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Texas and the Myth of Self-Reliance

I don’t know much about Texas. At least, not the real Texas. But I certainly know the Texas mythology, going back to my first Davy Crockett movie when I was six years old. I also know that the Texas mythology is not inconsequential, because apparently much of the Texas electorate still buys into it. Or more likely, they’ve been sold on it. Call it the myth of self-reliance. It’s been passed down through generations in story, song, and John Wayne movies. It’s the myth of the rugged individualist, the free-range cowboy who goes it alone, the Marlboro Man making his own way in the world. It’s the Lone Star State, where the lone Texas Ranger single-handedly holds off a passel of Mexican banditos with one gun tied behind his back. The myth of self-reliance is currently being exposed for the fraud it’s always been. As with all myths, this one’s basis in historical reality was suspect to begin with. And as with all myths, this one continues to be useful, especially
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Coup d’Etat for Dummies

As coups go, this was pathetic. The mob acted on Trump’s orders, as if there were some sort of plan. Given that “Trump” and “plan” should never appear in the same sentence, what were they thinking? Suppose they actually did stop the certification of the electors. Then what? Did they think this would magically give Trump a second term? Or make him president for life? Or that they could shoot Nancy Pelosi, hang Mike Pence, strafe the floor of Congress with AR-15s, then go out and party? What was the fantasy? It’s an important question, because several thousand of these morons assembled, on Trump’s whim, to act out that fantasy. Maybe they thought Trump would reward them. Give them medals, or at least pardons. If so, they haven’t paid much attention for the last four years. Loyalty is something Trump leeches from others. He never, ever returns it. It’s a quid with no chance of a pro quo . Trump stiffs everybody. A bunch of these morons are now looking at multi-year prison ter

Alexei Navalny is a Whole Other Kind of Tough

What are we to make of Alexei Navalny? What are we to think of someone who makes himself a willing martyr to an impossible cause? How do we get our brains around this strange amalgam of Gandhi, Muhammad Ali, and Joan of Arc? First, he gets poisoned with a deadly nerve agent, ordered by Putin, the world’s most dangerous man. He wakes up from a coma in Germany. He recovers in a mere six months, though it’s unclear to what extent he’s still affected. Then, as long as he’s in Germany, he might as well go rummaging through Putin’s carefully crafted past. He makes a video exploding the myth of Putin the super-spy — the one where Putin intrepidly defends Russia from his Cold War post in East Germany. Navalny replaces that myth with the reality of Putin’s real job at that time — a petty bureaucrat in the minor leagues of the KGB. But that’s just the beginning. The same video goes on to expose — with stunning drone footage — what is surely the most corrupt piece of real estate on the p

Three Perfect Examples of Both-Siderism You Might’ve Missed

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to three weeks ago. I know, it seems like at least half a year, but the invasion of the Capitol on January 6 has still not been fully absorbed. So let me direct your attention to a 60 Minutes segment from the Sunday immediately following that very dark Wednesday. Leslie Stahl did a thirteen-minute interview with Nancy Pelosi about the events of that day. Roughly twelve minutes was spent on a tour of the ransacked House chamber, with Pelosi recreating the scene — her office invaded, her computer stolen, her staff under the table for two hours in the dark. And that idiot with his feet on her desk. This is common knowledge now, but it was still a blur that Sunday. The razor in the apple came just before the ten-minute mark in the clip. Now sitting across from Pelosi, discussing the road forward, Stahl made the outrageously disingenuous claim that “You are not known as a person who compromises.” Which Pelosi was having none of

What’s the Deal with Josh Hawley, Anyway?

I’m not sure I’d want to be held accountable for anything I wrote at fifteen years old, not that I remember much. But I’m quite sure I never, then or since, spoke up in defense of militia movements. Especially not in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people. But then, I never had a regular column in my hometown newspaper. Josh Hawley did. Lexington MO. Age fifteen. A precocious brat even then, he was sure that “Many of the people populating these movements are not radical, right-wing, pro-assault weapons freaks as they were originally stereotyped.” He goes on to say that a lot of Americans were “drawn to anti-government organizations” out of “genuine concerns” about federal overreach. Right. Timothy McVeigh, wiring up his bomb, all verklempt about federal overreach. Young Josh also used this small-town forum to stand up for Mark Fuhrman. Remember him? The L.A. cop who became famous for his racial slurs, which were testified to in

Six Takeaways from the Weirdest Two Weeks in Living Memory

I am reasonably confident that the presence of 20,000 troops in the streets of Washington will prove enough to get Joe Biden inaugurated tomorrow. I am less confident that a selection of state capitals will see an outcome so felicitous. But then I live in Michigan, where our statehouse has already been defiled by the same menagerie of gun nuts, white supremacists, and religious cranks who’ve just gone national in such deranged fashion. My own state attorney general, in a refreshing bit of candor, told us point blank: “The Michigan Capitol is not safe.” Several days ago, I gave up trying to write a single coherent post about the most incoherent two weeks of my lifetime. Instead, I’m resorting to a sort of random spew — a fitting analogy for the last four years. So, in no particular order, a few takeaways: Defined by Stupid Whoever heard of a popular uprising based entirely on lies and disinformation, without a shred of underlying factual content in evidence? History usuall

Impunity and Its Antidote

I got some pushback on my post from last Tuesday. It was the day before the Capitol insurrection (or whatever history plans on calling it). In that post, I urged career civil servants to come forward and report any felonies that Trump appointees might commit as they slither out the door. The pushback came from a Canadian friend who was rightly concerned that this is a slippery slope. That history is littered with regime changes that have triggered vicious persecution against whichever faction has just lost power. That this cycle of retribution is endemic even to elected democracies, and often signals the end of them. That there’s a thin line between whistleblowing and informing, which he feared I might be crossing. All of which is true and demonstrable. But I think we’re now dealing with something more. What most of us want to see, I think, isn’t so much retribution as it is accountability. We want to see people held responsible for their actions. There is a large and growing app