Since 1977, George Howland Jr. has lived in Seattle and written reportage, opinion pieces, memoirs, fiction and book and music reviews. He has worked at Real Change, Seattle Weekly and The Stranger. Email: georgehowlandjr(at)gmail(dot)com
U.S. House Democrats must be strategic about impeachment. Currently they have launched an impeachment investigation. If they impeach—similar to an indictment—President Donald J. Trump and then the U.S. Senate, controlled by Republicans, holds a trial and acquits him, the president wins. Trump will declare himself, once again, “completely exonerated.” This time, it will be true.
It is vital that those of us who are opposed to Trump do not fall into the same trap as the Gingrich Republicans did with former President Bill Clinton in 1998. The Rs allowed their visceral hatred of Clinton to overwhelm their tactical understanding of politics. Clinton was acquitted in the Senate and the Ds won seats at the ballot box. Trump is too dangerous for the Democrats to repeat that mistake.
In theory, the impeachment and conviction of a president should be about the rule of law. Given the threat that Trump poses to democracy, the Ds must choose their course based on politics. Democrats must be guided by which course of action will strengthen Trump’s re-election.
Currently, the evidence about Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is enough to launch the impeachment investigation. It’s clear from the quasi-transcript released by the White House that the U.S. president leaned on Zelensky to investigate Trump’s most feared opponent in the U.S. 2020 election—former Vice President Joe Biden—and his son Hunter. (It’s also clear that Hunter acted unethically by taking a board slot at Burisma Holdings, for which he had no qualifications and was paid up to $50,000 a month.)
The evidence against Trump is not strong enough to move one Republican senator to the convict column. The Senate needs two-thirds of its members to agree to remove a sitting president. Currently, there are 53 Republican Senators, 45 Democratic and 2 Independent (Vermont’s Bernie Sanders and Maine’s Angus King, both of whom caucus with the Ds). The math is daunting.
City council candidate (District 6) and former city councilmember takes responsibility for her past mistakes
By George Howland Jr.
Heidi Wills rang my doorbell.
Earlier this summer, I put up a Facebook post about Wills and Strippergate–a City Hall scandal involving illegal lobbying and political money laundering by Frank Colacurcio, a vicious gangster. Wills, who served one four-year term, 2000-03, as an at-large city councilmember, is currently running for city council in District 6 (Ballard, Fremont, Greenwood). On Nov. 5, in the general election, she will face off against Dan Strauss, a former aide to City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. Strauss won the primary election 34 percent to Wills’ 21 percent.
In 2003, Strippergate was partially responsible for Wills losing her city council seat to David Della. In this summer’s Facebook post, I wrote, “I have never heard Wills adequately explain her behavior and demonstrate that her judgment has improved. To me, this is a necessary step before serving on the council for a second time. “
That same night, Wills was in my Phinney Ridge neighborhood ringing doorbells (at publication time, she says she had personally contacted 6,500 households). Wills’ social media person telephoned her to raise the alarm about my post. Wills decided to come over to my house–she had the address as part of publicly available voter lists–and answer my questions. Over a cup of tea, in my fortunately clean kitchen, we talked about her political past and how it relates to the present campaign.
Since life is, by and large, tragic, it helps to have happy novels stacked by your bedside. When tired of being consumed by the grim realities of existence–global warming, poverty, war–and the great sorrows of literature–Anna Karenina, Middlemarch or Invisible Man, read something buoyant. There’s nothing wrong with works of art that don’t engender a major depressive episode. Novels with blithe romances are not necessarily Harlequins; funny books can rise above the sophomoric without becoming dark comedies; and a bildungsroman need not leave everyone’s entrails on the kitchen floor. We all need a restorative now and then, and uplifting novels are less expensive than cocaine, less anxiety producing than espresso and less fattening than tiramisu.
Lodge’s greatest works are novels of ideas, flesh and bone. In this book, former Roman Catholic priest Bernard Walsh travels from the dreary English industrial heartland to Hawaii and comes to terms with family love, romantic love and the love of God. During his journey, Walsh provides a fascinating education about the revolution that occurred in 20th Century Christian theology. He explains how the simple homilies of sin, salvation, heaven and hell were replaced by Dietrich “Bonhoeffer’s ‘religionless Christianity,’ [Paul] Tillich’s Christian existentialism, or various types of Liberation Theology.” While this spiritual and intellectual transformation has caused Walsh to lose his vocation, it allows him to find his new life.
A friend called with the sad news: Writer and activist Deran Ludd had committed suicide on September 9, 2018.
I only saw Deran dance once. It was 1977. Deran was frugging and laughing with Leslie Batchelder to the sounds of the B-52s “Rock Lobster.” The two of them were impossibly beautiful.
Deran had the delicate patrician features of the WASP elite. His hair was a little shaggy and he had on earrings that matched his blue eyes. His slim body didn’t hold my attention, it was his gorgeous face that I couldn’t stop looking at. My gaydar went off—but quietly. He seemed like a sweet, hippie boy.
Consider: rock concert fans dancing in ecstasy, a church congregation clapping along to a gospel beat, an audience’s spirits soaring to the rafters during a symphony. Such mood enhancers needn’t be occasional or come only with the price of a ticket. You don’t have to be in a concert hall to consciously use music to lift you out of despair or connect to your highest self. Instead, keep a playlist of Happy Tunes on your phone or your favorite streaming service.
When you’re feeling down, discouraged, degraded or detested, don’t let your mood keep you low. Instead, listen up!
Rock “Hold On,” by Alabama Shakes
Singer Brittany Howard’s infectious gospel shouts combine with the complex, interlocking, rocking rhythms of guitar, bass, and drums to preach an irresistible message of determination.
An activist historian writes a terrific survey of 70 years of American anti-authoritarianism
Unruly Equality: U.S. Anarchism in the 20th Century
Andrew Cornell (University of California Press, 2016, 416 pages, $24.95)
by George Howland Jr.
By writing an insightful, accessible and thorough history of 20th century anarchism, Andrew Cornell has made an important contribution to understanding the great social movements of that era. “Unruly Equality” can help inform current activists, historians and the general public about the contribution of anti-authoritarians to such movements as the mass labor struggles of the 1910s, the Black Freedom Movement of the 1950s and the New Left of the 1960s.
Anarchism is a political philosophy that emerged out of the great workers’ movement of the 19th century. Early anarchists broke with Karl Marx and his socialist adherents over the issues of hierarchy, power and the state. Anarchists believe that a truly egalitarian society can only be created by equals who eliminate all forms of domination including government.
In his history, Cornell makes important distinctions between the different kinds of anarchist philosophy and tactics that were present in the U.S. from 1900 to 1970. (There is an epilogue that briefly surveys contemporary anarchists including the Occupy movement, but a real history of 1970-2000 is still needed.)