The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘Open Thread

It’s that time of year again, Widdershins. Tonight, we set our clocks back an hour, thrusting us temporarily further into the darkness of these cold, mysterious months. If you have a tendency towards Seasonal Affective Disorder, I hope this is the time you bring out your sunlamp. For me, it means an extra hour of sleep, which I clearly need, as I’m up at 7 am most weekend mornings (not voluntarily, by habit)!

We do measure our time in weeks here at TW, and boy, was this past week a doozy. Certainly there was mixed news on the election front, but overall there were some key bright spots for Democrats. DYB posted that Virginia almost bucked a 30-year trend to vote against the incumbent Party for Governor, and it’s been 44 years since NJ has re-elected a Democratic governor. I have quite a few friends in New Jersey, and four of them are blue dots in big red counties, Sussex and Morris. If you take a look county by county, you can see that while NJ is a blue state for President, it has quite a bit of red. This has a good deal to do with why NJ frequently elects Republican Governors.

The idea that Drumpf guarantees election wins took another hit, as he endorsed the NJ candidate who lost. He also endorsed the VA candidate who won, but the only reason that worked is because Drumpf was forced to stay away by Youngkin’s campaign. They know that while the Mango Moron energizes Republican turnout, he also energizes Democratic turnout. And they knew that if they could suppress turnout, they actually had a chance of winning.

Speaking of turnout, it was the cause of McAuliffe’s loss and Murphy’s squeaker win. No, white women didn’t swing massively to Drumpf – it’s just that during the exit polls, more Republican women showed up between 2020 and 2021. While McAuliffe got 200,000 more votes than Northam in 2017, Youngkin outperformed Northam’s 2017 opponent by 500,000 votes. The Atlantic article linked above has some excellent insights.

Even with Youngkin’s marginal gains in the center, both the exit polls and actual results suggest instead that McAuliffe’s biggest problems were explosive turnout and huge deficits in the parts of the state most alienated from Biden and the Democrats who now control Washington. Turnout in Republican-leaning places was so strong that the share of the statewide vote cast by the blue-leaning big five Northern Virginia counties declined this year after steadily rising over the past three governor’s races; Richmond city and neighboring Henrico, still solidly Democratic, also cast a smaller percentage of the vote this year than in 2017, based on results as of Wednesday afternoon.

Relative to Northam, McAuliffe’s share of the vote consistently declined more in the southern half of the state, an area with relatively fewer college graduates, than it did in more white-collar Northern Virginia. “An engaged GOP base delivered Republicans even bigger landslides than usual in rural central and western Virginia,” the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics wrote in its analysis of the results yesterday. “In 2013, McAuliffe lost the 9th Congressional District, in the southwestern corner of the state, by about 30 percentage points. Last night … McAuliffe’s deficit there fell to about 50 points.” That erosion was evident not only in the southwestern counties that have become Republican bedrocks but also in southeastern Virginia jurisdictions that are either purple or Democratic-leaning, such as Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake County.

The article makes the case that Biden’s lower approval numbers, plus a series of reforms that made it easier to vote in Virginia AND historic trends, caused a huge surge in turnout on the Republican side. Democrats were not able to match it in Virginia, but made it work in NJ, against the odds, for a popular incumbent Governor who’s shown good results from liberal policies.

These results say three things to me. First of all, our Party is a big tent. A significant percentage of our politicians and voters, on the “left” (Bernie acolytes who scream about how nothing is ever good enough and vote with Republicans), right and center, have serious problems with Biden’s determination to center the lifting of poor people, women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ as his economic agenda. Racism, misogyny and homophobia work on them. While this percentage is mostly made up of white people, Drumpf made gains in the Latino, Black and Asian communities in 2020 by running racist ads targeted at engaging them to vote Republican. “Zero sum” – keep your foot on the necks of marginalized people so you can stay on top – is literally the only platform Republicans have. All the code words in the world (CRT, socialism) won’t change that. I think as we go forward into 2022, we need to realize that a percentage of voters (especially those who are white and without college education) are not reliable, and expect that they will go Republican.

Second of all, we are a lot more fickle (in my fury I wrote “whiny” on election night) than Republicans. Republicans will vote for a three-eyed alien from Xenu if it has an R label and runs on a racist agenda. (Hence, the success of TFG, a disgusting gob of orange goo who has gained cult-like loyalty and enthusiasm from Republican voters.) A good percentage of Democrats vote on “what have you done for me lately?”, and lack both understanding and patience when it comes to getting bills passed with a tiny majority in the House and Senate. These voters are susceptible to media propaganda about how Democrats are in disarray and terrible at everything and are going to throw all of us under the bus…so vote third-party to elect Republicans who will then proceed to do everything they can to destroy the country. FACEPALM. In addition, young people mostly don’t vote unless they feel every single need of theirs is being taken care of AND they’re able to lift their eyes from social media enough to be aware of the election happening. I have seen this dynamic in my own life, with very smart colleagues who are in their 20s and early 30s, solidly Democratic, who forget to vote in off-year elections. Not good!

For that fickle Democratic electorate, it’s absolutely critical to get Biden’s economic agenda passed ASAP. As the Atlantic article states (and many smart Widdershins as well!),

For the majority of Democratic elected officials and strategists, the most immediate lesson of Tuesday’s tough night is that the party needs to finally pass Biden’s economic agenda—which they hope will both assuage doubts about the president’s competence and provide them a list of tangible programs they can take to voters next year, including an expanded child tax credit and child-care subsidies and plans to lower prescription-drug prices. One message from last night’s result is that “when you are the party in power, you can’t win only by convincing people to fire the other guys; you have to convince people to rehire you,” says Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic communications strategist based in Virginia. “And that means getting the Biden economic agenda done and then relentlessly talking about how we delivered on it.”

This week, the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill was passed, and the Democrats are working on the other two big bills they want to pass through reconciliation. If these bills go forward, will it be enough for the second fickle group to turn out? I don’t know, because there’s always something to complain about. Merrick Garland! Voting rights! What have you done for me lately, on my timeline, without any consideration of yours? I’m disappointed and I’m staying home! So here’s where I have a third point to make.

Democrats should be unapologetic about their priorities and call out the QOP for theirs. Yes, we center women, people of color, LGBTQ+ and poor people. Why shouldn’t we? What have you got against this? Use “Build Back Better” as your slogan – three words Americans can remember (we really can’t focus on much more than that). Go on offense. When Republicans use their racist code words, call them out as racist, don’t say things like “CRT isn’t taught in K-12 today.” That’s not the point – the point is that “CRT” is a racist code word. Say that. “Your talking point about CRT is racist.” Just keep hammering on that. “Your talking point about socialism is racist.” It will gain the attention of the profit-driven media, which will then say “racist” repeatedly in association with Republicans, and has the added benefit of being true.

Yes, this will turn out the QOP base, but as we saw this week, that ship has already sailed. They are energized and ready to bring back JFK, Jr. as TFG’s running mate in 2024, and happy to elect Republicans in 2022 to accomplish their agenda. We can’t do anything about that. What we can do is energize our own base with real talk and accomplishments to go with it, and start voter outreach campaigns NOW for our House and Senate candidates.

I sincerely hope we do all of this in time.

As always, an open thread.

…the rapid intensification of a storm caused by a sudden and significant drop in atmospheric pressure the development or intensification of a bomb cyclone

Merriam-Webster

What a week, Widdershins! Here in Northern California, we are expecting a huge rainstorm (aka “atmospheric river”) caused by bombogenesis, starting this evening and going into Sunday. In my area, it is supposed to drop 6.5 inches in that short amount of time, including cyclonic winds up to 70 miles per hour. We have flashlights, a generator and extra food and booze, so fingers and toes crossed we’ll be all right. While severe and potentially causing flash flooding, we are all grateful for this storm, as it is starting to make a dent in the deep and perilous drought we have been experiencing. After this weekend, we’ll still be about 15 inches under the expected rainfall for the season.

I feel like Drumpf and his goons have some bombogenesis coming their way as well. This week, the January 6th Commission found Steve Bannon in criminal contempt and referred his prosecution to the DOJ. This move has scared multiple other insurrection conspirators into cooperating with the Committee, including Jeffery Clark, the goon who was trying to force the DOJ into overturning the election by fiat. We will have to see what the DOJ does next – I am not one of those who thinks Garland should resign after 2.5 seconds in the DOJ, but I do think he should quickly decide to prosecute. This should not be a tough decision – the law is the law.

The House’s vote 229-202 vote Thursday to hold Bannon in contempt for defying its January 6 committees’ subpoenas sets in motion a court process that begins with prosecutors considering legal questions and building a case.

The DC US Attorney’s office received the referral via a courier Thursday night. It could decline to charge Bannon, charge him quickly, or use a grand jury to investigate and indict the longtime adviser to former President Donald Trump.

I’ll be watching both of these approaching storms with great interest. How’s the weather in your area, Shinners?

This is an open thread.

Happy Saturday, Widdershins! I hope you all had a good week. The Mango Moron did not, “bless his heart.” Here are a few things that went wrong in the delusional world of The Former Guy.

The truth is coming out about the non-violent part of his coup attempt on January 6th. One of Drumpf’s attorneys, John Eastman, gave Mike Pence step-by-step instructions as to how to invalidate the electoral votes of the states that provided Biden his landslide victory, and then to throw the vote to the House, in which case the Republicans would prevail. Pence tried his darndest to obey those instructions, but since they came from the outer rim of Pluto and not the Constitution here on Earth, he was not legally able to do so. It doesn’t matter for Drumpf though – a plot to take over the government illegally is still a crime, even when it (BARELY) doesn’t succeed.

Speaking of January 6, the House Commission has issued its first subpoenas to a veritable who’s who of der Drumpfenfuhrer’s inner circle (including, finally, Steve Bannon). Per its chair, Bennie Thompson, it’s “just getting started.” These days, Merrick Garland is in charge of the DOJ, and not Satanic teddy bear Bill Barr, so a Congressional subpoena actually means something, and these people (and others to come) WILL be compelled to testify. Despite 45’s pathetic attempts to paint this commission’s finding’s as partisan hoo-ha, the Committee has prominent Republicans as members, and has even hired Republicans as attorneys and staff.

Trump and his allies have loved to paint the committee as just another partisan witch hunt. Congressional Republicans largely went along, fighting the panel’s formation as a bipartisan group. But the committee’s most prominent staff hires aren’t snowflaky lawyers from the bleeding-heart liberal bastions of America. They’re conservative Republicans to the core with backgrounds in the Air Force (Riggleman) and as a clerk for one of the most conservative members of the Supreme Court (Wood). They can’t credibly be accused as fake Republicans. Whatever the committee concludes will be presented by Democrats and Republicans. Arguments that this probe was motivated by Democratic partisanship just won’t stick in the same way.

Not that surrounding himself by dyed-in-the-wool loyalists will keep The Former Guy safe from reality. Even the Arizona Frauditeers were forced to admit Biden won Arizona…by MORE than before! Same with Mark Kelly, the Democratic Senator who handily dispatched the unloved Martha McSally in 2020. Despite the results showing that the only errors were in allocating too many votes to him and Martha, Delusional Don still declared victory and tried to command that Arizona declare him the winner, same as he did with Georgia. If his mental illness and gaslighting weren’t so terrifying, it would be hilarious.

“There will be no decertification of the 2020 election – the audit does not call for one, and even if it had, there is no lawful way to decertify. As we have every step of the way, Arizona will follow the law,” the governor said.

This poisonous toad and all his enablers must and will be held accountable for their treasonous and criminal actions, and I cannot wait. Open thread, of course!

Widdershins, today I’m going to take a break from politics and share something I’ve been struggling with personally.

Last May, I got a call from a dear friend’s wife. I missed it because I was in a client meeting and figured hey, I can call her back. I did have a brief flash of “that’s odd that she’d call me on a Monday morning, I hope my friend is okay” but then dismissed that thought because he was 54 and in good health.

When I called her back, she said he had passed away the day before. We both started bawling uncontrollably. Apparently the family (my friend, his wife and their two kids, who are 16 and 13) were picnicking in the park near their how. My friend was laughing one minute, then suddenly grimaced, clutched his heart and fell over. He was just gone. They tried CPR and heart massage, but there was nothing they could do, and the EMTs pronounced him when they arrived.

A bit of history about my friend (let’s call him BC). I met him, along with many of my closest friends, in college, my freshman year. BC was in the companion dorm to mine, right across a big common area called the Lounge. So many parties, late night chats, trips. We were all thick as thieves. BC and I kept in touch pretty well – his brother was in NYC, so he stayed with me and my roommates once when I was in grad school. We spoke on the phone. I even visited him and his then-girlfriend (who became his wife) in Hawaii when I happened to be there.

But once BC moved to Southern California, we started losing touch. My family was almost all on the East Coast, and my brother was in NorCal. He and his wife were becoming parents and building a life out West. I was building my career and life with my husband. And every time we talked, it was always at least an hour and a half, so we had to plan it out pretty carefully as we got busier and busier.

Flash forward to the pandemic.

The first week after we went remote at work (week of March 16, 2020), I coordinated a Zoom call with my college friends. At first, for me it was a check-in call to make sure everyone was safe. I couldn’t stand the thought of not knowing how everyone was, and I could see that with Drumpf in charge we were going to have a terrible time of it. After we talked for a while, I suggested the call be every week. At first people thought that was excessive, but I convinced them to try it and if we wanted to adjust, we could adjust. It turned out to be our bastion of sanity and connection during those very dark days, and we’ve continued it to this day.

I mentioned BC a few times, and then eventually decided I would try to reach out. I found his email on LinkedIn and he responded right away. I told him about the call and invited him, and soon afterwards he started showing up regularly, with his wonderful wife and kids dropping in to say hi frequently. It was just as though we had never lost touch.

I’m so thankful for the timing of that outreach, because we all had several months of being with him before that dreadful May day. My husband said BC was the funniest guy he ever met. It was the way he thought about things – so logical to him, but mystifying to everyone else. The classic example: he decided to go to Hawaii because he was a waiter in Rochester, NY – why not be a waiter somewhere warm? No worries at all about logistics or career – he focused on what would make him physically and emotionally content. His boundless curiosity and desire to understand life from every angle made ambition beside the point.

The last conversation we had was with a couple of my other friends and BC. We spent 45 minutes helping him talk through a decision he wanted to make about his daughter’s education – he was trying to figure out what to tell her about whether to take a class she didn’t want to take. In the end I gave him the advice he took – tell her the risks of not taking the class (she might not get into the college she wanted) and let her decide. She would ultimately bear the consequences of the decision, so it was best to give her the grace to make it for herself.

Five days later, he was dead. And so began the agony of figuring out who was going to call whom to break the horrible news, including the Googling of another friend we had lost touch with and talking to him for 45 minutes about BC, and making plans about how to honor him at his Celebration of Life (coming up next weekend). The whole terrible, awful, unfair mess of it all. A middle-aged man in the prime of his life, cut down in the midst of joy. The pain of it is brutal and sly, the tears catching me unawares before a meeting or in quiet moments at the end of the day.

What I want to say about this is, if there’s someone you love whom you haven’t seen or spoken with in a long time, don’t wait to reach out. Life is short, random and unforgiving. Keep your dear ones close. You’ll never regret it.

This is an open thread.

This week was a revelatory one, wasn’t it? As the January 6th Select Committee sets its first hearing with law enforcement on July 27th, more and more scary-but-not-shocking details are coming out about the depth and comprehensiveness of Drumpf’s attempts to establish himself as the Dick-tator of the United States.

Here’s a story I read this morning quoting Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-MD, the extraordinary leader of Drumpf’s 2nd impeachment effort. Mr. Raskin is also a member of the Select Committee. The story contains some key nuggets about how Mike Pence’s refusal to do the Mango Moron’s bidding on 1/6 likely prevented the overturning of the election and imposition of martial law. And the way the Thugs would have done it, could have been inspired directly by “Veep.”

“All they wanted Pence to do was to rebuff the electors coming in from Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, lowering Biden’s total below 270, kicking the presidential contest into a contingent election,” Raskin said.

“In the event that no presidential candidate can reach 270 Electoral College votes, the next president is selected by the House of Representatives. This rare situation has not arisen since the 19th century [well…except on “Veep,” when an electoral college tie sent the election back to the House!].

“And there they wanted it because we vote not one member, one vote, but one state, one vote,” Raskin went on.

“And if they’d been able to do that, which would not have been really that much if you look at the different things Mike Pence did over the prior four years for Trump, they would have won it with 27 states to 22 for the Democrats and one tied.”

“And at that point, he probably would’ve followed the advice of Michael Flynn and imposed martial law and a state of siege, and this would’ve been the Reichstag moment,” he said.

Barring the martial law part, which is more speculative, it looks like Drumpf’s coup d’etat plan included elements that were similar to what happened on a TeeVee show about a corrupt politician doing anything and everything to claw her way to the White House and stay there. So on brand for TFG! And only Mike Pence stopped it from working.

I never thought I’d say this, but thank Goddess for Mike Pence. (Sorry, Beata!) Unlike in “Veep,” where the peaceful transfer of power was observed no matter how evil the candidate was, the US as we know it wouldn’t have survived the overturning of the election and the reinstatement of der Drumpfenfuhrer.

Brace yourselves for more of these revelations over the next several months, Shinners!

Open thread, as always.


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