Death, Taxes…. and Voting!

I can remember being a little kid in grammar school, sitting there in my uniform, listening to the (mostly) nuns teach us “Social Studies”, including about voting not being required of each and every citizen at or above the legal age to do so. In a country that is supposed to be “by the people and for the people”, allowing apathy and inconvenience to keep anyone from participating in the franchise is yet another example of white supremacy. A study done in July supports this: The Urgency of Universal Civic Duty Voting.

Since the 1980’s, every baby born in this country has bee required to have a valid Social Security number in order for baby’s parents to claim them as a dependent on their income taxes. There is no reason that the Social Security system (which is also notified upon the death of almost everyone with a number) cannot be utilized in some way to provide automatic voter registration to everyone eligible (let’s take that as a given for the rest of this post) upon the occasion of their eighteenth birthday. In answer to those screaming about ‘dead people’ getting ballots, it is also possible to require that the Social Security Administration be notified upon the death of everyone to whom it has issued a number, thereby triggering a verification mechanism (in order to avoid taking away the ability to vote from someone who is still very much alive) and removal from the voter registration role once the death has been verified as legitimate.

In addition to automatically registering everyone at age eighteen, it is also necessary that all elections be held almost entirely by mail, with in-person voting primarily available for this who must cast their vote in person (due to disability, etc.) or who did not receive their ballot by mail. This includes the use of prepaid return envelopes, tracking of ballots back to the election officials, and a chance for citizens to correct or address any discrepancies before the ballot is tossed out. The point is, in order to ensure as much compliance as possible with mandatory voting, it is necessary to make it as easy and painless as possible for every eligible voter to cast their ballot. Doing this also brings a halt to the numerous and varied attempts by those on the right to prevent everyone else from voting.

There isn’t any logical reason why all these things can’t be enacted – and every reason to see this as the only sensible way of moving the government to a place where it is truly following the will of the majority instead of the minority. From local, county and state governments through to The White House, the Democratic Party has consistently demanded that everyone be able to cast a vote for the government of their choice, while the right has engaged in more than half a century of covert and overt voter suppression and disfranchisement to maintain their own hold on the reigns of power.

We must vote in numbers too big to manipulate, giving Joe Biden and Kamala Harris a victory so huge that Trump sneaks out of The White House in the middle of the night with his tail between his legs and his sycophants in the House and Senate crawling behind him. There is seriously no other outcome that we can reasonably expect to result in a peaceful transition of power. If Biden wins by just enough to get the Electoral College, especially when it could take weeks to get the totals figured out, we’re unlikely to get by without Trump firing up his gang of armed white supremacists to violence in cities run by Democrats all over the country. Since Biden supporters will be equally enraged and peacefully protesting, there will inevitably be clashes that turn out badly for the people who came to the fight unarmed (i.e., the Biden supporters).

Trump seems to be in self-destruct mode right now, and every day there seems to be another ‘anonymous source close to the president’ or “person familiar with the incident” willing to provide more and worse information that, while utterly unconscionable by any other President, is just verification of what we already know about Trump. Of course he refers to anyone who has chosen to serve our country in battle as “suckers” and those who were injured or died during their tour as “losers”; he threatened to disown his eldest son if he dared to enlist in the Army. Of course he doesn’t understand the willingness of someone to choose country over self; he lacks any ability to do anything that does not primarily and mainly benefit himself.

I feel some sympathy for those presently in the military who have been supportive of Trump’s presidency and it’s horrendous policies who have finally heard what he really thinks about them and their sacrifices, but I feel more pain for all those who have lost limbs, functionality, mental stability and family members or friends while they served in the armed forces. To hear the person referred to as “Commander in Chief” of the armed services speak so disparagingly of those who paid the ultimate price for their patriotism is beyond reprehensible. Maya Angelou said it best; “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” This is who Trump has made very clear he is, for at least the last 25 years in various and assorted media clips.

Journalists are giving John Kelly, former DHS Secretary and Chief-of-Staff for Trump, credit for his silence at the reporting of Trump’s words, as though it’s tacit confirmation of the reports was in some way a sign of bravery on Kelly’s part. That’s bullsh**; some of these things were said either directly to or at least in John Kelly’s presence, and he continued to work for Trump anyway, I don’t think he deserves kudos, he deserves derision. Kelly chose to interpret Trump’s incredulous “What’s in it for them?” at the grave of Kelly’s son as though Trump was awkwardly expressing astonishment at their willingness to sacrifice themselves for their country. Kelly by that time had to know that Trump completely lacks compassion or empathy, making his continued fealty to Trump especially disconcerting and hard to fathom.

I suspect that there are thousands and thousands of things that Trump has said in private to people all over the world that, if put together in one book, would reveal many of the same or similar things that my grandfather and father used to say back in the 60’s and 70’s when it was somehow still acceptable in many circles to be outwardly racist, homophobic, misogynistic and generally just an asshole – at least for white men. Even if such a book were published, with the full names of those providing the quotes prominently placed for effect, it would be highly unlikely to change the opinions of most of the Republicans who will continue to either support Trump or remain silent about him in their own electoral or financial interest. It would do nothing to alter the base’s support or likelihood to vote for him in November, because this is who they knew him to be when they voted for him in 2016 and most still find nothing he says or does as ‘the last straw’ of their support for him.

I’m frustrated by the what-aboutism that continues throughout much of the mainstream media, since there is nothing that the Democrats have done since Reconstruction that can compare to the length, breadth and consistency of the Republicans’ efforts to suppress, withhold, discount and destroy the ability of Black, minority, immigrant and all those likely to vote Democratic to have their voices heard. The time is long past for mainstream media to specifically call out the Republicans as the reason we find ourselves where we are at this particular point in our history – in the middle of a raging pandemic unchecked by any coordinated effort at control or containment at the federal level by a president who refuses to accept responsibility for any of it. This failure in turn has caused the greatest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression (which Trump continues to conflate with the Dow Jones average) while millions have no money for food or rent and are in danger of losing their homes, because those aren’t ‘his people’. Trump only concerns himself with those whose good fortune benefits Trump personally.

I spent two or three hours on Saturday afternoon texting to registered voters in Pennsylvania on behalf of a Congresswoman running for re-election. I don’t live in Pennsylvania, but New Jersey is a relatively blue state, while Pennsylvania (a mid-Atlantic state considered “Midwest” when the presidential election comes around) certainly helped put Trump in The White House in 2016, so I want to help where I can make a difference. These are the things that we can do right not to help get this clown out of office after just one four-year term of destruction.

So do something – volunteer to make calls, send texts, write letters, or postcards to voters across the country in places we want to flip from red to blue in November. The more we do, the greater the likelihood that we can encourage people who weren’t going to vote to do so, or to push someone to request a mail-in ballot in time to have their vote count. More participation in every election is demographically beneficial to Democrats, so Republicans want to keep participation down.

If you want to see change, you have to be the change. It took me years to figure out that the only person I can hope to change is myself, which led me to the amazing realization that everyone with whom we have a relationship is going to do things that get under our skin, and the only options we have about those things involve ourselves, not the other person. We can either accept that this person does that thing that makes you crazy and get over it, or get that person out of our life. There is no ‘I’ll change them to suit me’ option; knowing and understanding that would have led me down an entirely different path back in 1978… and 1993. Better late than never.

My point is, if we want things in politics and government to be different, then we need to do something different to make it so. I’ve never volunteered to help any campaign before in my life, but this time is different; this time matters more than any other in my adult life, and will matter even more years from now, when my children and (fingers crossed!) grandchildren are left to deal with the results of our action – or lack thereof. Even most of the childless have children further out in their families – nieces, nephews, cousins – that they don’t want to see suffer in 40 years because Republicans refused to tackle climate change to benefit the people instead of fossil fuel companies. Think about their future and volunteer for something.

Donate what you can. If there isn’t a particular local candidate you want to support, go to ActBlue.com and donate to the Biden/Harris campaign or to someone like Jamie Harrison for Senate against Lindsey Graham or Amy McGrath against Moscow Mitch.

We cannot just cast a vote every couple of years and call it good enough.  Today, we have the government that a minimally involved citizenry deserves; we have to make the effort so our government works for the 90%, not the 10%.  By the people, for the people.

I’m So Excited – Frankie and I Were on The Daily Beans Podcast!

Allison Gill, aka “AG” host of the podcasts Mueller, She Wrote & The Daily Beans

Fourteen months ago, I had a decision to make – do I get another cat, one more that (hopefully!) will die before I do, causing me to grieve another loss? I love my Libby (short for Liberty, a story for another day), a shelter kitten we were assured wouldn’t have long hair.

Libby Then
Libby Now

So epic fail – huge and hairy, clearly part Maine Coon, but she’s a sweetheart and I can’t imagine not having her here – although I dream of no longer having to deal with all that hair! In fact, adding the cat hair to the short lifespan made me realize that I didn’t want to add another four-legged friend to my home. Instead, after thinking long and hard and consulting with my children, I did what I’d been wanting to do for my entire adult life and bought myself a companion bird, an Timneh African Grey I named Frankie (from Grace & Frankie – since she’s a girl) and brought her home in June, 2019.

In the time she’s been with me, I’ve learned what it means to have a toddler around 24/7, although with Frankie, I’m not in danger of being arrested for abuse if I put her in her cage for the night! She’s smart as a whip, already talking in short sentences and picking things up I wasn’t even aware I was saying.

When I listen every day to The Daily Beans Podcast, there’s a jingle they play before the first commercial break that they got from the Saturday morning cartoons in the 80’s, and Frankie learned to join in. I recorded her with me late last month.

She’s so damn smart!

I sent the clip in to The Daily Beans for their Good News segment. Tuesday, I was excited to hear my email read on the pod, along with our little jingle. Here’s that part of the podcast:

They even gave a shout-out to my blog!

News, with swearing – the only way to get updated!

Today’s episode of The Daily Beans

Thanks for the shout-out, Allison, and for using your time to give the rest of us the information we need, the stuff that keeps slipping by as we get overwhelmed with the outrage.

The Media Has to Call a Spade a Damn Shovel!

Owner of Rode’s Camera Shop for the last 8 years, Tom Gram refused to participate in the maskless Trump-staged photo-op, accusing Trump of exploiting his destroyed store for political gain…
So instead they got the former owner (holding sign, above) who supports Trump to pretend he still owns the place.

About twenty years ago, my best friend convinced me to go with her to a nude beach in northern New Jersey (the only legal one in the state). Since it was actually “Clothing Optional”, I knew that I wasn’t required to get naked and agreed to go but that my clothing wasn’t optional. I was in my 40’s and the mother of two children, and my modesty had left the building long before that first trip to Sandy Hook and I was at least game to see what she was so excited about. Besides, I was a nurse, and body parts are body parts.

We had a long ride and crowds to deal with, so we got there early enough to be able to park close to the beach access. Gunnison Beach is one of several located in The Gateway National Recreation Area, a piece of federal property with the only nude recreation area along the coast in New Jersey. It was very popular among the nudist community and was always crowded most weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

We schlepped our gear to a place near the high-tide mark to spread out our blankets and stake in our umbrellas, and I realized that I had made a mistake when I’d decided to remain in my bathing suit. What was that mistake? I’d made it all about me.

I was worried about what these people I had never seen before and likely never would again thought about my imperfect body – as if it could affect my life. It took only a few minutes to realize I had no reason to worry, because no one else was thinking about me at all. With thousands of other naked bodies everywhere, the only ones attracting attention were those at the extremes – either being extraordinarily beautiful/stacked/hung or the not – rather than being one of mostly imperfect but basically average folks all over the beach. That realization allowed me to join my friend for my first nude beach experience without feeling self-conscious, leading to my first ‘everything that never saw the sun before severe sunburn” that was equally memorable.

Clearly, Donald Trump has never had an experience like that – one in which he realizes that he’s the only one paying attention to him, that the world and it’s people don’t revolve around “The Donald”. In fact, Trump insists on forcing those who have dared to point out his lack of importance in their lives to focus directly on him by forcing himself into their cities, as he did in Kenosha despite requests from the mayor and Wisconsin’s governor to say away. Trump didn’t go to Kenosha to spread peace, love and butterflies; he went specifically to encourage further right-wing violence against protestors and continue his ridiculous denial of the systemic racism built into every aspect of American life.

Trump’s incompetence and incoherence for anything that doesn’t affect himself has now cost the lives of more than 180,000 American lost to Covid-19. His bias against the WHO has now led to the US refusing to participate with 170 countries around the world to develop and distribute a world-wide vaccine for Covid-19! Sure, it makes so much more sense for the US to work all alone while almost the entire rest of the planet works together towards a viable, effective vaccine. How can the people around him support such an irrational decision?

Why is it okay that Fox News pundits are making many of the decisions that Trump then issues as dictates ten minutes later? Fox, the ‘news’ outlet least likely to verify a wingnut’s story before broadcasting it to their viewers, has more control over our national security policy right now than all our intelligence agencies combined? Seriously? How can the idiots on Fox & Friends have more influence on the way we’re (not) dealing with Covid-19 than the experts from the CDC?

Why is some crackpot radiologist from Fox now advising Trump on how to ‘manage’ Covid-19? Because Trump only keeps people around him who tell him what he wants to hear, and he’s been waiting for some incompetent physician without any interest in “first, do no harm” to support his fantasy that the virus will just go away and to push back on Dr. Fauci’s science and facts. Of course Trump would bring in this idiot who believes that everyone should just be exposed to gain ‘herd immunity’ no matter that some 2 millions people will die as a result while Dr. Fauci is on medical leave. Trump and those around him get to use rapid testing to clear anyone coming into contact with them and therefore have no fear that they will be infected by an asymptomatic infected person, so why give a damn about the rest of us, right?

Herd immunity is supposed to refer to the percentage of a given population that are successfully vaccinated and gain immunity in order to prevent the disease from spreading throughout the population. It is not meant to indicate the free-spread of a disease vector throughout the entire populace, killing millions and leaving (maybe) the rest immune for life. We don’t know enough about Covid-19 and future immunity to even know if we can get to a vaccine, so going down this path is not only stupid, it’s outright dangerous. Of course, Trump’s disregard for the value of those citizens unlikely to vote for him, especially those of color, makes this decision that much easier for him to make. Having a physician without a clue whispering in his ear is not a good idea under the best circumstances – under the current ones, it’s criminally negligent.

How is it acceptable to the Republican Party that the CDC, FDA and NIH are now being forced to heel by Trump, making statements in defiance of facts and science? Trump’s insistence “over the last six months that “it will go away like a miracle” or that it’s “no worse than catching the flu” fits neatly into his plan towards attaining ‘herd immunity’ by forcing the citizens of the United States to catch Covid-19, spread it to everyone they come into contact with before getting sick and possibly dying or having long-term negative health issues as a result of the virus is further proof of his malicious indifference to the lives of everyone outside of himself.

Here’s the thing, though… listening to Joe Biden’s speeches over the past few months has reminded the country as a whole what a President is supposed to sound and act like. Trump now realizes that everything he’s been trying to throw up to see if it sticks on Joe has been for naught, because we know who Joe Biden is, just like we know who Donald Trump is, and most of us don’t want Donald Trump in charge of anything, ever again. Trump brazenly and in full public view does only those things that offer a clear, personal benefit to himself, his cronies or his reelection; if there is anything that somehow benefits the country or its citizens, that is more coincidental than intentional. Trump’s continued conflation of positive tests with infected people defies logic and reveals that he clearly lacks the mental capacity to continue as president. No matter how many people are tested, those who are passing this virus around are still going to do so, we just won’t know where they are or who they’re spreading it to, helpful in attempts to slow the spread but useless if you want to claim fewer people have been exposed on your watch. What is most disconcerting is that the people most at risk from his calculations are his cult followers, because they believe what he’s telling them.

Trump spreads conspiracy theories, using his Twitter account to push all sorts of crazy stuff to his cult followers, and the far-right gangs showing up at BLM protests proves how effective they are at firing up the most extreme of his base. Trump won’t do the ‘presidential’ thing and denounce these gangs and their long guns because he knows he will be offending his own base, again placing his hopes for reelection above the need to deescalate the situation and call off his minions. He’s emboldening these people to arm themselves and show up at mostly peaceful protests where they initiate violence that has resulted in more than a few people being injured or killed. Who in any position of real authority would foment such insurrection? Since when does the president offer bogus excuses for a vigilante killing peaceful protestors?

We have to do everything we can to ensure that in January, 2021, President Biden is sworn into office and Trump’s misdeeds and crimes are brought into the light. Everything we can.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}

Volunteer to help

Donate if you can, as much as you can comfortably afford.

Talk to your friends and family to make sure that they are registered to vote, have requested a vote-by-mail ballot or plan to vote early, and intend to vote for the Democratic ticket.

I have found the last one to be both the one I have the most chance of making a difference with AND the most frustrating to do successfully.  My son, who turned 40 this past May, seems to be getting a good bit of his ‘information’ from people just like me – bloggers with opinions versus actual news media with facts to share, and I have been hard pressed to disabuse him of the things he’s been hearing.  He and his wife kindly agreed to let a couple and their 5 year old daughter move in when they were at risk of being homeless, and it seems that the male of this couple also believes the things my son and I have been arguing over recently, judging by his loud and uninvited interjections into my phone conversations with my son.

On my last conversation with Christopher about the upcoming Presidential election, I felt as if I’d made just a little bit of headway, after he agreed that making the perfect the enemy of the good does not benefit anyone except the Republicans.  I also told him that it’s up to him and his cohorts to do something if they want things to change in big ways, including by running for office, or supporting progressive candidates who support their interests in elections locally and nationally.  Bitching about what came before or what is happening now without putting in some work to get to where you want things to be is just whining and blame-shifting.

Get off your ass and DO SOMETHING!

Make America Great Again…Again?

Do you think he considered how stupid this sounds>?

The dichotomy between the US that we are living in and the one that the Republicans claim they are living in was more than striking – it was schizophrenic. Over the course of four nights, various members of the Trump family and assorted hangers-on and Republican sycophants painted a dystopian picture of the country as great now, but ready to dissolve in anarchy and revolt should Joe Biden win in November. Where do these people live that the Covid-19 pandemic is over, or that the crisis itself was handled perfectly by Trump?

The in-your-face violations of the Hatch Act throughout the entire reality-show ‘production’ – which is what it was, given that the nomination was completed early Monday – using The White House, Fort McHenry, and other federally-owned properties and government employees and political appointees as backdrops for their partisan politics,further reveals the rank hypocrisy of the party as a whole. The Republicans who have claimed that they are the party of ‘law and order’ since the 1960’s are fully complicit with using taxpayer-funded federal properties to get their president re-elected, with an abundance of violations of the Hatch Act on national television. I have to go there – if Obama had done this… Of course, they also decided it was in their own best interest that Trump should remain in office despite abusing the power of the office of the president to force an ally to announce a bogus investigation into his political rival. They are the same people we saw spreading lies and conspiracy theories during the RNC and within the Senate itself, often using Russian talking points for those conspiracies, again in order to maintain their minority hold on power. They are the same people willing to destroy the Postal Service in order to disenfranchise and suppress the votes of those of us not likely to vote for them.

The Fox ‘New’s bubble is so much more dangerous than we thought, because most of us don’t watch them in the first place. Fox ‘New’s shows present Trump with stories, often unsupported by any real facts, that he then posts on his Twitter account, where there starts a dangerous echo back and forth from Trump and Fox to the base and back again. Trump ignores experts and does whatever the talking heads on Fox ‘News’ tell him to do. The Trump cult, unmasked and packed in like sardines, was on full display in the political events that we paid for, and it was unbelievable in its flouting of the law and in its absurdity.

I’ve said over and over that the lives of his followers are of absolutely no value to Trump, and his insistence on having these events with his adoring followers shouting his name at a super-spreader event is just proof of his total lack of basic human kindness and empathy. Trump has always only cared about what is in it for him, without regard to anyone else involved. When he built those casinos in Atlantic City, scores of local small businesses provided him with products and labor that Trump then screwed over by refusing to honor his contract to pay. As a candidate, he swore he would release his taxes right up until he got elected, when he admitted that no, he never intended to release his taxes.

No one should be surprised by his willingness to just throw his followers into huge petri dishes for his own edification – in fact, I’d go further and say that we should in fact expect this and worse in the coming weeks, as he tries desperately to hold on to power and the temporary immunity that the presidency affords him. Trump felt no compunction in staging the pardon of a Black man (the irony!), a naturalization ceremony (without telling the immigrants it would be used for the RNC beforehand) or using a formerly pardoned woman as a prop because nothing outside of Trump matters to Trump at all, except insofar as those things can benefit him right now.

Listening to one speaker after another would have driven me mad, and honestly, this is the kind of event that the DVR was made for. While I watched most of the DNC at normal speed with the sound turned on, I utilized fast-forward through the speakers, only listening when MSNBC interrupted to provide fact checks for the lies just aired to keep my blood pressure from rising. Altogether, it made for a much more enjoyable experience than it would otherwise have been, given the toxicity the entire thing contained.

Is it possible that somewhere out in the country there are people who agree these fever dreams are real, or do they believe the things that their eyes see and their ears hear? Of course it is! Again, Fox ‘News’ and its policy of ‘all things Trump’ provides the base with the propaganda that keeps them fired up while making it almost impossible for friends and family to disabuse those Fox-ites of their manipulated view of the country and Covid-19. These are the same cult members who refuse to wear masks or remain socially distant because of ‘personal freedom’ while refusing to accept that their personal freedom ends where your personal freedom to not get sick starts. The problem with elevating ‘personal freedom’ above the public good is that any attempt to require those freedom warriors to do their civic duty and wear a mask leads to some kind of confrontation, often with someone with a firearm.

Trump’s diatribe at the end of night four was something, alright. It’s so obvious whenever he reads from a teleprompter that he refuses to really familiarize himself with the speech before he goes live, between his reading like a young child (almost singing) to his mother for the first time and saying that he “profoundly” accepted the nomination. Either he was supposed to say “proudly” or his speech writer is an idiot. Or perhaps both can be true simultaneously.

Elections have consequences.

The DNC Has Brought Me To Tears

MIchelle Obama Rocks!

I suppose after 3 1/2 years of Trump’s bloviating, it’s not unexpected that I’m reacting to hearing words that any other president would say by starting to cry. I haven’t actually had tears streaming down my face, but have for sure on multiple occasions on both nights of the convention have found myself getting choked up, both by the politicians and the everyday Americans who have been featured.

I think the format, which doesn’t focus only on politicians and eliminates all the crazy hats and loud cheering, has brought more sharply into focus how things could have been had Hillary been elected. The fact that there are Republicans (or former Republicans) willing to stand up and throw their support behind Joe Biden should be a huge sign to those still supporting Trump that there is something seriously, malignantly wrong with him. Although anyone who has been watching this shit show since January, 2017 already knows that, the media bubble and his enablers in the Senate, along with his sycophants in state governments, have chosen to go all in on his lies and conspiracy theories.

Or maybe I should say that Trump has gone all in on the Republicans’ lies and conspiracy theories. Despite the fact that there is almost no fraud in mail-in voting, they continue to spew their voter-suppressive crap to discourage people from using this safe, convenient and easy means of having our voices heard. His donor DeJoy, who has already removed too many mail sorting machines and street mail boxes, slashed overtime and insisted on carriers leaving mail behind, has now said he will stop all these stunts until after the election. Problem is, saying that isn’t worth a pint of cricket piss – not only is there no means of ensuring he does what he says he’ll do, there’s also been no mention of reversing the damage he’s already caused.

Since there is no way for us to be sure that the mail-in ballots will be delivered with their usual speed, so we have just a few options to make sure our votes count. Here are my suggestions for what each of us can do to give our ballots the best chance of being counted:

  • Carefully read the entire ballot and instructions before making any mark on your ballot.  Many ballots are discarded or deemed ineligible because the voters made mistakes when marking or signing their ballots. 
  • Make sure to follow the instructions for marking and signing.  Some states require a witness or two to verify the identity of the signer (although they have signatures to compare to in their own records), so make sure to do this part to the letter.  Ballots without signatures are tossed in the trash.
  • Return the ballot as soon as possible to avoid it being invalidated because it’s returned too late.  Trump has said out loud and on camera that he wants to interfere with the mail to stop Democrats from using mail-in ballots.  If you have any concerns that your ballot won’t make it through the mail, find out where you can bring your ballot and drop it off in person to take that out of the equation.
  • If you can’t vote by mail for some reason, learn where you can access early voting in your area.  By voting early, you can avoid the crush of crowds bound to happen on November 3rd while still ensuring your vote is counted.
  • And if you’re forced to vote in person on Election Day, make sure to wear a mask and maintain social distancing to keep your chances of contracting Covid-19 to a minimum.  In an effort to avoid the rush of working people in the evenings, vote as early in the day as possible.

I have never been more concerned about a Presidential election outcome as I am the one we’re preparing for now.  Sure, I was freaked out in 2016 because Trump was on the ballot, but I was naïve enough to think that there weren’t enough people in our country stupid enough to vote for him.  Clearly, that was a mistake, and that makes what could happen in this election exponentially more dire.  Four years of Trump have done so much damage to our country, our standing in the world, the environment, and so many other things.  He has become more and more emboldened in his corruption and authoritarianism as we get closer to the likely end of his term that there is a real chance that a second Trump term will end the United States of America as we know it.

We have only this chance to remove Trump and as many Republicans as we can from office before they succeed in enacting laws to further entrench their minority rule over the majority of us.  I for one will do whatever it takes to ensure that this doesn’t happen.  For me, that means voting for the Democrats from top to bottom.

What about you?  Do you see a viable future with another Trump term?  Or do you want to throw away your vote by choosing someone other than Joe Biden for President?  Are you willing to gamble the future of the planet by voting for Kanye, or maybe by refusing to cast a vote for President in protest?

Sure, an individual vote is a little thing, and by itself doesn’t make a huge difference.  But every one of us who votes together for the good of the country and the population for Joe Biden can be sure that their vote will be instrumental in getting Covid-19 and the resulting financial disaster under some kind of control, address racism throughout the country, work to stop climate change and ensure that everyone has affordable healthcare regardless of their ability to pay.  Voting for anyone else is simply unacceptable.

His Hubris is Stunning

How can it be acceptable that the President says out loud on camera that he is intent on preventing the US Postal Service from delivering mail-in ballots in time for them to be counted in the upcoming election and receives no rebuke from anyone in the Republican Party? Polls show that 60% of Democrats intend to vote by mail, with an equal number of Republicans expecting to vote in person. This is in no small part because we on the left receive our information from reputable sources that provide actual facts, while Trump’s cult believes the bullshit they’re being fed by Fox and others. A recent study revealed that people whose source of pandemic information included Sean Hannity took significantly more time to follow recommendations about mask wearing, social distancing and the like. Culling the herd, I suppose. This voter suppression effort does not seem to consider that the pandemic Trump refuses to responsibly address or even honestly discuss will be so much worse in the fall, when the flu makes its annual visit across the country. Closer to the election, when more Republicans watch their friends get sick and die because they of their denial of the facts, it will be too late for them to obtain a mail-in ballot because of Trump’s interference. Sad.

What more does the 38% cult need to see before they recognize that they are complicit in an authoritarian takeover of the country? To revise the well known Martin Niemöller quotation for the present…

First they came for the undocumented, and I did not speak out – for I am not undocumented. Then they came for refugees, and I did not speak out – for I am not a refugee. Then they came for the mail-in voters, and I did not speak out – for I am not a mail-in voter. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

The US Postal Service is older than the country and enshrined in our Constitution; it provides millions of us, especially our veterans, with life-saving medications, and Trump’s callous disregard for anyone other than himself is on full display as he’s doing everything he can to break the Post Office by cutting funds, removing sorting equipment, firing workers, and letting mail just sit without being delivered. He’s so certain that he cannot be stopped from doing whatever he wants to remain in office that he no longer feels it necessary to keep his thoughts to himself.

How does the ‘leadership’ of the Republican Party sleep at night? Do they not realize that the majority of their base includes the elderly, who are far and away the demographic most at risk of dying if they contract Covid-19? Do they think that somehow their own voters’ mail-in ballots will make it through the sabotaged postal service by magic? Do they so lack in foresight that the can’t envision the massive protests throughout the country if their inability to react and stop Donald Trump’s interference with the postal service and mail-in ballots prevents millions of legitimate votes from being counted, conceivably allowing him a second undeserved term in the White House?

Trump keeps pretending that there will be a ‘civil war’ if he loses in November. What he seems incapable of understanding is that the protests for Black Lives Matter will pale in comparison to the uprising that will occur if he succeeds in stealing a second election using the awesome power of the office he illegitimately occupies to do so. People are willing to risk their lives in demonstrations in order to ensure that everyone is able to have their votes counted.

Trump forgets that he isn’t just keeping Democrats from having their voices heard. Almost all of those serving in the military around the world have to use mail-in ballots (many of whom vote Republican), while veterans receive all their life-saving medications exclusively from the post office. Here’s the ad.

This is the only time in modern history when former members of the military have openly campaigned against the incumbent President.

Republicans seem to think that this is all going to be fine, that we will all just roll over and acquiesce to this fascist turn Trump has displayed to the world. Not only are they mistaken – they are forgetting that elections have consequences. It is not beyond the imagination that Joe Biden’s Attorney General will open investigations into all the corruption that this administration has had it’s hand in, and those investigations will no doubt reach into the party elites who have refused to stand up for the Constitution as Trump has run roughshod over it. They would do well to keep this distinct possibility in mind.

We will vote in numbers too big to manipulate, forcing these authoritarian dictatorial wannabes out, because our democracy cannot withstand the assault of a second Trump term. It is unthinkable and must be prevented at all costs. Anyone who cannot see that should consider packing up and moving to Puten’s Russia for a closer look at what could be our future. Or maybe they should just gather together, unmasked and without social distancing, in a large arena somewhere to share their views (and their respiratory secretions). After all, if the virus is a hoax, what’s the harm?

It’s a Feature, Not a Bug

In The Washington Post today, Max Boot’s opinion article “Republicans are becoming the QAnon Party” attempts what so many like him have been trying since Trump took office – to place the blame on Trump for the party being full of white nationalists and conspiracy-mongers. This is a fallacy – Republicans have been the party of white nationalists since the Civil Rights Amendment was passed by Lyndon Johnson. Nixon and Reagan, using policies purportedly enacted to control illegal drugs, set in motion the incarceration of Black and Hispanic men for ‘offenses’ that White citizens engaged in with impunity, particularly cannabis use. Statistically, White and Black people use pot in generally the same numbers, yet those arrested and put in jails/prisons falls almost entirely on those of color. The Reagan administration’s sentencing decisions of cocaine versus crack cocaine (White versus Black use) further illustrates this point.

So white nationalists have been members of the Republican Party for decades. Conspiracy theories have also been more likely to take hold and flourish on the right as well. Multiple peer-reviewed studies have shown that, while those at either extreme (left and right) are more likely to espouse and believe conspiracy theories overall, the tendency for those on the conservative side to believe them is significantly higher. While liberals can be led out of their conspiratorial holes by providing them with information that both debunks and increases their trust in institutions (scientists, academics, politicians), conservatives maintain their low level of trust even with increased knowledge, making it much harder to disconnect them from their conspiracy.

Right wing media outlets and social media have made things so much worse, given the speed of dissemination and repetition from platform to platform – Fox, Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, Sinclair Broadcasting, OAN –

boosts the suspicion and paranoia that is inherent in those most susceptible to believing in conspiracy theories.  Those who limit their information only to right-wing media sources and social media reinforce their paranoid fantasies and are eventually unable to consider that their beliefs are based on bullshit, incapable of admitting that they’ve been wrong.

The Republicans have learned that this right-wing media bubble’s repetition of these conspiracies fires up their base, and an enraged base is a loyal one, more likely to vote because they’re convinced that the other side is out to get them, whether to take away their guns, force them to provide reproductive healthcare to women, prevent them from discriminating against those different from them, or to allow the LGBTQ to marry the person of their choice.  They know that to deny the conspiracy theories their base spreads on social media will cost them votes; since remaining in power is the primary focus of Republicans; it is therefore beneficial for their futures and their bank accounts to spread the conspiracies instead of disproving them.

It is no surprise, therefore, that we are now living with a person in the White House who believes in any number of wild conspiracy theories – Birtherism, QAnon, Joe Scarborough as a murderer, Ted Cruz’s father killed JFK, etc. – and has a fervent and devoted base willing to believe pretty much anything that spews from his word hole.  We have been brought to this precipice of disaster by a Republican Party more focused on ‘othering’ than on governing, on enriching themselves than on what’s best for the country, and on preventing everyone from voting than on changing to meet the country as it is now rather than as it was in the 1950’s. 

Max Boot’s columns clearly reveal that he recognizes that the presidency of Donald Trump is a feature, not a bug, of the Republican Party and its policies, and I believe that he is sincere in stating that they all have to go.  I just wish he wouldn’t give them any chance at using Trump as an excuse to remain as they are in any way, shape or form.

While it seems necessary for there to be two parties, one liberal and the other conservative, in order to have a functioning democracy, the inability of the Republicans to actually function within a democracy puts that premise to rest.  Eventually, a conservative party may reconfigure itself in a way that does not automatically disenfranchise those outside itself, focusing the policies it espouses on making life better for everyone, spreading the wealth more equally to all without using divisive rhetoric and criminalization to hold down the ‘others’, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.  Until then, there should be no escape hatch for any of them.

The Republican Party must be crushed under the boot of democracy, and all those who have benefitted from their minority monopolization on the levers of power kept out of public life and media – no more ‘both sides’ crap.  The Democrats want equality and equity, with safe, widespread access to the vote for everyone, since they know that encouraging the electorate to participate is the best way to ensure that they feel like their voices have been heard. Trump ran as a Republican because of their white nationalism and paranoia.  He knew that he’d never convince Democrats to support him.

Why Do The Republicans Hate Us?

Pat Roberts

It’s apparent to most of us that the Republicans feel nothing but disdain towards anyone in the country other than their donors and corporate overlords. Their refusal to address the ongoing and catastrophic hair-on-fire financial and healthcare emergencies raging through the country because they’ve suddenly remembered that deficit spending creates a deficit in the federal budget – something that only matters to the Republicans when there is a Democratic President (or the likelihood of one in the near future) – is the latest affront. They were mum in 2017 as they passed that $3 trillion dollar tax cut that not only gives the majority of the benefits to the top 1% over the next ten years, it also serves to enrich those who passed the legislation.

Ron Johnson

The Republicans enacted tax breaks on seven classes of assets held by many of the wealthier members at the time, saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes while their corporate holdings value increased because of the corporate tax breaks. The ten richest Republicans in Congress who voted for the tax bill held more than $731 million in assets, almost 2/3 in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other instruments, assets they included in their tax cut. In fact, only one of the Republicans on the three committees that wrote the tax bill did not own stocks and mutual funds. Those Republicans also benefited by the ‘repatriation’ of corporate funds from outside the country, since the result was to increase the value of their stocks and dividends from companies like Apple.

John N. Kennedy

All these Republicans reaped the rewards of their tax legislation, increasing their wealth along with the federal deficit. This deficit increase was just fine and dandy, since the benefits from their legislation lined their own and their corporate handlers’ pockets. Besides, later they can use the deficit they created with their self-enriching tax cuts to further erode the social safety net programs of Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, Welfare and Social Security that benefits those of us who were not fortunate enough to be in millionaires in Congress.

Rob Portman

Now, we are in the throes of these converging disasters caused by the Republicans abdication of legislating and governing for anyone other than themselves. Led by Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, the Republicans in both chambers have dropped any pretext of giving a damn about their own constituents, let alone those whose votes they know they have no chance of getting. In Texas, they are fighting tooth and nail to make it neigh on impossible for people to register to vote, and those who are registered are limited in their ability to vote by mail (unless they are over the age of 64, a demographic that is historically slanted towards Republicans), because they are fully aware that they have a choice to make – either become more inclusive or limit the ability of Democrats to cast votes against them. Of course, they have chosen to impede free and fair elections, including by Trump naming a Republican donor with $75 million invested in shipping companies and postal service contractors as Postmaster General, where he has already worked to slow down the mail, gut management, and try to raise the rates municipalities may have to pay to bulk mail ballots to voters (from $0.20 to $0.55). The rate increase may not be enacted, but the threat of it may be enough for some municipalities to not even try to send out ballots, which may be all it takes to give Trump the electoral college win he so needs to avoid all sorts of legal repercussions if he leaves the White House in January 2021 instead of 2025.

David Perdue

Those Republicans who have used their ability to legislate to remain in power in order to enrich themselves continue to reveal that they care only about doing more of the same. How ironic that they can say out loud that the $600 weekly unemployment enhancement has led to the unemployed bringing home more than they were paid to do actual work while it doesn’t occur to them that the problem with this is that those workers are not being paid a living wage in the first place, not that finally they’re able to buy food and pay rent without having to choose one over the other. Their assertion that the additional unemployment payment is what is keeping people from returning to work is ludicrous – people aren’t returning to work because businesses aren’t reopening with the virus running rampant throughout the country. The fact that many of those who are making this ridiculous statement are millionaires makes it even more infuriating.

Moscow Mitch

They refuse to do anything to benefit the citizens of this country who have been systemically and systematically stripped of what little they may have managed to squirrel away for a rainy day with regressive taxes, onerous regulations for safety net programs that punish those most in need for bogus offenses and withholding desperately needed financial and nutritional assistance that actually serves to prop up the economy at large by providing a lifeline that will be redistributed by those who cannot otherwise remain fed and housed in these perilous times. The refuse to address this because it isn’t a factor in their own lives, or the lives of those around them. Few if any have ever needed to apply for any kind of assistance from the government, and they refuse to consider what that really feels like to those of us who have been required by circumstances out of our control to do so.

Chuck Grassley

Citizens have for decades fallen for the Republican’s lies and voted against their own best interests by putting them into office, in large part because they believed that the ‘other’ (the ‘welfare queen’, for example) was robbing them of benefits rightly theirs. The right-wing media bubble has successfully stuffed their heads with the bullshit Republicans have spewed for decades, and without taking any time to consider whether those things were actually true, they let their own prejudices and pain drive them to re-elect these scumbags who then use their elected positions to continue their assault on our democracy and our ability to make an actual living wage.

How many more must die, whether by Covid-19 or despair, before those still willing to vote for Trump realize they’ve been duped for generations? How many must be made homeless by the Republicans refusal to authorize real financial support required because their leader and his administration have so incompetently refused to deal with the pandemic before the 38% who still believe that Trump is doing a good job at anything other than enriching himself see how wrong they’ve been?

Sadly, I think that the answer is going to prove to be all 38% of them.

“Congress” Isn’t ‘Doing Nothing’

Grim Reaper Mitch McConnell – Happy to watch millions suffer

I read the Washington Post every day on my Kindle, and every time I come across an article like the one in Monday’s edition by Erica Werner and Seung Min Kim with the headline “Congress is doing what it does best: Nothing. Meanwhile, coronavirus ravages the country and the economy stalls” it makes me so mad. The entire article is based on the premise that the cause for the delay in another relief bill is that ‘bipartisan urgency’ has faded, which is disingenuous if not a baldfaced lie.

Nowhere in this article do the writers mention that the HEROES Act was passed by the Democratically-led House in mid-May and sent to the Senate, where Mitch McConnell sat on it while continuing to focus on approving judges. Not until July 28 did the Republicans in the Senate even attempt to come up with their own plan, which somehow found billions of dollars for construction of a new FBI building a block from Trump’s Hotel as well as funds to replace the money Trump stole from the military to build his ’emergency wall’ but not to continue the $600 per week of enhanced unemployment benefits. Somehow, these old wealthy white men in the Republican Party see this as a problem, claiming that people who are making more money on unemployment won’t return to work, when the whole point is to avoid a repeat of the Great Depression. That $600 per week payment is mostly being put back into the economy by people who would be homeless, starving, and completely unable to live without it.

This article doesn’t mention that Mitch McConnell shut the Senate down for a long weekend, or that the House has had it’s August recess put on hold until the relief legislation is signed by the idiot in chief, President Stupid.

It would be so much less while also avoiding misleading the less informed in the public at large to be honest when writing articles like this. It isn’t Congress that’s doing nothing. It’s the Republicans and the administration that are doing nothing. The White House offering to extend the unemployment benefit for a week while they continue to dither and complain just puts things off another week. Nancy Pelosi isn’t stupid – she and the rest of the Democrats know that they cannot let the Senate Republicans have their way in this legislation, because their goal is to withhold as much help from the rest of us as possible. This, from (mostly) old white men who are being paid $174,000 a year of our tax dollars are more worried about making sure that businesses can deduct 100% of their meal and entertainment costs from their taxes than they have ever been in making sure that the other 90% of us can remain fed and housed, with utilities on and healthcare coverage.

So please, when you see the next headline claiming that the entire legislative branch is not functioning in our best interest, take a minute and do a little research. It’s likely inaccurate, like so many ‘both sides’ arguments are, tossing the Democrats in the House who have been passing legislation for the past two years to benefit us in with the non-governing, non-legislating Republicans. They have decided that their only purpose is to approve right-wing, incompetent judges, cut taxes for themselves, their donors and corporations, and keep their minority hands gripped firmly on every lever of power then can. Every dollar cut from the social safety net has been tucked into their pockets.

Mitch McConnell and his cronies in the Senate have abrogated their responsibility to do their jobs – for which they continue to be paid $174,000 a year. Do you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth from them?

Trump is the Tyrant the Republicans Always Wanted

It’s hard to believe that it’s been under four years since Donald Trump, the least-qualified of all the candidates who ran for President in 2016, took over the office from Barack Obama; it feels more like forty because of the amount of constant, unrelenting stress his presidency has caused us all. Trump continues to use his reality show platform, trying to always leave us hanging with a “we’ll have to see” or “I can’t say yet”, as though he isn’t holding the highest office in the country, making his words matter exponentially more than they ever would have had he not been elected.

Trump and Barr appear to have decided that they can do anything they want until the election, aware that even the Democrats in the House cannot take the time to impeach Trump again; between now and November 3rd it’s more appropriate for the House to perform investigations that can provide further information about the criminality of this lawless administration. The entire electorate needs to be spurred to vote them all out by outrage, and that’s only going to happen by forcing this out into the media every day until then.

Why would anyone be surprised to find out that there was an appropriation inserted into the Senate Republicans HEALS Act to provide $1.75 billion to rebuild The J. Edgar Hoover FBI building in downtown Washington. In a bill purported to be providing desperately needed financial help to Americans being pummeled by the dysfunctional Trump administration, Trump’s own financial future of course had to rear it’s ugly head. Trump scuttled a plan ten years in the making to relocate the FBI headquarters to the suburbs outside the city a year into his tenure, because he knew that the current location, a block from his own hotel, would likely provide a competitor with a location that would negatively affect his own bottom line. Since everything Trump does from the Oval Office is intentionally designed to benefit him and his wallet, his attempt to push this project forward is just another of his schemes to see how much money he can make from the Presidency.

This is banana republic, tin pot dictatorship shit. Everything is paid for by the taxpayers, while the benefits go into the dear leader’s bank account. The family members of the dear leader get to run stuff they have no experience or knowledge to run, making a salary paid by taxpayers, for a job they are unable to perform under the best of circumstances. The only thing Jared Kushner is qualified to do is being Mr. Ivanka Trump.

The closer we get to the election, the more desperate and despotic Trump becomes. It seems that even his ‘positive thinking’ isn’t doing enough to convince him that all the polls showing Biden ahead by double digits in a majority of states and actually competitive in formerly reliable red states. Now, it seems Trump has decided that his next best option is to use the office of the president and its bully pulpit to trash talk mail-in ballots as significantly flawed and likely to be fraudulent. He continues to use diversion to deflect the media from bad news, and there’s so much bad news and diversions flying through the diaspora that it’s impossible to remember what we were outraged over just a few weeks ago.

Remember the leaked report from the intelligence agencies that Russia was paying bounties to the Taliban in Afghanistan for dead coalition fighters? What about the children still being detained in Covid-19 infested privately-run detention facilities? Or the ‘very fine people on both sides’ in Charlottesville? It’s impossible to maintain the level of outrage that each individual outrageous act by the Republican Party and this administration without it negatively affecting ourselves and those around us, but that doesn’t mean we can just brush it aside and move on. We have only one chance to try to get this thing under control before this entire experiment in our democratic republic comes crashing down around us.

The Republican Party has for decades been looking for someone to use for their own nefarious purposes, and Trump, who lacks the insight, intelligence, comprehension, compassion and a decency to see what a tool he’s been for the Republicans. They, on the other hand, so craven in their greed for money and power, didn’t mind at all that they were pushing this malignant narcissist into the most powerful position in the world (at least in was in 2016) because they somehow thought they could control him and tamp down his worst tendencies. They thought that Trump would become ‘presidential’ once in office; magical thinking of the highest order. They still think that their own political narrative is the ‘true way’ for the country to be run, and continue to do everything in their power to force their religious beliefs down the throats of the rest of us, despite the “freedom of religion” (or freedom FROM religion) written into the Constitution.

Now that the Republicans have the tyrant they always wanted, they’ve discovered to their chagrin that this puppy has been shitting in their closets the entire time he’s been in office. Trump has been so ‘positive in the negative direction’ that he is now dragging down the reelection chances of Senators who thought their future political careers were assured. Susan Collins, so ‘concerned’ and certain that Trump ‘learned his lesson’ after being impeached and is now the least liked person in the Senate, Lindsay Graham, Corey Gardner, David Perdue, Joni Ernst, Steve Daines and Thom Tillis, all of them Trump sycophants and bootlickers, now finds their seats jeopardized by their attachment to Trump. It’s sad that those are the only ones, but the 34% of those polled who still live in the right-wing media bubble and believe Trump is doing a good job with Covid-19 live somewhere, and I guess they live where the other Senate Republican seats are safe.

Change can only happen if we vote them all out, up and down the ballot. The Republican Party must be crushed out of existence, never to get their greedy hands on the reins of power again. We have to reform elections (requiring presidential candidates to release ten years of taxes in order to be on the ballot), election financing (to level the playing field remove the influence of the wealthy and corporations), norms previously honored by those in power that have been shown by Trump to be easily ignored by the unscrupulous and so many other things I can’t even think anymore. The only way any of those things will get done is to remove Republicans from the picture.

We have no time left to waste.