Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present Book Review

It has often been said that we can learn from history to prevent future mistakes. The caveat is that we have to be willing to understand what went wrong in order to make sure that it won’t happen again.

Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present, by Ruth Ben-Ghiat, was published in 2021. In the book, the author traces the history of autocratic and fascist leaders over the last 100 years. She starts with Benito Mussolini, and ends with modern leaders such as you know who and Vladimir Putin. Though they come from different parts of the world and speak different languages, the blueprint is the same:

  • Subjugation and persecution of minorities, perceived enemies, the LGBTQ community, and those with opposing political views.
  • Degrading women down to the traditional roles of wives and mothers (with the exception of the females in their personal orbit).
  • Proclaim that they are the one person who can save their country.
  • They claim to protect “democracy” and ensure law and order while doing the very opposite.

I think this book is a must-read for everyone who believes in a democratic government and what it stands for. As the last few years have shown us, complacency opens the door to a form of government that manipulates and destroys. It is only when we respect and fight for the constitutional way of life can we truly be free.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present is available wherever books are sold.

Advertisement

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The Holocaust ended 78 years ago. Though it may seem like ancient history, the truth is that it happened in the lifetimes of our parents and grandparents.

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day and specifically, the liberation of the survivors of the Auschwitz death camp.

When I think of what has been happening in the past few years, I see scary signs of what could happen again. I think it goes without saying that we don’t want to make the alarm bells ring all of the time. But, given recent events (Kanye, for one), I can’t help but make connections to the recent past.

One of the things that I wish was more well-known was the persecution of the LGBTQ community. Before the war, Berlin was known for its openness to those who were not heteronormative. The ended in 1933. Thousands were murdered and many more were persecuted.

The problem is that many continue to turn a blind eye to this hatred, even those of my faith. Ben Shapiro (whom I dislike with every bone in my body), has been open about his association with the right and their hatred of everyone who is not them. What he conveniently forgets is that at the day, he is still Jewish. The antisemites would still slap a yellow star on his chest and send him to his death.

It has been said that we die twice. The first time is when shuffle off this mortal coil. The second is when we are forgotten. Many of those who were killed have died twice.

May the memories of the millions who were murdered always be a blessing. Z”l.

Thoughts On the 25th anniversary of the Clinton/Lewinsky Affair

Every generation has its own political scandal that defines that era. It speaks to the values and beliefs of that time.

This month is the 25th anniversary of the revelation of the Clinton/Lewinsky affair and the eventual impeachment of the President. On last Sunday’s episode of Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd and his rotating group of panelists discussed the long-term effects of this particular news item.

Starts at 26:44

Once the details hit the presses, Lewinsky became a punchline. Clinton would eventually weather the storm and end his time in office with a mostly solid reputation.

One of the things that struck me was a comment made by one of the guests. If it had happened today, the #MeToo movement would have vindicated Lewinsky. Clinton would be in the same league as Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer.

If nothing else, this shows that change does happen. It just sometimes takes a quarter of a century for it to be accepted as the norm.

New Randy Rainbow Video: Speaker of the House – Randy Rainbow Song Parody

There is an old saying about power:

“Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”

Made famous by Lord Acton in the 19th century, this quote can be attributed to many who figuratively gave up their souls for the sake of power. The newest name on the list is Kevin McCarthy. It only took fifteen rounds of voting for him to become Speaker of the House.

McCarthy is the subject of Randy Rainbow‘s new video. Entitled Speaker of the House – Randy Rainbow Song Parody, it is based on the song Master of the House from Les Misérables.

It’s been a while since Rainbow released a new video. It was the cathartic laugh I needed after the ridiculous hoops McCarthy had to jump through. I would call them pathetic, but who knows what dark hole the country will be dragged through for the next two years?

Republican Fuckery Part VII: Losing GOP Candidate Shoots at Democrats, George Santos’s Continual Lies, and the Debt Ceiling

To say that the American government is in a state of chaos these days is an understatement. It is thanks to one party and one party only. While the Democrats are doing the job of the people, the other side is all about power and nothing more.

The latest fuckery is as follows:

In what only be described as the love child of Kari Lake‘s extended tantrum and January 6th, a GOP candidate who lost his election for the state house in New Mexico was accused of shooting at the homes of state and local Democrats. Beyond the obvious issue of gun control, what I find disturbing is that these people think that violence is the answer. What the voters want does not matter to them.

All That Nicksplat GIF by NickRewind - Find & Share on GIPHY

Meanwhile, George Santos continues with his lies. While the questions continue to pile up, he acts as if he did nothing wrong. Adding insult to injury is the right has taken him into the fold. BTW, he was the subject of SNL‘s cold open last night. It was brilliant and Bowen Yang was hilarious. When someone is being parodied on the show, they have become a national figure.

And finally, the debt ceiling became a major headline last week. It is as follows:

The debt limit, which is set by Congress, represents the maximum amount the federal government is allowed to borrow to pay its debts. 

If the amount of government debt reaches that threshold and lawmakers fail to lift the borrowing limit, the U.S. would be unable to pay what it owes and could default. 

It goes without saying that decisions have to be made. The question is, what will be sacrificed? As usual, Kevin McCarthy is putting the country last. He would rather hold onto the gavel than prevent another recession. If I don’t pay my bills, my credit score will go down the toilet and I will eventually be evicted from my apartment. What makes the Republicans think that they can play with our financial future?

Just another day in the United States.

Thoughts On The Mandalorian Season 3 Trailer

Warning: this post contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.

A new season of a beloved television series always brings out feelings of excitement and questions about where the narrative will go.

The trailer for the 3rd season of The Mandalorian was released earlier this week. After breaking the #1 rule in Mandalore of removing his helmet, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) has to redeem himself. Traveling the galaxy with Grogu (otherwise known as Baby Yoda), politics mingles with meeting up with old associates and new foes.

As usual, the details are being kept close to the vest, which is perfectly fine with me. I would rather wait to know what happens rather than be spoiled.

Am I looking forward to it? Absolutely?

Season 3 of The Mandalorian premieres on DisneyPlus on 3/1/23.

Star Wars Disney Plus GIF by Disney+ - Find & Share on GIPHY

Apples to Apples or Oranges to Oranges? The Case of the Biden Documents

Within the world of politics, there are certain rules, both written and unwritten. One of them is in regard to Presidential documents and what is to be done with them during and after a Presidential administration. The official name of this regulation is The Presidential Records Act.

It is defined as follows:

The Presidential Records Act (PRA) changed the legal status of Presidential and Vice Presidential materials. Under the PRA, the official records of the President and his staff are owned by the United States, not by the President.

One of the major headlines at the end of last year was that at the end of the former guys’ administration, he took multiple boxes of classified paperwork with him.

Last week, the firestorm coming from the White House was the discovery of additional records from when President Biden was Vice President.

It goes without saying that the right is eating this up. But before we go any further, we need to go over the facts.

The right has argued that the unearthing happened last fall and was kept secret in order to influence the results of the midterms. Obviously, I don’t know the reasons for keeping it under wraps, but I don’t think that it is the conspiracy they are making it out to be.

If there is an upside to this, is that Merrick Garland has created a special council to take a deep dive into the information. If nothing else, it shows that he is impartial and nonpartisan (unlike some of his recent predecessors).

As cliche as it sounds, only time will tell what the final results are. But, if nothing else, Biden has again proven that he is a stand-up guy who puts the country and the voters before his personal and political needs. After the last person (who shall remain nameless), it is refreshing and gives me hope that we can rise above the shit from the last few years.

The Storming of the Brazilian Capital Last Weekend is a Very Bad Sign

January 6th, 2021, was not just a hallmark of American history that no one in this lifetime will forget. It was a sign that democracy overall is not as solid as we once thought it was.

One week ago today, the Brazilian capital was assaulted in what essentially is a mirror image of 1/6. Like their American counterparts, the “protestors” believed that former President Jair Bolsonaro was denied another term based on the lie that he lost the election.

The major difference between both events was the speed at which the accused were found and arrested by the authorities. By last Tuesday, over 1000 people had been located. About half of them have been detained in prison. Compare that to the US where it took months for the police and FBI to do the same.

I heard somewhere last week that one of America’s greatest exports used to be democracy and freedom. These days, it has become autocracy, and the idea that if you are not chosen by the people to lead the government, you can cry foul.

What I find particularly disturbing is that several people in you know who’s circle have gleefully and openly admitted to stoking the fire. Among them is former Presidential advisor Steve Bannon.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I continue to hope and pray that political leaders across the world will one day return to respecting the rule of law and the voice of voters. But for now, it seems like we are on the path to despots once more taking the leading roles in the running of the nations.

Politics History GIF by Challenger - Find & Share on GIPHY

Thoughts On the Second Anniversary of 1/6

When a historical event is known by its date alone, it represents a moment in time that will never be forgotten.

First, there was 12/7. Then there was 9/11. The newest date on this list is 1/6.

Two years ago today, “protestors” charged into the Capital building, believing the lie that the former President had fraudulently lost the 2020 Presidential election.

Some days it feels like a lifetime ago. On other days, it feels like it was yesterday. Before January 6th, 2021, I was still hoping that there was still a semblance of American democracy. These days, it looks like a cracked mirror that is barely held together by masking tape.

The feeling I have about that day is similar to the one I had after 9/11. There is a sense of innocence lost and a cynical feeling that is unnatural. Despite this country’s flaws (however numerous they may be), I still believe in its ideals.

The question is, are we bold to strive for those ideals, or are we forever lost to partisanship and infighting?

American Flag Wave GIF by JOSH HILL - Find & Share on GIPHY

Kevin McCarthy’s 10th Loss for the Speaker Race is Embarassing

Politics is complicated. Politics are messy. But to get anything done in politics, compromise and an understanding of who one is representing are paramount.

For the last three days, members of the Senate have been voting on who will be the next Speaker of the House. As of earlier today, there have been 10 rounds of voting. Kevin McCarthy has yet to receive the necessary 218 votes.

In a post earlier this week, I was more than happy to mock McCarthy’s loss. But after two days, the back and forth has become embarrassing and ridiculous. The Republican Senators who are refusing to budge on McCarthy seem to be more interested in power than governing.

If a Speaker is not chosen, the government cannot function. My fear is the concessions McCarthy will make to win and the effects of those concessions. The question is, if and when he is victorious, will he be able to use the gavel and everything that comes with it wisely? Or will he be the puppet and someone else be the puppet master?

Anthony Hopkins Puppet GIF by Shudder - Find & Share on GIPHY

The only way out of this is for Hakeem Jeffries to be named Speaker. Unfortunately, that seems to be a pipe dream.

Only time will tell who takes the role. Either way, I can only hope that those in the halls of power will do right by the American people.

%d bloggers like this: