Herb Strentz

Donald Trump, GOP officials mock the martyrs

Herb Strentz: White residents of Tulsa 100 years ago could not bear the success of Black citizens any more than Republican legislators today can bear the notion of communities of color helping to vote them out of office.

With all the dreams about achieving “herd immunity” to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s worrying to consider how our nation may have already achieved a kind of “immunity” from the promise of our constitution.

Columnist Paul Krugman suggested as much in a recent column called “The banality of democratic collapse.” He was referring to democracy, not the Democratic Party.

He warned, “America’s democratic experiment may well be nearing its end. That’s not hyperbole; it’s obvious to anyone following the political scene.”

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On Grassley: What's the sideshow? What's the center ring?

Herb Strentz: The real story is not whether Chuck Grassley will seek re-election, but his refusal to denounce Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 election. -promoted by Laura Belin

A chronic condition of the press is a tendency to focus on the sideshow instead of the main attraction—to report “what’s going on” without acknowledging “what is really going on.”

That critique comes to mind in reflecting on recent media coverage and commentary regarding U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley.

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The Fourth of July: Then and now

Herb Strentz: While our founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor in the interests of a new nation, many current political leaders would gag on the notion of pledging anything without considering its effects on their re-election or campaign contributions.

It can be unpleasant to compare centuries-old inspiring words with today’s Independence Day celebrations. But here we go anyway, because the photos show some people can make a mess out of July 4 fireworks the way our nation can make a mess out of democracy.

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Five quick takes on news of the day

Herb Strentz reflects on stories that have been in the news lately. -promoted by Laura Belin

Readers of Bleeding Heartland have much to be grateful for in the state government reporting of editor Laura Belin and in her conscientious editing of what others post here. But sometimes our thoughts don’t merit or need the 700 or more words that occupy Bleeding Heartland space and readers’ time. 

Here are five quick takes on recent events, each of whose urgency, impact, or nature can be handled in fewer than 170 words.

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Grassley's credentials suggest he'll be GOP choice for Senate

Herb Strentz: Chuck Grassley could have sought to quell Republicans’ anger and the turn to violence on January 6 by speaking out early and honestly rather than “winking” at the Big Lie. -promoted by Laura Belin

If Senator Chuck Grassley opts to run for re-election in 2022, it will be because he does not have the courage or the conscience to not run.

That turns the tables on what we expect from our elected public servants. But nowadays, lacking courage and conscience seems the key to appeasing Donald Trump and satisfying the Republican base. Today’s GOP demands its acolytes swallow the “Big Lie” that Trump won the 2020 election and ignore “The Big Truth” that Trump lost the popular vote by more than 7 million ballots.

Sadly, it is no longer necessary to distinguish between the Republican Party and Trump followers — they have become one and the same.

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"Indeed, I tremble for my country"

Herb Strentz reviews current political divisions over examinations of systemic racism. -promoted by Laura Belin

Our nation’s long, tortured, and systemic racism was marked in late May by several commentaries and observances, which help explain why the adjectives “long,” “tortured,” and “systemic” are appropriate and, unfortunately, will likely remain so.

The June issue of National Geographic offered a centennial retrospective of June 1, 1921, when “a white mob massacred as many as 300 people in the prosperous Black district of Tulsa, Oklahoma.” The New York Times offered an interactive account of the massacre.

May 25 also marked the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Economist, a British weekly, offered a cover story, commentary, and Special Report on Race in America. A provocative point made by The Economist’s statistics and analysis is “America is becoming less racist but more divided by racism.”

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