To Arms, To Arms. The War Has Begun: The Midnight Riders

The Revolutionary War began on 19 April 1775. That evening Paul Revere made his famous ride. But Revere wasn’t the only rider, just the only one to have Longfellow wright a poem about him. There were dozens of other riders that night, each seeking to warn the colonial patriots that the British army was advancing and what route it was taking. One of these others had the longest ride – the 345 miles from the outskirts of Boston to Philadelphia. That rider was Israel Bissell, though in some records he’s referred to as Isaac Bissell.

Bissell, a 23-year-old postal rider when the war broke out on April 19, 1775, rode day and night with little sleep during an exhausting 345-mile journey from Boston’s western edge to Philadelphia. On the first leg, he rode one horse so hard that the animal collapsed and died beneath him as he arrived in Worcester, roughly two hours after leaving Watertown.

“To arms, to arms. The war has begun,” Bissell shouted as he passed through each little town.

(Map 1: Israel Bissell’s Route)

In addition to making his alert at every stop on the Old Post Road, Bissell also brought a message from General Joseph Palmer:

To all the friends of American liberty be it known that this morning before break of day, a brigade, consisting of about 1,000 to 1,200 men landed at Phip’s Farm at Cambridge and marched to Lexington, where they found a company of our colony militia in arms, upon whom they fired without any provocation and killed six men and wounded four others. By an express from Boston, we find another brigade are now upon their march from Boston supposed to be about 1,000. The Bearer, Tryal Russell, is charged to alarm the country quite to Connecticut and all persons are desired to furnish him with fresh horses as they may be needed. I have spoken with several persons who have seen the dead and wounded. Pray let the delegates from this colony to Connecticut see this.

While there has been some historical dispute about whether Bissell made the whole ride or just the leg to Hartford before handing off to another post rider. Regardless, he still made the longest of the midnight rides.

Bissell did eventually get his own poem. In fact he got two.  One written by Gerard Chapman. The other by Clay Perry.

“To arms, to arms. The war has begun!

Stay put!

Open thread.



For A Good Time In Cambridge (Tonight!)

Just a quick heads-up.  My colleague Seth Mnookin will be moderating a panel for the MIT Communications Forum on “Republican Resistance in the Age of Trump.”

The event goes from 6-8 p.m. in MIT Building 3, room 270. (MIT map.)  The speakers are interesting:  Stuart Stevens (Romney’s 2012 chief strategist, among other presidential election gigs); Jennifer Nassour, former MA GOP chair (I know…) and the founder of a group dedicated to electing more Republican women in the northeast; and Dr. Daniel Barkhuff, a Navy Spec Ops doc veteran and leader of a non-partisan group supporting “veterans who have demonstrated integrity and rational thought as they run for positions in local, state and federal elections.”

These are folks with whom I expect I have pretty near zero agreement on policy terms.  But if there is common cause to be found in constructing an American democracy on a foundation of shared political norms, I’m down for that, and plan to listen closely.

In any event, should be an interesting time. And I note that I’m the more interested as a bunch of posters around campus have been torn down, which I interpret as a Trumpian response to unwelcome news.  All the more reason to show up, IMHO.

Image: William Hogarth, An Election Entertainment(painting from his series, “The Humours of an Election”), c. 1755.



Senate Parliamentarian Rules Against Healthcare Provisions

The Senate Parliamentarian gives rulings on all bills before they are voted on. Because the healthcare bill is being passed under reconciliation rules to make it possible to ram it through with 50 votes plus a Pence tiebreaker, it is subject to what are called “Byrd Rules.”

The Parliamentarian has found several points in the bill that she judges not subject to reconciliation rules and therefore would need 60 votes to pass. The Parliamentarian’s findings are subject to Senate approval, so this all might seem like a waste of time, but her findings can be used by the Democrats as delaying tactics and might be the subject of lawsuits further down the line.

The questionable topics are

  • Restrictions on abortion coverage
  • A provision defunding Planned Parenthood
  • A newly permissive state waiver process
  • Changes to rules governing insurance pricing by age
  • Funding for cost-sharing reductions
  • Elimination of the medical-loss ratio rule
  • The Cruz Amendment

These are pretty significant pieces of the bill. The New York Times has an explainer and the judgement of a panel of experts as to how likely each provision is to be struck. They also have an article on the politics of it, as does New York Magazine. There are a couple of others, but those seemed best to me. Here’s an explanation from the Senate Budget Committee’s Minority [Democratic] staff. Maybe David will have more to say.








When they kick at your front door how you gonna come?

The firing of Comey presumably means that the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia is now over. I didn’t think that Trump would do this. I’ve mostly been laughing at my friends talking about Trump being fascist, about the possibility that we’ll be living in Gilead-style police state.

I’m not laughing now.

Worst case scenario: what can we actually do to fight against a fascist police state? I haven’t given this a ton of thought before.



Vive La France!

Via The Guardian, Macron wipes out Le Pen:

The centrist Emmanuel Macron is the next president of France, defeating his far right rival Marine Le Pen by a comfortable 65.1% to 34.9%, according to a usually reliable vote estimate by pollsters Ispos/Sopra Steria for French state TV and radio and Le Monde.

Vote estimates by other polling organisations for different French media show a broadly similar result, although some are showing marginal variations.

I exhale.

Also — don’t our obligations to Lafayette require us to perform a do-over of our recent 11/8 debacle?

ETA the inevitable:

 

Image: Jacques-Louis David, Design for the Republican costume, engraved by Vivant Denon, 1794.



100 Days of Resistance

For my money, “The Simpsons” provided the definitive recap of the nonstop fail parade that is Twitler’s first 100 days:

As the announcer says, we’re 6.8% of the way home!

January 20, 2017 marked a modern low for the United States of America with the swearing in of a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue who scraped to electoral college victory with an assist from a hostile foreign power, GOP voter suppression, the ineptitude and/or malice of James Comey and the worst instincts of our fellow citizens.

Trump has since compounded the eternal shame of his election by behaving exactly as the decent people who opposed him said he would: he’s a bumbling, corrupt, narcissistic, clueless, feckless asshole who is more concerned with filling his pockets and feeding his massive ego than running the government.

But if January 20, 2017 showed how low the U.S. could sink, the next day provided clues to how it might rise again. I was in D.C. to witness it, and many of you were there too or at sister events held all over the world:

It may have been the largest single-day demonstration in the history of the United States. It almost certainly set a record for the most women rejecting a specific man in the history of humankind. That’s kinda cool.

Even more cool, resistance to Trump hasn’t been a one-off. I’ve never seen such sustained outrage about anything, ever. And it’s not just inchoate rage; the bone-deep anger people feel has translated into action, including boycotts of Trump products and follow-up marches to support science and protest Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns.

Never thought I’d see my wingnut congressman in a +20 GOP district jeered and shouted down in a packed town hall, but it happened. Never thought our sleepy local Democratic committee meetings would be flooded with new members who not only showed up at the first post-election meeting but continue to show up and mobilize for local protests and receive training to run as candidates and turn out voters.

Trump’s presidency and the GOP agenda have been stymied, not only due to their own epic ineptitude, not only because this administration is mired in scandal and infighting but also because Republicans are fearful. I look forward to making them fear us for the next 100 days, and the next 100 after that.

What have you seen that gives you hope?



Such a long way to go, to make it to the border of Mexico

The reviews are in: everybody hates Dolt 45’s plan for a wall on the border with Mexico.

If you get a chance, give your reps a call and tell them to vote against funding this wasteful piece of shit.