As I've mentioned before, I got a threatening letter from Trump's attorney over a post we did on Melania's former career. I didn't think much about it and my own attorney told me to ignore it. Since then one member of the DWT staff told me he's been getting threats– including to his family– from Trumpist deplorables. A well-known public figure who is about to start writing a regular column was wondering if it would be safe and if, perhaps he should use a pseudonym. (In the end he decided to use his real name and his column will start in about 2 weeks.) Today a fiery grassroots progressive Blue America helped elect e-mailed me: “I am so sickened by what is going on. Bannon, etc. I want you to know I plan to fight very, very, hard against Donald Trump's ugly policies and beliefs. This is going to be so awful, but we must have courage and determination. Thanks for all you did to help me get this seat back. At least we have Democrats here who are not fooled by Trump and his crowd!” I know she;'s not– and never will be. Her colleagues, on the other hand… I look at them and I see potential collaborators. I hope I'm wrong. This was brave of someone at Google Maps to do this morning:
Who will stand up to the coming fascist storm and who will try swimming with the hide? I was heartened by a post I saw a few days ago at TPM about an Erie County state legislator who introduced a bill to ban so-called “conversion therapy” in his county– and not just banned it, but named the bill for Trump's obsessive homophobe Mike Pence.
Erie County legislator Patrick Burke proposed the Prevention of Emotional Neglect and Childhood Endangerment bill, which would ban the practice of conversion therapy locally.
“I think it is an abusive practice. Some of the things that are actually carried out in conversion therapy are pretty disturbing,” Burke said in an interview with WBFO.
“This practice has no business in our society and really the idea of trying to sexually desensitize children is disgusting and distributing,” he continued.
Burke told the station that invoking Pence's name was intentional because he supported the practice as governor of Indiana. During his 2000 congressional campaign, Pence's website stated that “resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Burke, an independent Democrat, said he wants it to really “sink in” that Pence supports the practice.
“Mike Pence is probably going to have the most power of any vice president in the history of our country and he has openly advocated for conversion therapy,” he told WBFO. “I want that to sink into people. I want them to realize it's a serious issue of abuse of children flatly, whether they are gay or not, it’s abuse, then you have a man who is going to have enormous power over all of us, who advocates for it.”
Burke told the station that he unsuccessfully pushed for the issue over the past two years and is hoping to build up more support for it this time around.
That takes some courage in a county where psychotic Trumpist Carl Paladino is taken seriously and where the presidential vote was uncomfortably close this year. Obama won Erie County in 2012 with 220,184 votes (57%). This year Hillary won, but it was much tighter– 192,065 votes (50.1%). Romney only took 159,678 votes in the county. Trump got 173,817. We're going to need more courageous men and women like Patrick Burke going forward.
This morning, the NY Times ran a piece by Carl Hulse that touched on whether or not Republicans in the Senate would let Trumpism roll over them. Chuck Schumer, a sleaze ball hack from Brooklyn who has taken money from Trump in the past, who he gets along with chummily and who has the same authoritarian personality, has already signaled he plans to be a collaborationist with the new regime. Schumer– every fiber of Schumer– sings “kapo.” So what about the Republicans? Hulse has some hope; I don't. He writes of “a handful of independent-minded Republican senators who have shown a willingness to break with the president-elect and have readily split with their own party on issues in the past.” I'll have to see it before I believe it– especially when the pressure starts to build– as it inevitably will if this whiny spoiled baby is thwarted in any way :important” to him.
Some are already making known their readiness to take on the new administration. “There will be some areas where I don’t agree, and it will be my job to represent a coequal branch of the government,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who was outspoken in his criticism of Mr. Trump during the campaign.
Other senators who will be prominent in the “will-they-or-won’t-they” caucus include Mr. Graham’s longtime ally, John McCain of Arizona; Jeff Flake of Arizona; Susan Collins of Maine; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Lamar Alexander of Tennessee; Ben Sasse of Nebraska; and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
They will differ issue by issue, and they will certainly side much more often than not with the Republican majority. And don’t count on them to block cabinet nominees such as their Republican colleague Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Mr. Trump’s choice for attorney general, despite criticism of his civil rights record. They know and like Mr. Sessions.
They are poised to challenge the new administration and their colleagues on policy areas in which they deeply disagree or on some of the more extreme proposals that arose from the Trump campaign.
“If the president came forth with a legislative proposal that would ban all Muslims from coming into the United States, I would obviously oppose something like that,” said Ms. Collins, a centrist who wrote an op-ed article in August announcing that she would not vote for Mr. Trump because he did not represent historical Republican values.
She and others in this group are fully capable of building bipartisan coalitions large enough to assert control over an issue and push legislation in one direction or another, siphoning some authority from the leadership. Though House conservatives are agitating to eliminate the filibuster, most of the senators in this group would be reluctant to support such a move since they derive some of their own clout from the threat of that procedural tool.
We'll see how willing these Republicans will be to stand up to pressure– real pressure– once Trump, Bannon and Pence start rolling. Besides, they'll certainly have a gaggle of ultra-conservative Democrats who are up for reelection in 2018 to deal with. These are a bunch of cowardly political hacks always eager to show the folks back home that they like working with Republicans anyway. These are the worst of the worst– and the number next to their name represents the percentage of the vote Trump just got in their state. The no backbone caucus, ordered by how much they cross the aisle to oppose progressive initiatives and back conservative ones– the terrible to absolute worst:
• Bill Nelson (FL)- 49.1%
• Jon Tester (MT)- 56.5%
• Claire McCaskill (MO)- 57.1%
• Joe Donnelly (IN)- 57.2%
• Joe Manchin (WV)- 68.7%
• Heidi Heitkamp (ND)- 64.1%
And these are the senators Hulse is counting on… along with Trump's scores in their states. He won every one of their states except Maine:
• Susan Collins (ME)- 45.2%
•Lamar Alexander (TN)- 61.1%
• Lindsey Graham (SC)- 54.9%
• John McCain (AZ)- 49.5%
• Lisa Murkowsky (AK)- 52.9%
• Jeff Flake (AZ)- 49.5%
• Ben Sasse (NE)- 60.3%
• Rand Paul (KY)- 62.5%
McCain, Murkowsky and Paul were all just reelected to 6 year terms. Murkowski, who Hulse labeled “somewhat of a free agent,” beat Joe Miller– a Trump extremist running on the Libertarian line– 44.3- 29.5%. McCain proven far more popular in Arizona than Trump did. He drew 53.4% (1,089,324 votes) to Trump's 49.5% (1,021,154 votes). Hulse pointed out that “McCain most likely ran his last race, freeing him from electoral concerns about a backlash from the right.” Kentucky voters, though, were more enthusiastic about Trump than about Paul. Paul took 1,090,151 votes (57.3%) while Trump cleaned up with 1,202,942 votes (62.5%). Trump won every county in the state but Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington). Paul's landslide can't be denied but he also lost in Jefferson and Fayette counties and lost 5 others that Trump won.
Flake is the only one of these Republicans up for reelection in 2018– and Trump has already threatened to finance a primary opponent. Hulse termed him “One of the most outspoken Trump foes in the Senate, he took Mr. Trump on directly at a private party meeting. Both in the House and the Senate, Mr. Flake has challenged his leadership, and in some cases has won, notably on his crusade against the home-state projects known as earmarks. A champion of immigration reform, he is up for re-election in 2018 and is likely to be hit from right and left.”
Blue America will be closely looking at candidates for 2018 in terms of courage as well as policy. Are you ready?
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis