Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Here’s for A Quiet Year

(Non Sequitur via GoComics.com)

Professor Krugman, “America Is Not Yet Lost”:

I’m ending this year with a feeling of hope, because tens of millions of Americans have risen to the occasion. The U.S. may yet become another Turkey or Hungary — a state that preserves the forms of democracy but has become an authoritarian regime in practice. But it won’t happen as easily or as quickly as many of us had feared.

Early this year the commentator David Frum warned that the slide into authoritarianism would be unstoppable “if people retreat into private life, if critics grow quieter, if cynicism becomes endemic.” But so far that hasn’t happened.

What we’ve seen instead is the emergence of a highly energized resistance. That resistance made itself visible literally the day after Trump took office, with the huge women’s marches that took place on Jan. 21, dwarfing the thin crowds at the inauguration. If American democracy survives this terrible episode, I vote that we make pink pussy hats the symbol of our delivery from evil.

The resistance continued with the town hall crowds that confronted Republican legislators as they tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And in case anyone wondered whether the vocal anti-Trump crowds and Trump’s hugely negative polling would translate into political action, a string of special elections — capped by a giant Democratic wave in Virginia and a stunning upset in Alabama — has put such doubts to rest.

Let’s be clear: America as we know it is still in mortal danger. Republicans still control all the levers of federal power, and never in the course of our nation’s history have we been ruled by people less trustworthy.

This obviously goes for Trump himself, who is clearly a dictator wannabe, with no respect whatsoever for democratic norms. But it also goes for Republicans in Congress, who have demonstrated again and again that they will do nothing to limit his actions. They have backed him up as he uses his office to enrich himself and his cronies, as he foments racial hatred, as he attempts a slow-motion purge of the Justice Department and the F.B.I…

So it’s going to be up to the American people. They may once again have to make themselves heard in the streets. They’ll certainly have to make their weight felt at the ballot box.

It’s going to be hard, because the game is definitely rigged. Remember, Trump lost the popular vote but ended up in the White House anyway, and the midterm elections will be anything but fair. Gerrymandering and the concentration of Democratic-leaning voters in urban districts have created a situation in which Democrats could win a large majority of votes yet still fail to take the House of Representatives…

Even at best, in other words, it’s going to take a long struggle to turn ourselves back into the nation we were supposed to be. Yet I am, as I said, far more hopeful than I was a year ago. America is not yet lost.


What’s on the agenda as we buckle down for another year?

Monday Morning Open Thread: First in A New Series


Photo by from the inimitable Jeffrey W. As an animist, I’m allowed to hope it’s an augury for a mob of smart, aggressive Blue Dems retaking their seats at the table, leaving the Red Repubs sulking on the periphery.

What’s on the agenda as we flip the calendar and prepare to start afresh?

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Nowhere to Go But Up

(Scott Meyers via GoComics.com)

Note that this cartoon was originally published in 2010… although it could’ve been 1990, or 1980. Yeah, I still find it funny, because I’m old and calloused. There are so many subgroups for whom 2017 has been the year of “time to give up on sweet reason as a method of conversion”. Petula Dvorak, in the Washington Post, on “The Unexpected (and inspiring) Year of the Woman”:

… [I]t felt as though 2017 might be the year that the massive boulder women have been pushing uphill for centuries rolled back down.

But no. It turned out to be the exact opposite, and, in a way, far more powerful than any of the milestones of 2016.

The year began with what was believed to be the largest march the country has ever seen. On Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration, women and the men who support them filled the streets, plazas and squares of Washington and cities across the country, as well as around the world. It was a breathtaking mass of humanity. On the ground in the nation’s capital, it felt as though no square foot of land was empty. From the office windows and balconies of those in power, it looked as though a tide was swallowing cities whole.

It was an amazing, powerful moment full of hope. But there was no unifying message, no concrete demand, no specific goal or 10-point action plan. Now we see: There didn’t have to be.

The women’s marches ignited an energy that roiled and swelled through the rest of the year.

By the end of 2017, a seismic change in American culture began toppling dozens of sexual predators in the #MeToo movement. A surge of female candidates ran for office and won a stunning number of elections, from city mayors to the nation’s statehouses.

“Women claimed big victories” with the Nov. 7 elections “in a night that marked many firsts and could signal the start of a sea change for women in politics,” wrote Governing magazine, a publication not known for breathless declarations on culture and feminism. “The sheer volume of success for women candidates was a surprise to many, mainly because they were running against incumbents who historically win re-election 90 percent of the time. But not this year. Incumbents in Georgia, New Jersey and Virginia all lost their seats to women.”…

In one year, our nation went from a place where 46 percent of American voters didn’t mind having a commander in chief who brags about grabbing women’s genitals to a place where a celebrity chef who allegedly gropes his female employees isn’t considered fit to be in the kitchen…

And, of course, it was women of color who largely spearheaded the Women’s March and all the activism that followed. Which has led, at least sometimes, to much-needed examination of the racism that has been the root and support of far too much political power in America, in 2017 no less than in 1817.

What’s on the agenda as we prepare for the last long weekend of this too-long year?

Excellent Read: “If Trump Fires Mueller…”

Yascha Mounk, at NYRDaily, “If Trump Fires Mueller…”:

A year ago, during those foreboding months in which Donald Trump had already been elected but had not yet taken office, I tried to speak to as many moderate Republicans as I could find: “Put your red lines in writing now,” I pleaded with them. “When authoritarian populists take over, they have a way of shifting the goalposts. This will make it easier for you to keep yourself honest.”

In retrospect, I recognize that my appeal was hopelessly naïve—not only because so many moderate Republicans have spectacularly failed the moral tests with which Trump has presented them, but also because so many of the red lines in whose crossing they became complicit would have been difficult to foresee a year ago. Even with the best will, they would hardly have had the imagination to write: “If a member of Trump’s family receives an offer of collusion from the Russian government, and responds, ‘I love it,’ I will acknowledge that he was probably intending to collude with the Russian government.” Or: “If Trump says that there are ‘some very fine people’ at a neo-Nazi rally, I will not pretend that this is a normal thing to do.” Or: “No, I will not continue to support Donald Trump after he endorses a pedophile theocrat for the United States Senate.”…

These realities make it all the more infuriating that we are now hurtling toward yet another constitutional crisis, and that supposedly moderate Republicans are once again refusing to do anything about it. For the better part of a month, Fox News and other conservative media outlets have been smearing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, all but calling him an enemy of the American people. Over the past week, a series of senior Republicans have joined in the chorus of delegitimation, with a host of voices—from Mike Conaway, who leads the investigation of Trump’s campaign on the House Intelligence Committee, to John Cornyn, who heads the Senate equivalent—insinuating that it is time to wrap up the special counsel’s investigation….
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Late Night Open Thread: Happy Predictions


I predict most of us Democrats will quite happily work to improve that 59%!
What’s on the agenda for the weekend, as we count down towards the end of 2017?

Please help a friend help us live up to our ideals

A lifelong friend of my sister is an attorney and an all around good person.  Melanie Gleason has been working as an immigration/asylum attorney with a specific focus on cases on our Southwest border.  Her clientele seldom can pay so she needs help.

I don’t often do this but I would like to ask our community to help her out if you can do so.  We need to hold to our ideals and help those who are fighting for those ideals day in and day out.

Happy Holidays! How are you? I hope this finds you doing as well as possible—I know it has been quite a year (oof). I also want to apologize for being more out of touch lately; work has honestly been rather tough down here on the border (e.g. on Thanksgiving, I was contacted by a handful of different people whose loved ones were actually detained by ICE that day). So, I am looking forward to being able to connect more in the new year—thanks so much for your support.

I also wanted to share what’s new with Attorney on the Move:

Today, I’m launching a campaign to continue to provide free legal services to asylum seekers here on the border in 2018. Please click here to find out more and contribute.

After providing legal services out of my car for a year a half & when #45 won the election last fall, I made the decision to move to the U.S./Mexico border to be on the immigration frontline to help asylum seekers seeking refuge and peace. There have been many difficult days and nights, but it has all been worth it—to see clients released from detention and not feeling alone because they have a lawyer representing them. For a number of immigrant detainees, I am the only person who comes to visit them at Eloy.

In 2018, in addition to providing full representation for asylum seekers on the ground, Attorney on the Move will aim for more scalable impact, including:

  • More op-eds elevating the voices of those who are detained and shining the light on other injustices within the immigration system and beyond—such as this piece I wrote featured in The Hill (and then a videographer from The Atlantic contacted me to see if my client’s voice could be featured in an upcoming piece)
  • A weekly newsletter starting in early January featuring a curated list of immigration and other social-justice focused articles and commentary—as well as updates on what’s going on here on the ground
  • Working closely with other social justice lawyers and advocates to help them launch their own social ventures to address systemic inequities around immigration and other important issues.

This project has been funded by grassroots donations since the very beginning—and it’d be an honor to receive your support. You can help create momentum early on by clicking here to chip in.

I always look forward to the next time our paths will cross—thank you for all you are doing during these wild times. And I’d love to hear more about what you’ve been up to and how things are going over on your end. Happy holidays and I’m grateful to be connected as we move into 2018!

In solidarity,


Friday Morning Open Thread: “Not Everything Is Horrible”

Khizr Khan has a book out now, which reminded me I’ve been meaning to front-page this Buzzfeed article, “Khizr Khan Hasn’t Given Up On Us Yet“:

Khan’s new book, An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice, is part autobiography, part civics lesson (the end pages are photocopies of Article VI, Amendment XIII and Amendment XIV of the Constitution, with Khan’s scribbling, underlining, and highlighting), and part patriotic message about the goodness of all Americans. It’s also a deep dive into how a poor Muslim Pakistani boy made it to the US and became a symbol of the resistance against a sexist, race-baiting president who tried to ban immigrants from a number of Muslim-majority countries. But in the book, Trump hardly garners a mention until the very end.

You might think that Khan would feel deeply disappointed in — or even hopeless about — his adopted nation after watching just under half of the US electorate ignore his clear warning about exactly who Trump-as-president would be, and elect him anyway. But when we spoke, he always drove his answers back to the point of both his book and his public persona: America is worth fighting for.

“I am positive this division will go away,” Khan said. “That’s why I don’t talk much about Trump, because this is a momentary difficulty our country is having. Within the DNA of this nation is unity, solidarity. I am a testament to that sentiment of the nation.”

Even if that optimism sometimes seems unearned, even if his hopefulness sometimes feels like the exact thing a first-generation immigrant might say to their ungrateful, Americanized child — I suffered worse than you ever will — and even if it sometimes feels like Khan is too generous to a country that is mired in its divisions, it’s still so easy to listen to his stories of patriotism and unity, and really, truly, believe that his is a world we could all one day live in too…
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