This Huge Issue Is Also On The Ballot…

Image courtesy of pikrepo.com

There are tons of issues on the ballot when we cast our votes for either Donald Trump or Joe Biden. One of them has vast ramifications in our society. It’s complex, and I can’t do justice to it here. This isn’t a new issue, but I think it’s just beginning to get the attention it deserves.

It’s how we define masculinity in America. Specifically, it’s what’s called “toxic masculinity” or “hyper-masculinity.” (It has nothing to do with gender: it can be found among some gay men as well as heterosexual men.)

Donald Trump is its personification. He’s demonstrated it repeatedly: it involves being cruel, devoid of compassion, ridiculing and even bragging about assaulting women, doing whatever you need to do to get what you want—rules, norms, or impact on people be damned—even advocating violence.

It leads to attacks on those he views as most vulnerable and adoration of so-called “strong men” such as Putin and Kim Jong-un.

Shaped by this view, Trump has no sense of the unforgivable obscenity of his administration’s “policy” of trying to deter immigrants from coming to the US by ripping babies from their mothers and casting them into cages.

Asked during Thursday night’s debate about the fact that more than 500 of these children will probably never see their parents again, his response was: “They’re well-taken care of.”

It also includes a stubborn refusal to acknowledge mistakes, take responsibility for them, or to learn from them. In terms of COVID-19 alone, these trumpian traits are killing Americans by the tens of thousands.

A Different Form of Masculinity

Joe Biden demonstrates a different masculinity. I heard Charlie Sykes, a never-trumper who used to have a conservative talk show in Wisconsin and is now editor-in-chief for The Bulwark, contrasting Biden with Trump. 

“Empathy is manly,” he said. “Being a loving father is manly. Being willing to admit when you’re wrong is manly—integrity, responsibility, being willing to apologize are manly…In the Trump world, demonstrating a relationship with your son is a sign of vulnerability.”

Biden has shown how well he fits the latter description. When he turned to the audience during the second (and fortunately last) debate to reassure Americans in the throes of a still-raging pandemic that he knew they were hurting and would work to bring the pandemic under control, Trump chided him for his “political” trick of talking to the audience—“being a politician.” 

Trump is incapable of doing what Biden had just done; he couldn’t even assess the sincerity that motivated it because he can’t feel it.

Voters can. In good measure, this distinction shows up in the gender gap that has put Biden ahead of Trump among women by between 14% and 23% in the four most recent national polls—and between 11% and 19% in six battleground state polls. 

But Trump is leading Biden among men in the battleground states, and he even appears to be running ahead of where he ran last time among Black and Latino men.

Knowing of his hateful rhetoric and actions in inciting violence against Black and Brown people and immigrants, I found it hard to understand this phenomenon until it was explained as Trump’s “machismo” appeal and the belief in his purported glittery success, which has been shown to be illusory. 

However, the Biden campaign is cognizant of this fact, which President Obama touched on in his powerful exhortation to young Black men to make sure they vote. 

It’s also why The Lincoln Project, the never-trumpers—present and former Republicans who find Trump appalling and want to ensure his defeat—is running this brief video:

I do want to note one matter that occurred during the debate that I think makes the case for Biden’s form of masculinity quite well. Trump, sensing Biden’s vulnerability about his sole surviving son, Hunter, attacked father and son repeatedly, and somewhat incoherently, about a wild scheme that Trump and his gang had thought would at last smear Biden’s reputation and be the “October surprise” that brings Biden down. 

It was a charge that once again, a la Hillary, resorted to hacked emails, purportedly but not definitely from the computer of Hunter Biden. They dated from the period between when Joe was Vice President and before he declared his candidacy. 

I will spare you the details, which you can read elsewhere. The story fell flat because it’s been largely discredited by reputable sources, and the FBI has been investigating Russia’s role in purveying it, even adding phony passages to legitimate emails.

But Trump kept at it, and will probably continue to repeat it between now and at least Election Day. 

During the debate, Biden simply shook his head and said it wasn’t true. 

What he didn’t say was, “You want to talk about children?,” and then provide a lengthy list of alleged crimes and rampant, fairly blatant corruption involving Trump’s sons, Donald Jr and Eric, and his daughter Ivanka. 

Biden did not go there. He took the nonsense thrown at him “like a man,” and declined to stoop to Trump’s level.

The concept of toxic masculinity does, of course, have immense implications apart from the candidates—including domestic violence, right-wing militarism, and other complex issues. 

It is evident in the bizarre politicization of masks to protect against the coronavirus. Think of the armed vigilantes storming the Michigan state house, and domestic terrorists plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor because of her actions to curb the pandemic.

“There has been a very dominant strain of men who clearly feel that wearing a mask would so expose their vulnerability that they would rather risk death from the virus,” observed Anand Giridharadas, author of “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.”

Giridharadas,  interviewed by a New York Times writer, said this perception of masculinity, which leads to abuse and assault against women, “actually doesn’t really work for most men. It traps men in images of ourselves that have failed most of us and that don’t fit our lived inner experience.”

An Effort to Change the Image

Coincidentally, I just learned that October 18-24 is “National Masculinity Week 2020,” so named by an organization called CAMPUSPEAK which holds forums and speakers designed to educated college students on the topic. 

Here’s how the organizers described the purpose:

“Thousands of years of history have defined masculinity.

“CAMPUSPEAK is launching National Masculinity Week (NMW) with the intent of changing the narrative nationally.

“The goal of National Masculinity Week is to change the national conversation to focus on what it means to be a positive male role model and challenge the unhealthy and harmful aspects of traditional manhood and the mantras that ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘men will be men…’

“National Masculinity Week is an investment in the future. NMW will create an opportunity for men to explore healthier norms of masculinity by providing a means of deconstructing traditional definitions of masculinity and exploring how they manifest in society and men’s lives. Throughout the week CAMPUSPEAK will provide resources to advance the conversation and support university communities, athletic programs, fraternal organizations and men engaging in these critical conversations.”

This announcement included the bios of a series of diverse speakers. 

I found it most encouraging that young people are being offered another way to look at manhood that could free them from self-destructive views that harm them, those around them, and our society.

And I believe that in electing Joe Biden, we will be automatically changing the conversation with an appropriate role model: a compassionate, thoughtful leader who is not at all intimidated by covering his nose and mouth with a piece of cloth to save people’s lives.

Annie

Continue reading “This Huge Issue Is Also On The Ballot…”

In Recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (With a Big Assist From a Dynamo Fellow Blogger)

Not the usual pink ribbon, explained below. Image courtesy of METAvivor.

My mother had bilateral mastectomies—five years apart. I vividly recall that shortly after she was first diagnosed, she called me into her room to show me the spot on her breast: no discernible lump—just a horizontal line masking the cancerous cells below. She wanted to alert me in case I ever saw something similar on my own body.

She/we were lucky: after the distressing surgeries, she needed no follow-up treatment and died at age 83 of heart failure.

Many women—and some men—are not so lucky. As October 1-31 has been deemed “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” it seems to be a good time to discuss the disease that, after skin cancer,  remains the most common cancer among women, affecting 1 in 8 in the US and hundreds of thousands worldwide. 

And I have recently become aware of what life is like for women—including some very young women—living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC). I’m hoping to provide some insights into this aspect of the disease: it doesn’t get as much attention as what my mother had, which a surgeon at the time called “garden variety breast cancer.”

A Bit of Background

The CDC reports that about 250,000 women and 2,300 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the US each year. Non-Hispanic white women are most often diagnosed, with Black women not far behind.

However, as is too often the case, Black women are more likely to die of the disease, and it is the leading cause of death among Hispanic women. 

Diagnosis most frequently occurs in women in their 70s, and deaths are highest in women in their 80s. But 11% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are under age 50.

There has been a gradual reduction in the incidence in women over 50, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, possibly due to less use of hormone replacement therapy. 

And a reduction in breast cancer deaths since 1990 has been documented, attributed to screening, early detection, and better treatment options, as researchers learn more about the nature of the various molecular and cell distinctions among breast cancer manifestations.

But a recent study found that the decline seemed to have slowed in the decade from 2008 to 2017.

Learning From Abigail

None of this information comes close to revealing what it’s like to be a much younger person living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC). I have learned a great deal about that particular hell from my treasured virtual friend Abigail Johnston, whose blog is titled “No Half Measures: Living Out Loud.” 

Abigail was diagnosed with Stage IV MBC in 2017 at age 38. She was originally believed to have Stage II disease and was told that it could be managed and wouldn’t kill her. 

When it was discovered that the cancer had spread to her bones before she’d even felt the lump in her breast, she received the Stage IV diagnosis, which is invariably fatal. Her two sons were not quite 2 and 4 at the time. She was informed that she had about three years to live, but fortunately recently passed that point. 

Those of us who follow her blog rejoice with her when she receives encouraging test results and share her dismay when she suffers from treatment “side effucks” and medical personnel outrages. She is an easy person to admire and love.

Dynamo that she is, she keeps a rigorous schedule as an advocate for patients, an educator for both patients and the public, and a voice for those who are less willing or able to express the many sorrows, indignities, anxieties, fears, and needs that add extra burden to those with this dreadful disease. 

Her blog posts are far-ranging and informative, inspirational, sometimes funny, always worth reading.

A former attorney, she founded a non-profit, Connect IV Legal Services, to put Stage IV MBC patients in touch with attorneys who will help them pro bono with financial/legal matters they may face. 

The list of her organizational activities is long, and includes serving as a board member and a Parliamentarian for her local PTA.

From Abigail’s Daily Blog Posts

Since the October 1 beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), Abigail has been blogging daily or sharing posts from others about aspects of being a member of that club no one voluntarily joins—but which has, in fact, given life to a support community of women and men similarly affected that is remarkable in its depth, compassion, and dedication—and she is one of the reasons.

I’m including below some of the items gleaned from these posts.

Of particular note, October 13th was the only day of this “awareness” month dedicated to the more than 155,000 women and men who have metastatic breast cancer. 

Abigail wrote a powerful essay about what it feels like to be: 

“…the elephant in the room…By being vocal, we make lots of people uncomfortable. By asking that someone pay attention, we force others to be reminded of their own mortality.”

Though she understands the sentiment that leads people to “want to categorize breast cancer as ‘the easy cancer’” because MBC shows “the dark side,” she is simply asking for understanding…

“that this is my life, that MBC is real and it is entirely different from the other stages. That it WILL kill me. I won’t die of old age, I will die because of breast cancer.”

Since Abigail doesn’t live by half measures, her time on October 13th involved various public activities, including being featured in a live Zoom presentation, “Living With Breast Cancer—One Woman’s Story,” in which she spoke about “living with purpose” and shared information about research she’s learning with regard to mutations. That was from 7 to 8 pm.

After that, she appeared with friends and family at landmarks in Miami, near her home, that were lit up to raise awareness of MBC. This #LightupMBC campaign is an effort by METAvivor—an organization devoted to “metastatic breast cancer research, support, and awareness”—in conjunction with http:moorefightmoorestrong.com, an organization named after a young woman named Jessica Moore who was diagnosed at age 32 and died four years later. (Regrettably, the link doesn’t work.)

Landmarks in every US state and elsewhere in the world were lit up in green, teal, and pink to call attention to the too-often-overlooked women and men with MBC. 

“Why Green, Pink, and Teal?”

The explanation is on the moorefightmoorestrong site, and it gets to a serious issue that’s been overlooked in the “pinkwashing” of the breast cancer campaigns most of us have become accustomed to seeing.

“The pink ribbon is well-known for representing the fight against breast cancer, but most of MBC patients feel that pink does not encapsulate their experience. Metastatic Breast Cancer may start in the breast, but its spread to vital organs makes the disease fatal. 

“To highlight the uniqueness of the disease and show its commonality with other Stage IV cancers, METAvivor designed a base ribbon of green and teal to represent metastasis. Green represents the triumph of spring over winter, life over death, and symbolizes renewal, hope, and immortality while teal symbolizes healing and spirituality. The thin pink ribbon overlay signifies the metastatic cancer originated in the breast.”

Abigail provided her strong opinions about that “pinkwashing” in her October 1 blog post, questioning why the people who are dying get only one day’s attention during this month–and only 7-10% of the research funding.

“In my view, we should apply the principles of triage…—focus on those of us who are dying at a median rate of 2-3 years post-diagnosis rather than those who are at least 70% likely to end treatment and live a ‘normal’ life.”

“And yet, the focus is on those who’ve triumphed over the ‘easy’ cancer and touting the ‘easy’ testing (i.e., mammograms), which don’t even detect much/enough of the disease that murders my friends daily.

“Secondly, the pink ribbon is EVERYWHERE. On bananas, on yogurt, on beauty supplies, shirts, stamps, etc. 

“Yet, if one queries those companies about how pasting that ribbon on everything helps those of us with breast cancer, the answer is usually extremely minimal, if at all. There are exceptions, but the usual answer I receive is pennies to selected charities for every dollar spent. 

“Then those same charities often use the majority of those funds in administrative costs like salaries and “educational” campaigns, meaning very very very little gets to actual research funding, which again, is allocated to MBC at the rate of 7-10%.

“Also, many of the products that boast a pink ribbon actually are or contain elements that CAUSE CANCER.”

Abigail recommends that anyone who’s tempted to purchase a pink breast cancer symbol first query the retailer about how that money will be spent.

Other Items I’ve Learned From Abigail’s Series

The SEER database (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program—-seer.cancer.gov) doesn’t count people with MBC accurately, Abigail says, so although it’s known that roughly 115 women and men die from MBC daily, it isn’t known how many are diagnosed.

“Whenever you see a notification that someone has died from breast cancer, the actual terminology should be ‘metastatic breast cancer’ or ‘ramifications of the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.’ The media gets this wrong over and over and over.

“Why is this important?

“Just like we don’t get counted correctly, the public is unaware of how fatal MBC really is, how many people are dying of it every day, and the focus of BCAM needs to be awareness about MBC. Yes, I know it’s important to do self exams and mammograms are good too; yet, none of that can prevent a person from developing MBC and MBC is 100% fatal.”

Another valuable piece of information involves participation in clinical trials.

It had been assumed that numbers of participants were low because people were reluctant to join trials. But The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center did a study that pointed to another reason: of 9000 cancer patients in their study, more than half didn’t have a trial available to them. When trials were available, about half of those in the study did, in fact, participate.

[The National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc. website has a search tool in which anyone interested can fill out specifics about her/himself and be directed to available clinical trials.]

Abigail’s blog is filled with information like this, which is valuable for us all to know. Equally important, she offers insights into the personal and social needs that caring people can meet to truly help those affected in their daily lives, including even some advice about vocabulary.

“Language matters,” she writes, and then quotes a young woman named Adiba: 

“Let’s talk Battle terminology. You always hear ‘She fought bravely…lost her battle to cancer, etc.’ Fact is most of us MBC patients actually hate hearing that as it makes us feel like failures. Like it’s our fault that treatment stopped working.”

Abigail recommends (emphasis mine):

“Before you use the same fight terminology that has become and stayed ‘mainstream,’ ask how the person with cancer is doing. Don’t take it on yourself to be a cheerleader or give them answers or solve any problems, just sit with them. LISTEN. And then listen some more. Less is more. Much less, please.”

Abigail’s posts are on her blog and also on the Connect IV website. They are always worth reading—whether you have breast cancer, care for someone who does, or simply care about making research inroads so that fewer and fewer people suffer and die too soon.

If You’d Like to Donate to Research and/or Services

 Abigail suggests:

www.metavivor.org

305PinkPack

Connect IV Legal Services

…or a reputable charity of your choice. Check Charity Navigator for 4-star rated charities.

Annie

Continue reading “In Recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (With a Big Assist From a Dynamo Fellow Blogger)”

OMG! What Would Albert Schweitzer Have Said?–A New Episode

Probably not the guy in our bathroom…

The timing is eerie–and not because I wrote the original post admitting to my commission of Murder One: Beetlecide so close to Halloween. No; my unease is due to the fact that the episode that occurred just days ago is pretty darned close to the anniversary of my previous offense. Surely that has meaning…

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while are aware that I could anthropomorphize a pebble. I try very hard to–at the very least–“live and let live” with the natural world.

In the instance last October, I would have been happy to carry the beetle to a window and send it on its way. The logistics did not permit this pacific act.

The fact that the beetle was climbing among a mound of plastic bags in a corner of my bedroom, however, led me to wonder if it was trying to draw my attention in its teensy way to the existential threat of climate change.

To recap: I used one of those dastardly and way-too-handy vessels to deliver it to its watery grave. After the deed was done,  I did wonder about the possibility of retribution by some of its multi-legged peers.

That sets the stage for this week’s encounter. Different venue: this time, the bathroom.

And a vastly different coleoptera (scientific name for insect). This guy was not small and harmless-looking. It was huge, with spiky armor, bulging eyes, and semi-wings that enabled it to hop-hop-hop when I tried to grab it with a large wad of toilet paper.

Three attempts, three hops, and then it was gone. Disappeared. The bathroom’s not that large, but it was nowhere in sight. I’ve written about octopuses and their uncanny ability to squish themselves into tiny crevices; I’m wondering if this entity I’ll call Scary Gargantuan Coleoptera (SGC) had the same ability.

After searching for twenty minutes, I left the bathroom and closed the door. Exercising considerable self-restraint, I did not immediately call upon the Artillery-in-Residence–a kind soul but not given to anthropomorphizing.

But when he arrived (of his own volition, at a time of his choosing), I explained the circumstances. He, too, failed to find “hide nor hair” (both irrelevant, but sometimes a cliche comes in handy) of this displaced Force of Nature.

I won’t pretend I didn’t sleep all night, but I did have a bit of queasiness pondering that SGC, aware that its life was in danger (I know; I’m assuming memory and all that), now had the advantage of a dark bedroom AND bathroom in which to roam/hop about.

The resolution came on the evening of Day Two, when my encounter with SGC had actually faded from my memory…a little. The Artillery-in-Residence, about to step into the shower, said: “There it is!”

And he dispatched it.

The process took a series of maneuvers. The Artillery-in-Residence did not want me to write this essay, so I think he found the execution unsettling. Our compromise was that I am sparing you the details.

I am left to ponder, as is my wont, why I felt so guilty about the little shiny beetle and such relief about the much larger and uglier SGC. Despite its size, I don’t think SGC was a threat to my well-being, though I preferred not to find out by experiencing its pincers.

So this second encounter with the insect world, I’m abashed to say, has overtones of shallowness of character based largely on esthetics. And, of course, the all-important ick factor.

The Artillery-in-Residence, ever supportive of my writing, suggested a fictional piece based on the assumption that SGC somehow survived its ordeal, started its own blog, and is seeking retribution by pincing out stories about a crazy woman armed with plastic bags and her partner-in-crime, who had brought out the entire arsenal.

I immediately intuited that the blog posts would suggest that the subjects both naively believed they had ended these incursions.

And I demurred. Horror stories are not my genre.

But in truth, as SGC was far larger and more menacing than last year’s unwanted visitor, I am not looking forward to what I fear may be our personal “October Surprise” a year from now.  

Annie

Continue reading “OMG! What Would Albert Schweitzer Have Said?–A New Episode”

“Something Is Not Right Around the Court…”

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse speaking at the hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett

At the hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s ultra-conservative nominee to replace the late liberal giant Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Dem, RI) gave a remarkably clear and extremely important tutorial on the forces that are really moving the Supreme Court’s decision-making in ways large and small.

I hope you will view this video, which succinctly captures so much about why our government is failing to meet the needs of the American people.

With simple charts, Whitehouse clarified why the Republicans have placed such great emphasis on the courts, particularly the Supreme Court, and demonstrated the huge implications of the 80 decisions that were reached by the Roberts court with a 5/4 majority, unfailingly comprised of the Justices that had been appointed by Republican presidents.

Whitehouse outlined four issues: the influence of dark money originating from an overlapping series of sources; the “demeaning and diminishing of civil juries” (his description was eye-opening in its impact); the goal of total deregulation so these people can make their money unfettered by environmental, safety, or other concerns affecting the public; and voting–the Court reaching a decision “nobody needed against bipartisan legislation on no factual record.”

The latter, known as the Shelby decision, removed constraints that had prevented states from discriminating against minority voters–opening the floodgates for voter suppression and gerrymandering.

The impending outcome of these hearings will be the culmination of a 30-year campaign by right-wing influences to get a Court that serves their needs.

It’s worth noting that Whitehouse has focused his Senate efforts on two issues that he sees interrelated: climate change (which is critically important to Rhode Island, where the sea levels are predicted to rise by 9 to 12 inches this century) and the impact of money in politics.

He told Jeffrey Toobin in a New Yorker interview that climate change had once had bipartisan Congressional support until the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.

That case and others like it, Toobin reported,

“freed corporate interests, especially oil-and-gas companies, to browbeat Republican legislators into withdrawing support for any climate-change legislation.”

After the primary defeat of a pro-climate change South Carolina Republican named Bob Inglis, Whitehouse stated, the group Americans for Prosperity, aligned with the far-right Koch brothers,

“said publicly that anybody who crossed them on climate change would be severely disadvantaged. They took credit for the political peril that they had created in stopping any Republican from going the green-energy route.”

I think Whitehouse did a huge service to the American public during these hearings by demonstrating why the Supreme Court has arrived at so many decisions that seem to be in opposition to majority sentiment and the public good.

With regard to the nominee, Judge Barrett appears to be a very knowledgeable and intelligent jurist--but one who has shredded her own integrity in her responses to questioning.

I’m not talking about her vague responses about Roe v Wade or Obamacare, though she was clearly nominated because her writings have demonstrated how she’ll vote on these issues of critical importance–sometimes life and death–to millions of Americans.

What troubled me is that, under oath, she couldn’t recall whether she’d heard Donald Trump’s comments that he planned to nominate Justices who would repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Of equal concern is the fact that this self-described “originalist,” ostensibly a devoted adherent to the Constitution as it was written, would not say whether Trump has the power to delay the election or what the Supreme Court might do if he refuses to transfer power peacefully.

The answers to those questions lie clearly in that very document: Article II, Section 1; and the 20th Amendment. She had to have known that.

Thus, she showed herself totally lacking in independence–winking her thanks at President Trump for nominating her and stomping on the will of the electorate and the cornerstone of American democracy.

If you haven’t yet voted, please make sure you do–as soon as you can!!

Annie

Continue reading ““Something Is Not Right Around the Court…””

“BATTLE for the SOUL of the NATION”

Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Speaks at Gettysburg

I am including this video of the speech Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden delivered at Gettysburg in its entirety because I think it gives such a good overview of the man and his values. I hope you’ll spend the full 22 minutes to watch it. (To begin, click on both the central arrow and the one in the lower left-hand corner.)

There are briefer versions online, but they don’t do justice to the breadth and passion within. It is a fine, Presidential speech that is worthy of far more attention than it’s received. A transcript is also available.

I am as eager that it be seen and heard by folks outside the US as by American voters because I know the world needs reassurance that most of us in the US have not gone crazy.

Biden represents who we are and where we want to go as a nation—in the immediate future and the years ahead.

I have been urging everyone not to panic about the possibility that Trump could win by cheating. I had planned simply to post the video of Biden’s speech.

But I think there are growing ominous signs we must be cognizant of and emphatically oppose. To change direction, the remedy remains the same: they are all on the ballot in this election.

ENDING THE FUELING OF HATRED

The hatred and division Biden spoke about was writ large in the arrests of domestic terrorists determined to kidnap Michigan Governor Whitmer in a vast plot that included killing police officers to start a civil war.

Yet the current occupant in the Oval Office will not condemn white supremacy. He and his attorney general persist in claiming, against all evidence from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), that it is a left-wing conspiracy we should fear–not the emboldened armed and dangerous so-called militia groups and individuals he’s encouraged with his rhetoric.

STANDING UP FOR DEMOCRACY

For the first time in my lifetime, I heard a United States Senator—Republican Mike Lee of Utah—say/tweet:

“We’re not a democracy. That’s a good thing…democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prospefity [sic] are.” 

He also wrote:

“We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.”

Rank democracy? Fits in with the phrase tyranny of the majority” that I cited in a previous post.

Lee was harking back to the “republic vs democracy” debate of the founders, which eventually brought us the Electoral College. Although the founders were concerned about Athenian democracy in which small numbers of the public were working on policy, this argument has been misconstrued and used by Republicans through the years as an excuse to oppose the will of the majority on a host of issues. 

OK. So one Senator goes off the deep end. But how representative is his thinking of that of his colleagues, who have remained silent as Trump has smashed through one norm after another?

An article in Vox, offering historical perspective, observes:

“In the context of the 2020 election, the anti-democratic strain embodied by Lee’s rhetoric takes on particularly serious significance.

“President Trump has been clear that he believes any Biden win will be fraudulent; he has refused to commit to accepting the results of the election or even agreeing to a peaceful transition of power.

“The Republican Party as a whole has largely aided and abetted this approach, most notably by insisting on the fiction of massive voter fraud and enacting policies at the state level that make it harder for Democratic-leaning constituencies to vote.

“The idea that majority rule is intrinsically oppressive is necessarily an embrace of anti-democracy: an argument that an enlightened few, meaning Republican supporters, should be able to make decisions for the rest of us. If the election is close, and Trump makes a serious play to steal it, Lee’s ‘we’re not a democracy’ argument provides a ready-made justification for tactics that amount to a kind of legal coup.”

It’s worth noting that FBI Director Chris Wray, officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the government’s chief counterintelligence official released a video in which they all stressed the integrity and “resilience” of the election system and explained what their agencies were doing to ensure that integrity. 

Much of this was prompted by concerns about Russian intervention in favor of the President.

Without mentioning Trump, they also knocked down his claims of mail ballot fraud. Said Wray:

“No matter which method you choose, your voice is important. Rest assured that the security of the election, and safeguarding your vote, is and will continue to be one of our highest priorities.”

Chris Krebs of DHS stated that the results may be delayed beyond November 3, but not by fraud —“and that’s OK. But we’re going to need your patience until official votes are announced.” 

That is welcome news, of course, in view of the pronouncements from Trump and his Attorney General. The infamous Bill Barr seeks to play an oversized role in thwarting a fair election. 

He has bolstered Trump’s phony charges about fraud in mail-in ballots.

CONDEMNING EFFORTS TO STEAL THE ELECTION

It’s a sad day for America that one failing candidate’s power obsessions have necessitated all this lawyering up by the Biden team as well.

There is concern that lawyers in swing states are prepared to make nit-picky charges to disenfranchise minority and other voters presumed to be casting ballots against Trump. 

Many have associated the President’s increasingly bizarre behavior with one of the medications he’s been receiving as part of his coronavirus regimen.

Thus, a statement by the chief counsel of the Republican National Committee emphasizing the vast number of legal (?) actions they anticipate has to be the most mordantly ironic statement of all:

“[legal activity] is going to be on steroids this year.”

To counter that possibility, Tom Rogers, who founded CNBC, and Timothy Wirth, a former Colorado Senator and Undersecretary of State, warned in a Newsweek Op-Ed about the lawyers who participate in such chicanery, knowing that the incidence of vote-by-mail fraud has been proven to be essentially a phony issue:

“As much as President Donald Trump has tried in many ways to subvert our system of constitutional government, it is the lawyers supporting this ‘cancel vote culture’ tactic who will lead to post-election chaos. Lawyers should not be party to these attempts…

They urge state bar associations in the swing states (which they cite as Maine, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Arizona, Montana, North Carolina, Georgia, and Iowa) to issue statements to attorneys that…

“2020 election-related litigation will be scrutinized, and frivolous lawsuits brought to deprive citizens of having their vote counted will not be tolerated.”

In other words, be forewarned, lawyers who are contemplating or plan to knowingly engage in Trump-Barr chicanery. Such behavior may get you disbarred.

I hope that a consideration of the shipwreck that is the Trump Administration—with so many close advisers convicted of crimes and so many others in danger of legal repercussions—will make any lawyer (or prosecutor) think thrice before risking their licenses and reputations on such a Putin-pleasing plot to destroy America.

The goal, of course, is to deprive Biden of a victory he’s earned in both the Electoral College and the popular vote and throw the election into the courts and/or Congress, where Republicans have an advantage due to various procedures (12th Amendment or Electoral Count Act of 1887).

WE ARE THE BULWARK

But the prevention of these wrongful acts also remains with us. The citizenry, already voting by the millions, can be the bulwark. That’s why every single vote for Biden and Harris and the Democrats is absolutely critical. A landslide may not prevent the attempts to wreak havoc, but it will make them a helluva lot harder to gain traction.

Annie

Continue reading ““BATTLE for the SOUL of the NATION””