Update, March 25

Happy New Year! (England celebrated the New Year on March 25 from some time in the 12th Century until adopting the Gregorian Calendar reform in 1750.)

Happy Birthday: My sister and my brother’s daughter.

Also on this day: (3019, Third Age) Gollum bites the One Ring off Frodo’s hand and then drops into the fires of Mount Doom, ending the reign of Sauron in Mordor. Sauron is later resurrected in the guise of a real estate developer from Queens, New York.

I had been meaning to write about the latest in Israel: the terrible mistake Benny Gantz was about to make, joining Bibi Netanyahu in a rotation “Unity” government with Bibi as Prime Minister first. (Bibi literally has to remain as Prime Minister to remain in the Knesset at all: PM is the one exemption from existing law requiring members under indictment to take leave.) But at the last minute, Gantz came to his senses, realizing his Blue and White party would crumble, lose all leverage, and his turn to be PM would never come to pass. The current situation remains fluid. Gantz’s big problem is that 4 MKs nominally in his coalition refuse to sit in his government if it relies on support from the Joint Arab List. (To show how crazy this is, Avigdor Lieberman, one of the most overtly-bigoted politicians in Israel who has called for denaturalizing Israeli Arabs and incorporating largely Arab parts of Israel into the rump Palestinian Bantustan, waived his longstanding insistence on this principle out of his even greater hatred for Bibi and his ultra-Orthodox supporters.)

So, instead, what I was going to say about Gantz, without Gantz.

We have poured a great deal of hope into vessels who have disappointed us: James Comey, Jim Mattis, Robert Mueller, even John Bolton. And every last one of them has flinched. These are not men without courage; Mattis and Mueller have literally been under fire. They are men without vision, who see only their own personal honor when the broad picture is the Republic under attack. (The inimitable Sarah Kendzior has been writing about how we will have to take on Trump ourselves, rather than wait for a savior. I don’t think she has written why these hoped-for saviors keep disappointing us.)

So, Mueller wrote his down-the-line report. He even complained to his boss Attorney General Barr, when Barr gave a completely inaccurate summary of it, but only in following correct channels. Barr’s version was allowed to stand unchallenged for weeks. As a sense of how egregious Barr’s summary was, recently, a judge appointed by Bush Jr. insisted on reviewing further redactions himself because the Department of Justice’s analysis was self-serving and deceptive. But with one inappropriate press conference the day after Barr released his distortion, Mueller could have blown the cover story to bits. Instead, his honor was fulfilled by testifying to Congress, weeks later, in mystifying triple-negatives.

These men have adopted the strategy of the Wehrmacht generals who did not permit their forces to participate in the Holocaust, but did nothing to stop it. (After the beginning of the Cold War, it became convenient to greatly exaggerate the number of such commanders, but it was not zero.) They see Trumpism as some sort of unstoppable juggernaut. Whether it is evil is almost irrelevant; they simply step out of its way, let it go by, and congratulate themselves on having done everything according to their own honorable lights.

Takeaway: It’s still up to us. Postcards. Texts. Calls. Demonstrations when we can have them again.

P.S.: Worth keeping an eye on news from Brasil. As far as I can tell, Trump wannabe Jair Bolsonaro followed the same pattern of denial, while most of the State Governors—including his quondam allies—are moving towards isolation measures.

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