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Women for Coat Hangers?? by tristero

Women for Coat Hangers??

by tristero

As feared (and sadly, expected), responsible media outlets have decided to prostrate themselves to the extreme right. Today, the New York Times published an article by an advocate of coat hanger abortions who complained that her position was excluded from the Women's March.

Oh, she gussied up her screed with all sorts of fancy rationalizations and buzz phrases reeking of empowerment.  But she knows very well that if abortion was once again banned, it wouldn't end as she claims. Instead, thousands of poor women (especially of color) would die at the hands of back alley butchers.

And despite knowing this, she calls herself "pro-life." Ah, yes, "pro-life," a phrase so familiar now we don't even think about how utterly meaningless it is.  But when you actually examine the actual ideas it disguises it's obvious: There is nothing positive about the advocacy of illegal abortion. And the position hidden by the phrase "pro-life" has nothing whatsoever to do with life. But it does have everything to do with politics, politics that are deadly for the poor.

Most importantly, the majority of American women do not support forcing poor women  to terminate pregnancies in a back alley.

And that is why it is essential that we make it impossible for people to hide their violent, cruel positions behind meaningless, anodyne phrases.


But in the Case of Carlos…

I live just about equidistant between Chicago -- where I called home for 25 years -- and West Frankfort -- which I have never visited.

In other words, about halfway between Il Douche's Terrifying Cartoon Municipal Hellscape and deepest, whitest Trump Country.

And now federal immigration agents have done what no other force on Earth has been able to do: crack the heretofore impenetrable barrier of Hate Radio and white grievance behind which so much of Rustbelt America walls itself off from the real world, and inflict a little reality on the good folks of Pleasantville West Frankfort.

And they did not like it.  No sir.  Not one little bit.

He’s a Local Pillar in a Trump Town. Now He Could Be Deported. 

WEST FRANKFORT, Ill. — Ask residents of this coal-mining crossroads about President Trump’s decision to crack down on undocumented immigrants and most offer no protest. Mr. Trump, who easily won this mostly white southern Illinois county, is doing what he promised, they say. As Terry Chambers, a barber on Main Street, put it, the president simply wants “to get rid of the bad eggs.”

But then they took Carlos.

Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco — just Carlos to the people of West Frankfort — has been the manager of La Fiesta, a Mexican restaurant in this city of 8,000, for a decade. Yes, he always greeted people warmly at the cheerfully decorated restaurant, known for its beef and chicken fajitas. And, yes, he knew their children by name. But people here tick off more things they know Carlos for.

How one night last fall, when the Fire Department was battling a two-alarm blaze, Mr. Hernandez suddenly appeared with meals for the firefighters. How he hosted a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at the restaurant last summer as police officers were facing criticism around the country. How he took part in just about every community committee or charity effort — the Rotary Club, cancer fund-raisers, cleanup days, even scholarships for the Redbirds, the high school sports teams, which are the pride of this city.

“I think people need to do things the right way, follow the rules and obey the laws, and I firmly believe in that,” said Lori Barron, the owner of Lori’s Hair A’Fairs, a beauty salon. “But in the case of Carlos, I think he may have done more for the people here than this place has ever given him. I think it’s absolutely terrible that he could be taken away.”
Yes indeed.  Heck of a guy is Carlos.  Just the sort of person that breathes life into a little town whose glory days of coal and more coal have slowly shuddered to a halt. And letters of support came pouring in from all the best people.
Tom Jordan, the mayor of West Frankfort, wrote that Mr. Hernandez was a “great asset” to the city who “doesn’t ask for anything in return.” The fire chief described him as “a man of great character.”

The letters have piled up — from the county prosecutor, the former postmaster, the car dealer, the Rotary Club president.
But here's the thing.  This 98.55% White community is typical of the little towns that make up Franklin county.  Aging, insular, coal county folk.  Redneck, although they'd hate to use that word...
“With everything that’s gone on — we’ve had years of unemployment rates that are skyrocketing — I would like to see some of the people that I know go back to work before I worry about people from other countries coming here and making a better life for themselves,” said Audrey Loftus, 38, a bartender at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post. 
But Mr. Hernandez, Ms. Loftus said, has left her “on the fence” about what should happen now. “I hate to use the word rednecks, but this is southern Illinois.” she said. “This is the definition of a good old boys’ club, and you don’t have a lot of people of different ethnicities that are in this area.“And then there’s Carlos,” she continued. “You will not find a single person that has anything bad to say about him.”
...who went for Trump by an almost 3-to-1 margin.

And now, too late, the people of West Frankfurt are learning the lesson that everyone at the local VFW hall would have been able to recite by heart 70 years ago.

That fascism does not make exceptions.  

Not even in the case of Carlos.  


“Let it be a disaster” Trump’s new credo

"Let it be a disaster" Trump's new credo

by digby

A horrific little nugget of  malignant stupidity, even for Trump, came out of his mouth this morning, talking about the ACA:

"Let it be a disaster, because we can blame that on the Dems that are in our room -- and we can blame that on the Democrats and President Obama," Trump said in remarks to the National Governors Association. "But we have to do what's right, because Obamacare is a failed disaster."

He also used some strained logic to explain why Obamacare’s popularity has continued to generally tick up, with a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released last week finding that 43 percent of voters think the law was a good idea, while 41 percent said it was a bad idea. (It was a slight dip from January, in which 45 percent said the law was a good idea, but overall, the law’s popularity has been steadily rising over the past two years).

Trump on Monday theorized that polls show the program’s approval rating climbing not because people like it, but because they know Republicans will soon repeal it. He did not offer more of an explanation for the claim.

“People hate it, but now they see that the end is coming, and they're saying, ‘Oh, maybe we love it,’” Trump said. “There's nothing to love. It's a disaster, folks.”

He also seemed to express surprise at the complexity of the reform process. “I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” Trump said. “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”

Yeah, nobody knew. He thought he could have one of his hideous little minions write up an executive order and make it all happen.

Just a little reminder about our new president's "compassion" about sick people:

Donald Trump has admitted cutting off medical treatment to his nephew’s sick baby after he allegedly had his alcoholic brother’s children cut out of his father’s will.

In an interview with the New York Times, Trump said he retaliated because he was ‘angry because they sued’.

His brother Freddy, a pilot, had died an alcoholic in 1981, aged 43.

He had two children – named after his parents Fred and Mary – with a stewardess he married at age 23 called Linda Clapp. The couple later divorced.

When the family patriarch Fred Sr., died in 1999, Freddy’s son, Fred III, spoke at the funeral. Later that night, his wife went into labor but the baby had cerebral palsy.

The Trump family promised to pay the medical bills.

But when Fred Sr.’s will was read, it revealed that the majority of his inheritance would be split between his children – except Freddy Trump Jr.

Freddy’s children sued and alleged that Donald - who helped draft the will - and his surviving siblings had influenced Fred Sr., who had suffered from dementia.

They also said an earlier version of the will had said they would receive a share of their grandfather’s fortune – believed to have been more than $20million.

So the real estate mogul, the frontrunner for the GOP's presidential nomination, got his revenge by withdrawing the medical care for his nephew’s sick child.

He's a truly malevolent human being. Don't underestimate his willingness to inflict pain and horror upon others. Look what he did to his own family.

We’re going to start winning wars again IYKWIM

We're going to start winning wars again IYKWIM

by digby

Trump's America bashing is not an advocation for the US to be a more humble country. I wish people would put that one to rest. It's fatuous nonsense. He's advocating for American to ramp up into a much more monstrous, aggressive, violent power than it already is unshackled by any laws, rules or norms. It is sickening to even think about what Trump and the apocalyptic weirdos he's surrounded himself with have in mind.

Remember his motto: to the victors belong the spoils. He has said it in the context over and over again. Here's just one example from his speech to the CIA:

When I was young, we were always winning things in this country. We'd win with trade. We'd win with wars. At a certain age, I remember hearing from one of my instructors, "The United States has never lost a war." And then, after that, it's like we haven’t won anything. We don’t win anymore. The old expression, "to the victor belong the spoils" -- you remember. I always used to say, keep the oil. I wasn’t a fan of Iraq. I didn’t want to go into Iraq. But I will tell you, when we were in, we got out wrong. And I always said, in addition to that, keep the oil. Now, I said it for economic reasons. But if you think about it, Mike, if we kept the oil you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that's where they made their money in the first place. So we should have kept the oil. But okay. Maybe you'll have another chance. But the fact is, should have kept the oil.


GOP is the PR department for The Trump Presidency Inc™

GOP is the PR department for The Trump Presidency Inc

by digby

People who think the government should be run like a business naturally believe that everyone answers to the president like he's the CEO of America. That isn't actually how it works:

White House press secretary Sean Spicer reportedly enlisted the CIA director and a Republican senator in an effort to discredit a newspaper report about the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia.

After the New York Times reported Feb. 15 that Trump campaign aides had “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence officials, Spicer connected reporters from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC), reported Axios.

Spicer also gave reporters’ phone numbers to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who offered to make the calls himself but “was in and out of an event,” according to a senior administration official who described the press secretary’s campaign to the website.

The Axios report adds new details and reveals Pompeo was involved in a pushback campaign reported Friday by the Washington Post.

Spicer personally picked up the phone and connected Pompeo and Burr with the reporters and then remained on the line for their brief conversations, Axios reported.

Those calls were orchestrated after White House chief of staff Reince Priebus tried unsuccessfully to get the FBI’s director and deputy director to speak with news organizations to dispute the accuracy of reporting on the alleged campaign ties to Russia, the Post reported.

Pompeo and Burr told the reporters simply that the Times report was not accurate but frustrated the journalists by declining to offer specifics.

And the Republicans in congress and the administration are happy to toss aside all the normal procedures and sell their reputations to protect that cretinous imbecile. Here's one now:
President Donald Trump’s connections to Russia have been well documented, but it doesn’t sound like Rep. Devin Nunes — the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a Republican — is that eager to investigate them.

During a press conference with reporters on Monday, Rep. Nunes downplayed claims that the White House had asked members of the CIA and FBI to squelch reports of contact between Russia and members of Trump’s presidential campaign, saying that there was “nothing wrong” with what he characterized as attempts to have a better working relationship with the press. He also said that the committee wanted evidence of any American citizens who may have talked to Russian officials, implicitly broadening the issue beyond the Trump campaign and administration. He characterized the FBI as being “very upfront” with his committee about what they know about Trump’s potential connections with Russia, although he admitted that he’d like to know more.

When asked if they have any evidence of contacts specifically from the Trump campaign, Nunes replied: “It’s been looked into and there’s no evidence of anything there. Obviously we’d like to know if there is.” He also dismissed concerns that Flynn had violated the Logan Act as “ridiculous” and said that they would not subpoena Trump’s tax returns, which puts him at odds with Senate Intelligence Committee member Susan Collins, R-Maine. Throughout the press conference, Nunes insisted that both he and the White House were simply trying to be “transparent” and claimed to be confused as to why the Trump administration providing his phone number to a reporter would be a news story. He also repeated his earlier statements about wanting to avoid “McCarthyism” and “witch hunts” based on reports that Americans may have connections to the Russian regime.

“This is almost like McCarthyism revisited,” Nunes told reporters at the California Republican Party’s spring convention on Saturday. “We’re going to go on a witch hunt against, against innocent Americans?”

I don't think I need to articulate how inane this is. Trump has a responsibility to be transparent about his business dealings from which he continues to benefit directly. It's not a witch hunt to demand he do that.

Neither is it a witch hunt for the head of the Intelligence Committee to keep an open mind about the Russian connections at this early stage. It may turn out to be nothing but there is a process and he's supposed to recognize it. It's one thing for him to criticize the leaks. That's a legitimate complaint. It's not legitimate for him to exonerate the administration and the campaign before the facts are in.

But then, he should not be involved in the investigation in the first place because he was a member of the president's transition team. At the very least he should be strictly following protocol in order to avoid the appearance of being a partisan stooge as the head of the Intelligence Committee. But I guess that's old fashioned in the Trump era. A Republican's job is to defend The Trump Presidency Inc ™ and that's what he's going to do.


10 Code Snippets for Quickly Creating Responsive Navigation Menus

Whether you’re studying responsive design or looking for code snippets to use for your own layout, this collection is sure to please.

1. Responsive Button Nav

Nested menus are crucial for any detailed site with 10+ pages. This responsive menu supports nesting with rounded link button styles.

As the page resizes the buttons hide behind a three-bar hamburger menu. But they still maintain their sub-menu links which appear on click/hover using CSS3 transition effects. Clean, efficient, and easy to add into any layout.

2. Flat Nav Box

Square flat navigation is usually the most popular style to work with. This pen makes it even easier where you can support 2nd and 3rd tier links in dropdown menus on smaller screens.

The color scheme needs some work because it’s tough to tell the different menus apart from each other. But the usability is perfect for all screen sizes no matter how many links you have.

3. Smooth Fade

Fading navigation menus are popular with creative agencies and they’re really easy to create. This smooth fading menu created by Mehmet Burak Erman adds an over-the-page window for the mobile navigation.

It works by using CSS classes to restyle the menu as a full-page interface for smaller screens. JavaScript handles the user click effects but the design is all CSS.

4. Material Design

Google’s Material Design is wildly popular among designers for its clear implementation and quality user experience. That’s why I love this material menu created by Hanlin Chong.

It uses the sliding hamburger-style flyout on smaller screens with a crisp animation effect. And when the menus open you can click/tap anywhere outside the menu box to auto-close. This feature really makes a difference in the user experience and it’s one of the reasons I recommend this code snippet.

5. Pure CSS Mega Menu

Modern online magazine themes use mega-menus to include extra links & recent articles in larger dropdown menus. These menus look great on desktop but can be tough moving over to mobile.

That’s where this snippet can help. It’s built entirely on CSS so it’s a totally JS-free option. The mega menus look fantastic and the responsive menu includes all of these links, thumbnails, and the main hierarchy found in the original dropdowns.

6. Overlay Menu

One thing I like about this overlay menu is the columned link structure. It still uses the hamburger icon but the responsive menu overlays the entire page.

Each top link is listed side-by-side with sub-links organized into columns. This makes scanning the menu a lot easier and provides plenty of room for sites with lots of pages.

7. Responsive with Dropdown

For a simple on-page slidedown menu check out this snippet created by Jean Law Yim Wan. it’s powered by jQuery and uses a lengthy dropdown function to control the responsive navigation and the sub-menus.

It’s a relatively simple solution to the complexity of multi-level menus. But this only works for sites with a small handful of primary nav links.

8. Multilevel Flyout

One of the toughest responsive nav styles is the multi-level responsive navigation. This would ideally support dozens of links including dropdown links.

I think this code snippet handles the situation well using arrows to indicate sub-menu links. Responsive users can click between the main links or sublinks while browsing the flyout menu.

The animation effects are quick, yet consistent, and they add some vivacity to the interface. Plus the flyout is lengthy enough to support dozens of links making this perfect for content-heavy websites.

9. Batman Nav

I’m not sure why this is called the Batman nav but it’s a very high-quality menu. It’s built for a single page website so each link jumps between page sections on command.

These nav links hide behind a hamburger icon for smaller screens but they’re still easy to access. They appear in a drop-down menu which makes navigation a breeze.

If you’re building a single-page website and want a clean responsive solution, then the Batman nav is a stupendous choice.

10. Bootstrap 3 Navigation

Every web developer loves Bootstrap and with free snippets like this responsive menu it’s super easy to create fully-dynamic websites on the fly.

This snippet from Bryan Willis offers nine different menus ranging from fullscreen navbars to logo alignments on the left, right, or center of navigation links. It runs purely on HTML & CSS so if you’re building with Bootstrap, this is one of the simplest menus to use.

Wrapping Up

Responsive navigation doesn’t have to be difficult. Just make sure to consider the user experience rather than just creating a responsive navigation that looks good.

These code snippets should offer a solid base for getting started on your own ideas. But if you’re looking for more examples, take a look at this collection.


“People that wear uniforms like us”—- Donald Trump

"People that wear uniforms like us" --- Donald Trump

by digby

I wrote about the latest anti-immigrant and deportation atrocities in the Trump regime for Salon this morning. It's ramping up people.

At Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony, actor Gael García Bernal told the worldwide audience, “As a Mexican, as a Latin American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I am against any form of wall that wants to separate us.” Iranian-American engineer and entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari (the first Iranian to go to space!) read a statement from director Asghar Farhadi, whose film “The Salesman” won the foreign-language Oscar and who decided not to attend the event due to the Trump administration’s travel ban. His message said, in part:

My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhuman law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S. Dividing the world into the “us” and “our enemies” categories creates fear. A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression.

Farhadi released to the press a longer statement. And these comments from a Mexican and an Iranian are poignant in themselves. But they also illustrate that the Trump administration’s policy about undocumented workers and his policy banning travelers, immigrants and refugees from certain countries are actually the same policy. He is on a crusade to deport and ban a variety of foreigners of different statuses under various premises, for the supposed purpose of keeping what he calls “bad dudes” out of the United States.

We know that a serious concern about the threat of terrorism is not the motivation for the travel ban. In an echo of the George W. Bush administration’s treatment of intelligence analyses that showed little evidence that Saddam Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear program, the Trump administration has apparently rejected a Department of Homeland Security report saying that “country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity.” Claiming that the report was politically motivated and poorly researched, a White House spokesman said, “The president asked for an intelligence assessment. This is not the intelligence assessment the president asked for.” That’s not how this works.

At last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference gathering Trump gave a speech making it clear that he sees immigration of all kinds in the same light. He wove the various strands together using very similar language:

[L]et me state this as clearly as I can, we are going to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country. We will not be deterred from this course, and in a matter of days, we will be taking brand-new action to protect our people and keep America safe, you will see the action. . . .

As we speak today, immigration officers are finding the gang members, the drug dealers and the criminal aliens and throwing them the hell out of our country. And we will not let them back in. They’re not coming back in, folks. They do; they’re going to have bigger problems than they ever dreamt of.

The merging of these separate strands of immigration policy beyond Trump’s rhetoric and into practice is beginning to become clear as reports of Customs and Border Patrol as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents implementation of draconian new policies all over the country have started filtering into the media. The early days of the Muslim ban were chaotic and at times abusive. But that could have been chalked up to bad communication and poor implementation. What we’re seeing now is much more systematic.

A report in The New York Times on Friday revealed that government agents are thrilled and having “fun” in their jobs since, as Sean Spicer said, Trump has “taken the shackles off.” Officers told reporters how ecstatic they were to be free to deport any undocumented immigrant they come across:

[F]or those with ICE badges, perhaps the biggest change was the erasing of the Obama administration’s hierarchy of priorities, which forced agents to concentrate on deporting gang members and other violent and serious criminals, and mostly leave everyone else alone.

This clearly indicates that what Trump and his Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers call “bad dudes” are all undocumented immigrants, and they want to deport every one of them. Horror stories are multiplying like the one of agents’ arresting a woman seeking shelter from an abusive boyfriend, and another tale of officials detaining a woman with no criminal history who was in the hospital seeking treatment for a brain tumor. Incidents of Customs and Border Patrol agents demanding that all passengers on a domestic flight provide their IDs when disembarking the airplane have been reported, which is highly unusual.

Trump’s new travel ban is scheduled to be released sometime in the next week, but it’s hard to imagine that it’s going to be much of an improvement over what’s already been happening. We hear stories daily of inept customs agents harassing innocent people, like a visiting scholar in Houston, who was mistakenly held and nearly sent back to France, or even someone as obviously American as Muhammad Ali Jr., son of the legendary boxer, who was reportedly asked, “Where did you get that name?”

The number of errors in both law and common sense among customs and border officials since Trump first implemented his ban does not bode well for an orderly or professional implementation. Now, according to Foreign Policy, the desperate need for thousands more agents has made it difficult to find people who can pass polygraph tests and background checks — so the administration wants to drop those requirements. What could possibly go wrong?

Donald Trump ran on an anti-immigrant platform and his voters consider that the most important issue facing the nation. He’s moving fast to fulfill those promises. But he also ran as the “law and order” candidate and his CPAC speech made it very clear that there’s a second phase to his program:

I’m also working with the Department of Justice to being reducing violent crime. I mean, can you believe what’s happening in Chicago as an example. . . . We will support the incredible men and women of law enforcement.

He’s not being coy. African-Americans and Latinos in urban neighborhoods can be sure that he plans to “take off the shackles” in this area, too.

At his recent rally in Melbourne, Florida, Trump said, “Basically people that wear uniforms like us.” He’s right. All through the government, career professionals are appalled by his approach to immigration, along with numerous other policies. But the federal police agencies are over the moon about Donald Trump. And that is very disturbing.


Dubya steps up

Dubya steps up

by digby

It must be dire for Dubya to come out of retirement to say something:

“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. That we need the media to hold people like me to account,” Bush told Matt Lauer on “The Today Show” Monday morning. “I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.” 
Trump has raised alarm by his recent references to critical media outlets as “fake news” and as “the enemy of the people.” 
Bush also expressed concern about the extent of Trump’s relationship with Russia’s ruling class, which has been extensively chronicled and led to the resignations of former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. 
“I think we all need answers,” Bush told Lauer. “I’m not sure the right avenue to take. I am sure, though, that that question needs to be answered.” 
Given Bush’s own record as the president who governed America during the infamous Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, his criticism of Trump’s proposed Muslim travel ban may have been the most pointed.
“I think it’s very hard to fight the war on terrorism if we’re in retreat,” Bush said.

Ok, first of all, look at those erudite, complete sentences.  My God:

"... power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere."

They always used to compare him to Winston Churchill and I thought it was daft. But compared to what we have now, he really is.

More importantly, he is criticizing Trump which is unusual for him. He's been very reticent to offer an opinion since he left office.  He's showing some leadership by speaking out. I don't know if anyone in the GOP coalition cares anymore about anything but being crude and thuggish but maybe a few of them have fond memories of Dubya. Good for him.


An anniversary to learn from #Reichstag

An anniversary to learn from

by digby

History never repeats itself exactly, but some strategies are evergreen:

On February 27, 1933 the German Parliament building burned, Adolf Hitler rejoiced, and the Nazi era began. Hitler, who had just been named head of a government that was legally formed after the democratic elections of the previous November, seized the opportunity to change the system. “There will be no mercy now,” he exulted. “Anyone standing in our way will be cut down.”

The next day, at Hitler’s advice and urging, the German president issued a decree “for the protection of the people and the state.” It deprived all German citizens of basic rights such as freedom of expression and assembly and made them subject to “preventative detention” by the police. A week later, the Nazi party, having claimed that the fire was the beginning of a major terror campaign by the Left, won a decisive victory in parliamentary elections. Nazi paramilitaries and the police then began to arrest political enemies and place them in concentration camps. Shortly thereafter, the new parliament passed an “enabling act” that allowed Hitler to rule by decree.

After 1933, the Nazi regime made use of a supposed threat of terrorism against Germans from an imaginary international Jewish conspiracy. After five years of repressing Jews, in 1938 the German state began to deport them. On October 27 of that year, the German police arrested about 17,000 Jews from Poland and deported them across the Polish border. A young man named Herschel Grynszpan, sent to Paris by his parents, received a desperate postcard from his sister after his family was forced across the Polish border. He bought a gun, went to the German embassy, and shot a German diplomat. He called this an act of revenge for the suffering of his family and his people. Nazi propagandists presented it as evidence of an international Jewish conspiracy preparing a terror campaign against the entire German people. Josef Goebbels used it as the pretext to organize the events we remember as Kristallnacht, a massive national pogrom of Jews that left hundreds dead.

The Reichstag fire shows how quickly a modern republic can be transformed into an authoritarian regime. There is nothing new, to be sure, in the politics of exception. The American Founding Fathers knew that the democracy they were creating was vulnerable to an aspiring tyrant who might seize upon some dramatic event as grounds for the suspension of our rights. As James Madison nicely put it, tyranny arises “on some favorable emergency.” What changed with the Reichstag fire was the use of terrorism as a catalyst for regime change. To this day, we do not know who set the Reichstag fire: the lone anarchist executed by the Nazis or, as new scholarship by Benjamin Hett suggests, the Nazis themselves. What we do know is that it created the occasion for a leader to eliminate all opposition.

In 1989, two centuries after our Constitution was promulgated, the man who is now our president wrote that “civil liberties end when an attack on our safety begins.” For much of the Western world, that was a moment when both security and liberty seemed to be expanding. 1989 was a year of liberation, as communist regimes came to an end in eastern Europe and new democracies were established. Yet that wave of democratization has since fallen under the glimmering shadow of the burning Reichstag. The aspiring tyrants of today have not forgotten the lesson of 1933: that acts of terror—real or fake, provoked or accidental—can provide the occasion to deal a death blow to democracy.

That's just the beginning of a great piece by Timothy Snyder in the New York Review of Books. Well Worth reading.

I don't know how this is going to go here. But it's the first time in my life that I've felt like the elements are lined up in a way that makes it very possible.


Shape, don’t chase public opinion by @BloggersRUs

Shape, don't chase public opinion

by Tom Sullivan

"Democrats rely on polling to take the temperature; Republicans use polling to change it," Anat Shenker-Osorio wrote last week in The Hill. Republicans shape opinion; Democrats chase it. That's pandering, not leadership. People won't vote for that.

When Fight for $15, a movement to raise the minimum wage in the retail sector, came on the scene in 2012, the odds were against them. They faced prominent Democrats — including President Obama and Hillary Clinton — balking at what seemed too audacious a demand, out of step with public opinion.

But instead of using the moderation approach, the Fight for $15 movement used a bold strategy reminiscent of the right: They demanded a hike to $15 on the proposition that people who work for a living ought to earn a living — not as a means to grow or help the economy.

Screw "the economy." Help the people without whom there is no economy. Fight for $15 didn't chase public opinion. Fight for $15 reshaped it. Never out front of an issue, Democrats are always playing catch up. Always playing defense. Never offense. Obama and Clinton didn't lead on Fight for $15. They followed.

Osorio writes:

Democrats' reflexive desire to refashion their appeal to appease even a committed opposition in order to court a mythically fixed middle demonstrates lessons still not learned. The job of an effective message isn't to say what is popular; it is to make popular what we need said.

This requires understanding not merely where people are but where they are capable of going.

That takes vision. It takes leadership.


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