Sunday Pages: One-Year Anniversary Edition

PREVAIL launched one year ago today. Break out the Bierce and the Tennyson.

Dear Reader,

“November,” Ambrose Bierce wrote in 1906, “is the eleventh twelfth of a weariness.” Never has that been more true than in 2020, as enervating a year as any of us can remember.

What has sustained me during this annus horribilis is my work on PREVAIL—the research and writing, yes, but also the generosity and support of our community. By posting these pieces, I feel like I’m doing something, however modest and inconsequential, to fight the bad guys. And I feel like I’m doing it with you. For that privilege, I am eternally grateful. Thank you.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of PREVAIL. The first real piece was about Nikki Haley. The third, concerning the carpetbagging turncoat Elise Stefanik, went viral. I got lucky. In two weeks, I went from “Here is my new site” to being RT’d by Mark Hamill. The Force was with me!

This past year, I’ve published 149 posts, including this one; every Tuesday, every Friday, and since March, every Sunday as well. Almost all of the posts were written by Yours Truly, although I’ve also run terrific pieces solicited from a host of excellent contributors: Rachel Slade, Kerri Rawson, Nia Molinari, Rev. Jeff Black, “L.,” Aaron Harris, and Moscow Never Sleeps. When I look back at the archive, I’m stunned.

A bit of history, if you’ll indulge me: Back in 2012, also an election year, some friends and I started an arts/culture/politics publication called The Weeklings. By 2016, we’d all kind of burned out. The plan was to keep going until Hillary won, and then retire the site.

But Hillary did not win. A week or so after the 2016 election, I ran a piece there called “How to Get Rid of Donald Trump: An Action Plan.” It was read 35,000 times in 24 hours—huge numbers for our little site. The “action plan” was simple: Once people realized how much money Trump was stealing from taxpayers via his emoluments, they would be disgusted and turn on him. (I just re-read the piece, and I mention Trump’s debt to the Bank of China; we’ve almost come full circle). Needless to say, this did not happen. It was too abstract for people to grasp, I guess.

After reading Louise Mensch’s “Dear Mr. Putin: Let’s Play Chess” piece in January 2017, I turned my attention to Russia. Surely, I thought, once the GOP realize Trump is in bed with Putin, they will turn on him? Once again, I was wrong. How was I to know that the Republican Party was honeycombed with traitors, that the party of Reagan had gone to the Dark Side?

I stopped posting at The Weeklings because we got hacked. It became necessary to publish at sites that were more secure, and where I was not responsible for keeping them that way. The early pieces there were the backbone for my book, Dirty Rubles: An Introduction to Trump/Russia, published in May of 2018. (Fox News “personality” Gregg Jarrett published his book, The Russia Hoax, a few months later; let’s just say mine has better stood the test of time).

Next I turned to Medium, running a number of important pieces there, including work on Brett Kavanaugh, Rand Paul, Jared Kushner, and the Jamal Khashoggi assassination—topics and people the mainstream press had not, in my view, paid nearly enough attention to.

I was turned on to Substack when Alexandra Erin asked me to write a piece about Rudy Giuliani for her “Erin Endeavor” page. This model is perfect for me, because it leaves me free to write and not worry about anything else. A year later, here I am. I’ve published some pieces I’m enormously proud of: the “Tinker, Tailor, Mobster, Trump” series, with my dear friend Lincoln’s Bible; the interviews with Noel Casler, the NSA’s Jeremy Black, Katie Hill, and Cheri Jacobus; the Ron Johnson/Fourth of July Traitor piece; the report on Scott Borgerson, Ghislaine Maxwell’s beau (a piece made possible by Rachel Slade contacting me out of the blue and hipping me to the undiscovered wonders of the maritime world, and which I’m almost certain mainstream journalists read for background when they finally got around to writing about Borgerson); and my personal favorite, the “Treason Power Rankings.”

And I now appear as a regular guest on Zev Shalev’s Narativ Live, with my friends Lincoln’s Bible and Eric Garland, and on the Stuttering John podcast (SpeedWeed FTW!). These broadcasts have been a lot of fun—although I’m much more comfortable behind the keyboard than in front of the camera.

Where do we go from here at PREVAIL? If Trump somehow wins, gaming the system once again to thwart the will of the American people, I will lick my wounds and keep fighting. If things go as I expect, and he loses bigly, there will be no shortage of things to write about. He will be president until January 20, or until he flees to the UAE, whichever comes first. The next eleven-and-a-half weeks will be among the craziest of our lifetimes.

But even after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take over the controls, it’s not like they just wave a magic wand and all of this goes away. The criminality of Trump—his family, his administration, his campaign, his inner circle, his business cronies, his mob associates—is vast and byzantine. There will be temptation to “turn the page.” My mission will be not to let them. (That extends also to the corrupt justices he put on the Supreme Court—expect a lot of attention paid to Kegstand Kavanaugh these next few months.)

Some time a year or two ago, I realized, with no small amount of resignation, that I would probably be writing about Donald John Trump for the rest of my life. This is not the course I would have set for myself, way back when, but when a monster like this appears, it is our patriotic duty to fight it with everything we have. And what I have is this platform.

Something I learned about myself these last four years is that I have the ability to take disparate pieces of information, sort them all out, and present them as a coherent narrative. This was a talent that, when this all began, I did not know I possessed. I am grateful to you, Dear Reader, for allowing me the space to develop this skill, for encouraging that development, and for generously supporting my endeavor. (None of the pieces on PREVAIL are behind the firewall, and I make a point of not explicitly asking for contributions—it’s like a tip jar at a music performance—but I very much appreciate the support). Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And because this is “Sunday Pages,” I leave you with these last lines from “Ulysses,” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. This poem—which I used as an opening quote for Dirty Rubles—concerns the exploits of the eponymous hero after the Trojan War: older but wiser, weaker in body but more resolute in spirit, and more determined than ever to keep up the fight:

Come, my friends,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Two more days.


Photo credit: Dimitris Vetsikas.