Friday, November 9, 2018

Its Mueller Time, No One is above the Law March and a few post-election reflections on living in New York

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Scenes from the You Can't Fire the Truth march Nov. 8th
photo by Eric McGregor
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Cleve Jones wrote;
It's almost 40 years since Harvey Milk was assassinated. If he was with us today I have no doubt he would be calling us into the streets. RESIST! Thursday 11/07 5:00PM Everywhere.

Walking through Times Square at the march last night, I saw a woman with a sign declaring:

“This is how fascism begins (believe me I’m a historian).”

It’s the word that’s been on everyone’s lips.

Before the election, Trump ran an add about the Migrant Caravan that looked straight out of  Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the will b reels, with imagery of a white man poised to save civilization against hordes of violent looking  criminals moving to the  border, substitute jews and …

Thinking about the assassination he saw of Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone in San  Francisco four decades ago, November  first Cleve Jones wrote:
Over the decades many on the left have made the point that the Democratic and Republican parties were basically both just factions of the capitalist oligarchy, differing on some social issues but both committed to maintaining a deeply flawed system that oppresses and exploits working people. I think there was some truth to that analysis, though it never stopped me from voting for Democratic candidates I saw as the lesser evil. Today, however, that analysis doesn't work so well. The Republican Party has overtly embraced fascism, pure and simple. It is a fascist party, with a fascist plan. It is the face of horrific evil and must be defeated. The future of our country and indeed the world hangs in the balance.”
Every few years we debate leaving the united states, especially when fascist tendencies loom.
But then it corrects itself.
Tuesday, we were hoping, it could be one of those days.

Tuesday morning, I ran to the vote. first the lady could not fund us. and then when i got the ballot, i messed up voting for someone under Gillibrand, thinking they were working families party. and then the scanner rejected it saying i had voted twice. i went back to the table. they said i needed to vote with an affidavit. and then the machine rejected that. and then i got another ballot. by this time the women wearing a t shirt saying, 'no drama for your mama!' was worried i was causing drama.

And I certainly was not the only one who found the experience vexing.

Sarah Schulman observed:

“East Village voting at TNC is total chaos. The space needs to be four times larger, the people running the show don’t have a functional system, there is no place to actually fill out the ballot, the scanners stick. No pens. incoherent lines with no indication of their purpose. No place to sit down. No one person is in charge. Remembering the old days of stepping into a booth, pulling the curtain, surveying the choices in peace, and flipping the switch. Allow time and patience to express your right to vote. Can’t imagine the ordeal people are experiencing in Georgia, North Dakota, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, and Texas. Strength to you!”

Friends dropped by Tuesday after class to watch election results.
And  while Cruz won and the rural parts of the country endorsed Trump’s fascism, most of  the urban areas and suburbs rejected Trumpism, putting the house back in Democratic Control, back to  divided  government.  Women took the lead,  showing us what progressive leadership can look like. 

On  Wednesday, we were  feeling a little better.
It was nice to wake up to some good news. The assault on Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, the ACA is over for this round. Bye bye Paul Ryan. Enough of your phony numbers and nonsense? We can shed light on problems and create solutions in NYC. How about this one Cuomo and the Senate and Assembly : legalize pot, use the revenue to fix the subways, fund CUNY, pay for healthcare for all, the NY climate act, and fortify Roe v Wade in NYC?

By Wednesday, the attorney general,  Jeff Sessions was fired.
People at Andrew Boyd’s salon were both relived and worried it wasn’t a full repudiation of Trumpism.  While a few felt like it was a time to celebrate, most of us agreed that had democrats had not taken the house, that it really might have been time to leave. 
 And  people started talking  about the demonstration scheduled for Thursday at six.

By Thursday, we woke up to news that Ruth Bader Ginsburg,  the left leaning 85-year-old Supreme Court judge who refused to step down under Obama, had taken a fall in her office, breaking three ribs.  If she dies Trump gets a third supreme court judge, tilting the judiciary beyond reach for a generation.

Get better RBG! Stay strong! We need you!

Thinking about Mueller and the courts tilting further right, I started worrying again, riding up the Mueller rally.

 “No excuse, must recuse!” members of Rise and Resist chanted at Times  Square.
“Defend Mueller.”

At some point, people started a visceral primal scream: “Fuck Trump!!!”

The rational for the rally:

“Many of us have been pledging that once Trump started the process of firing Mueller, we'd be out on the streets.  So the time has come.  This is serious.  We cannot allow fascism to take hold.  We must stop it in every way we can.  Tonight's protest is a tiny step but an important one.  Please come if at all possible.  Thank you!
Here's a message from the host of the Mueller Firing Rapid Response event you signed up to attend:
Join us TODAY to protect the Mueller investigation. Rod Rosenstein has been removed from directly overseeing Robert Mueller. Mueller now reports to acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker who has very clear conflicts of interest and has stated countless times that he thinks the investigation should be shut down. We aren’t waiting for that to happen!


Date: Thursday, November 8th, 2018
Time: 5:00PM
Place: Times Square — Father Duffy Statue (at 46th Street)
Details: Protest Donald Trump’s Interference in the Mueller Investigation

In Solidarity,
The NYC Coalition for Nobody Is Above The Law.”
Friends  from  all over  New York  were at the  rally.
Jeremy had finished class.
He taught about Guantanamo earlier in the day.
Ken told me about his days canvassing before the election.
And thousands of others marched, rallying for democracy through the dark march from Times  Square to Union Square.
Finishing  the march, I rode down Broadway to our union meeting.
Arriving, people  were celebrating flipping the Senate, and discussing  the continued lawsuits against  labor and agency fees; obviously the goal of the right is to defund public sector unions.
We have  to look out for each other and maintain solidarity,  even when we disagree.
Some talked about striking, others about the Migrant Caravan.
 “Brothers and Sisters,
We collected dozens of signatures on the following statement at the DA last night. For those of you who were not present, if you would like to add your name please let me know. We are posting this to the Left Voice website today. It will be translated into Spanish and shared with the members of the caravan. We also collected $600 in donations for direct relief and aid to the caravan. if you wish to contribute, you can donate here:
PSC CUNY We Support the Migrant Caravan
We the undersigned members of the professional staff congress of the city University of New York affirm our unconditional support for the workers and families of the migrant caravan currently travelling through Mexico to the United States as well as our opposition to the xenophobic response of the US administration and the right-wing militias that have threatened their safety.
As teachers and employees of the City University of New York (the largest and most diverse urban university in the country) we are all too aware of the challenges and struggles faced by migrant children and their families. Many of our students are from South and Central America. Many of them, like the members of the caravan, have fled violence, persecution, and poverty, (often direct products of US policy and intervention) only to sometimes encounter more of the same. Many of them are undocumented immigrants, who live daily with the fear that they will be forced to end their studies or that their families will be jailed and deported. We know the extraordinary contributions that such students have made to our university and our communities, despite these hardships, and we know that our society is richer thanks to their hard work and intelligence.
Like workers and unionists everywhere we support the universal right of voluntary migration and asylum, and we condemn the violence of our militarized borders, which arbitrarily separate working people and pit them against one another. We support the rights of all immigrant workers to organize themselves everywhere they live and work, and we welcome them into our unions as well as our communities because their presence makes us stronger.
We demand that the members of the caravan be given immediate sanctuary and asylum in the United States and we commit ourselves and our union to helping them in their travels, to aiding those who make it to the US regardless of immigration status, and to complete non-compliance and non-cooperation with any and all attempts by ICE and the Department of Homeland Security to find, detain, deport, or otherwise harm undocumented immigrants. Further, we call upon rank and file unionists everywhere to join us in our defense of the caravan and to urge their union leaderships to organize material and political aid and support for all migrants wishing to enter the United Sates.”
The battle against fascism  in the United States is most  certainly a cultural battle, but it is also an economic one. And most certainly,  this is a battle over space, who can occupy it, who can walk where, what  walls keep people in vs out.  And who can live here.
Recall, our president is a developer, who  helped privatize public space,  to his own advantage.
Today, the trend is everywhere here.
Rents are prohibitive.
And we have to wonder who can actually afford to live here.
To this  end, Kevin Baker writes:
“I have never seen what is going on now: the systematic, wholesale transformation of New York into a reserve of the obscenely wealthy and the barely here—a place increasingly devoid of the idiosyncrasy, the complexity, the opportunity, and the roiling excitement that make a city great.
As New York enters the third decade of the twenty-first century, it is in imminent danger of becoming something it has never been before: unremarkable.
The average New Yorker now works harder than ever, for less and less. Poverty in the city has lessened somewhat in the past few years, but in 2016 the official poverty rate was still 19.5 percent, or nearly one in every five New Yorkers. When the “near poverty” rate—those making up to $47,634 a year for a family of four—is thrown in, it means that almost half the city is living what has become a marginal existence, just one paycheck away from disaster. By comparison, the city’s poverty rate in 1970—in the wake of Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty—was just 11.5 percent. By 1975, during the supposed collapse of New York, it had increased to 15 percent, a figure lower than it has ever been since then.
The immediate cause of the increase in poverty doesn’t require much investigation. The landlords are killing the town...
ities are all about loss. I get that. Intrinsically dynamic, cities have to change, or they end up like Venice, preserved in amber for the tourists. New York City, for all its might, is no more immune to economic sea changes than anyplace else—maybe less so.”
But no one can count us out.  New York state became a more interesting  place on Tuesday, a Senate for the people. Certainly there are nights when all  the world seems to here,  alive with energy, especially as we  march, discuss,  rally, and conspire.
Finishing the day, a few of us met for a pint in the East Village, still  friends hashing it out, talking and imagining what our lives can be in  this city together. 

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