Death, Taxes…. and Voting!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

President Obama Will Always Be a Class-Act

barackobama.com

Listening to Mitch McConnell whine in a Trump campaign video that Obama showed a “lack of class” labeling Trump’s response to the Covid-19 crisis as a “chaotic disaster” made me see red.  After three plus years of Trump saying and doing things that in another time would have caused both Republicans and Democrats to speak up in the interest of common decency, it is unbelievable that McConnell said this with a straight face.  Those of us outside the right-wing media sphere see Moscow Mitch’s  con job for what it is – a blatant attempt to normalize everything Trump and the Republicans have done and continue to do while claiming that the one whose behavior is beyond the pale is actually Obama.  Here’s the thing, though:  all over the country, in both red and blue states, people are getting sick and dying from an epidemic that continues unabated because of Republican sycophants’ unremitting support of President Idiot.  Of course neither of the Bush’s (41 or 43) had anything negative to say about the Democratic Presidents who followed them, since both Clinton and Obama left the White House with the country in much better shape than it was in when they entered at the start of their terms.  Clinton’s big scandal involved an extramarital affair, and Obama, despite millions of tax dollars wasted on multiple Republican-led investigations, left office having had NO scandals at all.  Credit that in part to his credo, “Don’t do stupid shit.”  McConnell’s false assertion that the lack of preparedness by the Trump administration was because Obama didn’t leave “any kind of game plan for something like this” is beyond ridiculous.  History, no matter how hard Republicans try to remake the past, shows that the pandemic response team put in place during the Obama administration was in fact disbanded after Trump took office.  Trump’s claim during a presser that he didn’t have anything to do with the removal of the team was ludicrous. 

Like most Republicans in positions of power, the fact that the IHME models have rapidly increased the number of Americans we’re going to lose by early August to 147,000 means nothing to Moscow Mitch.  McConnell and his Senate cohorts also have no interest in the suffering of the vast number of citizens and residents who have lost their jobs and employer-sponsored healthcare because of Trump’s incompetence.  Neither he nor his donors are members of the social class that is being forced to choose between a paycheck and Covid-19 for themselves and their families, so they have no ‘urgency’ to legislate additional financial stimulus payments even after Jerome Powell made a public plea for just such that.  It is unconscionable that Republicans as a group find it not just acceptable but necessary for thousands more to die to improve the financial status of the wealthy – as long as the people dying on their altar of greed are the rest of us.  What I still cannot fathom is how there are still people supporting them, especially now.

Listening to Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Jeanine Pierro or Britt Hume (whose willingness to spread propaganda wasn’t apparent during his tenure at ABC News) spewing outrageous conspiracy theories and outright lies has to be leading to thousands of their own viewers getting sick and spreading the virus to others, yet their survivors still they keep watching and believing the bullshit.  If those who consume right-wing media lived in isolated communities of only Fox News meat bags then sure, let them go about their business while Covid-19 culls the herd.  That is unfortunately not the way it works – these selfish, ignorant fools don’t just infect other like-minded people, they infect everyone they come in contact with, including those of us who understand the reality as it is.  Wisconsin, a state I will now avoid like the plague in my future travels, has a Republican-majority supreme court that once again placed partisanship over science and good sense when they overturned Governor Evers safer at home orders; today they’re having their second in-person election since the start of the pandemic.  WTF????

We are all suffering from some level of anxiety while this pandemic continues to spread around the country unchecked by any efforts from the federal government to protect us.  Clearly, Trump is completely incapable of doing anything that does not directly benefit his reelection chances, no matter the cost to the country and its people.  Anyone who believes that Trump has done anything at all try to focus on the pandemic in order to contain, control and eliminate it must immediately see a physician to surgically address the severe case of cranio-rectal inversion from which are clearly suffering.  Obviously, it’s really difficult to understand the full scope of negligence by Trump and his administration if your head is stuck up your ass.

Trump’s one go-to is distraction, and he has the cooperation of people like Barr and McConnell to further his plan.  Dropping the charges against Mike Flynn, making up something called “Obamagate”, pushing governors across the country to relax Covid-19 mitigation efforts required because of Trump’s mistakes – all are happening in large part to distract the media and therefore the rest of us from the ‘chaotic disaster’ that we are all living through because of Trump.  His lack of empathy and complete self-absorption has led him to the mistaken impression that we’ve been fooled into believing his lies, despite the devastation this pandemic has brought to the entire country.

Trump lacks the capacity to do what is best for the country, because he is incapable of putting anyone other than himself first, no matter what the outcome.  Trump does not care how many Americans die as a result of his ‘leadership’ of the entire federal government, mismanaged by a cadre of lackeys so unqualified for the positions they hold that their only purpose is to destroy the agencies they occupy.  Trump does not care how many Americans lose their small businesses, homes, livelihoods, cars, or future prospects, because these people and their lives are insignificant to him.  When he reports the number already lost, it means nothing to him, and the racial disparity of the effects of this pandemic does not matter to him, either. 

This is what the Republican Party has wrought – an administration filled to the brim with greedy, scum-sucking nihilists whose only interest is to remain in power in order to bleed the system dry.  They do not care about the planet.  They do not care about the country.  They do not care about us.

They must be removed from ALL positions of power.  Forever.