The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Democratic Values’ Category

Our Fearless Leaders…

THE SCENE: A conference room at the DNC’s Washington headquarters. It’s clear that a long meeting is in progress, from the various soda cans and coffee mugs on the table, scribbles and diagrams on the whiteboard, and the generally exhausted and disheveled air of the 6 participants. At the head of the table is TOM PEREZ, the newly-elected head of the Democratic National Committee. Sitting to his right is KEITH ELLISON, his second-in-command. There are four other people around the table: BERNIE SANDERS, loser of the Democratic Primary by 4 million votes; BILL MAHER, mansplainer extraordinaire; CHUCK SCHUMER, head of the Senate Democrats; and The One, former President BARACK OBAMA. There are, of course, no women present. 

As the curtain rises, we see PEREZ and ELLISON in earnest and quiet discussion. SANDERS’ head is down and his eyes are closed; gentle snores issue from his nose. SCHUMER is gazing raptly into OBAMA’s eyes, while MAHER is on the phone, pacing, at the other end of the table. PEREZ and ELLISON decide to bring the group back in.

PEREZ: Guys, hey! (The men in the room reluctantly begin to shift into “pay attention” mode.) I know it’s been a long day so far. But I think we’ve made real progress. Let’s take a look at the whiteboard one more time. Keith, can you give Bernie a nudge?

ELLISON (checking his watch): Yeah, I guess it’s still light outside. (goes over and gently shakes SANDERS, who unelegantly snorts awake.)

SANDERS: Oh! Sorry about that. I must have napped for a minute there.

OBAMA (muttering) More like the past 90 minutes, man. (SCHUMER snickers.)

MAHER (on the phone): Crap. I’ve gotta go, Ann. Of course I’ll have you on my show again. I don’t care how conservative you are; you’re my kind of woman. (Hangs up) Sorry about that. It’s hard for me to say no to a hot blonde, even if she talks a lot of sh*t sometimes. Am I right?

(SANDERS is the only one who laughs.)

PEREZ (into the awkward silence): Uh. Right! So, to recap: we want to rebuild the Democratic Party to prepare for 2018 and beyond. We can’t just focus on the Presidency every four years. That’s what got us into this mess in the first place!

OBAMA: Hey!

SCHUMER (smoothing it over): Sorry, Mr. President, but you have to agree that we should have spent more money and time building up Congress, the governorships and state legislatures. Now look what’s happened! The lunatics are running the asylum, and we don’t even have the option to impeach the schmuck squatting in the Oval Office to get his d*mn kids and that Breitbart wacko out of there. I feel like I’m living in Bizarro World!

SANDERS (standing up): I couldn’t agree more, Chuck. If it weren’t for that d*mn woman losing the election, we would be in the catbird seat right now. Thankfully you guys took over from that idiot Schultz, so we can take the Party back from the millionaires and billionaires! (sits down, self-satisfied)

(OBAMA rolls his eyes.)

MAHER (snarkily): Catbird seat?! How old ARE you?! (goes back to his phone and stops paying attention)

SCHUMER (politely): Uh, Bernie, that wasn’t actually what I said. In fact, it was pretty much the opposite. And I think it would be just terrific if you would stop obsessing about the primaries now. You know that 4 million more Democrats voted for Hillary. There was no rigging, except what the Russians did for Trump!

OBAMA: That’s right, Chuck. I knew those Russians were up to no good! But it shouldn’t have mattered. They should have come out for her the way they came out for me. (shaking his head) D*mn! I can’t believe my inspirational speeches didn’t work.

PEREZ (muttering): You mean those condescending lectures? Yeah, shocking.

ELLISON: (standing up and going to a whiteboard that turns around) Guys, guys! Come on now. We’re all on the same side, trying to do the same thing. Right? Let’s focus on beating the Republicans in 2018! Take a look at my strategy. I think we can all agree it’s a winner!

(ELLISON dramatically turns the whiteboard around. There is a picture of two people: one woman and one man. The man has unexpectedly sprouted a cartoon p*nis, and the woman has grown very large cartoon breasts.)

MAHER (grinning): Hey, Keith baby. I improved on it a bit.

PEREZ: Oh my God. (puts head in hands)

ELLISON (furiously erasing the offending bits): Bill, what are you even doing here? You’re not a politician. I don’t even know if you’re a Democrat!

MAHER: (standing up) Yeah? Well I figured you’ve got Bernie here, and he’s no Democrat. So what the f*ck, why shouldn’t I weigh in? After all, I know why you liberals always lose – it’s because you focus on the wrong things, like political correctness, instead of appealing to normal people like me.

SANDERS: YEAH!

OBAMA (finally a bit exercised): Oh – you mean we should cater to arrogant white guys who think they’re all that? I was President of the United States, you jackass. Have a little respect!

THE MEN GO SILENT, CHASTENED.

MAHER: Mr. President, I apologize. I got a bit carried away. It’s been a long day. (smarmily) Keith, why don’t we get back to your whiteboard. I promise I won’t touch it again.

ELLISON (not at all mollified, but willing to play along): All right. I cleaned up Bill’s mess, and here we are. These, gentlemen, are our new targeted Democratic voters.

First, we have Brenda. Brenda is an affluent white woman in the suburbs, who usually votes Republican. Our message? We feel your pain. You don’t want to think about the environment, or foreign policy, or how your vote affects people less fortunate than yourself. You just want lower taxes and an easy life for you and your family. And Brenda, you deserve it!

SANDERS (interrupting): Uh, Keith, I’m sure that’s not the message you want to send to Brenda. Don’t you want to talk to her about millionaires and billionaires taking over the country?

OBAMA: (interrupting): Nah, she’s a woman. Talk to her about taking care of her children!

SCHUMER (interrupting): What about abortion? Why can’t we talk to her about that? That’s the main issue for all women.

MAHER (interrupting): Women care about only one thing – a big schlong and a nice house. Why do you think I get so much action? (pointing) Hung like a horse, my friends.

(The meeting dissolves into chaos and yelling.)

PEREZ (commandingly): STOP! (The chaos calms.) Team, this is a mess. I forget, why are we targeting affluent white women again? And the man, isn’t he white too?

ELLISON (sheepishly): Uh, yes, Tom, yes he is. But remember, white people swung the election to that creep. We’ve got to get them to vote for us so we don’t lose again in 2018!

SANDERS: Yeah!

ELLISON (gaining confidence): I mean, look over here at the map of the United States. Come on, everyone, gather round the other whiteboard!

(Everyone gets up and dutifully looks at the whiteboard.)

SANDERS: Wow, is that Vermont? Huh. I thought it was bigger.

OBAMA (sarcastically): We know, Bernie.

ELLISON (clearing his throat): Ahem! Right. So look where the Democrats have all their support…in the East, West and some areas of the South. There’s very little in the middle of the country. That’s where we have to focus our efforts!

(The group murmurs in agreement, except PEREZ, who is scratching his head.)

PEREZ: So, uh…not to be a party pooper here, but…what about our base? African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, etc.? Shouldn’t we focus on turning them out rather than trying to convert people who never vote Democratic? And what about making sure people can vote in 2018? I heard that voter participation dropped 2-3 percentage points because of all those restrictive voting laws in those middle of the country states. If that hadn’t happened, plus all the Russian hacking and the Comey letter, Hillary would have won in a landslide!

SANDERS (getting red in the face): Oh please. She’s a loser! You should all listen to me. I would have won! It would have been YUGE!

ELLISON: I agree with Bernie. She only won by 3 million votes, and that’s mostly because of California. Who cares? It’s the middle of the country that counts.

SCHUMER: Wait a minute. What about New York? The greatest state in the nation!

(The room starts to get contentious again.)

OBAMA: Hey, hey, everyone. Look, it’s clear that we have some differences of opinion, but I’m confident we can work it all out. The notion that somehow Republicans could win in 2018 is patently absurd. Let’s all reconvene tomorrow, when we’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, and look at everything with fresh eyes. Okay?

(The men mutter and shake hands reluctantly as OBAMA ushers them out. PEREZ lingers behind and takes out his phone.)

PEREZ (quietly, making sure no one is around): Hello, Hillary? It’s me, Tom. (pauses) It was rough today. We really need you back. These guys have no clue! Obama does nothing but talk about himself. Maher makes dirty jokes and snarks. Bernie just yells “millionaires and billionaires” and says you’re a loser, then falls asleep.

(A hearty laugh issues from the phone.)

PEREZ: (chuckling) Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous. Meanwhile, Chuck is too afraid of making enemies to stand up to the others, even though he knows they’re on the wrong track. And Ellison backs whatever Bernie says. It’s a disaster!

(PEREZ pauses for a long moment as CLINTON talks.)

PEREZ: Really? You think it’s time you came out of the woods? Tell me more…

The lights dim and fade out as PEREZ listens to CLINTON.

THE END…?

Overheard at the Widdershin water cooler this week – we are fed up with: (A) Anthropological stories about down-on-their-luck rural Trump voters; (B) Blind hypocrisy by Republicans; and (C) Craven, cowardly, chicken-hearted Democrats.

No can of Pepsi delivered by a Kardashian will cure these ills, but if you can tolerate the next 600 words, what’s say we start a conversation about it?

Everyone and their dog have written about the poor rural Trump voter. You’d think they are forgotten indigenous tribes being described by Sir Stanley as he plundered the jungles of Appalachia looking for Livingstone. The money-shot quotes are as cheap and unrevealing as assisted living porn.

Capturing a chronically ill Trump voter is crazy good copy, but it does nothing to explain the highest truth of political science: Humans are complex creatures.

Stories about individual voting patterns are useless. They are not actionable. People may vote on God, guns, or gays. They may vote based upon what they divine from chicken entrails. Who knows? You can’t divorce someone from their experiential data. You can try to expand it by education, but you can’t bleach an imprinted brain.

For instance, we can accurately say 2 out of 3 of these woebegone Trump voters believe “discrimination has become just as large a problem for white people as it has for blacks and other minorities.” We can also accurately say such a belief is highly correlated to bigotry and racism, but that doesn’t mean everyone who voted for Trump is a racist.

Keeping two competing truisms in one brain at the same time is impossible for many people. It can result in exploding heads, but realizing such complexity is just the beginning of trying to understand voting patterns.

I live amongst Trump voters. My county went 80% for Trump. They aren’t all unemployed ignorant hillbilly coal miners. While some are, if you asked the vast majority, they believe the “liberal media” portrays them that way. There is no chance of starting a conversation around those two data points.

Likewise, I catch myself in perpetual agony over Republican hypocrisy until I remind myself, “Those who ride high horses are always above hypocrisy.”

For instance, there is no Republican guilt over 78 filibusters in the first five years of the Obama administration compared to only 68 in the entire previous history of the country.

The most recent act of hypocrisy doesn’t even seem to register. During the Obama years, almost 100 Republican members of Congress threatened impeachment if he dared attack Syria. Then Dolt 45 chucks $80 Million in cruise missiles closing an abandoned airfield for about twelve hours and it is time for ticker tape and Mt. Rushmore sculpting. Obama was excoriated for following the Constitution and Dolt 45 basks in his glistening orangey-ness.

Which leads us to the feckless Democrats who always seem to find a chicken-hearted way to react? The Gorsuch debacle is a prime example.

Utah acne cream model and Senator Mike Lee implied that Justices Kagan and Sotomayor are wild-eyed liberals. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth, but this, like so many other issues, demonstrates how unanswered hyperbole sets the narrative.

Republican appointees to the Supreme Court have been so far to the right you can’t even see the center from where they are perched. Proof of this: Justice Kennedy is the swing vote and he’s one of the most conservative justices in the history of the court.

Mitch McConnell has broken the Senate in an ultimate power play after denying Merrick Garland so much as a hearing or a vote. Such an act will rank up there in all time political slime, but he did it because he could.

Democrats have made it easy for Republicans to beat them like rented mules. There is no punishment for a Manchin or Heitkamp other than the broken legs they get from jumping to the Republican side on issues. There is no punishment for a non-Democrat to waltz into a Democratic primary and harm the eventual nominee.

Because of this behavior voters see one party as definitive and the other as milquetoast. Republicans take incredibly asinine positions, but they stake out ground for their voters and never look back. Democrats bathe everything in lukewarm timidity. As my old boss once told me, “In politics if you try to get away with being half-assed, you aren’t even good at being an ass.” I wish more Democrats understood that.

This brings us full circle – when it comes to voters, you can’t replace catnip with broccoli and expect the same result. Democrats are coming to understand that, but the understanding is being driven by the grassroots. We need to keep it up. Call congressional offices. Write letters. It makes a difference.

What’s on your mind today?

 

 

 

The-Handmaids-Tale-book

On Monday night the Politico reporter Gabriel Debenedetti tweeted: “We’ve got Biden, Clinton & Kasich already. Any other 2x presidential candidates planning to make a return to the political scene this month?” Then a few hours later: “The answer to this question, apparently, was Mitt Romney.” I responded: “It’s funny because only Clinton has been told repeatedly to shut up.”

In fact, after months of taunting “So where is Hillary?” and “Why isn’t Hillary doing something?” as soon as Clinton did emerge to deliver a couple of  speeches – the same people descended on her yelling “Shut up!” From Bill Maher to Donald Trump to Matthew Yglesias to Shaun King to every Bernie Bro on the planet, they declared that Hillary Clinton must shut up. Clinton Derangement Syndrome transcends party loyalty, race, age and even gender.

Hillary isn’t the only Clinton to inspire the chants of “Shut up!” Chelsea Clinton has also been told repeatedly, by many of the same people, to stop tweeting and expressing opinions and writing children’s books. Alyssa Rosenberg of Washington Post wrote an entire column telling Chelsea that it’s in her own best interests “to disappear.” Thank you so much Alyssa for your concern.

1807

Susan Bordo of University of Kentucky, is publishing a book titled: “The destruction of Hillary Clinton: sexism, Sanders and the millennial feminists.” The Guardian published an excerpt from the book. It is powerful and painful to read:

As I watched Sanders enchant the crowds, it was something of a deja vu experience to see a charismatic male politician on stage telling women which issues are and aren’t progressive. Cultural histories of the 60s rarely acknowledge what a sexist decade it was. We imagine that breaking through the suburban 50s fantasy meant that old-fashioned gender roles and attitudes had been discarded. Far from it.

In fact, in many ways the decade was more male-centric than the 50s; it just privileged a different sort of male. Those men loved having us as uninhibited sexual partners and helpers in their political protests, but they never let us forget who was in charge of creating the platforms or who belonged in the political spotlight.

[…]

[The media and pundits] described [Sanders] as “heart” and [Clinton] as “head” – a bitter irony for those of us familiar with the long history of philosophical, religious, and medical diatribes disqualifying women from leadership positions on the basis of our less-disciplined emotions. He was seen as authentic in his progressivism while she was pushed to the left by political expediency – as though a lifetime of fighting for equality and children’s rights meant nothing. He was the champion of the working class (conveniently ignoring that black and white women were members, and that their issues were also working class issues), but her longstanding commitments to universal health care, child care, paid sick leave, racial justice, the repeal of the Hyde amendment, and narrowing the wage gap between working men and women apparently evaporated because she’d accepted well-paid invitations to speak at Goldman Sachs.

It was a week in which Joseph Biden once again declared that Clinton was a weak candidate and that he would have won if he chose to run. Bernie Sanders continued his Democrat-and-Hillary-bashing tour (now in its 2nd year), declaring that Trump voters aren’t racist and misogynistic and not deplorable. And he would have won too. Biden, of course, is two time Presidential nominee who dropped out of races early in the primaries because nobody took him seriously. He has also always been a gaffe machine, saying unseemly things which somehow became endearing when he was VP, but calling Obama “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy” nearly sank his 2008 campaign before he even started it. Biden also wrote the much maligned Crime Bill that Hillary gets excoriated for. (No, she didn’t call black people “super predators.” She was specifically talking about drug dealers only.) And Bernie Sanders voted for the crime bill. But, of course, Hillary has always been seen as the problematic candidate.

Bill Maher’s comments to Clinton on April 31st were not the only astounding moments on that episode. Guest Neera Tanden, President of Center for American Progress who was an informal advisor to Clinton’s campaign, complained about Bill O’Reilly’s racist 27-neera-tanden-clinton.w710.h473.2xcomments about Maxine Waters and Sean Spicer telling April Ryan not to shake her head. Maher and Rich Santorum angrily told Tanden that she needs to get over it, there is nothing racist or sexist in those comments, and the Democratic party lost the election because Liberals are humorless and get offended at the most insane things. Santorum declared he never gets offended by anything, which Maher agreed with. There are many things wrong with these words. But let’s just discuss the preposterous idea that conservatives don’t get worked up over bullshit. Even if we just stick with the subject of hair, something serial rapist O’Reilly thinks is funny on black women, both Maher and Santorum conveniently forgot that just a few weeks ago Samantha Bee had to apologize to some asshole with Nazi hair at C-PAC because, it turns out, he has cancer. Of course cancer has never been known to cause Nazi hair, and when his diagnosis was brought to Bee’s attention, the show apologized, edited the young Nazi out of their piece and donated money to his cancer treatment. After all this Fox News still had the young Nazi on the air to tell everyone that none of these things Bee’s show had done for him were enough.

After Tanden’s painful appearance on Real Time, where Conservative and whatever Maher considers himself, white men lectured a woman of color that racism and sexism were just in her head, Tanden tweeted:

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 11.34.55 PM

As can be very clearly seen, Tanden was specifically addressing a poll that 86% of current anti-Trump activists are female.

Her tweet prompted the following response:

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 11.36.51 PM

Harry Shearer isn’t just a twitter troll. Shearer is the creator of “The Simpsons.” He also co-wrote and co-starred in “This Is Spinal Tap” and used to write for Saturday Night Live. This is a liberal, educated, Hollywood elite man. And his response is galling. When countless people jumped in to explain that a) Tanden said nothing about race and b) majority of women voted for Clinton, Shearer proceeded to argue for many tweets that women weren’t actually as upset as Tanden thinks. Countless peopled tried to make him understand the racism and misogyny of his response, but Shearer persisted with snark. Tanden later remarked: “In the course of 24 hours, I’ve had a few famous liberal men explain women’s legit feelings to me. Interesting times.”

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 12.08.44 AM

Update: on Wednesday night Carl Reiner tweeted the following 2 messages:

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I leave you with this heartbreaking portrait of Hillary Clinton by Ruby Cramer of Buzzfeed from January 2016. “In the early days of her husband’s administration, Hillary Clinton tried to start a national conversation about basic human decency, only to be mocked.”

But no, heartbreak and sadness we can fight. Let’s turn it into anger and action. The message Hillary and Hillary supporters should be sending out:  to anyone who tells her – or us – to shut up comes courtesy of, who else, the woman who has been pissing off multiple Popes and Marie Le Pen for decades. It can only be  Madonna. In this live performance in 2015 she’s joined by a drag queen who was featured on Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

“You might say that I’m an unapologetic bitch.

But sometimes, you know, I gotta call it like it is.”

You know, you never really knew how much your selfish bullshit cost me.
Well fuck you!”

 

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

-Trump Chuckie

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 Trump Obamaabout 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.

Medicaire

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 ForsterForster 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.”

Howards End

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.

iceberg1bAnother 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, chuck_toddThe 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.

yglesias-tweet

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.

my-tweet

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,

owens

William Ryan Owens

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 241bbae37747429f8c7363aaaf989428_8taking 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.

Well, one Democrat, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, is going there.

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.

Oh, indeed.

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