Jamie Harrison THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING

In this edition of Ecotones, award winning Livingston author, Jamie Harrison, discusses her latest book, THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING, published by Counterpoint Press.

It’s a multi-generational saga set in Livingston in 2002 and the north shore of Long Island in 1968. The main character, Polly, is recuperating from a serious head injury, as a long awaited family celebration for her Great-Aunt Maude’s 90th birthday and the annual fourth of July extended family get together is overshadowed by the disappearance of her young friend, Ariel Delgado, who was swept away in the flooded Yellowstone River under mysterious circumstances.

While maintaining suspense as the Livingston community comes together to search for Ariel, Jamie Harrison explores in mellifluous, spellbinding prose, the nature of memory, the complexities of family heritage and secrets, and how children see and understand the world. Above all, The Center of Everything is about the different kinds of love, interweaving idiosyncracies and experiences through her extended family and community.

Listeners who enjoyed her penultimate book, THE WIDOW NASH, will recognize a continuation of Dulcey’s tale down the generations from the 19th to 21st centuries.


Jamie Harrison is also the author of the Jules Clement/Blue Deer Mystery series, which are slated to be reissued this year by Counterpoint Press. We spoke with her on Jan. 8, 2021.

Richard Kreitner BREAK IT UP: Secession, Division and the Secret History of America’s Imperfect Union

Within an hour of this interview with Richard Kreitner on January 6, 2021, a mob left a rally in front of the White House in which Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump, Jr. had exhorted them to march down Pennsylvania Ave to the Capitol building and fight.

Kreitner had noted that the world was astounded by the peaceful transfer of power from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson in the election of 1800. Now, 220 years later, for the first time in U.S. history we have NOT had a peaceful transfer of power.

His book, BREAK IT UP: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America’s Imperfect Union, documents how we have been divided from the very beginning of our republic, and his analysis affords a clearer perspective of our current situation.

Three weeks to the day after the death of the last Confederate widow (shown above), insurgents paraded their Battle Flag throughout the nation’s Capitol, which Secessionists had been unable to do during their insurrection in the 1860s.

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.” Hannah Arendt

Articles Cited in this interview:

Now Is Not the Time for Unity https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/biden-unity-history/

Chaos as Pennsylvania GOP state senators refuse to seat Democrat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoF4iCoTZb4

Last Known Widow Of Civil War Veteran Dies At 101 https://www.huffpost.com/entry/civil-war-veteran-widow-helen-jackson_n_5ff51131c5b6ea7351c66821

Trump won’t attend Biden’s inauguration: Why that’s ominous after his Capitol siege https://www.salon.com/2021/01/11/trump-wont-attend-bidens-inauguration-why-thats-ominous-after-his-capitol-siege/

At least 12 GOP senators to challenge Biden’s win https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/02/ted-cruz-electoral-college-challenge-453430

Rosendale says he’ll oppose certification of some electors https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/ap_news/montana/rosendale-says-hell-oppose-certification-of-some-electors/article_42f0b298-c022-5d91-b855-b49770a5518e.html

Texas congressman suggests ‘violence in the streets’ after judge rejects bid to force Pence to overturn Biden’s win https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/ap_news/politics/texas-congressman-suggests-violence-in-the-streets-after-judge-rejects-bid-to-force-pence-to/article_1e6dc8df-da07-5cf4-96b5-a3183c702a31.html#tncms-source=infinity-scroll-summary-siderail-latest

Sasse Slams GOP Effort to Challenge ElectionResults as a ‘Dangerous Ploy’ https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/31/us/politics/ben-sasse-election-results.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

Ben Sasse calls fellow Republicans “institutional arsonists” for Electoral College stunt https://www.salon.com/2020/12/31/ben-sasse-calls-fellow-gop-sen-josh-hawley-an-institutional-arsonists-for-electoral-college-stunt/

Joint Statement from Senators Cruz, Johnson, Lankford, Daines, Kennedy, Blackburn, Braun, Senators-Elect Lummis, Marshall, Hagerty, Tuberville https://www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=5541

Trump’s Republicans have dumped Lincoln – they’re the Confederacy now https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jan/04/trump-republicans-electoral-college-sedition-secession-lincoln-confederacy

Trump’s phone call to Brad Raffensperger: six key points https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/04/trumps-phone-call-to-brad-raffensperger-five-key-points

Americans’ acceptance of Trump’s behavior will be his vilest legacy https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/26/americans-acceptance-of-trumps-behavior-will-be-his-vilest-legacy

Matthew Rozsa: How the MAGA Crowd Is Motivated by Aesthetics, Not Ideas

Matthew Rozsa is a political blogger and staff-writer for Salon.com. Since 2012, In addition to covering politics, he has written about American history, social justice causes, popular culture, and the concerns of the high-functioning autistic community. Toward that end, he appeared on Sesame Street, where he interviewed Elmo and Julia, a character who also has autism.

At a time when American democracy is weathering grave challenges to the peaceful transfer of government, where the constitutionally required meetings of the Electoral College in numerous states had to be conducted in secret, due to credible threats of violence by those seeking to overturn the certified votes, Matthew Rozsa has a lot to say of what is happening and how it has come to this.

At the end, high school Head Soccer Coach, Hunter Terry, reads his Letter to the Editor, “Our ‘American values’ include knowing how to lose,” published in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle on December 16, 2020,

Head Soccer Coach, Hunter Terry

Articles cited in this interview include:

Trump the fascist artist: How the MAGA crowd is motivated by aesthetics, not ideas https://www.salon.com/2020/12/05/trump-the-fascist-artist-how-the-maga-crowd-is-motivated-by-aesthetics-not-ideas/

Why the 2020 election looks a lot like 1876 — with one crucial difference https://www.salon.com/2020/11/07/why-the-2020-election-looks-a-lot-like-1876-with-one-crucial-difference/

It’s not the first time that an outgoing president refused to work with an incoming one https://www.salon.com/2020/11/29/its-not-the-first-time-that-an-outgoing-president-refused-to-work-with-an-incoming-one/

There are economic reasons that Trump’s coup attempt won’t work, experts say https://www.salon.com/2020/11/15/there-are-economic-reasons-that-trumps-coup-attempt-wont-work-experts-say/

The internet has become captured by the right. The Gravel Institute is trying to take it back https://www.salon.com/2020/11/29/the-internet-has-become-captured-by-the-right-the-gravel-institute-is-trying-to-take-it-back/

Conservative women often don’t perceive sexism as a social problem. Here’s why https://www.salon.com/2020/11/28/conservative-women-often-dont-perceive-sexism-as-a-social-problem-heres-why

Biden’s economic adviser picks are underwhelming the left, to say the least https://www.salon.com/2020/12/07/biden-neoliberal-picks-for-economic-advisers-neera-tanden-brian-deese/

Rebekah Jones, Florida’s COVID-19 whistleblower, says Gov. DeSantis has health officials “terrified” https://www.salon.com/2020/12/11/rebekah-jones-floridas-covid-19-whistleblower-says-gov-desantis-has-health-officials-terrified/

Trump Has Never Believed in Democracy https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/13/opinion/donald-trump-election.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

Our ‘American values’ include knowing how to lose https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/opinions/letters_to_editor/our-american-values-include-knowing-how-to-lose/article_af157cc7-3d47-5716-bccd-29acb6e9edb6.html

Donald Trump and the Aesthetics of Fascism https://inthesetimes.com/article/donald-trump-and-the-aesthetics-of-fascism

Trump won’t attend Biden’s inauguration: Why that’s ominous after his Capitol siege https://www.salon.com/2021/01/11/trump-wont-attend-bidens-inauguration-why-thats-ominous-after-his-capitol-siege/

Thomas Frank THE PEOPLE, NO: A Brief History of Anti-Populism

Thomas Frank is an historian, political analyst and journalist. Although he was a college Republican, he became highly critical of conservatism, and as you will hear in this interview, of the Democratic Party as well. A former columnist for The Wall Street Journal and Harper’s, Thomas Frank is the founding editor of the on-line magazine, The Baffler, and he writes regularly for The Guardian. Among his eleven books are WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS? THE WRECKING CREW: HOW CONSERVATIVES RULE; PITY THE BILLIONAIRE: THE HARD-TIMES SWINDLE and THE UNLIKELY COMEBACK OF THE RIGHT; and LISTEN, LIBERAL: OR, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE PARTY OF THE PEOPLE? His latest book is THE PEOPLE, NO: A BRIEF HISTORY OF ANTI-POPULISM, published by Metropolitan Books.

Sarah Chayes ON CORRUPTION IN AMERICA and What’s at Stake

Sarah Chayes is an award winning journalist, author, former senior associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and special advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Sarah Chayes. Her latest book is ON CORRUPTION IN AMERICA AND WHAT IS AT STAKE, published by Knopf.

Her fluency in French, Arabic and Pashto, not only allowed her to be an NPR reporter in Paris, North Africa, and the Balkans from 1996 to 2002, but after 9/11 she reported from Afghanistan. In 2002, she left reporting to contribute to rebuilding that country. She arrived in Kandahar two days after the Fall of the Taliban and lived there til 2009, where she helped establish the Argand Cooperative in 2005, and became intimately acquainted with kleptocracy.

In 2010, Sarah Chayes became a special adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen. In this capacity, she contributed to strategic US policy on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Arab Spring. Her previous books include The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban and Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security.

Robert Jay Lifton LOSING REALITY: On Cults, Cultism, and the Mindest of Political and Religious Zealotry

Robert Jay Lifton is a nonegenarian psychiatrist, author, and psychohistorian. In his long life, he has studied and written about the psychological causes and effects of wars and political violence. In addition to his theory of thought reform, he was an early proponent of psychohistorical techniques, and he was instrumental in the inclusion of Post traumatic Stress Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder. He coined the term, psychic numbing. In 1953, he began interviewing US servicemen who had been prisoners of war during the Korean War, as well as others who had been in Chinese prisons after 1951. He published THOUGHT REFORM AND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TOTALISM: A STUDY OF BRAINWASHING IN CHINA. Among his other books are DEATH IN LIFE: SURVIVORS OF HIROSHIMA; HOME FROM THE WAR: VIETNAM VETERANS – NEITHER VICTIMS NOR EXECUTIONERS; and THE NAZI DOCTORS: MEDICAL KILLING AND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF GENOCIDE.

His latest book is LOSING REALITY: ON CULTS, CULTISM AND THE MINDSET OF POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS ZEALOTRY. We spoke with Dr. Lifton on October 19, 2020.

Jon Tester GROUNDED: A Senator’s Lessons on Winning Back Rural America

Jake Laperrruque INJUSTICE: Tracking BIll Barr’s Misconduct as Attorney General

In addition to being the only working farmer in the US Senate, and an organic farmer at that, he has now written a memoir, GROUNDED: A SENATOR’S LESSONS ON WINNING BACK RURAL AMERICA, just published by Ecco Press.

Jon Tester entered the US Senate in 2006 and was re-elected for a third term in 2018, in spite of having been the recipient of Donald Trump’s ire for having announced the unsuitability of his nominee for Director of Veterans Affairs, his personal physician, Dr. Ronald Jackson, because more than two dozen Whistle blowers had reported serious, credible problems with Dr. Jackson’s nomination. After Jackson withdrew his name, Trump flew to Montana four times to campaign against Senator Tester, Donald Trump, Jr. came four other times, and Vice President Pence also came, each determined to defeat Jon Tester. However, notwithstanding the fact that Trump had won the state of Montana in 2016 by 20 points, not only did Senator Tester get re-elected in 2018, but by a larger percentage of the vote than in any of his previous elections.

In these polarized times, when power trumps propriety, when those who serve are seen as suckers and losers, when science and good sense are subsumed in phantasmagorical conspiracies, there are those few who remain true to their roots, who not only believe in democracy, but struggle to maintain it against ever increasing odds. Such a one is Senator Tester. We recorded this interview on September 23, 2020.

Jake LaPerruque is Senior Counsel of The Constitution Project at the Project on Government Oversight, POGO. POGO is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that investigates and exposes waste, corruption, abuse of power, and when the government fails to serve the public, or silences those who report wrongdoing.

They published Jake LaPerruque’s article, Injustice: Tracking Bill Barr’s Misconduct as Attorney General, on September 25, 2020. It examines William Barr’s tenure since being confirmed as Attorney General of the United States on Feb. 14, 2019, identifying what they call a long string of actions that constitute serious misconduct, and may inflict lasting damage to the Justice Department. These actions generally fall into four key categories of misconduct that are antithetical to the department’s responsibilities to the public and to the Constitution. Namely, Barr has on numerous occasions interfered with impartial prosecutions, prioritized politics over justice, undermined the independent special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and hindered congressional oversight.

Thom Hartmann MONOPOLIES: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream

The latest in Thom Hartmann’s Hidden History series has just been released by Barret-Koehler Publishing, THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF MONOPOLIES: HOW BIG BUSINESS DESTROYED THE AMERICAN DREAM. In addition to his daily 3 hour radio program, he somehow finds the time and energy to write the Hidden History Series, and he has been generous enough to be our guest on Forthright Radio each time one is published.

Here’s what Ralph Nader writes in the forward to THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF MONOPOLIES: HOW BIG BUSINESS DESTROYED THE AMERICAN DREAM:

”This is the most important, dynamic book – small as it is – on the cancers of monopoly by giant corporations written in our generation. he goes on “Because he is by far the most erudite longtime national radio talk show host, he has had an uncanny sense of retrieving critical segments of American history, ignored by historians, regarding the suspicion and caution our forbears had about this artificial entity called the large corporation as it became more immune and more privileged than real human beings……” he goes on from there, but we’ll just let the Thom speak and you can hear for yourself why Nader has such high appreciation of the man.

You can find the past shows on the Forthright.media archives.

Beth Ann Kennedy Bozeman Film Celebration/BZN International Film Festival

On August 14, 2020, we spoke with Beth Ann Kennedy, artistic/managing director of the Bozeman Film Celebration, about how she came to create the BZN International Film Festival, whose first season was in June of 2018. Her training in speech, music, dance and the dramatic arts, from the early 1970s, as well as her decades of experience acting, directing and producing in theater and film, contributed to her success in bringing to Bozeman what has become an annual Film Festival. Her excellent interpersonal skills and work with business and international government leaders, educators, entertainment celebrities, musicians, choreographers and thousands of American youths, prepared her for the gargantuan effort of coordinating the many people and jobs required in bringing a film festival into reality. After only its second year, the BZN International Film Festival was listed by Film Freeway among the top 100 festivals in the world. We asked her about her experiences, challenges, and goals over the past three years, and about re-creating the festival during a pandemic. Our conversation in a garden includes commentary from the neighborhood birds and dogs.

Members of the 2019 BZN International Film Festival Staff

Some of the 2020 BZN International Film Festival Staff, dutifully socially distancing. Beth Ann Kennedy in white top at center.

Martha S. Jones VANGUARD: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All

This special edition of Forthright Radio for August 26, 2020, celebrates the Centennial of the signing of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution on August 26, 1920, after the very long, very hard struggle by women of different races and backgrounds to win the right to vote.

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As our guest, Professor Martha S. Jones reminds us, this struggle is not over.

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Martha S. Jones is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History at The Johns Hopkins University. She is a legal and cultural historian, whose work examines how black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy.

Professor Jones is the author most recently of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All, which will be published by Basic Books on September 8, 2020.

Her other books include Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America (2018), winner of numerous prestigious awards, and All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture 1830-1900, and a coeditor of Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women.

Professor Jones currently serves as a Co-president of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and on the Executive Board of the Society of American Historians.

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Other articles relating to the struggle for suffrage or pertinent to this interview include:

Black women in politics are no longer a ‘first.’ They are a force.   https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/13/black-women-politics-are-no-longer-first-they-are-force/?hpid=hp_save-opinions-float-right-4-0_opinion-card-a-right%3Ahomepage%2Fstory-ans

How Native American Women Inspired the Women’s Rights Movement   https://www.womensvote100.org/the-suff-buffs-blog/2020/4/17/how-native-american-women-inspired-the-womens-rights-movement

In Women’s Suffrage, a Spotlight for Unsung Pioneers  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/13/insider/suffrage-anniversary.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Reader%20Center

20 Suffragists To Know for 2020   https://www.nps.gov/subjects/womenshistory/20-for-2020.htm

It’s Time The ‘Truth Be Told’ About Black Women’s Leadership In The Fight For The Vote  https://www.forbes.com/sites/marianneschnall/2020/08/05/its-time-the-truth-be-told-about-black-womens-leadership-in-the-fight-for-the-vote/#7342dc855915

Sojourner Truth  https://www.nps.gov/people/sojourner-truth.htm

Ida B. Wells  https://www.nps.gov/people/idabwells.htm

Nannie Helen Burroughs  https://www.nps.gov/people/nannie-helen-burroughs.htm

Mary McLeod Bethune  https://www.nps.gov/people/mary-mcleod-bethune.htm

Septima Poinsette Clark      https://www.nps.gov/people/septimapoinsetteclark.htm

Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee  https://www.nps.gov/people/mabel-lee.htm

Tye Leung Schulze  https://www.nps.gov/people/tye-leung-schulze.htm

Zitkala-Ša (Red Bird / Gertrude Simmons Bonnin)    https://www.nps.gov/people/zitkala-sa.htm

Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin    https://www.nps.gov/people/marie-louise-bottineau-baldwin.htm

Wilhelmina Kekelaokalaninui Widemann Dowsett     https://www.nps.gov/people/wilhelmina-kekelaokalaninui-widemann-dowsett.htm

Rose Schneiderman  https://www.nps.gov/people/rose-schneiderman.htm

The 19th Amendment: An Important Milestone in an Unfinished Journey  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/15/opinion/19th-amendment-centennial-suffrage.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

The 19th amendment is a reminder that the right to vote is unfinished business     https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/18/the-19th-amendment-is-a-reminder-that-the-right-to-vote-is-unfinished-business

The Women Who Fought Against the Vote   https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/14/us/anti-suffrage-movement-vote.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage

In 1920, Native Women Sought the Vote. Here’s What’s Next.   https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/31/style/19th-amendment-native-womens-suffrage.html?searchResultPosition=1

Before Kamala Harris, There Was Charlotta Bass       https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/04/obituaries/charlotta-bass-vice-president-overlooked.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage

What ‘The New York Times’ Won’t Tell You About Woman Suffrage   https://www.thenation.com/article/society/new-york-times-suffrage/