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.

PRESIDENT BIDEN IS KEEPING HIS PROMISES

I don’t think it’s too early to give a shoutout to our new President for seizing the initiative on important issues that he stressed in his campaign. He started off with a dizzying flourish of Executive Orders, which are cited here. He’s working tirelessly and smartly to demonstrate to the Republicans in Congress how popular his $1.9 trillion Covid assistance package is by going directly to the people. He’s met with mayors and governors who are desperate for help from the federal government. Tuesday night, he went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for his first town hall as President, answering questions from the public in great detail. Some polls are now showing that 75% of the public support this bill.

Keeping Our Eyes Where We Don’t Want Them To Be…

When I saw my gastro Monday morning, I told him how much better I was feeling. And the light bulb had gone off. My GI system almost instantaneously expressed its enormous gratitude and relief when Joe Biden replaced Donald Trump in the Oval Office “You’re not the only one of my patients who’ve said that,” the good doctor informed me. All this prelude is to tell you how much I want to forget about Donald Trump. I embrace his absence with my head, heart, and gut. Good riddance and all that! But I strongly suspect that we must keep that weather eye open.

“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.

Why Does the Justice Department Say a Sitting President Can’t Be Indicted? The Original Rationale’s Kinda Mind-Blowing…

I missed this story the first time around in 2019, but I think it’s worth covering now as Donald Trump fades into the sunset (a little wishful thinking on my part) and we review how we got to where we are—and where we may need to change our procedures. This need for reexamination covers many areas, but the Justice Department’s a big one.... It appears that Trump might owe a debt of gratitude to Spiro Agnew. Spiro who? Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon’s Vice President at the time of the Watergate scandal. But this policy is unrelated to Watergate—or even to the President directly. That’s what makes it so very odd.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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!

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS RELIEF PACKAGE(S): A Questioning Acrostic

Catastrophic delays
Of equipment for patients and carers
Reveal huge flaws in America’s design.
One thing I do
Not hear discussed
Applies to the “have nots’”
Vying for their tiny share of
Income from the supposed stimulus:
Registering their presence without
Use of computers and Internet?
Shadowy reminders of those we forget.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

The Constitution: Can It Help Us “Replace the Jeering With Productive Conversation”?

No matter what your politics, you may well be troubled, as I am, by the efforts on college campuses—as well as in many other arenas—to stifle dissent by preventing people with unpopular views from being invited to speak—or interrupting them so that they can’t be heard. Short of shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater, the First Amendment to the US Constitution should be a protected and revered part of all our public dialogue—from colleges to the White House.

And it seems the College Board, the organization that administers the SAT and Advanced Placement (AP) college entrance exams, has decided to do something about that problem, reports Thomas Friedman in The New York Times. They determined to ensure that the next generation really learns what the Constitution is all about. 

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?