Monday, January 31, 2022

How it happens I know a racist dog whistle when I hear it

 I know a racist dog whistle when I hear it. Here is why.  I am a white person who grew up in Jim Crow eastern Oklahoma who also wondered even as a twelve-year-old what it must be like to have to sit at the back of the bus and only come through the back door of a white person's house.   They were those "who knew their place" and any "colored person" who protested was immediately put down as an "uppity" N....? I would have felt very uncomfortable, too, if I were one. I count my early wokeness to my parents, neither of whom grew up in the southern culture, who taught me black people were just as smart and able as white people.   They were neither inferior nor were they descended from monkeys any more than white people were.  I recall words of advice from my piano teacher when I was phasing out of lessons in middle school in the early 1950's that "colored people" indeed were descended from monkeys so I should never marry one.  I was silent out of politeness as befitted my age, but it made a lifelong lasting impression because it flew into the face of what my parents taught me.  In short, I recognize dog whistles when I hear them, even when couched in veiled terms and fancy words that sound fair.   Among the more upper-class white persons in my town was also a patronizing attitude. Black people were inferior, and they need to be "taken care of".. The N word was not used, so African Americans were called "colored". That passed as being culturally correct.  The downsides of slavery were never taught, and colored slaves were depicted in film and fiction as happy people who sang beautiful "spirituals" which we also sang without understanding the real message of protest hidden within them.  I was shocked when I visited Mt. Vernon and came face to face with the huts and shacks where slaves lived and I was even more shocked when I went to college in Evanston, Ill. and took the "L" line to the Chicago Loop getting an eyeful of urban poverty and slums where "colored people" lived.  I wondered how uncomfortable they felt even though they were not relegated to the back of the elevated rail cars.  I was made uncomfortable because this means the beauty of American democracy and its ideals, I was taught to honor was not extended to them.  

These memories reflect the pre-civil rights movements of the 1960's, and they may serve as a base line to gauge how far we have come and individuals or how far we have to go.  If these racist references are still whispered among those with which you associate, it is certainly an indication of mentalities frozen in time.  If you share them, it is time for some self-awareness.  If they make you uncomfortable, you are not children, you are adults, and you can voice an opinion or should.

Freedom from discomfort or a knowledge ban? 'Individual freedom' bill covering schools, businesses moves in House (floridapolitics.com)    Legislation like this is not even a subtle toot It is an ear-splitting foghorn.

When Biden announced he would stand by his campaign promise to fill a Supreme Court vacancy with an African American woman, and listed at least three potential nominees, the outcry from some in the GOP was that they would oppose any African American woman regardless of experience and credentials. This opposition is a racist dog whistle mixed with fear of the replacement of one liberal justice with a more liberal justice.   The inference is either/or/and both that Black women are de facto and inherently inferior to any male, and in particular Black ones, especially if they harbor views held by most Black people. Merit and ability have little to do with their opposition., particularly since they fear any Black women could bring with the overwhelming cultural and ideological viewpoints.   Instead, they charge reverse "affirmative action" causing a prejudice against white men, as if affirmative action and "inclusiveness" are dirty words. The Court does not need to be and look like America. The Cour, it appears to them needs to remain overwhelmingly white or extremely conservative as it has been historically.  This is a most subtle racist dog whistle because it is mixed up with ideology. Justice Clarence Thomas. an African American, is the most dependently conservative member of the Court and is not representative of views of most African Americans and women of any color. The women issue on the court has long been laid to rest since the Regan administration with Sandra Day O'Connor's nomination/appointment.  Since any Biden appointee is replacing a seat held by a liberal, the Court balance as tilted to the right by Trump, remains. This even brings into question the importance of ideological impact of Biden's pick.  That leaves racism as the more important factor influencing some of the GOP opposition of any Black woman, regardless of merit and in advance of Biden even designating his nominee. Those in the GOP who prematurely and in advance of Biden's a designated nominee were so quick to rise in blanket opposition to any black woman Biden nominated it appears to me were dog whistling to racists in their party.  Others in the Senate GOP have been quick to endorse a "highly qualified" African American woman to insulate themselves from charges of racism. They must have perceived the dog whistling,, too.

The Spotify Joe Rogan controversy over his spreading misinformation over COVID shots also was expanded to his multi use of the uncoded N word and for referring to a Philadelphia Black neighborhood as the Planet of the Apes. This in 2022 sadly is evidence we have not come very far.  It appears to have gone without public outrage until now. The difference between my childhood years and the current flap is this was not just uttered among those in private conversations but blasted over a public platform with a large audience and he was forced to make an apology. In the olden days such slurs were socially acceptable among the white folks.  Apologies were never in order. https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/05/media/joe-rogan-racial-slur-apology-india-arie/index.html

Per PEW, about 25% of African Americans Democrats consider themselves conservatives; the rest identify as moderate or liberal. 5 facts about black Democrats | Pew Research Center 

  Republicans take issue with Biden's pledge to pick a Black woman for Supreme Court : NPR 

    https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/592933-democrats-seek-to-woo-winnable-gop-senators-on-supreme-court       


Sunday, January 30, 2022

GOP's winning strategy: make a bad situation worse

 While the public loses, the GOP thinks they have a winning strategy: make a bad situation worse so they can paint Democrats as failures and Biden as ineffective.   Given the poll numbers, they have a reason to keep doing it. The leadership of the GOP and its media cohorts and those allies who support them have been effective.  Raising the dust on this issue is also a way to obscure the fact they have no platform, no alternatives to offer any solution, and instead, all they have to offer is obstruction.  The GOP has a strategiy to win, however.  It may not be cooked up in a convention or put on paper, but the party and its allies are in lockstep.  Democrats so far have had no campaign theme that attacks GOP candidates for Congressional seats other than"" look what we can try to do for you."  that was better than Donald Trump.  In the meantime, the electorate has not gotten that message per the polls. One way to counter that might be to go on attack against the GOP for more than just being obstructionists, but to show them with a strategy to make things worse. Exposing their strategy might be one way to dramatize the contrast.   Here are some GOP strategies that could be attacked with the overall theme that not only did the GOP block Biden's agenda, but they also inflicted more pain on Americans, especially their own followers,

  60 percent of voters leaning to the GOP are the ones who have chosen not to get vaccinated and are overwhelmingly occupying hospitals and dying with COVID. It brings to mind an old Spike Jones song, "you always hurt the one you love."   GOP strategy #1: Draw out COVID's demise and then blame Biden for not ending the pandemic. The top of the list is the slow recovery from the COVID pandemic and the harbor and nurture the GOP and allied media give to the anti-vaxxers and disinformation.  When over 80 percent of Democrats got their shots, bringing us closer to herd immunity, those identifying themselves as Republicans have a 40% rate, and ironically, they are the ones who are ending up in hospitals and dying while the GOP leadership takes glee in blaming Biden for not bringing the pandemic under control as he promised in his campaign.  Biden did not cause the omicron variant, but he is attacked for not curing it because he did not get testing kits out fast enough.  Testing kits are not a cure, but they have value in giving the direction of those with symptoms of the virus to take the next step, including deciding whether to go get more accurate testing, go to work, or go to the hospital. When a critical mass gets immunity or it can no longer be spread to others, then the pandemic dies out. Wearing masks, getting shots, or surviving a COVID infection are the only ways to bring this scourge to a close. Not wearing masks, not getting shots just prolong this as the virus works its way through the unvaccinated. Those more effective N95 masks are in the mail to you courtesy of the Biden administration. but that only helps if they are worn, and the most likely not to wear them are the anti-maskers/anti-vaxxers. It has become a sign of loyalty to the GOP, and Donald Trump, not to wear a mask, and not to get vaccinated. For those who wear them, they will be less likely to infect others or to suffer breakthroughs. The ones who suffer the most from hospitalization are 80% unvaccinated, inspired by the GOP and their media adherents spouting misinformation.

GOP strategy #2. Protect the second amendment from any common-sense legislation then blame Biden for gun violence.  Law and order has been a time-tested winning political plank for Republicans when all else fails. Gun violence is mostly an urban problem, but there is much handwringing that there are just too many guns and criminals on the streets so blame Biden for not cracking down  Not only has the Biden administration signed bills to increase funding to police, Biden is advocating even more funding for them  . Wait a minute. Isn't the GOP the chief advocate against any attempt to restrict the second amendment and has been in the clutches of the NRA for years? The GOP did grab onto the most ill-thought-out slogan uttered by some,  "defunding police", but the reality is that funding police has increased under Biden, even to the extent of his looking the other way while some of the COVID bailout money went to more community policing.   What the GOP has tapped into is white fear of "others", even though the bulk of gun violence is centered in urban centers that is not where their base lives. It plays well among those who are uneasy with the changing demographics of the country so it has great political value to their political leaders to keep the racial dog whistles tooting.  Top of that dog-whistling to white racists is the anti-critical race theory crusade.  Exhibit number one is the legislation in Florida forbidding teaching any history of US race relations that would make white people uncomfortable.  While CRT is not being taught in any school and no one is sure what critical race theory means anyway (maybe wokeness, maybe reminding us of both the bad and the good in our history), no one doubts why it is being embraced by the GOP, who can count on those who identify themselves as registered or leaning to that party that is over 80% white.   Update 4/20/22 She speaks for me. My mantra Hate is not a Christian value...and I am a white, straight, Christian, suburban mom, who has been speaking out for over 60 years. it is good to know my speaking out has others thinking the same way.

Repeat: Hate won't win...my new slogan. Thanks, Mallory.
Michigan Sen. Mallory McMorrow blasts fellow Sen. Lana Theis in viral floor speech

GOP strategy #3: Bemoan the economy, ignore and forget the Biden COVID relief legislation, stop any attempt to provide economic relief to the middle class and blame Biden for inflation. The GOP as a whole has made it a policy to keep the middle-class suffering from the stresses and strains on the economy by stonewalling and combatting the Biden agenda.   Build Back Better was aimed at childcare costs, child tax credits, tuition debt among burdens on them. In this case, Biden's COVID relief legislation he successfully got passed had some unforeseen benefits and negatives when his COVID relief packages providing subsidies with checks in your bank accounts also acted as a stimulus to offset the economic disaster of COVID that was shutting down the economy.  Among those benefits were a nearly 6% growth in the economy at a rate not seen for decades, full employment, also at a rate not seen in decades, and much consumer pent up demand to buy stuff they had put off buying during Covid, . This was made worse with a worldwide impact of supply shortages and import supply chain messes resulting in inflation.  Biden has little power to do much about that except to put pressure on port authorities to take measures to stop the dock logjam, which they have done in time for Christmas, to get passed the infrastructure shot to transportation modernization, and to appoint responsible, rational actors to the Federal Reserve, which is now taking steps to combat inflation by slowly increasing interest rates.  The GOP's solution? Vote against the Build Back Better legislation, keep the Trump tax relief for billionaires, and only focus on one negative, inflation.  

GOP strategy #4: Subvert and suppress election integrity and blame Democrats for fraud in the last election. What about election integrity? For Democrats it means free and fair election for everyone. For Republicans it means keeping certain people from voting and have voting supervised by their own partisan loyalists.  This issue is wrapped up in partisan self-interest, with Democrats wanting to make it convenient for everyone to vote and the GOP trying to make it hard for those who might vote for Democrats from voting. Both groups claim they have the key to election integrity/, One side wants to keep those of color from voting by limiting their access to mail-in and drop-boxes, a technique carefully targeted to certain neighborhoods. To bolster this, they have drummed up even more promotion of the big lie, undiminished after 60 court rulings against them and the failure of even their own conducted "forensic audits" to find enough evidence to overturn the last election after over a year of trying., The proponents of the big lie ignore the lack of evidence there was fraud in 2020 and persist with the most anti-integrity drive possible. They are passing state laws to put the administration and vote counting in the hands of their partisan loyalists, and out of the hands of election officials elected and directly accountable to voters. Instead of improving voter integrity, the GOP is making a mockery of voting integrity. subjecting election night to suspicion and challenges and further chaos and cheating in 2022 and in the future.  Biden is on the true integrity side on this issue while the GOP is fixing what is not broke with a plan that would undermine the integrity of fair and free elections and feather their own vote nest.

The problem for Democrats in the midterms is to get these GOP-engineered roadblocks in the rearview mirror by November. Timing is everything. Omicron may become less of an issue as those unvaccinated get some degree of natural immunity by surviving a COVID infection.  The gradual increase in interest rates is the only tool that cools off inflation. Manufacturing and distribution realign with consumer demand in time. Much of this is out of Biden's power to do much with inflation, but prospects are good it will become less of an issue as the Fed measures take hold.  The attempt to suppress and subvert the voting process is beginning to be called out by the courts, and that too may put some brakes on the worst practices. Gun violence on urban streets in some cities has had good reduction results by adopting best practices of community policing and more cops on the beat. Some of the violence was related to COVID and kids not in classrooms, and back to school may also help.  All of these factors might be enough to blunt these GOP initiatives and to head off a midterm Democratic party wipeout in November. 

Unvaccinated Adults are Now More Than Three Times as Likely to Lean Republican than Democratic | KFF

https://www.statesman.com/story/news/politics/politifact/2022/01/14/unvaccinated-people-17-times-more-likely-hospitalized/6511901001/

 In Changing U.S. Electorate, Race and Education Remain Stark Dividing Lines | Pew Research Center Four-in-ten Democratic registered voters are now nonwhite (black, Hispanic, Asian and other nonwhite racial groups), compared with 17% of the GOP.

Biden calls for more funding for police in US cities — Quartz (qz.com)

Biden signs bipartisan bills providing additional resources for police | TheHill

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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Relying on media for research is like buying a used car

 A recent posting on a private political Facebook group posed an interesting question.  It came from a person who usually was known for reproducing MAGA memes. Most memes are someone else's opinions that also ring a bell with your opinions. only it articulates it better... Liberals, this meme complained, condemn people who like doing their own research and that is what good consumers do.   What's wrong with that? If you are forwarding memes others authored is just that, a way to say I agree...  All it does is give you confidence that someone else agrees with your opinion and likes it, too. But it may deserve a rebuttal, a response, too. This one did. 

  I replied to the passed-on meme this way.:"Smart consumers also know the difference between deceptive, false, and puff advertising and seek authoritative and independent information from more than one source. . The old saying: garbage in, garbage out applies here. Too bad there is not a Better Business Bureau for politics. There is not a Federal Trade Commission demanding truth in advertising for politicians. "  

Assume you are now doing your research:  You run across a quotation or facts, or alternative facts, an opinion, and you want to sort the nuggets from the trash.  Going back to the consumer analogy, here is some advice:  treat it like buying a used car:.

Buying a used car, especially from an unlicensed individual, is a tricky business. It is buyer beware. Politicians can lie, cherry-pick and twist data, and even promote just about everything they want and it is sheltered by the First Amendment. For those doing their own research in politics, it is the wild west out there, just like buying that used car from a stranger.  The good news is you can always find someone or something to justify your preconceived notions when you do your "research".  The bad news is there is also a bunch of junk that requires some sorting out.  The sorting process is one facet of what is called "critical thinking". It takes an effort to do it.   Saying what you think is not a crime; acting it out could be, Shouting fire in a crowded theater is the famous standard that limits free speech. So far, even giving false information about Covid is not a crime, but some privately owned media companies choose to ban it either out of fear of a civil lawsuit or bad public relations. Media vehicles can also pick and choose what they permit, but not the government who cannot pass now laws forbidding free speech. Planning and directing an insurrection or violent acts also limits free speech protections.. Violent acts on behalf of a cause are not protected from free speech.  In dictatorships, saying what you think can also be a crime, but so far in our USA we still have a democracy. If your goal is to just make your case, to convince someone else, that is one thing., but it assumes the target your posting likes the source from which you got your information. That also requires some critical thinking and anticipation of pushback and rebuttal.    If your goal is to form an opinion or to seek verification of others' opinions and facts, that requires a different kind of research and critical thinking., independence of thought, flexibility to consider and reject or modify conclusions of already held notions.   That one takes some self-discipline as well as critical thinking.              Back to buying that used car.

 The gut feeling could be one indication and the old adage applies:  Would you buy a used car from this guy?  The other is asking for a report from the Better Business Bureau if the seller is a business o use whatever tools are out there...Blue books,  some advertised platforms to see this car had been in a wreck, and take it to a certified independent mechanic.  You may be dazzled by its shiny new red paint and squeaky clean interior, but what is under the hood and the drive train counts much.    Data and opinions are important, but the source that data, or facts, need to be objective. In buying this shiny used car, you may take it to a certified mechanic for analysis, one who has no stake in whether you buy it or not,  give it spin and a trial, and insist on a cooling-off period before you sign the papers. Try some of those websites that may tell you if the car had been in a wreck before or consumer reports that independently have many reviews. of that make and model.  You at least may still like the car for its looks, but you will also know what trouble or lack of it you are buying. That is being a good consumer.

 



                       

Friday, January 14, 2022

More needed to protect voting rights: clarify the VP's role and standards for vote administrators and counters

Update: April 3, 2022: Per the New York Times, both Democrats and Republicans are running into lower court opposition to political gerrymandering and there are little changes from federal district boundaries. When the Supreme Court refused to outlaw political gerrymandering, the issue was sent down for lower courts, mostly state-wide courts. In the wake of the Supreme Court's refusal to get involved, noth parties tried hard to push gerrymandering is ways that would benefit whichever party was in power in the state legislatures and governor's office.As Both Parties Gerrymander Furiously, State Courts Block the Way - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

 Below continued with original post:

More is needed to protect voting rights: clarify the. VP's role and state legislatures' abuse of gerrymandering and replacing elected elections officials with political hacks. Both the current bills and these issues need to be addressed.


In addition to the voting rights legislation defeated in the Senate today, some in the GOP have a point:  the role of the Vice President in certifying elections cannot have any ambiguities/ One person elected to back up the President as part of his slate should never have the power to keep him and his senior partner president by decertifying election results.  It is a mammoth conflict of interest and potential for subversion o the very foundation of representative democracy. Yet, that was the part  Pence was expected to play on January 6 in Trump's attempt to get a second term in an election he lost. The Vice President's role in the electoral college process should be only a rubber stamp of state by state certification.  It is that ambiguity that distorted interpretations of the VP role that put Mike Pence on the spot.  He alone should not have the power to disrupt the count of the vote to satisfy some partisan actions or to arbitrarily decide which certifications to count in the electoral college process. Pence made the right interpretation, throwing a monkey wrench in a coup attempt on January 6, 2021. It was his interpretation of the existing law that he did not have the power to do so, but such attempts by either and any party in the future should not rely on one person's judgment.  This clarification should be an amendment to the current proposed legislation, not a stand-alone attempt to drown out the need for the other two pending bills.  In addition, most troubling to the integrity of the vote count is the possible subversion of statewide elections and the electoral college process undertaken by some red state legislatures. They are passing legislation to replace independently elected election officials with party hacks of their legislature's dominant party's choosing.   What role federal legislation could play in the regulation of these state vote subversion efforts might also be included in any amendment to the voting rights legislation which is already needed.  The current bills before the Senate today address anti-discrimination enforcement provisions removed by the Supreme court ruling,  the political gerrymandering issues.,    Both the anti-discrimination and political gerrymandering issues were referred to Congress by the Supreme Court which also gutted a key enforcement provision of the 1965 act and refused to outlaw political gerrymandering. .  This is in the interest of any political party who may find their shoe on the other foot when their party is in the minority in the future.    Those who are the administration and counting of voting need to be directly accountable to the voters, but not to a partisan legislature.  Otherwise, the vote count will always be challenged by the loser as suspect and subversive. The ultimate control of the vote must be in the hands of independently elected officials. Period.  That is the real meaning of vote integrity protection.  There is no better way to destroy democracy than to have no faith in the election process by putting the process in the hands of one political party and appointed by that self-interested party, especially led by a person who has a record of using lies and threats to "find" votes needed to change the outcome of an election he lost.. 

In the words of Abe Lincoln at Gettysburg  " that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom[—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth".  but these kinds of voter suppression and subversion laws at the state level make their governments of, by, and for a certaain political party and its leader who do not extend Lincoln's lofty hope to all. 

Even at the county level, this fight for free and fair elections depends upon whether Trump loyalists get to be in charge of the administration of elections and vote counting.    In my own rural county, the attempt by Trumpsters to put themselves in charge of elections is a threat. So far their candidate for our County Clerk is a loyalist Trumpers can count on.  So far she is unchallenged. , Even with the most secure and accessible voting system in the US, Colorado is not immune to dirty tricks by County Clerks to subvert and suppress votes...Like at what happened in Elbert and Mesa counties and why the Colorado Secretary of State had to step in. The Trumpsters have a record and are part of a plan nation wides to do what they can to upend free and fair elections and they are making an effort to put their candidates in place to do so. https://www.fox21news.com/.../2nd-colorado-clerk-accused.../  .      If anything, this illustrates how important the state officials who have the power to investigate and to discipline misbehavior should be one willing to do so and not a member or an advocate of a partisan power with a history or a stated purpose to favor one side or the other.   Update: March 10, 2022...The Mesa County Clerk was indicted by a grand jury on ten counts of tinkering with election per Colorado Politics newspaper.. results.  http://enews.offers.coloradopolitics.com/q/jHN7XqIj7h8UxL_zQ2HsbaJWfuyz2HdvLOJtwiZ2KniJFhVQwXqtiw_9J

In 2013 the supreme court gutted voting rights – how has it changed the US? | US supreme court | The Guardian

One of the practices the voting rights laws would tackle is partisan/political gerrymandering. What is so wrong with political gerrymandering and why are Democrats worried about its effect on the 2022 midterms? The For the People Act , one of the bills defeated in the Senate this month, would have banned political gerrymandering. An explainer: Political gerrymandering is the practice of drawing lines around certain districts to be dominated by registered voters in one party, making it a "safe district" for that party. It has also been used to divide districts so that racial minorities have fewer of those demographically dominated districts. The Supreme Court had ruled several years ago that racially biased gerrymandering was unconstitutional, but that political party biased gerrymandering was not. The Court referred political gerrymandering to the states or Congress to correct. An extreme gerrymandered map in Ohio has already been struck down by their State Supreme Court as "as abuse of power". We will see where this goes on any appeal . Both political parties are guilty of political gerrymander, but it is most prevalent in states where the state legislature was controlled by the GOP, with the exception of New York state where the legislature's majority was in the hands of Democrats.
Per a Brennan Center study (protected by a paywall) Using data from the 2012, 2014, and 2016 election cycles, Republicans have an advantage of 16-17 seats in the current Congress., Democrats needed 24 seats to gain control of the House in 2020. This gives the GOP a big advantage in the US House of Representatives, and it means that Democrats not only need to win, but they must also win bigger than Republicans. and why do you hear hand wringing that the GOP will control the House after the November 2022 midterms when all Congressional seats are up for the vote.
.....Those states with the most extreme maps per the Brennan Center are
Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania
Florida, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia. (The Ohio map was the one that was struck down by the Ohio Supreme Court this January as an abuse of power)
Aside from the racial bias of this practice, what is wrong with political gerrymandering? Isn't it just a good political strategy? Yes, it is that. In fact, the Democratic Party was asleep at the wheel and so to wake up to the importance of state legislative races in determining district boundaries for both their state and federal elections. However, it also contributes to immovable divides and rule by a minority party over the majority will. It distorts the reflection of the popular will... In extremely gerrymandered districts, the general election winner is a foregone conclusi\ion because of the lopsided party registration in that district. Then the action moves to the primaries. Usually, in primaries where only registered voters can vote, the winning appeal is to the most extreme elements of their party with little concern for appealing to a wider audience in a general election. Thus they are vulnerable to Trumpian threats to primary the ones not loyal enough to that large faction of the GOP. When the Constitution was written, there were no political parties, but there were philosophical divides. Those ideological divides soon became formal parties and the partisan divide over the years became filled with more extreme elements on both sides unwilling to compromise to appeal to the middle.




Thursday, January 13, 2022

Biden took his gloves off in voting rights and showed some brass knuckles

   Biden took his gloves off in supporting voting rights and waived some brass knuckles. If nothing had worked before, extreme shaming was tried.  Good for him. His speech in Georgia this week shocked, shocked, shocked some people, among them Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader.   How dare Biden compare those opposing carving out the votes to the filibuster to pass the voting rights bills to Bull Conner, Jefferson Davis, and George Wallace said McConnell as he roared back in righteous indignation.  Well, then. stop acting like it, McConnell. You are leading your  GOP caucus in opposition. You are the roadblocks and you and your GOP senators will go down in history with the rest of the white racists who tried to stop the minorities who are knocking on the door for their rights to vote in fair and free elections. The MAGA-controlled GOP  senators will forever look like democracy is of, for, and by the GOP, but not for anyone else who could vote for their opponents.    For the two holdout Democratic senators who piously claim they are for voting rights but are blocking a plan to exempt voting rights from the filibuster rules, they deserved the knuckles speech... A simple majority of senators is needed to approve any tinkering with the senate filibuster rules which would carve out voting rights as exempted from a 60 vote supermajority. Their opposition to filibuster changes will be painted by that same brush regardless of their reasoning. Their votes and actions count; their words will be forgotten.  Assuming all 50 Democratic senators plus the VP  would vote for the two voting rights bills as they say they will, failure to exempt the issue from the filibuster rule will defeat them., If the bills come up for a vote exempted from the 60 vote filibuster. they will pass. If the filibuster is not reformed, the MAGA crowd will cheer and the rest of us will be SOL. In short, blocking the vote on any changing of the filibuster rules in the Senate is as good as a no vote against the voting rights bills.  That goes for both the GOP senators and the two Democratic holdouts.  Update: later in January 13 Manchin and Sineima were unbudged.   https://www.yahoo.com/news/president-biden-speak-democrats-voting-164404152.html

Very disappointing were the Georgia civil rights leaders who thought they were doing Biden a favor by boycotting his speech as a way to punish him for not doing more.  They did not want words; they wanted action, they said.  With friends like these, Biden needs no more enemies.  What did they think he could do short of arm twisting and the bully pulpit.?  He has been doing plenty of the former and he just bellowed from the pulpit. They are fools if they use their criticism to suppress their own votes.

How did we get in this fix?  The blame falls on both the GOP caucus in the Senate and the Supreme Court. The Senate is a 50-50 one, but VP Harris is the tiebreaker. The Democrats needed just two more senators for any margin for error and they were lucky to get 50 in 2020.  Manchin has claimed he is pledged to a bi-partisan vote, but that means getting ten Republicans to buck pressure to join the Democrats if the filibuster rule is not altered.  He couldn't find them even for the moderate version of the voting rights bill he himself wrote.  If Sinema and he stop filibuster changes, then the bills will fail for lack of the 60 votes. Biden's remarks in Georgia were likely aimed at those two holdouts on the filibuster exemption. GOP senators were a lost cause, though the fat lady has not sung yet. Strange things can still happen.   

Recent decisions by the Supreme Court knocked the props out of the enforcement of the original civil rights voting protections. There was also a GOP strategy to get their sympathizers on the bench while keeping the others off via GOP Senate leaders' maneuvers in the past several years. They denied the approval of Obama's nominations by never calling a vote on it or a hearing and when they had the chance, they exempted Supreme Court approval from that same filibuster rule requiring 60 votes so they could get their three nominees approved with 51 votes.  Clever of them, wasn't it? It is the ultimate hypocrisy now for GOP senate leaders fighting to keep the filibuster to stop voting rights protections.    The resulting conservative majority on the Supreme Court made two critical decisions and referred the matter to Congress to pass laws to rectify the matter. 1) the critical section of the original voting rights act was gutted, which provided if states started to pass discriminatory legislation, they would not have to get court approval first and 2) political gerrymandering was not considered against the Constitution per the same Court. It was Katy bar the door, giving the GOP-dominated legislators the freedom to pass voter suppression and vote total subversion laws. These state legislators then passed laws that permit, partisan panels that permitted political gerrymandering to reduce legislative districts that would have more Democratic seats in state and federal elections. Court referred the issue of gerrymandering back to Congress.   This issue and others are the partisan MAGA and GOP goal is making it harder for old, poor, students, and racial minorities to vote, not easier, to remove the administration and counting of votes from any independence and put it in their cronies' partisan hands, and to give state legislatures the go-ahead to ignore the popular vote in the states in presidential and other elections.  Those Court decisions opened the door for subversion of the will of the majority of the people, which could only be fixed by Congress..  Majority rule is a fundamental definition of a democracy. Protection of the rights of all is the hallmark of our US democracy through the various amendments. 

Remarks by President Biden on Protecting the Right to Vote | The White House

From the text: "So, I ask every elected official in America: How do you want to be remembered? At consequential moments in history, they present a choice: Do you want to be the si- — on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?  Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor?  Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?"


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Thinking about secession ? Be careful what you wish.

 In a shocking October 2021 poll, over half of Trump voters think it is time to secede. .  Be careful what you wish,. Majority of Trump Voters Believe It's Time to Secede, Survey Finds (businessinsider.com   In my January 6 posting about domestic terrorism, I made reference to the breakup of Yugoslavia in the first half of the 1990s in a bloody civil war. Yesterday, on MSNBC'sMorning Joe, a historian reported on a book she wrote after surveying the causes of civil wars and what contributes to the attempted breakup of countries.  What they all had in common was the rise of hyper ethnic identification and the end of an ideology to which they once as a nation subscribed.   In our multi-racial country  with the vast majority of its citizens pledging allegiance to the "republic for which it stands", a general agreement that the democracy founded and institutionalized in the Constitution has been the binding ideology.   Instead, when ethnic and racial purity and separatism fuel the conflict as now, and pledges to the national ideology of our kind of democracy are thrown aside, civil war becomes a possibility.. 

 Unilater attempts to separate from a country more than not becomes bloody. There was a deadly conflic in the 1990s with which I have first hand familiarity...  My late husband was a refugee from communist Yugoslavia with ancestral roots in three of its seven  "states", Croatia,  Bosnia, and Montenegro..  The Balkans have forever been the poster child of ethnic identification and bloody conflicts and it resulted in ethnic-based small countries. Balkanization is what this syndrome is called wherever it happens in the world.  Major ethnic groups were sharing a common language in old Yugoslavia and their homeland were stuck together into one country by treaties after World War I.   There were violent ethnic nationalist  movements in parts of their area when they were ruled by the Hapsburg empire prior to World War I  World War I began with the assassination of the Hapsburg archduke in Sarajevo, Bosnia, by a member of a Serbian ethnic nationalist secret organization.    During World War II, Yugoslavia was not only a theater of war between Nazis, Royalists, and communists, it was a civil war between those with ethnic identification. Religion was only one of several traits identifying ethnicity. Post-war communist dictator Tito put into prison any supporter of ethnic nationalism and kept the lid on an unresolved civil war until his death.  Within ten years after his death, the country erupted into the worst civil war in Europe since World War II.  Why? When a common ideology has been the glue holding a multi-cultural state together fail, ethnic and racial conflicts resulted in a bloody civil war is one theory, though economic disparities and self interest also play a greater role.  There are few examples of peaceful breakups I can recall. Czechoslovakia broke in two in a velvet revolution after the fall of  the old USSR. It was a mutual agreed to separation.  I noted in the January 6 posting, " The breakup (of Yugoslavia) eventually happened in the mid-1990s in the genocidal civil war conducted by Serbian hyper ethnic nationalists, fueled by their demagogic leader President Milovan Milosevic, infamous for being prosecuted later in an international tribunal for war crimes also known as "ethnic cleansing". There were 300,000 victims in Bosnia alone with a population the size of Colorado's. The country remains the poorest in Europe over 25 years later and is again threatened by Bosnian- Serbian separatists. Let that be a lesson for those supporting US extremist white nationalists who advocate violence and separatism, too. Be careful what you wish."

What has happened in the past few years in the US  is that a large block of the nation no longer pledges allegiance to the liberal democracy, the rule of law, and the various amendments to the Constitution protecting minority rights.  Instead, they have fallen to the spell of white nationalism and "cultural" identification of the South, and a dog whistling demagogue, Donald Trump as president and ex-president, , who  intensified and appealed to their instincts., With voter supression and subversion laws passed by their state legislatures, they see their government as being of, by, and for their political party that is composed heavily  of their favored racial groups and loyal supporters of Trump. Those who grumble considering separtism,  are forgetting how devastated the South was since the 1860'civil war and it still is at the bottom of the index by any measure of personal income and education. Many of these former slave states take more federal money per capita than they give back to the federal government in per capita taxes.  Its white  majority is still attempting to keep racial minorities from gaining any more political power.  A sizeable number are even supporting violence as a political tool if they do not like what their government is doing. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/nov/01/republicans-violence-save-us-poll    This is a formula for a disaster.  Never has it been truer than now, those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.  

Which States Are Givers and Which Are Takers? - The Atlantic   The states that take more money per capita from the federal government than they take in from individuals in those states are southern states, (exception: New Mexico with its large impoverished Native American population). Mississippi, Alabama. :Louisiana, and South Carolina...The Atlantic article has the ranking of all 50 states.  These former slave states would have to make up the loss of federal aid and subsidies if they were to break away.

State prosperity rankings: State-by-State Overall Rankings – US Prosperity


Friday, January 7, 2022

Biden takes the gloves off, finally. Did he just kill off bi-partisanship?

 On January 6, 2022, Joe Biden took off his gloves and called out Trump's lies for what they were:" a dagger at the throat of democracy."  Trump, as Biden called him, was a loser. His lies about the results of the 2020 election were just that, lies, designed to soothe Trump's narcissistic ego to paint himself as a winner. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGUptvDAVQI

 This January 6 Biden speech approach was not aimed at winning friends in the Trump camp and the message and delivery were direct, raw, and aggressive.. Why Joe Biden's intense Jan. 6 riot anniversary speech was stunning TV (usatoday.com) So why?  Did he just kill off bi-partisanship?

Making the defense of democracy a motivation for those not in the Trump camp to turn out in the midterms had not gained much traction in the polls. Depending on painfully long bipartisan negotiation was making him look weak and old and hardly inspiring.  This speech was aimed to turn this malaise around.  My favorite childhood story was Ferdinand the Bull who preferred to smell the flowers until he was stung by a bee.  This was Biden's awakened fighting bull speech. His sinking polls stung and the 2022 midterms were just too close.

There is another childhood favorite tale. CallingTrump a loser and the salesman of  The Big Lie, that there was widespread fraud in November. 2020 was also Biden's  "the Emperor has no clothes"/moment.  It is about time Biden stopped pussy footing around, making vague and political science arguments on behalf of democracy,  and name the Emperor's nakedness as what it was. Trump was out to defy the Constitution and the rule of law in order to get a second term. 

The only olive branch of bipartisanship Biden extended to the Trump camp was he would still work with them on legislation in Congress and would "reach across the aisle".  In any case, this approach is a gamble, and assumes the GOP block will not budge anyway. without more effective pressure, if ever.   On one hand, Biden's attack on Trump himself would serve to harden the  Trump core legislators representing already Trump territory. But in purple states, the swing voters would be made more aware of their general election candidate positions and to whom those running for office pledged allegiance. This nod to bi-partisanship was mostly just fine words because the Democrat's strategy has already become hardball,   naming a date by which votes will be taken on Biden's agenda,  up or down,  win or lose.  It was a veiled threat to those opposing voting rights,  child tax credits,  and other popular provisions of the Build Back Better bills. It would get "no" votes on the record and make it easier for opposing  Democrat candidates to attack them in sound bite ads in the general election. The purpose of this hardball approach was also more likely geared to put pressure on the two Democrat Senators in Name Only, Machin, and Sinema, to stop their stonewalling any degree of filibuster reform.  This reform is necessary to enable the passage of pro-democracy voting rights legislation in the Senate with a simple majority vote and not by a super majority of 60.  Killing voter rights legislation is in the interest of the GOP party loyalists who are trying to rig the system so they as a minority party can continue their rule over the majority wherever they can by gerrymandering, putting their partisans in charge of vote administration, passing laws that let the state legislature overturn popular will, and making it more difficult for certain blocks of voters with a record of favoring Democrats to vote.  Bipartisanship was probably long dead on this issue, anyway. 


The 5-Minute Fix: What does ‘voting rights’ mean anyway? - feliciamuftic@gmail.com - Gmail (google.com)

Update January 14, 2022 Lhttps://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/589462-ohio-supreme-court-strikes-down-gop-drawn-state-house-senate-maps




Thursday, January 6, 2022

January 6 2022 events triggered my memories as an elections official and domestic terrorism

 On this January 6...a year after the mob violently stormed the Capitol, other memories of bygone eras, 1980's to the early 1990s, come back to me. How times have changed since then when I administered fair and free elections and I was threatened by domestic terrorism, but it was not because I was an election official. I spent nearly 8 years as a Denver Election Commissioner, a duty of my position of Denver's Clerk and Recorder...and twice president of the then three-person commission. Never was I ever asked to lie, cheat about the outcome of any election, "find missing votes", and never was my life or my family's safety ever threatened if I failed to do another party's bidding. https://www.reuters.com/.../usa-trump-georgia-threats/

Several recent polls show about 40% of those who identify as Republicans believe it is justified to commit violence against the government. They have a twisted view of what Democracy means and they are killing its fundamental purpose with their "kindness". The writers of the Constitution tried to formulate a system that gave opponents a voice to make their case, but only if they did it peacefully...and recent court decisions have rulings that violent acts are not first amendment rights protected by the Constitution. Our founders also attempted to avoid a violent transition to new governance through an elaborate electoral process, which Trump's allies attempted to circumvent and to twist interpretations to overturn the 2020 election, as recently evidenced by both the special Jan. 6 Congressional committee and well-documented investigative journalists. A year later there is still no evidence the 2020 election "was stolen", in spite of "forensic audits" and unanimous court decisions by even Trump appointed judges, all thrown out for lack of evidence. For the majority of Republicans, even that they were lied to by those trying to keep Trump in power a second term, is a reality that is still hard to accept.
I do know what it is like to be a target of domestic terrorism. While I was Clerk and Recorder, my husband was a Democratic National Committeeman with a national platform and an outspoken critic of those in the land of his birth (Yugoslavia), remnants of the fascists in World War II, immigrants to the US, too, seeking to split up their old country. For a couple of years, the Denver bomb squad opened packages from unknown senders on our back porch because the fascist immigrants to the US sent letter bombs to those who did not support their hyper Croatian nationalist goals to restore fascism to a separate province, breaking up Yugoslavia. The breakup eventually happened in the mid-1990s in the genocidal civil war conducted not by Croatian fascists but by Serbian hyper ethnic nationalists, infamous for being prosecuted later in an international tribunal for "ethnic cleansing". There were 300,000 victims in a population the size of Colorado's. The country remains the poorest in Europe and is again threatened by Serbian separatists. Let that be a lesson for those supporting US extremist white nationalists who advocate violence and separatism, too. Be careful what you wish.
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https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/579160-stunning-survey-gives-grim-view-of-flourishing-anti-democratic-opinions