Aux Armes, Citoyens!

Via valued commenter Marco Polo, a reminder:

🚨🚨🚨 The fate of Kavanaugh may well be decided in the next 48-72 hrs. As of now multiple GOP senators are undecided but they’re getting A LOT of pressure from the WH and leadership to fall in line. Your pressure can make the difference. Pls call your senators 202-224-3121
We should all be doing this of course, and those of the jackals who suffer with Republican “representation” are the tip of the spear on this particular campaign.  It just takes two GOP senators to discover a residual memory that women are in fact people, and this nomination goes the way of the Titanic.
Image: J.W.M. Turner, Shipwreck of the Minotaur, 1810s

Tornillo, TX March: Report from the Field

I am privileged to front page O. Felix Culpa’s trip to the Tornillo march this weekend. I’ll let her take it from here:

From O. Felix Culpa:

Trawling the internet over Saturday morning coffee, I chanced upon an announcement for a march on the new tent city in Tornillo, Texas, scheduled for the next day. I read the info to my wife and we said simultaneously, “Let’s go.” We abandoned our weekend gardening plans, packed a few things, dropped the dog off with a friend, and drove 300-plus miles southwest to El Paso, where we spent the night. The drive was pretty and uneventful, except for the plague of insects committing suicide on our windshield near Fort Bliss.

Early next morning we headed to the march’s starting point at the Tornillo-Guadalupe Toll Plaza on the US-Mexico border. It’s in a rural area, marked by orderly pecan groves interspersed with verdant alfalfa. But the land is brown and desolate where the fields end and the internment camp begins. Although set up for 400 children, capacity might be expanded to 4,000 according to the government.

Many other cars were turning off the highway ahead of us as we approached. Good! we thought. These people must be going to the march too and we can follow them. It seemed unlikely that so many people would be heading to this remote place on a Sunday morning for any other reason, and we were right.

There were already hundreds of cars parked along the roads when we arrived and more kept streaming in. All told, about 2,000 people came – more protestors than residents in Tornillo – extraordinary numbers for a Father’s Day event in an out-of-the-way location announced late Friday. Most were from El Paso, but folks hailed from all over Texas and as far away as Salt Lake City, Denver, and Santa Fe (us).

The crowd of families with young children, youth, and seniors – brown, black, and white – huddled for shade under the toll plaza cover, waiting for the march to start. The sun was already fierce at 9:30 a.m. – on the coolest day forecast for the week. Three guards stood at the entrance to the camp, watching. We couldn’t see the tents, which were somewhere behind the barbed wire, walls, and outbuildings. The organizers informed us they had not been able to secure permission to enter, so we marched out a short way, then back through the toll plaza to a gathering place as close to the camp as possible for the rally.

Beto O’Rourke was highly visible throughout, surrounded by supporters, cameras, and broadcast microphones. He’s tall, handsome, and an effective speaker. He notably avoided directly attacking Trump and the GOP (this is Texas, after all, and he’s running for Senator), but was clear about the immorality of the family separation policy: “This is inhumane. This is cruel. This is torture to take a child from that mother, from that father, who literally risked all, including their lives, to bring them to safety, fleeing horrific violence.” All true. Beto added, “People say this is not who we are. But it is who we are. We are doing this and we must stop it.” Also true.

A small commotion arose just behind me and I turned to see Joseph Kennedy III, carrot-haired with that pink-and-white Irish complexion and distinctive Kennedy good looks, working his way through the crowd to the speaker’s box. He too denounced the anti-immigrant policies: “We recognize that universal truth that humanity does not come with citizenship or with a green card,” and concluded by noting our American immigrant family names are “Jimenez…Martinez…O’Rourke [applause]…and Kennedy,. My family is Kennedy” [more applause].

Kennedy sped away in the requisite black SUV to seek entry into the camp. I don’t know if he got in. The crowd dispersed shortly afterward, some heading to Father’s Day brunches, while others, like us, drove home. I’m glad we went and we have more work to do to rescue these children and restore them to their families.

Me again. There are more photos below the fold.

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To Arms, To Arms. The War Has Begun: The Midnight Riders

The Revolutionary War began on 19 April 1775. That evening Paul Revere made his famous ride. But Revere wasn’t the only rider, just the only one to have Longfellow wright a poem about him. There were dozens of other riders that night, each seeking to warn the colonial patriots that the British army was advancing and what route it was taking. One of these others had the longest ride – the 345 miles from the outskirts of Boston to Philadelphia. That rider was Israel Bissell, though in some records he’s referred to as Isaac Bissell.

Bissell, a 23-year-old postal rider when the war broke out on April 19, 1775, rode day and night with little sleep during an exhausting 345-mile journey from Boston’s western edge to Philadelphia. On the first leg, he rode one horse so hard that the animal collapsed and died beneath him as he arrived in Worcester, roughly two hours after leaving Watertown.

“To arms, to arms. The war has begun,” Bissell shouted as he passed through each little town.

(Map 1: Israel Bissell’s Route)

In addition to making his alert at every stop on the Old Post Road, Bissell also brought a message from General Joseph Palmer:

To all the friends of American liberty be it known that this morning before break of day, a brigade, consisting of about 1,000 to 1,200 men landed at Phip’s Farm at Cambridge and marched to Lexington, where they found a company of our colony militia in arms, upon whom they fired without any provocation and killed six men and wounded four others. By an express from Boston, we find another brigade are now upon their march from Boston supposed to be about 1,000. The Bearer, Tryal Russell, is charged to alarm the country quite to Connecticut and all persons are desired to furnish him with fresh horses as they may be needed. I have spoken with several persons who have seen the dead and wounded. Pray let the delegates from this colony to Connecticut see this.

While there has been some historical dispute about whether Bissell made the whole ride or just the leg to Hartford before handing off to another post rider. Regardless, he still made the longest of the midnight rides.

Bissell did eventually get his own poem. In fact he got two.  One written by Gerard Chapman. The other by Clay Perry.

“To arms, to arms. The war has begun!

Stay put!

Open thread.

For A Good Time In Cambridge (Tonight!)

Just a quick heads-up.  My colleague Seth Mnookin will be moderating a panel for the MIT Communications Forum on “Republican Resistance in the Age of Trump.”

The event goes from 6-8 p.m. in MIT Building 3, room 270. (MIT map.)  The speakers are interesting:  Stuart Stevens (Romney’s 2012 chief strategist, among other presidential election gigs); Jennifer Nassour, former MA GOP chair (I know…) and the founder of a group dedicated to electing more Republican women in the northeast; and Dr. Daniel Barkhuff, a Navy Spec Ops doc veteran and leader of a non-partisan group supporting “veterans who have demonstrated integrity and rational thought as they run for positions in local, state and federal elections.”

These are folks with whom I expect I have pretty near zero agreement on policy terms.  But if there is common cause to be found in constructing an American democracy on a foundation of shared political norms, I’m down for that, and plan to listen closely.

In any event, should be an interesting time. And I note that I’m the more interested as a bunch of posters around campus have been torn down, which I interpret as a Trumpian response to unwelcome news.  All the more reason to show up, IMHO.

Image: William Hogarth, An Election Entertainment(painting from his series, “The Humours of an Election”), c. 1755.

Senate Parliamentarian Rules Against Healthcare Provisions

The Senate Parliamentarian gives rulings on all bills before they are voted on. Because the healthcare bill is being passed under reconciliation rules to make it possible to ram it through with 50 votes plus a Pence tiebreaker, it is subject to what are called “Byrd Rules.”

The Parliamentarian has found several points in the bill that she judges not subject to reconciliation rules and therefore would need 60 votes to pass. The Parliamentarian’s findings are subject to Senate approval, so this all might seem like a waste of time, but her findings can be used by the Democrats as delaying tactics and might be the subject of lawsuits further down the line.

The questionable topics are

  • Restrictions on abortion coverage
  • A provision defunding Planned Parenthood
  • A newly permissive state waiver process
  • Changes to rules governing insurance pricing by age
  • Funding for cost-sharing reductions
  • Elimination of the medical-loss ratio rule
  • The Cruz Amendment

These are pretty significant pieces of the bill. The New York Times has an explainer and the judgement of a panel of experts as to how likely each provision is to be struck. They also have an article on the politics of it, as does New York Magazine. There are a couple of others, but those seemed best to me. Here’s an explanation from the Senate Budget Committee’s Minority [Democratic] staff. Maybe David will have more to say.