We remember the award-winning writer Barry Lopez, who wrote evocatively about nature, and in turn shed light on truths about the human experience. He died Christmas day at the age of 75. Lopez lived among the Arctic’s Inuit people for five years, and raised a wolf pup for his book about the relationship between wolves and men.
When President Trump faced (and overcame) the gravest crisis of his first campaign, he defended his boasts of sexual assault on the “Access Hollywood” tape as ultimately harmless gabbing. “Locker room talk,” he said, nothing to dwell on.
When the president faced (and overcame) impeachment in 2019 after pressing the Ukrainian president to investigate Joseph R. Biden Jr., he insisted it was merely an innocuous case of two guys talking. “A perfect call,” he said, not a high crime.
And when Mr. Trump leaves the White House no later than Wednesday — amid the impeachment sequel and uncommon comeuppance he has encountered since inciting a riotous mob in Washington on Jan. 6 — he will surrender a valued perk: an executive phone system, he once enthused, that made it feel as though his words would self-destruct before they became self-destructive.
“The world’s most secure system,” Mr. Trump marveled in a 2017 interview during his first week in office, observing that no one was listening in and recording. “The words just explode in the air.”
Poof. Gone. Just as he likes it.
For most of Mr. Trump’s 74 years, the relationship between his words and their consequences has been fairly straightforward: He says what he wants, and nothing particularly durable tends to happen to him.
But in the final frames of his presidency, Mr. Trump is confronting an unfamiliar fate. He is being held to account as never before for things he has said, finding his typical defenses — denial, obfuscation, powerful friends, claiming it was all a big joke — insufficient in explaining away a violent mob acting in his name.
Aides could not do it for him, anonymously offering more palatable accounts.
Allies could not argue that he had been misunderstood.
His own words were all anyone needed to hear on this one.
In almost certainly the most expansive series of penalties he has incurred in his life, Mr. Trump’s Twitter account has been banned, his business brand badly dented, his presidency doomed to the historical infamy of a second impeachment. His largest lender, Deutsche Bank, is moving to create distance from him. His New Jersey golf club was stripped of a major tournament. Some once-reliable Republican congressional loyalists are revisiting their commitment, threatening his grip on the party, even as the president’s popularity with much of his support base remains undimmed.
The high school dropout with a history of minor run-ins with the law used her first tumultuous week in office to cement her far-right and extremist credentials while also setting off a widespread roar of criticism
As she barnstormed across the 3rd Congressional District last year with a pistol on her hip and a steady stream of Democrat-aimed insults rolling off her tongue, Lauren Boebert promised to make a big, loud splash in the nation’s capital if voters sent her to Congress.
Colorado’s newest U.S. representative has delivered on that – in spades – and in just one week.
Since she was sworn in on Jan. 2, Boebert has been the focus of more ink and air time than she ever racked up at Shooters Grill, her Rifle restaurant where she first took her star turn in the media for serving burgers and fries with a holstered gun and having all her waitresses do the same.
The high school dropout with a history of minor run-ins with the law has used her first tumultuous week in office to cement her far-right and extremist credentials while also setting off a widespread roar of criticism that includes calls and petitions for her resignation, her expulsion from Congress and her prosecution for alleged “sedition” connected to the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Critics now include fellow congressional representatives — including Republicans — and Democratic elected officials throughout the 3rd District.
Anti-Boebert letters-to-the-editor have been piling up in newspapers across the district. Letter writers have called her “a nut job,” “a national security risk,” “a disgrace,” “a domestic terrorist” and “the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to Colorado.”
Protests have occurred at all of her Colorado offices. On Twitter, #ResignBoebert has gone viral as opponents call for her immediate resignation, along with that of her fellow Colorado Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, for “helping to incite last week’s deadly violence.”
Across the district she represents, where her constituents are struggling with the burdens of the pandemic and with perennial issues related to the land and water, residents either want to give a brand new congresswoman a break and time to get her feet on the ground in D.C. or they want her expelled now because they view her as dangerous and worthless when it comes to representing their interests.
Controversy started on Day One
The controversy began on Boebert’s first day in office, when she released a slick, campaign-fundraising video that starts with her holstering her Glock and then shows her striding down streets and alleys in Washington D.C. – a city that bans the open carrying of guns and requires concealed-carry permits. The video came after she had vowed to carry her weapon in the halls of Congress and convinced a cadre of Republicans to push for a change allowing for that.
Two days later, as the Electoral College votes were set to be tallied and a marauding mob, whipped up by President Trump’s speech at a “Stop the Steal” rally, broke into the Capitol, defaced and damaged the building, defecated in the corridors and searched menacingly for Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Boebert was criticized for her controversial behavior.
The morning before the mob attack, Boebert tweeted “Today is 1776,” referring to the American revolution. Then, she made her debut on the House floor with a shouted, hand-waving tirade about why she was voting to overturn the results of the presidential election and try to keep President Trump in office. She referred to her need to support her constituents who were in the crowd outside.
“I have constituents outside this building right now! I promised my voters to be their voice! ”
During the siege on the Capitol, Boebert live-tweeted that Pelosi had been removed from the chamber, which some critics took to be a message to the mobs.
In the wake of the riot, Boebert issued a lengthy news release this week in which she defiantly asserted that Democrats and “Hollywood elites,” including Robert Deniro [sic], Madonna and Johnny Depp had called for mob violence on other occasions, including during the BLM demonstrations this summer.
Boebert wrote that Democrats act as if “the bravery or upholding the Constitutional oath is criminal, which says a whole lot more about them than it does about me or any other Republican.”
“Their hypocrisy is on full display with talks of impeachment, censure, and other ways to punish Republicans for false accusations of inciting the types of violence they have so frequently and transparently supported in the past,” her statement read.
On Tuesday, Twitter labeled as misleading a tweet by Boebert that falsely accused the Democratic National Committee of rigging elections — but not before she railed about the crackdowns on misinformation on Twitter, Facebook and Parler. Her complaints came two days after she blocked a number of her critics on her own Twitter account.
Her latest controversial action in a week of snowballing controversy came when she refused to open her bag for Capitol police after it set off a metal detector Tuesday evening as she was attempting to enter the House chambers.
Criticism is coming fast and furious
Across the 28 Western Slope and southern Colorado counties that she represents, opinions about Boebert’s incendiary beginnings in Congress are flying as fast and furious as Boebert’s storm of anti-Democrat, pro-fundamentalist-religion and pro-Second Amendment tweets.
“She is a loose cannon,” said Democrat Bruce Bartleson, a retired Western State University geology professor who lives in Gunnison. “She ran as a law-and-order candidate, but she has no respect for the law.”
“I think she is doing pretty good at standing her ground. She is a strong little fighter,” said Vicki Cook, a Republican retiree from Hotchkiss who added that those criticizing Boebert are “full of baloney.”
Sam Rushing, a veteran and retired Ouray businessman who is a 30-year fixture on the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team, called Boebert “just a dangerous person.”
“I have been in the service. I know what sedition is,” the longtime Democrat said. “This has gotten a lot more serious than her parading around the capitol with her sidearm.”
In Durango, where Boebert opponents took to a park with signs last weekend, Benjamin Waddell, a 38-year-old criminology professor at Fort Lewis College, was among them. He grew up in the conservative western Colorado ranching town of Norwood but said he felt compelled to grab a portable microphone and speak up about Boebert.
“What draws me into the streets is a genuine fear that Representative Boebert pulls us away from the American ideal,” Waddell, a Democrat, said.
He cited her “unwillingness to support stimulus support” for her constituents who are reeling from the effects of the pandemic as being the opposite of what the area she represents needs.
He said he believes she was put in office by voters who feel like mainstream politicians had left them behind, but that Boebert will prove to be ineffective in representing them because “she is not capable of reaching across the aisle.”
He doesn’t support expulsion for Boebert. He thinks it is too much of a long shot.
Instead, he said Colorado’s 3rd District needs to take a page from the playbook in Georgia, where far-right candidates were recently bested by Democrats who reached out to disenfranchised voters. He said the district needs to come up with good candidates to run against Boebert in 2022.
Claudette Konola was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for a Colorado Senate seat in 2014 and has continued as a civil rights and environmental activist as a registered Independent in Mesa County. She has been a strong critic of Boebert since she first announced her candidacy.
“She announced from the very beginning what kind of representative she was going to be.”
“She is immature. She is irresponsible. She is uneducated. She is in over her head. She is poorly informed, and she does not qualify to represent us,” Konola said. “I wish she would resign or be found guilty of sedition.”
Boebert supporters were not as forthcoming with their opinions, either not returning phone calls, emails and Facebook messages, or declining to comment.
Edward Wilks, a friend and adviser of Boebert’s who owns a gun shop near Boebert’s Shooters Grill, said he would not comment because he didn’t like how The Sun had characterized a group he belongs to in a past article. Wilks is a member of the Oath Keepers, a paramilitary organization made up of current and former law enforcement officials and military veterans. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists it as one of the largest radical anti-government groups in the country.
Boebert’s mother, Shawn Bentz, did not respond to a Facebook message asking for comment about her daughter’s first week in office. Bentz, who is an open supporter of QAnon on social media, went to Washington with Boebert for her swearing in ceremony. She was pictured with Boebert at that ceremony and mentioned that she had gone on detailed tours of the Capitol buildings with her daughter. She was staying with Boebert in her D.C. apartment that first week, according to her social media posts.
Prior to the Jan. 6 riot, using the Twitter name Shawna Roberts-Bentz, she retweeted White House political advisor Dan Scavino: “See you soon PATRIOTS.”
Days after the Capitol riots she posted — and later deleted — a link to a violent, dystopian YouTube video portraying the country’s military might under Trump, from rifles to nuclear bombs, and asserting that the military would stand with the president to keep him in office.
“Just when y’all thought My President was hiding out…He will not give up on us! In The End We Win!!” Bentz wrote after first commenting about the post: “If That Ain’t America I Will Kiss Your Ass!!!”
Bentz wiped all QAnon-related and extremist-supporting posts from her public Facebook page, leaving only family photos, medical fundraisers and links to her daughter’s official posts.
When Boebert was confronted during her campaign about expressing support for QAnon in a recorded interview, she backed off that statement and said that it was “more my mother’s thing.”
But her links to QAnon and other far-right extremist and racists groups persist on the internet with photos of her surrounded by bikers and armed supporters displaying patches and logos of these groups. In some, the heavily armed men behind her, are flashing a white-supremacist hand signal.
Some of her fellow congressional representatives are now voicing their beliefs that she is a proponent of extremism and asking for an investigation into any part she might have played in the Jan 6 riot. Nearly 70 elected officials in her district, all of them Democrats or unaffiliated with any political party, or serving in a nonpartian position, have sent a letter to congressional leaders asking for an investigation of Boebert’s alleged ties to white supremacist groups.
Mainstream issues in the district are worrisome, too
While Boebert makes waves for that extremism, her more mainstream constituents back home are expressing fears that a district beset by water woes, drought, a scarcity of COVID-19 vaccines, food pantry shortages and other pandemic-related economic problems will not have any representation from a congresswoman who appears to be focused only on gun rights and on vows to protect their “freedom.”
Cindy Cyphers, a Grand Junction retiree and Democratic activist, said she hasn’t seen any movement on Boebert’s part to actually start learning the job of being a U.S. congresswoman. “It’s Second Amendment over and over and over with her,” Cyphers said. “She has shown absolutely no interest in governing. There has not been one word out of her mouth about water or things that are important to our district.”
Cyphers said the Second Amendment and MAGA grandstanding needs to stop. “She needs to get to work.”
In Hotchkiss, Cook said she thinks 3rd District residents need to give Boebert time to grow into her new role.
“I think she will learn and improve with time. We can’t know everything up front,” Cook said. “I think if the issues are put before her, she will learn about them.”
Rushing, who said he moved to Colorado from his Mississippi Delta birthplace because he wanted to raise a family in a progressive state, said he worries because Boebert has never said that she plans to represent all the people in her district. Thus far, he said, she is only representing the extremists, and the extremists are listening to her.
“I have always been an optimist,” he said. “But I have big fears about this.”
House Minority Leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy
FROM: Constituents of the 3rd Congressional District of Colorado
As constituents of Representative Lauren Boebert (CD3), we respectfully urge you to investigate Rep. Boebert with regard to her connections to the white supremacist groups that instigated the insurrection in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021.
We are alarmed by statements made by Rep. Boebert prior to the insurrection which surely served to help pro-Trump extremists feel justified participating in the violent and racist events of that day. Furthermore, we are deeply concerned by the fact that Rep. Boebert has continued to post content which undoubtedly incites the fury of dangerous white nationalist groups.
Below are just some of Rep. Boebert’s public statements on the days surrounding the insurrection:
“The Founding Fathers did not back down when people told them what they could and could not do.” (Jan. 5, Twitter)
“Today is 1776.” (Jan. 6, Twitter)
“I have constituents outside this building right now. I promised my constituents to be their voice.” (Jan. 6, Address to Congress)
“The Speaker has been removed from the chambers.” (Jan. 6, Twitter)
“I want you all to know how proud I am to have taken a stand on the Electoral College certification.” (Jan. 8, Twitter)
“Hillary must be pissed it took the DNC until 2020 to successfully rig an election.” (Jan. 9, Twitter)
During the insurrection, despite the directive from the Sergeant of Arms for legislators to refrain from posting on social media, Rep. Boebert posted information on Twitter regarding the whereabouts of Speaker Pelosi, a known target of the insurrectionists.
Two days later, Rep. Boebert posted a video encouraging people to go back and watch her Jan. 6 address to Congress. It is in this speech that Rep. Boebert refers to those rioting outside the Capitol building as her “constituents” to whom she has promised “to be their voice.”
The fact that Rep. Boebert encouraged people to go back and watch her floor speech–even after she had a full account of the events that occurred on Jan.6–indicates that Rep. Boebert has no regrets about promising to be the voice for the right-wing extremists on the Capitol grounds that day.
As constituents of Rep. Boebert, we appreciate your leadership on this important matter.Start a petition of your ownThis petition starter stood up and took action. Will you do the same? Start a petition
The ground-breaking comic strip Doonesbury has been with us for a half-century. It was the first daily comic strip to win a Pulitzer Prize for tackling social issues, politics and war. It’s also been censored for some of those same reasons.
It all began as an irreverent strip called Bull Tales in the Yale Daily News when Garry Trudeau was a junior. Its main character was B.D., who was based on Yale’s standout quarterback, Brian Dowling. The strip caught the attention of a fledgling newspaper syndicate which told Trudeau the drawing and lettering needed work but also told him it read like dispatches from the front lines of the counter culture.
“You can’t exaggerate the importance of novelty in jumpstarting a career,” Trudeau says. “People were so surprised by this strip that was about sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll and politics and all the things that I was concerned about and was thinking about in college that I got cut a lot of slack.”
The story of how Universal Press Syndicate recruited Trudeau reads like a story from the strip itself. One of the syndicate’s founders stumbled upon Bull Tales and approached Trudeau using a pseudonym, offering him a 20-year contract, which the cartoonist resisted. Then, after a deal was struck, a suitcase containing the first six weeks of the new strip was stolen from Trudeau’s car.
David Stanford, who’s edited the collections of Doonesbury cartoons published as books for some 40 years, compiled an oral history of the syndicate.
In addition to running the strip’s web site, Stanford served as the “duty officer” for The Sandbox, a blog on the Doonesbury website where soldiers, their spouses and caregivers posted about the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Garry Trudeau is shown at his office on Dec. 22, 1972.AP
Although Trudeau has opposed most American military interventions of the last 50 years, he developed great respect for the men and women who have served in the all-volunteer armed services. Col. William Nash, a fan of the comic strip, arranged to have Trudeau snuck into Kuwait in the aftermath of the first Gulf War so the cartoonist could get a sense of military life.
The retired major general recalls a time when he was with his unit in Germany and being stunned one morning to see Zonker Harris in Doonesbury reminiscing about the days he was dodging the draft and reading through some correspondence with a Col. Nash.
“It’s 6:00 o’clock in the morning. I’m reading this and suddenly I’m in a Doonesbury cartoon,” says Nash.
B.D. is his favorite character and he cites the Doonesbury strip in April, 2004, in which B.D. loses a leg during the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq.
“He brought the reality of war to the American people. And that’s a very important thing to do,” Nash says, his voice choked with emotion. “Bringing the reality of the world through a cartoon, is his great contribution to our society.”
By then the Defense Department was well aware of Trudeau’s affinity for American soldiers, which was also expressed in a series of strips about veterans having difficulty adjusting to civilian life. The Pentagon brought the cartoonist into Walter Reed Army Medical Center, as it was then called, so he could get to know veterans who’d lost limbs in war.
Trudeau has riffed on other episodes of social upheaval, including the AIDS epidemic.
Doonesbury is credited with being the first major comic strip to have a gay character. Its stories about the AIDS epidemic were criticized by some gay activists but when the character Andy Lippincott succumbed to AIDS in 1990, the San Francisco Chronicle ran an obituary for Lippincott.
Another Doonesbury character who came out as gay is Mark Slackmeyer, a campus rabble rouser and DJ at the Walden College radio station. In a 1996 strip, Slackmeyer accidentally outed himself and his partner on the radio. They were co-hosting a program called All Things Being Equal. Slackmeyer’s former show was All Things Reconsidered. Shortly after the strips appeared, someone in the NPR New York bureau started paging Slackmeyer on the network’s public address system in Washington, D.C.
Through it all, Trudeau says he’s just written about what interested him.
“I think in the beginning, I naturally asked the question, ‘What might interest an audience?’,” Trudeau says. “But, as that’s always guesswork at best, I began to ask a different question: ‘What interests me?’ Because what you learn over time is that the answer’s the same to both questions. If I’m not engaged, it’s unlikely the audience will be, so I just followed my interests. Sometimes it led me into politics, sometimes to culture, sometimes to social or interpersonal issues.”
Trudeau embraced the feminist cause through the character of Joanie Caucus. The inspiration was the cartoonist’s cousin, who he describes as a suburban mom with three kids, “who had lived The Diary of a Mad Housewife experience.” She left her marriage and Trudeau visited her in Colorado.
“I spent three days in a sleeping bag on the floor of her apartment debriefing her,” Trudeau recalls. “‘What could you have been thinking? What’s driving this? How are you changing? How is your world changing? How are the genders changing in relation to one another?’ And from all those conversations, I went back and came up with the character Joanie Caucus.”
Trudeau said that he chose to give her the last name Caucus because he had been volunteering for the National Women’s Political Caucus.
While Joanie Caucus has aged visually as she went from being a mom to grandmother in the strip, Zonker Harris doesn’t look a day older than he did when he showed up in B.D.’s football huddle in September 1971.
“I would say that Zonker is probably the Snoopy of Doonesbury,” Trudeau says. “I don’t draw him any differently, haven’t given him any gray hair. I allow him to be kind of forever young, although he has become a little bit more responsible now that he’s running a business.”
The business being the cultivation of recreational marijuana. At Wesleyan University in Connecticut, students have for decades celebrated Zonker Harris Day in April to salute “New England’s Greatest Living Slacker.”
At its height, the strip was carried by nearly 2,000 papers, some on their editorial pages. But Trudeau takes issue with the perception that Doonesbury is a political comic.
He stopped drawing the daily strip in 2014 to focus on television writing and on the Sunday comic, which hasprimarily focused on politics over the past four years. “The one thing I miss about not being able to write the [daily] strips is that I can’t tell stories anymore.” But Trudeau says he doubts he will return to writing a daily strip because he has fallen out of the rhythm of it.
He has been enjoying time with his kids and grandchildren. He’s been developing movie and television projects but refuses to talk about them until they’re real. But he will say that on inauguration day, he plans to suspend work on the Twitter feed of his character Roland B. Hedley, Jr., which has been a comedy haiku that gave the cartoonist an opportunity to comment on the Trump administration.
When all the facts come out about the treasonous attack on the U.S. Capitol inspired by President Trump, impeaching him three times won’t feel sufficient. Consider this Washington Post headline from Monday: “Video Shows Capitol Mob Dragging Police Officer Down Stairs. One Rioter Beat the Officer With a Pole Flying the U.S. Flag.”
That said, while I want Trump out — and I don’t mind his being silenced at such a tense time — I’m not sure I want him permanently off Twitter and Facebook. There’s important work that I need Trump to perform in his post-presidency, and I need him to have proper megaphones to do it. It’s to blow apart this Republican Party.
My No. 1 wish for America today is for this Republican Party to fracture, splitting off the principled Republicans from the unprincipled Republicans and Trump cultists. That would be a blessing for America for two reasons.
First, because it could actually end the gridlock in Congress and enable us to do some big things on infrastructure, education and health care that would help ALL Americans — not the least those in Trump’s camp, who are there precisely because they feel ignored, humiliated and left behind.
If just a few principled center-right Republicans, like Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski, abandoned this G.O.P. or were simply willing to work with a center-left Biden team, the Problem Solvers Caucus in the House and like-minded members in the Senate — the people who got the recent stimulus bill passed — would become stronger than ever. That’s how we start to dial down the madness coursing through our nation and get us back to seeing each other as fellow citizens, not enemies.
Second, if the principled Republicans split from the Trump cult, the rump pro-Trump G.O.P. would have a very hard time winning a national election anytime soon. And given what we’ve just seen, these Trumpers absolutely cannot be trusted with power again.
Think about what they’ve done. All these Trump-cult lawmakers willingly promoted Trump’s Big Lie. And think how big it was: Trump took the most heroic election in American history — an election in which more Americans voted than ever before, freely and fairly in the midst of a deadly pandemic — and claimed it was all a fraud, because he didn’t win. And then, on the basis of that Big Lie, eight Republican senators and 139 House members voted to nullify Joe Biden’s electoral victory. That is sick. PAUL KRUGMAN: A deeper look at what’s on the mind of Paul Krugman, a world-class economist and opinion columnist.Sign Up
That is why I hope the party splits. And here is why a still noisy Trump could be so helpful in breaking it.
What is it that Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz were dreaming of when they went full treason and tried to get Congress to reverse Biden’s win on the basis of the Big Lie? They were dreaming of a world of Trumpism without Trump. They thought that if they cravenly did Trump’s bidding now, once he was gone his base would be theirs.
Hawley and Cruz are so power hungry, they would burn America to the ground if they thought they could be president of its ashes.
But they’re fools. As Trump and his kids made clear at the rally that inspired some of his supporters to ransack the Capitol, the Trumps are interested only in Trumpism with Trumps.
Or as Donald Trump Jr. explained to the soon-to-be rioters (whom Ivanka called “patriots”), the G.O.P. needed a wake-up. All those Republicans in Congress, said Don Jr., “did nothing to stop the steal. This gathering should send a message to them: This isn’t their Republican Party anymore. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party.”
You tell ’em, Donny. The more you insist on that, the more principled Republicans will have to leave. And since a recent Quinnipiac survey showed that more than 70 percent of Republicans still support Trump, you can be sure he will keep insisting it is his party and keep saying vile things that will constitute daily loyalty tests for all Republican lawmakers, forcing them to answer if they are with him or not. That stress will be enormous.
Check out the video of what happened when some Trump cultists ran into Senator Lindsey Graham at Reagan National Airport after last week’s riot. They mercilessly cursed him out as a “traitor” because for weeks he was telling them that Biden’s victory was not legitimate and then, after the sacking of the Capitol, he declared it was legitimate. Graham needed police protection from the Trumpers just to get to his plane.
As Don Jr. might have told Graham: “Didn’t you get the memo? The Trump family puts its name on EVERYTHING we own. It’s no longer the G.O.P. — it’s the T.R.P.: The Trump Republican Party. You sold us your soul. You can’t reclaim it now from a pawnbroker. We still own the base, which means we still own YOU.”
Or not. This is a time for choosing for Republicans. The old straddle — “I would never let Trump coach my kid’s Little League team, but I love his tax cuts, Israel policies, judges or abortion position” — won’t work anymore. Trump has gone too far, and the base is still with him. So it really is his party. Every Republican is going to have to ask himself and herself: Is it still mine, too?
If you look closely, there are actually four different Republican factions today: principled conservatives, cynically tactical conservatives, unprincipled conservatives and Trump cultists. In the principled conservatives camp, I’d put Romney and Murkowski. They are the true America firsters. While animated by conservative ideas about small government and free markets, they put country and Constitution before party and ideology. They are rule-abiders.
In the cynically tactical conservative camp, which you could call the Mitch McConnell camp, I’d put all of those who tried to humor Trump for a while — going along with his refusal to acknowledge the election results until “all the legal votes were counted” — but once the Electoral College votes were cast by each state, slid into the reality-based world and confirmed Biden’s victory, some sooner than others.
“I call them the ‘rule-benders,’” explained pollster Craig Charney. “They are ready to bend the rules but not break them.”
The unprincipled Republicans — the “rule-breakers” in Charney’s lingo — are led by Hawley and Cruz, along with the other seditious senators and representatives who tried to get Congress to block its ceremonial confirmation of Biden’s election.
Finally, there are the hard-core Trump cultists and QAnon conspiracy types, true believers in and purveyors of the Big Lie.
I just don’t see how these four camps stay together. And for America’s sake, I hope they don’t.
But Democrats will have a say in this, too. This is their best opportunity in years to get some support from center-right Republicans. Be smart: Ban the phrase “defund the police.” Talk instead about “better policing,” which everyone can get behind. Instead of “democratic socialism,” talk about “more just and inclusive capitalism.” And tone down the politically correct cancel culture on college campuses and in newsrooms. While it’s not remotely in the league of those trying to cancel a whole election, it’s still corrosive.
I know, it looks real dark right now. But if you look at the diverse, high-quality center-left cabinet that Biden has assembled and the principled, center-right Republicans who are looking to be problem solvers, not Trump soldiers, maybe that light in the tunnel isn’t a train coming at us after all.
Officials unanimously voted to protect the $50 million artwork after the San Francisco Art Institute threatened to sell it to cover debts.
By Zachary Small
Jan. 12, 2021
On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 11-0 to start the process to designate a beloved Diego Rivera mural as a landmark after the San Francisco Art Institute, which owns the $50 million painting, said that selling it would help pay off $19.7 million of debt.
Designating the mural as a landmark would severely limit how the 150-year-old institution could leverage it, and public officials behind the measure say that selling it is likely to be off the table for now. Removing the mural with landmark status would require approval from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, which has broad authority.
“There’s a lot of money in this town,” said Aaron Peskin, a board member from the district where the institute resides and a sponsor of the proposal. “There are better ways to get out of their mess than a harebrained scheme of selling the mural.”
During a public hearing on the resolution on Monday, officials of the Art Institute objected to the idea. Pam Rorke Levy, chairwoman of the Art Institute board, said, “Landmarking the mural now, when there is no imminent threat of it being sold, without sufficient consideration of S.F.A.I.’s position would deprive S.F.A.I. of its primary and most valuable asset.”
The 1931 work, titled “The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City,” is a fresco within a fresco. The tableau portrays the creation of both a city and a mural — with architects, engineers, artisans, sculptors and painters hard at work. Rivera himself is seen from the back, holding a palette and brush, with his assistants. It is one of three frescoes in San Francisco by the Mexican muralist, who was an enormous influence on other artists in the city.
Years of costly expansions and declining enrollment have put S.F.A.I. in a difficult financial situation made worse by the pandemic and a default on a loan. Last July, a private bank announced that it would sell the school’s collateral — including its Chestnut Street campus, the Rivera mural and 18 other artworks — before the University of California Board of Regents stepped in to buy the debt in October. Through a new agreement, the institute has six years to repurchase the property; if it doesn’t, the University of California would take possession of the campus.DEALBOOK: An examination of the major business and policy headlines and the power brokers who shape them.Sign Up
Faced with the threat of foreclosure, school administrators have searched for a suitable buyer, although Ms. Levy has said that the school’s “first choice would be to endow the mural in place, attracting patrons or a partner institution that would create a substantial fund that would enable us to preserve, protect and present the mural to the public.”
Last month, Ms. Levy floated two possibilities with board members and staff. One involved the filmmaker George Lucas’s buying the mural for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles. (The museum said it would not comment on speculation about acquisitions.) Another would have seen the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art take ownership of the mural but leave it on campus as an annexed space.
But a museum spokeswoman said that nothing came from early discussions. “We have no plans to acquire or endow the S.F.A.I. mural,” Jill Lynch, a communications officer with SFMOMA, told The New York Times.
The school’s Chestnut Street campus has been a designated landmark since 1977, but it was possible that, as part of the interior, the mural could have been sold or removed.
In recent days, former students and faculty members have organized to oppose any sale of the mural. They included the celebrated artist Catherine Opie, who published an open lettercondemning the school board’s actions and announcing the withdrawal of a photograph she had planned to sell at a fund-raiser for the institute.
“I can no longer be a part of a legacy that will sell off an essential unique piece of history,” she wrote.
After hearing that the mural was likely to receive landmark status, Ms. Opie breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’m thrilled and relieved,” she told The Times. “I’m tired of seeing art leveraged as an asset in the first line of defense for institutions.”