Posts by hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.



^^ the incoming President has a big decision to make about Mr. Trump. What to do and what not to do ?

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Mr. Trump’s actions since November 3rd — before that date as well — require a prosecutorial response. No President should ever be allowed with impunity to do the abusive things, or make the false claims, that Trump has done. The difficulty is, what actions should the Biden administration take ? What actions not ?

President-elect Biden has averred that he does not want his administration to be about Trump. Correct. His administration should be about all Americans. That said, he cannot ignore what Trump has done. The following Trump acts, at the least, require response :

( 1 ) Trump attempted to blackmail a foreign country into concocting and heaping dirt upon Mr. Biden’s candidacy. For this Federal criminal act he was duly impeached.

( 2 ) Trump refused, with no justification, to respond to innumerable Congressional oversight requests, and he forced his administrators to do the same. He fired m any who did comply with Congressional; subpoenas, and then heaped insults upon them.

( 3 ) Trump misappropriated legally allocated funds to build his stupid “wall.”

( 4 ) Trump has, in violation of the Constitution, directed hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to his hotels and other businesses.

( 5 ) Trump has vilified almost every branch of our government and those who manage them, terminating many such people with no good cause.

( 6 ) Trump has attempted, time and again, to persecute and deport immigrants who have an established expectation of forbearance.

( 7 ) Trump has threatened to withhold Federal funds from States whose leadership criticizes him.

( 8 ) Since November 3rd, Trump has moved every move he could think of to try overturning the election and deliver the electoral college vote to him, in violation of law, Constitution, custom, and foundation; and he has done so without a shred of cause, has lied without stop, has engaged the services of quack lawyers to work his scheme, and has tried to blackmail State legislators and even Governors to do his seditious bidding with no justification.

( 9 ) His seditious, lying interferences continue even as I write on December 9th, 2020. He has incited his followers to sedition, and they have done so.

( 10 ) He has impeded the work of the Biden transition team despite saying that he would authorize every agency to co-operate.

( 11 ) he has subverted our military, betrayed our allies, insulted our alliances, and hollowed out ther Department of Defense, National intelligence, and State.

( 12 ) he has abused the pardon power.

( 13 ) just yesterday, in a recorded phone call, he and his Chief of Staff bullied and extorted the Secretary of State of a sovereign power, the State of Georgia, to overturn its election results from November.

I could go on, but the list of crimes and subversions is long enough already. What, then, should a Biden administration do ? Here is my list of steps I hope they will take :

A — remove the Department of Justice policy directive that prevents the indictment of a sitting President.

B — encourage Federal Courts to impose severe monetary sanctions upon the quack lawyers who file Trump’s frivolous, subversive lawsuits challenging his election defeat. Frankly, I am surprised that Courts have not already done so.

C — initiate prosecution of the many Federal crimes, including election crimes, enumerated in Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel report. Initiate prosecution, also, of Trump’s acts of sedition beginning on November 4, 2020.

D — investigate, and prosecute where feasible, Trump’s many money transactions, including those that appear to violate the Constitution’s Emoluments clause.

E — The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice should make it a priority to enforce voting rights for all citizens. The Voting Rights act of 1965 should be updated by legislation and its jurisdiction expanded to all 50 States.

F — enact legislation curbing the President’s Executive Order power to alter or supplement Congressional legislation. Pass legislation also to curb the President’s power unilaterally to impose tariffs or declare national emergencies.

G — require that all candidates for Article 2’s office must publish their Federal tax returns for the ten years prior to commencing said candidacy.

H — prosecute any executive branch officer who is found to have destroyed, hidden or altered an executive department’s public record.

I — Prosecute official(s) responsible for DHS’s ordering or carrying out family separation actions at the border.

It seems a long list, but it’s not as sweeping as you might want. I do not suggest that a Biden Department of Justice pursue every person, or every act, that could sustain a prosecution. One must pick out the unusually egregious. One cannot just brand every Trump flunky a criminal or assault his or her career. That said, my list of actions Biden should take is quite enough to keep Trump and his chief enablers very busy for the next four years or more, and it is a very powerful signal to future aspirants to the presidency not to engage in the wholesale criminality and abuses of power with which Trump has demeaned the nation.

One other action that President Biden must NOT take : he cannot, must not, pardon Mr. Trump. President Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon was justified. Nixon resigned his office. He did not set the nation aflame with hate. Trump has done that and more than that. He has every burned his bridge of custom or respect, his link to any mercy or consideration and must face the bitter music that is coming his way — indeed, that MUST come his way.

—- Mike Freedberg /Here and Sphere


Trump campaign drops lawyer Sidney Powell

propaganda force for Mr. Trump’s would-be, incompetent (but still dangerous) coup : Rudy Giuliani and two quack lawyers challenge the Constitution

During the past month we in America have witnessed nothing less an attempt to end democracy per our Constitution and substitute for it a dictatorship, a Presidency for life or some such, directed by a readily identifiable clique of plotters hell-bent on imposing their political addictions on the rest of us.

Chief of the plotters, as we all see, has been Mr. Trump. He has wanted to end Constitutional democracy here in America since he first realized that he had some power to seek it. No later than May of 2017, when he fired James Comey, Director of the FBI, for investigating Trump’s relations with Russian subversives, Trump has sought to set the Constitution aside, if occasion arose, and commence an endless Presidency in which he could, as he himself put it, “do what I want.”

The rest of his work, we all know only too well.

We also see that he has a large posse of supporters willing to go wherever he leads them, people who have come to hate Constitutional government and want it to end, want Trump as their caudillo for life (or some such). The question is, who are these enemies of democracy ? Why are they committed to subverting our government ?

I shall, admittedly, be making a judgment of my own, based only on what i see and on my fifty years involved in campaigns that have taken place pursuant to Constitutional governance. As committed as I am to the Constitution and its express limitations, all of which I applaud, I am a partisan in this battle. Those who would end Constitutional rule are my enemies, and I am not shy to call them that. There is no compromising, on my part, with these folks; only their utter defeat will do. So take what I am writing in that vein. This column is an act of combat which I hope will contribute mightily to the utter destruction of my opponents: because as I see it, they are your opponents too; your enemies. They want you and your commitments to be destroyed. They shall not succeed.

( 1 ) the racists

Trump has made it plain, in his subversion mode, that “the others who were here” are his enemies and the enemies of his fellow subversives. After all, it was in majority-Black counties that huge numbers of voters chose Joe Biden, not him; and that he counts such votes illegal and to be thrown out. There has never been any doubt in his mind, or in his clique’s minds, that Black voters are the major voting enemies of Trump dictatorship.

( 2 ) the grifters

Trump’s plot has attracted many adventurers who see in it an opportunity to get rich, or to acquire fame that will assure them of long-term jobs in right-wing media, of which I shall speak below. we see these grifters aplenty, headed by Rudy Giuliani, quack lawyers Sidney Powell and Jenna Lyn Ellis, ugly pugs like Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, conspiracy liar Roger Stone, assorted oddball “experts — including Massachusetts’ own clown-didate Dr Shiva Ayyadurai — and a platoon of election lawsuit “witnesses” who have lent their attention-seeking quackery to ridiculous court filings.

( 3 ) right-wing media

These actually belong to “the grifters” faction. The business model of right-wing media is to gather up all the supporters of Trump’s coup, to increase their numbers where doable, and to glean big advertising dollars from sponsors (not the least of whom is Trump himself) seeking to bilk the many who tune in to or read their productions. Dishonest and scurrilous publications have existed in this nation since the early days, and they do not improve with age. As there is no First Amendment protection for lies, libel, and disinformation, most right-wing media can be and probably should be driven from the air waves. Racist publications and their despicable ilk do have First Amendment protection, but the blatancy of their work limits their reach to an outlaw fringe. Thy will continue, as will right-wing disinformation, for a time at least, and the rest of us will just have to fight it without mercy or quarter wherever it sprouts.

( 4 ) religious zealots

Here’s the root problem. White Evangelicals number in the tens of millions. They are politically organized top to bottom and have spent 40 years perfecting their control of Republican party structures in many States. They of course enjoy full First Amendment protection, as do their pastors and their televangelists who preach sedition — or Trump worship — and sometimes racism and/or homophobia — not to mention opposition to women having the right to control their own bodies — to millions of followers every Sunday. These zealots are entitled to their religious devotions, but not to political imposition, and because it is difficult for Courts to draw any line between protected religious expressions and Constitutionally impermissible political demands, these devotions are hard to check —but easy for ambitious politicians to become mouthpieces for. Religion also is a realm of belief, not of fact; indeed, redeed, evangelical religion embraces faith for faith’s sake, which it avers triumphs over facts. What else are miracles if not triumphs of faith over fact ?

Plus, religious zealotry has a long political history in America’s voting customs. The South and Plains States have been roiled by religion-based politics since the 1890s at least. I see no end to this long habit : yet it can overreach and sometimes does, at which point the rest of us fight back and win.

This 2020 election has seen such a fight-back victory, yet unlike at any time since the 1890s, the zealotry faction has had allies ready to overturn democracy itself; and it has what it had never had before — a media network eager to abet its plans (and to profit from them). We have escaped their schemes this time, thanks to the Courts, which rule by facts, not devotions, and to local Republican election officials, who owe their offices to State power, not Federal.

Our Constitution stands upon State power. The central government — and its Presidency — are ITS creature, not the other way around. The Tenth Amendment confirms it. Our elections are run entirely by the States; Congress has no role. Though voting rights are guaranteed by the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, the actual administration of elections — indeed, the decision to have elections at all — are matters of State law. We may cavil at the Electoral College and at “States’ rights” in this context, yet can there be any more convincing proof of their essentiality to ordered liberty ?

The Framers were incredibly wise.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere




The move by many voters of Latino origin away from Democratic candidates and toward Republicans seems to have caught Democratic politicians by surprise. Only in the final month of the Biden campaign did the candidate reach out. in a major way, to Latino voters, and the final month of any campaign is usually much too late. Pollsters, too, appear not to have gauged accurately the sentiments of Latino voters.

None of this is uncommon in a campaign. no matter how much data a campaign has, it is all of it taken rom, previous campaigns, and every new campaign is, well, new. The stability of American voting patterns over 50, 100, even 200 years is palpable; yet within the overall stability, shifts do take place, none more so than among the voting preferences of immigrants. Immigrants are by the very nature of their arrival, not in stability. By coming here from far away and another culture, they are making a complete break with it. How they vote can only be as in flux as their immigration.

Arrival, finding a place to live, then to work, learning the language, becoming a citizen — all of these involve radical changes in an immigrant’s life. What an immigrant feels about American politics comes at her fast. A person born here has twenty-one years, or more, to adjust to voting, usually taken from his parents. For an immigrant, that isn’t the case. She has neither the years nor American parents to learn our politics from. Immigrant voters don’t become Republican or Democrat because their parents were that. All of which makes it no surprise that immigrant voters change their preferences much more likely than voters born here.

The one universal that I can assert about immigrant voters — and their children when they, too, become voters — is that they want to become entirely American. more American, even, than born here Americans. We tend to take being American for granted; after all, what else are we ? For immigrants, however, being American is a goal, a destination to be worked toward. This is likely why so many Americans of Italian, Quebecois, Irish, and Eastern European origin have become rigidly Republican in the age of Trump. He embraces the flag, the patriotic songs, the America first outcry — heady indoctrination for the children and grandchildren of immigrants once despised as alien.

The same social political impulses affect Latino immigrants as well. How not ?

Immigrants also have a very different experience of poverty than those born here. Public assistance has been difficult to get, because of language and of unfamiliarity with our bureaucracy; and of course for immigrants who arrived undocumented, public assistance has been impossible. Thus immigrant voters, once they get past the survival stage, mostly on their own, with help only from within their particular immigrant community, naturally look down upon those who have begged for public assistance. They become easy targets for Republican “bootstrap yourself” arguments against public assistance, COVID-19 relief, and stimulus money. After all, say many, if we made it on our own, so should all of you.

AS for this year’s Latino Republicans, reports have it that many were persuaded away from the Democrats by Republican ads about “socialism” — which most Latino immigrants came here to get away from — and by news coverage of BLM riots, many of them explicitly socialist. A Miami newspaper reports that BLM marches there included posters of brutal Castro sidekick Che Guevara and of Christopher Columbus statues defaced with communist graffiti. To say the obvious ; this was hardly a way to get Miami Hispanics to vote for Joe Biden or for Democratic Congresswomen, two of whom were soundly defeated in Miami-Dade County.

As I mentioned at the outset, the Bien campaign was very late to the Latino voter arena, in Florida and Texas especially. So the question is, are Democrats in general now too late ? Is the Texas and Florida Latino vote destined to split 50 – 50 Republican and Democrat ? What are the prospects for Hispanic voting patterns in Arizona, California, and elsewhere ? My answer is that it’s not so much a matter of being late — it is never too late to reverse the outcome of a future election by campaigning smart — but of ( 1 ) basic Latino voter views on the issue that Democrats are committed to and then ( 2 ) the Democratic command, or not, of a particular State’s politics. In a State like Massachusetts, where Democrats control; almost everything, only Democratic Latino politicians have won — so far — and thus have set the tone for Latino voters. We see this in Boston, Springfield, and Lawrence, where only Democrats win, and almost all of them — but NOT all ! — of a progressive bent.

In less Democratic States, such as Texas and Arizona, however, Latino politician scan be found in both parties, and I suspect this will continue, because most Latino voters are much more socially conservative than the justice warriors who command the Democratic party’s upper reaches (and almost all of its money sources). Here, Latino voters mirror the views of prior immigrant waves. The Irish, Italian, Quebec, Polish and Portuguese immigrants whose sons and daughters became the Kennedy family’s political base were very conservative, virulently so in some cases. By no means were they, nor are their grandchildren, progressive as we now understand the term. (I of course am generalizing. Not all such immigrants end up as social conservatives. Many have led the fight for civil rights for all.)

Yet an easy answer is available to Democrats : economic advancement. Democrats should advocate and enact these : the $ 15/hour minimum wage. Economic stimulus payments. Small business loans and grants. Debt-free college attendance. Apprenticeship programs. Rent subsidies. A new GI Bill to make home buying more affordable.

Economic agendas assured Democrats of a solid majority among prior immigrant voter communities. Why not Latino voters ? If Democrats do not fatten the family budgets of Latino voters, all that’s left is for them to brood about their social values being rejected. That is an open invitation to Republican nativism, as amoral an appeal as any we’ve endured in the entire 230 years of our Federal existence.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



A map of voter shifts, precinct by precinct, in Georgia from the 2016 election to the 2020 tells a lot about how Joe Biden became President-elect. Let’s study the map, pictured above, and make some determinations based on what is shown.

You will notice, of course, the enormous shift of votes in the Atlanta suburbs, all of them, as well as in greater Savannah (the blue precincts on the coast). As happened in suburbs all over America, Joe Biden won tons of votes that Hillary Clinton lost. This part of the Biden win in Georgia is common knowledge. Absent this vast a shift, Biden could not have won Georgia by some 12,880 votes. Everything that follows this shift depended on it, and Biden certainly is aware that he will be the President of suburban America.

The voters who so drastically moved away from, Mr. Trump are middle class, mostly, and overwhelmingly white. Their entrance into the Democratic coalition changes the party — as I have previously written about — from being a mostly working-class party to a party chiefly of educated affluents.

That said, Joe Biden did not carry Georgia by suburban voters only. Two other outcomes played an equally cruicial part :

( 1 ) almost all Black voters chose Biden, but not more than chose Clinton in 2016. His percentage actually dropped by one percent ( 1% ) from Hillary Clinton’s number. As has been noted by others, Mr. Trump had some success, nationwide, winning more Black votes than in 2016 — not many, but some. Black voters in this Georgia election numbered only 27 percent of the total — down from 30 percent in 2012 — yet even that one percent shift to Mr. Trump cost Joe Biden about 16,400 votes, enough to have moved Georgia into Trump’s column despite the suburban landslide for Biden.

( 2 ) that Mr. Trump’s increase of Black votes did not cost Biden this State is due to a shift among voters who nationwide became Mr. Biden’s crucial success : Biden GAINED one percent of rural white voters, over Hillary Clinton’s totals, mostly in very white North Georgia but also throughout the State. Rural white voters have been Mr. Trump’s base, and he won them big in this election as in 2016 : but not quite AS big. Rural white votes totaled about 25 percent of Georgia’s total, and a one percent shift of them from Trump to Biden was just enough to counter Biden’s 16,400 vote shortfall among Black voters.

Many observers have opined that Joe Biden, himself of white working class background, was the only 2020 Democratic candidate whop could have peeled off enough rural white voters to defeat Mr. Trump. Whether that might have been the case, we will never know; but a crucial slice of said voters did switch to Biden, probably on character issues, which still matter to many of us, and in Georgia the character factor was enough to win Biden Georgia’s sixteen electoral votes.

Almost no other Democrat running for office this past election won a similar break. Voters in Republican counties did not switch their Congress votes as they did for President. Georgia, as it happens, finds BOTH of its Senators facing run-off elections on January 5th. Can either of the Democratic candidates, Raphael Warnock (against Kelly Loeffler) and Jon Ossoff (versus David Perdue), repeat Joe Biden’s narrow Georgia win ? It would seem a difficult task — impossible without a profounder shift of voter sentiment than the one which benefitted Biden.

We will find out soon enough whether lasting political change is coming to the South.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^^ add Georgia to Biden and North Carolina and Alaska to Trump = 306 to 232

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Those Confederate flags you have seen at rallies of Trump militia boys ? You have thought them mere performance, a fringe historical fart in the face of us all ? Wrong. They were, in fact, precisely the message being sent by those who brandished them.

We have been living in the afterburn of a Trump Confederacy, nothing less or other.

This is apparent now, as I imagine it wasn’t before. Yes, half of Trump is mere venality — grift and corruption, self-dealing, gangster fraud. But we can’t let the criminality distract us from the politics going on beside. As we watch Trump work to prevent the incoming of our next President, who won a clear and convincing 306 to 232 win last Tuesday, we are seeing what was always there, a rebellion that mirrors the first Confederacy put up 160 years ago.

Yes, the Trump Confederacy speaks different issues than the rebels of 1860. The first Confederacy formed to defend slavery against a nation that wanted it gone and Southern political; power broken. The Trump Confederacy wants much more than that. It wants LGBTQ rights repealed. It rejects the right of women to control their bodies. It wants immigration stopped. It wants the welfare state abolished. It wants fossil fuel sat any cost. It rejects public health. It fears the future the nation augurs. It wants the future to belong entirely to it.

It wants a strong man leader, a caudillo, who tells Congress to go shit in its hat. It wants foreign nations to command its elections if that’s what it takes to rule.

Like the first Confederacy, it views the Constitution as a license to destroy. To prevent which, it will, in the meantime, dishonor the Constitution and violate it at will.

I call it “the Trump Confederacy,” but truth is that he is only its destruction guru. This second Confederacy would be nothing without the millions of adults who shout for it, who demand it, who follow Trump’s rebellious mouth. They are the ones who flesh it out, who make those Confederate battle flags something more dangerous than nostalgia cloth.

These millions of voters concentrate, perhaps not surprisingly, in the States that in 1860 went into rebellion and in the Plains States which, up to 1860, were politically allied with the South. The map I’ve posted shows it. It is, with a couple of exceptions (Virginia and Georgia, now blue) a familiar voting map in American history. It recalls not only that of 1860 but that of 1896 through 1908, when a racist, religiously zealous, rural Democratic party, led often by William Jennings Bryan, challenged the post-Civil War, industrial, immigrant-friendly North and Upper West.

Political and social history does not die in stable America, and universal suffrage guarantees that every family’s history is preserved to vote and vote again. Thus we have to fight a Civil war all over, against a second Confederacy of rebels hell bent on tearing the future of our nation apart. No, it won’t be a killing war — not yet anyway — but a war of powers it will be, and already is. Make no mistake : Trump likely will leave the White House, but he will never admit defeat — because as Confederate leader he isn’t defeated, just lost a battle. He will now beat the drum of rebellion — even sedition — from outside, safe in the angry bosoms of his millions, all the way until 2024, when he, or one of his enablers will seek the Presidency again, this time against a Democratic administration which will have won very few legislative successes, opposed at every turn, fair or foul, by the minions of rebellion. For if you thought that Mitch McConnell’s stonewalling of President Obama was abominable, you ain’t see nothing yet., What is coming will be war — even religious war — by every other means. And let us not overlook the deadly role being played here by right-wing media — rebellion media — which will say anything (has said shit for years, even decades) in order to seduce attention and thus win advertising dollars.

In his First Inaugural address, President Lincoln spoke to the South thus : “we are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies.” Echoing those words, doubtless on purpose, Joe Biden said “our opponents are not our enemies. we are not enemies.” I think he has as much chance of convincing the Trump Confederates of that as Lincoln had of stopping secession and war.

In all this, much of the Republican party bears the chiefest blame. The Trump rebellion would be a cosplay sideshow if not for the mendacity and cynicism of so many Republican electeds, who care nothing for our democracy and, indeed, depend for their votes upon its enemies; upon a grievance constituency of rebels. Many of these Republicans were just re-elected, some by large margins (I’m thinking of you, Lindsay Graham,). They have burned their bridges to the nation and stand now on the opposite shore of sedition and reaction. Disgusting it was to see two Georgia Senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, call for their State’s Republican Secretary to resign, all because he insisted that his oversight of Georgia’s vote was honest and fair. By this depraved act Loeffler and Perdue have rendered themselves unfit ever to hold an office of trust in our nation; but in the Trump Confederacy, where mendacity is truth and sedition is patriotic, they rise to the top of the slag hill.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


JOENovember 3rd’s election confirmed what many polls had told us : that Republican candidates, even the awful Mr. Trump, made significant vote percentage gains among Hispanic voters and Vietnamese voters. The party’s candidates also gained a few more Black voters than in 2016. Even as Joe Biden won back significant millions of white voters who had nixed Hillary Clinton, a million voters of color moved in the opposite direction.

Biden won, by a lot, but his party lost a lot of down-ballot contests.The questions are, first of all, WHY ? Secondly, what does this shift portend ?

I’ll try to answer those questions, but right now I want to talk about these Tuesday results :

( 1 ) Hispanic voter movement caused the defeat of two Democratic Congresspersons in South Florida, the 26th and 27th Districts, heavily Cuban-American. Hispanic voters moved toward the Republicans in other Stares as well. In Florida, many voters of Venezuelan and Nicaraguan immigrant origins appear also to have chosen Republican candidates.

( 2 ) Democrats were unable to flip even one Texas Congressional District.

( 3 ) Democratic vote share in several big cities went down — not much, maybe two or three percent, but down is down — or increased less than expected, given the shift among white voters toward Joe Biden. Boston was one such. In 2016, Trump won 12.7 % of our city’s vote. On Tuesday he won 15.6 percent.

( 4 ) Democrats lost House seats in Iowa, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, California ( 3 so far ), New Mexico, Minnesota, and Utah. None of the Republican Congressmen at risk — in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, New York, California, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota — was defeated.

( 5 ) Hispanic voter movement toward Republican candidates, and even to Trump, appears significantly motivated by the “socialism” and “defund the police” news that were broadcast during the summer of BLM. I will discuss this in another column at a later date.

There is good news here, however. America’s vote is much less racially polarized today than it was four years ago.

The bad news is that a lessening of racial conflict is countered by a sharp increase in economic disparities. And THIS is what I want to discuss now.

Everywhere in America, upper income voters moved sharply toward the Democrat while in most areas., lower income voters either moved only a little bit — with one major exception — toward the Democrats, or move not at all, or even moved away from that party. The exception is, of course, Joe Biden himself : he won back at least one-fifth of the low-income white voters who abandoned Hillary in 2016.

Biden’s success was a purely personal one. In addition to the lost Congress races I have listed, Democrats, as of today, have flipped only one Republican-held Congress seat and only two Democratic Senators (the two Georgia Senate races won’t be decided until January 5th) while losing the seat in Alabama. Biden will find it difficult to get his ambitious legislative agenda through a Congress in which Democratic House members, stunned by losses when they were expecting gains, are wary of 2022 and the Senate is controlled by the Republicans.

Nonetheless, it was, for Biden, a victory, of character and integrity over ugly mendacity, of kindness over the gutter. A majority of American voters are sick to death of Trump and all he says and is.

However, that majority is not sick of the Republican party’s 2020 warning about Democrats’ inclination to defund police forces. Congressman Jim Clyburn, who almost single-handedly won Joe Biden the Democratic nomination, is right when he says that the “defund the police” message cost Democratic House and Senate candidates dearly. “Defund the police” sounded rabidly radical to most voters, and it is.

No important Democrat made “defund the police” her campaign theme, but the damage was all too evident all across the nation during summer protests, even the peaceful ones, at which, occasionally, little children carried “FUCK THE POLICE” placards. This message was all too easy for wealthy, white voters — in few of whose neighborhoods any actual police live — to broadcast. They don’t suffer the consequences of defunded police forces. It’s the inhabitants of low-income, big city neighborhoods in which, as we saw all summer, crime increases when police presence falls back. Young voters, even of color, may have fun calling for “fuck the police,” but the older residents of crimed neighborhoods, most of whom cannot move because they can’t afford to, understandably rejected the entire anti-police them, to the detriment of the incoming Democratic administration.

The Democratic party, despite the best intentions of Joe Biden and his obvious background as a son of the white working class, is rapidly becoming the party of wealth and of white voter, suburban comfort. I don’t see how it can advocate a working-class, economic betterment message when its current voter base relies on — pursues relentlessly — an inequality of wealth and access that has reached crisis proportions. How is a party of meritocrats going to organize a $ 15/hour minimum wage ? A labor union drive ? Housing subsidies like 1946’s GI Bill ? Nor is the Democratic party’s socialist wing — a tiny minority made to seem much larger by Republican ad-makers — any help. Its solution to economic inequality is punitive : tax the rich to extinction, have the Federal government fund and manage health care, transportation, everything. This is unworkable, and, besides, America’s aspiring immigrants and lower-income voters don’t want that. They want opportunity and much better wages. They don’t want buildings named after them at big-name universities, they want their kids to have admission to those universities. Naming a building after a person of color, as my university (Princeton) just did, is flagrant tokenism. Immigrants and voters of color do not, I hope, want tokenism !

Yet if the Democratic party faces a serious reckoning with its upwardly mobile narrowing, the Republican party faces troubles at least as noxious. It is, at present, a party of grievance. It’s all well and good to complain about being screwed by the powerful, but mere complaining doesn’t change anything useful. To do that, you have to have a positive program : OK, we’re being left behind, or losing power to the well off, so what do we do to improve our lot without damaging the entire structure ? And do we trust anybody in power to actually advocate such a program ? Trump’s entire message — assuming that his gutter horking had any — was negative and reactionary : repeal, yes. Replace, no. Even now, with him on his way to well-merited obloquy, his party has nothing to say except NO. NO to “socialism.” NO to “immorality.” NO to anything a Democrat wants to do.

NO is the entire message of Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, Georgia’s two Republican Senate candidates facing runoff elections on January 5th. No, No, and no.

This cannot stand, because a party of “no” is a party responding to what the other party is trying to do. It leaves the initiative entirely to the Democrats, putting the Republican party in the position of waiting to hear what to say NO to. And this Republican NO has an angry tone to it, a sound of vengeance and bitterness. It is Trumpism without Trump, and it depends for its success entirely upon Democratic failure.

The nation deserves better. The nation needs better. Can our politicians do better ? Can Joe Biden get us to be kind again, to work with each other, to trust reform legislation ?

Can he and they inspire us, the voters, to trust them to bring better to us ? These are the questions all of us are asking, I hope, of our next two Federal government years.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



As of this writing, at 1.00 PM on Wednesday morning, Joe Biden looks like the winner — narrowly — of yesterday’s election. I say “looks like” because the final tallies aren’t in yet. Still, Biden has a noticeable advantage in enough States to claim a 270 to 268 electoral vote victory.

This — if it holds up — is not the result most of us we hoping for. Biden would be inaugurated into the office of President, but the Republicans will have a Senate majority well aware of the narrowness of Biden’s win. (As of this writing, it’s 50 percent to 48 percent, a 2,600,000 vote difference.) Mr. Trump will be gone, but the close division of America’s voters remains — indeed, is further confirmed. President Biden — if he does in fact win this — faces an enormous task trying to navigate a government divided and hardened in its division.

But the final composition of Congress isn’t yet known, and I won’t belabor the matter further today. What I would like to do is write some observations about the state of our two political parties.

As i see it, the Democratic party has become too much the party of corporate and banking managers. Millions of highly-paid commercial administrators and directors, and their high-income technical assistants poured almost unlimited millions into Senate campaigns they had scant hope of winning. Cases in point : Jamie Harrison in South Carolina, Sarah Gideon in Maine, Amy McGrath in Kentucky. What purpose was served by throwing millions of dollars on races never to be won ? Even the Senate race in Maine proved out of reach of the millions wasted on Susan Collins’s opponent . It was angry money, all of it, blind anger irrational — but there because the angry are the highly-paid, corporate social justice prophets whose program, for ending anyone who differs politically from them, is to boycott them with a tidal wave of dollars.

If I am a Senate incumbent faced with a tsunami of money coming to my opponent, my message to the voters is a simple one : “they’re trying to buy the race.” It’s a winning response. Voters for some reason do not like having big money folks buying Senate seats, which according to our nation’s rules, belong to the voters.

Might the $ 120 million donated to these losing efforts not have been better spent hiring field operatives for Joe Biden in Georgia, Texas, and Florida ? Spanish-speaking operatives ? Biden lost Florida and Texas because he under-performed Democratic expectations of Hispanic voters there. Most of the Hispanic voters who Biden could not win over are low-paid, two jobs grunts. They want to get ahead, not stage a protest. Yet the Biden message was divided between economic betterment and racial justice issues. Of course racial justice is crucial; it’s written into the Constitution. But Hispanic voters, like  their Anglo working class counterparts, want economic justice first. If you can’t pay the bills, or save go get ahead, you haven’t much time to worry about civil rights, which, among white voters, continue to be the preoccupation of the highly privileged chiefly.

Nothing much changes in America when it comes to society and social custom. Before the Civil War, Abolition was the cause celebre of the Northern, Yankee aristocracy. It took rebellion by the South, and a deadly Civil War to bring most Northern opinion onto the abolition side. Toady we do not have Civil War (despite the fears of many keyboard warriors); and thus the pre-occupation which high-income white activists give to “Black lives matter” seems another universe to the economic aspirations and daily budget challenges that most voters deal with.

The Biden campaign didn’t shun working-class issues, and Joe certainly is every inch the son of the white working class, as Hillary Clinton was absolutely not. Thus Joe did much better than Hillary did with white working class voters — which is why he has probably won the election. Yet his message was seriously diluted by having to confront the summer’s Black Lives matter riots, looting, and highway blockings. I know very few voters who weren’t incensed by these things and the evident inability of Democratic office holders to curb the unrest; and Biden was slow to find his message of denunciation.

It has always, in America, been difficult for politicians to bind a coalition of white working class voters and voters of color. Much more often, its been the white elite who have forged a bond with voters of color. (Drive through the tony town of Carlisle and count all the Black Lives matter lawn signs in this very high income community. then do the same in working class Revere.) Today that elitist mission has the backing of corporate human resource offices and directors, who have imposed “sensitivity training” sessions on their employees, complete with social justice sociology and a duty to feel guilty about vaguely defined “racial bias.” I know very few people who willingly accept being made to feel humiliation. It reeks of Maoist “struggle sessions,” sometimes with career consequences, and it happens on college campuses as well as in the corporate world.

Of course we as a nation must promote first class citizenship for all. That should be a given. But it cannot be a given if it is imposed on people by an upper class, holier than thou elite. America has always rejected such elitism, and certainly a Democratic party cannot co-exist with it. Yet today;s democratic party has given much of its attention to this brand of talking down to people deemed benighted. How is this in any way consistent with the Democratic ideal, in which ordinary people talk UP to those better positioned than they ?

Joe Biden, buffeted by these contradictory movements, found himself trying to be who he is not  — one of our social justice elite — at the same time that he insisted upon he who he in fact is : a son of working class parents who is in every way a traditional Democrat of the sort that has moved heavily to the Trump Republican party because it resents being talked down to and told that it is racist and thus shamed. not many voters take well to being shamed. It isn’t what the Democratic party has ever been about, and its presence in this season’s Democratic party felt as uneasy to you as it did to me.

It compromises a politicia’s moarl force when he lets himslef eb forced tgo say thiongs he doesn’t beleieve. Joe Biden certainly believes deeply in equlaity fort all, but he clearly is not comfortable with diverting to it from, his basic, economic message. His economic message is THE message of the Democratic party and has always been. It was so even in the Jim Crow era, albeit then restricted to whites. We forget that most Jim Crow politicians began their careers as Jennings Bryan economic populists. Today, economic populism has bifurcated : the patriotic, flag waving workingman’s kind that powers Trump’s Republican party, and the economic justice kind — example : Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman — that Joe Biden grew up in. It has always been a priority of our economic elite to keep the nation’s working class divided. Toady that division mission has succeeded, to our immense debit: because we have always been a nation of people on the bottom aspiring to get ahead. it is who we are. That aspiration should be the sole possession of the Democratic party — its sacred treasure. yet today the party is trying to have it both ways. Against a nasty man like Mr. Trump, it has succeeded — barely. It might not thus succeed again soon.

Last point : I am not advocating any form of socialism. Governments should never, ever own the means of production or handicap the marketplace. I am, however, advocating a participatory capitalism that rewards workers handsomely and understands that the economic prosperity of all is economic prosperity for capitalists as well as employees. In short, the compromises forged  by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his team. That is the future road a successful Democratic party should pursue, as it eschews the unrest of those who would harm the nation in the name of justice.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


Mark Kelly

^^ Mark Kelly of Arizona, our favorite US Senate challenger

We long ago expressed our preference for Joe Biden for President. Our view has not changed, and it appears that Biden will win a substantial electoral college victory next week. It’s a well-merited win for a man worthy of high regard offering an agenda that almost all of us can welcome.

This column, therefore, will devote to other contests and ballot questions.

There are few election contests here in Massachusetts,. but of the contested seats, we like and favor the following candidates : Bill Bates, 13th Essex; Susan E. Smiley, 12th Worcester; Kelly A. Dooner, 3rd Bristol; Jerald A. Parisella** 6th Essex; David Allan Robertson**, 19th Middlesex; Michael S. Day,**, 31st Middlesex; Catherine J. Clark, 37th Middlesex; Joshua Cutler**, 6th Plymouth; Sheila Curran Harrington**, 1st Middlsex; Tim Whelan**, 1st Barnstable; James Kelcourse**, 1st Essex; Lenny Mirra**, 2nd Essex; Brad Jones**, 20th Middlesex; Shawn Dooley**, 9th Norfolk; Paul K. Frost**, 7th Worcester; and Susannah Whipps**, 2nd Franklin.

Of contested State Senate contests, we favor these : Patrick M. O’Connor**, Plymouth & Norfolk; Ryan C. Fattman**, Worcester & Norfolk; Ann M. Gobi, Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire & Middlesex; Matthew T. Kelly, Norfolk Bristol & Middlesex; Susan Moran**, Plymouth & Barnstable; John F. Keenan**, Norfolk & Plymouth.

There’s also a contest for Norfolk County Sheriff. We are actively supporting the incumbent, Jerry McDermott.

Ballot questions : we have already written in OPPOSITION to Question 2, which would drastically alter our State’s one person, one vote system. Vote NO on Question 2.

Around the country : Senate elections are taking place in 34 seats. Although we do not vote in any of the 33 States other than ours, in which there is a nominal contest, we do have an opinion — an outsider’s view, but we are free to express it.

Here, in Massachusetts, we voted for Kevin M. O’Connor. In Maine, we would vote for Susan Collins. In North Carolina, for a challenger, Cal Cunningham. In South Carolina, we support Lindsey Graham — a controversial choice, perhaps, but that’s how we see it. In Texas, it’s John Cornyn. In Colorado, Jim Hickenlooper, the challenger. Oregon voters ought support Jeff Merkley. In Arizona, we like challenger Mark Kelly. In Nebraska, it’s re-election for Ben Sasse. In Michigan, we go with challenger John James. In Alabama, please re-elect Doug Jones. In Montana, we prefer challenger Steve Bullock. In Alaska, vote for challenger Alex Gross. In Kansas’s open seat, we hope that Barbara Bollier wins. In Iowa, the challenger Theresa Greenfield looks good to us. In New Hampshire, we’d stick with Jean Shaheen. In Mississippi, with Cindy Hyde-Smith. In Idaho, we like long-shot challenger Paula Jordan. Lastly, we’d vote Mitch McConnell in Kentucky despite many bones to pick.

Georgia has both Senate seats are on offer. In the special election, we favor unjustly maligned Kelly Loeffler. In the other seat, we vastly prefer Jon Ossoff.

That’s nine Republican choices and eleven Democrats. This is how we roll.

As for the Presidency, we hope that when Joe Biden takes the oath of office next January 20th, that American governance will recapture its sense of purpose, its practical integrity, its readiness to “return to regular order and get stuff done,’ as the late John McCain put it. Put the division behind us, the anger, the vulgarity, the bigotry, the grievance and the selfishness, the corruption and the toadying to Russia and other fascist bullies. Embrace our allies. Promote democracy around the world. Give no comfort to those who abuse their own people.

Raise the Federal minimum wage; enact a large and long-lasting Covid relief bill. Reform our broken voting rights enforcements and our prejudicial immigration scandal. Revise the ACA to add a public option. Dedicate to infrastructure repair. Forgive a portion of student debts outstanding, perhaps by having universities pick up the slack. Enact an Women’s Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. Appoint a Justiice to the Supreme Court who IS NOT an Originalist — we have more than enough of those.

It’s a very very tall order, this to-do list, but if even two-thirds of it gets done, America will prosper and our citizens will be grateful and relieved.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



Given what has been said and done this season against our police forces, I have looked at Mayor Walsh’s police proposals very skeptically. Was my reluctance justified by what I have read ? Read the task force recommendations for yourself, then tell me whether skepticism has any basis —->>

To be clear : I am opposed to much of what has now been accepted by Mayor Walsh and even by Commissioner Gross.

The task force convened by Mayor Walsh began in biased circumstances and under political pressure from protesters and rioters. No elected official should EVER undertake anything thuis demanded :

the Mayor convened a Task Force when people across Boston and the United States were protesting police misconduct…”

The above statement proves too much. Just because accusations are laid of misconduct does not mean there was any.

“…that all too often has had deadly consequence for people of color and demanding institutional change to local law enforcement infrastructure.

“deadly consequence for people of color” has occurred, this we all know. But “all too often” suggest that such deaths are commonplace when they are no such thing. They are, in fact, very rare. Of course deadly consequences should never occur, for people of color or otherwise, and our society should insist that police departments require significant training and certification of all who seek to become officers. Governor Baker’s police training and certification bill ought to pass.

And now to the actual recommendations., all of which Mayor Walsh has agreed to :

 The Task Force recommends that the City and the BPD undertake the following:

1. Create an independent Office of Police Accountability and Transparency (“OPAT”) with full investigatory and subpoena power, i.e. the ability to call witnesses and to compel the discovery of documents, to replace the Co-Op.

2.  Formalize and expand the BPD’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

3.  Expand the BPD’s use of the body-worn camera program where it increases police transparency and accountability, and continue to ban the use of biometrics and facial recognition software.

4.  Enhance the BPD’s Use of Force policies (Rule 303,Rule 303A,Rule 303B,Rule 304) so that they articulate clear and enforceable disciplinary code of consequences for violations and infractions and hold the BPD publicly accountable for the violation of these policies.

Item One : absolutely opposed. Police out on a call cannot be second-guessed by those who aren’t at the time and place or engaged in the circumstances. Here is where the current BPD’s de-escalation policy gives officers their principles. Here, too, is the crux of Governor Baker’s training and certification. It is crucial, when examining events after the fact, that the examination NOT be done by persons with an anti-police, accusatory agenda. Every profession regulates and polices its own. Why are police officers not entitled to the same self-governance respect ?

2. Conditional. Officers should always be chosen for their excellence and not for their biology. I would support diligent efforts being made to recruit officer applicants from every ethnic group and social identity interest; but who shows up, shows up; and who succeeds at the training academy succeeds. I also support ( 1 ) an application process that disqualifies persons actively belonging to militias, bigotry, or other such groups whose purposes pit people against one another ( 2 ) a preference for so-called “community policing.”

3. Officers say they approve the body camera device. If they approve it, I am OK with it. Crucial, however, that videos taken by body cameras never be selectively published. Publish it all, or do not publish, period. Too many of the recent cases in the news look very different wen all the video is published than they did when initially sensationalized.

4. I don’t like the accusatory, judgmental tone of this recommendation. Also note : disciplinary hearings should never, ever be public. First of all, reputations are at issue. Second, why would anyone ever seek a policed career if she knows that she will be second guessed constantly and that the merest complaint will cause her loss of reputation, job, and even peace in her off duty life ? Complaints must be written, signed by the person complaining, notarized, and put through an initial assessment before any kind of formal disciplinary hearing be scheduled.

Let’s note that the “emergency” police reform bills enacted by the two parts of our legislature have snoozed for months in committee, as legislators realize that there is no emergency and that much of what is in the two bills is unworkable, even unConstitutional. It is a shame that Mayor Walsh feels it politically important to enact what the legisalture has wisely deferred. I am hoping that once he is re-elected — as i am fairly sure he will be — he will let much of the Task force’s agenda fade away, as it should.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



Boston’s School Department is proposing to apportion admission to Boston Latin, an exam school, by geography. We oppose this plan. (You can access it HERE : file:///C:/Users/Customer/Downloads/Exam%20Schools%20Admission%20Criteria%20Recommendation%20to%20SC%20FINAL(3).pdf

The only criterion that an exam-admission school should honor is excellence. Is that not the whole point of having admission by exam ?

Proponents of geographic admission say that exams disadvantage children of color. I disagree. Kids taking the exam, in the sixth grade and again in the ninth, have presumably attended Boston schools for years. If some come to the Boston Latin exam less prepared, is that the kids’ fault or the school system’s ?

Perhaps some fault rests with the parents. Let us not assume that, however. The parents of any kid aspiring to examine for admission to Latin know full well what is going to be asked of their kid. Is there a parent, of whatever skin hue or national origin, who does not want her kid to ace that exam ? To suggest that any parent faces the exam challenge slack is to condescend grievously.

My own parents pushed me very, very hard when it came to school performance. My Mom — youngest of six children of a penniless immigrant, East Boston tenement family –worked a full time job at a Boston newspaper, sometimes bringing home the next day’s edits and staying up till two AM: yet she had time to go over my reading with me, and my math, and my geography, so that when it came time to take the SAT high school admission, I would be prepared. My Dad wasn’t able to help, as he was a house doctor often making house calls at 3 AM (for $ 3 and $ 4 a call, if the patient even had any money) and then getting up at 8 AM to take my Mom (who did not drive) to the train station.

My Mom had a saying : “if you want something done, ask a busy person.”

I suspect that most of today’s immigrant and dark skinned parents know and follow that rubric. I have such a parent in my own extended family; and though she has enormous issues in her own life, she stops at nothing to push and prepare her kids for school excellence. Her older daughter is now attending University on full scholarship after getting all A’s in high school.

I think it is therefore a terrible injustice to push Boston’s school system’s failings onto the backs of families who live in under-achieving school districts.

This is not to say that geography is irrelevant in exam admissions. I went to Princeton,. and that I came from Massachusetts, not New Jersey, was a factor in my admission (although I also had the grades needed.) Princeton very much wanted to admit students from, say, Idaho or overseas; but if geographic diversity was desirable, it did not overrule or even qualify scholastic excellence. Admission was done by a point system : exam excellence, 5 points; school grades, 5 points; extra curricular activism, 3 points; legacy, two points; geography, one point. I was not a legacy, but I did have most of the other points and so was admitted as a 13 out of 16. ( Today a 13 out of 16 might not be enough ! )

All of the above said, my view is not the be-all. There are other views, of actual Boston school parents embroiled in the matter, that deserve our attention. Here’s what one parent — a personal friend — said on facebook this morning :

They don’t have a friggin test and because BPS was misusing it. The affluent have tutors for a year out sometimes more. The last paragraph is key: “Who would be less likely to show up for the test administration: a child of working immigrant parents in East Boston, or a child whose parents have been paying for test prep for the last two years,” asked Green. A test in the 6th grade should determine your future. The pressure is insane for 11 year olds. There is no reason it can’t be performance based, essay submitted, some sort of huge research project etc. but giving kids one chance on one day to decide their future is bullshit. (BLA mom here)

The level of disconcert that she expresses ought to concern those who administer Boston’s schools. The great disconnect is not between exams and parents but between the School system and parents.

The current plan must be set aside for at least much extended, open discussion.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere