Mitch McConnell was on top of the world. Then he discovered it was nothing but Trump all the way down.

(Alex Wong/Getty)

Everything was proceeding as he had foreseen it.

Donald Trump had been booted from the White House, sent by voters, if not into retirement, at least to Mar-a-Lago.

His fellow Republicans, however, would not be joining him in exile. Defying expectations, the GOP picked up 15 seats in the House of Representatives. Even better, the party’s strong showing downballot had clinched at least 50 seats in the Senate. All they needed to retain the majority was to win one of the two runoffs on January 5 in the traditional Republican stronghold of Georgia.

Control of the Senate would not only…


The most beloved Star Wars film of all reaches middle age

(Rodin Eckenroth/Getty)

1980 was an eventful year.

  • The Miracle on Ice.
  • Alfred Hitchcock, John Bonham, and Jean-Paul Sartre died.
  • Pac-Man debuted in arcades.
  • “Who shot J.R.?”
  • The Olympic boycott.
  • The Iranian hostage crisis.
  • The murder of John Lennon.
  • Mount St. Helens erupted
  • Ronald Reagan was elected president.

And in the middle of it all, moviegoers around the world heard these words:

Could it be true? Could the walking, black-bedecked nightmare really be our hero’s father? Was Darth Vader <gulp> telling the truth? For the answer the world would have to wait three years.

Its Alderaan-sized Force disturbance of a climax isn’t…


What are the greatest songs? It depends on who’s asked — and who’s asking.

Bruce Springsteen, with Patti Scialfa, performing for a New Jersey COVID fundraiser, April 22, 2020 (Jersey 4 Jersey/Getty)

Like thousands in the Delaware Valley (and thousands more beyond it), I spent much of the week from December 10–17 with my ears riveted to WXPN, the University of Pennsylvania’s public radio station, as it counted down the 2,020 greatest songs of all time, as chosen by its listeners. The results were what you’d expect from what is effectively an AOR (album-oriented rock) station with an older audience based in Philadelphia: lots of Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen, whose “Thunder Road” came in at No. 1, just as it did in 2014.

Predictable in many…


Their focus remains on the White House, but the Georgia Senate runoffs beckon

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the Capitol, March 25, 2020 (Win McNamee/Getty)

Five years later, the Republican Party’s relationship to Donald Trump is ending as it began — in purgatory.

The real estate mogul turned reality TV star turned most powerful man on Earth’s continuing resistance to the reality that he lost the 2020 presidential election has stranded the GOP in a kind of no man’s land, unable either to look back to its recent past with him or ahead to its new life without him.

A few Republicans, such as Senators Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Susan Collins, have congratulated Joe Biden on his victory. But as an institution, the GOP…


Forget statues. Put American heroes where they really belong — on our money.

Demonstrators in Washington, DC calling for Harriet Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, June 27, 2019 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Add the history of Hawaii to the long list of subjects about which Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knows nothing and wants the world to know it.

While railing about the dearth of minority representation in the Capitol, the freshman New York representative and “Squad” member singled out the statue of St. Damien of Molokai, lambasting it as an example of “patriarchy and white supremacist culture.” In so doing, she not only calumniated a man who gave his life caring for lepers, she utterly misrepresented the process by which the statue was created, stripping the Hawaiian people of agency and turning a decision…


The Supreme Court all but ensured his financial records won’t see the light of day until after the election

President Donald Trump and Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Elena Kagan at the State of the Union, February 4, 2020 ( Leah Millis-Pool/Getty)

For once, Donald Trump and his most ardent foes were in agreement. Thursday’s twin Supreme Court rulings in cases about his tax and financial records were resounding defeats for him.

As is his wont, the tweeter-in-chief took to his favorite social media platform to rail against the injustice of it all. He denounced the decisions as “not fair” and products of a “political prosecution.” He lamented that courts had denied him the “broad deference” afforded previous presidents.

Congressional Democrats, on the other hand, were delighted. The high court dealt a “devastating blow” to Trump’s pretensions, declared Senate Minority Leader Chuck…


A world without police doesn’t work. Just ask Thomas Hobbes. Or Max Payne.

The movement ignited by the killing of George Floyd has made cutting the police down to size one of its cardinal demands, the cry “Defund the Police!” echoing across the land, half prayer, half imprecation. Whether that appeal entails merely redirecting funding and resources to alternative approaches and entities, or if it really means getting rid of the police, there is widespread momentum and support for measures that would reduce the footprint of law enforcement.

Shrinking the size of the shoe is one thing, and in many ways long overdue. Cutting off the feet is another entirely. …


Polls show him losing decisively to his Democratic opponent. Just as they did at this point in 2016.

President Donald Trump in the Cabinet Room of the White House, May 13, 2020 (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

The presumptive Republican nominee for president trails badly in the polls.

His Democratic counterpart has a solid lead that has barely budged all year.

State data is equally grim, showing the likely GOP standard bearer in precarious position in red states he must hold onto if he’s to have any hope of claiming the purple states he’d need to win the presidency.

Republicans down the ballot, fearful of a wipeout at the top of the ticket, have begun distancing themselves from the nominee and taking other steps they hope will preserve them…


Theaters won’t have Hollywood blockbusters to show when the coronavirus closures end. Classic movies would be the perfect alternative.

Two people in masks walking by a movie theater in New York City, May 7, 2020 (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Casablanca. Lawrence of Arabia. 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Philadelphia Story. North by Northwest. Jaws. A Hard Day’s Night. Dr. Strangelove. Singing in the Rain. The Wizard of Oz.

What do these titles have in common? They’re some of the classic movies I’ve had the pleasure to see on the big screen. Films which American moviegoers should have the opportunity to experience as studios and theater operators look to lure them back once the coronavirus shutdowns are over.

What customers are unlikely to be seeing anytime soon on screens at AMC, Cinemark, Regal, and other chains are the usual array…


Americans have begun receiving their COVID-19 relief payments, but they’re too little, too late

(Getty)

As soon as Congress approved the second coronavirus financial package in mid-March, thoughts turned to passing a third, much larger one. Some of the trillions it would inject into the economy, it was agreed, should go directly into Americans’ pockets. Yet three weeks passed before the $1,200 checks authorized by the CARES Act started filling them.

The reason it took so long is because the system for disbursing them is inefficient and convoluted. …

Varad Mehta

I write words. For Arc Digital, and other places.

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