Owner of a Bleeding Heart

Westbrook Pegler, a name you may barely recognize at best, coined the term “bleeding-heart liberal” in 1938. The occasion was a bill before Congress, proposing an action he felt unnecessary.

Curbing lynching.

“I question the humanitarianism of any professional or semi-pro bleeding heart,” he wrote in his syndicated column, “who clamors that not a single person must be allowed to hunger but would stall the entire legislative program in a fight to ham through a law intended, at the most optimistic figure, to save fourteen lives a year.”

It’s not that Pegler was racist — heavens, no! — but that the bill pandered to “crowded northern Negro centers”.

That’s what he said, anyway.

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The Last Norm

One of the popular online parlor games of late has been wondering whether Donald Trump will give up power if he loses.

You know how it works: Someone says he’ll just squat in the White House. Then Defenders of the System rush in to say that can’t possibly happen, the Secret Service will escort him from the grounds, and besides, his term ends January 20 one way or another, and if there’s any question about succession, Nancy Pelosi steps in.

Fear not! It’s in the rules!

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Block the Vote

Here’s how elections work: Votes are cast, ballots counted, winners declared, the Republic endures.

Oops, we’re sorry. That’s the Schoolhouse Rock version.

That elections — our elections — don’t work like a simple cartoon, or a Capra movie, or a high-school civics class, well, that’s a problem, isn’t it?

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The Horror, The Horror

You run out of things to say after awhile. Anything new, anyway. That thing you’re thinking of saying, you already said it, what, two years ago? Three?

“Donald Trump spent the weekend at one of his resorts after Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was devastated.” We said that almost three years ago. Iowa’s been dark all week. Trump went golfing again.

Here’s something new we can say: It’s not just Brown people any more.

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Say Anything

That political candidates may promise things they can’t deliver is not, shall we say, unusual. The Wall has not been built; Mexico has not paid for it. Promises are made, offices are won, and then, the story goes, reality is faced.

The story doesn’t end there. The moon may have been promised and only a butte ascended, but still, y’know, progress, and subsequent campaigns focus on maintaining and improving the status quo. The bacon has been brought home; more is on the way. Stay the course. You know what you’re getting, and god knows what will happen to you, your daughters, and your dog if My Esteemed Opponent takes the wheel.

That’s the story, the story we know, the story we’ve been living for generations.

It’s not the story this time.

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Commander Chaos

He can’t do that, they said.

There are laws against that sort of thing. There are rules. It says so right there. You’re silly for worrying about it.

And yet, we’re worried anyway. Not because a President can, on his own authority, delay an election, but everything he can do short of that.

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Suddenly, This Summer

Covid deaths in the United States will surpass 150,000 today or tomorrow. At the rate they’re going — and increasing — we will be well past 200,000 by election day.

One hundred days from now.

“How did you go bankrupt?” reads the famous Hemingway quote. “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

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