MITCH MCCONNELL, JEFF SESSIONS, AND ELIZABETH WARREN – THE SENATORS

I’ve been getting messages from Elizabeth Warren. She is Massachusetts’ senator, so I get messages from her anyway. But I like her. Her perky, peppy style has always amused me, though I notice her perky peppiness has been a bit more strained in recent months. I thought I’d publish this one today as a reminder of what’s going on.

It isn’t only about President Tweets or the Russians. It’s also about the continuing battle to deal with Congress. At this point, our battle seems less intended to accomplish something and more to keep from having appalling things happen to us!

Elizabeth Warren for Massachusetts

Six months ago tonight, I went to the Senate floor to speak out about Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General – Jeff Sessions.

Nobody wanted to talk about the fact that President Trump had nominated a man that both Democrats and Republicans had decided was too racist to become a federal judge in the 1980s. So I went to the Senate floor to read an old letter from Coretta Scott King. She knew about the way former US State Attorney for Alabama Jeff Sessions had intimidated and prosecuted civil rights workers for helping elderly black citizens to vote, and I wanted the Senate to hear what she’d had to say.

Mrs. King wrote of African-American families visited repeatedly by the FBI. Of people pressured to change their testimony. Of elderly black men and women herded onto buses and driven 180 miles to appear before a grand jury. She talked about fear and the toll it took on people. And she said that Sessions had “used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.”

Every senator voting for Jeff Sessions and every person in America needed to hear that letter. When Mitch McConnell threw me out of the Senate for reading it, I was shocked. It wasn’t just my voice that was being silenced. No, Coretta Scott King was silenced.

And just to be clear: Mitch McConnell wasn’t the only person who tried to silence me that night. I appealed his decision, so the whole Senate got to vote. Every single Republican in the Senate chamber that night voted to censure me. Not one of them wanted to talk about why Jeff Sessions was a problem.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a problem – and I’m still talking about it:

  • He supported the Texas voter ID law – the strictest voter ID in the country, meant to stop African-Americans and Latinos from voting.
  • He reversed the Obama Administration directive to stop using predatory, for-profit private prisons.
  • He reinstated the failed “War on Drugs” with harsh mandatory minimum sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses.
  • He rolled back investigations of police departments that commit civil rights violations.
  • He announced a probe on college admissions programs to twist and distort federal civil rights laws.
  • He promised to withhold federal funding to cities with immigration policies he doesn’t like.

But here’s the deal: When Mitch McConnell and every one of his Republican colleagues kicked me off the Senate floor that night, he didn’t silence me, or Mrs. King, or anyone else. In fact, they made us louder. I went outside to the hallway, pulled out a phone, and read Mrs. King’s letter online. Over the next few days, tens of millions of people heard – or read– Coretta Scott King’s words.

I never expected anything that happened on the Senate floor that night. I never expected “Nevertheless, She Persisted” to become a meme, a t-shirt slogan, a tattoo, or a rallying cry for people all across this country who are tired of being told to sit down and shut up.

This fight isn’t about me – it’s about all of us. This is our moment in history. Not the moment we wanted, but the moment we are called to. Donald Trump may call us names. Mitch McConnell might tell us to sit down and shut up. But we will not give up and go home.

We will resist. We will persist. And we will win.

Thanks for being a part of this,

Elizabeth


Someone asked why so many people think Trump is a hero. The only honest answer I could give is I believe he is the bigot for whom so many have yearned. Maybe this sounds simplistic, but the spillover of everything Trump has done or tried to do is racist. It is far too obvious to ignore or call “coincidence.” I have heard some say “they felt ignored,” and so they voted for this thing we have in office. Maybe some of them did feel ignored, but how did feeling ignored morph into hating everyone who isn’t white? Did feeling ignored make them hate brown people? Muslims? Transgender people? People of any religion other than their own? Where’s the connection?

How, exactly, does “feeling ignored” become hate?

The answer is that it doesn’t. The Civil War may have ended up north, but it has apparently been going on for the past 160 years down south. Don’t believe that this mess is merely about what one bad president Trump can do. He is a very bad president, but he didn’t get here on his demerits. He got here because he gave a lot of Americans the freedom to come out of their closets and really HATE.

So for all of you who were worried that we were becoming too careful of our speech? Welcome to a place where anyone can say anything and it’s just fine because no more locking up hate speech. Now, it’s totally American.

I’m so ashamed.

35 thoughts on “MITCH MCCONNELL, JEFF SESSIONS, AND ELIZABETH WARREN – THE SENATORS

  1. The connection is Affirmative Action and the perception that it gave unfair preference to colored people. And there’s this. For the last several years I taught kids who’d been brainwashed into diversity tolerance and had no idea what tolerance actually IS. They were completely INTOLERANT of anything they’d been taught was intolerant, retroactively, even Hemingway — some of them only knew Hemingway was a sexist (and I’m not even sure that’s true). That kind of tolerance isn’t tolerance. In short, we did it, with all the best intentions.

    When the kid I used to hang out with — Jimmy — a white kid who didn’t hate anyone — was beaten up by a gang of black adults and had his bike stolen, Jimmy changed. It was the day of the Rodney King riots and they did it because Jimmy is white. Jimmy had gone to the corner liquor store to get milk for his mom. Jimmy is now an ardent supporter of Trump. I think the whole thing is just incredibly and intricately fucked up with so many individuals having experiences like that — first or second hand.

    I also think Elizabeth Warren (like a lot of democrats) doesn’t get it. To read a letter by a black woman exposing the racism of Sessions to THAT audience is not persuasive; it smacks of knee-jerk liberalism even if (though) it isn’t. A letter by a white male that makes the same argument might have worked. I personally feel this is a failing of the democrats; they don’t see or take seriously enough the legitimate places some Trump supporters come from. And vice versa. I’ve read lots about how “city” people vs. ‘rural’ people don’t have anything in common. I think to myself, “Right, rural people don’t get sick, don’t need medical care, have no money problems, don’t need transportation, don’t need healthy food, don’t need to breathe clear air, don’t need jobs the clean energy sector offers, don’t need housing.”

    The polarization is stupid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That a letter from a Black woman is ineffective in our senate is pathetic, don’t you think? From a white MAN would “play better”? Has it come to that? Yes, a white kid got beat up by black kids and over a very LONG time (and it’s not over yet!), a lot of black kids have been beaten (and killed and lynched) up by lots of white kids. So maybe the answer is everyone should hate everyone else? If tolerance is a mistake, what isn’t a mistake?

      For a decade before we moved to this (very white) neighborhood, we lived in Roxbury — a very Black neighborhood where I was often the only white person in sight. No one ever bothered me. Not physically, verbally. Not with looks or eye rolls. Shit happens. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t turn me into a hater regardless. It isn’t in me to be that way.

      There is a lot of race hatred in America. It has been sulking in the shadows since the late 1800s and now, it’s all hanging out there. I don’t think it has ANYTHING to do with teaching people to watch what they say. If they didn’t hate people to begin with, we wouldn’t have to teach them in the first place. The problem is, was, and probably will be that people love to hate more than they love to love.

      We aren’t alone. There are more than enough haters around the globe. So maybe people are just like that and my hopes and beliefs that this stuff would eventually stop because we really ARE better than this was completely wrong.

      Maybe we AREN’T better than this. In which case, much of my life has been a waste.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m not defending it. I’m attempting an explanation. There’s a difference between real tolerance and what has been taught as tolerance and part of that difference is individual. Jimmy was taught to like everyone. Before he went to the store, he was at my house and we were watching the commentary of the riots and he said, “Why would white cops do that? Just because a guy’s black doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy!” I think if you’d been pulled off your bike by four guys twice your size, been kicked in the ribs, had your bike — your only possession and your best friend — stolen (a bike you’d put together yourself from random spare parts) you might change your mind. Jimmy’s family was POOR. He, his brother, his mom and three more kids lived on ADC, WIC and foodstamps and child support IF one of the two dads remembered to send it. But that night, in the eyes of those black guys, white kids didn’t belong in their neighborhood. It was a racially motivated crime. Jimmy was 13. But there are/were people who say that blacks cannot be racist and this episode was them acting out the rage of their people. I had colleagues who actually said that. IMO, my friend had been badly beaten up.

        Jimmy and I lived in poor neighborhood, section 8, mostly, racially mixed. I was happy, but I can’t say no one rolled their eyes and I was called, “The nice white lady” and “La bruja de los gatos” and “Whitey.” Sometimes the black kids that hung out at my house working on the bikes in my garage got beaten up by other black kids for hanging out with white people. The gang wars were between Mexican, Asian and black gangs literally fighting over turf. There were some years when it was really bad and it was all racial.

        My point is that it is INCREDIBLY complicated and yes; it’s easier to draw a line — whether it’s hate or love — than it is to look at the complexity of a situation. And THAT, I think, is the problem. Trump has oversimplified everything. Some people are unintelligent (I believe he has reached those people), intellectually incompetent or lazy. Your life is a pebble in a pond, as is mine. That it doesn’t have a bigger effect is not important. That it has had SOME effect is what matters. That’s what I’ve realized in the past three years trying to come to grips with 35 years in the classroom. I did something. I’m not important in the grand scheme. What is important is that I have not been the only one.

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        • I get the complexity. You can’t be married inter-racially for more than 25 years and NOT get it. I’ve been as disliked for being white almost as much as Garry has been for being black. Neither of us took to hating anyone. I know people who have, but I think you need that nubbin of hatred in your nature to go that way. He’s been beaten and stoned and damned near lynched. Some people really don’t have that kind of hatred in them. Doesn’t mean you don’t get seriously angry about it, but hate is not the same as anger.

          Complicated? Maybe. But sometimes, not so much. A lot of people hate people of color (or for that matter, people without color) for no apparent reason. They hate because their parents, friends, and family hate. It’s a family thing.

          Liked by 1 person

      • As for the letter from a black woman being ineffective, it shouldn’t matter what color the writer is. Yeah, it is pathetic. The question is whether the important thing is to get the point across that Sessions is an evil shit that should not be AG or to read a letter from a black woman. And I am disgusted that I live in a time/country where that’s an issue. But I do, and E. Warren and others need to figure that out because there is a lot at stake; basically everything.

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        • This whole thing seriously depresses me. After all these years when somehow, I thought “things” were getting better, to land here, in a place I never imagined this country could be … demoralizing doesn’t begin to describe it. I do feel like a lot of things I believed were obviously pointless. Maybe as a collective group, we really are as bad as we seem. Not that there aren’t some good ones, but the bad ones so outnumber us that in the end, we will always lose.

          We’ve been watching “The West Wing” again — 4th time. Yes, I know, it’s not the real deal, but frankly I don’t care. I’m just so happy to be watching something about America that doesn’t make me cringe …

          I think I’m getting National PTSD.

          Liked by 2 people

          • The bottom line is that each person must do his best to overcome the monster within. Trump brought it out. He’s evil. I see him as Satan. With him in power, some people no longer see any need to consult their higher conscience (if they have one). But as the I-Ching says (and the Bible but I don’t have the passage by heart) “The only way to defeat evil is to make resolute progress toward the Good.” I don’t think the bad ones out-number the good. Don’t forget: 75% of voters did not vote for Trump.

            Liked by 1 person

                  • Yeah, it’s one reason I couldn’t teach any more. My students no longer had the ability or the patience to deal with a complex idea. So boring. The whole move toward instant gratification — which isn’t new but is certainly accelerated by our devices — requires a simplified world. 😦 they miss out on so much! But I remember how when Obama was elected people really thought he’d wave a magic wand and everything would be fixed. And he ran very effectively on a ridiculously vacant and simplified message “Hope and Change.” People probably wouldn’t have sat still for, “God I hope we can figure out a way to solve these problems and change the direction in which we’re headed. I’m going to try.”

                    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think Elizabeth Warren’t greatest strength is her willingness to be vocal about what she believes. There are many in Congress who fear Trump — and that is his MO, after all — with strong beliefs that he is doing harm to the country in one way or another, but who will not say so. It then becomes all about re-election, and there’s no denying that the posturing for 2018 has long since begun. I don’t like the idea of term limits for Congress, but maybe this is an argument in its favor!

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    • The problem is, once term limits are effected, it’s not just this batch of trash that gets whacked. It’s everyone who ever gets subsequently elected. Also, most of the people we want OUT haven’t been there long enough to be effected by term limits. All those delightful Tea Party people are newcomers.

      We’d lose McConnell, but we’d also lose McCain, Warren and any of the good people for whom we have hopes. You can’t create good legislators by throwing them out when they get good at their jobs. Even if there are bad ones, too.

      One solution doesn’t fix all.

      Liked by 2 people

      • As I said, I generally don’t like the idea of term limits because you tend to lose continuity as well as the good, thoughtful legislators. I only mentioned it here because it would be one way to oust some of the worst, like Mitch McConnell. I’m afraid we’ll lose McCain anyway, but there are others that I would like to keep!

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s the problem in a nutshell. I think we will need to continue to rely on elections and NOT voting the morons into office. There will always be some regardless and term limits won’t rid us of them. Democracy. Can’t live with it, don’t dare live without it.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I suspect that having a racist oinker in the oval office has just given every other racist oinker out there permission. From the spanish to blacks to muslims to anyone who ‘looks foreign”, it’s now allowable to give in to it.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Don’t be worried or ashamed of travelling abroad. The plane I was on landed in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Nov. 9, 2016, when we found out the results of the U.S. election. Of course, we were shocked. The Brazilians think Trump is ridiculous and we were crazy to elect him, but it doesn’t affect how they feel about us, the American people. OK, Brazil is a friendly nation, always has been, but I’ve heard many people from abroad say the same thing. They also understand that Trump did not get the majority of the popular vote, even though they don’t completely understand our electoral system with its use of the Electoral College.

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        • That is comforting to hear. I have heard various things from different people. I think some places are better than others … and places that are racially diverse are less crazy than others. Meanwhile, I think I’ll hang out near home 🙂

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  4. My two cents worth.I was a child of the south during the Civil Rights Movement so I understand hate, as a matter of fact I grew up in the state that spawned Jeff Session and for those who don’t know Mitch Mcconnell was born in one of the most racist counties in Alabama. Here is how hate got the upper hand it appears when the Tea Party was taking over congress and the senate no one understood the ramifications. In this country the majority vote count when you put a congressman or a senator in Washington. The problem is many of those people who voted in the presidential election did not come out to make their voices heard in the Congressional races. So we end up with a majority of republicans in congress [many voted in by the same hate filled bunch that follows trump now] and a majority of republican votes in the electoral college. So if the make up of Congress does not change in the next two years we may be blessed with something worse that trump. Because what this election has shown us is that if the unqualified, hate filled, tweeter in chief can get elected it opens up a whole bunch of ugly possibilities for the future.So if you know some one who don’t think their vote count because of the presidential election remind them where their vote really count is in the next local election. Ahhhhhh okay I am off the soap box!

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    • You have NO idea how hard I try to get people to vote and how futile it seems to be. People do not understand and I totally agree with you. A vote not cast is a vote for someone you don’t want to see in office. Ever. But you can only nag people so much before they just get annoyed and shrug you off. All I can do is keep urging people to vote, vote, vote and to see the larger context, that it’s not just this candidate or that but rather “where do you want this country to go?” It is very frustrating.

      Liked by 1 person

    • If she were a little younger, I think she would be a great candidate, but she isn’t and by the next presidential election, it will (she thinks and I agree) be too late. But who knows? The world is totally in flux. Anything can happen. Everything IS happening.

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