Manchin, Sinema Prefer NOT to Defend Our Democracy

It is impossible to comprehend why Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema believe that keeping the filibuster, designed specifically to prevent Black Americans from being treated equally, is more important than preserving our democracy itself.

Their claims that the filibuster somehow fosters bipartisanship are based on fantasies, or distant memories of what once was but is no more. Since 2008, the Republican Party (while providing almost no legislation that benefits the many rather than the few) has made it nearly impossible for Democrats elected by the majority to follow through on the mandates that those elections had given them to do the peoples’ work. Moscow Mitch has said repeatedly in public that his “Number one goal is to block the Democrats’ agenda”.

Joe’s and Kyrsten’s continued insistence that bipartisanship is made better by keeping the filibuster makes me wonder if they’re on drugs – or maybe they’re both suffering from some type of dementia or delirium – because the Republicans have made it clear they no longer have any interest in preserving our democracy as we have always known it to be, and have no intention of doing anything that will reflect well on the Biden administration.

Not only have Republicans lost all interest in actually governing or legislating for the good of the country or the people within, they are now hellbent on returning to power BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY, including by extreme gerrymandering and passing laws giving them the ability to overrule the voters if they lose. Republicans in 43 states are passing voter suppression laws specifically targeting voters of color and those in areas known to vote Democratic.

Despite Biden winning the election, most elected Republicans continue to spread lies about the 2020 election results in order to undermine our entire election system and enable states led by Republicans to steal future elections. Those few willing to speak the truth are being pushed out of the party (although many like Liz Cheney continue to insist they still support the Republican Party and “election integrity”), and the new ones coming in to take the place of those leaving the party are more extreme and even less likely than McConnell to “reach across the aisle”. People of the caliber of Marjorie Taylor Green or Lauren Boebert have no interest in anything other than spreading their conspiracy theories and increasing their visibility on social media.

Joe Manchin has capitulated to the Kochs, insisting that preventing Republican-led legislatures from passing voter suppression laws and election rigging is “partisan” because there are no Senate Republicans who will vote for it. To call this circular reasoning gives circles a bad name; NO bill will get Republican support if it is in any way going to derail their states’ plans to prevent “urban” voters from having their voices heard. Kyrsten Sinema, with her misplaced belief in allowing the minority to obstruct everything seems, frankly, clueless, and needs simply to be voted out of office and replaced by someone with some common sense and a realistic view of what is actually going on in this country.

These two are providing cover for other Democratic Senators who aren’t ready to do the right thing and eliminate (or at least reform) the filibuster to allow the things that they were elected into office for in the first place; because Sinema and Manchin are so loud and proud in their refusal, the others can hide their acquiescence to that view. They also allow the Republicans, who have no worries that Manchin might in fact be willing to consider something more drastic, to just stonewall everything the Democrats try to do. Then the Republicans can use the lack of progress under the Democrats in their attack ads, benefiting at the ballot box from their complete and utter abdication of their role as representatives of the people.

Joe Manchin Promises to Bring TEN Republicans to Our Side!

A review of Joe Manchin’s voting record reveals an old, white man who is against many of the things that Democrats stand for – Medicare for all, background checks for gun purchases, funding for SNAP/food stamps, sanctuary cities. He has voted for Brent Kavanaugh & Neil Gorsuch, Mike Pompeo, Scott Pruitt, Steve Mnuchin, Tom Price, Jeff Sessions & Rex Tiillerson.

Joe Manchin wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post declaring his unrelenting support for the filibuster. A holdover from Reconstruction and Jim Crow, the filibuster has been used by the Republicans not as a means of fostering debate but rather to obstruct almost all the legislation that the Obama administration hoped to enact to help the American people. The Senate, no longer ‘the world’s most deliberative body’, has instead become an example of how the minority can hold the majority hostage.

Debate requires people actually speaking about a subject. The filibuster as it now exists does not require anyone to do anything that remotely resembles debating. Instead, they threaten to filibuster and then demand that the majority find ten of them to end the no-debate debate. What a joke!

If Joe Manchin believes that the filibuster is beneficial to the Senate, and the population as a whole, then he needs to explain how it benefits the majority at all. Even when the Democrats don’t have a single vote majority in the senate, those senators who were elected to represent Democratically led states represent millions more citizens than those senators elected from states like North and South Dakota (there shouldn’t be two Dakotas), the Carolinas (ditto), the Virginias (same), Wyoming, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa and all the other states with low population density.

It is now obvious that the Senate is no longer able to function as a governing body while the filibuster is available to give the minority an oversized ability to block and obstruct legislation that is favored by a majority of the population. It is no longer realistic to expect that Republicans in the Senate have any desire or intention to do that which benefits the populace because most of these things are in direct opposition to the desires of the donors who support the Republicans.

Audio tape from a phone call from an operative from Koch Industries has been leaked revealing how desperately they’re trying to find some way to make HR1, the bill introduced in the House to strengthen our election system and eliminate dark money from politics, unpalatable to the citizens, and they can’t find anything. The bill is intended to keep the wealthy from influencing the outcome of elections, allowing all of us to donate small dollar amounts that are then matched 6 to 1 by the government with funds obtained by fees assessed against the criminal and civil fines and penalties or settlements with banks and corporations who break the law. Koch Industries doesn’t understand why everyone agrees that keeping dark money out of politics and having campaigns financed by the people is a better way of doing things than what we have now.

If Joe Manchin really believes that the filibuster needs to stay as it is, then maybe it’s time for him to consider going into another line of work. Given his support for the Keystone XL pipeline and other fossil-fuel industry behemoths, maybe he can get a job working for them. At least then, no one would expect he would do what’s best for the rest of us.

Not everyone wants to live in a state with the lowest minimum wage. If Mr. Manchin thinks that $15 an hour is too high an hourly wage, he should explain to us how he expects those making the lowest wages to survive and feed themselves and their families. Joe doesn’t want student loans to have lowered interest rates. He’s voted to take away funding from nonprofits offering family planning, reproductive healthcare and abortions, to decrease funding for food stamps, and to defund Planned Parenthood.

Manchin voted against: allowing the Social Security Administration to implement restrictions of gun purchases for Social Security recipients who have been deemed incompetent to manage their finances; sanctuary cities; amending the system for background checks for gun purchases; increased funding of fresh fruits and vegetables for elementary students; and importing FDA-approved drugs from Canada.

It is time for the Senate to change. Senators are being paid $175,000 per year, and Joe Manchin’s net worth as of 2021 is somewhere between $3.4 – $11.8 million. He, and his Senate colleagues, are doing almost nothing to earn the money they’re being paid, given the gridlock that the right started under Newt Gingrich and perfected under Moscow Mitch. If the Senate as currently constructed cannot be changed to make it function for the people, then maybe it’s time to do something differently. What that would be is above my pay grade, but it’s clear to most of us that what we have now is broken.

Joe Manchin – if you want those of us on the outside to believe that those of you in the Senate give two shits about our lives and our children’s futures, then DO SOMETHING!!!!

Bring ten Republicans over to vote with the Democrats for things that there is overwhelming support for all over the country. Get them to vote for Biden’s infrastructure bill, instead of quibbling about the definition of infrastructure (which, per the OED, is the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise). Republicans have for decades underfunded or ignored crumbling infrastructure all over the country in order to give their donors tax cuts.

Republicans are morally and philosophically incapable of putting the good of the country ahead of their own craven partisan needs – Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, to name but a few – and clearly do not give a damn about the country as a whole. What they do care about is their own petty grievances and their perceived victimhood. They refuse to acknowledge that their white supremacist worldview is wrong, and will continue to make out those of us who are pushing for change as the ‘other’ in order to fire up the worst of their base. They are culpable for the insurrection on January 6, 2021, and all need to be held accountable for their behavior.

Are these the people that Joe Manchin believes should have the power to force lengthy debates? Those who are content spreading the Big Lie and using it to support sweeping voter suppression laws all over the country? The same ones who spout Russian disinformation in Senate committee hearings? Those who voted to overturn our election?

This is what Joe Manchin says he wants – allow the minority to prevent the majority from passing legislation poll after poll has shown is overwhelmingly supported by the majority of the people. That is just not acceptable. Someone needs to tell Joe Manchin that what HE wants doesn’t matter. It’s what WE THE PEOPLE WANT that needs to be honored. And WE THE PEOPLE want our government to work for all of us, not just for the privileged or the well-connected.

We all know there are exactly zero Senate Republicans with the guts to do what’s best for the country. Joe Manchin has got an uphill climb drawing ten of them out from the dark side. I wish him luck, but I won’t hold my breath.

SNAP Benefits Shouldn’t Be Limited to Food

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

In 1990, I was 31 years old and had been married for 11 years to my high school sweetheart (my first attempt at trying to get a man to meet his own potential despite his lack of interest in the whole project!). We lived in a large single home in the suburbs across the river from Philadelphia in South Jersey, with two kids and two dogs. By that year, I realized that the man I married was NOT someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and I told him to leave in March. He finally did so that June, and I got my friend’s sister and her toddler to move in as my roommate. She worked days, I worked nights, so perfect, right? Not so much.

Anyway, one thing led to another and I found myself in the unacceptable position of needing to apply for public benefits – food stamps, welfare and Medicaid – for myself and my children. My father took me there to fill out the application (no internet in 1990, sadly) despite my distaste of the whole idea (I had my own prejudices about ‘assistance’), because I was entitled to it. He was right – I wasn’t able to work because I was recuperating from surgery and my estranged husband (in rehab after a drunk-driving accident that caused him some serious frontal lobe damage) wasn’t working either, leaving us with no actual income.

I was way more fortunate than the majority of women in similar circumstances – single parents without financial support from the noncustodial parent – because my parents were fairly well-off. In addition, due to a legal settlement, and a bargain ‘fixer-upper’ of a house, I had no mortgage payment. Unfortunately, this did not mean I lived there for free – real estate taxes, utilities, cable and such put my monthly expenses conservatively around $1,500 before food. Adding groceries to that total for just myself and two young kids (7 and 10) brought that total to around $2,000.

When I was approved by the state for assistance, I was granted Medicaid for myself and my children (limited to those providers who agreed to accept the meager fees paid for their services) along with cash assistance/welfare and food stamps. The monthly cash payment I received was $475, and in food stamps, $256, about 30% of my monthly bills and about half of my grocery expenses. Of course, those grocery expenses include more than just food.

The non-edible things purchased at the grocery store are (in large part) also necessities and should be included in the benefits. Who among us can manage without laundry products, paper products, feminine hygiene products, health and beauty aids and cleaning products? How much of the average American’s grocery budget includes non-edibles like toilet paper, tissues, etc.?

When I pointed this out to the welfare worker I was assigned to, I was told that this was the purpose of the cash benefit. How I was supposed to pay my bills after I used my cash benefit for my non-edible groceries was not her problem. The only reason I wasn’t forced to sell my home in order to live off the proceeds was because of my parents’ financial support.

It is long over due for the food assistance system to be updated to reflect that actual needs of real families, including the fact that the least expensive food items are also those least healthy for us to eat. Fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins are significantly more expensive than the non-nutritious prepared foods available in the middle aisles of most grocery stores, and produce is almost nonexistent in food deserts where the only ‘grocery’ store is a dollar store.

Once again, we have to ask ourselves – if people who work 40 hours or more every week for a minimum wage job require government assistance for food, housing, healthcare and other necessities, why aren’t their employers required to raise their pay to a living wage?

Taxpayers shouldn’t be required to supplement poverty-level wages, to make workers whole; employers should be forced to provide a minimum living wage that is above the poverty level. Put the burden for this disparity where it belongs; on the companies that pay too little. Republicans (along with Sinema and Manchin) who refuse to address this do not deserve their place in power. Period.

This is Who the Republicans Are

My Republican friends have to explain to me why they aren’t outraged by the hundreds of voter suppression laws being passed by Republican legislatures in 43 states across the country. They must convince me that their silence about this isn’t a sign of their own complicity in this “Jim Crow in new clothes”, to quote Senator Raphael Warnock (D, Ga).

Over the short history of this country, it has been understood that political parties attract voters by virtue of their platforms, which were usually designed to show how much the party plans to do to help their voters when they are elected to office. When a political party loses an election, those in charge of said party have historically reviewed their platform and met with their voters to ascertain what changes could be made to attract more people to vote for them in the next election. Until now.

In 2021, Republicans have concluded that they cannot maintain their minority hold on government if all those eligible to vote are permitted to do so. They instead believe that making it as hard as possible for those they believe will be voting against them to cast a ballot is their only means of remaining in power, and have wasted no time in putting every roadblock they can in front of their own citizens, particularly those with Black and Brown skin.

Those in the Senate who purport to be liberals have to stand up for what is right, and that means immediately doing whatever is necessary to bring SR1 to the floor for a vote. Because Republicans have chosen voter suppression to platform modification, they will do what has worked for them since 2008 – invoke the word ‘filibuster’ followed by a demand for a 60-vote majority to pass any legislation. There is really no other way to go – the filibuster must be not simply changed,, but eliminated. Claims that the filibuster permits the minority to obstruct legislation they do not like and therefore “be careful what you wish for” is proof that the filibuster is designed as a means of obstruction.

A functioning democracy is always at risk of having a reversal of the party in power; that’s pretty much the point, right? In the United States, the minority has been given way too much power to stand in the way of majority rule, which is supposed to be the way our democracy works. While it is reasonable to allow those in the minority to express their opinion about legislation they disagree with, it is ridiculous to allow the party that lost all three branches of government in the last election to decide which legislation is going to pass and which is going to die because they don’t like it.

In fact, Republicans have used this ability to prevent Democratic administrations from enacting anything that the Democrats were elected into to office to initiate. Why is the losing party able to hold the winning team hostage by denying them the mandate they won in an election simply by stamping their feet and plugging their ears while repeating “La, la, la, la, la, I can’t hear you….”? The Senate, formerly considered ‘the world’s most deliberative body’ has been transformed into a two-headed monster; the one on the left has the only functioning brain, while the one on the right is a whiny little bitch.

The citizens of this country spoke loud and clear last November. We voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to lead us out of the mess that Trump and decades of Republican obstructionism brought us to. The Republicans need to get over the fact that they lost and deal with the mandate the American People gave to the Biden Administration. If they cannot do that, they should be drummed out of existence as a political force for decades to come, if not forever.

Joe Manchin (D, WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D, AZ) need to put on their grown-up pants and stop acting as though the Republicans have a shit left to give about anything other than their donors and their stock portfolios. If Senators Manchin and Sinema give a damn about the American people, they’ll stop pretending that the filibuster is anything other than a holdover from Reconstruction used to stymie any attempt at civil rights. Why do they and most on the right find it unacceptable to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour? Have any of them tried today to live on $290 per week (at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr for a 40 hour work week)? That income may allow a high school student to put some funds aside towards college, but there is no independently living adult who can survive on under $1,200 per month in total income. Of course, those who are only making $7.25 per hour have the opportunity to apply for government subsidies for food, rent, heat (in the Northeast) and cash assistance, but why are the taxpayers forced to lift these folks out of poverty instead of requiring their employer to pay them a living wage?

The social safety net programs have been in the sights of Republicans for as long as I can remember, and it’s particularly galling since many of the working poor who need these programs to survive would be lifted out of poverty if they were simply paid a wage that met their cost of living. Why do so many in the Senate refuse to acknowledge that the below-poverty-level federal minimum wage is directly responsible for every dollar of social safety net funds needed to bring those families to a livable income?

No one working a full forty hour week should need government assistance to survive. Allowing businesses to pay so little to their employees benefits the business owners at the expense of their workers. Requiring all businesses to pay their employees a real, living wage lifts everyone up, freeing up trillions of tax dollars to fund infrastructure, climate remediation, green energy, healthcare and so much more. We all do better when we all do better.

Of course, many smaller businesses working with a smaller profit margin may be required to raise prices, and those who are the least profitable may end up closing, but we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Not all businesses are destined for success, and holding down workers’ pay for the exclusive benefit of the business owners perpetuates disparities that have effectively transferred massive wealth from the many to the few. The fact is, none of the people currently taking up seats in the Senate have any relevant experience within their own lives that compares with trying to survive on too little income week after week, month after month, year after year, without any reasonable expectation of a change until you die or retire, often on too little Social Security income. Apparently, Republican Senators (along with the two Democrats noted above) no longer have any capacity to empathize with those less fortunate than themselves. They lack any real ability to fathom what it’s like to live in a world that doesn’t include a huge inheritance or the good fortune of having your way paved by your predecessors without any input or talent on your part. These character flaws make them the wrong people to represent the vast majority of their own electorate. Their ivory towers have blinded them to what it’s like for the rest of us down her on the ground.

In order to lift the folks at the bottom of the income ladder up, those at the other end of the scale have to pay their fair share in taxes. Trillions of dollars in tax revenue are lost to loopholes, tax shelters and both legal and illegal tax avoidance by the top 0.1%. It is no longer tenable that the majority of IRS tax audits focuses on those claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Why not focus all that energy on those filers most likely to bring in the most in taxes, fees and penalties? Surely auditing one fraudulently filed 1040 by someone with billions in income would be more financially beneficial to the IRS than auditing thousands of low-income filers who did their own taxes and made an honest mistake?

Republicans have used their obstructionism in the Senate as proof that the Democrats can’t do anything when they’re in charge, convincing the slimmest of ‘majorities’ with the help of the tilted electoral college and Senate to put them back in charge. Once there, they prove again that they lack the intellectual and moral authority to actually govern, preferring instead to use rhetoric to keep their base engaged while doing nothing to benefit the citizens of the country. Power for the sake of power, as a means of maintaining power without regard for the will of the people, or majority rule. Republicans have gone all in on the Big Lie, and they’re using it to do everything possible to prevent anyone they deem undeserving from casting a ballot, especially people of color. They have to obstruct because they know that the people will keep Democrats in charge because Democrats get things done.

This is who the Republicans are. Racist to the core. Interested only in themselves. Those who chose to remain within their ranks need to acknowledge that this is their underlying reason for being there; taxes, abortion and guns notwithstanding.

Lies Are NOT “Unsubstantiated Claims”

I have been a Kindle subscriber to The Washington Post since 2016, and I read it nearly every day, often checking back later, to keep up with the dumpster fire that has been the last 4 years. Over that time, the media has tried to call Trump’s lies what they are, but it’s still not happening consistently. Today, I started to read Jose A. Del Real’s article The turbocharged battle over truth is just beginning and was struck immediately by:

“President Trumps stands as a singular figure in American history for his willingness to entertain conspiracy theories from the Oval Office, and none has been more damaging or far reaching than his unsubstantiated claim (boldness added) that the 2020 election was rigged against him.”

Jose, please call a spade a damn shovel. What Trump is doing is not an “unsubstantiated claim”, it’s an outright lie told to gin up support among his base supporters. It’s how he keeps all of us tuning in again tomorrow to see what happens next. His psycopathy is the best combination of all the worst traits whose reality TV exposure and experience provided a deadly combination that has led to where we are now.

Please, mainstream media – words really do matter. Couching Trump’s lies euphemistically as anything other than a falsehood gives them cover. Do not legitimize an illegitimate act; call a spade a damn shovel already.

Remember as well – Trumpism and the Republican Party are one and the same.

My Outrage Hiatus Has Ended

My blood pressure began rising during the 2015-2016 Presidential primaries, and I was put on my first antihypertensive medication in 2016. I was confident when it first started to go up that it was related to Trump and the election, and nothing that has happened between then and now has changed my opinion. This has been made more worrisome as my doctor first increased that first medication dose and frequency, then added two additional blood pressure meds before convincing me last month that I also needed to add a diuretic to my daily regimen.

Doc had tried on two prior occasions to add the diuretic, and I balked at the idea because, well, I’m 62 and gave vaginal birth twice, with the bigger baby weighing 8 lbs, 11.5 oz., and women who have carried pregnancies and birthed babies have much greater likelihood of developing some type of urinary incontinence when they are older, particularly if they no longer have a partner (because it really is true if you don’t use it, you lose it!). I have been dealing with what is euphemistically referred to as “stress incontinence” (sneezing, laughing, coughing can all cause some urine leakage) or “urge incontinence” (you lose the ability to hold your urine once you’re aware of the urge to urinate), and I wasn’t at all willing to make it even harder to deal with, however, at the urging of my PCP I finally agreed to start a low-dose diuretic in help lower by my blood pressure.

So now that Biden and Harris won the election, has my blood pressure dropped? Sure, a bit, but I don’t think it’s due to the election. After all, Trump and the Republicans continue to spew their conspiracy theories to the right-wing media bubble, and it all becomes this big circle jerk. It’s hard to believe that Ben Sasse, (R), Nebraska, is one of the reality-based Republican Senators, but his open letter to his constituents tells the stark truth – that all these Republicans know that Trump lost the election to Biden, but in order to attract Trump’s cult base to their future campaigns, they’re willing to destroy the democracy. For their own political benefit, they are all in on the undermining of our electoral process.

I know that what we think we all want more than anything is a return to what we had before Covid-19 spread, but certainly all of us know that what we had before was decades past what we think of as “normal”. The wealth inequity has grown exponentially worse since the 1960’s, racism has not gone away, and right-wing extremism has been normalized. With these as the new normal, how can we possibly want to go back to that?

We got to where we are because of multiple Republican administrations that legislated the biggest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in our lifetimes while simultaneously shredding the social safety net to disproportionately harm minorities and people of color. They have specifically legislated to ban more than half of the population from deciding for themselves what they want to do with their bodies, denying reproductive and gender equity whenever and where ever they could. In 2020, they supported and lied for the most corrupt president and administration in the history of the country, refusing to respond to a worldwide pandemic on behalf of the public health and public good, spreading baldfaced lies and denying the science on mitigation efforts while many of them watched their own stock portfolios increase in value. They refused for months to consider additional financial stimulus for the millions of our fellow Americans who, through no fault of their own (largely due to Trump’s callous indifference and inability to perform any of the essential duties of the presidency) lost their jobs in industries that cannot come back until enough of us are vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. The Republicans under McConnell instead tied their possible vote for another stimulus to a blanket corporate liability waiver for not just covid-related problems, but actually any kind of lawsuit from employees or customers, which of course hurts all of us while protecting the rich and corporations from the consequences of their own behavior.

While we wait for the results of the Georgia Senate runoff elections, I have to keep hoping that we will win both seats. I hope that everyone who has internet access has listened to the tape that the Washington Post obtained of Trump spending an hour of his time on Saturday trying to extort the Georgia Secretary of State to commit election fraud in order to give Trump a fraudulent win of the state’s electoral votes. There is only one explanation for that entire call if Trump wants to avoid being criminally charged, and that is to have himself declared mentally incompetent and removed from office using the 25th Amendment. If he refuses to acquiesce to this, insisting that he doesn’t lack capacity and knew that what he was doing was wrong, then his intention cannot be denied and he therefore meets the legal threshold for, at the minimum, grand jury indictment.

Every one of Trump’s enablers, including Senators, Representatives and all of those who have participated in his administration without telling the truth about what was going on until their books were published, must be held to account. These people are right-wing extremists and as such should have no place in a democratic government. Their obvious refusal to stand up against all the things that this administration has done over these longest four years of our lives deems them one and all ineligible to hold any elected office anywhere. Period, full stop. These are the elected officials whose loyalty to Trump plainly matters so much more than any oath they took to uphold the Constitution.

Senators vowing to attempt to disenfranchise millions of voters, including some of their own:

Tommy Tuberville (AL), Kelly Loeffler (GA), Mike Braun (IN), Roger Marshall (KS), John Neely Kennedy (LA), Josh Hawley (MO), Steve Daines (MT), James Lankford (OK), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Bill Haggerty (TN), Ted Cruz (TX), Ron Johnson (WI) and Cynthia Lummis (WY)

House Representatives (by state)

Alabama – Mo Brooks, Jerry Carl, Mike Rogers, Barry Moore, Robert Aderholt

Arizona – Andy Biggs, Paul Gosa

California – Mike Garcia, Kevin McCarthy

Colorado – Lauren Boebert, Doug Lamborn

Florida – Matt Gaetz, Byron Donalds, John Rutherford, Bill Posey, Brian Mast, Scott Franklin

Georgia – Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jody Hice, Andrew Clyde, Barry Loudermilk

Idaho – Russ Fulcher

Indiana – Mike Braun, Jim Banks, Jackie Walorski

Kansas – Roger Marshall, Ron Estes, Tracey Mann, Lake LaTurner

Louisiana – Clay HIggins

Maryland – Andy Harris

Michigan – Lisa McClain, Jack Bergman, Tim Walberg

Mississippi – Steven Palazzo

Missouri – Sam Graves, Vicky Hartzler, Billy Long, Jason Smith

Montana – Steve Daines

Nebraska – Adrian Smith

New Jersey – Jeff Van Drew

New Mexico – Yvette Herrell

New York – Elise Stefanik ***Note that this idiot is the only Democrat to sign on to this coup attempt.

North Carolina – Madison Cawthorn, Ted Budd, David Rouzer, Richard Hudson, Greg Murphy

Ohio – Jim Jordan, Bob Gibbs, Warren Davidson, Bill Johnson

Oklahoma – Markwayne Mullin

Oregon – Cliff Bentz

Pennsylvania – John Joyce, Dan Meuser, Glenn “GT” Thompson, Mike Kelly, Lloyd Smucker, Guy Reschenthaler, Fred Keller, Scott Perry

South Carolina – Jeff Duncan, Ralph Norman, Joe Wilson, William Timmons

Tennessee – Bill Hagerty, Chuck Fleishmann, Mark Green, Diana Harshbarger, Scott DesJarlais

Texas – Lance Gooden, Ronny Jackson, Louie Gohmert, Brian Babin, Randy Weber, Pete Sessions, August Pfluger, Jodey Arrington

Utah – Burgess Owens, Chris Steward

Virginia – Bob Good, Rob Wittman

All of them should be shunned for the remainder of their public lives, removed from office and denied any ability to seek office forever.

Remember their names.

Bittersweet

For only the second time in my life, today I was reduced to actual sobbing after it was announced that Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States. Unlike 2016, however, today my tears were those of relief that the era of Trump as president is almost over, that soon I will no longer be under a constant level of anxiety and stress worrying about what awful thing the president was going to do to the country and the planet in order to enrich himself. I actually felt lighter after I heard the news, as though a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

My tears were tinged with a not insignificant amount of sadness because more than 70 million of my fellow citizens (7 million more than voted for him in 2016!), despite the unending disaster that has been the Trump administration, were still fully supportive of him and the Republican enablers down ballot. There will be many in the media who will tap dance around the reasons for that support, especially given the votes of Cuban-Americans and Venezuelan-Americans in Miami Dade County, but there are two underlying conditions that provide all the proof I need to know that a combination of misogyny and racism is what draws them to him like moths to a flame.

The Republican Party (which many insist on referring to as ‘Trumpism’) long ago gave up any pretext that it was interested in the legislating or debating of anything beyond the appointment of right-wing judges, deregulating their donors’ industries, and maintaining their hold on power by any means necessary. Right now, the future of the Senate remains in flux pending the results of two run-off elections in the state of Georgia for the seats currently occupied by David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both Trump toadies who have no business in government.

My 38 year old daughter, who with her boyfriend recently moved 1,500 miles away to Florida and just announced that they’re pregnant with my first grandbaby to replace the theoretical one whose future I’ve been so freaked out over. The texts, postcards and letters I sent to people all over the country were written with all the grandchildren in mind, the ones whose future the Republicans have continued to trash in their wanton destruction of anything that remotely resembles the democracy as we were told it was designed. We are now at a place where we cannot afford to sit back and savor the Biden/Harris victory because we have another election that is nearly as important as the one we have just won.

Georgia was in the unique position of having both Senatorial seats on the ballot this year, and both of those elections are now going to a run-off in January. With Trump off the ticket and no longer there to boost the base, both Democratic candidates, John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, have a higher likelihood of success on January 5, 2021. Our volunteer and financial efforts should be focused on these two races between now and then in order to gain the majority in the Senate (with the addition of the Vice-President’s vote) and castrate Moscow Mitch. When the only strategy the Republicans have is to obstruct every piece of legislation the Democrats create, there is only one party that benefits, and that’s the Republican and its donor class. The rest of us – all Americans, and all equally deserving of a government that puts the needs of the people over and above their own – must step up and do whatever we can to ensure that the Democrats take Senate in January and bring the awful era of McConnell as the arbiter of legislation comes to an end.

I’m going to enjoy this win today; tomorrow is the first day of the fight for the Senate. After that, we have to address the right-wing media bubble, because that’s where those 70 million who still support Trump get all their information. It’s not ever going to be possible to have any kind of discussion if only one side of the argument uses facts while the other side spews disinformation and conspiracy theories. Republicans and their media conflate freedom of speech and of the press with saying whatever you want on media platforms regardless of the facts.

We all know one or more of those 70 million people; my nephew is one of them. I love him, but I don’t know if there’s anything we have in common anymore except our surname. What I find most disturbing is that I never would have expected my nephew, with a huge circle of diverse friends, would be so easily sucked in by the Trump cult. It makes me sad for the future of his children.

My family is fractured, something that started long before Trump ran for office in 2015. When my dad was on hospice before he died in 2008, my brother and sister-in-law brought him to live with them in their house for the last two months of his life. During that time, I made sure to go over there every week, and always took him to any appointments if they were scheduled on my days off. Never during those months did either my brother or his wife ever tell me that they needed me to do more, so it was a shock to me when I found out after my dad’s death (when I couldn’t do anything to change things) how they felt. Before Dad died, the whole family spent Thanksgiving at my house and Easter at my brother’s. Since then, we spend no holidays together and it’s unusual if we even speak to each other on holidays now. My brother will tell me how important it is for us to stay in touch since our family is so small, but I don’t feel like he means it anymore. I suppose anything is possible as long as we’re all still here.

Let’s keep our eyes on the prize.

Only Two More Days

I’ve always been the person who walks into the room and then forgets why I went there in the first place, sometimes requiring a trip back to where I came from to jog my memory. Recently, it has gotten so much worse that I was actually starting to worry that I might have early-onset dementia. I was getting myself set to bring up my concerns during my next visit with my PCP when I read an article in The Washington Post about election stress disorder, something that wasn’t even a thing until Trump.

A therapist based in Washington, DC coined the term during the 2016 election, describing those with the disorder as having “continual worry and obsession with the election that spills over into all areas of your life.” Based on that, I suspect that there are millions of us in the US who have been suffering from the disorder continuously since Trump won the 2016 election.

Two days before the end of voting, record numbers of votes have already been cast all over the country, and it is reasonable to believe that many of these early votes are for Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket. The Republicans, who have based their electoral strategy since the Nixon administration on voter suppression and disenfranchisement, continue to file lawsuits in battleground states in order to stop the counting of legitimately cast ballots because they believe those votes will be for their opponent. Within those states with Republican legislatures and governors, it is not inconceivable that they could fraudulently interfere with the counting of ballots and appoint electors based on their own personal preference rather than on the will of the people of their states.

What is wrong with the Republicans as fellow Americans? How is it acceptable to them that the leader of their party has been using the bully pulpit of the presidency to spread disinformation about the security of our elections with his claims about vote rigging if he loses? The answer to that question, as has been the case for most such questions over the last four years, is that they don’t care how much damage they do to the foundations of our democracy if the end result is their continued hold on the reins of power. Not only have they placed their party over the country, they have placed themselves as a minority over us all as sole arbiter of how our country should run for decades to come, regardless of the will of the majority.

The Republicans have taken core principles of our democracy and twisted them into a means of oppressing those with whom they disagree. Freedom of religion does not mean you can use your religious belief to discriminate against someone who doesn’t follow those beliefs, it means we are each free to choose whether or not to have a religious belief at all. Your freedom of religion ends where it begins to infringe on my freedom to not follow any religion.

Religion, specificially christianity, has gotten entirely too enmeshed within our government, and we have under Trump (likely the most godless hypocrite to hold the office) watched helplessly as his appointees have boldly admitted that their faith is a huge factor in their policy and decision making. Mike Pompeo and William Barr proudly profess their catholic faith as if the bible doesn’t instruct them to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ and to be a good samaritan and help those in need. They, like many who profess to be devout are actually using their supposed ‘faith’ as a way of diverting the attention from their naked desire for power, not the most ‘christian’ way to lead.

Not in my lifetime had I ever been forced to worry every day about what awful thing the president and his administration was going to do, until this incompetent, malignant narcissist was inaugurated in January, 2017. I don’t want to have to waste any more of my life freaked out over something over which I have absolutely no control on my own, because all it does is create a constant level of anxiety 24/7 which gets elevated every time Trump does something no other president would have ever considered doing.

When is the last time a president used his the power of the presidency to spread lies about mail in ballots? What president in modern history has promoted conspiracy theories that have led some to take up weapons in defense of fabricated children? What other president has refused to denounce white supremacists? Which of the previous 44 claimed that all media is ‘fake news’? How many others have used their presidency to line the pockets of their personal company with millions of dollars in taxpayer funds? Who are the others who tried to extort an ally in need for disinformation against his political opponent by withholding military assistance? Which of the former White House residents have used the pardon power to reward their friends and to keep them silent? And find me another president who did done nothing while more than a quarter million Americans died over eight months from any cause.

Donald Trump is the absolute worst person ever to hold the office of the president in the history of our country, period. While some of the ones early on were just terrible, they had much less power and were therefore able to hurt a smaller number of humans overall. Trump has had much more of an opportunity to spread his awfulness all over the world. Millions fleeing wars, famines, climate degradation and despots have been further tortured by this administration’s clamping shut the gates to the country. Not only is this in and of itself unamerican (given that we non-indigenous Americans are the result of our ancestors coming from somewhere else), it is cruel, short-sighted and xenophobic. Now with this pandemic, instead of the United States working with the world to find a vaccine and treatment, he’s decided to go it alone out of his selfish world-view that it’s all about him. His inability to understand that the United States isn’t the same as a sole proprietorship company and therefore cannot be treated as if it is his personal fiefdom.

I’ve mailed postcards and letters to voters in Florida, hoping to encourage them to vote, only to find out that my daughter’s boyfriend hasn’t even bothered to register to vote in Florida! I’m tired of hearing young people complain about the government they have while they refuse to participate and vote in order to change things. Don’t leave the voting to old people and then complain about what the old people voted for. The only way for us to get a more progressive government is to vote more progressive people into office, and you cannot count on old people to do that (full disclosure – I am 62 and have voted Democratic my entire life). Young people, who have more to lose, need to quit complaining and start doing something – find others who feel like you and get them to run for something. It’s past time for you to act like adults and do the hard work – get us old folks out of office and show us what we should have done years ago.

I know Joe Biden isn’t the one you wanted to vote for in 2020, but you have only two choices this election. You can vote for democracy and choose the Democratic ticket, or you can choose authoritarianism and vote for Trump. The two-party system sucks, but it is what it is; wasting your vote on a third-party candidate only benefits Trump. There is no excuse for anyone who truly believes that we can do better as a society and as a country to do anything other than vote for Joe Biden for President.

My Abortion Story

I had the unfortunate pleasure of developing my secondary sexual characteristics (breasts, wider hips, etc.) at a very early age. By 11 years old, I had already had my first period, which in an of itself was a traumatic experience. My mother knew what was coming, because she took me to the pediatrician to have him examine the ‘lumps’ that had developed on my chest that I can still hear him explain to her…

“They’re breasts, Mother,” Dr. Brogan (Dr. Louie to us kids) pronounced.

I can’t remember what they spoke about after that, but surely she knew that menarche came next, right? After all, she too was a woman, and clearly had gone through puberty to have successfully had me, so what did she expect would happen next?

In any event, I found myself bleeding while on the toilet (as most girls do), and tried to get a better look at things by sitting on the edge of the tub with my legs spread so I could look at myself while simultaneously opening the door and screaming for my mom “Mon! I’m bleeding!!!!”

My grandmother came up the stairs first, and she turned to look at me in the bathroom as her head cleared the level of the floor. When she saw me, she started laughing, which only made me angry, since I was convinced I was dying.

“I’m bleeding to death, and you’re laughing at me!”

With that as my introduction into my sexual maturity, it’s no wonder I was completely unprepared to deal with Barry Weiner, a guy I knew from seeing him on The Steel Pier in Atlantic City. Barry was friends with Fred Richman (who had substituted for my freshman biology teacher for the last week before summer vacation) on whom I had a huge crush. Fred of course saw a high school freshman when he looked at me, while Barry saw a young woman, and that is how I lost my virginity.

Like every other teenager everywhere, I thought I knew things I had no clue about, and that became a real problem when sex entered the mix. I thought it was cool to hang out with guys who were at the very least 5 or 6 years older than I was, which at that time was 14. I had NO IDEA what the hell I was getting myself into and simultaneously lacked the wherewithal to extricate myself from the situation gracefully.

So there I was, in this seedy hotel room on Pennsylvania Avenue where many of the people who worked on Steel Pier spent the summer, lying in Barry Weiner’s bed, naked, trying to talk my way out of having sex with him.

“I’m a virgin.” This had to be a turn-off, right?

Nope.

“I’m 14 years old.” Jail-bate, so this will make him back off, right?

Nope.

I know! “I have my period.” How gross! That’ll work, for sure!

Nope.

So instead just telling him no, I don’t want to do this, or just getting up, putting my clothes on and leaving like an adult, I thought I had to let him do what he wanted to do (another example of how girls were raised to do what they were told, not what they wanted). And there, on that bed where who knows what else happened before me, I lost my virginity to Barry Weiner, diver from Steel Pier and friend of Fred Richman.

Afterwards, I wondered what all the fuss was about over sex. I don’t think I even knew about orgasms, and for sure didn’t learn about them that day! I felt dirty and used, but decided that I had no one to blame for the entire experience but myself for getting into the situation in the first place, so I said nothing to my parents. I was so underwhelmed by the entire encounter that I decided then and there not to do it again until I was much older. By the time I started to date Donald, I had learned that telling boys I was a virgin was the best way to keep their hands out of my pants, so I told him that, too. For reasons I still don’t understand, my ‘friend’ Rick told him that I wasn’t a virgin, and Donald used that to wear me down. That, along with my awakening libido, was all that it took, and I was off to the races.

Donald and I had sex every chance we got, all of it unprotected and without any consideration of things like ovulation. Like most teenage girls, I refused to contemplate the possibility that my active sex life could result in a baby, certain that it wouldn’t happen to me. A few months later my period was late, and I’ll always be glad that my mother was paying attention and figured out that I was pretending to have my period.

My mom, who had more balls than most men of her age, didn’t let me maintain the charade. She had me make an appointment at Planned Parenthood, where I went on my way home from school for my first gynecological exam and pregnancy test. Although I knew I was pregnant that visit, I lied to my Mom, telling her the test was negative and I’d have to go back if I didn’t get my period in the next two weeks if I still didn’t get my period. I wanted a little time to think about things before my parents started to pressure me about it.

During those two weeks, I dreamed about how Donald and I would have the baby and live happily ever after. It didn’t take long before the reality of what was on the line became much clearer, as Donald made it very clear that he wasn’t going to take any responsibility for a fetus I literally could not have made without his input. I hadn’t yet made a decision the day my mom pointed out that I wouldn’t be able to be a teenager anymore, missing out on dances, my friends and hanging out on Steel Pier over the summer pregnant. Having it pointed out so starkly made my decision easy, so I walked to the phone and scheduled the procedure to terminate the pregnancy.

My mom tried to get Donald’s family to pitch in on the cost of the abortion, but his mother also felt he had no responsibility for the unwanted pregnancy his sperm had been crucial in creating.

My mom accompanied me to my appointment, sitting in the waiting room until I was released to go back home. I wasn’t traumatized by the procedure, which was over in just a few minutes, believing then as I do now that the products of conception prior to extra-uterine viability are not a separate living being and therefore have no ‘right’ to life as such. This is of course my personal opinion, one that I cannot force on anyone else.

I didn’t choose abortion because I wanted to kill my baby; I chose abortion because I didn’t want to have a baby at all at that time. The fetus that was removed from my uterus was not a baby; it was a clump of cells with a bit of electrical activity in the area that may have developed into a heart had the pregnancy continued. At 15 years old, the future for myself and that potential baby was statistically poor, and the life that I’ve led since that 1974 decision, including the children I have now, would likely have been very different, indeed.

I went on birth control after that abortion because I try to learn from my mistakes. I stopped oral contraceptives only twice, both times to have planned pregnancies. Eventually, I chose to have my tubes tied in order to avoid the possibility of getting pregnant again. In the year 2020, it is unacceptable that either elective abortions or birth control should be either controversial or something that the government has any business regulating or legislating. Reproductive healthcare is women’s healthcare, and no one other than each individual woman and her physician should be involved in any decision or choice.

The Republican’s hypocritical insistence on ramming through another right-wing ideologue preselected by Leonard Leo and The Federalist Society to maintain their minority hold on our courts and our rights for decades to come is unacceptable. This is their last, desperate attempt to ensure they can continue to force their religious beliefs onto those of us who do not believe what they do. It is made more reprehensible because they know that they have no reason to be worried that the rights they want to deny to the majority will be unavailable to their own wives/daughters/girlfriends because those with the cash can have whatever they want, while those with the most to lose and the least ability to pay are literally screwed.

Vote. Vote. Vote.

Vote as if your life depends on it.

Vote.

They Deserve Whatever Happens

I’ll admit it, without pretending to be remorseful.

When I heard that the Trumps and many in their circle are now positive for Covid-19, I cheered out loud. I know that this will offend some out there, and I couldn’t care less. The people who are offended by the schadenfreude are those who cheered while Trump pretended everything was fine, mocking the scientists and professionals who had the good sense to update their recommendations as more information became available, suggesting the widespread use of masks early on in this pandemic.

These are the same people who were encouraged by Trump as they stormed unmasked into various state governments armed with automatic weapons, complaining that their ‘rights’ were being violated by the Democratic governors in their states who had the audacity to issue orders specifically intended to keep the majority of citizens safe from the virus. This happened in large part because of the lies Trump continued to spew into the ether until his reckless behavior brought the virus home to roost. The Trump supporters who have steadfastly refused to wear masks in public, based in no small part on the Fox Spews circle jerk of disinformation that provides the majority of their ‘facts’, are now at the heart of a new superspreader event that apparently originated at The White House.

I know that those in the media who have reported on this all insert the caveat about hoping for the complete recovery, blah, blah, blah. I suspect that most of them do so because it’s what they’re expected to do, given that Trump is still president; maybe some of them truly feel that way. I, however, am under no external requirement to say the ‘right thing’, given my lack of corporate, or actually any, sponsorship and admit that I hope Trump and those around him have long-term problems as a result of his rejection of science and facts. Karma happens, and his irresponsible and selfish behavior is the number one reason he is now infected with this highly contagious virus.

Trump has never been held accountable for anything he’s ever done through his entire life, from childhood up to and including his old age. He was never required to follow instructions or do an actual job ever, using his father’s wealth to disguise his massive failures while he used the court system to wear down those who opposed him until they gave up, out of money or time to continue their fight in court.

Trump has consistently used misdirection and hyperbole to distract everyone – media, tax assessors, insurance brokers, local politicians, television viewers – from the obvious truth of his complete and total lack of talent, intelligence, business acumen, or basic human kindness and compassion. While that may work if you’re selling a condo or convincing someone down on their luck to enroll in Trump University, it is ineffective in the face of a highly contagious virus. In fact, Trump’s lies about Covid-19 have been shown to be the biggest source of Covid-19 misinformation in the world!

His cult followers seem undisturbed by this, continuing to gather in large, maskless, non-socially distanced campaign rallies to ‘own the libs’, as if their gathering in these huge, foolish crowds will in some way make us on the left sorry? For what? That we don’t have an idiot like Trump at the top of our ticket, too? That we’re smart enough to follow the science behind viral transmission in order to stay safe? Or that we can’t gather together in equally idiotic groups to create our own superspreader events? Please, give me a break!

Those of us who lean left, who believe that government run right is a good thing and regulations are in place to keep the people safe, are not going to be intimidated by the fools on the right into tossing out our masks. Most of us understand that the only way out of this pandemic is for everyone to do what has been proven to be most effective – both now, before there is a vaccine as well as after one is available – and follow the recommendations of healthcare professionals and epidemiologists to stop the spread. Social distancing, correctly wearing masks to cover both the nose and mouth and effective hand washing are still our best options for stopping this pandemic from taking another 200,000 lives, and it will only work if we do it all over the country, in red and blue states, cities, suburbs, small towns, and farmlands everywhere.

I know it’s annoying and can be a hassle to wear a mask. I was an RN for over 20 years, and I hated having to don masks and gowns whenever I had to enter an isolation room, but I also knew that the whole point was to avoid spreading the infection from patient to patient. I tend to perspire a lot, and I firmly believe that my profuse sweating has had the added benefit of keeping my skin clear and less wrinkly as I’ve entered my 60’s. Regardless of my subjective skin observations, I know how one can become uncomfortable when wearing a mask for long periods of time, and I don’t envy those who are working and required to keep a mask on for hours every day (I am retired). However, in order to keep everyone safe, the only thing we have to work with right now (thanks to Trump and his minions inability to do anything that remotely benefits the country as a while) are physical barriers to keep our respiratory secretions apart.

I’m unconcerned about the feelings of those who have believe that their right to spew respiratory secretions unhindered by any facial coverings overshadows the rights of the rest of us leave our homes without fear of inhaling their wayward exhalations. Since when in this country does the desire of individuals take precedence over the public good? Or, as Spock said, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” The needs of the many requires everyone to do the responsible thing and cover their nose and mouth when in public, maintain physical distancing, and avoid crowds, indoors and out. Period.

Trump and his followers have been forced to admit that their fantasy about Covid-19 is a farce, as the virus runs through many of those who participated in yet another large gathering at The White House and in campaign rallies in states with large numbers of Covid-19 cases. That has not made a whit of difference in Moscow Mitch’s plan to force through another young, unqualified, extreme right wing judge on the Supreme Court, nor has it changed his opinion about extending additional financial assistance to the millions of Americans who have been so screwed over as a result of the continued malfeasance of the Republican Party during this once-in-a-century disaster. It has done nothing to swing the Republican’s views on systemic racism or the disproportionate killing of Black people by police across the country, nor about the importance of allowing extensive use of vote-by-mail in November.

Trump continues to lie about the security of our election, when the biggest threat to the integrity of our election is in fact Trump himself. The complicity of the Republicans in this is mind-numbing, as they do everything they can to remain in power by preventing everyone else from voting. This is not new, but it has become so much worse during Covid-19 as those of us who have facts and science to guide us try to use mail-in ballots to have our voices heard while remaining safe at home. The Republicans have succeeded in convincing their own followers to vote in person on election day, exposing all of them to Covid-19 in doing so. This again reveals their callous disregard for the lives of anyone outside their own elite circle of wealthy donors and their peers in power.

Trump was never the person who could ‘grow into the office of the president’ and magically develop empathy and concern for others. As someone only interested is himself, there was no possibility of a Trump administration developing any policy or plan that provided a benefit that didn’t first and foremost benefit Trump. The acquiescence of the Republican Party to this self-centered and dictatorial direction Trump took them in is the culmination of decades of Republican planning. Gerrymandering, voter disfranchisement, voter suppression were always part of their playbook. Moscow Mitch’s plays during Barack Obama’s eight years in office – preventing his appeals court nominees from being brought votes, refusing to do his job and hold hearings when Merrick Garland was nominated in early 2016 – has allowed the Federalist Society/Leonard Leo to funnel hundreds of right-wing extremist and often unqualified judges to lifetime appointments throughout the federal judiciary along with two (possibly three) Supreme Court Justices who will have decades to force their minority opinions on the rest of us.

Trump and those around him deserve no sympathy now that their foolish, irresponsible and selfish refusal to listen to the professionals and follow the best and most scientifically sound advice has led to the most likely outcome – catching the virus. They could not keep the country safe because of their complicity. Trump could not even keep himself and those closest to him safe, despite having what was thought to be the premier infectious disease agency in the world on speed dial.

How anyone, anywhere in the country, can look at the mess we are now in and believe that any of them deserve another minute in office defies logic. All of them need to be drummed out of public life, forced to live in hovels alongside of their foolish followers. Unmasked, without any social distancing.