Pretty Please Stop Isn’t Enough

Trump Swaz It’s been a feature of thin skinned conservatives to cry for apologies whenever they feel their feelings have been hurt.  Democrats and liberals have been asked to apologize for a myriad of comments, but when the tables are turned – they turn the tables.  Secretary Clinton was called upon to apologize for calling some  ___ supporters “deplorable.” Now they’re proving her correct.  “President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been told to “keep their followers under control;” no more of that marching in the street business.  So, we’d have to ask – aren’t some apologies now in order for the behavior of Trump supporters?  Here are some recent examples:

“CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A local West Virginia official said she has been placed on leave after she made a racist post on Facebook about first lady Michelle Obama.

Clay County Development Corp. director Pamela Ramsey Taylor made the post following Republican Donald Trump’s election as president, saying: “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels.”

Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling responded: “Just made my day Pam.”

Taylor told WCHS-TV on Monday night that she was put on leave.

Clay’s town council planned to discuss the issue at a previously scheduled meeting Tuesday evening.

The post, first reported by WSAZ-TV, has caused a backlash and prompted calls for Taylor and Mayor Whaling to be fired. The post was shared hundreds of times on social media before it was deleted. The Facebook pages of Taylor and Whaling couldn’t be found Monday.”  [AP/Yahoo]

“Last week in Kentucky, Republican Dan Johnson defeated incumbent Democrat Linda Belcher in Bullitt County in a race for the state House of Representatives despite a series of Facebook posts that depicted President Barack Obama and his wife as monkeys. Republican officials, including likely new House Speaker Jeff Hoover, had called on Johnson to drop out of the race. But Hoover declared last week that Johnson would be “welcome in our caucus.” [AP/Yahoo]

“The Westchester County mom who grabbed a bittersweet picture of herself with Hillary Clinton, a day after the election, said Monday she’s been getting threats because of the viral snap.

Margot Gerster was out hiking in Chappaqua on Wednesday when she ran into the former secretary of state and Bill Clinton walking their dog on the same trail — leading to the popular, post-election image snapped by Bubba.

Reached by The Post and asked if she had received any threats via phone, mail or email, Gerster said, “yes,” but then refused to elaborate.

“I don’t want to discuss this anymore,” said Gerster, 30. “This story needs to go away. It got a lot of positive feedback from a lot of people, but I don’t want this to add on to this (blowback), I don’t want to fuel the fire.” [Fox]

And there are more:

“When the rector at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Silver Spring, Maryland opened the church on Sunday morning, he found that a sign advertising Spanish services had been ripped and vandalized with the words, “TRUMP NATION WHITES ONLY.” The same message was written on a brick wall near the church’s memorial garden.” [Time]

Swastikas were drawn on several doors in a residence hall at the New School in New York City on Saturday. Three Jewish women live in the suite where one of the swastikas was drawn, according to a tweet from one of the students who lives there. [Time]

Anti-Semitic graffiti—including a swastika and the words “Heil Trump”—appeared at a bus stop at the University of California at San Diego on Thursday. In a statement, Hillel of San Diego said it worked with the office of Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Campus Police, and the Anti-Defamation League to ensure the graffiti was removed. [Time]

In a separate incident on Thursday, students at Royal Oak Middle School in Royal Oak, Mich., chanted “build that wall!” during their lunch period, echoing Trump’s promise to build a wall on the Mexican border to prevent illegal immigration. [Time]

The list kept growing – see Fusion timeline.

So, 20 hours ago – several days AFTER the election – Mr. _____ finally got around to saying “stop it.”  After there were some 300 incidents around the country. [KTLA]

“The President-elect said he was “so saddened” to hear about vitriol hurled by some of his supporters against minorities.

“If it helps, I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it,” Trump said in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” [CNN]

Too little Too Late?  Vitriol? That seems a mild way to describe a man threatening to burn a Muslim lady for wearing an hijab.  Or, this:

“CAIR-MN says the family of the Northdale Middle School student reported that their child is feeling emotionally and physically distressed after she was allegedly assaulted on Friday by a classmate who came up behind her and violently pulled off her Islamic head scarf (hijab) and threw it on the ground. The classmate also pulled on her hair and let it come down in front of other students. The Muslim student now feels unsafe in the school and has yet to return to school.” [CAIR]

And, it’s not just Muslims:

Spray-painted swastikas, racist graffiti  and references to Donald Trump and Nazi Germany have appeared on a South Philadelphia storefront and elsewhere.

The graffiti was spotted at Broad and Wharton streets a day after a bitter presidential election and on the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht (or the Night of Broken Glass) attacks on Jews in Germany in 1938. 

“That makes this singular event all the more distressing and horrifying,” said Nancy Baron-Baer, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL’s full statement is here.

The children were watching:

Fraser (Supt Council Rock PA) says someone drew three swastikas, wrote a derogatory comment about people who are gay, along with the words “I Love Trump,” on a paper found hanging in the girls’ restroom.
In another girls’ restroom, Fraser says someone wrote, “If Trump wins, watch out!” directly onto a toilet paper dispenser.
In a boys’ restroom, two swastikas were reportedly drawn directly onto a restroom stall.
Fraser says a Latina student found that a note had been placed in her backpack telling her to return to Mexico. [6ABC]

Isolated incidents? Not quite. Anti-Muslim hate crimes are up by 67% [ABC]

“Hate crimes in the United States ticked back up in 2015, after a 20-year low the year before, fueled in part by a 67 percent increase in crimes against Muslims, according to an FBI report released today.

Crimes against religious groups overall were up by 23 percent since 2014 and anti-black, white and LGBT incidents were all up last year as well. Most incidents — nearly 30 percent — in 2015 were anti-black crimes, the data show.

Crimes ran the gamut from simple assault to murder and rape.

In 2015, there were 257 anti-Muslim hate crimes, compared to 154 the year before, the data show. Overall hate crimes were up just under 7 percent, to 5,850 reported incidents.” [ABC]

This isn’t the time for “pretty please ‘stop it.’”  Somehow, saying “Stop It,” and then hiring a well known white nationalist as your number 2 man in the Oval Office doesn’t send a very positive message to women and members of minority ethnic groups in this country.   Steve Bannon isn’t a “populist,” and no amount of whitewashing by the corporate media is going to make him the successor of William Jennings Bryan.  There’s this bit of circumlocution associated with Mr. Bannon and his ilk:

“Bannon once described Breitbart News as the “platform for the alt-right,” or alternative right. It’s a brand of far-right conservatism that generally embraces and promotes white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny.

People who identify as alt-right reject those descriptors as overly simplistic. They believe that what they define as intellectualism and rational thought should guide policy.

According to Breitbart’s own “guide to the alt-right,” they aren’t racist, they’re “unapologetically embracing a new identity politics that prioritizes the interests of their own demographic.” They aren’t misogynist, they “incorporate masculinist principles.” (Breitbart does concede in that same article that neo-Nazis, or “1488ers,” make up part of the alt-right.)” [LATimes]

Your BS meter should have just blown over the top.  Calling excrement “bodily emissions” is still excrement.

No, I’m not going to “get over it.” Not as long as sexist, racists, anti-Semitic, thugs (young and old) find themselves ‘empowered’ by the president-elect’s horrific rhetoric.  He let this Jinn out of the bottle – it’s up to him to put it back in the gutters where it belongs.  Until then, he can be ‘the President’ but is isn’t going to be ‘my President.’

Perhaps he could take a lesson from some Baylor University students, whose actions help remove some of the stains they’ve suffered recently.  This is the story we should be telling:

“Amid all the physical and verbal attacks, hundreds of Baylor University students rallied behind Natasha Nkhama to make sure she felt safe leaving class.  Nkhama said she was walking to class last week when a guy “went out of his way to bump into me and shove me off the sidewalk.”

“He said, ‘No n—— allowed on the sidewalk,’ ” Nkhama said in a video posted to Twitter last Wednesday. “I was just shocked, like I had no words.”

Nkhama said two men she did not know defended her, asking the student what he was doing. “The guy said, ‘Dude, like what, I’m just trying to make America great again,’ ” Nkhama said.

The university said it was “aware of a student who was pushed and subjected to racially offensive language,” an incident it describes as “deeply disturbing and does not in any way reflect Baylor’s faith or values.”

Nkhama’s video and #IWalkWithNatasha quickly spread across social media. When Nkhama walked out of a class Friday, about 300 students stood by the door, waiting to walk her to her next class, according to campus police.  Nkhama broke down in tears.

“I just wanted to thank everyone for being here, and I want everyone who sees this to know that Baylor is a campus of love,” Nkhama said. [DallasWeekly]

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Post Tragedy Observations from the Outback

Microscope Lens

My county went bright crimson RED.  The Orange One got 70.28% of the vote. [HuSoS]  Representative Joe Heck, ousted from Congress by Catherine Cortez Masto’s well organized operation in the southland, got 68.8%.  This is deep Red Country.  No surprise here, since of the 8696 voters in this outback area some 4663 of them are Republicans.   Heaven help them they voted against their own interests, without  perhaps giving the matter too much thought?

We brand things in this region – things described as having “hides” rather than “skin.”  Republican type  branding has been very successful with these folks, and it has been since the 1980s.  The packaging has been effective even when the policies were not.

Republicans grabbed the FLAG. It’s all over town. It’s Patriotic! (If not just a little bit alarmingly militaristic.)  They decried “Big Government” and “socialism” even if they really didn’t exactly understand the nature of regulation – they understood the Big Idea – not necessarily the ramifications of it. 

For example, they don’t like government regulations.  They do, however, want to drink clean water, breathe clean air, and eat in sanitary restaurants.  They don’t want “Big Government,” but they do like having a massive military system with world class armaments.  Some of the anti-government types are all for big government when it means no safe and legal abortions and birth control for women.   The point is that by speaking in broad, highly generalized, catch phrases the Republicans branded themselves with Americana in bright hues and tones.   Taken to its obvious extrapolation we get the disaster that is currently Kansas.  There are some ways out of this mess, but it’s going to take a bit of time and effort.  Some ‘off the top of the head suggestions:’

#1. Former Governor Howard Dean is correct: “Mechanics Matter.”  The recent Senate race in Nevada is evidence of that point.  Representative Heck was, quite simply, out-organized. Cortez-Masto got her people to the polls in large enough numbers to beat back Heck’s efforts. She held her base in the rurals and won the two urban counties. That takes organization.

However, organization takes infrastructure.  While the Democrats have done an exemplary job of increasing voter registrations in urban areas, they’ve not been all that visible in the rural areas. And, it’s hard to blame them. They’re fighting uphill and into the wind.  It’s going to require both a top down and bottom up effort.

Top Down – the national Democratic Party needs to focus.  They have an issue available  which should serve well to organize the opposition to the Orange One’s administration, a path suggested by primary candidate Bernie Sanders – income inequality.  There’s no reason not to grab onto this one and run, and keep running.

The Democrats also have an opportunity to re-brand the GOP.  It’s no longer the Party of Lincoln – and hasn’t been for some time.  With neo-Nazi anti-Semite Steve Bannon selected as the 2nd in command in the west wing, the argument isn’t hard to make that the GOP has become the Party of Intolerance and Bigotry.  With the North Carolina KKK holding a parade in honor of The Orange One’s election, the argument is even clearer.  There’s no reason not to grab this opportunity as well, and run, and keep running.

Third, the Democrats are going to have to address the crumbled infrastructure of its organization in rural areas.  A fifty state plan is nice, but if there’s no effort to get into the rural areas of all 50 states and build from the ground up with young people who aren’t comfortable with income inequality and bigotry, then Democrats will continue to be the urban party of “anti-elitists.”

The Party will also be best served if it has some institutional infrastructure built in.  It’s no accident that the Richard Mellon Scaife’s and Koch Brothers of this world have established national think tanks and information outlets which support conservative – and ultra conservative – causes.  The Democrats and liberals need to boost their efforts in this department.

Bottom Up – All it will take to give the GOP total control over constitutional amendments is the loss of one more state legislature.  Think about that for a moment.  This means that State Party organizations are going to have to do a better job of state election campaigning.  Better candidate preparation, including getting candidates elected to city and county positions; better candidate recruitment; better candidate support.  And this will take … money.   These things don’t happen without staff, without advertising, without press and media relations, without printing and media expenses, and all of these cost money.   Volunteers are wonderful people, but if they don’t have staff support, and media advisers, their efforts can be ephemeral.

Money, of course, is much easier to come by during presidential campaign years, but those city, municipal, county, and state elections often come in by-years.  It’s during those elections that the organization and staffing levels become crucial.  Not sure? Take a look at the 2010 and 2014 election results.  What State Party organizations should be doing right now is getting geared up for the 2018 mid-terms and any off year local elections in between national election cycles.

#2.  Focus Focus Focus.  One of the nice things about being a Democrat is that everyone has a pet project, a hobby horse, a favorite issue that is important beyond all else.  It’s also one of the party’s weaknesses.  We get distracted. We want income equality, we want a clean environment, we want a living wage, we want women’s reproductive rights, we want voting rights, we want civil and human rights … and we are all too ready to castigate candidates who don’t match our predetermined formula for perfection.

The “Democrats in disarray” theme in the national media is no accident.  We’ve squabbled about Perfection long enough to give the GOP ample time to describe us as “fractured,” “divided,” and “dissidents.”   It’s time to FOCUS.

Cato the Elder focused: “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam” The man died in 149 BC and 2165 years later we still know that he said “Carthage must be defeated.”

What might we achieve if every elected Democrat pointed out at every possible opportunity that the wealth for the top 0.1% is increasing while everyone else is still practically running in place?  There have been some gains for the middle class, but nothing like what’s been happening for the top 0.1%.

What might happen if every elected Democrat and every local organizer pointed out that the upcoming Republican administration is associated with the KKK?

And, what might happen if we ask, and continue to ask at every possible opportunity – What was it that Donald J. Trump was so anxious to hide in his tax returns that he dropped four decades of precedent to keep everyone in the dark?

What might happen if every chance we had we asked in the media and elsewhere, what about his ties to the Russians as described in the Dworkin Report?  Exhibit 10 is the most interesting. Did we know that there are 249 registered businesses in Russia with Trump as part of the name in the documentation?  Would that help to explain:

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also said that officials had been in contact with members of Trump’s entourage. “I cannot say that all of them but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives,” he told the state-run Interfax news agency. [cnn]

It might be interesting if the public were as aware of the name of the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister (Ryabkov) as they are with “emails.”

Four points shouldn’t be all that difficult to manage.  Income inequality, intolerance/violence, tax returns, the Russian connection.  If the Republicans can manage to speak of practically nothing but Benghazi and emails for 19 months surely Democrats can keep up a chant of income inequality, intolerance, tax returns, and Russian connections for 24. 

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Today’s Highly Recommended Reading

First,  this piece from Slate magazine.  Teaser:

“But the ideology that most distinguishes the Democratic Party from Trump-brand Republicanism—support for immigrants and racial minorities—is one that would improve the fortunes of those who handed it such a rousing defeat. This is the central irony of the 2016 election: Trump country has elected a president who will harass, deport, and bar the very people desperate to live there, the people who would help rebuild its small towns and cities.”

And, Ralston’s going somewhere, he’s just not telling us yet.

The Las Vegas Sun discusses winners and losers in the 2016 election.

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To the Corporate Media: This paragraph sums it up

“6. All our media friends. Thank you for preserving reportorial balance. You balanced Donald Trump’s proposal that the military execute the innocent families of terrorists, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced pot-stirring racist lies about President Obama’s birth, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced a religious test at our borders, torture by our military, jokes about assassination, unfounded claims of a rigged election, boasts about groping and paradoxical threats to sue anyone who confirmed the boasts, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced endorsement of nuclear proliferation, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced tirelessly, indefatigably; you balanced, you balanced, and then you balanced some more. And for that — we thank you. And thank you all for following Les Moonves’s principled lead when he said Donald Trump “may not be good for America, but he’s damn good for CBS.”  [NYT OpEd]

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Two For 2018

Two for 2018 Please “don’t agonize, organize.”

We lived through the last campaign season, which lasted 19 months, so with that kind of stamina we can make it 24 months? Please consider a simple plan for the 2018 midterms.

Select two PAC’s which represent your interests (environment? women’s rights? human rights? living wages?…)  then make monthly contributions of whatever amount you can spare to the two you selected in order to help them build a war-chest for the midterm elections.

Share this idea with friends and co-workers.  Let’s build some “infrastructure” for our midterm election candidates. 

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Don’t Grab Your Pearls: ACA Exchange Premium Increase in Nevada 6%

Premium Increase Map

Far from it. First, these are REAL numbers, not Trumpian hyperbole about ACA exchange purchased premium increases.  Secondly, increases in insurance premiums whether exchange purchased or privately purchased are going up.  The insurance companies set the premium prices; and if a person used the exchange to buy personal health insurance, and qualifies for a subsidy, then the increase will be felt less than if the insurance isn’t subsidized.

However, this is an excellent argument FOR a PUBLIC OPTION, which would provide competition for the private insurance corporations (and thereby could cause some cost-containment not now built into the system).  We could, for example, allow private citizens who don’t have health insurance provided by their employers to buy into the Medicare system.

Why the increases? Business Insider explained last May:

“However, the most important factors associated with lowest-cost silver plan premiums and premium increases are those defining the contours of competition in the market,” the report concluded. “Rating areas with more competitors had significantly lower premiums and lower rates of increase than those that did not.”

“The paper also found that there was one player that had more of an effect on prices than any other provider.

“Those rating areas with a Medicaid insurer competing in the marketplace also have lower premiums and lower rates of increase than those regions without a Medicaid insurer competing,” Blumberg, Holahan, and Wengle said.

This is an issue as insurance companies evaluate the profitability of the state exchanges. With considerable political pushback against expanding Medicaid, private insurers will have to carry most of the load and provide competition.”

Or, to put it more succinctly – Republican opposition to the expansion of the Medicaid programs helps drive UP health insurance premium costs.  Full. Stop.

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Oh Heck, he’s not being very transparent

Heck Trump Hat Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) candidate for the Nevada Senate seat in this election reveres the secret ballot, and tells constituents it’s nobody’s business who he’ll vote for in the upcoming presidential election. [RGJ]  While this is an honorable position, it doesn’t answer a crucial question. Is Heck supporting Donald J. Trump?

One of the problems for down ballot candidates who are associated with a presidential contender who has insulted 282 people, places, and things during this season, is how to finesse the prospects.  There are several ways and Heck’s about to try them all.

I will vote for the candidate of my party.”  OK, however the fact that you can’t say the name out loud indicates a level of discomfort not usually a function of the  normal campaign process.

I will endorse but I will not support…”  And what on Earth might this mean? Let’s guess it means I begrudgingly offer my official endorsement for my party’s candidate but don’t expect me to defend or explain the candidate’s campaign messages, and for Heaven’s Sake don’t put me on the same stage with him.

“I endorse my party’s candidate fully…” Until he or she does something so egregious I can’t stomach it and the poll numbers are cratering?

“I cannot endorse my party’s candidate…”  Usually announced after the top of the ticket does something egregious and the poll numbers have cratered.

“I won’t tell you who I’m voting for and you can’t find out.”  True. No one will ever know, and you can pray heartily that the candidate never finds out how you voted unless you voted for him, and the candidate’s fervent supporters will never find out you didn’t vote for him, or the candidate’s detractors in your own party never find out either way.  Good luck with that, because when you finally announce how you cast your ballot no one is going to believe you.

And why should they? – you’ve been as ‘transparent’ as Donald Trump’s tax returns.

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