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.

Words Of Wisdom …

This morning, I came across an OpEd by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat that I found to be both extremely sensible and also encouraging.  In essence, he urges us to calm down, stop imagining the worst, that Trump will refuse to play by the rules and attempt to remain in office despite his election defeat, and focus instead on what needs to be done to help the Biden presidency succeed.  Easier said than done, but I think he’s right … see what you think.


There Will Be No Trump Coup

A final pre-election case for understanding the president as a noisy weakling, not a budding autocrat.

ross-douthat-thumbLargeBy Ross Douthat

Opinion Columnist

Oct. 10, 2020

Three weeks from now, we will reach an end to speculation about what Donald Trump will do if he faces political defeat, whether he will leave power like a normal president or attempt some wild resistance. Reality will intrude, substantially if not definitively, into the argument over whether the president is a corrupt incompetent who postures as a strongman on Twitter or a threat to the Republic to whom words like “authoritarian” and even “autocrat” can be reasonably applied.

I’ve been on the first side of that argument since early in his presidency, and since we’re nearing either an ending or some poll-defying reset, let me make the case just one more time.

Across the last four years, the Trump administration has indeed displayed hallmarks of authoritarianism. It features egregious internal sycophancy and hacks in high positions, abusive presidential rhetoric and mendacity on an unusual scale. The president’s attempts to delegitimize the 2020 vote aren’t novel; they’re an extension of the way he’s talked since his birther days, paranoid and demagogic.

These are all very bad things, and good reasons to favor his defeat. But it’s also important to recognize all the elements of authoritarianism he lacks. He lacks popularity and political skill, unlike most of the global strongmen who are supposed to be his peers. He lacks power over the media: Outside of Fox’s prime time, he faces an unremittingly hostile press whose major outlets have thrived throughout his presidency. He is plainly despised by his own military leadership, and notwithstanding his courtship of Mark Zuckerberg, Silicon Valley is more likely to censor him than to support him in a constitutional crisis.

His own Supreme Court appointees have already ruled against him; his attempts to turn his voter-fraud hype into litigation have been repeatedly defeated in the courts; he has been constantly at war with his own C.I.A. and F.B.I. And there is no mass movement behind him: The threat of far-right violence is certainly real, but America’s streets belong to the anti-Trump left.

So if you judge an authoritarian by institutional influence, Trump falls absurdly short. And the same goes for judging his power grabs. Yes, he has successfully violated post-Watergate norms in the service of self-protection and his pocketbook. But pre-Watergate presidents were not autocrats, and in terms of seizing power over policy he has been less imperial than either George W. Bush or Barack Obama.

There is still no Trumpian equivalent of Bush’s antiterror and enhanced-interrogation innovations or Obama’s immigration gambit and unconstitutional Libyan war. Trump’s worst human-rights violation, the separation of migrants from their children, was withdrawn under public outcry. His biggest defiance of Congress involved some money for a still-unfinished border wall. And when the coronavirus handed him a once-in-a-century excuse to seize new powers, he retreated to a cranky libertarianism instead.

All this context means that one can oppose Trump, even hate him, and still feel very confident that he will leave office if he is defeated, and that any attempt to cling to power illegitimately will be a theater of the absurd.

Yes, Trump could theoretically retain power if the final outcome is genuinely too close to call.

But the same would be true of any president if their re-election came down to a few hundred votes, and Trump is less equipped than a normal Republican to steer through a Florida-in-2000 controversy — and less likely, given his excesses, to have jurists like John Roberts on his side at the end.

Meanwhile, the scenarios that have been spun out in reputable publications — where Trump induces Republican state legislatures to overrule the clear outcome in their states or militia violence intimidates the Supreme Court into vacating a Biden victory — bear no relationship to the Trump presidency we’ve actually experienced. Our weak, ranting, infected-by-Covid chief executive is not plotting a coup, because a term like “plotting” implies capabilities that he conspicuously lacks.

OK, the reader might say, but since you concede that the Orange Man is, in fact, bad, what’s the harm of a little paranoia, a little extra vigilance?

There are many answers, but I’ll just offer one: With American liberalism poised to retake presidential power, it needs clarity about its own position. Liberalism lost in 2016 out of a mix of accident and hubris, and many liberals have spent the last four years persuading themselves that their position might soon be as beleaguered as the opposition under Putin, or German liberals late in Weimar.

But in reality liberalism under Trump has become a more dominant force in our society, with a zealous progressive vanguard and a monopoly in the commanding heights of culture. Its return to power in Washington won’t be the salvation of American pluralism; it will be the unification of cultural and political power under a single banner.

Wielding that power in a way that doesn’t just seed another backlash requires both vision and restraint. And seeing its current enemy clearly, as a feckless tribune for the discontented rather than an autocratic menace, is essential to the wisdom that a Biden presidency needs.

Arrogance And Still More Arrogance

Arrogance

At the presidential debate on Tuesday, September 29th, the family of Donald Trump refused to wear masks.  The rules clearly stated that everyone in the venue would wear a mask except the two candidates and the moderator, yet Ivanka, Melania, Junior, Eric and the rest of the clan were sans masks.  It was no surprise to anyone that this clan thinks they are superior to the rest of us, for they have demonstrated that every single day for nearly four years.maskless-TrumpsBut last night, at the vice-presidential debate, the same rules were in place and it was clearly stated that everyone except Mr. Pence, Senator Harris, and moderator Susan Page would wear a mask or would not be allowed into the venue.  And yet … Karen Pence, Mike’s wife, was maskless when she appeared onstage at the end of the debate.  This, my friends, is supreme arrogance.  She put the lives of everyone in that room in jeopardy, for no doubt she has been exposed via her husband who was exposed by Trump himself.  In addition, she attended the Rose Garden event on September 26th that has been blamed for many others in the administration contracting the virus.  masklessWHY was she allowed to remove her mask, against the rules?  Why wasn’t she told to put the mask back on or be forcibly removed, just as you or I would have been?  For the record, Kamala Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, did wear his mask throughout the event and even after, when he appeared onstage.

I expected such arrogance and lack of consideration out of the Trump clan, but until last night I thought Karen Pence was a more decent human being than the Trumps.  Obviously, I was mistaken.  Perhaps she thinks her god will protect her, but it should be obvious even to her that her god has not protected the more than a million people worldwide who have died from the coronavirus, 217,000+ in the U.S. alone.

Where does this attitude of arrogance come from?  Karen Pence is a schoolteacher, for Pete’s sake!  She, of all people, should know the dangers this pandemic carries!  She is an artist who painted the illustrations for a children’s book written by her daughter.  One might think she was actually human, unlike her husband and the rest of the current administration.  But no … she is just like Ivanka and the rest … a self-centered bitch who cares little for any and puts her own image far ahead of the safety of this nation.


More arrogance

This morning the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced that next week’s debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden will be held virtually in the wake of Trump’s positive coronavirus diagnosis.  I was glad for the announcement, for Trump has no concern, no care for anyone and has downplayed … continues to downplay … the virus as if it were naught more than a common cold.  He remains contagious, even as he himself recovers from the virus and should not be allowed to expose others.

However, in his supreme arrogance, Trump said …

“I am not going to do a virtual debate. I am not going to waste my time on a virtual debate.”

Okay, fine by me … the first debate was such a bloody fiasco that We the People gained nothing but elevated blood pressure and a sense of deep frustration from watching it.  Better not to have any more anyway, for they are costly and of absolutely no benefit to anyone, given Trump’s refusal to observe the rules of either the debate or of common courtesy.

When he says he isn’t going to waste his time, I suppose that means the time he would otherwise spend watching Fox ‘News’ or tweeting out ignominious one-liners while munching on his Big Macs.

Joe Biden’s campaign quickly agreed to the virtual debate, likely relieved that Joe and his family wouldn’t have to risk the exposure of an unmasked Trump clan.   Biden campaign spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield responded to Trump’s refusal to participate by noting Biden would be happy to appear virtually, but said if Trump refuses to appear, Joe Biden “will find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly on October 15th.”  I think that may well be the best option anyway.

We already know what Donald Trump thinks … or says he thinks … on nearly every topic, for we have had four years of listening to his incessant b.s.  We would like to hear more from Joe Biden, which is nearly impossible in a debate venue such as the last one, where Trump literally bulldozed over Biden every time he attempted to answer a question.  I would much prefer hearing from Biden with Trump nowhere in sight!  We might actually learn what he thinks, what he his plans for the nation are.

To Donald Trump I say:  You just stay home with your cheeseburger and Diet Coke watching Fox and tweeting your little heart out.  We’ll all be better off.


And for a bit of spot-on musical commentary by James Corden of Gavin and Stacy fame, and more recently The Late, Late Show and Carpool Karaoke

The UN-Debate

It was the first debate I have watched from start to finish in many years.  I felt I had to, so I did.  That was one-and-a-half hours of my life that I can never get back.  By the end, I felt shaky and nauseous, but more than anything I felt disgusted by some 40% of this nation who could actually watch that clown and still think he should be chosen to run this country.

Moderator Chris Wallace, to his credit, attempted to shut Donald Trump’s mouth more than a few times, but it proved to be impossible.  Donald Trump interrupted not only his challenger, Joe Biden, but also Chris Wallace just about every time one of them attempted to speak. So wrapped up in himself was Trump that I actually got the feeling Joe Biden and Chris Wallace could have left and Trump would have continued his blah-blah-blah-ing.  He reminded me of a battery-operated toy on steroids, only not nearly as cute as the Energizer Bunny.

If the other two debates actually happen, I think provisions should be made to enable the moderator to simply switch off Trump’s microphone when it isn’t his turn to speak.  Conversely, they could hire large men with rolls of duct tape to place across his mouth every time he opens it.  Frankly, I don’t see anything to be gained by having any additional debates, for nothing … NOTHING was accomplished with this one.  It was not a debate, but a show … a show put on by Trump for the benefit of his rabid base who, no doubt, thought he did great.

I will spare you a blow-by-blow reporting of the debate, but if you’d like a written transcript, you can find one here  .  I will, however, give you a few of the more … salient moments.

  • … 🤔
  • …… 🤔
  • …….. 🤔

Well, okay then … I guess there were no ‘salient’ moments.  There were a couple of good lines, though, the best one being at the 18:18 mark when, after yet another of Trump’s juvenile repeated interruptions, Joe Biden said, “Will you shut up, man?”  The moment immediately lit up my Twitter feed and continues to be the source of humour and kudos today.  As several have noted, he voiced what we were all saying here at home!shut-up

Toward the end of the debate, Trump did what he had been saying he planned to do, attacking Joe Biden’s son.  Personally, I think that no man with a shred of human decency would attack another man’s family for political gain.  Period.  But, we’re talking about Trump, so it was not unexpected.  But, in my view it backfired on Trump, ‘bigly’.  Here was Biden’s very heartfelt response …

“And speaking of my son, the way you talk about the military, the way you talk about them being losers and being and just being suckers. My son was in Iraq. He spent a year there. He got the Brown Star. He got the Conspicuous Service Medal. He was not a loser. He was a Patriot and the people left behind there were heroes.”

And a minute later, when Trump kept rambling …

“My son like a lot of people at home had a drug problem. He’s overtaking it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him, I’m proud of my son.”

The Hunter Biden conspiracy theory, for the record, has been investigated and debunked enough times that it should have been put to bed years ago, but Trump seems not to have gotten that memo.

The best part of the entire debate was at the end when Joe Biden looked straight into the camera, looked us right in the eye and said …

“Show up and vote. You will determine the outcome of this election. Vote, vote, vote. If you’re able to vote early in your state, vote early. If you’re able to vote in person, vote in person. Vote whatever way is the best way for you, because you will… He cannot stop you from being able to determine the outcome of this election. And in terms of whether or not… When the votes are counted and they’re all counted, that will be accepted. If I win, that will be accepted. If I lose, that’ll be accepted.”

As a tool for learning more about the candidates and their platforms, the debate was worthless … a waste of time.  As a means of learning something about the candidates’ personalities … it only reinforced what we already knew:  Donald J. Trump is a rude & crude asshole and Joe Biden is a man of conscience, intellect, and compassion.  I have no doubt that if the other two debates, scheduled for October 15th and October 22nd proceed as planned, they will also be naught but a circus act for the benefit of energizing Trump’s base.  Personally, I will not waste my time watching another, though I may consider watching the vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris next week.

Snarky Snippets or Mini Rants?

I’m not sure whether these are snarky snippets or mini rants, but either way, the fingers are flying across the keyboard tonight and the steam is coming in short bursts from my ears!  If this year doesn’t give me a heart attack, then nothing will!


Oh poor Bradley …

ParscaleOn Sunday, it was announced that Trump’s former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, had been hospitalized because he had threatened to harm himself.  Now, I felt no empathy toward ol’ Brad, for he is a grade-A Nazi, a man without a conscience, not a person the world would much miss.  But then yesterday morning, the ignoble republicans started blaming “poor Brad’s depression” on … who else … the democrats.  Holy MFS, people … does every single thing that happens in this country have to spark a battle between democrats and republicans???  Have we really sunk that low?  Or, let me re-phrase … have republicans really sunk so low that they cannot accept that sometimes shit happens that the democrats had nothing … NOTHING to do with???

But then, yesterday afternoon, some facts came out.  Hopefully the republicans can find a bar of soap big enough to wash the egg off their faces.  Turns out ol’ Brad wasn’t out to hurt himself, but his wife!  A police report showed that Parscale’s wife called police when he loaded a gun, then she fled the house. Arriving at the scene, police saw she was was badly bruised and scratched, and she “stated Brad Parscale hits her.”  After a three-hour standoff, police wrestled Parscale to the ground and handcuffed him, then  took him to the hospital.  Why they didn’t take him to jail is beyond me.  Or, perhaps in Florida it is legal to beat your wife?  They also removed at least 10 firearms from the home.  Yo, republicans!  Still feel sorry for this jerk?


Thoughts on tonight’s debate …

Tonight is the first debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. I rarely watch the debates, because I cannot hear them well and the captioning, if there even is captioning, is never quite accurate or timely.  However, I did plan to watch this one, for it is important … this is the single most important election in my lifetime, maybe ever, in the U.S.  I’m re-thinking my plan, though, for I find that it takes little to make me very angry and that anger is taking a toll on me, physically and mentally.  So, I’ll have to wait and see, but most likely I will wait for the analyses to start hitting the media and get my information from those.

The one thing that disgusts me is Trump planning to attack Joe Biden’s family.  Joe Biden has lost a wife and daughter to an automobile accident, and more recently a son to cancer.  His family is not running for the office of president … Joe is.  Joe is a decent, caring, and honest man of integrity.  Why the Sam Hell should his family be put through the ringer just because Donald Trump had some wet dream of finding dirt on Joe’s son, Hunter?

Now, if we want to talk about the families of the candidates, Trump is sitting pretty as the pot who called the kettle black!  His two oldest sons and oldest daughter are every bit as corrupt as he is, and his daughter is a ‘woman’ of low IQ who has been milking his role as president for nearly four years now.  And then there’s her husband, Jared, who couldn’t find his kneecaps in the shower if his life depended on it, but WE THE PEOPLE have been paying him an exorbitant salary to do … absolutely nothing.

Oh yeah … and Trump claims he will ‘force’ Joe Biden to take a drug test!  Good luck, Donnie … your power does have its limits, y’know.  I do so want to see the backside of the entire Trump clan as they leave the White House and head to the federal penitentiary!


And speaking of taxes …

  • In 1931 Al Capone was sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion totaling $215,000.
  • In 1992 Leona Helmsley was sentenced to 16 years in prison for tax evasion totaling $1.2 million
  • O.J. Simpson was already serving a prison term for armed robbery and kidnapping in 2012 when the IRS foreclosed on his home and other property over a $1.4 million tax debt

And the list goes on.  Today, it is widely known that the so-called ‘president’ of the United States is a member of that elite club of tax dodgers. (Since he is also a draft dodger, I’m thinking his new nickname should be Donnie Dodger) After Sunday’s release of information by the New York Times from a couple of decades worth of Donald Trump’s tax returns, most of us were … angry, but not surprised in the least.  After all, when he was campaigning in 2016, Trump had claimed that cheating on his taxes “makes me smart”.  No, it doesn’t make him smart — it makes him a bloody crook.  Okay, so Trump’s an asshole and we all know it.  We all knew that if he had nothing to hide, he would have done the right thing and released his tax returns in 2016, rather than fighting tooth and nail to keep them out of the public eye.  But what I don’t understand is how many people are defending his cheating.

Asshat conspiracy theorist Rush Limbaugh nearly stumbled over his feet praising Trump …

“The main thing that Trump did — looking at this, the main thing that Trump is doing is putting more money into his businesses than he’s taking out. And who knows. It may be wise or legal, he’s chosen to do it this way. One thing, he’s an expert at moving money around to avoid paying taxes, and he’s really an expert at making those who loan him money as vulnerable as he is. They can’t call the loans on him. They’d go down the tubes if he does. So he’s a master at this.”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a so-called ‘Christian’, said on Fox News …

“But let me give you this. So what? In a big business operation like he runs, there is a good likelihood that with all of the various business losses that he had from running for president when he wasn’t overseeing his business, maybe that’s so. I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t care.”

And one of my own readers said …

“I don’t judge Trump for avoiding taxes. In fact, I applaud him for it.”

And this, my friends, is why I am a Socialist at heart.  Those who praise and applaud Trump for screwing the system do not realize that in so doing they are applauding a ‘man’ who is robbing the less fortunate of such basic necessities as food, shelter, clothing, health care, and … basically a life.  Meanwhile, the rest of us, believing in a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, believing that “the people” includes every single person, regardless of race, religion, social standing, or gender, fund the biggest portion of the nation’s budget.  We pay our effing taxes with only small grumbles, because we believe it is the right thing to do.   Name a single time Donald Trump did “the right thing”.  Betcha can’t.

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.”