Donald Trump was 23 when the Rolling Stones released a seven-minute song that began with the voices of London’s Bach Choir. “…No, you can’t always get what you want, you can’t always get what you want,” the choristers sang, “…but if you try sometime you find, you get what you need.”
The song must have made an impression since Trump wound up using it regularly at his rallies, from the 2016 campaign on – until, after threats of legal action from the band, he replaced it with the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.”
The theme of wishes denied seems apt for Trump these days. The former President keeps railing against the 2020 election results, falsely claiming Joe Biden’s victory was fraudulent. On Wednesday, he broke new ground by saying Republicans won’t vote in 2022 and 2024 if “we don’t solve the presidential election fraud of 2020…It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.”
But the election is settled – Trump can’t get what he wants. “For someone who had talked an awful lot about being a winner,” Michael D’Antonio wrote, “this latest threat seems strange. But then again, he has done this kind of thing before.” Trump’s insistence on the voter fraud narrative likely discouraged Republicans from turning out in January’s runoff election in Georgia, resulting in the Democrats taking control of the Senate.
Another thing Trump wants is executive privilege – to quash fact-finding by the House select committee on the January 6 insurrection. He can’t have that either, according to Norman Eisen and Dennis Aftergut. “Trump is no longer ‘the President.’ In the United States we still only have one of those at a time – and President Joe Biden has not asserted privilege here. On the contrary, the Biden administration has cooperated with Congress, waiving privilege so far when it comes to witnesses and documents alike.” Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon also wants to be shielded by executive privilege.
“Even if Trump could claim the privilege, it is hard to understand how it could apply to Bannon,” Eisen and Aftergut wrote. “The House Committee is investigating events on and around January 6, 2021, and Trump fired Bannon in 2017.” They backed the House committee’s effort to recommend holding Bannon in criminal contempt for fighting its subpoena.
As Susan Glasser noted in the New Yorker, “Throughout his Presidency, Trump and his aides flouted congressional subpoenas and demands for information; he is once again instructing them to do so with the January 6th investigation, even though he is out of office and it is unclear if any executive privilege would still apply.”
Conservative columnist Henry Olsen wrote in the Washington Post that Trump’s continued election lies create a “huge headache” for top GOP figures such as Mitch McConnell. The Senate minority leader should “start preparing to fight back. He knows that Trump’s allegations are figments of his fevered imagination. It takes time to demolish each of the specific allegations that too many Republicans believe to be true. But without that exertion, those Republicans will continue to believe the election was stolen. And if they believe that, some might not vote at all. McConnell should not take that risk.”
Take a sad song and make it better
The Stones originally recorded “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in 1968, during a live performance that ended with John Lennon applauding enthusiastically in the audience. Lennon and his fellow Beatles had a friendly rivalry with Mick Jagger’s band which survives to this day.
In an interview with the New Yorker’s David Remnick published last week, Paul McCartney dismissed the Rolling Stones as “a blues cover band.” In 1970, Lennon had famously accused the Stones of copying the Beatles’ innovations “two months after”; some critics suggest that “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is the Stones’ answer to “Hey Jude,” a seven-minute 1968 Beatles hit backed by a 36-piece orchestra.
Trump’s team has been known to play “Hey Jude” at some rallies too. But the more disturbing thing at last weekend’s rally in Iowa wasn’t the music, according to Dean Obeidallah.
It was the fealty that elected Republican officials, including some who denounced the election fraud narrative at first, showed to Trump. The rally “was attended by longtime Iowa US Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Ashley Hinson, and other mainstream Republican officials. Some of these very same people, who just nine months ago were slamming Trump for his role in the Capitol riots, were now only too happy to be seen supporting him. This is politics at its worst – and at its most dangerous for our democracy.”
“The most hypocritical of the bunch is Sen. Grassley, who on January 6 was escorted by his security detail to a secure location to protect him from the pro-Trump mob that had laid siege on the Capitol.” In Iowa, Grassley said, he “wouldn’t be too smart” if he didn’t accept “the endorsement of a person that’s got 91 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa.” As Obeidallah observed, “To Grassley, it was ‘smart’ to accept the endorsement of the man who spent Saturday’s rally spouting the same falsehoods that led to the January 6 violence that caused Grassley to hide in fear.”
School board chaos
Now that in-person schooling is back in a big way, wrote Jennifer Wolfe, New York State’s teacher of the year, “students put on their masks and come to school – so happy to be together again…it is the adults who are having trouble dealing with the changes in our world. Their fear gets in the way of learning the facts, of discussing openly and listening closely…”
“School board meetings have become a forum where scared and angry people descend on the one accessible government structure they feel they have the most control over and then, without filter or grace, hurl personal insults demanding somebody listen,” Wolfe observed.
Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat asked a compelling question: “What parent wouldn’t want to keep their children safe by complying with best public health practices? Yet right-wing propaganda has effectively convinced many parents that masks are ‘muzzles’ of freedom and vaccine mandates tyrannical, spawning new waves of activists imbued with an intolerant ‘us vs. them’ mentality little in keeping with democratic models of civic life.”
“This translates into public bullying of parents who want to protect their children from Covid-19. In Los Angeles, anti-vaccine mandate protesters harassed parents at school drop-off. They claimed that masking is child abuse and subjecting children to vaccines a form of ‘rape.’”
Jon Gruden, former head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, stepped down after emails surfaced showing his use of racist, homophobic and misogynistic language. “I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone,” he said in a statement.
“But Gruden’s resignation doesn’t settle the NFL’s larger issues with race,” wrote Peniel E. Joseph.
“Despite Black athletic genius producing billions of dollars in revenue for owners, advertisers, television and cable companies, and assorted supply chains, the NFL has been largely, to say the least, retrograde on matters of racial justice,” Joseph said. Banishing Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee to protest “police brutality against African Americans exemplified the unequal power relations between the league’s overwhelmingly White owners and the Black players who fill up the box office.”
Shatner in space
Sending into space Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, in the form of 90-year-old William Shatner, was a bit of a publicity stunt by Jeff Bezos’ space venture Blue Origin, wrote Don Lincoln, a physicist and fan of the show.
But the 10-minute flight Wednesday was notable anyway: “Shatner is an actor and not an engineer, nor an entrepreneur. He has never contributed directly to space exploration, but he was part of an influential science fiction dynasty that continues to motivate and excite young people to look to the stars and dream,” Lincoln wrote.
It’s been 60 years since the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the German official responsible for carrying out “the systematic rounding up and deportation of millions of Jews and others to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps,” Elie Honig noted. “Eichmann’s dry, technical title – translated roughly as the chief Nazi ‘logistics coordinator’ – conveyed his mechanical approach to his work but belied the horror of it all.”
The world watched as he sat in a glass booth in a Jerusalem courtroom, after an Israeli manhunt had spirited him out of Argentina to face justice. Eichmann was convicted and executed.
Two of the key figures in the trial, both in their mid-90s, were interviewed by Honig: prosecutor Gabriel Bach and investigator Michael Goldmann-Gilead. The investigator told him, “With the death of Eichmann, the murderous ideology of nationalist socialism was not scattered. It is still existing … in the form of hatred, hatred that is dangerous. And we must be on guard so that catastrophes do not repeat themselves.”
‘Pass the damn bills’
President Joe Biden’s skill as a deal-maker is being put to its biggest test. Can he bring progressives and moderates in the Democrat-controlled Congress together to pass bills on infrastructure and social programs that will cost trillions of dollars? Like his predecessors, Biden is facing the likelihood of big losses in the midterm elections next year – in addition to the continuing challenge posed by Trump’s election lies.
Paul Begala wrote that Democrats have no reasonable choice except to unite. “The Biden agenda would help lift millions out of poverty. It would help make human life on earth more sustainable by combating carbon pollution.”
“It would make raising children easier, getting an education cheaper, taking life-saving medicine more affordable. It would also boost both the economy and Biden’s anemic approval ratings, the only two things that can stave off an electoral disaster in 2022 and perhaps worse in 2024. Pass the damn bills.”
“Texas has long fancied itself the land of the free, a Wild West of wide-open spaces, good BBQ and libertarianism,” wrote Jill Filipovic. “It’s also the land of shameful hypocrisy.”
The state’s governor, Greg Abbott, signed an executive order banning companies from mandating Covid-19 vaccinations, following a pattern set by his earlier bans against mask-wearing and requiring proof of vaccination to enter private businesses. “All of this is done under the cover of ‘freedom’ – freedom, apparently, to sicken and potentially kill your colleagues and neighbors. It’s a kind of freedom from state interference that does not apply to Texas women and girls. After all, this same Texas governor signed a law banning most abortions in the state, with no exception for rape or incest.”
The good news is that in most of the US, vaccine mandates are working, and two-thirds of American adults are already fully vaccinated.
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta went on Joe Rogan’s popular podcast to make the case to skeptics for getting vaccinated. “I guess a small part of me thought I might change Joe Rogan’s mind about vaccines,” wrote Gupta, who said afterward that he “realized it was probably futile. His mind was made up, and there would always be plenty of misinformation out there neatly packaged to support his convictions. Truth is though, I am still glad I did it. My three-hour-long conversation wasn’t just with Rogan. If just a few of his listeners were convinced, it will have been well worth it.”
Kyrie Irving, an NBA all-star, was benched by the Brooklyn Nets for refusing the vaccine. In the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson wrote, “I don’t respect his ‘choice’ at all…we are battling together to defeat a highly infectious virus that has killed more than 720,000 Americans. We have a trio of safe and effective vaccines that slow the spread of the virus and confer miraculous protection against serious illness and death. Irving’s choice threatens not just his own health but also, should he be infected, that of his fellow players, his coaches and trainers, the referees who call the games, and the fans who come to see the Nets play.”
Sancia Dalley and Christina Hollenback: Alabama’s use of Covid relief funds to build prisons must be stopped
Drs. Kristina Box, Denise Jamieson and Judy Monroe: How to protect pregnant people from Covid-19
In an email to employees, Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos came to the defense of Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special, but that didn’t quell the controversy over “The Closer.”
Clay Cane notes that show, “which ostensibly takes on cancel culture,” has drawn criticism from the LGBTQ community. “Chappelle implies ‘that community’ is too sensitive and quickly shouts ‘cancel culture’ at his critics,” Cane observed.
“Let’s be clear, he’s not canceled: Chappelle’s shows sell out, he lands major deals with streaming services and was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2019. Just because Chappelle is criticized on social media and the subject of think pieces doesn’t mean he’s been canceled.”
Cane added that he didn’t know if “Chappelle is anti-LGBTQ himself, but I do know his words will become weapons for transphobes and homophobes. He should ask himself why he is speaking their language.”
David McCloskey: Everything you know about the CIA is wrong
Sara Stewart: Stealthing is still flying dangerously under the radar
Joe Lockhart: What’s at risk in the murky Capitol attack investigation
Noah Berlatsky: The power of a queer Superman
When Daniel Craig became the new James Bond in 2006, Holly Thomas noted there were hopes for a big change in the long-running movie franchise. Indeed, Craig has “proven himself a far more multidimensional James Bond than we’d ever seen – acknowledging in his performance the obvious misery and screwed-up detachment of a man who kills for a living, drinks vodka like water and treats women as disposable bait. But in many ways, even with Craig on board, the franchise as it existed up to 2015’s ‘Spectre’ hadn’t moved that far beyond its tired misogynist roots.”
“Female characters largely came, took their clothes off and went, and Craig’s Bond continued to execute death-defying stunts (as well as countless faceless henchmen) with little concern for life or limb – including his own.”
The new Bond film “No Time to Die” dispenses with “the tired, colonial ‘for Queen and Country’ framing of previous installments.” It treats its women on their own terms, Thomas wrote. “Whereas Bond films traditionally hit refresh on the merry-go-round of featured ‘girls’ at the beginning of each installment, ‘No Time To Die’ sees Madeleine Swann – portrayed with typical depth and beauty by Léa Seydoux – make a historic return. For the audience, she adds a critical layer of emotional investment.”
In the New Stateman, Kate Mossman cast a skeptical eye at the now-ending Daniel Craig era. “Craig’s films took all the joy out of James Bond by suggesting we wanted to know something of his interior life. We didn’t.”
You can’t always get what you want.