The Widdershins

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Good Monday, all. There’s a lot going on, and most of it not good, as usual, these days. The new bootlicker Drumpf has hired to represent him on teevee is typical of all his stooges: narcissistic, greedy (h/t Prolix!), and intimately tied to Russia. He’s dangling lots of fake news in front of the cable news media, and they’re all lapping it up. Drumpf still doesn’t believe Russia attacked our elections!! (Of course he does, idiots. He and his campaign helped make it happen.) He’s looking into pardoning himself!! (Of course he is. That doesn’t mean he’ll do it, for heaven’s sake. He knows he’s going to get caught, and is looking for ways to evade the consequences, just the way he always does.)

Meanwhile, some Democrats are buying into stupidity of their own. Such as, “Hillary lost ‘the Obama coalition’ to Drumpf!!! ZOMG we have to chase those 70,000 switchers in swing states with a strong economic message!” Do old white guys like Chuck Schumer never get tired of mansplaining to women?

Apparently the fact that Nate Silver, expert pollster, agrees with Hillary’s analysis of why she lost, has failed to penetrate. And, apparently the fact that the Resistance is female, and the base of the Democratic Party is female AND of color, is immaterial to Chuck and his fellow mansplainers.

Someone please tell me this: how is it a good strategy to target only a few white men by focusing on an economic message that is proven to be irrelevant, and ignore the giant mass of women that is active, energized and ready to vote, and run, as Democrats?

Like this woman.

In Prince William County, Hala Ayala is hoping to bring her values of empowerment for women and equality for all to Richmond, and at the same time, send home one of Virginia’s leading anti-choice, anti-immigrant delegates.

Ayala has long been involved in local politics. She volunteered for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. And in 2014, she helped revive the National Organization for Women (NOW) chapter in her community, becoming its president.

Now THAT is the Obama coalition, you jack*sasses!

The Democrats would be much, much better off energizing its base with a sharper version of Hillary’s message, than losing its principles by trying to gain the voters who want to go back to the fake 50’s in their heads.

Hala Ayala is doing something. And we should too. Forget the Democratic Establishment. The more we Do Something, the more they will get the message.

So let’s go to marches. Let’s form groups. Let’s donate to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. Let’s call our Senators and attend Town Halls.

It’s all working. Let’s stick with it!

This is an open thread.

 

 

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I have been a sick Widdershin, my fellow Widdershins. Summer colds are the worst, and you can’t turn the AC off because it’s too hot and humid. So the cycle of cold, dry air at home and office vs. smack-you-in-the-face heat and humidity outside. There’s only so much a body can take.

Plus, a couple of days ago MadamaB asked how long it has been. I can inform you that we just passed the 84th anniversary of Donald Dump becoming president. Ok, it’s only been 6 months, but I think we’ve all aged 84 years, give or take. So my post will be a bit more rambly than usual. Blame it on the fever and, of course, Dump.

One story that caught my eye this week is the shooting of an Australian woman named Justine Diamond by a police officer in Minneapolis. Diamond called 911 to report a possible assault and was somehow shot and killed herself. She was shot through the door of the police car as she was leaning over to speak to the officers. Both cops were wearing body cameras, but they did not turn them on. Another fatal cop shooting in a long string of fatal cop shootings. One would expect the usual reaction: Right-wing forming a protective wall around the cop. Cops can do no wrong. Except this case was different. The victim was a blonde caucasian. The cop: a black Muslim. Imagine the reactions from the alt-right…

In an interview with Ari Melber on MSNBC, Bernie Sanders was asked a question he was clearly not expecting to be asked.

“Did you know then that this might have been part of [the Kremlin’s] design?” MSNBC reporter Ari Melber asked Sanders Wednesday. “To leak these emails precisely so that there would be more riffs in the Democratic Party?”

“Well of course we knew that,” Sanders replied. “Of course we knew that they were trying to cause divisiveness within the Democratic Party,” the senator continued. “That’s no great secret.”

This should, of course, be a bigger story. Sanders admitting that he knew he was acting as a Kremlin-puppet is a big deal. But in our current endless news cycle of endless breaking stories it got somewhat lost. By now if you ask a Bernie Bros about it, they’ll tell you they never even heard of such a thing.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is going forward with its investigation of Russian interference into our election. How it’s going is hard to tell. Chuck Grassley is the chairman and I wouldn’t trust him as far as I can throw a Russian. But they have scheduled an open hearing (with Bob Mueller’s permission) to question Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort. (Also to be questioned is Bill Browder, the man who hired tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky to look into missing money…the rest is the Magnitsky Act seemingly at the center of Putin’s anger at the West.) The most interesting part of the letter the Judiciary Committee sent to Junior and Manafort, asking them to preserve all communications with people like Carter Page and Sergei Lavrov and that ambassador nobody remembers and Alfa Bank… is the inclusion of Dr. Jill Stein.

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Stein is right there between Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen. Let the fireworks begin. The hearing is scheduled to take place on Wed, July 26th.

This cartoon is from 2014.

Good Monday, all! I was just in the Caribbean without WiFi for 10 days and let me tell you, it was bliss. But alas, Drumpf is still Presnit despite all my most fervent, daiquiri-induced prayers to the Beach Goddess. So it’s time to fire up the Interwebz, put on my big-girl pants and ask this very important question:

How long has Russia been in control of the Republican Party’s agenda?

I realize that what I am saying has not yet been proven. (The operative word, pardon the pun, being “yet.”) But the circumstantial evidence is starting to become, at least in my mind, too overwhelming to ignore.

Let’s just take a minute to ponder the “coincidence” of every single person on Drumpf’s team having a Russian connection.  Every. Single. Person. Rationally speaking, how is this possible? Remember, in 2015, the Mango Meerkat was nothing more than a sleazy, self-important television personality who decided to run for President. He didn’t have a lot of contacts in the Republican Party, since he wasn’t actually a Republican. So what did he do? He surrounded himself with a mix of family, veteran Goopers and white supremacists, all of whom he realized he needs in order to steal the election in 2016. And amahzingly, there isn’t one that is free of ties to Russia.

Seriously.

I’m not just talking about his family – those connections can be explained by the fact that Drumpf is in bed with Russian kleptocrats, and his sons and daughter are all active participants in his corrupt business practices. I’m talking about the Republicans who, from Day 1, came along for the ride in the Orange Klown Kar. Roger Stone. Paul Manafort. New York’s Nosferatu, Rudy Giuliani. Henry Kissinger, for f*ck’s sake. Why? What could this babbling, Tweeting, empty-headed egomaniac have to offer them? Didn’t they have any principles, people wondered. Had they all gone crazy?

Well yes, they have principles. It’s just that these principles just happen to be the same as those of Vladimir Putin. To whom they are all so coincidentally connected.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Shame

Posted on: June 28, 2017

Fall of the Berlin Wall - 20th anniversary - Reception at Bellevue Palace
The most common accusation made against Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential campaign – as well as the entire Democratic party today – is that they have no message. This absence of a message is, they argue, what forced the “working class” (they frequently forget to say “white”) into the arms of Trump. This is blatantly preposterous. There is a difference between “message” and “messaging.” To say Hillary Clinton had no message beyond “Trump is bad,” when she provided detailed policy papers for virtually every subject likely to face an American President, is insane. To say that Trump, who offered no solutions to any problem, had some sort of message beyond “crooked Hillary” is equally insane. Trump’s campaign may have been good at messaging: Make America Great Again. But that is not a message. It’s a slogan devoid of any actual meaning. Clinton and the Democrats had detailed messages. But details are boring. And so CNN aired Trump rallies live, without commentary, and in their entirety because “Make America Great Again” requires no effort to process. It’s goes through your body like rotten fish. Discussing Clinton’s detailed policy, however, was boring. And so they didn’t discuss it. They discussed her e-mails. The Nightly News shows – ABC/CBS/NBC – dedicated x 3 time to “her e-mails” than to all policy combined. But they continue to accuse Clinton and Democrats of not having a message beyond “Trump is bad.”

In fact: “Trump is bad” is actually a pretty good message. If anyone still doesn’t understand why, then they are beyond all hope. But “they have no message” has reverberated still. Bashing Jon Ossoff’s GA campaign pundits and Bernie Bros have been screaming that Democrats still have no message beyond “Trump is bad” 7 months after the election. As Nate Silver and WaPo’s Dave Weigel have pointed out, however, Ossoff never actually discussed Trump. This laziness of the pundits – and obvious intellectual dishonesty of Bernie Bros – is in large part why we have ended up with 45.

The other reason is Democrats’ frequently lack of courage to stand by their candidates and causes. How many times we have seen someone say something nice about Clinton by first saying: “I know she’s very problematic but…” There have been a million variations on this theme, very recently Ezra Klein’s column “In (Partial) Defense of Hillary Clinton.” He starts the column with the following words:

I’m going to do something unpopular now. I’m going to defend Hillary Clinton.

You know what Ezra: go fuck yourself with the horse you rode in on. Even at the height of the election countless Democrats – the ones who were going to vote for Clinton – began their praise of her by saying “I know she’s problematic…” Stop. This. Bullshit. If you don’t have the courage to stand by your candidate, then you are not helping. You are part of the “messaging” problem. It was the same with Ossoff in GA. We are seeing it with Democrats in general. Democrat voters just can’t help flagellating themselves. “I mean, I know D’s aren’t perfect but…” No. Stop. This won’t inspire confidence in anyone to embrace Democrats and our values. Republicans never do this. This is where the “message” vs. “messaging” becomes to clear. Democrats have a great message. But messaging could be improved by just saying: “You know what. We’re pretty fucking awesome because A, B and C.” I tell people I voted for Hillary Clinton not because she was the lesser of two evils (how’s that for an endorsement?). I voted for Hillary Clinton because she was a fantastic candidate. And I’m a Democrat because Democrats have the superior platform. Look at all these policy papers that aim to protect women, children, immigrants, LGBTQ, all minorities. Democratic party is the superior party. I don’t qualify that statement with anything. I am not ashamed to say it loud and clear. That is the message and that should be our messaging: clear, unequivocal and without shame.

 

Good Monday, all. After the unveiling of the horrible Republican “Wealth Transfer Disguised as Health Care” bill, the Democrats had a prime opportunity to boldly, proudly declare what they stood for instead. In California, the state that went so overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016, the State Senate and House were on the verge of passing a single-payer health care bill. What a strong statement this would have been…except that one key Democrat is not on board.

Advocates of the single-payer healthcare proposal which has been steadily advancing through the California legislature were voicing outrage and disappointment on Saturday after Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Democrat, announced he was pulling the bill from further consideration this year.

Known as the Healthy California Act, or SB 562, the measure had already passed the state Senate and was making its way through the lower chamber when Rendon said Friday it was being shelved by the Assembly Rules Committee, which he chairs, “until further notice.”

This is a huge disappointment, not just to perpetual loser Bernie Sanders (he has yet to back a candidate or a cause that succeeds), but to me personally. I was extremely upset by Barack Obama’s failure to embrace single payer at a time when his approval rating was 80%, and he had a Democratic Congress ready to say “how high?” when he said “jump.” But then, I never had much hope that he was actually the progressive others expected he was. That’s why I never wanted him in the first place.

Now, after 8 years of Obama’s weak and feckless attempts at post-partisanship, including his fatally indecisive handling of the Russian attacks on our democratic institutions, Democrats have watered themselves down so much that they have no more message or credibility with the middle class. As we know, income inequality continued to increase on Obama’s watch. The only prominent national Democrat left who has a good record on these matters is Hillary, which is why, despite all of the monumental obstacles put in her way, she won 3 million more votes than Drumpf.

The Democrats have a dilemma now. They embraced Obama as their Messiah, and he has led them down a winding and ultimately ruinous political pathway, where his desire to be loved by everyone eclipsed his duties to represent the Democratic platform and principles. Strong and wrong is always better than weak and, somewhat partially, right. The Republicans know this truth, and they’ve made hay out of it for decades. Why, why, WHY won’t the Democrats counter the Republicans with a strong message and branding?

Is it because they know that in order to get their ideas implemented, they will have to start regulating businesses again, and step back to the days of the New Deal? Is it because they will have to turn away from Obama’s love of Reagan, and back towards their true mentor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and this would make some of their corporate donors rather uncomfortable?

The choice is not easy. If Democrats step away from Obama’s blurry vision of himself as President and “transformative” leader of the Party, they step away from the last Democratic two-term President since Bill Clinton. If they try to stay on his path, which Jon Ossoff did in Georgia, over-performing in a Republican district but not winning, I fear that Democrats will not ever get past the rather effective blockers the Republican Party have put in place: gerrymandering, voter suppression, and the aid of a hostile foreign power. And then, of course, there’s the endless, exhausting distraction of Bernie Sanders and his non-ideological brogressives, the flip side of the Drumpf cultists, who want the Party to be remade in the Image Of Bernie. No thanks, folks – worshiping mediocre men is so 2008. Not. Gonna. Do. It.

So I hope people call and write Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and tell him to get with the program. I hope people start seeing that strong and right is much, much more effective than strong and wrong. And I hope that the Democrats will be infused with new blood in 2018, candidates who are effective communicators and understand what they are supposed to stand for. Like Randy Brice, perhaps.

Let’s all make our representatives hear our voices, loudly and often. Because every day the Republican vision is allowed to permeate and obsess the media without an alternate vision from Democrats, that’s another day the Republicans win. And we can’t afford to let them do it any more.

This is an open thread.

fight-club-3

You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone, and we are all part of the same compost pile.

So wrote Chuck Palahniuk in his 1996 novel “Fight Club,” later adapted into a popular film by David Fincher starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham-Carter. Palahniuk proudly claimed that he coined the phrase “snowflake” to describe libtards, but – alas – Palahniuk is not a beautiful and unique snowflake, and his claims that he invented the insult are alternative facts. It’s a little hard to figure out Palahniuk’s politics. He has a  bit of a Milo Snuffleupagus vibe going. He likes to yell, shock and act like a jerk.  Palahniuk, who is gay, also approved the use of “snowflake” to describe liberals. And yet, the characters of “Fight Club” who resemble what one day would become the alt-right (angry, violent white men who wreak havoc upon the world and commit acts of terrorism) aren’t heroes. And it’s main character is literally a schizophrenic with multiple personalities.

In any case, whatever Palahniuk’s personal feelings on liberals and snowflakes, the term is very old. It has been traced as far back as 1860s to describe white people who opposed abolition of slavery. The alt-right’s embrace of it – and liberals’ attempts to claim it as ironic – has been an interesting fight over words. Who thought that the age of Trump would usher in a war over language.

And who would have thought that Shakespeare would be reestablished as politically relevant 400 years after his death. “Julius Caesar,” written in 1599, humanizes a despot, showing that assassinations of leaders – even the bad ones – is a terrible idea. Portraying Caesar as a contemporary is hardly a new tradition. They did it in 1930s’s Germany, and more recently on our own shores Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all been portrayed as Caesar. But it’s the Trump version in NYC’s Central Park that has incensed Trumpkins. Multiple performances have now been interrupted by the alt-right and I suspect this will continue for the duration of the production’s run.

How triggered Trumpkins are by a 400 year old play. They accuse the liberal elitists who read Shakespeare of inciting violence by showing Caesar being assassinated. And then they accuse the same liberal elitists of being snowflakes. It’s a little difficult to square the two off. I don’t know what to wear to be a snowflake terrorist!

“Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.”

Leon Trotsky

(This quote is frequently attributed to Bertolt Brecht, but actually appears to be by Trotsky!)

Art has been making people angry for as long as people have been creating art. The Pussy Riotpower of art to heighten emotions – every emotion imaginable – is unparalleled. And its ability to inspire social change is undisputed. Pierre Beaumarchais‘ Figaro trilogy was banned in France and Austria in the decade before the French Revolution. Dmitri Shostakovich‘s opera “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District” nearly got him executed, and he was on the brink of arrest by Stalin almost his entire life. The Nazis murdered more artists than one can count and created entire categories of degenerate art, which included everything from the film “Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” to the music of Kurt Weill. We have seen the Fearless Girl on Wall Street – bravely facing off the charging bull – attacked and disfigured. What are they afraid of? (One line of attack on the Fearless Girl, created by Kristen Virbal, is that it was commissioned by an investment management firm, which makes it not art. These people are ironically unaware of quite literally the entire history of art…) In our own times perhaps no act of political art has been more feared than the Russian female punk band Pussy Riot. Arrested, imprisoned, beaten by Putin and his followers: yet they persist. Perhaps in America political artists are fortunate to not be targets of government-led violence. It is imperative that we never allow it to happen.

Warning: this video by Pussy Riot is graphic.

Good Monday, all! For those who are dads, I hope you had a really nice day yesterday.

Throughout his entire life, Donald Trump has had the ability to get whatever he wants by ordering people around. He was born rich, managed to stay rich through corruption and the kind of reptilian charisma that plays well on teevee, and ran his own company with a small, mostly familial and familial-adjacent staff. He has never, ever had to work for anyone else.

And now he does. And we, the people, his employers, are not happy with his job performance.

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight has Drumpf’s approval rating at 38.7%. In his first few, horrifying months as Resident, Der Drumpfenfuhrer has spawned a surprisingly durable and peaceful resistance movement. The Women’s March was so overwhelmingly huge and widespread throughout America, that people realized they do have power in this country. And they’ve started voting in a way that doesn’t bode well for Republicans.

Since Jan. 20, Democrats have won 12 special legislative elections, and Republicans have won 11.3 But because so many special elections take place in safe districts, win-loss records can only tell you so much. Instead, you’re better off comparing their final results to the district’s baseline partisanship, which FiveThirtyEight measures using a weighted average of the last two presidential election results4 as calculated by Daily Kos.5 And in the 15 special legislative elections to pit at least one Democrat against at least one Republican,6 12 have seen a net swing toward the Democrats.

I’m writing this before Georgia’s special election, and I don’t know if Jon Ossoff will win or not. I will say this, though, for him to even come close would be a great result in that district. And the fact that the Republicans are spending soooooooo much money to keep the seat means that even seats they used to think were safe, aren’t any more.

But it’s not just voting that’s showing that the governed aren’t consenting. It’s the state governors and federal judges, resisting against the Muslim ban (no, it’s not a travel ban, folks, it’s a religious ban targeted at travelers) and the cruel “sanctuary city” defunding, and the monumental stupidity of trying to “re-negotiate” the Paris Accords and not acknowledging climate change. It’s Joe and Jane America, coming to town halls they never cared about before this year, and speaking out against the Republican agenda, which has never been more unpopular. And according to Rebecca Solnit of The Guardian, the power lies with us. I urge you to read the whole thing; here is an inspiring excerpt.

…This activism needs to be sustained, and it needs to be strategic. It needs to address voting rights, and midterm elections, and it needs to remember all the powers and possibilities that lie in activism beyond electoral politics as well. So far so good.

Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard told me that they don’t have to try to recruit or inform people anymore, that they can’t “answer the phones fast enough”; that people are showing up ready to try to change the world. She said everything groups like hers have been doing for decades “was all practice for this moment”.

People like to predict the future, often a dismal future, but the future is not written. It is ours to write. In this moment of utter turmoil, civil society must be the counter to a rogue administration, one whose victory is a surprise equaled by its myriad defeats ever since.

A crisis, says one dictionary, is “the point in the progress of a disease when a change takes place which is decisive of recovery or death; also, any marked or sudden change of symptoms, etc.” This crisis could be the death or the recovery of a more democratic, more inclusive, more generous America. Where we go from here is up to us.

I choose Option B.

This is an open thread.

 

 


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Blog Archive

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Our 2016 Ticket!

Our girl is gonna shine

Busted: Glass ceiling

HRC bumper sticker

She’s thinking “Less than 2 weeks I have to keep seeing that face”

Yeah I can make it

The team we’re on

Women’s March on Washington!

Right-click the pic for more info

Kellyanne Conway’s new job

So similar

Take the kids to work? NO!

3 turds control fate of healthcare for millions

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed