“I Shall Distrust The Power Of The Press And Of Truth”

This July 4th I veered a bit in a selection of a book regarding the formative years of our country.  I usually enjoy a Joseph Ellis type author to read as the nation observes another birthday.  But this year I moved to the next generation of movers and shakers who continued on from where Jefferson, Adams, and my favorite, Hamilton had left off.  (Please note I was fond of Hamilton decades prior to Broadway’s interpretation.)

In fact, the title of the book said it all as to where I was headed.  Heirs Of The Founders by H. W.  Brands showcases the political giants who battled over a national bank, sectionalism, and the tariff.  I have heard Brands lecture on C-SPAN, and can state his writing style matches the pacing and energy he exhibited in front of an audience.    Union-minded Henry Clay, orator- extraordinaire Daniel Webster, and dark-hearted John Calhoun jump off the pages and start talking, allowing readers to have insight into how they arrived at their perspectives.  And, of course, how those thoughts and actions  impacted a nation.

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I would highly recommend the book.  It is roughly 400 pages, but engaging in that while the history is known from our classes or other readings, it is the depth of the characters as they develop, chapter by chapter, that is so intriguing.  And in Calhoun’s case most troubling.

What drives these men to make their case, even when at times, their health is waning makes for a powerful climax to the story.

I was once again into the life and times of Henry Clay, which is not hard to fathom, as he has made it to this blog over a dozen times.  He was a prime example of experience, intellect, and skills that were never allowed to shine as president.  I have stated that history will place Clay alongside Hillary Clinton as the two most qualified individuals who came so close, and then missed having their mark on White House history.  

With the conclusion of Brands’ book, but still wishing to reside a while longer in those decades, I got a small ladder and selected from a top shelf  in the den Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America by Walter Borneman.   It is there that we now get to the headline for this post.

It is 1844 and a presidential election is in full steam towards an outcome that has much potential for the fate of Texas and the Union.

James Polk was the Democratic candidate and while being always in line with tariffs for revenue also had stated he wanted as low a tarriff as possible.  He did not like the use of tariffs for protecting certain businesses.  Clay, meanwhile, had been a full-throated advocate of tarriff policy.  But when Polk writes to a friend, the contents of the letter which lands in the press, it makes it appear that he is close to the tarriff position as Clay.

Which then allows for a response from Clay that made for a laugh while reading outside last evening.

Nothing has surprised me so much  as the attempt now making in Pennsylvania to represent M. Polk as the friend and myself as the foe of protection.  If it should succeed I shall distrust the power of the press and of truth.

I spend some time each day with a book about history.  There is always so much to learn, and as with the case of Polk, reason to smile as too often we see events repeating themselves.  Lets see who made the latest such statements akin to that from Polk…….

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Russian Interference Not Concern Of Deplorables

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Talk to the average Donald Trump supporter and it is news to them that United States intelligence forces concluded years ago that Russia worked mightily during the 2016 campaign to get Trump elected.  Just this week we have learned more news in this regard as the the Senate Intelligence Committee says Russia infiltrated at least one election system in each of the 50 states.  As noted by the committee in 21 states, the infiltration was significant.

This morning on WGN radio the topic was discussed. Illinois was impacted when Russian hackers successfully penetrating their voter registration database,  and accessed up to 200,000 voter registration records.  One should be mighty concerned they took voter registration data.

Meanwhile over at the Trump White House one might hear crickets if it not for the narcissistic ramblings. Disdainful of reason, and prepared to allow the nation to be harmed, Trump has never given a speech on Russian involvement in the 2016 election.  He can not call attention to the fact he was used by Putin, or honestly address that each state in our nation was targeted by Russian hackers working to elect him.

On the other side of the troubled Trump coin are his supporters who continually prove they are willing to sell the nation out for nothing more than a red hat with a slogan.  On issue after issue, and most galling this week given the focus on Russian interference, they have demonstrated a disdainful view of being educated.  They would not recognize reason and logic if it came wrapped in a Bud beer can rattling about in the back of a truck.  What Trump and his truly addled supporters are not aware of is that election security is an issue of patriotism.

They rant and scream at rallies about America, and those they feel are not American enough.  But when asked to show their true colors this collective band of misfits have no concern or knowledge about the need to protect the very integrity of American democracy from Russian interference. That is due to so many in the base of Trump’s support not having any sense of history or civics.  The demographics that political scientists are using to understand this current phenomenon are most telling when it comes to levels of education.

What many experts in cybersecurity worry about at 3:00 A.M., when not being able to sleep, is the real threat that Russian hackers will be able to more capably interfere with the 2020 election.   This week those fears were underscored when Robert Mueller in his congressional testimony stated that Russia is “absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections.”

The news this week about Russia and our elections is another gut punch. Therefore. hearing that Republicans in the senate have twice, in 24 hours this week, blocked the advancement of bills aimed at strengthening election security should almost set your hair on fire. Two of those bills would require campaigns to report to federal authorities any attempts by foreign entities to interfere in US elections, and the third is aimed at protecting from hackers the personal accounts and devices of senators and some staffers.

Clearly partisan measures!  Right?

Would you believe that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to personally object to the measures!  He labeled them partisan.

Can you imagine President Reagan, upon learning that United States intelligence forces concluded years ago that Russia worked mightily during the 2016 campaign, to not support strong measures to remedy the problem?  Can you imagine Reagan allowing a  nicotine stained majority leader preventing legislation for election security from Russian interference from moving forward?

What we have in this nation is Trump who has never accepted the intelligence community’s forceful conclusions about Russia’s threat to our democracy.  He has instead embraced Putin and even joked with him about Russia’s election meddling.  Trump has stated on the record he’d absolutely accept derogatory information from a foreign enemy about a political opponent.  Furthermore, he said he would not tell the FBI should it happen.

In 2016 Trump and his supporters were labeled as deplorables.  That term was criticized by some conservatives and Trump himself.  But, pray tell, what other word. that is family friendly, would this group be called other than deplorables?  After watching just this week regarding Russian interference, and how Trump and his ilk have responded, what else could we possibly say about them?

They have shown their colors.  And their IQ.  (Again.)