The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Democratic Values’ 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.

She was right. Of course. Always.

As we head into Labor Day Weekend, I wanted to share President Biden’s speech with all the Widdershins. As the historian Michael Beschloss said afterwards, this moment echoes across time to two other Presidents who, like Biden, spoke on the eve of extraordinarily consequential elections that put America at a crossroads between democracy and ruin.

President Lincoln, before the election of 1860, gave a now-famous speech about slavery, contending that “a house divided against itself cannot stand” – that if America continued to embrace a system that was against the spirit of the Constitution, a system in which only some were free, we would lose our democracy. President Roosevelt, before the election of 1940, had to contend with American apologists for Hitler and Nazism, and clearly laid out what the future would be if we did not enter the war and stand up for democracy.

President Biden made this clarion call for democracy and against the MAGA movement at exactly the right time. Once again, our democracy stands on the brink of falling to an extreme minority who does not believe in the Constitution, the rule of law, the right to free and fair elections, or the peaceful transition of power. These Nazis, these fascists, these white supremacists, simply want to enshrine themselves as the rulers of America – and they don’t care how they do it.

In this speech, Joe Biden did what he doesn’t like to do – he made a clear division into “us” (patriotic Americans, no matter what party) and “them” – MAGA extremists who do not believe in our vision of America.

It’s about fricking time. As we know, Hillary was ahead of him by 7 years! But, better late than never, Joe.

Whoof, Widdershins, what an incredible week. Democrats are in such Array, even the media has had to admit how well things are going. Here are some headlines from the MSM:

Joe Biden Just Had the Best Week of His Presidency (Newsweek)

On Several Fronts, Biden Has Reason to Celebrate This Week’s Wins (MSNBC)

Republicans’ Prospects for Midterm Pickups Dim Among Democratic Wins (US News & World Report)

Democrats Are Starting to See a Path to Victory in November (Vanity Fair)

This week saw domestic victories on caring for veteran burn pit victims and upcoming, passing the Inflation Reduction Act (which is actually Build Back Better but scaled back), gas prices declining for over a month and an incredibly strong jobs report; as well as foreign policy victories on approving Sweden and Finland as members of NATO, killing the architect of 9/11, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and sending more HIMARS to Ukraine. And, in what would be a non-partisan occurrence if the QOP hadn’t doubled and tripled down on their extreme criminalization of women, Kansas voted a resounding NO on a total abortion ban being enshrined in their state Constitution.

The Kansas vote sent shockwaves through, well, almost everyone who pays attention to politics, and has totally changed predictions for November. The Vanity Fair article shares some fascinating insider thinking from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Executive Director, Tim Persico.

Yet Democratic strategists are betting that abortion will be the issue that most drives turnout. “The old adage that good policy makes good politics is true,” Persico says. “Bad policy makes bad politics too.” With the Supreme Court’s June ruling overturning Roe, antiabortion crusaders won a 50-year legal battle. Yet the Kansas vote seems to have demonstrated the large gap between the ideologues and even many Republican voters, especially women. Whether that backlash is big enough to overcome internal Democratic disgust over the failure to codify Roe is one of this fall’s biggest questions. “Democrats might feel frustrated with their own party. I’m not discounting that,” Persico says. “But what happens in places like Omaha and suburban Philly and even Las Vegas when you’ve got a Democrat on one side with a record of accomplishments against a Republican that wants to ban abortion in all 50 states?”

I submit that the “progressives” who are frustrated with Democrats for allegedly not codifying Roe are actually not Democrats and almost never vote – at all. After all, they’re young white people. The base of the party is Black women and they are not the ones blaming Democrats! I think the danger of these voters not turning out is pretty much the same as every other election, and I hope Democratic strategists don’t obsess too much about it.

What’s totally hilarious after this week, where several QOP MAGAts won elections, is a few QOP strategists whining about how Democrats were boosting the election denier, Nazi-loving, January 6th-supporting, Orban-applauding extremists. Hey QOP – you have allowed your Party to become infested with these lunatics. In fact, I’d say at least 85% of QOP are in lockstep with those anti-American ideas. Don’t blame us when your voters vote for them. Blame yourselves for letting them take over! And yes, they will be much easier to defeat in the mid-terms than bland vanilla reasonable-seeming (but still totally extreme) QOP you’d like to pretend are the majority. Muahahahaha.

Am I saying we’re a lock for November? No, of course not. But sometimes we liberals forget to take a victory lap when it’s well-deserved. So for today, let’s celebrate and hope. And let’s make sure we do something to thank Democrats for being the only true public servants in town.

Hello Widdershins!

The January 6 Committee continues to make serious headway in their investigation. The most recent brouhaha was the revelation in the press that the Secret Service erased text messages among its members from January 5 and 6 after the Inspector General looking into their actions requested it. To clarify: Secret Service deleted those text messages after the IG asked for them. They argued these were routine actions. The 1/6 Committee sent a subpoena for the text messages. The Secret Service has said they found them (!) and will supply them to the Committee on Tuesday. Let’s keep an eye on that. We can not forget that on 1/6 Mike Pence refused to get into a car with the SS. Trump promoted some SS people to political positions in his administrations. And when Joe Biden won the election he asked some agents who protected him when he was VP – and who had already retired – to return to service to protect him. Because Biden knew SS was corrupt. It’s also being reported that a number of agents were cheering on the insurrection on their personal social media accounts.

Joe Bloody Manchin is at it again. After a year of negotiating a climate change bill – Manchin has pulled the rug out and said “LOL No.” I suppose the most frustrating thing – besides the obvious – is that Manchin keeps lying to colleagues in the Senate by dangling the belief that he can reach an agreement, and then publicly humiliating them. Time and again he has done this. Meanwhile in the UK military runways are melting because of the heat there. But it’s fine. Manchin is worried about how we’ll pay for the climate bill. Of course, coming from West Virginia, there is no other Democrat who can win there. But Democrats need more seats in the Senate.

This is an open thread.

The liberals made my life miserable for 43 years. And I’m going to make their lives miserable for 43 years.

Clarence Thomas to his clerks in 1993

This is the petty schmuck who has led the charge to make all the people he hates – women, LGBTQ+, and non-Christofascists in general – into property of the State. I say “the State” because the federal government, in the person of six ideologues who never should have been confirmed to the Supreme Court, has removed basic privacy protections from all of us.

The State has decided that only women who live in blue states will have rights to their own bodies. In essence, when one person is denied the guarantee of freedom, it opens up the precedent that everyone can be denied the guarantee of freedom. Thomas and the five ChristoClowns have decided that no one has rights to their own bodies except white, straight, Christian men. (I think Clarence Thomas counts himself as white – that’s the only explanation for his buying in to this anti-American bullsh*t.)

As Quixote pointed out in comments, this is the re-establishment of slavery; but Slavery 2.0 casts a much wider net than the original. Friday’s decision removed basic human rights from 166 million women and girls. And each of those women and girls has many people that love her and will grieve her pain along with her. So when she is raped and has to bear her rapist’s child, or dies in childbirth, or dies from an ectopic pregnancy, or lives in poverty and misery because she can’t afford a child, this suffering doesn’t just impact her. It impacts everyone around her.

The horrors that will spread from this decision are unimaginable, and I think we are all incredulous that no one could see it coming in 2016. Young white people in particular should have come out in droves to vote for Hillary, but no. They couldn’t be bothered because “both parties are the same” and “Bernie woulda won.” Do y’all get it now, Gen Z and Millennials? You’re the ones who will actually be impacted by this. I’m going to be 55 this year and can no longer get pregnant, which oddly, makes me feel guilty that I won’t be directly miserable along with so many others. (Jewish guilt is rough.)

For those who say this will only impact women of color, and wealthy white women in red states will be fine because they can travel to other states, I think they’re in for a surprise. The Christofascists have thought of that loophole. They want to test women for pregnancy before allowing them to travel out of state. And, they want to criminalize miscarriages. Sounds like Slavery 1.0, doesn’t it? Will they be sending bounty hunters to capture runaway pregnant women if they cross the border “illegally” to states where they’re not considered property?

Based on the wave of protests that started on Friday and will likely continue, as well as the vast majority of Americans who disagree with SCOTUS, this terrible decision will drive enormous turnout in 2022 and the Democrats will increase their majorities in the House and Senate. (This doesn’t even count the impact the J6 hearings have had on the QOP – but that’s for another post. That will also be quite significant.) Nevertheless, I agree with Quixote, DYB and other Widdershins that every Democrat running for office in 2022 needs to be on message as to what they are going to do to fix this. I’d like to hear them say three things: 1) I will vote to amend the filibuster to make progress on legislation the Republicans are blocking; 2) I will vote to expand the Supreme Court and 3) I will vote “yes” on the Women’s Health Protection Act. None of these things can happen without two more Senate Democrats to nullify Manchinema’s inconsistent insistence on keeping the filibuster sacrosanct sometimes, whatever whatever.

The QOP has massively overstepped both their power and their mandate. They may be celebrating now, but they will be crying in November, and for decades to come. And Clarence Thomas, you will be f*cking miserable for the rest of your disgusting, pathetic life.

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