The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Civil Liberties’ Category

So, the Mango Moron has nominated himself a Justice. Based on his writings, Justice Brett Kavanaugh is as conservative and Trumpy as any criminal traitor “President” on the verge of indictment could want. He has already gone on record against undocumented immigrants, against LEGAL abortion, against the Affordable Care Act and against the Consumer Financial Protection Board….and of course, has said he felt it would be disastrous for a President to be indicted.

What now? As DYB pointed out so eloquently, the Democrats have no procedural remedy to stop the confirmation of this asshole. Chuck Schumer cannot pull a Mitch McConnell and fakely claim that he is concerned about adding a justice at such close proximity to the election, even if he wanted to. (My point, that Drumpf is an illegitimate President, and shouldn’t get to nominate anyone because he did not legitimately win, is clearly not being embraced by anyone in power. SAD!)

As I write, protests are going on in front of the Supreme Court. People are truly fired up about this, and that’s great. I think calls and letters and showing up in front of Senators’ offices will be forthcoming, and will have an effect. But what will be the most effective, in my opinion, is this: Lobby the Ladies.

We cannot allow Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins to hide behind a pretension that they “don’t know” whether or not Judge Kavanaugh will overturn Roe v. Wade. The Federalist Society List ONLY contains people who will overturn Roe v. Wade. As conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin stated so eloquently,

It should not be more complicated than this: Voting for a nominee on the Trump list (either the original 20, or the wider 25) opens the door to the criminalization of abortion. Collins might break her pledge and vote to confirm one of these judges approved by Federalist Society. That is up to her. But she should fool no one that voting for one of these judges would not amount to reversing Roe. Oh, and the Federalist Society judge-pickers must be called to testify under oath, and all notes, documents and other materials relating to their selection process must be subpoenaed for review. I bet that’d be fascinating.

This, to me, is the key point. Every man and woman in the Senate who claims to be pro-choice should be told this over and over again: We ARE NOT FOOLED. We know that Kavanaugh was picked partially for his anti-choice beliefs and record. There should not be any pretension otherwise, and Susan and Lisa should be confronted with this reality by us, Democratic Senators and activists everywhere.

If ANYONE votes for this guy, they should know exactly what they’re getting: an ultra-conservative, corrupt justice who will overturn Roe v. Wade. As a special bonus, he will protect Drumpf if/when he is subpoenaed by Mueller. If this country were less screwed up, not a single Senator would even consider it. But these are desperate times. We must rise to them accordingly.

This is an open thread.

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Image courtesy of PBS

The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Hello and happy Tuesday, Widdershins! Who know what infobombs will drop before this post is published? Perhaps via the Democrats (whose memo debunking the Nunes lie-fest was released in the evening on Saturday) or Mango Meerkat nemesis Mueller?

Regardless of what else is going on, I am quite sure that the “March for Our Lives” movement, which has sprung organically from the activism of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting survivors, will still be in the news. (Have you signed up for a sister march? They’re being set up across the country. Check it out here! I’m excited for the one in NYC.)

The effectiveness of this movement, led with moral clarity and ustified outrage is growing daily. Calling out the way the NRA has been buying Congresscritters’ inaction on any gun-control initiatives was a brilliant strategic move. Corporations who used to offer discounts or other benefits to NRA members, are running away from the now-toxic organization. As of today, here’s the list of companies that have jumped off the NRA ship.

  • First National Bank of Omaha
  • Delta Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Allied Van Lines
  • North American Van Lines
  • Avis
  • Hertz
  • Alamo
  • Enterprise
  • National
  • Starkey Hearing Technologies
  • MetLife
  • Chubb
  • TrueCar
  • SimpliSafe
  • Symantec

This movement is only 11 days old. What might it become as it becomes stronger and gains support?

It’s having ripple effects beyond any that the kids could have imagined. A huge voter registration effort is under way; Florida Republicans are running scared; and Drumpf is promising action, although we all know what his promises are worth – and the NRA is already pushing back. Between the fierceness of the Parkland activists and the supreme professionalism and skills of Team Mueller, life is going to be getting more and more uncomfortable for Drumpf, the GOP, the gun nuts of the NRA, and the alt-right enablers attacking the movement and issuing death threats to kids…who have already survived death. Deplorables, all.

I tie this all back to the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. The March was underestimated by the media and even those of us who participated – we had no idea what we were starting – but now, over a year later, #TheResistance has grown into an enormous countrywide presence, with chapters in every state. We are organized, active and we make a difference. And now, kids and teachers are joining in with single-issue focus.

I am hopeful in a way I haven’t been in a long time. This movement is bigger than Drumpf, bigger than the GOP, and bigger than the NRA. It’s about citizens forcing leaders to go the way they want. It’s about engagement, caring and passion. And it’s an amazing thing to see.

I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?
– Benjamin Disraeli

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
—Margaret Mead

This is an open thread.

Hello Widdershins! Thank you for all the good wishes! Things are definitely getting better here chez MadamaB.

Last week was a doozy even in the Era of Drumpf and Republicans sans spinal cartilage, moral compasses or patriotism. The Rob Porter scandal has taken hold the way few of the multitudinous scandals of this benighted, horrible administration have managed to. And for the first time, unbelievable though it may seem, the Mango Meerkat’s approval rating has been seriously damaged amongst women.

The most recent Washington Post-ABC poll has found that approval from white women has fallen since the president’s first 100 days. While most white women voted for Trump in 2016, his approval rating has fallen 10 points since then, and strong disapproval of the president by this group rose 12 points, from 39 percent to 51 percent.

I would take issue with the verbiage that “While most white women voted for Trump in 2016,” and replace it with the wording, “While a slim majority of white women voted for Trump in 2016,” since 53% is hardly “most” in most peoples’ minds. But whatevs…the bottom line is that Drumpf is in trouble, again, and the sainted General Kelly, as well as pResidential serial-dating spokesmodel Hope Hicks, are in trouble with him. But even this major disaster could be eclipsed by a greater one, which has been brewing for many months now: the potential firing of Rod Rosenstein.

I have always been of the opinion that the Orange Crusher won’t dare fire Robert Mueller, and that his preferred tactic was to discredit the investigation. So far, that opinion has held at least partially true, especially with the myriad attacks the Republicans, and their enablers in the press, have been making against the FBI and DOJ. But that doesn’t mean Drumpf won’t take a page from Nixon’s book, and try to make the people overseeing the investigation fire him. He is a desperate, cornered animal, and may risk it all to try to escape the consequences of his actions. And everything from the release of the ridiculous dud called the Nunes Memo, to the recent resignation of Rachel Brand, is showing that this reckless and dangerous course of action might be imminent.

So what do we do if that happens?

WE TAKE TO THE STREETS!!!

Moveon.org has organized a march that can take place at a moment’s notice, if Trump fires his way to find a Bork who will fire Mueller. The marches are called “Nobody is Above the Law,” and are organized all over the country. You can sign up here:

https://act.moveon.org/event/mueller-firing-rapid-response-events/search/

If the firing of Mueller happens before 2 pm, the local march will take place that day. If it happens after 2 pm, it will take place the day after. I’m ready to go. Are you?

In these dark times, we never know what may happen. Let’s make sure we are as prepared for action as we can be.

This is an open thread.

sexassault.jpg

2017 (which is almost over) will be remembered for many things. I can’t think of any good things. I’d be willing to take all the celebrity deaths in 2016 over what we’re living with now. But time travel is not an option.

One part of this year that has sent shockwaves through all of our collective lives is the slew of allegations (and confessions) about sexual assault and harassment done by powerful men in professional settings over decades. The first brick to fall was Harvey Weinstein’s long history of abusing Hollywood actresses. He is now joined in infamy by Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., New Republic president Hamilton Fish, journalist Mark Halperin, New York Times’ Glenn Thrush, Charlie Rose, film producer and director Brett Ratner, director James Toback, actor Casey Affleck, and his brother Ben too. This list is not at all up to date and it will grow longer. (I didn’t even mention Trump or Roy Moore…)

In some ways the most interesting names on that list, to me anyway, are the reporters. People like Fish, Halperin, Thrush and Rose (I’m sure that list will expand.) It is important to remember that these men, in their positions of extraordinary power and influence, helped set the narrative for the 2016 election. They helped paint Hillary Clinton as unlikable and untrustworthy. Not just in 2016, but long before that. How does one process the revelations about them with the filter of misogyny turned on? Because certainly their misogyny – which is no longer an abstract accusation, but now something very concrete and definitive – helped drive their coverage of the first female nominee for a major party. We had complaints about the coverage of Clinton and the election before. But now our complaints have something very tangible attached to them. These men, who do not respect women (at best, hate women at worst) helped paint Clinton as an untrustworthy, lazy, unlikable shill.

There is another aspect of this topic that I think is worth discussing. The wave of accusations was long-coming. But – there are risks involved. The tag “Believe women” carries a risk with it. Because not all accusations are true. This isn’t to bring up the irrelevant statistics about false accusations (which have historically been statistically insignificant.) It’s just to point out that we now live in highly polarized and divisive times. And some people will take a positive – believe women – and weaponize it. We may have seen some of that in the accusations against Al Franken. As a liberal Senator he has been the number one enemy of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. That marked him. A day before accusations against him were publicly made, Roger Stone said that Franken’s time was coming soon. How did Stone know this? We know Franken’s accuser is a Trump supporter and some of her accusations about Franken harassing her on a 2006 USO tour have come under question. Is it fair to question her when liberals have said “believe women” until now? Does it reveal a bias? Or is it a necessary realization that “believe women” can and maybe has already been weaponized by the unscrupulous Right? Franken – if he survives the allegations – is damaged. (Another accusation was made against Franken by the NY Post on behalf of Arianna Huffington, claiming Franken grabbed her inappropriately in 2000 during the taping of the Bill Maher show. Huffington eventually responded defending Franken, saying she was not assaulted by Franken and the accusations printed by the Post were false. “I think I’m a better judge of how I felt in that satirical photo shoot with Al Franken than the recollections of an anonymous bystander,” she wrote. But that’s too late. I’m now seeing references to Franken as having multiple accusations made against him.) Perhaps we need to revise “believe women” to “take women seriously.” Accept the accusations and investigate. See where the investigation takes you.

Another – slightly different – example on Tuesday was The Hollywood Reporter story about the Pixar/Disney executive John Lasseter. Lasseter has been responsible to a very large degree for the animated masterpieces that have come out of Pixar over the years and he directed “Toy Story.” Lasseter has stepped away from Pixar after the allegations were made public. But in their article THR said the actress and writer Rashida Jones left “Toy Story 4” project (which she was helping write) because of Lasseter’s unwanted advances. By attaching a famous woman’s name to the story they made it travel so much further. The problem is that Rashida Jones’ statement (written with her writing partner) about why she left the project say THR was wrong. Nothing sexual in nature drove her away.

The break neck speed at which journalists have been naming the next perpetrator renders some reporting irresponsible and, in fact, counterproductive for the people who do want to tell their stories. In this instance, The Hollywood Reporter does not speak for us. We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue.

They go on to say they left over creative and philosophical differences with Pixar. So whatever Lasseter’s behavior with other women, by throwing Jones into the mix, THR has also weaponized the sexual assault accusations and done a disservice to the actual victims. As reporters rush to find out more dirt, more and more mistakes (malicious or not) will be made. And there is a trip-wire to the whole cause, because once mistakes start happening the entire movement is at risk of crashing down.

Good Monday, all. As happens every weekend, we’ve been treated to a cavalcade of terrible and not-so-terrible news. Here are some numbers that have struck me lately.

The way the media reports on how people feel about gun control makes it seem that everyone in America is totin’ and shootin’. This statistic, multiply sourced, contradicts that perception – and it’s staggering.

3%

Proportion of people who own half of the country’s guns, according to an unpublished Harvard/Northeastern University survey result summary. Anchoring this group are America’s gun super-owners – an estimated 7.7 million Americans who own between eight and 140 guns.

Let that sink in. 7.7 million Americans own between eight and 140 guns. Who in the f*cking f*ck needs 140 guns? And how could we require Sudafed to be registered and tracked, but not guns?!

After the horror in Las Vegas, the NRA is still desperately fighting against any suggestion that there’s something wrong with our gun laws. Our national insanity on gun regulation has long been a threat to all of our personal safety, and it’s getting exponentially worse. Any one of us could be going to a mall, to school, to church or temple or mosque, to the movies, or to a concert – and any one of us could be shot and killed for no reason. Your “Second Amendment right” does not overrule my right to conduct a peaceful and law-abiding life without fear of being gunned down by a terrorist or a madman.

This is why I have zero patience for any argument against gun regulation. It’s just dumb. I refuse to accept that 4 gun deaths a day – A DAY – is inevitable. We must change this, and soon. Yes, a gun registry is required. And yes, the number of guns per person should be SEVERELY limited. One per person is MORE THAN ENOUGH. If I were President, I would g*dd*mn well take people’s guns away, and I don’t care if I’d have to send in tanks to make it happen. 140 guns? Oh hell to the no. You can have one, and NOT an automatic or semi-automatic. A hand gun, or a rifle. Take your pick.

This is Reason #8,782,495 that I will never be President, of course.

Here are some more numbers that may make us feel a bit better.

We learned this weekend that der Drumpfenfuhrer is very, very unpopular. He’s hit an all-time low, and I don’t think he’s going to go anywhere but down from here, because he’s started to lose his base.

Few Americans believe that President Trump understands their needs and problems, and most would not describe him as honest, level-headed, or a strong leader, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Nineteen percent of Americans say President Trump understands the needs and problems of people like them extremely or very well, 17 percent say moderately well, and 64 percent say he understands their needs and problems not very well or not well at all.

Twenty-six percent believe President Trump is a strong leader, 23 percent view him as honest, and 16 percent say he is level-headed. Republicans are most likely to use each of these terms to describe the president.

[snip]

While 67 percent of Republicans still approve of the job the president is doing, support among Republicans has decreased significantly since March when 80 percent of Republicans expressed approval. (bolding mine) Twenty-eight percent of independents and 5 percent of Democrats say they approve of Trump’s handling of his job. Among Democrats, this also represents a decline since March when 11 percent said they approved.

You know the Republicans in Congress are watching these numbers, and none with more glee than Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), who, having decided to retire from the sh*tshow his Party has become, is absolutely DONE with pretending to respect the Marmalade Moron. Corker is out and about, talking about how he’s worried our pResident will start World War III just to get back at Obama, or because his daddy didn’t love him, or whatever insanity caused Drumpf to become the narcissistic dickwad he is today. Here’s the interesting part – the Senator purported to speak for the entire Republican caucus.

All but inviting his colleagues to join him in speaking out about the president, Mr. Corker said his concerns about Mr. Trump were shared by nearly every Senate Republican.

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” he said, adding that “of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

Come on, fellas and ladies. Step right up and take the baton from Bobby C. It’s time to throw that orangutan under the bus. The 25th Amendment will do just fine till Mueller comes and makes a clean sweep.

What’s on your mind today? This is an open thread.

85

We are going to be stuck with Donald Dump for the foreseeable future. Republicans will not impeach him. Nothing he can do will force them to abandon him. Even as the country tries to absorb Dump Jr’s e-mails confirming he met with a Russian lawyer with government connections to get dirt on Hillary Clinton – GOP collectively yawns. Mitch McConnell says he has no comment. Paul Ryan is MIA. John McCain is concerned and Lady Graham is disturbed. That’s as bad as the recriminations got. (Bernie Sanders, by the way, says we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. The strongest response came from Moe Scarborough who announced he’s leaving GOP to become an independent. Which is nice, but who cares?) The right-wing media has closed ranks around Dump and his abominations. Collusion with the Russians isn’t so bad, Breitbart and Fox have declared. Besides, shouldn’t Hillary Clinton be prosecuted, Sean Hannity asks?

The best response so far came from a surprising source: Trey Gowdy-Doody.

Someone needs to get everyone in a room and say, from the time you saw ‘Dr. Zhivago’ until the moment you drank vodka with a guy named Boris, you list every single contact with Russia,” Gowdy said, referring to the 1965 movie.

But Gowdy-Doody says he will investigate nothing via his House committee; he’s leaving it all to Bob Mueller.

Vice President Pence’s courageous response via his spokesperson was:

The Vice President is working every day to advance the president’s agenda, which is what the American people sent us here to do. […] The Vice President was not aware of the meeting. He is not focused on stories about the campaign, particularly stories about the time before he joined the ticket.

“Before he joined the ticket.” That’s Pence trying to have it both ways. Standing by Trump’s agenda and “Hey, don’t look at me, I just work here!” in case the story has legs. But considering each new story feels like the one that breaks the camel’s back and then it doesn’t… we shouldn’t expect this new story to be any different. Dump is here to stay. If he is to go, it can only be accomplished if Democrats take both House and Senate in 2018 (unlikely), and then the 2020 elections. Until then… we must fasten our seat-belts and get comfortable. The ride will continue to be bumpy.

Which brings me back to Mike Pence’s statement. “The Vice President is working every day to advance the president’s agenda.” What is this agenda? What is the future that Republicans want? It’s all bad. All bad. Mitch McConnell has postponed Senate’s August recess by two weeks, hoping to cobble a coalition that passes their healthcare abomination. Hopefully The Resistance continues the push-back and enough Rethugs are afraid enough of their constituents to vote Nay.

There is another story that came out last week from El Salvador that should chill all our spines because this is essentially the future Republicans want in the US too.

This week a court in El Salvador sentenced 19-year-old Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz following her conviction for aggravated homicide.

Hernandez says she became pregnant after being raped in the small community where she lived, according to her trial statements. She says she did not report the attack out of fear and did not realize she was pregnant.

In April 2016, Hernandez said, she felt strong abdominal pains and lost consciousness in the bathroom. She was taken to a hospital and treated for vaginal bleeding from an out-of-hospital delivery, but there was no newborn.

Authorities opened an investigation and later found the fetus. She was initially charged with having caused in abortion, which is illegal in all situations in El Salvador. The charge was later changed to aggravated homicide.

Hernandez said she did not know she had miscarried. She has been in prison since the incident.

GOP’s assault on women’s right to control their own bodies is decades old. They started fighting abortion rights the minute SCOTUS ruled on Roe v. Wade. They have never la-fg-c1-el-salvador-women-20150415wavered, they turned the issue into perhaps the single biggest cultural wedge issue in the country. And over decades they have chipped away at abortion rights bit by bit by bit. They have been great at branding (GOP always is), controlling the debate, redefining terms (“partial birth abortion,” for example) and seeing abortion rights erode. With Trump and Pence in the White House, and Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, abortion rights are as much at risk as anything else right now. We should look at El Salvador, where abortions under all circumstances – no exceptions – is illegal, as the future we might have in the US. In El Salvador judges rule abortions and miscarriages as homicide and sentence women to decades in prison. World Health Organization estimates that 68,000 women die each year as a result of unsafe/illegal abortions. This is an issue we must remain vigilant about because we know Pence has it in his sight.

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.


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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

Take the kids to work? NO!

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Nice picture of our gal

Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
2.3 years to go.

Mueller Time!

Wise Words from Paul Ryan

B-I-N-G-O!

Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

Perfect Picture

Rudy: oh shit the pee tape IS real!

Need Reminders?

Never too early to shop for Christmas

“Look this way”

Manafort’s Jail Photo

Indeed who?

Trump spam

IOW Dumb = Happy?

Simply Put

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