SouthCoast Political Calendar

I have had some hostile responses to my posting of the Dartmouth Republican Town Committee’s meeting on Thursday, but it’s important people know what’s happening. While we town Democrats have yet to get our act together, Dartmouth Republicans are actively reaching out to independents:

“Dartmouth residents have an opportunity to learn what Republicans really want for our communities, our state, and our nation. We are not about racism, white supremacy, Islamophobia and trying to unravel the American Dream,” the committee said in a news release.

This seems at odds with reality, like so much from the GOP — but come and see for yourself how the party of Jeff Beauregard Sessions, Donald Trump, Brock Cordeiro, and Tom Hodgson is trying to paint itself locally. According to the Standard Times, the meeting is open to the public.

All events here are from the #Resist: New Bedford Meetup calendar.

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) Meeting
When Tue, September 19 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Where GSM Labor Council (560 Pleasant Street, New Bedford, MA) (map)
URL https://www.meetup.com/resist-new-bedford/events/243344934/
#Resist: New Bedford, MA Tuesday, September 19 at 6:30 PM With the incredible surge in support for Bernie Sanders, the destructive policies of the Trump administration, and the incredibly lackluster solutions… https://www.meetup.com/resist-new-bedford/events/243344934/
 
Meet the Dartmouth Republican Town Committee
When Thu, September 21 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Where Southworth Library (732 Dartmouth Street, Dartmouth, MA, USA 02748) (map)
URL https://www.meetup.com/resist-new-bedford/events/243257397/
#Resist: New Bedford, MA Thursday, September 21 at 6:30 PM The Dartmouth Republican Town Committee will meet Sept. 21 and is inviting the public to attend and see what the GOP is all about. At the meeting, set… https://www.meetup.com/resist-new-bedford/events/243257397/
 
The Future of Energy – Film Screening
When Sat, September 23 10am – 1pm
Where Acushnet Public Library (232 Middle Road, Acushnet, MA, USA 02743) (map)
URL https://www.meetup.com/resist-new-bedford/events/243016371/
#Resist: New Bedford, MA Saturday, September 23 at 10:00 AM South Coast Neighbors United presents a film screening, “The Future of Energy,” a journey across America to shine a light on communities and individua… https://www.meetup.com/resist-new-bedford/events/243016371/
 
Citizens for Economic Justice
When Sun, September 24 4:30pm – Wed, September 27 6pm
Where Unitarian Memorial Church (102 Green Street, Fairhaven, MA, USA 02719) (map)
URL https://www.meetup.com/resist-new-bedford/events/243345178/
#Resist: New Bedford, MA Sunday, September 24 at 4:30 PM From Jack Dean:We will vote on whether we should co-sign a formal request for an investigation of the practices of Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgs… https://www.meetup.com/resist-new-bedford/events/243345178/
 
New Bedford Democratic City Committee
When Thu, October 5 6pm – 7:30pm
Where GSM Labor Council (560 Pleasant Street, New Bedford, MA) (map)
URL https://www.meetup.com/resist-new-bedford/events/242395225/
#Resist: New Bedford, MA Thursday, October 5 at 6:00 PM Meeting of the New Bedford Democratic City Committee, Dems from area towns welcome. For more info call co-chair Lisa Lemieux at 774-328-0394 https://www.meetup.com/resist-new-bedford/events/242395225/
 
2017 Leadership Breakfast – Women’s Fund of Southeastern Massachusetts
When Wed, October 25 8am – 10am
Where University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (285 Old Westport Road, Dartmouth, MA 02747) (map)
URL https://www.meetup.com/resist-new-bedford/events/239236774/
#Resist: New Bedford, MA Wednesday, October 25 at 8:00 AM The Women’s Fund mission is to advance the educational attainment and economic security of women and girls in Southeastern Massachusetts. https://www.meetup.com/resist-new-bedford/events/239236774/
 
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Past, present, future

On August 30th Bill Keating came to the UMASS Law School for a meet and greet he didn’t want to call a Town Hall. In a previous post I suggested that Democrats like Keating are either the future of the Democratic Party or relics of its past. So on the 30th I was especially interested in how the audience responded to him.

The Democratic Representative from the Massachusetts 9th Congressional district answered a few questions, choosing instead to run out the clock on potentially tough ones and he ended by telling the crowd that he had to run: he had a dinner reservation with his mother-in law. Several people remarked that the entire performance was a waste of time and Keating was condescending and disrespectful — an opinion I shared.

But others were more generous to the congressman, a war hawk who has sided with extreme GOP positions on immigration, voted to neuter provisions in the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, and who supports almost none of the progressive legislation now before Congress — legislation aligned with the new Massachusetts Democratic Party platform but legislation Democrats nevertheless seem conflicted about actually passing.

After the meet and greet I contacted several people chosen to put questions to the congressman and asked them how well he had done. I received four replies:

  • “Although I wasn’t impressed with all Rep. Keating’s answers the other night, I was satisfied with what he said to mine. He even thanked me for it as I passed him by.”
  • “My question was whether the congressman supported legislation to counter religious profiling, religious litmus tests and religious profiling of immigrants. I appreciate Representative Keating’s empathy and his referral to his own family’s encounter with discrimination as immigrant Irish Catholics. He noted that an attack on the civil rights of any minority is an attack on the civil rights of all of us.”
  • “I asked Bill Keating whether he thought, given the partisan politics in Washington today, the Republicans would join Democrats in seeking articles of impeachment if the evidence was strong enough. I think he ran with the question and spoke at length about his thoughts. I was happy with his answer. I think he answered my question, and expanded on it quite a bit. What I came away with was that, at the moment, he doesn’t think that we are quite there for a bipartisan effort.”
  • “As a general comment, I felt he didn’t directly address the question. He talked for 6 or 7 minutes about how he supports bills pushing for transparency in political donations, i.e. from whom donations are received. This, I feel, is a tepid and timid position which does not address the real problem…unregulated and unlimited amounts of money being funneled into the election process. Transparency will help, but will not do the job. I was quite disappointed in his response and it explains why he isn’t a co-sponsor.”

It’s still a bit early to definitively answer the question of what kind of Democrat represents the future of the party, but we should know by the time the Democratic primaries come around. If Reagan Democrats like Keating remain unchallenged, and a slew of Baby Keatings appear on ballots, then we’ll know the party’s true character — regardless of whatever lofty language is written into the platform.

Ultimately, though, it is voters who must push candidates to better positions, expect more, demand more, probe more. Keating’s meet and greet left me feeling discouraged that, for many Democrats, the bar is all too low. And that the party’s recent past is likely to be its near future.

Expulsions

Tuesday was a dark day for everyone except the white supremacist regime that currently runs this country. Almost a million young Dreamers — Americans in every sense except for documentation — will be expelled with the stroke of a presidential pen unless Congress throws them a lifeline. While 2017 is certainly not 1933, it probably feels like it if you’re a Dreamer.

Maybe we should be looking at German history to see how quickly a country can run off the rails. The same history tells us how deeply expulsion hurt Jewish refugees, how painfully friendships, love, and social bonds between Jews and non-Jews were destroyed when an entire group was legislated out of existence. German history also reminds us of the enduring national trauma that white supremacist policies caused — now going on a century later.

We should remember.

In 1933 Hitler’s National Socialists passed a law for the restoration of German jobs. The whole purpose of the Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums was to make Germany great again for white protestant civil servants.

The gesetz protected German jobs from “foreigners” — non-Aryans. How easily economically-insecure lower and middle class Germans turned on Jews who had lived among them — centuries before Germany was even a nation. German Jews were Germans in every sense — but how easily and arbitrarily they were re-defined as aliens, separated from friends and family and German society with the stroke of a pen.

The president of Germany, Paul von Hindenburg, a military man with the gravitas of John McCain, was offended that Jews who had served at the front during WWI were included in the bans, and he wrung a concession from the Nazis. But Hindenburg died the following year and with him so did the concession. Dismissals from the civil service were swift and severe, and expulsions began. People like Albert Einstein, for example, saw the writing on the wall and fled.

In total, 340,000 Jews of lesser fame and resources than Einstein were forced to flee as refugees, often with little time to uproot an entire lifetime in Germany. And after all they were Germans with few connections to any of the foreign lands to which they had to escape. These were among the first victims of Nazi policies and almost a third of them perished in the Holocaust.

Then in 1938 the night known as Kristallnacht occurred. It was a nightmare of shattered glass and shattered lives. It was the beginning of the end for German Jews. The gloves were off. Germany would be a nation for Germans. Germans didn’t know it at the time, but it was also the beginning of the end for Germany.

The nightmare had started only five years earlier with the expulsions.

DACA

By now most people know that Donald Trump announced (via Jeff Sessions) that the DACA program will end in six months. Trump’s decision overturns one by Barak Obama to provide temporary protections for “childhood arrivals” in the absence of a permanent legislative solution. Since 2001 the DREAM Act has foundered in Congress, and today’s

Cancellation of DACA passes the buck to Congress to pass its own Dreamer legislation

In addition, Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders appeared to admit that

Preserving DACA is a form of extortion designed to preserve Trump’s unnecessary and unpopular wall

Read up on the DREAM Act Legislation itself:

S.1291, the original DREAM Act was introduced in 2001 by Orrin Hatch

Senators Durbin and Graham reintroduced a new DREAM Act on July 20 2017

Text of S.1615 – the new DREAM Act (2017)

Text of H.R.3440 – the House version of the new DREAM Act (2017)

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Petitions, legislative contacts, information and conference calls:

ACLU PeoplePower

FCNL Conference Call

FNCL Petition to Restore Protections

Here to Stay – Top 5 Things to know

MIRA Coalition – What you can do as a DREAMer – or ally

Our Revolution

DON’T FORGET

This month things are heating up in Congress. Stay awake and pay attention:

Congress’s Packed September Agenda

Whose America?

After he was elected Donald Trump crowed, “this is the day we take our country back.” The Orange One’s supporters knew what his dog whistle meant. White supremacist Richard Spencer announced: “We won. America belongs to white men.” His buddy Jared Taylor told ABC News journalist Amna Nawaz: “we built a wonderful country that your ancestors could not have [built]. That is why people like you come here.” Taylor put into words what many white Americans believe — that the nation is the crowning achievement of Christian white people and that it’s their country.

But history professor Joe Krulder isn’t buying the myth of America as a lily white nation. In “America was never White” Krulder provides numerous examples of the diversity that actually built America, and of a much more complex history — not simply white settlement — that made the nation.

The founding myths of America that white supremacists like Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor are flogging almost seem to have been taken from Nazi and Soviet era propaganda. White farmers braving cold Dakota winters in sod houses, nobly attacking the land with scythes, or pictures of muscular white tradesmen hammering iron or forging the beams of American skyscrapers. It’s quite romantic.

And it’s also a crock. Historians can tell you that the real America was conquered by genocide, ethnic cleansing, and violence. Much of our national wealth was accumulated by stealing the lives and labor of those regarded as less than human and pressing them into slavery. White supremacy had to be invented to justify slavery, but white supremacy has proven to be both versatile and extensible in justifying America’s many wars of choice on brown and yellow people around the world.

White supremacy, in fact, is such a major strand of our national DNA that it leads many to believe that we are something grander than a nation among other nations, that we have a divine mission to minister to our benighted brown brethren in other countries, guide them, murder them if necessary, deliver to them our great institutions of democracy and capitalism through the barrel of a gun. Every aspect of our society — from economic inequality to the prison system — is based on white supremacist myths that people like Spencer and Taylor have long been selling. Even our first black president, a man who lived in other cultures, considered himself an advocate of American Exceptionalism.

Charlottesville reminded us again of this when racists and Nazis mobilized to defend Southern “heritage” in the form of a Confederate statue. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center there are at least 1,500 monuments to the “lost cause” of the Confederacy, many of them built by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV).

The Daughters of the Confederacy describes itself as a patriotic organization. But like Spencer and Taylor the UDC promotes a revisionist history. It is “an organization which has for its purpose the continuance and furtherance of the true history of the South and the ideals of southern womanhood.” The “true history” the UDC is selling is “a heritage so rich in honor and glory that it far surpasses any material wealth.”

Likewise the Sons of Confederate Veterans is committed to “the vindication of the cause for which we fought. […] the perpetuation of those principles […] and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish.” Glorious slavery.

But don’t believe me. Believe the slavemasters themselves. The Constitution of the Confederate States spells out the Confederate glories in detail. Slavery is mentioned no less than a dozen times in the document, and it was such a central, glorious “ideal” that the Confederate Constitution contained a clause which prevented slavery from ever being abolished.

But if we really want to look at Southern heritage, let’s begin where the Civil War began — in South Carolina.

The first settlements in the Carolinas date from 1640 to 1650. A second wave of colonists, slave traders from Barbados, arrived in 1665, and a third wave came in 1670 to what is now Charleston, South Carolina. They were a quarrelsome, violent bunch. Authoritarian government, political intrigue, dissension, murder and insurrection were the rule rather than the exception. Brotherly love among white colonists might have been a Christian notion but it was nowhere to be found. British Anglicans prohibited French Protestants from owning land in the colony, for example.

For this, after all, was colonialism. Competitors had to be fought and killed, natives had to be “repealed and replaced.” In 1713 Carolina’s colonists forced Tuscorara, Westoe and Coree Indians to flee north where they were eventually assimilated by the Iroquois. Despite colonial treaties many Indians were pressed into slavery and shipped to the West Indies to serve on plantations. It seems triply obscene that Jeff Sessions won’t let them back in their country.

The French, English, and Spanish were all in the New World to conquer it. And they hated each other. It is laughable to think of Spencer’s and Taylor’s fairytale notion of a monolithic European culture at America’s founding. Queen Anne’s War was a colonial dispute over conquered Spanish territory that played out all over the North American continent. Indians in the Carolinas — when they were not being whipped and shipped into slavery — were pressed into the ranks of militias on both the French and English sides.

But then there are the demographics. If, as white supremacists argue, America was always a white Christian nation, then the early American population should have been demonstrably white.

But census data easily disproves this notion.

Throughout the Deep South, for much of our early history, slaves outnumbered whites. It was slaves who farmed the land. In cities many slaves were skilled tradesmen and artisans. Besides white brethren who refused to see them as such, it was also slaves — and the children of slaves — who were hammering on American iron. Go to Charleston, South Carolina and you can see hundreds of pieces of the enduring iron work of Philip Simmons, who learned his craft from a former slave.

During World War I the 371st Infantry Regiment numbered many black Americans from South Carolina. Pershing didn’t see much use for them and he actually handed over the regiment to French command. But numerous members of the 371st received the Croix de Guerre and the Order of Légion d’Honneur. Then they returned to a nation they had just defended but never heard the phrase: “thank you for your service.”

Census figures from the early 1700’s show a consistent non-white majority in South Carolina until 1920 — that was the year that white people finally edged past 50.38%. The nation was 150 years old; whites could finally claim South Carolina was white.

White supremacist myths can’t hold up to history and fact. It may be true that the reins of the economy have always been in white hands, but the work of building and defending America was done — and always has been done — by those rarely given their rightful credit.

Questions for Bill Keating

On August 30th at 6PM at the UMASS Law School in Dartmouth voters from the 9th Congressional District will have a chance to meet Congressman Bill Keating. As I have noted previously, Keating is not much of a Liberal and his views on immigration, healthcare, consumer protection, and foreign policy are substantially at odds with many Democrats and completely at odds with the new Massachusetts Democratic Party platform. In fact, on immigration especially, Bill Keating seems to go out of his way to vote with Republicans.

Yes, our Congressman has some explaining to do — not only his own voting record, but also the positions of the New Democrat Coalition, of which he is a member. This is one more new Democratic grouping resisting progressive legislation that has some membership overlap with the openly conservative Blue Dog Coalition.

Keating is either a relic of the Democratic Party’s past, or a symbol of its unchanged, and doomed, future.

The PDF in this link might be useful for anyone in the audience on August 30th with an opportunity to jump in line and ask Mr. Keating a question.

Voters need answers on:

  • Immigration
    You have broken with Democrats to vote for several GOP anti-immigrant bills. H.R.3009 punishes Sanctuary Cities. H.R.4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, restricts absorption of Syrian refugees. Most recently you voted for H.R.3004, “Kate’s Law,” which takes a harsh but largely symbolic stand against desperate people who re-enter the United States. The candidate statement on immigration you provided “On the Issues” sounds like it was written by Donald Trump or Jeff Sessions. Can you explain why your positions are so divergent from mainstream Democrats?
     
  • Discriminatory Auto Financing
    You and a minority of House Democrats broke with your own party to vote for Republican sponsored H.R.1737, the Reforming CFPB Indirect Auto Financing Guidance Act. This bill prohibited consumers — particularly minorities — from suing auto lenders who violated Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules against discrimination in lending. The bill takes the unusual step of preventing disclosures of violations with Freedom of Information Act requests. The NAACP, the Urban League, La Raza, the Consumers Union, and many others, were opposed. Why did you vote to preserve and protect discrimination? And why did you vote against consumers?
     
  • Medicare for All
    One hundred and sixteen Democrats, including your colleagues in the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, Katherine Clark, Jim McGovern, and Michael Capuano, have co-sponsored H.R.676, John Conyers’ Medicare for All Act. Why are you not a co-sponsor of this bill? And is there another plan to expand care to Americans that you WOULD support?
     
  • College Tuition
    Twenty-seven Democrats, including your Rhode Island colleagues in the House, David Cicilline and Jim Langevin, have co-sponsored H.R.1880, Pramila Jaypal’s College for All Act. Why are you not a co-sponsor of this bill, one which puts into action what Massachusetts Democrats just voted into our platform last June?
     
  • Private Prisons
    Two members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation — McGovern and Clark — support H.R.3227, Raul Grijalva’s Justice is Not for Sale Act. At a time Republicans are trying to re-institute discredited justice and prison practices, and pushing privatization, including prisons, schools, and even the war in Afghanistan, why won’t you support this bill — one that places restrictions on private prisons?
     
  • Mortgage Lending
    You and 63 Democrats broke with your own party to vote for Republican sponsored H.R.3192, the Homebuyers Assistance Act. This bill was a hit with the American Bankers Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Home Builders lobby, but it prohibited consumers from suing mortgage lenders who violated Consumer Financial Protection Bureau disclosure requirements under the Truth in Lending Act. You don’t believe in amnesty for immigrants. Why an amnesty for mortgage lenders?
     
  • Abortion
    One hundred and twenty-one Democrats, including you, support H.R.771, the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage. Thank you for that. However, DNC chair Tom Perez and DCCC chair Ray Lujan, as well as some in the New Democrat Coalition, of which you and Seth Moulton are members, argue for “flexibility” on abortion and against abortion as a litmus test. But shouldn’t abortion rights be a non-negotiable plank for Democrats? A litmus test, if you will?
     
  • Citizens United
    In light of the tremendous amount of money now being spent on elections at all levels and ballot questions from 2012 and 2014 showing over 70% of Massachusetts voters supporting a Constitutional amendment to restrict rights to natural persons and to take money out of elections — why are you not a co-sponsor of H.J.Res.48, which would do precisely that?
     
  • Automatic Voter Registration
    One hundred and sixteen Democrats, including four Massachusetts Representatives — McGovern, Tsongas, Neal, and Clark — support H.R.2840, David Cicilline’s Automatic Voter Registration Act. At a time when Republicans are making it more difficult, not easier to vote, what’s stopping you from supporting this bill?
     
  • Taxing Wall Street Speculation
    Two members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation — McGovern and Clark — already support H.R.1144, Keith Ellison’s Inclusive Prosperity Act. This Wall Street Speculation fee is a fraction of a percent tax on stocks, bonds, and financial derivatives, will be used to fund public university tuition, and is offset by tax credits. Can we get you on record tonight as supporting this bill?
     
  • NAFTA
    Two members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation — McGovern and Moulton — have co-signed Representatives Bill Pascrell and Debbie Dingell’s letter urging the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to ensure that the NAFTA renegotiation process remains open and transparent. — Why not you?
     

Show them all the door

The nation can’t take much more of this. This week alone Donald Trump has edged us uncomfortably closer to both nuclear and civil war.

Anyone disappointed by Trump’s unwillingness to condemn white supremacists and fascists should hardly be surprised to find so many of them in his own administration. Anyone who believes the GOP’s repudiations of white supremacy should remember how hard Republicans fought for Trump’s cabinet picks and national security appointments (below). And anyone who would like to give the 45th president of the United State the benefit of the doubt on his recent comments should remember that white supremacy is a tradition in the Trump family.

Trump has got to go. Either by impeachment or the 25th Amendment, either is fine by me. And those in the following gallery of haters — half of whom are Trump-appointed white supremacists — should all be shown the door.

  • Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist and Senior advisor – white nationalist, Islamophobe and anti-immigrant
  • Lou Barletta, Immigration Policy advisor – white nationalist and anti-immigrant
  • John Bolton, Unofficial National Security advisor – Islamophobe
  • Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development – Islamophobe
  • David Clarke, Dept. of Homeland Security – Islamophobe
  • Kellyanne Conway, Senior advisor and former campaign manager – Islamophobe
  • Monica Crowley, Director of Communications at the National Security Council – Islamophobe
  • Jon Feere, Dept. of Homeland Security – white nationalist and anti-Semite
  • Michael Flynn, Former National Security advisor – white nationalist, Islamophobe and anti-immigrant
  • Frank Gaffney, Unofficial National Security advisor – Islamophobe
  • Newt Gingrich, Unofficial advisor – Islamophobe
  • Katharine Gorka, DHS Landing Team advisor – Islamophobe
  • Sebastian Gorka, National Security advisor – white nationalist, Islamophobe, anti-immigrant, with connections to actual Hungarian Nazis
  • Pete Hoekstra, Unofficial National Security advisor – Islamophobe
  • Julie Kirchner, Customs and Border Protection advisor – white nationalist and anti-immigrant
  • Kris Kobach, Immigration Policy advisor – white nationalist, Islamophobe and anti-immigrant
  • Clare Lopez, Unofficial National Security advisor – Islamophobe
  • K.T. McFarland, Former National Security advisor – Islamophobe
  • Stephen Miller, Senior Policy advisor – white nationalist, Islamophobe and anti-immigrant
  • Heather Nauert, State Department spokesperson – Islamophobe
  • Walid Phares, Foreign policy advisor – Islamophobe
  • Mike Pompeo, CIA Director – Islamophobe
  • Jeff Sessions, Attorney General – white nationalist, Islamophobe, and anti-immigrant
  • Peter Thiel, Transition Team advisor – white nationalist and anti-immigrant
  • Beth Van Duyne, Dept. of Housing and Urban Development – Islamophobe
  • Frank Wuco, Homeland Security advisor – Islamophobe
  • Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior – white nationalist, Islamophobe and anti-immigrant