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Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III: A Line in the Sand

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As I have stated before, any senator who votes to confirm Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III as Attorney General should be expelled from the Democratic Party. Charlie Pierce agrees:

There is only one exception at this point. Any Democratic senator who votes to confirm Jefferson Beauregard Sessions as Attorney General should immediately be rendered dead to the party and to every Democratic voter in the country. The context of the immediate moment makes this imperative.

If it isn’t clear by now, there’s a powerful new campaign of voter suppression coming down the road. It doesn’t matter whether the sudden amplification of the “voter fraud” meme is due to the fact that the president* is delusional on the subject, or due to the fact that he needed a diversion from the stories about Russian ratfcking that were beginning to pile up on the South Lawn, or simply due to the fact that Republicans suppress votes because they’re Republicans.

It could be for one of those reasons. It could be for all three of them. The motive isn’t the point. The point is that we soon likely will be in the middle of the greatest political brawl over the franchise since 1965.

At a moment like this one, it simply will not do to have someone in the attorney general’s office who was deemed too racist to be a federal judge 30 years ago. It will not do to have someone in the attorney general’s office who launched a dirty-tricks prosecution of voting-rights activists when he was a U.S. Attorney in Alabama. It will not do to have someone in the attorney general’s office who greeted the gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 by noting that it was “good for the South.”

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions simply will not do.

It doesn’t matter if the next nominee is worse. Beat that person, too. It doesn’t matter how tough this may make your next re-election campaign; you didn’t get elected to get re-elected. The issue of voting rights is too important to the country—and, god knows, to the party—for it to yield to any other consideration. It is an existential issue, for the republic and for the Democrats. There is no room for compromise or horse-trading. The Democratic Party should stand for the expansion of the franchise and for a greater ease in exercising it. Neither of these goals has a chance with Jefferson Beauregard Sessions running the Department of Justice.

All of this. I find Democratic votes for Ben Carson or Rex Tillerson pathetic. And we can argue that there’s a line in the sand to be drawn over Betsy DeVos and Tom Price. But Sessions, that is completely unacceptable. Basically every Democrat except for our Senators is quickly coming to understand that complete resistance is the only response to Trump. We already see what happens when you have a mentally ill president with a Nazi as his top advisor in the White House. This is literally the position we find ourselves in. Nothing positive can come of a single vote for Jeff Sessions at this time. We are already looking at the legal rollback of much of the civil rights movement in the next 4 years. And I say that without hyperbole. There can be no reason for any Democrat to be complicit in this.

And that includes Joe Manchin. I actually think Manchin gets a bad rap from liberals. His voting record is actually pretty good on most issues, all things considered. And he is a Democratic senator in what may well be the most racist state in the nation, one that has gone hard right in the last decade largely because Barack Obama was president. He has to vote for coal to survive, and I am largely OK with that barring his vote meaning something for legitimate climate change legislation. But he simply cannot vote for someone who is going to repeal the civil rights movement. If Democrats stand for ANY ONE THING, it is this. We are pro-civil rights. We refuse to allow this to happen. And if you contribute to that by voting for a modern Nathan Bedford Forrest as Attorney General, you are finished as a Democrat.

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  • El Guapo

    Manchin? You mean this Joe Manchin?

    “Governor Rick Perry is uniquely qualified for this position and I will support his nomination as Secretary of the Department of Energy,” Manchin said in a statement released before he introduced Perry to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

    • Maybe he meant Perry was “uniquely qualified” in the sense of having no qualifications of any sort. I can’t imagine any other explanation that would allow that sentence to parse.

      • El Guapo

        Plus it is an absolute slap in the face to the Nobel Laureate and MIT Chair guys that preceded him.

        • efgoldman

          it is an absolute slap in the face to the Nobel Laureate and MIT Chair guys that preceded him.

          It’s not like Peach Pustule will go out and get one of those nuclear physicists if Goodhair is voted down.

          • Jim in Baltimore

            It’s not even good hair. Ernest Moniz, now that’s good hair.

      • so-in-so

        Yeah, not being sure what the department you are tapped to lead actually DOES probably is unique, up to now.

    • Manchin needs to do what he needs to do on energy issues–his voters are stupid enough to think that DOE has something to do with coal. Honestly, it probably doesn’t matter because all the Republicans will vote for Perry anyway.

      • El Guapo

        But that’s true even for Sessions. He is probably going to get all the Rs to vote for him.

        • Yes, but there’s a different level of moral complicity here.

          • Dilan Esper

            But you just said his voters are racist.

      • mds

        Well, all the Republicans are going to vote for Sessions, too, yet that matters. Less symbolism to “Put a goddamned moron who doesn’t know what the Department of Energy does in charge of the maintenance of our nuclear arsenal” tha “Put a lying racist sloshing bag of liquified pig shit” in charge of civil rights enforcement” I suppose.

    • mds

      No, I think he means this Joe Manchin:

      “Jeff Sessions has my vote. He’s my friend,” Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia told Fox News. “Now, some people say he’s too conservative, well some people are too liberal.”

      The whole “friend” thing is flagrant bullshit as a reason, of course, given that the very same Roll Call article has Schumer noting that he’s on friendly personal terms with Sessions, too, but is still opposing his appointment. Because “We’re chums!” is a fucking stupid way to determine a person’s qualifications for a Cabinet position.

      • CP

        Now, some people say he’s too conservative, well some people are too liberal

        Jesus Christ, fuck that guy. Find me one conservative anywhere in national politics who’d be willing to make the same concession in reverse, and I’ll concede that this is an appropriate thing to say.

        • efgoldman

          Find me one conservative anywhere in national politics who’d be willing to make the same concession in reverse

          Find me another Democrat who can possibly win a senate seat in West Virginia in 2018.
          Protip: Take lots of food, water, and flashlight batteries. You’re going to be looking a long time.

          • mds

            I’m not saying (and it’s not clear to me that CP is saying) that he needs to be primaried somehow, I’m just saying that he’s a miserable asshole who should shut the fuck up. He’s welcome to go back to the racist shithole of West Virginia and say “Hey, at least I voted for Sessions.” When he takes the message to Fox News to grandstand and attack other Democrats for their unfairness, he can sit himself down to a fresh steaming bag of salted dicks.

  • prognostication

    I was saying this yesterday, too. I will help recruit and contribute to primary challengers for any Dem who votes for Sessions, full stop.

  • Mark Field

    Reading between the lines, it seems clear that the Dem Senators decided among themselves on a “pick and choose your battles” strategy. This is insanely stupid, and I don’t know how to move them away from it. I mean seriously — people like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are trying to appear “reasonable” by voting to confirm unqualified nominees. Neither one of them could possibly lose a single vote by adopting an across-the-board opposition.

    I’m at my wit’s end on how to stop this. I’ve called my Senators more times in the past week than in my entire life until now. My calls are getting increasingly heated. But they seem to be ineducable.

    We’re so fucked.

    • SteveHinSLC

      They only have a limited supply of “no” votes. Got to keep them dry.

      Wait, they don’t? Fuck, then I can’t figure it out.

    • Joe_JP

      Watching Mark Field lose his shit is not reassuring.

      • Nick056

        Fuckin’ A.

      • Mark Field

        The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.

        Or something along those lines.

    • Junipermo

      It is infuriating, and insanely stupid. It’s especially incoherent for a Democrat to knowingly support someone to run a government agency that they know to be unqualified to run said agency. It undercuts one of the pillars of Democratic belief, that government can work, and work well, to make our country a better place to live in.

      I don’t know how to stop this, either, but I hope you’ll keep on calling. Maybe we should start telling our senators that we regret voting for them, or that we’ll remember their foolishness when they come up for re-election.

    • Philip

      Well, it’s hopefully firmly removed either of them from consideration for 2020?

      • Junipermo

        Seems like Kirsten Gillibrand is positioning herself for a 2020 run. She’s voted no on everyone except Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador, and seems to have a better sense of where the base is right now than Warren and Harris.

        • Joe_JP

          For people in other parts of the country, how does Kirsten Gillibrand sell out there? Like in the South, West or whatever? Does she have much name or face recognition etc.?

          She did a nice thing on Twitter where she asked people why they went to the Women’s Right March. Her statement in honor of Roe v. Wade was great too.

          • Murc

            For people in other parts of the country, how does Kirsten Gillibrand sell out there? Like in the South, West or whatever? Does she have much name or face recognition etc.?

            Very little. I’m not sure that matters, tho. That would change once she is, you know… running for President.

            • Joe_JP

              running for President

              Many people who run for President in effect have done so for years, at least having some national exposure long before they formally start their campaign. Trump, Clinton, McCain etc. Obama too.

        • mds

          Elaborating on the point I already made in this subthread, if the standard is either (1) reject Trump’s nominees on general principles, or (2) reject obviously unqualified nominees, then Gillibrand has failed by voting for Haley. I know it made everyone feel good that she’s opposed everyone else, but what makes Haley a reasonable exception?

      • mds

        Someone remind me what Nikki Haley’s qualifications for UN ambassador are, again? Her bachelor’s degree in accounting?

        So I guess we can remove any Democratic senators from consideration for 2020. Which might be a good thing, were it not for how lacking our bench is otherwise.

        • Philip

          The UN ambassador is vastly less important than the cabinet secretaries.

          • mds

            It’s currently a Cabinet-level position. And if we’re all about the symbolism, what’s the symbolism of this jingoistic dumbshittery?

            Nikki Haley, the new US ambassador to the United Nations, walked into UN headquarters for the first time Friday and promptly said, “For those who don’t have our backs, we’re taking names.”

            Promising start.

            “This administration is prepared and ready to have me go in and look at the UN and everything that’s working. We’re going to make it better. Anything not working, we’ll fix, and anything that seems obsolete and not necessary, we’re going to do away with.”

            It makes me wonder why so many Americans are hostile to the UN, given that we unilaterally run the place.

            • Aaron Morrow

              If she still says banning Muslims from entering the United States is absolutely un-American and unconstitutional, she’s one of the few mainstream Republican politicians who says that.

              • mds

                So far even the Trump administration itself has decided that they’re just going to ban all refugees from predominantly Muslim countries. Unless they’re religious refugees. Christian religious refugees. So since its not a blanket ban that applies to all Muslims from anywhere, Haley is presumably okay with it. And if she isn’t, well, she’s not President, is she?

        • Joe_JP

          Someone remind me what Nikki Haley’s qualifications for UN ambassador are, again? Her bachelor’s degree in accounting?

          I think there is a certain symbolism at work here per her family background and the fact she criticized Trump on a national stage (ditto the stuff she did regarding the Confederate flag). This very well might be the strongest thing going for her, including among her new colleagues. Plus the fact she is basically sane as far as things go.

          She has executive experience and all but yeah. I want someone with at least a shred of foreign policy experience in this position. So, I appreciate the four people who voted against her.

          • JR in WV

            All of you all people, Nikki is totes qualified for a UN job. She's born of parents from somewhere else!!!

            After all, What could make someone more qualified to work at the UN than being a foreigner????? And of a slightly darker complexion too, so she's a twofer, proof that they are NOT RACISTS AT ALL!!!!

            She and Ben Carson, world renowned geniuses, a neurosurgeon, an executive governor, they're going to save us from.... well,... something or other, maybe. And prove that Trump is not so a racists at all, every, SO THERE!

    • CP

      I’m at my wit’s end on how to stop this.

      Me too. The Democratic Party is virtually the only thing left in government that can slow down the Trump project, but they’d have to actually try and do it. These people cannot just sit on their asses and wait for 2006 and 2008 era levels of catastrophe to destroy confidence in the Republican Party and bring them back into power. At some point, they need to get out there and actually fight for themselves.

    • NewishLawyer

      In the end, total obstruction is not a good fit for the Democratic Party because we are the party that wants government to work and I suspect that the base is more anxious than the polls about Trump’s authoritarian nature.

      I also wonder how much LGM represents the base of the Democratic Party. We are liberal here. But there are still a lot of moderates in the Democratic Party who might be able to say no to DeVos and Sessions but okay to Haley and Tillerson.

      • so-in-so

        The idea that a fully staffed GOP government will “work” in anyway a Democrat would see as “working” is really special. “Work”, and “function, sort of” or “exist, as an entity” are far different things. I expect even under Pence, the Federal Government will “work” like a brain-dead body on life support. Except for the suppression mechanisms.

      • rewenzo

        In the end, total obstruction is not a good fit for the Democratic Party because we are the party that wants government to work and I suspect that the base is more anxious than the polls about Trump’s authoritarian nature.

        The flaw here is that Democratic votes are completely unnecessary. Even if one wanted to assume that it is better from a good government perspective that *anyone* head up a government agency rather than no one (a dubious presumption), by withholding their votes, Democratic senators are neither obstructing government in the least nor preventing these unqualified yahoos or bad actors from taking their positions. All they are doing is voicing their opposition. This will come in handy when said unqualified yahoos invariably screw up, are embroiled in scandal, or, in the case of the bad actors, implement incredibly bad policies, the Democrats will be able to point to their opposition and say, “we told you so.”

        Second, there is a *slight* chance, that by withholding their unnecessary votes, the Democrats make it less comfortable for the Republican senators. Marco Rubio may be OK with Rex Tillerson if he’s not the deciding vote, but what if he is? To the extent this either drives a wedge between the Republicans in the Senate and in the White House, this is good.

        Third, it binds the party together. Right now a unified minority can’t do much, but it does more than a disunited minority.

        How much is this all really worth? Not much, probably. But the Democrats are not so far ahead that they can leave free points on the ground.

        • Mark Field

          This is exactly right. I just want to add that voting for a nominee makes the choice look “bipartisan”, that is, it gives cover to Trump and the R Senators.

    • CP

      And there’s absolutely no fucking reason for this. Going along with Bush’s stupidities in the first half of the 2000s was somewhat excusable in that his approval ratings were through the roof and post-9/11 derangement was widespread enough in the population that going against it meant a very real chance of being run out on a rail at the next election.

      But this isn’t that. Trump is walking into office with unprecedentedly low approval ratings. There is no downside to obstructing him hard, and with the number of pissed off left-of-center voters out there, a lot of upside. Preemptively conceding and making a show of cooperation on shit like this accomplishes nothing. It demoralizes our voters while getting nothing from them. It’s not political savviness or 11-dimensional chess – it’s just reflexive Democratic cringing of the king they’ve spent decades learning to do.

    • Brett

      Schumer’s the Senate party leader, so the buck falls on him for this.

      • Mark Field

        Then I hope his constituents are burning up his phone lines.

        • Junipermo

          I’ve been calling him, and it’s very hard to get through. I’m going to assume this means a lot of people are burning up his phone lines.

          But we’re also kicking it up a notch here. Last Tuesday afternoon, my husband went to a rally outside of Schumer and Gillibrand’s Manhattan offices (they’re in the same building). Next Tuesday, there’s also a rally billed “What the Fuck, Chuck?” that will happen outside of Schumer’s apartment building in Brooklyn.

          • Mark Field

            Good to hear this.

      • El Guapo

        Maybe Schumer is reading this thread. He’s announced that he will vote NO on Tillerson. That’s a good sign.

  • WMB

    I fully agree with the sentiment of this post, but taking pains to spell out Senator Session’s full name to imply that he is a racist solely by virtue of his heritage is both wrong and foolish. Just as I disregarded any criticism of President Obama that referred to him as “Barack Hussein Obama,” others will rightly ignore attacks on Sessions that rely on emphasizing his southern pedigree. He has proven his racism by his words and deeds. That is enough to discredit him.

    • Hey, imagine if Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III didn’t hold similar racial views to Jefferson Davis and PGT Beauregard! Then you would have a good point!

      • WMB

        If the goal is to effect political change, using a broad brush to paint all white southerners as racist will not work. But you will feel clever!

        • jam

          That’s a neat trick to slip from pointing out Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III’s obvious white supremacy (which is shaped by his origin) to “all white southerners”.

          Which other white southerners does criticism of Sessions apply to?

          • rm

            Geoff Davis, Congressman for northern Kentucky, who could easily have gone by “Geoffrey” but chooses to be called “Jeff.” If it were merely a coincidence, then the criticism would be unfair, but it is not a coincidence.

        • mds

          No kidding. Add me to the list of those offended that Loomis has decided that Jefferson Davis, PGT Beauregard, and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III are all racist.

        • Nick never Nick

          Actually, this is using a sharp brush to paint Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III as a racist. It may or may not work, but I don’t feel clever, just depressed.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          If he had repudiated the Confederate heroes after whom he is named, then I would agree with you.

          But Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is literally their closest representative in the contemporary world. He is the living embodiment of the Confederacy.

          So Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and his sympathizers get no slack. None at all. Fuck ’em.

        • Aaron Morrow

          using a broad brush to paint all white southerners as racist will not work

          Then stop assuming that all white southerners name their children after bigots, jackass.

        • DrS

          We’re coming for you, YT.

        • djw

          to paint all white southerners as racist

          what?

      • rewenzo

        More like Jefferson Beauregard Secessions.

      • rea

        Oh, I wish he had similar racial views to PGT Beauregard, who after the war, supported civil rights and voting rights.

    • Nick never Nick

      Of course, the reason this was outrageous with Obama is because he is not, actually, a Muslim.

      Since Sessions is, in fact, a racist Southerner, pointing out that he carries a name specifically referencing his racist Southern heritage is probably fair, considering that he’s spent his life living up to it.

      • so-in-so

        You’ve forgotten the key lesson of the election, that telling racists they are racists is not the real racism, it’s WORSE!

        It's all "economic anxiety" now, all the way down.

        • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

          A lot of people have internalized “racism” as “= white hoods, lynchings, cross burnings, seperate drinking fountains, that type of deal” – you know, all that stuff MLK ended when he gave that speech. So being called racist just hurts them so bad. I think we need a new word, like, I dunno, “Klan-tolerant.”

          • efgoldman

            I think we need a new word, like, I dunno, “Klan-tolerant.”

            “Ignorant, drooling, mouth-breathing assholes” works for me.

    • El Guapo

      Disagree.

      If your name is Adolf Hitler Smith and you discover the cure for cancer and share it freely with the world – then yes, making a point of quoting the name for its own sake is crap b/c of the huge dissonance between the name and the actual person.

      If your name is Adolf Hitler Smith and you are a fucking Nazi from a long line of fucking Nazis, then it’s fair game to use the full name to underscore just how fucking evil you are.

      • Philip

        See also, about a decade from now: Stephen Kevin Bannon

    • mds

      You know what? If I met someone whose name was “Jefferson Beauregard Sessions”, but went by “Jeff,” I would probably give them the benefit of the doubt. If he named his own child “Jefferson Beauregard Sessions,” it would be a little bit more troubling. And if that person went on to name his child “Jefferson Beauregard Sessions” too, I would probaby start to worry that there’s some real hardcore dedication to Confederate ideas going on in that family, ideas that it can be difficult for a child to put aside as an adult. And if that person named “Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III” went on to demonstrate as an adult that he was in fact a racist piece of shit, I would not consider it a mysterious sui generis phenomenon, unique to him as an individual and saying nothing about his cultural upbringing.

      • WMB

        So the “cultural upbringing” of Barack Hussein Obama II is relevant as to whether he is a secret Muslim? You are making the exact same argument that lunatics made against President Obama. Jeff Sessions is a racist. Implying that he is a racist simply by virtue of his name having Confederate roots is a logical fallacy, and utilizes stereotype in a manner that detracts from making the case that he is unqualified to serve as Attorney General.

        • so-in-so

          Amazing how you can miss all the people pointing out that his actions have been those of a racist, not just his name.

          Thank you for playing “Concern Troll Today”. What runner-up prizes do we have for him Bobby?

        • Lost Left Coaster

          simply by virtue of his name

          Bzzzzt! Wrong. Try again.

    • Aaron Morrow

      I fully agree with the sentiment of this post, but

      So you don’t fully agree with the sentiment of this post…

    • Rob in CT

      Oh, for fuck’s sake.

  • Junipermo

    +1,000,000.

    I am furious at Liz Warren’s nonsensical defense of her vote for Carson that she posted on Facebook. It strikes me as especially silly to exhort people to resist at the Women’s March on Sunday, and then acquiesce to Trump on Carson, etc. a couple of days later, for no gain or logical purpose. All she’s done is to make people on her side angry at her, and having to focus their energy on pushing her back in line, when all we should be doing, all of us, all the time, is resisting Trump.

    But the absolute line in the sand has to be Sessions. It doesn’t matter that we can’t stop him. It matters that we are unified in saying no. If Democrats don’t understand that, they are complicit in sliding us toward fascism.

    • manual

      Carson is going to go through no matter what. Carson is at an agency that distributes grants. There is only symbolic upside to opposing his candidacy and real downside when you need HUD assistance for your state.

      • Junipermo

        So, you’re saying that Carson will give Massachusetts HUD assistance because Warren voted to confirm, but wouldn’t have if she hadn’t? I don’t know anything about the grant distribution process from HUD or any other government agency, but is it really the case that a secretary can or would be able to dole out money, or not, based on who he likes personally?

        • manual

          Yes, non formula, discretionary grants exist. Your going to need someone to call at the agency. Getting assistance with an application or grant has political undertones.

          • Cleardale

            So Warren voted for an incompetent person, on the hopes that she will get personal favors from them later? That’s supposed to make me feel better?

            • ZakMcKrackenAndTheAlienMindbenders

              I think so.

              She chose to look out for the interests of her constituency in this instance rather than casting a symbolic vote that might ultimately harm the interests of her constituency.

              I want a united front of “FUCK YOU” too, but this explanation at least makes sense and I can respect her position.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      I did not expect this crap from Warren. We cannot brook this kind of wavering right now, not when Trump is looking worse (I didn’t even think this was possible!) every day. There is nothing to gain here. Nothing. Warren needs to hold the line; if she doesn’t, who will?

    • jeer9

      I agree with everyone that no Dem should be voting for any Trump Cabinet appointee. But it’s clear that some of them are going to, without the support of logic, a knowledge of history, or a recognition of their vote’s policy implications.

      Still, we are not the Right, we do not have a well-funded extremist wing of our party, and our electorate is not the sort that abandons a representative because his/her vote fails to be disciplined. We are no more likely to primary-scare a Manchin or Heitkamp than a Warren or Schumer. Where ya gonna go remains the refrain from time immemorial.

      The Rethugs will do their damage, the populace will react to their misgovernance, and we’ll be back to 2009 at some point (though almost certainly more fucked up than Dubya could ever have dreamed of), probably with Booker as President. I wouldn’t expect his DoJ to prosecute any of the Trump administration’s miscreants either.

    • JKTH

      Warren’s defense was comical. She seemed to recognize promises that Carson made were probably gonna be bullshit but hey at least it’s something! And then said if we reject Carson, we could get someone worse. Uh…if there are votes to take down Carson, there are votes to take down someone worse too.

    • nixnutz

      I’ve been pleasantly surprised at least that I haven’t seen any Sanders fans making the case for Kelly. That just seemed weird to me, but he’s been steady since, and better than almost everyone else. Which is pretty disappointing, particularly from Warren (who again, is in like third place so fuck the whole caucus basically).

  • SteveHinSLC

    If you don’t have a Democratic Senator to call, I urge you to call the DSCC. I called them yesterday because both of my Senators are horrible Republicans. (But I repeat myself.)

    I actually got to talk to a live person, and she certainly seemed receptive to what I had to say.

    • Philip

      Harris and DiFi’s offices have both had their phone systems basically collapse they’ve had so many angry constituents call, so I haven’t gotten through to either. Maybe I’ll call the DSCC instead.

      • SteveHinSLC

        I tried to call Feinstein also and had the same result. I think that is a good thing.

  • Wapiti

    I got through to my WA Senators this morning; called right after waking up around 6:30; 9:30 their time. Said no to anyone without government experience, because their loyalty is to Trump (for eventual 25th amendment fight) and no to Session, because he’s unfit.

  • searcher

    Lots of things nowadays make me burn with anger, but one of them that makes the anger burn particularly bright–

    Donald Trump was 19 when the VRA was passed.

    You can hope that if a lot of politicians knew first hand the human suffering that existed prior to and was alleviated by Social Security or union-secured labor rights, they would be less eager to undo it all. Maybe it’s false hope, but it’s a hope.

    Donald Trump remembers the world before the Civil Rights Act. He remembers people being beaten to death in the street, he remembers exactly why people started flying faux Confederate flags. He lived through this era, and is eager for its return.

    Words fail.

    • so-in-so

      You are assuming he was aware of anything except himself. He isn’t now, why would he pay any attention when 19, an age when far better men then him are more interested chasing women or whatever?

      He most likely simply doesn’t care one way or the other. He’s casually racist, probably doesn’t think he is, but knows the crowds that support him cheer his racist comments so he’ll continue making them.

      Of more concern is that better than 25% of american voters (up to 46%) either are eager for the return or don’t care.

      • rm

        Have you ever spent any time around wealthy prep school or “military academy” kids in the Northeast? There is a special type of racism/classism mix that many of those boys exuded when I had to teach some of them a quarter century ago, and I can only imagine how evil Trump’s attitudes would have been in that milieu during the pre-Civil Rights era. And look at his family. I think he was aware of Civil Rights protest when he was an adolescent, and I bet he was on the side of Bull Connor, just like he is today.

    • Caepan

      Donnie’s daddy Fred was a bigot who was called out twice by the Feds for practicing discrimination in the federal housing complexes he owned. One of those times was when li’l Donnie was learning the trade from his daddy.

      So I’m sure that the only thing Donnie heard at the dinner table was how “unfair” the government was being to them just because he wouldn’t let the blahs have an apartment in “their” federally funded housing projects. Plus, none of that discrimination was personally happening to li’l Donnie, so in his tiny and twisted mind it didn’t exist.

      Maybe putting the utterly unqualified Ben Carson in charge of HUD was his revenge on the department?

  • Timurid

    Just ask yourself… would you want Osama bin Laden in your Cabinet?
    Jeff Sessions is more dangerous than Osama bin Laden ever was.

    • so-in-so

      The whole GOP is pretty much the American version of ISIS, so why not?

      Except IIRC, the ISIS guys saw a need to work on infrastructure in areas they controlled. So maybe they are smarter than our GOP.

  • Joe_JP

    Is P.T. Beauregard too liberal to use that as his photo? After all, it’s his middle name and all!

    I appreciated the nod to Manchin, who earns some of his ire, but on guns alone earned my respect. But, you have to do basic things there too guy. Like Lieberman endorsing McCain. The fact had “D” next to his name doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have been shunned.

    The “always vote no” policy has merit but I do understand voting for certain people who are basically run of the mill conservative types, a few even qualified in some fashion. That doesn’t horrify me, but even there, unless you have to deal with red state voters, there aren’t too many people who deserve a vote.

    So, Nikki Haley? Fine. Again, I understand if you think it’s wrong even there. But, it’s a venial sin in my mind. But, most of these people don’t deserve a vote at all from Democrats. And, since the nominee is scheduled to be announced next Thursday, pre-emptively, I will say NO ONE picked other than Garland (I’ll make an exception for Pamela Karlan) should get a Democratic vote.

    • ΧΤΠΔ

      Mark Joseph Stern puts William Pryor as the SCOTUS line in the sand.

      • Joe_JP

        Pryor would be an easy red meat target. The other two apparent leading candidates are impressive conservative judges that will be harder for every Democratic senator to oppose on basic principle. I would put them all as lines in the sand.

        Does this mean 41 senators out of 48 should not even allow a vote, even if they strongly (as they have not, much to their shame — Garland would have replaced Scalia with another Breyer, even if SB is a boring old white guy who rambles on and on) denounce the robbery of a SCOTUS seat?

        It’s a reasonable position to hold. But, I won’t bet my non-existent farm on it.

    • Murc

      I will say NO ONE picked other than Garland (I’ll make an exception for Pamela Karlan) should get a Democratic vote.

      If the Democrats don’t force the Republicans to nuke the filibuster over that SC seat then we really are fucked. That would represent something like, what at least 15% of our current Senate caucus declaring they’re a-ok with a Supreme Court seat being stolen out from under us by actual-factual fascists.

      I would ordinarily not be taking so hard a live. I’m a big believer in “if you win, you get to govern, even if you’re a Republican.” But Trump didn’t win. And even if he had, that Supreme Court seat came open with 25% of Obama’s term still to run and then was stolen out from under us. It’s not like Scalia died in the first week of November or some shit.

      • SteveHinSLC

        +1

      • Rob in CT

        Yup.

      • rm

        Exactly.

        When our Senate Dems roll over on Sessions, DeVos, and especially the Supreme Court, I will start to hate them more than I hate the fascists who are destroying things, because betrayal stings worse than enmity. I’ll start to understand the self-defeating anger of third-party purists who think the parties are the same. I’ll start to vote for them suppressing a gag reflex instead of with the enthusiasm I had for both Obama and Clinton.

        They have to either keep the seat empty for four years or make the Rs nuke the filibuster.

        And they ought to be loud and confrontational about it on TV, and they ought to put their opposition research into the news and social media on whoever the Unpresident gets on the court. “Rammed down our throats” ought to be a phrase for our side for a while.

        But they won’t because they won’t.

      • ochospantalones

        It has been over 120 years since the Senate last confirmed a Supreme Court justice nominated by a president who had lost the popular vote in the prior election. Senate Democrats should demand strict adherence to this long-standing precedent.

        • mds

          Not bad, not bad. It doesn’t even require any of the magic asterisks or “with notably rare exceptions” bullshit involved with the GOP’s phony “historical” objections.

  • Bloix

    “It is an existential issue, for the republic and for the Democrats.”

    True but not nearly strong enough. It is an existential issue for the Republic. Full stop.

    This is not about the Democrats. It’s not about a hiatus in civil rights enforcement for four years. It’s about the end of American democracy and its replacement by an authoritarian one-party state. Forever.

    • rm

      Nothing is forever — consider that we had a white supremacist apartheid state before 1964, so American democracy can be seen as a newish development. People fought for their rights under worse conditions than ours and eventually won. But we will be set back to fighting again for the gains made in the 20th century instead of moving forward from where we were last year, with a lot of unnecessary death and suffering.

      I am trying to talk myself into optimism, but part of me thinks that attempts to improve society won’t succeed a second time because of the stresses that global warming will put on civilization. You have to have some level of stability and rising prosperity to make gains in freedom and equality.

      • Bloix

        Okay, nothing is forever. How about 90 years? That’s how long voter suppression was successful in this country the last time around – from the 1870s to the 1960s.

        Digby reminds us today:

        [T]his is something the right wing has been trying to do for years and it was that effort that led to one of the greatest political scandals of the George W. Bush administration: the U.S. attorney scandal. You may recall that this was all about trying to force federal prosecutors to pursue phony voter fraud cases in Democratic states, often against Democratic officials. When these prosecutors refused, they were fired and replaced.

        http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/

        The only reason the Republicans failed in using the criminal law to stop people from voting was that the Senate fell back into Democratic hands as a result of the 2006 midterms, and Patrick Leahy was able to conduct hearings on it in 2007, exposing the Bush efforts to make being a Democrat a crime. After the Obama interregnum, they are right back on track.

  • Karen24

    May I suggest those of you with R Senators in bluish states should be calling them too? Hell, I’m going to call Cornyn’s office for all the good it’ll do. Make the Senators from Wisconsin and Maine OWN this.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      Yes – however one of my Senators is Human Cardboard Box Pat Toomey, so I have no idea how it might influence him.

  • manual

    I think this misremembers the Republican opposition which did support many first term nominees. Instead, McConnell drew fights over strategic issues and made them partisan.

    These are symbolic votes, the real fights over ACA, immigration, the budget etc are much more important than the nomination fights. Draw blood on nomination where you can – Devos and Puzder – and move along to the real fights.

    • Nick056

      Understand but disagree. Dems should oppose all nominees until Trump releases his returns and divests in a manner that earns the approval of OGE. Trump is not owed the deference a typical president receives in regard to staffing because that deference is in fact reciprocation for disclosure and divestiture. We cannot agree that a person with opaque finances gets to pick his cabinet.

      • Brautigan

        Puzder seems to me to be one of–if not the most–important fights. Wasn’t this election about angry workers, ffs? Look how high minimum-wage increases poll even with Trump supporters! If the Dems don’t make Trump confront Puzder’s Puzderness, they are completely worthless as an opposition party.

        • Rob in CT

          Wasn’t this election about angry workers, ffs?

          Well, that’s one argument. There are others…

          [Don’t snap at me Loomis, I agree that economic anxiety was an issue].

      • manual

        That is not going to advance the goal you want. Also, the President does get to pick his cabinet, and given the vote spread will.

  • DamnYankees

    On some level I literally don’t understand a lot of these Democratic Senators. To (dare I say most if not all) liberals, Trump is a national emergency. His election to the Presidency is existentially worrying. We look at this person and see someone so unfit for the office and see a genuine possibility of the breakdown of national union. And we’re not alone in this – Trump’s approval ratings are staggering awful. He comes off like an insane, ranting conspiracy theorist, because by all accounts he is one.

    So I’m genuinely wondering how many of the Democratic Senators don’t feel this way. How many of these people have apparently met with him or have some experience with him and came away thinking “actually this guy is reasonable and not all that alarming, at least no more so than any other Republican”. Are we just missing something?

    I just don’t see any reason for Democrats to vote for rankly incompetent people. With someone like Sessions, I can oddly see a reason to vote for him – he’s a racist, so if you’re either racist, or somewhat indifferent to racism, then that’s a reason to maybe not be so upset. It’s not a good thing, of course, and I wholly agree anyone who does this should basically be cast out of the party – but I can understand it.

    I can’t understanding voting for nutjobs. Why would any Democrat vote for Carson? For Devos? For Puzder? For any of these people? Are they not alarmed? This isn’t Joe Manchin we’re talking about – it’s freaking Liz Warren.

    It’s not just that I’m mad (though I am) – I’m confused. By approving an incompetent person, you are helping the GOP prove its point that government doesn’t work. You’re helping them make it not work. And you’re doing so at the beck and call of a conspiracy theorist, racist nutjob.

    • Nick056

      Ironically, Trump’s inauguration probably ranks as one of the most humiliating experiences in his life and was the culmination of an unusually embarrassing period as PEOTUS. He’s particularly unhinged right now because he was humiliated just when he thought he had finally earned the respect he so craves.

  • This this this! And fuck off to anyone who says different.

    Notice how the day Pompeo gets confirmed (with some pathetic fucking Dem votes) Trump puts out an executive order supporting resumption of torture and reopening of black sites? Trump’s good at serving up your dignity when you compromise. Oppose oppose oppose!

    • Bloix

      For Trump a willingness to compromise is a sign of weakness and weakness is an opportunity: never pass up a chance to kick a man when he’s down.

  • Jack M.

    I can sort of (if I squint) see why the Dems allowed Carson. He is, arguably, in a position to do the least lasting harm to the country as a whole as SecHUD. Dems have banged on about how the Republicans have obstructed everything for the past eight years. This way they can vote against Sessions, DeVos, whomever, and say ‘We didn’t do what you did, Mitch.’

    Hoenstly, I think it’d be a good plan if we weren’t dealing with a pack of death-cult lunatics who conned the country into signing a suicide pact. I know a number of conservatives and I appreciate the need for synthesis of policy and fiscal positions. That is not what the Republican Party is doing, nor has it done so for the past eight years.

    • Joe_JP

      Dems allowed Carson

      To be clear, voting against him would not have blocked his ability to be secretary. As to lasting harm, figure there are various more symbolic positions out there. In fact, if he actually was assigned to something medical, he might even be qualified at it.

      And, to address a separate concern of some, the guy comes off as many things (grifter, moron outside of his actual profession, etc.) but vindictive is not what I take him as. So, especially if the senators didn’t do so too nastily or anything, hard to believe Sen. Warren would get much less influence for grants etc. for her state if she voted “no.”

    • mds

      Hoenstly, I think it’d be a good plan if we weren’t dealing with a pack of death-cult lunatics who conned the country into signing a suicide pact.

      Yup. That’s why I’ve said I can sort-of see where they might be coming from, if they want the model to be “Senate Democrats single out ‘unacceptable’ nominees” rather than “Democrats oppose all Presidential appointments.” But that ignores the reality of what we’re all facing right now.

  • Let’s say that Sessions gets approved regardless of whether Democrats unite or not, which is what I believe will happen. Republicans have enough votes, regardless of what the Dems do. Will this really be the end of democracy and/or the republic?

    No, it will not. Will it lead to a roll back of civil rights by decades? Yes. Will it lead to disenfranchisement of large groups of voters? Yes. Will we then have to redo the hard work of gaining it back? Yes. Is that reason enough to draw a line in the sand? Absolutely yes! But unless this leads to a constitutional convention where the states literally rewrite the Constitution, we are a democratic republic and will remain so.

    However bad things get, and they will be bad, the country has been there before, and worked itself out of it. Remember, there was a time when only white men could vote, and anyone who supported universal suffrage was considered a crank. And yet here we are. We’ll get back here again.

    I’m not trying to minimize the severity of Sessions getting voted in. I’m just trying to take a step back from the ledge and put things in perspective. Donald Trump presents a clear and present danger to the current state of our republic. But unless he sparks a nuclear war (possible!) or a constitutional convention (unlikely, but so was Brexit), the republic will survive and we will claw this shit back.

    That being said, I agree that the Dems need to draw a line in the sand with Sessions, and we should be holding their feet to the fire to make it so. He is against everything the Dems stand for.

    • rm

      I agree with you — wrote something similar above before I read your post. I’ve recognized that all-consuming pessimism on my part was a bit of white/male privilege, forgetting the conditions others have fought in in the past.

      But I’m still worried that climate change is forever, and you can’t build an increasingly just society when cities are drowning and half of the planet’s people become refugees.

    • mds

      But unless this leads to a constitutional convention where the states literally rewrite the Constitution, we are a democratic republic and will remain so.

      Might be a good idea to redouble our mobilization efforts for 2018, then. Because the GOP might end up with the governorship of PA, CO, CT, and MN, and two or three more state government trifectas thereby. Which is still a ways from the 38 required to implement whatever amendments a constitutional convention (called by 33) came up with, but not a good trend.

      • Aaron Morrow

        VA, NJ and maybe NC all have important elections this year.

    • But unless this leads to a constitutional convention where the states literally rewrite the Constitution, we are a democratic republic and will remain so.

      If the people in charge of all three branches of government decide to ignore the Constitution then we’re a democratic republic in name only. In other words, not a democratic republic at all.

      No Constitutional rewrite required.

      .

    • SteveHinSLC

      Republicans have enough votes, regardless of what the Dems do.

      There are 52 Republicans (including Sessions – does he get to vote for himself?). If the Democrats were to unite in opposition (as if), that would put pressure on every Republican in the Senate. Most wouldn’t care, but there have to be a couple who would not be comfortable casting a deciding vote in favor of putting Sessions in charge of federal law and civil rights enforcement.

      • mds

        but there have to be a couple

        No.

    • McAllen

      No, it will not. Will it lead to a roll back of civil rights by decades? Yes. Will it lead to disenfranchisement of large groups of voters? Yes. Will we then have to redo the hard work of gaining it back? Yes. Is that reason enough to draw a line in the sand? Absolutely yes! But unless this leads to a constitutional convention where the states literally rewrite the Constitution, we are a democratic republic and will remain so.

      A democratic republic where a large portion of citizens are unable to vote may technically still be a democratic republic, but it is goiing to be an authoritarian one.

      However bad things get, and they will be bad, the country has been there before, and worked itself out of it. Remember, there was a time when only white men could vote, and anyone who supported universal suffrage was considered a crank. And yet here we are. We’ll get back here again.

      This is frankly incredibly dismissive. It took centuries to get where we are, with a lot of pain and violent death along the way. I’m not worried about what the republic looks like in 300 years, I’m worried about who’s going to die in the next 4.

      • This is frankly incredibly dismissive. It took centuries to get where we are, with a lot of pain and violent death along the way.

        Is it reasonable to assume that the Republican Party will actually revoke universal suffrage? As in rewrite the law to actually take the right to vote away from women? Or even blacks? Make it so that only white land owners can vote? No. Not even they are that stupid. What they will do is change the rules to make it harder for certain groups to vote, and make it harder to challenge those decisions. Basically what they are doing now on a broader scale. That’s not quite a rollback to ancient days of even a half a century ago.

    • Origami Isopod

      Remember, there was a time when only white men could vote, and anyone who supported universal suffrage was considered a crank. And yet here we are. We’ll get back here again.

      Yeah, I really love hearing this shit from white men.

  • Crusty

    Do we think that if Barrack Obama were still a senator he’d vote for Jeff Sessions?

    Hell no.

    And he’s the democrat who won some shit recently. Its common to question Obama’s overall political instincts these days, but he didn’t vote for the Iraq war that Hillary and John Kerry voted for. And I don’t think he’d vote for Sessions either and that’s why he was a winner. Erik is right, if democrats don’t stand for civil rights/voting rights, what the hell do they stand for?

    • wjts

      …but he didn’t vote for the Iraq war that Hillary and John Kerry voted for.

      The Illinois State Senate is rarely asked to decide whether or not the United States should go to war.

      • manual

        And rarely would a State Senator representing Hyde Park be able to support a war, even if he wanted to.

      • Crusty

        Ok, yes, I misremembered the timing. But he was unequivocally on record as against it from the get go- uncompromised.

  • upstate_cyclist

    Is anyone yet doing a public whip count for the Sessions or DeVos nominations? It would be nice to have an open an accessible whip count so we know which issues each representative needs some pressure on.

    • El Guapo

      FWIW, Franken is emphatically stating on record that no Dem will vote to confirm DeVos. I don’t know if that’s truth or gamesmanship, but assume he wouldn’t say so idly.

      • upstate_cyclist

        That’s definitely good to hear. NEA would come down on any Dem like a tonne of bricks. But still, I think a crowd sourced whip-count would be really nice. No doubt some of the advocacy groups have them internally but I have yet to see something public.

        • dbk

          Diane Ravitch had a post up today that notes DeVos is the most opposed of all nominees based on calls/letters by constituents to their senators.

          So on her nomination, probably, the Dems will hold firm.

          But Sessions? Anyone who lives in a state with a faintly-moderate Rep Senator should be flooding their office with calls/messages.

          I just do not get it. It would have meant much more for Democrats to see unanimous “No’s” on every nomination – the nominees will get through anyway. What is the political downside? Are they afraid they/their state will be explicitly punished? Can you imagine the popular push-back if that started to happen? Could a political scientist chime in re: the Dems’ thinking?

          • Rob in CT

            FWIW, there is almost certainly going to be significantly more Dem opposition to Trump’s cabinet nominees than there was Rep opposition to Obama’s.

            I think that quite a few of his nominees should receive zero votes (I disagree that every one should get zero, because a couple of them are not, in fact, totally unqualified destructobots). Obviously, I’m feistier than the median Senate Democrat. Or even some of the leftier ones. Liberals are generally institutionalists. It took quite a bit to radicalize me (and even now, it’s an ongoing process in some respects). And I’m not a Senator.

          • upstate_cyclist

            While it would be nice to understand the inner workings of why various Democratic senators are voting for certain candidates, I don’t care.

            BUT, let’s use this as a time to organize and refine our methods because its fighting incoming legislation that is going to be the big lift in terms of political pushback.

          • dbk

            Note:
            Robert Farley has just posted a response to the question re: split votes among Democrats on cabinet nominees.

  • Downpuppy

    Along with Sessions, DeVos & Price as NFW’s, I’d include Mnuchin. Not that he can do much, but there’s a point to voting against someone just because they’re an evil bastard who’s lied in your face.

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