Archive for the ‘Democratic Values’ Category
Good Monday, Widdershins. I hope you had a good International Women’s Day. I saw quite a few women wearing red at my client site last week in honor of “A Day without a Woman.” It was inspirational. I think there are several more actions planned from the organizers of the Women’s March, so stay tuned!
Now to the title of my post. This comes from some research I’ve been doing on the human brain, and the way it works to keep us alive and protect us from threats. This won’t be a super-science-y piece – more of a meditation on the state our country is in, and how it’s possible for sub-human cretins like Drumpf, Bannon and their minions to win even one vote, much less 60-odd million.
As I’m sure many of you know better than I, there are older, more primitive parts of our brains that only exist to make sure we quickly and instinctively respond to threats. From an evolutionary perspective, these parts of the brains are extremely important. They initiate the “fight or flight” response, which actually also includes a “freeze” as well, giving us microseconds to decide either to go to war, or to retreat.
After millions of years of evolution, we actually developed the capability to process these responses and evaluate them. Ah, the frontal lobe! Human beings develop this part of the brain in young adulthood. At least, some human beings do.
…It organizes responses to complex problems, plans steps to an objective, searches memory for relevant experience, adapts strategies to accommodate new data, guides behavior with verbal skills and houses working memory. Its orbitofrontal circuit manages emotional impulses in socially appropriate ways for productive behaviors including empathy, altruism, interpretation of facial expressions. Stroke in this area typically releases foul language and fatuous behavior patterns [bolding mine].
My argument today is that Drumpf and his supporters have either not developed their frontal lobes, or they have developed them, but are unable to use them. Their amygdalae are in charge, causing them to respond unthinkingly to perceived threats without the calming influence of the orbitofrontal circuit. This inability to counter the constant screaming of “Danger, Will Robinson!” makes them extremely susceptible to manipulation by other like-minded people, who deeply understand the constant state of anxiety in which these primitive brains exist.
In other words…they are stupid. And because they’re stupid, they’re evil.
On March 4th, The Thing in the White House sent out a bunch of angry tweets blasting the previous President for wiretapping Isengard Trump Tower. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Then 30 mins later: “How long has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process? This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” When asked to clarify this insanity, The Thing’s minions really could do nothing but heee and hawww. The Thing read it somewhere, they said. NY Times! Louise Mensch! BBC! Naturally once reporters dug deeper, they found that NO, none of those reports talked about wiretapping. Mensch broke the story on her right-wing blog HeatStreet on November 7th about the FISA warrant, but all she said was that a FISC court granted permission to “examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.” In question was a mysterious communication between two Russian banks and a server in Trump Tower. (David Corn of Mother Jones broke the story of the two banks and Trump Tower, but all media dismissed it as a bizarre conspiracy theory a couple of weeks earlier.) In the follow-up reports to Mensch’s story, BBC and the failing NY Times confirmed a FISA warrant, but nobody mentioned wiretaps… except Breitbart and then The Thing in its Tweets. Ahhhhh, the plot thickens. Where did Breitbart get the information about wiretaps at Trump Tower and did The Thing just leak top secret information in a series of Tweets? Sure seems that way. Will anybody hold him accountable? LOL.
There are fleeing moments when it feels like Lady Lindsey Graham and Hero John McCain might hold The Thing accountable for the numerous impeachable offenses it has committed. Earlier today Graham tweeted: “An attack on one political party should be considered an attack on all. We must push back on Russian election interference at home & abroad.” That sounds great! However it should also be noted that Graham had lunch with The Thing earlier in the day.
“Great lunch meeting with @POTUS today. President Trump is strongly committed to rebuilding our military which is music to my ears. (1/3)
President Trump is in deal-making mode and I hope Congress is like-minded. (2/3)”
“How good was the meeting with @POTUS?
I gave him my NEW cell phone number.”
Somebody responded: “1-800-DOOR-MAT?” And then “You, sir, are a profile in courage.”
And that, folks, is Lindsey Graham summarized in a handful of tweets. We have to get used to the notion that no, Graham and McCain won’t hold The Thing accountable for anything until they’ve gotten what they want from him: tax cuts for the rich, bigger military, gutting ACA, etc. etc. etc. Then maybe, possibly, once that’s all done, they’ll throw The Thing overboard.
Speaking of handing out cell numbers, can anybody afford a new cell phone after Republicans pass Trumpcare? Jason Chaffetz, the man who investigated Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s e-mails to death, and who doesn’t think there is any reason to look into Trump’s connections to Russia, went on CNN to start selling Trumpcare to America.
Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice. And so, maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest it in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions for themselves.
This is, of course, patently absurd. An iPhone unsubsidized by a phone company might cover one month’s premium for a single person. How many iPhones does Chaffetz think people buy? Of course, Chaffetz himself doesn’t have to buy his own phone. He gets one from work. His cell bill gets covered too. “How much does an iPhone cost” is the new “How much is a gallon of milk?” and Chaffetz doesn’t know the cost of either.
Overall Trumpcare is going to gut poor people into oblivion. It gives tax breaks to the rich, provides insurance companies with tax deductions on CEO salaries, will raise costs of premium, reinstate caps, gut preexisting conditions. Millions of people will lose their insurance. Many of them were Trump voters. Sadly many of them were not. But they will suffer also.
Why do Republicans hate poor people? It’s a question that has been asked often and there are many answers. As it came up again in the current Trumpcare discussion, I was reminded of a scene in E.M. Forster’s great novel “Howards End.” In the 1910 novel Forster explored 3 groups of people from 3 different classes: the extremely wealthy and conservative Wilcoxes, upper middle class but liberal Schlegels, and poor but aspiring for something bigger Basts. The Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, try to help poor Leonard Bast, but their well-meaning interventions in his life, as well as not-well meaning interventions from the Wilcoxes, prove disastrous. He loses his job as a clerk in an insurance company after following bad advice from patriarch Henry Wilcox. When the impetuous Helen (played by Helena Bonham Carter in the magnificent film, with Emma Thompson as Margaret) tries to make her case for helping the poor to the condescending 1%-er Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins in the film), the following exchange takes place. Written in 1910, “Howards End”is still relevant in 2017.
From Chapter 22
He [Henry Wilcox] raised his finger. “Now, a word of advice.”
“I require no more advice.” [said Helen]
“A word of advice. Don’t take up that sentimental attitude over the poor. See that she doesn’t, Margaret. The poor are poor, and one’s sorry for them, but there it is. As civilisation moves forward, the shoe is bound to pinch in places, and it’s absurd to pretend that any one is responsible personally. Neither you, nor I, nor my informant, nor the man who informed him, nor the directors of the Porphyrion, are to blame for this clerk’s loss of salary. It’s just the shoe pinching–no one can help it; and it might easily have been worse.”
Helen quivered with indignation.
“By all means subscribe to charities–subscribe to them largely– but don’t get carried away by absurd schemes of Social Reform. I see a good deal behind the scenes, and you can take it from me that there is no Social Question–except for a few journalists who try to get a living out of the phrase. There are just rich and poor, as there always have been and always will be. Point me out a time when men have been equal–”
“I didn’t say–”
“Point me out a time when desire for equality has made them happier. No, no. You can’t. There always have been rich and poor. I’m no fatalist. Heaven forbid! But our civilisation is moulded by great impersonal forces” (his voice grew complacent; it always did when he eliminated the personal), “and there always will be rich and poor. You can’t deny it” (and now it was a respectful voice)–“and you can’t deny that, in spite of all, the tendency of civilisation has on the whole been upward.”
“Owing to God, I suppose,” flashed Helen.
He stared at her.
“You grab the dollars. God does the rest.”
It was no good instructing the girl if she was going to talk about God in that neurotic modern way. Fraternal to the last, he left her for the quieter company of Mrs. Munt.
“Don’t ever discuss political economy with Henry,” advised her sister. “It’ll only end in a cry.”
“But he must be one of those men who have reconciled science with religion,” said Helen slowly. “I don’t like those men. They are scientific themselves, and talk of the survival of the fittest, and cut down the salaries of their clerks, and stunt the independence of all who may menace their comfort, but yet they believe that somehow good–it is always that sloppy ‘somehow’ will be the outcome, and that in some mystical way the Mr. Basts of the future will benefit because the Mr. Brits of today are in pain.”
Also, in brief: Richard Steele, the British spy who wrote the infamous “pee pee” dossier, has resurfaced. While American Senators want to hear him testify about what he knows.
WikiLeaks is dumping top secret CIA documents.
And contrary to earlier denials that he’s never met the Russian Ambassador (a man nobody has ever met), a newly unearthed article in the Wall Street Journal from last April says that Trump met with the Russian Ambassador and greeted him warmly.
What’s on your mind Widdershins? This is an open thread.
Another round-up of the latest news (real news!) because I can’t stay focused. Indeed, with the amount of shit flying around, trying to not get hit by a turd is an increasingly losing game.
Was it only a week ago that the degenerate neo-Nazi racist, xenophobe, homophobe, misogynyst Milo Snuffleapagus immolated? Seems like such a long time because events unfold at the speed of light. If it goes any faster, we’ll jump dimensions… Which come to think of it might be ok! Is there a dimension where HRC is the 45th President?
As Snuffleapagaus was burning his alt-right/white supremacist friends were blaming everyone for the event except Snufflepagaus himself. Evan McMullin, the Republican former CIA operative from Utah who ran for President in 2016 as an Independent was the most common target on Twitter. (McMullin is not a fan of Herr Drumpf.) But last week we learned that the person responsible for Snuffleapagus’ downfall was actually a 16 year old Canadian girl. Considering the level of Snuffleapagus’ misogyny, this is the most delicious bit of information.
I see Milo as this embodiment of the awfulness you see over the past few years with the general tilt of millennial conservatism,” said the teen. “It’s diverged from this traditional conservatism so much. You’ve seen it essentially become full of awfulness and all about attacking the left and not about actual principles. It has nothing to do with conservative ideology so much as it has with opposing the leftists, SJWs, and so on and so forth.
The teen took down Snuffleapaganus without even leaving her house. She used the cyber to find an old video of the neo-Nazi degenerate defending a personal Credo that sex with 13 year old boys is good. Sex with minor boys was a bridge too far for Rethuglicans (if it was girls, I’d imagine nobody would have protested too much…)
How long before Snuffleapagus becomes a pundit on Faux News? The countdown is on.
Agent Orange itself has declared that it will not attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The dinner is an old tradition, sometimes an odd one. The last person to intentionally skip the festivities was Nixon (LOL.) Though Reagan also missed one such dinner. But he had just been shot, so that’s sort of a legitimate reason maybe? Some people suggested this year the dinner should have been cancelled anyway (and before Agent Orange dropped out) because these are not normal times. However, the organizers already RSVP’d filet of sole for their entree, so they remained determined to attend. Although some news organizations (like the New Yorker) said they would not attend and Bloomberg said they would not host the party they have traditionally hosted. But now it’s all moot anyway because Agent Orange will just go to his man cave in Florida and have his own well done steak with catsup.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Media’s love affair with the man who called them “enemy of the people” continues. After the SOTU speech that didn’t include a Nazi salute or public urination by Russian hookers, The Thing has been declared Super Presidential (capital P, according to NBC’s “little” Katy Tur, who was verbally assaulted by Trump numerous times at his rallies so she needed Secret Service to escort her to her car). Chuck Todd was having orgasms, Van Jones declared that Trump finally became President, might be President for 8 years, and that there is something wrong with Chicago that maybe Trump can fix. No really, these are things Van Jones said on live television and Katy Tur tweeted. And I’m just ready to give up on these people. When Trump builds camps, I hope the Media goes first.
One thing (ok, another thing) that drove me completely bonkers over the last couple of days on twitter were a couple of dudes telling Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton to go away. Josh Barro, a Republican writer who occasionally dabbled in criticizing Trump, said Hillary and her toxic Clinton brand need to vanish, and that he fears Chelsea plans to run for office. Then Matthew Yglesias of Vox also told Chelsea to sit down and shut up. I was told that former Obama staffers Jon Favreau and Jon Lovett, who host a Pod Save America, declared that Hillary Clinton’s video after the DNC vote was terrible and she needs to go away. So what do we learn from all this? Men from Right and Left still hate Hillary and now hate Chelsea. The responses to Yglesias and Barro were great. Mine has accumulated a few hundred likes and re-tweets.
A story that has vanished from the headlines for a few weeks was the Yemen raid. Now you can bet that if this raid had happened under a Democratic President,
Chaffetz and Burr/Nunez would have been chasing administration officials with pitchforks. But because it’s Agent Orange, who authorized the mission over dinner, went off to watch “Finding Dory” and left Jared Kushner to oversee it, it’s ok with Rethuglicans. Trump even used Owen’s widow as a prop at SOTU. Everybody swooned. Even though earlier in the day he blamed the Army for his death (“they lost Ryan”) and we learned the intelligence gathered was useless. Seems the one person who isn’t taking this shit is William Owen’s father. Bill Owens says he refused to meet with Trump.
Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why?” the father said to the (Miami) Herald.
For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen — everything was missiles and drones — because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?
We shall see if this story, which our own Prolix has been trying to keep tabs on, will ever have the light shone on it.
Another story that has vanished from the headlines was Standing Rock – and it’s end. Last week government forces moved in and removed the last of the protestors and razed their camp.
A live stream from independent journalist Unicorn Riot showed officers in military fatigues and riot gear marching through camp, some with rifles drawn, while a helicopter hovered overhead and heavy machinery began demolishing remaining structures.
Restarting the construction of the pipeline was one of Agent Orange’s first actions after taking office, overturning the previous Obama halt to what is sure to be a natural disaster. Not to turn it into a partisan issue, but most Standing Rock activists supported Sanders and denigrated Clinton. That was not helpful in the election and if Clinton had won, she certainly would not have overturned Obam’s decision to halt construction of the pipeline. It’s just another reminder that elections have consequences. And in a great piece at Esquire, Charles Pierce articulates what so many of us have been feeling: do regretful Trump voters (and, as far as I’m concerned, those who voted for Stein or Johnson) want our sympathy? Yes? Well, fuck you! No really, go eat a bag of dicks. (Sorry, sometimes these things need to be said.)
They all had the same choices we did. They all had the same opportunity to inform themselves; I mean, it wasn’t like the campaign was under-covered, and it wasn’t like the eventual winner hasn’t governed precisely the way he campaigned.
Elections have consequences. I thought we already learned that in 2000. But… here we are. Many of us saw the icebergs. Now we’re sinking. And there aren’t enough rafts.
Good Monday, all! As we begin the fifth week of the Worst Reality Show Evah (Make it stop, dear Goddess, make it stop…), it has become clear that Republicans in Congress are refusing to admit that the man James Comey, Vladimir Putin and the broadcast media forced into the Presidency is completely, 100% loony tunes. Why? Because they really, REALLY want to steal from the poor and give to the rich. Somehow these evil plans make their tiny Grinchy hearts swell with bile – I mean, happiness. So until they get their way and make tens of millions of people suffer so they can fill their empty souls with more meaningless expensive possessions, they’re going to pretend everything is just fine. Or at least, they’re not going to invoke the 25th Amendment, which it is long past time to do.
The 25th amendment says in part that the vice president and ‘a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide’ can demand the president’s removal from office if they decide he is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties.’
Blumenauer said in a Wednesday op-ed that appeared on OregonLive.com that the amendment isn’t strong enough.
‘It has inherent flaws that need to be addressed. The amendment’s default decision-makers– the vice president and the cabinet — have a natural bias toward the existing officeholder that would make them reluctant to acknowledge the president’s inability to serve,’ he said.
As I sat down to write Wednesday morning’s post on Tuesday night, I realized by the time it published it would already be out of date. The dizzying speed with which Bannon and Trump are trashing our democracy is impossible to process and stay up to speed on. In just 10 days they’ve managed to create multiple constitutional criseses [sic]. Aside from the original sin of conflict of interest we don’t know the full extent of because Trump has not and will not release his tax returns (WikiLeaks says they plan to find them and release them… the irony of that can not be avoided, to paraphrase Angus King’s comment to James Coffey at a Senate hearing after Comey said he does not comment on ongoing investigations when asked about FBI’s investigation of Russian interference in our elections). But since then Trump/Bannon’s multiple executive orders, that anathema he and other Republicans screamed at Obama about for 8 years, have created nothing but chaos in our system. The biggest one, of course, was the refugee executive order. Throwing people’s lives into chaos by refusing previously vetted refugees into the country, but also by refusing people with green cards into the country, they revealed – well, it’s hard to tell. Incompetence or malice? Perhaps a combination of the two. Bannon and another Trump aide Stephen Miller wrote the executive order and forced it to be signed without consulting with any other agency, or even Congressional Republicans. Though Congressional aides helped write it….without telling their bosses. That is a big deal. I wish I could see the expression on McTurtle’s face when he learned of his aides secrecy. It would be funny if the secrecy also wasn’t terrifying.
To add to the chaos, Border Patrol defied a judge’s ruling that people detained be allowed to see a lawyer. That is a very big deal as well. We now have the judicial branch being openly defied by the administration and part of its security force. Federal Marshalls would have to go in and force Border Patrol to follow court’s orders. Imagine how that would play out. Because I can’t.
Which brings me to this: for many months now Democrats have been waiting and begging Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to save us from Trump. Throughout the insanity of the campaign Ryan and McConnell became almost sane. But in truth they were just sane compared to Trump and that’s not a fair comparison. In fact, Ryan and McConnell are fucking scum. We have been waiting for them and the Republican Party to come in and save us all from Trump. That didn’t happen during the election. The Republican Party never turned on Trump, no matter how awful he became. Even John McCain (when will be get used to the fact that the war hero died when McCain ran for President?) didn’t fully turn against him. McCain just refused to talk about him, which isn’t the same thing. So no, McCain and Lady Graham won’t save us either. The endless articles being written about how Trump will alienate Republicans enough that they will turn on him are as tiresome as the endless articles about what white men want. It’s nonsense. Nothing Trump does will ever make the Republican establishment turn on him and impeach him. Nothing. McConnell and Ryan are not biting their tongues. They are not cowards who just need a little bit of encouragement and courage. They are not spineless – they are soulless. They want everything Trump is doing. They might be annoyed at some of his methods. But they want what Trump wants. That’s the truth we have to face.
So where does that leave us? I honestly have no idea. I’m sorry for the downer post. I’m sure the comments that follow over the next couple of days will fill us with even more dread as Bannon/Trump continue their destruction of America and the world around us. I do fear, however, that Trump’s Presidency will not end peacefully. I don’t know how big the violence will be or who it will be directed against, but I think that is the only way this can end.
Please tell me that I’m wrong!
Breaking news out of Washington is something that’s been discussed before the election (like HRC during a debate, and Harry Reid in a letter he wrote to Comey asking him to explain if there are ties between Trump and Putin.) But with the exception of David Korn and Kurt Eichenwald nobody paid attention. Until now. Why now? Who knows. Maybe Trump just pissed off the CIA too much and they leaked more than is normal. Or maybe CNN wanted to crawl to number 1 spot by publishing the story first, unleashing the flood of what Trump would call “yellow journalism” from everyone else. Now it’s everywhere, the media is treating it like watergate. Twitter is the best though because you don’t need more than 140 characters to discuss the PEEOTUS’ sexual fetishes. Trump and his team have been astonishingly quiet about this. Trump did tweet somethings about FALSE NEWS (capitals not mine). Of course it’s a trap he’s boxed himself into with years of “People say so there must be something to it” mongering. Whether it’s Obama’s birtherism or HRC’s supposed Alzheimer’s. “People say…” His followers have said we live in a world that no longer has such a thing as facts. WikiLeaks takes on a whole new meaning (Assange has already stepped out to defend Trump) and Glenn Greenwald made his name publishing things without sourcing, so here we are. You live by fake news, you die by fake news. I’ve heard people say somewhere on the internet that Greenwald is a pedophile. I don’t have this info myself, it’s just something people say. But besides Trump’s salacious sex stuff, there are issues of greater concern, of course. However, it’s the sexual stuff that will keep the story in the news. Too bad the CIA didn’t e-mail these documents to HRC or John Podesta. Then maybe we would have been reading it about November 8th. But now it’s too late.
We are slouching towards Bethlehem. January 20th approaches and who knows what will come after that. We know Trump is basically a Russian spy and the US has lost the Cold War. But some people are still trying to tar and feather HRC for losing the electoral college. Chief among them is Bernie Sanders. Many are still feeling the bern. I’ve always been told that if a bern lasts more than 4 hours to contact a medical professional. But there is no cure for their rash. Instead of looking towards the Trump/Putin/Pence Presidency, Sanders has been taking a victory lap since November 9th trying to convince everyone that he would have won against Trump.
First, to quote someone famous, at this point what difference does it make? Second, Sanders’ claims are strictly anecdotal anyway. Unless someone has a time machine stashed away and we try the election over again with Sanders, the hypothesis is completely rhetorical. But if we must speculate, in my humble opinion, Sanders would have lost and lost bigly. He would have split the angry white men vote in the rust belt with Trump. (These white supremacists would have voted for a self-described Socialist Jew from Vermont? Are you nuts???) And Sanders would not have brought out the rest of the non-white coalition HRC was able to bring to the polls and win the popular vote by almost
3,000,000. He didn’t bring them out in the primaries and he wouldn’t have brought them out in the general. This is why Bernie’s unending “All White Men In The Rust Belt Matter and Democrats Should Love Them More” tour is so tiresome and unecessary. And as the white Independent Senator from the white state of Vermont continues to slam Democrats for not loving white people enough, I wonder what the non-white Democrats who voted for HRC think about being considered chopped liver, because once again they are told that they are not enough and that white people matter more. I think Democrats will face disaster if they follow Sanders’ line of thinking. Not only will they not get those white people from the rust belt to vote for them later, but they will lose a good number of non-whites who support them and HRC in 2016. Democrats’ solution to the 2016 disaster and the loss of a small football stadium worth of white voters in a few states should be surgical, not a nuke at the entire strategy because HRC’s strategy actually worked. She won by 3,000,000 votes across the nation and I fear that by appointing Sanders as their white people outreach ambassador – an ambassador who insists on using his bully pulpit to continue fighting the 2016 Democratic primaries – they will alienate the strong coalition of non-whites HRC built in 2016.
Speaking of Sanders still fighting the 2016 primary battle – like the South continues to fight the Civil War after all these years – why does Sanders refuse to acknowledge that HRC won the popular vote by almost 3,000,000 souls? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard him state this fact. It’s kind an important one. Sanders’ refusal to acknowledge it is similar to his refusal to discuss how terrible caucuses are when he bashes closed primaries for the Democratic nomination. It’s just so convenient for his self-aggrandizing narrative to ignore the popular vote vs. electoral college problem, just as it is inconvenient for him to discuss how terribly undemocratic caucuses are – because he won the caucuses. Sanders is intellectually dishonest. As Drumpf is about to be sworn in as President, Sanders and his Bros continue to wage war against Democrats, not Drumpf. It’s almost as if they don’t know who their actual enemy is…
Speaking of enemies – on Sunday January 8th I attended a “What Do We Do About Drumpf?” meeting in NYC organized by NYC Councilman Corey Johnson. Johnson is something of a hero to the LGBTQ community in NYC because he’s a young, openly gay politician. His life story includes being a popular captain of his high school football team when he came out of the closet in 2000; the story made it as far as the New York Times. His teammates didn’t kick him off the team. Since November 8 he has been organizing these monthly meetings for members of the community to meet and discuss what we are going to do about Drumpf. Last month he had NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio as speaker. On Sunday he had NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. So he’s getting heavy hitters involved, though at this point nobody has any idea about what to do about anything.
Schneiderman’s presentation was fascinating. He discussed the fact that Republicans have managed to take over the country at the local levels because for many years Democrats just didn’t think local elections were that important.
The GOP now controls 69 of 99 legislative chambers across America. They hold nearly two-thirds of the governors’ mansions. And, in 25 states, they have complete control of the government, including both executive and legislative branches. This gives Republicans control of the rules that govern voting and the reapportionment of legislative and congressional districts.
The big takeaway from 2016 is that, despite the public supporting many Democratic positions on policy, Republicans are now reaping the benefits of their 30-year organizing strategy, supported by dozens of mega-wealthy donors. As someone who has recruited and fundraised for state candidates, I know that while Democrats have been great at raising money for presidential candidates, Republicans have an overwhelming advantage as you move down-ballot.
Schneiderman spoke of his own experience trying to raise money for local Senators and Representatives and being dismissed by donors. Result after 30 years of neglect is that Republicans have a whole lot of privileges, which includes gerrymandering. If we thought (and I thought so too) that gerrymandering is something that only happens in red states – we were all a bit stunned to see these maps:
I mean….What In The Actual Fuck?! This is New York City folks.
Big problem New York state faces is that even though Democrats won majority of the votes – a handful of Democrats have chosen to back Republicans to run the NY Senate. They call themselves the Independent Democratic Conference and they have put Republicans in charge. What do they get out of it? Well, they get leadership positions as payment! Yay, Democracy. (Tony Avella of the 11th District, for example, chairs the – I kid you not – Ethics Committee). One wonderful fella, Simcha Felder of District 17 of Brooklyn (with a largely Hasidic and Russian Jewish population), actually ran as both a Democrat and a Republican. He explicitly said he’ll caucus with whomever gives him the better deal. I suppose we should at least praise him for being honest about his lack of principles. Another wonderful Democrat, Marisol Alcantara, of District 31, was a Bernie Sanders delegate. People swear she’s super nice and liberal. But after the Democratic state party didn’t back her candidacy in the primaries she threw her lot with the Independent Democratic Conference, which gave her cash for her campaign, which she won by about 1% over a Democratic challenger, and now she backs Republicans to control NY Senate. Isn’t she wonderful? One woman at the meeting on Sunday stood up to defend her. She said she knows Alcantara personally and Ms. Alcantara is a “magnificent human being” who didn’t get money from the Democrats and “she really wanted to win” so “she did what she had to.” And there ladies and gentlemen, is all we need to know about Ms. Alcantara. “She wanted to win” and “did what she had to.”
The suggestion on what to do about people like Felder and Alcantara (the Independent Democratic Conference has 7 Democrats who caucus with Republicans), is that we need to get in touch with them and make them – shame them to – do what we need them to do. People also noted that we need to be constantly keeping Chuck Schumer in check to make sure he does the right thing. One gentleman said he and about 100 other people protested outside of Schumer’s apartment earlier in the day. He was home but refused to come out and meet them. And this reminded me of the moment in one of the Presidential debates when HRC discussed how Drumpf was bringing cheap steel from China to build his hotels, instead of getting American steel. And Drumpf responded: “Make me stop; pass laws to make me stop.” So this is what we have come to. We shudder at Drumpf saying “make me do the right thing,” but let’s get honest about this: Democrats insist on the same thing. We are supposed to make Schumer and Alcantara do the right thing. Aren’t they supposed to be on our side? Why don’t they just, you know, do the right thing? Corey Johnson pointed out at the meeting on Sunday that when the redistricting in NY was done – Democrats signed off on it. If they had rejected it, courts would have drawn the district lines. But Democrats worked out deals with Republicans to allow these travesties. Just like Obama knew about Drumpf’s ties to Russia – and just let it all slide, along with Mitch McConnell and the rest of them. How is it that members of our own party sell their souls to the devil and then look at us and say: “Make me do the right thing?” The answer might lie with the nice lady at the meeting who said: “She really wanted to win and she did what she had to do.”