dysfunctional government, but however well armed many members of the GOP base may be, our military would have to split up against itself to create a civil war. More violent civil unrest is the more likely outcome to our current situation.

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Nathan Bedford Forrest – Massacre at Fort Pillow- Wikipedia

“Nathan Bedford Forrest (July 13, 1821 – October 29, 1877) was a prominent Confederate Army general during the American Civil War and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan from 1867 to 1869. Before the war, Forrest amassed substantial wealth as a cotton plantation owner, horse and cattle trader, real estate broker, and slave trader. In June 1861, he enlisted in the Confederate Army and became one of the few soldiers during the war to enlist as a private and be promoted to general without any prior military training. An expert cavalry leader, Forrest was given command of a corps and established new doctrines for mobile forces, earning the nickname “The Wizard of the Saddle”. He used his cavalry troops as mounted infantry and often deployed artillery as the lead in battle, thus helping to “revolutionize cavalry tactics”,[3] although the Confederate high command is seen by some commentators to have underappreciated his talents.[4] Although scholars generally acknowledge Forrest’s skills and acumen as a cavalry leader and military strategist, he has remained a controversial figure in Southern racial history for his main role in the massacre of several hundred Union soldiers at Fort Pillow, a majority of them black, coupled with his role following the war as a leader of the Klan.In April 1864, in what has been called “one of the bleakest, saddest events of American military history”,[5] troops under Forrest’s command at the Battle of Fort Pillow massacred hundreds of troops, composed of black soldiers and white Tennessean Southern Loyalists fighting for the Union, who had already surrendered. Forrest was blamed for the slaughter in the Union press, and this news may have strengthened the North’s resolve to win the war.”

Source: Nathan Bedford Forrest – Wikipedia

Margaret Renkl | America’s Ugliest Confederate Statue Is Gone. Racism Isn’t. – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/17/opinion/confederate-monuments-tennessee-nathan-forrest.html

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — God knows I didn’t visit the Tennessee State Museum last week to pay my respects to the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, but while I was there I figured I might as well take a look. It’s been quite a year for the Confederate general, slave trader and grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

In June, Forrest’s remains were disinterred from their burial site in Memphis and transported across the state to the new National Confederate Museum in Columbia, Tenn. The transfer was the result of years of activists’ efforts to rid largely Black Memphis — where Martin Luther King Jr., of course, was assassinated — of any remnants of Forrest’s legacy there.

“It’s like a burden has been lifted,” Van D. Turner, a Shelby County commissioner, told The Associated Press. “It just gives us breath.”

The next month, the giant bust of Forrest was removed from the Tennessee State Capitol, where it has been generating controversy since it was installed in 1978. It was reinstalled in the Tennessee State Museum in a small temporary gallery adjacent to a permanent exhibition about Tennessee’s role in the Civil War and Reconstruction. Forrest’s role as a slave trader and Ku Klux Klan leader, among other depredations, is clearly explained in the permanent exhibition, and this historical context is very different from the place of honor the bust occupied in the Capitol. Visitors to the Tennessee State Museum, learn exactly who Nathan Bedford Forrest really was and exactly which evil he fought to preserve.

How a World War II Bomber Pilot Became ‘the King of Artificial Trees’ – The New York Times

“The B-17 he was piloting had lost two of its four engines to enemy fire, and as Si Spiegel surveyed the ruined landscape, he had one thought: We have to get behind the Russian front.

As part of the Allied raid on Berlin, his bomber had dropped its payload over the German capital, but he’d been hit with flak and would almost certainly not make it back to the base in England. No pilot wanted to get shot down over Nazi Germany, especially not a Jewish pilot.

Mr. Spiegel had essentially bluffed his way into the cockpit as a skinny teenager from Greenwich Village, trusting he’d figure it out as he went. This was no different. He told his crew they were headed for Poland; they could get their parachutes ready, but were not to bail out unless he gave the order. They would attempt an emergency landing.”

Corey Robin | Why Joe Biden Needs More Than Accomplishments to Be a Success – The New York Times

Mr. Robin is a professor of political science at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center.

“No president since Ronald Reagan has achieved a more ambitious domestic legislative agenda in his first year than Joe Biden. With a razor-thin congressional majority — far smaller than that of Barack Obama — President Biden has delivered two enormous spending bills, with another, the Build Back Better act, likely on its way. Elements of these bills will have a lasting effect on the economy into the next decade; they also push the country to the left.

Every president since Reagan has tacked to the rightward winds set in motion by the conservative movement. Even Mr. Obama’s stimulus bill and the Affordable Care Act owed as much to conservative nostrums about the market and runaway spending as they did to liberal notions of fairness and equality. Mr. Biden has had to accommodate the demands of Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, but their intransigence has not had nearly the constraining effect that the voices of austerity and market fetishism had on Bill Clinton or Mr. Obama.

Yet over the past several months, Mr. Biden’s presidency has been dogged by a sense of failure. Critics, friendly and not so friendly, point to what he has not delivered — voting rights, immigration reform, a $15 federal minimum wage, labor law reform and a path to freedom from personal debt and fossil fuels. Democrats fear that Mr. Biden’s plummeting approval ratings and the party’s losses in the November elections indicate that the Republicans will take back Congress in the midterms.

No president, however, achieves his entire agenda. And presidents have suffered first-term losses greater than those currently anticipated for 2022.”

David Lindsay: Like water in the dessert, this helped. It made me feel much smarter about the walls and forces that Biden pushes against. No one yet, has really undone the Reagan  political order or regime.

Greg Weiner | There Is Another Democrat A.O.C. Should Be Mad At – The New York Times

Mr. Weiner is a political scientist who was a senior Senate aide to Bob Kerrey, Democrat of Nebraska.

“Progressive Democrats in the House of Representatives can be forgiven their anxiety about whether Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona will support the more than $1.8 trillion Build Back Better plan. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, for example, rues the two senators’ outsize influence, while her colleague Rashida Tlaib of Michigan worries that Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema are “corporate Dems” led astray by special interests.

But if disappointed progressives are looking for a Democrat to blame, they should consider directing their ire toward one of their party’s founders: James Madison. Madison’s Constitution was built to thwart exactly what Democrats have been attempting: a race against time to impose vast policies with narrow majorities. Madison believed that one important function of the Constitution was to ensure sustained consensus before popular majorities could prevail.

Democrats do represent a popular majority now. But for Madison, that “now” is the problem: He was less interested in a snapshot of a moment in constitutional time than in a time-lapse photograph showing that a majority had cohered. The more significant its desires, Madison thought, the longer that interval of coherence should be. The monumental scale of the Build Back Better plan consequently raises a difficult Madisonian question: Is a fleeting and narrow majority enough for making history?”

The Right to Health – By David Leonhardt- The New York Times

“The United States owes its existence as a nation partly toan immunization mandate.

In 1777, smallpox was a big enough problem for the bedraggled American army that George Washington thought it could jeopardize the Revolution. An outbreak had already led to one American defeat, at the Battle of Quebec. To prevent more, Washington ordered immunizations — done quietly, so the British would not hear how many Americans were sick — for all troops who had not yet had the virus.

It worked. The number of smallpox cases plummeted, and Washington’s army survived a war of attrition against the world’s most powerful country. The immunization mandate, as Ron Chernow wrote in his 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Washington, “was as important as any military measure Washington adopted during the war.” “

The Attack on Big Government and the Remaking of American Liberalism By Paul Sabin – NYT Book Review

Aug. 10, 2021

PUBLIC CITIZENS
The Attack on Big Government and the Remaking of American Liberalism

By Paul Sabin

“When you’re a household name for 56 years, you acquire more than one reputation. Ralph Nader has three.

Nader first came to public attention in 1965 when he published “Unsafe at Any Speed,” a best seller that said auto companies were building dangerous cars. That’s Nader the consumer advocate. Nader leveraged his fame into a network of nonprofit government watchdog groups staffed by idealistic young “Nader’s Raiders” recruited from top universities. That’s Nader the public citizen. In 2000, having concluded the two major parties were really “one corporate party wearing two heads and different makeup,” Nader waged a third-party presidential bid and took enough Florida votes away from Al Gore to cost him the election. That’s Nader the spoiler, still reviled by many liberals for making George W. Bush president.

It’s past time to put this grievance to rest. Gore’s defeat (by a mere 537 Florida votes) was so narrow that it can be attributed to any stray breeze. Paul Sabin, a professor of history at Yale, suggests in “Public Citizens” that if you want to blame a Democratic debacle on Nader, consider President Jimmy Carter’s defeat in 1980, even though Nader wasn’t a candidate that year.

“Public Citizens” is an elegantly argued and meticulously documented attempt to place Nader within the liberal tradition. Sabin’s thesis is that Nader the public citizen was a principal architect of the adversarial liberalism that succeeded New Deal liberalism. Birthed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, adversarial liberalism was defeated in 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan, whose antigovernment message (Sabin argues) acquired legitimacy partly through Nader’s spirited attacks on the federal government. “It was as if liberals took a bicycle apart to fix it,” Sabin writes, “but never quite figured out how to get it running properly again.” “

Charles Loeb: The Black Reporter Who Exposed an Atomic Bomb Lie – The New York Times

” “Loeb Reflects On Atomic Bombed Area,” read the headline in The Atlanta Daily World of Oct. 5, 1945, two months after Hiroshima’s ruin.

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In the world of Black newspapers, that name alone was enough to attract readers.

Charles H. Loeb was a Black war correspondent whose articles in World War II were distributed to papers across the United States by the National Negro Publishers Association. In the article, Mr. Loeb told how bursts of deadly radiation had sickened and killed the city’s residents. His perspective, while coolly analytic, cast light on a major wartime cover up.

The Page 1 article contradicted the War Department, the Manhattan Project, and The New York Times and its star reporter, William L. Laurence, on what had become a bitter dispute between the victor and the vanquished. Japan insisted that the bomb’s invisible rays at Hiroshima and Nagasaki had led to waves of sudden death and lingering illness. Emphatically, the United States denied that charge.”

Paul Sabin | How Liberals Can Attack From the Left — and Win – The New York Times

“. . .   Rachel Carson, the author of the environmental classic “Silent Spring,” attributed the rampant use of pesticides in part to government “propaganda” and “the authoritarian control that has been vested in the agricultural agencies.” Like Mr. Nader, she urged Americans to stop trusting the government to act responsibly.

Today, with an onslaught of attacks on the regulatory state coming from the right, it may seem counterintuitive to study how Mr. Nader, Ms. Carson and their allies contributed — from the left — to criticizing government. But in the 1970s, it was as if liberals took the big-government bicycle apart to fix it and then couldn’t figure out how to get it running properly again.

Now, as Democrats double down on using the government to address the urgent problems of our era, like climate change and economic inequality, they should absorb the lessons of this history. If you attack government but still want to wield its power for social good, you have to show you can make it work better.” . . .