The Trump presidency had done a tremendous amount of damage, to our country, our society, our culture, and civilization in general. It is appalling. The only thing more appalling than Trump himself at this point is the gaggle of Senate Republicans who support Trump. They are the sticking point. Were they to give the go-ahead, Trump would be out of office in ten days.Continue reading The Fight that Broke the Democratic Party
That’s Ginny Klevorn, my MN House Rep, and Patty Acomb, from the district to the south but part of my DFL organizing Unit, the Fighting Forty Fourth. Feel free to click through and give them money. Ginny and Patty are part of the Blue Wave which replaced a Republican majority in the Minnesota House with a DFL majority.
If you feel like slogging through it to about 1:54, you can see the former Republican house leader yammering on and on about how bad the Democrats are. This is a man who exemplifies the old expression: Better to remain silent and be thought an idiot, than to speak up and remove all Daudt.
Thanks Representative Ryan Winkler for casting appropriate doubt on what was heard in the chamber!
There is probably a rule in the chambers of the United States Congress that you can’t punch a guy. Living rules are clues to past behavior. For instance, where I live now, there is a rule: You can’t leave your hockey goals or giant plastic basketball nets out overnight. There are no appropriate age children for that rule to affect. All the old people who live on my street have to drag those things into the garage at the end of every day, after their long sessions of pickup ball. More likely, years ago, there were kids everywhere and the “Get off my lawn” contingent took over the local board and made all these rules.
So, today, in Congress, you can’t hit a guy, but in the old days, that wasn’t so uncommon.
You have heard about the caning of Charles Sumner. Southern slavery supporter Preston Brooks beat the piss out of Charles Sumner, an anti-slave Senator from Massachusetts. They weren’t even in the same chamber. Brooks was in the House, Sumner was in the Senate. Sumner almost didn’t survive the ruthless and violent beating, which came after a long period of bullying and ridicule by a bunch of southern bullies. Witnesses describe a scene in which Brooks was clearly trying to murder Sumner, and seems to have failed only because the cane he was using broke into too many pieces, depriving the assailant of the necessary leverage. Parts of that cane, by the way, were fashioned into pendants worn by Brook’s allies to celebrate his attempted murder of a Yankee anti-slavery member of Congress.
Here’s the thing. You’ve probably heard that story, or some version of it, because it was a major example of violence in the US Congress. But in truth, there were many other acts of verbal and physical violence carried out among our elected representatives, some even worse, often in the chambers, during the decades leading up to the Civil War. Even a cursory examination of this series of events reveals how fisticuffs, sometimes quite serious, can be a prelude to a bloody fight in which perhaps as many as a million people all told were killed. Indeed, the number of violent events, almost always southerner against northerner, may have been large enough to never allow the two sides, conservative, southern, right wing on one hand vs. progressive, liberal not as southern, on the other, to equalize in their total level of violence against each other. Perhaps there are good people on both sides, but the preponderance of thugs reside on one side only.
Which brings us to this. You hears of the caning of Sumner, but you probably have not read The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War by Yale historian Joanne B. Freeman.
Professor Freeman is one of the hosts of a podcast I consider to be in my top three favorite, Backstory, produced by Virginia Humanities. Joanne is one of the “American History Guys,” along with Ed Ayers (19th century), Brian Balogh (20th Century), Nathan Connolly (Immigration history, Urban history) and emeritus host Peter Onuf (18th century). Freeman writes in her newest book of the first half of the 19th century, but her primary area of interest heretofore is the 18th century, and her prior works have focused, among other things, on Alexander Hamilton: Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic about the nastiness among the founding fathers, and two major collections focused on A.H., The Essential Hamilton: Letters & Other Writings: A Library of America Special Publication and Alexander Hamilton: Writings .
I strongly urge you to have a look at Freeman’s book, in which she brings to light a vast amount of information about utter asshatitude among our elected representatives, based on previously unexplored documents. I also strongly urge you to listen to the podcast. The most recent edition as of this writing is on video games and American History. The previous issue is covers the hosts’ book picks for the year.
I’m starting a list, I’ll check it twice. Or more. The is the list in rough form. Please suggest who should be removed (for reasons of death or clear declaration that they are not running, not because you don’t like them, not just because you don’t like them) and who should be added?
After your comments and more research by me, I’ll clean up and refine the list. Meanwhile, I’m doing an initial informal bracket poll on Twitter. Go ave a look. Continue reading Democratic Candidates for President, 2020
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith got all titillated the other day when she thought about sitting in the front row of a public hanging. In the context of her race to be Senator of Mississippi. Which is the state in which the most recent well known lynchings took place, and that probably had more lynchings per capita than any other state. Her opponent, Mike Epsy, is a black man. Continue reading Is White Supremacy and Lynching People Racist?
The first thing to do to keep Donald Trump in power is to make sure impeachment does not happen. The way to trick Democrats into going along with this is to use basic political Kung Fu, using their own weight and movement to bring them down.
Democrats want impeachment. So, trick them into insisting that the House file impeachment proceedings as soon as possible. At this point, the Senate, with its Republican Majority, will not convict Trump because all of those Republicans are loyal. Once the Democrats make hay out of impeaching Trump, and fail, they will look like losers, and the party that looks like the losing party will eventually lose. The Democrats will have spent a huge amount of time, effort, money, and political capital, on an effort that can not succeed. Continue reading How to keep Trump in power through 2024 and beyond
Voters seem to have liked many candidates endorsed by environmental organizations, or who had good climate change related policies. But, they seem to have rejected ballot initiatives, in Colorado, Arizona, and Washington, that would have moved us closer to the necessary energy transition. Continue reading Did Voters Vote Climate? Yes And No
This is how we usher in a new era.
The observant will have noticed that over the last several days, during the closing six weeks of an intense campaign season, I posted as my Facebook banner an image representing each of the United States Presidents, starting with George Washington. There have been several interesting comments and observations made on these images. Special Thanks to Jim Crider, presidential historian, for his added insight on those Facebook posts.
This is the image that follows President Obama: Continue reading Trump The tank Engine Goes Off The Rails
No, but seriously, U.S. militia groups head to border, stirred by Trump’s call to arms.
Once again, because of Republicans, and Trump, people are going to die.
I’ll be honest. Indivisible is Imperfect. Owing to some bad press for Congressman Keith Ellison (which in my view largely evaporated) a lot of members of the Indivisible Community forgot the number one rule of elections: Fight in the primary, fall in line for the general. They turned in ballots without a vote for Ellison.
After realizing 1) the alternative to Keith Ellison will cause people to die, and set us back to the middle ages, and b) it turns out that Congressman Ellison will make an excellent Attorney General despite efforts to Al Franken him, sudden rush to un-judgement flooded the community and compelled the construction of the following letter.
It is signed by Indivisible leaders, because we are all in touch with each other, more or less. It would certainly be endorsed by many local indivisible groups, but there is simply no time to turn such a project around so fast, and, frankly, a lot of groups simply don’t endorse. I am absolutely certain that given another 48 hours, the number of signatories on this letter cold be increased from just over 50 to something closer to 1000. For now, you’ll just have to trust that leaders of various groups signed knowing that a good number of members of the various groups we work with also support Ellison.
So, here it is, ignore the typos. We did this fast.
November 1, 2018
Dear Minnesota Voters,
As leaders of local, grassroots, progressive organizations, we care deeply about gender equality, reproductive rights, civil liberties, racial equity, and freedoms and protections for the LGBTQIA communities. We are all strong and vocal advocates of the #MeToo movement and believe that all women must be heard. And we all agree that voting for Keith Ellison is vital to protecting many of the issues that we hold dear.
Please do not leave this race blank on your ballot.
The Attorney General may be the most important office that you will be voting for this election.The Attorney General is the state’s attorney, tasked with protecting the civil rights of all Minnesotans. Here are some things that State Attorneys General have done in the past two years:
Filed suits opposing the initial Muslim Ban.
Filed suits about families being separated at the border.
Fought for environmental protections.
Fought against possible financial corruption in the current administration.
In some states, they’ve supported lawsuits that would allow for pre-existing conditions to NO LONGER BE COVERED as they say that when the individual mandate was removed, the rest of the law should be invalidated.
There couldn’t be anyone better suited to serve as the attorney for the people of Minnesota than Keith Ellison, whose congressional campaign slogan has been “Everybody Counts, Everybody Matters.” Keith will make sure we have patient protections for preexisting conditions. He will work to lower drug prices for Minnesotans. He will protect the LGBTQIA communities, uphold a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, protect everyone’s right to vote, and fight corporate corruption – all of which underscores the high quality of life we enjoy in this state.
Keith’s opponent, Doug Wardlow, will not just neglect Minnesotans’ civil rights, he will actively work to undermine them. The issues that matter so much to us have been the number one target of Doug Wardlow his entire career – and now he is on the precipice of succeeding. He has tried to weaponize the constitution against same sex marriage, against transgender kids’ safety, against voter rights, and against a woman’s right to chose. His first priority once elected? Politicizing the AG’s office by firing attorneys whom he suspects are democrats and filling the attorney general staff with extremists from the Alliance to Defend Freedom. He describes himself as “100% pro-life” and has spread false claims of fetal body part sales at the U of MN Medical Center. (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6raHdz8unOg&feature=youtu.be&t=30m23s)
His extreme views are no secret. After failing to be re-elected to the MN House in 2014, Wardlow took a position as a legal activist at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a group that has been working to recriminalize homosexuality, opposes hate crime laws, and has proposed the sterilization of transgender individuals. The ADF is considered by the Southern Poverty Law Center to be a hate group.
Doug Wardlow’s views are alarming and far from any mainstream position.
We’ve thought a lot about the allegations made against Keith Ellison and have read many summations. Our overall take, as non-experts, is that there was a full investigation and her claims are unsubstantiated. She has hired the former boss of Keith’s opponent, Doug Wardlow, as her attorney and has recently been prominently featured on many right wing conspiracy minded shows and has herself retweeted right-wing propaganda, such as the #walkaway hashtag known to be started by Russian bots. Furthermore, Keith’s now-public divorce proceedings revealed no history of abuse in his marriage of 25 years and Keith has the full support of his ex-wife.
Our groups comprise thousands of Minnesotans, all of whom are working very hard in the struggle for a more just, equitable and caring society. We will continue to work hard in that space and hold whoever wins the AG race accountable to our values. But right now, the choice is clear to us. If we want to protect the values of equality and justice for ALL people under the law, than we must elect Keith Ellison as the MN Attorney General. This is why each of us are voting for Keith Ellison and we urge you to do the same.
Jena Martin & Laurie Wolfe
Chair, Minnesota Indivisible Alliance and Co-Chair Indivisible Minnesota Local
Co-Chair, Indivisible Minnesota Local
Alicia Donahue, Su Reaney
Women’s March Minnesota Executive Board
Jordan Orzoff, Laura Eash, Curtis Johnson, Timmie Harriday
Stand Up Minnesota Steering Committee
Chair, Menahga/Park Rapids Indivisible
Sara Chapman, Mark Frascone, Connie Sierras
Co-Chairs, Indivisible Resistance of Eagan Burnsville (IREB)
Executive Director, Indivisible North Metro
Co-Chair, Indivisible St. Paul
Co-Chair, Itasca County Indivisible of Minnesota
Chair, MN Indivisible Chaska
Caren Fine Gallagher
Administrator, CD2 Action
Board Member, Minnesota Indivisible Alliance
Kris Miner, Kati Simons
Co-Chairs, Indivisible Eden Prairie
Greg Laden, Clara McIver, Barbara Boldenow
Co-Chairs, Indivisible Plymouth
Co-Chair, Indivisible NW Metro
Jennifer O’Brien, Lynn Speckhals Duane, Joseph Rapacki Jr.
Co-Chairs, Edina Indivisible
CD2 Action-Faith In MN Liaison
Founder, Progressive We Stand – Golden Valley
Krista Peterson, Deirdre Mulcahy, Ryan Hankins
Co-Chairs, The Power of Many – MN
Administrator, Postcards for America – MN
Chair, Swing Blue MN
Executive Director, Watch Your Reps MN
Board Member, St. Paul Regional Labor Federation Political Action Committee
Team Lead, Action Together Twin Cities
Lead Coordinator, Indivisible St. Peter/Greater Mankato
Administrator, Indivisibile Allies of Minnesota
Cindy Mundahl, Rachel Mundahl
Co-Chairs, Indivisible Minnetonka
Suzanne Laing, Becky Lauderdale Nelson, Carol Zazubek
Co-Chairs, Indivisible Bloomington
Vicky Johnson, Elise Radtke-Rosen, Heather Tidd
Co-Chairs, Stand Up Dakota Country
Chair, Indivisible MN02 and Co-founder, CD2 Action
About two fortnights ago, almost all evidence of the Mueller investigation’s progress stopped. This was expected, as it is a Justice Department rule to not do things, like issuing indictments, from several weeks prior to an election, until after the election.
Coincidentally (?), yesterday, a document was released to the public that dates back to the days of Watergate. This document is, in essence, an indictment issued by the Watergate grand jury, bring charges against Nixon. However, since the policy was to not actually indict a sitting president, this special indictment was given, not to a federal prosecutor, but to the US House judiciary.
So, there are two things floating around in my head that I’m wondering about.
First, and most obvious, is this: Will next Wednesday, or at least, the latter half of next week and perhaps a day or two into the next work week, see a series of actions from Mueller? And if so, what?
Second, and less obvious, is this: The document that was released yesterday isn’t just a grand jury document, but also, the decision by a federal judge that this grand jury indictment-thingie should properly be passed to the house, secretly, just as a normal indictment would be passed to a federal prosecutor, secretly. The secrecy part is just because all grand jury proceedings are secret. It is then up to the prosecuting body to make things public by carrying out actual indictments and prosecutions, or in the case of the house, impeachment.
The point is, it is now federal case law that a Grand Jury investigating a president can hand over what would normally be an indictment to pass on to a federal prosecutor to the House Judiciary Committee, for their consideration. It is secret when that happens, and if the committee decides, it can remain secret.
So, is it possible that the Mueller grand jury has already written one of these embryonic indictments, and is planning to hand it over after the election? Or after the new House is sworn in? Depending on how the election goes????
Is it possible, in fact, that such a document has already been handed over, and is being ignored by the Republican leadership in the House? If so, will it be resubmitted to the new Congress later?
I suggested several weeks ago that there would not be any action until after the election. Now, I’m noting that the election is about to happen, so we can expect … something.
A little background:
I’ve been doing analyses of house races in which I fairly conservatively evaluated each of the close races. Here, I use a slightly different approach. I use only the most recent non partisan poll to estimate the chance of a Democrat vs. Republican winning the race.
When I do this, I get just enough Democrats winning to remain a minority but by only one seat. However, that puts seven seats NOT in the Democratic column because they are estimated to be at exactly 50-50.
These seats, clearly key, are FL26, KY06, MI11, NM02, NY19, OH12, and UT04.
If those are really 50-50, then a conservative two or three seats among them will be Democratic at the end of election night, and the Democrats will have a slim majority in the House.
If we insert a magical blue wave, raising all the chances of Democrats winning by one percentage point, then the Democratic majority is much larger, to the tune of about 27 seats. A two percent blue wave gives the Democrats, interestingly, just a few more, to reach 35 seats.
However, that is unlikely, if the Blue Wave is already factored into the polls.
We might think of there being two Blue Waves. Or, a Blue Wave and a Blue Tide added together. Or a Blue High Tide with a Blue Storm Surge on top of it. Whatever. Point is, there is the general, expected, electorate, which I assume the polls cover, and that may be enough. But added to this is the added votes from the ever mythical “they never vote but they might come out this one time,as if” vote. That is where the one or two percent extra could come from. I suspect the effects of that extra spring tide may be seen in only some districts.
Here is my raw data, ranked from highest proportion to Democrats to lowest. Feel free to argue.
Richard Avedon sat with a beer at the horseshoe shaped bar of the Black Forest Inn, on what is now known as Eat Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Avedon was a relatively well known and ascending photographer, producing work for Vogue, Life, and Harper’s Bazaar. He was an unusual photographer, or at least, his photographs were unusual. Or maybe better put, the expressions and emotions, or lack thereof, of the subjects of his photographs, combined with his particular art and a certain kind of color scheme, or lack thereof, were in combination unusual.
The year was 1970, and his decades long career was well underway, but something was wrong. Not with his career, or with the photographs he had been finalizing and hanging for an exhibit at the nearby Minneapolis Museum of Art. What was wrong was the wall he was staring at, across this horseshoe shaped bar, in the Black Forest Inn. Over the weeks, working on his exhibit, he had become a regular, befriending the owner, settling in. But that wall… something was missing from that wall.
Back at the museum, Avedon came to a minor realization. A mural portrait he had prepared for the exhibit, titled “Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution,” was the wrong size for the exhibit. So, he made plans to re-print the life size image. It then occurred to him that the first print, while wrong for the Museum exhibition, would be perfect for that wall back at the Black Forest Inn.
And so it came to pass that a major mural of the ascending but not nearly apexed photographer, who would ultimately redefine the very nature of photography as his talent became something other than unusual, and eventually, a sort of gold standard, ended up hanging in a very pedestrian German restaurant on Eat Street, Minneapolis.
Fifteen years after the installation of the Daughters on the wall, about the time this book by Avedon was published, a gentleman who at that time frequented the Black Forest and still frequents the neighborhood pulled a .357 magnum pistol out of his pistol-hiding place and put one bullet into the forehead of one of the ladies and another bullet into another lady’s chest. Bam. Bam. He double tapped the Avedon. The owners got really mad at that dude, and he is no longer allowed in the restaurant. I hear tell Avedon was not too happy about this either. The bullet holes are still quite visible, no repairs having been effected.
If you look at a chart of mass shootings in America, you’ll see that while they’ve always happened, they are a thing of the 21st century, taking off around 2005 and peaking recently. The dude with the .357 shot the Avedon mural in about 1985 (no one I’ve spoken to remembers the exact year). In those days, there were few mass shootings. Taking out a pistol in South Minneapolis and plugging a wall mural was not a common event, but it would not have been translated as a frightening act of terrorism. That sort of attitude about firing off guns in public places would not really mature until after the first major post office shooting, Columbine, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, Virginia Tech, and so on. Also, the guy wasn’t actually shooting at anyone.
But this event does serve to vaguely link the Avedon Name to somebody shooting off a gun in a public place where they should not have been doing that, or at least it did in my mind when I watched the interview taped last night of Michael Avedon, grandson of Richard, on Lawrence O’Donnel’s “The Last Word.”
There is a connection between O’Donnell and Michael Avedon. It happens that Lawrence knew Richard, but also, Lawrence O’Donnell worked for Danial Patrick Moynihan, Senator from New York (and my Senator for a while). Michael Avedon’s middle name is Patrick, and he takes that name from his maternal Grandfather, the Senator. Small world.
The interview was about a very interesting project by Michael, done for New York Magazine. The cover story is called “The Class of 1946-2018: Twenty-seven school-shooting survivors bear their scars, and bear witness,” by Jared Soule, Amellia Schonbek, and Michael Avedon. Journalism, interviews, photographs, combine powerfully in this compelling piece that you can see on line. It reminds us of the fact that for every mass shooting, in-school or otherwise, there are usually multiple individuals who survived, but were physically wounded and who may bear for a lifetime those scars, mutilations or permanent damage. I recently did a quick study of mass shootings since and including Red Lake, Minnesota, in 2005. Those events, more than 50 of them, led to 515 dead and 948 physically injured as part of the shooting. In some cases, there are dozens of other injuries due to panic or other factors. And this says absolutely nothing about those injured psychologically. There are probably well over 1,000 people walking around today (or wheelchair bound in some case) in the United States who survived, but with injury, a mass shooting in a school, workplace, or public event. There are probably tens of thousands who were present and terrorized, and a couple of hundred thousand who are their immediate families and friends. Small world with a lot of damaged people in it.
We live in a small world, in a small space, and too many of us are armed with deadly weapons. We live in a world that has no room for systematic government sponsored hate. The most dangerous professions in America include fishing, logging, roofing, and flight crews on airplanes. A high death rate for those in that range may be close to 140 per 100,000, or about one or two tenths of a percent. But those are professions widely participated in. Not counted on lists of most dangerous jobs is the job of POTUS. The chance of a President of the United States being killed in office is, over the entire time this job has existed, close to 10%. This rate is probably suppressed recently, even as the danger goes up because of better weapons and more hate, because of herculean efforts by the Secret Service.
But over the last two years, some other ways of life have become increasingly dangerous, because of POTUS. Being a journalist is more likely to get you beat up or even killed than ever before in the US. Being a refugee seeking asylum seems to have suddenly become very dangerous, what with the US Army closing in on the southern border. Being a student has been more and more dangerous every year, even as we teach our first and second graders to serpentine in the event they are being shot at.
It has always been dangerous to be a Jew in a world where antisemitism always lurks, even if for large areas of geography and for long stretches of time complacency is allowed. But suddenly, active violent antisemitism is ramped up because of the Republican conspiracy theory mill, and even being a Democrat or a critic of Donald Trump can get you bombed.
The most significant emerging source of mortality or morbidity in the US right now is not some novel disease or unexpected feature of a widely distributed toy or model of motor vehicle. It is the president of the United States and his loosely affiliated gang of Republican thugs and faux news commentators. When 11 were killed and six injured in Pittsburgh, that was an explicit attempt to address a non existent problem cooked up by the lying right wing, and for his part Donald Trump first ignored the event, then decried it as a distraction from his winning big, then blamed the victims, then offended the community by arriving unwelcome to pay lip service. At the same time, over a dozen individuals, legally and justifiably publicly critical of Trump and his administration, were sent pipe bombs in an explicit effort to suppress that criticism and support Donald Trump.
Donald Trump and the Republicans have become a danger to the citizens of the United States. Our solution must be to vote them out of office. We must vote Republican members of Congress out of office next Tuesday so there can be checks and oversight. We must turn state legislatures and governorships over to Democrats so there will be the necessary number of Democratic states to pass Constitutional changes such as ridding us of the Electoral College and Citizens United. We must have a Democratic Senate for at least a dozen years to right the wrongs that have been done to our federal judiciary. We must never again allow a Republican to be in charge of elections. In two states right now, Republican Secretaries of State (that’s the person in charge of a state’s electoral process) are running for governor and using their job as SOS to cheat. We must increase the number of Democratic Attorneys General, in order to protect citizens from oppression by the federal government.
Some will split hairs. The Tree of Life killer is said to have not liked Trump. Doesn’t matter. Conspiracy theorists, supported by and supportive of Trump, laid out the problem. Jews of means were funding a caravan of killer migrants who would swarm over the Mexican border at any time. That killer went after a special group of Jews, those most closely involved with helping immigrants. That was a call for active hate by Trump converted to a hail of bullets from an assault rifle available due to the incessant activities of the Republican NRA.
Some will spit hairs. The bombs never exploded, these men were crazy, the white supremacist who helped orchestrate the deadly Charlottesville protest just arrested was an odd ball.
To the hairsplitters, I say this: You are part of the problem, time for you to step aside.
Any American who can vote who chooses for any reason not to is carrying out an immoral act, and there is no excuse for it. I’ve seen young people claim that we should not ask young voters to come to the polls, because this country was ruined by baby boomers. That is absurd. Yes, of course, this country was ruined by baby boomers, as well as the generation before them, and the Xers haven’t helped. But if the so called Millennials can recognize the ruin and its cause, that is even more reason for them to show up in numbers greater than the usual 50% and do something about it. Jewish Americans tend to vote about 3:1 Democratic. That seems like a large percentage for the Democratic party, but it is pitiful. Why does any jew vote for a Republican? I hope that changes this year. The gender gap is pitifully small. No woman should vote for any Republican, yet many will. But maybe that will shift as well next Tuesday.
My own analysis suggests that Congress will remain in Republican hands for the next two years. A large part of the potential electorate will likely spend the next two years blaming the losers for their loss. We will then likely see Trump re-elected. It is quite possible that we will are now two years into an 8 to 12 year reign of hate, and dismantling democracy. It is quite likely that the levels of Trump-ed up violence we see today is small compared to what will be happening as our first graders, serpentine trained, the ones that survive school, grow to voting age. If voting is still a thing, maybe they will save us. Or maybe they will be indoctrinated to love the new regime and its senior officers, in the name of their founder Trump.
Do you think my pessimism is wrong? Prove it.