The 46th!

Jeff speaks for me, and millions of others, when he recounts his feelings of today’s events. Finally … we can go to bed at night knowing the nation is in good hands, and wake in the morning without immediately grabbing our phone to see the latest ‘breaking news’. Thank you, Jeff, for sharing your thoughts and feelings … they echo my own. And now, you and I have a project to talk about, yes?

On The Fence Voters

We did it, folks. He’s gone for good. On November 3, 2020, over 81 million of us told the 45th President of the United States to get the hell out of our house. Today, we welcome the 46th President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

On the drive home today from my walk with our beloved four-legged buddies, I heard the beautiful voice of Lady Gaga singing our National Anthem emanating from my car radio. I couldn’t hold back anymore. The tears started to flow like a spring waterfall in Oregon. It’s as if a massive weight, an albatross if you will, began to leave my body all at once.

The gravity of the moment will live with me for the rest of my life. I felt similar emotions when the election was formerly called for Biden. But this was different. So much has happened since…

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What’s Next?

Okay folks … we’ve danced in the streets, popped the champagne corks and celebrated Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election.

Now it’s time to get serious, for what lies ahead is a 73-day transition period that presents a number of pitfalls & perils, given the contentious nature of the incumbent and his loyal lapdogs.  We need to prepare ourselves to survive these next two-and-a-half months with our country and our sanity relatively intact.

In his column today, Robert Reich tells us what we can likely expect over the coming weeks leading up to inauguration day.  I have no doubt that despite all of Trump’s machinations, temper tantrums and legal challenges, Joe Biden will take office on January 20th, but what happens between now and then, and even beyond?  Let’s hear what Reich has to say …

How can Biden heal America when Trump doesn’t want it healed?

The nearest thing America has had to a dictator is beaten but unbowed. He will disgrace the national scene for some time yet

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

It’s over. Donald Trump is history.

For millions of Americans – a majority, by almost 5 million popular votes – it’s a time for celebration and relief. Trump’s cruelty, vindictiveness, non-stop lies, corruption, rejection of science, chaotic incompetence, and gross narcissism brought out the worst in America. He tested the limits of American decency and democracy. He is the closest we have come to a dictator.

Democracy has had a reprieve, a stay of execution. We have another chance to preserve it, and restore what’s good about America.

It will not be easy. The social fabric is deeply torn. Joe Biden will inherit a pandemic far worse than it would have been had Trump not played it down and refused to take responsibility for containing it, and an economic crisis exacting an unnecessary toll.

The worst legacy of Trump’s term of office is a bitterly divided America.

Judging by the number of ballots cast in the election, Trump’s base of support is roughly 70 million. They were angry even before the election (as were Biden supporters). Now, presumably, they are angrier.

The nation was already divided when Trump became president – by race and ethnicity, region, education, national origin, religion, and class. But he exploited these divisions to advance himself. He didn’t just pour salt into our wounds. He planted grenades in them.

It is a vile legacy. Although Americans have strongly disagreed over what we want the government to do, we at least agreed to be bound by its decisions. This meta-agreement required enough social trust for us to regard the views and interests of those we disagree with as equally worthy of consideration as our own. But Trump continuously sacrificed that trust to feed his own monstrous ego.

Elections usually end with losing candidates congratulating winners and graciously accepting defeat, thereby demonstrating their commitment to the democratic system over the particular outcome they fought to achieve.

But there will be no graciousness from Trump, nor a concession. He is incapable of either.

He will be president for another two and a half months. He is still charging that the election was stolen from him, mounting legal challenges and demanding recounts, maneuvers that could prevent states from meeting the legal deadline of December 8th for choosing electors.

If he continues, America could find itself in a situation similar to what it faced in 1876, when claims about ballot fraud forced a special electoral commission to decide the winner, just two days before the inauguration.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump refuses to attend Biden’s inauguration and stages a giant rally instead.

He’ll send firestorms of aggrieved messages to his followers – questioning Biden’s legitimacy and urging that they refuse to recognize his presidency. This will be followed by months of rallies and tweets containing even more outlandish charges: plots against Trump and America by Biden, Nancy Pelosi, “deep-state” bureaucrats, “socialists,” immigrants, Muslims, or any other of his standard foes.

It could go on for years, Trump keeping the nation’s attention, remaining the center of controversy and divisiveness, sustaining his followers in perpetual fury, titillating them with the possibility he might run again in 2024, making it harder for Biden to do any of the national healing he’s promised and the nation so desperately needs.

How can Biden heal the nation when Trump doesn’t want it healed?

The media (including Twitter, Facebook, and even Fox News) could help. They have begun to call out Trump’s lies in real time and cut off his press conferences, practices that should have started years ago. Let’s hope they continue to tag his lies and otherwise ignore him – a fitting end to a reality TV president who tried to turn America into a reality warzone.

But the responsibility for healing America falls to all of us.

For starters, we’d do well to recognize and honor the selflessness we have observed during this trying time – starting with tens of thousands of election workers who have worked long hours under difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances.

Add to them the hospital workers across the nation saving lives from the scourge of Covid-19; the thousands of fire fighters in the west and the emergency responders on the Gulf coast battling the consequences of climate change; the civil servants getting unemployment checks out to millions of jobless Americans; social workers dealing with family crises in the wake of evictions and other hardships; armies of volunteers doling out food from soup kitchens.

These are the true heroes of America. They embody the decency of this land. They are doing the healing, rebuilding trust, reminding us who we are and who we are not.

Donald Trump is not America.

A Crumbling House — A Story by Filosofa

This is the story of a man named Donnie and his new house.  Donnie had a nice enough house, albeit a bit tacky with gold everywhere you look, even the toilets!Trump-tacky-houseBut one day while playing a game of golf with a friend, the friend said he knew of an even nicer house, a big white house with columns in the front and a huge lawn.  This house had 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels in the Residence. There were 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators.  There was a garden, a solarium, a game room with full-size pool table, and a swimming pool!  Well, Donnie, never satisfied with what he has but always wanting more, became determined to have that house!white houseTurned out that the house was not for sale but was up for a four-year lease. The people who owned the house knew of Donnie’s reputation as rather a nasty, trashy person, and they did not wish to lease the house to him.  But eventually Donnie engaged the help of a rather seedy character named Vlad, and with Vlad’s help, Donnie was able to fool the owners of the white house into leasing the house to him for four years.   Once the people realized how they had been tricked, they were furious, but the lease was a legally binding document and they had little recourse.

Moving day was an exciting day, indeed!  It was January 20th, 2017, and a few people lined the streets to watch Donnie move into his new home.  And for just a while, Donnie was satisfied, Donnie was happy to wander through his new home, proud to have made such a great deal with Vlad.  But then, little things began to bother Donnie, and as has happened all throughout his life, he grew restless.  While out playing golf one day a few months after moving in, Donnie told a group of friends that his new house was “a dump”.  Word got back to the owners who were incensed but hoped that perhaps he would tire of it and move out.

Donnie’s reputation for being a bit trashy was well-deserved, and as time went by, the house began to fall into disrepair.  Now, you must understand that Donnie had been spoiled from the day he was born, had never been held accountable for anything, and had learned early in his life that if something went wrong, it must always be somebody else’s fault, never his own.  So, as little things began to go amiss, Donnie looked around for someone to blame, and when he found a likely candidate, he fired them.  “You’re Fired” became his slogan, it seemed. Trump_Youre_Fired_02

One day one of the toilets became clogged, after Donnie used too much tissue paper, so he fired the entire maintenance crew.  Another day he found ants in his bed, for he had been eating Big Mac hamburgers in his bed, which attracted the ants.  But rather than accept the blame, he fired the entire housekeeping staff.  When a ketchup stain didn’t come out of his shirt, he fired the laundry staff, and when he found mud on the floor from his own shoes, he fired the newest housekeepers.  And so it was that the house was soon in chaos, for although Donnie hired new staff to replace the ones he had fired, the new ones were never quite able to please him, and staff turnover was beyond belief.

Donnie had a temper, and his wife was a cold, arrogant woman.  One day, Donnie was in a rage because he found a fingerprint (his own) on the brass doorknob.  He began throwing things, breaking windows, and screeching like a banshee.  The staff cowered in the kitchen pantry, afraid for their lives.  This house was in total chaos!  When quiet finally resumed, the staff quietly gathered their own belongings, each took a few pieces of silver or a goblet as a memento of this most horrible experience, and they exited, never to return.

falling apart-2The house was destroyed nearly beyond repair, and the owners were horrified at what had become of their beautiful, historic house that had survived many tenants since being built more than two hundred years before.  Never before had such a destructive tenant lived there.  Though it was only two years into Donnie’s four-year lease, the owners were determined to remove him from the house, for it was obvious that the house could not withstand another two years of this tenant.

falling apartWill the people who own the house be able to evict Donnie?  Will the house be able to be repaired?  Or will Donnie have his way and stay in the house until it finally falls down around his ears?  The answer?  Stay tuned, my friends …

Where Was The Press? In Jail.

Evan Engel, Alexander Rubinstein, Jack Keller, Matthew Hopard, Shay Horse and Aaron Cantu have been arrested.  These six men are journalists who were arrested while covering a public protest.  Turkey?  Russia?  No, these journalists were covering protests that took place on 20 January 2016, the day of the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. The arrests were more widely covered on Facebook than in the mainstream media. In fact, the Guardian, a UK news outlet, was the first to report on the arrests. If convicted of the charge of felony rioting they could face up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

According to eyewitnesses, arrests were indiscriminate, with police targeting rioters, peaceful protestors, journalists, lawyers and others.  Mark Goldstone, a lawyer representing some of those arrested, told The Associated Press that the police had “basically identified a location that had problems and arrested everyone in that location.”

Carlos Lauria, a spokesman and senior program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), called the charges “completely inappropriate and excessive,” and the organization has asked that they be dropped immediately. “Our concern is that these arrests could send a chilling message to journalists that cover future protests. A car set on fire, windows broken in downtown businesses: I think that this is important information that the public needs to be informed about,” said Mr. Lauria.  He said CPJ is concerned about what he called “the sharp deterioration of press freedom in the U.S.,” which he linked to Mr. Trump’s campaign, noting that the candidate had “obstructed major news organization, vilified the press and attacked journalists by name with unrelenting hostility.”

While the mainstream media was outraged, justifiably, by Trump’s declaration that he is in “a running war with the media”, and Sean Spicer for using his first press briefing for berating the media, I have to ask, where is the outrage that six of your own were unjustifiably arrested for doing their jobs?

I do not condone riots, do not condone destruction of property, and I fully support the Metro Police Department for arresting those who were actively engaged in such activities.  However, I am appalled by the arrest of those who were doing no more than peacefully protesting, a right guaranteed under the Constitution.  Not only that, but it is reported that police used pepper spray on a couple of elderly people who were not breaking the law, and also used batons  and pepper spray on the crowd as a whole, not just on those who were actively breaking the law.

But most egregious of all is the arrest of journalists trying to cover the riots and protests, doing their jobs, exercising the right of a free press. One of the journalists was hit in the face with a flash grenade.  All six deny that they took part in the rioting, claiming they were only there to do what journalists do … observe and report.  A police spokesperson offered the standard “no comment”, and the journalists cannot tell their side of the story on the advice of their lawyers, so we know only what eyewitnesses have said.  The arrest reports for 5 of the 6 merely state that “numerous crimes were occurring in police presence”. They state that windows were broken, fires were lit and vehicles were damaged. “The crowd was observed enticing a riot by organizing, promoting, encouraging and participating in acts of violence in furtherance of the riot.” The language does not offer any evidence that the journalists were participating in the violence. In a signed police affidavit, which CPJ has reviewed, police said that they saw a group of more than 300 people, many of whom were wearing bandanas or masks, vandalize property. “Officers from the Special Operations Division moved in and cordoned off the group,” according to the police affidavit.

Without hard facts, it is difficult to evaluate carefully, but based on what we do know, it would seem that the Constitutional guarantee of a free press has been broken in much the same way it has multiple times in Turkey and Russia.  I am deeply disturbed that the mainstream media barely touched upon this story, though it may be due to a lack of evidence one way or the other, but even with that, it should have been front page news.  When the free press that I rely on to keep me informed of what is going on in the nation and around the globe is stifled, I want to know about it.  I have every right to know about it, and so does the rest of the country.  Even in the absence of facts, the one fact that was indisputable was that the journalists were arrested and charged with felony rioting.  If the press had reported only that and indicated that further information was pending, it would have been enough.  But I find their silence to be ominous. As Hugh Curtler recently pointed out in a post, silence is not always golden, sometimes it is dark, deceitful and frightening.

Since the attempted coup in July, Turkey has jailed at least 81 journalists in relation to their work, and dozens more for unknown reasons. Since I have covered all this in past posts, I won’t beat a dead horse, but I merely wish to note that Turkey is also a democracy, and look what has happened … is still happening. We cannot allow the U.S. to take away our rights one by one, and we definitely must protect, guard and cherish our right to factual information, not ‘alternative facts’.  I call on the press, once again, to get busy and start reporting on the things we need to know, rather than the red herrings and spin that the administration if feeding you in hopes of keeping our focus away from what is happening behind the gauzy curtain!