Monday, February 27, 2017

Snopes on Speed Dial

I'll tell you who won't win the revolution for us: Young progressive conspiracy theorists. The fake news coming out of the right isn't enough for you? Two lies don't make a truth. Thank god for fact-checking sites, but they can't possibly keep up with the bushels of bullshit per hour. Stop. Or at least think before you post. Life is too damn short, and this is too important.

ON THE OTHER HAND, if you want to contemplate a real conspiracy theory that will curl your hair, try this one. The Guardian has been consistently fascinating this year.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Solution Is Dissolution, Redux

Back when I wrote this, it seemed evident that Trump's cabinet was being filled with antis whose main goal in life had always been to dismantle the agency they were now tapped to lead. And now that plan for deconstruction is confirmed.

Let's think about what's going on right now. Arizona voted to treat protest like organized crime. The administration told public schools to ignore existing law protecting trans students. De Vos is on record calling for the cutting of her own budget. Freshmen Congressmen, eager to get made, introduced bills to eliminate the Department of Education and the EPA. Trump has signed memos constructing pipelines and reducing regulatory burdens—and freezing federal hiring outside of the military.

Our Congressman is raising money on local protests at his town hall meetings:
I wanted to make sure you saw these reports from the Buffalo News, ABC, Fox News and the New York Times covering our Town Hall meetings on Saturday.
As many of you already know, Tom has held over two hundred Town Hall meetings since taking office and is one of the most accessible members of Congress. It's great to see national and local media recognize his efforts in spite of the liberal extremists who tried to stop us from having an honest conversation about the issues facing our country and district. According to the Buffalo News, activists with ties to Washington organized and trained protestors who took over our meetings with demands including single payer healthcare, citizenship for illegal immigrants and an immediate stop to fossil fuel production.
I know that these extreme liberals do not represent our values and that is why we need your help.
The campaign is already up and running to combat these efforts and defend our record against distortions. As we work to unite this district there are liberal groups attempting to drive us apart and bully us into supporting their extreme agenda.
A contribution of $10, $20, $50, $100 or more will help us fight back and show the Ithaca and the Washington Democrats that their destructive tactics aren't going to work here in the Southern Tier, Finger Lakes and Western New York.
It is hard to imagine how our "trained protestors" could possibly have a more extreme agenda than the Trump administration has.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Clarification, Plus Another NY Action

Chuck points out that to get the clever age-linked lists they used for their phone bank, they spent some money and used a service.

And another old publishing contact send this message:
Yesterday, I read an article or post (can't remember) about how our State AG, Eric Schneiderman, Trump's Enemy #1!, is planning to take down Trump using the emoluments clause, so I called the office in support and to find out more and left a message with my name and number.
This morning, I just got a call back from a woman in his office, who said she has been going through the call log since 7:30am, calling people back to urge us to call AND send an email to him, voicing our support for further investigations into Trump's conflicts of interest and potential violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, so he can bring a suit! 
She said she is logging the calls and emails so PLEASE DO BOTH! Her name is G ("as in Girl, easy to remember") and if she doesn't pick up, leave a message with your name and number and she will call you back. Phone 212-416-6218 Email: Be sure and put your name, address and number in the email. Thank you!!!! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Calling Republicans

Chuck writes of a successful phone bank on the West Side—30 Dems calling registered Republicans over 65 in the 19th District (Faso land). Mostly seniors calling seniors to say that they were worried about the future of Social Security and Medicare and urging them to call Faso (on the Budget Committee) to share their own concerns and encourage him not to cut SS or Medicare.

According to Chuck, "The elderly Republicans we called were surprisingly responsive. They were suspicious if they thought we were calling about Obamacare, but once we mentioned Social Security and Medicare, they were willing to talk... We got over 20 promises to call Faso."

Sounds like a good plan for any of several groups here in Tompkins, whether they call within the 23rd (Reed is on Ways and Means) or call Claudia Tenney's district, the 22nd (she's on Financial Services, which really isn't connected, but she ought to be getting heat from all directions, because she is one of the most vulnerable Congresspeople in NYS). Major towns in the 22nd include Binghamton, Rome, Utica; Cortland and Norwich are in there, too. Phone lists are available at boards of elections, or Citizen Action Southern Tier can probably help.

I like the idea of reaching out to Republicans. We don't do that often enough.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


I took a break to have a birthday, try unsuccessfully to get over my illness, drive northeast to spring my mother from the hospital, and welcome O for winter break, but that doesn't mean things weren't happening. The photo shows me at the far right of the TC Progressives' event at GreenStar—we gave the room four minutes on Running for Local Office and got a lot of interested volunteers and a few potential candidates. And Sunday, our Listening Meeting committee met to hash out an action plan for 2017.

Our Congressman, who ran the first time as a Tea Party guy, tracked to the middle and was threatened twice from the right, and now is a fervent Trumpeter, got more press than he's ever received thanks to progressive groups from our county and beyond ferrying protesters to his four town halls on Saturday and alerting the media. He had, to everyone's surprise, shown up in Ithaca at 11 PM to talk to the Catholic Workers sitting in at his Ithaca office. It appears, in the short run, anyway, that the fact that he stood up to the protests rather than running away (or refusing to hold town hall meetings, as some of our neighboring Congresspeople have decided to do) will make him something of a hero, which was surely not the intent of those who brought media coverage to the 23rd District. He was even on NPR again this morning—now he's everyone's go-to guy for this topic.

Meanwhile, it turns out that you can spout whatever bile you like about women, or transgendered folks, or immigrants, but when you cross the line into deviant sex practices, you're out.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I Can't Hear You

NPR reported today on a gay journalist whose experience with trolls after he published an article on Milo Y turned him into a conservative. Our Trump-enabling Congressman is holding a series of Town Hall meetings (well outside of our liberal county) on Saturday, and amid the calls for polite discourse are plenty of people claiming that their intention is to shut him up and drown him out.

My father's favorite phrase, which he attributed (wrongly) to Voltaire, was "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." (Voltaire's biographer, a woman named Evelyn Beatrice Hall, was the real author of the quote.) This philosophy has been strangled to death by a society in which we value safe spaces and bubbles over a free exchange of ideas.

The danger is that if you drown out Milo Y and the congressman, you make them into heroic, wronged victims, whereas if you let them spout their claptrap, noxious though it may be, they eventually drown themselves out. If it's too painful for you to listen, don't go. But don't let your sensitivities allow people like Milo Y to portray himself as abused and bullied. That way, he wins.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Great Unraveling

The unraveling of the Trump regime continues apace, and reporters aren't even disguising their pleasure. Twenty-seven days was all it took.

Meanwhile, this most Ithacan of Ithaca stories took place yesterday. Only in Ithaca could our boy mayor marry a couple during a sit-in at a Congressman's local office.

And tonight I'm on this agenda down at Greenstar for the first of many such scheduled meet ups:

This is What Democracy Looks Like!

Please attend! Wed. Feb 15th, 5 to 7 pm

(a meet up with 12 round table discussions, at the Space at Greenstar...)
The topics and their facilitators are:
1. Environmental Organizing. Lisa Marshall, Mothers out Front
2. Healthcare & the NY Health Act. Susan  Beckley, Finger Lakes for New York Health
3. Safe spaces for the LGBTQ community.  Anne Koreman, business owner in Trumansburg
4. Progressive Radio.  Will Burbank, TC legislature
5. Perfecting the Progressive Pitch.  Ann-Marie Adams, public affairs specialist
6. Unfunded Mandates & Property Taxes.  Don Barber, former town of Caroline supervisor
7. Advocacy on Behalf of Refugees.  Laurie Konwinski, Catholic Charities
8. Affordable Housing.  Theresa Alt, Democratic Socialists of America
9. Running & Helping in Local Elections.  Kathy Zahler, TC Democratic Committee
10. Saving Cayuga Lake.  Walter Hang, Toxics Targeting
11. Getting to know Tom Reed.  Katy Nicholson, TC Progressives
12. TC Sanctuary Resolution.  Kathy Bergin, immigration lawyer

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sneaking in via the Back Door

It's good I'm following about 110 small protest groups in town, or I might have missed H.R. 610, which will remove federal funding from education and put it all into block grants to states. The repeal of the Hungry Kids Act is just gratuitous meanness, but the bill itself would mean the end of any attempt at equity or diversity in schools, pulling the civil rights rug out from under the kiddies.

Caucusing and Listening

My latest TW column is about what's happening in the local Party right this minute.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Local Campaigns

I attended a candidate training (really for chairs and campaign managers rather than candidates) in Auburn yesterday, where I learned that Cayuga County folks are miles ahead of many of us in their scientific approach to campaigns. They take the target vote seriously and spend zero energy or money reaching voters who always vote the Dem line in every local election. I didn't learn anything new, but I was fascinated by their seriousness. They have already lined up town board candidates for the whole county and will start canvassing and doing door-to-door in June. It's exhausting! Meanwhile, we have a little village race that will occupy all of our time till late March. But I will try to apply some of the Cayuga tactics to reach those voters who are tough to reach in tiny local races. And I will make sure our candidates know their Win number.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Nonpartisan Contempt

At last night's Legislative Forum on educational issues/budget at BOCES, Assemblyman Chris Friend (R) and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D) were alarmingly in sync on every issue--keep foundation aid, fold restricted aid into foundation aid, take the tax cap off BOCES capital projects, allow schools to increase reserves.... It turns out that partisan politics don't hold a candle to mutual dislike of the governor.

Which gives me a glimmer of hope for the national scene. If the GOP can rid themselves of the fantasy that if they just feed the monster and pet it occasionally, it will grant all their wishes, they, too, might unite with the Dems against a common enemy, and we might actually get something done. Or not.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

You, Sir, Sorta Suck as a Nominee

The Senate whipped out some courtly rules about not maligning fellow members to shut Elizabeth Warren down last night. Oh, for the days when you could rip an old Senator in half and reject him for drinking and womanizing. Life was simpler then.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


It's a sad day when I agree with neocon David Frum about anything whatsoever, but he is absolutely correct here. Pick two things: Taxes and Russia. Go for them full out.

The amount of irk I am starting to build up from the onslaught of "My uncle has a barn, let's start a political movement" posts and emails I'm receiving is threatening to erupt in my skin again. I love a good political movement; don't get me wrong. And I am the first to agree that action beats inaction. However....

The Left has never been able to focus. Think back to any protest event you've been to for the past umpteen years. There's the Women's Issues table, the Environmental Issues table, the Latino table, the Socialist table, the Anarchist table, the Tshirt and Bumper Sticker table... It's like a village bazaar instead of a focused political action. Do you think the Tea Party had a Christian table, an NRA table, a RTL table, a KKK table? No, they just went for it, figurative guns blazing. And blazing guns beat scattershot sniping every time.

The Women's March on Washington was different, because it really managed to wrap all the causes up into one big ball of expressive anger and point it like a cannon down the Mall toward the White House. That's the kind of focus we need.

What's happening now is that I'm snowed under by groups that are largely doing the same kinds of things under different names. Sorting them out, or even telling them apart, occupies way too much energy that should be going to honest-to-god action. I don't want to read your new newsletter; I'm already reading two perfectly fine newsletters and would like to cut back to one. I don't want to share your ideas for saving ACA; I just shared someone else's ideas for saving ACA that were honestly just about the same as yours only maybe a little bit clearer.

How's this: Join forces with an existing group. Merge your followers with their followers. Pick a thing. Do it. Don't talk about it fifteen different ways. Just do it. It's fine to invite others to do it, too, but don't waste a lot of time on that. Doing it is the important part. Then start again the next day. Do a related thing. Don't go off on a tangent because you read a cool article. Pretend there's a target in front of you, and your only goal is to hit the bullseye. Possibly 100 times. Maybe until the target shreds, and you have to find a new target.

Oh, and while you are making your super nice FB event page for your thing, consider that people you might wish would join you, those rural folks or working class folks who live outside of town, don't even have broadband and won't ever see it. Maybe that could be a thing... oops, don't get distracted.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Dishonest Media

This is actually the most chilling thing I've seen this week: Trump's hinting that the media, for its own unnamed reasons, is failing to report incidents of terrorism.

So now we are in the post-truth realm where we have a choice—to believe our Commander in Chief or to believe our mainstream media. Apparently the two are mutually exclusive. How dangerous is that?

Choler in the Blood

I've taken a break from blogging, or indeed from thinking about much. If I could characterize my mood over the past few months, it might range from somewhat depressed to murderously enraged, without much of a break for joy or pleasure. The result has been, as the Greeks would say, choler in the blood. I haven't been sick in 21 years, minus the occasional cold or mild flu, but last week my virus morphed into shingles, and it hit me like a truck.

No, I didn't get the vaccine; it has neomycin in it, and I'm allergic to most antibiotics. Still, I'd rather have hives for a day than this. If childbirth was 10, and a botched root canal was 9, this was an 8—and it lasted a lot longer than either!

I honestly haven't thought about shingles since the height of the AIDS epidemic, but it seems like a singularly perfect metaphor for my toxic mood. I'm healing in body and must work harder on the spirit.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

About Frederick Douglass

"Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I noticed."  
                       —Donald Trump on Black History Month

I wonder which of these represents the amazing job Mr. Douglass "has done":

"The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous."
"The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
"Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground."
"To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker."
 "Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe."
                                 —Frederick Douglass

That's Our Girl

Not really ours, but she did eat dinner with us monthly while she was a student here! Olivia pitched the story of her defense of a Qatari detainee to the Sun, and they ran with it.