The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘2022 Elections’ Category

Hello Shinners,

What a week. We learned that the Democrats have lost the House, but only by a sliver. Nancy Pelosi is passing the baton, as are fellow octogenarians Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn, to a new generation of leaders. Hakeem Jeffries is the favorite to succeed her; if he wins election as Minority Leader, he will be the first Black American to lead a chamber of Congress in any capacity. Incredible that it it has taken this long, but sadly, not surprising.

As gifted as Hakeem Jeffries is, it will be near-impossible to equal Pelosi’s significance and prowess as Speaker. She was the first woman Speaker, and has been a beloved leader and powerful force for democracy during her long tenure. But I do think he is the right person at the right time for the job. He knows how to keep AOC and her fellow “Just Us” Democrats in line. And, women will stay in leadership with Katherine Clark (D-Mass) putting in her bid for the second-in-command. I didn’t know much about her, but she seems really promising.

Central to her approach as a member of leadership would continue to be her focus on women and families. In Massachusetts, before serving in the state legislature she was a lawyer for the state’s Office of Child Care Services.

As a member of the “sandwich generation,” taking care of young children at the same time as elderly parents, Clark said women’s struggles are always front and center for her. She is a member of the Women’s Caucus and has been instrumental in working with members to message around access to abortions. She worked to enable federal workers to have expanded fertility benefits and child care, and to provide federal support for child-care providers during the pandemic.

She also campaigned in 19 states and raised $12 million for Democratic colleagues during the mid-terms.

On the Senate side, Democrats sued the state of Georgia to allow early voting the Saturday before the runoff election between Walker and Warnock – and won. This is a YUGE victory, as lower turnout will benefit that brain-damaged werewolf-wannabe who should not be anywhere near the halls of power.

Herschel weighs in on the top issues of our time

So much else has happened…today we heard about another mass shooting in Colorado Springs at the one nightclub where LGBTQ+ people were welcome in that area. Of course it was a wingnut who had previously threatened violence, and of course it was an AR-15. Such a terrible tragedy, and so preventable. I don’t even have words at this point.

Also this week, Merrick Garland appointed a special prosecutor to continue his two ongoing investigations of der Drumpfenfuhrer and his enablers in Congress. To me, this is a good sign because it means he wants leeway to after not just Drumpf, but Republican Congresscritters as well, and will need to have the appearance of neutrality; not to QOP, because they’ll scream no matter what, but to swing voters and persuadable Republicans. Experienced prosecutor Barb McQuade weighed in on this decision.

With Smith, DOJ has a chance for a do-over. By all accounts, Smith is a hard-working, apolitical prosecutor, who once led the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, which prosecutes corruption public officials. Most recently, he has been working as a war crimes prosecutor in the Hague. Dwight Holton, a former colleague at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, called Smith “a scrappy, no nonsense prosecutor who cuts through bullshit like a knife through hot butter.” All sounds like good preparation to investigate the former president. 

And of course, the Mango Moron’s announcement that he was running again, and Elon Musk’s fake poll to let him back on Twitter, both landed like a lead balloon. Without Rupert Murdoch’s vast media empire unequivocally backing Donald, the rest of the media doesn’t seem as inclined to hang on his every word. They’ve been doing pretty well so far – how will things play out?

Now that Trump is running for president, how should the media cover him? That’s a major topic today, and will be for the next two years — or however long Trump is in the mix.

Writing for The Conversation, Thomas E. Patterson — Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, Harvard Kennedy School — writes that it’s up to the media to be responsible by, among other things, doing the following:

  • Don’t play into his hands by letting him set the narrative.
  • Call out his falsehoods, but don’t dwell on them.
  • Don’t confuse access with newsworthiness. (This is a really smart point by Patterson.)
  • Do notice when he trashes democracy.
  • Avoid false equivalence.
  • Provide context.

There’s more, and Patterson expands on his points with thoughtful examination. It’s good advice for journalists and those who follow this stuff closely. Give it a read.

And so far Musk’s takeover of Twitter has been a complete fail, with advertisers dropping by the droves and people setting up accounts on other platforms like Mastodon. As for me, my account is super limited and I don’t allow retweets or bot followers – I’m mostly there to read and support activists. Because of this, I’m sticking with it till either the investors pull Musk and restore the platform to normalcy, or the whole thing goes down.

With all of this happening in just one week, we need serenity now! This is a thread for us to post animals, music or whatever else gives us calm and happy feelings. Here’s mine – happy Sunday, all.

Yes my friends, it’s true. Democrats are in array. Now we at TW know they’ve been in array since 2018, but after three catastrophic election year losses for the Mango Moron and his MAGAt loony-toons, the punditry – including Bernie Bro man-child pundits like Chris Hayes – is actually seeming to notice.

Although we don’t know what’s going to happen in the House yet, we do have a path to hold it with a slim majority. Even if we lose the majority, the Republicans will need Democratic votes to get anything done, and the MAGAs won’t have enough votes to elect their batshit crazy members like MTG as Speaker.

As for the Senate, it seems that we are all but certain to keep it. Not a single incumbent Democratic Senator has lost, and we actually gained one in Pennsylvania, bringing our likely total to at least 50 once again. If Warnock wins in December, we’ll get to 51. This number doesn’t negate the Manchinema effect, but it could get some split-ticket results. And if Murkowski wins in AK in her runoff, she could be an ally for Dems and help carve out a filibuster for reproductive rights, now that she only has to make up ground for one DINO Senator instead of two.

In the run-up to this election, every male pundit, and Bernie Sanders, weighed in about how the Democrats should talk more about the economy and predicted a red wave because elitist!! or something. There was no data to back this up, other than bogus polls that Republicans dumped to prompt lazy, Democrat-hating pundits to say these exact things. But sources like CNN, that were formerly at least slightly fact-based, went full-on MAGA propaganda before Election Day.

Democrats close their midterm election campaign Monday facing the nightmare scenario they always feared – with Republicans staging a gleeful referendum on Joe Biden’s struggling presidency and failure to tame inflation.

Hopes that Democrats could use the Supreme Court’s overturning of the right to an abortion and a flurry of legislative wins to stave off the classic midterm election rout of a party in power are now a memory. Biden faces a dark political environment because of the 40-year-high in the cost of living – and his hopes of a swift rebound next year are clouded by growing fears of a recession.

I never thought there was a chance of that happening, as I posted several times, because it was ridiculous to think that women would just forget about being stripped of bodily autonomy – and which party was responsible. And I was right. The Democrats’ messaging of basic freedom to control your own body, and keeping the democracy we love, was seen as extremely motivating for Democratic voters. Along with keeping the Senate and possibly the House, this messaging led them to flip several Governors’ races, beat election denier Secretary of State candidates 6-0, and sweep state houses across the country. One Democratic winner to highlight is “Big Gretch” Governor Whitmer of Michigan, who cruised to victory in a state briefly considered as “swing” when Drumpf stole it in 2016, and brought the entire state house with her. How did she do it? Fighting to protect a woman’s right to choose in her state.

Her reelection fight came after she led a public charge to protect abortion rights in Michigan. In April, even before the Supreme Court officially ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, Whitmer filed a lawsuit with the Michigan Supreme Court challenging the state’s 1931 abortion ban, which criminalizes abortions except to save the life of the woman — one of more than a dozen steps Whitmer took to help protect reproductive rights in her state.

Proposal 3, a ballot initiative to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, passed with 56.7 percent support and appears to have helped lift Whitmer to her commanding victory. Forty-five percent of Michigan voters cited abortion as the issue that mattered most to them, while inflation came in second, with 28 percent support. Whitmer overwhelmingly won those voters who said abortion was the top concern, with 77 percent support, according to exit polls. The percentage of Michigan voters citing abortion as their top issue in their vote was also much higher than the 27 percent in national exit polling.

So the pundit class was totally wrong about the polarity of economy vs. abortion and democracy. Not surprising, since they usually seem to get their intel from Republican strategists and diners in rural West Virginia. Here’s what they are also learning they’re wrong about: Joe Biden is good at politics.

A lot of the “red wave” narrative was predicated on President Biden’s alleged unpopularity. Historically, pundits are right about low Presidential approval numbers predicting a victory for the other party. But from Day 1, Biden focused his agenda on issues that are non-partisan, meaning that large numbers of Democrats and Republicans believe they should be addressed by the federal government in the way he promised to address them. Challenges like climate change, political violence, gun control, a woman’s right to choose, supporting our foreign allies, voting rights, infrastructure, health care and student loan debt – these are “kitchen table” issues that deeply impact Americans. And he’s done so much to address them already, without a single kudo or call-out from the press. But Americans know it – and they’re voting accordingly, no matter what their political party registration is.

Here’s some interesting Nevada voter data from Tom Bonier, CEO of Target Smart, who was very accurate about mid-term predictions. Looking into voter registration, the state seemed to be less favorable for Democrats, because of the increased amount of non-affiliated voters. But digging into the data showed that the increase was due to young people registering as non-affiliated, and their votes overwhelmingly went Democratic. And most NV seats seem to be going Democratic as well, although the Governor’s seat was flipped Republican. Check out this thread!

This is a bit of a sidebar, but, I will note that the alleged youth wave on Tuesday did not materialize. However, they did come out in higher percentages than before. Let them crow all over Twitter that they saved America from the red wave, when it was clearly women, AAPI, Hispanic and Black voters that did it. They apparently need to be ego stroked and participation-trophied to get off Tik Tok and vote. It’s okay. We’ll need them in 2024!

Yes, with a combination of high-quality candidates, winning messaging and popular positions on the issues, our Party is unquestionably, definitively triumphing over MAGA-ism. Will the press ever give up their addiction to Republicans? Doubtful, but, at least some pundits seem to be understanding that Democrats are, in fact, in array. It’s a new day, Widdershins.

My husband alerted me to this amazing speech and press conference by POTUS. Note the newly respectful press attitude towards Biden and his firm, no-nonsense replies. I came away more impressed than ever by President Biden.

Good morning, Shinners! Two days till November 8th. I think we’re all feeling a variety of emotions: anxious, scared, excited, sad, depressed, determined, hopeful and angry; sometimes, all at once, and with different nuances across that spectrum.

Personally, I’m sad and angry that no matter what, there are people who will always vote QOP. We’ve seen, both in Kansas and the five House special elections in 2022, that there are Republican voters who have changed their minds due to Dobbs. However, there is a base, whom Hillary called “deplorables,” who will embrace any craziness they push forward enthusiastically. In fact, the Mango Moron showed decisively that this base is intensely energized by hatred and self-perceived victimhood. He has pushed the Overton window so far towards fascism with that toxic blend, that today’s true believers are indistinguishable from Nazis in the 1930s.

But I’m also determined. The conclusion I’ve drawn from this is that I need to do more to keep pushing these hatemongering, venal, destructive crazoids back from attaining power. And since there is nothing we can do to persuade the cult members that Nazis are bad, it needs to be a constant fight.

A friend of mine is a huge inspiration to me. He’s doing his second run for a local council seat in New Jersey, in a very red district, and I think he has a very good chance this time. It’s a small town in a small state, but it’s important. Every single state office is important. If he and his running mates win their slate, they will do their damndest to stop the corruption and treachery of the MAGA group that’s currently in power. In fact, they could even stop a mega-warehouse from being built, that will irreparably damage a fragile aquifer under the building site – not to mention dirty the air and cause unmanageable traffic on their tiny roads.

While I’m not running for office (yet), I’m finding my activist rhythm again. As you all know, I used to do a lot of protest marching, but tapered off during COVID. Now, I’ve joined local activists to help get out the vote and elect Democrats in swing state districts. I’ve done phone banking over the last two weekends, and it’s been good to feel I’m doing something to help. And, I’m going to do more.

The only thing I think I feel comfortable saying about Tuesday at this point, is that we’re in for a bumpy ride even if we keep both the House and Senate. Why do I say this? Two things: one, due to the preponderance of mail-in voting and different procedures in different states for counting early votes, we may not even receive all the ballots for seven days. This is especially important in California, where there are so many voters who use mail, and several competitive races could either keep the House in Democratic hands, or swing it to the QOP. Once again, like in 2020, we may see a “red mirage” that will dissipate after votes are counted. But the second thing is more nefarious: the QOP’s plan is not to accept defeat, no matter what, and they will use that “red mirage” to claim victory and attempt to stop the vote count. In addition, while a lot of Drumpf’s foot soldiers in the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys have been taken off the board by the DOJ, there are more out there, ready to back up the bullsh*t election fraud claims of the MAGA loons with violence.

Did I mention anxiety? I’m sure I did.

But here’s the thing…my other feeling is hope. The early voting numbers are astonishingly positive for Democrats, and young voters are finally turning out. Here’s the latest from Simon Rosenberg – please read the whole thread, as there’s a great graphic about the median age of voters dropping precipitously over the last few days:

The alleged red wave has not arrived. Far, far from it.

I know all of us voted or will vote on Tuesday. No matter how things go, even if we keep both the House and Senate, we must stay determined. We can’t let our feet off the gas pedals. This is America, not Nazi Germany, and we won’t let the fascists win!

Meme created by Omigpine

Happy Saturday, Shinners! We had quite a news week. As Shadowfax pointed out, the January 6th committee has subpoenaed Agolf Twitler (kudos to whomever came up with that one!) for both documents and testimony. He has a very short turnaround time to respond to these requests – he must submit the documents by November 4th and be deposed by November 14th.

The document request is likely to trigger the same obstructionist behavior he has been showing around the documents he stole from We, the People. That is going quite poorly for him from a legal standpoint, by the way.

Donald Trump’s assertions of executive and attorney-client privilege over certain documents that the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago resort appeared to lack evidence sufficient for him to rule in the former US president’s favor, the special master reviewing the records suggested on Tuesday.

The special master, senior US district court judge Raymond Dearie, complained during a conference call in the case that the log of documents Trump is trying to withhold from the justice department did not give enough information about the validity of the privilege claims.

Dearie encouraged Trump’s lawyers to elaborate on why they believed the documents could be excluded from the justice department’s criminal investigation into the potential willful retention of national defense information, removal of government records and obstruction of justice.

“It’s a little perplexing as I go through the log,” Dearie said. “What’s the expression – ‘Where’s the beef?’ I need some beef.”

The Guardian, October 18, 2022

His legal case is falling apart, even though he selected the special master!

Also this week, Steve Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison due to obstruction of…the January 6th Committee’s subpoena. This indicates that whatever obstruction Drumpf tries to perform, it will ultimately backfire, as did Bannon’s.

The testimony part of the subpoena is another case entirely. Since the Mango Moron loves nothing more than the spotlight, and this subpoena pours salt in the wound of the loss he has never publicly admitted, it appears there is a chance he will agree to testify live. While none of his attorneys would ever counsel him to do that, as he will surely lie repeatedly, he is renowned for not listening to good legal advice. (Master of understatement, that’s me.)

Yes, MAGA world is a total mess. But what does the media report on? Polls with flawed methodologies (numbers that are too small, “likely” vs. registered voters, over-representation of Republicans) that feed the age-old narrative, “Democrats in disarray.” Aided and abetted, unfortunately, by Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama, who have been all over the news complaining about Democrats’ messaging in the mid-terms. Gee, fellas – ever think YOU MAY BE PART OF THE PROBLEM?! (As Quixote would say, **endless screaming**)

Due to the way even MSNBC covers Democrats, our reality-based community has no friends in the media. I mostly stick to Twitter these days. I follow journalists and Democratic activists and strong Black female voices, and get news and opinion I respect.

And now, even that may be taken away by Elon Musk.

Elements of the United States federal government are “discussing whether the U.S. can subject some of Elon Musk’s ventures to national security reviews,” Bloomberg reports, “including the deal for Twitter Inc. and SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network.” (The Biden administration is downplaying the report.) The feds are reportedly concerned about Musk’s recent posturing around providing Starlink to Ukrainian defense forces and “his increasingly Russia-friendly stance” in public. For the latter, they cite his public promotion of a peace deal with what they consider favorable terms for Russian President Vladimir Putin. I would add that he’s currently on Twitter asking Putin appendage Dmitry Medvedev, “Btw, how’s it going in Bakhmut?” Russian forces—including the Wagner Group, Putin’s mercenary army—are waging a bloody siege on that city in Donetsk Oblast in Eastern Ukraine.

Esquire, October 21, 2022

Whether or not this happens, and it will have to happen by Friday, October 28th, Elon has some disturbing plans for Twitter. He’s publicly stated that he plans to cut 75% of Twitter’s staff and reinstate Der Drumpfenfuhrer’s account. This would severely impact the limited content moderation Twitter has instituted since IQ45’s abuse of the platform caused them to ban him, and further, would open the floodgates to the endless amounts of money anti-American forces pour into media to promote autocracy over democracy. Musk’s takeover would have the effect of turning Twitter into a giant amplifier for ChristoFascism and all its attendant Daily Hates against women, people of color, LGBTQ+ and Jewish people.

All I can say is, if this deal happens, one more source of reality-based information in the world will fall. And we’ll increasingly be bombarded by right-wing propaganda wherever we look.

The only thing we can do is vote and support Democrats up and down the ballot. If we have enough reasonable people in Congress, we have the options to use the tools we have in the government to stop the predations of billionaires and their attempts to destroy our democracy. Sheldon Whitehouse has a few bills ready to go on this topic, including the DISCLOSE Act.

Stay strong, Shinners! We’ll get through this together. And DYB and Luna, we miss you and hope you’ll return someday.

Open thread as always – and get boosted if you can! Here’s an oldie but goodie.

I see treasonous people: Tucker Carlson enjoying a laugh with Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump in July 2022. Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP

The way Vladimir Putin and his FSB psyops crew have infiltrated the Republican Party and supporting media is quite disheartening and stupefying. But, the upside is, it makes it easy to identify traitors to the nation. The simple rule is, if you’re rootin’ for Putin, then you’re a traitor.

Some of these traitors have been misled by rightwing propaganda. I’ll share a story from my latest trip to San Francisco (which is steadily recovering from the pandemic) as an example. Walking to the Muni, I overheard two men talking on the street. One was white, one was East Asian. The white man said, “Don’t worry, Putin’s got this. This war will be over in six months.” The East Asian man replied, “But why has Putin been so soft on the Ukrainians? What is he waiting for?”

For those of us in the reality-based community, these statements sound insane. We know that Putin has invaded Ukraine merely because it exists as an independent nation, when he wants it to be fully incorporated into Russia. In the process, he has committed war crime upon war crime.

At least 5,587 civilians have been killed and another 7,890 injured, according to the United Nations – likely a significant underestimate. Countless homes, schools, hospitals, and other civilian structures have been damaged or destroyed, many during apparently unlawful indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks, the vast majority by Russian forces. Often these attacks have used explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas, including some with widely banned cluster munitions. In areas that they have occupied, Russian forces have carried out deliberate attacks on civilians, including summary executions, enforced disappearances, torture, sexual violence, and arbitrary detentions. This violence and abuse has led 6.7 million Ukrainians to flee the country over the past six months, while internally displacing another 6.5 million.

Human Rights Watch, August 22, 2022

Unfortunately, these men, and so many others like them, have been listening to Putin’s propaganda. Whether it’s “soft” propaganda like slanting (a la Politico, aka “Drudgico”) or obvious fawning like Schmucker Carlson, you can find a lot of traitors out there today.

Shortly before Russia invaded in February, Carlson laid out a set of talking points that mirrored a speech made by Putin a few hours earlier attacking Nato.

“Their one and only goal is to hold back the development of Russia,” Putin had claimed. “They just do not need a big and independent country like Russia around.” Carlson parroted Putin’s claim that Ukraine wasn’t a real country and said that its government was a “puppet” of the west, “essentially managed by the [US] state department”.

Three months after the invasion, Carlson was still echoing Putin’s talking points with the added claim that the US was backing Ukraine as “payback for the 2016 election” won by Donald Trump and to exact “regime change” in Moscow.

The Guardian, October 2, 2022

These days, MAGA Republicanism includes Fascism, White Christian Male Supremacy, hatred of marginalized groups like women, LGBTQ+, Jews and people of color, and now, openly pro-Russia sentiment. That’s one stinky, lumpy sh*tpile of treason. The Cult of the Mango Moron attracts those who think America’s long experiment with representative democracy should be nearing the end of its lifetime, and brutal dictators like Putin are just what we need instead.

Many, many of those who participated in the coup on January 6, 2021 have been arrested and convicted. But we need to do much, much more. We need to be very clear that MAGA Republicans are traitors; that this movement is anti-American and anti-democratic; and that whenever we see a movement like this rising up (as we will continue to do until humans evolve beyond it), we need to call it out IMMEDIATELY and stop it in its tracks.

We must never allow traitors like this to gain power again. And we must put Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Mike Flynn, Rudy Giuliani and all the other traitors in the House and Senate, in prison for life.

Until that happens, and after, we’ll vote blue like our lives depend on it. Because they really, really do. We cannot let up for a single second, month, year or decade!

30 days till November 8, Widdershins! Let’s kick these traitors out of Congress!

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