Monday Reads: The Midterms are coming

Not in here Magats per “The Bank Street Bar”

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I usually go down to the Quarter to see the Krewe of Boo this time of year.  I had grades to do and there were some unwelcome visitors there this weekend. I can’t take any more of the Magats so I stayed home.

We got a visit from the hate group “Proud Boys” who seemed to stage a deliberate breakdown of their vehicle in front of Jackson Square so they could set up a really offensive float called “The Trump Bridge.”  Of course, they did not have the appropriate paperwork, even selling those terrible red Magat hats illegally from the truck bed. All activities were without licenses so quite illegal. The NOPD watched them but did nothing.

With the exception of a few lone bars that I really didn’t know existed down there anyway, they were refused service and forced to drink in the streets.  All in all, the entire city did a great job of ignoring them.

Several “watchers” from progressive groups spent time documenting and following them in the hopes of catching any of their usual hateful antics.  We do have a local chapter of them and recently, a Plaquemines Parish Deputy Sheriff lost his job for his association with them

The Proud Boys say they’re not a hate group and that they’re not a part of the alt-right, the catch-all euphemism for various groups of Nazis, white nationalists and white supremacists. The founder of the Proud Boys criticized the eruption of violence in Charlottesville, but a prominent member of that organization had organized the “Unite the Right” rally and later tweeted that “Heather Heyer was a fat, disgusting Communist. Communists killed 94 million. Looks like it was payback time.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the founder of the Proud Boys says he expelled the writer of that tweet from his group “once his racist views became known.” To hear that founder tell it, the Proud Boys is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic group of Western chauvinists who part ways with the alt-right on “the JQ,” that is, “the Jewish question.”

In its website’s HateWatch feature, the SPLC notes that the founder of the Proud Boys “denies any connection between his group and the far right, dismissing the fact that they show up to the same events, take fashion cues from each other, read the same books, sympathize with each other’s viewpoints — including, at times, anti-Semitism — and joust in the shadows of the same windmills.”

Green, the Plaquemines deputy, scrubbed his Facebook feed of his Proud Boys posts, but not before they’d been screen shot and sent to his employer.  His Facebook profile described him as “Deputy Sheriff, Father, Proud Boy.” His profile photo showed him in his law enforcement uniform with the words “The West Is The Best” superimposed on the picture.

Also in his Facebook feed, there had been posted a video in which Green appears to recite the Proud Boys oath, “I’m Brian Green and I’m a proud western chauvinist who refuses to apologize for creating the modern world.”

There is nothing positive about chauvinism of any kind. Furthermore, it’s safe to say that nobody reciting the Proud Boys oath had anything to do with the creation of this modern world.  That oath makes as much sense as me refusing to apologize for having created blues music, jazz and rock-and-roll when all those things were here when I was born.

I do have a few reports from friends that I will put up here just so you have some first hand accounts as well as they pictures and videos taken.   I’m going to leave their names off because I don’t want to accidentally dox them to the wrong people.

So can we talk about the fact that the NOLA Proudboys (an SPLC-recognized violent white supremacist hate group) managed to have the “Trump Unity Bridge” (basically a giant mobile hate-campaign) ‘break down’ conveniently right in front of Jackson Square before the Krewe of Boo parade this evening– a halloween parade largely attended by families and kids. The police didn’t even tow that junk off of Decatur, and instead let them set up shop right along the parade route where they (illegally) sold MAGA hats to the crowd, yelled racial slurs at kids and passers by, threatened a few people who took their picture, tried to provoke violence, paraded around in blackface masks, oh and I’m told finally punched a woman and beat somebody with a flagpole shortly after I left. If you find that state of affairs as disappointing as I do, please call or write the Mayor’s office and tell her that you expect better in the so-called “city of yes” . . . that oughtn’t to mean ‘yes’ to every kind of white supremacist intimidation and depravity, especially anywhere that children are concerned. 504-658-4900, mayor@nola.gov

Here’s the link to the SPLC site that gives you more information about them.

As you know, a number of them were arrested in New York for a brawl which is basically what they always go looking for.

The founder of the far-right group the Proud Boys said on Friday that he was arranging the surrender of several members whom the police are seeking in connection with a violent brawl outside a Republican club in Manhattan last weekend.

At the same time, a senior official said the police had opened a broad criminal inquiry into the group’s activities.

Gavin McInnes, 48, a polemical far-right speaker who started the Proud Boys in 2016, said several suspects would turn themselves in. By late Friday afternoon, two of the nine men sought by the police had been arrested. A police official said a lawyer representing at least four of the suspects had called the 19th Precinct on Friday to work out the details of their surrender.

Though it was unclear how many might face charges, Mr. McInnes said the rest would soon be in custody. “They are going to be in the Tombs,” he said.

The Proud Boys are a fraternal organization of so-called Western chauvinists that Mr. McInnes has sometimes referred to as a gang. The group has clashed with anarchists and left-wing protesters at political events across the country several times in recent years.

They fought with anti-fascist demonstrators on Oct. 12 shortly after Mr. McInnes gave a speech at the Metropolitan Republican Club, a bastion of establishment conservatism on the Upper East Side.

There’s some national news about the midterms and other things we should discuss.  This headline is startling.  From Time: “Trump Plans to Tear Up a 31-Year-Old Nuclear Weapons Treaty. Now What?”.

President Donald Trump revealed Saturday the United States intends to withdraw from a 31-year-old nuclear weapons agreement with Russia, delivering a severe blow to the arms control regime that helped preserve peace since the Cold War.

“We’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” Trump told reporters after a rally in Elko, Nevada, without indicating what the next steps might be.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, first signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1987, was the first and only nuclear arms control agreement that ever eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons. The treaty forced the superpowers to scrap more than 2,600 missiles with ranges 310 to 3,420 miles — weapons considered destabilizing to the European continent because of their capability to launch a nuclear strike from anywhere without early warning.

Gorbachev has called the move ‘Not the Work of a Great Mind’.

President Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from a nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia drew sharp criticism Sunday from one of the men who signed it, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who called the decision reckless and not the work of “a great mind.”

In making his announcement Saturday, Mr. Trump cited Russian violations of the pact, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which was signed in Washington in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev.

Mr. Gorbachev, who is now 87 years old, cast Mr. Trump’s decision as a threat to peace.

In an interview with the Interfax news agency, Mr. Gorbachev called Mr. Trump’s rollback of the disarmament agreement “very strange.” He added: “Do they really not understand in Washington what this can lead to?”

The last Soviet leader, who is perceived more warmly in the West than inside Russia, has already watched his domestic reform agendas supporting democracy and greater freedom of the press unravel in recent years. Nuclear disarmament also defined his legacy.

Eric Levitz opines this for New York Magazine today: Tribalism Isn’t Our Democracy’s Main Problem. The Conservative Movement Is.

In the middle of the 20th century, America was home to liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. The most important fault-lines in Congress weren’t partisan but regional; on many issues, southern Democrats and western Republicans united in battle against northern (and typically, liberal and/or labor-aligned) members of their respective caucuses. On economics, the two parties’ agendas were distinct, but far less disparate than they are today. On civil rights and immigration, the divisions within each side of the aisle were more important than those between them.

This utter dearth of partisan polarization undermined democratic accountability. A liberal could vote for Democratic candidates in New York, and unwittingly empower arch-segregationists in the Senate; many voters had no clear heuristic telling them which party would best represent their interests and ideological goals, nor which one was to blame for Congress’s failure to advance such aims.

In response, the American Political Science Association (APSA) released a report in 1950 that called on Republicans and Democrats to heighten their contradictions, arguing that “popular government in a nation of 150 million people requires political parties which provide the electorate with a proper range of choices between alternatives of action.”

Sixty-eight years later, we’ve done just as the APSA advised.

Today’s party system offers voters a wide — and clearly labeled — range of alternatives. While myriad policy debates remain stifled by bipartisan consensus (the proper size and role of the U.S. military, for example), it is nevertheless the case that Democrats and Republicans now provide the electorate with stark choices on health care, taxation, social spending, immigration, racial justice, abortion, environmental regulation, labor rights, and myriad other issues. It has rarely, if ever, been more clear what — and whom — each party in the U.S. stands for.

And rarely, if ever, has “popular government” been a worse misnomer for what transpires in our nation’s state and federal capitals.

In 2018, polarization still looms large in the discourse on our democracy’s failings. But these days, it’s seen less as an elixir than a cancer. In fact, some pundits and political scientists regard it as the root of all the Trump era’s evils. In this new telling, our republic may be suffering from a variety of disfiguring illnesses, but all trace back to the damage that hyperpartisanship did to its immune system: Our president may be a kleptocratic conspiracy theorist who oozes contempt for America’s highest ideals (and ignorance of high-school civics) — but only because conservative voters came to despise the Democratic Party more than they loathe self-proclaimed pussy-grabbers. Congress might be barely able to fund its own paychecks, let alone find consensus solutions to policy challenges — but voters only tolerate such gridlock because they’ve come to see compromise as a synonym for their side’s defeat. And Americans might be losing confidence in public institutions, the integrity of their nation’s elections, and the value of democracy itself — but this is largely because so many of them have decided that one of their nation’s two political parties poses an existential threat to their bedrock ideals.

I was happy to see Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum pull ahead in the polls.  Evidently, the group of old white fogies at The Villages fear him.  Being an old fogie myself, I wonder why they hate their Medicare and Social Security so much, but then, I don’t think in terms of black people taking things away from me.  I think in terms of Republicans doing that.

President Donald Trump’s loyalists here at Florida’s premier retirement community fear Andrew Gillum.

It has nothing to do with his race, they insist, when asked about the 39-year-old Democrat who could become the state’s first African-American governor. Instead, The Villages’ deeply conservative residents are convinced a Gillum victory would trigger an era of high crime, higher taxes and moral failing.

“He’ll kill everything that’s good about Florida,” says Talmadge Strickland, a 66-year-old retired firefighter wearing a “Trump 2020″ baseball cap at a rally for Gillum’s opponent. “He will hurt us; he will physically hurt us with his socialist mentality.”

In an era defined by deep political partisanship, there’s perhaps no state where the divide runs deeper than Florida, which is in the grip of a fierce culture clash over guns, race, climate change and the president. Gillum sits at the center of the melee, his campaign a proxy for the larger fight between Democrats and President Donald Trump’s GOP.

Gillum’s fate is inexorably linked to fellow Democrats whose success could determine control of Congress. That’s especially true for three-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who could benefit from Gillum’s appeal among young voters and minorities.

As early voting begins in Florida this week, that link is tenuous.

“New voters and infrequent voters are everything to us winning,” Gillum told The Associated Press when asked about his impact on Nelson’s race. “I think they will vote for both of us, and that will be to his benefit.”

Young people and minorities are traditionally among the least reliable voters, particularly in midterm elections. Meanwhile, white voters in place like The Villages are lining up behind his opponent, former Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis.

The electorate in Florida this year is especially unpredictable due to an unusual collision of events: a massive hurricane, the nation’s deadliest high school shooting and Gillum’s historic candidacy.

Those of us that have had anything to hear from or do with a Trump voter know exactly how angry and ugly they are.  But, be prepared for ads from the RNC that basically say that Dems are the angry mob. We may be angry, but our protests are hardly mob like and Greg Sargent of WAPO’s Plum line explains why we’re angry right back at them.

President Trump and Republicans have adopted a closing electoral strategy that depicts the Democratic Party and “angry” leftist protests against Trumpian rule as the only real reigning threat to our country’s civic fabric and the rule of law. A new Republican National Committee video juxtaposes footage of leading mainstream Democratic figures with that of angry protesters, while decrying “the left” as an “unhinged mob.”

As absurd as this conflation is on its face, it has smuggled itself into the mainstream debate, where it is getting a quasi-respectful hearing, in the form of a public argument over whether Democrats are “going low,” or tacitly egging on their voters to violence, or, by adopting the smashmouth media tactics of Michael Avenatti, succumbing to “Avenatti-ism.”

But much of the resulting debate over all this is hollow, because it is not putting these basic realities front and center: Trump, more than any leading U.S. figure in recent memory, has actively tried to stoke civil conflict on as many fronts as possible. He has concertedly subverted the rule of law, not just to shield himself from accountability, but, more to the point for present purposes, with the deliberate purpose of exciting his minority base — and enraging millions on the other side of the cultural divide — in a manner that is thoroughly corrupt to its core.

Here in New Orleans we like our food, our parades, our holidays, and our music.  Most of us like our beer and bongs and whatever libations that goes along with watching the Saints or celebrating 300 years here.  Yet, every time we have one of those celebrations we get angry white people doing disrespectful things.  We get Westborough Baptist during our Southern Decadence celebration of the GLBT community here.  We get big ol’ sign carrying christians telling us that we’re all about as sinful as you can get during Carnivale.  Now, we get the Proud Boys and their ugly little float during Mardi Gras and our annual celebration of Halloween.  None of them are loving of people or fun.  They are here to buzz saw any one that isn’t like them.

We used to have to endure them during small little windows of time, but now, they assault us daily on all forms of media and in every walk of life. I get weary of all that resentment, hate, and privilege rattling.

Why do they come here to piss on other people’s celebrations?  Why do they have to have laws that cause other people to live their lives according to some other person’s idea of how life needs to be.

We have a few more weeks of these awful rallies and the even worse pictures and words of these poor excuses for human beings.  I’m not sure where the 20 million voters that never show up are, but please, please, please, get rid of these Ugly Americans. Get them back under their rocks and out of our lives and sight.

I want to go back to a January article by Rebbecca Solnit at the Literary Hub. ” 20 MILLION MISSING PEOPLE COULD SAVE AMERICA. ON LIFE IN THE DARK TIMELINE, AND THE MORAL CAUSE OF OUR MOMENT”.

But who is missing? It’s not only the women directors, the black screenwriters, the not-so-misogynist lead journalists in the mainstream.

It’s voters.

Voting is a form of speech, a way you say who you believe in, what kind of world you want to see. Having a voice doesn’t just mean literally being able to say things; it means having a role, having agency, being able to say things that have an impact whether it’s I witnessed this police brutality, or no I don’t want to have sex with you, or this is my vision of society.

As far as I can estimate, about 20 million voters were disenfranchised in the last election. Voter ID laws, the cross-check system, purging voter rolls, the undermining of the Voting Rights Act, making sure there were not enough polling stations or cutting back polling hours, harassing people when they showed up at those stations, taking the vote away from ex-felons—the means are many, and the consequences are that a lot of people have been denied their rights, so much so that it’s the other new Jim Crow. (There is no clear tally of how many voters are missing, and it’s also complicated by the fact that some populations—more than six million Americans with felony convictions, for example—are prevented outright from voting, some face obstacles and harassment—via voter ID laws, for example—that thin out their numbers.)

Politics is how we tell the stories we live by, how we decide if we value the health and well-being of children or not, the autonomy of women’s bodies and equality of our lives, or not, if we protect the Dreamers who came here as small children, or not, if we act on climate change, or not. Voting is far from the only way, but is a key way we decide on what story to base our actions on. We choose a story about who and what matters; we act on that story to rearrange the world around it—and then there are tax cuts to billionaires and children kicked off healthcare, or there are climate agreements and millions of acres of federal land protected and support for universities. We live inside what, during postmodernism’s heyday, we’d call master narratives—so there’s always a question of who’s telling the story, who is in charge of the narrative, and what happens if that changes.

Sometimes when journalists like Ari Berman at Mother Jones—the best voice on this issue—write about the suppression of the votes, people assume they’re saying Hillary Clinton should have won the last presidential election. If you changed who had access to the ballot in 2016, that might be the outcome, but the story is so much bigger than that, and the potential outcomes are so much more radical than that. The Republican Party has maintained a toehold on national power by systematically, strategically, increasingly suppressing the votes of people of color over decades. They are a minority party. They could never win a fair election nationally with their current platform of white grievance and misogyny and favors for the one percent, so they’ve set about to have unfair elections. (And they have also gerrymandered the daylights out of a lot of states to hang onto majorities at the state and national level; in 2012, they took the majority of seats in the lower house of Congress with a minority of overall votes.)

Imagine that those 20 million votes were not suppressed. The Republican Party would be defunct or be unrecognizably different from what it is today. But the Democratic Party would be different too. Imagine that the Democratic Party had to answer to more young people, more poor people, more nonwhite people, more people who believe in strengthening human rights and social service safety nets, economic justice, stronger action on climate change. Imagine a country where Democrats weren’t competing for moderate-to-conservative voters because the electorate was far more progressive—as it would be if all those people who lost their voting rights actually had them (and yeah, more younger people showed up). It wouldn’t change something as small as the outcome of the 2016 election. It would mean different political parties with different platforms and different candidates, different news coverage, different outcomes. It would change the story. It would change who gets to tell the story.

By voting, we can remove the tyranny of the shrinking minority before they completely set the game up so that we never can.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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17 Comments on “Monday Reads: The Midterms are coming”

  1. dakinikat says:

  2. NW Luna says:

    Gorbachev: “Do they really not understand in Washington what this can lead to?”

    No, and that’s scary.

  3. dakinikat says:

    What kind of president makes up “riots” in his own country?

    At a campaign rally in Nevada, President Donald Trump claimed Californians are “rioting” against “sanctuary cities” – a statement yet to be supported by evidence.

    After deriding Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) on her immigration policies at a rally in Elko, Trump told the crowd he thought Nevadans didn’t care for sanctuary cities, and that Californians didn’t like them either. Trump spoke in support of Sen. Dean Heller, Rosen’s Republican opponent in the upcoming midterm election.

    “They’re rioting now,” Trump said of Californians. “They want to get out of their sanctuary cities.”

    In context, “they” referred to Golden State residents who agree with the White House on so-called “sanctuary cities.”

    In other words, after weeks of Trump rhetoric about dangerous Democratic “mobs,” the president believes it’s his supporters who’ve taken to the streets, violently lashing out at communities in California that disagree with the White House about immigration.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/defend-his-immigration-agenda-trump-points-riots-dont-exist

    • quixote says:

      He’s just a Chatbot throwing out crap to see which sticks best to the wall. “Mobs of Them!” “Mobs of Us!” “Mobs!” “Sex weirdos!” (Why bring up the trans redefinition now? Maybe it’ll get the vicious to vote!) etc etc etc.

      This is going to get louder and louder through Nov. 6th.

      Plus, the really nasty news: the Garbage Pile is exploring how best to contest elections if the House turns over.

      Hair on fire. Meanwhile 46% (?) (some huge percentage) doesn’t plan to vote.

      /*endless screaming*/

      • Enheduanna says:

        Does that mean 54% might show up? That would be pretty good for Murrica. I am mostly seeing stories of it being a high interest election – with huge turnout in early voting. But it would not surprise me if a large percentage of GOP voters skip this one. I can see many of the disgusted ones sitting it out rather than voting Democratic.

  4. NW Luna says:

    “… in terms of black people taking things away…”

    Mind-boggling that people think this way. I mean, why would you associate those two together as a cause and effect? Makes no sense. It’s so obvious that it’s people like Mitch McConnell and Trump and the like who want to feed their greed with what they take from us.

    Oh, there I go again, expecting rationale thought from the MAGAts.

  5. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      But … but … tariffs are so eeeeezy! They are yuuuge wins!

      It’s going to be hard to get out of the wreckage made by Trump.

  6. NW Luna says:

  7. NW Luna says:

    LOL!

  8. NW Luna says:

  9. NW Luna says:

    Though this does need a lot more black women in the illustration.