Book: An Uncivil War by Greg Sargent


In An Uncivil War, the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent sounds an urgent alarm about the deeper roots of our democratic backsliding—and how we can begin to turn things around between now and 2020.

American democracy is facing a crisis as fraught as we’ve seen in decades. Donald Trump’s presidency has raised the specter of authoritarian rule. Extreme polarization and the scorched-earth war between the parties drags on with no end in sight. The recent Kavanaugh confirmation hearings are only the latest example of this, and of the GOP’s continued ability to steamroll the Democrats and their supporters.

At the heart of this dangerous moment is a paradox: It took a figure as uniquely menacing as Trump to rivet the nation’s attention on the fragility of our democracy. Yet the causes of our dysfunction are long-running—they predate Trump, helped facilitate his rise, and, distressingly, will outlast his presidency.

In An Uncivil War, Sargent reveals why we’ve fallen into the ditch—and how to get out of it. Drawing upon years of research and reporting, he exposes the unparalleled sophistication and ambition of GOP tactics, including computer-generated gerrymandering, underhanded voter suppression, and ever-escalating legislative hardball. We are also plagued by other brutal, seemingly intractable problems such as dismal turnout and powerful, built-in temptations to tilt the political playing field with unscrupulous partisan trickery. All of this has been accompanied by foreign-government intervention and an unprecedented level of political disinformation that threatens to undermine the very possibility of shared agreement on facts and poses profound new challenges to the media’s ability to inform the citizenry. Yet the Republican Party is only part of the problem. As Sargent provocatively reveals, Democrats share culpability for helping to accelerate this slide.

But our plight is far from hopeless, and Sargent offers a series of doable prescriptions for saving our democracy, including a shift of focus toward state legislatures, creative voter registration policies, innovative approaches to fairer districting, and a new sense of purpose. The result is a book that could not be more essential as we head toward the elections that most matter.

Harper Collins

Best Reads of the Day: Saudi Arabia, Voting Rights

Mohammed bin Salman

Messengers from Saudi Arabia contact a Saudi living in Canada

Voting Rights

Brennan Center article about the Voting Rights Act

Another blow to the voting Rights Act



  • Republicans are trying to depress the Democratic vote all over the country. They are trying to make it as hard as possible to vote by closing polling stations, long lines, long waits, a difficult process, a vaguely threatening atmosphere – all designed to keep people from voting, especially minorities and the poor.
  • In North Dakota, Republicans are targeting Native Americans. The State Legislature passed a law saying that voter IDs had to have a street address.  Native Americans who live on reservations don’t have street addresses.  When Republicans passed this law clearly targeting Native Americans, they knew that a small number of Native Americans helped elect Democrat Heidi Heidkamp to the Senate in 2013.
  • There are various lawsuits in Georgia about voter suppression.
  • In Texas, a conservative organization is trying to raise money by sending out direct mail flyers saying that Democrats are trying to unfairly influence the voting system by registering far too many people and swamping the system. (Rachael Maddow)
  • In Cobb County, Georgia there was a three hour wait to vote on the first day of early voting (Rachael Maddow). In Jefferson County, Georgia, when elderly African Americans left a Senior Center in a bus to vote, County authorities were notified.  County officials called the senior center to stop the senior citizens from voting.  I don’t even understand how that was possible, but it happened.  The group was told to get off the bus that was transporting them to the polls.  The Senior Center is run by the county.
  • Brian Kemp, the Secretary of State in Georgia has been asked to investigate the Jefferson County incident.  That’s a joke.
  • Brian Kemp is running for office as a Republican in the same election he’s supervising as Secretary of State.
  • If you phone his campaign office to complain about Kemp’s public lies about his opponent, you are likely to get an abusive argument, as I did yesterday.  When you phone Kemp’s state office, you are told (rudely) that the State of Georgia has no control over Kemp’s behavior or that of his campaign.  He’s not employed by the Secretary of State’s Office, I was told.  HE IS THE SECRETARY OF STATE I responded.
  • Oh, and please don’t forget, the Supreme Court (before Kavanaugh) gutted the Voting Rights Act which freed states to engage in this kind of voter suppression.
  • People died for your right to vote.  Please, please use it.  Use your vote, your body to protest, your voice to agitate and phone and ask questions.  What I fear most is that by the time people in this country are walking around saying: “They can’t do this can they” it will be too late.

House of Trump, House of Putin

house of trump


Quotes from a Salon interview with Craig Unger, author of “House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia.”

“…Donald Trump has for decades laundered billions of dollars for Russian organized crime figures and other oligarchs.  This fits a larger pattern in which Trump and his inner circle have shown a great comfort with financial crimes and other forms of unethical or illegal behavior to personally enrich themselves at the expense of the American people.”


“Donald Trump has had contacts with the Russian mafia for 35 years.  His properties have laundered money for them.  The Russian mafia are connected to Russian intelligence.  They’re living and have been working in Trump’s building.  Trump has even partnered with them.  There are so many ways in which he’s compromised…The Republicans are also implicated….the Russians didn’t just go after Donald Trump: They went after the entire Republican Party.  There is Russian money going into the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the N.R.A., and then to Republicans officials and candidates directly.”


Essential Reading

Unger, Craig (2018) House of Trump.  House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia.

Filkins, Dexter (2018) “Was there a connection between a Russian Bank and the Trump Campaign?” October 15, 2018 Issue of the New Yorker.

Jamieson, Kathleen Hall  (2018)  Cyberwar: How Russian hackers and trolls helped elect a president – What we don’t, can’t and do know.”

Mayer, Jane (2018) “How Russia helped swing the election for Trump.”  October 1, 2018 Issue of the New Yorker.  Review of the Jamieson book by the wonderful Jane Mayer.

Sanger, David (2018) The perfect weapon.  Book on cyber sabotage.


book shelves book stack bookcase books
Photo by Pixabay on


Jennifer Rubin and Nikki Haley

jennifer rubin

Jennifer Rubin is one of the former Republicans who are now all over Cable TV, criticizing Trump.  They come in various colors.  There’s Elise Jordan, who is a critic of everything Trump, but  who supported Bret (Frat Boy) Kavanaugh and who retweeted a tweet lending credence to the idea that the Dr. Ford attempted rape was a case of mistaken identity.  There’s Charlie Sykes, Steve Schmidt (who helped confirm Alito), and others.  I find Jennifer Rubin, along with Steve Schmidt, the most likable of the crew.  But evidently, they have learned nothing from the Trump presidency.  Rubin drives me crazy by repeatedly suggesting that Nikki Haley would be a good alternative to Trump in 2020.  I think this partly is due to the fact that Haley is at least on the surface sane and a woman.  But…

  • Nikki Haley is a frequent critic of the UN’s stance on Israel which has the most right wing government in its history. She called Jared Kushner a “hidden genius,” and questions have been raised by her use of a private jet paid for by taxpayers (The Independent). In addition,
  • CREW requested that Haley be investigated for accepting “seven free flights for herself and her husband on luxury private aircraft from three South Carolina businessmen.” “By accepting gifts of luxury private flights, Ambassador Haley seems to be falling in line with other Trump administration officials who are reaping personal benefits from their public positions,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “Our ethics laws are clearly written to prevent even the appearance of corruption and improper influence. We’re calling on the State Department’s inspector general to further investigate the nature of these gifts, determine whether they are in line with ethics rules, and ensure that employees like Ambassador Haley are fully trained on the application and importance of ethical standards.” (CREW)





kavanaughI had to stop watching the news when, after Bret Kavanaugh pitched a white privileged male temper tantrum on national television, MSNBC switched back to Nicolle Wallace and she started talking about how sorry she felt for him.

I don’t feel sorry for him.  I feel sorry for those of us living with a population that cares so little about the rule of law, or even understands what it means, that a dishonest, lawless, frat boy can be put on the Supreme Court.  It makes me sick, just sick.