Sixty-Six Years Ago …

It was sixty-six years ago today that a 14-year-old boy, Emmett Till, was brutally murdered for the crime of being Black in a town called Money, Mississippi.  You all know the story, but allow me to just quickly refresh your memories …

Emmett was from ‘up north’ in Chicago, but his mother had sent him to Mississippi to spend the final two weeks of summer with his beloved grandfather before returning to school.  One day he went into a small store to buy some candy and as the cashier returned his change, his hand accidentally and briefly touched hers.  That, my friends, was all it took to get this young man killed.

By the time the story had been spread and embellished on, it was said that he caressed the clerk … a woman much older than Emmett who he would likely have seen as being the age of his own mother … had wolf-whistled and flirted with her.  While none of these are crimes, more importantly, he did none of the above as witnesses would later recall.  But this was Mississippi in the 1950s, the Jim Crow era.

Long story short, his assailants—the white woman’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, John Milam—dragged young Emmett from his grandfather’s home and made him carry a 75-pound cotton gin fan to the bank of the Tallahatchie River and ordered him to take off his clothes. The two men then beat him nearly to death, gouged out his eye, shot him in the head and then threw his body, tied to the cotton gin fan with barbed wire, into the river.

In September a trial was held for the two murderers and on September 23, the all-white, all-male jury deliberated 67 minutes before acquitting Bryant and Milam. Jurors later admitted in interviews that although they knew Bryant and Milam were guilty of Till’s murder, they did not think imprisonment or the death penalty were appropriate punishments for white men who had killed a black man.  The white woman, Carolyn Bryant, later recanted her testimony.

Why do I rehash this story today?  This is one of thousands of tragic stories from that era, but it is one that has received the most attention, one that we can point to and say, “That is who we used to be.”  Or … can we?  I have fairly recently come to believe that it is still who some of us are today.  I don’t think it’s a long stretch of the imagination to think of a similar atrocity happening in 21st Century Mississippi … or Alabama … Louisiana … Texas.

This is why we MUST teach about Emmett Till and the others in our schools today.  We must open the eyes of our young people to the past in order to ensure we don’t repeat that sordid past.  Just a few weeks ago, before Afghanistan took the spotlight, there was a big brouhaha about teaching ‘Critical Race Theory’ in the schools.  There is an element of our society who would have future generations believe that the U.S. was founded only on compassion and altruism, that the nation’s history is all rosy and beautiful.  It isn’t.

Every single schoolchild by the age of 12 should be aware of the story of Emmett Till, as well as Thomas Moss, Will Stewart, Calvin McDowell and thousands of others. Don’t recognize those names?  Look them up!  Some 6,500 Black people were lynched in the United States between 1865 and 1950 – and that’s only the ones we know about.  No, this is not the ‘pretty’ part of our history BUT … it IS part of our history, part of what has made this nation what it is today.  To hide it, to sweep it under the carpet, is criminal and ultimately will lead us right back to that dirty, dark place of the Jim Crow era.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go back there.

Guns And COVID — Both Murder Weapons

If I owned a retail establishment (a ‘store’, for any Republicans who might be reading), I would be well within my rights to impose and enforce a ban on guns in my business.  I would have a sign on all entrances stating my ‘no gun’ policy and anyone caught bringing a gun into my place would be given a lifetime ban.  No exceptions.  Why?  Because guns kill, because guns are dangerous even in the most well-trained hands.  Because I don’t want to have to hire a crew to clean the blood stains off of my walls.

Murder, by the way, is against the law here in the U.S.  So, if you brought a gun into my establishment, lost your temper with, say somebody who accidentally jostled you, and you shot them … you would go to prison.

Now, the gun rights’ activists will tell me that I’m infringing on their 2nd Amendment rights, but frankly I don’t give a damn and that isn’t how I see it.

So now we have another lethal weapon in the public arsenal, this one less obvious at a glance than a bulky gun:  COVID.  Covid is a lethal killer … to date, 4.5 million people worldwide have died of this disease since its inception and there is no sign that it is slowing down in too many places, most notably parts of the U.S.  So, again, I would be well within my rights to refuse entry to my place of business to anyone not vaccinated and not wearing a mask – the only two tools in our toolbox to fight this killer.

If you wish to visit my store, you will show valid proof of vaccination AND you will wear a mask.  Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass what Governor DeSantis or Governor Abbott have to say about it … I will ban those who cannot follow the rules of public safety.

Today, the vaccine has been widely available and free for a number of months, and this week received full FDA approval, so there is NO remaining excuse for anybody to continue to shun the vaccine.  But if you do, be advised that you, too, will be shunned by good people of conscience.

It seems to me that, Covid being every bit as lethal, though not as obvious, as a gun, then it should be restricted in the same way … that … oh wait, we don’t restrict guns, either do we?  But seriously, folks … the person who refuses to be vaccinated, who refuses to wear a mask in public, is every bit as much a murderer in my book as the person who pulls a gun in a crowded movie theater.  Consider the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally earlier this month.  According to NBC News …

Two weeks after the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, reported Covid infections in the state have risen nearly sixfold.

South Dakota counted 3,819 new cases in the past two weeks, including seven deaths, up from 644 cases in the 14 days preceding it. That makes it the state with the largest percent increase in Covid cases in the past two weeks.

Packed in like sardines and in all the pictures I’ve seen, I did not see a single masked face.

Y’know, my friends, if a person wants to commit suicide, that is his or her business and contrary to what I thought, it is not against the law.  But it does seem that there are more reliable and less traumatic ways to do it than to catch Covid intentionally.  But when we start talking about other people’s lives, then … WHOA!  Put the brakes on, stop sipping that Jack Daniels, stop being stubborn just for the sake of showing the world what an asshole you are, and think for a minute.  Murder, as it happens, IS illegal.  If you intentionally place your unvaccinated, unmasked self into a group of people, you are potentially committing murder.  You may be murdering a two-year-old child or an elderly woman like myself.  You may be murdering a schoolteacher or a nurse.  It’s a game of Russian roulette and I’M TIRED OF IT!

Tell me again, Scott Lawlor, how your right to shun the vaccine overrides my right to life!  Tell us all, you stupid bitches holding up signs reading “My body, my choice”, what you would do if your own child caught Covid and died as a result of your “choice”.

It seems to me that there should be a nation-wide mandate for both the vaccine and masks.  Anybody caught not obeying … there is plenty of jail space.  We could whip Covid in this country in a matter of weeks if EVERYONE did their part … a really simple part, actually.  But no, there are 30% – 40% of the people in this nation who aren’t particularly smart, aren’t at all compassionate, but rather are greedy, selfish bastards.  And governors who would rather see a reduction in the population of their state than make an unpopular decision.  Wow, real tough guys, eh?

Have a safe and happy weekend, my friends, and stay away from covidiots.

Let There Be Consequences

Y’know … some mornings I wake up and wonder what alternative world I have stumbled into.  Nothing is as it once seemed, norms that I’ve known for some 7 decades have been shattered, replaced by utter stupidity and conspiracy theories, and I am not sure how to cope with this not-so-brave new world.  It’s tempting to simply stay in bed surrounded by books, disconnect from the rest of the world, and never come out of my cocoon.  In the past, I have mocked people for doing just that, but now … I understand.  When it seems we have absolutely zero control over what is happening in the world, when the minority are paving the way to chaos while the majority sit quietly on the sidelines wringing their hands, I wonder just how much longer this nation can survive.

I did manage to find one sign that there is still a bit of sanity left in this country …


Remember in the days and weeks immediately following last year’s election when the former guy refused to acknowledge that he could possibly have lost?  He had countless lawyers filing frivolous lawsuits attempting to get courts to overturn the election results without so much as a single shred of evidence that the results, by which President Biden won by more than 7 million votes, were anything but legitimate.  The court cases dragged on, costing more and more money, each one thrown out for lack of credible evidence.

I wondered at the time why any self-respecting attorney who had worked hard to get to this point in his/her career would associate with the likes of the former guy, a known con artist and liar.  I think the key word there is ‘self-respecting’ … the attorneys who filed these cases were not serious about their career in law, but rather wanted to make a name for themselves, sought to trail in the spotlight that seemed to be constantly on the former guy.  Fame & fortune?

And now, those same attorneys who will never again be trusted by honest people are being sent back to school!  Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker imposed sanctions on Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and seven other pro-Trump lawyers in a strongly worded denouncement of what the court called a frivolous election fraud lawsuit, saying they “filed this lawsuit in bad faith and for improper purpose.” That’s an understatement if ever I’ve heard one, but okay.

As part of the sanctions, the attorneys must take legal education classes and also reimburse attorneys’ fees that the city of Detroit and Michigan state officials paid in seeking the sanctions.  I hope the next step is disbarment, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.  This ruling was over one case in Michigan … dozens of frivolous suits were filed late last year … if every single one comes before a conscionable judge and more sanctions are heaped on, then perhaps we can rid the public of yet another clump of human trash.

The Return Of Snarky!

Snippets, Snippets, have I ever got snippets today!  My body may be feeble, but there’s nothing wrong with my mind!


Today, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval for the Pfizer vaccine against COVID.  This does a number of things.

First, it removes the excuse the anti-vaxxers have been using for not getting the vaccine.  They said, “not without full FDA approval!”  Well, folks, now you’ve got that, so get your fat asses out there and get vaccinated … TODAY!

My granddaughter, astute for her young years, said, “I bet now they’ll say it was too fast.”  And lo and behold, just an hour after she said that I read this headline …

Goalposts Moved: Fox News is Now Complaining That FDA Rushed the Vaccine Approval Process

And if Fox says it, you know the nudniks will believe it.

Second, it allowed the Pentagon today to announce it is making the vaccine mandatory for its 1.3 million active-duty service members.  Bravo!!!

The time for argument and delay is past.  This was the last possible hurdle.  Now it’s time to think of others, put petty whining aside just for once, and do the right thing.  If a large portion of the population continue to resist, then I vote we build something akin to leper colonies and house them there until the threat has passed.


In just a few hours, Governor Andrew Cuomo will fade into oblivion … we hope.  Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will take her oath of office at one minute after midnight.  I detest the confrontational attitude that Cuomo has adopted in his last weeks in office, for he is only paying the price for his own actions – nobody forced him to sexually harass women.

That said, all people are some combination of good and bad … well, most people anyway.  While Cuomo’s current crimes must be remembered, must serve as a warning to future politicos, he has also done much good during his decade in office and I think that should be remembered as well.  It is a part of his legacy, just as is his sexual misconduct.  When Pete Rose was banned from baseball for betting on the sport, I thought that right and proper, but when he was denied a well-earned place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, I thought that was wrong.  In the same way, I think it is right for Cuomo to step down, but that it would be wrong to paint Cuomo with only a single, dark brush.

Remember the good as well as the bad and take a lesson from both.


When I was trying to catch up on the news earlier today, I felt as if there were a conspiracy to direct our attention in so many directions that no single news item would stand out, would capture our full attention.  Afghanistan, of course, is at the forefront of our minds, as it should be.  Climate change and the terrible climate-related disasters happening all over the globe – floods, hurricanes, droughts, water shortages, wildfires – are critical to our future on this planet.  Getting vaccines into stubborn mules and masks onto their faces seems a never-ending struggle and is critical, for failure to do so affects the health and well-being of every man, woman and child on earth.  But what seems to have fallen through the cracks may be, at least for the people of the United States, the most important issue of them all:  voting rights.

The U.S. Senate under the minority leadership of the ignoble Kevin McCarthy is somehow determined to draw our attention away from the bills S1 and S4 so that, with our attention elsewhere, they can sweep them under the rug and wash their hands of our voting rights.

Interestingly, Maria Bartiromo of Fox ‘News’ interviewed McCarthy the other day and she surprised me.  Here’s a brief snippet from that interview …

Bartiromo:  “You a moment ago mentioned the HR 1 voting bill. I’ve got to tell you there are viewers of this program who have lost faith in the Republican Party leadership, lost faith in Mitch McConnell and in you because we do not know if you have your arms around free and fair elections.  How come there’s no discussion about all of the states that are changing their voting laws right now?  How come there’s no discussion about the audit going on in Arizona right now? What are you going to do? Can you prove to the American people that you are in control here and able to ensure that we will have free and fair elections in 2022 and 2024?”

McCarthy:  “We’re fighting every single day. Now we’re watching Democrats trying to cheat within elections, inflation at a number we have not seen. This is Jimmy Carter on steroids. And this is just eight months into this administration.  We will fight and we will win and the next century will be the American century because we know how to govern.”

That is a non-answer if ever I heard one!  He did not even begin to answer the question, not even to address the fact that some Fox viewers, according to Bartiromo, have lost faith in the Republican Party leadership, but used his answer as yet another opportunity to criticize the Democratic Party!  Get off your fat ass, McCarthy, and do your job!  We the People want the For the People Act (S1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (S4) passed and we want it done before the end of this year!!!

Folks … this one is top priority, even though it seems to have faded out of view in light of the chaos of the Afghanistan troop withdrawal.  Let’s keep it hot, okay?  We cannot allow our politicians to simply shrug their shoulders and let these two all-important bills die in the Senate.  Once again, I’m asking you, contact your Senators and let them know you have not forgotten … you will not forget.

On Women’s Rights And The ERA

Women’s rights … it has taken us centuries to have the right to own property, to marry who we choose, to divorce him if it doesn’t work out, to VOTE, to earn equal pay for equal work, to have the right to make our own decisions in matters pertaining to our bodies.  What may have taken centuries to build, has taken very little time to destroy.  Two cases caught my eye in the news yesterday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has ruled that Texas may prohibit a common second-trimester abortion procedure.  Isn’t it funny that people claim they have control over their body when it comes to getting vaccinated or wearing masks, but when it comes to we women having control over our body for something as life-changing as pregnancy, the Courts will decide what we can or cannot do?  I think, in order to avoid being seen as sexist, or a double standard, the Courts should immediately order every person over the age of 12 to be vaccinated!

Out in California, one of the most progressive states in the union, Larry Elder is one of the candidates hoping to unseat Governor Gavin Newsom next month.  Elder is, apparently, a misogynist, or as we used to call them, a male chauvinist pig.  It is illegal to ask a female employee when or if she plans to become pregnant.  Mr. Elder, however, sees no reason for that law.  He says …

“Are there legitimate business reasons for a venture capitalist to ask a female entrepreneur whether & when she intends to have children? Hell, yes. I’m not quite sure why it’s the govt’s business to intrude on it.”

What a guy, eh?  Now, seems to me that if he supports asking women that question, it would also be only fair to ask male employees and applicants when and if they plan to sire a child, and how many?

Why do we have to keep fighting the same old battles?  The U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1787, yet it would be 133 years later, in 1920, before the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, ensuring women the right to vote.  And it would be 1984 before the State of Mississippi finally ratified the 19th Amendment, granting women in that state the right to vote.

In 1973, the Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade makes abortion legal.  And ever since, religious groups have been trying to get it overturned.  This isn’t about, as they will try to tell you, “right to life”, for the proponents in favour of overturning Roe don’t care about life.  They largely support the death penalty, they hunt to kill, most own guns … no, it isn’t about the right to life, it is about controlling women, it is about taking back women’s rights.

In 1923 the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced. It says, “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.”  Today, nearly 100 years later, the Equal Rights Amendment still has not been passed by Congress!!!  Can anybody explain this one to me?

Phyllis Schlafly … you remember that witch, right … campaigned against the ERA saying that the measure would lead to gender-neutral bathrooms, same-sex marriage, and women in military combat, among other things.  😱  Oh horrors!  Every single one of those things came to pass anyway and our nation is a better place because of it!  Take that, Ms. Schlafly!!!

By 1977, only 35 states had ratified the ERA. Though Congress voted to extend the ratification deadline by an additional three years, no new states signed on. Complicating matters further, lawmakers in five states — Nebraska, Tennessee, Idaho, Kentucky, and South Dakota — voted to rescind their earlier support.

Tell me again that this isn’t very much a man’s world!  We women, in their minds, serve at their pleasure.  Period.

Open Letter To All Republicans In Congress

Dear Sir or Madam,

Never in my 70 years have I been as disgusted with the Republican Party as I am today.  You have taken politics to an all time low, completely disregarding the will of the people and the best interests of the nation.  Your only goal seems to be to take over the nation and hand the reins of power to a cruel and evil dictator.

Note that your party is in the minority, both in Congress and in the nation, yet rather than trying to develop policies that would help people and thereby attract new members, you push people away with your hateful, guttersnipe rhetoric.  One example, Margie Greene, the QAnon conspiracy theorist who sits in the House of Representatives.  Just since returning from her Twitter ban, she has said that she will personally spend money to ensure that every one of the 19 senators who voted for the infrastructure bill will face a primary candidate next year.  Why?  Only because they worked across the aisle in an attempt to do their jobs.  And then, she claimed that she is drawing up impeachment papers against President Biden … no reason given.

And speaking of the infrastructure bill, there’s Ron Johnson who tells us that he hasn’t even read it and doesn’t plan to … he just knows he plans not to vote for it no matter what is or isn’t in it.  This is obstructionism to the nth degree.

Politics is a career intended to be peopled by educated people who understand how government works and who are dedicated to the principles enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.  Instead, what we get from your side of the aisle is gibberish that makes less sense than a kindergarten child on the playground.  Those of us who have even a basic knowledge of the Constitution and understand a bit about how government is supposed to work are appalled by your actions of the last decade or so, and especially the past year.

We elect you to act in our best interests, to put our welfare ahead of your own personal wealth and lust for power, but thus far you have not done that.  We elect you, then pay you a fair salary, and in return we expect you to show up for work every day, to read every bill you are asked to consider, to give those bills due consideration, debate them, and then make a decision based on whether this bill will be good for the nation and its people.  That’s really all we ask of you!  We don’t ask you to flit about the country holding rallies in which to spew a message of hate.  We don’t ask you to visit the former guy to help him work up his campaign strategy for the next election that is more than three years away.  In fact, that is a conflict of interest and We the People would be well within our rights to call for the resignation of those who have done so.  We don’t ask you to tweet condemnation of every single thing the president says or does – that’s not in your job description.

We the People are your employers, not Mitch McConnell, not Kevin McCarthy, and for damn sure not Donald Trump!

In 1854, your party was founded for a very noble purpose:  to stop the spread of slavery.  Throughout the years, the Republican Party has made some positive contributions to this nation.  But today?  You contribute only to the angst of the people who need help, who need you to put on your grown-up underwear and step up to the plate, do the right thing.  You have an opportunity to make vast improvements in the Republican Party, but instead you are more concerned about increasing your own power and wealthy at the expense of the very people to whom you owe your jobs.

For far too long now, the Republican Party, once known as the Grand Old Party, has been the “party of ‘no’”, the obstructionist party with no relevant goals or policies other than to naysay any legislation that is proposed by the Democratic Party.  Well, guess what … at least they have ideas!

It is time for the Republican Party to reassess their values, to step back and ask yourselves exactly what are you contributing besides chaos?  With all the challenges that face us today, I would think this would be the time to set partisan politics, greed and arrogance aside and work toward fixing the problems, toward making this a safer, more equal nation.  Instead, you are doing the exact opposite.

Think about it.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, independent voter, taxpayer, citizen

Torn To Pieces

This country, the United States, is being torn into pieces.  I have never actually despised as many people as I do today, and I know that I am not alone.  We cannot seem to agree on anything, not even the safety of the nation’s children.  We cannot agree on whether or not to be vaccinated against a deadly disease, or whether to wear a mask for protection against that deadly disease.  We cannot agree on whether money should be spent to repair our crumbling physical infrastructure, and we certainly cannot agree that in this, the time of a massive, wide-spread pandemic, people should be helped.

I laugh when I think of the name of this country:  The UNITED States.  There is no unity left today … and why?  Political posturing.  There are two distinct sides with little in the middle and that’s just how the politicians want it.  It’s a power play that is costing us our lives.

One of the most blatant examples of the divisiveness in this nation is the Big Lie being perpetuated by men of greed, power-hungry men who are very well aware that the former guy did NOT win the 2020 election but will cross their fingers behind their back while spending millions of taxpayer dollars to claim that he did win.  Now, if President Biden had won by only a narrow margin, say 250 or even 1,000 votes, then I could see the rationale in challenging the results.  However, he won by more than 7 million votes … ain’t no way in hell that is not a legitimate win, folks!

President Joseph Biden has been in office for seven months now.  For the entirety of those seven months, and the two-and-a-half months before the inauguration, the former guy and his unconscionable minions have been spending time and our money attempting to prove their guy won.  He didn’t, but here’s the point:  We the People pay these representatives to work … to do the work of the people.  Pandering to Donald Trump is NOT the work of the people, it is a waste of time and money … time and money that belong to US.

After the circus in Arizona which, I understand, is still ongoing but not a legitimate audit by any stretch of the imagination, now Wisconsin is spending beaucoup taxpayer dollars to do an audit … 9 months after the election, after nearly 100 lawsuits that proved nothing, and after countless recounts and audits!  Does the state of Wisconsin really have nothing better on which to waste taxpayer dollars??? Wisconsin state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced that the ‘audit’ would cost several hundred thousand dollars … I wonder how the people of Wisconsin feel about their hard-earned money being thrown away in such an irresponsible manner?

The lead investigator in the Wisconsin ‘audit’ is Michael Gableman, a hardcore Trumpeter who has spoken at Trump rallies and who attended the pillow dude’s laughable cyber-symposium in which, allegedly, proof of widespread election fraud would be presented. (It, um, wasn’t.)  Now, do you really think Gableman is a ‘neutral’ party who will oversee a fair, honest audit of the election results?  Actually back in November, a full recount of the votes was done and there was no evidence whatsoever of any unusual activity or fraud.  Should that not suffice … people, let’s move on with our lives here!  President Joe Biden won the damned election … put it to bed!

I don’t know what hold the former guy has over the GOP, for he is no longer in power, no longer has power except as they choose to allow him to make their decisions for them. We voted Trump OUT of office because we no longer wanted him controlling our government, making piss poor decisions, and destroying our nation, so why would we want our elected representatives to force his ideas on us?  There’s something here I’m not seeing, frankly.  But this slavish devotion to the former guy is a large part of what is tearing this country apart.

If We the People don’t find some common ground soon and hold our elected officials accountable for their actions, or lack thereof, I fear for the fate of this Divided States of America.

When Will They Ever Learn???

I am appalled by the anti-mask, anti-vax bunch and the lengths they will go to in order to ensure that we never come out from under the Covid thumb!  To ensure that their own children have an equal opportunity to die at a young age.  For PETE’S SAKE PEOPLE!!!  Wake the hell up!

There is yet another new variant of Covid just beginning to make the rounds and it is thought to be largely resistant to the vaccines we have today.  It is called the Lambda variant, that started in Peru but is quickly popping up all over the globe.  And so … how are people ensuring that we all keep safe?  By breathing on us, by refusing to wear a mask or to allow their children to wear one.  Damn fools!

On the first day back to school in California this week, a parent assaulted a teacher when he saw his son come out of school with a mask on.  The teacher was not seriously injured, having only some bruises, lacerations, and a knot on his head, but this is horrifying!  The man would, apparently, rather see his son dead than wearing a mask!  I wonder if, when the son is in the hospital on life support, the father will assault the doctors and nurses for putting an oxygen mask on his face?

The anti-life group is now attacking restaurants, as well, even restaurants they have never eaten in.  They are leaving 1-star reviews on sites such as YELP, a restaurant reviewing site, simply because those restaurants require proof of vaccination.  The owners of some restaurants requiring proof of vaccination are being called ‘Nazis’ and ‘communists’ and more.  WTF???

To a large extent, I blame the nation’s Republican politicians for this, as well as the right-wing Fox ‘News’, for far too many of them have often done and said things that the uneducated and the willfully ignorant take to heart.  But let me be perfectly clear here:  lack of education and purposeful ignorance are NOT an excuse for risking the lives of others!  People who claim their ‘rights’ must also accept their responsibility to their own family and to the rest of the world.  No, you do NOT have the right to risk my life or even the lives of your own children.  They are not possessions that you can either care for or toss in the rubbish!

This nonsense has gone beyond ridiculous and those who choose to infect the rest of us may well end up being responsible for the extinction of the human species!  Maybe that’s for the best, since we humans seem to have zero respect for the planet or other species.  Perhaps humans were the worse example of a bad experiment.

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has written a column for The Atlantic titled “Don’t Be a Schmuck. Put on a Mask.”  I strongly urge you to read it, but here are a few snippets from his piece:

Earlier this week, I delivered a simple message: There is a virus here. It kills people. The only way you can prevent it is to get vaccinated, wear masks, and do social distancing.

Some people are complaining, “Well, my freedom is being kind of disturbed here.” Well, I told them, “Screw your freedom.” You have the freedom to wear no mask. But if you exercise that freedom, you’re a schmuck—because you’re supposed to protect your fellow Americans.

But some of the responses really worried me. Many people told me that the Constitution gives them rights, but not responsibilities. They feel no duty to protect their fellow citizens.

That’s when I realized we all need a civics lesson. I can’t help but wonder how much better off we’d be if Americans took a step back from politics and spent a minute thinking about how lucky we are to call this country home. Instead of tweeting, we could think about what we owe to the patriots who came before us and those who will follow us.

The Constitution aimed to “promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.” It’s right there in our founding document. We need to think beyond our selfish interests.

Our country began with a willingness to make personal sacrifices for the collective good. It’s right there in the closing line of the Declaration of Independence: “We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Almost two centuries later, John F. Kennedy posed his famous challenge: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Our country became great because every generation before us knew that liberty and duty go hand in hand. I am worried that many of my fellow Americans have now lost sight of that.

Wake up, people.  Were it in my power, I would issue a nationwide mask mandate and have police arrest anybody found in a public venue not wearing a mask.  Alas, nobody asked my opinion.  So, I’ll likely continue to opine here, as the new lambda variant creates surges in hospitalizations and raises the death tolls once again.  Meanwhile, just get vaccinated and wear a damn mask!

For The People Act Cannot Die — Here’s Why

After the Census Bureau released detailed population and demographic data from the 2020 census yesterday, states and local governments are set to begin the once-a-decade process of drawing new voting district boundaries known as redistricting. And gerrymandering — when those boundaries are drawn with the intention of influencing who gets elected — is bound to follow.

The current redistricting cycle will be the first since the Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling that gerrymandering for party advantage cannot be challenged in federal court, which has set the stage for perhaps the most ominous round of map drawing in the country’s history.

In the unlikely event that the For the People Act passes the Senate, gerrymandering will be relegated to the annals of history, but since that is about as likely as me growing a pair of wings and flying far, far away, I will take this opportunity to redux my explanation of gerrymandering from a post I did back in 2019:

Gerrymandering, for any who may be unclear on precisely what the term means, is a means of re-drawing district maps to manipulate the boundaries in order to favour one party over the other.  The Washington Post published an excellent article explaining the process  back in March 2015  that I urge you to take a look at.  The graphic below, taken from that article, provides a pretty good visual explanation.

Every 10 years, states redraw their legislative and congressional district lines following the census. Because communities change, redistricting is critical to our democracy: maps must be redrawn to ensure that districts are equally populated, comply with laws such as the Voting Rights Act, and are otherwise representative of a state’s population. Done right, redistricting is a chance to create maps that, in the words of John Adams, are an “exact portrait, a miniature” of the people as a whole.

Trouble is, it is almost never ‘done right’.

While legislative and congressional district shapes may look wildly different from state to state, most attempts to gerrymander can best be understood through the lens of two basic techniques: cracking and packing.

Cracking splits groups of people with similar characteristics, such as voters of the same party affiliation, or perhaps the same … skin colour … across multiple districts. With their voting strength divided and diluted, these groups struggle to elect their preferred candidates in any of the districts.

Packing is the opposite of cracking: map drawers cram certain groups of voters into as few districts as possible. In these few districts, the “packed” groups are likely to elect their preferred candidates, but the groups’ voting strength is weakened everywhere else.

While historically both parties have used gerrymandering to their advantage, today it is largely the Republicans who do so in order to disenfranchise certain groups, among them Blacks, the elderly, college students, and the working poor.  Now, coupled with the blatant voter suppression laws that are being proposed and legislated in 42 of the 50 states, and … well, you can see the problem.  Black people’s voices will be diluted, as will the elderly and others, while white Christians will have their voices amplified.  One piece of legislation can halt both voter suppression laws and gerrymandering in their tracks:  the For the People Act.

In a nutshell, this bill, which has already passed in the House of Representatives and is lying dormant in the Senate today, will …

  • Make it easier for every eligible voter to register to vote
  • Make it easier for every registered voter to vote
  • Make election day a public holiday
  • Ban partisan gerrymandering by prohibiting adoption of any map that has the intent or effect of “unduly favoring or disfavoring” one political party over another
  • Require that congressional redistricting be transparent and participatory, with open meetings and public hearings, opportunities for the public to review and comment on proposed maps
  • Require that states carry out congressional redistricting using independent commissions that:
    • prohibit current and recent lawmakers, staff, and lobbyists and others with conflicts of interest from serving on the commission;
    • include an equal number of Republican, Democratic, and unaffiliated or third-party members selected through a rigorous screening process, with voting rules designed to ensure that maps can pass only with support from all three groups; and
    • include members who are representative of the state’s demographic makeup and different geographic regions, with enough members from racial, ethnic, and language minorities to give those groups a meaningful opportunity to participate in the redistricting process

There is much, much more in this bill that would bring equity and fairness back into our election process, and I do plan to cover more of it in the near future, but … the bill is on the chopping block and desperately needs to be resuscitated.  It is subject to the senate filibuster, an archaic, racist tool that is used by the minority party to keep legislation they don’t like from ever passing any legislation.  In this case, however, We the People need to step up to the plate, we need to fight tooth and nail to get this legislation passed!  This may, in fact, be the single most important bill on the docket of this Congress — even more crucial than the infrastructure bill.

Why, exactly, don’t the Republicans want to allow the For the People Act to see the light of day?  Because in a fair and honest election, few Republicans would stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected.  Ever since they showed their racist side in response to a Black man being elected president, and then backed a raving madman with zero qualifications for the presidency in 2016, the Republican Party has been on a downhill path, eschewing sound policymaking and instead engaging in lies, cheating, conspiracy theories, and such nefarious practices to win elections.  In 2016, their hero lost by 2.8 million votes, but due to gerrymandered districts, was placed in the Oval Office by the Electoral College.  The minority ruled.  Last year, that same hero lost by more than 7 million votes, and the Republicans are determined not to allow that to happen again, even if it means stopping the votes of the majority.  And if all else fails, there is little doubt in my mind that they will have a ‘Plan B’, likely something along the lines of what happened on January 6th.

If we care at all about this nation, if we care about how our government spends our hard-earned tax dollars and how they treat people, then we must DEMAND that the Senate pass this damn bill!!!  Otherwise, welcome to the Plutocracy of the dis-United States.

Two Monsters In Governor’s Clothing

The state of Florida currently has more hospitalizations due to COVID than any other state in the nation.  Cases in Texas are also surging, sending hospitals scrambling to find ICU beds for all the patients.  Both of these states have Republican governors who are doing everything in their power to reduce the population in their states.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (left) and Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Both Governor DeSantis of Florida and Governor Abbott of Texas have banned mask mandates in their state, meaning that localities cannot legally put a mask mandate into effect in order to protect the people.  Bad enough under any circumstances, but now, with parents preparing to send their children back to school in a week or two, it is critical.

Columnist Greg Sargent has the latest on the battle between the governors, localities, and school boards …


The rebellion against pro-Trump, anti-mask GOP governors is gaining steam

Opinion by

Greg Sargent

Columnist

Yesterday at 11:04 a.m. EDT

Let’s state this up front: GOP governors are not required by some higher Trumpian law to use official powers to actively thwart efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Some are choosing not to do that: In South Dakota, the governor left decisions about mask mandates to local officials, and in Arkansas the governor admitted that an earlier ban on them was an “error.”

But the Republican governors of Texas and Florida — Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis — are in a class by themselves. Their states are seeing some of the worst surges of covid in the nation, yet they are continuing to hamstring local officials from acting to protect their constituents.

Which is why these governors are facing a rebellion of sorts. In both states, ABC News reports, officials are defying limits on mask mandates, setting up direct conflicts with those governors.

This will flush out into the open the truly twisted nature of what DeSantis and Abbott are doing. They piously claim to be defending their constituents’ freedom from government mandates. But they are using their power to prevent local officials from implementing basic public health measures in a highly selective way that is plainly molded around the obsessions of former president Donald Trump and his movement, not anchored in any genuine public interest rationale.

Local officials are rebelling

The derangement of this position is particularly clear in Texas. On Monday, Abbott announced that he is seeking the help of outside medical professionals to deal with the state’s covid surge. He is also asking hospitals to postpone all elective medical procedures as hospitals fill up.

Amid all this, the Dallas schools superintendent has reasonably announced that students, visitors and staff will have to wear masks in schools. He noted that the decision is an “urgent” matter of “protecting” children, teachers and workers.

Yet this directive required him to defy Abbott’s executive order barring mask mandates by government entities. To be clear, Abbott’s own actions amount to a stark admission that the state is in serious trouble — yet he continues to ban localities from taking measures to protect public health.

The absurd result, as the New York Times reports, is that local officials are scouring legal codes to find ways to get around Abbott’s blockade on implementing public health measures. This isn’t how officials should have to spend time and resources during a public health emergency.

In Austin, where cases are surging, local officials have recommended masking, but cannot require it, which has led the mayor of Austin to declare the situation “dire.” The Austin school district just announced a mask requirement, defying Abbott.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools is moving ahead with mandatory masking. This is in defiance of DeSantis’s recent executive order empowering the state to withhold funds to punish school boards who implement mask mandates.

Incredibly, it appears DeSantis may make good on this threat. The superintendent, Carlee Simon, told “Morning Joe” on Tuesday that she’s received a letter from the state demanding justification for her move and essentially indicating that funding is at risk if she continues.

A handful of Florida parents are now suing DeSantis. One mom told CNN that she “never envisioned” that the governor “would actively be trying to harm my child,” and lamented correctly that limits on mask mandates are interfering with her son’s ability to get educated safely.

Anyone who has taken a young child to a camp or gathering this summer has witnessed how children playing together continue to drift inevitably into very close contact. It’s particularly ludicrous and venal to bar local officials from acting to defend these children from spread.

Abbott and DeSantis love to proclaim that they are defending the liberty of their states’ residents to proceed free of public health mandates, and that they should merely exercise “personal responsibility” in dealing with covid. But it’s hard to discern any genuine ideological vision here, since they have no apparent objection to all manner of other public health mandates.

“We have plenty of mandates,” Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told me. “We require elementary school students to get various vaccinations. We require drivers to wear seat belts. We require adults to wear clothes.”

“There are any number of ways in which the laws of every state, including Florida and Texas, impose mandates that are designed to protect individuals,” Vladeck continued.

‘Covid exceptionalism’

All of which suggests that the real working ideology here is something you might call “covid exceptionalism.”

Obviously it would theoretically be possible for DeSantis and Abbott to believe, in good faith, that mandates against covid represent unacceptable incursions on liberty while other mandates do not.

But everyone knows the real reason DeSantis and Abbott are suddenly concerned with protecting people from public health mandates on covid in particular is that government officials eager to battle covid this way have become associated with assorted enemies of Trump and his following.

Because Trump and his movement have required this adherence to covid exceptionalism, local officials are being hamstrung from carrying out their own official responsibilities to act in defense of public health. It’s hard to find the right language to describe the seething contempt for public service and the public good that’s truly on display here.