Election By Vote … Or By Violence?

At least two things I read yesterday chilled me to the bone.  The first was from a newsletter I receive via email written by Charlie Sykes in The Bulwark.  Here are a few snippets from his piece …

The January 6 Committee has postponed today’s hearing because of the massive Hurricane bearing down on Florida. But we have an idea what we were going to see.

The committee plans to show a video of Trump Whisperer Roger Stone enthusiastically declaring, “Fuck the voting, let’s get right to the violence,” even before the votes were counted in 2020.

“Shoot to kill. See an antifa? Shoot to kill. Fuck ’em. Done with this bullshit.”

The video clips obtained by CNN and were recorded by Danish filmmakers Frederik Marbell and Christoffer Guldbrandsen. In the clips Stone relishes the prospect of bloodshed.

Later that day, as The Post previously reported, Stone seemed to welcome the prospect of clashes with left-wing activists. As an aide spoke of driving trucks into crowds of racial justice protesters, Stone said: “Once there’s no more election, there’s no reason why we can’t mix it up. These people are going to get what they’ve been asking for.”

In one clip, Stone is seen telling MAGA supporters that they should declare victory on election night, no matter what the results showed. “I really do suspect it’ll still be up in the air,” Stone says. “When that happens, the key thing to do is to claim victory.”

The second chilling thing I read was from a CBS News report

“More than 18 months after the rioting at the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, an estimated 13 million U.S. adults, or 5% of the adult population, agree that force would be justified to restore former President Donald Trump to the White House and an estimated 15 million Americans believe force would be justified to prevent Trump from being prosecuted , should he be indicted for mishandling classified documents, according to a new study from the University of Chicago.” [Emphasis added]

I have written recently about the violence that seems to be becoming the norm in this country, how violence has never solved any problems, and how we simply must learn to think with our brains instead of our guns, fists, knives, etc.  But still, the bloodlust continues.  Why?

Do voices like those of Roger Stone, Donald Trump, and others who encourage violence really reach so far that tens of millions of people buy into their rhetoric?  Or perhaps phrasing it another way, are tens of millions of people really so ignorant as to fall prey to those like Stone, Trump and others?

This propensity for violence is made even more frightening when coupled with the number of guns that are in the hands of these same people.  There are approximately 436 million guns in the hands of civilians in the United States today.  For comparison purposes, there are approximately 332 million people in the U.S.  A few statistics here …

  • There are approximately 77.49 million adult gun owners in the US.
  • 2020 is believed to have had the highest number of firearm sales in history, with 39,695,315 background checks for the sale of firearms and explosives.
  • Approximately 30% of American adults own a gun.
  • Another 36% of adults could see themselves owning a gun in the future.
  • The average American gun owner owns five guns.
  • Personal protection is the most frequently cited reason for owning a gun.
  • Texas is the state with the most guns, while Delaware is the state with the least.
  • Wyoming is the state with the most guns per capita, while New York is the state with the fewest.
  • Handguns are the most commonly owned type of gun, followed by rifles, then shotguns.
  • Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to own a gun.

So, we have a Recipe for Disaster.

  • Preheat
    • national temperature by lying repeatedly until large numbers of people believe the lies
  • Combine ingredients
    • Lies that Democrats are ‘coming to take away your guns’
    • Lies that LGBTQ people are somehow evil and are trying to take over your children’s minds
    • Lies that Black people are inferior and are trying to take over the nation
    • Lies that immigrants are criminals who will rob, kill and rape peoples’ families
    • Rhetoric shouted by politicians and their hired guns
  • Bake at escalating temperature until November 8th

I have to ask myself, as I’m sure some of you have asked yourselves, is this really a nation I want to live in, to be a part of?  If the few can have dominance over the many, and if those few are willing to shoot the rest of us to have their way, can this country really be said to be a democracy?  The answer to that is no, a democracy is …

“A system of government by the whole population, typically through elected representatives, by the majority of its members.”

By that definition, the United States is not a democracy when far too many of its members are kept from having a voice through various voter suppression ‘laws’, and currently the minority is planning to take over by hook or by crook.

History has shown that a foundation built on violence, built on robbing people of their rights, is not sustainable for long.  We have an opportunity in November to ensure those who support such treachery as proposed by the likes of Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon and others never happens.  Or, we can sit back and tell ourselves the fairy tale that it will all somehow work out in the long run.  Your choice.

Reinforcement of why a person left the GOP

Today our friend Keith shares an article that clearly defines the major difference today between the two major parties in the U.S. This is a ‘must-read’ for those who would claim there is no difference between the two parties or for those who still believe the GOP is a viable, functional political party. Thanks, Keith

musingsofanoldfart

The following is an interesting article that furthers the message of my previous and earlier posts over my concerns for the Republican party called “I left the GOP because it seemed to be losing it way. Last week convinced me I was right” by Kurt Bardella of NBC News.

Here are few excerpts from the piece. The full article can be linked to below.

“I don’t think I’ve recently experienced a span of days that quite so neatly captures the difference betweenbeing a Democrat and being a Republicanin today’s America.

Last week began with the GOP’s wannabe standard-bearer,Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, using human beingsas political props for acraven publicity stuntdesigned to stoke right-wing outrage toward migrants.

Then, the current Republican Party standard-bearer found himself in even more legal hot water after theNew York attorney general’s lawsuitalleging Trump and his eldest children committed…

View original post 425 more words

Here, There, And Other Places — Voting

Here’s how it works in New Zealand per our NZ friend Barry …

* ease of voter registration. The law requires that everyone over the age 18 register on the electoral roll. However if you haven’t registered, you can do so when you go to vote. It only takes a few minutes.

* no queueing. Polling places are set up everywhere including churches, mosques, schools, community centres, shopping malls etc. I’ve voted every three years in every nation and local election since 1972 in four different electorates (voting districts) and I’ve never had to wait for more than five minutes, and those occasions were at peak times. .

* polling day is always on a Saturday as fewer people work on that day. Polling booths are open from 7am to 7pm on polling day and most are open every day in the two weeks prior to polling day

* you can vote outside of the electorate you’re registered in

* voter ID is not required, but bringing in the ID that is mailed out to every registered voter at the commencement of each election cycle will cut about a minute off the voting process.

* it’s a simple process to register for postal voting and telephone voting and the vote(s) can be cast any time in the month prior to polling day. It’s also possible to nominate someone to vote on your behalf if your disability is such that you can not vote in person

Voter fraud is extremely rare and there never has been a coordinated attempt of voter fraud. Ease of voting takes priority over everything else as that is seen as absolutely vital for democracy.

Additionally gerrymandering does not occur as electoral boundaries are determined by an independent non political commission consisting of a high Court judge, the head of the Statistics Department, a number of other civil servants whose roles I don’t recall at this moment, and one person representing the governing political parties and one person representing the opposition parties.

Restrictions around voting that’s seen in some American states is unfathomable to us. The only restriction here is that it is an offense to display political party advertising of any type (including insignia, badges etc) on polling day.


And here’s how it works in Australia, per our Australian friend Andrea …

Every eligible person MUST vote. Because of that necessity, voting has been made as easy as possible. We always vote on a Saturday, so most people /can/ vote. We have voting booths in almost every school hall or community centre Australia wide, so there’s always a voting place near at hand. We also have postal ballots.

And we have consequences for not voting…but…the punishment for not voting is a $50 slap on the wrist!

We have no voter fraud as far as I know, and while Australians might grumble at having to make time to vote, we all DOT IT.

Are all Australians fully aware of the policies and issues of the day? Nope. Does majority rule always get it right? Nope. But at least there /is/ majority rule. Our country isn’t driven by extreme factions of either the left or the right because compulsory voting /moderates/ those extremes.

Is the US even aware of how far it’s drifting from the principles of democracy?????


And here’s how it works in the United States …

Well, never mind, for it varies so greatly from state-to-state and further varies depending on a) level of wealth, b) colour of skin, c) education level, d) age, e) length of toenails (okay, maybe I’m being a bit facetious with that last one).  But nowhere … NOWHERE in the United States is it as painless to cast a vote as it is in either New Zealand or Australia.  And it is getting more and more painful, time-consuming and difficult every year, at least in some states.  Voting in the U.S. is highly discriminatory in this, the year 2022, the 235th year since the U.S. Constitution was ratified.  This level of difficulty could explain the low voter turnout … often barely over 50% and often less than 50% in mid-term election years.

You’ll notice the spike in 2020 when, due to the pandemic, most states made postal voting available to more people.  This year, many of those concessions have been reversed, and most every state in the nation has imposed more restrictive measures including enhanced voter ID requirements, travel restrictions, fewer polling places (resulting in longer wait times), fewer drop boxes, purging voter registration lists, and much more.  A disabled, elderly person or a college student in some states has almost no chance of being able to make their voice heard.

Thanks to Barry and Andrea for showing us how a truly democratic voting system works.  We can hope that someday the people of this nation will put the good of the country ahead of their partisanship and demand that we make it easier rather than harder. Don’t hold your breath, though.

GOP Cruelty Pleases Their Constituents

“Divide et impera” … Julius Caesar, circa a long time ago. In English, it is “Divide and conquer”. Control. A disunited people are far less likely to rise up and oppose a dictator or other authoritarian. Keep them hatin’. Our friend Jeff is angry and so am I …

On The Fence Voters

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it. As it is presently constituted, the GOP represents a small minority of people in this country who think being cruel to people is a virtue.

We all know about the disgraced former president. We’ve seen the hatred he spewed as president and now as a private citizen. He is the standard-bearer for this type of behavior. He’s got a group in Congress who continue to support him no matter what. And, if he’s indicted, we know that support would continue. Many of those same GOP politicians mirror the personality of their dear leader, who relishes every chance he gets to insult and lie with impunity.

And they wouldn’t do it were it not for millions of people in this country who love every minute of it. And they do not cross the former president because they know the death threats and intimidation…

View original post 1,017 more words

LET’S ALL MAKE SURE WE PROTECT DEMOCRACY ON NOVEMBER 8TH (My attempt to create a helpful candidates guide)

Our friend Annie over at AnnieAsksYou has gone way above and beyond in her latest post that summarizes the mid-term election candidates for the most relevant and/or contentious races. Bookmark this post, for you may want to refer to it more than once in the next 51 days! Annie — I cannot imagine how many hours you put into the research for this post … I applaud your efforts and THANK YOU for all this valuable information!

annieasksyou...

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

With the completion of the primaries on September 13 and the midterm elections less than two months away, it’s time to zero in on particular candidates who have been targeted by the Republicans, and/or those I feel are especially worthy of your votes, active support, and any dollars you can spare. My goal has been to cover as many of the key races as I can.

Wherever possible, I’ve linked to substantive information about the candidates. If you want to donate–and even a few dollars are helpful–many of them are linked to ActBlue.

This is a companion piece to my previous post, How to Be a Part of the Solution, which contains organizations working to protect democracy that can also use your support.

In view of rising reports of vote suppression campaigns already under way, please check your own situation soon—to make sure…

View original post 3,363 more words

They {Don’t} Want Your Vote

Every citizen of the United States age 18 or older should be able to vote.  Voting is truly the only official voice we have in who runs our government and how they run it.  Sure, we can write letters, we can protest, we can make phone calls … but at the end of the day, it is our VOTE that counts, that decides what our nation will be or become.  Each and every one of us has … or should have … that right.  In some countries, nobody has that right, so we should protect and safeguard our right as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.  Voting IS a right here in the U.S., but it is also a responsibility.

Even prior to the 2020 election, certain states had very restrictive voting laws, and after the utterly false claims of widescale voting fraud and other lies following the 2020 election, nearly every state in the country proposed and passed even more restrictions on voting.  It is the opinion of this writer that if you are 18 or older, you should be able to vote.  Skin colour, literacy skills, age, gender, income level, and locale should not matter.  And yet … people of colour, poor people, young people, elderly people, disabled people, and those with prior felony convictions are often disenfranchised by unfair voting restrictions in their state.

Did you know that in Michigan it is against the law to “hire a motor vehicle” to transport a voter to the polls unless they are “physically unable to walk”?  So, anybody who doesn’t drive, doesn’t own a car, and isn’t in a wheelchair, will not be able to vote.  You cannot take a bus, taxi, Uber, or even ask your neighbor to drive you to the polls to vote in Michigan.  I imagine that law is hard as hell to enforce, but still … the very fact that it is even a law is beyond disgusting!

In 2021, 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting. More than 440 bills with provisions that restrict voting access were introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions.  Last year, Congress had the opportunity to pass two bills, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which would have protected our right to vote at the federal level, overriding restrictive state laws.  Both bills passed in the House of Representatives but failed to pass in the Senate.  Why?  Because while all Democrats voted for and all Republicans (except one) voted against, the filibuster kept the bills from passing.  The filibuster rules might have been changed to exclude voting rights legislation, but no … Republicans, aided and abetted by Democratic Senators Manchin and Sinema, refused.  Why?  Because as one Republican openly admitted, if everyone could vote, Republicans would never win another election.

The 2020 election had the highest voter turnout of this century with nearly 67% of all eligible voters actually casting a vote.  In part, the reason was that many states went the extra mile to make it easier to vote by mail or ballot drop box in light of the pandemic.  Also in part was a concentrated effort to unseat the person who was, at the time, sitting in the Oval Office.  However, I find it pathetic that even with easier access to the ballot, only 67% voted.  WHERE WERE THE OTHER 33%???

With just 53 days until the mid-term elections on November 8th, it’s time for us to all be giving some serious thought to voting.  In most states, you can check online to make sure you’re registered – DO IT!  Some states are quite aggressive in removing people from the list of registered voters without cause, so it’s important to make sure you are registered.  If your state supports no-excuse absentee voting, by all means save yourself considerable time and angst by requesting an absentee ballot.  If you have the wherewithal (time and vehicle) to help transport people in your neighborhood to the polls on election day, please do so.  Your vote … is so important.  Every single vote matters.  Let’s not let the bastards keep us away from the polls, let’s not throw away our one opportunity to be heard, to have our say in who is making the decisions that affect the lives of each and every one of us.  If you won’t do it for yourself, then do it for your children and grandchildren who will inherit the world we create today.


Warning:  This blog will frequently contain posts, including some updated reprisals of past posts, about voting and voting rights between now and November 8th.  I make no apologies … this may be the single most important election thus far in our lifetimes and we need to understand the issues, the candidates, and what is riding on our choices.  Thank you for your patience.

A Conservative Worth Listening To

In his speech a couple of weeks ago, President Biden made it a point to note the difference between the “maga-Republicans” and the more moderate, mainstream Republicans.  It often seems that the latter group are scarce, at best, but they are out there … the ones that are sickened and disgusted by the former guy, the ones who see the maga-cult as a very real threat to this nation, to democracy, to We the People.  Among those is David Brooks, a well-known conservative political and cultural commentator who writes for the New York Times and is also a commentator on NPR and the PBS NewsHour.  I find his latest OpEd to be thoughtful and thought-provoking.  Surprising coming from a Republican, a conservative, but Brooks has always stood above the madding crowd!


Why Is There Still No Strategy to Defeat Donald Trump?

By David Brooks

15 September 2022

One of the stunning facts of the age is the continued prominence of Donald Trump. His candidates did well in the G.O.P. primaries this year. He won more votes in 2020 than he did in 2016. His favorability ratings within his party have been high and basically unchanged since late 2016. In a range of polls, some have actually shown Trump leading President Biden in a race for re-election in 2024.

His prominence is astounding because over the past seven years the American establishment has spent enormous amounts of energy trying to discredit him.

Those of us in this establishment correctly identified Trump as a grave threat to American democracy. The task before us was clear. We were never going to shake the hard-core MAGA folks. The job was to peel away independents and those Republicans offended by and exhausted by his antics.

Many strategies were deployed in order to discredit Trump. There was the immorality strategy: Thousands of articles were written detailing his lies and peccadilloes. There was the impeachment strategy: Investigations were launched into his various scandals and outrages. There was the exposure strategy: Scores of books were written exposing how shambolic and ineffective the Trump White House really was.

The net effect of these strategies has been to sell a lot of books and subscriptions and to make anti-Trumpists feel good. But this entire barrage of invective has not discredited Trump among the people who will very likely play the most determinant role. It has probably pulled some college-educated Republicans into the Democratic ranks and pushed some working-class voters over to the Republican side.

The barrage has probably solidified Trump’s hold on his party. Republicans see themselves at war with the progressive coastal elites. If those elites are dumping on Trump, he must be their guy.

A couple weeks ago, Biden gave a speech in Philadelphia, declaring the MAGA movement a threat to democracy. The speech said a lot of true things about that movement, but there was an implied confession: We have no strategy. Denouncing Trump and discrediting Trump are two different tasks. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned, denunciation may be morally necessary, but it doesn’t achieve the goal the denouncers think it does.

Some commentators argued that Biden’s strategy in the speech was to make Trump the central issue of the 2022 midterms; both Biden and Trump have an interest in making sure that Trump is the sun around which all of American politics revolves.

This week, I talked with a Republican who was incensed by Biden’s approach. He is an 82-year-old émigré from Russia who is thinking of supporting Ron DeSantis in the 2024 primaries because he has less baggage. His parents were killed by the Nazis in World War II. “And now Biden’s calling me a fascist?!” he fumed.

You would think that those of us in the anti-Trump camp would have at one point stepped back and asked some elemental questions: What are we trying to achieve? Who is the core audience here? Which strategies have worked, and which have not?

If those questions were asked, the straightforward conclusion would be that most of what we are doing is not working. The next conclusion might be that there’s a lot of self-indulgence here. We’re doing things that help those of us in the anti-Trump world bond with one another and that help people in the Trump world bond with one another. We’re locking in the political structures that benefit Trump.

My core conclusion is that attacking Trump personally doesn’t work. You have to rearrange the underlying situation. We are in the middle of a cultural/economic/partisan/identity war between more progressive people in the metro areas and more conservative people everywhere else. To lead the right in this war, Trump doesn’t have to be honest, moral or competent; he just has to be seen taking the fight to the “elites.”

The proper strategy in this situation is to scramble the identity war narrative. That’s what Biden did in 2020. He ran as a middle-class moderate from Scranton. He dodged the culture war issues. That’s what the Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman is trying to do in Pennsylvania.

A Democratic candidate who steps outside the culture/identity war narrative is going to have access to the voters who need to be moved. Public voices who don’t seem locked in the insular educated elite worldview are going to be able to reach the people who need to be reached.

Trumpists tell themselves that America is being threatened by a radical left putsch that is out to take over the government and undermine the culture. The core challenge now is to show by word and deed that this is a gross exaggeration.

Can Trump win again? Absolutely. I’m a DeSantis doubter. I doubt someone so emotionally flat and charmless can win a nomination in the age of intensive media. And then once Trump is nominated, he has some chance of winning, because nobody is executing an effective strategy against him.

If that happens, we can at least console ourselves with that Taylor Swift lyric: “I had a marvelous time ruinin’ everything.”

A Dangerous Double Standard

I’d like to ask those who are defending the former guy in everything he’s done, who claim he is above the law, to think about a few things.

  • What if, during the 2012 election season when President Barack Obama was running for re-election, it had been discovered that Obama had attempted to coerce a foreign nation to create a scandal about his opponent, Mitt Romney and threatened to withhold much-needed aid from that country if they did not do so? Would you have shrugged your shoulders and chalked it up to ‘just politics’?
  • What if President Obama had lost his bid for re-election in 2012? Do you think he would have decried the election to have been rigged?  Do you think he would have spent millions of our hard-earned tax dollars in a variety of attempts to de-certify or reverse the results of the election?  And if he did any of that, do you think the people of this nation would still have cheered him on?
  • What if President Obama had brought together thousands of thugs to storm the Capitol on the day the election was to be officially certified, and had called for the assassination of then-Vice-President Biden for doing his job as outlined in the U.S. Constitution? Would the people of this country be saying that he was within his rights to do everything possible, whether legal or not, to stay in the White House?  Would they have applauded his efforts?
  • What if President Obama had, upon leaving the White House with no further recourse open to him, taken with him documents that could very well threaten the security of this nation with regard to other countries who are not our allies, such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, or North Korea? Could you, would anybody, defend him under such circumstances?  Would the Courts be protecting him even in light of his dishonesty?

I think we all know the answer to all of the above questions … If President Obama had done just one of those things, he would almost certainly have been impeached and convicted in the first three instances, and charged within his first year out of office in the fourth.  Heck … remember how much flack President Obama was subjected to for having the unmitigated gall to wear … {GASP} a tan suit to a press conference on August 28, 2014?  Or the time First Lady Michelle Obama was equally ostracized for wearing {GASP again} a sleeveless dress!  And yet, Melania Trump’s nude modeling pictures were all over the internet and not a peep did you hear.  Now, ask yourself this … why is there such a difference between Obama and Trump?  Could it be … is it just possible that the difference in how they were treated, or would have been treated under similar circumstances, stems from something … something irrelevant like, say, skin colour?  Next time you are in a ‘discussion’ with some maga friends, pose these questions to them … watch them stumble and stutter while trying to devise an answer.

If … IF President Obama had done any of the things I mentioned above, such as attempting to blackmail a foreign nation to interfere in our election by providing false information against an opponent, stealing highly classified documents, or inciting an attempted coup, I would be all for charging him, convicting him, and punishing him with prison time, just as I advocate that result for Trump.  But the fact is that no other president in our history has been so brazenly corrupt and endangered the entire nation for his own self-interest, to feed his own ego (not to mention his bank account).  None.  Ever.

People can whine and cry all they want, but Trump must be held accountable for his crimes.  Period.  Two major reasons:

  • As a free ‘man’ who still has a voice and followers in this nation, he is a danger. The threat that he could run again in 2024 and even possibly win, is one that undermines the very principles of democracy in this nation.  His continued ‘voice’ incites and advocates for violence if that is what it takes to return him to the Oval Office.  And violence IS happening as a result. At a Dairy Queen in Pennsylvania, police arrested an armed man who said he was planning to “kill Democrats and liberals.”  And this is just one of many examples.
  • If Trump is not made to pay the price for his perfidy, his crimes, then how can we possibly hold any future president accountable for doing the same? That may well be the scariest part of this scenario, that it will set a precedent that basically says no president can ever be charged with a crime and that he/she is above the law both during their term and after!   Just NO.

There is a double standard in the minds of the maga-cult and it is a dangerous one to the fate of the nation.  I am truly curious to hear how some people would respond to my questions.

A Powerful Question

Yesterday, our friend Nan posted a question asked by Robert Reich and this may well be one of his best pieces ever! I was impressed enough to want to share it. Thank you, Nan … and Robert! (I actually thought I had re-blogged this yesterday afternoon, and didn’t find out until late last night that I had it all set up but forgot to hit the “Reblog Post” button! Senility is setting in!)

Nan's Notebook

blue_question

OK … I’m doing it again. But this is something that NEEDS to be shared. It was written by Robert Reich (via Substack):

A personal question to powerful people who continue to deny the results of the 2020 election

What do you tell yourself in private?

I have a serious question for people who have power in America and who continue to deny the outcome of the 2020 election and enable Trump’s Big Lie: What are you saying to yourself in private? How are you justifying yourself in your own mind?

I don’t mean to be snide or snarky. I’m genuinely curious.

I’m not interested in Trump’s answer to this question. He is too far gone — lost in the depths of his own pathological ego. I’m also not asking the millions of Trump followers, Fox News viewers, and rightwing social media fans who have been fed the Big…

View original post 798 more words

A simple question

Accountability. Responsibility. Truth. Our friend Keith reminds us why we should demand these three things from the people we elect to represent us, and points out that we are being let down in all three areas, particularly by those in the Republican Party. Thank you, Keith, for your wisdom and ability to see beyond the rhetoric, beyond the lies and chaos.

musingsofanoldfart

A simple question for elected officials in my old party – the Republican Party. What will you have to defend tomorrow, next week, next month…next year? And, will it be from an old, alleged crime or a new one. I have been asking this question of GOP officials for over four years now. There is always a new or newly discovered Trump alleged crime or some form of deceit that surfaces.

Accountability. Responsibility. Truth. These are words that are lacking these days to define the Republican party. Democrats are not perfect, but they are at least talking and doing something about issues of import. Yes, Dems stretch the truth, but it is not even close to the level of mainstream deceit that is required by the GOP. Seeing Sarah Palin claim election fraud yesterday was as predictable as the nose on my face. I told my wife…

View original post 540 more words