A column from the Financial Times not to be missed, about this 1939 memoir of concerning relevance today.

. . . Then, as now, political moderates were constantly having to ask the question, how serious is this? Is it just distasteful or is it truly dangerous? . . .

. . . One strong temptation was simply to stop paying attention to the news and “shut one’s windows tightly and withdraw into the four walls of one’s private life.” Another was to take comfort in the things that had not changed — the parts of the state and of public life that still seemed solid and familiar. . . .

. . . The US president has just told black, Hispanic and Muslim congresswomen to “go back” to the “places from which they came”. Britain’s likely incoming prime minister has said that Muslim women wearing the niqab look like letter boxes. But it still seems unimaginable that storm troopers might one day drive minority groups out of public places.

But when do you sound the alarm? From exile in London, Haffner reflected: “It took me quite a while to realise that my youthful excitability was right and my father’s wealth of experience was wrong; that there are things that cannot be dealt with by calm scepticism.”

My instinctive reaction to the rise of Mr Johnson and the rhetoric of Mr Trump is still “calm scepticism”. But then again, I’m at roughly the same stage of life as Haffner’s father was in 1933.

Though it makes no mention of the fact Trump kept a book of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside, or that he scores 100% on the criteria for “sociopath” and “fascist,” this column raises important questions.  I urge you to read it.  (It may cost you $1 for a month’s trial subscription to the FT, but $1 well spent.)


Conservative Max Boot makes this bleak assessment of the Mueller hearings, concluding:

Mueller has marshaled copious evidence to support impeachment, but the American public doesn’t seem to care. Who can bother to read a 448-page report when the Trump show is on? Being entertaining is more important these days than being virtuous or competent. Mueller may be an infinitely better person than Trump, but he is an infinitely worse television performer, and that is all that seems to matter in our debased age.

Earlier in the piece he says impeachment is now off the table.  I disagree.  As I’ve argued before, it’s time to start the impeachment inquiry — but with one big caveat:  At the same time, we must constantly call on the Senate to pass the numerous bills the House has already passed, and a few more it should soon pass, that would make regular Americans better off.

All our talking heads should demand it; all our presidential candidates should demand it; there should be massive marches on Washington — specifically the Senate — to demand it.  (The chant: DO YOUR JOB!!!)

No one asked about impeachment should fail to lead with something like this:

“Well, the FIRST thing the Senate needs to do is pass the dozens of bills the House has already passed this year to make regular people’s lives better. Lower prescription drug prices, universal background checks, a higher minimum wage and so much else — the Senate needs to DO ITS JOB and vote on those bills.”

Then, when the moderator interrupts and says, “but I asked you about impeachment,” they would continue:

“Look: our nation is under attack and the President constantly denies it and praises our attacker.  So, yes: it’s part of our job to investigate that.  WHY were there hundreds of contacts between Trump’s people and the Russians?  WHY did so many of them lie about it if it was all innocent?  If you actually READ the Mueller report, as Republican Congressman Justin Amash bravely did, you will conclude as he did that impeachment is warranted.  But let me stress: the FIRST priority should be for the Senate to take up the dozens of bills the House has passed this year to make regular Americans’ lives better.  It’s an outrage the Republican Senate is blocking all this.”

Even blocking bills, I might add, designed to protect our next election from more Russian interference.

Have a great weekend.



Comments are closed.