Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

Category Archives: Uncategorized

9. Peek

aa-shelby

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

Yesterday, I wrote about the wildly ranging misinterpretations of liberals. To follow up on that, I scrolled through my Twitter feed and pulled out some examples of progressive thought.

I don’t mean to mislead; there are many more posts of frustration, desperation and anger, but tweets like the following are by no means rare. Presented in the order I came across them:

aa-barber

By @MarisaKabas

Jews and our allies gathered tonight in New York’s Union Square to hold vigil for those killed in Pittsburgh today.

As we mourned, members of the Muslim of the community guarded us.

One Rabbi said “there is only one religion – and that is the human religion.”

aa-bryce

By @OkCallMeAL

Every day in Toronto, I ride the subway in the world’s most diverse city. Next to me on the subway are immigrants from all over the world, from every race & religion. We co-exist in harmony, because we believe there is greater strength in diversity. Oh, and we don’t carry guns.

aa-shelby

By @luminousmax405

The Islamic center that was near the #TreeofLifeSynogogue raised 15,000 dollars for the victims and their families. Things like this give me hope when the world is so dim.

By @Emma4Change

Voting on November 6th is what all the cool kids r doing 😎 ((they’re also hydrating and doing they’re homework eyyo))

By @AubreyMarcus

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”

-Neil deGrasse Tyson

By @daralynn13

My Muslim neighbor just stopped to let me know how sorry he is for the loss to my community. He asked how he could help. He asked how I was feeling. He listened. Then he hugged me for the first time and told me he is here if I need anything. This is the America I’m fighting for.

10. That word

liberal definition

It is 10 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Meanwhile, Trump and his far-right conservative supporters keep shifting their messages about liberals.

Liberals are … socialists who want a free ride, snowflakes who want a trophy just for showing up, and an unruly mob out to commit violence. Yes, according to Republicans, Democrats can one day be weak and ineffective and the next day too dangerous for society. They get away with it because their followers don’t hear anything except, “hate Democrats” and “fear liberals.” And that’s exactly what they want to hear.

But, what are liberals? The graphic above – using a favorite line by Mandy Patinkin from “The Princess Bride” – offers a definition to help us understand.

More specifically, let’s use the tip I shared in my previous post: Research. Click here for the Democratic Party platform that came out of the 2016 convention.

Here are some highlights: raising workers’ wages, protecting and expanding Social Security, create good-paying jobs, making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, ending systemic racism, fixing our broken immigration system, guaranteeing civil rights, respecting faith and service, combat climate change, protecting our public lands and waters, ensure the health and safety of all Americans, ending violence against women, support our troops and keep faith with our veterans, confront global threats, protect our values, and a leader in the world.

Sounds neither snowflake-ish nor violent, does it?

I understand your hesitance to associate with liberals and risk being identified as one. But your concern is based not in fact but in the lies that have been perpetrated for decades by the Republicans.

The fact is, liberals are usually good people and most of them make great friends. They allow you to be just the way you are as long as you’re not hurting others. And it’s incredibly refreshing to work toward helping people in need rather than putting your boot on a person’s throat while he or she is down and out.

11. Lies & fear

us vs them

It is 11 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Is it Lies & Fear or is it Fear & Lies?

Never mind; it really doesn’t matter. In whatever order they’re doing it, Trump and the Republicans are making it work.

(NOTE: I wrote the bulk of this before the package bombs began appearing and that’s definitely not the fear I’m talking about. However, the GOP’s lies and fears surely fed the mind or minds implementing this recent episodes of domestic terrorism.)

And they’re awesome when it comes to wielding the tools of lies and fear. I would not have thought such a huge swath of God-fearing, America-loving, my-country-right-or-wrong self-styled patriots could be turned by repeated lies into a dependent pile of cowards lashing out in fear at the “snowflakes” they’re warned will take away the conservatives’ resurrected white-is-right lifestyles.

Quick public service message here: If this article has already made you angry, if you think I’m talking about you, then please discontinue reading and go back to your Fox News coverage. As I’ve been saying throughout this countdown to the election, this series is intended for folks who are confused by all the lies and fear they’ve been hearing and are seeking answers.

Here’s the deal. I’m just an old, retired newspaper editor whose greatest strength was a high-quality BS detector. People are pushing agendas all the time, sometimes utilizing smoke and mirrors, and the folks who are supposed to help protect us have been overwhelmed.

In fact, when I started writing this entry, I planned to address some of the biggest lies out there as we’ve entered early voting across much of the country and are only 11 sunrises from Election Day. However, confronting all the lies and fear is a crushing endeavor.

Therefore, I have two points of advice for you.

  1. Don’t believe them

Inspired by the unprecedented lying ability of Trump (who I consistently refer to as #DonTheCon on my Twitter posts for good reason), Republicans have chained Truth to a clothes line in their fenced-in back yard and have unleashed upon society zombie hounds of horror to terrify their masses with baseless disgusting fabrications about political enemies.

My wife and I have been vacationing while easing our way back to our winter home and have watched more television than usual the last couple of weeks. I have seen only one Republican ad – for a local office – that did not rely on one or more of Trump’s scare tactics. You know what I mean: things like (a) immigrants are crashing our borders with the intent of eating our children, or (b) Democrats want to take all our money and send it to a sect of Hare Krishna monks in Asia, or (c) Democrats want Medicare for all to more easily kill off old white people … or some similarly mindless drivel.

Don’t believe them.

  1. Research

If you hear Lyin’ Ted Cruz (one of the few things Trump got right) say, for example, Beto O’Rourke wants to confiscate all your guns, check it out. A simple search will turn up O’Rourke’s issues page, which details his desires, primary of which are background checks on all gun sales and to stop selling weapons of war. That’s a far cry from banning all weapons.

If Trump or one of his enablers is talking trash about something, hit up the major news organizations. My first stop is usually The Associated Press, still the standard for sticking to facts.

Here’s a graphic that can help you consider the best places to get your news.

Those that are listed toward the top tend to report facts while those toward the bottom are more likely to lean toward persuasion or blatant fabrications. Those in the horizontal center are more neutral while those to the left or right have a habit of reflecting some or more bias.

So, concentrate on those that are high and center – the AP, Reuters, ABC, CBS, NBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, PBS, The Hill, Politico, BBC, AFP, Bloomberg, Time … that’s a pretty good selection.

Stay away from Fox News, Forward Progressives, Breitbart, Palmer Report, Infowars and others in the red box on the bottom, labeled “Nonsense damaging to public discourse.”

Research.

There you go. Filter out the lies, determine what candidates stand the best chance of helping our nation and serve all of us while leading to a better life for all. In most cases, you’ll find that person is running as a Democrat. Vote for those people.

15. Vote!

Vote meme

It is 15 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

I’m a Texan. Therefore, a lot of my readers and friends live in Texas. So …

Early voting has begun in Texas!

It continues through Friday of next week; check with your county offices if you don’t know where to vote. Be aware that early voting locations and Election Day voting locations usually differ.

women voices

Do what you need to do to make sure you vote. If possible, do so this week, even today.

That said, let me warn you about something.

I’ve already heard reports from other states about what a great turnout Democrats have been getting. We might hear the same thing in Texas.

Don’t believe it!

First of all, they don’t know how people voted.

vote dem

Most importantly, however, is that a strong start does not win a race. You must run effectively all of the way through and have a strong finish. If Democratic voters start saying, “I hear a bunch of Democrats are turning out. They’ve got this; they don’t need me to show up.”

Wrong!

Remember two years ago when everybody knew Hillary Clinton would win the presidency? Too many Democrats did not bother showing up and too many others cast “protest” ballots. Sure, she still got more votes than Trump, but the shortages in key locations turned things sour in the Electoral College.

Besides, we don’t need to squeak out wins. We need to blow them out of the water. We need to send a signal that Americans are tired of appearing like a white supremacist-supporting, woman-hating, billionaire-worshipping, withered up corpse of what once a world leader.

Be great. Vote today, vote Blue, vote Beto … and go with a friend.

Vote here sign

16. Make history

Bluish blue wave

It is 16 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Want to make history?

Answer carefully. In addition to people knowing your name, they’re also trying to get a piece of you. Privacy is low, future expectations are high.

But there are other ways to make history, such as being a part – even a small, though vital, part – of a historical movement. You get to bask in the warm feeling, enjoy the benefits and even brag to your friends, but you don’t have to hire a PR person or private security.

Join the Blue Wave and look at what you can help accomplish.

  • Turn around apathy. In the latest midterm election, 2014, only 35.9 percent voted, the lowest since World War II. With a tsunami of progressive voters flooding the polls during the election, we can float that figure much higher, maybe even topping the 48.4 percent turnout in 1966.
  • Reinstate integrity. When the entire world laughs at and/or takes advantage of our leaders, it’s time to clean house. While we cannot vote out Trump and his appointments this year, we can put into office a slate of Democrats to provide appropriate checks and balances.
  • Improve public health. It’s beyond my ability to explain how Republicans have worked so fervently to deprive people of medical care.
  • Support oppressed people. Women, people of color, the economically disadvantaged … among others … deserve respect and a fair shake. Look into the Blue Wave and you’ll find many of those folks already involved.
  • Help others vote. It’s no secret Republicans have been actively suppressing voting rights and justifying it by spreading false or grossly exaggerated stories of voting abuse. Democrats have been working to defend all citizens’ rights.
  • Save the planet. Addressing the rapidly growing problems associated with global climate change, as well as the general poisoning of our home, has been too steep of a hill for the Republicans to attack because it means reducing the rapidly growing piles of money and power for them and their financial supporters. Help put our planet’s well-being ahead of their profit line.
  • Do good things. Fill in here what excites you. There is so much more to gain.
  • Maintain your independence. Will the Democratic Party forever remain the leading voice for all these concerns? I cannot say it will because power-grabbers have a way of grabbing power and warping it to their benefit. A Blue Tsunami emanating from a groundswell movement should offer long-term guidance, but you’re not locked in. If things change, you and I can move our support where it is better used. That’s another benefit of being just a cog in making history.

Are you registered? While the deadline has passed in many states, others have not. Some states even allow registration when you show up to vote. Check your status here.

Early voting has already begun in many states. If offered in yours, please plan to vote early. That is … actually make a specific plan and then do it. Voting early usually means shorter lines and also gives you an opportunity to reschedule in case of bad weather or other impediment. Make it fun; take a friend along.

If you asked for an absentee ballot or if your state sends everyone mail-in ballots, return it now.

Finally, enjoy the fact paparazzi are not hounding your every move, even though you played an important role in saving your country.

17. The con

It is 17 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

During the 1988 Democratic National Convention, Ann Richards, future governor of Texas, rather famously said of George H.W. Bush, then the vice president and GOP presidential candidate: “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

We lost Ann Richards in 2006. How I wish she was still around to offer her wisdom on Donald Trump, speaking of being born with a silver foot in one’s mouth.

Take, for instance, his wacky comments this week about … oh, I don’t know; let’s pick … global climate change.

A little background: In 2012, Trump said, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

In January 2014, because it was snowing in Texas, he tweeted, “Global warming is an expensive hoax!”

These are not rarities. Vox, more than a year ago, compiled 115 examples of him tweeting his skepticism of climate change.

Just last Sunday, in an interview on “60 Minutes,” he seemed to accept climate change as fact but insisted it could change back. What a convenient untruth.

Tuesday, in an interview with The Associated Press, when pressed with the consensus of the scientific community, the president responded by saying, “I have a natural instinct for science.”

And therein lies my theory on why Trump is such a horrible president. It begins with the silver foot … uh, I mean … silver spoon.

The New York Times earlier this month published a deeply researched story that revealed Donald Trump was “earning” $200,000 a year from his father at the age of 3. The president has insisted he is a self-made billionaire who received minimal assistance from his father. However, the Times found that, in his 40s and 50s, he was receiving more than $5 million a year. There were also allegations of fraud.

Note that the paper converted money to today’s dollars.

So, what kind of life does the pampered son of a millionaire have? Like the 800-pound gorilla, whatever kind he would like.

light bulbDonald Trump’s desire has always been to control reality. With enough people around him paid to administer to his every whim, that wasn’t much of a problem. If he said it wouldn’t snow in Manhattan in January, they would tell him and everyone else there was a heavy pollen problem that winter.

It instantly became more difficult when he moved into the White House. When he lied to say his inauguration crowd was much larger than it was, there were stacks of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.

And so it goes.

He wants to be buddies with heavy-handed, murderous dictators and, of course, he’s called out for it. So, he says, “My autocratic friend tells me he’s innocent and I believe him, end of story.” (OK, that’s a paraphrase on my part.)

The tax scam endorsed by Trump and pushed through by Republicans last year has already shown to be just what we said it would, a tax break for billionaires who would not pass on the savings to the workforce and whose lowered tax rate would drive our country deeper into debt, so much so that those same Republicans are already laying the groundwork to steal our Social Security and Medicare monies to cover their sins. But the president still says it’s great. To be fair, it is great for him.

To summarize: Whatever you want to hear, he will tell you it’s the truth and attack anyone who says differently. Then, he does whatever he wants and leaves you holding the bag and paying the bills.

Basically, that’s the definition of a con artist.

What do we do with a con artist? Don’t believe him or her. Do not give up any money or personal information. Call the police.

If the con artist is the president of the United States, we must trust the checks and balances of our government to protect us. Presumably, the legislative branch wouldn’t let a con artist get away with it; alas, the Republican-controlled Congress has been on the take – figuratively if not literally – from the con and has abandoned its responsibilities. The courts are charged with keeping things in line with the Constitution; alas, Trump and the GOP Senate have been effectively packing the courts with judges who might very well be beholden to them, the effect of which we might be forced to deal with for many years.

What next?

We vote.

Even though it’s still unknown whether Trump was involved with the Russian hacking of the presidential election (He said he wasn’t, but see above.), we’re sort of stuck relying on getting a fair vote. The best thing we can do is overwhelm the polls with votes for those who will protect us from a con artist, who will evaluate things such as global climate change with an eye on facts, not a con artist’s “natural instincts.”

Early voting has opened in many states and soon will in others. Vote early, vote Blue, and take along a friend.

20. Goodness

hiker friends Peggy and Leah - July 19, 2014

People helping people.

It is 20 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

How about a good story for a change?

My wife and I left Mount Rushmore pulling our RV just in time to get away from a heavy winter storm in early October. (As storms sometimes do, this one did not live up to its billing, but we were gone before then.)

We arrived in Garden City, Kansas, after a steady rain had set in. We stayed two nights, mainly because of the rain. Next stop would be outside Canyon, Texas, with plans to stay there a few days and explore Palo Duro Canyon State Park. (Did you know it’s the second-largest canyon in the country? Neither did we.)

Heavy rains had ended by the time we arrived at the RV park, where we found a muddy site. Trusting the ground was solid enough for us, I pulled into the pre-arranged site (the owner is generally not present at this place, as was then the case) and my truck’s wheels started spinning.

We fussed with it for a while. I could probably drive off if I took the RV off the truck, but the trailer was far from level, not fully into the site and, most importantly, we would have to hook up to pull it out eventually. Additionally, more rain was expected that night.

Now the good story.

The first local resident we saw (there were only seven RVs there) was a woman walking her dog. Well, she used the dog as an excuse to check up on us.

Let me do a sidebar on RV park etiquette.

There are two types of people watching from their trailers while you’re driving into a park and setting up for your stay. One is the person – OK, it’s probably a guy – who comes out to tell you how to do everything. Don’t be that guy. The other type will greet you, make small talk and offer help, advice and information if it’s needed.

After determining our problem, the woman (amazingly enough, we did not exchange names) actually apologized that her husband had recently had major surgery. “Otherwise, he’d be out here to help us.”

Soon, though, she contacted a neighbor who owned a tractor-trailer rig that was parked on the county road. After looking over the situation, he fetched a chain, unhooked his cattle trailer from his truck, splashed through mud to get in place, hooked up and pulled my truck and RV out of the muck.

He was what we like to call a good ol’ boy. I do not doubt that, if he voted in 2016, he probably voted for Trump. I’m generalizing and making assumptions here, one that he doesn’t keep up with politics too well, and also that he’d love to see American being great again.

Our personal challenge continued. We immediately left that park because the other sites were no better. It was a Monday in October outside Amarillo, Texas; we’d find some other place.

We thought.

Parks were full, parks were flooded. We called as far away as Lubbock and Tucumcari, N.M., before redirecting and booking a Super 8 motel in Amarillo that had a truck parking lot where we could leave our rig.

Meanwhile, Leah located a park in Silverton, some 80 miles to the southeast, and the owner promised an established site that was high and dry.

Next was to get there.

Tuesday morning, I checked the highway department’s road conditions website and found the highway to Silverton had two areas reported under water, but the information was from Monday.

Finally, I called Swisher County government offices in Tulia to see what they knew of the roads. The man who answered the phone in the county judge’s office said he felt they were open, but he took my number, called the local highway department office for a report and then called me back to confirm the road was safe for travel.

Ain’t that grand?

Oh, one other thing. When I answered his call, he said, “This is Judge Keeter.”

Yes, the county judge not only answered the phone himself but contacted the highway department and then called me with the information I needed.

Isn’t that wonderful?

Since almost all my thoughts these days are couched in political good guys and bad guys, I couldn’t help but consider that this Republican politician had helped me. Well, I assumed he was Republican because the entire Panhandle voted for Trump. In Swisher County, Trump got 75.8 percent of the vote and Hillary Clinton only 21 percent.

I took that as good news, even though he would likely have deduced from my voice that I was an older, white male and assumed I, too, was a Republican. We must take our good news where we can find it.

The rest of the story, though, is I learned Judge Harold Keeter is a Democrat.

That’s OK. It doesn’t change my hopes about people.

21. Cruel lead

performative cruelty

It is 21 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Do you remember Goofus and Gallant, the cartoon strip appearing in the Highlights for Children magazine?

Both the magazine and the strip remain in monthly publication, a fact that’s likely better known to those with young children. If you’re not familiar with the comic, it contrasts in very simple terms the good actions of Gallant with the bad actions of his brother, Goofus. The idea, obviously, is to subtly teach right from wrong.

One strip from my childhood has stuck with me particularly well. I don’t remember exactly what Gallant was doing in his half of the frame, but Goofus was taking pleasure in stepping on ants.

The key is “taking pleasure.” I have baited fire ant mounds when they were a threat, swatted flies in the house and slapped mosquitoes sucking my blood. If a spider is outside, I generally go around it and move on, but if it’s in my house, the encounter might be a bit squishier. But it’s not something I delight in. (OK, when a fly’s been buzzing my face for a couple of hours and I finally swat his behind, maybe I celebrate a little.)

The Goofus and Gallant message, of course, wasn’t limited to insects but life in general. It’s a lesson Donald Trump and his rowdier followers failed to embrace.

Adam Serwer, a staff writer at The Atlantic, examined the president’s blatant cruelty in “The Cruelty Is the Point – President Trump and his supporters find community by rejoicing in the suffering of those they hate and fear.

Read it; you’ll recognize a few ant-stompers you know. More to the point, you’ll visualize those photos that have been way too prevalent, depicting red-faced, screaming, full-of-hate supporters of the president at one of his numerous ego-stoking rallies.

Serwer starts his story talking about photos from other rallies, specifically those that ended in the gruesome deaths of blacks in America just a few decades ago. He noted how the white men grinned at the camera, straining to get into the photo alongside a mutilated corpse of a human being.

No, we’re not talking ants or flies here.

The writer cited numerous examples where Trump exacted various forms of cruelty on people near and far. The article particularly examined how the president chose to mock a woman who stifled decades of pain to tell the story of being sexually assaulted. Trump wasn’t alone, of course, as the crowd began chanting, “Lock her up!”

This is not new information. Republicans can harvest nothing beneficial from having Trump in the White House other than the fact he’s not a Democrat and he isn’t black. Their bonus is they enjoy seeing him punish people not like them – people of color, who more recently immigrated here, who worship differently, who love differently.

As one Zakariah Johnson tweeted a few months ago in response to information that Trump felt the separation of immigrant children from their parents was not aggressive enough: “Trump’s power is based on performative cruelty. That is what his supporters voted for – not for any policy, and not for any other principle than to do the worst thing to people outside the fold at every opportunity.”

One reason, outside pure joy, why Trump feels he must be cruel can be seen in a Twitter thread by NBC News correspondent Katy Tur where she explained there is nothing Trump is more afraid of than looking weak.

In his mind, it seems, he can appear strong and tough when he’s taking a hard line, hurting someone, where another person with compassion and empathy might balk.

She made another notable point, that Republican leaders at times did not want him to do something or another, but he would anyway … because it was loudly endorsed by his rabid crowd.

He would hurt someone, and they would cheer approval, a sadistic pep squad.

As Serwer wrote in closing: “Trump’s only true skill is the con; his only fundamental belief is that the United States is the birthright of straight, white, Christian men, and his only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty. It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear: immigrants, black voters, feminists, and treasonous white men who empathize with any of those who would steal their birthright. The president’s ability to execute that cruelty through word and deed makes them euphoric. It makes them feel good, it makes them feel proud, it makes them feel happy, it makes them feel united.”

They feel good, proud, happy and united when people are hurt.

We will feel good, proud and happy when we unite in the fall election to put a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, so they can begin protecting people the Republicans love to damage.

Vote early, vote Blue, take a friend and be happy.

22. Broken

coffee mug crack

Broken

It is 22 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

As we were awakening on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, as we were questioning the unbelievability Donald Trump might be our next president, as we were looking for a way out … we were advised by one Republican after another to accept the fact they had won and we had lost.

After all, wasn’t that what they wanted? To be “winners”?

Winning is all that interests them. Confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was a win they had to have, regardless the price.

There is no way (we pray) he was the best-qualified judge out there. He certainly wasn’t one who could pull bipartisan backing. For some reason, Trump and the GOP wanted him. Knowing how Trump likes to own people who will give unconditional support, I cannot help but believe the judge promised the blooming dictator to help provide him total judicial cover. Now, don’t quote me on that as it’s just my gut talking.

Victoria Bassetti, a contributor to Brennan Center for Justice, laid it all out in her opinion piece, “How the Republicans Broke the Senate in Confirming Kavanaugh.”

It was an exercise of brute power, even with the slimmest of margins, insisting to get what they want, despite its threat to the country.

The destructive actions (and inactions) of this administration are widespread – public faith, international relations, needs of the poor, honor, environment, on and on – so it might not seem too much of a stretch that it also … well, let Bassetti put it in her words … “broke the Senate for the foreseeable future.”

In the upcoming election, we can begin to lay a foundation to repair things. Vote Blue this fall.

That includes in your state legislatures, statewide offices, congressional races and Senate.

For Senate, support and vote for Beto O’Rourke in Texas, Jacky Rosen in Nevada, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Phil Bredesen in Tennessee, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Jon Tester in Montana, Mike Espy in Mississippi, Bill Nelson in Florida, Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Tina Smith in Minnesota, Robert Menendez in New Jersey, Dianne Feinstein in California, Christopher Murphy in Connecticut, Thomas R. Carper in Delaware, Mazie K. Hirono in Hawaii, Angus S. King Jr. in Maine (yes, the incumbent independent), Benjamin L. Cardin in Maryland, Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota, David Baria in Mississippi, Jane Raybould in Nebraska, Martin Heinrich in New Mexico, Kirsten Gillibrand in New York, Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Robert Casey Jr. in Pennsylvania, Sheldon Whitehouse in Rhode Island, Jenny Wilson in Utah, Bernie Sanders in Vermont, Tim Kaine in Virginia, Maria Cantwell in Washington, Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, and Gary Trauner in Wyoming.

It’s time we make good things, not break them.

23. Collapse?

IMG_1054 (2)

“The middle class is collapsing, while inequality has skyrocketed — and that means the vast majority of Americans live right at the edge of ruin — every single day.”

It is 23 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

The previous post included a quote from Umair Haque (originally trained in neuroscience, now a London-based consultant, often cited as one of the world’s great thinkers) in which he called out America’s Generation X members for not stepping up to modernize America into a decent, working society.

Had you clicked the link and read the headline of his article, “Why America Stayed a Backwards Society (and Collapsed), While the World Grew (and Prospered) – The Unholy Trinity of American Collapse,” you may have wondered what he meant by backwards society and the American collapse.

Had you read the article itself (I admit, this is one of those times he’s difficult to read; I re-read sentences and paragraphs two or three times to unravel his meaning.), you would have found some damning accusations and labels. In fact, if you count yourself among those who believe the United States is, hands down, the best country on the planet in which to live, I suspect you wouldn’t have even finished reading.

Here are some of the phrases he tossed around about the good ol’ US of A:

“America’s a bizarre, weird, gruesome outlier among nations: an exceptionally backward society.”

“Just 20% of women make up political office, as opposed to 40-50% in Europe, less even than in Pakistan.”

“80% of people live paycheck to paycheck and can’t muster $1000 for an emergency.”

“Kids are routinely mowed down at school, and told to wear bulletproof backpacks — or put in concentration camps.”

“An apartheid state.”

“Grim and poisonous residue of supremacy, capitalism, and tribalism.”

“Economic attitude of extreme self-reliance, of naked, aggressive self-interest.”

“Social attitude of tribal supremacy — whites above everyone! Men above women!”

“A stunted, decrepit, crippled thing, a sham democracy.”

Say what?

OK, so he thinks America is in decline, even collapse. What does that mean? What is his evidence? What are his standards?

If you dig into Hague’s recent writings, he’s brought it up often. In an earlier article, “The Anatomy of American Collapse – How America Imploded Socially, Culturally, Economically, and Politically,” he specifies more concretely what he means. (I found this one an easier read, by the way.)

Samples:

“People fighting bitterly among themselves.”

“It’s as if America is hell-bent on confirming, as visibly and proudly as possible, the worst suspicions that all its fiercest critics had.”

“The result of incomes flatlining for decades, while the costs of the essentials of life, whether healthcare, education, rent, finance, food, or media, have all skyrocketed.”

“The middle class is collapsing, while inequality has skyrocketed — and that means the vast majority of Americans live right at the edge of ruin — every single day.”

“America is the world’s first poor rich country — what it means is that in terms of people’s lives, their lived experience is one of frustration, resignation, anger, and despair. Their expectations haven’t been fulfilled.”

When the generally accepted idea of hard work leading to prosperity and an improved life, when that idea is shattered, “people are going to grow mistrustful of their institutions and systems. They’re going to grow resentful of each other. They will grow afraid of the future. And probably hostile to the world, too. The rules are broken — why follow them anymore? Why bother with democracy, with civility, with decency, with any of these things? What did they ever do for you? … Maybe by dehumanizing and scapegoating those dirty, filthy animals, those Mexicans, those Jews, those Latinos, those blacks, those Muslims — just like those strong, strutting men who tell you will be great again — you will get ahead. Maybe these new rules will work for you — where the old ones failed you so badly.”

“The poisons and venoms of authoritarianism, of kleptocracy, of fascism, of theocracy, are now beginning to really kill the body social, political, cultural, and economic.”

I hope I’m not sharing too much. Seriously, read the article … slowly, deliberately, leaving yourself open to a new way of thinking. What if he’s right? If so, we need a groundswell movement to fundamentally change things before this country goes all “Lord of the Flies” on us.

We must begin investing in people, not corporate machines. I’m talking healthcare, education, employment, respect for everyone. We need to accept the idea our society is no better than how we treat the poor, the damaged, the vulnerable. We need to learn enough about the rest of the world to realize there are great people, traditions and cultures everywhere. We should figure out America is not the answer to everything.

So, can we correct all of this with the mid-term election in 23 days?

Certainly not.

But we can take the first step by disciplining electorally the politicians who have allowed Trump and his hate-filled, rich-enriching, cruelty-loving minions to run rampant over decency. We must remove from office every Republican possible.

This would send an indelible message not only to them as they rebuild but to the newly empowered Democrats, as well. We must then stay on top of them, reminding that we have taken charge and are willing and able to boot them from office, as well.

We the people should feel the calling to press our new leaders to help us make deep, fundamental changes to our economic, political, social and cultural structures, changes that put people first.

Umair Hague is doing his job as a philosopher and observer, pointing out the American Dream is wearing no clothes.

The onus falls on us, the American people, to stitch together communal fabrics into an embracing, loving new society.

Radical, yes. More radical than watching the country implode … I think not.

25. Blame game

vote dem

It is 25 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

I’ve happened to see different articles this week casting blame in diverse directions concerning how our nation put itself into such a lose-lose proposition.

Wrote Timothy Egan in The New York Times: Baby “Boomers gave us Donald Trump, the draft-dodging, tax-evading, wife-cheating poster child for ’60s-bred self-indulgence. It’s boomers who are bankrupting the nation with a trillion-dollar deficit from a selfish tax cut. And it’s boomers who are ignoring climate change while the earth convulses and heads toward an early end.”

Wrote Aaron Blake in The Washington Post: Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook “noted, for example, that younger voters (millennials), perhaps assuming that Clinton was going to win, migrated to third-party candidates in the final days of the race.”

Wrote Umair Haque on Eudaimonia and Co.: “The generation born in the 1970s (Gen X) was the first one which could ever really try to modernize America, bring it into line with modern notions of democracy, civilization, and prosperity, to make it what people would call a decent, working society. And the problem is that generation has failed at precisely that challenge, in abysmal, ruinous, and catastrophic ways.”

So, should blame go to my generation, my daughter’s generation or those even younger?

By all means, yes.

On the other hand … I don’t care about placing blame.

Here’s the problem: We must fix it and start repairing the damage. All of us – young, middle, old – must head to the polls. We must forget casting protest votes and whining about a candidate who, while markedly better than the Republican, isn’t everything we want. We must vote Democrat. We need to elect many more women, people of color, and younger leaders. We must teach Republicans what they’ve been doing will no longer fly with us, forcing them to pull back from their make-the-rich-richer and blame-those-not-like-us game plans. Believe it or not, we must help them save the Republican Party.

Who do we blame?

I do not care.

However, if we fail to cause a massive Blue Wave this fall and in 2020 … we’re all to blame and our world will suffer.

29. Getting real

registration deadlines

It is 29 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election. Various reasons have kept me from posting the last few days; please accept my apologies.

You must vote in the general election just four weeks from tomorrow to do your part to help put the brakes on the dictatorial dream of Donald Trump, but you must first register.

And you need to do that NOW.

Consider the image at right as a reminder but double-check the date in your state. I say that because I know Texas’ deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 9. Maybe it differs from the chart because the seventh is a Sunday and today is Columbus Day.

Seriously, though, don’t ponder the chart too long, just visit the site linked here to make sure you’re registered. (I just checked mine again to make sure I haven’t been removed for some reason.) It will direct you to your state’s site to check your registration and, if necessary, to register.

Easy-peasy.

You’ll notice on the chart that a growing number of states allow registration up to and including the date of the election. If you’re in one of those states … don’t relax. Go ahead and register now just in case there is a problem.

For the same reason, please vote early if it’s allowed in your state. Or vote absentee. Yes, they will mail a ballot to you (conditions may vary). During the mid-term elections of 2006, I was working in Antarctica and cast my ballot from the frozen continent … that was actually pretty cool.

Register. Vote early. Take a friend. And vote Blue.

38. #WhyIDidntReportIt

WhyIDidntReportIt

It is 38 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election. There was no post Friday.

I carried the following with me all day. It was a 15-hour day, not atypical for end-of-season in tourism work, so I had plenty of time for it to steep. However, I’m certain I cannot do it justice.

An old friend – someone with whom I worked some 20 years ago but didn’t ever know that well and who is now a Facebook friend – posted her incredibly poignant #WhyIDidntReportIt story on the social media platform, starting with the deep statement, “It’s time. Be kind.”

I have no intention of itemizing a remarkably well-written list of offenses committed against her by a series of men. She mentioned two instances where guys threatened her with guns, and how she pretty much stopped speaking for two years, and how she had not been able to hold it together to finish college, and … and … and …

As often as we’ve heard women come forward with such stories, from the #MeToo movement to #WhyIDidntReportIt, we really, really must admit there is a problem. Not only is it real, but it’s gargantuan. Seriously, men, you don’t need to read my friend’s statement. Ask women dear to you; odds are you’ll find stories you had no idea existed.

It is definitely way past time for men to “man up.” Not only must we control ourself and grant women the respect they deserve, but it’s time for all of us to rain down holy hell on the weak men among us – those with whom we work, play or … yes … worship – who take pleasure in recounting their sexual conquests. We must tell them when they’re wrong. We should do whatever we can to communicate it is sinful, evil and dehumanizing to force oneself upon another person.

My friend, after listing several reasons for not reporting the assaults, added this:

“Because of the stories I still can’t tell.”

My heart broke yet again. All this … and even more she is not yet able to talk about.

My friend is a courageous, amazing woman.

She still deals with assaults committed decades ago. Then she decided it might help other women if she spoke out.

I love your bravery, my young friend. May it help you find peace. May your tormentors squirm under the pain of a righteous gaze as they try to hide a horrendous past.

#BelieveWomen

#BelieveSurvivors

#ElectWomen

40. Believe

It is 40 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

 

#BelieveWomen

#BelieveSurvivors

#ElectWomen

 Make sure you’re registered, vote early and take a friend.

 

41. Respect

obama - go vote

It is 41 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

The events surrounding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is really all one needs to see how desperate the Republican Party is to force its will into reality regardless of the concerns of the governed.

Blocking the vast majority of the nominee’s records and ramming the process into high speed when, two years ago, they used the same blunt force to totally ignore President Barack Obama’s nominee for a year is proof enough they only want to fill the seat, even if the nominee has possibly perjured himself to the point where he could be impeached by a more level-headed Congress.

Then add how the GOP senators and president have handled the allegations of sexual assault.

Even if the women making the charges are lying, a proper response would be an investigation. That, by the way, is what the woman scheduled to testify Thursday is seeking in order to have her story proven.

Like I said, the fact Republicans care nothing about decency, morality and justice is painfully obvious.

If, like me, you’re tired of our country being the punchline for a joke, prepare to take action in this fall’s election to put Democrats into office to start effecting changes and to put checks on the clown who would be king and those who enable him.

Make sure you’re registered, vote early and take a friend.

42. Joke?

Love everyone

It is 42 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

I had a wonderful opportunity Sunday evening to chat with a particularly engaged and informed young man from Taiwan who is among the students we’ve worked with this summer at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

It appears he sought me out after learning about my background. He did an admirable job of guiding the conversation to pick my brains about the United States, the world and where we are today. In return, he allowed me to do the same, granting me insight into his view of his home country, including its tenuous efforts to be considered not a part of the Republic of China.

He guarded his words somewhat but made it clear he understood the Trump presidency is damaging the country. I asked about healthcare in Taiwan and he said they had universal care, adding, “We know healthcare in the United States is very expensive.”

He knows the president of the United States – once casually referred to as the leader of the free world – is now its clown.

That was Sunday, two days before Trump was literally laughed at by the world.

If, like me, you’re tired of our country being the punchline for a joke, prepare to take action in this fall’s election to put Democrats into office to start effecting changes and to put checks on the clown who would be king.

Make sure you’re registered, vote early and take a friend.

43. Voter?

register

It is 43 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Are you registered to vote?

If no or not sure, click here and get registered.

If yes, ask a friend the same question. If needed, help him or her prepare to vote this fall.

44. Lies

Gaslighting

It is 44 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Saw a Facebook post last night that apparently is making the rounds. It depicts a photo of a reportedly nude man (a black box blocks out the area of his body that might offend us) on a stage or runway. On either side is a young girl holding his hand and each of those girls is holding the hand of another. The girls’ faces are blurred and they are fully dressed.

The accompanying text says, “Ladies and gentlemen … this is the liberal left trying to NORMALIZE PEDOPHILIA! It has begun!”

True to form for the radical right, this is an outright lie generated to inflame the masses who will not bother to confirm it.

The photo is accurate, but it was not a project of American liberal politics. It was a display in an art museum in Brazil. It’s worth noting that, even though many cultures around the world are less likely to equate nudity with sexual perversions, there was some outcry in Brazil over this living art demonstration.

The point for us, those considering how to vote this November is this:

Expect lies and distortions.

If you watched the Beto O’Rourke-Ted Cruz debate Friday, you may have noticed the number of times Beto pointed out Cruz was lying.

Double-check the negativity you hear. If it sounds unbelievable, there’s probably a reason for that. If they’re saying something to defend a man accused of sexual assault, look closely at both sides.

It’s 44 days until we’re able to elect a new Congress to start holding the Liar-in-Chief in check.

45. Power women

women voices

It is 45 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Have you read any of the #WhyDidntIReport posts on Twitter and Facebook?

It grew out of Donald Trump’s malicious tweet directed at Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who has raised the charge she was sexually assaulted by the Supreme Court appointee Brett Kavanaugh. The president basically said she was lying because he thought she would have surely reported an assault when it happened.

If you’re smart enough to click on a link to read this blog, you understand – to some degree, at least – how a woman might not file a police report, especially a few decades ago. Trump does not have that basic sense of empathy.

People – men and women – responded with their stories about how they were not believed, how they felt it must have been their fault, how they were too frightened. The stories are heart-breaking.

But what makes them even worse is watching elected leaders at the highest levels of our government as they continue to do the same thing.

Dr. Ford’s testimony must be heard without efforts to reduce her status simply because she is the feminine party of a “he said, she said” argument. To assist, a full FBI investigation must be conducted.

I am tired of watching men, mostly old men, mostly old white men, as they struggle to turn back the tide of Woman Power that is surely coming. I am convinced our lives will be better when we have at least equal representation of men and women, as I wrote almost a year ago.

We have many women running for offices around the country. Give them fair and careful consideration when you vote this fall.

And start believing women when they speak up.

46. Start voting

Vote meme

It is 46 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

However, the election begins today, at least in Minnesota and South Dakota.

The Land of 10,000 Lakes and The Mount Rushmore State are, I believe, the first to open early voting this year and both began today.

Notes I made several weeks ago said New Jersey and Vermont start on Saturday, but I’ve had trouble finding verification of those online.

The thing is, outside the fact Election Day is Nov. 6 across the country, voting laws and procedures vary widely and wildly from state to state. Most states allow early voting, but not all. Some require you to give an excuse for why you cannot vote Election Day, which is referred to as absentee voting. Some states’ early voting lasts only a few days and some a few weeks.

Why should I care?

Early voting and absentee voting have been pushed through state legislative bodies for the purpose of making it easier to vote. One 12-hour period on a weekday is tough for everyone to meet, but most people can – if they will – find a time to vote when the option includes several days, especially if weekends are included.

But you should consider voting early even if you’re certain you’ll be free Nov. 6 because, let’s face it, things happen.

In many parts of the country, early November can bring winter storms. Anywhere can be beset by miserable if not dangerous weather conditions. On a personal level, people get sick or must attend to family emergencies, a car breaks down or one might simply forget about it.

Then there is the more nefarious issue.

Many states have put into place extra barriers that make it more likely you’ll be denied the right to vote. For example, make sure you carry a valid photo identification, even if you think you shouldn’t have to present it. Make sure you do no politicking once you pass the posted limits. I would advise you to not talk politics at all once you get to the polling place.

But, should you have a problem while attempting to vote early, you have time to remedy the situation and vote later. Should it happen on Election Day, you might never get your votes cast.

(This is a great time to remind you to make sure you’re registered to vote. Click this link, enter some information about yourself and confirm your status. Do this even if you know you’re registered because some states have been aggressively purging rolls of those who have not voted recently and mistakes have happened.)

When can I vote?

That’s where you’ll need to do a little research.

Vote.org offers an early voting calendar, of sorts, at this site. It also has links to local offices that should help you. If you have trouble with these, just call your county offices or local media.

 

 

47. In the House

Vote here sign

It is 47 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election. There was no column posted yesterday.

We’re moving back to the races for the U.S. House of Representatives. Here are the 33 Democrats in races currently considered by fivethirtyeight.com as “leaning,” which means they’re close but one candidate has a perceived advantage. Twenty-five are Republicans and eight Democrats.

If this is confusing you, maybe a glance at Monday’s column will help you understand what we’re talking about.

Without further ado, here are the 33 Democrats in races where one candidate is currently considered to have at least a 60 percent chance of winning but less than 75 percent. Click on names to visit their Twitter pages, and then follow and support them. Some were on the toss-up list Monday but have moved since then.

Alyse S. Galvin, Alaska’s at-large.

Josh Harder, California’s 10th.

T.J. Cox, California’s 21st.

Katie Hill, California’s 25th.

Gil Cisneros, California’s 39th.

Harley Rouda, California’s 48th.

Diane Mitsch Bush, Colorado’s 3rd.

Nancy Soderberg, Florida’s 6th.

Kristen Carlson, Florida’s 15th.

Mary Barzee Flores, Florida’s 25th.

Carolyn Bourdeaux, Georgia’s 7th.

Sean Casten, Illinois’ 6th.

Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, Illinois’ 13th

Lauren Underwood, Illinois’ 14th.

Sharice Davids, Kansas’ 3rd.

Amy McGrath, Kentucky’s 6th.

Gretchen Driskell, Michigan’s 7th.

Elissa Slotkin, Michigan’s 8th.

Haley Stevens, Michigan’s 11th.

Dan Feehan, Minnesota’s 1st.

Kathleen Williams, Montana at-large.

Susie Lee, Nevada’s 3rd.

Xochitl Torres Small, New Mexico’s 2nd.

Anthony Brindisi, New York’s 22nd.

Linda Coleman, North Carolina’s 2nd.

Dan McCready, North Carolina’s 9th.

Aftab Pureval, Ohio’s 1st.

Danny O’Connor, Ohio’s 12th.

Scott Wallace, Pennsylvania’s 1st.

Elaine Luria, Virginia’s 2nd.

Abigail Spanberger, Virginia’s 7th.

Lisa Brown, Washington’s 5th.

Dan Kohl, Wisconsin’s 6th.

As stated above, some of these races sitting on the border of two fields are subject to moving. Just as some of the names above moved from toss-up to leaning since Monday, here are four races recently added to the toss-up category.

Katie Porter, California’s 45th.

Jared Golden, Maine 2nd.

Kara Eastman, Nebraska’s 2nd.

Tom Malinowski, New Jersey’s 7th.

As always, make sure you’re registered, vote early and take a friend.

Tomorrow, it begins to get real.

49. Senate-bound?

women voices

It is 49 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

In Sunday’s post, I pointed out seven “toss-up” races for the U.S. Senate where we could help by supporting Democratic candidates. Today, using the ratings efforts of fivethirtyeight.com, we’re going to review five races that are deemed “likely Democratic” and one “likely Republican.

If you’re doing the math, that leaves 22 races that are considered slam dunks, in which fivethirtyeight.com assigns one party at least 95 percent odds of winning. Eighteen of those are Democrats and four Republicans.

As for the “likely” races listed below, the website considers them to have between a 75 percent and 95 percent chance of winning. That’s incredibly likely, in my book, but we do know elections do not always play out the way they’re expected. That’s why it remains worthwhile to follow these five candidates and give them a little support.

Alphabetized by state, they are:

Joe Donnelly, Indiana.

Tina Smith, Minnesota.

Mike Espy, Mississippi.

Jon Tester, Montana.

Robert Menendez, New Jersey.

Joe Manchin III, West Virginia.

Each name is linked to the candidate’s Twitter page.

Register, vote early, take a friend.

50. Housework

capitol-visitor-center-exterior-138

U.S. Capitol

It is 50 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

My post yesterday asking you to “support and vote for” Democrats in seven closely contested races for the U.S. Senate should have been clearer.

Point one, obviously, you can only vote in a Senate race that’s happening in your state, if there is one. However, you can support all the candidates. I follow them all on Twitter and am quick to retweet their best. It’s a little thing, but I like to think it might help.

Point two, by all means, support the other 28 Democrats running for Senate. (Yes, there are 35 due to special elections in Minnesota and Mississippi.) I did not list the 23 who are considered likely to win or the five who are considered likely to lose (relying on projections from fivethirtyeight.com).

Continuing with that way of looking at where to concentrate our efforts, let’s examine some of the more interesting races for the House of Representatives.

As I said yesterday, don’t take predictions like fivethirtyeight’s too seriously. They’re saying (as of early Monday afternoon) there is an 82.3 percent probability Democrats will take control of the House, that there’s a good chance they can even gain 38 seats or more. (They need to pick up 25 seats to take control of the House.)

Don’t take that for granted. Remember we went into the 2016 general election with everybody from Donald Trump on up feeling it was a lock for Hillary Clinton.

Before we run through the 48 House races that are closest, I’ve a question for you. Do you know which district you vote in? If not, you can find it on your voter registration card. If you’re not registered, click this link and take care of it. If you are registered, it will confirm that fact and tell you what district you’re in.

The following list of the closest House races is alphabetized by state. I’m printing only the Democrats’ names to avoid confusion. Therefore, if your district has an incumbent Republican fighting for his or her seat, you won’t see that name, which is why you need to know your district or at least your Democratic nominee.

Eighteen races are considered toss-ups, so your influence in them could be particularly effective. Each name is linked to that candidate’s Twitter account.

Gil Cisneros, California’s 39th District.

Diane Mitsch Bush, Colorado’s 3rd.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Florida’s 26th.

Brendan Kelly, Illinois’ 12th.

Cindy Axne, Iowa’s 3rd.

Paul Davis, Kansas’ 2nd.

Amy McGrath, Kentucky’s 6th.

Gretchen Driskell, Michigan’s 7th.

Elissa Slotkin, Michigan’s 8th.

Joe Radinovich, Minnesota’s 8th.

Andy Kim, New Jersey’s 3rd.

Antonio Delgado, New York’s 19th.

Kathy Manning, North Carolina’s 13th.

Danny O’Connor, Ohio’s 12th.

Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, Texas’ 7th.

Gina Ortiz Jones, Texas’ 23rd.

Leslie Cockburn, Virginia’s 5th.

Kim Schrier, Washington’s 8th.

You know, that’s enough for today. You have your work cut out for you to check your voter registration and then follow these 18 candidates. Tuesday, we’ll go over another batch of races that right now are not quite as close.

51. Warning

gun watch

It is 51 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election. There was no post yesterday.

An article appeared on The Associated Press’ website this afternoon. Written by Julie Pace, Catherine Lucey and Zeke Miller, it was headlined, “Grim warnings for White House, Republicans ahead of election.”

Don’t buy into it.

I’m not discrediting their work, which outlined cautions from “top Republican pollster” Neil Newhouse that things are not looking very good for the GOP in the election 51 days from now.

He said the economy and jobs would not sway voters in midterm elections as much as how they feel about Trump. And, according to the presentation (as if we haven’t all heard it) is the majority of Americans, including a “sizeable percentage of Republican-leaning voters,” do not feel good about a president who is making a mockery of the country he’s supposed to be leading.

OK, so if I believe their story, why do I say, “Don’t buy into it”?

They touched on that, too, writing that the warning appears to be a strategic move by Republicans to scare their diminishing base into voting lest those nasty Democrats take charge and start doing Congress’ job of providing checks and balances against the White House, maybe even impeaching the president if he hasn’t already resigned, not to mention protecting marginalized people and fighting against the rising tide of white supremacists. (Most of those words are mine, by the way; they were not quite that direct.)

Don’t buy into the warning of a Blue Wave. The Republicans are already spreading lies and stirring up fear to drive their voters to the polls. I don’t know how it works, but even after they screamed for eight years that Barack Obama was coming for all their guns, not a single gun restriction was put in place. Yet, they’re crying again that the Democrats are going to take your guns.

And the sheep believe it.

That’s why you and I must keep up the fight, continue to educate voters, encourage folks to register and then to show up and vote.

We must finally remove the stain of the far-right experiment before our country is further damaged, before it is shunned by the rest of the world, before it becomes illegal to have dark skin, to worship in any way other than the radical Christians, to be gay, to come from another country.

Don’t buy into the suggestion that Democrats have the elections wrapped up. We must press on to gather new state seats, to win an astounding majority in the House, even to flip the Senate.

Support and vote for Beto O’Rourke in Texas, Bill Nelson in Florida, Phil Bredesen in Tennessee, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona, Jacky Rosen in Nevada, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, and the rest of the Democratic candidates to help swing the Senate. (Each name links to that candidate’s Twitter page.)

Tomorrow, we’ll look at some of the House races that are particularly important. Leave a comment or otherwise contact me with suggestions for that list.

53. You must vote

keep calm

It is 53 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

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

 

 

54. Young vote

Obama vote frame

It is 54 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

President Obama has had enough.

If my pleas for you to vote aren’t sufficient, perhaps he can persuade you to register, to make sure you’re still properly registered, and then get out early to vote.

In this video, he is primarily talking about young voters, which by and large tend to not show up during elections. And isn’t that who I’ve been trying to talk to here? Non-voters and those who traditionally don’t bother with midterm elections?

Obama is taking the somewhat non-traditional step of critiquing the president who followed him. This presidency – which he said exhibits “unprecedented behavior that violates norms that in the past have been observed by both Democrats and Republicans” – is not new to criticism. Every living former president has called out Trump from time to time.

Obama offers advice to young voters: “But what I’ve told them is they shouldn’t be discouraged. They gotta step up and vote.”

You have your concerns – from the cost of education to protecting the environment – but your voice will not be heard if you don’t help elect people who will represent your message.

Additionally, we need to elect women and men to Congress, and to statewide and other offices, who will stand up to Trump’s bullying, fear-peddling, deceitful tactics and provide legal checks on his policies that are damaging the country.

Bonus: This applies to you even if you’re not a young voter.

55. Slacking

Brennan trump disgraceful

It is 55 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Nothing new today, but I’ll make up for it tomorrow.

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

 

56. Lies

lying dont believe

It is 56 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Another quickie for today’s countdown to the election. It sprang from hearing President Trump lying … again … this time about how wonderfully his administration handled the hurricane in Puerto Rico a year ago.

The truth is his response was abysmal and was made incalculably worse by the fact they ignored reality and simply continued to sing praises to the nothingness they accomplished.

So, here are a few memes and quotes about lying.

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

Liars hate honesty

lying no respect

liars lie

57. Health II

healthcare - gofundme

It is 57 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

A few additions to yesterday’s post.

healthcare - non-profits

healthcare - countries

Make sure you’re registered to vote and then help put more Democrats in office this fall.

 

58. Health

for-profit medicine

It is 58 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Why am I bugging you – for the 43rd consecutive day now – to make sure you’re registered to vote and then to help elect more Democrats this fall?

There are many reasons I’ve mentioned before, often more than once. To answer my question, though, I’m going with healthcare.

President Obama in no way was able to “fix” healthcare, but the Affordable Care Act that he dragged out of Congress made some good inroads. It was a first step, but Republicans are trying to tear it down.

I was doing some looking around for possible places to work next summer and saw something like this on the page of an employer: “XYZ will provide healthcare benefits to new employees as is required by the Affordable Care Act.” In other words, I read between the lines, there may be no such offer without ACA.

Republicans are doing all they can to return us to the days where more and more people cannot afford insurance and where they sometimes cannot afford the copay even if they do have insurance. It is disgusting how many Americans file for bankruptcy because of medical costs.

medically bankruptAccording to this Forbes article last month, a third of the fund-raising campaigns on GoFundMe are to cover medical costs. GoFundMe runs 250,000 medical campaigns – an average of almost 700 a day – that raise $650 million each year.

Currently, some states are trying to relax ACA guidelines, the most ominous effort being doing away with a requirement that insurance companies provide coverage of pre-existing conditions. That hits home for a lot of people.

I had bladder cancer seven years ago. It was successfully removed and hasn’t come back, but if I had to change policies and another tumor arose … there’s a good chance the surgery would not be covered, and we would face some tough decisions.

The solution includes considering healthcare a human right, not something only wealthy people can receive. It means removing the for-profit aspect of the industry. Universal health care can be done; dozens of countries are doing it successfully right now.

It will be difficult to make that happen, but nothing is changing if we don’t break the Republican stranglehold on progress.

And that, my friend, is one reason you owe it to yourself, your family and your country to make sure you’re registered to vote and then help put more Democrats in office this fall.

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

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.

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