Sunday, December 04, 2016

4.5 - Excuses for failures of Democrats continue to come

Excuses for failures of Democrats continue to come

All right, something I have to deal with at least one more time.

I said last time that there have been four major excuses offered as to why Hillary Clinton lost the battle for the presidency to an unarmed opponent. I also said that this week I would go into why those excuses were either bogus or deeply flawed. I am going to do that now, but I'm going to try to be as brief as I can because I want to get past the election itself to what the response means and what we need to do from now on.

The first was "Blame 3rd parties."

This was based on an - and I use the word very advisedly - "analysis" at CNN that listed four states - Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida - where they said that if Clinton got all of Jill Stein's votes and half of Gary Johnson's votes, she would have won the state. This argument was echoed by liberal darling Rachel Maddow, who said on election night that if you vote for someone who isn't going to win it means you don't care who is president.

Besides being an exercise in pure fantasy, this argument is undermined by fact.

The BBC reported that according to exit polls, only a quarter of Johnson and Stein voters would have backed Clinton if they had to pick between her and TheRump. About 15% would have backed him. And most - as much as 60% of the total - said they would have just stayed home if their only choices were those two.

The second argument was "Blame sexism."

There was a lot of that. For example, big time blogger and writer for Salon.com Amanda Marcotte said the election proved that "America would self-destruct rather than elect a female president."

Which is a rather bizarre not to say untenable argument when you remember that Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of, by latest count, about 2.5 million votes. Clearly, American voters were ready to elect a female president and it was only the geographic distribution of those voters, not their numbers, that prevented that.

A third argument was "Blame Russia."

This was based on the claim that the leak of the DNC emails was supposedly done by a Russian agency. But it was an argument made, no surprise here, without reference to the fact that it was what was in the emails that was damaging, not the leak of them. There is also an ominous undertone to the argument, which refers to the emails coming out "in dribs and drabs." But it wasn't Russia that released them to the media, it was WikiLeaks, so the argument implicates Wikileaks as being part of a Russian plot to manipulate the US elections.

Some, in fact, made the argument explicit. An op-ed in the Washington Post described Wikileaks as having "benefited financially from a Russian state propaganda arm, used Russian operatives for security and made clear an intent to harm the candidacy of Hillary Clinton" and described the email releases as "not legitimate news" but "an intelligence operation by a hostile foreign power."

What makes all this bitterly amusing is that there is evidence that John Podesta was not hacked; rather, he fell for a phishing scheme and gave away his password. He wasn't hacked, he screwed up.

The fourth argument I cited was "Blame James Comey."

There is some truth to that one: There is no question but that re-opening the wound about Clinton's private email server hurt the Clinton campaign. But again, it's an argument made without reference to the fact that the original wound, the email server itself and the crappy way it and the issue surrounding it was dealt with, was self-inflicted.

All of those have one thing in common, as I noted last time: They don't require you to look at your own failures. They don't require you to change anything. They are all about the political establishment maintaining its power and control.

Bernie Sanders
Since the last show, another claim has emerged. You shouldn't be surprised to know that this one, too, shifts the blame off of the Democratic party machine and the Clinton campaign and onto someone else.

The claim is, and this one is a bit surprising, "Blame Bernie Sanders." Bernie Sanders, who endorsed Clinton, who campaigned for her even to the point of angering some of his own supporters, is now being blamed for her losing.

An article in Time magazine actually dubbed Sanders "the Ralph Nader of 2016, the leftist most responsible for helping the Republicans win." Leave aside the fact that Ralph Nader did not cost Al Gore the 2000 election and that the claim that he did was nothing more than a dress rehearsal for the kind of blame-shifting, responsibility-dodging we are seeing now. (If anyone wants to argue that with me, go right ahead. You will lose.) The author's argument here is that by running in the primaries, Sanders "pushed [Clinton] too far left to prevent an effective re-centering in the fall" and calls Sanders' criticism of her a "vampire effect" that "enfeebled" Clinton.

Two quick sidebars: One is that that author cites as a centrally-damaging feature of Sanders' campaign that it "treated Hillary Clinton as a compromised, Wall Street–worshipping, Establishment sellout." To which my response is "And...?"

The other sidebar, filed under the heading of "Sometimes ya gotta just laugh" is the fact that the piece is illustrated with an image of Clinton and Sanders campaigning for her side by side in North Carolina the week before the election. They must have airbrushed out the bite marks on her neck.

Sanders enfeebling Clinton in NC the week before 11/8
Getting back to the point, though, the argument being made, in short, is that it was inherently wrong, inherently invalid, inherently destructive, inherently inappropriate for anyone to challenge Hillary Clinton from the left. Not, I emphasize, simply to challenge her - the author mentions John Kerry and Joe Biden as "deferring" to Clinton but gives no hint that they would have "enfeebled" her like a vampire had they run - but that it is inherently unacceptable to challenge her from the left.

It's not just some aggrieved Clintonite going with this: During an appearance on "CBS This Morning" on November 14, Sanders was asked if he feels any responsibility for Clinton losing because after all, he did criticize her, you know. The implication, again, was dare you challenge the candidate of the establishment and it's your fault if anything goes wrong.

This is all about a political and social establishment maintaining and keeping power and being unwilling to brook any real challenge to that power, even if it comes from within that same establishment.

You want some evidence of that? Well, Bernie Sanders himself is of course one; as I pointed out all the way back in February,
[h]e is a sitting US Senator, a former member of the House, with something like a 33-year history in elective office, 25 of those at the federal level.
He is a member of the establishment.

You want another, more immediate, one? How about this:

The White House had indicated that it is opposed to Rep. Keith Ellison becoming chair of the DNC, saying he is "the wrong messenger." They suggested instead outgoing Labor Secretary Tom Perez and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Ellison endorsed Sanders in the primaries. The other two both acted as Clinton surrogates during the general election. It is about maintaining power against a challenge.

By the way, I include mainstream media, comfortably and profitably settled in the twin roles of stenographers and gatekeepers to power, as part of that same establishment.

Rep. Keith Ellison
Look, in considering the outcome of the election and the question of what we - we of the left - are up against and should look to do, something we have to realize is that the sort of fears and frustrations that Sanders articulated and that TheRump fed on like a parasite are real, they are just as real as the bigotries that he also fed on, fears and frustrations based on a real sense of and a real fact of economic and social insecurity and underneath that of economic inequality.

I'm reminded of the furor in 2008 over Obama saying that voters in rural Pennsylvania "cling to guns or religion." He got a lot of heat for it but his point, not as well explained as it might have been, was valid: When people feel that the things they have relied on, have counted on, things like stable jobs and stable communities and the conviction that their children will have a better life than they have had, when they feel those things are dissolving before their eyes, turning into loose sand slipping through their fingers, they will hold more tightly - they will cling - to those things they feel they still have, can still control. And they will tend to become more fearful, more suspicious, of anyone or anything different, because "different" means "change" which has come to mean "threat." It is an entirely natural human reaction to stress.

But there's a kicker here, but to get to that I have to make a quick detour.

Another claim circulating recently, this one among the left, is that TheRump's election is to be blamed on white people. That is was white people who elected TheRump.

Well, yes, it is true that a majority of whites, including a majority of white women, voted for TheRump. But they were not the only ones. According to exit polls cited by the New York Times, 29% of Latinos, 29% of Asians, and 8% of blacks also voted for TheRump.

Yes, Clinton won all those constituencies handily - but here is the point: She did just about as well among whites as Obama did in 2012. But she did did seven percentage points worse with blacks - a deficit amplified by the fact that black turnout was down, so she got a smaller percentage of a smaller number. She also did 8 points worse with Latinos, 11 points worse with Asians, and five points worse among young voters.

A different comparison of exit polls had each of those deficits about two points smaller but just as real.

Those differences between 2012 and 2016 and the potential impact they had on the outcome cannot be ignored. The blunt fact is, Clinton failed to turn out and to hold the support of her own base.

So here's the kicker, the bottom line of what the Clinton campaign and the whole damn self-serving liberal political establishment got wrong: All that talk about the fears and frustrations, all that talk about economic stress, about the loss of things you had counted on, about the loss of hope that your children will have a better life, all that talk doesn't just apply to white people!

It wasn't that the Dummycrats ignored the economic concerns of white people, it's that they ignored the economic concerns of non-white people.

Yes, blacks are concerned about racism and police violence, but that's not all they are concerned about.

Yes, Latinos are concerned about bigotry and immigration, but that's not all they are concerned about.

Yes, women are concerned about sexism and sexual violence, but that's not all they are concerned about.

Yes, LGBTQ folks are concerned about discrimination and the rate of suicide, but that's not all they are concerned about.

Yes, Muslims are concerned about xenophobia and Islamophobia, but that's not all they are concerned about.

People are also concerned about providing a life for themselves, a secure home for their families, a future for their children. And that is what the liberal political establishment did not address.

Why? Because they thought they could take us - all of us, all of us on the left who know that the changes we need lie in more than half, hell, quarter, measures and all of us they thought they could buy off with pretty words and paltry promises about a justice that is coming in spite of them, not because of them - because they thought they could take us for granted. And because they would rather look to maintain their power and control through appeals to social justice - which would not affect them or their privileged position - rather than to economic justice - which would.

Let me be clear, at least as clear as I can be: I am not saying, as I would surely be accused, of dissing or sneering at what is called "identity politics" and urging it be dropped in favor of so-called "lunchpail politics." I'm not because I don't see the need to make the choice. In fact, I see the need not to make the choice. I have said I don't know how many times that if I could sum up my goal in a single word, that word would be "justice." But justice in it's truest sense, economic, social, and political, because without all three, it's not justice.

That's what we have to recognize; it's what the political establishment refuses to because it would affect their power and their position. These people are not on your side. They will support you - us - to the degree that does not affect their privileged positions - and no further. They are not on your side.

Alright, I'm begun to ramble here so I will cut myself off. I'm going to try to leave aside election analysis from now on - or until another election - but I do want to over time keep coming back to some of the for lack of a better term "big questions."

I also think I might pull out some old stuff: I ran for Congress a couple of times and I've been thinking about pulling out some of the proposals I made then to see how well they have held up. I'm sure you're looking forward to it.

4.4 - Outrage of the Week: Standing Rock

Outrage of the Week: Standing Rock

I have been meaning to talk about this week after week and have failed to do so. But it has become such a huge moral and ethical outrage that silence simply is not an option.

I am talking about the brutal violence and repression being visited on the peaceful protesters at Standing Rock.

The issue, as I expect you must know, revolves around a $3.8 billion project to build an oil pipeline, called the Dakota Access Pipeline or DAPL, across four states, from North Dakota to Illinois, from where the crude oil will be transported to refineries via railroad tank cars and an existing pipeline. It likely then will be sold overseas.

The pipeline route crosses Sioux land that was granted to the tribe by the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1857 but later was taken away without agreement from or ceding of land by the tribe. (I'd add that rather than "granted," it would be better to say the land was "guaranteed" to the tribe because "granted" implies the land was ours to give - which it wasn't. We simply took it.)

In April, concerned over the prospect of damage to sacred sites and the safety of the water presented by the project, members of the Standing Rock Lakota Nation and some allies established a Spirit Camp at Sacred Rock near Lake Oahe, where the pipeline is to tunnel under the Missouri River, which is the tribe's main source of drinking water.

There has been an encampment there ever since, protesting the pipeline and calling for it to be halted or at the very least rerouted.

Interestingly, a alternative route north of Bismarck had been proposed originally but it was rejected because of its proximity to water supply areas, a consideration that was not extended to the Standing Rock Lakota.

In the months since, the Natives and their allies, both Native and non-Native who have joined them, who jointly call themselves water protectors, have been subjected to increasing levels of mistreatment and violence by officials even as they themselves remained almost entirely peaceful. It has been bad enough that at least two among the police have quit rather than continue to take part and some police forces have refused to provide additional personnel to back up North Dakota cops.

Between August and the end of November, police made nearly 575 arrests, including at least seven journalists, creating, officials now whine, an unprecedented burden for the state's court system. (Remember what I said a few weeks ago about maybe having to fill the jails?)

Things came to a head in a way on November 20. That evening, protesters tried to move a burned-out truck that officials had placed across the roadway to keep the water protectors from approaching the work area down the road. The police responded with rubber bullets, bean bag rounds, pepper spray, explosive tear gas grenades, and water cannons despite the fact the temperature was well below freezing.

Over 300 people were injured. Twenty-six were taken to local hospitals.

Hilariously, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier claimed "We don't have water cannons" and "this is just a fire hose" as if that was supposed to make a real difference and that, get this, "It was sprayed more as a mist, and we didn't want to get it directly on them, but we wanted to make sure to use it as a measure to help keep everybody safe."

So you see, it was for their own good that they were soaked in water in subfreezing temperatures.

But the protesters still wouldn't go away, the encampment still would not disappear. So officials have upped the ante.

On November 25, the Army Corps of Engineers demanded that thousands of people clear out of a second camp, known as Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Council Fires, located on land the Corps controls.

Three days later, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple declared that the camp must be evacuated immediately.

That was followed up by the Morton County Sheriff's Department saying it would begin to block supplies from reaching the camps. They backed off that later, saying they would merely impose a fine of $1000 on anyone bringing in supplies.

So officials couldn't wait the encampment out, they couldn't drive it out, they couldn't order it our, now they will try to starve it out.

And oh, look, they learned something:

Oceti Sakowin
The Corps of Engineers said the eviction order was to "prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions." Gov. Dalrymple said the camp's semi-permanent shelters were not "suitable for winter habitation" under the state's building codes.

So you see, it's all about public health and safety! About inadequate shelter! About building codes! Not at all about politics or serving the interests of our corporate masters, no!

Those of us with reasonably long memories will recall that this is exactly the same sort of claim that was used to crush the Occupy encampments: that they had to be demolished for the health and safety of the people in the encampments.

It remains to be seen how successful this reprise will be. On December 4, a date that may well have passed before you see this, as many as 2,000 veterans will gather at Standing Rock for a three-day "muster" to act as human shields between protesters and the cops.

One veteran intending to take part, Loreal Black Shawl, said "Okay, are you going to treat us veterans who have served our country in the same way as you have those water protectors?"

That too, remains to be seen.

What is long since obvious is that this pipeline should be stopped and the permit to drill under Lake Oahe and the Missouri River should be denied and that what has been going on at Standing Rock is an absolute outrage.

4.3 - Update: death penalty passes in state initiatives

Update: death penalty passes in state initiatives

Finally, a couple of weeks ago I ran down some good outcomes from the election, most of them involving state-level initiative campaigns by local activists. I had examples of victories on the minimum wage, gun control, and campaign finance, among a couple of others.

The Update here is that unhappily, there was one other big winner in such initiatives on election night: death. Or, to be more precise, the death penalty.

A total of four ballot initiatives relating to the death penalty were on the ballot in three states: two in California and one each in Nebraska and Oklahoma. In all four cases, death won.

The California case involved one initiative, Proposition 62, which would outright ban the death penalty, lost by 54-46. It was the second time in four years that Californians rejected a measure to abolish capital punishment.

Meanwhile, Proposition 66, according to its proponents, would hasten official murders by limiting the time and opportunity for appeals. It likely won't because it is so poorly and confusingly written - besides raising questions about illegal interference with the jurisdiction of state courts - that it is already facing legal challenges that could take years to work through. Nonetheless, it squeaked through 51-49.

In Nebraska, the state legislature had passed a ban on capital punishment over the veto of death-eater Gov. Pete Ricketts. Ricketts - who, by way, is CEO of Ameritrade - dumped $200,000 of his own money into what proved to be a successful initiative campaign to undo the legislative action.

Finally, Oklahoma, the state that has become the poster child for the failures of the system, pockmarked with convictions based on little or no evidence, botched executions, and shocking incompetence and deceit among officials, easily passed an amendment to the state constitution saying that no matter the means of execution, the death penalty is not cruel or unusual punishment.

The silver lining in all this is that it comes against a background of a slow but pretty steady decline in the use of capital punishment in the US. California, for example, has not had an execution in nearly 11 years. The number of executions per year keeps dropping as does the number of new death sentences.

And according to both Gallup and Pew Research, while public support for the death penalty remains pretty high, in the range of 55 to 60 percent, that figure also marks a 40-year-low.

Unhappily, the death penalty remains and unhappily, it remains popular. But happily it is slowly being put the death it itself deserves.

4.2 - Update: hate crimes increase

Update: hate crimes increase

We have two other updates, neither of which carries any good news or encouragement with them.

There first is that two organizations which track hate crimes, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, say there has been a spike in the number of cases of hate crimes, harassment, or intimidation in the wake of TheRump's election win, a spike even worse that what which took place immediately after 9-11.

Last show, I reported that the SPLC had recorded more than 200 hate incidents in just the five days following the election. The Update here is that by 10 days after the election, that number had increased to 867 - not counting online instances.

4.1 - Update: support for sanctuary campuses

Update: support for sanctuary campuses

Updated I'll start off the week with some good news in the form of an Update. Although I suppose I should temper that and change "good news" to "encouraging news."

I mentioned last show about a move by students at colleges and universities around the country to pressure their respective school administrations to declare them sanctuary campuses, schools that will limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

The Update here is that those students are gaining some significant allies in higher education.

For one thing, on November 22 the American Association of University Professors expressed its support for the movement for sanctuary campuses.

For another, as of November 29, just under 400 college and university presidents from public and private institutions across the US have signed a statement in support of continuing the policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. That policy allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation.

Unfortunately, DACA establishes neither lawful status nor a path to citizenship for those covered, but at least it does provide some protection against deportation as long as it remains in effect.

A 2011 memo from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement - with the appropriate acronym ICE - appears to establish that as a general rule, ICE agents can't set foot on campus - or other specified "sensitive locations" - to investigate or initiate deportation unless there is either prior consent by the facility or express permission given by one of four high officials in the agency.

The effect of this is that while colleges and universities can't actually prevent ICE from coming on campus to grab someone for deportation, the schools can hinder the effort by refusing to cooperate in any way not required by law or court order. How effective that act of hindering would be would obviously depend on circumstances, but a school could go a long way toward protecting the security of their students.

One other quick point on this is that there were some schools that were not targets of the protests because they didn't need to declare themselves sanctuary campuses because they at least in some way already had.

Updated to note that as of December 3, the number of signatories was up to 475.

What's Left #4



What's Left
for the week of December 1-7, 2016

This week:

Update: support for sanctuary campuses
https://www.aaup.org/news/atmosphere-campus-wake-elections#.WD41VFyE3p7
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deferred_Action_for_Childhood_Arrivals
https://www.ice.gov/doclib/ero-outreach/pdf/10029.2-policy.pdf

Update: hate crimes increase
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/11/12/post-election-spate-hate-crimes-worse-than-post-911-experts-say/93681294/
https://www.splcenter.org/20161129/ten-days-after-harassment-and-intimidation-aftermath-election

Update: death penalty passes in state initiatives
https://theintercept.com/2016/11/11/the-death-penalty-won-big-on-election-day-but-the-devil-is-in-the-details/
http://www.richardeglossip.com/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/oklahoma-botched-executions_us_573e3615e4b0613b5129c9d9
http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/node/6329
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2016/08/16/the-slow-decline-of-the-death-penalty/?utm_term=.2784a19e11bd

Outrage of the Week: Standing Rock
http://sacredstonecamp.org/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Dqm0XyhBZE
http://thefreethoughtproject.com/sheriff-refuse-dapl-outrage/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/pipeline-protest-arrests-strain-north-dakotas-court-system/2016/11/29/53bdf8aa-b65c-11e6-939c-91749443c5e5_story.html
https://theintercept.com/2016/11/27/arrests-of-journalists-at-standing-rock-test-the-boundaries-of-the-first-amendment/
https://theintercept.com/2016/11/21/medics-describe-how-police-sprayed-standing-rock-demonstrators-with-tear-gas-and-water-cannons/
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/dakota-pipeline-protests/north-dakota-governor-orders-pipeline-protesters-leave-citing-winter-weather-n689366
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/north-dakota-law-enforcement-are-blocking-protesters-from-getting-supplies_us_583dc5f8e4b0860d6116a48a
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-north-dakota-pipeline-idUSKBN13O2FD
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/us/veterans-to-serve-as-human-shields-for-pipeline-protesters.html?_r=0

Excuses for failures of Democrats continue to come
http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/10/politics/gary-johnson-jill-stein-spoiler/
http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37932230
http://www.salon.com/2016/11/09/the-misogyny-apocalypse-turns-out-being-white-and-male-counts-for-more-than-intelligence-grace-or-decency/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/russian-propaganda-effort-helped-spread-fake-news-during-election-experts-say/2016/11/24/793903b6-8a40-4ca9-b712-716af66098fe_story.html
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americans-keep-looking-away-from-the-elections-most-alarming-story/2016/11/25/83533d3e-b0e2-11e6-8616-52b15787add0_story.html
http://www.salon.com/2016/10/21/hillary-clinton-campaign-chariman-john-podestas-email-was-hacked-because-he-clicked-on-a-phishing-link/
http://time.com/4569766/bernie-sanders-ralph-nader-2016/?xid=tcoshare
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlmuKtyhDKg
http://whoviating.blogspot.com/2016/02/2364-rare-and-potentially-my-only.html
https://theintercept.com/2016/11/23/reporter-who-laughed-at-keith-ellisons-trump-prediction-gives-platform-to-his-anonymous-critics/
http://www.politico.com/blogs/ben-smith/2008/04/obama-on-small-town-pa-clinging-to-religion-guns-xenophobia-007737
http://fusion.net/story/368198/white-people-elected-trump/
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/politics/election-exit-polls.html?_r=0
http://ropercenter.cornell.edu/polls/us-elections/how-groups-voted/how-groups-voted-2012/
http://newamericamedia.org/2016/11/clinton-did-well-with-black-votes-but-obama-fared-better.php

Sunday, November 20, 2016

3.8 - RIP: Leonard Cohen

RIP: Leonard Cohen

We end the week with an RIP.

Leonard Cohen
A musical career of singing and songwriting that lasted 50 years has come to an end. Leonard Cohen has died at the age of 82 at his home in Los Angeles.

Even though his song "Hallelujah" wound up being described as a sort of "latter-day secular hymn" and was probably his best known and most covered work, I have to say that my  personal favorite was and still is "Suzanne" and I can still enjoy putting on a harmony to Judy Collins' version, even though she changes some of the words, like she often does in songs.

No matter. It's another chapter closed but as with any artist, the art lives on.

So RIP, Leonard Cohen.

3.7 - Cop who killed Philando Castile is indicted

Cop who killed Philando Castile is indicted

Noted for the record:

Philando Castile
I won't blame you if you don't remember the name Philando Castile. His was one of the too many names of young black men killed by police.

On July 9, Philando Castile was pulled over by a cop named Jeronimo Yanez in St. Anthony, Minnesota, a part of Minneapolis. The time was 9:05pm.

By 9:06 pm, Castile was bleeding to death from being shot multiple times as his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter watched.

On November 15, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced that Yanez will be charged with three felonies: one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm, declaring that
no reasonable officer - knowing, seeing and hearing what officer Yanez did at the time - would have used deadly force under these circumstances.
A charge, we have seen too often in such cases, is a long way from holding a cop responsible for wrongfully and needlessly killing someone. But it is at least a first step.

3.6 - Democrats refusing to recognize their own failures

Democrats refusing to recognize their own failures

Here's one last part of that normalization and it shows how progressives are stuck fighting a sort of two-front war: one against the reactionary policies and convictions of the Great Orange One and his administration and the other against the liberal political establishment represented by the Dummycrat Party and a significant number of those who falsely lay claim to the honorable title of progressive.

Specifically, I'm talking about the attempts by that establishment to avoid any blame for their failures in this election. Even more specifically, about the quote reasons unquote that Clinton lost.

Four big reasons have been offered:
1. blame third parties
2. blame sexism
3. blame Russia
4. blame James Comey

What do all those have in common? They mean you don't have to look at your own candidate, at her flaws and failings, at her baggage.

And you don't have to look at the failings of your own campaign, you don't have to look at the fact that despite all the talk about it was "the white vote" that put TheRump in office, Clinton did just about as well with whites as Obama did in 2012. But she did seven points worse than he did with blacks - a deficit amplified by the fact that black turnout was down. She also did eight points worse with Latinos, 11 points worse with Asians, and five points worse among young voters.

Blame third parties, blame sexism, blame whatever else you can think of, and you don't have to consider any of that.

The point of the excuses, that is, is to insist we did nothing wrong, to insist that all we need to do is "sharpen our message," to insist that there is no need for us to change.

That notion, we know, is wrong just as those excuses are all either factually wrong or deeply flawed. Here are some reasons:

- The argument against third parties is based on a bizarre calculation done at CNN that if Clinton had gotten all of Jill Stein's vote and half of Gary Johnson's vote in four states - Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida -it would have tipped the election. That argument was eagerly echoed by liberal darling Rachel Maddow.

Besides being an exercise in pure fantasy, it's undermined by fact: The BBC reports that according to exit polls, only a quarter of Johnson and Stein voters would have backed Clinton if they had to pick between her and TheRump. About 15% would have backed him. And most - as much as 60% of the total - said they would have just stayed home if their only choices were those two.

- There was a lot of blaming sexism. For one example, big time blogger and writer for Salon.com Amanda Marcotte said the election proved that "America would self-destruct rather than elect a female president."

Which is a rather strange not to say untenable argument when you remember that as of November 19, Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of over 1.5 million votes with more still to count.

- The "blame Russia" argument is based on the idea that hack of the DNC emails was supposedly done by a Russian agency. But the argument is made without reference to the fact that it was what was in the emails that was damaging, not the hack itself.

There is also an ominous undertone to the argument, which refers to the emails coming out "in dribs and drabs." But it wasn't Russia that released them to the public and media, it was WikiLeaks, so the argument actually implicates WikiLeaks as being part of a Russian plot to manipulate the US elections.

- Finally, there is some truth to the "blame Comey" argument as there is no question but that re-opening the wound about the emails hurt the Clinton campaign. But again, it's an argument made without reference to the fact that the original wound, the email server itself, was self-inflicted.

I'm going to stop here because there are still two things I want to get to so I'm going to have to put anything more off until the next show, which I promise you will be the last one post-morteming if there is such a word, the election.

3.5 - The importance of continuing protest

The importance of continuing protest

Last week I mentioned and celebrated the spontaneous demonstrations against TheRump and his declared intentions in the wake of the election. "That's what we need," I said.

Those protests, to my great - I was going to say delight but the proper description is to my great encouragement - have continued.

Thousands upon thousands of people, many of them but by no means all young, in dozens of cities across the country have turned out into the streets in protests that as I do this show have continued for more than a week.

It's hard to maintain that kind of day in, day out passion and the demonstrations appear to be tapering off some but that doesn't mean the end of the opposition, doesn't mean the end of the resistance.

For one thing, there are still rallies and demonstrations planned and on-going. A list a checked the night before doing this show had at that point some 51 events in 44 places between November 16 and 20 and there are counter-inaugurals planned for DC and LA on January 20 plus a Women's March on Washington on January 21 with support rallies in Oakland, California, Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas.

Even beyond that, there is a lot of talk about settling in for long haul, for not so much what we might call furious passion as sustained passion, a passion that can and will turn people out into the streets but doesn't expect it to be seven days a week for weeks and months on end.

One aspect of that long haul could be seen on November 15 when students on campuses across the country walked out of class to pressure school officials to make each of their respective schools a "sanctuary campus," one that limits cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Organizers have said that 80 campuses saw actions. The response to the day from the administrations addressed was mixed and not all positive - but then again, that is exactly what you would expect in the face of a new movement, one that precisely because it is an on-campus movement is a sort that can generate slow but sustained pressure. And we will need a lot of that.

But we have to recognize that as far as the establishment - in this case the political and media establishment - is concerned, this is not how you do things. Demonstrations, protests, and the like, well, they can make for interesting visuals for the evening news, but as serious parts of an effort to change things? Why don't be silly! Demonstrations are disruptive, rude; they are messy, they are impolite towards power, that's just not how we do things around here!

So we shouldn't be surprised by two trends. One is to dismiss the protests and the protesters especially by a sort of mocking condescension of how either unrealistic or naive they are.

For example, The Washington Post started a story about the protests this way; this is the first three graphs, quoted in full:
They’re angry. They’re afraid. They’re upset that Donald Trump is going to be their next president.

But many of the protesters who took to the streets in cities across the country over the past week didn’t cast a ballot for the candidate who could have beaten him.

Instead of voting for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, dozens of protesters in cities from Philadelphia to Portland, Ore., said in interviews this week that they had cast ballots for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, wrote in Sen. Bernie Sanders or, in some cases, failed to vote at all.
Because well, I mean, after all, how can you protest TheRump if you didn't vote for Hillary? That's just not the way it's done!

By the way, after dissing the protesters, the Post piece admitted in a parenthesis that Clinton won most of the states where the biggest protests have happened despite what the post tried hard to portray as the disinterest of the protesters.

We have to expect this kind of attitude, it always meets protest movements, and our best response both sort and long term is just to keep on keepin' on, doing what we would do anyway.

The other trend, though, is more subtle and potentially more damaging to our society: It is the tendency, even the desire, for the establishment - again, I'm speaking of the political and media establishment here - to normalize whatever happens to or within that establishment. To make it seem like nothing has really happened, nothing has really changed, everything is just as it was.

Now, they are trying to normalize the idea of a TheRump administration.

One example: The Dummycrats are gearing up for a strategy not of opposition to TheRump, but one of "working with him" where he has said some not-horrible things - such an increasing spending on infrastructure. No, there's nothing so outrageous, we just have some policy differences but see? We can still work together!

Another: In her first formal talk since the election, Hillary Clinton, without referring to TheRump specifically, still said "there is common ground to build upon."

A third, maybe even better example: CBS's Leslie Stahl said after an interview with TheRump that he is "more subdued, more serious."

The message from that establishment is "So you see? It'll all work out. I'll all be fine." With the  unspoken addendum "for us, anyway."

We can't let that normalization happen and I guarantee you it will if we don't stop it.

3.4 - Show solidarity with undocumented immigrants

Show solidarity with undocumented immigrants

Such solidarity as the LAPD showed, because even if they didn't think of it that way, it still is, such solidarity is more necessary than ever.

Since TheRump's victory, there have been numerous racist, sexist, xenophobic, and homophobic incidents, with bigoted supporters celebrating the success of the Great Orange One by spewing their bilge over any convenient target.

One person tried to keep a running list of examples but couldn't keep up. For its part, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such matters, counted more than 200 hate crimes involving vandalism, threats, and intimidation in just the first five days after the election. By November 18, the number had risen to 701.

And don't expect it to get better: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has joined TheRump's transition team.

Who is Kris Kobach? Well, I could cite a lot of things about him, but for the moment we will limit ourselves to this: Remember the infamous Arizona law called SB1070, known as the "your papers, please" law? He wrote it. Remember the two dozen copycat laws in places around the country? He wrote those, too.

Remember TheRump's plan for a registry of all Muslims in the US? That was Kobach's idea. Remember how TheRump proposed (and may still propose) barring immigrants from sending money to families in Mexico as a means to force Mexico to pay for the Great Wall of Orange? Yup, Kobach.

And now he is on TheRump's transition team, right there alongside so-called "chief strategist and senior counselor" Steve Bannon, until now executive chairman of the overtly anti-Semitic, misogynist, and racist Breitbart News.

A need for solidarity, indeed.

So here's a simple way you can show it: Wear a safety pin.

The idea originally came from a woman named Allison, who kept her last name private. She is an American living in the UK. In the wake of the Brexit vote, she was upset by the surge in xenophobic incidents that took place and in some ways even more upset by the realization that because she is white and English is her first language, the anger against "foreigners" did not apply to her.

So she came up with the idea of wearing a safety pin to say "you are safe with me, I support your right to be here." The idea caught on and back in July I gave her a Hero Award for coming up with it.

Now the idea is spreading to the US.

It's a small thing, just a symbol - but symbols can have power. So why not do it: It'll cost you nothing and yes, I suppose you can make all sorts of arguments about how it won't do any good, it's silly. Do it anyway. Just remember this is not a substitute for other work - it's a call to it.

3.3 - Good News: LAPD will not become immigration police

Good News: LAPD will not become immigration police

Finally for now, a case of Good News arising because of bad news.

During the campaign, the Great Orange One made immigration a central issue, what with "The Wall," an idea that was much better when it was a Pink Floyd album, swearing to deport everyone who is undocumented, and pledging to undo what immigration relief the Amazing Mr. O created.

While he has backtracked a little on some of his more audacious plans, he still claims an intent to "immediately" deport some 2-3 million undocumented persons who he claims are "criminals, gang members, drug dealers."

The Good News is that not everyone is going to falling in line with his plans.

On November 14, Charlie Beck, the police chief of Los Angeles, said that he has no plans to change the LAPD's stance on immigration enforcement. Since 1979, the LAPD has not initiated contact with someone solely to determine whether they are in the country legally. In 2014, the department stopped turning over people arrested for low-level crimes to federal agents so they could be deported and has refused to honor federal requests to continue to detain inmates who have finished their jail terms on the grounds they might be deportable unless that request comes with a judicial order.

Beck was backed up by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said that "Our law enforcement officers and LAPD don't go around asking people for their papers, nor should they. That's not the role of local law enforcement."

True, this is not a new policy for the LAPD, but to reaffirm it now and to say it so clearly, at a time of legitimate renewed fear running through the immigrant community, at a time when there are rumblings of plans to force local cops to become the immigration police, to say that now is a welcome sign of solidarity.

And although it is again only the bad news that makes it necessary, it still is Good News to hear it.

3.2 - Good News: the TPP is dead

Good News: the TPP is dead

Next up under the heading Good News is the fact that by all appearances, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP, is dead. And it's equally-evil cousin, the The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, essentially the TPP but between the US and the European Union, likely also is headed for the morgue.

On November 11, Obama's trade office announced that it is, essentially, giving up on trying to pass the deal during the lame-duck session. Matt McAlvanah, speaking for the US Trade Representative's office, which had been lobbying for the TPP for months, said in a statement that "this is a legislative process and it's up to Congressional leaders as to whether and when this moves forward."

He said that after both Senate Majority Leader Fishface McConnell and House Speaker Paul Rantin' have said that they will not take up the pact during the lame-duck session. Since they will still be in power after TheRump, who has called the TPP "a disaster," is inaugurated, there really is no reason for it to come up after that.

Except maybe there is. Because there is no such thing as untrammeled good news these days.

You have to realize that the big reason the GOPpers opposed the TPP was that it was Obama's deal. If you think they cared about the increase in corporate power it entailed, the weakening of environmental and labor protections it envisioned, or the shrinking of government ability to regulate The Market (pbui) it looked to, then you are sadly deluded. They only cared about Obama not getting it passed.

Already there are rumblings about how the TPP isn't dead, it's just "in purgatory." Ken Brady, the GOPper who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, says that the TPP shouldn't be dropped, just "renegotiated." So don't be surprised if in a couple of months from now, the TPP re-emerges with the minimum of tweaks thought necessary to justify a flip-flop by the GOPper hierarchy.

So watch this space, because as the great philosopher Yogi Berra said, "it ain't over 'til it's over." But for the moment, take a breath and the fact that we can do that, that we can take a breath, yeah, that's Good News.

3.1 - Good News: pushback against forced arbitration

Good News: pushback against forced arbitration

We'll start quickly with something just for the sheer fun of it.

Among those who are to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 22 is Vin Scully, honored for his 67-year career as a baseball announcer, which I mention here because I can still in my head hear him do radio play-by-play for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s.

Okay, on to more serious things.

First under that category is something that was actually done a bit ago; the first week of October, in fact, but I'm bringing it up now both because it's a federal regulation that is going into effect on November 28, which makes it time relevant, and because it's on a topic I've been meaning to talk about, one which happily is getting some more attention.

The issue is what's called forced arbitration. Arbitration is described as an alternative method of resolving disputes in which instead of going to court, two parties present their sides of a complaint to an arbitrator. Ideally, the arbitrator decides the rules, weighs the facts and arguments, and impartially resolves the dispute. Think Judge Judy without the snide condescension and the chosen-for-TV melodrama.

Arbitration was initially intended for use by businesses looking to avoid the possibility of a long and expensive legal battle. It was a mechanism to resolve disputes between forces that were at least more or less equal and one to which both parties had to freely agree.

Increasingly, however, it's being used by corporations to force consumers and employees to surrender some of their legal rights as a condition of buying a product, using a service, or getting or keeping a job. Increasingly, purchase agreements for things such as insurance, home-building, car loans, car leases, credit cards, retirement accounts, investment accounts, computer software, and more as well as employee contracts contain provisions - usually buried in the small print in the hope no one will notice - requiring that the consumer or employee submit any dispute to binding arbitration and waive their right to sue or join a class action suit or to appeal the results of the arbitration, arbitration which occurs at a place of the corporation's choosing using an arbitration firm acceptable to the corporation - that is, one likely to rule in its favor, as they do 93% of the time.

What's more, unlike a court decision, the results are not public, so there is no public record that a complaint against the corporation even arose - and consumers can even wind up under gag orders banning them from discussing the case publicly.

Put simply, instead of being a tool for use between equals, arbitration, as forced arbitration, has been twisted into a weapon for use by the powerful against the non-powerful, for use by the corporations against the rest of us, to keep us silenced and subservient in the face of their power.

If you want a particular and recent example, here's one: Wells Fargo, one of the nation's largest banks, committed systematic and deliberate fraud against account holders. At least 3,500 Wells Fargo employees, at the instigation of senior management, opened approximately 1.5 million bank accounts and approximately 565,000 credit cards without the consent of their customers and then charged them fees for the fraudulently-opened accounts. Since 2013, customers have been trying to sue Wells Fargo, both through class action and as individuals only to have the corporation used the forced arbitration provisions for the original, legitimate accounts to force them all of those people into individual, private, forced arbitration on each of the fraudulent accounts.

So what's the good news? There is some pushback.

In August, the Obama administration completed a two-year rule-making process that declares that federal government contractors with contracts of $1 million or more cannot impose forced arbitration on employees if the dispute arises under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or over claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment. That regulation is now in force.

Next, the CFPB, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is in the midst of a rule-making that would ban forced arbitration provisions from blocking participation in class-action suits, a move that has gotten widespread support, with much of that support arguing that the rule should have gone further.

Finally and most recently, and the one that brought all this up, as part of a comprehensive review of the the requirements that Long-Term Care facilities must meet to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced final a rule barring forced arbitration requirements at nursing homes that accept federal funds.

The rule was announced on October 4 and goes into effect on November 28.

And all that is Good News.

This doesn't mean that this won't come under the baleful glare of those surrounding The Great Orange One as they "review the regulations" and of course he himself is even more a product of the corporate world than many of the entourage. But forced arbitration is enormously unpopular among that segment of the public that is aware of it to the point that even TheRump and his cronies may be hesitant to so obviously flout their base.

What's Left #3



What's Left
for the week of November 17-23

This week:

Good News: pushback against forced arbitration
http://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/la-sp-scully-medal-of-freedom-20161116-htmlstory.html
http://www.consumeradvocates.org/for-consumers/arbitration
http://www.fairarbitrationnow.org/wells-fargos-use-forced-arbitration-deny-consumers-justice/
http://www.fairarbitrationnow.org/release-fan-coalition-applauds-obama-administration-restoring-rights-government-contract-employees/
http://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/consumer-financial-protection-bureau-proposes-prohibiting-mandatory-arbitration-clauses-deny-groups-consumers-their-day-court/
http://www.fairarbitrationnow.org/cfpb-arbitration-rule-receives-strong-widespread-support/
http://www.afj.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2016-23503.pdf

Good News: the TPP is dead
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/what-is-ttip-and-six-reasons-why-the-answer-should-scare-you-9779688.html
http://whoviating.blogspot.com/2015/08/2172-more-on-three-secret-trade-deals.html
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-trade-tpp-idUSKBN13629G
http://www.supplychaindive.com/news/TPP-purgatory-dead-trade/430555/
https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Yogi_Berra

Good News: LAPD will not become immigration police
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/president-elect-trump-says-how-many-immigrants-hell-deport/
http://www.aol.com/article/news/2016/11/14/lapd-says-it-wont-change-its-deportation-policies-under-trump/21605987/
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-los-angeles-police-immigration-20161114-story.html

Show solidarity with undocumented immigrants
http://fusion.net/story/369091/donald-trump-racist-incidents-since-election/
http://time.com/4569129/racist-anti-semitic-incidents-donald-trump/
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/11/10/1595617/-The-architect-of-the-most-racist-law-in-modern-American-history-has-been-named-to-Trump-s-team
http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/trump-immigration-adviser-kris-kobach-wrote-book-muslim-registry-n685026
http://fox4kc.com/2016/11/14/trumps-inner-circle-includes-far-right-former-news-executive-accused-of-racism/
http://whoviating.blogspot.com/2016/07/blog-post_17.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37948762

The importance of continuing protest
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/11/15/1599582/-Trump-protests-calendar-and-information
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-protests-planning-idUSKBN1362E0
http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/16/politics/sanctuary-campus-protests/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/11/16/anti-trump-demonstrators-say-nationwide-protests-are-just-a-taste-of-things-to-come/
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/17/us/politics/democrats-house-senate.html?_r=0
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hillary-clinton-in-first-formal-talk-since-conceding-there-is-common-ground-to-build-upon/2016/11/16/180efaf8-ac1a-11e6-977a-1030f822fc35_story.html
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/stahl-trump-is-more-subdued-more-serious/?ftag=CNM-00-10aab0g

Democrats refusing to recognize their own failures
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/politics/election-exit-polls.html?_r=0

Cop who killed Philando Castile is indicted
http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/16/us/officer-charged-philando-castile-killing/

RIP: Leonard Cohen
http://www.usatoday.com/videos/life/people/2016/11/11/93629432/
http://www.newsweek.com/leonard-cohens-12-greatest-songs-520637?google_editors_picks=true
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkamRumVXn4

Monday, November 14, 2016

2.7 - RIP: John Zacherley

RIP: John Zacherley

Okay, we have one more thing to cover and it's an RIP for someone a lot of you have never heard of. But you know, I'm sure, of what he created.

John Zacherley
His name was John Zacherley, usually known just as Zacherley. He died at his home, an apartment in Manhattan where he had lived for 50 years, on October 27. He was 98.

Zacherley did a lot of things in show business in his long and varied career, including a hit novelty record, "Dinner with Drac," in 1958.

But that itself hints at what he was best known for: He was "the cool ghoul" and essentially invented the TV format of some ghoul or mad scientist or vampire or whatever introducing Grade B (or worse) sci-fi or horror movies, often interrupting the flick with some sort of shtick.

Everbody from Elvira to the Cryptkeeper in Tales from the Crypt to the gang on Mystery Science Theater 3000 to the many such characters and shows on local or public access TV around the country can trace their heritage in some measure to John Zacherley.

And, sigh, another part of my childhood slips away.

RIP, Zach. I'm sure you feel right at home.

2.6 - Good News: Public more accepting of undocumented immigrants than 10 years ago

Public more accepting of undocumented immigrants than 10 years ago

Finally, proof that even when things look dark there can still be streak of light.

Believe it or not, over the past decade, there has been a massive shift in public opinion in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a shift visible even in the heat of this bitter, hateful campaign..
In poll conducted in late October, the Pew Research Center found that 80% of American voters support there being a way for undocumented immigrants to stay in the US legally. While that includes 95% of Clinton supporters, it also includes 60% of TheRump supporters, half of those who voted for TheRump in the primaries, and 77% of GOPpers who voted for other candidates in the primaries.
This is a shocking turnaround from 10 years ago, when in another Pew survey, only 32% of voters favored the possibility of undocumented workers being able to stay permanently.
I can easily recall being surprised at how quickly, once it got to a certain point, same-sex marriage moved from being "no" to being "yes." Maybe we can see something of the same happen with  immigration.

Surviving a dark time, indeed.

2.5 - Good News: 4th Circuit says "even the president" can't override laws against torture

Good News: 4th Circuit says "even the president" can't override laws against torture

Next up, an important court decision, particularly in sight of TheRump's proclaimed intention to bring back waterboarding and "even worse."

It happened a couple of weeks ago during our month off, but it's important enough to cover now.

Four men, held and tortured at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, sued an American military contractor for the company's role in the prison and the torture.

In June 2015, a district court in Virginia dismissed the suit, ruling that a "cloud of ambiguity" surrounds the definition of torture, and that despite laws banning torture, the decision to torture was a "political question" that could not be judged by courts.

On October 21, a panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals flatly and unanimously rejected those arguments, ruling that torture is illegal, period, full stop, in fact it is so clearly illegal that it is "beyond the power of even the president to declare such conduct lawful."

Take that, Rumpy.

2.4 - Good News: Joe Arpaio is out as sheriff

Good News: Joe Arpaio is out as sheriff

To cheer us up, we do have some Good News this week.

First is that the Cubs won the World Series. Which could seem an odd thing for me to say since I'm not even a Cubs fan: Growing up on the Jersey shore, I became and always was a Dodgers fan. No matter, I really really wanted the Cubs to win. Somewhere, Ernie Banks is smiling.

On a more serious, if your will, note, comes some news about Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. You may recall him. He's a rightwing extremist, a bigot, and as corrupt a politician as you have ever seen. He's the self-proclaimed "America's Toughest Sheriff" who gained nationwide attention with mistreatment of prisoners and his illegal "immigration sweeps" racially profiling Latinos.

Well, Joe Arpaio is still a rightwing extremist, a bigot, and corrupt, but there's something he's not: He's not sheriff anymore, having lost his bid for re-election by the healthy margin of 10 points.

Oh, but then again, he is one other thing: He is someone facing criminal contempt charges for his persistent refusal to obey a court order relating to his racist enforcement policies.

Take pleasure in the little things.

2.3 - We have to accept the possibility of failure

We have to accept the possibility of failure

And yet and yet and yet - we face the continuing advances of the reactionaries, marked not only by GOPper control of the White House, the Congress, and potentially through that the Supreme Court, but also by on-going gains at the state level. This year the GOPpers had a net gain of at least two governorships and gained at least two state legislatures and now control all the political branches of state government in more than half the states. By comparison, the Dims so control just five.

In the face of such continuing advances, in the face of the sexism and racism that have been revealed and justified by this campaign, revelations that have not lead to their being rejected but to their being embraced and even celebrated, in the face of the sheer enormity of the task, we must face the fact that for the foreseeable future, for as far out as at least I can imagine, that all our efforts may - and I am stealing something from William Rivers Pitt here - all our efforts may come to nothing.

We are down to the point of total opposition, but as lonely as that estate may be, it is where we are, and we owe it to those who have suffered beyond our comprehension to continue as we have, in hope even if not in expectation.

Understand: I am not giving up. I refuse to concede defeat in any way. Yet I have to consider the possibility that all our efforts, all our best efforts, will come up short.

Pitt reminded us of a scene in "The Lion in Winter." As Geoffrey, John, and Richard await their executioners, Richard demands that they face the end with strength. Geoffrey scoffs at him, saying "You fool. As if it matters how a man falls."

Richard's reply is telling: "When the fall is all that's left, it matters."

Even at our lowest moments, even when we just want to give up, pack it in, and move to a commune or to Canada - or to a commune in Canada - we have to remember that even in failing, the manner in which we fail matters. Even in falling, the manner in which we fall matters. It matters, that is, it matters for the future, for the longer term than we can perceive, whether our failure is marked by defiance or by despair.

Henry David Thoreau, in his classic essay "On Civil Disobedience," wrote:
I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name - if ten honest men only - ay, if one HONEST man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this copartnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever.
Of course he did not mean, as some seeking to dismiss him have, that such an act would mean the instant end of slavery. Rather, he meant that a seed would have been planted that would eventually, ineluctably, lead to slavery's demise. "What is once well done is done forever" because even if it failed to stop slavery at once, the manner of failing mattered.

None of what we do is for nothing. Because immediate victory is not the only end worth achieving; what can be won now is not the only cause worth fighting for; even being able to see victory in the future is not the only reason for keeping up the struggle. It is also for ourselves, for our own integrity. A member of the anti-Stalinist Russian group Memorial, founded by Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Andrei Sakharov, said
I do what I do because I owe it to my family, to the victims of my country's injustices, and for my own honor.
Or as Wendell Berry put it,
[p]rotest that endures is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one's own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence.
Or perhaps you would find Abraham Lincoln's observation the most telling version*:
To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
We owe it to others; we owe it to the victims, who have suffered more than we can know; we owe it to the victims who in the days to come will suffer more than we can know; we owe it to ourselves; we are honor-bound, even when we feel discouraged, especially when we feel discouraged, we are honor-bound by justice to carry on as best as we can.

So for now and for the future, the issue, I say to you (and to myself, for that matter), is not "What can I do?" It's "Am I doing what I can?" Perhaps that only amounts to a little, to what can seem so trifling as to not matter, but matter it does.

We are each of us as individuals called, required by what is right, required by the call of justice, to do what we can. No one can expect more of us - but we should expect nothing less of ourselves.

And if despite all, we fail? Then we fail. When Dylan Thomas's father was old, the poet felt the old man, so energetic in his younger days, had given up on life and was just passively waiting to die. Saddened and distressed, Thomas cried out to his father

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

We do live in a darkening time, a time being marked not by failure to advance but rather by the cold prospect of failure to hold on to the little that has been gained, a time not of standing still but of sliding backwards. So yes, we may fail - or at least seem to because true victory (and getting Hillary Clinton elected would not be such a victory) is far enough off that we will not be able to see its approach.

While I think that unlikely (the title of my blog, after all, includes the phrase "surviving a dark time"), I have to admit that such failure is possible. But that possibility makes it even more important that we do not go gentle into that good night but that we rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

I hope to see you in the streets.

*I have since learned that the actual source is a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

2.2 - But we have to carry on as best as we can and there was some good news

But we have to carry on as best as we can and there was some good news

Despite that, maybe in spite of that, we have to do our best to carry on. Everything I said last week about the role of the left after the election, about what still needs doing, remains true; if anything, it is even truer.

So let's see if there is any good news out of this election to offer some inspiration or hope.

Over the past couple of years, liberal groups undertook a plan to do an end run around state legislatures often dominated by reactionaries by pushing citizen initiatives. There has been some success on that front:

In 2014, left activists won victories on the minimum wage, gun control, and marijuana legalization through ballot measures in Nebraska, South Dakota, Illinois, Arkansas, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia.

In 2015, they followed with wins for campaign-finance reform in Seattle and Maine.

And some additional victories came this year:

Voters handily approved raising the minimum wage in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington while rejecting a proposal to decrease the minimum wage for teenagers in South Dakota.

California and Nevada approved measures to require new background checks on gun purchases.

California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine voted to legalize recreational marijuana, bringing to around 21% of the population of the US living in places where marijuana is or soon will be legal.

Four states voted on, and passed, provisions for medical marijuana: Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota, and Montana. In Florida the yes vote was 71%. 29 states and Washington DC now have some form of medical marijuana provisions.

In Colorado - this is more controversial on the left, but I think of this as a victory - voters approved physician-assisted suicide.

In South Dakota, a measure to overhaul the state's ethics and campaign finance rules passed. It also creates a system of a publicly financed vouchers for voters to give to candidates of their choice.

On the other side of things, a measure pushed by the corporate private school industry to expand charter schools happily lost in Massachusetts.

Not everything was a victory, of course: A measure similar to South Dakota's public campaign finance vouchers failed in Washington state, while voters in Arizona rejected legal pot, and Maine voters turned away new background checks for buying a gun.

A question in California to rein in drug prices got drowned under the one hundred million dollars that BigPharma poured into the campaign.

And perhaps saddest of all, a vote in Colorado to provide universal, single-payer health care via a 10 percent payroll tax lost badly after opponents, financed by the health insurance industry, outspent proponents on TV ads by $1.9 million to nothing.

But those losses neither deny nor reduce the importance of the victories.

It's also important to remember that Clinton won the popular vote by something around 200,000. While that doesn't matter for the presidency, which is determined by the electoral vote, it is a much better indicator or the actual split in public sentiment.

The Rump won by just 1.3% Florida, 1.2% in Pennsylvania, 1% in Wisconsin, and 0.27% in Michigan. Which means a shift of less than three-fourths of one percent in Florida and about one-seventh of one percent in Michigan and Clinton is president-elect. This is not to plead "coulda-bins" but to re-emphasize the closeness of the national division. The left, or at least that part of the American public that rejects TheRump, is not a helpless, downtrodden minority position.

Despite that, of course, the GOPpers are doing what they always do: arrogantly claiming the mantle of power. House Speaker Paul Rantin' has declared that TheRump has "just earned a mandate" to pursue the reactionaries agenda.

And the Dummycats, the Dimcrats, are also doing what they always do: smiling through the tears and making nice, more concerned with maintaining decorum than advancing justice.

Hillary Clinton says we owe TheRump "an open mind" and "a chance to lead."

The Amazing Mr. O. says that we should "remember that we're actually all on one team" and that we should not focus on political differences.

Bernie Sanders says he's prepared to work with TheRump to help the working class. Elizabeth Warren says she and TheRump should "put aside our differences" and work together. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said all citizens must set aside their political preferences and root for TheRump's success.

No, no, no! That's exactly what you do not do. Admit defeat in the election, yes; peaceful transition of power, yes; but do not promise to "work together," to "give him a chance to lead," do not wallow in the greeting card sentimentality of "we're all Americans, after all." Have you already forgotten how Sens. Fishface McConnell and John McCan't declared before the election in the face of a prospective, not even a real, President Hillary Clinton that they would never approve any Supreme Court nominee she submitted to the Senate? Do you really think that mincing appeals to a mushy bipartisanship is going to move them?

That is idiotic and only sets us up for more failure.

Happily, it appears at least some among the Dimcrat Party's fellow-travelers are realizing that.

During the primaries and the general election campaign, the major liberal site DailyKos treated Clinton like she was the second coming. The founder and director of the site, Markos Moulitsas, tried to suppress expressions of support for Sanders well before primaries were over and actually banned people from the site for advocating for a third party vote. Now, however, Kos himself has proposed that either Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Van Jones become the new head of the DNC before arguing that Democrats in Congress should "oppose everything."
If Trump wants to pass a new Voting Rights Act ... then we can work with him. Anything else he might propose, even if we might agree with it? Let him get the votes from his own caucus while we hurl metaphorical molotov cocktails from the sideline.
There Kos is exactly correct. The Dem leadership should go to Fishface, go to Rantin', and tell them "You think you were the party of 'no?' We'll show you what 'no' means."

They need to do that and we need more of what we saw the day after the election: protests against TheRump across the country mobilized on less that 24 hours notice.

Protests with crowds ranging from just several dozen to thousands in places including New York City, Chicago, Portland, Oregon, Boston, Phoenix Arizona, Seattle, Washington, Berkeley and several other cities in California, Pittsburgh, and more.

That's what we need.

There's a solidarity statement going around, and I want to quote parts of it:
No matter what, we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with every community that has been attacked, threatened, and marginalized in his campaign of hate. We will not be silent, and we will not back down.

We will fight back together against the agenda of fascism, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and hate.

We will stand with every immigrant, every Muslim, every person of color, and every woman whose ability to live safely in our country is now under urgent threat.

We will have to use all the tools at our disposal to stand up for those most vulnerable and minimize the damage of the Trump presidency.

Corporate democrats in Congress and the political establishment in Washington may be tempted to compromise in order to eke out small wins or incremental change. But we know that the progressive movement must stand for racial justice, immigrant rights, LGBTQ and gender equality, and we must lead the way in rejecting compromises or policy negotiations that leave people of color, immigrants, women, Muslims, or LGBTQ people behind.

It's going to be a hard fight.
Is it indeed and yet that kind of solidarity, that kind of fight, is again, what we need. And not just on matters of race, gender, and the other important issues mentioned but also on the economy, taxes, trade, the environment, militarism and foreign policy, climate change, privacy, Constitutional rights, and more.

I said it last week in the face of an expected Clinton presidency; it is even more urgent in the fact of an actual TheRump presidency:

Silence is not an option; acquiescence is not an answer. We have to vote, petition, and lobby, yes, but we have to do more, we have to be insistent, noisy, disrespectful, rude, we have to fill the streets and perhaps the jails and who knows - I don't expect it, I don't predict it, but I accept the possibility of it - perhaps even fill the camps.
 
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