Women’s March in Washington Could Be Big



Chicago   Speaking of things that we don’t hear much about in recent days, you might wonder what’s happening to the women’s solidarity march that was announced in the aftermath of the Trump election for Washington, DC the day after the inauguration. Originally, styled the Million Women’s March, some pushback led to a name change, but every indication is that, publicity or no, the momentum behind this event is still moving forward.

Some enterprising apps developed almost immediately from city to city that priced quick trips that would ride overnight into DC and roll back almost immediately so that women were back home and working after marching the message forward. Prices were quoted at around $300 even as far away as New Orleans. Right after the election it was almost cheaper to fly into DC, but with momentum building such a flight is over $400 I hear. East Coasters were committing quickly, so it’s likely that much of the hoped for crowd of more than 100,000 crowd will roll south from Boston and New York, bounce over from Philly and Baltimore, and move up from Charlotte and Atlanta, and east from Chicago, Detroit and the like, as is normal for these kinds of mobilizations and marches. Social media also indicates that there will be satellite rallies and marches in many cities around the country where women will come together as well. It may be an undercurrent, but there’s still a buzz that indicates that women haven’t just seen the election as just another day.

Of course with anything looking at Washington on a weekend like the every four-year inaugural blowout, there are going to be complications. Informal reports recently have indicated that the women’s march is having trouble putting its footprints on the Washington Mall, which is the normal venue for events of this size and stature. Others with similar ideas seem to have been in line earlier for permits, so the exact route and venue are still unknown, but that does not seem to be dampening the crowd from what I’m hearing from women here and there.

With or without much attention, I have a feeling that there’s no obstacle big enough to get in the way of women having their say in Washington at the opening of the Trump Administration. There are open wounds and deep hurts that have not been addressed in any way whatsoever, and none of this has to do with the hopes and dreams some may have had for a first woman president. This is about women’s safety, women’s status, and an abiding feeling of new danger that has come to those who hold up half the sky, as the Chinese proverb stated.

Women are mobilizing to force a different future, regardless of the White House and its very personal outrages and offenses that many felt as women. Women also clearly want to be part of something that this generation sees as a pivotal moment in their personal and political history. Whether it’s home or on the Washington Mall, there’s a sense that many women want to be counted so that they can remember where they were and what they did as they greeted a new regime in government that is on the record as threatening them individually and collectively at every turn.

Whether in body or spirit, this will be the place to stand with the women of America.


Fighting the Next War or the Last War with Trump

huge-2-14539New Orleans    Decisions, decisions, decisions.  It’s so hard these days for so many people to make up their minds.  Do they fight the next war over where Trump and his partners are trying to take the country or do they fight the last war over the results of the election?

            I interviewed a political activist on Wade’s World the other day named Gary Krane who was advocating a series of steps to attempt to overturn the recent election.  Clinton supporters in some of the battleground states have been calling for a challenge and recount in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, though Clinton and her campaign have expressed no support for these efforts, even as her vote lead has surpassed two million over Trump.  Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for President who polled a little over 1% of the vote, has a claim of standing in asking for a recount, and says that she has raised $5 million to fund the effort.   People are asking whether or not this is where they should put their energy.

            Nasty women are planning a huge march in Washington on January 21st, the day after the inauguration to send a message about how they hope to be heard and heeded in a Trump administration.  Busses are already filling up.  Plans are being made.  Numbers should be high.  This would seem to be an entry in the “let’s fight the next war, not the last war” campaign.

            The Wall Street Journal and some of its columnists, like former presidential speechwriter, Peggy Noonan, are arguing that Trump should totally divest himself of all of his business interests in order to guarantee that the Oval Office will not be wheel-and-deal central for Trump’s brand and interests.   There is no liberalism in their position.  They don’t want a classic blind trust, they want him to liquidate all of his holdings and take the losses.  Noonan says his career as a businessman is over, and now it is time for him to be a patriot.  Trump on the other hand claims he could run his business from the White House, and it would be legal since there is no statute determining a conflict-of-interest by a President.  Perhaps there should be.  Or, he argues, that his children could somehow handle it all without his say so.  His buddy, Ruddy Giuliani, while taking time out from his horrific campaign to be Secretary of State, says that would be fine, because he can’t put his children out of work.  This is an interesting campaign from the right.  We have to wonder if it has traction, and if it could use a push.

            Speaker Ryan and the conservatives in Congress are already moving towards their own version of a coup in order to try and capture a Trump presidency for their anti-people programs of privatizing Medicare, decimating what is left of any safety net, cashing out food stamps, and one draconian measure after another.  That seems like a battle worth engaging as well.  Add environmental issues to the list, holding onto the Affordable Care Act, the Consumer Finance Protection Board, labor unions, banking regulations and more, and it would seem we have more than enough coming fights that we need to be ready and able to suit up to wage.

            I don’t want to seem like a ninny, but I don’t know how to drive forward with my eyes on the rear view mirror.


Interstate Crosscheck May Have Removed One-Million Legitimate Voters from Election

Al Jazeera's Greg Palast looks over the Crosscheck list, searching for these supposed double voters.

Al Jazeera’s Greg Palast looks over the Crosscheck list, searching for these supposed double voters.

New Orleans   There’s a saying in almost every language that the “devil is in the details.” There’s a lesson in that expression though, and it’s one we all need to learn more carefully about how to work the levers of intricate bureaucracies at every level of government in order to implement our programs.

The particularly infamous devil who is teaching these lessons about details includes the notorious and dangerous Secretary of State in Kansas, Kris Kobach, who we have seen recently in conference with President-Elect Trump on how to establish a registry for Muslims. Previously he has not only been in the thick of litigation to repress the human rights of immigrants, but the prime mover in voter identification and other efforts to block access to the ballot particularly for poor and minority voters. Kobach has long been on my radar, but I had still missed some of the incredible damage he wrought.

The Kansas Secretary of State’s office was an early adopter of a small program around 2005 with four neighboring states participating: Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska. The intention of the program, called Interstate Crosscheck, was to identify people who might have been voting in more than one state. Ray Thornburgh was the Secretary of State when the annual use of Interstate Crosscheck began, but its use exploded in recent years since Kobach took office as Kansas’ Secretary of State in 2011. According to his reports, the number ballooned up to 15 states in 2012, 22 in 2013, and 29 in 2014, and according to some reports 30 in 2016, all of whom were involved in a shared data dump and list purging annually. The roster of states in 2014 included many red states, but several important blue states as well. The 29 include Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

Although ostensibly checking for duplicate voting, what may or may not have been realized fully in each state is that Interstate Crosscheck, according to investigative reporter Gary Palast, was removing hundreds of thousands of minority voters from the rolls. This was a brute tool which was unable to distinguish between common names in minority communities like Jose Sanchez or Joseph Johnson and so forth. Virginia was unique in reporting the number of voters it dropped using Interstate Crosscheck and the number was significant at 12.1% of the rolls, almost one of every eight registered voters. Nationally across the thirty states, seven million names were identified. If the Virginia data were replicated at the same percentage nationally among the participating thirty states as many as one million legitimate voters may have been disenfranchised.

Does this mean the election was stolen? No, because this was just one of many ways that millions of voters were disenfranchised across the country through various efforts to deny legitimate voters access to the ballot because of income, language, or information. Kobach and his crew are on to something. A wolf in sheep’s clothing can deny voters and tilt the even playing field of an election by sneaking in the back door, as surely as some of the more pronounced – and successfully challenged – legislative efforts can do that were more widely publicized.

We need to learn how to operate more successfully in the darkness of the little reported bureaucracy over coming years. We also need to look at this list of states and take action to disengage as many as possible from vote purging software apps like Interstate Crosscheck being manipulated by conservatives. Not easy perhaps, but certainly necessary on our “to do” list pretty darned quick.


Up-Standers, Answer the Call!

fhupstanderNew Orleans  I’m a “what’s next” guy. Good news or bad news, how do we respond, what do we do next. Resilience. Problem solving. Whatever, I try to manage the present and prepare for the future, respecting the past, but always trying to stay in motion to move forward. Not surprisingly, that’s been my personal response to the Trump victory. I understand and respect that it is not everyone’s default mode or reality though.

We were fortunate to have our daughter in town this weekend visiting. She was in for the traditional Scorpio celebration for her mother, grandmother, and herself. We had hardly ordered before she was asking how, or maybe not so much asking as telling us, people, particularly women and people she knew in the LGBT and minority communities, were feeling the changes in the national temperament. She was hearing and feeling real fear. She and many of her friends and colleagues felt they were being looked at differently and with more hostility than in the past. There were too many reports of recent catcalls. Her friends were on red alert, especially among men. If a man even looked at them cross eyed in this new environment, they were arms up and ready to respond. It was fight not flight, but overall still tinged with fear.

This was not an encouraging report from the land of millennials. What was encouraging was her report that people were issuing the call for more up-standers. I don’t even know if up-standing or up-standers are real words, but they probably should be. Up-standers are not bystanders. She had heard the term from elementary school teachers who talked to children about being up-standers as a response to bullying in school. Other children needed to be ready and able to be up-standers to stop bullies.

Calling for up-standers in all situations seems exactly the right response to these times and, in my view, all times. Men, women, and all people of good will who care about each other and this country need to be prepared to stand in solidarity and call out instances of misogyny, racism, ethnic slurs and prejudices, religious intolerance, and more. We all have to be ready to stand up and say, that’s not right, stop!

One of the depressing speculations during the recent election on the impact of women speaking out on sexual harassment is that a Trump victory along with many of his supporters, including the majority of white women, rationalizing his remarks and assaults, or even worse, denigrating the women coming forward as incredible, rather than forcing this into the open so that it finally could be stopped in the workplace and elsewhere, would in fact force in below the radar once again, making it harder and riskier for women to come forward in the future. We can’t allow that, and my daughter, her mother, and grandmother are right, they can’t be expected to carry the weight. It takes all of us committing to being up-standers and standing up and speaking out everywhere and anywhere that we hear or see instances of this effort to destroy the basic human rights of anyone, anywhere, whether the same or different than we are.


To Host a Bigger Crowd of Our People, We May Need a Better Party

third_partiesNew Orleans   There were moments in the 2016 presidential race when observers thought that the candidates for President from the Libertarian and Green Parties could experience significant gains, perhaps even be spoilers. As both major parties presented candidates disappointing to many voters and when Bernie Sanders, a Democrat-Socialist, had inspired such fervor, many felt, there was a larger opening for alternative parties than we had seen in recent cycles. The results at the top of the ticket for the Libertarians and Greens did not prove that, though nationally they did garner a fair swatch of votes, and a favorite son candidate in Utah polled double-digits, almost throwing that state in a new and different direction.

But, wait a minute. David Brooks, conservative Republican die-hard op-ed columnist and part of the Never-Trump caucus, has now argued twice in the matter of days that he and his ilk need to organize a third party where establishment, traditional Republicans can land and feel comfortable since the Democrats are center-left, and the Republicans are now white working class and middle class.

Furthermore, even in a ruby-red state like Louisiana, it never ceases to amaze, given the barriers to success for alternative parties, the surprisingly lengthy list we are offered when we close the curtains on the voting booth on Election Day. Not just Green and Libertarian, but also the Constitution Party, Courage Character Service Party, It’s Our Children, Life Family Constitution, Socialism and Liberation, Socialism Equality Anti-War, Socialist Workers, and Veterans Party. The Greens and Libertarians accumulated 50,000 votes in Louisiana. Of course Trump-Clinton did 1.9 million, but still, 50,000 is 50,000. The other small also-rans added another 20,000. Hey, David Duke, running as a Republican got 58,000 and came in 7th of more than 20 candidates for the US Senate from Louisiana. There are a lot of divergent views in a big, wild ungainly electoral rodeo like we run in the United States.

My bi-coastal colleague, Steve Early, with a home and heart in California and his mind often still in New England, noted that alternative parties going local, rather than national, works if you look at the success they have had in a Green-Workers-Community alliance in Richmond, California and the continued success of eclectic green and worker friendly operations like the Vermont Progressive Party, both of which we have covered extensively in Social Policy. Concentrating on the top of the ticket may not be a winner. The Green Party reported only 20 to 21 local winners on Tuesday out of 279 state and local races, he noted.

The “nothing out there for me, it doesn’t really matter” nonvoter population is growing though, as turnout goes down and population goes up, and its huge. Yet, Trump, Sanders, and others around the world, and, they are not all conservative no matter what you are reading please remember Spain, Italy, and Greece for example, are proving that where there’s a real movement and a messenger that embraces its issues, people will respond.

How can it be that a David Brooks is calling for another party, and we’re not hearing the call from and for progressives? It means going local for a long while and constructing the building blocks, but as Vermont has taught that can also develop independent candidates that can contend nationally as well. It’s all hard work. When does consensus congeal that it is time for more shoulders on that wheel?


No Machine Can Win Without Real Vision and a Messenger

istock_000017113782small-646x363Little Rock   There are a million lessons from the recent US election campaign but many of them are reminders of what we always knew in our guts, but intellectually tried to rationalize away for lack of better alternatives. The most basic is that it “takes a horse to beat a horse.” That’s especially true in a horse race. A machine can’t run in a horse race. It has to be horse, those are the most basic rules. Election Day seems to have told us not only that a movement can always beat a machine, but that a machine can’t run the race without a horse that can really carry it the whole way to the finish.

In some ways we were reminded of this over and over again, whether we wanted to believe our lying eyes or not.

Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination should have been more than enough to let us know that there were real signs that winter was coming, though in our desperation to ignore all the weather reports, we forced ourselves to believe differently. But, even before Trump, Bernie Sanders and his close contest in the Democratic primary should have convinced us that without huge adjustments we were in trouble. Look at the incredible odds Sanders had faced. Start with the unlikely phenomena that he was older than dirt, and millennials were pushing and shoving to get in his rallies and support him. Add the fact that in the minds of many Americans, he was stone cold “red,” as a self-declared Socialist, which a couple of decades ago would have disqualified someone from being elected dogcatcher, but was water off a duck’s back in this contest.

Take money and its role in politics which is huge and corrosive. Money was still way too big a factor in race after race, but both Trump and Sanders turned the tables on the billionaire sweepstakes, especially Sanders. The early money “primary,” seen by the pros as so fundamental, was won by Jeb Bush and of course Hillary Clinton. They didn’t win on the money as much as they lapped the field many times over. Trump claimed he was largely self-financed, but even so he ran such a non-traditional campaign that he needed less money and made up for it with earned media and the willingness to provoke. Sanders, the novice fool that he was, refused to take big donations and PAC money, and created a small donor phenomenon of support and went head-to-head with Clinton through most of the primaries. Meanwhile Clinton spent valuable time throughout the campaign, even after winning the nomination, currying donations from the rich, while the big money, including the Kochs and others, pretty much stayed clear of Trump. Who in America who wants change could have missed how important this was?

Contrary to what some are saying, I can’t see how anyone can blame Sanders or hold his campaign responsible for Trump’s victory. Yes, a tough contest exposes weaknesses in the opponent, but it also should make you stronger and teach lessons. It’s not fair to blame the teacher for the student not doing homework when it comes time for the real test.

Finally, the real email damage to Clinton may have come from WikiLeaks as much as from her own server stumble. The emails showed her as weak and indecisive, rather than having core commitments and vision. For every time Trump seemed to be resisting and saying he would do it his way, it seemed like she was running by committee and coming to positions with polls.

For people wanting change, they have to see the vision, and believe the messenger. Trump and Sanders were wildly unlikely and deeply flawed messengers, but their ability to deliver a vision, consistently and clearly, moved people to accept the messenger. The same could be said for Obama and his campaigns that were powerful enough to allow the first African-American to be elected. We just didn’t get that with Hilary, and we knew that, no matter how much we tried to wish it away.