“Above all, autocrats succeed when democrats falter, squabble, and dither.” —Michael Hirsch, Foreign Policy
As I’m writing this, the House Judiciary Committee is preparing to vote on whether to advance two articles of impeachment of President Donald Trump. I feel certain the vote will be cast by the time I hit publish. I haven’t been shy about my opinions and viewpoints on this issue, which can be oversimplified as: Impeach the Motherfucker. So you’d think today would be a happy one for me and my like-minded Americans (which, it should be noted, is over half of us). You’d be wrong.
I have a lot of disagreements with how Democratic House leadership has handled this crisis. We could debate all day about the timing, the narrow scope, how much they’ve appeased bad-faith, tantruming Republican Judiciary members, etc. But I want to focus on one aspect in particular, that I’m not seeing spoken of much. And that’s the issue of overall framing in the media, on social media conversations, and likely dinner table conversations as well.
I’m gravely disturbed by the way this impeachment issue has been framed. The actions Trump took against Ukraine alone are corrupt and horrifying and they should be treated and spoken of as such. The punditry and especially members of Congress should be sounding the alarm of this national security emergency. They should be angry and beyond appalled that Trump is trying to rig an election. Free and fair elections are the bedrock of a functioning democracy and our sitting president just flagrantly tried to rig one to benefit himself. That’s, um, really bad, to put it one way.
But what are we subjected to instead? Strategy talk. Strategy and polling. Mainstream media won’t stop obsessing over “how impeachment is polling” as if that matters even one bit. Media and Democratic leadership treat impeaching a sitting president for trying to rig the next election like it’s a fucking football game.
“Ooohh, tough loss for Belichick and the Patriots!”
“Sure is, Bob. Sure is.”
“And what about that new play call in the third quarter? You know, trying a new play call when you’re only up one touchdown might not have been the best idea. That really cost them.”
“It really did, Bob. It really did.”
I’m so fucking sick of debating what Speaker Pelosi might be thinking. Yes, I’m exhausted of the neverending excuses for her lame fecklessness, but it’s more than that. Discussing her strategy is just not the conversation we’re supposed to be having here! This is not a sideshow or a game. This isn’t about winning or losing some sparring match or partisan feud. We are dealing with encroaching autocracy and the dismantling of our democratic institutions. And when you frame it as a both-sides tiff or a political horserace, what’s really getting lost is the seriousness of it, the fear and anger we should all be experiencing, acting upon, and demanding our elected representatives act upon.
Speaking of elected representatives, it’s so dismaying and terrifying that Americans, particularly liberals, seem to have forgotten that Nancy Pelosi is one. Did you know that you can scroll Twitter and literally see people saying that “it’s her job to protect the House Democratic majority”?
NO. IT’S. FUCKING. NOT.
Look, Democrats are always accusing Republicans of putting party over country, and they’re not wrong, but… look in the mirror some time! When you prioritize Pelosi hanging on to a Dem majority at the expense of protecting our democracy, something has gone horribly awry. It’s NOT her job to maintain the majority. She is first and foremost a duly elected congressional representative, a public servant who swore an oath to the Constitution. Her JOB is to uphold the Constitution and protect us from an unstable, deceitful, criminal, Russian asset, wannabe dictator. And she is failing. She just hands Trump inch after inch, gift after gift. Neville Chamberlain is blushing from the grave right now.
America’s atmosphere right now should resemble the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The mood should be somber and fearful and ready for action. 9/11 showed us that we thought we were safe but we actually weren’t. There was gravity and grief and trauma in the air. We knew what had just happened and we acted like we knew it. Right after 9/11 no one talked about polling, or focus groups, or strategy, or how to word certain concepts for fundraising letters. Every speech by every member of Congress communicated that we were right to be afraid, we were right to feel unsettled and hurt. Why isn’t that happening now? Why are Democratic members of Congress, for the most part, treating Trump like a bothersome coworker and impeachment as just navigating tricky office politics? And why are we the people going along with it, and even worse, defending their lack of urgency?
I’ve long since given up on the Republican party, but the supposedly objective fourth estate and especially the Democratic leadership ought to be grasping the crisis we face. The mood ought to be weighty and unsparing, not “concerned”. Yet we just keep arguing over so-called strategies and poll numbers, as if this entire shitshow was a wholly abstract concept. As if our democracy wasn’t crumbling before our very eyes.
Gingerbread Morning Buns
- 4 ⅔ cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 4 ½ tsp, or 14 grams, or 2 standard packets of active dry yeast
- 4 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground mace (or can sub 2 tsp ground nutmeg)
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 6 tbs unsulphured molasses
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 ½ tsp ground ginger
- 2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground mace
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ cup milk
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, lightly combine the flour, yeast, ginger, cinnamon, salt, mace (or nutmeg), and allspice.
- Combine the milk, molasses and melted butter in a small saucepan and heat until a thermometer registers between 120 and 130 F (you can do this in the microwave if you prefer). Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly drizzle the warm milk mixture into the flour mixture. Add the granulated sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, or until the dough comes together. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, and with floured hands, knead for 6 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic.
- Spray a large mixing bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat both sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for at least 1 hour, probably closer to 2 hours, until doubled in size. I set my bowl on a chair right next to but not touching the radiator. Every time I made this I had to proof closer to 2 hours - the molasses really slows the yeast.
- During this first rise, generously butter a 12-inch cast-iron skillet (or you can use a similar-sized baking dish or other oven-proof skillet).
- Gently gather (do not punch) down the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough in half. Using a floured rolling pin, roll one half of the dough into a 12x16-inch rectangle. Spread half of FILLING onto dough (I’ve found a small offset spatula works best). Leave a small - roughly an inch - border around the edges of the dough. Starting with one long side, tightly roll the dough and pinch the seams together. With a serrated knife, cut the dough into six even pieces (do your best, then don’t worry). Place the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared skillet. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
- Cover the skillet and let dough rise again in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 F. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. When they are done, they’ll sound hollow when tapped and the middles will not be smushy when pressed.
- Let cool 5 minutes then drizzle liberally with the glaze. Serve warm. Or room temperature. Or both.
- Stir together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Do not refrigerate.
- Whisk together sugar and milk in a small bowl until very smooth. You can add a little sugar if it’s too loose and a little milk if it’s too tight. This is customizable to your personal preferences. I like mine on the thicker side.