Five Long Months Ahead …

The 2016 election was not a fair and honest election.  If it had been, we would be writing about President Hillary Clinton today.  The election was “rigged”, to use Trump’s own terminology, in ways almost too numerous to count.  Gerrymandering takes top billing, as evidenced by the fact that Hillary Clinton won the election by nearly 3 million votes, yet because of gerrymandered districts, Trump ‘won’ the electoral college.  Other means of disenfranchising poor and minority voters came into play, as did propaganda by Russian entities, as well as Trump’s own dirty campaign.

Our own intelligence agencies tell us that the Russians have been spreading disinformation and propaganda for over a year now, gerrymandered districts have only been re-districted in two states that I’m aware of.  Add to that the crisis of the year, the coronavirus pandemic and … well, how could we possibly have a fair and honest election?  Most states are looking to a mail-in voting system, partial or complete, in November, but Donald Trump is jumping up and down, shrieking at the top of his lungs that it would be unfair to him.  No evidence, just … well, Donnie knows that if states have mail-in voting, people cannot be stopped at the polls, will not have to travel long distances to vote, and in short … far more people are likely to vote if they can do so from the comfort and security of their own home.  Increasing voter turnout is not what Trump wants … can you guess why?  Because those people who are typically disenfranchised are poor and minority voters who would be most inclined to vote for a democrat, the party that believes in putting people first, ahead of profit.

In 2016, only 55.7% of eligible voters actually cast a vote.  Barely over half!  I’ve discussed before the reasons.  Since 1972, the highest voter turnout was in 2008 when people were excited to have an African-American running for office, but even then the percentage of eligible voters that voted was only 58.2%.

Last week, Trump threatened to withhold federal funding from states that switched to mail-in voting, specifically Nevada and Michigan.  Presumably, he figured out that he cannot do that without congressional approval … perhaps one of his overpriced advisors or lawyers told him, so now he has taken a different approach.

“The United States cannot have all Mail In Ballots. It will be the greatest Rigged Election in history. People grab them from mailboxes, print thousands of forgeries and “force” people to sign. Also, forge names. Some absentee OK, when necessary. Trying to use Covid for this Scam!”

Now, you and I know he’s so full of hot air he should be flying by now.  But … there is a very real danger in his spew.  According to former head of DOJ’s civil rights division, Vanita Gupta …

“He is planting the seeds for delegitimizing the election if he loses.  It’s from the playbook. It’ll get more intense as he gets more freaked out.”

In 2016, we heard Trump claim that if he lost, it would be because the election was ‘rigged’ (he seems to like that word a lot, doesn’t he?)  After he won the electoral college, he still claimed the election was ‘rigged’ because his ego couldn’t handle the fact that he had lost the election (popular vote).  If you’ll recall, there were threats of violence among the more radical of his supporters if he were to lose.  Nothing we’re seeing today should surprise us, but …

The danger is greater this year than in 2016 because there is more at stake.  First, it is highly unusual for an incumbent to lose his second term, and it would be as a slap in the face to Trump, who sees himself as the greatest president other than Abraham Lincoln.  Second, while Attorney General William Barr has declared Trump to be ‘above the law’ during his tenure in office … that protection goes away at noon on January 20th 2021 if Trump loses the election.  He is, at that point, an average citizen (albeit a wealthy one with Secret Service protection) and it is not at all unreasonable to think he will face a barrage of lawsuits, likely criminal charges, once he leaves office.

And, of course, there is Trump’s faithful following, mostly either wealthy businessmen who stand to gain under Trump, and evangelicals who will put up with just about anything as long as he promises them he will tear down the wall of separation between church and state, will nominate judges who will strike down the likes of Roe v Wade and Obergefell v Hodges, further shredding civil rights in this nation.  One of his loyal evangelical lapdogs, Rick Wiles, claims that …

“If they take him out, there’s gonna be violence in America. That’s all there is to it….However he leaves, there’s going to be violence in America…There are people in this country — veterans, there are cowboys, mountain men — I mean guys that know how to fight. And they’re going to make a decision that the people who did this to Donald Trump are not going to get away with it. And they’re gonna hunt ’em down.”

Stupid?  Sure … you and I know that, but sadly there are some who think violence is the answer.  It never … NEVER is, but these people carry big guns because they know no other way to make a point, to carry on a civil discourse.

Five months left until election day, folks.  This promises to be the single most contentious election in our lifetimes, mainly because one of the candidates and his party is the most contentious candidate in our lifetimes.  Other factors, such as being in the midst of a pandemic the likes of which we’ve never experienced add to the drama.  I cannot even begin to imagine the atrocities and rhetoric that will be spewed by Trump and the GOP, but I do know it will escalate over the coming months.  Steel yourself, be prepared, don’t let Trump’s rhetoric and the garbage you hear on off-the-wall websites and Fox “News” deter you.  Keep your eye on the ball.  We cannot afford to completely ignore Trump’s hate speech, but we must not let it weaken our resolve to oust him in November.

Your Right To Vote — Going, Going …

I am fuming, so let the reader beware that this is likely to be a rant of Filosophic proportions.


Let’s get one thing straight here, people … WE ARE ALL IN THIS BLOODY MESS TOGETHER!  Democrats, Independents, Republicans, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, White, Black, Male, Female, Gay, Straight, Young, Old … WE ARE ALL SUFFERING THE SAME DAMN FATE!  What the Sam Hell is so hard about just stepping up to the plate, accepting that we have one hell of a mess on our hands, and working together to find the best way to keep people safe and at the same time, attempt to restore the democratic republic that has been seriously eroded over the past three months … er, years???

Whew … that said …

Why am I angry tonight?  Because, we have an election coming up in exactly 165 days, just over 5 months, and not only Trump, but the majority of the damn Republicans in Congress are doing every single thing they can think of to ensure that the election is dishonest, unfair, and that as many poor, elderly, and minority voters as possible will not be able to vote.  I’m sick of this, people!

Given that the coronavirus will almost certainly still be at pandemic levels, given that there will be no cure, no vaccine that is sufficiently tested to be widely available, and given that there is no reason to believe the number of new cases or the death toll will be dramatically decreased by November, it only makes sense that we go to a system of mail-in voting.  Now, it’s no surprise that the damn fool sitting on his fat arse in the Oval Office is trying his level best to put a stop to the mail-in voting efforts … that’s a given, but some of the people on the far right side of the aisle on Capitol Hill are playing games with not only our taxpayer dollars, but with our very lives and I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!

Former Representative Darrell Issa, who served in the House of Representatives from 2001 – 2019, declining to run in the 2018 election, as he was outclassed and knew it, has filed a lawsuit to attempt to stop California from going to an all-mail voting system in November.  WHY???  Because he, and the conservative group backing him, Judicial Watch, claim that switching to an all-mail voting system is a democratic attempt to “interfere with the election”!  Say WHAT???  Interfering in what way, exactly?  Is it interfering to ensure that ALL eligible voters have the right to vote in a safe manner?

The lawsuit claims that Governor Newsom’s order to allow all-mail voting violates elections provisions of the Constitution and represents an “unlawful attempt to supersede and replace California election law” by creating “an entirely new system” that does not conform with an existing state law, the Voter’s Choice Act, which lays out requirements for counties that wish to mail ballots to all voters.  Make sense of that if you can!

Newsome is running again this year, hoping to win the seat vacated by Duncan Hunter who resigned in January after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations (remember the rabbit?) The lawsuit also charges that Newsom’s order has scrambled Issa’s campaign by compelling him to “reevaluate his electoral strategy” and increasing the cost of running a campaign.  So WHAT???  Get over it, Darrell!  Our lives are more important than your damn campaign costs!

And on top of that, of course, Donald Trump is threatening to withhold federal funds from states that implement mail-in voting, calling it ‘voter fraud’.  Without a shred of evidence, Trump claims …

“I think just common sense would tell you that massive manipulation can take place. And you do have cases of fraudulent ballots where they actually print them and they give them to people to sign, maybe the same person signs them with different writing, different pens. I don’t know. It’s a lot of things can happen.”

voter fraudNever mind that many states, including my own, have had the option for mail-in voting for years and never mind that voter fraud is virtually non-existent in the U.S.  Trump cannot make that decision … well, he can, but it won’t hold water if Congress challenges him.  Will Congress step up to the plate and protect our voting rights?  I don’t know about you, but my level of trust in Congress to protect us against Trump right now is around nil.

Voting in the U.S. is a right, not a privilege, not as Trump claims, an ‘honour’ … it is a right set forth in the U.S. Constitution and one that is not to be infringed on, although in truth the republicans have infringed on it numerous times in past years, with restrictive voter ID laws, gerrymandering and other games intended to disenfranchise those of us likely to vote democratic.  People like Darrell Issa and Donald Trump are attempting to interfere with that constitutional right.  We must stop them!  If you live in the district Issa is running in, California’s 50th district, San Diego County, make sure he knows that you will not vote for him unless he withdraws his lawsuit and shuts the f— up!  The rest of us need to make sure our representatives and senators know this is NOT going to fly!

There are many crucial issues facing the people of the United States today, but I can think of none that are more important than protecting our right to vote … EVERYONE’S right to vote!  If nothing else, all of this should make you more determined than ever before to vote in this year’s election and vote these asses out of Washington!

And to conclude … Seth Meyers takes a more even-toned approach addressing the same topic …

Voting By Mail is Not New or Uncommon. Not By a Long Shot.

The coronavirus and economic recession that will certainly follow are two big crises facing this nation today, but there is an even bigger potential crisis looming ahead … the November 3rd election. We simply MUST have no-excuse absentee voting for ALL in EVERY state … it is the only way to ensure a fair and honest election, one where every eligible voter will be able to vote without risking their life and without being turned away at the polls. Our friend TokyoSand has written a post on this subject that is well worth reading, so please do! Thank you, TokyoSand!

Political⚡Charge

vote by mail.png

Oh, the GOP can be so predictable.

They’ve made it very clear that they suppress the vote because lower turnout helps ensure that Republicans win. They have enacted thousands of voter suppression tactics all over the country and then turn right around and say that it is all about keeping elections “safe.” Please.

Now that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, when being very strict about social distancing is helping to flatten the curve, it makes perfect sense that all voters should be given the opportunity to vote by mail. And suddenly, right on cue, the Republicans are starting to talk about what a “disaster” voting by mail would be. The president went so far as to say voting by mail is “corrupt” with lots of “fraud,” even though–and this will come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention–the president himself just voted by…

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And So It Begins …

I said in a recent post that the U.S. government needs to be getting off their collective asses and making sure that mail-in voting is available to every voter in every state.  I questioned what, if anything, was being done toward that goal.  Well guess what?  You won’t be surprised to know that the Idiot-in-Chief has spoken out against this very thing!

“Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to statewide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it.  Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”

BULLSHIT.

The reason it ‘doesn’t work out well for republicans’ is that the only reason they win at the polls is because minority and poor voters are kept away from the polls by such disenfranchising measures as early poll closings, closing of polls in poor and minority neighborhoods, restrictive voter ID laws and other tricks of the trade.  If every eligible voter is allowed to cast a vote on November 3rd, Trump will go down in flames, as he should.

Listen to what he said at his Tuesday circus act …

“Mail ballots, they cheat, people cheat. Mail ballots are very dangerous thing for this country because they’re cheaters. They go and collect them. They’re fraudulent in many cases. The mail ballots are corrupt, in my opinion. You get thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody’s living room signing ballots all over the place.”

If this jackass is allowed to have his way, we are doomed.  Another four years of Donald Trump will relegate this nation to being called a “once democratic-republic turned autocracy”.  If you don’t vote in November, my guess is that you will never get the chance to vote again.

Let’s take a look at some facts, instead of listening to an un-educated moron, shall we?

Multiple studies over the years have confirmed that there is no widespread voter fraud in this country. Additionally, Democratic and Republican state officials routinely oversee elections where millions of people vote-by-mail without systematic problems.  An expansive study in 2017 from the Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal-leaning think tank, found that the rate of voter fraud in the United States was somewhere between 0.00004% and 0.0009%.votingVoting-by-mail has become increasingly popular in US federal elections, and nearly a quarter of all voters cast mail ballots in 2016, according to the Election Assistance Commission. This year, the solid Republican state of Utah will conduct all-mail elections, which undercuts Trump’s claims.

In fact, the most recent example of absentee ballot fraud involved republican operatives in North Carolina who rigged an election for the House of Representatives in 2018.  And … Trump cast an absentee ballot last month in the Florida Republican primary, per local reports. Asked about this contradiction, Trump said it was okay “because I’m allowed to” vote by mail.  Say WHAT???  So, if he’s allowed to, why not the rest of us???

In Wisconsin yesterday, thousands of voters were not able to vote because of republican game-playing.  Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers had tried to postpone the states primaries and a large number of local elections, as most other states have done, but the state legislature, then the state Supreme Court, and finally the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the action.  Worse yet, mail-in ballots were not sent to voters in time, and the U.S. Supreme Court blocked an action that would have allowed voters who had not yet received their mail-in ballots extra time.  Only 5 polling places were open instead of the usual 180, and the people who did risk their lives to do their civic duty waited for hours in long lines. Milwaukee-votingJustice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned that their ruling …

“… will result in massive disenfranchisement. Either they will have to brave the polls, endangering their own and others’ safety, or they will lose their right to vote, through no fault of their own.”

How many people in Wisconsin were kept from voting by republicans afraid of losing an election?  Thousands at least. Is this what we want to see happen on a national scale in November?  It may well be what the republicans want, but it damn sure is not what the majority of people in this nation desire.  It is not what the Founding Fathers intended in 1787 when they wrote that document called the U.S. Constitution, which has largely been shredded, trampled and burned over the last three years.

Folks, there are just under 7 months, exactly 209 days left until we are to go to the polls to elect a new president.  We must elect a new president, for the current one belongs on the ash heap in the annals of history.  And yet … if our elected representatives don’t get off their collective patooties and ensure that every eligible voter in every state has the ability to cast a vote by mail … we are doomed.  Time for phone calls, emails, letters to the editor in your local paper.  I know, you’re tired of it all and so am I, but this is too important to ignore.  The futures of your children and grandchildren depend on this.

Voting is a privilege that not everybody in the world has.  Appreciate it, please, don’t throw it away.vote-2

If I Were In Charge Of This Circus …

Like most of you, I’ve been living in a tumbler of emotions lately, between the daily onslaught of Trumptanic lies, and the up/down/up/down of the democratic primary season.  Add into that the coronavirus and the blatant lies & cover-ups by our administration, and … whew.  We’re tired, we’re exhausted, we’re depressed.  This is not the nation we used to live in, is not the nation we want to live in, is not a nation we recognize.  And so, sometimes we just have to stop for a minute, tune out and let the quiet wash over us, give ourselves time to … breathe, to think.

My thoughts led me down a path … wondering, what would I change if suddenly I were ‘in charge’, if I had the power to effect changes that would end some of the problems this nation faces today.  Where would I even start?

In the movie The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, based on the true story of the Von Trapp family in Austria, one of the songs starts …

♫ Let’s start at the very beginning
A very good place to start ♫

The very beginning, in this case, seems to be the very process that gives us our elected officials all the way up to the very highest office in the land, the presidency.  In the past few decades, the process has been reduced to a factor of who can gather the most money.  This is wrong.  Money is not what’s most important here … the person who has the most wealthy friends, or who can promise his way into garnering the largest contributions is not … NOT the one most qualified for the job.

I don’t want a damn rich politician, nor do I want one who has promised my life away to the rich bitches running the big corporations in order to get elected.

So, for starters I would take the money out of elections.  No campaign contributions over $100, and no contributions at all from lobbying groups such as the NRA or corporations such as fossil fuel or Big Pharma companies.  Nothing.  Private donations up to $100 only.  Media outlets shall give equal air time to the two major candidates in every contest.  So, for example, if ABC News gives a 30-second spot to Mitch McConnell, they must also give a 30-second spot to Amy McGrath, his democratic opponent.

Every utterance a candidate makes will be checked by non-partisan fact checkers and a daily tally will be published in every major media outlet.

Election seasons currently last from inauguration day until four years later.  This is bullshit for a number of reasons.  First, the politician is not doing the people’s work, but instead is campaigning for a full four years.  Second, it is expensive … and more so when you consider that the people are paying for round-the-clock security for the incumbents to flit about the country holding rallies, kissing babies and shaking hands.  Third, it is exhausting to we the people.  We don’t want to see these candidates’ faces on our screens 24/7 for four bloody years! Election seasons will begin on March 1st of the election year, primaries & caucuses will be complete by June 30th, and the respective party’s national conventions held in July.  The candidates can then campaign for three months until election day … plenty of time for them to sicken and disgust us with their rhetoric.  No political ads in the form of email, USPS mail, phone calls, television/radio/internet ads, or political rallies will be allowed prior to the March 1st date.  Violators will be automatically removed from the ballot, no questions asked.

Elections will be held on the first Sunday of November.  That’s right … I said Sunday.  Tuesday is a ridiculous day for elections … people do work for a living, y’know!  Sunday is perfect … few people are required to work on Sunday, so most everybody has the opportunity to go to the polls.  All polls will be required to open at 10:00 a.m. and stay open until 7:00 p.m.  No polls will close early, open late, or close altogether.  Public transportation will run on a weekday schedule on election day, to provide the maximum opportunity to voters who do not have their own transportation to get to the polls.

Every single state will have no excuse absentee voting.  Registration will be automatic upon any of the following:  a) renewal of driver’s license or public identification; b) filing of state tax return; c) enrollment in any school or university.  Other potential voters will be able to register online with proper proof of identification such as driver’s license or identification number, birth certificate number, or social security number.  No registered voters will be removed from the voter rolls until there is credible evidence that the person has either, a) died, or b) moved to a different state.

Finally, districting and the Electoral College will cease to exist for the purpose of presidential elections.  Districts may remain, for the time being, for the purpose of electing representatives to the House of Representatives, and for the purpose of determining each state’s votes based on population density, but for president, each state will tally the popular votes without consideration of districts, and that state’s votes, as determined by current standards per representation based on population density, will go to the candidate with the most popular votes.  Period.  At the end of the day, there will be no need for an electoral college, for there will be no districts and each state will vote according to the will of the people.

So, for example, California has 55 electoral votes based on their population.  If there are 8,753,788 votes for Joe Biden, and 4,483,810 for Donald Trump, then California’s 55 electoral votes go to Joe Biden.  Period.  There is no other option, the districts do not matter.  Biden wins California.  This is fair, in that the states receive a number of votes based on population, and in that there is no difference between the vote of a black person in the ghetto and a rich, white person in Hollywood Hills.  One person, one vote.  Period.

Whew.  I did not know I had so much of this to say about that!  But folks, every single thing I have said here is more fair than the system we have today.  Today, if you are a minority, you will have a harder time even being able to vote, and once you do, your vote is likely diluted due to gerrymandered districts.  If you are a student or a senior citizen, it will be harder for you to vote.  If you are a single, working mom, it will be damn near impossible for you to vote.

From time to time, I may be back with other things I might change “if I were in charge”.  It’s a good way to clear the mind, to categorize the things we take issue with, and to think about a better way of doing things.  The world is not perfect, this country is far from perfect, and people are not perfect, so we will always have a flawed system, but … I really think we could make it better if we all tried.

Black History Month — The First Black Voter

Today is February 1st … well, okay, by the time you’re reading this it’s actually February 2nd, but right now, as I am writing, it is February 1st.  February 1st marks the beginning of this year’s Black History Month.  Now, obviously I cannot give Black History Month the attention it deserves, but I do plan a few posts throughout the month.  This year’s theme could not be more relevant to the times, and although this post is not part of mine and Jeff’s project, Discord & Dissension, it ties in nicely with our theme this week.  The 2020 Black History theme is African Americans and the Vote.

black-history-2020The year 2020 marks the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment and the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement.  The year 2020 also marks the sesquicentennial of the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) and the right of black men to the ballot after the Civil War.  The theme speaks, therefore, to the ongoing struggle on the part of both black men and black women for the right to vote. This theme has a rich and long history, which begins at the turn of the nineteenth century, i.e., in the era of the Early Republic, with the states’ passage of laws that democratized the vote for white men while disfranchising free black men. Thus, even before the Civil War, black men petitioned their legislatures and the US Congress, seeking to be recognized as voters. Tensions between abolitionists and women’s suffragists first surfaced in the aftermath of the Civil War, while black disfranchisement laws in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries undermined the guarantees in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments for the great majority of southern blacks until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The important contribution of black suffragists occurred not only within the larger women’s movement, but within the larger black voting rights movement. Through voting-rights campaigns and legal suits from the turn of the twentieth century to the mid-1960s, African Americans made their voices heard as to the importance of the vote.  Indeed, the fight for black voting rights continues in the courts today.  The theme of the vote should also include the rise of black elected and appointed officials at the local and national levels, campaigns for equal rights legislation, as well as the role of blacks in traditional and alternative political parties.

So, today let’s take a look at the very first African-American to cast a vote in the United States …

Thomas_Mundy

America’s first Black vote was cast in New Jersey

On Feb. 3, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified prohibiting “the federal government and each state from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s race, color, or previous condition of servitude” giving Black men the right to vote across the nation.

Just under a month later the first African American vote was cast in Perth Amboy, N.J. on March 31, 1870 by Thomas Mundy Peterson.

Born in 1824 in Metuchen, N.J., Peterson was the son of ex-slave Lucy Green. Peterson worked as a janitor and handyman in Perth Amboy.

After the Fifteenth Amendment was enacted, Peterson participated in Perth Amboy’s local election held at city hall over the city’s charter. A member of the Republican and Prohibition Parties, he cast his ballot in favor of revising the existing charter, making him the first African American to vote in any election in the nation.

Along with being the first Black person to vote in America, he was also the first Black person in Perth Amboy to serve on a jury. Peterson would go on to be one of seven people appointed to make amendments to the charter’s revisions he voted in favor of.

In 1884, in honor of his history-making ballot, the Perth Amboy community raised the equivalent of $1,800 in modern dollars to buy Peterson a gold medallion featuring Abraham Lincoln’s profile.

“Presented by the citizens of Perth Amboy, N.J. to Thomas Peterson the first colored voter in the provisions of the 15th Amendment at an election held in that city March 31st 1870,” the medallion’s inscription states.

Peterson died in 1904 at the age of 79. The medallion Peterson received is housed at the historically Black Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. In 2017, the university loaned the medallion to the City of Perth Amboy for a presentation at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

“During the 19th century, and even up to the present day, many communities have attempted to stop African Americans from voting. Perth Amboy is different, that is, we encouraged the right to vote,” said local businessman and historian John Kerry Dyke. “The Thomas Mundy Peterson medal is more than just an award. It represents the efforts of all good people that want to enfranchise America’s voters. It embodies the concept that all men are created equal.” – Cyril Josh Baker, New York Amsterdam News, 30 January 2020

Snarky … puff puff … Snippets

More than a few times in the last week, I have found myself dreading to even log onto any of the news sites.  Blogging friend Brian, concerned for my emotional well-being, advised me to take an entire week away from the news, and while I so greatly appreciate him caring, I simply find that I cannot.  Every day brings a new abomination, and somehow, I feel an obligation to keep up.  In part, it is because I think part of the goal of Trump & Co is to overwhelm us to the point that we simply tune out.  I’m determined not to do that … I simply cannot.  A number of my friends and readers have at least partly tuned out, and I understand that … I really do … but I cannot.  Writing this blog is the catharsis that offsets, to a greater or lesser degree, the angst … I think.  Anyway … with that in mind, I can do nothing but give you yet another batch of … Snarky Snippets!


Two thumbs up …

To New York City for a positive move on homelessness.  While Donald Trump, on his visit to California earlier this year, complained that …

“We have people living in our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings, where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes.”

Meanwhile, New York City is expected to pass a new bill in the coming week that will force developers of designated affordable-housing projects to set aside 15 percent of the units for the homeless.  This could ultimately add as many as 1,000 apartments for the homeless per year, almost doubling the 1,300 already in existence.  Many other cities have similar requirements, but none as ambitious as this one.

The homeless rate in the United States has increased in recent years, despite Trump’s claims that the economy is doing so great.  New York City alone has increased from 64,000 in 2014 to 79,000 in 2019.  The increase is partly due to stagnant wages … the low unemployment rate doesn’t address wages … and partly to the increased cost of housing.  The rent in my own small (1,190 sq ft) townhouse has increased from $625 when we first rented it in 1998 to $1,162 in 2019 – an 86% increase in 21 years, though nothing has been replaced, not carpet, linoleum, paint, fixtures or appliances, in that time.  And this is in a low-income neighborhood!  How a person earning minimum wage … which, by the way, has not increased since 2009, ten years ago … could afford even basic housing, plus utilities and food, is beyond me!


Disenfranchising more voters?

Earlier this evening, I saw a tweet by my least favoured representative, Warren Davidson, that called for stricter voting laws.  His comparison was ludicrous …

Warren-Davidson“Saying #VoterID laws suppress voter turnout is similar to saying background checks suppress gun ownership. All polling locations should require #VoterID just like all firearms dealers require a background check.”

Since I take great pride in harassing him at least once a day, I responded with an explanation of the difference between gun ownership and voting, and asked him if he was really that stupid, or if he was just pretending.

But, to the point … Donald Trump has had a very low approval rating for the entirety of his presidency, and now he is being impeached.  The republicans are getting worried about his electability … understandable, since they have tied their carts to his pony.  So, red states are trying to pass more restrictive Voter I.D. laws, and anything else they can do to disenfranchise the poor and minorities who tend to vote largely democrat.

The State of Wisconsin has taken an approach that I find absolutely disgusting.  In October, they sent letters to hundreds of thousands of voters, asking them to respond if they were still at that address or to update their registrations if they had moved.  Sounds innocuous enough, right?  Perhaps it was, in the beginning, but conservatives filed a lawsuit alleging that to avoid fraud, the commission should have thrown out the registrations of voters who did not respond to the mailing within 30 days!  The Election Commission had initially planned to throw out those registrations in April of 2021, after the election, if the people who didn’t respond also didn’t vote.

But, on Friday Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy ordered the state to take as many as 234,000 people off its registered-voter list who had not responded to the letter within the 30-day period.  Now, I can tell you that if I received such a letter, it would probably go straight in the trash, for I take such things with a grain of salt and don’t have time for such foolishness.  Turns out that the majority of those letters were sent to voters in districts that were won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 … coincidence?  I don’t think so.

See, here’s the thing … Trump won Wisconsin by a very narrow margin – less than 1%.  So, there is a push to ensure some of those voters who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, cannot vote at all in 2020.


A law unto himself …

Remember how there were a number of people who had heard Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, several of whom found the call deeply troubling, and one found the courage to become “the whistle-blower”, which has led to the impeachment that is almost certain to take place on Wednesday?  Well … the Trump administration has fixed that problem for any future phone calls.  According to CNN …

“Donald Trump’s senior aides have further restricted the number of administration officials allowed to listen to the President’s phone calls with foreign leaders.  Transcripts of Trump’s calls with world leaders are also disseminated to a far smaller group of people inside the White House, continuing an effort to limit the number of people with insight and information about the conversations.”

It’s rather like the child who, getting caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar, learns to make sure that next time, mommy is in the bathroom before dipping into the jar.  Well, it fits, doesn’t it, for we have a child in the Oval Office.

trump-phone-call.jpgMake of this what you will, but I find it deeply concerning.  It’s yet another attempt at covering up his actions, rather than promoting that ‘transparency’ he promised some three years ago.  Remember the ‘swamp’ he was going to drain?  That swamp was a rose garden compared to the swamp he has built.


Well, folks, that’s all I have time for tonight!  Enjoy what’s left of your weekend!

Trump-Barr

Disenfranchising Young Voters …

The percentage of college students who cast votes in 2018 was more than double that of 2014, the last mid-term election prior to 2018.  Why?  Two major reasons:  school shootings and the environment.  The February 2018 shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was a turning point for young people around the nation.  They were tired of seeing their friends die needlessly because of reckless, largely unregulated gun laws, or rather lack of laws.  A few activists from Parkland took the lead and motivated many more.

And then came a young girl in Sweden, Greta Thunberg, and she gained a voice that would be heard ‘round the world, and what she said with that voice was that we, the adults around the globe, have done a lousy job taking care of our planet, and that we have jeopardized hers and other young people’s futures and … she wasn’t going to take it lying down!  And her voice carried, touching the hearts and minds of young people in every nation, including the U.S.

Because of these two things, young people today are far more invested in the political process, far more aware of what is being done, who will do things to improve the situation, and they are, most importantly, voting in numbers never seen before among their age group.  My hat is off to all those who are using their voice and their vote to do what we oldsters should have been doing for decades now.  But …

Not everybody is pleased by this new wave of political enthusiasm among the youth of the country. Young people, concerned about the proliferation of guns and the destruction of the environment, are typically more likely to vote for a democratic candidate, which has thrown the Republican Party into a tailspin and led them to find new ways to disenfranchise the young voters.

The Texas Legislature has outlawed polling places that do not stay open for the entire 12-day early-voting period.  Many college campuses set up temporary early-voting sites for the convenience of the students.  However, they have neither the funding nor the need to keep those sites open for the entire 12 days, and therefore will not be allowed to have them this year.  Many students who live in campus housing do not have their own transportation and may well find it difficult to get to the polls in order to vote.  In Texas, this will affect nine of the eleven campuses of Austin Community College, as well as six campus polling places at colleges in Fort Worth, two in Brownsville, on the Mexico border, and other polling places at schools statewide.

It isn’t only Texas … Republican politicians around the country are throwing up roadblocks between students and voting booths.  In New Hampshire, a Republican-backed law took effect this fall requiring newly registered voters who drive to establish “domicile” in the state by securing New Hampshire driver’s licenses and auto registrations, which can cost hundreds of dollars annually.  Six in 10 New Hampshire college students come from outside the state, a rate among the nation’s highest. As early as 2011, the state’s Republican House speaker at the time, William O’Brien, promised to clamp down on unrestricted voting by students, calling them “kids voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience.”  Say WHAT???

Florida’s State Legislature reinstated a 2014 law that the Courts struck down at the time, outlawing early voting sites at state universities, with an additional caveat that all early voting sites must offer “sufficient non-permitted parking” – something that is in short supply at most universities.

North Carolina Republicans enacted a voter ID law last year that recognized student identification cards as valid — but its requirements proved so cumbersome that major state universities were unable to comply. A later revision relaxed the rules, but much confusion remains, and fewer than half the state’s 180-plus accredited schools have sought to certify their IDs for voting.

Wisconsin Republicans also have imposed tough restrictions on using student IDs for voting purposes. The state requires poll workers to check signatures only on student IDs, although some schools issuing modern IDs that serve as debit cards and dorm room keys have removed signatures, which they consider a security risk.  The law also requires that IDs used for voting expire within two years, while most college ID cards have four-year expiration dates. And even students with acceptable IDs must show proof of enrollment before being allowed to vote.

Tennessee does not recognize student ID cards as valid for voting, and legislators have removed out-of-state driver’s licenses from the list of valid identifications.  Tennessee ranks 50th in voter turnout among the states and the District of Columbia. Only Texas’ turnout is worse.

In almost all of these cases, the excuse given for the tougher restrictions is that they are trying to cut down on voter fraud, but that argument lacks teeth, since widescale voter fraud has been proven to be virtually non-existent.  It is simple common sense that making voting convenient improves turnout.  When polling places are closed, hours restricted, photo IDs required, turnout will suffer.  What a message we are sending to our youth when we make it so hard for them to vote that many will throw their hands up in frustration and become lifelong non-voters!

One final thought.  The states where the barriers are rising fastest are in political battlegrounds and places like Texas where one-party control is eroding.  My thought is that if the Republicans have, as they claim to, the best ideas, the best platforms … then why do they need to cheat in order to win?

The young people in this country today are our hope for the future, for a future with clean air, potable water, arable land for growing food, and fewer guns in the hands of the wrong people.  If we discourage them today, what is the message we are sending?  Think about it.

If we don’t vote, we’ll get HIM again

I know thirteen months seems like a long time, but … November 3rd 2020, election day in the U.S., will be here before you know it. It is not too soon to start thinking about some things. Oh sure, most who are reading this know that they will vote for the democratic nominee, no matter who it is. But what about those who won’t likely vote? Just this morning I saw a tweet that said if Biden is the nominee, she won’t vote. What, if anything, can we do to motivate and encourage everyone to vote? Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has written a thoughtful and thought-provoking post about this and I encourage you to read it, think about it. We’ll chat more soon, for I have some ideas. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

I can’t remember a time where the news cycle is so fluid that you can’t even keep up with it. The media is undoubtedly earning their stripes in the era of Trump. When one scandal erupts over here, another one erupts over there. I go on Twitter for 10 minutes, and multiple stories are breaking all at once.

Is this what we signed up for? Sadly, yes, it is. According to Pew Research, Americans are one of the least active voting populations among developed countries, ranking 26 out of 32 countries in voter turnout. Belgium, for example, saw over 87 percent of voters turn out it 2014. Compare that to the approximately 56 percent who turned out in the 2016 American election, and it’s tough not to conclude that there’s a sizable portion of our population who are not engaged in our democracy.

And in 2016, that disengagement hurt…

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VOTE!!! – Part II — A Guest Post By Roger Jacob

This is Part II of a guest post on voting in the 2020 election, by our friend, Roger Jacob … Roger has a clear view from across the big pond of what is happening in the U.S. today, and has some words of wisdom, from a historical context, that we all need to hear.  Many thanks, Roger, for your wise words, and for taking the time out of your own writing schedule to write this post for us.

USA Not Voting Is No Longer A Luxury You Can Indulge

Part II

The Unhappy but Unavoidable Basics

“Democracy is a very bad form of government. But I ask you never to forget: All the others are so much worse.”

This stirring and wise little statement is from the opening credits of each episode of the brief CBS drama 1963-1964 Slattery’s People. The outline being the local politics and a state legislator James Slattery.

Churchill’s earlier version was, one of his less erudite and not so stirring “Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”, which it is argued was not one of his own and probably explains why it lacks a Churchillian ‘something’

Thus when you objectively compare the other forms of government (or antics masquerading as government) the ask yourself this ‘Would I like to live there for the rest of my life?’. For make no mistake, in this current era of Human history of large aggressive states and huge corporations central government of a nation by a small group of people is the only alternative, unless you can find a very small piece of isolated land that no one wants and survive on it…while hoping no one finds valuable resources thereupon. You are dealing with a 7.7 billion sized very flawed but inventive species here, hiding out and surviving can be difficult.

On Democracy and more Unavoidables

Having to accept the fact that someone is going to run the place wherever you live and thus have an impact on your life, having a say in who gets there is an attractive option. As you are going to vote in people and not saintly beings there will be mistakes, flaws, compromise, disappointments and all the other baggage humans drag around with them. This is also unavoidable. This is the Current Reality. If you are looking for perfection in government. Sorry that era has not arrived yet…hopefully it will, if we survive that long.

Another facet of democracy is that folk who have very strong opinions will make sure they can get out there and vote. Now you may not care for the folk with the Strong Opinions, but if you don’t vote then they will have a disproportionate say in your life. Again you don’t get to avoid this. Yes you can protest, yes you can organise campaigns and you might win a few, but ‘they’ the elected of the ‘Strong Opinions’ will still be there and the only chance you will get to remove them will be at the next election.

This is how the flawed process of Democracy works. Participation is the only stable, civic way you can ensure it remains Stable and Civic.

Narrowing in. The USA in 2020

I address this portion to the citizens of voting age in the USA.

You will not need me to list, report or otherwise enumerate the controversial decisions, statements and persons who have appeared upon the political stage since the election of 2016. You have them burned into your memory and possibly your hearts. You know full well that the temperature of the political atmosphere has risen and thus increased the level of toxicity. You know, as I suggested before Consensus is a very endangered species, in some regions it is extinct.

Now it may be, it is possible that many of the folk associated with the current administration are not racists, homophobic, anti-minority, narrow-minded reactionaries or religious zealots. It maybe. However by the actions and statements coming out of the administration these views have been given an air of respectability, they can be howled out under the guise of the much-abused term ‘Free Speech’. There are people striding about the public domain who back in the 1960s & 1970s would have labelled ‘wackos’ and generally laughed at. Now they have far too many followers.

In this situation I will ask those of you who do not vote this very hard question. Are you content with that situation? Are you not bothered about what is happening along the US Mexican border? Are you at ease with the mass shooting? Are you at ease with the Hate-Crime and unprovoked attacks on minority peoples? Are you? Now be careful with your reply as you might feel inclined to reply to me, because whatever you write however you argue, I will be replying too … with those questions. For there is no option if you choose to stay in the USA. Are you content with this administration and its followers? Are you?  Are you willing to stand by and do naught but simply write an impassioned piece in Social Media in the belief that somehow that will change things? For ‘they’ write impassioned pieces too.

We dial back to the previous post. And that that 60,000,000+ folk voted from this administration and rest assured they will vote again, and again, and again. This 25%-30% of the numbers. But they are not the majority…they were not the majority in 2016 … thanks to a narrow margin and a freak of your system they ‘won’. So do they truly represent anyone other than themselves. Are you content with these people telling you how the nation is going to be run. Are you?

For the non-voter by principal here is your paradox which in this case has to be answered. You might well have very strong views on government, which is why you do not vote. I will again  come back to the earlier point. Someone is going to run the nation. Are you content with this administration running it, or would you rather chance another, and yes risk those disappointment? Some might say ‘better the devil you know’… Let me say from a study of American political history ‘Well folks, if you are content with a devil …’

This I will hammer home again, and again. Are you content? Are you willing to let things go on the way they are? Do you truly think that an alternative will be The Same? Do you? Are you willing to risk the lives and well-being of minorities to satisfy your own views? Are you content for them to lay there upon some allegorical petri dish while you muse over your own political philosophies hoping to gain some ephemeral moral high-ground. Sorry, but that is not the real world you are living in. Oh yes you can talk about change and I would not challenge that but in this climate you do not get the chance to make that change because it comes by steady, slow evolution and right now we are looking at a possible political extinct event.

Polemic? Yes of course. Because currently American politics is a place of polemics from both sides and in that toxic environment your way does not have a hope. Civil War does. But not yours. Not at this time. The atmosphere is too toxic.

Your only option to change is to get out there and vote.

Defeatism

This is something of fall-back cop-out which comes in many forms. Let us leave the lazy ‘What’s the point’ excuse, I’ve put up enough arguments against that in the above words. NO need to repeat. There are others worries. These needed to be address by activism

Gerrymandering- Yes, they will do that. You need a rather dull and stodgy UK style Boundaries Commission to guard against that and even then there is huffing and puffing. However you are in pre-war situation here and propaganda  plays a part. Imagine the result when Trump’s dream gerrymandering has worked. For Trump 65,000,000. Against Trump 90,000,000. Imagine what the media and world media would make of that. It would be quite comic, and the streets would be clogged with protestors. And where is Trump’s mandate? Also that would have many a congress or senate member worrying about the next election.

Not Eligible – This is an old trick which was used in the South to keep ‘those people’ out of the booths when the local politicians were queasy about ‘good ol’ boys’ with clubs. This takes finesse as what would be required would be a strongly created website were folk denied the vote could register their names and the reason. Imagine millions of  names turning up? Of course that does need, as I said a very good site.

The Russians – Yeah. That’s another old one from the European book of tricks. Influence the nation, or make you think they are influencing the nation and thus erode the feeling a vote will count. Get out there and vote and make a noise about it. As with the other two problems it is all about raising the opposition profile.

Summary

Your nation is on tracks for an extremist disaster. Trump is only a small part of it. The main issue is the polarisation. The only way that can be defeated is by The Active Moderate, who demands their voice be heard. The one who will not be silent, and the only way they will listen by is the counting of the votes and the voice of those who voted.

Anything else is quite frankly fluff the current administration will blow away with its own propaganda.

The administration’s supporters will vote you can be sure of that. By not voting you are simply supporting them and stoking the fires.

Are you content with that?

Are you comfortable with the persecution of minorities?

Are you at ease with the erosion of the environment?

Are you glad the rich are getting richer?

If you don’t vote out of choice, then you must be.

Stands to reason.

Note to readers:  I will be re-running these two posts, as well as others, in the days leading up to election day.  Meanwhile, feel free to use these to help try to convince people you may know who claim it is too much bother to vote, or have other excuses.