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.

If You Plan a Viable Future – VOTE

There are multiple reasons for the embarrassingly low percentage of those eligible to vote who actually vote regularly in elections in the United States. There are things the federal government could do to encourage those who have chosen not to vote to exercise their franchise short of mandating that everyone vote in every election, but that won’t be considered until Republicans no longer have control in Washington.

Why is in necessary for us to register to vote in the first place? We have already given the federal government all the information they need (except for party choice) by applying for a Social Security card, something every parent has had to do for their children since at least 1980. There is no logical reason not to have national automatic voter registration in this country. The right to vote is written into the constitution. The federal government certainly knows enough about everyone in the country in order to add everyone eligible to vote onto the voter rolls on their eighteenth birthday and then share those registrations with the states where the individuals reside. The only ‘reason’ there appears to be for requiring individuals to register separately to vote is to put another roadblock in the way of those trying to vote.

In countries like Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Iraq (yes, Iraq!), voting participation increased between 76% and 81% once automated registration took effect. In a liberal (vs illiberal) democracy, the goal should be to get as many eligible voters as possible to get involved and cast an informed vote; automatic registration is the first step towards higher voter participation and engagement.

The Republicans, however, know that the demographic group that has been most likely to register and vote with them is aging and leaving this mortal coil. Polls show that only 25% of eligible voters align with the Republicans, 31% with the Democrats, and 40% with Independents. Therefore, from the point of view of the Republican Party, encouraging a larger percentage of the eligible voter pool to cast a vote is demographically counter to their purposes. This is a major factor in the Republicans continued hold on power despite having a minority throughout the country as a whole, since fewer voters overall (of which 71% would NOT be Republicans) gives them a disproportionate share of votes cast.

This leads to the outrageous lies being made by the President of the United States spewing conspiracy theories about the security of mail-in ballots. Trump continues to claim for no reason except to scare his own base away from using mail-in ballots that there will be wide-spread fraud. First of all, there was a recent report from the conservative Heritage Foundation that found just 14 instances out of 15.5 million votes. Secondly, the most recent and egregious case of someone using mail-in ballots to commit voter fraud involved a Republican campaign operative in North Carolina. Third and most disturbing, there are actually thousands of mail-in ballots that are deemed ineligible compared with a minimum of in-person ballots, often for mistakes made by the voter or because of a questionable signature match. In order to have fewer legitimate votes disallowed, rules and regulations about verification of these ballots should be standardized across the country.

After Joe Biden is sworn into office in January, 2021, it would behoove all of us to do whatever we can to push for making it easier to participate in the electoral process throughout the country, in addition to all the other things needed to undo voter suppression and gerrymandering Republicans have used since the Nixon administration to keep those not voting for them from exercising their franchise.

The media has to step up, too. Media outlets not specifically designed to propagate right-wing disinformation and talking points must get off of their ‘both-sides’ soapbox. There is nothing consistent with fair coverage that requires any news outlet to give on-air time to anyone from either side when what they are saying isn’t even true. The opinions of party sycophants are of no importance, nor is their outrage at perceived offenses outside of the right-wing media bubble. If those on the ‘conservative’ side of the aisle cannot provide actual subject matter experts who have serious, fact-based information to bring to the discussion, they should not be provided with a platform from which to spread their crap. Climate change, for instance, isn’t a matter of opinion – it is happening, and it is man-made, and anyone who claims anything different without providing science-based hard evidence for their conclusion should no longer be offered the chance to speak. Ditto for those who want to argue about systemic racism, Covid-19, or any other subject which has been scientifically investigated and understood.

I think it should be mandatory for everyone eligible to vote to do so, but in order for that to be an accepted demand, it is also necessary for every obstacle currently placed between the eligible and the ballot be torn down. Automatic voter registration, Election Day as a national holiday and country-wide mail-in ballots would go a long way towards giving more of our fellow citizens the chance to vote without losing time from work, finding a babysitter, looking for a ride, or any one of thousands other reasons why everyone who can do so does not cast a vote.

The presidency and administration of Donald Trump should have opened the eyes of everyone, whether they have previously voted or not, of the importance for everyone to get informed and cast their vote. Everyone has something that they care about, whether it’s climate change, taxes, election security, money in politics, etc., and the only way to make sure that your government knows how you feel about those things is to vote. Social media could be a force for good, but not as it is currently configured. Print media has suffered mightily in this digital age, and broadcast media has been maligned for real and imagined offenses, making it the individual responsibility of every American to find actual facts about candidates, issues and policies from reputable sources upon which to base political choices.

This country has so much potential to life up to (sort of like both of my former husbands). It’s up to each and every one of us to put our big person pants on and do that which is required of every citizen – learn about the issues, decide which side of the issue you agree with, and vote in every election for candidates whose platforms and plans are what you hope to see going forward.

Vote as if your very future depends on the outcome of every election. Vote as if the life your children and grandchildren will be living will be determined by the election winner. Vote as if the continued existence of the very planet we all live on will be controlled by the next office holder.

It should be painfully obvious by now how very true that is.

Political Apathy is Unacceptable

I sent a few of my Facebook contacts an invitation to my page and didn’t think about it again until one of those invitees sent me a message to tell me that he wasn’t going to my page because he has “zero interest in politics”. Before the 2016 elections, I too thought of politics as something that other people cared about, despite voting the Democratic ticket starting with Jimmy Carter in 1976. I got most of my information from watching local and national news on the ABC affiliate WPVI out of Philadelphia along with listening to KYW 1060, the AM all-news-and-traffic radio station. All things considered, I got enough accurate information to know which party had my best interests at heart.

Today, I have no concept of how anyone with skin in the game (like my 61 year old diabetic smoking friend) can be indifferent about politics. This election is for all the chips, because if Trump and the Republicans are not soundly defeated and removed from power, we will be living in an authoritarian dictatorship during all future Trump terms. I want my friend will read this one post in the hopes of inspiring him to participate in the democracy that has been so good to both him and his family by voting for Joe Biden and the Democrats down ticket. I’m going to refer to my friend as “Billie” (not his real name).

Billie, I read your message declining my invitation to my Facebook page and was disappointed that you have no interest in politics. I don’t believe that’s true; I think that there are a multitude of places where your life, health, financial well-being and future comfort are directly and inextricably intertwined with the outcomes of elections, such as right now, in the middle of the worst pandemic in over a century. If the federal government was being led by a capable, competent, empathetic and caring leader who placed the good of the country over all else, the awesome power of the office of the President would have done everything to contain and control this virus, issuing national orders for staying home, social distancing and mask wearing while also putting a robust, nationwide testing and contact tracing system in place to find everyone spreading the virus and limit the spread. Instead, we have a person so incapable of ever admitting he’s made a mistake that he prefers to watch more than 150,000 of our fellow Americans die while he exhibits magical thinking by insisting that the virus will “just disappear”.

The Republicans have been laser-focused since the Affordable Care Act was passed on overturning it and stripping health insurance from millions of Americans while making those of us with preexisting conditions like diabetes, emphysema/COPD and osteoarthritis pay exorbitant premiums if we can even obtain health insurance coverage at all. Trump and his cadre of former fossil fuel executives, Wall Street bankers and right-wing media pundits have used his presidency to roll back rules and regulations to benefit corporate interests at the expense of all the rest of us and the planet. Trump’s delusional belief that he is the holder of all knowledge has made him incapable of accepting input from those in his own government with specialized knowledge of all manner of subjects versus taking the word of assorted hosts on Fox News and OANN. There are millions of Americans out of work because Trump is unable to do his job to put people in positions throughout the federal government with actual experience and skills to handle a crisis like the one we’re living through now. Instead, Trump appoints sycophants who agree that their first priority is to praise the dear leader no matter the reality on the ground, while their second priority is to allow Trump’s corporate donors to run rampant over everyone and everything in their paths.

Billie, you mentioned that your roommate has Covid-19 and that he’s still sharing the house with you. Your diabetes and smoking history make your chances of having a negative outcome if you contract the virus much higher than a healthier individual. The reason you’re in this position right now is because enough people in the right states decided that voting for the most prepared individual in history to run for the presidency wasn’t an option if that person also had a vagina, so they instead voted for the most incapable, incompetent, incurious, inept, undiplomatic and self-serving individual to ever seek the office. A lack of ‘interest’ in the actual issues combined with centuries-old, systemic misogyny led millions of voters to either stay home, vote third party, or actually cast votes for Trump because they thought Hillary was going to win and their individual vote didn’t really matter. Sadly, some 70,000 of those individual votes mattered way more than they should have.

I know you don’t have kids of your own Billie, and I’m sure that affects your attitude about ‘politics’, but your brother does have kids that I’m sure you love like they were your own. Think for a while about the world that will be left to them and their kids, and ask yourself if maybe the things that we’ve been doing to the planet for the last 100 years or so have helped or hurt the environment. I don’t know what the weather has been like in Vegas recently, but I can tell you without qualification that the heat and humidity here in New Jersey has been oppressive and unrelenting. We have always had our hottest days of the year in July and August, but I can’t remember in my lifetime having so many consecutive days of high humidity and high temperatures like the one we’re in the midst of now. Your brother’s offspring will have to deal with the climate disaster that our generation has been particularly loathe to address, given the propensity for the Republicans to claim that some climate ‘scientists’ don’t agree with the 97% of actual scientists that climate change is caused by humans releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. They don’t mention that their ‘scientists’ are actually employed by the fossil fuel industry to spread their bullshit, or that those same fossil fuel companies are full of their political donors.

Billie, I know that Whitey was your grandfather by blood, but you only saw him occasionally. During the ten years that my Mom and I lived with Whitey and my grandmother, I spent every day with him, and I think I can say with some degree of certainty that he was NOT just interested in the Phillies and the Eagles. Whitey knew that politics wasn’t just about the people in Washington; it’s about all of us, and what we want for ourselves and our families as part of a functioning democracy to which we pay taxes for services that said government is supposed to provide to us all when things happen that affect a large swath of us here in the United States. There is no way that Whitey would have remained completely uninformed and uninterested in the damage being done throughout our government and around the world by a lawless, incompetent president and the complicit Republicans. I know that he watched the evening news on a daily basis, because we all watched the evening news together back then, and I used to watch him reading the entire paper – not just the sports section – so I know he had a pretty good idea of what was going on in the government and the world before he exercised his right to vote.

The Republicans’ goal for decades has been to prevent as many people of color as possible from entering the US from anywhere else; had they been successful back in the fifties, it’s quite possible that you and your brother wouldn’t even exist. Your Mom marrying a man from the Philippines back in the fifties was a big deal back then, and I’m sure that your parents were on the receiving end of a lot of racist crap during their marriage. The point is that the people who win elections get to make the rules about who to let in and who to keep out. It is abundantly clear that leaving Republicans in charge of anything related to immigration or equality for all is very much like the fox watching the hen house. Electing a person uniquely unqualified for any of the tasks a US president must address along with keeping Republicans who have not interest in governing or legislating in office leaves all the rest of us subject to Trump’s whims and his inability to ever let any real or perceived insult or negative opinion go without a fight. Trump has never cared at all about the country; he entered the 2016 election in order to get free publicity so that he could start his own cable network; then, the unimaginable happened.

This is NOT the face of a happy person!

Trump didn’t want to win; he’s spent his whole life not working at a job he couldn’t get fired from that he didn’t have to apply for – just like his three older children have done – and the last thing he wanted was an actual job that required him to focus for more time than he ever had to in his entire life on someone other than himself. The look on his face in the photo above says all that and more.

Billie, right now the Republicans in the Senate, after refusing to consider the HEROES Act that the House sent to them May 12th to provide additional stimulus during the pandemic have taken two whole days to ‘legislate’ the Heals Act behind closed doors that gives businesses, hospitals and schools five years of liability protection retroactive to 2019 while cutting the weekly emergency unemployment payments from $600 to $200, because of course Republicans have to insist that it’s the $600 weekly benefit check preventing people from going to work, not the pandemic raging through a country without any plan to stop it or even slow it down. Apparently, these professional politicians don’t understand that the only reason that the “economy” has done as well as it has through the pandemic so far relative to the number of people out of work has been that $600 bonus, which has permitted millions to remain in their homes, buy groceries and other necessities, and keep their heads almost above water. Republicans also fail to see the irony when they indignantly point out that some people are making more money now than when they were working – because of course the answer to that wouldn’t be increasing the pay for those workers, right? The moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and other legal actions due to a lack of payment are going to expire, and who knows how many families will be forced our of their homes in the midst of a pandemic; state and local governments are going to have to significantly reduce services to help their citizens because the HEALS Act includes only funds for schools, although just a tenth of what the House proposed. Student loan deferments are also ignored in the HEALS Act.

The HEROES Act addresses state, local, tribal and territorial governments and provides stimulus funds for them all; along with the HEALS Act, it recommends a second $1,200 stimulus payment to every adult, but that is the only major similarity in the two. The House bill expands paid sick days, family and medical leave, nutrition and food assistance programs, housing assistance, unemployment, and payments to farmers. It also eliminates cost-sharing for Covid-19 testing and treatment in addition to a range of other policies. The bill passed because of the Democrats – only one Republican supported the bill.

Elections have consequences, Billie. An uninformed electorate distracted by social media posts that often have no basis in fact while they avoid any of the actual journalism still available in multiple formats is a large part of how we ended up here. Once upon a time, when it was unthinkable that someone so completely lacking in ability, restraint or a willingness to follow norms and laws could be elected to the highest office in the country, it may have been acceptable to proudly proclaim yourself to have “Zero interest in politics…” The last forty years or so have demonstrated that those among us who have chosen to abdicate their civic responsibility by simply ignoring everything political including refusing to vote is somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 million. It is unacceptable in the time of viral social media posts and massive disinformation from the president’s Twitter account for anyone eligible to vote to remain on the sidelines, or to stay ignorant of the facts before they cast their votes.

Billie, you owe it to your country, your fellow citizens, and the next generation to take some time out of your life (maybe every time you go outside to smoke) to learn why you should care about these things.

I hope you understand that I’m only telling you this because I have been paying attention to ‘politics’, not because I like them, but because what those people do matters. No one should sit back and let others make the big decisions, because everything that the government does and does not do has an effect on every one of us. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the cars we drive, how our homes are built, how efficient our appliances are…. All that and more than I can write in this post are affected by the government, and how much or little you are personally touched by those things is also a function of some part of government. You have no legitimate excuse for remaining uninformed and disinterested in the political landscape while your country literally burns around you.

The price of apathy is to be ruled by evil men.

Plato

What if Trump was YOUR DAD?

I know – the thought is so awful it’s really hard to get past the horror of the actual idea to consider what you would do if your father were acting in public and often on camera the way Trump has since taking office, most especially in the past six months. As a life-long American, how would you square up your duty to your country to protect and preserve the Constitution with sitting by and doing nothing to intercede while one of your parents does things unconstitutional and deleterious to our fundamental democratic values, again in public and often on camera?

Further, I still want to know how people who most would expect would love and care for their husband/father/brother/grandfather not do everything in their power to convince him to resign and go hide at one or another of his properties? I think Trump’s own need for self-preservation could make him choose this option, given that the only way that Trump can be pardoned for the crimes he’s committed since taking office is to be pardoned by a President Pence. The only way Mike Pence would ever be president is for Trump to resign, so Trump better make up his mind in a hurry if he hopes to have a chance to avoid federal prison for what he’s done while at the White House.

I can’t imagine saying nothing while watching someone I truly loved destroy not just himself, but much of the foundation of our federal government and global reputation. I would hate to have my father be known for all future time as the most corrupt, incompetent, narcissistic, unteachable, self-dealing, traitorous and uninformed president ever. Period. In order to feel that way, however, I had to love my Dad, which I did and still do despite losing him in 2008, two years after my Mom lost her twenty-three year battle with breast cancer. I hope I would feel the same about anyone I love, in that I wouldn’t want to see them as President of the United States, spreading bogus conspiracy theories, lying about voting by mail, or just being a huge asshole like Trump is on a daily basis. If Trump’s wife, sons, daughters, or others to whom he is related actually care about him, why do they not stop him?

The answer to this has always been obvious, while the concept is anathema to most of us: Trump’s inability to have or express feelings for anyone other than himself has resulted in him being surrounded by a family that is connected transactionally instead of emotionally. They will stay silent so long as they have something to gain by doing so. They will continue their complicity because they still think there is a benefit in it for themselves. As for the rest of us, including Trump himself, they have no shits left to give.

This behavior is short-sighted, as has much of what the Trump Administration has done. Little consideration has ever been given to what will happen later, after they can no longer prevent the Justice Department from doing Justice, or the Attorney General from being the “People’s Attorney” rather than Trump’s ‘fixer’, and their short-sightedness will be their downfall. The rest of the Trump cabal will be forced to reckon with what they did and did not do, and I have to believe that at least some of them will rue the day the jumped on the bandwagon to line their pockets.

If I can’t hold onto that hope, then what the hell is the point of all this? No more can we let ‘bygones be bygones’.

Laws have been broken, alliances have been damaged, and our democracy is in serious trouble because Trump and his lackeys were allowed to run rampant by the Republican Party that created them for that very purpose. It is not enough just to remove Trump and Republicans from office…

The Republican Party itself must be put out of our misery. If conservatives want to have their own party, they need to start again from scratch. No political party that exists in whole or in part to oppress everyone not with them does not have the right to exist in a liberal democracy. No political party that uses voter suppression in any form has a place in our dialogue. And no political party that continues to force minority rule against the wishes of the majority of the citizens is welcome to share power in our democracy.

No one around Trump gives a damn about him.

What are the People Around Trump Thinking?

I spent twenty-three years as a registered nurse and had occasion to administer the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) to patients who were residents in the long-term care facility where I was employed.  The various tasks assigned to the patient are part of a very rudimentary screening tool designed to determine if there is a need for more specialized evaluations and scans for diagnosis and treatment.  The questions are therefore not meant to be ‘hard’, as they do not require any actual knowledge of anything, only the ability to follow directions and remember things someone just told you to remember.

Trump challenged Fox’s Chris Wallace to take the MoCA, particularly the last 5 questions.  Wallace recalled the one calling for “counting backwards by 7 from 100”, and Trump repeated his claims that the person administering the test was impressed by Trump’s ability to answer those questions correctly.  Wallace is heard saying “93…” while Trump speaks over him as he usually does.  The point is the last portion of the test after the animal drawing identification section are:

  • Memory (No points here, see below)
    • Read subject list of 5 words (face, velvet, church, daisy, red), have subject repeat list twice to reinforce retention.  Do recall test in 5 minutes (see Delayed Recall below)
  • Attention (6 points total)
    • Read list of digits at 1 per second (0-2/2)
      • (2 1 8 5 4) – subject to repeat in forward order (0-1/1)
      • (7 4 2) – subject to repeat in reverse order (0-1/1)
  • Read list of letters.  Subject must tap hand at each letter “A”. (0-1/1, no points for ≥ 2 errors)
  • F B A C M N A A J K L B A F A K D E A A A A J A M O F A A B
  • Serial 7 subtraction (4 or 5 subtractions) starting at 100 (4 or 5 correct = 3/3, 2 or 3 correct = 2/3, 1 correct = 1/3, 0 correct = 0/3)
  • 93           86           79           72           65
  • Language (3 points total)
    • Repeat the following:  “I only know that John is the one to help today.” (0-1/2)  “The cat always hid under the couch when dogs were in the room.” (0-1/2)
    • Name maximum number of words in one minute that begin with the letter “F”. (1 – 10 words = 0/1, ≥ 11 words = 1/1)
  • Abstraction (2 points total)
    • Identify the similarity between two words (i.e., broccoli – asparagus = vegetable): 
      • train – bicycle (0-1/1)
      • watch – ruler (0-1/1)
  • Delayed Recall  (5 points total)
    • Recall words from Memory above (face-velvet-church-daisy-red)
      • With no cue (0-1/5)
      • With category cue (0/5)
      • With multiple-choice cue (0/5)
  • Orientation (6 points total)
    • Date (0-1/1)
    • Month (0-1/1)
    • Year (0-1/1)
    • Day (0-1/1)
    • Place (0-1/1)
    • City (0-1/1)

I’ve had issues with the day and date since I stopped working; after all, if you don’t have to be anywhere in particular ever, what difference is it what day or date it is?  I have an iPhone that reminds me when I do have somewhere to be, and I’ve gotten lazy about actually knowing without looking at my phone the day or date.  It’s the same with phone numbers – I can still recite from heart ALL of my previous telephone numbers, and I used to be able to call anyone I knew simply by dialing their numbers from memory, but not anymore.  In fact, the only telephone number besides my own that I can dial without looking it up first is my daughter’s cell which I had to dial into the phones I used at work.  Now, I only use my cellphone and so never actually punch in the numbers anymore, and I know that it’s no longer necessary for me to remember them, so that information is now lost to me.  It seems that the information I no longer keep top of mind is that which is easiest to outsource to my technology, and I think that makes sense.  Also, anytime I’m being checked by medical professionals for my cognitive status, I’m there because I have an appointment, so have had the present day/date information brought to my attention and have no trouble remembering it if asked.

Anyway, my point in bringing all this up is, once again…

What is wrong with the people around Trump who are willing to let him display his rank incompetence and questionable cognitive status on camera?  Are they also delusional?  Doesn’t anyone in Trump’s circle of suck-ups have the insight to acknowledge that this ship is going down in a big hurry, taking all of them with it?  Or are they so craven in their greed that they intend to hold on to power until they are forced out in January when Biden is inaugurated?  How can any of these cult followers claim to care at all about the country, its citizens, or our democracy?  Each new breach of the Constitution Trump and Barr perform in full view of the world takes our reputation further into the gutter and our ability to right this mess harder.  Apparently, no one in the Republican Party has any shits left to give about any of the rest of us, especially their own constituents, as they refuse to do what’s best for us all to stop this pandemic.  I’ve said before that thinning the herd of cultists may not be so bad, especially when it’s due to their own stupidity.

Someone who has to keep ‘boasting’ about how well they did on a screening for dementia isn’t showing how smart or cognitively intact they are – they are revealing their massive insecurities in their own mental abilities.  Trump has used misdirection, hyperbole and repetition since he was a child under Fred’s tutelage to force those around him to treat him like the successful real estate tycoon he was convinced by his father he was, despite having copious proof to the contrary.  His tactics are ineffective and outright dangerous, to us as individuals and as a collective democracy, when faced with a pandemic and his own upcoming election.  Trump cannot lie or perseverate away more than 144,000 dead Americans, and his refusal to recognize that nothing he has done while in the White House has earned him another four years of destroying our government and our place in the world at large is yet another example of his inability to function within the reality that face everyone else on the planet. 

Trump’s behavior since he was inaugurated, facilitated by his cadre of sycophants and lackeys, has caused so much damage throughout not just our country, but the entire world, will take generations to roll back.  During his tenure, he has wasted TRILLIONS OF OUR TAX DOLLARS on vanity projects and lawsuits, defense of his own illiberal and illogical ‘executive orders’ and of course, by paying outrageous sums of money to his own company by visiting them at every possible chance on our dime. 

Everyone who has in any way supported this lawless administration and executive should find no doors open to them when they are removed from office in January.  No corporate offices should be welcoming any of them into the suites; no institutions of higher education should provide them with the platform to spread their propaganda to impressionable young minds.  The Republican Party as a whole must be firmly and effectively frozen out of all possible opportunities to do anything except make a middle-class income for the rest of their lives, since they have proven themselves completely lacking in the qualities necessary to actually run anything meant to benefit others beyond themselves. 

I have to believe that this is the administration that will finally put to rest the practice of ‘moving on’ and refusing to address the illegal actions of the preceding administration, often one of the opposite political party.  This is not meant to encourage specious, illegitimate ‘investigations’ like those now being sought in the Senate and Barr’s ‘Justice’ Department; rather, it is to hope that those who were responsible for so much of the corruption during the Trump administration will be investigated, tried and convicted of their misdeeds, especially Trump and his family.