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Is Erika Bachiochi serious?

Ezra Klein interviews Erika Bachiochi today about conservative policy on reproductive rights and abortion.

I’m not sure where she got her ideas.

According to Bachiochi, all women really want is close intimacy in sex and experience better sex within marriage. (Has she spoken to any Mormons?) She advocates for the rhythm method and says that the female body displays signs of fertility but she’s never actually practiced this method herself. She’s Catholic and sounds like she thinks the rest of us are as well. We just don’t know it yet. I guess you could say she’s the Vladimir Putin of female sexuality.

To her, sexuality is stuck in the 50’s. Men coerce women into sex. They don’t volunteer to have hot, steamy hookups. They really want commitment. But gosh darn it, they get talked into premarital sex because of the availability of birth control now. That’s what’s bad. They have no fear of getting knocked up anymore. And while that’s fine and dandy for the Georgetown University female law grads, the idea that poor women may not get pregnant from being seduced is a negative thing.

I am having a really hard time wrapping my head around this argument. Someone didn’t study her truth tables.

Ezra is just letting her talk, politely not interrupting what appears to be the series of second hand accounts of sex as interpreted by a complete virgin who scourges herself when she feels “anxious, if you know what I mean”.

If Bachiochi is right, then nobody in the 50’s was discontent with their lot in life, biology was not destiny and women were absolutely never horny. All women wanted to be held and then to be a mother after having fulfilling sex with their husbands who respected their desire for periodic abstinence. All families had exactly the right number of children and female coeds never had to worry about anything at all except getting their MRS.

Betty Friedan was fake news.

There are commenters all over Twitter praising this interview because it didn’t devolve into a screaming match. Differing views were discussed with civility.

I don’t think this interview went as well as Bachiochi’s supporters think. Her views are naive and out of touch at best and dystopian at worst. It’s like she never read a book from the pre oral contraceptive/abortion days. Or saw a movie. Where has she been all this time? In a convent?

She should not be speaking for all women because she clearly doesn’t understand her own sex.

In more ways than one, apparently.

The Democratic Coalition, Then and Now

We often hear the phrase “the Democratic coalition.” We have a sense of what it is supposed to mean: that the Democratic Party is comprised of people of various backgrounds and goals, and that they ideally come together to vote for Democrats in elections. That if there were not this “coalition,” Democrats would be hopelessly fragmented.

Of course, this is not a formal coalition, and the definition of how it is composed varies, more so than in the past. To be very brief, the two parties realigned after the Civil War. The Democrats were still the party of the South, though there was a growing immigrant class which settled in the bigger cities, and who began to align with the Democrats. The Republicans had largely been the party which was against slavery, and which controlled Reconstruction. For that reason, the people in the South hated the Republicans, and always voted with the Democrats.

But the Republicans almost immediately became the party solely of big business, run by those who were either looked at as “captains of industry,” or “robber barons.” Every single Republican candidate for President came out of the same mold, and was chosen by the likes of Mark Hanna, “the kingmaker.” Republicans and their pro-laissez-faire policies won almost all of the presidential elections. Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur. Then Grover Cleveland from New York was elected as a Democrat, then Benjamin Harrison defeated him, then Cleveland actually managed to come back and win a second term, being the only Democrat who won a presidential election from 1868 to 1912.

Republicans still controlled the country, but the growing immigrant population which was largely forced to work under them, at very low wages, with no protections, moved to the Democratic Party. Tammany Hall became a powerful force; corrupt, but still helping people secure jobs. Republicans still expected that they would run the country forever.

McKinley, championed by Hanna, was a typical Republican nominee. But the Republicans actually chose Theodore Roosevelt, governor of New York, to be his running mate. They didn’t want him to have any power, but to help with the electability of the ticket But McKinley was assassinated, and Roosevelt succeeded him, and infuriated the Republican powers by his “trust busting.”

The country was becoming more economically and socially liberal, fueled by the growing working class. There was a fragile but growing union movement. After Roosevelt, the Republicans nominated and elected Taft, a pretty typical Republican. But when he ran for re-election, Roosevelt ran against him with his self-created “Bull Moose Party,” and split the votes enough that Woodrow Wilson could win. Wilson became the first Democrat to win consecutive terms since Andrew Jackson. Charles Evans Hughes ran against Wilson in 1916, and in keeping with the time, he was a more respected and intellectual Republican than the ones who had been dominating the party.

After Wilson, and after WWI, the Republicans and their “the business of America is business” policies held sway again. Warren Harding, a very unintelligent but handsome man, was gifted with the Presidency, promising “a return to normalcy.” As my father liked to point out, “normalcy” was not a word, the word was “normality,” and Harding was mocked for it. But in a not so surprising irony, “normalcy” has somehow become the common term.

Finally, the laissez-faire and other factors wrecked the economy, and America had a Great Depression, which had about a third of the population out of work, with no prospects or hopes; selling apples or pencils, standing for hours in bread lines.

The progressive movement in the country had grown. Robert La Follette of Wisconsin, who started his own Progressive Party, ran for President in 1924, and received 16.6% of the votes, running against two Conservatives, Coolidge and John, W. Davis. In 1928, Al Smith was the Democratic candidate, running on working class issues, but he was still beaten by Hoover. Finally, things got so bad, and Franklin D. Roosevelt was so charismatic, that he easily beat Hoover in 1932, and won a landslide victory in 1936, and won two more terms after that.

At that time, one could say that there was a Democratic coalition, and that it consisted of working class people of all races. It was largely realized that the Republicans would do nothing to help working people, were against unions, would always favor the very wealthy in their programs.

Democrats also benefited from the fact that the South still hated the Republicans, so always voted Democratic in national elections. As we know, that started to change, when the insidious Richard Nixon and his advisors developed a “Southern Strategy” in 1968, playing on racism, “law and order,” and states rights. Remember that there was a walkout at the Democratic Convention in 1948, with Strom Thurmond and the “Dixiecrats” vehemently opposed to the civil rights plank of the platform, developed by Hubert Humphrey.

So the South has now become dominated by Republicans, each year even more radical in its positions. The only people in the South who consistently vote for the Democrats are Black voters. This realignment, along with the filibuster, has given Southern Republicans a seniority and dominance in the Senate And the tiny Western state each getting two senators, has made sure that those states have combined with the South to exert a political power vastly in excess of their actual numbers.

Bill Clinton was born in Arkansas, vastly admired John F. Kennedy, went to Georgetown and Yale and Oxford. His successful presidential campaigns featured a coalition of traditional liberals, working class women and men, people from states like Arkansas, Tennessee and West Virginia, and Black people from all states.

After Clinton, the Democrats won with Barack Obama. His campaign for the nomination in 2008, against Hillary Clinton, featured a tearing apart of the coalition, amid charges of racism and misogyny from various Democrats. Donna Brazile, who had steered the Gore campaign to defeat, trumpeted “a new coalition,” which was said to be led by Blacks, Latinos, gays, with the usual working class Whites expected to join in. It worked for Obama, but not downticket, as the Democrats lost 87 House seats, 10 Senate seats, and a vast number of governorships and state legislatures during his terms.

Gore lost in 2000 directly because Democrats on the Left voted for Ralph Nader sufficiently in Florida (he got 4% of the vote in that state), to allow the Republicans to stall the vote count so that their Supreme Court could stop it.

Hillary Clinton ostensibly lost in 2016 because Russia conspired with Trump, hacked records, colluded to share election data to allow Russia and Trump to precisely target voters with made-up news stories; and because a certain percentage of Bernie Sanders supporters refused to vote for her, choosing not to vote, or to vote for Russian tool Jill Stein. Was the entire Sanders campaign funded by Russia and the far Right? It is far from inconceivable, when you consider the Manafort-Devine ties, and the fact that Jeff Weaver recently said that if the Democrats do not run further to the left, he would organize to run against them in general elections, so that the Republicans would win their seats.

That is a lot to digest, and of course there is so much more to potentially discuss in depth, though the exigencies make it rather an intellectual indulgence. But for now, the questions are, “Is there still a Democratic coalition? Does there need to be? Does it face the increasing danger of fraying, so that various components of it tear away?

I made the mistake of following along with an internet argument, where the first statement was simply that Democrats need to turn out in large numbers, to stop the Republicans from turning this into a fascist state. And appallingly, there were the same responses that I saw in 2016, from people who at least purport to be on the Left; saying that they will not vote, because Biden didn’t reduce $50,000 per person of student loan debt; that the Democrats are not doing anything, etc, etc. I will not waste your time with it, but they are still out there. Some may be Right Wing plants, but most are likely versions of the same people who refused to vote for Hillary.

I don’t like the term “coalition” in this context. Politics has always seemed rather simple to me. The Democrats had flaws, some of the Democrats I liked better than others, but the Republicans were far worse. And that chasm has greatly widened, to the point where it seems that every Republican is a version of Trump. And even for the few who are not as evil as he is, they almost always vote in lock step with them, so that the effect is just as bad. Look at the vote counts in the House and Senate, and how Republicans vote unanimously against voting rights, clean air and water, gun safety, codifying abortion rights; and they unanimously vote for their radical right judicial nominees. So to me, they are all the same.

I realize that various people have their particular issues, and identify with their race, gender, career, age, sexual orientation group. But the overarching issues subsume all of them. So if the Democratic Party becomes a frayed coalition, where every part of it is squabbling with other parts, and that costs them elections, it is not effective. Look at who supports the Republicans, and if you abhor their views, then you have to vote for the Democrats. The legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano was famous for saying that the only goal of the NCAA tournament was to “survive and advance.” Win any way you can, and live to play the next game. That is what Democrats have to do. Or as Benjamin Franklin famously said, “We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Memorial Day

What we celebrate and honor as Memorial Day, originated as Decoration Day, on May 30, 1868, as President Garfield spoke in front of a crowd of 5,000 at Arlington National Cemetery. It was not an official holiday then, but by 1890, each of the former union states had adopted a Decoration Day to remember and honor the soldiers killed in war. The appellation Memorial Day began to supplant Decoration Day over the decades.

In 1968, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed, which made a few holidays into Mondays, so as to create three-day holiday weekends. The name of the holiday was officially changed to Memorial Day, to take place on the last Monday in May. That went into effect in 1971.

It is a solemn holiday, made more so this year because of the tragedy in Uvalde. Ordinarily, the day is about honoring the fallen soldiers of various wars. But it is certainly appropriate to include the children and teachers who were killed in Uvalde, even though they had no idea that they were engaged in a war.

The numbers who are killed by gun violence in this country increases each year. Will remembering them accomplish more than the emotional effect? Will anything be done by Congress with regard to gun safety laws, which used to be called gun control laws, but which term has been essentially abandoned so as not to upset the fanatic people who think that the Second Amendment was intended to give each citizen the right to purchase as many guns and as much ammunition as they want?

Of course it was not intended to do that, the very fact of the qualifying sentence, “A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State…” makes that obvious. Former Chief Justice Warren Burger said, after he had retired, that the contention that the Second Amendment was intended to provide every American a right to purchase weapons of all types, was, “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American people by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee any citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or he desires.”

We will not spend today recounting the sad history of how the Assault Weapons Ban was allowed to expire, and how the Republicans in Congress have absolutely refused to vote for any laws even slightly diminishing the danger from gun violence. I think that there might be some very flimsy law passed by Congress, just to give Republicans some cover for the upcoming elections, but there is little chance that something significant will be passed. To do that, we would need a larger Democratic majority in the Senate, and the will to override the inevitable Republican filibuster.

For today, people will enjoy the day off, the “unofficial beginning of summer,” the day on which there used to be some baseball doubleheaders, which I loved as boy; a day for barbecues and possibly trips to the beach, or flights out of town. Holidays are nice respites, but of course the meaning of the holiday should never be forgotten. England has its version, called, “Remembrance Day,” and I commend to you a powerful and melodic song by B-Movie called “Remembrance Day,” from 1981.

The Implications of the Wisconsin Senate Race

I have written a little about this before, in terms of the Democratic primary in August. On the Republican side in the general election, will be Ron Johnson, perhaps the worst senator of all, though it is a dreadful race to the bottom in that category.

Johnson is probably in the pay of Russia, he has supported them most of the time. He wants to ban all abortions. He is pro-NRA. He is terrible on every single issue. Also, he used taxpayer money to go on fundraising trips. One would think that the Wisconsin of thirty years ago would never have elected him in the first place, but there he is now.

I have never been to Wisconsin, so if anyone has a deeper understanding of its politics, please feel free to add it. I know that Scott Walker, who tried to cut every single program to help the poor, middle class, and unions, finally was replaced by a Democrat, after moving Wisconsin further Right than I had ever seen it. He filled the Wisconsin Supreme Court with amazingly Far to the Right judges who approve all the Republican gerrymandering, and throw out any Democratic attempts to fix it. And the state legislature, taken over like so many in the “shellackings” of 2010 and 2014, as a negative reaction to Obama, is also awful.

So it is not like it is the Wisconsin of William Proxmire. Johnson has a good chance to win, unless the Democrats nominate the strongest candidate. Who that might be, is of course a matter for dispute.

The leading candidate right out of the gate, by polls, was state Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. Barnes, who is Black, is generally considered the most liberal of the candidates, though it is hard to compare, since none of them has actually been able to vote on bills. He is backed by The Working Families Party in Wisconsin, and by Elizabeth Warren, who flew out to campaign for him.

The second leading candidate is Alex Lasry, a multimillionaire who is an executive with the Milwaukee Bucks, currently on leave. Third is Sarah Godlewski, the State Treasurer.

Barnes had a pretty good lead, but in the latest poll, he is at 34%, Lasry is at 31%, and Godlewski has moved up from 7% to 18%, with her strong statements on protecting abortion rights helping her. Lasry and Godlewski are considered “center-left,” but of course this is mostly per position statements.

Now, here is my position. The Democrats would be better off nominating either Lasry or Godlewksi. My choice is Godlewski, who led Johnson 48-46% in a poll a couple of months ago, and just seems to me to be well positioned by background and viewpoints, to be elected in current-day Wisconsin. But it is going to be very hard for her to leap over the other two candidates. It is likely that Lasry and Godlewski would get substantially more votes between them than Barnes, but Wisconsin does not use ranked choice voting.

I was trying to find the percentage of Democratic voters in Wisconsin who are Black, but all I have found is that about 6-7% of the overall voters in the state are Black. I would extrapolate from that, to about 12% of the Democratic vote is from Black people. In 2016, the Black vote in Wisconsin was down 19% from 2012. In 2020, it was described as “stagnant” in terms of numbers. It seems that in the three key states which Hillary ostensibly lost in 2016: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, the two key factors were a decline in Black turnout from the Obama campaigns, and also the fact that the number of Sanders voters who did not vote for Hillary exceeded the victory margins; i.e, had they come out to vote for Hillary, she would have won all three states and the election, and we would be infinitely better off than we are now.

Now, I am not saying that Black voters always vote for Black candidates, but they usually do. And I am not saying that they should not; they have the right to vote for anyone they want, just like all of us do. But purely pragmatically, in races with fields of more than two, as in primaries, a bloc vote by a minority ethnic population can be decisive. That is just the mathematical reality of it.

So with Barnes, we have the only minority candidate, plus the only one supported by the Left. That is probably enough for him to win, but he could be the candidate who is most likely to lose to Johnson. And if that is true, where does that leave us nationally?

I am certain that “The Left” cost us the 2000 election by insisting on voting for Nader in Florida; and the 2016 election, by not voting for Hillary in sufficient numbers, and visibly attacking and mocking her throughout the campaign. And they never learn, they have this fixed vision that if only the Democrats would nominate the candidates furthest to the left, they would win, even though history shows over and over that this is not true. But they are impervious to it, it is not nearly as important for them to win elections and pass legislation, as it is to win some kind of purity victory in their minds. If the Black people in the South had not given Biden overwhelming victories in those states, we might have ended up with Sanders as the nominee, and Trump would have won easily.

A crucial thing to always remember is that senate races are not governor races. Yes, one is inclined to always want the candidate whose views come closest to one’s own. But if it is for governor, nuances of position matter more than for Senator, simply because each state has its own governor, one person, while there are 100 senators, and they vote as a group.

The differentiations in positions among Democratic senators is not that crucial, as long as they are fairly minor. As an example, it seems to me that Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who was not liked by the more Progressive voters, largely because he had a moral stance against abortion, has voted with the Democrats virtually every time, including the recent attempt to codify Roe v. Wade as national law. He is not my favorite senator, but he comes through, and thus in that sense is as worthy as the rest. That is what ultimately matters.

We have to win the Senate race in Wisconsin, if we are to have any chance of actually controlling the Senate. We would need 52 senators, to overcome Manchin and Sinema. That is a gain of two seats.. The only real chances to pick them up are Pennsylvania, Wisconsin (our two best opportunities}, North Carolina, maybe a very outside chance at Florida. But we also risk losing Arizona, Georgia, even New Hampshire and Nevada. We must win all four of those, and then two of the first group, or the Republicans will block everything by filibuster, and we will never get any decent gun safety laws, or protect abortion, or pass key domestic spending bills, and protect the safety net, and somehow do something to protect the environment.

All of that is at stake. And actually, the nuances of the differences between one Democratic senator and another (excluding Manchin and Sinema), is not very important at all in a pragmatic sense. In virtually every key Senate vote in the last two years, 48 Democratic senators have voted the same way, the right way, as we see it.

This is not like some kind of psychological test where the scores can differ on various components. There are only a certain amount of Senate votes, and you either vote one way or the other way. So at the margins, it does not matter at all what the difference in opinions among the Democratic senators are. We might have our favorites, and prefer the oratory of one to another, but all we really should care about is how they vote when the key bills come up.

And in that regard, it is far more important to win the senate race in Wisconsin, than to get someone who might have a 98% Progressive rating, over one who has 94%. Their votes will probably be exactly the same. So we need to get them elected, because losing with the most appealing candidate ever, is infinitely worse than winning with a decent one.

It is all about numbers, and we need the numbers, not nearly as much the purity of positions, even though of course we prefer candidates who mirror our views. The Senate is purely a numbers game; 100 votes, you need 51 of them, or in the worst case, 50 plus the Vice President. Losing every vote 49-51 with the greatest array of liberal senators ever, is disaster for any person who actually focuses on outcomes, and not just aesthetics.

Now, of course, the issue still is, who will win? If you actually think that any of the candidates of your party will win, if you are in a very liberal state, by all means vote for the one whose views and personality you most favor. But if you are in a purplish state, and there are several candidates in your primary, my strong view is that you should vote for the one who is mostly likely to win the seat for the Democrats. This is true for Senate races and House races.

We are at a crisis point. We simply cannot afford the Republicans to take over anything. If they get the House, they will block all spending bills, threaten to and maybe actually shut down the government, and refuse to raise the debt ceiling, all while conducting a series of hearings designed to damage their political enemies. If they win the Senate, they will block all bills from even getting a vote, and will block all judicial nominees, just like that, because that is what they do. And if a Supreme Court opening comes up, they will block the nominee even from getting a hearing.

That is what is at stake. People very understandably are outraged and depressed and saddened by the tragedy in Uvalde, and we all want to do something. And there are things one can do, but the most significant of those has to be winning the Congress, because if we don’t do that, we are never going to get any meaningful gun legislation, and we may actually see a complete national ban on abortion.

That is so great a burden to put on any one person who votes, because she or he only gets that one vote in one district and in one state. But we have to keep our eye on what is most important, and that is winning the elections.

So I just hope that enough people will vote with that in mind, and vote for people in primaries who will actually win the national election. If I lived in Wisconsin, I would support Godelewki, but if it got near election time, and Lasry was substantially ahead of her, I would vote for him. I think that either of them is more likely to beat Ron Johnson than is Barnes.

And that is all that matters to me right now, extended to every other single race we are going to have to win in five months. We ignore that at our peril. I still think that Gwen Graham would have beaten Ron DeSantis for governor in Florida in 2018, but the more liberal Andrew Gillum got the primary win, and then lost to DeSantis. What a difference it would have made, had the Democrats won that race, by choosing the more winnable candidate.

As I wrote this essay, I thought of my parents, who were proud FDR and Stevenson liberal Democrats, but who always considered, as we discussed the elections, the matter of which Democratic candidate was more likely to win in a difficult general election race, and then would usually vote for him or her in the primary, unless one was appalling, or personally objectionable. They were idealistic politically, and in other ways, but they knew how important it was to not let the Republicans win any important race.

Clear the air, take a deep breath

It’s been a sad week. Take a break. Refill your reservoir.

It’s Memorial Day weekend, summer is here (theoretically in Pittsburgh where it is chilly and wet outside).

Put your dancing shoes on:

What Should We Do?

We knew that the easy access to assault weapons was a terrible problem in America. We know that we “lead” the world in the horrible statistic of deaths by gunfire. We desperately want this to change, but know that it has become less and less likely. As someone recently said, we are the killing fields of the world, where anybody over 18 can walk into a store and buy any amount of assault weapons and ammunition he can pay for, and then walk out of the store with them.

Millions of these killing machines are in the buyers’ homes, unless they gave them to other people. And now, and increasingly, they are in the hands of mentally warped people full of hate and anger and a death wish for themselves, displaced onto others, and they go out and kill as many people as they can, before they are shot or captured.

There always have been, and may always be, psychologically and emotionally disturbed people who want to do violent acts. That is awful enough, if they injure or kill even one person with their fists, or a knife, or a handgun. But an assault weapon allows them to kill many people in less than a minute, people who cannot hide or escape, or survive a bullet wound.

And not one thing changes with regard to making it more difficult, if not impossible, for people to buy these weapons, which have only one purpose, to kill many people. They are for war battlefields, but they are bought in the millions by teenagers and adults all over the country, and nothing is done to stop or curtail it.

That is the bottom line, how do we stop it? The only way to do it would be for Congress to pass and the President to sign strict laws prohibiting or at least limiting the sale of assault weapons. We used to have such a law, passed during the Clinton Administration.

But the subsequent GW Bush Administration which came into being after he lost the popular vote, and would have lost the electoral vote, had not Bush’s brother, the governor of Florida, and his secretary of state, delayed the state-required recounting of votes there, until the Right Wing majority on the Supreme Court said it was too late to count the vote, let the bill lapse, and it has never come back, and likely never will, unless there is some drastic change in the configuration of the country.

We have a Far Right Supreme Court which is poised to strike down New York and California laws which attempt to put some restrictions on the buying or carrying of guns. They are owned by the Radical Right and its arm of the NRA. They do not care about the fact that a vast majority of Americans want a complete ban on assault weapons, and an even more overwhelming majority want comprehensive background checks for anyone who wants to buy a gun. They were put in there to make sure that it will even be easier for people to buy and kill people with guns.

We can go on with this, and how bad it is. We would prefer to take a more proactive stance, and hope and try for something be done; but there is only one reasonable chance, which is that Congress somehow passes strong gun laws. And there are so many impediments to that.

Do we want Congress to somehow pass some kind of “red flag law,” which would possibly require that people with some kind of documented history of mental illness be on a list which would at least require further checking before they bought their guns, or even possibly stop the purchase? We want anything to stop any gun killings, but the trade-off here will be that if this is what gets passed, it will do very little, and will get the Republicans off the political hook, and take away an issue which might help to give Democrats real control of the Senate.

We know that Republicans desperately want to mute this issue. They always look to blame anything but the existence of assault weapons. They blame mental illness, not enough school officials with guns, not enough doors locked, rap music, Democrats’ “divisiveness,” video games, anything but guns and the gun culture. They figure that this will go away, at least until another mass shooting.

Or even if it does not, if they block all the “political exits,” control the Congress, or at least keep using the filibuster, own the Supreme Court, there is nothing that can be done to stop the gun culture. Abbott in Texas was very recently imploring the people of the state to buy more guns! Does he get a kickback from the NRA from each assault weapon sold? Probably not literally, but definitely in effect.

I don’t want the Republicans to be able to pass some weak bill which then will be used to stop any more bills from getting passed for a decade or more. But of course a weak bill is better than no bill, unless we have some chance to get a better one. Maybe if people pour out to vote this Fall, the makeup of the Congress and a few state legislatures can be changed. Maybe that is a vain hope, but we can make a big effort right now. My position is that I don’t want a weak, Republican face-saving bill to be the very small thing which is done.

There are no obvious answers, no clear path. I do know that we have our best chance right now, with the anger and sadness pervading, and people desperate for something to be done. But there are many negative forces which are in place to defuse and scatter and distract. It has worked for them before, they know their gameplan. Ours could be to make strong gun safety laws, along with protection of abortion rights, essentially the only issues for the upcoming elections, and not get bogged down or deflected by the myriad of other potential issues.

Democrats are often blamed, sometimes accurately, for having too diffuse a message, while Republicans pound away at one or two themes. This time, we should be the one that does it, even if it goes against our appreciation of complexity, and wanting to appeal to all of our diverse constituencies. We must be direct in focus, more hard-hitting than we like to be, relentless, and never feeling embarrassed by it.

We desperately need to fight to win, and to make sure that the people who vote know exactly what is on the ballot, literally or by proxy effect; and that more people than ever before go to the polls to make that necessary difference. We need to pass major gun safety legislation, and the only way we can is to make the elections about that issue, and then win them. Don’t let the Republicans get away from that by pretending that they want to do anything but paper over it.

The Uvalde shooter claims another victim

The husband of Irma Garcia, one of the two teachers killed in the slaughter at Robb Elementary School, has died. It appears his death was brought on by grief at the death of his wife.

They leave behind 4 children.

Ukrainian Pastorale

Pavlo checks in with the lovely Luba. They visit Babushka on her little farm, check on the new calf and the garden, and spread a feast of beets, pickled watermelon, and cake.

This little farm is away from the fighting somewhere in east central Ukraine.

They wait for victory.

Slava Ukraini

I’m now a single issue voter: abolish the filibuster

There is no good reason for keeping it. If any legislation manages to get past it, it will pass or fail on a simple majority vote as it should.

The filibuster does two things: it prevents the United States from evolving in response to environmental, economic and social changes, and it serves as cover for politicians, primarily Republicans, who don’t want to be forced to vote on some very controversial issues because they know their policies are wildly unpopular to voters. In the latter case, partisanship is used as a tool to prevent any legislation at all.

The majority of Americans who voted in 2020 have seen their hopes and expectations dashed by the filibuster. And let’s not forget that although Republicans NEVER break ranks on a filibuster when they’re determined to block something, it’s Democrats Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema who refuse to override a filibuster. They’re the ones that are preventing any changes whatsoever to anything we care about.

It’s incredible to me that the 5th largest economy in the world, California, has virtually no say over federal legislation. Everything it cares about is passed in the House and blocked by filibustering Republicans in the Senate. California has less sway over federal legislation than West Virginia. That’s outrageous. Regardless whether you approve of California or not, if you truly believe in democracy, its voters deserve to be heard in the Senate, not buried under 50 red state senators and two rebels without a cause.

Yes, Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema are defying the will of the 81,000,000 voters who gave the Democrats the senate. They are putting a stop to everything that the majority of us value. These two, incredibly selfish, clueless, tone deaf, compromised senators are standing in the way of the vast majority of the rest of the country on policies that make significant differences to our lives.

And worst of all, we are being held hostage by the domestic terrorist ammosexuals who call themselves Republicans.

The voting rights bill filibuster should have been the last straw. The failure of Build Back Better with its shitty and paltry paid family leave should have been the last straw. The failure to pass legislation protecting the ability of women to choose when or if they will have children should have been the last straw.

But I think Uvalde really is the absolute last straw. It’s the one that broke the back.

The filibuster has got to go. We don’t need it. We will need to learn to create policy and vote on it in a different way, without fear.

Ending the filibuster covers all of the policies that have been stuck in the Senate. Take it out and the legislation will flow again. Maybe we won’t get everything we want but we won’t be spinning our wheels going nowhere while classrooms full of 10 year olds are slaughtered and their parents stand outside the school and scream helplessly. That should NEVER happen in this country again and all of the lame solutions that Republicans have suggested are either impractical, extremely expensive or dangerous.

So, I am a single issue voter this year. My goal is to see that we elect as many senators as possible that will either eliminate or seriously undermine the effect of the filibuster. Even if Republicans realize the jig is up on passing universal background checks, I’m still voting exclusively on ending the filibuster. I am very lucky that I live in a state where I can do that. I’m putting my vote behind John Fetterman. There will be others that will get a bit of cash when they text me. It won’t be a lot but combined with other people who have also become single issue voters on the subject of the filibuster, it may be just enough to offset Manchin and Sinema.

We need four new Senators who will vow to remove the filibuster out of the way of important legislation in order to make Manchin and Sinema lame ducks for the rest of their terms.

Who’s with me?

How many voters get this?

Steve Kerr, coach for the Golden State Warriors nearly breaks down over the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas and states the truth about why universal background checks can’t get passed in the Senate:

There are a lot of voters who place the blame for everything from high gas prices to Covid to inflation to <name your current malady> on Democrats. It’s because Democrats are in charge of both the House and Senate.

But while Nancy Pelosi can get legislation passed in the House with a simple majority, Chuck Shumer has to get the consent of 60 senators just to get a piece of legislation to the floor for a vote. If even one ornery Republican senator starts a filibuster, it takes 60 votes to kill it before an actual vote on a bill can take place.

Does Shumer have 60 Democrats who can kill a filibuster? No, he does not. He has 48 solid votes. Even in the best of times he only has 50 votes if Manchin and Sinema aren’t obstructing votes.

But 50 votes are 10 less than 60, which is what Shumer would need to move a bill to the senate floor for a vote.

I keep repeating this because it doesn’t seem to sink in to voters’ heads what is going on. Most people aren’t political junkies. They’ve got better things to do with their time. The filibuster rule doesn’t make any sense when there are bills out there with 90% popular support and the sane party is in charge. Why don’t they do something?

It’s because it takes 60 votes to get a bill moved to the senate floor for a simple majority vote. The House doesn’t have this problem. It passes bills all the time. But bills get stuck in the senate because of the filibuster and because Democrats don’t have 60 votes to override it.

But wait, you may say, why don’t some Republicans vote to end the filibuster? Steve Kerr tells us why. Mitch McConnell has vowed to block any bill the Democrats want to pass. There has been an exception on funding for Ukraine’s weapons requests. But Rand Paul was able to block a vote on the last bill by calling a filibuster. After he gave putin’s army a boost by putting the Ukrainians on hold for a week, he eventually relented. But you can see that one senator from either party can be the asshole who can constipate a bill in the senate.

Shumer could get around the filibuster by invoking the nuclear option. That is, he holds a vote on abolishing the filibuster and he only needs a simple majority for that. But Manchin and Sinema won’t do it.

So we’re stuck until we get more Democrats in the Senate. I’m sorry that it falls on us to get the members needed to do it but we can’t count on Republicans to yield an inch on anything. Their whole schtick is to prevent meaningful legislation from passing the Senate and looking like Democrats are getting anything accomplished and it is working for them because most voters don’t understand how the filibuster works. It’s all about numbers and even with a razor thin majority, Democrats don’t have them.

I realize that most people on this site know how this works and want to defenestrate Manchin and Sinema but the best we can do is hope that we gain a couple of seats in the SenAte in November if voters wise up.

Then we can pass universal background checks. But until then? Don’t count on Mitch and the Republicans to lift a pinky to help.