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Tuesday in Mooseville – Benjamin Tillman (1847-1918) in Pictures and Words 12/18/18


Benjamin Tillman, 1910

Last week, one of the correct answers in the game version of Primary Sources was Benjamin Tillman. His name was familiar to me as “some late 1800s politician dude,” but beyond that, I remembered very little. Working on the assumption that I was not alone in a vague remembrance, I decided to shine the spotlight on him this week. I’m not going to provide his overall biography; Wikipedia has a very detailed rundown for those who are interested (Benjamin Tillman). Instead, I’m going to provide pictures of his legacy, interspersed with his own words and words of academics.

Fighting Back: “Democrats understand that we have an obligation to keep our government funded.”


  The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA40) and emphasized Democrats’ commitment preventing a #TrumpShutdown.

(Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard of California emphasized Democrats’ commitment to work For The People and prevent a Trump Government Shutdown.)

“Appropriators understand we have a critical responsibility that transcends politics: to keep our government funded, so it can serve the needs of the American people.

“Unfortunately, House Republicans and the President have – once again – walked away from that responsibility. Due to their obstruction and failure to govern, Republicans are driving our nation to the brink of another disastrous government shutdown – at a time of great economic uncertainty, and right in the middle of the holiday season.[…]

Democrats have presented the President* with options to keep the government open. It’s President Trump’s choice to keep government open, or to shut the government down – and the American People are waiting for his response.

“And if Republicans do steer our nation into a Trump Shutdown, we will swiftly pass the remaining appropriations bills with a CR for Homeland Security to re-open the government.

“On Election Day, the American people spoke, and demanded a government that would work for them.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

Fighting Back: “Americans expect their elected leaders to set aside partisan division and do what’s right for their country.”


The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon: “Congress must commit to taking up the bipartisan legislation that would defend the Mueller investigation against partisan attacks.”

(Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) Delivers Weekly Democratic Address)

“Americans expect their elected leaders to set aside partisan division and do what’s right for their country. Congress must commit to taking up the bipartisan legislation that would defend the Mueller investigation against partisan attacks.”

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

Fighting Back: “Democrats will deliver on policies that will make life better for all of us”


The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Congresswoman-elect Katie Hill from California.

(In this week’s address, Congresswoman-elect Katie Hill discussed House Democrats’ plans for H.R. 1 of the 116th Congress, a bold reform package to restore the promise of our democracy – a government of, by and for the people.)

“As the majority and as Democrats, we know that before anything else can happen, we have to repair the trust between people and our government.

“With that as the priority, under the Democratic Majority, H.R. 1 of the 116th Congress will be a bill that focuses on giving power back to people, not corporations or special interests.

“For most of the incoming representatives-elect, we ran for office so we could come to Washington to make the communities we represent the priority, and stop playing politics with their lives.

“That means removing voting obstacles, so that every vote and every voice is heard. That means passing true ethics and accountability reform, so that public servants honor the public trust and Washington stops being run by insider influence and starts working for the people again. That also means finally ending the dominance of big money in our politics and limiting the stronghold of corporations and special interests.

“H.R.1 addresses some of our toughest battles. It will establish automatic voter registration, strengthen the Voting Rights Act and put an end to partisan gerrymandering. H.R.1 also works to limit undue influence of big money by mandating more transparency and disclosure of political donations, fighting back against Citizen’s United, and creating a new 21st-century campaign finance system that empowers ordinary Americans.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

Tuesday in Mooseville – Primary Sources: William Howard Russell On the Civil War (Finally, Final!) 11/27/18

Caricature of the war correspondent William Howard Russell (1821-1907), from the magazine Punch, October 8, 1881. Artwork by Edward Linley Sambourne (1844-1910)

Reading the last four letters reprinted by Project Gutenberg (The Civil War in America, by William Howard Russell) was a soul-draining, but necessary, reminder that this is indeed who we are. What these letters show me is that without directly confronting our history, we will repeat our mistakes. Without recognizing the role of myth in the way our history is taught, we will not learn or grow. The good news is that as long as photos of young girls in tears after being tear-gassed shock us; as long as news of the death of yet another African-American man at the hands of police anger us; as long as we are willing to stand up and speak out, we have a chance. Who we are is not who we have to be.

(Today’s quotes provided without commentary; the parallels are so obvious that commentary seems superfluous.)

Fighting Back: “Democrats won’t stand by and let shortsighted Republican policies destroy our planet and our future.”


Yesterday, in the Fridumpiest of Friday news dumps, the government released the FOURTH NATIONAL CLIMATE ASSESSMENT a document required by law to be prepared by agencies of the federal government. For Democrats, it is a call to arms: we must stand up to shortsighted Republican policies that threaten to destroy our planet and our future.

The news for humans was not good. The first four bullet points in the Summary Findings highlight that:

1. Communities

Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.

2. Economy

Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.

3. Interconnected Impacts

Climate change affects the natural, built, and social systems we rely on individually and through their connections to one another. These interconnected systems are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts that are often difficult to predict, threatening essential services within and beyond the Nation’s borders.

4. Actions to Reduce Risks

Communities, governments, and businesses are working to reduce risks from and costs associated with climate change by taking action to lower greenhouse gas emissions and implement adaptation strategies. While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.

That bears repeating: “The [current mitigation and adaptation efforts] do not approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.”


Report downloads, saved in Moose archives:
– Summary Findings: PDF
– Report in Brief: PDF

Tuesday in Mooseville – Primary Sources: William Howard Russell On the Civil War (2nd of 3) 11/20/18

William Howard Russell, “Bull Run Russell”, London Times between 1860 and 1865. First he was feted; then he was shunned.

I’m continuing with William Howard Russell’s dispatches to the London Times, written as he visited the United States at the beginning of the Civil War. Before I return to his reports, I want to share Russell’s philosophy about how his reports were written:

Russell viewed his job as listening to stories and retelling what he heard and saw, as making “bare statements” of fact. Privately, Russell admitted, “I would rather the North shd. be the victor than the South,” but publicly he tried to report what he observed without taking sides. (The Special Correspondent)

Today, we deride this form of journalism as mere stenography, but during the 1860s, the practice of maintaining “journalistic anonymity” and sharing the stories as they were heard was a relatively new practice. Of course, after his acclaimed reports on the Crimean War, Russell had no anonymity, and both North and South were eager to court his attention. Eventually, however, he angered both sides, who viewed him as a supporter of their opponent. The nickname, “Bull Run Russell” was a sarcastic and angry jibe by northerners at his brutal reporting on the Northern retreat after Bull Run. It would not take long for Southerners to join the North in its dismissive and often abusive attitude towards William Howard Russell.

Fighting Back: “Democrats ran on delivering a Congress that works For The People. And we won.”


The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Congressman Gerry Connolly from Virginia, a member of the House Oversight Committee. Rep. Connolly: “the new House majority was elected to get things done for all of us and provide a constitutional check on the Trump administration.”

(Congressman Connolly celebrated the diversity of House Democrats who will serve in the 116th Congress and reaffirmed Democrats’ promise to work For The People.)

“I am thrilled by [the diversity of the incoming freshman class]. Women and people of color who make up a majority of new Democratic Members, who include the first Muslim and Native American women ever to serve in Congress.

“I am encouraged by the wealth of experience these new Congressmen and women will bring. They are veterans, teachers, business owners and community activists who represent the fabric of America.

“And I am also humbled by their desire to serve their constituents and their country. […]

“Last week, Americans made clear they want a constitutional check on the rampant abuses of the Trump administration. The scandals, lack of transparency, and self-dealing must stop. Congress is a co-equal branch of government and we have a constitutional duty to provide that oversight.

“The new Democratic majority will carry out judicious, methodical, and fact-based oversight. Our investigations will go wherever the facts lead us, and we will act decisively when we find violations of public trust.

“It’s time for a Congress that works for all of the people, instead of a rubber stamp for special interests and President Trump.

“These are the promises we Democrats made to the American people, and these are the promises we will redeem.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

Tuesday in Mooseville – Primary Sources: William Howard Russell On the Civil War 11/13/18

William Howard Russell during the Crimean War, 1855

I had never heard of William Howard Russell before reading Our Man in Charleston: Britain’s Secret Agent in the Civil War South by Christopher Dickey (h/t basket and janesaunt for the book recommendation). Russell is NOT the secret agent of the book title; he was a foreign correspondent for The Times of London, who first gained fame as a Crimean War correspondent. His blunt and realistic portrayals of the cost of war were shocking and mobilizing for the British public, and Florence Nightingale is alleged to have been motivated to get involved with and change battlefield treatment practices in part because of Russell’s dispatches. In 1861, he travelled to the United States and the Confederate States, and his observations were published in the Confederacy-supporting Times. What follows are excerpts from his dispatches; the collection from which I am drawing is available here: The Civil War in America.

Fighting Back: “Tuesday was a great day for the American people.”


The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat from Connecticut. He spoke of the victories that will allow Democrats to be in a better position to stand up for all Americans.

(Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT))

“Thanks to victories across the country, Democrats in Congress will be in a better position to stand up for your kids, your parents, your neighbors, your friends. Congressional Republicans have a choice to make: continue down their path of sabotage or work with us to lower health care costs and expand access to quality care.”

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)