The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘2021’ Category

I can hardly believe it, but it’s Thanksgiving next week, Widdershins! I hope you’re all going to take some time to relax. Two viruses – the pandemic and the Republican virus of vaccine and mask resistance – have cast a pall over holiday gatherings this year. The pandemic is the one affecting Thanksgiving for me. I am thankful that my family is all vaxxed, AND, that I am seeing my aunt and uncle from Baltimore for the first time since the Rona reared its ugly head. We’ll still need to get negative PCR tests before we can go inside my brother’s house for Turkey and Tofurkey Day (my sister-in-law is vegetarian), but it’s worth it to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Despite the wretched Rittenhouse verdict, we had a lot to be thankful for this week. President Biden signed the BIF and Speaker Pelosi got the Build Back Better bill signed in the House. Now, the bill goes to the Senate, but thanks to the reconciliation process, only Democrats need to vote for it. Despite Manchinema saying they’ll wait for the CBO report to say how they vote, the report is coming soon, and I don’t think they’ll make a lot of trouble after what happened in New Jersey and Virginia. Oh, and remember how McConnell insisted a couple of months ago that he would absolutely, totally, NOT vote yes on raising the debt ceiling on December 15? Looks like he and Chuck are talking about it now. Something tells me Chuck will get what he wants.

I hope you all will indulge me as I take a minute to marvel at what the Democrats have accomplished so far. The Party has had full control of the federal government only since February 3, 2021, when Schumer and McConnell agreed on power-sharing in the Senate. Given that metric, it’s been nine and a half months.

We have been so traumatized and terrified by the hostile maladministration of Rethugs that we are not used to any good news coming from government sources. I believe this trauma, in combination with our blatantly fascist media, are what’s preventing us from appreciating the revolutionary nature of this time in our political history. There has not been a truly significant investment in the 99% since the Affordable Care Act – and even that was weak sauce compared to what’s being passed now. I can only compare the current furious activity to the New Deal, without the racism of that legislation. And Democrats are doing it all with a majority of 1 vote – the revolutionary, first Black and Asian woman Vice President Kamala Harris. (PRESIDENT Kamala Harris for a few hours this week! Incredible!)

I have often said that the job of President of the United States is the hardest job in the world. 350 million souls, so many of them suffering due to social and economic inequality; and the rest of the world, looking to Biden for leadership, aid and partnership – with a few countries trying to destroy him and America from the inside. Imagine coming into that job after almost 27 years of Rethug destruction, plus a global pandemic that has been botched almost beyond repair, with a forever war to end in Afghanistan and an ongoing attempted coup added in for good measure!

Leaders talented enough to take on this job successfully need two traits in combination. One is, the ability to communicate a shared purpose that people can believe in; and the other is the ability to build the right team to drive it forward.

I think Pelosi and Schumer have been able to wrangle the Democrats into passing these historic bills not just because they too are very talented leaders (they certainly are!), but also because Biden has convinced Congressional Dems that his purpose is the right one. (This doesn’t count the Squad, of course, but they’re DINOs.) His purpose to me is quite simple: let’s join the 21st century so China and Russia don’t destroy us. He’s looking ahead strategically and seeing how many of our people are mired in poverty, illness and incarceration without access to the Internet, child care, education and healthcare. This state of the Union makes us less competitive on the world stage, holding us back from making progress on difficult problems like climate change and clean energy. Every initiative Biden has put forward has been consistent with this purpose; whether it’s the American Rescue Plan, which included an increased Child Tax Credit that has already cut child poverty by 50%; or the BIF, which includes billions for clean water and renewable energy; or the Build Back Better Act, which in its current form regulates the cost of child care, provides four weeks of paid parental and sick leave for all American workers, provides free universal pre-K for all 3 and 4-year-olds, and boosts Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, as well as containing $500 billion to address climate change. Women’s rights are far from forgotten – the latest annual budget proposal drops the Hyde Amendment for the first time since 1976, as well as the less-known Weldon Amendment that works in tandem with it, and includes historic amounts of funding for Title X and access to abortion. And let’s not forget the executive orders he’s signed to mandate vaccines in workplaces through OSHA, and block the Keystone XL pipeline and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. For more details, this poster on Twitter always has receipts.

Biden’s ability to build a stellar team is on display all day, every day. From our marvelous VP Kamala Harris, who (despite getting the Hillary treatment from the media) is succeeding on multiple fronts, to his diverse and talented Cabinet, Chief of Staff and Press Secretary, all of his team are on point, on message and doing what needs to be done.

There is plenty of bad that’s going on in this world, but today, I’m thankful for what the Democrats have done for the American people. And today and every day, I’m thankful for all of you Widdershins who have kept me going through good times and bad, for lo, these many years.

Happy Thanksgiving all! Open thread as always.

It’s that time of year again, Widdershins. Tonight, we set our clocks back an hour, thrusting us temporarily further into the darkness of these cold, mysterious months. If you have a tendency towards Seasonal Affective Disorder, I hope this is the time you bring out your sunlamp. For me, it means an extra hour of sleep, which I clearly need, as I’m up at 7 am most weekend mornings (not voluntarily, by habit)!

We do measure our time in weeks here at TW, and boy, was this past week a doozy. Certainly there was mixed news on the election front, but overall there were some key bright spots for Democrats. DYB posted that Virginia almost bucked a 30-year trend to vote against the incumbent Party for Governor, and it’s been 44 years since NJ has re-elected a Democratic governor. I have quite a few friends in New Jersey, and four of them are blue dots in big red counties, Sussex and Morris. If you take a look county by county, you can see that while NJ is a blue state for President, it has quite a bit of red. This has a good deal to do with why NJ frequently elects Republican Governors.

The idea that Drumpf guarantees election wins took another hit, as he endorsed the NJ candidate who lost. He also endorsed the VA candidate who won, but the only reason that worked is because Drumpf was forced to stay away by Youngkin’s campaign. They know that while the Mango Moron energizes Republican turnout, he also energizes Democratic turnout. And they knew that if they could suppress turnout, they actually had a chance of winning.

Speaking of turnout, it was the cause of McAuliffe’s loss and Murphy’s squeaker win. No, white women didn’t swing massively to Drumpf – it’s just that during the exit polls, more Republican women showed up between 2020 and 2021. While McAuliffe got 200,000 more votes than Northam in 2017, Youngkin outperformed Northam’s 2017 opponent by 500,000 votes. The Atlantic article linked above has some excellent insights.

Even with Youngkin’s marginal gains in the center, both the exit polls and actual results suggest instead that McAuliffe’s biggest problems were explosive turnout and huge deficits in the parts of the state most alienated from Biden and the Democrats who now control Washington. Turnout in Republican-leaning places was so strong that the share of the statewide vote cast by the blue-leaning big five Northern Virginia counties declined this year after steadily rising over the past three governor’s races; Richmond city and neighboring Henrico, still solidly Democratic, also cast a smaller percentage of the vote this year than in 2017, based on results as of Wednesday afternoon.

Relative to Northam, McAuliffe’s share of the vote consistently declined more in the southern half of the state, an area with relatively fewer college graduates, than it did in more white-collar Northern Virginia. “An engaged GOP base delivered Republicans even bigger landslides than usual in rural central and western Virginia,” the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics wrote in its analysis of the results yesterday. “In 2013, McAuliffe lost the 9th Congressional District, in the southwestern corner of the state, by about 30 percentage points. Last night … McAuliffe’s deficit there fell to about 50 points.” That erosion was evident not only in the southwestern counties that have become Republican bedrocks but also in southeastern Virginia jurisdictions that are either purple or Democratic-leaning, such as Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake County.

The article makes the case that Biden’s lower approval numbers, plus a series of reforms that made it easier to vote in Virginia AND historic trends, caused a huge surge in turnout on the Republican side. Democrats were not able to match it in Virginia, but made it work in NJ, against the odds, for a popular incumbent Governor who’s shown good results from liberal policies.

These results say three things to me. First of all, our Party is a big tent. A significant percentage of our politicians and voters, on the “left” (Bernie acolytes who scream about how nothing is ever good enough and vote with Republicans), right and center, have serious problems with Biden’s determination to center the lifting of poor people, women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ as his economic agenda. Racism, misogyny and homophobia work on them. While this percentage is mostly made up of white people, Drumpf made gains in the Latino, Black and Asian communities in 2020 by running racist ads targeted at engaging them to vote Republican. “Zero sum” – keep your foot on the necks of marginalized people so you can stay on top – is literally the only platform Republicans have. All the code words in the world (CRT, socialism) won’t change that. I think as we go forward into 2022, we need to realize that a percentage of voters (especially those who are white and without college education) are not reliable, and expect that they will go Republican.

Second of all, we are a lot more fickle (in my fury I wrote “whiny” on election night) than Republicans. Republicans will vote for a three-eyed alien from Xenu if it has an R label and runs on a racist agenda. (Hence, the success of TFG, a disgusting gob of orange goo who has gained cult-like loyalty and enthusiasm from Republican voters.) A good percentage of Democrats vote on “what have you done for me lately?”, and lack both understanding and patience when it comes to getting bills passed with a tiny majority in the House and Senate. These voters are susceptible to media propaganda about how Democrats are in disarray and terrible at everything and are going to throw all of us under the bus…so vote third-party to elect Republicans who will then proceed to do everything they can to destroy the country. FACEPALM. In addition, young people mostly don’t vote unless they feel every single need of theirs is being taken care of AND they’re able to lift their eyes from social media enough to be aware of the election happening. I have seen this dynamic in my own life, with very smart colleagues who are in their 20s and early 30s, solidly Democratic, who forget to vote in off-year elections. Not good!

For that fickle Democratic electorate, it’s absolutely critical to get Biden’s economic agenda passed ASAP. As the Atlantic article states (and many smart Widdershins as well!),

For the majority of Democratic elected officials and strategists, the most immediate lesson of Tuesday’s tough night is that the party needs to finally pass Biden’s economic agenda—which they hope will both assuage doubts about the president’s competence and provide them a list of tangible programs they can take to voters next year, including an expanded child tax credit and child-care subsidies and plans to lower prescription-drug prices. One message from last night’s result is that “when you are the party in power, you can’t win only by convincing people to fire the other guys; you have to convince people to rehire you,” says Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic communications strategist based in Virginia. “And that means getting the Biden economic agenda done and then relentlessly talking about how we delivered on it.”

This week, the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill was passed, and the Democrats are working on the other two big bills they want to pass through reconciliation. If these bills go forward, will it be enough for the second fickle group to turn out? I don’t know, because there’s always something to complain about. Merrick Garland! Voting rights! What have you done for me lately, on my timeline, without any consideration of yours? I’m disappointed and I’m staying home! So here’s where I have a third point to make.

Democrats should be unapologetic about their priorities and call out the QOP for theirs. Yes, we center women, people of color, LGBTQ+ and poor people. Why shouldn’t we? What have you got against this? Use “Build Back Better” as your slogan – three words Americans can remember (we really can’t focus on much more than that). Go on offense. When Republicans use their racist code words, call them out as racist, don’t say things like “CRT isn’t taught in K-12 today.” That’s not the point – the point is that “CRT” is a racist code word. Say that. “Your talking point about CRT is racist.” Just keep hammering on that. “Your talking point about socialism is racist.” It will gain the attention of the profit-driven media, which will then say “racist” repeatedly in association with Republicans, and has the added benefit of being true.

Yes, this will turn out the QOP base, but as we saw this week, that ship has already sailed. They are energized and ready to bring back JFK, Jr. as TFG’s running mate in 2024, and happy to elect Republicans in 2022 to accomplish their agenda. We can’t do anything about that. What we can do is energize our own base with real talk and accomplishments to go with it, and start voter outreach campaigns NOW for our House and Senate candidates.

I sincerely hope we do all of this in time.

As always, an open thread.

I’m suffering from both too much and not enough to say today, plus tons of life stuff to get to. So, Happy Father’s Day, happy Juneteenth and happy weekend!

Open thread.

Shinners, I am a curious person. I like finding out all the five W’s and H (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How) to learn more about a subject of interest. Like birds – I’ve spent a lot of time recently learning about them.

But damn, when your educational system prevents you from even knowing what you don’t know…neither curiosity nor all the will in the world will help.

I was never taught about the Tulsa Race Massacre in school. I guess whomever wrote the textbooks knew how much negative perception would go along with that knowledge – the deep-seated racism in this country, the pure evil of that mass murder, and the reality that would tarnish America’s well-crafted egalitarian image. It was only in the past year (I think it was on Rachel Maddow’s show?) that the veil of my ignorance was lifted. And for the first time, an American President has addressed it, on the shameful and tragic anniversary of its occurrence. Biden made a historic speech, in which his trademark empathy was on full display. But as we’ve started to see with Biden and Harris, words are just the beginning. And now, Biden is looking to begin to address some of the racial disparities that have been kept in public policy and hidden away from public view.

The Tulsa massacre has only recently entered the national discourse — and the presidential visit put an even brighter spotlight on the event.

Biden, who was joined by Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge and senior advisers Susan Rice and Cedric Richmond, also announced new measures he said could help narrow the wealth gap between races and reinvest in underserved communities by expanding access to homeownership and small-business ownership.

The White House said the administration will take steps to address disparities that result in Black-owned homes being appraised at tens of thousands of dollars less than comparable homes owned by white residents as well as issue new federal rules to fight housing discrimination. The administration is also setting a goal of increasing the share of federal contracts awarded to small disadvantaged businesses by 50% by 2026, funneling an estimated additional $100 billion to such businesses over the five-year period, according to the White House.

It is shocking to think that Black prosperity in Tulsa could have been extinguished so quickly. 30 blocks of “Black Wall Street” were destroyed, up to 300 Black Tulsans were killed, and the Greenwood area has never recovered, 100 years later. White people just couldn’t handle the fact that Black people clearly aren’t inferior – when they have equal opportunity, they are able to prosper – and so they made up some excuse about a black man stepping on a white woman’s foot to justify their murderous hatred. But really, they just wanted to stop Black Americans from prospering, and scare them into leaving all the money for white people.

The attempted coup on January 6th was the same type of rage. White men (mostly) are in a panic that when those uppity wimminz (especially Black women) gain power, their power diminishes; thus they decided to scream and attack and kill. Just as on that day in 1921 in Tulsa, no one got arrested on the scene, and it took national attention and a new Justice Department leader to really get the investigations moving. Republicans have begun to gaslight and try to wipe the horrific event from everyone’s minds.

I sure hope they don’t succeed.

It’s hard to imagine two attorneys who have been more harmful to the United States of America than Rudy “New York’s Nosferatu” Giuliani and Faux News’ Victoria Toensing. Between the two of them, they have helped Republicans perpetrate numerous and deadly crimes against this country.

Let’s start with Rudy. As we have talked about for years at TW, Rudy was THE CAUSE of the terrible fallout of the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Countless first responders died on that day, and became ill and died later, because he moved the city’s Disaster Response Center out of Brooklyn and into the WTC. He, of course, did this because he wanted to be closer to his mistress when he was doing the serious business of Mayorin’. And since then, this goo-oozing sycophant has done nothing but dive head down into the muck of wingnuttery and just keep swimming. He’s been the mover and shaker behind so much evil:

The faux Hunter Biden story (now being used to justify his FBI-raided apartment)

The Big Lie that Drumpf won in 2021

Weird Hillary lies about 9/11

Corrupt Ukraine lobbying

Collusion with Russia in 2019 and 2020

Four Seasons Total Landscaping (okay, that one was just funny)

Yes, Rudy is a well-known and well-recognized goon for the Republican Crime Syndicate. But Victoria Toensing – she’s flown a bit more under the radar. Here are some of her (and her husband’s!) greatest hits. (Wonder what hubby’s up to these days?)

You might not know them well, but without Toensing and diGenova, the most outlandish theories might not have found their way into the ether. Toensing’s client and longtime friend John Solomon is the one who spread the rumor that Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, hated Trump; so-called “documentary evidence” of Joe Biden firing a Ukrainian prosecutor to protect his son had emerged in a case that both Toensing and diGenova are working on; and the couple have also alluded to the conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine — and not Russia — that meddled in the 2016 election by seeking to help Hillary Clinton. Often lording over the whole spectacle, in their telling, was Soros — the billionaire who has become a bogeyman for the right. (The line that he is seeking to run Ukraine, for one, could have come straight out of the mouth of Vladimir Putin.)

[snip]

Toensing and diGenova fortified their conservative bonafides throughout the Bush and Obama years, with Toensing particularly active. She penned op-eds in favor of the Patriot Act and in defense of the reporter who outed CIA agent Valerie Plame. She lobbied for the MEK, a violent fringe Iranian group, just as Giuliani has, as it sought to get off the US list of terrorist groups. She represented “whistleblowers” in the Benghazi hearings who accused Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, of refusing to let them testify, as well as an informant who claimed to have information that Clinton had orchestrated the sale of part of Uranium One to a Russian company in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation (she didn’t). She picked up Erik Prince as a client and took part in numerous Judicial Watch panels devoted to the subject of Clinton’s missing emails. As the Trump era approached, both Toensing and diGenova found themselves more and more on Fox News, regulars on Sean Hannity (another Toensing and diGenova client) and Lou Dobbs.

I’ll tell you, I am absolutely over the moon that these two traitorous morons are finally getting investigated by the FBI, now overseen at DOJ by the brilliant and most importantly, honest, Merrick Garland. Now all the crimes they were committing in plain sight will be thoroughly investigated.

Let’s have the last Drumpf attorney who was investigated by the FBI, Michael Cohen, give the last word.

Open thread, as always.


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