FINALLY — Some Good News!

I lost count of how many “Breaking News” updates hit my phone yesterday, but most contained good news, so I’m not complaining.  Four things among the maelstrom of pings, dings and knocks from my phone stand out, all of them positive, at least from where I stand, though I’m sure there are those who would disagree with me.

  • The first was that Joe Biden announced several of his choices for key cabinet positions. I’ll have more about this in future posts, for I will need time to research these people, some of whom I’m not familiar with.  But the one that caught my eye first was Biden’s appointment of John Kerry as special presidential envoy for climate.  This sends a message, loud and clear, that no longer will we shirk our duty toward climate change and the environment.  As Secretary of State under President Obama, John Kerry played a key role in negotiating the landmark Paris Climate Accord, which was adopted by nearly 200 nations in 2015 and was aimed at addressing the negative impacts of climate change. Trump withdrew the US from agreement, and Biden has pledged to rejoin it on his first day in office.

  • Next came the news that the election officials in Michigan certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. I let out a few YAHOOOOOOs over this one and found myself, inexplicably, with tears in my eyes.  Too much stress lately, I guess.  Pennsylvania and Arizona are close to certifying Biden’s victory, but despite having a BA and an MA in Political Science, I simply do not understand what the holdup is.  Yes, I know Donnie Darkness is protesting, continuing to claim that he actually won, and suing everybody and their brother, but his cases are consistently being thrown out of the courts because there is zero evidence of any widescale aberrations anywhere.  Trump’s legal eagles have failed to provide a shred of evidence.  It’s time for every state to certify the vote, to follow the law and the will of the people.  Trump lost by more than 6 million votes – he’d have to find a hell of a lot of “voter fraud” to overturn that!

  • Then there was this headline in the New York Times: G.M. Drops Its Support for Trump Climate Rollbacks and Aligns With Biden.  Trump is suing the state of California (isn’t that rather like suing one’s own family member?  Perhaps he forgot that California is one of the 50 ‘United’ States?) in an effort to strip California of its ability to set its own, strict fuel economy standards.  Initially, three U.S. automakers joined in the lawsuit:  General Motors, Toyota, and Fiat Chrysler.  With G.M. dropping their support, it is likely only a matter of days before Toyota and Fiat Chrysler join their competitor in dropping out.  In fact, G.M.’s CEO, Mary Barra, urged the other two to follow G.M.’s lead.  Score one for the environment!

  • And last, but certainly not least, came the news just around supper time, that Emily Murphy at the General Services Administration (GSA) acknowledged Joe Biden as the ‘apparent’ winner of the election. This move will give the Biden transition team access to federal transition funds, and will also allow the team to establish contact and working relations with federal agencies.  A day late and a dollar short, as they say, but … better late than never.  Trump attempted to take credit for the decision, but made a point of saying that he is not conceding the election, and that … “Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good … fight, and I believe we will prevail!”  I laughed at this … I really no longer care what he says, for he is quickly becoming irrelevant.  The sooner he, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Kayleigh McEnany figure that out, the sooner our lives will become more peaceful!

I still have concerns, still do not trust Donald Trump, nor the congressional republicans, nor the Supreme Court, nor the white supremacist gun freaks who say they are planning violence when Joe Biden is inaugurated, but overall I think yesterday was a red-letter day for positive news … something we were sorely in need of.  We still have many problems, and yesterday was not quite a ‘jump for joy’ moment, but more a ‘sigh of relief’ one.  Perhaps soon we’ll even be able to sleep for more than an hour at a time.

Musings From The Rabbit Hole — Unity

Joe Biden, who will take the Oath of Office in just 67 days, has promised to try to unify the people of this country … unlike the current occupant of the Oval Office who has done nothing but divide us.  I applaud that effort, and until yesterday I naively thought it might just be possible.  I still hope that it can be done … certainly if anybody can, Biden is among the best candidates to do so.  But today I have my doubts.  I don’t want to be negative or a naysayer, for we all need all the hope we can find, but I am nothing if not a pragmatist, a realist. Yesterday as I perused the news, considered what was happening, it occurred to me that a large number – about half – of the people in this nation do not want unity, but rather thrive on division and chaos.

Certainly, there have always been political divisions in this country and always will be, for we are a nation of humans, but what we are experiencing now goes beyond ideological differences and into the arena of personal hatred.  This “Reign of Cruelty” as I term the past four years, has changed us, has made us more willing to accept things that we once abhorred.  It has made us less human.

I hate that it has boiled down to Republican vs Democrat and the language of hate, the finger-pointing, the blame game is always … always the fault of everyone who identifies with one party or another.  I, too, have been guilty of saying, “The republicans only want …” or “The republicans are the cause of …”, and it’s not something I’m proud of, but admittedly it will likely happen again, for I am human.

Today, thousands of people are gathered in Washington to … what?  I’m not sure what they hope to accomplish, but they are protesting the results of the election, results that clearly prove Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. They are parroting Trump’s false claim that the election has been ‘stolen’, that there was massive voter fraud, even though this has been disproven.  They’ve brought their guns, they’ve brought their Proud Boys, their maga hats, their Trump banners, and while so far nobody has been killed, I won’t be surprised if there is violence and death before the day is done.

I am neither a democrat nor a republican, but for the past twenty years or so, I have found nothing particularly valuable in the republican platform, while I do support the same sorts of things the Democratic Party supports, things like providing affordable health care for everyone, women’s rights, equal rights for the LGBT community, equal opportunities for people of all colours and religions in such areas as housing and employment.  I support raising the minimum wage, workplace safety, and perhaps most importantly, taking care of the planet that we have long neglected.

The pandemic perfectly highlights the differences between the two ‘sides’ in this nation.  We cannot even agree to protect each other from a deadly virus, cannot agree on something so simple as wearing a mask in public, else staying home.  If we cannot agree on even that, how can we possibly come to terms on such things as environmental regulations, universal health care, and ending systemic racism?

This nation was founded on freedom of religion, which also means freedom from religion, and yet today a growing portion of the population believes that their religious beliefs ought to be the basis of the laws that we must all live under, even those of us who do not share their beliefs.  This only further divides us … wars have been fought over this very thing, but we fail to learn the lessons of history.

The effort to unify will require compromise, and I just don’t see a willingness among the people of this nation to budge so much as an inch, let alone meet the other side at the halfway mark.  What will it take to bring the people of this nation together, united in a common goal?  Will it take bombs being dropped on us by an outside entity?  Will it take the deaths of half the people in the nation before we open our eyes and realize that we cannot keep killing each other?

Can we possibly set aside our vitriol and hate for a moment and think about the things we have in common?  Or do we still have anything in common?  I think we do … we all love our families and want the best for them, we just don’t agree on what is the best or how to achieve it.  We all have certain basic needs such as food, water, shelter, and breathable air … we just don’t agree on how to achieve those things.  We all want our children to have a good education … we just don’t agree on what, exactly, that is.  So yes, we have much in common, but we view it from different perspectives.  All of which would be fine, if we respected each other, respected others’ viewpoints and agreed to compromise.  Instead, we try to shove our views down the throats of others.

If you’re waiting for me to tell you how we can fix this … don’t hold your breath, for I have no idea.  I only hope that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are far wiser than I and can make decisions and policies that will help narrow what I refer to as the Great Divide.

America’s Wake-Up Call — Our Final Thoughts …

The election is just four days away and this will be the last pre-election post that Jeff and I will likely be doing.  We were pondering what our final words to you should be, what one last thought we wanted to leave you with before this momentous election.  The one thing that weighs heavily on all of our minds is what our country will look like four years from now, for we are at a turning point in many areas and how we respond going forward to such things as the pandemic, climate change, income disparity, healthcare and more will have a dramatic effect on whether this nation thrives or fails in the coming years.

With that in mind, we want to leave you with our thoughts on what the U.S. will be in four years under each of the candidates for the presidency.  We will not engage in hyperbole or wild fantasies but will try to imagine in our own minds what each of these candidates will realistically be able to accomplish … or destroy.


2024 Under Donald Trump

It’s 2024 and Donald Trump has now been president for seven years and a few months.  At the beginning of his second term, back in 2021, the pandemic ravaged the nation.  With more than one million dead by the end of 2021, there was not a single family that hadn’t suffered the loss of a loved one.  Worse yet, the job market tanked as most every state, with the exception of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas imposed strict lockdown measures in order to try to save lives.  Chaos reigned, especially in the cities where bands of gun-toting marauders roamed the streets, making it unsafe for people to go about their business.  Fortunately, by the summer of 2022, a reliable, safe vaccine had been widely distributed and the pandemic was downgraded, with fewer and fewer people becoming ill.  Although the vaccine was created and manufactured at Oxford University in England, Donald Trump took full credit and told us we should get on our knees and thank him.

So many things have gone seriously wrong in these past four years that I don’t know where to begin.  It’s almost impossible to remember when the EU, UK, Canada, Australia and many other countries were our allies, and there was mutual respect between us.  Today, it’s safe to say that no nation on the planet respects the U.S.  Trump’s foreign policy is non-existent and changes on a day-by-day basis.  The only constants are that he is on the friendliest terms with Russia’s Putin, Brazil’s Bolsonaro, North Korea’s Kim Jong un, and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman … all of whom are autocratic, despicable leaders.  Our former allies watch us closely with suspicious eyes and there has been talk of a wide-scale full trade embargo if we do not take drastic steps to reduce our carbon emissions, as well as plastic waste.  Trump, meanwhile, scoffs and like a schoolboy, taunts the European leaders.  There will be a price to pay … one that we will all pay — are already paying.

As a result of Trump’s trade deals and ridiculous tariffs, our cost of living has increased significantly … a trip to the grocery store is now approximately 40% higher than it was four short years ago … and yet wages have barely risen in most industries.  Time and time again, Trump has refused to sign into law a $15 an hour federal minimum wage law, and today the federal minimum wage remains stagnant at $7.25 an hour, as it has been since July 24, 2009 – some fifteen years!  In 2020, nearly 46 million people in this country lived below the poverty level.  Today, that number has nearly doubled to 89 million people, with women who are single parents being hit the hardest.

Perhaps the most heart-breaking thing over the past four years is the way in which Trump has openly promoted racism and other forms of bigotry.  While he still has managed to build only a few miles of the abominable wall he promised 8 years ago, immigrants have largely stopped trying to come to this country, for in 2021 ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) shot and killed hundreds of asylum seekers attempting to cross the border between the U.S. and Mexico.  This they did with Trump’s approval, and though lawsuits were filed, while some courts found ICE guilty, the Supreme Court, now with a 7-2 conservative bench since the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, ruled that ICE was only doing their job.  Police departments across the nation are aware that there will be no repercussions for harassing people of colour and immigrants. Last year in Portland, Oregon, a gang of white supremacist thugs murdered eight Black men on their way home from a bachelor’s party and last week, every one of the white supremacist murderers were awarded a ‘not guilty’ verdict.

The suicide rate last year doubled from just a decade ago, and such things as drug use and alcoholism are, according to the experts, at an all-time high, not surprisingly.  People are tired, they are hungry, they are struggling just to put food on the table, while the wealthy corporate executives now pay almost no taxes, and Trump has undermined such social programs as housing assistance, medical assistance and food stamps such that many see no alternative but death. Today, Social Security … the government-mandated pension plan we all paid into for our entire lives, is on the Supreme Court chopping block, leaving seniors wondering how they can survive.

The day that Trump was re-elected in 2020 was the darkest day in this nation’s history, and the darkness has not yet lifted … won’t lift until he … and his family … are out of office.


2024 Under Joe Biden

Well, here we are … another election year.  Joe Biden has been president for just over three years now, and overall, I believe the nation is better today than it was four years ago.  The first two years of his administration were rocky, mainly because it was a time of trying to reverse course from the Trump years, and so many who had given Trump their support tried to throw every possible obstacle up in front of Biden’s attempts to repair the damage.

I well remember the winter of 2021 when Biden ordered the shutting of non-essential businesses for a period of 60 days in order to try to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.  There were riots in the street, people claiming their ‘rights’ had been violated, and every day Trump was on Fox News, further stirring the masses.  But, Biden’s plan ultimately worked, and by the end of March, new cases were less than 100 per day, and deaths were down to 20-30 per day.  The masses began to see that there was method to the madness.

And then the great fossil fuel debate, after Biden almost immediately re-joined the Paris Climate Accords, setting off the oil, gas, and coal companies.  But, by early last year, there were far more jobs available in the renewable energy fields than there had been in 2019 in the fossil fuel industry, and even the most devoted climate deniers had to admit that this was a win-win.  Not, of course, before windmills and a couple of solar energy facilities were blown up by said activists, but even that didn’t stop us from moving forward.

We still haven’t quite managed a Universal Health Care plan, but we’re a step or two closer than we were four, or even eight years ago.  Joe Biden did as he had promised, built on the Affordable Care Act that had been established under President Obama, made sure that nobody could be denied health insurance at an affordable rate, and that nobody would be left out due to a pre-existing condition such as heart problems, diabetes, chronic lung problems or any other condition.  Prescription drugs are still more expensive than in most other countries, but the costs are coming down, slowly but surely.  I believe that in the next four years, if Biden is given a second term, we will achieve something very close to Universal Health Care, but I am not holding my breath.

As we feared four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court did, in fact, overturn Roe v Wade and women’s rights took a hit.  However, 42 of the 50 states have passed laws allowing a woman to have an abortion up to 22 weeks into her pregnancy in most cases, which has taken the teeth out of the Supreme Court reversal.  On a brighter note, though they tried, the Court was unable to overturn Obergefell v Hodges, and same-sex marriages are still legal under federal law.  Unfortunately, the evangelical churches continue to stir antagonism against the LGBT community.

In addition to re-joining the Paris Climate Accords, President Biden has invested a great deal of time in becoming more involved in the United Nations and NATO, has re-joined the World Health Organization (WHO), and has brought the U.S. back into the Iran nuclear agreement, although by this time, Iran had already increased its supply of plutonium and was well into the testing stages of their nuclear program.  Most importantly, though, President Biden has reassured our allies that we consider them to be highly valued friends, and he has taken steps to ensure that Russia and other countries will not have access to programs that would enable them to interfere with this year’s election.  Although, since Vladimir Putin’s assassination last year, Russia has been less concerned with our affairs.

Mind you, everything hasn’t been a bed of roses.  The first two years were rocky, to say the least, and it wasn’t easy for President Biden to earn the trust of the people of this nation, particularly those who still felt cheated and left out by our government, those who had blindly supported Donald Trump and his loss felt as if the rug had been pulled out from underneath their feet.  But Biden didn’t give up, he kept his promises, he truly represented ALL of the people, not just democrats or republicans, but all of us.  By his third year, people were getting used to his sometimes-hesitant speech, to his infamous opening line, “Now here’s the thing …” People were starting to see that with the new federal minimum wage of $15 per hour they had more money left over at the end of the pay cycle, were even able to save some for a rainy day.  They were grateful to be able to take their child to the doctor without worrying about how to pay.  And, they were grateful, whether they admitted it or not, for the peace, the lack of chaos.  There has been very little turnover in this administration, agencies like the EPA and Health & Human Services have been brought back to do the job they were initially intended to do.  Domestic terror events have decreased, though groups like the Proud Boys and other white supremacist groups are still around, but just not as prevalent since this administration has taken domestic terrorism threats very seriously.

Racism is still with us, and perhaps it always will be.  The number of racist incidents by police has been reduced since the Biden administration’s renewed efforts to screen and train police officers around the country, however just last month a black teen was shot and killed by police in Dallas, Texas, as he was walking home from a high school sporting event after dark.  The officer was immediately terminated and now awaits trial.

Four years ago, when Joe Biden was elected, I think we had hopes that the rifts, the things that divide us … democrat vs republican … would heal quickly, but sadly they have not.  They are healing, but ever so slowly.  There are those who would still welcome Trump and his plans to build a wall, and they are among the most vocal of all.  And there are those among the democratic ranks who haven’t forgotten Trump and all the damage he inflicted on this nation … in fact, I think it’s safe to say that this nation is still very much divided by Trump and his radical views almost as much today as we were four years ago.

I’d like to say that this has returned to being a nation I could look at with pride, but it has not.  I wonder if it ever will?  Yes, things are better today, at least in the view of the majority of us, but I feel that there is always a threat out there, that disaster is always just a day away.  I’m not sure this nation can ever heal completely.


This concludes mine and Jeff’s project.  We hope that what we’ve done over the past 10 months has helped clarify some of the issues, the candidates’ positions, and the importance of this election.  Just four more days, though the results may not be known for another week, possibly even two.  Thanks for bearing with us, for joining in our conversation, and I hope that we all get our wish next week.

America’s Wake-Up Call — Table of Contents

Discord & Dissension — Table of Contents

S-s-snarky S-s-snippets

I am in rather a dark mood tonight … I even yelled at an animated character, a cute li’l octopus, on television and called her a … well, you get the picture.  Two things in particular stirred my angst tonight, and both, I think, are well deserving of venting a bit of snarky steam.


Pathetic

“Suburban women: Will you please like me? Please. Please. I saved your damn neighborhood, okay? The other thing: I don’t have that much time to be that nice. You know, I can do it, but I gotta go quickly. They want me to be politically correct. I got rid of a regulation that was a disaster and it was really unfair, and you’ve been reading about it for a long time and it’s gotten a lot worse under Obama and Biden. We’re going to see that the women really like Trump a lot. Remember four years ago, they said women will never vote, then I got 52 percent. … You damn well better vote for me Pennsylvania, you better vote.”

These are the words of the incumbent in the Oval Office, spoken during a rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on Tuesday night.  First he begs and cajoles, then he threatens.  And this is the person who has ‘led’ this nation into chaos for the past nearly four years and hopes to be given another four years to complete the destruction.

Joe Biden, by the way, is leading in the polls in Pennsylvania by an average of 6 points.


Pointless

I have not paid particular attention to, nor written about, the hearings taking place in the Senate to determine whether or not to confirm Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the U.S. Supreme Court.  It’s not that I’m not interested – I am.  It’s not that I don’t think it’s important – I do.  It’s just that from what I have read it is just another … yawn … Republican dog-and-pony show with the outcome predetermined.  I truly have better things to do with my time than watch the Republicans preen and Ms. Barrett deflect.

To date, apparently Ms. Amy Coney Barrett has refused to answer all relevant questions, so … what is there to write about?  Ms. Barrett is 48 years old, so We the People are likely to be saddled with her religious views becoming the law of the land for the next three decades or so.

The burning questions that she has refused to answer are on the topics of the Affordable Healthcare Act (whether the majority of us will be able to afford medical care when and if we need it), Roe v Wade (whether women will retain control of their own bodies, or be subject to a misogynistic rule), and Obergefell v Hodges (whether a significant portion of the population will be allowed to marry the person they love, or whether that, too, will be dictated by a bigoted Supreme Court).  Ms. Barrett has refused to answer how she would rule on any of these topics.  In my book, that removes her from consideration, for we have a right to know who will be deciding how we must live.  And would somebody please tell me WHY Ms. Barrett’s children are front and center in the hearings???  They have no role in this, they have no place here!  Best I can figure, it’s another ‘photo op’ moment like Trump having citizens forcibly removed from the streets of Washington so he could hold a bloody book in front of a damn church!  Send the children home to do their online learning, Amy!  Better yet … go home with them, since you have proven yourself useless.BarrettIn the Republican’s book however, it is a little different.

Here are some of the questions Ted Cruz, a republican senator from Texas asked of Ms. Barrett:

  • Do you speak any foreign languages? (French)
  • Do you play any musical instruments? (Piano)
  • What was it like staying at home during the pandemic with seven children? (Challenging)
  • Why did she and her husband adopt two children from Haiti? (A long story)

Ooooohhh … what relevant questions for a potential Supreme Court Justice who will be expected to make decisions that may mean life or death for us all!  Way to go, Teddy!

Now, one thing I didn’t mention above was Ms. Barrett’s take on climate change, arguably the single most important issue of the day.

“I’m certainly not a scientist. I have read things about climate change. I would not say I have firm views on it.”

Say WHAT?  You have “read things”???  What things?  Details, woman!  How … HOW can anybody in this, the year 2020 with wildfires consuming much of the West Coast, with devastating hurricanes costing lives and untold property damages, and with the average temperature this past summer 92° in an area that usually has a summertime average of 85° … how can any sane person look at the statistics, step outside and attempt to breathe the air, and still have “no firm views”???  This woman is either very, very stupid, else she is already in the pockets of the corporate donors such as Koch Brothers and the fossil fuel industry!

I’m not a scientist, either, but I still possess some parts that Ms. Barrett may be missing:  a brain, eyes, ears, and lungs … all of which tell me that humans, in their greedy quest for more useless money, have begun and continue the destruction of the environment here on planet Earth.

So, in conclusion, Ms. Barrett refuses to voice an opinion on women’s rights, LGBT rights, the right to medical care, and worst yet, she is stupid about the environment.  GET. HER. OUT.

But no, the boot-lickers in the Senate have a majority, albeit a narrow one, and there doesn’t seem to be a single one with the cojones to “just say ‘no’” to Donald Trump.  On top of that, the unconscionably powerful Koch Brothers have thrown their support behind her nomination.  And thus began the beginning of the end of civilization in what was once known as the United States.


And I shall end on that note, for my temper is about to take me where I ought not to go.  Let me just say, though, that if Donald Trump is elected for and seated for another term, I shall renounce my citizenship from the U.S., if not from the entire world.  I can see nothing good in the future of this nation if the people continue to elect and applaud bloody fools and to put corporate profits ahead of people.

America’s Wake-Up Call – Joe Biden on the Issues

With just over five weeks left until election day, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover.  Today, we are talking about issues that matter the most to all of us.  Let’s face it, we need to stop talking about how awful Donald Trump is and focus on how much better Joe Biden will be.  It’s true that we must be concerned with voting Trump out of office before he turns this nation into a dictatorship, but it’s not enough just to throw out the bad … we must know what we are replacing it with.

There are dozens of issues that are important, but we really want to focus on the ones that are most important to everyone.  After giving it much thought, and narrowing the list, Jeff and I believe the following are of the most immediate concern:

  • Climate change
  • Health Care
  • Education
  • Racial Justice
  • Income Inequality

There are many other issues, such as gun control, campaign finance, immigration, infrastructure, the economy, criminal justice, and more.  But, given the constraints of time, we will focus on the ones that affect every one of our lives, and that have long-term implications that will affect not only us, but future generations – our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the future.  We will cover the first two today, and the other three soon.

Climate Change:

No matter how important the other issues are, climate change must, in the long run, be the most important.  Climate deniers may argue that we are being alarmists, doomsday prophets, but scientists have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that humans are bringing about their own demise every day. We can see the results with our own eyes – the worst ever destructive wildfires on the West Coast, the most active hurricane season on record, and record high heat & humidity in many areas.

Biden has made tackling climate change a centerpiece of his campaign, proposing to invest $2 trillion in a massive green jobs program to build renewable energy infrastructure.

The money, which would be spent over four years, would go toward energy efficiency upgrades, the construction of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations and greatly increasing the share of renewable energy from wind, solar and other technologies in America’s power sector.

His plan calls for ending the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2035. By no later than 2050, he would bring the country to net zero emissions of greenhouse gases under the plan.

Biden has also promised to restore all environmental protections undone by the Trump administration and rejoin the Paris climate agreement, committing to the pact’s goal of preventing global average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.

“Climate change is a challenge that’s going to define our American future. I know meeting the challenge will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jolt new life into our economy, strengthen our global leadership, protect our planet … We’re not just going to tinker around the edges.”

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has unraveled nearly every climate regulation that was put in place by the Obama administration, in part because of his unrelenting hatred of President Obama, and in part because of his financial ties to the fossil fuel and logging industries.  Just yesterday it was announced that Trump plans to eliminate protections for the Tongass Forest in Alaska and open it to logging!  Joe Biden will not put profit ahead of the planet.

His administration has weakened limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, as well as from the oil and gas industry. It has opened more public land to oil and gas drilling and limited wildlife protections. And it has relaxed pollution regulations on coal-fired power plants in an effort to revive the dying industry.  Donald Trump’s actions, if allowed to continue, will ensure the end of the human and many other species by the end of this century.

California’s environmental protections have been a particular target for Trump. The Trump administration has revoked the state’s authority to set tougher car emission standards than those required by the federal government, placing a major obstacle in California’s path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.

I think Trump summed up his view on climate change when he said …

“People like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers. As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it. I don’t think science knows.”

Need I say more?

Health Care:

When the Affordable Care Act was put in place in 2010 during the Obama administration, it was a historic step that provided affordable health insurance to approximately a third of the people in this nation who had previously been unable to afford it.  Was it perfect?  No, of course not … we all knew it would require adjusting and tweaking as time went by and problems arose, but it was a start, the first step toward a universal health care plan.  Joe Biden’s healthcare plan includes building on the foundation of the original ACA, as well as including an expansion of the public option.

Specifically, he would create a new government insurance plan to be sold on the ACA markets. The 2 million or so people currently stuck in the Medicaid expansion gap would be automatically enrolled, for free. Obamacare’s tax credits would be enhanced, pegged to more generous insurance, and eligibility for government assistance would be available to anybody. Nobody would pay more than 8.5 percent of their income on insurance premiums.  And nobody would be excluded on the basis of pre-existing conditions.

In addition to restoring and improving on the Affordable Care Act, Biden has a plan to lower prescription drug costs, starting with repealing the exception that prohibits drug corporations from negotiating with Medicare over drug prices.  Prescription drugs in the U.S. are, on average, 3.7 times higher than the combined average of other countries.  Think about that one … while someone in Canada might be paying $50 for a prescription, you are paying $185!

By comparison, Donald Trump has stated since before his election in 2016 that he wanted to reverse ACA in its entirety.  Since he has been unable to do that, he has instead undermined and chipped away at portions of it.  There is currently a case pending in the Supreme Court that would completely abolish ACA, and while Trump claims he will present an even better plan, there is no evidence that he could or would.

Coronavirus Pandemic:

No discussion on health care would be complete without addressing the coronavirus pandemic that has already taken the lives of more than 207,000 people in this nation, the highest death toll of any nation on the planet.  With a surge in cases predicted in the coming months, experts predict we will have more than 300,000 deaths by the end of the year.  Trump’s response has been “it is what it is”, and more recently he claims that the coronavirus “affects almost nobody”.  Joe Biden, on the other hand, has a plan.

On his first day in office, he plans to reverse the withdrawal of the U.S. from the World Health Organization (WHO).  He plans to call for a national ‘mask mandate’, and meanwhile urges governors of all states to implement mask mandates for their states. He would adopt nationwide testing and contact tracing, including doubling the number of drive-through testing sites and providing federal funding for “regular and reliable covid-19 testing for every worker called back on the job.”

He plans to restore the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, which was established by the Obama-Biden Administration and eliminated by Trump in 2018.  The thing, though, that I think is most important about Biden’s approach to the coronavirus is that he plans to listen to the scientists.  These are people who have dedicated their entire lives to studying diseases such as the coronavirus, SARS, HIV, Ebola and other infectious diseases … they know what they are doing, and Joe Biden recognizes this, whereas Donald Trump says “I don’t think science knows.”

I realize that what I have written about Biden’s stance on these issues is necessarily somewhat vague, but to drill down to details would require far more than there is time for.  However, feel free to visit the Biden/Harris campaign website for further details.  Perhaps the biggest difference between Joe Biden’s plan and Donald Trump’s is that Biden actually has a plan, whereas Trump seems to wing it from one day to the next.  Joe Biden is a decent man who actually cares about the people of this nation.  Donald Trump is not and does not.

Next week, Jeff will be writing about the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and how it could affect the November election.  We will cover other election issues, as I mentioned in the beginning, in future posts, as well as numerous other topics … well, as many as we can squeeze into the next five weeks!


Note that in order to make it easier to find past articles, we have divided the Table of Contents into two — Discord & Dissension, with all of our posts from January thru May, and America’s Wake-Up Call, with our current posts.

Discord & Dissension — Table of Contents

America’s Wake-Up Call — Table of Contents

America’s Wake-Up Call — Table of Contents

America’s Wake-Up Call — Jeff & Jill Are Baaaaack!!!

America’s Wake-Up Call — Is Joe Biden Worth Your Vote?

America’s Wake-Up Call – Joe Biden on the Issues

America’s Wake Up Call — Will Democrats Finally Take the Courts Seriously?

America’s Wake-Up Call – Voting & Voters – Part I

America’s Wake-Up Call — How The World Sees Us

America’s Wake-Up Call – Voting & Voters — Part II

America’s Wakeup Call-It’s we the People, not we the Donors

 

 

Your Money Or Your Life???

Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman’s OpEd in yesterday’s New York Times needs no introduction, for it speaks for itself.  We would all do well to listen to what he says.


Trump’s Motto: Your Money or Your Life

The president claims you have to make a choice, but you don’t.

thomas-l-friedman-thumbLargeBy Thomas L. Friedman

Opinion Columnist

Whenever I talk about Covid-19 or climate change with skeptics, I use a simple analogy: Imagine that your child is sick with a disease and you decide to take her to 100 different doctors to get multiple opinions — and 99 doctors give you the same diagnosis and prescribed treatment and one tells you that there’s nothing to worry about, that your child’s disease will “disappear … like a miracle, it will disappear.”

What parents in their right minds would follow the advice of the doctor with the one-out-of-100 diagnosis?

This, alas, is no hypothetical. This, alas, is actually the most important question facing voters in choosing our next president. Are you ready to trust your own child’s and the country’s health to the guy who holds the one-out-of-100 view on both climate change and Covid-19? He being Dr. Donald Trump, founder of Trump University, where he apparently earned a B.S. in B.S.

It is stunning to me how many conservatives want to go with the doctor with the one-out-of-100 diagnosis, since doing so is anything but conservative. It’s Trotskyite radical.

And to riff off Trotsky for another moment, Republicans may not be interested in Mother Nature, but Mother Nature is interested in them. Both climate change and Covid-19 have brutally elbowed their way into our lives in the past year, and for the same reason: We have been stressing our ecosystems to their limits and beyond.

We’ve done this by invading wilderness areas and extracting wildlife carrying viruses never borne before by human beings and by emitting CO₂ that is heating the planet, amplifying storms that brought four months of rain in four hours in Florida and wildfires of epic proportions to the West Coast.

Joe Biden wants to proceed with more caution, and Trump wants to throw caution to the wind. That’s why the widely respected science journal Scientific American did something last week for the first time, declaring: “Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in our 175-year history — until now. The 2020 election is literally a matter of life and death. We urge you to vote for health, science and Joe Biden for President.”

The choice could not be more stark or important. Trump’s implicit motto when it comes to Covid-19 and environmental protection is always the same: Your money OR your life?

Which do you value more? Biden’s motto has been your money AND your life — you should not, and do not, have to choose between them, if we are wise and follow science.

How so? On Covid-19, for Trump, it’s jobs or masks, opening school or masks, social distancing or Big Ten football, science or church. Everything is black or white. And so is the result: So many Americans are jobless today and watching their kids learning remotely from home because Trump pitted masks against in-classroom schooling, masks against jobs, masks against indoor restaurant dining and masks against gathering for church services.

And too many Americans chose jobs and school and church out of desperation, and they’ve already paid the price or will pay it.

Biden, by contrast, is a unifier. He’s argued that if everyone wears a mask, practices social distancing and gets tested, we can BOTH protect many more jobs AND protect many more lives. Masks are not at war with jobs; they are the driver and protector of job growth in a pandemic. Masks are the vehicle to opening schools and other indoor activities — not their enemy. Just ask the Germans, Singaporeans or South Koreans.

Ditto when it comes to the environment and climate change. Trump wants everyone to believe that protecting nature means unemploying people. It’s clean air OR economic growth. It’s gas guzzlers OR unemployment. He’s forever pitting jobs against nature.

Biden stands for the unity of jobs AND the environment, the unity of jobs AND mitigating climate change. A clean, green economy equals better health AND more and better jobs. And the beauty is this: All that Biden has to do to prove his point is read aloud from the business and science pages:

Oct. 15, New Scientist: “The green economy has grown so much in the U.S. that it employs around 10 times as many people as the fossil fuel industry — despite the past decade’s oil and gas boom.”

June 30, Bloomberg.com: “Tesla Inc.’s market value has surpassed Exxon Mobil Corp.’s in a sign that investors are increasingly betting on a global energy transition away from fossil fuels.” Tesla makes electric cars, batteries and solar products.

Aug. 25, CBS News: “Exxon Mobil, which joined the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1928, is being removed from the blue-chip stock market index. Its replacement: enterprise software company Salesforce.com.”

April 6, Recharge: “Renewables accounted for nearly three-quarters of global power capacity additions last year — half of which was switched on in Asia, according to latest figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency.”

Sept. 17, Fortune editor Alan Murray: “Lululemon C.E.O. Calvin McDonald told me yesterday his company now has more U.S. stores closed due to environmental risk — fires in the West, hurricane in the Gulf, etc. — than due to Covid-19.”

If climate change turns out to be a less serious problem than predicted, and we pursue all of the above anyway, we will be like an athlete who trains for the Olympics, but the Olympics are postponed. No problem. We’ll just be that much healthier. Our air will be cleaner, our industries and vehicles and homes and industries will be so much more efficient and our economy will be the world leader in the clean power technologies that every country will want to import from us — climate change or not — as we add nearly a billion people to the planet by 2030. Yes, there will be nearly one billion more people on the planet in 10 years.

On the other hand, if we treat climate change like a daydream and it proves to be a nightmare, we will be in real trouble as a species.

So, I hope Biden goes into next week’s debate and just says: “My fellow Americans, you don’t hire an arsonist to put out forest fires. You don’t hire a divider to heal racial wounds. You don’t hire a poisoner to clean up your water supply. And most of all — most of all — you don’t hire someone who pits nature against jobs and jobs against health at a time when we so clearly need them all and we so clearly can have them all.”

“It’ll Start Getting Cooler. You Just Watch.”

I’ve written a couple of times in the past week about the West Coast wildfires, but our friend Jeff today shared an open letter to Trump by the esteemed Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, that pulls no punches, that “tells it like it is”! I have always respected Governor Inslee, and now even more so! Thanks, Jeff, for sharing this letter!

On The Fence Voters

Every day, the current president seems to be on a mission to eliminate as many people as he can in the United States of America. Whether it’s through his immense incompetence and failures to address the worst pandemic in a century, or ignoring the ongoing climate crisis, we can see in real time how devastating another four years of this administration would be to human life and suffering.

Today, I’d like to share a letter written by the current Governor of the state of Washington, Jay Inslee, that was published today on Medium. In it, he addresses the current president in an open letter to lambaste him for his abject failure to even acknowledge there’s a climate crisis emergency in progress.

Open letter to President Donald Trump on the role of climate change in historic wildfires

WA Governor’s Office

WA Governor’s OfficeFollowSep 14·5min read

September 14, 2020

The Honorable…

View original post 942 more words

When Good People Don’t Act …

Over the last couple of years, I have wondered how so many of my friends could seemingly ignore what was happening in this nation.  It is as if they are oblivious to anything that is outside their own little world, as if they were wearing blinders and could not see the atrocities happening in our nation, but instead focus exclusively on what’s for supper, what concert they will go to next weekend, the cute little things their kids or grandkids said yesterday.  As if … nothing has changed, life goes on, it isn’t their problem that kids are kept in cages, that more than a thousand people die every day from the coronavirus, fires are raging on the West Coast, climate change is taking a steep toll and we are doing less than nothing to stop it, and there is a madman at the helm who will soon drive this ship into an iceberg.  None of that seems to bother far too many of the people I know.  Where is the outrage?  Do they simply not care?

The following by Charles Blow in yesterday’s New York Times mirrors my own thoughts, only much more eloquently than I can state them.


When Good People Don’t Act, Evil Reigns

Stop thinking that the horrors of the world will simply work themselves out.

Charles BlowCharles M. Blow

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

I have often wondered how major world tragedies and horrors were allowed to unfold. Where were all the good people, those who objected or should have? How did life simply go on with a horror in their midst?

How did the trans-Atlantic slave trade play out over hundreds of years? How did slavery thrive in this country? How was the Holocaust allowed to happen? How did the genocides in Rwanda or Darfur come to be?

There is, of course, nearly always an explanation. Often it is official policy; often it is driven by propaganda. But I’m more concerned with how people in the society considered these events at the time, and how any semblance of normalcy could be maintained while events unfolded.

It turns out that our current era is providing the unsettling answer: It was easy.

As I write this, nearly two hundred thousand Americans have died — many of them needlessly — from Covid-19, in large part because the Trump administration has refused to sufficiently address the crisis, be honest with the American people and urge caution. Instead, Trump has lied about the virus, downplayed it, resisted scientists’ warnings and continues to hold rallies with no social distancing and no mask requirements.

Things are poised to get worse: Models now predict that the number of Americans killed by the virus could double between now and Jan. 1. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington:

“We expect the daily death rate in the U.S., because of seasonality and declining public vigilance, to reach nearly 3,000 a day in December. Cumulative deaths expected by Jan. 1 are 415,090; this is 222,522 deaths from now until the end of the year.”

And yet, Americans still flock to Trump rallies, Republicans continue to defend his pandemic response and it is not clear that he will be defeated in November. We are, in many states, back to restaurants and bars, schools and churches, gyms and spas. It’s not as if we don’t know that there is a deadly virus being transmitted through the air, but it seems as though many Americans, weary of restrictions, have simply made their peace with it.

We have a climate crisis that continues to worsen. Storms are getting stronger. Droughts are severe. Rivers are flooding. The sea level is rising. And yet, we don’t do nearly enough to stop it and may not do enough before it’s too late to do anything.

Right now much of the West Coast is ablaze with hellish scenes of orange skies, and yet too many of us entertain climate change deniers, or, perhaps worse, know well the gravity and precariousness of the situation and still haven’t changed our habits or voted for the candidates with the boldest visions to save the planet.

Right now, China has detained as many as one million mostly Muslim citizens, in indoctrination camps, hoping to remold many into what The New York Times called “loyal blue-collar workers to supply Chinese factories with cheap labor.”

And yet, the world does little. Many look away. Life goes on.

This is how these catastrophes happen — in full sight — and people with full knowledge don’t revolt. People sometimes think that the issue is far away, or if it’s not, that it’s too big and they are too powerless.

They think provincially, or even parochially, concerned with their own house, their own street, their own community.

“It’s too bad that those children are in cages, but I can’t worry about that now, the clothes in the dryer need folding.”

“It’s too bad that an unarmed Black man just got shot by the police, but I can’t worry about that now, the yard needs mowing.”

I guess in some ways this impulse is self-protecting, preventing the mind and spirit from becoming overwhelmed with angst and rage. But, the result is that evil — as a person or system — rampages, unchecked, taking your personal laissez-faire as public license.

If you don’t complain, you condone.

But this mustn’t be. Stop thinking of yourself as weak or helpless. Stop thinking that things will simply work themselves out. Stop thinking that evil will stop at the gate and not trample your own garden.

Gather the energy. Gather your neighbor. Fight, vote, email, post. Do all you can to stand up for the vulnerable, for the oppressed, for the planet itself. Don’t let history record this moment as it has recorded too many others: a time when good people did too little to confront wickedness and disaster.

As Edmund Burke wrote in his 1770 “Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents”: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

But you may be more familiar with another quote often attributed to Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”