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?

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.

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.

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.

This Huge Issue Is Also On The Ballot…

There are tons of issues on the ballot when we cast our votes for either Donald Trump or Joe Biden. One of these issues 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.)

“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.

Why I See Kamala’s Racial Attack on Joe as a Positive Seminal Moment for Our Country

Joe Biden has just selected California Senator Kamala Harris as his Vice Presidential running mate. Some call it an easy, obvious decision. I see it differently. I think this was just the right choice at this time. But it couldn't have been easy for Biden. I was one of many who was put off by Harris in the first debate for her attack on Biden about his support of busing when she was a child integrating her neighborhood school. It seemed unfair because it was ancient history, and he has clearly moved far from that kind of thinking. Though I didn't support Biden then, I was moved by the shocked, hurt look on his face. He appeared wounded. He and Harris were friends. She was a close friend of his beloved late son Beau.

The Presidential Polls Will Soon Be Tightening (Gasp!)

It seems that President Trump's attempts to stay in office are increasingly desperate. "Biden wants to hurt God," he said Thursday, leading MSNBC host Chris Hayes to ask how he could even do that (?). It was bad enough for Trump that he's apparently lost control over events and the narrative--and the opportunities to get … Continue reading The Presidential Polls Will Soon Be Tightening (Gasp!)

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.”

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

The Allegations Against Biden: The Press Presses On…

In my previous post, I expressed my belief in Joe Biden’s innocence of charges of sexual assault, as well as my great concern that the press would keep the story alive, thereby damaging an innocent man.

I didn’t discuss the now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings in that post (except in the comments section) because I think comparisons with the charge against Biden are totally off base. 

So does New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg. She remains skeptical about Biden, but states that Democrats "would never have the audacity to demand that their political opponents act on a story with as many ambiguities as Reade's." 

But I must say the two men’s reactions tell me much about temperament and character.

Why I Believe Joe Biden Did Not Commit Sexual Assault

This post began as an exploration of presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden's positions on the issues. I imagined myself chatting with him while he was  endeavoring to campaign from his basement.

But the charges of sexual assault against him by a former staffer, Tara Reade, are getting a good deal of media attention.

Biden was slow to respond, allowing former staffers to speak on his behalf. But Friday morning, he issued a statement, which you can read here.

He speaks of his pride in the role he played in developing the Violence Against Women Act, and then he says:

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.

Post Super Tuesday: The Septuagenarian Scramble Begins

So it’s come to this: two old white guys duking it out to see who can take on the third—the youngest, least qualified, and clearly impaired. I’d like to hear a drumroll from the press insisting on up-to-date medical records for each of them, based on examinations by reputable sources (not that wacky guy who declared before 2016 that Trump, if elected, would be the healthiest president in the history of the solar system—or perhaps the universe). 

To be sure, both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are flawed candidates (as are just about all the others—but none even remotely as flawed as the current White House occupant). I would have strongly preferred a younger person, one of the highly competent women, and I hope whoever wins the nomination will select a woman of color as his vice presidential nominee.

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.

Here’s the Path for a Big Democratic Win in November

In case you didn't see/hear or read about Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's official Democratic response to President Trump's State of the Union address, it appears below.

I believe her focus here is the path the Democrats must take to win the Presidency, House, and Senate in November. It was the successful path to retaking the House in 2018, and there are many reasons to believe it will work again.

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.

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?

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.

2020 Foresight: Looking Beyond Our Dysfunctional Government

For now, at least, 35 days after it was foisted upon us, what has been called “the Seinfeld shutdown—it’s about nothing”—is over. That would be amusing if it hadn’t wreaked such terrible damage on so many people. It will take a while to understand the larger impacts on our economy, national security, and more, but we’ll probably never know the devastation it caused some of the most vulnerable government workers and private contractors..................

OK. Now that I’ve gotten all that out of my system, I’d like to update an exploration of an issue I first raised in “Here’s Why I’ve No Intention of Discussing the Elephant in Our National Room”: What are we looking for in leadership in 2020? It’s going to be a wild ride out there as a multitude of Democrats seek the party’s nomination. 

I invite you to put on your citizen-pundit hats and tell me what you think. Feel free to name names: those you either like or don’t like at this point, but please tell me why....

But I’m equally interested in the issues you think are paramount and the qualities you’re looking for in a President—and whether you think that type of person/persons would be viable in the general election. In these hyper-partisan times, are you looking for someone who expresses commitment to reach across the aisle? How do you think such a person would fare in the primaries?

OK. The Dems Won the House. Now What?

Well, there really was a blue wave—reportedly the greatest turnover since 1974—and a number of races remain too close to call or subject to a recount. These victories are especially impressive because of the gerrymandered districts and increased state restrictions that led to long lines at the very least and disenfranchisement of numbers of voters, mostly people of color. For a detailed look at what voters faced, read What It Takes to Win, published by the Brennan Center for Justice in October. 

As I stated in my last post, I view this not as a partisan issue—but as a critical win for our democracy. Unless/until the Republicans become better stewards of their Constitutional oaths, or are replaced by a new political force more willing to seek compromise for the good of the people, I hope Americans will continue to shun them in large numbers.

However, one of the consequences of this election was the defeat of some of the most moderate Republicans, increasing the likelihood that the party will become even more intransigent. 

And so, although I am grateful that the Democrats can put the brakes on many of President Trump’s chaotic and sometimes horrific actions, I see reason for concern that to accomplish anything on the substantive issues needed to show voters they are delivering and to hold their majority, the Democrats face an uphill battle. 

The Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher: Vote to Repudiate Violence and Find Common Ground

Those of you who have been following my blog know that I’ve been searching for common ground among us and/or stressing that we can be agreeable even when we disagree. I’ve also stated that I have strong opinions, and I’ve made no attempt to hide my concerns about climate change and gun safety, while generally avoiding the virulence of the political debates being played out in so many other arenas.
The thing is, I am perplexed that some of the most important issues we face are depicted as partisan, when, in fact, the majority of Americans agree about them...

The Mindfulness Community Enters the Political Fray!

I’ve long been aware that the mindfulness community is devoted not only to helping individuals find inner peace, but also to creating a more peaceful world. But I was pleasantly surprised this week when I received the letter below from one of my favorite mindfulness guides, Tara Brach (whose letter was more nicely formatted than what you see here).

Brach describes her role, as part of a group of Buddhist mindfulness leaders, in an interdenominational effort, Faith in Action. Its vital mission is to get out the vote on Election Day, November 6, vastly expanding the electorate...
Please click on the links to see if there’s any action you’re able to take (in addition to voting on November 6, of course!) and share this information as widely as you can!