“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””

THE TRUMPIAN AUDIT…WITH SOME POST-DEBATE COMMENTS

Image courtesy of palazzostrozzi.org

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.

But make no mistake about it: this “President” has given up on any thought that he could win the election.

In his frenetic attempt to hold on to power—and hold off the possibility that he could spend time in prison for any number of crimes—he will continue to attack the legitimacy of mail-in ballots and has given a green light to right-wing terrorism and violence.

That fact alone should disqualify him from being the President of the United States.

If you care about the continuation of our democracy, you must not let him discourage you from voting. That is his goal. The higher the vote for Joe Biden, the more difficult it will be for Trump to disrupt the outcome. 

Don’t be afraid, and don’t allow your disgust to immobilize you. Joe Biden is a decent man with sound, progressive ideas on how to move this country forward and try to heal us. He is an experienced uniter, and he withstood the onslaught and spoke directly to the American people—when he was able to get a moment to do so. He is very much attuned to America’s needs at this critical juncture.

We are all being tested now, and we must forcefully support the democratic processes and the precious exercise of our franchise, which we are in danger of losing if we allow this very unstable man who pretends to be our President to deter us from performing our rightful civic responsibility. Please vote—as early as you can. 

THE TRUMPIAN AUDIT

Unknown

T HIS time
H e may not get away with his monumental
E vasions

T he number $750. (or zero) in taxes
R ings loudly in voters’ ears as such gross
U nfairness to the rest of us that
M ore people may think it
P rudent to replace this financially
I nept loser who turned his
A pprentice TV earnings into mountains of
N on-income-generating golf resort fiascos  

A nd now we’re closer to learning
U nder which autocrats’ thumbs our
D ebtor faux leader squirms while he
I s selling out American democracy—
T hus, his rendezvous with real justice commences.

Annie

Continue reading “THE TRUMPIAN AUDIT…WITH SOME POST-DEBATE COMMENTS”

The Choice

[Note from Annie: I feel the post below, written by my fellow blogger Infidel753, is so thoughtful and persuasive that I’m featuring it here. Infidel’s highly informative, provocative, and often entertaining blog may be accessed at infidel753.blogspot.com.]

————————-

This November, one of two things will happen.  Either Biden will be elected president, or Trump will be re-elected.  Many people fervently believe there should be some third option.  There isn’t.  It’s going to be one of those two.

This post is addressed to those who, for whatever reason, don’t like Biden.  Maybe you consider him too centrist or too old or too old-fashioned or “Republican-lite” or whatever.  Maybe you think the Tara Reade accusation has credibility (though there are good reasons to believe otherwise).  Maybe you think the process by which millions of rank-and-file Democrats chose the nominee (from among a remarkably large and varied group of candidates) was tainted in some way.  Maybe you hold that your vote has to be earned and Biden hasn’t done this or that thing that qualifies him as having done so.

None of that is a good enough reason to let Trump be re-elected.

None of that is a good enough reason to let him saddle the whole country with a 7-2 majority of reactionaries and theocrats on the Supreme Court for decades to come.

None of that is a good enough reason to risk four more years of migrant family separation and kids in cages, or of rhetoric which blatantly scapegoats Latinos, Muslims, and whatever other minority makes a convenient target.

None of that is a good enough reason to leave this vicious and hateful man in a position where he could block laws to help the unemployed and the uninsured, laws to end gerrymandering and vote suppression, laws to protect gay equality and the right to abortion nationally, that a Democratic House and Senate might pass.

None of that is a good enough reason to tolerate four more years of the massive and flagrant banana-republic corruption we’ve seen.

None of that is a good enough reason to risk four more years of budget-wrecking giant tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, and efforts to sabotage Social Security, the Postal Service, and the Devil knows what else.

None of that is a good enough reason to facilitate four more years of bungling the response to covid-19 (yes, it will still be around long after January 2021).

None of that is a good enough reason to accept four more years of posturing brats like Kushner, malignancies like Barr, and the rest of Trump’s crew of grifting toadies, keeping their hands on various levers of power.

None of that is a good enough reason to submit to four more years of undermining the separation of church and state.

None of that is a good enough reason to allow four more years of trashing our country’s relationships with other democracies, and enabling and legitimizing murderous gangster regimes around the planet.

None of that is a good enough reason to risk four more years of the federal government actively sabotaging all efforts to fight climate change.

Perhaps you want to vote third party to “send a message” of some sort.  But look at history.  Nobody knows or cares what “message” Nader voters in 2000 or Stein voters in 2016 thought they were sending.  What mattered was who became president.  Do you think you’ll be punishing Biden or the DNC by withholding your vote?  They won’t suffer if Trump is re-elected.  It’s the kids in cages, the unemployed and uninsured, the gay people and minorities, the countless additional people who will lose their lives or health to covid-19 — they’re the ones who will suffer.

Or maybe you think your vote isn’t needed because Biden’s victory is inevitable or you don’t live in a swing state.  Yes, Hillary’s victory was also “inevitable” in 2016, and look how that worked out.  And even if you live in a safe state for one candidate or the other, the popular vote matters, psychologically even if not legally.  If Trump loses, the wingnut noise machine will immediately go into overdrive attacking the legitimacy of the result.  The bigger the popular-vote margin, the less effective their sabotage will be upon the mass public mind.  The bigger the popular-vote margin, the more clearly our country will be seen by the rest of the world to repudiate the contemptible cruelty and madness of the last four years.

And it’s not only the presidency.  We need to win it, yes, but we need to hold the House and win the Senate as well.  Leaving any one of those three under the Republicans’ control would enable them to block almost all progress on expanding health coverage, protecting the right to vote, restoring abortion rights, saving the climate, or anything else.  And again, in the real world, the only way to end Republican control of those institutions is to achieve Democratic control.  There’s no third option.

It’s not only about Biden or the Democratic party.  It’s about saving the country.

Posted by Infidel753 May 5, 2020

Continue reading “The Choice”

First, Let Me Apologize for My Lunkheadedness…

The Roll Call of the States Reaches Rhode Island

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 in the newspapers, not on the Internet, and not on this blog. (Oh, my!)

So it will be hard for you to understand how elated I was after watching the full four days of the Democratic Convention. And how disappointed I was to learn that even committed voters didn’t watch most of it.

I’ll take a wild leap and state that I think many of the 70% of us who say we think our country is going in the wrong direction would feel much more optimistic about our future if you’d heard some of the truly inspiring speakers and watched the roll call of the states that showed slices of Americana many of us never see (including Rhode Island’s famous calamari, pictured above—who knew?). 

You may well have been impressed, as I was, by viewing the plethora of non-political people making the case that this country needs to end its chaos and hate mongering, stop the rising deaths from coronavirus by a national plan to control the virus, and begin rebuilding the economy by electing Biden-Harris.

Know who nominated Biden? Not some hotshot politician, but New York Times security guard Jacquelyn Brittany, who had escorted him to an editorial board meeting at the Times during the campaign and blurted out “I love you!” (He didn’t gain the Times’s endorsement, but he sure had hers.) Sorry for my sappiness, but I thought that was just a delightful touch.

And you’ve probably heard about 13-year-old Brayden Harrington, whom Biden had met during the primaries on a rope line in New Hampshire. Brayden, a stutterer, said Biden’s pep talk with him changed his life. (Biden has spoken openly about the childhood affliction that still affects him on occasion.)

The speech this courageous young man made, while stuttering here and there, was an uplifting tribute both to him and to the compassionate leader who took a few minutes to talk with him and asked his father if it was OK to get his phone number. (Biden said he’s in touch with about 20 kids who stutter.)

That’s just a flavor of the heartwarming, distinctly real, distinctly American, and–ironically–distinctly apolitical feel of this convention. And it’s mind-stretching to think that the people who created it all and meshed and paced diverse people and videos so well had to put something together that had never been done before. Their success bodes well, I felt, for the smoothness and professionalism that the Biden team would bring to the White House.

I had concluded quite a while ago that although Biden wasn’t my first choice, his experience as VP, successfully handling two pandemics (H1N1 and Ebola) and the near economic meltdown that Obama and he had to address as soon as they took office, made him uniquely qualified for the major problems our country now faces. 

When I researched my post about the women heads of state who’d had the greatest success in curbing the pandemic, it all came down to leadership. And leadership meant listening carefully to the scientists, acting promptly, speaking truthfully to their people, and expressing compassion for their plight.

I strongly believe the US would have been one of the world’s leaders, rather than among its worst failures, if Biden had been President when the virus struck.

So even if you hate politics, I fervently hope you won’t sit this one out. Voting should be a piece of cake; in the US today it’s more like a triathlon of mazes, hurdles, and stamina-defying long lines. The deliberate sabotage of postal service will require more workarounds. But part of the Trump effort is to persuade you that your vote won’t count. Many thousands of people are now at work to ensure that’s not the case. But we must do our part.

In other words, we’ll need every citizen who thinks this country is on the wrong track to make the determination to vote and stick to it. Right now, of course, you must check to see that you’re registered before your state’s deadline.

More than 550,000 mail-in ballots were not counted during the primaries. The reasons were lack of a signature, signature different from what was on record, or late arrival. Make sure if you vote by mail that none of those problems negates your vote—and talk to everyone you know who’s voting by mail to ensure they also do so properly. 

Here’s an NPR interview and article about those problems; it includes a state-by-state listing of the numbers of uncounted ballots. 

And here’s New York Times columnist Frank Bruni explaining that with all the structural and human-made problems, we’ll need a landslide just to ensure Biden wins.

My fellow blogger Joseph Urban, aka The Old Liberal, who taught government/civics for many years, has put together a valuable voters guide in the blog post below. It’s relatively brief, but full of useful information.

https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2020/08/16/how-to-vote/

Here’s a piece of it, including two important resources:

“The two links below are very helpful for locating information for this election. They can link you to info specific to your state. Keep in mind that a few states have different rules for each county. Find out well in advance. No excuses.

Don’t let them steal another one.”

https://www.usvotefoundation.org/vote/state-elections/state-voting-laws-requirements.htm

https://www.vote.org/early-voting-calendar/
 
NBC News also has a site, Plan Your Vote, with info about mail-in and early voting, answering such questions as whether COVID is a valid reason for mail-in ballots in states that didn’t originally allow them. And it tells you how to track your ballot to make sure it’s been accepted; that’s extremely important.

Your single vote has never been more essential than it is this year. Please do everything you can to make certain that it’s received and counted. Our democracy, indeed, our very lives, depend upon it.

Annie

These Are the Election Watchers Watching Us (Maybe)!

image
OSCE Members and Partners. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.commons.org.

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.

It seems American exceptionalism has been redefined…

OSCE, with 57 member states, actually began scrutinizing us in 2000, when Bush v Gore was settled by the Supreme Court. But they really sprang into action in 2016.

And this year, after spending one week on a needs assessment, the organization’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) reported great concern about the problems US election officials will face in November and their ability to overcome them.

Now here’s the strange part: The ODIHR needs assessment  states that it was undertaken at the invitation of the US Mission to the OSCE (!).

I think this bit of information should remain in the strictest confidence between you and me. I strongly suspect that if the word gets out to the Trump administration that some of its officials think a close look at the integrity of our elections is necessary by Europeans, no less (not, say Russians or other reliably friendly folk), heads will (figuratively) roll.

(In fact, to my amazement, the “Annex” to the report includes  names of US individuals from the Departments of State, Justice, Defense, Homeland Security, the FBI, Federal Elections Commission, Federal Communications Commission, House of Representatives, both the Democratic and Republican National Committees, and a slew of other representatives of diverse organizations. Nobody from the White House, however. Shhhhh!)

The NAM (Needs Assessment Mission) members spoke with these US officials and experts, and apparently enough of them expressed their fear that problems with voting might affect trust in the administration of the election, which could translate into harm for the proceedings and create doubt about the outcome.

As a result, the ODIHR wrote:

“Most ODIHR NAM interlocutors opined that, in an atmosphere of increased polarization, accusations from all political sides on potential voter fraud and  mistrust in the election process and results, the presence of external observers to assess the process will be highly valuable, adding an important layer of transparency.”

And that was before mailboxes were being removed from street corners and carried away on trucks. Hmmmmm….

Most of the American officials and experts welcomed the presence of the foreign observers. The plan is to have member states send 100 long-term observers “to follow the election countrywide,” and 400 short-term observers for election day.

But will they be permitted to enter the US in the midst of the pandemic?

Knowing about this potential international presence is both comforting and terribly sad, don’t you think? Unfortunately, there’s no way to ensure the observers will even be allowed in the polling places. The states have discretion.

For some time, this group has been making recommendations to improve our elections, which have mostly been ignored, especially on the federal level. There’s that big gap in the Voting Rights Act due to the 2017 Supreme Court ruling; legislation passed in the House to correct it and end discriminatory practices against minority voters has been stalled since 2019.

There’s also attention to ensuring the vote for former felons, an issue that’s seen some improvement in several states. But in another area, gerrymandering, change has been minimal, as have calls for independent entities to draw district boundaries according to voter equity.

And, of course, there’s major concern that the pandemic will mean a shortage of poll watchers, and that the post office won’t be able to handle the additional mail-in ballots.

That was even before President Trump announced his determination to deliberately hamper the mail-in voting that he fears will oust him from office, assisted by his big-donor appointee, ironically named DeJoy,  who knows nothing about running a post office or the post office’s Constitutionally protected role. He also had (and may still have) competing financial interests when he was appointed.

I’d say that’s now Concern #1: a clear Constitutional threat to the bedrock of our democracy, a clearly impeachable act for which the President will not be impeached.

But it’s nice to know our allies are still with us, trying to make us live up to the ideals for which they used to admire us—and which we seem in danger of losing with each passing day.

I read this report, which holds up the mirror to us even though our descent has been so terribly obvious to most Americans, too soon after the euphoria of the Biden-Harris appearances and the hope they inspire.

As I don’t want to end this post on a sour note, I’ve inserted a short, happy video that just happens to have come from across the pond.

Here is a totally non-election look at a Zoom professional meeting in which British sportscaster Andrew Cotter holds a brief evaluation with two of his “employees.” Make sure your sound is up high enough to hear Cotter’s concluding words.

And thanks, once again, to my dear friend Fran, for bringing me this bit of fun. I hope you’ll enjoy it—even if you’ve seen it before.

Annie

Continue reading “These Are the Election Watchers Watching Us (Maybe)!”