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?

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