Quote of the Day: Beast Inside, The Daily Beast Friday Digest

Hello,

At some point in the next few days, the U.S. will pass that horrific milestone: 200,000 dead from COVID-19. Michael Tomasky has a terrific column on this terrible moment in which he recalls how he gasped last weekend when he saw that Taiwan had just reported its seventh death—that’s seven total since the start of the pandemic. He got out his calculator and figured out how many Americans would have died if the U.S. death rate was as low as Taiwan’s, or as low as a bunch of other countries that President Trump would probably describe as shitholes. The numbers, Tomasky notes, give lie to what may be Trump’s biggest whopper: “Nothing more could have been done.” He writes: “In a democracy worthy of the name, Trump would be impeached simply for speaking those words.”

— Tracy Connor, Executive Editor, The Daily Beast

The Politics of Accusation

“I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.” It wasn’t the first occasion where this senator had whipped up the specter of an enemy within, nor was he the first to try. But this time he grasped something earlier treason-shouters hadn’t: that counting and naming the actual traitors had a frontier justice allure. No matter that the paper he was clutching didn’t justify his numbers or fill in his list . . . When fellow lawmakers denounced his anti-Communist crusade as a hoax, and him as a charlatan, he brazenly doubled down in the broadsides. Abe Lincoln was surely turning somersaults in his tomb . . .

(btw, Abe Lincoln is surely turning somersaults AGAIN, poor man)

” . . . but Joe McCarthy had the issue he needed to snatch the limelight he craved.”

Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Sen. Joe McCarthy, p. 115

Regarding Juan Sebastian Elcano, Basque

Rick Barot’s collection The Galleons is on the National Book Award’s longlist for poetry! Kudos, sir!

Self finds it interesting: she is writing about the galleons, too! Her book invents a character and puts him in the Philippines at the close of the 16th century.

Today, in her leisurely read of The Economist of 12 September 2020 (She’s fairly sure they skipped an issue; the 19 September issue should have arrived last week. What gives, USPS?), there is a letter about Magellan. Truly, self has entered a zone! A zone where everyone else is also thinking about Magellan! Galleons! The 16th century!

Letter to The Economist from Marques de Tamaron, Madrid:

Ferdinand Magellan was not “the first known circumnavigator (Obituary for Marvin Creamer, August 29th). He commanded the flotilla of five ships and 239 sailors that sailed in 1519 from Spain but he died in combat in the Philippines in 1521 before completing the round-the-world voyage. Juan Sebastian Elcano was then elected leader for the rest of it, reaching Spain in the only remaining ship, Victoria, in 1522. He and the emaciated survivors who dragged themselves ashore were indeed the first true circumnavigators.

Prompted by curiosity (mebbe she should have written about Elcano instead of making up a fictional character for her novel! Oh well, too late now!), self does some google research. Elcano died only four years after his return from that epic voyage. And there is a Spanish thinktank named after him that addresses such topics as climate change, cybersecurity, and international migration. Here is a link to their very interesting blog.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Iain Kelly

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