Al Gore Was So Much More …

Dan Rather’s newsletter on Tuesday strikes a chord in many, many ways.  First, what he says about the physical environment is spot on, but then he turns his thoughts to the political/social environment where he is again spot on.  But the highlight of his piece is Al Gore’s acceptance speech at the end of a long and contentious presidential election in 2000.  If you do nothing else, please listen to this speech and consider it in context to today’s politics.  Quite honestly, I never paid a lot of attention to Al Gore back in the day, but this man had it all:  intelligence, charisma, and class of a sort we do not see today.  We need more politicians like Al Gore today!


Remember Al Gore?

2000 vs. 2020 (and 2022)

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

30 August 2022

A few trendlines have collided recently that got me thinking of a former vice president, Al Gore. Remember him?

For one, there is the existential threat of our climate crisis. It’s been 16 years since Gore’s Academy Award-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” debuted. During that time, the truth he warned about — our planet’s spiral toward a new climate reality, fueled by human activity and significantly less hospitable to human existence — has become only more inconvenient, urgent, and dire.

Drought in the western U.S. Severe heat waves across Europe. Unusually heavy flooding in Kentucky and elsewhere. Scientists say these kinds of dramatic weather patterns will become more frequent as climate change progresses. We hear about 100-year storms or even 1,000-year floods, terms that are meant to indicate rarity. But it is increasingly clear such events are no longer anomalous. A horrific tragedy is currently playing out in Pakistan, where immense flooding is causing widespread destruction and mass death.

The warming climate, as Gore warned us, will result in greater hardship and instability. It is a cruel injustice that the countries that contributed the least to greenhouse gas proliferation tend to be the poorest and will suffer the most.

On a more optimistic note, the recent climate bill passed by Congress represents exactly the kind of concrete action for which Gore has long advocated. Start somewhere. In the case of this legislation, that “somewhere” is quite significant, according to climate experts. Once you’ve started, keep going. Change the direction. Chart a new path forward toward carbon neutrality.

The climate is a grave and unending concern. It should dictate our policy choices and define our national security. Gore saw this clearly. His warnings will cry out from the history books to future generations. “Why were they not heeded?” they will ask in disbelief.

But it wasn’t only the climate that has had me thinking of Gore. There is also the matter of the clear and present dangers our institutions and democratic order are facing.

Donald Trump is still at it about the 2020 election (here in August 2022). He just issued a statement saying he was the “rightful winner” and at a minimum, someone (not exactly sure who) should “declare the 2020 Election irreparably compromised and have a new Election, immediately!”

Of course the former president is now under a serious investigation into his retention of highly classified documents (and what he might have done with them). One would have hoped that this grave matter would have Republican elected officials waiting at least to hear about findings before escalating divisive partisanship. But there was Trump’s one-time critic and current sycophant Senator Lindsay Graham, alluding to violence. “If there is a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information after the Clinton debacle, there will be riots in the streets,” he said. This is completely irresponsible and dangerous.

Against this backdrop, let us remember Al Gore and the 2000 presidential election. Gore won the popular vote, but of course that’s not how we choose our presidents. As for the Electoral College, it all came down to Florida, as anyone of memory age at the time certainly recalls. There was a lot of weirdness in that state — “butterfly ballots” and “hanging chads.” To make a long and sordid story short, ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court intervened. A majority of justices, all appointed by Republicans, stopped the vote count and effectively handed the election to George W. Bush.

It is hard to overstate how big an inflection point that was in American history. Unlike in 2020, when Trump lost decisively, Gore had legitimate claims. And also unlike 2020 (through today) when Trump is eager to blow up American democracy and even spark violence with his lies and refusal to act responsibly, Gore chose a path of reconciliation. His concession speech is one that should be studied for its graciousness and straightforward eloquence.

I have pulled some excerpts to provide examples of Gore’s words. Recognize how difficult they must have been for a man who had long harbored dreams of the presidency — and knew he might very well have earned it.

Gore addressed the finality of the rule of law:

    “Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome, which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity of the people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.”

He called for common ground:

    “This has been an extraordinary election. But in one of God’s unforeseen paths, this belatedly broken impasse can point us all to a new common ground, for its very closeness can serve to remind us that we are one people with a shared history and a shared destiny.”

He argued for country over party:

    “I know that many of my supporters are disappointed. I am, too. But our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country…While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America, and we put country before party. We will stand together behind our new president.”

He ended with a recognition that our country must be bigger than our politics and any single individual:

    “Now the political struggle is over and we turn again to the unending struggle for the common good of all Americans and for those multitudes around the world who look to us for leadership in the cause of freedom.

    In the words of our great hymn, ‘America, America’: ‘Let us crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.’

    And now, my friends, in a phrase I once addressed to others, it’s time for me to go.”

Contrast this humility with the last president, who will never relinquish the spotlight. Contrast the passionate pleas for unity with January 6. Contrast Gore’s appeal to the sanctity of our institutions with the election lies sweeping Republican politics. Contrast how he led in a moment of potential crisis with the enablers and toadies who appease Trump’s destructive behavior. Contrast the appeal to reason with Sen. Graham’s wink at violence. Contrast how he tried to tamp down passion with those who use their perches in right-wing media to spew divisive hatred.

The Republicans rail against their political rivals for being out of control, violent, subverters of democracy. It is, in poker terms, the ultimate tell. What they complain the loudest about is often what they themselves are pushing. I have said it before: There are so many projectionists among the GOP that they might as well open a chain of movie theaters.

Looking back at what lawyers call the “fact pattern” of the 2000 election, we can see one that had all the hallmarks of bringing American democracy to its brink. But at that moment, Al Gore made the determination that to wreck our constitutional order by undermining the results of a very flawed process was not what leadership demanded.

He stood there, surely believing in his mind that he should have been president. He knew that a majority of American voters had agreed. Imagining “what could have been” must have been intensely difficult. Looking back at what happened in the presidency of George W. Bush, we can see how fateful that election was. But Al Gore knew that to preserve our constitutional system, there really was no other option. He accepted his fate, and so did his party.

As Trump still rages after an election that was not nearly as close, after he lost in the courts, after he spurred a violent insurrection, Gore’s example is all the more striking. The Republican officials who are playing along with this attack on American democracy are old enough to remember 2000. And they’re old enough to know better.

How The World Sees Us …

We’ve all heard people say that the United States is “the leader of the free world”, right?  We grew up being told that we were that shining example of democracy that other nations hoped to emulate.  Looking back, I don’t know if that was ever quite true, but I strongly suspect that at one point we were respected more than we are today.  Until last night, I don’t recall ever reading anything by Christine Emba, but her editorial hit my inbox and, intrigued, I read it.  I was glad I did, for it was enlightning.  Ms. Emba is an opinion columnist and editor for The Washington Post and a published author. Before joining the editorial staff at The Post in 2015, Christine was the Hilton Kramer Fellow in Criticism at the New Criterion and a deputy editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit.  She recently attended a global conference where she learned some of the international views of the U.S. today, and I think what she learned is worthy of consideration, for it matters how our allies, how other nations, view us …


The world is taking America’s decline seriously. We should too.

By Christine Emba

29 August 2022

HAMBURG — “It’s frightening, what’s happened to you,” a Bavarian civil society organizer shared with me over a stein of German pils. “America has become smaller.”

The theme of this year’s Bucerius Summer School on Global Governance, a Hamburg-based international conference consisting of dozens of young leaders from around the world, was “Facing New Realities: Global Governance Under Strain.” The reality this American observer had to face? That in the eyes of much of the world, the United States’ light has dimmed.

We are still watched intently and remain a major power. But it was clear that to many of the conference’s attendees — hailing from Germany to Mongolia, Ghana to Ukraine — the United States has become shorthand for democratic decline and disinformation, home to citizens who react to dissatisfaction by rejecting reality, and to institutions that are increasingly hollowed out.

“We don’t want the people who lose jobs during the climate transformation to end up as Trump voters or the equivalent,” a European foreign minister said during a discussion of economic retooling amid climate change. My fellow conference-goers looked my way apologetically, pity on their faces.

“I thought about settling in the U.S.,” one attendee, an Ivy League- and Oxbridge-educated internationalist now working for the United Nations, told me. “But I couldn’t imagine living in a place where my children would have to practice” — here, she made mocking quotation marks with her fingers — “active shooter drills.”

The United States’ most famous exports used to be Coca-Cola, Levi’s and jazz — not to mention such ideals as freedom, civil rights and the rule of law. Now, we’re best known for rampant gun violence and gruesome school shootings.

Yet glimmers of respect for what we used to (and sometimes still) stand for do exist.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential run was brought up again and again as an example of the American political system’s openness to outsiders and capacity to surprise. The George Floyd protests of 2020 and the successes of the Black Lives Matter movement were commended as rare examples of truly free expression.

A Kenyan participant reminisced fondly about a year studying in the United States, including a summer spent interning in the local offices of a Republican congressman. He remembered his incredulity at realizing that a government official could campaign door to door without a driver or a bodyguard and would personally return his constituents’ phone calls; direct democracy, not as common in his home region, still seemed possible in the United States.

(Incidentally, that congressman, Fred Upton of Michigan, was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. Upton announced his retirement this spring in the face of redistricting and a MAGA-backed primary challenge.)

The United States’ reputation has been deteriorating for at least two decades. During the Iraq War, as Bush-doctrine foreign policy was derided across the globe, the trope of American backpackers abroad pretending to be Canadian to avoid shame by association became something of a cliche.

Yet, the past six years have seen an unprecedented acceleration. Our geopolitical rivals have always had ammunition, but the old embarrassments pale in comparison to the new. The idea that credence is still given to arguments about whether the 2020 election was “stolen” — the settled view of the rest of the world is that this is obvious nonsense — is a source of alarm.

After the 2016 election, European leaders warned that the United States could no longer be relied on as a partner in defense and security. More recently, statements such as those from Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance — “I got to be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or the other” — have made their way around the world, reconfirming the United States’ continued unseriousness and withdrawal from international engagement and moral leadership.

Our country is famously self-centered. It’s possible, or perhaps probable, that most Americans, only 20 percent of whom speak a second language — compared with 65 percent of the European Union’s population — don’t care what people in Europe or the rest of the world think.

But they should. As the United States fades, our competitors — a seemingly inexorable China, an unpredictable and aggressive Russia — wait hungrily in the wings.

In 2008, Fareed Zakaria wrote: “At the politico-military level, we remain in a single-superpower world. But in every other dimension — industrial, financial, educational, social, cultural — the distribution of power is shifting, moving away from American dominance.” In 2022, that vision of a “post-American world” has gone from theory to truth.

It might not be too late to effect a reversal. But if we want to preserve our stature, we should begin to act — holding our former president accountable to the rule of law would be a start — and realize that as we do so, the next generation of leaders is watching.

The world is taking our decline seriously. It’s time we did the same.

PLEASE, AG Merrick Garland … Do the Right Thing!

If we fail to hold Donald Trump, John Eastman, and all the members of Congress who played a role in the attempted coup of January 6th, then we are basically telling all future presidents that there will be no punishment for any criminal activities in which they might engage while in office.  Period.  Close your eyes and imagine a future president, say a President Gaetz, forcing himself on White House staff members, making sex with him a requisite of the job.  Imagine a President Cruz taking money under the table from the next Russian president in exchange for refusing to assist the next country Russia attacks.  Imagine President Manchin negotiating with the coal and oil companies to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, or … well, just let your imagination run wild for a few minutes.

Those of you who are parents … you give your kids a time out or some other humanitarian punishment when they knowingly do something wrong, yes?  Why do you do this?  Because you know they must learn that actions have consequences, that if you steal from a schoolmate or punch a younger kid, you will pay the price.  If you lie, you will pay the price.  People like Donald Trump were never disciplined and grew up thinking that they were somehow ‘special’, not accountable for their actions.  When one of these people gets into a public office, they assume that it’s their private play space, that they can do anything they please because they have “the power”, they assume they are untouchable, invincible.  If the courts and the Justice Department of the United States fail to charge or indict and convict Donald Trump and his co-conspirators for not only their role in the January 6th attempted coup, but the entire batch of underhanded attempts to overturn our election by subverting the Justice Department, seeking to corrupt states attorneys general and more, then they are complicit in creating the monster that will be the next person to sit at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.

There are no grey areas here, no moral equivalencies, no doubts whatsoever.  Donald Trump and his minions attempted treason.  They failed … this time.  They, or whomever is the next president, will have learned from their mistakes and will not likely fail again.  No, my friends, I am not an alarmist, not being overly dramatic … I am stating facts based on a) common sense, b) logic, and c) what I can see and hear with my own eyes and ears.

I have heard numerous legal experts opine that to charge Trump would be to go down a road fraught with obstacles.  That there is no precedent for actually charging a former president for criminal activity seems to be a big stumbling block – it shouldn’t be, but apparently it is.  Now, these legal experts have far more knowledge than I do about the ins and outs of the law, but I am not completely witless, and I know that he cannot be allowed to get by with his crimes.  I know that NOW is the time we MUST prove to the world that NOBODY in the United States, not even the president, is above the law.  Failure to do so … is simply not an option.

There is also a concern among legal scholars, and likely within the Department of Justice, that in the current polarized political environment, Trump would be seen as the ‘victim of a witch hunt’ or a political voodoo doll.  Some of the legal scholars say he might have a valid defense by claiming that he lacked criminal intent because he truly believed that massive voter fraud had taken place.  Bullshit.  If nothing else, we have learned from various people testifying in the January 6th committee hearings that Trump was told repeatedly by every expert from then-Attorney General William Barr to various states’ Attorneys General that he spoke with, to his own lawyers and even his daughter that he lost.  Period.  He disregarded all but a drunken Rudy Giuliani and a cunning John Eastman not because he believed he won, but because he had a plan to stay in office by hook or by crook.  And if by some remote chance, despite all the evidence, he did still believe he won, then he is seriously deranged and unfit to remain in society, let alone run for any public office.

Attorney General Merrick Garland is in a tough spot, for he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.  For the sake of this nation, for the future of our children, the future of the world as we know it, he must do the right thing!

The Week’s Best Cartoons 6/18

Yet another week and more of the best political ‘toons from our friend TokyoSand over at Political Charge.  Time was that these would make me laugh … and I still take my hat off to the great talents of these cartoonists … but today they make me want to cry more than laugh.  Thank you, TS, for all your hard work!

Below is a small sample … be sure to head over to TokyoSand’s place to see … the rest of the story!

See all the ‘toons at Political Charge!!!

Human vs Neanderthal

In ordinary times, you would likely never have known the name Adam Kinzinger unless you happen to be from his home state of Illinois.  But, today I think it’s safe to say that at least 85% of the adults in the U.S. know who Adam Kinzinger is.  In case you’re one of the 15% who don’t know, a brief summary …

Adam Kinzinger is a Republican legislator who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2011.  Kinzinger became known for his vocal opposition to Trump’s claims of voter fraud and attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Kinzinger was one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection in his second impeachment, and one of only two Republicans to vote to create a select committee to investigate the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, to which he was subsequently appointed.  Due to the open hostility from members of his party, Mr. Kinzinger announced last October that he will not run for re-election in November.  In 2006, Kinzinger was named the Wisconsin Red Cross “Hero of the Year” for wrestling a knife-wielding man to the ground and disarming him after the man had cut the throat of a woman on a street in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Adam has a wife, Sofia, and one son, Christian.

A few days ago, Mr. Kinzinger’s wife, Sofia, received this letter …

I found breathing impossible as tears welled in my eyes when I read that … I could feel the evil, the hate emanating from those words.  For the rest of the evening, I felt on the brink of crying, felt that if I let it start, I would never be able to stop.  There are many people — politicians and religious leaders — whom I despise, whose faces I would spit in given half a chance, but never in my wildest thoughts would I even consider threatening violence against them or their families.  This, my friends, is the difference between a human being and a gun-toting neanderthal.

THIS, my friends, is who we are becoming.  The political divisions in this nation are leading to murder, to corruption, to destruction, and to widespread violence that I believe is inevitable in the coming months.  We the People have allowed politicians, have allowed our own greed, have allowed our sense of entitlement to bring us to this place.  We have forgotten our humanity and somewhere along the way have lost our sense of compassion, of empathy, of caring for others.

When we value our guns more than our children, when we pretend to believe the lies our politicians tell us, even though we know better, and when we believe that somehow one person is better than another because of skin colour, religion, gender affiliation, or any other criteria, then we are contributing to the kind of behaviour that cause this maniac to send this letter to Sofia Kinzinger, contributing to the likes of the teen who went into a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, aiming to murder Black people just because their skin was darker than his.

I hope law enforcement officials are able to track down the writer of that letter and that they will have the guts to prosecute and imprison him, for he does not deserve the privilege of walking on the same streets as the rest of us.  However, it’s more likely they won’t find him, if they even look, and that eventually he may carry out his threat.  And worse yet, he is only one of many such creatures who believe that violence is the solution to their problems.

This nation is rapidly losing its humanity, is becoming a violent banana republic overrun by people who care only for their own fortunes and to hell with those of us who cross them in caring for the greater good.  This letter-writer has convinced me that, while I know there ARE good people in this country, there is no longer a collective good, no longer a majority of people working toward a greater good.  R.I.P. former United States.

The GOP — It Ain’t What It Used To Be

One of the columnists I most respect is Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post.  I bookmarked his column from Thursday to further peruse and upon doing so, I thought it well worth sharing with you.  We the People can still salvage the democratic foundations from under the ashes of conservative cultism, but … we don’t have many chances left, which is why it is so imperative that we make sure everyone votes this November and in November 2024 … it may be the last best hope for the survival of the United States.


State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), the Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, gestures to the crowd during his primary night election party in Chambersburg, Pa., on May 17. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Cult or a conspiracy? The GOP sure isn’t a normal political party.

By Eugene Robinson

May 19, 2022

Is today’s Republican Party primarily a cult of personality or a seditious conspiracy? I can argue either side of that question. But it is clear that the GOP is no longer a political organization or movement in the traditional sense. And if Republican cultists and conspirators win power in November, voters have only ourselves to blame.

It’s not as if we can’t see the dangers that lie ahead. As Bob Dylan once sang, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

The object of the GOP’s cultish devotion is, of course, former president Donald Trump. I have my doubts whether Trump will actually run for the White House again in 2024 (and risk losing twice, whether he acknowledges either loss publicly), but for now he is the unchallenged egomaniacal leader of the party he seized in 2016.

Tuesday’s primary results in Pennsylvania prove Trump’s primacy. As the party’s nominee for governor, GOP voters chose Trump’s preferred pick, a state senator named Doug Mastriano who trumpets the “big lie” about the 2020 election being stolen; was present at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (though he says he left before the insurrectionary portion of the events); and appeared at an event associated with the hallucinatory QAnon conspiracy theory about the nation somehow being run by a cabal of pedophiles.

His Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, should be able to win that race handily by simply keeping his rhetoric and positions within the bounds of reality as we know it — if, and only if, enough Democrats, independents and still-sane Republicans bother to vote in November.

The race for the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania’s contested U.S. Senate seat is, as of this writing, a virtual tie between Trump’s choice, television celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, and hedge fund titan David McCormick. Far-right political commentator Kathy Barnette faded to third after Trump declared her too extreme even for his liking.

But look again at that lineup of candidates. None has any of the experience in elective office that used to be expected of a candidate for the Senate. And the campaign consisted mostly of all three professing their undying fealty to Trump and their faith in his infallibility.

The Democratic candidate in that November contest — Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who won his primary easily, despite suffering a stroke Friday, and is on the mend — has a good chance of winning, which could increase the Democrats’ tenuous Senate majority if they can hold other seats.

In North Carolina, GOP Rep. Ted Budd, another Trump endorsee, won the primary for that state’s open Senate seat; Budd is another “big lie” espouser who voted against certifying the 2020 electoral vote, even after the Jan. 6 rioters had sacked the Capitol. One Trump-endorsed N.C. Republican, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, did lose his primary. But Cawthorn’s antics and transgressions were such that not even Trump’s lukewarm pitch for “a second chance” for the troubled young politician could save him.

The dominant pattern of the Republican primaries thus far is clear: It is very, very hard to win a statewide nomination without Trump’s support, or at least his amity; and it is impossible to win Trump’s backing if you reject his lie about the supposedly “stolen” election. How is that anything but cultlike?

This is the most dangerous aspect of the GOP’s devolution from party to personality cult: Devotion to Trump requires a willingness to betray democracy. Much of Trump’s attention is focused on states, such as Pennsylvania, where he falsely claims he was victimized by voter fraud. If Mastriano were to win the governor’s race, his handpicked secretary of state could refuse to certify 2024 election results that Trump did not like.

Vote-counting in the Pennsylvania Senate primary is not yet finished, but Trump has already called on Oz — who has a tiny, tentative lead over McCormick — to preemptively “declare victory.”

This is where the question of seditious conspiracy comes in. The Republican Party is shaping itself in Trump’s image, and Trump has shown nothing but contempt for the traditions of fair play and good will that allow our democracy to function. Refusing to accept the will of the voters is authoritarianism. Today’s GOP, increasingly, is just fine with that.

All is not lost, however. Turnout in midterm elections is traditionally much lower than in presidential years. Voters who are appalled at what the GOP has become can send a powerful and definitive message by abandoning their traditional nonchalance and voting in huge numbers. We can reject Trumpism, both for its cultishness and for its proto-fascism. We can take a stand.

It’s up to us what kind of country we want to live in. We had better speak our minds with our votes — while we still can.

Wednesday wanderings in mid-May

As always, our friend Keith puts into words what many of us are thinking and feeling. Please pay special attention to his final paragraph, for these are the questions we need to be asking, and the issues on which we need to hold our elected representatives accountable. As always, thank you Keith!!!

musingsofanoldfart

We should have another warm day here, so walking may make us “glisten,” a word my wife uses for perspiration. So, as we glisten on our walk about, let me share a few of my wandering thoughts.

The votes from yesterday’s mid-term primaries are being tallied, so I will save commentary for another day, with two exceptions. With almost 100% of the votes counted, it looks like Rep. Madison Cawthorn will be unseated in his first election as an incumbent. His failure to: realize on three occasions a driver needs a driver license, understand he cannot carry a weapon onto a plane on two occasions, appreciate claiming your Republican colleagues are having orgies and coke parties is not the way to make friends, and recognize that not doing much of anything other than abet the former president’s Big Lie and insurrection of Congress is not conducive to good governance. It…

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Think Smaller — Protect Your Right To Vote!

We place far more emphasis, spend far more energy & time, on the big elections – president and members of Congress – than we typically do on local and state elections, but I read an OpEd article in the New York Times this morning that made me stop and think … made me realize that perhaps we need to shift our focus, or at least widen it.  Heck, I don’t even know who is on the ballot for Secretary of State in my own state … time to do some research!  Ms. Barbara McQuade, teaches law at the University of Michigan, and oversaw voting rights suits as U.S. attorney for Michigan’s Eastern District, so she knows of what she speaks …


The Most Pivotal Elections in 2022 Are Not the Ones You Think

By Barbara McQuade, May 12, 2022

The fate of our democracy doesn’t hinge on the battle for the House or the fight for control of the Senate, but on state elections for a once sleepy office: secretaries of state.

No elected officials will be more pivotal to protecting democracy — or subverting it — than secretaries of state. While their responsibilities vary from state to state, most oversee elections, a role in which they wield a tremendous amount of power. Secretaries of state own the bully pulpit on voting, and they control the machinery of elections.

They also have a platform to spread disinformation, such as false claims that voting by mail is not secure. A Republican secretary of state could reduce the number of ballot boxes or polling places in Democratic areas and limit staffing to create long lines that dissuade potential voters. They can also refuse to certify the results in particular counties or even the entire state. In a close presidential race, if even one secretary of state in a swing state were to put his thumb on the scale, we could see an election that really is stolen.

This has happened before. In 2000, Katherine Harris, Florida’s secretary of state, halted the recount process and certified George W. Bush, for whom she served as a campaign chairwoman, as the winner of Florida’s electoral votes. But our current political moment is even more fraught, as Donald Trump casts doubt on the last election, whipping his supporters into frenzy while Republican field generals quietly maneuver conservative hard-liners into positions of power.

Twenty-seven states will choose a secretary of state this fall, and in 17 of those states, at least one of the Republican candidates for the office actively denies that President Biden won the 2020 election. Fourteen candidates have formed the America First S.O.S. Coalition, which aims to “reverse electoral fraud” by eliminating mail-in ballots, requiring single-day voting and committing to “aggressive voter roll cleanup,” measures that could suppress thousands of Democratic votes. If they win office, Republicans will control the voting process in these five crucial swing states where the 2024 election may be decided:

One closely watched race will be in Georgia, where the Republican incumbent, Brad Raffensperger, is fighting for his political life in the May 24 primary after having refused Mr. Trump’s demands to “find” the 11,780 votes he needed to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory in that state. Although Mr. Raffensperger withstood Mr. Trump’s efforts in 2020, he has now joined the crusade warning against the threat of voter fraud, supporting Georgia’s restrictive new voting laws and citing “voter confidence” as the “No. 1 issue” American voters face.

His main primary opponent goes even further. Representative Jody Hice, a former pastor endorsed by Mr. Trump, is an election denier who has said that “I believe with all my heart” that the will of Georgia voters was subverted in 2020. Republicans have held this office since 2006, so most likely, one of these two men will be in control in 2024.

In Michigan, the Democrats are in a stronger position. The Democratic incumbent, Jocelyn Benson, will face Kristina Karamo, a community college instructor endorsed by Mr. Trump, this fall. Ms. Benson, a former election law professor, literally wrote the book on the role secretaries of state play in protecting the democratic process and resolutely withstood challenges to Michigan’s 2020 election.

Her opponent, on the other hand, has made debunked claims that she witnessed election fraud while observing poll workers in Detroit in 2020 and said that the Capitol riot was conducted by “antifa posing as Trump supporters.” Mr. Trump has been stumping for Ms. Karamo for a reason: “This is not just about 2022,” he said at a recent rally. “This is about making sure Michigan is not rigged and stolen again in 2024.” Recent polling shows Ms. Benson with a 14-point lead over Ms. Karamo, but that margin is small considering Ms. Benson’s greater name recognition.

In Pennsylvania, the secretary of state is appointed, so the tossup governor’s race will decide who ends up overseeing elections. While the Democratic contender for governor, Josh Shapiro, the state attorney general, has made voting rights a cornerstone of his campaign, some of the Republican candidates seem determined to undercut them. Recent polling shows State Senator Doug Mastriano, a retired Army colonel with a Ph.D. in history, leading the rest of the Republican candidates.

Mr. Mastriano has embraced Mr. Trump’s claims of a stolen election; according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, he spoke with the president in the days after the election and pushed for a new slate of electors to be sent to Congress. Videos show him and his wife wandering through the barricades after rioters — some of whom he’d paid to send to Washington — breached the Capitol. His election as governor is a strong possibility in a state that tends to seesaw between Democrats and Republicans.

Other candidates for secretary of state include Mark Finchem in Arizona and Jim Marchant in Nevada. Mr. Finchem, a state representative who attended the Stop the Steal Rally in Washington last year, has introduced a resolution to decertify the results of the 2020 election in three big counties and a bill to empower the Arizona Legislature to reject election results. As of the end of the first quarter, Mr. Finchem led all the other candidates in the race in fund-raising, making him the most likely to win the Republican primary and a strong candidate in the general election.

Mr. Marchant has followed the same campaign playbook in Nevada. A former state legislator, he has not only called it “almost statistically impossible that Joe Biden won” the state, but also said he would not have certified Nevada’s slate of electors had he been secretary of state in 2020; indeed, he pushed for his state to submit an alternative slate. While Nevada has gone to the Democratic candidate in the past four presidential elections, three of its past four secretaries of state have been Republicans, and this race could go either way.

For Democrats to fend off the America First slate, they will need to invest in these races, helping candidates build the name recognition they need to combat the onslaught from the right. That will take time, money and a strategy to raise awareness about the crucial role these offices play in protecting our democracy. A nationwide effort like the “SoS Project,” which was started by a group of Democrats following the 2004 election and folded several years later, could help. Individuals can also help by volunteering for secretary of state candidates and by talking to their neighbors and on social media about the importance of these positions.

Races for other offices may attract bigger names, but elections for secretary of state may bring about the most significant shifts in power in 2022. As Mr. Trump has said, sometimes the “vote counter is more important than the candidate.”

Filosofa Is Ranting … AGAIN!

More and more, this ‘United’ States of America is becoming a nation that I do not recognize, a nation of people who have thrown common decency and humanity out the window.  The latest thing that tore at my heart was a speech given by an Oklahoma Republican who is running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives this year.  The ‘man’s’ name is John Bennett, and he is the chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party.  His words at a recent campaign ‘event’:

“We’re in a war with bureaucrats who have forced vaccine mandates on us, mask mandates on us, and you know what — they are pushing this wokeness confusion down our throats.  And by the way, we should try Anthony Fauci and put him in front of a firing squad.”

And the worst part, my friends, is that the crowd cheered and clapped.  Now, I know these people do not represent the majority of those in this nation, but the number of fools who have zero respect for … anyone … seems to be on the rise … exponentially.  This disgusts me, it sickens me, it saddens me, and it infuriates me – all at the same time.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Fauci is the nation’s top virologist and has, for more than two years now, attempted to guide this nation through a pandemic of epic proportions, one that has taken more than a million lives in this country alone, and more than six million worldwide.  He had the courage to stand up to the former guy when the former guy was touting dangerous ‘cures’ with no knowledge whatsoever, and making false claims that cost lives — many lives.  Dr. Fauci and his family … HIS FAMILY … have been subjected to death threats by people like those at Mr. Bennett’s rally.

THIS is not what this country … not what ANY country … should be.  Anybody who can applaud or cheer when a politico wanna-be calls for the execution of an innocent person, is not, in my book, a human.  How can this person, who stood in a public venue calling for the execution of another human being, be allowed to run for … and possibly obtain … a seat in the United States Congress?  Is this the kind of person we want to put in charge of our very lives???  Is this the sort of person we want making the laws under which we live or die?  It is against the law in all 50 states to incite violence, and yet isn’t that exactly what Mr. Bennett did?  Why is he even allowed to walk among us, let alone run for one of the highest offices in the land?

A note to Republican voters:  I understand that, as Republicans are actually a minority in this nation, you ave to work harder to keep the playing field level.  But do not sacrifice your values, your humanity, just to put a candidate of your party into office at ANY level.  People like Mr. Bennett, Mr. DeSantis, Mr. Gaetz, Ms. Greene, Ms. Boebert, Mr. Gosar, Mr. Cawthorn, the former guy, and so many more are beneath our dignity.  Surely you can find qualified candidates who still have human compassion, who are not racists and would actually uphold their oath of office?  If you cannot find such people, then the Republican Party is truly on the skids and you should get out now before it destroys your credibility as a human, before it destroys your self worth, before it destroys US ALL.

Revelations Of A SCOTUS Wife

It must be tough to have a wife who is a constant embarrassment – maybe even tough enough to send a man to the hospital.  Most men would not have stayed with such a woman for 35 years, but then … Justice Clarence Thomas is not most men.  He is a Black man sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court … one whose nomination in 1991 by then-President George H.W. Bush was fraught with conflict, in part because of his views on such things as affirmative action and women’s rights, and in part because of statements by lawyer Anita Hill claiming sexual harassment by Thomas.  Despite all this, Thomas was confirmed to the highest court in the nation.

Justice Thomas has often issued opinions I disagree with … he is one of the conservative justices on the Court, so that’s to be expected.  But it is only in the last 14 months that I’ve come to believe that Justice Thomas does not belong on the U.S. Supreme Court and that if he has anything resembling a conscience, he will step down … immediately!  Not necessarily because of any decision he has handed down, but because his wife’s antics have completely cost him his reputation, have made even the most astute legal minds question his integrity.

On Thursday, two well-respected journalists, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, reported on Clarence Thomas’ wife, Virginia Thomas, and a set of emails that passed between her and former Chief of Staff under Trump, Mark Meadows between November 2020 and January 2021.  Some of the content of these emails is eye-popping.  The piece by Woodward and Costa is far too lengthy for me to post here, but I urge you to read it when you have a few minutes.

A few excerpts …

  • On Nov. 10, after news organizations had projected Joe Biden the winner based on state vote totals, Thomas wrote to Meadows: “Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!…You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”

  • In the Nov. 5 message to Meadows, Thomas went on to quote a passage that had circulated on right-wing websites: “Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators (elected officials, bureaucrats, social media censorship mongers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition.”

  • On Nov. 13, she texted Meadows about her outreach to “Jared,” potentially a reference to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser. She wrote, “Just forwarded to yr gmail an email I sent Jared this am. Sidney Powell & improved coordination now will help the cavalry come and Fraud exposed and America saved.”

  • On Nov. 19, which would be a crucial day for Powell as she spoke at a news conference at the Republican National Committee, Thomas continued to bolster Powell’s standing in a text to Meadows. “Mark (don’t want to wake you)… ” Thomas wrote. “Sounds like Sidney and her team are getting inundated with evidence of fraud. Make a plan. Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down.”

Remember, my friends, that these are the words of the wife of a Supreme Court Justice.  Her words, her texts, were … what?  Treasonous?  Seditious?  Granted, they were not the words of Justice Thomas, nor is there any evidence that Justice Thomas supported her words and actions during that time.  But ask yourself this:  Do you think he was completely in the dark, unaware of the cages his wife was rattling, the shitstorm she was stirring?  Do you imagine they never discussed it, that she never gave him her opinions about which she felt so strongly?

I am highly offended that this woman, along with so many others — lawyers, activists, white supremacists and the like, attempted and nearly succeeded in overturning my vote, and more than 81 million others, in order to install a cruel, evil wanna-be dictator.  Had they succeeded, we might be living in a nation even worse than Russia today.  Thankfully they did not succeed, but no thanks are due to Virginia Thomas!

I think this will be a deep, dark stain on Justice Thomas for whatever time he remains on the bench.  Justices are expected to set aside their own political views and rule in the interest of the country with the Constitution as their guideline.  Justice Thomas has a built-in conflict of interest.  If he has a conscience, he must use it to tender his resignation.  If he does not do so, then we know we have one very corrupted Justice on the Supreme Court.