Saturday Morning Open Thread: Voting Is Fundamental



Comhghairdeas Éire! (Our Chance Comes In November)

Ireland has done what, as a not-much-younger-human I would have thought impossible in my lifetime: it has legalized abortion — and by an overwhelming margin.

In doing so, it has struck a blow that will resonate worldwide, and especially here, I think and hope.  Most important, it says to the forces of reaction that all people are people (even women!) and to hell with any doctrine, policy or party that says and does otherwise.

The Irish can have nice things.  So should we — and can if we mobilize the energy that is already here to say “not on our watch” this November.

We’ll be talking about that all summer, I’m sure.  For now, lets celebrate a huge win — for a small island and all its friends.

Image: John Duncan, The Riders of the Sidhe1911.



Loving You Both Is Breaking All the Rules

I think some of you nerds like science fiction. I do too. Let me weave a dystopian tapestry before your wondering eyes and you can tell me what you think.

The year is 2020. There are now flying cars and cheeky robot companions. You have neither of these things. You have a slightly fancier phone and a couple of new shirts.

Your state’s primary has been pushed to the end of the season and its outcome will be pivotal. Democratic primary voters have said they will not go to Cochella. They will not go to Bonaroo. They won’t even go to Lollapalooza. The voters in the other 49 states have proclaimed that they want Paul Revere and the Raiders or The American Breed. This tortured analogy is trying to tell you they want Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders.

Let’s say that Joe has stayed his course  as the WWWC (Wooer of the White Working Class) candidate. Bernie has staked out the leftmost pragmatic position on all of your favorites: Healthcare, education, minimum wage, full employment.

And there you are, in the voting booth. Between Scylla and Charybdis. For whom do you pull the lever?

While you muse on this bummer episode of The Twilight Zone, please observe what I have in my other hand: It’s the fund that’s split between all eventual Democratic nominees in House districts currently held by Republicans.

Goal Thermometer



Walker Stumbles

Wisconsin gets its special elections:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker issued an executive order scheduling special elections to fill two vacant legislative seats Thursday…

It wasn’t shame, or a respect for the rule of law that drove the wholly owned Koch subsidiary to this decision.  Rather these guys finally got a clue:

Senate Republicans abandoned their efforts to pass a bill blocking the contests amid intense criticism that the GOP was trying to avoid adding to string of losses.

That is: it finally was driven home to these would be junta conspirators that being so obviously terrified of the voters was not merely a bad look, it was destructive.

The decision followed a very rapid rejection of Walker’s appeal, which sought a delay in enforcing a lower court’s order to call the elections that would last long enough for the WI legislature to pass their anti-election bill.  That court didn’t just say no:

“Representative government and the election of our representatives are never ‘unnecessary,’ never a ‘waste of taxpayer resources,’ and the calling of the special elections are … his ‘obligation,’” Presiding Judge Paul F. Reilly wrote.

Walker had one more appeal left, to the right-dominated WI Supreme Court, but chose not to pursue it.  IANAL, and IAN a Wisconsin politics maven, but here’s my guess: this was such an obvious matter on the law that Walker didn’t care to have his entrails handed to him a third time, especially given that the partisan lean of the court would highlight how out of bounds he and the state Republicans have been.

Anyway, a relatively small process win with, I think and hope, a bit more impact than that.  It’s easy to make the case that the GOP is only interested in democracy when it’s the North Korean version, no doubts at all about who wins.

That’s been true of the American right for a long time, no matter the party label of the day (3/5s of a person and all that).  But what seems to be changing now, maybe just a bit, perhaps even just enough, is that the idea that Republicans are scared of voters is starting to stick to the Grotesque Old Party.

Here’s hoping!

This thread, it opens.

Image: Constantin Hansen, A Group of Danish Artists in Rome, 1837.  I know it’s utterly unfair to lumber these 19th century hipsters with 21st century pipsqueak GOP shenanigans, but I couldn’t resist the image.



March for Our Lives Live Feed

Hope this works for you.

Open thread.



Republicans Steal Another One

The GOP guy grabs the tie-breaking seat in the Virginia Assembly by getting his name pulled out of a bowl.

The Democrat is expected to challenge this in court, which means the seat will remain vacant for now, but because the GOP thus has a 50-49 edge, they’ll hold the speakership and all committee chairs from now till next election.

Larry Sabato puts this in context:

In other words: the GOP can’t win free and fair elections. So they do everything they can to ensure they never have to contest one.

They are enemies of democracy and we won’t have ours back until they are defeated, root and branch, their citadels and their walls pulled down, their fields salted and their names unspoken until not even the memory of their sins troubles our days.  Every office, every seat, at every level of government needs to be contested.

GOP delenda est.

Image:  William Hogarth, Humours of an Election: Chairing the Member 1754-55



The Trump Permission Slip, Brookline High School Edition

Of the many worst things about Trump’s election and his impact on American society is the way his vile racism — and the acquiescence-to-emulation of his fellow Republicans — has give the worst in our society (see: deplorables) license to display their own racist shitstains in public.

That came home with a vengeance for me over the last couple of days, starting with an email from the local high school principal and the school superintendent.  Three young men, two recent Brookline High graduates, one current student, had posted to the broader internet two  racist videos, attacking specific students of color at the school in the worst, most bluntly racist terms possible.

Today brought another email — a third video by this same trio has been found, along with racist graffiti in a boys bathroom near the cafeteria.

During a school walkout led by student leaders in the African American and Latino Scholars groups, speakers criticized the principal for not responding to the first videos faster, more publicly, with a broader expression of support. He acknowledged fault in an afternoon PA address:

Crises like these should spur each of us – every single one of us – to reflect on who we are in this community and how we help resist and fight hatred in all its forms, including racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia. As part of this reflection, we must also consider where we need to be better. That starts with me. I regret not communicating earlier than yesterday to the larger community – students, staff, and families. I made the decision to address this as an incident between a small group of students – the ones who made the initial video and the student they were targeting. In hindsight, I should have reached out to others sooner. I am sorry for this, as doing so would have put everyone in a better position to support and care for one another.

That’s a decent start, and I hope and believe more concrete effort’s coming.  I spoke to my son and a couple of his friends, one a kid of color, this afternoon and they were more or less unfazed. They regard the racists as assholes not worth their time, and they’re right about that.  But they know this isn’t usual, and they know that this is real hate, and not just teen crap.

That makes me weep, because even though I know better, this is what you want your child to believe he or she won’t have to deal with.  (I should add that my son is way more of a realist than I am on this, and I’m aware that parental fantasies are still fantasy.)

But there’s this.  Adding to my amazement as well as my disgust, this is Brookline, Massachusetts. Brookline!

For those of you who don’t happen to be familiar with every nook and cranny of Greater Boston, AKA the Hub of the Universe, Brookline is a small town enfolded on three sides by Boston proper, stretching west from, roughly, Fenway Park.

This is a well-off place, not so much limousine liberals as the dreaded East Coast Elites.  Median family income is over $90,000 — which is probably not unconnected to the fact that 14 % of the population hold a doctorate degree (I’m in the 86%, I should add), said to be the highest such proportion in the US.  Above all, it’s liberal as hell.  In the 2016 election, Clinton-Kaine received 24,583 votes to Trump-Pence’s 3,175.

All of which is to say that while my Vulcan brain knows wealth, comfort, homogeneity etc. do not inoculate against racism, as Dr. McCoy I discover that I’ve been living that cliché:  It Couldn’t Happen Here.

Clearly, it can.

Relearning that hard lesson reminds me how we got to this pass:  Donald F**king Trump and that Republican Party that’s been waltzing with racists since 1968.

Public racism, the sense scumbags who hate have of being validated and enabled by the country’s most powerful man, is one of the many tumors Trump and his party have lodged in our body politic. Getting it out is going to require major surgery, years of the political analogue of chemo, and even then, may not leave us with a viable patient.

In my corner of the world, I’m glad that the Brookline schools seem to be taking our local metastasis seriously.  Maybe we can excise this one lesion.

But damn, do I hate every sitting GOP politician who has, by tacit acceptance or full throated endorsement backed up our Bigot-in-Chief, who in turn has given voice (and perhaps more and worse) to those street level racists that can be found in literally every town in America.

I’m with Doug.  This is one of those days I hope there’s an afterlife so that our current leaders can hang with Satan till the last proton decays.

Image: Jacob Lawrence, Antagonism between white and Negro workers resulted in race riots1940-41 [thx, Peter H. Desmond].