Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Why Mass Disruption, Civil Unrest Works

Protester at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia holds up a cutout sign during a protest of President Donald Trump's executive order banning travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen, Sunday, January 29th, 2017. (photo: Corey Perrine/AP)
Protester at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia holds up a cutout sign during a protest of President Donald Trump's executive order banning travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen, Sunday, January 29th, 2017. (photo: Corey Perrine/AP)

By David S. Cohen, Rolling Stone
31 January 17
Outrage over abandonment of American values, coupled with judicial action, can deliver a powerful one-two punch
fter the Women's March, I wrote that Donald Trump and his Republican colleagues responded to the largest single-day protest in American history with a big middle finger by quickly acting, in direct contradiction to the March's goals, to restrict reproductive rights, both at home and abroad.

This weekend, we saw our second set of mass protests against the Trump administration. At airports around the country, tens of thousands of people showed up to protest Friday night's executive order that, among other things, temporarily banned all refugees, indefinitely banned Syrian refugees, and temporarily banned citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Contrary to the immediate aftermath of the Women's March, this weekend's civil unrest worked. By Sunday night, the secretary of Homeland Security announced that the ban would no longer apply to green card holders – immigrants who are lawfully in the United States – who happened to be traveling abroad at the time the executive order was signed.

This was a huge, though incomplete, victory. Although it does not rescind any aspect of the executive order, a policy that is contrary to American ideals and has no connection whatsoever to actual terrorism, this announcement is an implicit recognition that the order went too far in keeping lawful permanent residents of the United States out of the country.

What's the difference between the civil unrest last weekend and this weekend? Why did the Women's March result in an almost-immediate "fuck you" to its participants while the airport protests resulted in the government changing course? The difference is that massive civil unrest can work when accompanied by judicial intervention, as the two together make a powerful one-two punch.

This weekend, as soon as there were reports that green card holders coming back to the United States were being detained at airports – or worse, sent back to where they came from – lawyers jumped into the fray. The ACLU as well as unaffiliated volunteer lawyers rushed to airports around the country to work the legal system on behalf of those detained. Within hours, these lawyers had filed lawsuits asserting a wide variety of legal claims. Some of the claims argued that the executive order violated the immigration statute's requirement that presidential actions not discriminate on the basis of country of origin. Other claims were based on the Constitution. These claims argued that the order restricted religious rights, endorsed Christianity, denied basic procedural protections and violated equality principles.

Almost as immediately as these lawsuits were filed, judges had ruled against the executive order. Federal judges in Brooklyn, Boston, Seattle, Virginia and Los Angeles issued rulings on Saturday and Sunday halting different parts of the executive order. The rulings varied in complex ways, but the bottom line here is what matters – federal judges immediately stepped in to say that the executive order had gone too far.

While this was going on, the people of this country took to the streets and, in a novel twist suited to this particular situation, to the airport terminals. In cities big and small, people dropped what they were doing for the weekend and rushed to their local airports to protest. Protests started Saturday during the day and became even bigger on Sunday. In some places, airport protesters were complemented by protesters who filled city streets and squares.

During the day on Sunday, there was mass confusion about what was happening with the people who were being detained at the airports. At first, there were widespread reports that the Customs and Border Patrol was not complying with the court orders.

A confusing memo released Sunday morning from the Department of Homeland Security did not help matters, as it said in the beginning that the executive order remained in full effect, but at the end that the Department would comply with all judicial orders.

However, Sunday evening, the Trump administration buckled under the weight of public and judicial pressure. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly released a short statement indicating that lawful permanent residents would be admitted to this country because doing so is "in the national interest." The statement does not rescind the executive order; rather, it says that the Department will apply the order but will find, absent an indication of a threat to public safety, that all lawful permanent residents fit the order's exception for people being admitted when it is in the national interest. In other words, the executive order still stands, but it won't be applied in this one egregious fashion.

This victory – a limited, but hugely significant one – needs to be celebrated for how it happened. People outraged over an abandonment of American values with respect to immigrants engaged in spontaneous mass disruption and protest. They did it on the heels of a massive protest that had primed the country, as the Women's March principles included a recognition of the dignity of immigrants and Muslims. But the protests were not happening in isolation. The protesters were joined by lawyers who courageously fought the system and judges who followed the constitution. The legal system stepped in and echoed what the protesters were saying – that the Trump administration had gone too far.

The lesson here is clear. Tyranny is best fought on multiple fronts. We can't let up in the streets, just as the lawyers can't let up in the courts. Combining these tactics is our best bet to save democracy from the clutches of the current administration.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sorry, Media: Trump Really Means What He Says - and Plans to Silence and Intimidate Dissenters

Trump at his first press conference. (photo: Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images)
Trump at his first press conference. (photo: Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images)

By Amanda Marcotte, Salon
29 January 17
Trump seeks to divide and conquer the media, while congressional allies like Jason Chaffetz go after critics

or liberals,and anyone with a fundamental love of our democracy, the two months since the election have been one long anxiety attack. Like most really bad anxiety attacks, this one has been fueled not just by fear, but also uncertainty. We know Donald Trump is bad, but the question is, how bad? Was Trump’s bringing-fascism-to-America act just a campaign ploy, one that he will drop in favor of being a bog-standard Republican when he steps into office? Or are we really looking down the barrel of an authoritarian regime that suppresses dissent and has no regard for the norms of democracy?

Unfortunately, the past week’s events suggest Trump is going with Door #2: Authoritarian regime that shows strong indicators of sliding into fascism. Doubly disturbing is that there appears to be no resistance from the Republican ranks on Capitol Hill. In fact, at least one Republican congressman, House Oversight chair Jason Chaffetz, is taking the initiative to instigate authoritarian crackdowns of his own. 

Trump’s first press conference since his election was a three-ring circus that only helped cement his reputation as an unhinged liar, but he did make disturbing amounts of progress on intimidating the press.

Trump took a divide-and-conquer strategy during that press conference. He zeroed in on CNN and BuzzFeed, attacking them as “fake news” for printing reports — reports that are 100 percent true — that a dossier implicating Trump in Russian espionage efforts was presented by intelligence officials to both Trump and President Obama. He then praised other outlets for not running with the story (though some did), a rather unsubtle effort to turn journalists against one another.

The information in the dossier is not verified, but then again, CNN and BuzzFeed never said it was, just that it was considered credible enough to be included in a security briefing. Not that the details really matter; it’s all pretext for Trump to play an authoritarian game as old as time: single out a victim out from the herd to attack, as a warning to other journalists who have thoughts of publishing unflattering news stories.

These middle school bully-style tactics worked, Will Oremus at Slate reports:
BuzzFeed was so anathematized that by presser’s end, fellow journalists were picking up their lunch trays and moving to the other side of the cafeteria.“I can understand why President-elect Trump would be upset” with BuzzFeed, said CNN’s Jake Tapper, a co-author of the very story that had just been impugned in the press conference. “I would be upset about it, too.”
To put my fellow journalists on blast for a moment: You should be ashamed of yourselves, letting this doofus whose rhetoric literally sounds like that of a mustache-twirling comic book villain manipulate you, using the same tactics as some schoolyard bully.

Aren’t journalists supposed to be skeptical, independent-minded and brave? Stop being so goddamn gullible and cowardly. Trump wants to intimidate and silence the media, and he’s using a screamingly obvious divide-and-conquer strategy. Quivering in your boots and hiding in the back in hopes he doesn’t pick on you next is not the behavior of an honorable Fourth Estate. Stand up for your colleagues, even if they work for competitors.

Speaking of pants-wetting quisling hacks: Chaffetz made it clear this week that not only is he unlikely to investigate the myriad of likely conflicts of interest that Trump brings with him to office, he will instead lick Dear Leader’s boots, by using his power as the chair of the House Oversight Committee to harass and intimidate critics of the Trump administration.

Chaffetz is threatening to subpoena Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics, because Shaub correctly described Trump’s efforts to reduce his conflicts of interest as “meaningless.” That opinion was issued after Trump’s lawyer Sheri Dillon gave a lengthy rundown of Trump’s plan, so any fool who was listening learned plenty enough to realize that the Trump plan to end conflicts of interest is to talk a lot and do nothing that actually divests him of the conflicts.

But even though Shaub heard the same lengthy description everyone else heard, Chaffetz claimed, ““He seems to be acting prematurely at best, without doing investigations or thorough looks.”

“We need the Office of Government Ethics to act ethically. Ironically, that’s not what they’re doing,” Chaffetz said in a statement that is so devoid of any relationship to honesty that it once again makes you wonder if the Republican Party is in fact a comic book-style international supervillain organization like Hydra.

The real irony here is that Chaffetz is supposed to be heading a committee that roots out corruption in government. Rather than lift a finger to investigate Trump’s business interests or his purported links to Russian espionage or his involvement in the scam Trump University or the bribery scandal involving former Florida attorney general and soon-to-be White House employee Pam Bondi, Chaffetz is using his power to intimidate a public official for offering a reasonable comment based on publicly available evidence that Chaffetz himself is free to look at, if he had a moment’s interest in actually rooting out government corruption.

Trump isn’t even in office yet, and already he and his supporters in Congress are making moves to silence dissent through intimidation. Any hope that he was simply going to be a terrible president who still leaves our democracy mostly intact, like George W. Bush, is flying out the window.

As the last institution standing that has any real power to resist Trump’s authoritarian agenda, the media must not give in to these scare tactics. Journalists need to stand up for each other and for anyone, including federal officials, who uses their right to express dissent or criticism of the Trump administration. It’s a cliché, but one that matters now: Stand together or we fall separately.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

From Lying to Leering: Trump's Fear of Women

Donald Trump lurks behind Hillary Clinton as she answers a question from the audience. (photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters)
Donald Trump lurks behind Hillary Clinton as she answers a question from the audience. (photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters)

Hillary Clinton was all that stood between us and a reckless, unstable, ignorant, inane, infinitely vulgar, climate-change-denying white-nationalist misogynist with authoritarian ambitions and kleptocratic plans.

By Rebecca Solnit, The London Review of Books
15 January 17

omen told me they had flashbacks to hideous episodes in their past after the second presidential debate on 9 October, or couldn’t sleep, or had nightmares. The words in that debate mattered, as did their delivery. Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton 18 times (compared to 51 interruptions in the first debate). His reply to the moderator Anderson Cooper’s question about his videotaped boasts of grabbing women by the pussy, which had been released a few days earlier, was: ‘But it’s locker room talk, and it’s one of those things. I will knock the hell out of Isis … And we should get on to much more important things and much bigger things.’ Then he promised to ‘make America safe again’ – but not from him. That week, women and Isis were informally paired as things Trump promised to assault.

But words were secondary to actions. Trump roamed, loomed, glowered, snarled and appeared to copulate with his podium, grasping it with both hands and swaying his hips, seeming briefly lost in reverie. The menace was so dramatic, so Hitchcockian, that the Hollywood composer Danny Elfman wrote a soundtrack for a video edit playing up all the most ominous moments. ‘Watching Trump lurching behind Hillary during the debate felt a bit like a zombie movie,’ Elfman said. ‘Like at any moment he was going to attack her, rip off her head, and eat her brains.’ Friends told me they thought he might assault her; I thought it possible myself as I watched him roam and rage. He was, as we sometimes say, in her space, and her ability to remain calm and on message seemed heroic. Like many men throughout the election, he appeared to be outraged that she was in it. The election, that is. And her space.

In the ninety-minute debate, Trump lurched around the stage gaslighting, discrediting, constantly interrupting, often to insist that she was lying or just to drown out her words and her voice, sexually shaming (this was the debate in which he tried to find room in his family box for three women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment or assault), and threatening to throw her in prison. Earlier in the campaign he’d urged his supporters to shoot her. ‘Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment,’ he rumbled at one of his rage-inciting rallies, following a patent untruth with a casual threat: ‘By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.’ At the Republican Convention Chris Christie led chants of ‘Lock her up!’ In the spring, Trump retweeted a supporter who asked: ‘If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?’

Perhaps the president is married to the nation in some mystical way; if so America is about to become a battered woman, badgered, lied to, threatened, gaslighted, betrayed and robbed by a grifter with attention-deficit disorder.

Trump is patriarchy unbuttoned, paunchy, in a baggy suit, with his hair oozing and his lips flapping and his face squinching into clownish expressions of mockery and rage and self-congratulation. He picked as a running mate buttoned-up patriarchy, the lean, crop-haired, perpetually tense Mike Pence, who actually has experience in government, signing eight anti-abortion bills in his four years as governor of Indiana, and going after Planned Parenthood the way Trump went after hapless beauty queens. The Republican platform was, as usual, keen to gut reproductive rights and pretty much any rights that appertained to people who weren’t straight, or male, or white.

Misogyny was everywhere. It came from the right and the left, and Clinton was its bull’s-eye, but it spilled over to women across the political spectrum. Early on some of Trump’s fury focused on the Fox presenter Megyn Kelly, who had questioned him about his derogatory comments about other women’s appearance. He made the bizarre statement on CNN that ‘you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.’ He also denigrated his opponents’ wives and the businesswoman Carly Fiorina’s face; he obligingly attacked Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe, in a flurry of middle-of-the-night tweets after Clinton baited him about his treatment of her; he attacked the women who accused him of assaulting them after the grab-them-by-the-pussy tape was released.

Trump’s surrogates and key supporters constituted a sort of misogyny army – or as Star Jones, the former host of the talk show the View put it, ‘Newt Gingrich, Giuliani and Chris Christie: they’ve got like the trifecta of misogyny.’ The army included Steve Bannon, who as head of the alt-right site Breitbart News hired Milo Yiannopoulos and helped merge the misogynistic fury of the men’s-rights movement with white supremacy and anti-Semitism to form a new cabal of far-right fury. After being dismissed from Fox News in July, when more than two dozen women testified about his decades-long sexual harassment, degradation and exploitation of his female employees, Roger Ailes became Trump’s debate coach, though they soon fell out – some reports said Ailes was frustrated by Trump’s inability to concentrate. The Fox anchor Andrea Tantaros claimed that under Ailes, Fox was ‘a sex-fuelled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny’. It seems telling that the rise of the far right and the fall of truthful news were to a meaningful extent engineered by a television network that was also a miserable one-man brothel. But that old right-wing men are misogynists is about as surprising as that alligators bite.

Clinton was constantly berated for qualities rarely mentioned in male politicians, including ambition – something, it’s safe to assume, she has in common with everyone who ever ran for elected office. It’s possible, according to Psychology Today’s headline, that she is ‘pathologically ambitious’. She was criticised for having a voice. While Bernie Sanders railed and Trump screamed and snickered, the Fox commentator Brit Hume complained about Clinton’s ‘sharp, lecturing tone’, which, he said, was ‘not so attractive’, while MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell gave her public instructions on how to use a microphone, Bob Woodward bitched that she was ‘screaming’ and Bob Cusack, the editor of the political newspaper the Hill, said: ‘When Hillary Clinton raises her voice, she loses.’ One could get the impression that a woman should campaign in a sultry whisper, but of course if she did that she would not project power. But if she did project power she would fail as a woman, since power, in this framework, is a male prerogative, which is to say that the set-up was not intended to include women.

As Sady Doyle noted, ‘she can’t be sad or angry, but she also can’t be happy or amused, and she also can’t refrain from expressing any of those emotions. There is literally no way out of this one. Anything she does is wrong.’ One merely had to imagine a woman candidate doing what Trump did, from lying to leering, to understand what latitude masculinity possesses. ‘No advanced step taken by women has been so bitterly contested as that of speaking in public,’ Susan B. Anthony said in 1900. ‘For nothing which they have attempted, not even to secure the suffrage, have they been so abused, condemned and antagonised.’ Or as Mary Beard put it last year, ‘We have never escaped a certain male cultural desire for women’s silence.’

Trump harped on the theme that Clinton had been in power for thirty years, seeming to equate her with feminism or liberalism or some other inchoate force that he intended to defeat, and in these narratives her power seemed huge and transcendent, looming over the nation the way he’d loomed over her in the second debate. By figures on both the right and the left, Clinton was held to be more responsible for her husband’s policies than he was, more responsible for the war in Iraq than the rarely mentioned Bush administration, responsible for Obama’s policies as though he had carried out her agenda rather than she his. The narratives cast her as a demoness with unlimited powers, or as a wicked woman, because she had had power and aspired to have power again. One got the impression that any power a woman had was too much, and that a lot of men found women very scary.

The very existence of Clinton seemed to infuriate a lot of people, as it has since at least 1992. It’s complicated to talk about misogyny and Clinton, because she is a complex figure who has been many things over the decades. There are certainly reasons to disagree with and dislike things she has said and done, but that doesn’t explain the overwrought emotionality that swirls around her. Raised as a conservative (and hated on the left during this campaign for having been a ‘Goldwater Girl’, though she stumped for him as a non-voting high-school student), she soon became a radical who campaigned for the most left-leaning Democratic candidates in 1968 and 1972, registered Latino voters in Texas in the latter election, wrote a thesis on Saul Alinsky, who afterwards offered her a job, advocated for rights for women and children, and shifted right in the 1980s, perhaps to adapt to her husband’s home state of Arkansas or to the Reagan era.

You could pick out a lot of feminist high points and corporate and neoliberal low points in her career, but for anyone more interested in the future of the US and the world her 2016 platform seemed most relevant, though no one seemed to know anything about it. The main networks devoted 32 minutes to the candidates’ platforms in their hundreds of hours of election coverage. Lots of politicians have been disliked for their policies and positions, but Clinton’s were often close to Sanders’s, and similar to or to the left of every high-profile male Democrat in recent years, including her husband, Obama, Biden, Kerry and Dean. But what was accepted or disliked in them was an outrage in her, and whatever resentment they elicited was faint compared to the hysterical rage that confronted her as, miraculously, she continued to march forward.

Trump’s slogan ‘make America great again’ seemed to invoke a return to a never-never land of white male supremacy where coal was an awesome fuel, blue-collar manufacturing jobs were what they had been in 1956, women belonged in the home, and the needs of white men were paramount. After the election, many on the left joined in the chorus, assuring us that Clinton lost because she hadn’t paid enough attention to the so-called white working class, which, given that she wasn’t being berated for ignoring women, seemed to be a euphemism for ‘white men’. These men were more responsible than any group for Trump’s victory (63 per cent of them voted for him; 31 per cent for Clinton).

One might argue she lost because of the disenfranchisement of millions of people of colour through long-plotted Republican strategies: cutting the number of polling stations; limiting voting hours; harassing and threatening would-be voters; introducing voter-ID laws such as the Crosscheck programme, which made it a lot harder for people of colour to register to vote. Or because of the FBI’s intervention in the election; or because of years of negative media coverage; or because of foreign intervention designed to sabotage her chances; or because of misogyny. But instead we heard two stories about why she lost (and almost none about why, despite everything, she won the popular vote by a margin that kept growing until by year’s end it reached almost three million).

The We Must Pay More Attention to the White Working Class analysis said that Clinton lost because she did not pay enough attention to white men since the revived term ‘white working class’ seemed to be a nostalgic reference to industrial workers as they once existed. Those wielding it weren’t interested in the 37 per cent of Americans who aren’t white, or the 51 per cent who are women. I’ve always had the impression –from TV, movies, newspapers, sport, books, my education, my personal life, and my knowledge of who owns most things and holds government office at every level in my country – that white men get a lot of attention already.

The other story was about white women, who voted 43 per cent for Clinton to 53 per cent for Trump. We were excoriated for voting for Trump, on the grounds that all women, but only women, should be feminists. That there are a lot of women in the United States who are not feminists does not surprise me. To be a feminist you have to believe in your equality and rights, which can make your life unpleasant and dangerous if you live in a marriage, a family, a community, a church, a state that does not agree with you about this. For many women it’s safer not to have those thoughts in this country where a woman is beaten every eleven seconds or so and women’s partners are the leading cause of injury to them. And those thoughts are not so available in a country where feminism is forever being demonised and distorted. It seems it’s also worse to vote for a racist if you’re a woman, because while white women were excoriated, white men were let off the hook (across every racial category, more men than women voted for Trump; overall 54 per cent of women supported Clinton; 53 per cent of men voted for Trump).

So women were hated for not having gender loyalty. But here’s the fun thing about being a woman: we were also hated for having gender loyalty. Women were accused of voting with their reproductive parts if they favoured the main female candidate, though most men throughout American history have favoured male candidates without being accused of voting with their penises. Penises were only discussed during a Republican primary debate, when Marco Rubio suggested Trump’s was small and Trump boasted that it wasn’t. ‘I don’t vote with my vagina,’ the actress Susan Sarandon announced, and voted for the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, who one might think was just as vagina-y a candidate as Clinton but apparently wasn‘t.

‘One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome,’ Mark Lilla wrote in the New York Times, ‘is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end,’ and he condemned Clinton for calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, LGBT and women voters at every stop.

‘This,’ he said, ‘was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them.’ Who’s not on that list, though it’s one that actually covers the majority of Americans? Heterosexual white men, notably, since it’s hard to imagine Lilla was put out that Clinton neglected Asians and Native Americans.

‘Identity politics’ is a codeword for talking about race or gender or sexual orientation, which is very much the way we’ve talked about liberation over the last 160 years in the US. By that measure Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks, Bella Abzug, Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, Malcolm X, Del Martin and Harvey Milk were just lowly practitioners of identity politics, which we’ve been told to get over. Shortly after the election Sanders, who’d got on the no-identity-politics bandwagon, explained: ‘It is not good enough to say, “Hey, I’m a Latina, vote for me.” That is not good enough. I have to know whether that Latina is going to stand up with the working class of this country … It is not good enough for someone to say: “I’m a woman, vote for me.” No, that’s not good enough.’

In fact, Clinton never said this, though one could argue that Trump had said, incessantly, aggressively, I’m a white man, vote for me, and even that Sanders implicitly conveyed that message. The Vox journalist David Roberts did a word-frequency analysis on Clinton’s campaign speeches and concluded that she mostly talked about workers, jobs, education and the economy, exactly the things she was berated for neglecting. She mentioned jobs almost 600 times, racism, women’s rights and abortion a few dozen times each. But she was assumed to be talking about her gender all the time, though it was everyone else who couldn’t shut up about it.

How the utopian idealism roused by Sanders’s promises last winter morphed so quickly into a Manichean hatred of Clinton as the anti-Bernie is one of the mysteries of this mysteriously horrific election, but it was so compelling that many people seemed to wake up from the Democratic primary only when Trump won; they had until then believed Clinton was still running against Sanders. Or they believed that she was an inevitable presence, like Mom, and so they could hate her with confidence, and she would win anyway. Many around me loved Sanders with what came to seem an unquestioning religious devotion and hated Clinton even more fervently. The hatred on the right spilled over into actual violence over and over again at Trump rallies, but the left had its share of vitriol.

I had seen all around me a mob mentality, an irrational groupthink that fed on itself, confirmed itself and punished doubt, opposition or complexity. I thought of the two-minute group hate sessions in 1984:

The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledgehammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.

That emotion was directed at Clinton, and was ready to swerve towards anyone who supported her, accompanied by accusations of treason and other kinds of invective.​Many supporters fell silent or took to supporting her in secret, which is not the kind of support a candidate needs. A San Franciscan friend wrote saying that every woman I know and almost every journalist or opinion writer who planned to vote for her included in every single positive statement about her – everything from Facebook posts to lengthy major media articles – something to the effect of ‘She is of course not a perfect candidate, but …’ or ‘I of course have serious problems with some aspects of her record, but …’ It became the boilerplate you had to include to forestall the worst of the rage-trolls (inevitably eventually someone would pop up anyway to accuse you of trying to shove your queen’s coronation down everyone’s throat, but at least the boilerplate delayed it).

‘I’ve come to believe,’ Sady Doyle wrote, ‘that, in some ways, saying nice things about Hillary Clinton is a subversive act.’

Mentioning that she’d won the popular vote upset many of the men I am in contact with, though they would not or could not conceive it that way. I wrote this at the time: ‘With their deep belief in their own special monopoly on objectivity, slightly too many men assure me that there is no misogyny in their subjective assessments or even no subjectivity and no emotion driving them, and there are no grounds for other opinions since theirs is not an opinion.’ Then these men went back to talking about what a loser Clinton was. There was considerable evidence that we had not had a free and fair election, evidence that might have allowed us to contest it and to stop Trump.

But these men of the left were so dedicated to Clinton’s status as a loser that they wanted Trump to win, because it vindicated something that went deeper than their commitment to almost anything else.

Trump was the candidate so weak that his victory needed the disenfranchisement of millions of voters of colour, the end of the Voting Rights Act, a long-running right-wing campaign to make Clinton’s use of a private email server, surely the dullest and most uneventful scandal in history, an epic crime and the late intervention, with apparent intent to sabotage, of the FBI director James Comey. We found out via Comey’s outrageous gambit that it is more damaging to be a woman who has an aide who has an estranged husband who is a creep than actually to be a predator who has been charged by more than a dozen women with groping and sexual assault.

Hillary Clinton was all that stood between us and a reckless, unstable, ignorant, inane, infinitely vulgar, climate-change-denying white-nationalist misogynist with authoritarian ambitions and kleptocratic plans. A lot of people, particularly white men, could not bear her, and that is as good a reason as any for Trump’s victory. Over and over again, I heard men declare that she had failed to make them vote for her. They saw the loss as hers rather than ours, and they blamed her for it, as though election was a gift they withheld from her because she did not deserve it or did not attract them. They did not blame themselves or the electorate or the system for failing to stop Trump.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Despite Trump's Claims, Sanctuary Cities Actually Have Less Crime

Demonstrators protest President Trump's plan to build a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border on January 26 in Chicago. (photo: Joshua Lott/AFP)   
Demonstrators protest President Trump's plan to build a border wall along the U.S-Mexico border on January 26 in Chicago. (photo: Joshua Lott/AFP)

Deluge of 'alternative facts' (aka outright lies) continues to emanate from President Pussygrabber and GOP lackies

By Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post

27 January 17

he “sanctuary cities” that President Trump has repeatedly characterized as incubators of crime are generally safer than other cities, according to a new analysis of FBI crime data.

There's no legal definition of a sanctuary city, but most observers adopt criteria used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to identify cities and counties where local authorities refuse to hand over illegal immigrants to federal agents for deportation.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump often characterized these locales as dangerous hotbeds of criminal activity and promised to suspend all federal funding to them.

“We will end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths,” he told a crowd in Phoenix in the fall.

But an analysis of FBI crime data by Tom Wong, a professor of political science at the University of California at San Diego, finds that counties designated as “sanctuary” areas by ICE typically experience significantly lower rates of all types of crime, including lower homicide rates, than comparable non-sanctuary counties. The analysis was published by the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.

In 2015, the typical sanctuary county in a large metropolitan area experienced 654 fewer crimes per 100,000 residents than the typical non-sanctuary county in a big, metropolitan area. That's an overall crime rate approximately 15 percent lower.

In smaller counties and even rural areas, crime rates were also lower for sanctuary areas, Wong found.

The exception is medium metros and counties on the fringes of large metro areas, which had slightly higher crime rates if they were sanctuary areas.

(photo: The Washington Post)

Overall, across all counties, there are on average 355 crimes per 100,000 in sanctuary counties.

Specifically addressing Trump's contentions that sanctuary cities are magnets for homicides, Wong found that the typical sanctuary area saw 1 fewer homicide per 100,000 people in 2015 than the typical non-sanctuary area. While the difference is small, Wong's statistical tests indicate it is highly significant.

“The data are clear that sanctuary counties aren't crime-ridden hellholes,” Wong said in an interview.

The data only shows correlation; Wong says more research needs to be done to determine whether a causal effect is at work here. But he said he suspects that, by becoming a sanctuary area and refusing to involve local authorities in deportation matters, a city or county may actually make itself safer. If immigrants who came to the United States illegally fear working with police will lead to deportation, they're less likely to report crimes and assist with investigations.

This is the position of a number of law enforcement groups. The Major Cities Chiefs Association, representing the 63 largest urban areas in the United States, said that “immigration enforcement by local police would likely negatively effect and undermine the level of trust and cooperation between local police and immigrant communities,” which would “would result in increased crime against immigrants and in the broader community, create a class of silent victims and eliminate the potential for assistance from immigrants in solving crimes or preventing future terroristic acts.”

Similarly, the International Association of Chiefs of Police said that “state and local law enforcement should not be involved in the enforcement of civil immigration laws since such involvement would likely have a chilling effect on both legal and illegal aliens reporting criminal activity or assisting police in criminal investigations.”

Wong also looked at a number of economic indicators in his analysis and found that in sanctuary counties, income tends to be higher while poverty tends to be lower. He said the he suspects a causal mechanism at work here, too.

“If you deport the breadwinner [of an immigrant family], that leaves families more economically vulnerable,” he said. “That means that these economically vulnerable families are more reliant on public assistance.”

Friday, January 27, 2017

West Wing leaker goes dark after pulling back the curtain: Trump "irrational", staff "demoralized"

An honest man may or may not still work in the West Wing.
On Wednesday, a twitter account was briefly active before being shut down. The tweeter, @WhiteHouseLeak, is an anonymous mid-level staffer in the West Wing of the White House, who described a chaotic atmosphere, a demoralized staff, and an unfocused and irrational President incapable of processing information. The staffer is a Republican who apparently worked on the Trump campaign, but is now thoroughly disillusioned by what has been going on.  During his brief presence he was tweeting to real reporters, including Fox News and the New York Daily News.

It is impossible to know if the leaker shuttered the account himself or was outed. The tweets have all been deleted, but thanks to screencaps by MC Rantz Hoseley (@MysteryCr8tve) and an imgur by vapensiero they were preserved before vanishing.

The presentation here is, I believe, in strict chronological order. I have omitted a few irrelevancies, but most of the 37 total tweets from the account are shown below.


Portrait of a man on the edge. Of what, we do not yet know.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Repealing Obamacare Will Be Negligent Homicide

Obamacare supporters. (photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
Obamacare supporters. (photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News
26 January 17
Negligent homicide is the killing of another person through gross negligence or without malice.

here is no doubt that Obamacare is flawed. Something has to be done to control costs. There was a very effective cost-cutting provision in the original legislation. It was called the public option. Republicans and blue dog Democrats killed the public option, resulting in no incentive for the insurance industry to control costs.

Opponents of the public option declared that insurance companies would not have been able to compete with a government plan. They called it a backdoor to single payer. They were right, but that was a good thing. Insurance companies are not necessary. They are only a payee and make huge profits while providing nothing.

This is a personal issue for me. Obamacare saved my life, according to my doctor.

She was talking to a medical student who was observing my initial appointment. My doctor described the medical conditions that I had that had progressed over years of not being treated. She said I wouldn’t have lasted much longer.

I had gone at least a decade without seeing a doctor. I had an employer who was willing to help me pay for health care and provided health care when I lived in California. I moved to Northern Virginia to set up a DC Bureau. I was then on my own as far as finding a plan. I applied for several plans and received the same answer: Declined. The reason? Body type. I was 5’4” and weighed 210 lbs. Insurance companies wanted nothing to do with me. When I had insurance in California, I was borderline diabetic. When Obamacare finally went into effect, I was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic. I don’t know how many years that went untreated, but the next two conditions I had indicate that it was likely a long time. I also had congestive heart failure caused by kidney failure.

My doctor believes that if I hadn’t lost healthcare when I moved, diabetes would have been detected earlier and I would not have developed the kidney failure, therefore not developing the congestive heart failure. If I hadn’t gotten treated when I did, I might have died.

Obamacare saved my life and has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who were sick but for financial reasons not going to a doctor. The Republican Party is preparing to throw millions of people off their healthcare. Many people will die of conditions that could have been prevented if they were covered. That is why I believe they would be guilty of negligent homicide.

Instead of repealing Obamacare, we should take the next step toward universal healthcare and allow the federal exchange to negotiate a public option with healthcare providers. That public option would not have costs inflated by profit margins for insurance companies. The public option wouldn’t have costs built in for advertising, either.

I hear people all the time asking why healthy people have to buy in. The answer is simple: someone has to pay for the money insurance companies are losing on people like me. When today’s young healthy people get old and sick, the young people of that era will make up for the high cost of their health care.

In the end, it would be best to just increase taxes and give everyone public healthcare. That will not happen with Trump and Republicans in control of our government. They will instead throw millions of people off their healthcare, causing many to die unnecessarily. They know it, and that is why it is negligent homicide.

Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott moved to Des Moines in 2015 to cover the Iowa Caucus.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Resist and Disrupt

Saturday's Women's March on Washington attracted over half a million people. (photo: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
Saturday's Women's March on Washington attracted over half a million people. (photo: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News
23 January 17
onald Trump is president of the United States. We can talk about how he is not our president all we want, but those are just words. It is time for action. Remember the Tea Party? Remember their reaction to the election of Barack Obama?

Say what you want about the Tea Party, but one thing they were was effective. We need to learn from their example. The Tea Party successfully put a monkey wrench in a lot of what Barack Obama wanted to accomplish. Imagine if members of Congress had not been disrupted in their town hall meetings during the winter recess in 2009.

Is it possible that senators like Olympia Snow would have voted for Obamacare with a public option? I am convinced that with a public option Obamacare would not have had the same problem controlling costs that it is having now.

So what am I getting at? It is time to Tea Party Donald Trump and the GOP. We need to be at every public event our Members of Congress (MOCs) have. There is a document that is going viral on the internet called “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.” It was written by former congressional staffers who watched the Tea Party resist Obama’s agenda.

We thought they were racist nut jobs freaking out when a black man became president. Many of them were. Their leaders, however, were shrewd political operatives who were channeling the anger into an effective political movement. It is our turn.

Think Globally, Act Locally
Politics is local. We can have huge marches on Washington, but they are not as effective at influencing your MOC as local actions. A well-planned local action is on the evening news and covered in the local paper. MOCs are in constant re-election mode. They don’t care what people outside their district think of them – it is how they are viewed by constituents that matters.

They don’t like to be embarrassed or upstaged. We can use many tactics. Blending in with the crowd, asking questions, and making statements in opposition in a polite manner is one tactic. That could work, especially if there are many people in opposition spread throughout the room. This gives the impression that it wasn’t organized and that many voters in the district feel the way you do.

You can also be disruptive and treat it like a protest. When they tell you to sit down and wait your turn, remind them of 2009, when the Tea Party disrupted members of Congress when they held meetings with constituents. It is our turn to express our anger.

When they tell you the election is over and you should respect the results, tell them we are. More people voted against Donald Trump than voted for him. They are not respecting that. The American people rejected Trump’s agenda by 3 million votes. Tell them to respect the will of the people.

Join a Group
Our Revolution is a chance to get involved in a new grassroots group that is still defining its identity in your community. Some places like Des Moines have existing community groups that are affiliating with Our Revolution. Iowa CCI is where I will connect with Our Revolution. If there isn’t an affiliate in your community, start one. 

Indivisible is also building a directory of groups resisting Trump in your area.

You should also get involved in other groups like MoveOn, Democracy for America (DFA) and Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). The important thing is to get involved. There is power in numbers.

We will need to lean on each other for support. It will not be an easy time, and it will be easy to get discouraged. Finding like-minded people to lean on will be important. When you do join a group, socialize. It shouldn’t be all work. Build community, go for coffee after a meeting, and make friends.

Keep the Pressure On!
This past weekend, the Women’s March showed the depth of the opposition to the Trump agenda. We must keep the pressure on. The unprecedented local marches around the world in over 600 locations showed that opposition to Trump exists in every community. This is not the time to rest. Don’t just point to the numbers and go back to your couches. Join a group. Organize, organize, organize. We must continue to build a progressive movement. Our day is coming.

Download the Guide: 

Join Our Revolution:

Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott moved to Des Moines in 2015 to cover the Iowa Caucus.