November 9, 2018
+ It seems like everybody got something out of the midterms, except one lonely man. Nancy Pelosi won. Mitch McConnell won. Trump got a split decision. But Chuck Schumer got creamed. Has the senator from Citibank resigned yet?
+ After Trump’s election and the announcement that Chuck Schumer would lead the Democratic Resistance©, I predicted that Schumer’s infamous “Plan B” (pandering to upper-middle class suburban voters and disaffected Republicans with college degrees at the expense of blue collar voters) would result in the Democrats losing 5 senate seats. I confess I was wrong. They only lost four, unless, like me, you consider the retention of Robert Menendez and Joe Manchin as a result even worse than a loss.
+ One big takeaway from the midterms: It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that the next Democratic presidential candidate could win the popular vote by 10% and still lose in the electoral college. (Democrats have a 12.5-pt lead in the popular vote in all contested senate races and have lost 4 seats.)
+ Senate popular vote:
Democrats: 40,558,262 (55.4%)
Republicans: 31,490,026 votes (43.0%)
+ According to the normally reliable Cook Political Report, there were 46 GOP-held congressional seats in the House that were either favored for a Democratic win or considered a toss-up and another 49 GOP-held seats that leaned red but were still competitive. Of those 95 competitive seats, the Democrats only won 30. Can that result really be considered a success? In baseball, .315 would be a good batting average. But in politics shouldn’t you be hitting closer to .500 in a two-party system?
+ Of course, the Democrats in the House were running against the odds. The system is rigged and the rigging is getting tighter as the demographics change and the inequality gap widens. When gerrymandering doesn’t work, voter suppression kicks in. Maybe a swing of 30 votes is all that could be expected at moment when the sinews of the Republic are under maximum stress.
+ The thing about postmodern America is that its politics remain resolutely pre-modern, where the failsafe systems are all programmed to protect property and its owners…
+ The exit polling reconfirms my long held belief, shaken for the past two years, that most Americans rightly despise their leaders, whoever they are….
2010 exit poll on Obama:
Approve – 45%
Disapprove – 54%
2016 exit poll on Trump:
+ For a moment, I had a spark of anticipation that the two kids in the photo were being giving leadership positions in the Democratic House Caucus…but no just another bait-and-switch for the same decrepit wrecking crew.
+ Nancy Pelosi: “It might surprise you that the president I quoted most on the campaign trail was Ronald Reagan.” This was no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to Pelosi’s career for the past 20 years. The rightwing titan exert a powerful hold over the political consciousness of the neoliberal. There is much truth buried in Margaret Thatcher’s quip that “Tony Blair is my greatest accomplishment.”
+ True to form, Pelosi wasted no time revealing her eagerness to engage in a political Devil’s Triangle with Trump, announcing that the Democrats are ready to embrace the “bipartisan marketplace of ideas.”
+ Pelosi: “We are not going after Republicans the way they went after us.” They didn’t go after YOU, Nancy, they went after the poor, the atmosphere, the rivers, people’s health care, the banking regulations, Syrian refugees, migrant children, undocumented workers…Get over yourself.
+ David Swanson: “The last time the Dems won the majority they escalated the war on Iraq they’d been elected to end. Luckily they haven’t been elected to do anything this time.”
+ Best post-election troll: Trump offering to help Nancy Pelosi become speaker of the House, if she faces an insurgency from within her caucus.
+ Best post-election aftershock: Trump firing Jeff Sessions (or ordering John Kelly to do it for him) and sidestepping Rod Rosenstein to make Beauregard’s chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker the acting Attorney General. Whitaker, a man who believes that the judiciary should be an “inferior branch” of government, will oversee the Mueller investigation as it narrows its focus on Trump, his business and his family.
+ Who will be the first Democrat to start a Go Fund Me campaign for Beauregard? My money is on Adam Schiff, who seems a little more spry on his feet than Jerry Nadler…
+ On the same day Trump ordered one of his female bouncers to try to swipe Jim Acostas’s microphone, he names a former CNN contributor the acting AG in charge of the Mueller probe. What must Judge Jeanine Pirro at FoxNews be thinking? Has she lost her hold on Trump?
+ The new acting AG thinks Marbury v. Madison is the worst Supreme Court decision in history. Of course, as Chase Madar correctly notes, given the current makeup of the federal judiciary for the next 40 years its probably in their best interest for progressives to adopt this view as well…
+ Whitaker on the confirmation of federal judges: “I’d like to see things like their worldview, what informs them. Are they people of faith? Do they have a biblical view of justice? — which I think is very important.”
+ The Democrats are hyperventilating over Sessions’ firing, which has been telegraphed for more than a year, saying it puts the country on the verge of a constitutional crisis. Where have they been for the last 17 years? The country has been mired in a constitutional crisis since at least 9/11, a crisis they have abetted and exacerbated again and again.
+ Is Whitaker’s appointment as acting AG even constitutional? Kellyanne’s husband doesn’t think so…
+ Professor of Torture John Yoo also argues Whitaker’s appointment is unconstitutional. Does this mean I am now morally obligated to support Whitaker?
+ Where the liberals whistling Dixie when they poured into the streets to protest the firing of Trump’s most noxious cabinet member?
+ In the end, Trump did his job. He held the White Line…
+ Henry Wallace: “It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice.”
+ People talk about how much Georgia has changed. But 76% of white women voted for Brian Kemp over Stacey Abrams…
+ While white women are still a reliable demographic for the GOP, the Republicans don’t seem to be returning the love. The next session of Congress will have at least 47 newly-elected Democrats, 28 of them women (60%). It will have 33 new Republicans, only 3 of them women (9%).
+ Andrew Gillum hit a similar white wall in Florida, fortified by the always reliable Miami Cubans (men)…
+ Looks like Kamala Harris is raising money for herself in the name of helping Stacey Abrams…(As always with Harris, it’s important to check out the fine print.)
Stacey Abrams could still win or force a runoff, despite her Republican opponent's rampant voter suppression. Donate here to make sure every vote is counted in Georgia: https://t.co/joZ697dLXB
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 8, 2018
+ A comprehensive list of the voting rights cases filed by Trump’s DoJ since taking office follows…
+ You can’t say the Republicans haven’t made any progress on the diversity front. It looks like Liz Cheney is in line for a leadership position in the House.
+ Joe Donnelly in Indiana ran like a conservative Republican and got whupped. Next door in Ohio Sherrod Brown ran like an old labor Democrat and won easily. But we know that Schumer and his pals will continue to argue running to middle is the only option ….
+ Here’s Bernie Sanders, putting his foot into it again. Sanders claims that Democratic candidates in the South need to be “more like Beto O’Rourke” (who lost by three percent) as opposed to black candidates like Andrew Gillum (who is statistically tied) and Stacey Abrams (who lost by three percent) as he …
“I think you know there are a lot of white folks out there who are not necessarily racist who felt uncomfortable for the first time in their lives about whether or not they wanted to vote for an African-American.”
+ Memo to Bernie: Obama won Florida…twice.
+ Remember when Brett Kavanaugh led the frat-boy riots during the recount in Florida in 2000? Shouldn’t the Democrats now be organizing busloads of new Freedom Riders to Florida and Georgia to protest the systemic suppression of black voters? Or would that lower the party’s stock value in the “market of bipartisanship”? Where’s George Soros when you really need him?
+ Speaking of busloads has there been any news on that caravan since the election?
+ Putin must be quite the electoral mastermind. He’s playing three-dimensional gridlock, while everyone else checks their iPhone, wondering what’s taking their Uber driver so long…
+ Best loss of the night: Kris Kobach, the vote fraud fraud, who went down big in Kansas.
+ Dan Donovan, the man who as DA of Staten Island refused to prosecute Eric Garner’s killer, has been ousted. Too bad Erica Garner didn’t live to see this.
+ Idaho, Utah and Nebraska all endorsed socialism on Tuesday night by voting to expand Medicaid…
+ On the other, Alabama passed a ballot measure making it state policy to “recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life” and that the constitution does not provide “a right to abortion or require funding of abortions.” This will almost certainly be sent express delivery to the Kavanaugh/Thomas Court.
+ Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the two Muslim women running for office who were targeted harassed by the poisonous harridan Laura Loomer, both won last night.
+ Shahid Amanullah: “If you feel sad today, just imagine Mike Pence swearing 2 women into Congress with the Qur’an.”
+ At least, 27 NRA backed candidates lost. The most ever. Will the NRA survive the chairmanship of Oliver North?
+ Good news: Arthur Jones, the literal Nazi candidate lost in Illinois.
Bad news: He still got more than 55,000 votes
+ I say vote for whoever makes you feel good in the moment or against someone you really hate., but be fully cognizant that the voting machine will probably tally your vote for the most odious candidate possible.
+ Case in point: Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof won his state assembly race, weeks after he was found dead at his Love Ranch brothel by porn star Ron Jeremy and Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
+ Jason Lewis, the GOP congressman who complained that after the MeToo movement he couldn’t “call women sluts anymore,” lost to his female challenger, Angie Craig….
+ On the morning after the election, the Pentagon announced it will no longer refer to the US military mission on the Mexico border as “Operation Faithful Patriot.” No reason given. Will they rename it “Operation Wetback II?”
I thought that’s what we celebrated every Columbus Day?
+ Too bad De Toqueville isn’t around to translate the meaning of Trump’s post-election press conference for the French…and the rest of us.
+ Trump: “The embrace. They wouldn’t embrace. Barbara Comstock wouldn’t embrace. I don’t blame her, but she lost. She wouldn’t embrace. She lost big.”
+ Is it my TV or did the President experience a tanning booth failure this morning? Raccoons are hiding their faces in shame…
+ Is Trump talking about his voice or the hue of his skin? “I’d be very good at a low tone. I would love to do very — very even-toned. I would love to have a very even, modest, boring tone. I would be very honored by that.”
+ Trump on whether he would turn over his tax returns: “People wouldn’t understand them.” All the more reason, I would think, to email them to every American as one of those Presidential Alerts …
+ Trump: “The Democrat plan would obliterate Obamacare.” If only this were true!
+ Trump: Obama allowed a very large part of Ukraine to be taken.
Jeff Mason (Reuters): That was president Putin who annexed Crimea.
Trump: It was President Obama that allowed it to happen.
+ Trump: “I retired Jeff Flake. I did the country a great service.” True dat…
+ Yamiche Alcindor: “I asked President Trump what he thinks of people seeing his rhetoric as emboldening white nationalists and whether he was concerned that Republicans would be seen as supporting white nationalists. His response: ‘That’s a racist question.’”
+ Trump: “I think I am a great moral leader.” And as a “great moral leader” maybe you can a lead story time for the children in cages, Donald…
+ There was the glorious White House press corps sitting on its hands while Trump repeatedly humiliated April Ryan….
+ Trump is now less popular with 3.7% unemployment, than Obama was in November 2010 when unemployment was at 9.8%.
+ Trump: “We have just about the cleanest air and the cleanest water we’ve ever had.”
+ Jon Tester’s narrow escape in Montana was a sharp rebuke to Trump, who targeted Tester because he went after Trump’s Doctor Feelgood, Ronnie Jackson. But it was going to be a rebuke to Montana, whoever won that election.
+ Two Harris County judges accounted for more than one-fifth of all children sent to state prisons in Texas last year. Nearly all of the teens sent into prisons by the judges—96 percent—were children of color. Both of them lost their reelection bids on Tuesday.
+ This seems like a bizarre but fair tradeoff: Florida voters approved Amendment 9, which banned both offshore oil drilling and indoor vaping.
+ My friend Sainath writes from India:
Is there actually a single day after World War II that American troops/operatives etc., were not dispensing large scale violence anywhere in the world?
Any day that the US was not at war?
I sure can’t recall one. I remember Bill Clinton and Al Gore striding into office proclaiming a Pax Clintonia, which would shower the nation with a “peace dividend.” Then they ended up launching missiles at Iraq every three days for 8 years, killing a million Iraqis through a savage sanctions regime and wrapping up their term by engaging in an illegal war against Serbia. Then, shortly after Obama won his Nobel Peace Prize, the president elected to end the 9/11 wars ordered a surge of troops, bombing and drone operations in Afghanistan that soon expanded to at least 6 other countries and probably several more we don’t yet know about. The pace accelerated each year. In his final year in office, Obama launched 26,171 airstrikes–3,000 more than the year before!
+ Pompeo Maximus admits that the purpose of the new sanctions on Iran is to starve the Iranian people and blame the Iranian government for their deaths: “Well, remember, just so you remember, the (Iranian) leadership has to make a decision that they want their people to eat.”
+ “Any Negro-American who travels abroad today must either not discuss race conditions in the United States or say the sort of thing which our State Department wishes the world to believe.”– WEB DuBois after being denied a passport to travel to Paris for the Présence Africaine Congress of Black Writers and Artists.
+ According to historian Tom Holland “fathers who wrote to Hitler requesting permission to name their daughters ‘Hitlerine’ were informed that ‘Adolfine’ was ‘the recommended compromise’.” No word from the White House on whether his MAGAness prefers “Trumpalina” or “Donaldine.”
+ Legendary sportswriter Paul Zimmerman died on November 1, at the age of 88. Zimmerman had a great wit and an acerbic writing style, which wasn’t suited for the stiff style-sheet of the New York Times. Here’s Zimmerman on his own experience in dealing with Times editors who wanted him to “bland it down.”
+ While mayor of San Francisco, Dianne Feinstein was overhead at a funeral for someone who had died of AIDS ask, “What’s a Quaalude?” (See The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shilts.)
+ What happens in Kentucky stays in Kentucky. While in Cleveland this week, Trump reminisced about his days as a young business guy: “I won’t tell you…but I on occasion would be known to sneak into Kentucky, because I liked Kentucky. I like Kentucky for all the wrong reasons, but I like Kentucky. I like it.”
+ Over the past two decades, the top 10% of income earners have enjoyed a nearly 200% increase in their net worth, while the bottom 40% of earners have seen a decline.
+ National hourly minimum wage by country:
New Zealand: $11.70
United Kingdom: $10.04
United States: $7.25
+ Theresa May’s new housing minister Roger Scruton has offered his considered opinion that there is “no such crime” as date rape. Scruton asserts that sexual harassment “just means sexual advances made by the unattractive.”
+ Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, who granted Julian Assange asylum, has himself asked for asylum in Belgium, where his family lives, charging that he is being persecuted by the government of his successor, Lenin Moreno.
+ I’m sure Trump will say, reading from the script that Ollie North faxes him, that if only there’d been an armed guard at that bar Thousand Oaks, the mass murderer, a former Marine machine-gunner suffering from PTSD after tours of duty in Afghanistan, would have been killed before he even got a shot off. There were six off-duty police officers in the bar at time of shooting.
+ According to a witness at the club, the ex-Marine Ian David Long purposely walked up to the security guard standing outside and shot him. Then he entered the club and “turned to the right and shot several of the other security and employees there, and then began opening fire inside the nightclub.”
+ The MAGA spin machine shifted into overdriven before the blood in Thousand Oaks was even
+ Almost certainly the first time a poppy is associated with the death of soldier can be found (like almost everything else in Western Lit) in this striking simile from the greatest antiwar poem ever written, The Iliad….
As a garden poppy, burst into red bloom, bends,
drooping its head to one side, weighed down
by its full seeds and a sudden spring shower,
so Gorgythion’s head fell limp over one shoulder,
weighed down by his helmet. (Book VIII, translation Robert Fagels)
+ That master of erudition William Gass has compiled a list of the 12 books that were the most important in shaping his life. It’s a shelf straining with heavyweights: Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria, Virginia Woolf’s Diaries, Ford’s Parade’s End, Joyce’s Ulysses, Mann’s The Magic Mountain, Kafka’s Country Doctor, Flaubert’s Letters, Colette’s Break of Day, Yeats’ The Tower, Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives, Gaddis’ The Recognitions.
I’ve read all of those books and admire most of them. But I can’t say any of them “shaped my life.” The books that helped form my life were largely the one’s I read as a young teenager, eager to find out about a world (nature, war, race, crime, and sex) I’d yet to explore. Here are 12 that stay in my head more than 40 years after I first read them…
Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe
The Once and Future King by TH White
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The King Must Die by Mary Renault
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley
A Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Roger Tory Peterson
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
+ According to this distressing essay in the Oxford American by Will Bostwick, three-quarters of the recordings from classic era of gospel (1945 to 1975) are now lost or destroyed. “I just have this fear every day that somewhere there’s another load going to the landfill of the only known copy of something that helped change American music,” says music historian Robert Darden, who heads the Black Music Restoration Project at Baylor University.
+ The Justice Department is currently investigating Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for corruption. If most of the gangsters are now in the government, who is running the white collar gangs?
+ Alaska had its warmest October on record with a statewide average temperature of 34.5°F, 9.0°F above the state’s long-term average.
+ It’s November and California is burning again: Paradise has been incinerated, Malibu has been evacuated and Griffith Park is on fire….As my friend Theo Papathanasis says, “Fire season’s a year-round affair nowadays, like Christmas.”
+ I always like to close out on a high, if I can, so how about this: on Thursday a federal judge in Montana slapped an injunction on the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. Keep up the fight, even when everyone else to tells you it’s over.
Oyster Kiss, Crayfish Bliss
What I’m reading this week…
Brave New Arctic: the Untold Story of the Melting North by Mark Serreze
Money and Class in America by Lewis Lapham
Impeaching the President: Past, Present and Future by Alan Hirsch
What I’m listening to this week…
Ella Fitzgerald Sings Cole Porter by Ella Fitzgerald
Black Woman by Judy Mowatt
Overload by Georgia Ann Muldrow
The Only Beacon
Roberto Bolaño: “Even on the poorest streets people could be heard laughing. Some of these streets were completely dark, like black holes, and the laughter that came from who knows where was the only sign, the only beacon that kept residents and strangers from getting lost.”