OOPS–The Dark Money Folks Learn Conservatives Hate Dark Money Too!

“Unfortunately, we’ve found that [inhibiting billionaires from buying elections] is a winning message, for both the general public and also conservatives. It was most persuasive, convincing, riled them up the most.” New Yorker writer Jane Mayer acquired a leaked tape about a meeting of right-wing groups intent on killing HR.1.

Georgia’s Voter Suppression Law Is Only the Beginning

When President Biden stressed in his first formal press conference that our times are being marked by the battle between autocracy and democracy, he wasn't just speaking about other countries. He was stressing what's happening right here, in the US. Right now! I am reblogging this post from TokyoSand at politicalcharge.org because it contains both the sense of urgency and some valuable resources for anyone who wants to learn more and/or donate to the pro-democracy Georgia organizations who are at the forefront of the battle.

WOULD YOU–WILL YOU–SUPPORT “THE DEMOCRACY PLEDGE”?

“Voters’ voices are loud, but for corporate America, consumers’ voices are louder. So, folks, let’s let them hear our voice.” The speaker is Glenn Kirschner, a former federal prosecutor and cofounder of a new effort called “The Democracy Pledge.” He's describing this campaign on a podcast.

SAVING OUR DEMOCRACY, PART 4 (and the last on this subject for now)

In truth, I hadn’t planned a fourth segment. But when I turned to Friday’s New York Times editorial page, this headline called to me: “Save Democracy: Kill the Filibuster.” So even though the filibuster has been discussed in the first three parts of this series, how could I ignore this piece? It sorta felt this was the right place to rest the series—at least for now. (And a four-part series has a kind of nice symmetry to me.)

SAVING OUR DEMOCRACY, PART 2

A friend who’s not all that interested in politics asked me the other day why, if President Biden ran on bipartisanship, everything he’s proposing is now being rejected by the Republicans. I responded that the American Rescue Plan, which will soon pass the Senate and be signed into law, has nationwide bipartisan support: 75% of the public support it, including 60% of Republicans. But the Republicans in both chambers have not been willing to legislate for some time. Thomas L. Friedman, a New York Times opinion columnist who I find generally hews toward the middle politically, minced no words in a recent essay titled: ”What Trump, San Francisco and the Deer in My Backyard Have in Common.” The subtitle was “Democracy depends on understanding the connection.” (emphases mine throughout)

SAVING OUR DEMOCRACY, PART 1

NOTE: While we are becoming accustomed to the idea of a "normal" president doing presidential work, we must not be complacent. The battle to return the Trumpian Republican Party to power is in full swing--in both the national and state legislatures. As historian Heather Cox Richardson points out below, this is not--must not be--a partisan issue. I am printing Richardson's recent column below. I began to emphasize the passages I felt were most important by using the bold font--but found I was bolding just about every paragraph.

“The Enemy Is Within” (An Acrostic for Nancy Pelosi)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, reacting to elected members who are threatening their fellow Representatives, said that "The Enemy Is Within." This acrostic is an homage to Pelosi, her colleagues and staffers--some across the aisle--who are laboring under the terrible circumstances her comment laments.

Pre-Inauguration Messages of Hope

Apart from grieving for our nation, I feel a personal sadness for our President-elect. He is by so many accounts one of the most decent, compassionate, honorable individuals in politics today. His experience makes him uniquely qualified to address the nearly overwhelming problems our nation faces. He has wisely chosen extraordinary individuals to help him in his formidable task. He has reached the pinnacle of an ambition he's held for his entire adult life. Similarly, our Vice President-elect. This should be an unvarnished time of personal pride for Kamala Harris. The first woman, African-American, individual of Indian descent to ascend to this high office, she has demonstrated her brilliance, strength, accomplishments, and yes--compassion. Yet when Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr is sworn in as our 46th President tomorrow outside our nation's Capitol, and Kamala Harris becomes that multiple glass ceiling-breaker Vice President, the area will look like a war zone because of insurrection by extremists goaded by Biden's predecessor.

AMERICA: WHAT DO WE DO NOW? (Part 2)

An incredibly brave Not-Soon-Enough-President Biden boldly denounced both Trump-the-inciter and the “domestic terrorists” (good for him for using the term) who ransacked the Capitol last Wednesday. It’s worth noting that Biden has stated that he’d decided he had to run for President after Charlottesville, when Trump referred to the white supremacists as some of the “good people on both sides.” Even before he selected Kamala Harris as his running mate, they had both framed this election against Trump as the “battle for the soul of the nation.” And though the election is over, that battle is not.

AMERICA: WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

I thought I was done with Trump. I hoped never to write about the man again. But what he and his supporters are threatening to do to our democracy today is beyond the beyond. How do we respond? And, my thoughtful readers from other countries whose lives are intertwined with ours, I welcome your perspectives too. We clearly need all the help we can get.

IS IT TIME TO VIEW SOCIAL MEDIA AS FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER?

If you heard that more than 89 million households worldwide had watched a particular film on Netflix during the first week after its release, you’d think something monumental was occurring, wouldn’t you? The Social Dilemma, a documentary-drama about the role of technology in our lives, garnered all those viewers. ...“Nothing vast enters the world of mortals without a curse.”

RAGE…DISGUST…COMPASSION…SADNESS…HOPE?

Last night, I finished reading Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own. The author, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., is a Distinguished Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. ... Though Glaude speaks of Baldwin’s rage, and his own rage, the rage that came to mind when I started this piece is mine.

Wondering Why the Election Ran So Smoothly After All? Here’s One Big Reason…

Russian meddling…Chinese meddling…even Iranian meddling. Deliberate sabotage of the US Postal Service equipment and personnel practices. Announced plans that would suppress the vote in predominantly minority areas by diminishing the number of available voting locations.... “Congress really failed our election officials,” said Liz Howard of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

A Bunch of Reasons for Which I’m Thankful…

This is long, but if you really want to get a sense of where President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are in terms of their thinking about America's place in the world--and the interrelationship between foreign policy and our nation's families--it's well-worth watching. I'm thinking not only of American readers of my blog who may not have seen this presentation, but also our many friends around the world who have been fearful and flabbergasted as they've watched the current administration over the past four years.

Post-Election Good News…

IT'S OFFICIAL: JOSEPH ROBINETTE BIDEN, JR., IS NOW THE 46TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. There will be much discussion about the meaning, trends, and implications of this election, and the results were not without disappointments. But it's too soon for all those debates. At this point, I'm simply offering my top-of-mind list of what I perceive to be the positives for our country.

“Something Is Not Right Around the Court…”

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.

“BATTLE for the SOUL of the NATION”

I am including this video of the speech Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden delivered at Gettysburg in its entirety because I think it gives a good overview of the man and his values. I hope you’ll spend the full 22 minutes to watch it....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.

Expanding the Definition of “Pro-Life”

I noticed it first when I watched Elizabeth Neumann speak about her reasons for resigning from her position as the Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary of Threat Prevention and Security Policy. She was tasked with following right-wing threats inside the United States, and she emphatically stated that President Trump had made her job harder. 

Ready for “One Person, One Vote”? We’re Not That Far Off…

“Be it resolved,” writes Annie, “that since this is my blog, I can talk about the Electoral College without giving the arguments in its favor.” Those who disagree are free to do so with your comments. There’s always a lot of talk about getting rid of the Electoral College, and then we get the litany of reasons why it’s needed. Such a situation brought me to this post.

THE TRUMPIAN AUDIT…WITH SOME POST-DEBATE COMMENTS

NOTE: I composed the acrostic below before last night’s debacle. I thought about not posting it because it seems almost quaint today. However, as I mull over Trump’s performance in the debate, I wonder whether the recent disclosures of his mounting financial problems—and the evidence many of us have long suspected that his alleged empire and fabulous wealth are in fact a house of cards—contributed to his unhinged performance.

Think Trump’s Not Moving Toward Total Autocracy? This International Analyst Knows the Signs Too Well…

Michael McFaul, former Special Assistant to President Obama and Sr. Dir. for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the NSC, and former US Ambassador to Russia, has some trenchant observations about the meaning behind the show at last week's Republican National Convention.

First, Let Me Apologize for My Lunkheadedness…

I realize that lots of people avoid talking about politics in these dreadfully polarized times. But political junkie that I am, I failed to realize that some of you don't even want to read about politics--not even on this blog. (Oh, my!) Please bear with me as I tell you why I am now far more hopeful about our country than I was before the Democratic National Convention last week.

These Are the Election Watchers Watching Us (Maybe)!

Remember the good old days—say, 2015—when the World looked toward the US as a beacon of democracy? Well, it seems that an international group designed to monitor elections is so troubled by what we’re doing in the good old USA that they’re sending people to keep an eye on us. The Guardian reports that these designated poll watchers are from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)—specifically, its democracy and human rights arm.

Fighting Our “What If Trump Won’t Leave?” Paranoia

I had promised myself—and you—that I would stop talking about the gross elephant trampling through our Constitution (with apologies to real elephants, wonderful creatures that they are!).

My way of dealing with my strong feelings about Trump has been to make him tiny and powerless in my mind—even as I recognize his increasingly dangerous actions and expect them to continue to heighten as Election Day nears.

But then I read an article in The Boston Globe with the scary title “A bipartisan group secretly gathered to game out a contested Trump-Biden election. It wasn’t pretty.”

Barr’s Army: The Slender Legal Reed for Overtaking American Cities

Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler and other elected officials have been telling Washington in no uncertain terms: “Take your troops out of Portland.”

Wheeler has called the unidentified federal individuals dressed in camouflage and driving unmarked vans President Trump’s “personal army.” You’ve no doubt heard that there have already been casualties in this foray.

But it would be more appropriate to call them “Barr’s army.” Our quite-recent history includes Attorney General Barr’s giving the orders for the attack on nonviolent protesters outside of the White House to facilitate Trump’s photo op holding a Bible.

Well, I Hadn’t Planned To Write About This Matter Again–And Certainly Not So Soon…

After The New York Times published an Op-Ed by a woman who said she believed Tara Reade’s assertion that Joe Biden had sexually assaulted her—but she would vote for him anyway, Biden was asked in an interview what he thought about that. He responded:

“If she believes Tara Reade, she shouldn’t vote for me. If I believed Tara Reade, I wouldn’t vote for me.”

Here’s Why I Feel Compelled to Return to the Issue Now

A Call to Action: Let’s Honor the Wisconsin Voters and Protect Our Democracy!

The Problem(s) Wow! Said she who always endeavors to be optimistic. Are we in trouble! First and foremost, of course, is this pandemic hanging over and among us. But the November election isn't far off, and with so much uncertainty about how wide the pandemic will spread and how long it will last, the concept … Continue reading A Call to Action: Let’s Honor the Wisconsin Voters and Protect Our Democracy!

How Bernie Sanders Can Rise From Politician to Statesman

Republican Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio defied a state Supreme Court decision and cancelled his state’s primary election on March 17, citing “health concerns.” Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, whom I greatly respect, said he’s been working with DeWine, knows him well, and is confident that his decision was based on the right reason: the desire to protect the health and safety of the people of his state. So although there’s plenty of political shenanigans around, the Ohio primary cancellation doesn’t seem to have been one of them. That’s the good part.

Chaos in America…BUT… We Can End It! (A Near- Acrostic Poem for Our Times)

Candidates flailing arms in the air, bent on talking, one over another
Hapless moderators—too many, too weak to control the mayhem
Another Democratic debate,
Offering less light than heat
Seemingly not laser-focused on the context: our closeness to the abyss.
...
BUT…

When an aroused people stands together
Elevating our shared goal beyond our individual predilections,

Some Positive Thoughts…and Actions to Save the House of Representatives

After watching the pre-Nevada caucus Democratic debate, I began writing this post with feelings of frustration approaching despair. There were many things to criticize, and I was emptying my angst onto this page, and thus preparing to send it on to you. 

With the latest evidence—which we already knew—from the Intelligence briefing to the House that reiterated Russian meddling in the 2020 election, which was followed by the President’s replacement of the acting intelligence chief with someone with less than zero qualifications for the job, I cannot and will not deny that we are living in increasingly perilous times. See The New York Times article here.

The question I’ve been pondering is this: as we search for someone who is best able to defeat Donald Trump, how do we handle ourselves? And that question makes me feel more closely attuned to my more optimistic, better self—the one that really believes we can find common ground.

We Need to Prevent the Democratic Party–and the U.S.–From Being “Berned…”

I just can’t seem to help myself. Pretty soon I’ll get back to happiness and haiku. I’m much more comfortable seeking common ground and expressing optimism—and not preaching against a particular Democrat (or Independent running as a Democrat). After this post, I hope to leave this topic.

But for now, with the President’s awfulness just mounting, and the chances of his removal from office practically nil, I feel I must use my little platform to try to help prevent a giant case of Buyer’s Remorse.

The Huge Trump Opposition Research File on Bernie

I really, really, wanted to take a break from politics this week. I’d rather be writing about flowers and butterflies and HeroRATs and inspirational people. But I’m writing with a sense of urgency.

After watching the Democrats, led by the brilliant Adam Schiff, weave a compelling case for the President’s guilt—and knowing the impeachment trial will probably result in acquittal—I feel even more strongly that the Democrats must present a unified front if they have any chance of defeating Trump and saving our democracy. 

ON THE GROUND IN IOWA: MY CHAT WITH TWO EXPERIENCED CAUCUS PARTICIPANTS

I’ll acknowledge at the outset: I know, understand, and accept all of the criticisms of the Iowa caucus.

But I still have a romantic fascination with this singular demonstration of grassroots participation in the electoral process. It seems to me the closest we get to ancient Athens, where the polis, or people, practiced unfettered democracy. 

OBFUS-GATE: An Exploration of Our National Crisis (Even Worse: It’s In Verse!)

In April I cited Barr’s antics
The AG was quietly frantic
The Mueller Report 
Was a strong retort
To the “Trump did no wrong” semantics.

But Bill-Barr knew why he’d been hired
And sensing the public was tired:
“There’s nothing,” said he—
“No conspiracy”
So the Truth into muck became mired.

My Watching the Impeachment Hearing Blues…

If this is the “Deep State” that President Trump has been warning us about, I’d say we need more of ‘em!

After viewing much of the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings, I’m left feeling proud, sad, and frightened. 

The proud part is easy. 

Can “Love Thy Enemy” Be a Winning Political Strategy–as Well as a Healing Balm for a Divided People?

We know that the US is riven by deep divisions—and that other countries are going through similar struggles. We also know that most people are unhappy with the anger and hostilities—and that anxiety levels about politics and world events are high.

Against this backdrop, I found the final question in the fourth Democratic Presidential debate, held in Ohio on October 15, instructive. Moderator Anderson Cooper asked each of the 12 candidates (the largest group of debaters ever) this question:

“Last week, Ellen Degeneres was criticized after she and former President George W. Bush were seen laughing together at a football game. Ellen defended their friendship, saying, we’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s OK that we’re all different.”

“So in that spirit, we’d like you to tell us about a friendship that you’ve had that would surprise us and what impact it’s had on you and your beliefs.”

My Presidential Nominee Wish List

Thursday night was the third debate among the Democratic candidates for President....

I found the debate a bit more revelatory than the two previous ones, and I thought the ABC moderators did a decent job. But I’m still not getting the sense of the candidates that I’m seeking. I’m wondering how many of you feel the same...

What am I looking for in the Democrat’s eventual nominee—and what are you looking for?

Beyond Music to Ritual: The Impact of Four Songs on America’s Psyche

When Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL football quarterback, took a knee (knelt) during The Star-Spangled Banner at the start of the games, he created quite the uproar. I have written that I felt his using his visibility to call attention to the injustices against African-Americans and other minorities was in the best tradition of nonviolent protest. He paid a heavy price for his actions: though he reached a settlement with the National Football League and is now a free agent, to date no team has been willing to sign him.

Anna Celenza, Professor of Music at Georgetown University, discusses Kaepernick’s protest in her introduction to a One Day University lecture titled: “Four Musical Masterpieces That Changed America.” I found her talk, which I watched on video, so enlightening that I’d like to provide you with some highlights. I’ve also added a bit of research from other sources.

The Democrats’ Debates Were Disappointing, and Yet…

My, my my: so much drama—even attacks on No Drama Obama!

Let me state at the outset that I had never intended to become so overtly partisan in this blog. I even wrote a post a while back explaining why I wouldn’t discuss the elephant in the room (President Trump) because so much stuff was appearing elsewhere, and I wanted to focus on finding our common ground. My overarching goal remains, and in my own way, I’m still trying to do that.

When the President is an incumbent, it’s assumed the election is a referendum on him. But now that this President has made blatantly racist attacks on people of color a feature of his daily rants, I believe the 2020 election is a referendum on us. Who are we as Americans? What kind of country do we look forward to, and how devoted are we to working toward a more perfect union?...

I believe/hope...that we are seeking leadership that unites us in hope and common purpose, rather than divides us in hatred and fear.

In that spirit, I offer you my thoughts after viewing the second round of debates—and I’ll explain why I found them sorely lacking.

“They’re Doing It As We Sit Here…”

It was a gorgeous sunny day, and we were visiting friends. But all four of us spent last Wednesday indoors, in front of the TV. We were watching Special Counselor Robert Mueller testify, first before the House Judiciary Committee, and then before the House Intelligence Committee...

And while many have faulted Mueller for his halting, weary performance and his insistence on sticking to the “four corners of his report,” much emerged from those hearings.

I’ll Be Watching Mueller’s Congressional Testimony…I Hope You Will Be Too

This Wednesday, July 24, beginning at 8:30 am ET, Special Counsel Robert Mueller will testify—reluctantly—before two committees of the House of Representatives. I believe it is extremely important that as many people as possible watch his testimony and listen to his responses to questions.

I am deeply saddened for our country that The Mueller Report, its findings, and the man himself have become such partisan issues. According to every reputable intelligence source we have, it is indisputable that the Russians interfered with our 2016 elections.

This is cyberwarfare, and it is as serious an attack as any that could have occurred. Its intentions were to disrupt our democracy and make us distrust our government and its institutions. I believe the Russians were successful beyond Vladimir Putin’s wildest dreams.

23&WE: The Democrats Debate (With apologies to Chaucer for imperfectly borrowing his rhyme scheme)

Now listen, friends, as I unveil the chorus
Of those I’m calling 23&WE
We’re not discussing folks who came before us
It’s those who say what this country should be
And how they’ll make enough of us agree
They’re poised to set out from the starting gate,
And one of them may well decide our fate.

How Do We Avoid the Pitchforks and Achieve Greater Economic Equality?

I realize once again I’m taking on a “you can’t cover such a mammoth, complex topic in a blog” subject. That’s why I won’t mention world economic inequality right now. I have some awareness of my limits, for goodness' sake (!?). ...

What I do have is a heart that hurts when I see so much suffering and anger in this land of plenty, a conviction that this growing economic inequity is unsustainable, and—I’ve been told—an analytical mind in addressing problems. And my blessed blog gives me a bit of a forum to try to evoke discussion of these views.

So here we go.