Saturday, February 18, 2017

12.8 - Update on the resistance

Update on the resistance

That just leads me, in a way, right into another thing I wanted to cover. I just wanted to spend some time going more into how the the resistance is alive and well into the continuing, active, and growing public resistance to the intensified evils we are facing as a nation.

Just consider some examples just from this month:

On February 2, a group of home health care workers staged a sit-in outside the office of Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch to protest against repeal of the Affordable Care Act and against the nomination of Tom Price to run the Department of Health and Human Services. Some 47 demonstrators were arrested for their nonviolent civil disobedience.

That same day, as TheRump attended the National Prayer Breakfast where he joked about Arnold Schwarzenegger's ratings on "The Apprentice" and in a jaw-dropping display of lack of self-awareness defended his bigoted refugee ban by saying "We will not allow a beachhead of intolerance to spread in our nation," 200 or more evangelicals stood outside to protest the ban.

On February 3, a group of New Yorkers brought some wit to matters: They held a memorial for the victims of the non-existent Bowling Green massacre at a park in lower Manhattan called Bowling Green.

And it's not just activists: On February 3, the San Francisco Police Department suspended cooperation with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces over accusation of specifically targeting Arabs and Muslims and violating their First Amendment rights.

The next day, February 4, TheRump was at a charity event at his club in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. About 3,000 people marched through the town to the gates of the event.

Again, it's not just activists: On February 6, in language almost never heard in the mass media, CBS News referred to various statements by TheRump as being "divorced from reality."

On February 10, there was the protest against Betsy DeVos that I mentioned earlier.

On February 11, 500 anti-choice twits turned out in Minneapolis to deny a woman's right to choose and attack Planned Parenthood - and 5000 were in the streets to support Planned Parenthood and to declare we will not go back.

On February 13, thousands of people from cities all over Wisconsin came to Milwaukee for a protest under the banner of "A Day Without Latinos" to protest TheRump and particularly David Clarke, the xenophobic sheriff of Milwaukee County.

February 16, the day I'm doing this, so I can't tell you how well it went, is to be a national "Day Without Immigrants" protest, as immigrants boycott their jobs, classes, and shopping.

And across much of this time there has been the work of an informal movement under the name Indivisible, which provides a handbook for guidance on how to influence Congress by constituent power rather than money power, a movement which already has lead to some raucous town hall meetings, often revolving around the threat of repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

And there is more to come. Activists are preparing for mass mobilizations across the coming months. I've mentioned some of these before, but I have more details and they bear repeating, anyway.

On April 15, tax day, there are already plans for nearly 60 Tax Marches across 28 states and the District of Columbia around a focus of demanding TheRump release his tax records. Nearly 90,000 people have so far pledged to attend one of those marches.

The March for Science, intended to show "widespread public support for the scientific method" and to protest "dangerous trends in the politicization of science" is planned for the Washington Mall on Earth Day, April 22 and has spawned over 100 satellite marches.

Just a week later, April 29, is the People's Climate March in DC. In 2014 the People's Climate March in New York City drew a crowd of over 300,000. There is a hope this one could be even bigger.

On May 6 there is to be an Immigrants March to "show the world" that "we are a nation of immigrants" and "we will not be intimidated." This march, too, will be in Washington, DC. Already 28,000 have said they will be there.

June 11 brings the National Pride March in DC and at least four other cities. 31,000 have committed to marching.

(In fairness, I will add there have been some pushback against this from groups already planning events for the day who fear the march will impact their own local events.)

Finally for now, around 4,000 juggalos, fans of the hip-hop group Insane Clown Posse, are expected to gather in DC on September 16 to protest against the FBI's classification of them as a "loosely organized hybrid gang" - whatever the hell that means - which has lead juggalos to experience discrimination, loss of jobs, and even loss of parental rights by virtue of being identified as fans of a certain type of music.

Is all this activity, present and future, having an effect? Yes, despite all attempts by the White House gangsters to proclaim the opposite.

One of the ways you can tell is the obvious one, the number of times that Congressional GOPpers have fled, dodged, or simply refused to hold town hall meetings because of the questions they face from constituents, questions they can't answer about why they are doing what they are doing instead of doing what they should be doing.

But a subtler way we can know we are having an impact is the fact that we are clearly driving the opponents nuts, seen in how they are flailing about, wildly attacking anybody or anything seen as challenging. When the GOPpers repeatedly swing for the fences, you know there is a measure of desperation involved.

One example would be wildly attacking protesters as being "paid" or "professional protesters," with Tennessee State Senator Paul Bailey, US Sens. Pat Toomey and Cory Gardner, presidential mouthpiece and Melissa McCarthy impersonator Sean Spicer, and most recently, Rep. Jason "Do Your Job" Chaffetz all making that lamest and most desperate of claims.

Oh, as a quick sidebar, after accusing participants in his town meeting of being paid protesters, Chaffetz has been getting invoices from constituents, demanding they be paid for their time to attend the meeting. A vital part of any resistance movement is creativity.

Another example of desperately swinging for the fence is wildly attacking the press, as TheRump claims any negative coverage of him is by definition "fake news" while deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka insists it's pretty much all "fake news" and Sen. Lamar Smith actually said on the floor of the Senate that people should get their news "straight from the president" because that's the only way to get "the unvarnished truth" while Kellyanne Conartist got all a-flutter because no media person has been fired for criticizing TheRump.

Then there is wildly attacking the courts after a judge dared to rule against TheRump over his bigoted travel ban. TheRump threw a tantrum, calling him a "so-called judge," a remark so over the top that even Neil Gorsuch called it "disheartening and demoralizing." The degree of frustration was inadvertently revealed by Stephen Miller, TheRump's senior policy director, who declared with all the gravitas he could muster while looking like someone trying to bluff their way through an oral exam in philosophy while seriously hung over that "that the powers of the president" on such matters "are very substantial and will not be questioned."

One of the people in that photo on the right margin - thank you, Crooks and Liars dot com for it - is Stephen Miller, TheRump's senior policy director; the other is Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister. See if you can tell which is which.

I can only imagine the furious frustration they are feeling now that not only has the Ninth Circuit upheld the suspension of the ban, but a federal district court in Virginia has blocked the ban from being implemented in that state

These reactions are not evidence of strength. These are not demonstrations of being in control, of being sure you have the whip hand. These are evidence of fear, of doubt, of wondering if your whole world will come crashing down. These are evidence of knowing you are just trying to bluff your way through. And even if TheRump himself actually believes everybody loves him, those around him know better.

And maybe, just maybe, The Great Orange One knows it, too, if only dimly. A recent New York Times report on the opening weeks of Trumpland, based on interviews with dozens of government officials, congressional aides, and former staffers, describes him as "a president determined to go big but increasingly frustrated" by his inability to contain the backlash.
Cloistered in the White House [the article says], he now has little access to his fans and supporters - an important source of feedback and validation - and feels increasingly pinched by the pressures of the job and the constant presence of protests, one of the reasons he was forced to scrap a planned trip to Milwaukee last week. For a sense of what is happening outside, he watches cable, both at night and during the day.
Yes, the prospect of protests forced him to cancel a trip to Milwaukee. And when he went to the Philadelphia on January 26, he was met by 1000 protesters. When he went to the National Prayer Breakfast, 200 evangelicals protested outside. When he went to his private club in Mar-a-Lago, 3000 marched through town. I'm reminded that during the days of anti-Vietnam War protests, in order to avoid being faced with picket signs and chants, Lyndon Johnson was reduced to taking a helicopter from the White House to a military base, giving a speech, and helicoptering back. He couldn't show his face anywhere else without facing protests. So it should be with TheRump. Make him feel more "pinched." After all, he was always big on pinching, wasn't he?

The lesson here is don't back down, don't give up. I said before we have to pace ourselves, we have to have lives outside our - I emphasize altogether legitimate and justified - anger, fears, and frustrations. We are in this for the long haul and we run the risk of burnout if we don't take time to refresh and recharge.

And then there are those who say protests lose their effect or even help that they actually help the right by enabling TheRump's supporters to embrace that which they love so very much: the feeling that they are the real victims. But those who say in some form or another that we should stay out of the streets, or that we need at least to be extremely polite, extremely peaceful, extremely courteous, are wrong, as the history of resistance clearly shows.

We don't have to be violent, we should not be violent, and the brick-throwers and the car-burners acting out their macho fantasies of the revolution of their imaginations should be shunned. But what we can be, should be, is loud, raucous, insistent, persistent, irritating, interfering, impolite. There are honorable exceptions to that, as the history of the Quakers demonstrates, but even there the persistence, the willingness to be an irritant, and the preparedness to throw your spirit and even your body against the advance of the darkness are constants.

So it's true we shouldn't strive for constant mass demos, because that is emotionally and financially exhausting and so is unsustainable - another way in which we need to pace ourselves - but there should be a constant rumble of resistance, as there has been and I deeply hope will be.

Now, it's very likely the protests this spring will not come close to measuring up to the historic protests of January 21, and the right wing will - I guarantee - note the smaller size of those protests to claim that protests are, that resistance is, dying out or "losing steam" and use that as bogus "proof" that "people have gotten tired of this drumbeat of criticism and want to support El Leader, His High Orangeness."

The best response to that is simply don't stop. Keep going. Keep doing just what you would have done anyway. And call them out for their lies.

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