Friday, February 26, 2021

The Art of War

You can’t just go about your business when you’re on the interstate.  You have to drive defensively. Sometimes the best defense is an offense—something which particularly applies when a Trump caravan surrounds you and tries to run you off the highway since they don’t like the sticker on your fender. It’s apparent that Trump is not sitting idly by in Mar-a-Lago. Now that the impeachment trial is over and he's free to misbehave again, he'll start to engineer his  comeback when he appears at CPAC on Sunday. After that will come the MAGA rallies aimed at Republicans like Adam Kitzinger and Liz Cheney, who went against him. Maybe inflammed hordes will pillage and destroy  the residences of people like Ben Sasse, Nicky Haley, Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney. Intimidation is one of the principles of the totalitarian state. You have to show the opposition that a severe price will be paid for those who stand up. Hitler used the Gestapo; Stalin created his notorious Gulag. Trump uses the naked violence of mob (sometimes lynch mob) rule. Will Biden’s coalition politics be enough to withstand constant attack? Will the message of conciliation and inclusivity fall on deaf ears amidst the drumbeats of Trump’s war song? It’s hard to fight fire with fire when your message is peace. How would a master manipulator and strong arm liberal like Lyndon Johnson have snuffed Trump’s flame?

Read Francis Levy's "Died Young," The Brooklyn Rail

Thursday, February 25, 2021

What's an Emordnilap?

Emordnilap is palindrome spelled backwards. It describes a kind of word. While a palindrome is the same word spelled backwards or forwards, an emordnilap refers to any word which creates another word when spelled either forward or backwards. For instance, “dog,”  “god," “live” and “evil.” Whether there’s a relationship between “dog” and “god” or “live” and “evil” is a question for purveyors of the occult. “Tattarrattat” is a palindrome created by Joyce in Ulysses. “Radar,” “kayak” and “madam” are some common palindromes. “Avid” and “diva,” “mood” and “doom” are emordnilaps. As you can see there’s a paranormal relation between all of them. “Divas” tend to be unhesitatingly “avid.” “Doom” is a “mood.” With the exception of “palindrome”and “emordnilpap” themselves, the foot almost uncannily fits the shoe, but don't put it in your mouth. “Adobe” and “abode” are anagrams or different words formed from the same letters. But what are “AAA,” American Automobile Association and “AA,” Alcoholics Anonymous? Logorrhea or diarrhea of the mouth is not treated with Imodium.

Read "Why Big German Words Like Vergangenbangenheit Carry Weight" by Francis Levy, Huff Post

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Pornosophy: Wheel of Fire

"Lear and Cordelia" by Ford Madox Brown (1848-9)

The unexpected cosmopolitan use of language in situations where such locutions are not expected can be both humanizing and liberating. Recently a porn actress demonstrating her talents with a particularly well-endowed partner commented, “this is going to be comical.” Such turns of phrase are not the expected badinage in couplings predicated on dominance and submission. Generally, the script for such productions can be summarized by two words “oh yeah,” repeated ad nauseam from beginning to end. Could the actress have been browsing at volumes like Octave Mannoni’s Prospero and Caliban or Franz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth in her local Barnes & Noble before the shooting? Consciousness raising can occur in the most unlikely situations—which is also one definition of revolution. Is it safe to assume Louis the XVI had no idea the sans-culottes would storm the Bastille? Generally pornography is predicated on hyperbole, but here is an example of an exchange in which an organ that bore some resemblance to the trunk of an elephant was presented to an average-sized mouth out of which emanated the kind of speech that might be encountered at a diplomatic reception in place of the usual inanities constituting the soundtrack of a so-called loop. “This is going to be comical,” doesn’t compare to Lear’s “But I am bound upon a wheel of fire that mine own tears do scald of molten lead.” However it does leave hope that flights of eloquence may occur almost anywhere. Remember the famous Groucho Marx quip, "I wouldn't want to belong to a club that would have me as a member?" Membership is the operant word.

Read "The Findings" by Francis Levy, The Evergreen Review

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Babylon Palm Beach

Behind every popular uprising is an old guard or would be old guard eager to perpetuate its own power. Autocracy produces strange bedfellows. When you look at the MAGA crowds composed of the same dispossessed lumpenproletariat (unemployed and untrained workers and former ex-military) you wonder why they don’t realize they're being used. The fact that Trump’s tax cuts benefited the rich and that he never made good on his promise of a healthcare plan (at one press conference Kayleigh McInerny handed out a thick loose-leaf binder as proof of a health plan that was essentially the Emperor’s New Clothes). If you watched Babylon Berlin, the Netflicks series about Weimar Germany and the years leading up to the rise of Hitler, you noted a demographic tantamount to what is occurring in America today. Old-line conservative oligarchs, vestiges of the Prussian military find themselves in a fatal alliance with mobs of proto-fascists. It’s a dance of death much like that which exists between Trump’s base and the Republican party. Many Republicans have made a Faustian bargain with a nest of angry vipers. The sole purpose of these G.O.P. stalwarts lies in the perpetuation of their power—which they inadvertently relinquish each time they dilute the very values which they stood for in the first place. Actually, the conservative Republicans who would tolerate a Trump monarchy if it could satisfy their ends and their ragtag band of insurrectionists are like oil and water. It’s a delusional alliance that would be sad, were the results not so disconcertingly deadly. Don’t they realize their leader has nothing but contempt for his hordes of followers and that the gates of Mar-a-Lago itself will not open to MAGA?

Read "MAGA and the Coronavirus by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

Monday, February 22, 2021


photo of livestock by Daniel Schwen

They say your whole life passes before you at the moment of your death. Actually, it starts before...depending. During a pandemic like the one the world has been enduring, with both confinement and the lack of external stimulation, the conscious mind is prone to wander. At times it can almost be like a dream where all kinds unconscious  associations are mysteriously made due to the disinhibition that occurs when the cognitive faculties lay down arms. In fact, in times of great isolation waking up from sleep may jettison the mentality into worlds where it doesn't usually roam. For instance, if you were a hellion, during the 60s or later disco era in which you spent whole eras of your life bombed, you may be forced to take stock of your life. You may eventually be presented with a bill for your behavior. In other words, years later you may find yourself paying for your excesses. You, of course, don't need to be quarantined to find yourself, drifting into the past. In Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries, an aging professor relives the lost opportunities of his youth. Distance makes the heart grow stronger; the further away you are from certain memories the more potent, they become. You’re more prone to relive something that happened 20 years ago than yesterday. You’re more likely to relive it when you're forty than when you’re twenty and can’t remember anything at all about what happened when you were 0

Read "Limbo" by Francis Levy, The Evergreen Review


Friday, February 19, 2021

First Amendment, Right?

Arguing that the Proud Boys have a right to express themselves or that Parler is a site that should be sanctioned and carried by Amazon is like saying that Al Capone had the right to perpetrate the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Which brings up the question of the Second Amendment. Does having the right to bear arms include semi-automatic weapons? Within the context of the Insurrection of the capital, there's the question of the time between Trump’s inflammatory utterances and the attack of what had essentially become a lynch mob (who’d actually come equipped with a gallows). But let’s look at some other examples of free speech. What about Clarence Thomas talking about “Long Dong Silver” to Anita Hill? In theory you could say that’s not different than what Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt did in their magazines. However, the difference was that neither of these pornographers had a captive audience who they were able to coerce by virtue of seniority. Back when they were being published, you went to the newsstand and bought your
 Hustler or Playboy and you might even have hidden it in a brown paper bag. For many years the publication of Mein Kampf was forbidden by the state of Bavaria, which was the copyright holder. Free expression was an issue in the Charlottesville riots. Why didn’t Virginians have the right to display Confederate monuments? Well, let’s say you were a Holocaust survivor, what would you think about a bust of Hitler being displayed outside your synagogue? Gets complicated. Remember the ACLU's defense of neo-Nazis parading through Skokie? Does freedom of speech include threatening to execute a political opponent, as Marjorie Taylor Greene has done? Were the Mob’s rights violated when they were silenced by The Untouchables?

Read "White Meat, Breasts" by Francis Levy, The Evergreen Review

Thursday, February 18, 2021

It's a Wonderful Life

If you watched the CNN sponsored town hall with Joe Biden in Milwaukee, you might have been reminded of Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life. Particularly the Walpurgisnacht sequence when before Stewart is about to jump to his death, where the angel Clarence Odbody demonstrates what the world would have been like without him. Well, we saw what the world was like only 4 weeks ago. And it’s the difference between day and some unending night where people like Steve Bannon run around quoting Milton's, “better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven” and act like the devil. Will Biden ever steal Trump’s thunder? Certainly, he walks softly and authoritatively. He told a mother who was unsuccessful in finding a vaccine for her son who suffered from a high-risk medical condition to stick around afterwards. He’d try to help. He also assured the eight year old child of one of his interlocutors that there was nothing to worry about since most little kids don’t get Covid. Actually Biden bears more comparison to the angel than to Jimmy Stewart since he seems so good and pure and lacking in literally any of the self-regard of his predecessor.  During the town hall, he apologized more than once for talking too much. Such humility is refreshing. “
For four years, all that’s been in the news is Trump,” Biden said. “For the next four years, I wanna make sure the news is the American people.”  As they say you had to be there, but if you were you would have believed  it.

Read "Trumpty Dumpty's Great Fall" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Will Donald Trump Eat the Impossible Whopper?

You know the phrase, “you are what you eat.” With Donald Trump’s famous love of fast or junk food and Diet Coke, is it possible to conclude that he’s junk? On an anecdotal basis, his behavior as a president might be deemed fit for a dumpster. He creates a violent insurrection claiming an election is false and rigged and then claims he’s the victim of one of the greatest witch hunts on history. Actually, his public liking of the Big Mac and the fish fillet may be giving McDonald’s a bad name. Could it be that his diet is responsible for all his aggressive behavior? What would Trump be like if he suddenly started to eat brown rice, tofu and coconut milk? What if he started  to go for barbecued seitan skewers and kale burgers. Interestingly, it’s been reported that Hitler became a vegetarian during the war. Stalin liked cabbage soup and Mussolini loved garlic. There’s no evidence that moving away from fast food would result in a modification of his opinions say about the environment. But let’s hypothesize that one of his advisors introduces the former president to the Impossible Whopper at Burger King. Anyone who has ever tasted one of these meat substitutes knows they're really delicious. They’re much better than Big Macs. Perhaps the Impossible Burger would live up to its name and make the former president change his ways? 

Read "Lamb Stewed" by Francis Levy, Dispatches from the Poetry Wars

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Be My Web Valentine


It feels like getting back some semblance of "normalcy" will be like Star Trek. You pull into Dodge and it's become a ghost town. Does anyone think that midtown Manhattan's forest of skyscrapers will suddenly be filled with worker bees--when a good deal of the work force has been operating on line with greater efficiency and productivity, due in part to the less time wasted on the commute. Is this the end of classical Freudian analysis? Will patients be reluctant to return to the couch, when they can Zoom with their doctors, who simply disable the video function to insure analytic neutrality? Of  course, socialization will have to occur someday. Neither love nor work can take place indefinitely in a chat room, though the legacy of the pandemic may well be a number of test tube babies which are the product of "cyber" marriages Will some lovers find that it's more exotic to express sweet nothings by way of teleconferencing media? The physical greeting card business has undoubtedly already been diminished by Jacquie Lawson. Will there be a certain romance in not formally meeting your significant other--under the theory that what doesn't exist always has an advantage over the real human being warts and all? Imagine sharing a virtual reality ski vacation without having to worry about broken legs (something which is undoubtedly already in the repertoire of certain "virtual reality" travel agencies). If 70-80% of Americans get vaccinated and herd immunity is achieved by the summer or fall, a kind of reverse Exodus is likely to occur, only what the Chosen, who have survived the pandemic, will return to may be Aldous Huxley's Brave New World with a touch of A  Clockwork Orange thrown in for spice.

Read "As I Lay Down" by Francis Levy, Noise

Monday, February 15, 2021

Cramming For the Democracy Exam


If you’re one of those people who doesn’t appreciate what you have until it’s too late, then you should really thank the former president. Before the near demise of the institution of democracy on January 6, C-Span may have been one of the least viewed channels in television history. Did you know that you needed ¾ of the Senate to impeach but only a majority to vote on the constitutionality of impeaching a former president.? Did you even know that House of Representatives voted to impeach a president, but it was the Senate who tried the impeachment? Did you know the process by which the electoral votes of each state are certified?  Did you know that certificates were sent to congress and tabulated by the Vice President until Mike Pence almost died upholding his duty? Couples take each other for granted until there’s a separation and you begin to tally up the good and the bed in order to determine whether to move on to divorce or not. Without the former president’s total disregard for literally every precept and value of democracy, few people but constitutional scholars and law students really understood what goes on in the sausage factory (and democracy US style is made up of a lot suspicious meat). Retrumplicans who still insist that the election was rigged and stolen will try to fire Dominion (the company that manufactured many voting machines) and install other voting machines that really are rigged. However, for the rest of the electorate, an overhaul of the electoral college itself could be the result of this latest stirring up of the pot. Joe Biden won by more than 7 million votes and he received 306 electoral votes, but Hillary Clinton won the election by 3 million votes and still lost. And before the recent debacle had you even heard of the senate parliamentarian?

Read "MAGA and the Coronavirus" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

Friday, February 12, 2021

Towards a Radical Centrism

If you were a wishy washy liberal, who voted Democratic more out of habit than conviction then the whole election debacle may have raised your consciousness and awareness in a way that hasn’t occurred since the 60s. Many closet humanists have been turned into radical centrists, creating a kind of fifth column in favor of coalition politics by virtue of the divisive Trump phenomenon. Once you’ve experienced real fascism and mob rule, you’re unlikely ever to feel you can retreat into esthetic distance again. Turns out there no such thing as an unpolitical person. By not voting, you’ve cast your ballot for complacency. Sure the Democrats won the election by one of the largest margins in history, but remember “never again,” the meme used by survivors of the Holocaust. America came unconscionably close to the breakdown of all its institutions and values in the wake of the election. What if Michael Flynn had prevailed and martial law were declared? What if Trump had been able to create an uprising in the justice department whereby the attorney general would be deposed and the election again contested? What if Mike Pence were hung—and there was a good chance of it on January Remember the gallows that the insurrectionists erected? Though he did show up for the inauguration, it’s not surprising that the former VP has totally disappeared from public view. It’s hard to believe that the victim of near lynching would seek the votes of the enraged mob or Retrumplicans who nearly did him in. Trump’s legal team has been a total washout. What he really needed was to enlist someone like David Irving, the famous Holocaust denier to make his case against the truth.

Read "Pet Buddha" by Francis Levy, Vol. 1 Brooklyn

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Maxed Out

 Wolf Blitzer declares Biden 46th President 

Before the pandemic and the election, you might have been one of those people who watched the ll:00 o’clock news before bed, primarily to get the weather. One of your pastimes might have been tuning onto The Weather Channel during one of the hurricanes which had done so much damage in the Panhandle. It’s always terrible to see the destruction which nature has wrought but you can’t help feeling smugly happy as you're entertained by other people’s misery from afar. It's schadenfreude. The past year has changed everything. Even though death has come to everyone’s doorstep, the primary entertainment for many is watching 24 hour cable news. With the comorbidities of plague and political unrest, it's, in fact, more entertaining than any police procedural or crime drama. Every day brings some new insult to either intelligence or simply to consciousness. Did you know that QAnon supporters believe that by March 4 Trump will be returned to The White House as the l9th president of the Republic? Were you aware the Republican Arizona legislature, which has censured the Republican governor Doug Dulcey for certifying the results of the election, was recently still demanding Maricopa county hand over ballots for yet another  recount in the hope that the state could be turned for Trump, as a first step in unseating Joe Biden? What form of entertainment could compete with this or the likes of Mike Flynn getting into shouting matches with White House advisors who were reticent to declare martial law? If this kind of stuff had appeared on an episode of The West Wing you might have assumed the popular series had become a sitcom. Or take the fact that one of the members of Trump’s impeachment defense team is former Montgomery county DA Bruce Castor who refused to prosecute Bill Cosby and that a former president would have to dig this deep to find lawyers willing to defend him. No wonder one of the conservative broadcasting networks is called Newsmax. Interestingly one of the few competitions to the Trump juggeraut is the team of Democratic house managers prosecuting the case to impeach him. In the course of arguing their case, congressmen and women Jamie Raskin, Joe Neguse, Madeleine Dean, Joaquin Castro, Eric Swalwell and Stacey  E. Plaskett have demonstrated that even that increasingly rarified commodity known as truth can make for compelling television.

Read "The Findings" by Francis Levy, The Evergreen Review


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Civil War Redux: A Film by Ken Burns

Someone like Ken Burns should do a multi-episodic documentary on the current civil war. He, in fact, would be a real candidate since his prior The Civil War (1990) has become such a classic. The collective unconscious of the United States is truly suffering from a split ego. Were the wounds of the first Civil War ever healed? And how did a traumatized society recover? Following Reconstruction, there were uprisings on the part of white segregationists which resulted in a retrenchment from almost all the gains, Lincoln iterated in the Emancipation Proclamation. Today, there's little evidence of détente and the same set of conditions appear to be operant. Yes, the Democrats have won, but a huge swath of the population will not even accede to the fact that the election was fair and not rigged. The Times and other liberal news outlets like CNN and MSNBC are preaching to their respective choirs. Among hardcore Retrumplicans even Fox News is looked at with suspicion since they were the first to call the election for Biden. The same violent language that became the legacy of the Civil War is being repeated by members of the House like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert. Alexander Ocasio Cortiz relates how she hid out during the uprising instead of exiting to a supposed “safe” area with the rest of the house, in fear that some of her colleagues might Tweet the whereabouts of her position. Unless something radical happens in the Biden administration the next four years will simply be the seeming calm before the storm—as the GOP or Patriot Party sets out to finally retake the territory they've lost and win the election in the only way they know how—through force. 

Read "An Incident of Defenestration" by Francis Levy, Vol. 1, Brooklyn

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Martial Law Comes to Netflix

Love in the Time of Corona and Social Distance are yes two television series that have been produced during the pandemic. However, these only scratch the surface of potential tastelessness. What about a series based on the idea that Anthony Bourdain didn’t commit suicide, but was really alive and cooking on Garibaldi Street in Buenos Aires where Eichmann was quietly living before he was caught by the Mossad? What about a reality show about a 12 step program for recovering tyrants. Donald Trump on loan from The Apprentice joins with Victor Orban of Hungry, Jair Bolsonaro form Brazil, Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Erdogan from Turkey for a meeting. The first line of the first step “Who cares to admit complete defeat” is recited and afterwards the speaker, Kim Jong-un is introduced. At the break Jong-un raises his hand when the secretary asks if “there is anyone attending this meeting for the first time?” By the way no hands go up when the first line of the first step is read. Guess no one wants to surrender. It’s progress not perfection. Martial Law, starring Michael Flynn, will be a popular new reality show where Donald Trump invalidates a succession of elections until enough voters from minority groups are killed off by the pandemic to insure his triumphal inauguration for a second term. PPE is a scrappy comedy with Jerry Seinfeld returning to television as a garmento who employs undocumented immigrants at low wages so that he can make huge profits on the manufacture of designer masks, gowns and gloves. Scott Atlas MD is Dr Kildare for the age of Corona. Melania and Donald Trump are guests on The Great British Baking Contest. Everyone tests positive in this sequel to the once popular Trump era White House Masque.

Read "MAGA and Coronavirus" by Francis LevyThe East Hampton Star

Monday, February 8, 2021

Where Are the Angels?

"Three Angels Hosted by Abraham" Ludivico Carracci  (1610-12)

Trump along with QAnon and MAGA took the air out of the room. What the United States has been left with is the bomb of Dresden, at least politically. The Arizona legislature censures the governor, Doug Ducey, for confirming the vote. Mike Pence overnight becomes an enemy of the ultra-right, even though he’s pretty far right to begin with. No one is chastened after the attack on the capital; in fact, rumors that the attack itself was left-wing Antifa conspiracy continue along with threats of vengeance both physically and electorally. All of this makes the McCarthy blacklist look tame. In the meanwhile, President Biden comes in with a domestic version of the Marshall Plan which is wonderfully proactive but like oil and water in terms of the chemistry of the senate. To feel that the country is divided is an understatement. You could say that the US is suffering from a collective version of split personality disorder. Where are the unifying angels that will descend amidst ideological and biological sickness to provide a cleansing solace and even antidote to the poison?

Read "MAGA and Coronavirus" by Francis LevyThe East Hampton Star

Friday, February 5, 2021

Death Takes No Holidays

Knight and Death playing chess in The Seventh Seal

Many people are or are not aware of their own mortality. That may seem tautological, but there are those who just want to get on with their lives, not thinking about finitude and a segment of the population who exist in a state, to quote Kierkegaard, of “fear and trembling.” Actually, Heidegger said you could not attain what he called an authentic state of being without the awareness of death. The expression “he lived like there was no tomorrow” is actually misleading. The person who lives it up is probably someone who believes there will be an unending amount of tomorrows. Now however, the plague and concomitant political discord that has hit civilization has changed things. There are few people who are not made cognizant of the fragility of their lives—on a daily basis. Even Ingmar Bergman who meditated so eloquently on death in movies like The Seventh Seal couldn’t have dreamt up the current predicament in which viruses create lockdowns and threaten to mutate in ever more contagious forms. In fact, The Seventh Seal takes place during the Plague which affected Europe in the Middle Ages. If you’re a dour individual who could never stand the Panglossian optimism of your confreres, you’re likely enjoying the schadenfreude of seeing irritatingly positive creatures grounded like birds caught in an oil spill. Anyway if you have nothing better to do while you’re confined, why not challenge death to a game of chess?

Read "MAGA and Coronavirus" by Francis LevyThe East Hampton Star

Thursday, February 4, 2021

What is to Be Done?

 What is to Be Done? by Vladimir Lenin

If you’re having fantasies of vengeance, you’re not alone. Only problem is the person you want to get back at in all likelihood feels the same way about you. Naturally, you’re convinced your position is right. For instance, within the context of our present reality, there’s no doubt Trump is evil or at least the proxy of evil for a huge unhappy class of people, “the base” who wish to give the finger to the establishment and the elites. The fact of Trump’s criminality is a Kantian categorial imperative, an undeniable moral and ethical conclusion which must guide human behavior. Remember Errol Morris’ film about Steve Bannon, American Dharma, in which the recently pardoned intellectual thug quotes Milton: “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” This is all playing out right now. One chuckles in satisfaction as Biden repeals all Trump’s odious executive orders. In the meanwhile, all the Retrumplicans can do is  think how they can get back at the huge swath of American society who voted for Biden and who they mistakenly characterize as the far left. What to do? No, not everyone who wants to figure this out is a far left Communist and follower of Lenin.

Read "MAGA and Coronavirus" by Francis LevyThe East Hampton Star

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Cult of Isis

Isis (Jeff Dahl)

The Retrumplican Party is one of the biggest cults in human history. There was Charles Manson and his followers, the Branch Davidians in Waco, the Jim Jones Cult which resulted in a mass suicide. Osama Bin Laden presided over a cult of kamikazes. ISIS represented a particularly vicious cult famous for the video-taped beheadings of its captives. And, of course, there was the actual Cult of Isis (no relation to ISIS) based upon loyalty to the goddess of classical mythology. What differentiates Retrumplicanism is its size. It’s been estimated that 20% of the approximately 74 million Republicans who voted for Trump are infused with the kind of millenarian fervor that would lead to violent actions. Let’s say then that the Retrumplicans are a cult comprised of approximately 15 million adherents. That’s a lot of people to deprogram. It’s one thing for law enforcement agencies to be concerned about small cells of terrorists on which they have to keep tabs. The Oath Keepers, a radical right group similar to the Proud Boys, has 25,000 members, some of whom are former and even present members of law enforcement organizations and the military.  Larry Rendell Brock Jr., a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force and a graduate of the Air Force Academy was one of the first arrests in connection with the insurrection in the capitol. Significantly many of those arrested carried the kind of plastic ties that police use to handcuff criminals. The recent Times reporting on the planned insurrection that preceded the inauguration ("77 Days:Trump's Campaign to Subvert the Election,NYT, 1/31/21) along with the Axios reporting "Bonus episode: Inside the craziest meeting of the Trump presidency," (2/2/21) both detail how close the Trump came to destroying the foundations of democracy. The Democratic victory in both the Presidential election and the senate race in Georgia turn out to be like a difficult pregnancy in which a birth is attended by threats to both the child’s and mother’s lives.

Read "MAGA and Coronavirus" by Francis LevyThe East Hampton Star

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Trump and Hume

David Hume by Allan Ramsay (1754)

Value-free questioning, which often throws doubt on what's visible to the eyes, is a peculiar duck. But what's a duck? The epitome of this phenomenon is the questioning of the results of the 2020 election. The argument is made by Retrumplicans like Jim Jordan and Josh Hawley that all they were asking for was the right to ask certain questions due to all the claims by people like them that the election had been fraudulent and rigged. The fact that governors (many Republican) and electoral commissions (also in many cases Republican) in all states certified the results and the fact that the very questions they wished to be answered had been adjudicated in 86 cases and brought unsuccessfully before the Supreme Court doesn't matter. There's a certain wide-eyed innocence accompanying such questioning. The questioners give off the affect of an ingenue or new kid on the block. They just want to know. The same thing relates to the questioning of Twitter and Facebook’s ban on Trump. In this later the posture shifts from mere inquiry to agitation about the loss of First Amendment rights. Context is totally lost along with the remembrance of famous free speech cases like Schenck where Oliver Wendall Holmes famously iterated the example of crying “fire!” in a crowded theater.  Comparing the losing candidate's right to totally discredit a lawful election to the repression of speech that goes on in a totalitarian society is to invoke a false equivalence. There is, in fact, no comparison. There's no doubt that a doubting Thomas has their own agenda. And here’s another question. What should a gun control adherent do the next time they're harassed by Marjorie Taylor Greene? Should he or she turn around and pull a gun on her to prove that words have consequences? Or is Trump merely an adherent to the skepticism of Hume?

Read "MAGA and Coronavirus" by Francis LevyThe East Hampton Star

Monday, February 1, 2021

Wonder Woman

Imagine hurtling through space at a once unattainable speed. The Stars My Destination was the title of the Albert Bester sci-fi classic. You're the solitary inhabitant of Elon Musk’s newest SpaceX product, a suit which is also a craft that allows you to swim through the centuries to infinity with your hands straight out, in the famed Superman pose. This is the kind of daydream you may be experiencing when you watch the 2019 cell phone video of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a member of congress taunting David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland shooting. You wouldn’t be the only one. Democratic Missouri Rep. Cori Bush already has had her office moved after an altercation with Greene over the mandate to wear masks in federal buildings. BTW, the mask Greene has been photographed wearing reads, "Trump Won." You might turn your cruising speed even higher when you see footage of her Retrumplican colleague Lauren Boebert of Colorado supporting her ideas. And you might start to race for faraway galaxies when you see a photo of minority leader Kevin McCarthy paying homage to Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago. Oh yes, McCarthy has stated he will talk to Greene about threatening to murder Democrats ("Marjorie Taylor Greene indicated support of executing prominent Democrats in 2018 and 2019 before running for Congress," CNN, 1/26/21). You may not want to stay around to learn what he's going to tell her. Right now Greene is a member of the Education Committee. What other educational experiences will the freshman congresswoman promote during her appointment to this important congressional position? Text book publishers beware. This is history in the making.

Read "MAGA and Coronavirus" by Francis LevyThe East Hampton Star