Heather Cox Richardson. With all the chaos in America in recent days, I couldn’t wait to hear Heather Cox Richardson’s take on it all. In her Tuesday 2 June Politics and History talk (the link is to her You Tube site where she’s putting her talks now) she discusses whether Trump can call the army in. She talks a lot about the Posse Comitatus Act which I had never heard of. You neither? It’s a federal statute enacted in 1878, which forbade the use of the US Army, and through it, its offspring, the US Air Force, as a posse comitatus or for law enforcement purposes without the approval of Congress. She talks about the Insurrection Act which I had heard of, which was created in 1807 in response to the Haitian Revolution where slaves rose up against the planters. Then of course, there and Emergency Acts post 9/11 which give the President wide latitude and which, she argues, should have been revisited before now. She then goes on to a history of fascism, she looks at the question of why oligarchies want to get rid of the middle class, and finished up talking about Antifa. Great stuff.
Then I backtracked to her History video of 21 May, (also on YouTube) which was the final one related to her book where she took up from Reagan onwards through to Trump. Because it was more current, there was more crossover here with her Politics/History one. She ended on a cautiously optimistic note: that whenever the oligarchs had tried to take over, the American people always took back their democracy; and the widening gender gap in voting patterns suggests that women might sway the next election. Excellent stuff. Now I just have to read her book.
Reply-All (Gimlet)I’ve had The Crime Machine on the phone for ages (since October 2018) and given the Black Lives Matter protests this weekend, it seemed a particularly fitting time to listen to it. The Crime Machine is about the computerized system that the New York Police Department used which saw them targetting young, black kids for misdemeanours as a way of keeping their crime statistics up. As often happens, in the end police behaviour was changed to keep the machine happy, with the warped consequences that we have seen over the last week.
The Documentary (BBC) Again, given the recent demonstrations all across the world about policing and crime, it seemed appropriate to listen to this podcast from 17 May 2020 called Seven dead, 46 injured: One Chicago weekend. It’s not about police violence as such (in fact, it’s rather sympathetic to the police role), but about the ongoing environment of violence and shooting that takes place, weekend after weekend. The weekend of August 2019 was not particularly different to any other weekend, but this program uses newspaper reports, eyewitness and family reports to reconstruct how urban violence plays out in a society flooded with guns.