The Rx We Need to Stop Elise Stefanik From Being NY’s Governor

And, how to save the New York midterm elections for Democrats


The specter of Donald Trump running for president of the United States in 2024 is a frightening prospect all by itself. But, in the meantime, the possibility of losing the Senate and/or the House of Representatives next year presents an even deeper danger.

For New Yorkers, it’s pretty safe to assume that our Washington representatives will be safe, but what’s really necessary is to flip a seat or two to help make up for any losses in other states due to gerrymandering or lack of a viable candidate or just plain voter ignorance.

New York’s Attorney General Tish James with Cait Augustyn, Candidate for Cayuga County Legislature in District 1 . Ms. James made an impromptu stop at Auburn, NY’s statue of Harriett Tubman and met with several supporters.

It’s a frightening thought that everything from women’s rights, worker protections and our very health might come under the direction of certifiable morons and that the inmates will actually be running the asylum.

It’s the 2020’s version of the 1950’s Red Scare that got us all building fallout shelters and hiding under our desks at school. Only this time the “Red” is the GOP, or rather a mutated version of the party of Lincoln … Republicans gone wild.

In New York State, I see a serious challenge from the right in the form of Elise Stefanik, the #3 hitman in the House who has been salivating over Cuomo’s demise and Upstater Kathy Hochul’s ascension like a wolf at a sheep fest. She’s the only real hope Republicans have of occupying the Governor’s Mansion.

It’s keeping me up at night.

I had a chance meeting with the one part of the cure for my insomnia I have overlooked.

Tish James the Cuomo Giant Killer

New York’s Attorney General is just what the Doctor ordered. And, it’s a prescription for success that may just ward off any challenge by Ms. Stefanik.

Not only did the popular Ms. James do the work to get Cuomo to resign, she also holds the key to prosecuting Trump and bringing him to his knees begging for forgiveness for the wrongs he’s done.

While other people talk, she actually takes action and makes it happen.

I was impressed shortly after she took office as NY’s AG, and my admiration has only grown as time’s gone by. She’s smart, she’s savvy. She’s got the energy, has won statewide and has what it takes to not only lead Democrats to victory, but to help turn out the vote to unseat a Republican or two in the process.

Tish James is the medicine we need in 2022.

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Please, Joe Manchin, Get with the Program

The West Virginia Senator is blowing his chance to be a true leader.

Take, for example, his initial opposition to the COVID relief package. As Bob Woodward and Robert Costa document in their new book, Peril, Manchin was concerned that the package as initially proposed would incentivize people not to work. When I read this, I had to do a double-take to make sure that I wasn’t reading about a Republican, given that this is one of their key talking points when it comes to anything that helps to lift people out of poverty or give them assistance when they badly need it. Nope, instead it’s coming from the man who has been hailed as one of the most powerful people in the Senate, single-handedly capable of tanking his own party’s domestic agenda if it suits him to do so.

What I find especially frustrating about Manchin’s continuing recalcitrance is that it doesn’t even make political sense according to his own terms. Yes, he comes from one of the Trumpiest states in the nation but, and this might come as something of a shock, it’s also the poorest. Meaning, of course, that it would be one of the states that could benefit the most from major investment from the federal government.

Let’s start with infrastructure. If you’ve spent any amount of time in West Virginia, you know that its infrastructure is, to put it bluntly, shit. There are a number of reasons for this, but most of them can be traced in one way or another to the fossil fuel industries that have exploited the state for decades and show no signs of abating anytime soon. Not only do massive coal and oil and gas trucks wreak havoc on roads, the industries in question have spent decades making sure that enormous amounts of money flows right into the pockets of their pet legislators. Add in the fact that they’ve also managed to create a state Supreme Court in their own image, and you have a perfect recipe for disaster. One need look no further than the huge water crisis of a few years ago to see just how bad things can get in a state where regulation of any kind is a bad word and where there is no infrastructure investment to help defray the significant costs created from fossil fuel extraction.

Then there’s the social spending package. For several decades now, West Virginia has ranked near the bottom in all sorts of rankings when it comes to health and well-being. In fact, it’s become something of a running joke for many, including my parents, to say at least not one of the states that are worse off, like Mississippi or Alabama. It’s not that the state’s plight is actually humorous, of course. Instead, it’s more the fact that, if there’s nothing you can really do to change the course of events, you might as well react with a certain form of gallows humor.

More to the point, the population of West Virginia is a rapidly aging one, and it’s one of the only states to lose population over the last 10 years. It’s not hard to see how this is going to affect the lives of its citizens going forward. With fewer and fewer young people moving in — despite the state’s much-publicized efforts to draw in new talent with a variety of incentive programs (which have come in for their own well-deserved criticism) — it’s going to become quite an issue finding enough people, especially qualified people, to take care of the the elderly.

And, of course, it’s also worth pointing out that other programs that Biden has proposed, including paid family leave, would also benefit West Virginians, because it will certainly help alleviate the pressures that are inordinately felt by the working poor. It will come as no surprise to you that there are quite a few of those in West Virginia as well. I’m sure they would like to know that their Senator has their best interests at heart, but his disingenuous claims that he’s wary of supporting legislation that incentivizes people not to work must ring awfully hollow to those who are struggling desperately to make ends meet while also raising a family.

And, of course, it’s also worth pointing out that other programs that Biden has proposed, including paid family leave, would also benefit West Virginians, because it will certainly help alleviate the pressures that are inordinately felt by the working poor. It will come as no surprise to you that there are quite a few of those in West Virginia as well. I’m sure they would like to know that their Senator has their best interests at heart, but his disingenuous claims that he’s wary of supporting legislation that incentivizes people not to work must ring awfully hollow to those who are struggling desperately to make ends meet while also raising a family.

What I find especially galling about Manchin’s continued intransigence is how short-sighted it ultimately is. Part of the struggle that every politician faces is the elaborate juggling act between representing your constituents’ interests and desires and doing what you know to be right for them. Every elected representative knows that all it takes is one wrong move, one unpopular piece of legislation, and they’ll lose in the next election cycle, shut out of the halls of power that they enjoy so much. Manchin is, at the end of the day, a politician like any other, and so it’s easy to see the calculations that is constantly making to ensure that he stays in power. However, at some point he’s got to realize that he has the opportunity to really do something for the people of West Virginia, in the way that Robert C. Byrd did throughout his tenure in that august body. Say what you will about the late Byrd (and he was hardly a saint), but he really did make sure that a significant amount of money flowed into his home state, bringing it into the 20th Century. He understood that his job was to help his state become a competitor in the nation rather than the butt of every joke, and while he may not have succeeded as much as he would have liked, he still did a lot of good.

Manchin, on the other hand, seems to have allowed his newly-minted position of “most powerful man in the Senate” to go to his head. That wouldn’t be so bad, if he actually did something useful with his power, but as it is he is largely a speed-bump, earning himself the opprobrium of progressives (and, believe it or not, there are some of those in WV, too) and even some moderates in his own party. Far from a leader, he’s become yet another example of Washington egotism run amuck.

I earnestly hope that someday, in the future, Joe Manchin realizes that he actually owes something to the people who have continued to put their faith to him. It might also occur to him that he can both satisfy their desire that he be the sort of maverick politician that he aspires to be and vote for the sorts of legislation that will do the most good for those who live there. Unfortunately, if past is prologue, I have to say that I don’t have a lot of confidence in this ever happening. If Manchin refuses to change how he does business in Washington, I fear there’s a very real chance that Biden’s domestic agenda could founder on the rocks of his own party. If that is the case, then Manchin might also have the dubious distinction of being the man who tanked his party’s chances of maintaining their hold on power in the mid-terms. Let’s just hope he doesn’t go down this route.


If It Feels Like American Fascism is Resurging, That’s Because It Is

It was a disastrous night for the Dems. One which, sadly, anyone sane could and should have seen coming for months now.

American fascism hasn’t gone anywhere — it’s just gone local instead of national.

How exactly do you think minority Virginians are going to feel waking tomorrow knowing that a whole lot of their neighbours voted for Youngkin — who won with racist dog whistles? Who seems to want to ban an award winning book about slavery from school curricula, because it might make little Johnny feel bad? They’re going to have a complicated mixture of feelings. Disgust, anger, despair, fear.

That’s exactly what the Trumpists want. They want everyone else to feel afraid of them, intimidated by them, scared of them. Hence the screaming and death threats at school board meetings. Hence, Jan 6th.

Americans are adept at pretending none of this is happening, but this is the politics of social collapse. It goes like this. I vote for a candidate who’s a demagogue. Who blames you — gay, Jew, Mexican, Black, Critical Race Theory — for my woes, me, the pure blooded “real” American. I pretend that’s perfectly legitimate, that it’s not happening for reasons of supremacy. But of course it is.

American fascism didn’t go anywhere, and right about now, Glenn Youngkin is its rising star. It has mass social approval, and Virginians are going to be paying the price for generations. Minorities now know how much their white neighbours openly despise them, and their white neighbours now know, too, they can attempt to have a Texas of their own, a mini Handmaids Tale dystopia of repression and hate, even if Jan 6th failed to turn America into a supremacist state at the national level.

Big Lies work, because there a whole lot of really, really terrible people in America who are eager to believe in Big Lies. Oh no, many of you are going to be really “offended.” But is this really news to anyone? Hello, didn’t we just live through the Trump years?

Pundits are going to make hay of a simple fact over the next few days, which is that Youngkin didn’t explicitly appeal to Donald Trump. It doesn’t matter, Donald Trump went out of his way to embrace Youngkin. Why is that?

Because Youngkin is a textbook demagogue.

How did he win the election? By demonising “critical race theory” in schools. Except “critical race theory” isn’t taught in Virginia’s schools. Youngkin won, in other words, by mobilising old, old fears in America. They’re coming for our kids! Oh no, our kids might learn to regard others as human beings! We’d better double down on teaching our kids that no, they’re supreme, by virtue of blood and faith.

Youngkin found a scapegoat, and whipped it until the entire state was transfixed. He egged on raging fights at school boards, drove parents into frenzies of rage, with the Big Lie that schools were becoming bastions of “wokeness,” where kids were taught that white people were inferior, and every white kid was born a terrible oppressor, that minorities are using the idea of “white privilege” to persecute white people, and so on, all the rest of it, the right-wing hysteria which drives white Americans crazy with rage.

None of this was remotely true. Nobody was teaching kids that white people were evil or bad or anything. They were just asking kids to read books about slavery. Prize-winning ones, in fact, like Toni Morrison’s Beloved. White privilege isn’t particularly a term I like, but you don’t have to look very hard to see it in action — how many CEOs or Presidents or Hollywood stars or whatever have ever been not white?

So let’s be honest about what’s really going on here. Virginia swung to Youngkin, hard, because he offered it a slightly politer form of Trumpism.

One that wore the classic Virginia uniform of khakis and dorky shirts instead of an oversized Fifth Avenue power suit. But it was still Trumpism. White Americans still respond angrily to the erosions of their supremacy over the rest. They see social equality as their own dispossession, a loss of their genetic entitlement to resources and power.

Youngkin fed exactly those flames — because, of course, he feels the same way. But all that is exactly just what Trumpism is.

It was the secret hate vote all over again. Youngkin won the suburbs. All those cosmopolitan parents in Virginia, even in all those rich suburbs? LOL — they turned out to be backwards Trumpists, secret regressives, who could care less about having a decent society. Why? Well, basically they did not want their kids to have to grow to be decent people. They preferred little Tucker and Annie to grow up not ever having to know much about slavery or hatred or how they shaped America. Little Tucker and Annie cry! They have feelings! Empathy! Uh oh, time to turn into them little bigots. Hardly a surprise, considering Virginia was a slave state — and it was also a place where “interracial marriage” was illegal until 1973. Living memory. That’s the legacy Youngkin appealed to — and won.

America’s full of people who want to believe in Big Lies, because those Big Lies give them a convenient, easy, socially validated excuse to keep on having the same old hateful, supremacist attitudes — and even transfer them to their kids. Who doesn’t want their kids to be just like them, after all? Hence: the schools are being racist…to my kids, by…teaching them about slavery! Wait…what?

Youngkin won by telling Big Lies. By scapegoating a convenient, imaginary villain for the woes of the pure and true. In this case, the villain was “critical race theory,” or imaginary fears of your kids and wives being subject to “reverse racism,” being at the mercy of minorities, who might do who knows what to them. Just think about how ridiculous that is for a moment. Can any minority in America even call the cops on a white person without risking their own lives? Give me a break.

All that was a convenient scapegoat for a deeper truth: Virginia’s a state which is growing more and more diverse, and white Americans live in fear of that, of cultural change, of social development, of having live to alongside other kinds of people as equals. Or at least enough of them to do to believe Youngkin’s Big Lies and put him over the top.

At the same time, though, it’s true that the Dems gave Youngkin an opening. Biden won Virginia’s suburbs by 8 points — but this time, Youngkin won them by six. That’s a 14-point swing. How did that happen?

The Dems’ approach isn’t working, because nobody knows what Bidenism is.

Americans appear to be wearying of the Dems, fast. What do they stand for? What do they want? What exactly are they offering? Nobody much knows — not even the Dems.

That is happening for a simple enough reason.

Joe Biden’s approach — negotiate with both sides of the party, as if they hold equivalent power and have equally appealing and reasonable agendas — isn’t working. It’s leading to the Dems getting nothing done. As in quite literally nothing. The Dems spending bill has been held up all summer long, and it’s still not passed. Terry McAuliffe pleaded with the Dems to get something, anything done, so that he could have something concrete to appeal to voters with. His pleas fell on deaf ears — and the result was an historic defeat. Biden’s nice guy approach to politics isn’t working. It’s leading to disaster, and it’ll keep on leading to disaster.

The Dems main position, at this juncture, is still: “hey, at least we’re not Trump.” But that’s what Glenn Youngkin said, too. It’s not enough to not be Trump anymore. Now is time for a positive politics, not just a negative one, a politics of presence, not just absence.

And yet even at this stage, nobody can say what Bidenism is. Except, maybe, to say that it’s a philosophy of compromise taken to outlandish extremes. Without some kind of defining governing philosophy, the Dems are going to keep on losing, more and more badly.

All this doesn’t matter, on a level, because America’s destined to become a fascist state — sociohistory tells us so. What kind of governing philosophy should the Dems have? Well, it’s pretty obvious. America just had a fascist collapse during the Trump years, and we know what it takes to rescue societies after such episodes. Dramatic, historic reconstructions — based on generational levels of investment. How did Europe rebuild after Nazism? The Marshall Plan. How did America stave off its own collapse during the 1930s? The New Deal.

The 20th century taught us exactly how to deal with fascism. Economically, there needs to be a wave of investment in a society’s failed systems.Socially, the middle class needs to be lifted up. Legally, there needs to be process of special justice for crimes against humanity. And culturally, there needs to be a lasting recognition that hatred is wrong, punishable, taboo, so that norms and values change.

Democrats haven’t done any of it. Worse, they don’t plan to do any of it. Worst of all, they don’t understand why they should.

That is why Bidenism is what it is: nothing, nonexistent, something nobody can define, because it has no substance at all. The Democrats understand neither the peril of the moment, nor the causality at work in it. They literally are clueless about the sociohistoric forces they’re dealing with.

I don’t blame them. Nobody much in America seems to understand sociohistory, because it’s a European approach to thought, understanding, knowledge. Americans, instead, are trapped in the dreck of CNN and punditry and Ezra Klein and the New York Times. They don’t understand much of anything, even the good ones. Especially not the Democrats.

All that means that the future is foretold. America’s fascist collapse isn’t going to stop.

Today’s Youngkin victory becomes tomorrow’s Trump victory. And this time, the fascists take the gloves off. Maybe they deputise people for “aiding and abetting” gay marriage. Maybe they put kids in concentration camps — who are American citizens. Maybe they check your papers every weekend.

I used to say: this is America’s last chance. Now, sadly, I tend to think. Yes, it was.