A few more miscellaneous thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. on this day of remembrance.
One: King was a troublemaker. In many ways, he became more of a troublemaker as he progressed through his life. In key ways, in the final years and especially the final year of his life, he was being abandoned by key supporters and sidelined because he was focusing not solely on race (on which the country was then beginning to build at least a notional elite consensus) but on poverty and democratic socialism and the Vietnam War, issues that divided many of his supporters. It is always important to remember that King died in Memphis because he was there to support a strike not an integration march, though racial discrimination and labor rights were and are impossible to separate. Read More
The fact that the FBI sent Martin Luther King a letter demanding he kill himself or risk the release of recordings of his extra-marital assignations has been known for decades. But the complete and uncensored version of the letter only came to light three years ago. You can see it here. Yale historian Beverly Gage happened on the original version of the letter during research at the National Archives.
There is a lot contained in this letter. To put it mildly. Read More
We still have no clear explanation, certainly no good explanation, other than that it was a false alarm. But just after 8 AM this morning in Hawaii residents received an emergency alert on television and mobile devices warning of an incoming missile attack on the state. It was explicitly alerted as “not a drill.” Again, it was a false alarm. Read More
I am of Trump’s generation, and I grew up with the sentiments that he expressed about Haiti and African countries. When I was a kid, one of the hit songs in 1948 was the Andrew Sisters’ “Civilization.” You can click here to listen to it. Here’s a stanza:
So bongo, bongo, bongo, I don’t wanna leave the Congo, oh no no no no no
Bingo, bangle, bungle, I’m so happy in the jungle, I refuse to go
Don’t want no jailhouse, shotgun, fish-hooks, golf clubs, I got my spears
So, no matter how they coax him, I’ll stay right here.
So to many people of, say, sixty years or over, what Trump said resonated. It was all very familiar. So what? you might ask.
This is what Martin Luther King, Jr’s nephew said about President Trump after appearing with him at a White House even honoring Dr. King.
“I don’t think he’s a racist in the traditional sense.”
"I don't think he's a racist in the traditional sense." MLK's nephew after appearance at the White House. Good Lord. pic.twitter.com/J1e7DhqWEJ
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 12, 2018
Let me take a moment to speak up for the word “shithole” which is seeing its reputation damaged by association with Donald Trump. We went to this dive bar. It was a total shithole. That town? Total shithole, never want to go there again. It’s a dump. Closer to President Trump’s ugly usage, Trump wouldn’t be the only American to call a poor or underdeveloped country a shithole. That’s not okay. But my point here is that there’s nothing inherently wrong with the word – nothing more than any other not for polite conversation swear word. And even this ugly usage doesn’t capture the essence of Trump’s meaning. The context and import of President Trump’s remarks are not simply that the countries are “shitholes.” It’s much more than that. It’s that we don’t want people from those countries because the awfulness of the countries attaches to the people themselves. Speaking of whole classes of people, specifically people of color, as basically garbage – is not only disgusting but entirely of a piece with the campaign President Trump ran in 2016 and the policies he is implementing as President today. Read More
Here’s one thing that occurs to me. When I first heard about the “shithole” meeting at the White House I thought it was a bipartisan meeting. Technically it was. But my understanding now is that there was only one Democrat there: Dick Durbin (D-IL). He went there with Lindsey Graham. But there were a handful of other Republican senators already there. Would we have ever heard about this if a Democrat hadn’t been in the room?
Please take a moment to watch this video. It’s remarkable and important. The words themselves are not terribly surprising. They’re really undeniable. But reporters on network or cable network TV simply do not talk this way. They don’t cut this close to the reality of situation.
It’s CNN’s Jim Acosta. The video is after the jump. Watch. It’s important and remarkable. Read More
This morning the President got confused by a Fox news segment and lashed out at his own FISA reauthorization bill on Twitter.
Here’s a White House statement from last night, opposing an amendment that would restrict intelligence surveillance under FISA. Read More
This is a must-read story on a critical topic we plan on following for the duration. The big line separating rule-of-law democracies from broken democracies and post-democratic strong man government is law enforcement becoming a weapon in the hands of the government rather than a more or less disinterested government function the government oversees. President Trump has repeatedly demanded the former kind of system. Now we have evidence he’s starting to get it. Here’s our story.
Have you heard about things that aren’t public yet? Do you have a story? We want to know. Contact us.
Interesting exchange here. President Trump just went on Twitter and demanded Republicans “take control” of the Hill Russia investigations. For the moment, Chuck Grassley isn’t playing ball. If past is prologue, I wouldn’t assume Grassley’s resistance lasts long. Read More
You don’t know it. But Bob Dylan’s “Christian period” albums are his most underrated and among his best. In case you missed it, here’s my look at and review of the new retrospective release (Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981) from this period.
Over the course of the day I’ve been listening to news reports which say that the Fusion GPS testimony from co-owner Glenn Simpson belies the received narrative about the Steele dossier, or at least that argued by Republicans and Trump supporters. As Jake Tapper put it when speaking with CNN’s Jim Acosta today, Simpson’s account “contradicts president Trump and his supporters who argue that the dossier was a purely political document paid for by Democrats trying to hurt Trump.” Really though this is a testament to the power of disinformation when it is empowered by one of the country’s two political parties. Let’s put this more simply: this is a testament to what can happen when the GOP unites behind a campaign of willful disinformation at the country’s expense. Read More
With a new biography of Ulysses S. Grant out by the man who helped put Alexander Hamilton back in the center of 21st American popular culture, I’m late to the game to sing Grant’s praises. I have not read Chernow’s book. But I have been rereading Grant’s memoirs. I began writing this post at the end of last year when the valorization of Confederate military leaders was more at the center of our public debate. But these are issues of long standing, going on two centuries. They remain as present and consequential as they’ve ever been and Grant is at the center of that.
Until relatively recently Grant, at least as President, had a poor historical reputation. His strengths as a military leader were also overshadowed in the popular imagination by Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee and others. But in both cases, much of Grant’s dim reputation was directly tied to the way national unity was built in the late 19th century on the abandonment of the country’s newly freed African-American citizens and what we might call the Union theory of the war itself. I have always found it notable that the official records of what we call the Civil War, published by the US government are entitled The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. Read More
Good morning. As Josh has mentioned, one of our goals for this year is to give more guidance into how TPM works, what we’re working on on a given day, what events we’re focused on and why. In that vein, we’ll be publishing calendars on busy days — and eventually every day — showing which events our reporters and editors have their eyes on, where we have reporters deployed, what stories we’re working on and what we’re expecting over the course of the day. Here’s the first. Read More