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Get a weekly roundup of the best Substack posts, by hacker news affinity:

Top posts of the week

By hacker news affinity
day week month year all
Letters from an American 12 HN points 19 Sep 21
Going to go for an early night tonight. I'll leave you with a picture I look from my kayak in yesterday morning's flat calm, and will catch you all tomorrow.
Letters from an American 6 HN points 18 Sep 21
One hundred and fifty nine years ago this week, in 1862, 75,000 United States troops and about 38,000 Confederate troops massed along Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland. After a successful summer of fighting, Confederate general Robert E. Lee had crossed the Potomac River into Maryland to bring the Civil War to the North. He hoped to swing the slave state of Maryland into rebellion and to weaken Lincoln’s war policies in the upcoming 1862 elections. For his part, Union general George McClellan hoped to finish off the southern Army of Northern Virginia that had snaked away from him all summer.
Letters from an American 3 HN points 17 Sep 21
Disgraced retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn is endorsing candidates for office. Flynn advised former president Trump’s 2016 campaign and was Trump’s first national security adviser. He served for just 22 days before having to resign after news broke that he had lied to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
Letters from an American 3 HN points 23 Sep 21
CNN’s bombshell revelation of Trump loyalist lawyer John Eastman’s six-point memo of instructions for overturning the 2020 election—discussed in the new book by veteran journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa—seems to be sparking a reckoning with how dangerous the Trump loyalists are to the survival of American democracy.
Letters from an American 2 HN points 20 Sep 21
Last Friday, Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie of U.S. Central Command admitted that the August 29 drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, that the U.S. had claimed hit ISIS-K fighters had instead killed 10 civilians, including seven children. This “tragic mistake,” as he called it, at the very end of the country’s 20-year engagement in Afghanistan, opens up the larger question of the growing U.S. use of unmanned aerial systems—drones—in warfare.
Letters from an American 2 HN points 21 Sep 21
So many stories landed today that some will have to wait. Tonight’s news, though, boils down to Republican attempts to retake control of the government in the 2022 elections…and, if Trump has his way, even earlier. This morning, CNN revealed another bombshell story from the forthcoming book by veteran reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa: a six-point memo from pro-Trump lawyer John Eastman laying out a plan for then–vice president Mike Pence to steal the 2020 election for Trump.
Letters from an American 2 HN points 22 Sep 21
Tonight, the House of Representatives passed a funding bill that would both keep the government from shutting down and prevent a default on the U.S. debt. The vote was 220 to 211, with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans voting against.
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
Now & Then is a new podcast from CAFE hosted by historians Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman. Each Tuesday, they will break down the week in news and look back at historical parallels to help us understand our present. Along the way, they’ll introduce us to history’s influential and often-forgotten characters.
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On this episode of Now & Then, “Corrupting the Commonwealth,” Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman discuss recent reporting that the Trump Department of Justice subpoenaed the metadata of journalists and members of Congress. Heather and Joanne then look at three past reckonings over accusations of presidential corruption: Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson’s back-and-forth over the First Bank of the United States, the break in the 1870s Republican Party over President Grant’s enforcement of voting rights in the South, and President Nixon’s justifications for his notorious “black bag” operations. In the process, Heather and Joanne zero in on the morphing roles of the public and Congress in defining executive overreach and self-dealing.
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On this episode of Now & Then, “New York, New York,” Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman discuss the 20th anniversary of September 11th, 2001 attacks and the larger role of New York over the course of American history. How did the Dutch help lend the Big Apple its economic and cultural identity? Why isn’t New York the U.S. capital? How did newspapers transform NYC’s political power? Why are there so many apocalyptic movies set in New York? And what has made the city such a resilient and powerful locus for innovation and community?
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On the fourth episode of Now & Then, “QAnon, Cults, and Cutlery,” Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman discuss the recent FBI assessment of QAnon as a violent domestic terrorism threat. They also reflect on the historical relationship between cults and the government, from the Salem Witch Trials, to the utopian Oneida Community, to the tragic saga of Jonestown.
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On the third episode of Now & Then, “Battling Over Critical Race Theory,” Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman discuss the current debate over Critical Race Theory and the development of American historical scholarship, from Parson Weems’s fables, to George Washington Williams’ pioneering histories of Black America, to Reagan-era controversies over “Western Civilization” courses, to the influential work of Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw.
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On the second episode of Now & Then, “Investigating Democracy,” Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman discuss the history of congressional commissions, following the Senate Republican filibuster of the proposed commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection. Heather and Joanne look back on investigations of the 1856 caning of Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, the 1871 Ku Klux Klan hearings, and the 1954 back-and-forth between Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Army. In the process, they explore the partisanship and lasting cultural impact of these commissions and what that says about the utility of a January 6th Commission.
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On this first episode of Now & Then, “Entangling Alliances,” Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman discuss the emerging Biden Doctrine and the relationship between foreign and domestic policy throughout American history. Heather and Joanne focus on the French Revolution, Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive turn, and the cultural legacies of the Vietnam War as three moments from “then” that can particularly inform this transitional moment for America’s role in the world.
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On this episode of Now & Then, “Projecting America at the Olympics,” Heather and Joanne frame the current Tokyo Olympics alongside historical examples of American cultural diplomacy. They trace efforts to appeal to France in the Revolutionary Period, the rise of World’s Fairs, and the controversies that accompanied Jesse Owens’ 1936 Olympics dominance in Berlin and the 1968 Black Power salute by medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos. What do these earlier negotiations say about American self-definition, particularly given the contemporary Olympics controversy over Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from portions of the gymnastics competition?
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On this episode of Now & Then, “Culture Wars,” Heather and Joanne discuss moments of dramatic cultural change in American history: pre-Civil War abolitionism, early 20th-century individualism, to our current reckoning over police brutality and history education. How do our pop cultural artifacts, from
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On this episode of Now & Then, “Judging the Supreme Court,” Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman discuss the recently-concluded Supreme Court term, and they place the Roberts Court in the context of other consequential Supreme Courts throughout American history, from the Marshall Court of the early 19th century, to the Taney Court and its infamous
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On this episode of Now & Then, “Creating Federal Holidays, July 4th to Juneteenth,” Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman discuss the recent debate over making Juneteenth a Federal holiday. Then, Heather and Joanne look at the earlier debates that accompanied the creations of July 4th, Columbus Day, and Election Day, with a focus on the economic, moral, and political considerations that went into the formation of America’s most iconic celebratory rituals.
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On this episode of Now & Then, “The Human Toll of Infrastructure,” Heather and Joanne discuss the historical precedents for President Biden’s infrastructure proposals. What role did river infrastructure play in spurring the Constitutional Convention? What was the revolutionary impact of the Transcontinental Railroad and President Eisenhower’s championing of the Interstate highway system? What were the consequences of the Nixon administration’s veto of national childcare legislation? And turning to today, how does the congressional wrangling over Biden’s plans reflect a long-standing debate over the role that the government should play in how Americans connect to one another?
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On this episode of Now & Then, “Abortion: Whose Choice?” Heather and Joanne discuss Texas’ Senate Bill 8, one of several controversial new “heartbeat” laws that limit access to abortion. They also talk about the history of abortion from the colonial period to the present: the surprising availability of abortion until the mid-19th century, the physician-led campaign to ban abortion, and the GOP’s decision in the early 1970s to embrace the “pro-life” movement. Who gets to decide the future of reproductive rights? What role has politics played in the anti-abortion movement? And how can the constitutional right to abortion be preserved during these uncertain times?
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On this episode of Now & Then, “Attacking and Defending Voting Rights,” Heather and Joanne discuss the history of American voting rights and the antecedents to the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021. They look at New Jersey’s surprising history of female voting, the violence of the Know-Nothing Party, and the long congressional struggle to secure full suffrage for all Americans. Who has worked to deny the vote to marginalized populations? Which laws have been most effective in bolstering enfranchisement? And what still needs to be accomplished?
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On this episode of Now & Then, “Climate Control,” Heather and Joanne discuss the climate crisis and moments of political conflict over the environment throughout American history. They talk about the impact of climate on colonists, the 19th-century origins of the National Park Service, the causes and effects of the Dust Bowl, and the post-World War II emergence of the environmental movement — from Rachel Carson, to nuclear fall-out fears, to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency. What solutions might these past controversies offer the United States today? Can we reach political consensus on addressing climate change? And who is ultimately responsible for protecting the earth?
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On this episode of Now & Then, “Afghanistan & American Styles of War,” Heather and Joanne discuss the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the history of how America creates narratives around wars. They look at the divergent framings of the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, and World War II. How does a democratic society based on consent utilize force? Which wars receive widespread approval? And how do concepts of national interest affect collective identity and the quest for consensus?
Letters from an American 0 HN points 21 Sep 21
On this episode of Now & Then, “Treason(ish),” Heather and Joanne discuss the competing political narratives over accountability and punishment for the January 6th insurrection. They look back at past moments of conflict and examine the disparate ways in which former combatants integrated into American society: the Loyalists after the Revolutionary War, the Confederates after the Civil War, and a group of Nazi scientists who joined the American quest to reach the moon.