The Anti-Trump (Open Thread)

Housekeeping comment: This is a post about the 2020 presidential election. Yes, I know there is a midterm election happening in 37 days. Our focus should be, has been and will be primarily on that and other present-day issues. But this is an almost top-10K politics and pets blog, and if we can take time to talk about gardening, gaming, TV, movies, cat-shaving, home improvement, etc., without shattering the republic due to a lapse in concentration on the midterms, by golly I think we can occasionally cast our speculation forward without all coming to naught.

Senator Elizabeth Warren made an unsurprising announcement at a town hall yesterday (NYT):

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts declared on Saturday that she would “take a hard look” at running for the White House in 2020 once the midterm elections are over, and called on the country to elect a female president to fix the “broken government” in Washington.

Ms. Warren made the announcement during a town-hall meeting in Holyoke, Mass., where she was decrying President Trump and Senate Republicans for digging in behind Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, the embattled Supreme Court nominee who has been accused of sexual assault. She described the hearings as a spectacle of “powerful men helping a powerful man make it to an even more powerful position.”

“I watched that and I thought: time’s up,” Ms. Warren said, according to a transcript and video of her remarks provided by an aide. “It’s time for women to go to Washington and fix our broken government, and that includes a woman at the top.”

She continued, “So here’s what I promise: After Nov. 6, I will take a hard look at running for president.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar hasn’t mentioned throwing her chapeau into the ring, but an article by Aaron Blake and Dave Weigel in The Post speculated about her possible future as a 2020 nominee. It recounted the moment when Kavanaugh angrily demanded to know if Klobuchar is a black-out drunk in response to a politely posed and relevant question.

During the hearing, Kavanaugh publicly apologized to Klobuchar after the break, perhaps perceiving that his taunting question came across as rude and aggressive, especially since Klobuchar had just shared that her 90-something father is a recovering alcoholic.

The scene at the hearing — in which Kavanaugh was defending himself against allegations of sexual assault — has at once thrust Klobuchar into the national spotlight and reinforced what could be her central shortcoming as a 2020 contender for the presidency. In a party that by most accounts is searching for liberals and powerful personalities to counteract President Trump, Klobuchar has crafted a brand almost diametrically opposed to that. In many ways, Klobuchar’s running and winning in 2020 would defy conventional wisdom, just as Trump did in 2016…

“While she’s a down-the-line Democratic vote, she doesn’t have an image here as the partisan bomb-thrower,” said Minnesota Republican consultant Mark Drake. “I think Democrats are looking for someone who is the partisan bomb-thrower. She’s the senator next door, not the bomb-thrower next door.”

If both women run, we’ll be treated to all sorts of dumb stereotypes. I don’t look forward to that, but I’d love to see either Warren, Klobuchar or both in the race and/or continuing to play prominent roles within the party. Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand too.

It’s tempting to think that Hillary Clinton’s loss proved we’re just not ready for a woman president in America. I wondered that myself early on, but I don’t anymore — there’s a difficult and unfair double-standard the first woman president will have to overcome, just as President Obama had to clear extra hurdles to become the first black president. But I do believe it’s possible.

Clinton’s loss, rather than arguing against women’s viability as presidential candidates, is an argument in favor of it. She was sandbagged by a decades-long media defamation campaign, bogus “dynasty” charges, Russian active measures, third-party sneering and voter suppression, and she still won the popular vote by millions.

On the contrary, I think the Democrats NEED a woman on the ticket in 2020. Whoever she is, she will not only be an effective foil to Trump, she’ll be a walking reminder that we can’t afford another misogynist on the Supreme Court. May the best woman win.








Darkest Night Open Thread

Tonight on Balloon-Juice After Dark: Strong women!

The Many Faces of Women Who Identify as Witches

The witch is often understood as a mishmash of sometimes contradictory clichés: sexually forthright but psychologically mysterious; threatening and haggish but irresistibly seductive; a kooky believer in cultish mumbo-jumbo and a canny she-devil; a sophisticated holder of arcane spiritual knowledge and a corporeal being who is no thought and all instinct. Even more recently, the witch has entered the Zeitgeist as a figure akin to the so-called nasty woman, who—in the face of a Presidential Administration that is quick to cast any criticism as a “witch hunt”—has reclaimed the term for the feminist resistance[…] The muddled stereotypes that surround witches nowadays are, in the end, not so very different from those used to define that perennial problem: woman.

In her portrait series “Major Arcana: Witches in America,” which will be shown at the ClampArt gallery, in Chelsea, beginning October 4th, the photographer Frances F. Denny seeks to explore the figure of the contemporary witch beyond the cultural chestnuts that have shrouded and obscured it. In the course of the past two years, Denny, who holds an M.F.A. in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design (where I taught her for a semester a number of years ago), has travelled in California, Louisiana, and along the East Coast, taking the portraits of dozens of women who identify as witches.

It’s a photo feature, so click through and take a look. I’d include a sample here but I’m too tired to remember how copyright works.

Open thread!

Updated because I remembered this:








Through a Woman’s Eyes

Elle Casey on Facebook:

I wish every man in the entire world would read this. Men, walk in our shoes for just 30 seconds by reading this post.  Guys ask why women are so pissed off. Even guys with wives and daughters.

Jackson Katz, a prominent social researcher, illustrates why. He’s done it with hundreds of audiences:

“I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other.

Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they’ve been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, ‘I stay out of prison.’ This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, ‘Nothing. I don’t think about it.’

Then I ask the women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine.

  • Hold my keys as a potential weapon.
  • Look in the back seat of the car before getting in.
  • Carry a cell phone.
  • Don’t go jogging at night.
  • Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights.
  • Be careful not to drink too much.
  • Don’t put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured.
  • Own a big dog.
  • Carry Mace or pepper spray.
  • Have an unlisted phone number.
  • Have a man’s voice on my answering machine.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Don’t use parking garages.
  • Don’t get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men.
  • Vary my route home from work.
  • Watch what I wear.
  • Don’t use highway rest areas.
  • Use a home alarm system.
  • Don’t wear headphones when jogging.
  • Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime.
  • Don’t take a first-floor apartment.
  • Go out in groups.
  • Own a firearm.
  • Meet men on first dates in public places.
  • Make sure to have a car or cab fare.
  • Don’t make eye contact with men on the street.
  • Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.”

― Jackson Katz, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help

(The first man to minor in women’s studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, holds a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Ph.D. in cultural studies and education from UCLA.)








The Vote to Confirm Our Second-Class Citizenship

Sexual assault survivors confront Senator Flake before he votes to confirm their second-class citizenship.

At 9:30 AM, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on whether to send Kavanaugh’s nomination to the floor. Regardless of how they vote, McConnell can schedule a floor vote. He will because of course he fucking will — subverting the US Constitution and the will of the people is what McConnell does.

After McConnell schedules a vote on Kavanaugh, I’m 95% certain the Republicans in the US Senate will put the belligerent, entitled, rapey prick on the United States Supreme Court for the rest of his fucking life.

Which Republican will vote no? Flake or Sasse? Give me a fucking break. Collins? Not gonna happen. Murkowski? Her colleagues will find a way to bribe her.

Kavanaugh’s ranty, partisan performance yesterday pleased the belligerent, entitled, rapey prick in the White House who nominated him. Lindsey Graham successfully auditioned to replace Jeff Sessions as AG, overcoming the deficit of a cracker-ass accent that grates on Manhattan Mussolini’s ears.

This country doesn’t give a shit about treating women equally under the law, and it never has, due to a combination of malice and ignorance, with the former increasing and the latter receding too slowly.

As I’ve said here before, the reaction to Anita Hill’s testimony among male colleagues at my first real post-college job was an eye-opener for me back when I was a dewy young thing.

“If he was so horrible, why didn’t she just quit?”

“Why was she friendly to him in social settings years later if he sexually harassed her?”

“A little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.”

They didn’t get it. Some still don’t.

I was a cynic even then, but not so much that I expected to be sitting here 27 years later watching an even more revolting spectacle play out among members of my generational cohort.

Oh well. Nothing to do but vote, get others to vote, and get on with our lives, right? That’s just the way it is.

Professor Christine Blasey Ford will go on with her life after her country proves so unworthy of her courage and patriotism, just like Professor Anita Hill did before her.

Maybe, after another 27 years has passed, 80-year-old Justice Kavanaugh will retire or kick the bucket, and my 47-year-old daughter will find the prospect of his being replaced with a misogynist unthinkable.

But you know what? I wouldn’t bet on it.








Senator Grassley, Via His Staff, Tips His Hand

Now we know why they brought in the sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona.

The state of play less than ten hours out from the hearing is that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s GOP majority has conducted three interviews, with two men, without notifying the ranking Democratic member or any of the Democratic staff on the Judiciary Committee, both of whom claim they are the man who attacked Dr. Blasey. I will be very, very, very (pleasantly) surprised if the female sex crimes prosecutor from Maricopa County, AZ doesn’t conduct an inquisition of Dr. Blasey tomorrow morning.

Brace for impact!

Open thread!