Political History

LePage Claims Civil War Was Really About Land

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) defended monuments to the Confederacy, claiming that 7,600 Mainers fought for the South and that the war was initially about land, not slavery, CNN reports.

Said LePage: “What was the war? If you really truly read and study the Civil War, it was turned into a battle for the slaves, but initially — I mean, 7,600 Mainers fought for the Confederacy. And they fought because they were concerned about — they were farmers — and they were concerned about their land. Their property. It was a property rights issue as it began. The President of the United States, who was a very brilliant politician, really made it about slavery to a great degree.”

Why It’s Wrong to Commemorate Robert E. Lee

Josh Marshall: “What is Robert E. Lee known for? This is what I mean by the margins of the debate. Lee is known for one thing: being the key military leader in a violent rebellion against the United States and leading that rebellion to protect slavery. That’s it. Absent his decision to participate in the rebellion he’d be all but unknown to history. He outlived the war by only five years. There’s simply no positive side of the ledger to make it a tough call. The only logic to honoring Lee is to honor treason and treason in the worst possible cause.”

“Lincoln and his war cabinet had little question what Lee deserved. Look at Arlington National Cemetery. That’s Lee’s plantation. The federal government confiscated it and dedicated it as a final resting place for those who died defending the United States. It is a solemn, poetically rich, final and ultimately righteous verdict on his role in our national life. The entire project was very much by design: to punish Lee and shame him in public memory for betraying the United States… The generals… wanted to be certain the Lees would never be able to reclaim their estate. Making it into a hallowed national cemetery was a good way to accomplish that.”

Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism

Kristen Ghodsee: “A comparative sociological study of East and West Germans conducted after reunification in 1990 found that Eastern women had twice as many orgasms as Western women. Researchers marveled at this disparity in reported sexual satisfaction, especially since East German women suffered from the notorious double burden of formal employment and housework. In contrast, postwar West German women had stayed home and enjoyed all the labor-saving devices produced by the roaring capitalist economy. But they had less sex, and less satisfying sex, than women who had to line up for toilet paper.”

“This generational divide between daughters and mothers who reached adulthood on either side of 1989 supports the idea that women had more fulfilling lives during the Communist era. And they owed this quality of life, in part, to the fact that these regimes saw women’s emancipation as central to advanced ‘scientific socialist’ societies, as they saw themselves.”

Trump’s War on the 1960s

Leonard Steinhorn: “Donald Trump and his supporters may be waging battles against the press, immigrants, voting rights, the environment, science, social welfare programs, Planned Parenthood and what they label political correctness and the deep state.”

“But to them these are mere skirmishes in a much larger conflict. The president has essentially declared an all-out war on the American 1960s.”

“What he and his followers hope to do is not necessarily turn back the clock to the 1950s, but rather restore a social order, value system and ‘real America’ that they believe was hijacked by the liberal culture, politics, thought leaders and policy priorities that emerged from the ’60s.”

Why America Shuns Hereditary Rule

The Economist: “Defenders of nepotism—for they do exist—argue that close relatives are able to offer presidents more candid advice than any outsider. They note that by some counts 16 presidential children have worked in the White House, variously as private secretaries (a tradition begun by the 6th president, John Quincy Adams, himself a president’s son), as unpaid gatekeepers (cf, Anna Roosevelt, daughter of Franklin), or as formal advisers (Dwight Eisenhower’s son John served as a national security aide). But such a defense of nepotism breaks down when America has a bad president.”

“When ordinary aides find themselves in that unhappy situation, a sense of duty to their country, to their office or to the rule of law may prompt them to question furtive actions and poor decisions, or to resign. Other aides may be more strongly moved by self-interest, and a desire to keep their good name from being soiled by an unfit boss. But when a child wields power at the pleasure of a parent, fidelity to country or to the law must vie with deeper, more visceral loyalties. That tug of loyalties is more painful still when a parent is like Mr Trump, a clannish, vengeful man who, by his own son’s account, would send him to school with the growled warning: ‘Don’t trust anyone.’ As for trying to preserve a free-standing good name, that is tricky if you are called Donald Trump junior.”

The Most Competitive States for Senate Elections

Smart Politics examined all U.S. Senate elections since 1990 and found that North Carolina leads the nation with its 10 contests decided by an average victory margin of 6.1 points.

“The Tar Heel State has consistently produced competitive races going back several decades, with 14 of its last 15 U.S. Senate elections decided by single-digits since 1978.”

“Only six other states have averaged victory margins in the single digits since 1990: Colorado (8.5 points), Pennsylvania (8.9), Missouri (9.1), Nevada (9.5), New Jersey (9.6), and Minnesota (9.9). Five of these states host senate races in 2018 with three expected to be particularly hard fought (Missouri, Nevada, and Pennsylvania).”

Nixon’s Downfall Didn’t Seem Inevitable Either

Frank Rich: “For all the months of sensational revelations and criminal indictments (including of his campaign manager and former attorney general, John Mitchell), a Harris poll found that only 22 percent thought Nixon should leave office. Gallup put the president’s approval rating in the upper 30s, roughly where our current president stands now — lousy, but not apocalyptic. There had yet to be an impeachment resolution filed in Congress by even Nixon’s most partisan adversaries.”

“He had defied his political obituaries before, staging comebacks after a slush-fund scandal nearly cost him his vice-presidential perch on the GOP ticket in 1952 and again after his 1962 defeat in the California governor’s race prompted the angry ‘last press conference’ at which he vowed that ‘you won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.’ Might Tricky Dick pull off another Houdini? He was capable of it, and, as it happened, it would take another full year of bombshells and firestorms after the televised Senate hearings before a clear majority of Americans (57 percent) finally told pollsters they wanted the president to go home. Only then did he oblige them, in August 1974.”

It Took a Long time to Get Rid of Nixon

Jonathan Rauch: “Nixon’s second-term approval started strong, in the high sixties, but plummeted as Watergate revelations emerged. By the time the Senate Watergate hearings began, in May of 1973, his ratings were under 50 percent. By the time of the Saturday Night Massacre, in October of 1973, his approval was mired in the mid-twenties, never to recover.”

“Still, Nixon held onto office for more than 17 months after his ratings sank below 50 percent, and for more than nine months after they sank into the twenties. Being loathed by the American public, and being widely and correctly perceived to be a criminal, did not do him in for a long time.”

“The reason was that the critical variable was not overall approval but Republican approval. Removal either by impeachment or under the 25th Amendment, the two mechanisms available, requires a 67-vote Senate supermajority (unless a president is too incapacitated to serve). As a result, even though Democrats controlled Congress in 1974, Nixon could not be removed without Republican legislators’ support.”

Memo Shows Nixon White House Plotted Violence

“Watergate prosecutors had evidence that operatives for then-President Richard Nixon planned an assault on anti-war demonstrators in 1972, including potentially physically attacking Vietnam whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg,” according to a never-before-published memo obtained by NBC News.

“The document, an 18-page 1973 investigative memorandum from the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, sheds new light on how prosecutors were investigating attempts at domestic political violence by Nixon aides, an extremely serious charge… A plot to physically attack Ellsberg is notable because the former Pentagon official has long alleged that Nixon operatives did more than steal his medical files, the most well-known effort to discredit him.”