Elections Are Either Free & Fair Or They Aren’t

Without gerrymandering and voter suppression, America’s true political map would look significantly different than it does now.

Example – Texas, where Republican gerrymandering has given blue-as-can-be Austin more Republican representation than Democratic. In Austin, gerrymandering is literally circumventing the will of the people — exactly as designed. That IS the point of gerrymandering — to give a minority of voters a way to take and keep power from the majority indefinitely. I guess if you could do that with the quality of your ideas, you would…

Without voter suppression, Georgia would now have Democrat Stacy Abrams instead of Republican Brian Kemp, Georgia’s former Secretary of State.

Among the reported irregularities — 3,000 people were wrongly flagged by the state as being ineligible to vote prior to election day and, then, another 53,000 voters had their registrations delayed by Kemp’s office without adequately notifying the applicants. Can you guess how many of those 56,000 voters were either African-American or Democratic? How about pretty much ALL OF THEM.

The final tally gave Kemp the win by 54,723 votes. If (and we don’t know) every one of those suppressed, uncounted votes (and Kemp’s Georgia Department of State’s got some integrity issues) had been votes for Stacy Abrams… well, you see how that works? If Stacy Abrams had won by ONE VOTE, then she would be governor now and corrupt-to-his-toes Brian Kemp wouldn’t be.

One vote CAN make a difference and sometimes, ONE VOTE absolutely does. “Every Vote Counts” is not bullshit. It’s a verifiable fact. There’s data that says it’s a fact.

In a “Free And Fair Election”, every vote gets counted. No one would do anything EVER to dissuade another voter from voting. THAT would be seen as 1) anti-democratic and 2) anti-American. And yet… American elections are rife with one side (and it’s ONE SIDE ONLY — both don’t do it) doing everything in its power to dissuade, disincline and prevent the other side from using its right to vote.

When you screw with another American’s vote, you’re screwing with their rights. And when you screw with another American’s rights, YOU’RE BREAKING THE LAW. Not sort of breaking the law, BREAKING THE LAW.

Our slippery slide down the slope to corruption began the instant we first compromised The Rule Of Law. The moment we stopped practicing The Rule Of Law evenly across the board, we hurt it. We undermined its integrity — and once a thing’s integrity is gone, it’s just a matter of time before rot completely destroys it. We have two sets of rules. One for Rich White Guys and one for everyone else (assuming the everyone else is People Of Color).

But, what if Charles or David Koch (back from the dead) were to show up at THEIR polling place only to be told “Sorry, dude — your name’s not on the list”? Would either Koch Brother stand for such a thing? Of course they wouldn’t. They’d be on the phone to their high-priced lawyer before the polling place worker had finished their sentence. The law would be rewritten on the spot.

They’d vote and their vote would be counted. Probably two or three times even just because.

But, of course, in reality, such a thing could never, ever, EVER happen. The circumstances could never exist where a rich, white, Christian Koch Brother — reliably Republican — would have have HIS right to vote challenged or questioned or abridged or compromised or withheld in any way, shape or form.

And THAT is at the very heart of the problem. It’s the Koch’s manipulating everyone else’s vote, right to vote, ability to vote or means to vote either directly by their actions or indirectly through their money. Has one dollar of their money ever found its way into a voter suppression effort?

That’s one dollar too many. Same token — if just ONE VOTER is prevented from voting because of bullshit? That election can no longer claim to be “free and fair”.

There’s no “magic number” of acceptable suppressed votes. A suppressed vote is not an abstraction if the vote is yours. It’s a very real denial of your most fundamental right as a citizen. In the face of that denial, the question must be asked: WHY?

Why is MY right to vote being denied me?

Like I said — that’s a question Charlie Koch will never have to ask himself.

Republicans Are The “Mission Accomplished” Party; That’s Great Until You Realize What Their “Mission” Is…

Who can forget W aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, May 2, 2003 – proudly proclaiming just what the banner behind him said: “Mission Accomplished”.

That image haunted W’s presidency.  It haunts him to this day because nothing had actually been accomplished.  The only thing they’d succeeded at, mission-wise, up to that point was successfully hanging that banner without anyone getting hurt.

Like everything else Republicans say, “Mission Accomplished” was marketing, no more honest or genuine than Mitch McConnell insisting Merrick Garland couldn’t get a hearing because “the American people needed to make the SCOTUS choice, not the president who they’d overwhelmingly returned to office”. That WAS what Moscow Mitch said with as straight a face as he could muster.

And yet – when it comes to “Mission Accomplished”, Republicans have actually succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.  The America being torn apart right now is the America Republicans want.  We are living in their “Mission Accomplished” – or, to be accurate, “Mission NEARLY Accomplished”.  Republicans can see Permanent Minority Rule from their house now.  They ache to get there.

This is how close Republicans are now to accomplishing their mission –

  • PACK THE COURTS — Moscow Mitch denied Obama dozens of lifetime court appointments.  How strange that all those vacancies started filling the moment Trump became POTUS.
  • How strange that Merrick Garland couldn’t get a hearing while Brett Kavanaugh skated despite overwhelming evidence he was unworthy to hold the judgeship he already held.

  • PROHIBIT NON-WHITE IMMIGRATION – Children in cages, anyone?

  • DESTROY THE ENVIRONMENT – We left the Paris Accords.  Ryan Zinke.  The end of clean water, clean air, National Parks.  Life as we know it.
  • MAKE THE RICH RICHER & THE POOR POORER – Tax cuts for the rich, bullshit & lies for everyone else.
  • INSTITUTIONALIZE RACISM – “Decent people on both sides”.
  • MAKE GERRYMANDERING PERMANENT – Twice as many Democrats as Republicans have to vote in order for their majority to actually feel like a majority.  The whole point of gerrymandering is to CIRCUMVENT the Will Of The People.  Welcome to Republicanism.  Can’t win on the law, can’t win on procedure, so pound the table into sawdust instead.
  • ENFORCE PERMANENT MINORITY RULE – Remind the class – how many more votes did Hilary Clinton get over Trump?  3 million plus, was it?  Remember – that doesn’t include all the uncounted, provisional, suppressed, flipped & tossed in the trash ballots.  Think any of those were Republican votes?
  • DESTROY OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH ALL ALLIES – The knife-wound in the Kurds’ back is still fresh enough we can watch it bleed.
  • MAKE AMERICA A RUSSIAN SATELLITE STATE – How about that: “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”!

Corruption, Thy Name Is GOP

Politics is the art of compromise. Republican politics is the art of making compromise unnecessary because the other side is powerless to stop you.

To the GOP’s credit, they saw from a distance that they had a problem and actively did something about it. Post Reagan, as America’s demographics trended with greater rapidity away from old, Christian, white male power, the GOP — the party of old, Christian, white male power — made a conscious decision to undermine the growing majority’s political power.

Behind everything, of course, is The Money. Money always wants to protect itself — and make sure that whatever else happens in the world, IT always “is”. The rich intend to stay rich. To do that, they must retain power. To do that, GOP Money like the Kochs & the Mercers have invested heavily in politicians like Moscow Mitch McConnell. Mitch understands his role completely. If doing everything in HIS power to keep his real constituents IN power means the Republic itself dissolves into an authoritarian hellhole? That’s okay to Mitch.

It’s okay to entire Republican Party — because THEY get to hold onto power forever — regardless of how small a minority they become.

Mitch & the Republican Brain Trust understood that the Executive Branch was probably gone forever — unless the Electoral College could be more fully manipulated. Keep in mind — the whole point of the EC is to over-empower rural (slave-holding, conservative, white Christian) America while under-powering urban, populated, more diverse and therefore more progressive America. Republicans have been working to suppress black and Latino voters forever and ever and ever.

Ask yourself — if all those immigrants fleeing (American-caused) drug violence were reliably future Republican voters, would Republicans oppose their humane treatment as they do now? Of course they wouldn’t! If Republicans thought Puerto Ricans were reliable Republicans, Puerto Rico would have been a state yesterday.

For all the Republicans’ constant hang-wringing about election fraud, the only election fraud going on is perpetrated by Republicans.

Mitch & Team Treason knew — while the Executive Branch could always be within reach (via cheating), they couldn’t count on it.

They also recognized that the Legislative Branch was going to be hard to control. The Senate would be easier because, by design, it’s meant to empower the minority over the majority. Wyoming has the same power in the Senate as California does. That’s stupid. But, again, it was a system designed by white, Christian men who never imagined a modern Republican Party.

The House of Representatives was the Lost Cause. It is, after all, the Peoples’ House. Still, the Republicans had a tool in their belt — GERRYMANDERING. While Democrats also have been guilty (I grew up in Maryland), they’ve never been guilty to the extent the GOP’s been guilty. Not even close.

No, both sides don’t do it — not like this. The whole point of gerrymandering is to undermine the will of the majority by diluting it. That’s why we get districts that look like mindless doodles. They’re not mindless. They’re designed — to over-empower the Republican voters and under-empower the Democrats.

Again, to the GOP’s credit, they did their homework. Back during the Reagan years, they attacked local power structures all over the country. They ran for and won school boards and city council seats and statehouses. It wasn’t so much that they appealed to huge swaths of voters — they didn’t. They appealed to the voters who showed up — theirs. The ones who were motivated to show up — because they had a larger agenda.

The effects of minority rule are insidious. When the majority feels like their votes and their voices don’t matter, they stop voting and voicing their opinions. That’s the point — to make the majority feel powerless.

Republican Politics.

Between gerrymandering, indirect voter suppression (voter ID laws meant to make even getting ID hard) and direct cheating (working with Russia to win 2016), Republicans have taken corruption to places corruption probably never thought it would rise to. To maintain power, they’ve committed to destroying the Republic if that’s what it takes.

To maintain power, Republicans will do WHATEVER it takes. You can’t GET any more corrupt than that.

Dear America: We Are Living Through World War III And Don’t Even Know It

Anyone who thinks it takes bombs and bullets to win a war will lose every single war they ever wage going forward. Right now, that would be us — still thinking that Donald Trump is anything other than a literal weapon, fully loaded and pointed directly at our heads.

If Russia wanted to (hell, a bunch of countries could probably do this — Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Israel), they could shut down our electric grid today — and leave us in the dark, disconnected from the internet and social media and our lives. We’d sue for peace in a heartbeat. That’s a whole war waged — successfully — without a single shot being fired.

We know for a fact (it’s in the Mueller Report and it’s part of the reason he eats prison dinner every night) that Paul Manafort gave Oleg Deripaska (oligarch & “Pal O’ Putin”) proprietary polling data for Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan & Pennsylvania. We know for a fact that that polling data was processed inside the GRU (Russian Military Intelligence) then weaponized — and returned to those states (PA/WI/MI especially) in the form of highly personalized Facebook ads that showed up (especially) on the FB pages of African American voters.

The point of the exercise is voter suppression — the use of propaganda to dissuade a voter from voting. Every voter dissuaded from doing their duty as a citizen (think ANY of these voters vote Republican?) is as good as a vote for their opponent. The fact that such activities aren’t already massively illegal is a testament to how much Republican corruption we’ve already normalized and how deeply institutional racism runs.

Like the skilled cold warrior he is, Putin knows how to make big plays in the secret realm that, strangely, never get any attention.

I’m not the first or only person to see us living in a second Pearl Harbor — in the hour or so before 7:15 when the Japanese Imperial Navy arrived and started attacking us. That however is a painfully ironic description of where we are. Putin & Russia have attacked us from the worst possible direction — from within.

Being unable to beat us economically or technologically — or even ideologically (since Putin’s only ideology is greed, power & corruption), Putin, calling on his mad intelligence officer skills, has declared war on us in the only way available to him — via espionage: info war, cyber war.

We don’t know yet the full extent to which our very perceptions of election 2016 were colored by propaganda, misinformation and disinformation originating from outside the country (Russia but also Saudi Arabia, Israel and who knows where else). How much Hillary Hatred was actually Russia?

As its first act of open war on us, Vlad Putin took the truth out back and busted a cap in its head.

It’s incumbent on us — if we want our Democracy back — to finally see the war that’s been declared on us in secret for the war that it is. More important? We need to see all the Fifth Columnists & outright TRAITORS who’ve thrown in with our enemies — because they saw that as a cynical pathway to permanent power.

I’m talking to YOU, Moscow Mitch McConnell.

That’s the other painful irony — it isn’t just enemies from without who’ve declared war on us, there’s an enemy within. The Extreme Christian Right and its money — Kochs, Mercers et al — saw that the demographics were going to mean an eventual end to their hold on this country. They declared cultural & political war on the majority — and, using gerrymandering & voter suppression, have done everything they can to install permanent minority rule — THEY being the minority.

That, too is undeclared war. It doesn’t make it any less real — or its effects any more painful and permanent.

Donald Trump Is The American Caligula… That’s Not A Good Thing

Not A Revelation: Donald Trump thinks he’s King… or, in German — “Kaiser” — the Germanification of the name “Caesar”.

But Donald Trump is such an incompetent, that he can’t even get being a “Caesar” right. He’s gone and modeled himself after another Roman emperor — Caligula.

We keep reaching for the words to describe our times — times that are increasingly indescribable. The word Michelle Goldberg used today is perfect (until the Trumpanistas surpass it): “Debauched”. We live in Debauched Times because the man occupying the White House is a modern, Adderall-huffing, bloated orange Caligula.

Donald Trump has destroyed every bit of common decency we ever associated with ourselves. While the real Caligula probably wasn’t anywhere near as insane as the Caligula in our imaginations (his enemies wrote the histories), the more we experience Donald Trump and his myriad debaucheries, the more we have to look at Caligula and ask “Okay, but what if he really was that bad?”

In addition to killing everyone he feared (including the men who put him in power), Caligula declared himself a god. He replaced the heads on the statues of gods all around Rome with his own head. Most famously, Caligula wanted to make his horse consul. Between and around all that, Caligula epitomized debauchery in every form. If it felt good to him, he did it.

Or, as Caligula himself put it: “Remember that I have the right to do anything to anybody.”

That sounds almost painfully like “I alone can fix it”.

Just as Caligula debauched (and debased) an already debaucheded Roman society, so too is Donald Trump taking our worst instincts and feeding them Trumpian steroids. We stand by, watching (disapproving — horrified even), but, in fact, doing nothing to stop it while the debauchery continues unabated. We have blown past moments of what should have been end-of-the-line absurdity — images that previously would have defined a presidency and ended it on the spot —

Instead, these images have become shards in a massive mosaic that, if you look at it one way, looks exactly like Donald Trump. But, if you turn your head and look at it slightly askew? You see the deeper problem within: Massive, systemic, foundational REPUBLICAN corruption.

This shouldn’t be a revelation (though it apparently is — and that’s horrifying): Our problem isn’t Donald Trump, it’s the whole damned Republican Party. It’s the 1% trying desperately to make minority rule (by them) a permanent fixture of American political and social life. They have already hijacked the judiciary (that would be Mitch McConnell denying Merrick Garland or any Obama judicial appointment a hearing then cramming every doctrinaire conservative shithead into the openings deliberately left behind). They’ve already used two stolen SCOTUS seats to make political gerrymandering a permanent fixture — thus putting the legislative branch in their clutches forever.

Democrats may win the overwhelming majority of the votes but gerrymandering dilutes those votes down to where a handful of Republicans can beat them. With the legislative branch permanently in their hands, the executive is easy — especially when concurrently you’ve been remaking the presidency as a side show Caesar-ship. Just not the right Casear…

Conservatism Is A Disease – It Says So Right In Its Name…

Though the word “liberal” has a long history, it’s too malleable, too easily redirected in the current vernacular where words have been unmoored from their meanings. That’s what LYING does. I prefer the word “PROGRESSIVE” to describe my politics because, in a culture where getting people to read a goddamned tweet is a challenge, billboarding your meaning is just plain more efficient communication.

We don’t have to guess what progressive politics want to accomplish: PROGRESS.

By the same token, we don’t have to guess what “CONSERVATIVE” politics want to accomplish. It’s right there in the name: conservative politics want to conserve WHAT IS or, more often — what WAS. Conservatives want to live in the past. They want to resist change — progress — any & every way they can. Progress is their kryptonite.

Why?

Well,m who ARE conservatives in America (and most of Europe)? They’re white people who want to CONSERVE the white world they came from. Our multi-ethnic, multi-racial world (where women have an equal say) is completely antithetical to them. They want to shove all the toothpaste back into the tube. As if anyone could.

But this is really the world conservatism wants to drag us back to — an empty toothpaste tube — recognizable but empty with absolutely no future (except perhaps as garbage). In order to accomplish this end — regress — conservatives need to step in progress’s path. Being a minority position — an increasingly minority position — conservatism has resorted to outright treason (on top of gerrymandering and voter suppression) to maintain its weakening grip on power. When electoral politics no longer work for you, what else are ya gonna do?

Conservatism — once the supposed bastion for lovers of the Rule Of Law — is now where liars and con men go to piss on the Rule Of Law instead. The Rule Of Law, conservatives now see is a roadmap to their own extinction. So — like a virus, conservatism now seeks to infect America — like a virus — bent on turning us into it. Conservatives will now try to shove their DNA back into America like toothpaste that will never ever get back into the tube.

It’s all well and good for the toothpaste. Our problem is we’re the tube.

America Has A ‘Body Image’ Problem: Why Gerrymandering Is Our DYSMORPHIA

What does America ‘look like’?

Imagine us sweeping into a dressing room for a fitting.  How shall we ‘dress’ going forward (through the door of the next election — there, that’s the whole metaphor)?

Turns out we have the whole world’s attention as we twirl in the mirror.  They all see us how they see us — like friends and rivals, each with a history and an attitude toward us.  Can’t do much about that right now.  History is history.

But, as we twirl, we catch our own reflection.  And what we see staring back… It confounds us.  We know what we are in our heads.  Why doesn’t our body look like it?

Welcome to Gerrymandering.

Quick example (drawn from Lawrence Wright’s wonderful piece in the New Yorker from a few months back about the effects of gerrymandering on Texas).  Austin, Texas has a largely progressive voter population.  And yet — of the SEVEN voting districts into which Austin has been carved, as of the time Wright was writing, only ONE was represented by a Democrat.  The rest of Austin’s six — predominantly progressive — districts were represented by conservatives (and in several districts, ARCH conservatives).

The (intended) result — A MAJORITY  Progressive voting population is represented as a MINORITY Conservative population — the Will of the People has been completely CIRCUMVENTED.  The intended result isn’t just an electoral win for the MINORITY candidate but the creation of a Juggernaut of electoral invincibility that will keep the conservative white, Christian minority in power over a progressive, diverse majority.  In heavily gerrymandered districts all over the country, Democrats must, in essence, generate at least twice the voter turnout just to achieve ‘parity’ that overcomes the distorting effect of the gerrymandering.

Because that’s what gerrymandering does (aside from circumvent the will of the people) — it creates a distortion — exactly like dysmorphia — to take root in our brains.  The News Media — glomming onto the numbers (like it was our weight expressed down to the atom) — doesn’t see or acknowledge the context that gerrymandering presents, that the numbers, without that context, tell, in fact, a very false narrative about a district that doesn’t exist.

If you’ve ever experienced body dysmorphia — or know someone who has — a dysmorphic’s body image does not match reality.  They desperately need a meal but their dysmorphic mind says ‘Go on a diet’.  The diet could kill them.

That is us — America.  A progressive-by-nature country (that’s what diversity does — it’s why diversity COMES in the first place because progressive places welcome while regressive places turn away) being run by arch conservative people NOT because the progressive population ‘wants’ to be governed that way but because the arch conservative people figured out how to HOLD ONTO POWER despite the fact that they were no longer the majority entitled to hold onto power.

And they did that through GERRYMANDERING.

When America looks in the mirror, it sees THIS —

It sees diversity.  It sees every color in the rainbow and every variation on the theme of being human.  It sees America staring back at it.

When Conservative America look in that same mirror, this apparently is what it sees staring back —

Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump Holds Election Night Event In New York City

THEY look like that, yes.  They do.  And they’re proud of it.  But it’s not what WE look like.  It’s not what America looks like.

When we start to get healthy again — soon, I hope — we’ll see it.