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.

Welcome to America, Where the Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer

Yesterday, I wrote of my frustration with this nation’s apparent inability or unwillingness to unite — left vs right, Republican vs Democrat.  Today, Robert Reich’s column in The Guardian shows us that the divide is a calculated one, a manipulation by those with billions of dollars in their portfolio, aided and abetted by the GOP.  Reich proposes that the real division is the 1% vs 99% and that a middle ground no longer exists, nor can it.  Take a look …


Trump’s refusal to concede is just the latest gambit to please Republican donors

Robert Reich-4by Robert Reich

Millions who should be ranged against the American oligarchy are distracted and divided – just as their leaders want

Leave it to Trump and his Republican allies to spend more energy fighting non-existent voter fraud than containing a virus that has killed 244,000 Americans and counting.

The cost of this misplaced attention is incalculable. While Covid-19 surges to record levels, there’s still no national strategy for equipment, stay-at-home orders, mask mandates or disaster relief.

The other cost is found in the millions of Trump voters who are being led to believe the election was stolen and who will be a hostile force for years to come – making it harder to do much of anything the nation needs, including actions to contain the virus.

Trump is continuing this charade because it pulls money into his newly formed political action committee and allows him to assume the mantle of presumed presidential candidate for 2024, whether he intends to run or merely keep himself the center of attention.

Leading Republicans like the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, are going along with it because donors are refilling GOP coffers.

The biggest beneficiaries are the party’s biggest patrons – the billionaire class, including the heads of the nation’s largest corporations and financial institutions, private-equity partnerships and hedge funds – whom a deeply divided nation serves by giving them unfettered access to the economy’s gains.

Their heist started four decades ago. According to a recent Rand study, if America’s distribution of income had remained the same as it was in the three decades following the second world war, the bottom 90% would now be $47tn richer.

A low-income American earning $35,000 this year would be earning $61,000. A college-educated worker now earning $72,000 would be earning $120,000. Overall, the grotesque surge in inequality that began 40 years ago is costing the median American worker $42,000 per year.

The upward redistribution of $47tn wasn’t due to natural forces. It was contrived. As wealth accumulated at the top, so did political power to siphon off even more wealth and shaft everyone else.

Monopolies expanded because antitrust laws were neutered. Labor unions shriveled because corporations were allowed to bust unions. Wall Street was permitted to gamble with other people’s money and was bailed out when its bets soured even as millions lost their homes and savings. Taxes on the top were cut, tax loopholes widened.

When Covid-19 hit, big tech cornered the market, the rich traded on inside information and the Treasury and the Fed bailed out big corporations but let small businesses go under. Since March, billionaire wealth has soared while most of America has become poorer.

How could the oligarchy get away with this in a democracy where the bottom 90% have the votes? Because the bottom 90% are bitterly divided.

Long before Trump, the GOP suggested to white working-class voters that their real enemies were Black people, Latinos, immigrants, “coastal elites”, bureaucrats and “socialists”. Trump rode their anger and frustration into the White House with more explicit and incendiary messages. He’s still at it with his bonkers claim of a stolen election.

The oligarchy surely appreciates the Trump-GOP tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks and the most business-friendly supreme court since the early 1930s. But the Trump-GOP’s biggest gift has been an electorate more fiercely split than ever.

Into this melee comes Joe Biden, who speaks of being “president of all Americans” and collaborating with the Republican party. But the GOP doesn’t want to collaborate. When Biden holds out an olive branch, McConnell and other Republican leaders will respond just as they did to Barack Obama – with more warfare, because that maintains their power and keeps the big money rolling in.

The president-elect aspires to find a moderate middle ground. This will be difficult because there’s no middle. The real divide is no longer left versus right but the bottom 90% versus the oligarchy.

Biden and the Democrats will better serve the nation by becoming the party of the bottom 90% – of the poor and the working middle class, of black and white and brown, and of all those who would be $47tn richer today had the oligarchy not taken over America.

This would require that Democrats abandon the fiction of political centrism and establish a countervailing force to the oligarchy – and, not incidentally, sever their own links to it.

They’d have to show white working-class voters how badly racism and xenophobia have hurt them as well as people of color. And change the Democratic narrative from kumbaya to economic and social justice.

Easy to say, hugely difficult to accomplish. But if today’s bizarre standoff in Washington is seen for what it really is, there’s no alternative.

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.

President-elect Joe Biden-Rising to the Occasion

Our friend Jeff reminds us today to focus on Joe Biden, on the fact that we have elected a president who is a good and decent man, who will give his best to this nation and the people — ALL the people. I couldn’t have said it better — thank you, Jeff!!!

On The Fence Voters

Since the inception of this blog in May of 2018, I’ve spent a good part of my time detailing the defeated current president’s misconduct and criminality. Not today.

I’ve also spent some time lamenting how Democrats are sometimes their own worst enemy, biting and sniping at one another instead of relishing victory, which we’re starting to see play out as we speak. But not today.

No, today is about Joe Biden and how, despite incredible odds and massive voter suppression, managed to achieve a resounding victory to become the 46th President of the United States.

And let’s not undersell this, folks. When it’s all said and done, Biden will most likely have 306 electoral votes in his column, as well as winning the popular vote by 5 million. We should give him his due and celebrate this victory to the fullest extent.

But perhaps more than anything else, what’s…

View original post 856 more words

Just A Few Snarky Snippets

By all indications, Donald Trump is not working today, hasn’t worked since the election, in fact.  No word on what he is doing about the new surge of coronavirus cases, meetings with congressional leaders or cabinet heads, nothing.  The media, thankfully, is not covering his every word and move — they should have learned to ignore him long ago.  The silence is, as they say, golden.  On the other hand …

Joe Biden is already hard at work.  This morning he announced the members of his coronavirus task force, a group made up entirely of doctors and health experts, signaling his intent to seek a science-based approach to bring the raging pandemic under control.

Biden’s task force will have three co-chairs: Vivek H. Murthy, surgeon general during the Obama administration; David Kessler, Food and Drug Administration commissioner under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate dean for health equity research at the Yale School of Medicine.

“Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts. The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.” – President-elect Joe Biden

Note the bi-partisan composition of the group’s leadership.  The 13-member task force also includes former Trump administration officials, including Rick Bright, former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, who, after being demoted, spoke out against the administration’s approach to the pandemic. Luciana Borio, director for medical and biodefense preparedness on Trump’s National Security Council until 2019, is also on the panel.

The group includes several other prominent doctors:

  • Ezekiel Emanuel, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School who is a prolific author.
  • Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
  • Eric Goosby, global AIDS coordinator under President Barack Obama and professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine.
  • Celine R. Gounder, clinical assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine.
  • Julie Morita, executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropy focused on health issues.
  • Loyce Pace, president and executive director of the Global Health Council, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to global health issues.
  • Robert Rodriguez, professor of emergency medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine.

Biden plans to call Republican and Democratic governors to ask for their help in developing a consistent message from federal and state leaders and will urge governors to adopt statewide mask mandates and to provide clear public health guidance to their constituents, including about social distancing and limiting large gatherings.

Joe Biden is actually going to DO something to try to help save lives!  What a novel thing for a president to do, eh?


Oh wait … I was wrong that Trump isn’t doing anything today.  Breaking news just in:  Trump has fired Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper.  Why?  Presumably because back in June, Esper disagreed with Trump’s plan to use active-duty military troops to quell Black Lives Matter protests in cities.  My best guess is that there will be more firings for petty, personal reasons … he has said more than once that he planned to fire both FBI Director Christopher Wray and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, after the election.  He can’t actually fire Dr. Fauci, for only the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has that ability.


But back to Joe Biden, who is constructing rather than destructing, building rather than tearing down …

Biden and his team have planned a weeklong focus on health care, and Mr. Biden is expected to announce some key White House positions, including his chief of staff.  No doubt he and his transition team are also working on his cabinet picks, which they say will be announced later this month.


In other news, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Ben Carson, is the latest in Trump’s administration to fall prey to the coronavirus, after attending a pseudo-victory party at the White House last Tuesday night.  It’s interesting to note that Carson was a well-respected neurosurgeon in his previous career, before leaving to enter politics on Trump’s coattails, and yet he eschews mask-wearing and other precautions such as avoiding large crowds.  While I don’t wish the man any harm and do hope he makes a full recovery, I have to say he brought this one on himself.  There were some 200 people at that gathering … how many more of those, I wonder, will test positive this week?

Hope, Unity, and Patience

I was impressed with Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’ speeches tonight.  Here is a link to both video and text of the speech.  For me, one of the most welcome things to hear was …

“All those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance.  It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again, and to make progress.”

These are words that we have not heard since President Obama left office on January 20th, 2017.  This is the polar opposite of what we have become used to hearing and it was a breath of fresh air, a welcome relief after all the hate and divisive language we’ve become used to.

Now, a few people have let me know in no uncertain terms that they are not pleased with Biden.  It’s not that they wanted Trump to win, necessarily, but they have issues with some of what Biden will or will not do.  Let me start by saying that we cannot have everything on our wish list – this is a nation of 330 million people, people with different goals and hopes, differing priorities and values.  As John Lydgate and later Abraham Lincoln famously said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

There is much wrong in this nation today and Joe Biden is going to have a struggle trying to prioritize what must be addressed first, getting legislation through Congress, and re-establishing relationships, both domestic and international.  We cannot expect to get everything we want, and we cannot expect anything to be accomplished overnight.  For the good of this nation, we all need to be patient and supportive of this administration, rather than constantly seeking reasons to criticize.  Some will call me a hypocrite for saying this, since I have been hypercritical of Donald Trump since long before his inauguration and ever since.  But there is a difference … Donald Trump never had the best interests of this nation and its people at heart.  Joe Biden does.

No president will be able to do everything we would like, and there will be times you and I disagree with the president’s actions … that has been the case in every nation and under every leader since the beginning of organized governments.

The things I am most pleased about in the Biden/Harris agenda are that they plan to re-join the Paris Climate Accord and reverse the withdrawal from the World Health Organization – these are two big ones, for climate change and the pandemic are the biggest threats to life, not only in the U.S., but worldwide.  Biden plans to repeal the ban on almost all travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and he will reinstate the DACA program allowing “dreamers,” who were brought to the United States illegally as children, to remain in the country.

Biden will also need to focus on filling cabinet positions, which may prove difficult if Mitch McConnell remains Senate Majority Leader and proves to be as unwilling to work with Biden as he was with Obama.  He will also need to re-establish relations with our allies, to earn once again the respect of other nations that has been shredded in the past four years.  He must re-implement environmental regulations that were rolled back by the current administration that was more interested in pleasing the fossil fuel industry than in the health of the world.

And, of course, the first order of business will be a strategic plan to control and contain the coronavirus pandemic that is raging out of control in this country.  To that end, Biden has already made plans to set up a coronavirus task force on Monday, in recognition that the global pandemic will be the primary issue that he must confront. The task force, which could begin meeting within days, will be co-chaired by former surgeon general Vivek H. Murthy and David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner.  He has a plan.  He realizes that he cannot simply ignore it and hope it goes away.

Now, some of the things I’ve been told people don’t like are that he has already said he would not sign legislation that would provide Medicare-for-all.  He has, however, promised to build on ACA, to fix what needs to be fixed and expand coverage.  You don’t go from zero to a hundred overnight … small steps. I think that ultimately this nation will have either Medicare-for-all or some form of universal health care, but we have to start somewhere … you don’t build a city from rubble in one day.

I’ve also heard from some that they are displeased that he won’t ban fracking.  Okay, I would like to see fracking banned, as well, but again, it doesn’t happen overnight.  Win some, lose some – that’s the way it works in a democracy.  And I’ve also heard displeasure because he has no plans to ‘defund the police’.  Folks … you cannot simply defund the police.  I am as aware as any of the problems of systemic racism in our police departments and yes, it needs to be fixed!  But cutting funding to police departments is NOT the answer.  The answer is more training, psychological profiling, and accountability.  Federal oversight of problematic police departments is crucial, and any officer caught with his proverbial pants down is out … no second chances.  Sensitivity training, which the incumbent has called “un-American” is essential.  But you cannot simply shutter the police departments around the nation.

No, Joe Biden will not be perfect – he will make mistakes, he will sometimes do things we don’t agree with or that we don’t understand the reason for, but … he is a good and decent man who will do his best to heal this nation, to narrow the divide between right and left, to initiate conversations such that we can begin to try to understand each other once again.  And, he will uphold the U.S. Constitution as per his Oath of Office.

The next 73 days are going to be filled with garbage talk from the current administration and we will have to do our best to simply ignore it.  Biden’s win is sound enough to withstand challenges and recounts, so at this point, the incumbent is irrelevant, and we really can afford to ignore him.  What we cannot afford is to lose our hope, to allow the detritus to bring us down.  Keep remembering that awesome feeling when you heard, yesterday morning, that Joe Biden was the president-elect.

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

Food For Thought …

Today it is likely that Amy Barrett will be confirmed by a majority in the U.S. Senate.  Unconscionable?  Yes, for many reasons, but nonetheless inevitable.  In yesterday’s edition of The Guardian, Robert Reich wrote about what needs to happen next, assuming that Joe Biden is the next president and that the democrats can keep a majority in the House and gain a majority in the Senate – once considered unlikely, but far more realistic today.


Trump assaulted American democracy – here’s how Democrats can save it

Amy Coney Barrett is heading for confirmation but supreme court and Senate reform is possible if Biden wins and acts fast

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

Barring a miracle, Amy Coney Barrett will be confirmed on Monday as the ninth justice on the US supreme court.

This is a travesty of democracy.

The vote on Barrett’s confirmation will occur just eight days before election day. By contrast, the Senate didn’t even hold a hearing on Merrick Garland, who Barack Obama nominated almost a year before the end of his term. Majority leader Mitch McConnell argued at the time that any vote should wait “until we have a new president”.

Barrett was nominated by a president who lost the popular vote by nearly 3m ballots, and who was impeached by the House of Representatives. When Barrett joins the court, five of the nine justices will have been appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote.

The Republican senators who will vote for her represent 15 million fewer Americans than their Democratic colleagues.

Once on the high court, Barrett will join five other reactionaries who together will be able to declare laws unconstitutional, for perhaps a generation.

Barrett’s confirmation is the culmination of years in which a shrinking and increasingly conservative, rural and white segment of the US population has been imposing its will on the rest of America. They’ve been bankrolled by big business, seeking lower taxes and fewer regulations.

In the event Joe Biden becomes president on 20 January and both houses of Congress come under control of the Democrats, they can reverse this trend. It may be the last chance – both for the Democrats and, more importantly, for American democracy.

How?

For starters, increase the size of the supreme court. The constitution says nothing about the number of justices. The court changed size seven times in its first 80 years, from as few as five justices under John Adams to 10 under Abraham Lincoln.

Biden says if elected he’ll create a bipartisan commission to study a possible court overhaul “because it’s getting out of whack”. That’s fine, but he’ll need to move quickly. The window of opportunity could close by the 2022 midterm elections.

Second, abolish the Senate filibuster. Under current rules, 60 votes are needed to enact legislation. This means that if Democrats win a bare majority there, Republicans could block any new legislation Biden hopes to pass.

The filibuster could be ended with a rule change requiring 51 votes. There is growing support among Democrats for doing this if they gain that many seats. During the campaign, Biden acknowledged that the filibuster has become a negative force in government.

The filibuster is not in the constitution either.

The most ambitious structural reform would be to rebalance the Senate itself. For decades, rural states have been emptying as the US population has shifted to vast megalopolises. The result is a growing disparity in representation, especially of nonwhite voters.

For example, both California, with a population of 40 million, and Wyoming, whose population is 579,000, get two senators. If population trends continue, by 2040 some 40% of Americans will live in just five states, and half of America will be represented by 18 Senators, the other half by 82.

This distortion also skews the electoral college, because each state’s number of electors equals its total of senators and representatives. Hence, the recent presidents who have lost the popular vote.

This growing imbalance can be remedied by creating more states representing a larger majority of Americans. At the least, statehood should be granted to Washington DC. And given that one out of eight Americans now lives in California – whose economy, if it were a separate country, would be the ninth-largest in the world – why not split it into a North and South California?

The constitution is also silent on the number of states.

Those who recoil from structural reforms such as the three I’ve outlined warn that Republicans will retaliate when they return to power. That’s rubbish. Republicans have already altered the ground rules. In 2016, they failed to win a majority of votes cast for the House, Senate or the presidency, yet secured control of all three.

Barrett’s ascent is the latest illustration of how grotesque the power imbalance has become, and how it continues to entrench itself ever more deeply. If not reversed soon, it will be impossible to remedy.

What’s at stake is not partisan politics. It is representative government. If Democrats get the opportunity, they must redress this growing imbalance – for the sake of democracy.

Post-Debate Grumbles

You surely don’t expect a sweet, complacent post from me after I only just finished watching the final presidential debate, do you?  A couple of times, I had to take off my headphones and step away from the computer lest I throw it or punch it, but I’m pleased to say that I survived.  They should give us buttons or stickers saying, “I survived watching the debate!”, for it is no small task!debate-3

All in all, the debate really wasn’t a debate, but at least we were able to hear and understand most of Biden’s responses without Trump talking over him.  Trump did, however, keep on talking long after the moderator had told him “Okay, we’re moving on to the next topic” repeatedly.  In my book, the only truly relevant question was the final one, when each candidate was asked what, on inauguration day, they would say to the people who didn’t vote for them.  Their responses, in part …

Trump:  “We have to make our country totally successful as it was prior to the plague coming over from China.  We are on the road to success. But I’m cutting taxes and he wants to raise everybody’s taxes, and he wants to put new regulations on everything. He will kill it. If he gets in, you will have a depression the likes of which you’ve never seen. Your 401(k)s will go to hell, and it’ll be a very, very sad day for this country.”

Biden: “I will say, I’m an American president. I represent all of you. Whether you voted for me or against me. And I’m going to make sure that you’re represented. I’m going to give you hope. We’re going to choose science over fiction. We’re going to choose hope over fear. We’re going to choose to move forward because we have enormous opportunities to make things better.

And I’m going to say, as I said at the beginning, what is on the ballot here is the character of this country, decency, honor, respect, treating people with dignity, making sure that everyone has an even chance. And I’m going to make sure you get that, what you haven’t been getting in the last four years.”

Notice the difference?  Trump used his 60 seconds to criticize Biden some more, while Biden actually answered the question with what sounded very much like the best possible way to begin the healing process.  A negative answer vs a positive message.

And that’s all I have to say about the debate … another 90 minutes of my life that I can’t get back.


According to a story in yesterday’s New York Times

The Trump campaign has been videotaping Philadelphia voters while they deposit their ballots in drop boxes, leading Pennsylvania’s attorney general to warn this week that the campaign’s actions fall outside of permitted poll watching practices and could amount to illegal voter intimidation.

The campaign made a formal complaint to city officials on Oct. 16, saying a campaign representative had surveilled voters depositing two or three ballots at drop boxes, instead of only their own. The campaign called the conduct “blatant violations of the Pennsylvania election code,” according to a letter from a lawyer representing the Trump campaign that was reviewed by The New York Times. The campaign included photos of three voters who it claimed were dropping off multiple ballots.

Last week daughter Chris, granddaughter Natasha (aka Miss Goose), and I completed our mail-in ballots.  Not trusting the United States Postal Service to deliver them in a timely fashion, we had already decided to use the drop box at the county board of elections.  Since there is only one ballot drop box per county in our state, the nearest drop box is about 15 miles from here … not a long distance, but my van is not reliable outside of a 2-mile radius, and daughter Chris works from 6:00 a.m. ‘til 6:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday.  So, on Saturday she took all three of our ballots to the drop box.  She put all three into the drop box, and yesterday I received notification that all three had been received and accepted.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with her dropping off all three of our ballots!

I find it rather creepy to think that Trump cronies might be filming her, take down her license plate number, and harass us or attempt to negate our ballots.  And are these government employees doing the videotaping?  Are we paying these people to spy on us???

The Trump campaign’s aggressive strategy in Philadelphia suggests its aim is to crack down on people dropping off ballots for family members or anyone else who is not strictly authorized to do so. Ms. Kerns demanded that the names of all voters who had used a drop box in front of Philadelphia’s City Hall on Oct. 14 be turned over to the campaign, and insisted that the city station a staff member around every drop box “at all times.” She also asked for footage from municipal cameras around City Hall.

Bullshit!  “Ms. Kerns” needs to go choke on a turnip!  It is a blatant attempt at voter intimidation and there is no law prohibiting a family member from dropping off a ballot.  What would be the difference if a family member put someone’s ballot in the mailbox for them?  None whatsoever.  This is a step too far in Trump’s attempt to claim that there is voter fraud in voting by mail, where there is none!  First it was fake ballot boxes put up by the GOP in California, and now this!  If by some chance Trump wins this election, it will not have been an honest win, but will have been because he interfered with the right of the people to cast a ballot!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.