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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 36,108

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Real "cancel culture": For Better Or For Worse, 1993

In one of my captions for today's TOON post, I repeat a question I've asked a lot lately: "Does anybody actually use 'woke' and 'cancel culture' anymore except right-wing assholes?" They're the new favorite chew toys, only partially at the expense of the quarter-century favorite, "political correctness."

They seem to just latch onto these things to vomit bile into, long after the original contexts and people who used them in those contexts have discarded them like worn-out underwear. They were useful at the time, but reasonable people move on.

In this frame of mind, while checking on non-political cartoons that are sometimes worth including, such as Non Sequitur and Pearls Before Swine, my eyes fell on Lynn Johnston's slice-of-family-life For Better Or For Worse (now ended but in perpetual reruns). And boy, did I remember a rock-solid example of "cancel culture" in action. Real cancel culture, the right-wing kind.

In 1993, she was contemplating why one of the regular supporting characters had drifted out of use, and getting a handle on the character (Lawrence, one of the neighbor kids and childhood friend to Patterson family's son Micheal) to better include him. As she put it, "After 'being' with him for some time, I realized the reason he was having so much trouble communicating with Michael and his friends was because Lawrence, now in his late teens, was different. Lawrence was gay."

So, she came up with a four-week story where he comes out to his friend, and his mother and step-dad.

And that was simply beyond the pale for some people.

From https://www.fborfw.com/features/lawrence/index.php
A Major Controversy
Within one week, nineteen papers had cancelled For Better or For Worse outright. Editors who decided to run the series were attacked for having the gall to do so. Those who chose not to run it were accused of "censorship." Editors and publishers were damned if they did, and damned if they didn't. They called the syndicate. Editors at Universal Press worked overtime, diffusing the anger, answering questions, calming, and reassuring these people who were being harassed, picketed, and were in the eye of a storm generated by ignorance. Those editors who wished to confront me personally were given my phone number. My phone rang constantly from 7 am to 10 pm every day. I answered all my calls. I spoke with everyone who needed to know why, what was I trying to do? Did I realize what I had done?

Editors, particularly from smaller communities, were in a most uncomfortable position. In rural areas, where everybody knows everyone else, they were singled out, their children were harassed at school. One editor confessed to me that his brother was gay. He was 100 percent supportive, but if anyone in his area knew that he was in favor of running the story, he would lose his job.

The "No" Mail
It was mostly from the United States that the sound was heard. Canadian papers carried the pro and con letters on the editorial pages. There were two cancellations and a few letters came to me, but by and large, it was a southern and very religious population that responded first and loudest and with a clenched, unyielding fist.

I cannot deny that it was upsetting. When 1,000 people organized to cancel their subscriptions to a Memphis paper, one editor's bitterness came through loud and clear. I had no right to "do this" to people. This subject was best left alone. I think the letter that hurt the most, was one of the first I received. It was from a woman who said she had loved my work for years but I was now no longer welcome in her home. She enclosed about a dozen yellowed strips she had kept on her refrigerator. That made me cry.

All of this, we called the "no" mail.

But also:
As the mail arrived, my assistant and I sorted the letters into boxes marked "Yes", "No" and "Articles" (we had many, many newspaper clippings!). Altogether, over 2,500 personal letters were counted, and, of these responses, over 70 percent were positive.

Our Funeral Home is Overwhelmed With Bodies

Caitlin Doughty is a Los Angeles-area funeral home owner and is host of the YouTube channel Caitlin Doughty Ask A Mortician

She's fine with "big government" and thinks we need a lot more of certain kinds of it, really fast.



Dammit, champaign cork! Cooperate!

on edit: Whew! Moment-spoiling crisis averted.

I don't think they're going to be able to afford a place on the Black Sea...

...but I'm sure Vlad will let them set up shop in a suitable location.

(Severny Island, above the Arctic Circle. Site of the biggest bomb in human history. It doesn't get more suitable for a Trump than that.)

HRC: Today, domestic terrorists attacked a foundation of our democracy


Hillary Clinton
Today, domestic terrorists attacked a foundation of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power following free elections.

We must reestablish the rule of law and hold them accountable.

Democracy is fragile. Our leaders must live up to their responsibility to protect it.

You might want to check out this Twitter thread by a new DNC member

His observation of how things work and what the DNC can and can't do.

Unspooled for DU convenience


David Atkins

So...as a newly elected DNC member, I'd like to provide some insight on "the DNC" to folks who like to complain about "the DNC" and such.

Because "the DNC" doesn't work how most folks who talk about it think it does. It's both better--and far worse--than you think.

First off, "the DNC" doesn't work like a major corporation or government apparatus. It doesn't have branches or committees or sprawling structures of employees who answer to higher-ups. It doesn't have a board of directors making decisions every month. None of that. /2

The Democratic Party is made up of thousands of loosely affiliated groups connected by charters. To simplify, it mostly works like this: local clubs > county committees > state parties > national orgs.

These are all legally separate entities with wildly separate cultures. /3

To add to that, there are multiple national orgs! The DNC is the *weakest* of those orgs. It pales in comparison to the much more powerful and influential DCCC (elects House members) and DSCC (elects Senators), plus the DGA (governors) and DLCC (legislatures.) /4

In reality, the DNC doesn't actually *do* much of anything in most non-presidential years! It meets once a year. It has some window dressing councils and caucuses. It passes a few resolutions.

And the elected membership has basically NO REAL ROLE OR DIRECT INPUT. /5
Elected DNC members don't even have each other's contact info! There are few mechanisms to even provide input or request changes. Everything is opaque. And even if you could, there's not much the DNC actually *does*. The biggest change would be making the DNC *do* things. /6

Far from being this super powerful organization controlling everything, the DNC actually does very little and controls nothing outside of presidential years, at which point it serves as a locus for consultants to direct state primary structures and help the nominee. /7

The *real* power in the Democratic Party lies in the DCCC and DSCC, which work w/ State Party chairs to help with congressional races.

Some states are more democratic & open than others (CA is pretty good!), but even in CA most actual power is wielded unitarily by the Chair. /8

The most truly small-D "democratic" work happens at the County Committee level, where club presidents and local elected committee members recruit, endorse and organize for local "non-partisan" races. Above that? It's almost *entirely* consultant driven in a tight circle. /9

The sad reality is that it would be *better* if the DNC actually ran like its critics think it did: a big mega-conglomerate machine. It's not.

It's actually a money firehose run by shoestring staff, run entirely a handful of consultants and appointed fundraising honchos. /10

Most "DNC members" have no capacity to organize either within the DNC, and have no serious directives. We are supposed to help raise money and amplify the messaging from on high--which, again, is directed by a tiny crew of unelected consultants and appointeds. /11

The DCCC and DSCC are even more inaccessible. The DNC at least has the window dressing of high-level activists. The DCCC and DSCC are directly run by the Congressional Members themselves. There is no pathway to involvement.

And they functionally dictate to state parties. /12

The problems with doing things this way are obvious:
1) self-dealing by consultants
2) unwillingness to change
3) lack of personnel capacity to change!
4) fear of losing a tightly held circle of power
5) groupthink and path dependency
6) inability to confront new ideas

The biggest issue is that assumption that the best primary candidate is the one who can raise the most money. We know this isn't true! We outraise GOPs 3-1 but lose.

But it's hard to teach old dogs new tricks--especially when they're paid consultants who like the money! /14

There is no ability for activists closer to the ground to tell DCCC, DSCC or DNC when they're being tone-deaf to local concerns. No ability to influence decisions. And DCCC/DSCC/DNC continue to meddle in primaries.

In part because there's no organizational structure for it! /15

It would ironically be better if the Dem Party *did* run like a big corporation. Big corporations get input from local division leaders who report up the chain and influence decision-making! Successful local leaders get promoted!

No such organizational capacity exists. /16

So you get a bunch of extremely talented local activists who help win elections, promote progressive values, and get elected to positions that functionally serve as window dressing for the real power players--and get paid nothing!!

Those folks usually burn out. /17

Occasionally they get connected and get a plum gig, in exchange for playing the game and staying quiet. But then the only people who can make a living in the game are the careerists and brown-nosers.

Everyone else burns out or works doing what they can unpaid for decades./18

For instance, in California in the entire Dem Party structure the only people who get paid are the State Chair and staff. Plus consultants and whatever affiliate orgs do.

No one else makes a dime. Not the state Exec Board. Not the Regional Directors. Not the County Chairs. /19

So you have national orgs raking in literally billions of dollars, working with shoestring staff most of the time, ramping up armies of part-time and mostly volunteer workers in election season, directed by unelected consultants making big bank. That's it. /20

For everyone with a conspiracy theory about "the DNC" this or that, please note that these organizations can barely manage a meeting--if they keep a lid on all the members. They couldn't organize a conspiracy if their lives depended on it. /21

And there are legions of talented activists with nowhere to go and nothing to do but organize however they can in their free time, unpaid, usually at the local level.

If they want to work in politics they have to pay the toll. And usually OUTSIDE of the party apparatus! /22

In short, if you want this to improve, ironically the political parties need to actually be bigger, more consolidated, more powerful, have more permanent employees and be more directly accountable.

Right now it's the worst of both worlds: too much $, too little structure. /23

And that doesn't even get into culture. For instance, both Biden and Obama have brands that are broadly "anti-partisan." Work with anything, "one america" and such.

But they also appoint and control the DNC, an explicitly partisan organization! This leads to problems. /24

The DNC needs to be bigger, more powerful, more active year-round, and much more explicitly partisan and strategic. It needs to meddle less in primaries. And it needs to have much more opportunity for talented activists to help make decisions.

Same goes for DCCC/DSCC. /end

Oh...and I should mention: doing things this way incentivizes pure careerism, which in turn incentivizes gerontocracy.

It is not accident the average age of a dem party leader is over 70 years old--20 years older than for the GOP.

Even though we're the party favored by youth.

Original beginning tweet:

Has Trump offered to pay Raffensperger...

Has @realDonaldTrump offered to pay Raffensperger $130K to keep his mouth shut yet?
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