The Widdershins

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Happy Monday all! Our blithering idiot of a Presnit is off making an *ss of himself over yonder in those parts out there which are not ‘Murca. We’re so very proud, aren’t we?

While the Mango Meerkat bobbles along brainlessly, shedding havoc and treason like orange lint from his head, perhaps it’s now time for the media to admit something we always knew at TW: that the President is supposed to be…well, boring.

Our Hillary is inspiring, brilliant and and amazing, and would have been a great President – perhaps the greatest since FDR. What she isn’t, is a relentless tweeter of nonsense, a boundless gaffe machine, a man who loses his way on a one-way street. She also isn’t in Putin’s pocket, surrounded by sycophants, white supremacists and Children of the Corn. Despite decades of media creating faux scandals around Hillary, Our Girl has only ever been guilty of having a cheating husband, and a private email server.

But the headlines with Drumpf! The eyes, oh, the eyes on their shows and their newsprint and their podcasts and their Twitter accounts! They made so much money in the run-up to the election…so very, very much money. This is a great article from November 14, 2016 on how the media enabled and empowered him to rise.

In 1968 Roger Ailes, the future boss of Fox News, had a problem: how to get Richard Nixon on television without it being controlled and filtered by what he felt was a hostile media.

His solution was to create his own staged Nixon TV specials and offer them to TV stations. Forty-eight years later, CNN was effectively doing the same for Trump – free of charge.

The enthusiasm for Trump at CNN was simple: ratings. Jeff Zucker, the boss of CNN, is also the man who employed him to present The Apprentice when he worked at NBC.

Zucker, perhaps more than anyone else, turned Trump into a TV star.

Nope, there’s nothing to see here! These are not the droids you’re looking for.

And then they make this point:

The need for headlines that bring clicks and stories that get shared has changed everything. Dull, balanced articles (like this one) don’t provoke fury, laughter or much in the way of emotion.

Trump was simply more entertaining and generating more passion. In a news environment moving from a world of subscriptions and long-term appointments-to-view to the vagaries of clicks, friends’ recommendations and Facebook news streams, that makes him a winner.

I do disagree with that last sentence. The Donald has never been a winner. He managed to lose almost a billion dollars on casinos, which are basically like cash registers that are always full. He’s clearly an awful deal maker – so far he hasn’t done a single thing he’s said he was going to do. The arms deal with the Saudis, I’m sure, will turn out to be a disaster, just like the health care bill, “tax reform,” renegotiating NAFTA, and countless other campaign promises I don’t need to elaborate on here.

The media has a great deal of self-examination to do. It’s developed a clear preference for candidates who perpetually campaign and entertain; unfortunately, as we’ve seen, this type of candidate is singularly unsuited to governing. A yelling, lying, treasonous Cheeto in a bad wig does not have the gravitas, intelligence and temperament to do the hardest job in the world. This should have been the message the teevee and print media gave us. But instead, they equivalated this creature’s malfeasance and genuine danger to the Republic, with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while SOS…even though this was neither against the law, nor unprecedented, nor a threat to national security in itself. (It did give the Republicans a chance to investigate a Clinton, though – something they much prefer to the odious task of doing the people’s business.)

As the media continues to awaken, let’s hope that looking at Drumpf with a more objective eye will lead the media to start looking at themselves. Some are already doing so.

This is an open thread.

Good Monday, all! Your friend MadamaB is all in a tizzie today because, well, BECAUSE! What the living f*ck is going on with the Mango Maniac and his cowardly, venal, morally vacant enablers? Der Drumpenfuhrer is wildly waving his tiny hands and firing everyone he can think of, including the man who was investigating his ties to Russia. His “Apprentice” itch apparently not scratched, according to the latest reports, the pResident is going to make his staff go through a major shakeup.

But tra la la, who cares? The Republicans have done a cost-benefit analysis, and they think they’re still better off with the Circus Peanut than anyone else that could replace him. Like an addict who can’t believe the vial is empty, the Paul Ryans of the world, and there are, sadly, many of them in Congress now, cannot believe that their long, LONG dream has ended. Oh, woe is they! Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security shall not, in fact, be transferred to the wealthiest of the wealthy by means of a devastating tax cut masquerading as a health care plan. The blowback at GOP town halls has been so universal and severe, that many of them refuse to show up. Did I mention they were cowardly? Why yes, I believe I did.

The problem, you see, is that there are more than a few grains of truth to the accusation that Washington politicos have forgotten about their constituents. They have grown used to power and have forgotten that we, the people, can fire them at our leisure. This is especially true of the Republican Party, which, through gerrymandering, purges of millions of Democrats from voter rolls, and mass hypnosis of terrified white people through church and rightwing media outlets, now expects all voters in certain states to routinely vote against their own interests. The Democratic Party’s Obama wing is also shamefully blasé about the needs of their voters (like wimminz! and bizarrely, people of color), but thankfully, there is diversity in our ranks, and not all Democrats follow that model. (You know who doesn’t, Widdershins.)

Shimmy Shimmy HRC!

So the Republicans are in deep, and rather desperate-sounding, denial about the Constitutional crisis the Rancid Cheeto has caused by, well, by being inaugurated! On Day 1, this corrupt cretin violated the Emoluments Clause and invited impeachment. Now, he’s all but daring Congress to do their worst. And so far, that’s what they’ve done, putting Party over Country all day, every day.

My fellow Widdershins, I feel that the time has come, once again, for a massive public outcry. Let’s make the Congress do what it should have done long ago: Throw Der Drumperer under the bus, and all of his Children of the Corn, white supremacists and mild-mannered liars named Pence and Priebus.

There is a new March coming on Saturday, June 3rd, called the March for Truth. It’s for us to go out and show that we believe Drumpf is a clear and present danger to our democratic norms, and he must go in order for our republic to survive.

Time to put our feet on the street again, all. Let’s show our Congresscritters that they have our support to remove this feces-throwing orangutan from office. And we DON’T want to wait till 2018, thank you very much.

This is an open thread.

Our Fearless Leaders…

THE SCENE: A conference room at the DNC’s Washington headquarters. It’s clear that a long meeting is in progress, from the various soda cans and coffee mugs on the table, scribbles and diagrams on the whiteboard, and the generally exhausted and disheveled air of the 6 participants. At the head of the table is TOM PEREZ, the newly-elected head of the Democratic National Committee. Sitting to his right is KEITH ELLISON, his second-in-command. There are four other people around the table: BERNIE SANDERS, loser of the Democratic Primary by 4 million votes; BILL MAHER, mansplainer extraordinaire; CHUCK SCHUMER, head of the Senate Democrats; and The One, former President BARACK OBAMA. There are, of course, no women present. 

As the curtain rises, we see PEREZ and ELLISON in earnest and quiet discussion. SANDERS’ head is down and his eyes are closed; gentle snores issue from his nose. SCHUMER is gazing raptly into OBAMA’s eyes, while MAHER is on the phone, pacing, at the other end of the table. PEREZ and ELLISON decide to bring the group back in.

PEREZ: Guys, hey! (The men in the room reluctantly begin to shift into “pay attention” mode.) I know it’s been a long day so far. But I think we’ve made real progress. Let’s take a look at the whiteboard one more time. Keith, can you give Bernie a nudge?

ELLISON (checking his watch): Yeah, I guess it’s still light outside. (goes over and gently shakes SANDERS, who unelegantly snorts awake.)

SANDERS: Oh! Sorry about that. I must have napped for a minute there.

OBAMA (muttering) More like the past 90 minutes, man. (SCHUMER snickers.)

MAHER (on the phone): Crap. I’ve gotta go, Ann. Of course I’ll have you on my show again. I don’t care how conservative you are; you’re my kind of woman. (Hangs up) Sorry about that. It’s hard for me to say no to a hot blonde, even if she talks a lot of sh*t sometimes. Am I right?

(SANDERS is the only one who laughs.)

PEREZ (into the awkward silence): Uh. Right! So, to recap: we want to rebuild the Democratic Party to prepare for 2018 and beyond. We can’t just focus on the Presidency every four years. That’s what got us into this mess in the first place!

OBAMA: Hey!

SCHUMER (smoothing it over): Sorry, Mr. President, but you have to agree that we should have spent more money and time building up Congress, the governorships and state legislatures. Now look what’s happened! The lunatics are running the asylum, and we don’t even have the option to impeach the schmuck squatting in the Oval Office to get his d*mn kids and that Breitbart wacko out of there. I feel like I’m living in Bizarro World!

SANDERS (standing up): I couldn’t agree more, Chuck. If it weren’t for that d*mn woman losing the election, we would be in the catbird seat right now. Thankfully you guys took over from that idiot Schultz, so we can take the Party back from the millionaires and billionaires! (sits down, self-satisfied)

(OBAMA rolls his eyes.)

MAHER (snarkily): Catbird seat?! How old ARE you?! (goes back to his phone and stops paying attention)

SCHUMER (politely): Uh, Bernie, that wasn’t actually what I said. In fact, it was pretty much the opposite. And I think it would be just terrific if you would stop obsessing about the primaries now. You know that 4 million more Democrats voted for Hillary. There was no rigging, except what the Russians did for Trump!

OBAMA: That’s right, Chuck. I knew those Russians were up to no good! But it shouldn’t have mattered. They should have come out for her the way they came out for me. (shaking his head) D*mn! I can’t believe my inspirational speeches didn’t work.

PEREZ (muttering): You mean those condescending lectures? Yeah, shocking.

ELLISON: (standing up and going to a whiteboard that turns around) Guys, guys! Come on now. We’re all on the same side, trying to do the same thing. Right? Let’s focus on beating the Republicans in 2018! Take a look at my strategy. I think we can all agree it’s a winner!

(ELLISON dramatically turns the whiteboard around. There is a picture of two people: one woman and one man. The man has unexpectedly sprouted a cartoon p*nis, and the woman has grown very large cartoon breasts.)

MAHER (grinning): Hey, Keith baby. I improved on it a bit.

PEREZ: Oh my God. (puts head in hands)

ELLISON (furiously erasing the offending bits): Bill, what are you even doing here? You’re not a politician. I don’t even know if you’re a Democrat!

MAHER: (standing up) Yeah? Well I figured you’ve got Bernie here, and he’s no Democrat. So what the f*ck, why shouldn’t I weigh in? After all, I know why you liberals always lose – it’s because you focus on the wrong things, like political correctness, instead of appealing to normal people like me.

SANDERS: YEAH!

OBAMA (finally a bit exercised): Oh – you mean we should cater to arrogant white guys who think they’re all that? I was President of the United States, you jackass. Have a little respect!

THE MEN GO SILENT, CHASTENED.

MAHER: Mr. President, I apologize. I got a bit carried away. It’s been a long day. (smarmily) Keith, why don’t we get back to your whiteboard. I promise I won’t touch it again.

ELLISON (not at all mollified, but willing to play along): All right. I cleaned up Bill’s mess, and here we are. These, gentlemen, are our new targeted Democratic voters.

First, we have Brenda. Brenda is an affluent white woman in the suburbs, who usually votes Republican. Our message? We feel your pain. You don’t want to think about the environment, or foreign policy, or how your vote affects people less fortunate than yourself. You just want lower taxes and an easy life for you and your family. And Brenda, you deserve it!

SANDERS (interrupting): Uh, Keith, I’m sure that’s not the message you want to send to Brenda. Don’t you want to talk to her about millionaires and billionaires taking over the country?

OBAMA: (interrupting): Nah, she’s a woman. Talk to her about taking care of her children!

SCHUMER (interrupting): What about abortion? Why can’t we talk to her about that? That’s the main issue for all women.

MAHER (interrupting): Women care about only one thing – a big schlong and a nice house. Why do you think I get so much action? (pointing) Hung like a horse, my friends.

(The meeting dissolves into chaos and yelling.)

PEREZ (commandingly): STOP! (The chaos calms.) Team, this is a mess. I forget, why are we targeting affluent white women again? And the man, isn’t he white too?

ELLISON (sheepishly): Uh, yes, Tom, yes he is. But remember, white people swung the election to that creep. We’ve got to get them to vote for us so we don’t lose again in 2018!

SANDERS: Yeah!

ELLISON (gaining confidence): I mean, look over here at the map of the United States. Come on, everyone, gather round the other whiteboard!

(Everyone gets up and dutifully looks at the whiteboard.)

SANDERS: Wow, is that Vermont? Huh. I thought it was bigger.

OBAMA (sarcastically): We know, Bernie.

ELLISON (clearing his throat): Ahem! Right. So look where the Democrats have all their support…in the East, West and some areas of the South. There’s very little in the middle of the country. That’s where we have to focus our efforts!

(The group murmurs in agreement, except PEREZ, who is scratching his head.)

PEREZ: So, uh…not to be a party pooper here, but…what about our base? African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, etc.? Shouldn’t we focus on turning them out rather than trying to convert people who never vote Democratic? And what about making sure people can vote in 2018? I heard that voter participation dropped 2-3 percentage points because of all those restrictive voting laws in those middle of the country states. If that hadn’t happened, plus all the Russian hacking and the Comey letter, Hillary would have won in a landslide!

SANDERS (getting red in the face): Oh please. She’s a loser! You should all listen to me. I would have won! It would have been YUGE!

ELLISON: I agree with Bernie. She only won by 3 million votes, and that’s mostly because of California. Who cares? It’s the middle of the country that counts.

SCHUMER: Wait a minute. What about New York? The greatest state in the nation!

(The room starts to get contentious again.)

OBAMA: Hey, hey, everyone. Look, it’s clear that we have some differences of opinion, but I’m confident we can work it all out. The notion that somehow Republicans could win in 2018 is patently absurd. Let’s all reconvene tomorrow, when we’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, and look at everything with fresh eyes. Okay?

(The men mutter and shake hands reluctantly as OBAMA ushers them out. PEREZ lingers behind and takes out his phone.)

PEREZ (quietly, making sure no one is around): Hello, Hillary? It’s me, Tom. (pauses) It was rough today. We really need you back. These guys have no clue! Obama does nothing but talk about himself. Maher makes dirty jokes and snarks. Bernie just yells “millionaires and billionaires” and says you’re a loser, then falls asleep.

(A hearty laugh issues from the phone.)

PEREZ: (chuckling) Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous. Meanwhile, Chuck is too afraid of making enemies to stand up to the others, even though he knows they’re on the wrong track. And Ellison backs whatever Bernie says. It’s a disaster!

(PEREZ pauses for a long moment as CLINTON talks.)

PEREZ: Really? You think it’s time you came out of the woods? Tell me more…

The lights dim and fade out as PEREZ listens to CLINTON.

THE END…?

Good Monday, Widdershins. I hope you had a good International Women’s Day. I saw quite a few women wearing red at my client site last week in honor of “A Day without a Woman.” It was inspirational. I think there are several more actions planned from the organizers of the Women’s March, so stay tuned!

Now to the title of my post. This comes from some research I’ve been doing on the human brain, and the way it works to keep us alive and protect us from threats. This won’t be a super-science-y piece – more of a meditation on the state our country is in, and how it’s possible for sub-human cretins like Drumpf, Bannon and their minions to win even one vote, much less 60-odd million.

As I’m sure many of you know better than I, there are older, more primitive parts of our brains that only exist to make sure we quickly and instinctively respond to threats. From an evolutionary perspective, these parts of the brains are extremely important. They initiate the “fight or flight” response, which actually also includes a “freeze” as well, giving us microseconds to decide either to go to war, or to retreat.

After millions of years of evolution, we actually developed the capability to process these responses and evaluate them. Ah, the frontal lobe! Human beings develop this part of the brain in young adulthood. At least, some human beings do.

…It organizes responses to complex problems, plans steps to an objective, searches memory for relevant experience, adapts strategies to accommodate new data, guides behavior with verbal skills and houses working memory. Its orbitofrontal circuit manages emotional impulses in socially appropriate ways for productive behaviors including empathy, altruism, interpretation of facial expressions. Stroke in this area typically releases foul language and fatuous behavior patterns [bolding mine].

My argument today is that Drumpf and his supporters have either not developed their frontal lobes, or they have developed them, but are unable to use them. Their amygdalae are in charge, causing them to respond unthinkingly to perceived threats without the calming influence of the orbitofrontal circuit. This inability to counter the constant screaming of “Danger, Will Robinson!” makes them extremely susceptible to manipulation by other like-minded people, who deeply understand the constant state of anxiety in which these primitive brains exist.

In other words…they are stupid. And because they’re stupid, they’re evil.

Read the rest of this entry »

hrc-reading-about-pence

Oh, No He Dwa – Wa

Good Monday, Widdershins! It’s been another dizzying, crazy-making week in Washington. It’s almost impossible to make sense of all the Republicans melting down in public, including the fact that Mike Pence (currently being marketed as “The Normal One”) used a private email server to conduct government bidness as Indiana’s governor! Yes, that’s Our Girl reading about it over there on the right side.

Let’s take a little break from the cray-cray and talk about some of the good things going on. As we know, March is Women’s History Month, and March 8, 2017 is International Women’s Day. Thanks to the Women’s March, a spontaneous outpouring of love, positivity and opposition the day after Drumpf’s inauguration, women, and those who support us, have been energized for activism in a way they haven’t been in decades.

This year, March 8 is A Day Without A Woman.

In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the Women’s March, we join together in making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity. We recognize that trans and gender nonconforming people face heightened levels of discrimination, social oppression and political targeting. We believe in gender justice.

Anyone, anywhere, can join by making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, in one or all of the following ways:

  1. Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
  2. Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
  3. Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman

Ah, but what are we women yammering about, skeptics may grumble. After all, women aren’t that far away from being equal. And it’s true, we’ve made some strides. Maybe we should wait! According to the IWD website, if we continue on our current course, women will achieve gender parity in 2186.

I’ll just let that sit there for a minute.

When I read that figure, I thought, huh. Weren’t we doing better a few years ago? Why yes. Yes we were.

On average, the 144 countries covered in the Report have closed 96% of the gap in health outcomes between women and men, unchanged since last year, and more than 95% of the gap in educational attainment, an improvement of almost one full percentage point since last year and the highest value ever measured by the Index. However, the gaps between women and men on economic participation and political empowerment remain wide: only 59% of the economic participation gap has been closed—a continued reversal on several years of progress and the lowest value measured by the Index since 2008—and about 23% of the political gap, continuing a trend of slow but steady improvement. Weighted by population, in 2016, the average progress on closing the global gender gap stands at a score of 0.683—meaning an average gap of 31.7% remains to be closed worldwide across the four Index dimensions in order to achieve universal gender parity.

Out of the 142 countries covered by the Index both this year and last year, 68 countries have increased their overall gender gap score compared to last year, while 74 have seen it decrease. It therefore has been an ambiguous year for global gender parity, with uneven progress at best.

Sometimes statistics like this can seem dry. This year, in which we saw a feces-throwing orangutan being inaugurated as President, instead of the first woman ever, it’s as pertinent and full of emotional impact as the shameful and terrifying deportations, anti-Semitic hate crimes, and virulent, violent racism flourishing in the Age of Republican Hate.

But damn, I was going to talk about the good things, right? Here are 31 days of sheroes to inspire us. And for those who want to talk about the insanity du jour, this is an open thread.

 

 

Good Monday, all! As we begin the fifth week of the Worst Reality Show Evah (Make it stop, dear Goddess, make it stop…), it has become clear that Republicans in Congress are refusing to admit that the man James Comey, Vladimir Putin and the broadcast media forced into the Presidency is completely, 100% loony tunes. Why? Because they really, REALLY want to steal from the poor and give to the rich. Somehow these evil plans make their tiny Grinchy hearts swell with bile – I mean, happiness. So until they get their way and make tens of millions of people suffer so they can fill their empty souls with more meaningless expensive possessions, they’re going to pretend everything is just fine. Or at least, they’re not going to invoke the 25th Amendment, which it is long past time to do.

Well, one Democrat, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, is going there.

The 25th amendment says in part that the vice president and ‘a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide’ can demand the president’s removal from office if they decide he is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties.’

Blumenauer said in a Wednesday op-ed that appeared on OregonLive.com that the amendment isn’t strong enough.

‘It has inherent flaws that need to be addressed. The amendment’s default decision-makers– the vice president and the cabinet — have a natural bias toward the existing officeholder that would make them reluctant to acknowledge the president’s inability to serve,’ he said.

Oh, indeed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oh my, oh my. What a Super Bowl, what a Week 2 of the Worst Presidency Ever. The atrocities are too many to document, which is why I’ve added a link to the sidebar where you can find them yourself. And, US Uncut is keeping track of the victories against the Drumpf agenda, which are also starting to pile up.

I have to say that this year’s Super Bowl commercials had a very, VERY anti-Trump and pro-Hillary message. This one in particular, from Audi, made me teary. Is it a coincidence that the girl is a blonde? I think not.

And it’s not just people in the streets and courageous judges who are fighting the Mango Meerkat. It’s businesses, too – in particular, the IT sector, which relies  heavily on talent from all areas of the world. And hey, what about those Democrats? Chuck has been everywhere. After Drumpf declined to criticize Pooty-Poot for murdering journalists and dissidents, Pelosi has called for an investigation into the Cheeto’s Russian connections. It’s about freaking time! Meanwhile, civic-minded states and cities are preparing for big legal fights against the Muslim ban. (I refuse to call it a “travel ban.” There’s a religious test, for heaven’s sake!) And the ACLU has received tens of millions in unprecedented donations.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing is the defection of two moderate Republican Senators (Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski). In response to thousands of calls and letters from their constituents, they refused to vote yes on Betsy DeVos, one of the least qualified of all of the feces-throwing orangutan’s horrific Cabinet nominees. Sadly, she’ll probably get confirmed anyway…but remember, it’s only Week 2, and there are already signs of abandoning ship. Even McTurtle is starting to try to put distance between himself and POTUS.

My feeling about this nightmare in the White House is that it’s just too late for Trump to succeed. Had he come in after Al-Qaeda attacked on 9/11, he might have had a chance. But Bush did his damage, and we have at least partially recovered. America has elected and re-elected an African-American president with a Muslim-ish name; we’ve seen a beloved sports figure celebrated for coming out as transgender; we’ve legalized same-sex marriage and seen millions of women march in solidarity across the country and the world. We’ve moved on. Trump is the least popular President since the tracking started, and he’s going down, down, down.

Somehow, some way, I have faith that we will get rid of this existential threat to our democracy and our planet. I can’t tell you how, and if I did, I’d probably be wrong. But I think it will happen, and sooner rather than later.

This is an open thread.

 

 


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