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.

The Media Has to Call a Spade a Damn Shovel!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Volunteer to help

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

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

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

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

Get off your ass and DO SOMETHING!

Make America Great Again…Again?

Do you think he considered how stupid this sounds>?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elections have consequences.

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.