Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

Category Archives: Uncategorized

59. Maybe

He is a con

It is 59 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

“Maybe you’re right Trump supporters.

“Maybe the majority of the country, FBI, CIA, Congress, women, Muslims, natural disasters, children in cages, mass shooting victims, entire countries, & his own cabinet picks are all out to get him.

“Or maybe, just maybe… you have been conned.”

Don’t fall for the con. Register, stay informed, get to the polls, vote early, take friends.

  He is lying

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60. Praying

It is 60 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Following up on yesterday’s post:

Christians 

Register, stay informed, get to the polls, vote early, take friends.

 

61. Pray

Trump-evangelicals

It is 61 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

I cannot say how many different ways I’ve heard people make a statement or raise a question similar to that in the above tweet.

To be fair, Trump didn’t begin this. The Tea Party movement, in an amazing act of larceny, had already assumed public claim to God and Christ and many evangelicals began linking their professed religious beliefs to a political party or movement. Somehow, they managed to convince their followers that liberals were something akin to the antichrist, never mind that what liberals talked about – feeding the hungry, housing the poor, bringing justice to the oppressed, etc. – were things Christ taught.

One example, about four years ago, an old friend who thought he knew me much better than he did, expressed his concern that I had wandered from my religious background. I finally had to unfriend him to cease his intrusions into my life.

Another, the other day, a friend mentioned that his relationship with his father had become heavily strained. His dad felt my friend’s progressive leanings indicated he had drifted from his religious upbringing.

Then there’s Trump. While he bragged about grabbing women by the genitalia against their will, had publicly cheated on each of his three wives, had a court record of denying housing to people because of the color of their skin, had repeatedly cheated laborers of their earnings, had proven he was quick to lie about something and then lie about lying about it … just to scratch the surface … while this example of how to not live a New Testament life was prodding followers to exert violence against other people … the people of the religious right somehow crowned him all but the second coming. Some, it seems, haven’t yet ruled out that he’s the returning savior.

Please understand they do not represent all Christians. Personally, I am strengthened in my resolve by my current minister and some previous pastors. They stand ready to preach the Gospel in the face of the lies perpetrated by the far right. You know, such as preaching about loving strangers and refugees, taking care of people in need, pursuing justice … radical things like that.

Let me wrap this up before you think I’ve wandered totally off-course of the mission of this countdown to the election.

If you are a person of faith and have been led to believe Democrats are anti-religious or maybe even anti-Christian … don’t believe it.

What most Democrats are against is having religion – any religion – run the government. You know, like our founding fathers declared.

Also, they will accept people of any religion and those who have none, indeed, even atheists. So, yes, you can find a political home in the Blue Wave whether or not you’re a person of faith.

Because, when you start wrapping religion and politics around the same pole, you get a result that is dangerous to both.

Make sure you’re registered to vote. Unless you insist on having government run by your religion, carefully, even prayerfully, consider voting Democrat this fall.

62. Caring

Care about people

 

Do you care about people?

Register, stay informed, get to the polls, vote early, take friends.

It is 62 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

63. Just do it

Kap web site

 

It is 63 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

What does former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick have to do with a countdown to the Nov. 6 election?

Quite a lot, actually.

Kaepernick’s National Football League career has been short (assuming he’s not able to return) but, like his playing style, alternating between moments of greatness and disappointment. He led his San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII and to the NFC Championship game the next year. He was exciting to watch, especially when he broke out of the pocket to scramble for yardage.

But that’s not why he’s back in the news today or why President Trump has been verbally assaulting him for more than a year.

It’s because he has the conviction to speak out to draw attention to injustice.

Kap - just do it

Last spring, Amnesty International honored Kaepernick with its top honor, the Ambassador of Conscience Award. An excerpt from his speech:

“It was James Baldwin who said, to be Black in America, ‘and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.’ My question is, why aren’t all people? How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates, ‘freedom and justice for all,’ that is so unjust to so many of the people living there? How can you not be in rage when you know that you are always at risk of death in the streets or enslavement in the prison system? How can you willingly be blind to the truth of systemic racialized injustice?”

That is the more eloquent presentation of what he was silently stating when he began sitting … and then kneeling … during the national anthem prior to football games. While he was heavily lambasted for his protest, other players followed suit, opting to risk popularity to call attention to injustice.

Then, Trump began calling out those protesting racial injustice by executing his own personal brand of injustice – lying about it – and labeling their actions as being against the country and even its military. He called on the NFL to punish them and that’s gone back and forth, as has Kaepernick’s attempts to get back on the playing field.

Then, word got out Labor Day that Nike – that of athletic shoes, apparel and the famous swoosh – is making Kaepernick a face in its 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” advertising campaign.

“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. Just Do It.”

What a perfect message.

And that is how it applies to you getting to the ballot box this fall, and especially if you put your believe to work campaigning for Democratic candidates. (You thought I’d lost my train of thought, hadn’t you?)

I am no Colin Kaepernick, but I’ve had to put up with negative and even degrading comments from people I thought friends because I’ve taken political positions to protect people, their health, their economic situation, their freedoms. I’ve not sacrificed everything, but I have lost things.

It was difficult until I realized I was doing the right thing. If that’s the case, it matters not what others say about me.

That, my friend, is the lesson from a former NFL quarterback you can take into the midterm elections.

Do the right thing.

Just do it.

kap tweet - Rannt

Kap tweet - Brennan

Kap tweet - Best

Kap tweet - Gu

 

64. Labor Day II

It is 64 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

labor day mag

labor day fight

labor day abe

I’ll be back at work on the countdown tomorrow. Enjoy your day.

65. Labor Day

Labor Day

It is 65 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Hope you’re enjoying your Labor Day weekend. Kicked back and taking it easy. Good food and fun times.

Don’t worry about the current Republican leadership cutting taxes – hugely – to the ultra-rich, who instead of passing any more than a pittance down to employees are instead buying back stock to further enrich themselves. Don’t consider how the massive decrease in federal income (due to the tax cut to the rich) has already been used as an excuse to eliminate planned cost-of-living raises to federal employees, not to mention the cuts in public services that will occur.

Don’t give a second thought to how Republicans are primed to ram through a Supreme Court appointment without an honest appraisal by the full Senate, even though the president who made the appointment is now considered an unindicted co-conspirator in federal laws violations that may very well have contributed to him stealing the office.

Don’t let that ruin your holiday.

Tuesday, however, get back to the business of making sure you’re registered to vote, learning about the candidates and which are lying to you, educating your friends and making plans to vote.

Happy Labor Day.

66. Remember, remember

vendetta

It is 66 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

“Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.”

The movie, “V for Vendetta,” was released in 2005, starring Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman, but I paid it no attention until shortly after Nov. 8, 2016, the last general election.

While commiserating the election, a good friend, a Presbyterian minister, suggested I watch it. The movie is fiction, of course, but it rings warnings as clearly as did George Orwell’s “1984.”

That’s all I’ll say about it, but I did find it currently free for streaming to Amazon Prime members or rent it at Redbox or the site of your choice.

One closing quote that stuck with me, this one read from a note:

“But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you. I love you. With all my heart, I love you. – Valerie.”

67. It matters

It matters

It is 67 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

I have abstained from commenting on the death of Sen. John McCain – and Trump’s embarrassing actions following it – until now.

While I appreciated how McCain pitched in at times to slow some of the Republican madness, I was often disappointed that he didn’t do what he could to drive a nail into the coffin. Regardless, I feel an American cannot help but respect his ordeal as a long-term prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

Trump’s handling of McCain was a disgrace.

Here’s the point:

This, too, matters.

Trump has done … and continues to do … an astounding number of amazingly thoughtless and juvenile things. The temptation is to write them off as Donny being Donny, but that’s not right.

Whether we like it or not and until it’s undone, he’s the president of the United States of America.

As such, the way he conducts himself, the things he says, what he tweets, who he insults, who he hurts … it all matters.

In order to start repairing the damage, we must vote in a Blue Wave of Democrats to Congress, to state legislatures, to statewide offices, to county offices.

Click here to make sure you’re registered to vote. Plan to vote early. Carry any documentation that may be requested of you. Go with friends.

Stand up. We all matter.

Don’t boo

obama - go vote

It is 68 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Register, stay informed, get to the polls, vote early, take friends.

69. Get up

It is 69 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

I finished my column for today but balked on publishing it. I need to stew on it overnight and reconsider it tomorrow.

So, today, I’ll leave you with this image and a reminder to make sure you’re registered to vote.

get up

70. Why bother?

Raise your voice

It is 70 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election. Primary elections are taking place today in Florida and Arizona.

Why should you bother voting?

Yesterday, I wrote about making sure you had a ride to the polls, or about helping others get there.

A person commented (now deleted) with the opinion nobody should be helped getting to the polls. This person wrote about “other people” from the “other side of the tracks” being carried to the voting booth and swaying an election.

This person wants decisions to be made by people of a like mind, people who live comfortably enough they don’t have to plan ahead just to have a ride to the polls.

Are you one of the “other people”?

If so, you definitely need to get informed, make sure you’re registered, get to the polls and vote.

Notice I slipped “get informed” in there. Regular readers might remember a column I wrote March 6 titled “Should I vote?” in which I opined it’s dangerous when voters don’t know what’s going on. The article wrapped up thusly:

 

I mean, do we really want uninformed people voting? Can you imagine what might happen?

Of course, it happened.

Don the Con convinced millions of people they were getting the shaft and egged them into voting. The result is we’re currently relying on criminal investigations and the other branches of government to clean up the mess before it’s beyond repair.

Should you go vote?

Not unless you’ve done your homework. However, if that’s the case, if you know who’s running and why and who you agree with, if you’re up on the issues and how they affect us, then please make your ballot heard.

 

Almost a third of the way through my 100-day campaign encouraging people to register and to vote, I still believe what I wrote in March to be true. I have been telling you how I think you should vote, but you owe it to yourself to check things out on your own, talk to others, read, and fight to keep propaganda from messing with the process.

Register, stay informed, get to the polls, vote early, take friends.

Or “other people” will make decisions for you.

71. Getting there

Lyft

It is 71 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

The tweet pictured here caught my eye the other day and made me think, “Of course, many people have trouble even getting to the polls to vote.”

It’s something of a “duh” thought, but mine is a rural / small town background in areas where almost everyone owns a vehicle. We want to go somewhere, it’s simply hop into the truck and go.

But that’s not true for everyone.

Folks in larger cities come to mind, as well as people of limited income. Their necessary trips – to the store or the doctor – are budgeted and paying for a special ride to the polls and back can make the effort more expensive than they feel free to exercise.

Perhaps you’re one of them. Or perhaps you can be part of the solution.

Taking advantage of the Lyft offer might be just the thing for you, but make sure you check all the details when they become available, such as whether it also applies to the ride home or on to work. Uber had some kind of offer during the 2016 election and might well do so again. Plus, I seem to remember hearing of some taxi services offering specials.

Closer to the heart of the issue, there seem to always be rides provided by local political parties or other activist groups. Make some calls and keep your eyes open for details in your area. Or, flat out ask a friend to give you a ride; you can offer to bring along a snack.

If you have transportation and would like to provide a lift to the polls, maybe start with friends who do not drive. Offer to take them to vote. Or get in touch with your local political party and ask if they can use you.

Remember, in the latest midterm, 2014, only 35.9 percent of eligible voters actually voted. We’re out to raise that number to something much more respectable.

Make sure you’re registered. Make sure you have a way to the polls. Vote early, if possible, to avoid any last-minute snags. Talk to your friends and encourage them to participate. Maybe go together and celebrate with lunch.

Anything … just make it happen.

72. Equality

Women voters could win Democrats the House. Newsweek.com

It is 72 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

On this date 98 years ago – Aug. 26, 1920 – the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was formally adopted, guaranteeing women the right to vote.

Following a 70-year effort by woman suffragists, the law of the land reflected “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Still, almost a century later, women are not fully represented in politics.

In 2017, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, women held 19.6 percent of the seats in Congress, 23.7 percent of statewide elective executive offices, 25.1 percent of state legislative seats, and 21.0 percent of mayoral offices in cities with population 30,000 or more.

If you’ve been paying attention, there is a good chance to see a shift in those numbers this fall as a large number of women decided to run for office in response to Donald Trump assuming the presidency.

Many of them are stepping out of their comfort zones because they see a need to be filled. The least we can do is register to vote, carefully examine the candidates and show up for the elections.

73. Vote

Vote by voting

It is 73 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Elie Wiesel quote

 

Follow what’s going on, educate yourself, ask questions, consider how politicians’ positions affect you and the country as a whole.

Then vote.

74. Small

Keep fighting

Artist unknown.

It is 74 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

If it seems these daily posts are dragging a bit, it’s only because they are. Honestly, I knew there would be a lot of small postings, but my seasonal job plus everyday life plus this project plus trying to keep up with the wild and wacky news … well, let’s just say there are definitely a lot of small postings.

Looking ahead, some of the topics I’m planning to write about are voting early, getting to the polls, the idea of being “too liberal,” voting third-party and many other possible ideas, in addition to looking at what’s happening that day.

Stick it out with me. Election Day is only 74 days away now and 37 states have an opportunity to vote early.

Meanwhile. Register. Tell a friend. Vote Blue.

 

75. Not normal

It is 75 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

It is important to remember that what is happening now in our country is not normal. For example, here is a collection of headlines at the top of The New York Times web page this evening:

“Attorney General Pushes Back on Trump Attack, Saying Justice Will Stay Independent.” Follow the link and the head atop the story says, “Trump Denounces Justice Dept. as Investigations Swirl Around Him.”

“This Conspiracy Theory Should Worry Trump.” (Opinion)

“President Trump’s tweet on South Africa redistributing farmland seemed to endorse a common claim of white supremacists.”

“With a Vocabulary from ‘Goodfellas,’ Trump Evokes the Wiseguys of New York.”

“David Pecker, American Media Chief, Is Said to Have Immunity in Trump Inquiry.”

“Manhattan D.A. Eyes Criminal Charges Against Trump Organization.”

“The Tax-Cut Con Goes On.” (Opinion)

“President Trump’s lawyers urged him not to consider pardons for ex-aides until the special counsel inquiry was over.”

“Congress, Do Your Job.” (Editorial)

To be clear, these were all displayed at the same time; it’s not a week’s collection.

No, this is not normal.

Register. Tell a friend. Vote Blue.

 

 

76. Register to vote

rock the vote

It is 76 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

register

keep calm

18-25 voters

Register. Tell a friend. Vote.

 

77. Numbers

non-voters

It is 77 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Optimistically, we’ve been referring to the election as the Blue Wave or Blue Tsunami, symbolizing people rising against the nationalistic movement and its Russian supporters who have pressed our republic to the brink of credibility.

Is that optimism realistic?

Seriously, what we need to take over the House of Representatives and the Senate is no small feat. Merely protesting, tweeting, cursing at the storm are not likely to bring about the changes we need to be able to put a damper on the radical right. Gerrymandered districts, drawn by Republican legislatures to create and protect Republican congressmen, require massive, liberal voter turnouts.

We must draw out those who have not been voting, and those who are undecided about which side to support. We must continue to encourage blue voters to bring new people to the polls this fall.

It’s commonly known that Hillary Clinton received 2,868,686 more votes in the 2016 presidential election than Donald Trump. However, did you realize 7,830,934 ballots were cast for other candidates? That’s more than 5.7 percent, including 749 votes, for example, for Princess Jacob, running on the Loyal Trustworthy Compassion party or label.

Worse is the fact 698,990 ballots were cast for write-ins. More than 1 of every 200 voters willingly threw away their vote, not even supporting one of the second- or third-tier candidates.

Worst, only 55.67 percent of America’s voting age population bothered showing up. That means 108 million people who could have voted … didn’t. (These numbers come from the Federal Election Commission.)

It is those non-voters who hold our future.

Sure, I pray that more conservatives will see that the current policies are slowly breaking the backs of almost all Americans, that money is being funneled up to the very richest and mostly staying there, that the world is a less safe place, that we are taking actions to further harm the environment. I even hope they will decide that people are worthy of saving just for being people, even if they’re different in how they look, sound, worship or love.

But what we need to concentrate on now is new voters, including those wonderfully strong voices of newly qualified, young voters.

Please join me. Do your own thing to build the Blue Wave.

78. Not safe for Trumpers

annoying political posts

It is 78 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Oops, looks like the time finally arrived to repeat the message I put out when I started this countdown to the election.

This comes from the series opener on July 29, “Be heard”:

“Advisory: This series is written for liberals, others who have not voted, and those who simply are undecided. Please understand I am not writing to anyone who remains a Trump supporter or who backs his Republican Party enablers. Such folks need a spiritual reawakening I’m unlikely to give them. I will not be entering arguments. In fact, I won’t even allow such comments on this blog. Here on FB or Twitter, I will delete them and, if necessary, unfriend or block the person. In all honesty, you might want to not follow me the next few months if you’re a diehard Trump fan; I’d understand.”

To some surprise, my friend count in Facebook has only dropped one, my blog followers has grown by two and Twitter followers has increased by 45. Either my old, die-hard conservative friends are ignoring me to maintain a sentimental connection or maybe reconsidering their positions.

Then, for some reason, Sunday’s post about a possible Trump impeachment being an indicator of the resiliency of the U.S. Constitution caused the first real backlash. It was nothing strong or mean, just testing my policy of not allowing them to play their games.

However, I never assume everyone has read all my posts, so this is a repeat advisory.

If you remain a Trump supporter after his embarrassing first 19 months in office, please, please, please ignore my posts from now until we fix this problem. I do not want to get you overly-agitated and possibly cause high blood pressure. With the way the Republicans are attempting to dismantle health care, you won’t be able to afford treatment.

Now, back to the reason for this series.

If you’re not registered to vote, it’s time to get into the game. We need everybody who cares about human beings to register and then vote Democrat this fall. Too many people sitting on the sidelines is what got us into this mess.

Register. Tell a friend. Vote.

PS – I have nothing against you posting photos of your meals.

79. Impeachment?

Impeachment

It is 79 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Let us address the elephant in the room. The tweet above states it as unequivocally as possible: If Democrats take over the House and Senate, President Trump will be impeached, convicted and removed from office.

I’m not sure many candidates will come out and state it that strongly, but it’s simple reasoning.

Trump’s impeachable offenses are staggering, barely surpassing the unbelievability of Congress’ inaction. He is a human wrecking ball to this nation and the crane hoisting the ball is the Republican Party.

So, let’s accept Brian’s assessment that impeachment will definitely follow the Democrats taking control of the House. This may open to some people the question of whether that’s a good thing for the country.

“It’s embarrassing.” “It makes our country look weak.” “We shouldn’t air our dirty laundry in public.”

No, no, no, no, NO!

Removing a developing tyrant is EXACTLY what would illustrate the greatness of the United States of America.

Our system was designed with checks and balances because the framers were wriggling out from underneath the pressure of a tyrant. They wanted nobody to have ultimate power. In their intent, the current GOP Congress would have long ago reined in the president. Republicans have failed miserably in their responsibility.

What next?

It now falls back on the voters. Is this why congressmen have to run for election every two years, because our forefathers figured that’s not enough time to totally botch everything? Regardless, Congress has taken a pass on doing its job in favor of coddling a man who would be king. Now, it’s up to us.

We the voters, come this fall election, must send a Blue Wave crashing into Washington. There must be such a resounding rejection of the past two years that even the remaining Republicans in office will see the errors of their ways.

THAT, my friend, is something of pride. It will show this country is still on its feet, still a friend of justice, still a land of liberty. Still a government by the people.

To make it happen, we need nobody to sit on the sidelines. If you are eligible to vote, make sure you are registered. Be certain you vote. In fact, vote early to make sure nothing keeps you from it. And vote Democratic; be part of showing to the world part of what makes America truly great.

80. Just vote

raised hands as if voting

Be heard. Raise your hand. Register. Vote!

It is 80 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

The objective here is for you to vote, which isn’t necessarily as simple as it sounds.

As was mentioned in “85. Purges,” Republican-led states have gone to considerable effort to keep people from voting.

A tweet I came across a month ago warned, “Watch what you wear to the polls too. They can deny entry for anything THEY deem offensive.”

Actually, a Supreme Court ruling in June cracked down on voting judges denying citizens wearing politicized clothing. As for “offensive,” I don’t know.

But let’s keep our eye on the end game here.

The objective is for you to vote, not to challenge some arcane law. Sure, maybe it needs to be challenged, but let’s make sure you vote.

So, don’t wear anything political – T-shirts, buttons or anything that might be perceived as a political statement. Avoid talking politics at the poll. Certainly, don’t get into an argument.

Show up with your ID, prepared to vote Blue. The ballot is the only place you need to make a statement on Election Day.

81. 1,000 words

It is 81 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

It’s Friday and we’ll let the pictures do the talking, in no particular order.

Be like Sally

Family members

Starve a child

gop - press

white privilege

medically bankrupt

get up

core values

lying press

Be a part of the Blue Wave taking America back from the grasp of extremism. Register to vote, vote, engage a friend.

82. N-word misdirect

respect for women

It is 82 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

I do not care, at this point, if Donald Trump used the N-word, much less whether it’s been captured on tape. Considering what he has said and done, him using a racial epithet would rank rather down the list.

Seriously, how much worse can that make him?

He has singled out black athletes and marshalled his hate-fueled forces against them because they have the audacity to cry out for justice for black men who suffer inequitably at the hands of law enforcement and the justice system.

Following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in which a woman was killed, he asserted there were “fine people on both sides” of the rally.

There was his description of Haiti, El Salvador and African countries in general as “shithole countries.”

He charged that a U.S. district judge did not treat him fairly because the American-born judge was of Mexican descent.

Don’t forget his loud accusations – long before he entered any political race – that the nation’s first African-American president was born in Kenya and was a Muslim.

During the campaign, he attacked Muslim parents who lost a son fighting for the United States in the Iraq war.

He opened his run for office denouncing Mexican immigrants as the “worst people” and “rapists.”

As president, he’s fought to block immigrants from whole countries, all of which are majority Muslim. It’s worth noting his ban did not affect Muslim countries where he does business.

He referred to Puerto Ricans as ingrates when they protested government response after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

I won’t even try to decide which examples to cite illustrating Trump thinks of women as objects to be owned and values them solely for their physical attributes. Some two dozen women have accused him of sexual assault over the last three decades.

During one of his debates, he mocked a physically handicapped reporter. Of course, he continually mocks all reporters and news outlets that report truthfully about him.

I cannot imagine, given his track record, that he hasn’t used the word.

But I ask again, how could even that make him worse? Even if he never has and never will use it, he is verifiably full of hate for most people and takes pleasure from their suffering. What else do you need to know?

Now, back to the reason for this countdown to the election…

If you wish to be associated with and support Trump and the disheartening number of Republicans who think like him and/or assist him, prepare yourself for a disappointing fall because…

If you find the conduct of Trump and his enablers to be abhorrent, if you wish to see our nation’s image changed, if you care about how all people are treated, if you desire good health care for everyone, if you recognize the important contributions to immigrants and see that we need them to help fund and craft our future, if…

If you want to be part of what it takes to begin repairing this damage to our nation, then make sure you’re registered to vote and help drive the Blue Wave during the fall elections.

And enlighten a friend.

 

 

83. Straight ticket?

Republican defeat

It is 83 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

I’ve been preaching “vote Democrat” throughout this series and, frankly, that bothers me a little bit.

Prior to 2016, I had never been a straight-ticket voter. Even had I voted for everyone in a particular party, I would have voted for each individually; I never agreed with voting for party over person.

(Should you not be familiar with straight-ticket voting, my home state of Texas is one of few which allow voters to choose a party-line option on their ballots, such as simply voting for all the Democrats with a single mark. This fall’s election will be the final time that opportunity will be offered in Texas. For purposes of this article, however, let us assume the definition includes anyone who would automatically vote for all the members of one party.)

The question I posed at the end of yesterday’s post was, “Do you have to only vote for Democrats?” I answered, “No.”

Sure, I keep telling you to vote Democrat because that’s the safest thing to do. However, if you’ve done your due diligence and you’ve found a Republican candidate who truly cares about other people and he or she is running against a Democrat who is a weak representative of your beliefs, then, sure, vote for the Republican.

If that’s not the case, then vote Democrat (not Independent or third party; which we’ll discuss in a future article) and know you’re likely even doing Republicans a favor voting against them.

Consider this tweet from Bruce Bartlett, who served as a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and as a Treasury official under George H.W. Bush:

“The ESSENTIAL precondition for Republican reform is defeat–large enough and enough times that is (sic) cannot be blamed on bad candidates, lack of money, bad luck etc. The party must know that it cannot win without reform. Only then will it reform.”

We need the Republicans to clean up their act, to move away from extreme, prejudicial, hurtful politics. I believe we need at least two strong parties, but the GOP is hurtling toward oblivion as it ostracizes one group of people after another.

So, help Republicans reach the bottom so maybe, in another election or two, they can begin becoming a helpful presence in this country.

84. People

Care about people

It is 84 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

There are times – more often than we realize, I suspect – that major arguments can be isolated as incredibly simple issues.

Oh-so-many things that form the divisions between left and right, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican can be boiled down to the graphic posted above.

I need not itemize the people who have been harshly affected by policies of the current administration and the majority party in Congress, but I will up the ante a bit.

President Trump clearly takes pleasure in causing misery for people. It appears to be just one of his many power trip mechanisms to make him feel more important than others.

Do you care about other people? Do you think sick children should be able to get medical care? Do you think families should be able to financially exist with a full-time job? Do you think education is important for everyone? Do you think people of different religions can live in a community that benefits all?

If you care about people, make sure you’re registered to vote, then cast a ballot for the Democrats on the ballot. Share this with a friend; ask if he or she is registered.

Do you have to only vote for Democrats? Of course not, but I’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

 

85. Purges

Vote

It is 85 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Are you registered to vote? I’ve been posing that in the form of a question or as an instruction every day for the past two weeks. Today, let me rephrase it.

Are you sure you’re registered to vote?

Just because you were registered and voted in November 2016 doesn’t necessarily mean you’re still registered because states have been purging voter rolls with what appears to sometimes be reckless abandon.

Purging voter rolls is not in and of itself wrong or evil. Like so many things, it’s a matter of whether it’s done fairly, as is stated in this quote from the study, “Purges: A Growing Threat to the Right to Vote,” conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law:

“When done correctly, purges ensure the voter rolls are accurate and up-to-date. When done incorrectly, purges disenfranchise legitimate voters (often when it is too close to an election to rectify the mistake), causing confusion and delay at the polls.”

The study found numerous cases of states wrongfully purging legal voters from rolls.

Oh, this might be a good place to remind you, there have never been found – even by President Trump’s own investigation – evidence of substantial voter fraud. Far more people have been denied their legal right to vote than have illegal votes been cast.

A story this morning from The New York Times suggests that’s liable to worsen as the Department of Justice has shifted from defending voters’ rights to pressing and assisting states in tightening voter restrictions under the guise of fighting voter fraud. (If you’ve forgotten already, reread the previous paragraph.)

But let’s focus this on you and me. We must take care of our rights.

How? Make sure you’re registered. If you’re not, register. Regardless, check back later to make sure you’re still registered. I just checked mine again this morning and I will do so again later.

Start by going to https://www.headcount.org/verify-voter-registration/. Select your state, enter identifying information and check the results. Also make sure your information is correct.

And help a friend do the same.

86. Limits

Checklist

It is 86 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

What will it take for you to become politically active, or just register and vote?

It’s a rhetorical question, but the answer for many teen-age voters is crystal clear: “A string of school shootings.”

It has become cliché since the 1999 Columbine school shooting for all of us – most prominently political figures – to promise we’ll do something to make sure such a tragedy does not happen again. Of course, we know nothing has really happened, as illustrated by a frequency of shootings at schools, churches, theaters, etc., that prevents us from even remembering them all.

Something different came out of the shooting deaths of 17 students and school staff members last Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Fla. Students from that school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, have risen and proclaimed they will do something.

They grabbed ahold of the podium provided by their heartbreak and have parlayed it into a national force. Their objective is to press for gun laws that make us safer. They are astute enough to realize, in the current political configuration, such laws are not going to happen.

So, they have set out to help change the poisonous situation that so closely affected their lives and they’re doing it by encouraging young people to vote.

Their degree of success is up to much speculation, partly because citizens in their teens and 20s are notoriously bad about voting, but these kids – such as Emma González, David Hogg and Cameron Kasky – are doing something.

What about you? Would it take losing Medicare, having health insurance priced out of reach because of a pre-existing condition, or watching your savings disappear as you try to stay healthy? Would it take having someone close to you deported because his immigration papers from 40 years ago were flawed? Would it take a niece dying during an alley abortion because safe abortions had been outlawed? Would it be your brother buying legal marijuana in Colorado, getting busted for possession under federal law and sent to prison for 10 years? Would it be our country’s leaders orchestrating another war to appease the military-industrial complex that has them in its pocket?

Make sure you’re registered, stop the madness, vote Democrat in November.

And tell a friend.

87. Resist, rest, resist

Resist every day

It is 87 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

I’m tired.

And I cannot imagine what it’s like for those who are deeply involved in fighting the tyrants Republicans have become. I’m just a guy out in the world who speaks his mind, even though it’s questionable anyone hears, and even I am tired. They must be exhausted.

I started a new summer job last week (my wife and I are retired but work summers to feed our traveling habit) and it requires me to work outside in the sun all day with a lot of walking around. That has left me physically wasted.

But that’s not the tired that really gets to me.

I have written, over the years, five books in the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series. The latest was published more than two years ago and I was already at work on No. 6. After the 2016 election, I just kind of shut down when it came to working on my book. There was so much going on that I could not focus on being creative.

It’s still true. I made an effort or two, but nothing has lasted. My hope now is to get back to work on it in mid-November after a crushing Blue Wave sets change into motion.

When I started this 100-day countdown to the Nov. 6 election, I knew it would be a challenge to post something every day. I knew some days would be nothing more than a clever meme; they could not all be deep pieces.

We need rest. It’s a message I’ve seen repeated by many in the Resistance: Take care of yourself so you can fight another day.

All I’ve been asking of you during this series is to register and vote Democrat. However, if you do some research and find that you think Democrats will help restore our nation, please consider joining the campaign.

A shared burden makes for a lighter load.

88. Hint: he’s lying

Gaslighting

It is 88 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

National Football League players are not protesting the flag, the anthem and certainly not our servicemen and servicewomen.

Remember this … repeat it to yourself every time you hear President Trump say anything … “he’s lying.”

Even if he’s not lying at some time or another, it’s most likely flanked by lies. You’ll come out far ahead of the game if you just start analyzing any of his comments with the presumption he’s lying.

If you’re enjoying time with friends this weekend, encourage them to register to vote and to help elect Democrats in November.

89. Stand up

manifesto

It is 89 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

A quickie today. The image above has made the rounds online and my wife and I even saw it once in someone’s yard, positioned to be visible to those walking a city park trail.

No further comment from me. Just look it over, and think about each two- to four-word section.

Register and vote.

 

90. Gerrymandering

Ohio-12 Gerrymandering

Results of Ohio 12th District special election Aug. 7, 2018. The New York Times

It is 90 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election, which includes many state offices as well.

Many have been watching the 12th congressional district in Ohio, where Tuesday Democrats were hoping to flip yet another House seat.

“Hope” is an appropriate word because the district has been solidly Republican for some time; it’s former representative, Pat Tiberi, has gotten about two-thirds of the votes the past three elections. Donald Trump carried this district by 11 points in 2016. The Democratic nominee was Danny O’Connor, whose total political experience is two years as a county recorder, whatever that is. The Republican nominee was Troy Balderson, an established politician, a member of the Ohio Senate, endorsed by Tiberi, endorsed by Gov. John Kasich, endorsed even by Trump.

Easy-peasy for the Republicans, right?

Yes and no. Or, maybe I should say “no and yes.”

As the Blue Wave has continued to gain strength, as more light has been cast on the Republicans’ lack of compassion about our healthcare, about all our money trickling up to the top 1 percent, about suffering people anywhere but particularly poor people, about the health of our planet, etc. And as so many of them have lined up to accept Trump’s most outrageous lies. And as many have seemingly fallen into a goose-stepping line to aid and abet Putin’s forays into our government. Well, because of that, Democrats have been making inroads.

The question would be rather they would be able to overcome such a strong Republican seat in Ohio-12.

That’s where the “yes” comes into play for Republicans and that leads us into a little discussion about gerrymandering.

Look at the New York Times graphic above. The map is almost all red (Balderson) with only one partial county blue (O’Connor). That is an almost perfect representation of how gerrymandering works. You would think Balderson won by a knockout, but no, he got only 50.2 percent of the vote to O’Connor’s 49.3 percent with 0.6 percent going to a Green Party ticket that apparently is still trying to help Republicans continue to demolish the Green’s platform. (Third-party candidates is another column, the numbers total to 100.1 percent obviously due to rounding, and these number can change as votes are canvassed and maybe even by a recount.)

Why is the vote so close when the map is so red?

That little blue area in northern Columbus was cleverly crafted by the Republican legislature in 2011.

There are three congressional districts in Franklin County. District 3 is totally within the county and currently has a Democratic representative who retained her seat in 2016 by getting 68.6 percent of the vote – more than 100,000 more – over her Republican foe.

District 15 is another district that covers part of Franklin County and then sprawls out through several other counties to bring in enough Republicans to offset the Democrats from the city.

You see, it would have been fairly simple to have two districts cover Franklin County, plus or minus some territory, but they would have both almost surely been Democratic. So, the legislature gets out its Etch-A-Sketch to draw the boundary and they’re able to minimize the power of Democrats.

Gerrymandering is an ancient trick (the term dates from 1812) and it has played a big hand as many Republican-dominated state houses have drawn districts to build up a large advantage in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Is this right? Is it a violation of the one man-one vote principle? Why should you care?

Look at it this way. Even if the Russians helped Trump get votes, Hillary Clinton still outpolled him by more than 2.8 million. However (and we know people voting for one party for president won’t always vote for that party in congressional elections), there were enough Republicans elected to the House that we have seen absolutely nothing from them in form of oversight of the president, up to and including impeachment.

So, yes, if you care about pulling this nation out of the vortex into which it’s been cast, you need to make sure you’re registered to vote and then get out there and actually vote. For Democrats in the House because they must bring impeachment charges, for Democrats in the Senate for they would try the president, for Democrats in state legislatures because they can redraw crooked district lines, and for Democrats in other state offices because they have influence over what the legislature can do and so much more.

Make sure you’re registered to vote.

91. Immigrants

Port Aransas Oct. 2015 IMG_0308

It is 91 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election. If you live in Ohio’s 12th congressional district, please vote today for Danny O’Connor.

So, the Trump Administration is in the news today talking about plans to limit citizenship for even legal immigrants. Of course, he would do it without running it through Congress.

Robert Reich, former secretary of the Department of Labor, released a short video recently titled “7 truths about immigration (in less than 70 seconds).”

 Watch the video. It’s short. Also, underneath the video is a list of the seven truths with links to supporting information.

What may be the biggest point in the eyes of Baby Boomers is that America needs more immigrants, not fewer, because our population is rapidly aging. That is, we need more workers paying into Social Security.

He also mentions that most immigrants do not take jobs from native-born Americans and they are significantly less likely to commit violent crimes.

Click here for his video. I also suggest you look at some of his other work.

Register to vote, get educated, vote with a full brain and heart.

92. Bless the press

Free press not the enemy

It is 92 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Here’s another reason you need to register to vote and then cast your ballot for liberal candidates: By doing so, you may help save Americans from succumbing to Trump’s gaslighting. In fact, you might save yourself.

A minister friend of mine shared on his Facebook page recently a meme that’s been going around, probably in multiple forms. The one he posted is shown to the right: “Raise your hand if you do not consider the free press to be an enemy of the people.”

My friend added the comment, “Only autocrats and dictators fear and attack a free press.”

A friend of his was not shy about showing his dedication to the up-and-coming autocrat / dictator, saying all the mainstream media but Fox News are mouthpieces of the Democratic Party and that they have abandoned the tenets of balanced reporting.

Here’s a little crash course in BS detecting, an art I honed during my years as a small-stream journalist.

If someone is screaming, for example, that all but one news organization is crooked and dishonest and spreading fake news … you can bet the farm that person has had the proverbial wool pulled over his or her eyes. Or, as is the case of our president, is attempting to pull wool over your eyes.

News outlets compete, but those of quality do so within a framework of basic honesty and fairness. In other words, as far as readership or viewership, there’s nothing for one to gain if it’s reporting the same news as others.

Therefore, if the news services, the major papers, and the major networks are all saying that Donald Trump lied, that he exhibited racist tendencies, that he is making decisions contrary to all his advisors … if all the major news outlets (except Fox, of course) are saying that … then that’s what’s really happening. Believe me, the Democratic Party does not have the power to make that happen.

Which brings up another trait of journalists: They detest being told what to write.

Several years ago, I was covering a small city’s council meeting. It concerned a hot topic I no longer recall, but the meeting was packed. At one point, one of the council members said something and, jokingly, turned to me and said, “Don’t print that, Steve.”

As I approached him after the meeting, he held up his hands and said something like, “I know, I know, I shouldn’t have said that.”

No, there is no way the Democratic Party is dictating news coverage to the nation’s top journalists.

There is no way all the top news agencies are conspiring against a president of the United States. That’s where the “free” part of “free press” comes into play, the First Amendment gives them the freedom they need to be honest in the faces of autocrats and dictators.

The answer: Donald Trump really is a bad person and not one who should be leading a country.

Period.

Now, make sure you’re registered to vote, find out when early voting begins in your state … and do it.

93. What would you do?

It is 93 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

What would you do

Verify your voter registration status at https://www.headcount.org/verify-voter-registration/ and, if you’re not registered, do it today.

94. Got issues?

MLK - leaders

It is 94 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

OK, so you’re hearing people like me telling you to register to vote and maybe you’re asking, “Why should I care who’s elected?”

It’s understandable how you can easily slide into that position. It’s difficult, sometimes, to see what, personally, you have at stake in an election. (I continually argue that voting only for yourself and not considering its effects on others is not how a moral person should make decisions, but that’s for another article.)

So, what does concern you? What issues are important to you? Where do you see our nation, your state and community coming up short? Think about it and you’ll probably find more issues of interest than you thought possible.

Here are a few to help you get started.

Campaign Finance Reform – Today, wealthy people and corporations posing as people have way too much influence over politicians.

College Affordability – In a time when a college degree is often a minimum requirement for employment, the cost of obtaining that diploma is debilitating.

Corruption – You know, like when people get influential government jobs when they’re not really qualified.

Criminal Justice Reform – This one can sneak up on law-abiding people who don’t keep up with what’s happening, but we have way too many people locked up. Even if you didn’t care about them, the cost to our society is outrageous.

Disability Rights – There was a time most people with disabilities were considered a drain on society. That was the time when some people today think America was last great. This is one of many areas where we should not return to the old days.

Environment and Sustainability – It’s common knowledge humans have been tough on the environment. Many areas have been improved the past few decades, but Trump’s administration has been busily working to move us back to the Smog Ages.

Fighting Inequality – This has obtained greater significance under Trump as he has feverishly worked to soft sell the idea that whites are indeed superior.

Gun Violence Prevention – Note this entry is against “gun violence,” not guns. Most Democrats do not want to get rid of all guns; they want sensible laws that could help reduce the number of future victims.

Health Care – It seems the health care industry doesn’t have so much to do about keeping people healthy as it does about enriching corporations. Who would have thought that was true? What we need is the ability for sick and injured people to receive medical attention, and for healthy people to receive preventive care to nip many problems before they occur.

Immigration Reform – This does not mean building a wall (which would be ineffective and hugely expensive) but is about dealing with real issues, including our role as a nation in providing for legitimate refugees. We must control our borders and immigration, but we certainly do not want to become an isolationist country.

K-12 Education – So much to deal with here. I don’t know all the answers, but I think they would include leveling the playing field (regarding quality of education and funding provided), shifting the emphasis from standardized tests to teaching subjects and encouraging learning, and providing an education to students with different learning needs and goals. But what am I saying? You surely have your own ideas here.

LGBTQ Rights and Equality – Another of those areas where we have only recently made any headway in guaranteeing rights to people, but now all of that is under attack by the extreme right-wing members who cannot accept that some people are different.

Lowering Prescription Drug Prices – On one hand, we might think it’s understandable to have to pay a lot for miracle pills, but when we learn they’re cheaper in other parts of the world …

National Security – We are incredibly secure when it comes to military engagement. Only a crazy person would attack us. In fact, I believe we could achieve the same security with far less expenditures, directing some of that money to other needs. However, there is the matter of other countries hacking our elections and our energy grids. That needs some attention pronto.

Paid Family Leave – This is a quality of life issue, though one that seems foreign to me because in my day he would have been laughed out of the office if a new father, for example, asked for time off to bond with his baby … and get paid for it.

Protecting Social Security – They say Social Security (the money we paid in to be available to us after retirement) will run out of money. It seems our government has thought at times it could make better use of our money than we could.

Racial Justice – Maybe this is such a big one to me because we’ve been “working” on it for 150 years. When schools integrated during my childhood, I felt we were about to obtain real justice, but that was 50 years ago, and we’ve not made all that much headway. Now, our president emboldens white supremacists and we’re suffering flashbacks to an ugly past, slowly realizing it remains an ugly present.

Raising Incomes – You know, workers earn more money, raise their standard of living, spend more money, improve the overall economy … that sort of thing.

Small Business – Corporate gigantism (Do you like that term? It just flew off my fingertips; feel free to use it, but only in a disparaging fashion.) has driven small businesses off a cliff. About 50 percent of them fail by their fifth year. I would suggest mega businesses keep a lot of people from even trying. The death of Mom & Pop operations is a travesty.

Veterans and Their Families – You’ve seen various reports about the number of veterans who are underemployed, who are homeless, who suffer mentally and physically from their service, and who commit suicide.

Voting Rights – We used to have Jim Crow laws that kept the black voting population small. Since they were thrown out, other tactics have been used to discourage voter registration (like closing offices in predominantly black neighborhoods), discourage actually voting (demanding extra identification) and simply purging voters from rolls. Then there’s the whole gerrymandering topic.

How’s that for a start? See anything that interests you or did it make you think of something else that’s important enough to you that you will register and vote this fall?

Good. Verify your voter registration status at https://www.headcount.org/verify-voter-registration/ and, if you’re not registered, do it today.

95. Own it, fix it

Lake Georgetown IMG_0865

It is 95 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Commonly heard from people who are resisting the Trump presidency is something akin to, “He’s not *my* president!”

We should quit saying that.

One cannot fix a problem he or she refuses to see. We may not like it, but Donald Trump is officially the president of the entire United States. That includes Puerto Rico, whether he knows it or not.

Acknowledging Trump is president does not mean we endorse what he says or does. It does not mean we’re not upset to see the ways he and the GOP he empowers go about damaging the economy, health care, education, environment, global relations and even the once-respected image of the White House.

Neither does it mean we’re conceding he won the election honestly. The system may have been meddled with and it may have swung the outcome in key areas. It may be proven to the point where an open dialogue about throwing out the results comes into play. However, unless that happens, he resigns, he’s impeached and convicted and removed from office, or he’s removed through the 25th Amendment, then he is our president until Jan. 20, 2021.

Instead of empty pronouncements about whether he’s my president, we need to be at work fixing it.

That means enrolling non-voters. We need to educate people to shoot down the lies continually heaped on them by our gaslighting leaders. We need to be vocal in calling out those lies. We must get enough Democrats elected to start effecting change, preferably enough House members to make impeachment a possibility.

Our goal is to turn President Donald Trump’s title into former president, disgraced former president, or impeached former president.

96. Gaslighting

Raise your voice

It is 96 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

In yesterday’s entry, “On the road,” I dropped the term “gaslighting.”

The phrase has been tossed around quite a bit during the Trump presidency though I feel a lot of people, like me, had not previously been familiar with it. Having a grasp on gaslighting could be instrumental in you determining how important it is for you to vote Trump’s enablers out of office this fall.

I will only hit on some high points here, but I strongly encourage you to read “Gaslighting in the Age of Trump: 6 Tips for Survival” by Leah D. Schade, assistant professor of preaching and worship at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky.

First, some definitions of gaslighting:

“Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality.” Psychology Today

“Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity.” Wikipedia

“A form of intimidation or psychological abuse, sometimes called Ambient Abuse where false information is presented to the victim, making them doubt their own memory, perception and quite often, their sanity.” Urban Dictionary

When talking about the subject in relation to the Trump White House, the conversation quickly turns to lying.

Schade bracketed the more than 3,000 false or misleading claims counted by The Washington Post with (1) the assertions about Trump’s inauguration crowd size being larger than President Obama’s, even though every one of us could see that was not true; and (2) the recent statement, repeatedly referenced by observers as almost directly out of George Orwell’s “1984,” when Trump told a crowd, “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

She then takes a brief look at five things to know about gaslighting. I’m just listing them here; read her article for further explanation.

  1. Gaslighting requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality.
  2. Gaslighting has the goal of actually changing who someone is, not just their behavior.
  3. Gaslighting doesn’t always involve anger or intimidation.
  4. Gaslighters accuse the victim of being the bully.
  5. Gaslighting engages the victim in a hamster-wheel of illogical arguing and sucks up vast amounts of emotional energy.

Schade wraps up her piece with six ways to respond to gaslighting, thereby helping yourself and others to survive.

  1. Name it, don’t normalize it. It’s a lie, call it a lie. The theologian she is also pointed out lying is opposed to God’s will. When lies are told, we need to respond with the truth.
  2. Do not enable it. Shut it down. “When a person is gaslighting, cut them off,” she wrote. “Do not engage. Do not negotiate. Walk away, turn off the feed.”
  3. Check in with people you trust.
  4. Listen and believe those who are confiding in you how they’re feeling and what they’re experiencing. Be that person others can turn to and share their load.
  5. Help others to self-differentiate and find communities of resistance. OK, I cannot rephrase this. Read what she wrote.
  6. If you are a person of faith, use every spiritual and religious resource available. For those who have a faith to fall back on … do it. Apply what you know and trust what you believe.

Find her article here.

Verify your voter registration status at https://www.headcount.org/verify-voter-registration/ and, if you’re not registered, do it today.

97. On the road

Infrastructure

It is 97 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Among questions surrounding any election – from school board to president – concern what should be done and isn’t, as well as what should not be done but is.

My campaign to whip up a Blue Wave this fall is not just to see Trump’s enablers defeated; it’s not that simple. There is a long list of things I wish to see done differently. Policing, military spending, education, drug laws, treatment of addicts, prison abuse, racial injustice, denying dignity and rights to the LGBTQ community, no gaslighting, and responsible gun laws just scratch the surface.

One concrete concern – pun intended – is the nation’s infrastructure.

My wife and I have done quite a bit of traveling and I’ve driven in all 50 states, from the New Jersey Turnpike to Alaska’s Dalton Highway. In the past nine weeks – often pulling a fifth-wheel RV – I’ve driven in 16 states. Incredibly poor roads and highways is becoming the norm in a country that once took pride in its highway system.

Bridges and dams are not so easy to evaluate with the naked eye, and we tend simply to trust they are being taken care of, just as we do water, sewer, energy, solid waste and so on.

Reports on our infrastructure, such as this one from the American Society of Civil Engineers, warn us, however, every one of these elements we depend on so heavily is deeply flawed.

The society’s report card graded 16 categories. Our rail system received a B, bridges were graded at C+, ports at C+ and solid waste at C+. The other 14 grading areas – including drinking water, dams, schools, roads and energy – received some level of D.

These are problems that have grown out of decades of neglect. We’ve kicked the can down the road to the point we cannot continue because of all the potholes. If these are old issues, if they’re not Trump’s fault, why are they weighing in on this fall’s election?

Simple. Republicans have been gleeful spenders of money when it comes to the military and defense. At times, it seems their entire image of self-worth is wrapped around tanks, missiles and battleships. Add the humongous amounts of money we spend on prisons and jails, on police efforts to control uncontrollable drugs that many states have even legalized, and even on TSA officers to examine our shoes.

Repairing roads, making dams safe, providing healthy drinking water to Flint, Mich., and the rest of us … all of this will take gobs of money. You know, like the money Congress allocates to spend on pork barrel military projects even though the Department of Defense does not want them.

On top of way too much testosterone-induced spending, remember the tax scam? That was the one last fall that the GOP boasted would save you money (piddling amounts for most of us) even though in a few years it would cost you more. It’s also the one that saved huge sums for the richest 1 percent, the same people Trump spoke of the other day when he released that he was considering giving them another big tax break.

So, I’m concerned about safe drinking water, roads, our power grid (you have heard that the Russians have been caught trying to hack into our electricity network, potentially throwing us into the dark) because the money we need to fix things is being wasted and because our nation’s income is being given away to make the super wealthy even more wealthy.

That’s one more reason for you to register to vote, confirm you’re still registered, vote for Democratic candidates … and encourage others to do the same. (That’s what I’m doing!)

98. Your vote matters

Vote button

It is 98 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

There are stories we’ve heard where one vote made a difference in an election. Those accounts are meant to inspire us to make the effort to register, properly prepare and then actually vote.

That’s not too great of an undertaking, is it?

Should you think maybe that’s too much of an investment for you, consider the following piece of advice I pulled off the Internet:

Your vote matters.

If it didn’t, you wouldn’t have Republicans trying to suppress it.

If it didn’t, you wouldn’t have billionaires trying to buy it.

If it didn’t, you wouldn’t have Russians trying to hack it.

Your vote matters. Use it in November.

Verify your voter registration status at https://www.headcount.org/verify-voter-registration/ and, if you’re not registered, do it today.

And encourage a friend to do the same.

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