Friday, November 09, 2018

Democracy is More Like a River than a Rock

There is currently a Republican body of discourse, and it is nonsense. Desperate refugees are described as dangerous terrorists; video is altered to weaken journalists' ability to monitor authorities; election fraud is charged where voter suppression policies failed to protect unpopular candidates; abortion is described as, simply, bad and immoral, though more than a quarter of American women have found a need for it; as a matter of faith there need to be more guns out there; Christians need more religious freedom and other religions need to be eradicated; transgender people cost too much; they say Democrats are pro-crime, pro-terrorism, and want "open borders," whatever that is; fair access to healthcare as practiced in other civilized countries is called "socialism" and blocked; these people will tell you that climate change is a hoax by the Chinese intended to make us less competitive; "tax reform" means lower taxes for the rich; black people deserve to be killed by the cops-- well I could go on. You've heard it. All of this is nonsense. It is not intended to make sense but only to push emotional buttons.

On the Democratic side there is not universal agreement on much of anything. There are discussions about how we should deal with refugees and other immigrants who want to enter the United States to live or work -- what plans can we establish and manage, how do we select who will qualify, how will we deal with those who violate regulations, and how can we define citizenship in a way that is fair and good for the country? There is discussion about the best ways to ensure that all citizens get to vote and that their vote is counted -- should we use paper ballots and count by hand or can we make automation secure, can we make sure voting locations are accessible and available to poor people as well as rich ones, and are there better alternatives to our current voting methods? Is journalism in a free country a competitive business where reporters should censor their questions in order to maintain access to publicly elected authorities or is it an institution that should be protected, and that forces authorities to answer questions and explain themselves? To what extent does the right to free speech mean that an organization is obligated to provide a platform for hate, and what is the best way for private citizens to respond to fascism, sexism, racism, and other forms of bigotry? How can we best provide women with the specific healthcare needs they have, including cancer screening, contraception, and abortion? Should the government regulate gender, romance, and family practices, and if so, why and to what extent? These are real questions where it is difficult to find answers that suit the society as a whole while meeting the needs of individuals in particular circumstances. But through open discussion and a full accounting of the facts, it is presumed that equitable outcomes can be reached.

In other words, we have one party that is talking nonsense and propaganda, doing what it can to instill fear and control voters, and we have another party that is divided between what are called "moderates" and "progressives," and is debating -- at times heatedly -- the best ways to provide security and prosperity to the nation.

To be fair, the Republican party does have a mission and a goal, and that is to further enrich and empower those who are already advantaged. The political goal is the installation of the super-rich in positions where they can influence the domestic economy and world markets in ways that will increase their profits even more. In a democracy this means cultivating a population of voters who are innumerate, functionally illiterate, and do not trust or follow the news except as it is served through particular plutocratic propaganda media outlets.

I am in an optimistic mood at the moment, and am willing to hope and to speculate that the oligarchs will be voted out after the current experiment, and that public debate will come to focus on the real issues that presently occupy moderate and progressive liberal thought. If there are two parties, then let one take the moderate, more conservative position (just as the Republicans are suddenly big defenders of pre-existing conditions), and let the other take the more progressive position on issues, and let's haggle out solutions from there.

When you talk to real people in the modern world, you find their opinions almost always fall somewhere between moderately and progressively liberal. Nobody at all wants to give up their house and possessions to pay their medical bills when they get sick, or wants other people to; there is almost nobody who really thinks mass murder is a fine and normal part of daily life and that the problem is that there are not enough guns on the street, or actually thinks that schoolteachers should be armed in the classroom (or rabbis in the synagogue); there is almost nobody who really thinks that only white people should be able to vote; all our hearts go out to starving children in our country and in foreign lands and we would like to help them; nobody actually believes that elected authorities should be able to do any self-serving thing with our tax dollars in secret, and without being accountable. Everybody realizes that war is hell and would do all they can to prevent it. And so on. American people are pretty sensible. They are inherently kind and caring, and do not mean to do anyone harm without justification. There are some nuts out there, but mostly those have, let's say, mixed motives.

It is possible that the US will go over the brink and follow the way of our currently governing party, and that critical thinking will simply vanish, especially if we let journalism and education die. It has happened in the past -- remember the Dark Ages? -- and there is no law of nature that says it can't happen again. Democracy is a difficult path to take, it includes a fundamental requirement that every person needs to respect every other person and make concessions to maximize everyone's freedom. This is hard, and there are people who are unwilling to do it. Democracy is a kind of steady-state dynamic system that requires constant adjustment, constant vigilance, maintenance; it is not a static thing that you put in place and it persists. It is more like a river than a rock. Our democracy will always need to make adjustments to 1.allow innovation and the introduction of new processes, personalities, and ideas and 2.prevent selfish actors from taking advantage of the need for consensus. We gotta keep our eyes open.

This week's election resulted in a strong push by the people to return to a sensible system of government. The President and his party have done lasting damage, they have plundered the treasury and undermined the budget, they have undercut civil rights, destabilized relationships around the world, and energized the darkest forces of our own society. And they are not going to release control voluntarily, that much is clear; for one thing, criminal prosecutions are a real probability once they lose power. The most powerful authoritarians in the US are not going to bend to the will of the people without a fight. So it is up to us, the people, to stand up and fight for ourselves and our democracy.


Anonymous FBI not shirking its duties like GOP does said...

The FBI has been toiling on this investigation for almost 18 months. It has the power to pore over the president’s tax returns and his business records. It has proved, through the guilty plea of Trump’s fixer, Michael Cohen, that his hush-money payoffs broke campaign finance laws. Cohen knows the inner workings of the Trump Organization. Paul Manafort knows a great deal about the 2016 Trump campaign, which he ran during and after the Republican National Convention. The government may reveal the extent of their cooperation at their imminent sentencings. Trump cannot derail investigations and prosecutions that may arise from their revelations.

FBI agents have gathered a mountain of evidence for Mueller and for U.S. attorneys in Washington, New York and Virginia. They know a lot about Trump that we do not know. And that evidence can be preserved on flash drives that cannot be deleted by presidential edict — or shredded by criminal enablers.

Trump could fire the federal prosecutors — but others would replace them. And under the law, Mueller can be fired only for “good cause,” such as legal misconduct or a conflict of interest. There is no such cause, despite the president’s baseless assertions that the investigators are politically biased.

Even if Whitaker tries to deep-six the special counsel’s report, the underlying facts cannot be erased. The report will not be easily sealed and suppressed. Democrats in Congress will use subpoena power to try to lay hands on it. They can certainly call Mueller as a witness.

The FBI and Mueller already have established through indictments and convictions that members of Trump’s team (and Vladi­mir Putin’s) participated in a wide-ranging conspiracy to “obstruct the lawful functions of the United States government through fraud and deceit.” The statute at the root of the investigation — 18 USC 371 — covers violations of tax laws and election laws, witness tampering, money laundering, and obstruction of justice. Trump potentially has criminal exposure on at least some of these fronts. And if that catches up to him while he is in office, he has only one clear way out: He can pardon himself. That would abrogate the ancient rule of law holding that no one can be his own judge and jury. Even his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, has called that idea “unthinkable.”

A Justice Department guideline holds that a sitting president cannot be indicted. And so Trump may serve out his time in office untouched by the long arm of the law, unruffled by the prospect of a Senate trial on impeachment, untroubled by the threat of indictment. Citizen Trump, by contrast, may face considerable peril.

His “enemies,” as Nixon once described any who got in his lawless way, may hold a sliver of hope that someday public servants with the FBI emblem on their backs will visit him in one of his gilded palaces and bring him to justice.

November 09, 2018 4:10 PM  
Anonymous resistance is futile said...

"The most powerful authoritarians in the US are not going to bend to the will of the people without a fight. So it is up to us, the people, to stand up and fight for ourselves and our democracy."

great idea

I think I know how you can do it

give the government, which is currently building up its arsenal, all your guns and all your money

then, you'll be able to fight back!

November 09, 2018 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Is this America or tRumplandia?? Americans count every vote because every vote counts said...

Democrats appear poised to pick up between 35 and 40 seats in the House, once the last races are tallied, according to strategists in both parties. That would represent the biggest Democratic gain in the House since the post-Watergate election of 1974, when the party picked up 49 seats three months after Richard M. Nixon resigned the presidency.

Republicans will gain seats in the Senate, but with races in Florida and Arizona still to be called, their pre-election majority of 51 seats will end up as low as 52 or as high as 54. Meanwhile, Democrats gained seven governorships, recouping in part losses sustained in 2010 and 2014, and picked up hundreds of state legislative seats, where they had suffered a virtual wipeout in the previous two midterm elections.

The Democrats’ gains this week are still far short of what Republicans accomplished in their historic victories of 1994 and 2010. But they would eclipse the number of seats Democrats gained in 2006, the last time the party recaptured control of the House, as well as the 26-seat gain in 1982, when the national unemployment rate was at 10 percent. This year, the election took place with the unemployment rate at just 3.7 percent.

Day by day, the outlook for Democrats in the House has improved. At the offices of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, already high spirits have been rising all week as more races fell into the party’s column. One joke that has been making the rounds there goes like this: “This is actually turning out to be more of a Hanukkah than a Christmas election,” meaning day after day of gifts, rather than just one.

This was always an election that would test the strength of the economy, which favored the president’s party, vs. the president’s low approval ratings, which, along with the record of past midterm elections, pointed to Democratic gains. In the end, history and presidential approval combined to give Democrats control of the House by what appears to be a comfortable margin.

The Democratic wave hit hardest in suburban districts, many of them traditional Republican territory, where college-educated voters — particularly women — dissatisfied with the president backed Democratic challengers. Ronald Brownstein of the Atlantic and CNN, who has closely tracked these changes over many elections, noted in a post-election article that, before the election, two-thirds of Republicans represented congressional districts where the percentage of the population with college degrees was below the national average. After the election, he estimated, more than three-quarters of GOP House members now will represent such districts.

In AZ:

Democratic Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema has expanded her lead over Republican opponent Martha McSally in the Arizona Senate race as officials continue to tally mail-in ballots — a change in fortunes that could narrow the size of the GOP majority next year.

Sinema now leads McSally, 49.3 percent to 48.3 percent, according to results provided by election officials at 7 p.m. Eastern time on Friday. The two congresswomen were separated by 20,203 ballots cast statewide, with a Green Party candidate lagging far behind.

McSally had consistently led in the count since Tuesday’s midterm elections, but hundreds of thousands of ballots remained outstanding as of Friday night, leaving the race in flux in a state where about three-quarters of voters cast ballots by mail...

In Arizona, four county Republican parties filed suit Wednesday to prevent county recorders from trying to verify signatures after polls closed for mail-in ballots.

That drew a rebuke from the wife of late Republican senator John McCain (R-Ariz.).

“I am one of those mail in ballots,” Cindy McCain tweeted Thursday at the Arizona GOP’s account. “I was under the impression my vote was always counted.”

November 10, 2018 7:50 AM  
Anonymous Is this America or tRumplandia?? Americans count every vote because every vote counts said...

In FL:

Republican candidate Scott filed lawsuits accusing the election supervisors of Broward and Palm Beach counties of possibly committing “rampant fraud.”'

President Trump tweeted Thursday night in support of Scott.

“In a democracy, no one — not even the President — can prevent the lawful counting of votes. We will not allow him or anyone else to steal this election,”...[and]...“Brian Kemp eventually realized that it’s completely inappropriate to use one’s official powers to influence one’s own election. Governor Scott should realize that as well,” Schumer wrote.

November 10, 2018 7:50 AM  
Anonymous JFK and Mayor Daley reincarnated said...

"In a democracy, no one — not even the President — can prevent the lawful counting of votes"

Trump has not interfered in any way

just to reiterate the obvious, Schumer is a lying jackass

thus Snipes woman in Florida should have been thrown out of her position

she has repeatedly violated election laws for years

judges have ruled against her many times for counting votes in private and they ruled against her yesterday

the Feds need to intervene and run the elections in these Florida counties going forward

November 10, 2018 10:26 AM  
Anonymous JFK and Mayor Daley reincarnated said...

Broward County’s elections supervisor mixed invalid ballots with valid ballots. The mistake was discovered after Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes agreed to turn over provisional ballots to the county’s canvassing board for inspection, according to the Miami Herald.

November 10, 2018 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Florida is a GOP led banana republic said...

The Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections provides administrative support to the Secretary of State, Florida’s Chief Election Officer, to ensure that Florida has fair and accurate elections. The Division consists of three bureaus - the Bureau of Election Records, the Bureau of Voter Registration Services, and the Bureau of Voting Systems Certification. Through these bureaus and the director's office, the Division ensures compliance with the election laws, provides statewide coordination of election administration and promotes public participation in the electoral process. The Division also assists county Supervisors of Elections in their duties, including providing technical support.

Ken Detzner is the current FL Secretary of State. Detzner was a registered Democrat until 1984 when he changed his registration to Republican. GOP Florida Governor Rick Scott, appointed Detzner to the position on January 18, 2012 and he was confirmed by the Florida State Senate a month later.

As Secretary of State, Detzner continued a voter purge begun by Browning. The United States Department of Justice intervened to stop the purge.

November 10, 2018 2:09 PM  
Anonymous heterosexuality is how life is perpetuated and it has a privileged status said...

we should revoke their statehood until they get things in shape

After all the votes are counted, Democrats will emerge from the first midterm election of Donald Trump's presidency with their narrowest majority in the House of Representative since 1945.

If current results hold, Democrats will control 229 seats, giving them a majority of 11 seats. Democratic candidates won, or are currently leading in, 18 seats by a margin lower than 5 percentage points.

While the party did succeed in retaking the House, their efforts fell well short of historical trend lines recorded in previous wave elections.

The Democrats' majority this January will be smaller than that which the party held from 2007 to 2009, the last time they took power and elected Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) as House speaker. Democrats now have their narrowest majority in the House since the 1943 to 1945 Congress.

On election night, the Democrats' majority ran through a number of districts that Trump carried on his way to the White House in 2016. As noted by the Cook Political Report, however, Democrats struggled to win seats in districts where the president captured more than 55 percent of the vote.

Democrats also underperformed in districts that were considered fertile territory for the party.

If current vote totals hold, Democrats and Republicans will split California's 10th, 25th, 39th, 45th, 48th, and 49th districts, all of which were competitive districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Democrats also made inroads in deeply conservative districts that will be difficult to hold in 2020 when the party is playing defense and Trump is on top of the ballot to spur GOP turnout.

On election night, Pelosi attempted to appease both her party's progressive base and the crossover voters necessary to maintain her hold on power.

While there is no debate that a Democratic House majority will serve as a check on Trump's agenda for the next two years, it is also clear that Republicans are well within striking distance of retaking control in 2020

November 10, 2018 3:53 PM  
Anonymous homosexuality never produces life, two of 'em ain't ever a marriage said...

Bruce Jenner's Malibu home has been destroyed by wildfires.

The reality star's home burned down on Friday after being engulfed by the devastating Southern California wildfires that have forced Malibu into a mandatory evacuation.

The home, which was heavily featured on Jenner's two-season E! reality show, "I Am Cait," was a luxurious structure situated on a ridge overlooking the beach in Malibu, just north of Los Angeles. He moved there in 2015, the same year he told everyone he is transgender

November 10, 2018 4:02 PM  
Anonymous Democrats win more votes, but still lose seats because of where lines are drawn on maps said...

The 2018 midterm elections brought significant gains for Democrats, who retook the House of Representatives and snatched several governorships from the grip of Republicans.

But some were left questioning why Democrats suffered a series of setbacks that prevented the party from picking up even more seats and, perhaps most consequentially, left the US Senate in Republican hands.

Among the most eye-catching was a statistic showing Democrats led Republicans by more than 12 million votes in Senate races, and yet still suffered losses on the night and failed to win a majority of seats in the chamber.

Constitutional experts said the discrepancy between votes cast and seats won was the result of misplaced ire that ignored the Senate electoral process.

Because each state gets two senators, irrespective of population, states such as Wyoming have as many seats as California, despite the latter having more than 60 times the population. The smaller states also tend to be the more rural, and rural areas traditionally favor Republicans.

This year, because Democrats were defending more seats, including California, they received more overall votes for the Senate than Republicans, but that does not translate to more seats.

However, some expressed frustration with a system they suggest gives an advantage to conservative-leaning states.

The real concerns for Democrats, they said, could be found in a combination of gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics that might have prevented them from winning an even larger majority in the House and some key statewide elections.

“The rise of minority rule in America is now unmistakable,” said Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University.

“Especially with a sitting president who won a majority in the electoral college [in 2016] while receiving roughly 3m fewer votes than his opponent, and a supreme court five of whose nine justices were nominated by Republican presidents who collectively received fewer popular votes than their Democratic opponents and were confirmed by Senates similarly skewed.”

But the 2018 Senate map was unfavorable for Democrats going into the midterms – the party was defending 26 seats compared with Republicans’ nine – and the outcome had more to do with which states were up for grabs.

Each of America’s 50 states elects two senators, regardless of population, and only a third of the country’s Senate seats are voted on each election cycle.

What that means is that California, which has a population of just under 40 million, holds the same representation in the Senate as Wyoming, which at roughly 579,000 is the least populous state in the country.

“That’s a radically undemocratic principle, and it gives rise to what we see,” said David Golove, a professor at the New York University School of Law, “which is that the minority populations are going to have a disproportionate impact in the United States. That tends to mean conservatives have a disproportionate influence over the Senate.”

November 11, 2018 12:31 AM  
Anonymous homosexuality never produces life, two of 'em ain't marriage said...

we are not the United People, we are the United States

it was designed that way and some new revelation just because kooky liberals are losing

if you want to change that, stop massing on the coasts and spread out

November 12, 2018 5:30 AM  
Anonymous Gay people getting married every day said...

Sounds like a simple solution. But the fact of the matter is that intelligent Democrats don't want to live around a bunch of beer-swilling, MAGA hat-wearing, loud, obnoxious, climate science denying misanthropes.

We want to live in places where taxes are high enough to pay for good schools and universities to educate the next generation of job creators. Places where all people are treated with dignity and respect, rather than places like Mississippi - historically the state with the highest rate of lynchings - says s*%! like this:

“If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” Hyde-Smith said on Sunday morning in Tupelo, Miss. during an event with a cattle rancher.

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a white Republican, joked about going to a “public hanging” during a campaign event this weekend, a comment her Democratic challenger, who is black, called “reprehensible” and divisive ahead of a runoff election later this month.

Sometimes you have to wonder if we'd better off sending all the conservatives to the southern states and letting them secede again to become the "United States of Jesusland," and let the rest of the country move into the 21st century unimpeded.

November 12, 2018 11:11 AM  
Anonymous life should be preferenced with marital benefits, homosexuality doesn't bring life said...

that succession would include more than the South

remember, your problem is that all liberals are bunched together in a handful of states

that's why common sense rules the Senate

btw, the South is chockful of great universties: UVA, William & Mary, Chapel Hill, Duke, Vanderbilt, Tulane, Emory, Univ of Texas...the list goes on

November 12, 2018 11:45 AM  
Anonymous life on the planet depends on preferencing heterosexuality said...

what did the GOP do to deserve such good fortune?

Mark Penn, a former adviser to the Clintons, says Hillary Clinton will make another run for president in 2020.

Penn co-wrote a Sunday op-ed for The Wall Street Journal with Andrew Stein, a former Democratic Manhattan borough president and president of the New York City Council.

“True to her name, Mrs. Clinton will fight this out until the last dog dies,” the pair wrote. “She won’t let a little thing like two stunning defeats stand in the way of her claim to the White House.”

They said Clinton will not allow her “humiliating loss” to President Trump during the 2016 presidential race end her political career.

“You can expect her to run for president once again,” they predicted.

She has two years to review what went wrong during her last campaign bid and make a strategy, they wrote.

Penn and Stein, however, said that voters should not pay attention to “‘I won’t run’ declarations.”

“Mrs. Clinton knows both Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama declared they weren’t running, until they ran,” the pair argued. “She may even skip Iowa and enter the race later, but rest assured that, one way or another, Hillary 4.0 is on the way.”

November 12, 2018 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Time to hold GOPers accountable said...

The biggest challenge will be finding room on the calendar to conduct all the probes Democrats have lined up. There’s the strong documentary evidence that the president and his family undertook a years-long conspiracy to commit tax fraud on a massive scale, and the administration’s attempt to rig the census and its repeated lies about it, and the possibility that the president intervened in the decision on where to locate the new FBI headquarters to avoid competition for his hotel, to name just a few of the dozens of matters that cry out for investigation. There are things we can’t yet anticipate, like whatever will be revealed once we’re finally able to see President Trump’s tax returns. (If you think they won’t contain evidence of a pile of misdeeds, I’ve got a degree from Trump University to sell you.) And, oh yeah, that Russia thing.

And, of course, there are a raft of policy decisions ranging from the questionable to the horrific that administration officials need to answer questions about, whether it’s the sabotaging of the Affordable Care Act or the separation of children from their parents at the border.

When Republicans inevitably begin whining that Democrats are being too aggressive in all this oversight, remember how they be-clowned themselves through the Obama years, trying to gin up one phony scandal after another, including mounting seven, yes, seven separate investigations of Benghazi. We can and should have vigorous debates about what is being uncovered, how to understand it and what should be done about it. But the last thing we should do is waste our time arguing about whether there are too many investigations.

So, yes, it’s all political — just like everything else Congress does. But that doesn’t make it any less legitimate, especially given how Republicans have utterly abandoned their oversight responsibilities for the past two years.

If the Trump administration is a bastion of integrity and public-spiritedness, that’s what the investigations will reveal. And if the president himself has displayed nothing but the highest ethical standards and respect for law throughout his career, that’s what we’ll learn. The sense of dread spreading over the White House and the Republican Party right now isn’t because they think House Democrats will waste everyone’s time with these investigations; it’s because they know there’s so much misbehavior to be uncovered. The public deserves to see and understand all of it, and if that winds up hurting Republicans, they have only themselves to blame.

November 12, 2018 4:17 PM  
Anonymous when you have one of the slimmest majorities of all time in the House, there's not a lot you can do said...

"The biggest challenge will be finding room on the calendar to conduct all the probes Democrats have lined up"

oh dear

well, you better find time for the bipartisan bills Pelosi promised to pursue

"There’s the strong documentary evidence that the president and his family undertook a years-long conspiracy to commit tax fraud on a massive scale,"

no, there isn't

he's been through years of audits by Obama's IRS


"and the administration’s attempt to rig the census and its repeated lies about it,"

well, that sounds fascinating

who gets the movie rights?

"and the possibility that the president intervened in the decision on where to locate the new FBI headquarters to avoid competition for his hotel,"

he obviously did that, but you'll never prove it

no real crime against humanity

I'd like to see the thing demolished but maybe the next President will do it

"to name just a few of the dozens of matters that cry out for investigation."

if those are your best examples, Trump doesn't have much to worry about

"There are things we can’t yet anticipate, like whatever will be revealed once we’re finally able to see President Trump’s tax returns"

they'll never get them

tax returns are confidential in America and so they'd have to have some reasonable cause to subpoena them

and Brett Kavanaugh is not in the mood to put up with any crap either

"And, oh yeah, that Russia thing."

don't make us laugh

Mueller has bullied virtually everyone who knows all of Trump's dealing

and still....


"And, of course, there are a raft of policy decisions ranging from the questionable to the horrific that administration officials need to answer questions about, whether it’s the sabotaging of the Affordable Care Act or the separation of children from their parents at the border."

that will be just horrid, but the press already harasses Trumo about this on a daily basis

"When Republicans inevitably begin whining that Democrats are being too aggressive in all this oversight,"

they don't need to complain

the American voter will be sickened and offended by a party whose only idea for America is impeaching Trump

seven separate investigations of Benghazi"

people actually died in Benghazi

"But the last thing we should do is waste our time arguing about whether there are too many investigations."

tell that to the voters you're trying to convince to vote Dem in 2020

they're the ones who will be whining, and they won't appreciate your derogatory characterization of their dissent

when you write half the country as "deplorable", it's no surprise you're always running uphilll

"The sense of dread spreading over the White House and the Republican Party right now"

I haven't noticed this

could you give us an example?

or is it just imaginary?

November 12, 2018 5:03 PM  

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