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Democrats Mount an Effort to Censure Donald Trump
The House resolution faults the president for failing to adequately condemn white supremacists “and assure the American people of his resolve to opposing domestic terrorism.”
By Conor Friedersdorf

When Donald Trump failed to single out and denounce Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members, and their allies Sunday, even after they marched by torchlight through an American city, where one among them ran down an anti-racist protester, I noted the historic failure of presidential leadership—a failure underscored by the praise that white supremacist leaders heaped on his approach—and called on Congress to step into the breach, reasserting the nation’s conscience by censuring the president.

In the days that followed, Trump buckled to widespread pressure to single out the white-supremacist groups, naming them in a statement that he read from a teleprompter. But he subsequently declared, in a combative, unscripted press conference Tuesday, that there were some good people on both sides of the Charlottesville protest, implying that good people marched alongside swastikas and KKK members.

A formal censure became even more necessary.

An overwhelming vote by the House to censure Trump would help to mitigate his inadequate leadership by sending the message he failed to send to white supremacists: that the people are overwhelmingly opposed to their bigotry; that even the most populist branch of government is so adamantly anti-KKK and anti-Nazi that members will censure a president of their own party for delivering anything short of moral clarity. The country would benefit greatly.

This isn’t a perfect resolution; there are likely tweaks that would increase the chance of Republican votes without undercutting the benefits to America. It is, however, a good starting point. The GOP can suggest changes or write its own resolution, bearing in mind that the resolution at hand is far better than nothing at all.

As yet, House Republicans have been willing to ally with Trump despite his cozying up to the alt-right, denigrating Mexicans and Muslims, and stoking ethnic anxieties. If they are to redeem themselves in the least, censure or impeachment is necessary. Should they do nothing, history should record that they were complicit in Trumpism.

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Bernie Sanders Loyalists Are Taking Over the Democratic Party One County Office at a Time
In the fight to define the Democratic party in the age of Donald Trump, followers of Sen. Bernie Sanders, armed with a powerful database, want to transform it from the bottom up by taking control of low-level state and county committee posts.
By Reid J. Epstein and Janet Hook

In Washington, Democrats are grappling with what it means to be a minority party in the age of Donald Trump. In the rest of the country, populist followers of Sen. Bernie Sanders are mounting a sustained effort to answer the question from the bottom up.

In California, supporters of the 2016 presidential contender packed the obscure party meetings that chose delegates to the state Democratic convention, with Sanders backers grabbing more than half the slots available.

In Washington state, they swept to power at the Democratic state central committee, ousting a party chairman and installing one of their own in his place. Sanders acolytes have seized control of state parties in Hawaii and Nebraska and won posts throughout the party structure from coast to coast.

Those gains come from an under-the-radar blitz in a debate over the future of the party following its bruising 2016 losses. While Democrats nationwide have put the focus on President Trump, the Sanders wing of the party has engaged in an intramural fight to remake the party in a more populist, liberal mold.

“It is absolutely imperative that we see a major transformation of the Democratic Party,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview last week. The party has “to do what has to be done in this country, to bring new energy, new blood.”

The party will choose its new chairman on Saturday at a meeting in Atlanta. Some in the Democratic old guard harbor concerns that a sharp turn to the left could alienate centrist voters, jeopardize the party’s position in the next presidential election and, before then, lead to primary challenges to incumbent Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections.

“Is the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren wing of the party going to push us too far to the left?” asked former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who also served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “Only if they start going after incumbent moderate Democrats in primaries like the tea party did.”

Last week, a group of former Sanders campaign aides launched a super PAC with the explicit goal of mounting primary challenges to Democratic incumbents. Party leaders are urging Democrats to focus on fighting Mr. Trump and his GOP allies instead of turning their fire inward.

For now, the strategy of Mr. Sanders’s followers is to infiltrate and transform the Democratic Party’s power structure, starting with the lowest-level state and county committee posts that typically draw scant attention.

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I Blame Us
It is our fault. We allowed it. We are allowing it right now.

Here’s the thing: Yes, Mitch McConnell is a terrible human being, and an awful influence upon the United States. We could make a long list of politicians equally craven and/or evil. That could be matched by the list of those who are “merely” stupid, foolish, or incompetent. And, for each of the very worst of them, there are – quite literally – millions upon millions of citizens who support them in their efforts to roll back civil rights, gender equality, and environmental protection accomplishments won over the past several decades (among other essential, and civilized, aspects of our society). There is no shortage of people at whom to point, and shriek, “Shame!”

But, it’s our fault. We let it happen. I blame us.

And, by “us,” and “we,” I mean the ones who know better. The ones who understand the atomically simple fact that the verb “progress” is the one to which a sane society ought to, and must, aspire. That the noun “progress” is something every sane society should aspire to obtain. And that the adjective “progressive” (whether describing someone who “gets things done,” or not) must accurately describe a society, and its leaders, or that society is headed in precisely the wrong direction, if it’s headed anywhere at all.

It is our fault. We allowed it. We are allowing it right now.

Because “taking” anything “back” in 2018 is not a strategy. It is an aspiration. It is also, I would argue, quite possibly a pipe dream. As of this moment, after all the excitement over a “merely” seven point loss in Kansas, there is still no hard evidence I have seen to support a probability of congressional districts, senate seats, or statehouses swinging left eighteen months from now. And, if I’m correct in this skepticism, “impeachment” is a concept even more fantastical, perhaps akin to a fever dream. Don’t count on it.

Besides, November 8, 2018 is too far away. Untold damage will be done by then. From my viewpoint, not only legislatively. I fully expect every effort to be made to fully deconstruct whatever remains of the already imperfect “fairness” of our representative democracy prior to then. Meaning, it might very well be impossible to “vote them out,” even if you could gather enough with admirable intent. Seriously.

In fact, the deathblow to our democracy has probably already been delivered, and absorbed. And that assault, and concomitant acquiescence, is probably the best example of how, and why, it is our own fault, and our own failure. Just this past week, twelve months after Mitch McConnell announced that he and his Republican cohorts would unconstitutionally refuse to allow Barack Obama to appoint a Supreme Court justice to replace the recently deceased Antonin Scalia, Neil Gorsuch was confirmed for a lifetime appointment to the Court.

Twelve months. A full trip around the sun. Four full seasons. A human Earth year. That was the time during which we – the ones who know better – failed to act, to implement, to demand, that what was wrong be made right.

And I truly believe the victory that has been achieved, and cemented, by the evil components of our society, along with their co-conspirators, could have been prevented. But we didn’t do it.

I’m not talking about turning out to vote. Yes, voting is essential. Voting might be one of the most primal, and crucial, expressions of agency in our world. It is also pretty much the most passive. Voting is a means for helping guide the general direction of the every-so-slowly turning ship of state. But it bears little relationship to the urgency of insisting upon something specific, and immediate. It is only distantly related to the act of saying, “We will not sit down, and we will not sit still, until you do as we say.”

So, what could have been different? Well, if 200,000 people had shown up on the steps of the Supreme Court on March 17, 2016, the day after Mitch McConnell announced his party’s usurpation of President Obama’s rightful appointment, and if 200,000 or so had stayed, or been consistently swapped and replaced, for days and days afterward, I highly doubt the coup-like theft would have occurred. McConnell and his cabal would have backed down. Quite possibly a fraction of that number could have done the trick. But, we didn’t do that. We relied on editorials, and opinion pieces, and petitions. We expected to win an election. And, so, the coup became a fait accompli.

Because editorials, and opinion pieces, and elections are not insistence. They are not effective resistance. They are statements. They are suggestions. We have, it appears, lost our ability to make demands.

That was twelve months ago. A full trip around the sun. Four full seasons. A human Earth year. In that time, an election was lost. Since then “usurpation” has become something quainter than it was in March of 2016. The assaults upon our society have been relentless, blunt, blundering, and, by political standards, perhaps, “ineffective.” But, in terms of their actual effects on our lives, and our times, they have been, and will continue to be, overwhelmingly impactful. The effective opposite of “ineffective.” Courts may have struck down Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban,” but people who were supposed to be protected are being deported. Rivers and streams are being polluted, where they weren’t before. Pipelines without prior permission are now pumping oil, while the Chinese are selling solar. The EPA is not only being defunded, but its troves of scientific data are being hastily deleted, and destroyed. Not only are policies being diametrically altered, but our scientific history and knowledge base is being anti-factually rewritten, or simply eliminated. No one should be fooled by legislative victories or losses. The bureaucracy is not only being dismantled, it is being transformed into a mechanism for destroying (to give an incomplete list) the poor, the vulnerable, the non-native, the non-Christian, non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual. Indeed, anyone outside of the administrative, and corporate, powerbase. In short, anyone who opposes the aims of those in authority. Which, if it needs to be said, is pretty much a definition of “authoritarian.”

I’m not exaggerating. If anything, the opposite.

This past week, hearings were held on the twelve-month-delayed Supreme Court appointment. The Democratic Party mounted a significant, if merely symbolic, attempt at obstruction. Attention was successfully drawn to the issue. The U.S. citizenry were handed another perfect opportunity to protest, and to resist. To make a demand. There was barely a whimper. Yes, phone calls were made. Petitions were circulated. Critical commentary was broadcast. Voices were raised, in what now passes for “protest.” None of this, by itself, is what was needed. None was sufficient.

I’d posit again that had 200,000, or half that number, or half of that, shown up on the steps of the Court, in concert with the Democratic filibuster, in tandem with revelations of Neil Gorsuch’s penchant for plagiarism; if 200,000 had stood, and had stayed, and had said, “No, this we will not allow,” that it would not have occurred. The so-called “nuclear option” would not have been as easy to employ, and I believe it would not have been implemented. Because 200,000 bodies speak more pointedly than Lawrence O’Donnell. They are also much less funny than Rachel Maddow, and I’m not among those who believe satire will save us. I believe the compendium of occurrences – the unprecedented natures of the theft, of the rule change, of the public outcry in the form of bodies lining the plazas of Washington, D.C. – would have averted the travesty.

In my own perfect dream world, would I have applauded if Barack Obama had thrown ex-presidential tradition to the wind and, adopting civic activism as his new mantle, led this campaign? You bet. Do I think the chances for forcing the abandonment of the current cabal’s opportunistic, kleptocratic, authoritarian takeover ambitions would have been increased if he’d been joined by Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, George H. Bush; Maxine Waters, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris; hell…Sheryl Sandberg – all stating together that, “This is unacceptable…This is wrong…We condemn this together…And if you arrest any of them, you’ll have to arrest us, as well”? Yes, I wish it would have gone down that way. Because, a) I think, with such powerful and diverse civic and corporate leaders, masses of people might actually have followed, and appeared; and b) I think the presence of all surviving ex-presidents would have helped insure the masses’ success. Not all of them withholding endorsements during an election, as they did. All of them putting their bodies and freedom on the line, and encouraging other Americans to do so, in a joint statement of, “You have now gone too far.”

It was certainly called for. Why it didn’t occur, I’ll leave to others to speculate. No former presidents offered to lead the resistance to what I think is easily categorized as the most egregious authoritarian overstep the U.S. has known in my lifetime. In their absence, words of opposition were spoken by citizens and commentators. Gestures were made. Not demands. There were no demands. There was no insistence.

This is why I say it’s our fault. Because the one thing that, in my opinion, would have worked was not employed. We allowed it. It could have been stopped. That’s not to say Mitch McConnell isn’t “a cancer upon our democracy,” as I’ve seen him described. It doesn’t mean Donald Trump, and Mike Pence, and Steve Bannon aren’t the most despicable of villains, whose venality would make the merest resistance, much less progress, much more difficult than if they weren’t elected (well, some of them weren’telected), or, better yet, didn’t exist. But they do exist, as do their supporters, and enablers. And elections, and scheduled demonstrations, are insufficient, and will never be sufficient, to keep such villainy from triumphing. It will take massive resistance, yes. But much more active resistance than has been demonstrated thus far, in which demands are made, and insisted upon. Not outrage. Not protest. Not votes (because they can’t be depended on). Demands, which, unmet, lead to constant, escalating non-compliance, and disruption.

We didn’t do it. Even when a clearly stolen lifetime appointment to the highest court of our land, virtually assuring rollbacks of precious, and essential, rights was at stake. And, from my point of view, it’s quite possible that we will never have such a clear opportunity again. Not in such peaceful fashion, anyway. Because now that those in power have seen that there is no willingness to resist in truly demanding fashion, why would they ever acquiesce to any sternly worded request, or even harshly delivered threat, again? If the will to make peaceful demands isn’t strong enough, it’s hard to imagine people taking stands requiring real personal injury, and perhaps even physical harm.

That’s not to suggest it’s impossible that the future might be brighter than it appears to me right now. It doesn’t mean that determination to disrupt, and demand, won’t escalate. But, so far, in this nation, at this moment in time, aside from a few scattered subgroups (which have endured significant marginalization as a result), I have not seen such strength of will and purpose demonstrated. I hope I’m wrong. If I’m right, I hope the change is yet to come. But, so far, as of today, we didn’t do it. We let it happen. I include myself. It’s our fault. I blame us.
House Republicans Move to Block Live Streaming, Photos From Floor of Congress
House Republicans have proposed new rules that would make it harder and costlier for members to live stream or post photos from the floor of the chamber. The newly proposed policy backed by House S…
By Cynthia Littleton

House Republicans have proposed new rules that would make it harder and costlier for members to live stream or post photos from the floor of the chamber.

The newly proposed policy backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is seen as a response to the “sit-in” protest that House Democrats mounted last June in an effort to force a vote on gun control legislation that had been blocked by Republicans. Democrats turned to live streaming via Facebook Live and Periscope to spread the word about their protest after Ryan ordered the House’s C-SPAN camera turned off. C-SPAN typically offers a live feed of House and Senate sessions.

The proposed rules would fine members $500 for live broadcasting or photos sent from the House floor. The fine would rise to $2,500 for subsequent offences. The fines would be deducted from each members’ salary, according to NBC News.

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