I wrote this post on August 25, 2020, but never finished it simply because life got in the way. I’ve updated it a bit to reflect recent events.
Clearly, there were none.
America is not Liberia, where in 1927 “the most rigged ever” gave Charles D. B. King 243,000 votes despite the existence of fewer than 15,000 registered voters.
America is not Ukraine, where results were contested, candidates were poisoned with dioxin, the media was biased, and voters were intimidated.
No, this is America, where even in the most hotly contested and controversial of elections, the result was a peaceful transfer of power.
Now we have an individual in the White House, an impeached president who was elected despite losing the popular vote by a margin of at least 3,000,000, who has been dog whistling to his base that “the only way he will lose is if the election is rigged;” making loud noises on Fox News that he won’t commit to accepting the results of the 2020 election and ensuring a peaceful transition of power; and doing all he can to disparage mail-in voting and make it difficult or impossible for countless millions of underserved Americans, who tend to vote dominantly Democratic. to vote.
This is unheard of. It has never happened in our history. It’s an absolute disgrace. It’s shameful. And there’s not a single person in this administration who has big enough balls to shout into the *president’s face, “You can’t do that! If you lose an election, you’ve lost, and you accept it with good grace!”
Of course, “good grace” is not something compatible with this administration. But it’s truly one of the most frightening things I have encountered in my lifetime here on American soil. And given that we are currently living in one of the most challenging years ever, what with Covid, BLM, police overreach, a tanked economy (oh, it’s great if you’re rich – not so much if you’ve lost your job, your business, or your insurance), and the most polarized political climate I’ve ever seen, that’s saying something.
I tremble to think what could happen if the Orange Screechweasel loses the electoral vote and calls on his base to rise up against the “liberal, radical, Communist” horde who rigged the election so he could not win – despite decades of Republican gerrymandering, voter suppression, roll purging, and most recently, dismissing mail-in balloting and hamstringing the US Post Office. This could be an absolute catastrophe.
Here ends what I had written before the election.
And it was.
It was worse than could have imagined. People died, including one Capitol police officer who was beaten to death by “protestors.” They were not protestors, they were armed thugs. They were not “Antifa,” they were almost exclusively Trump cultists.
But even today, more than 2 months after this disgraceful event, there are no adults in the Republican party who are willing to shout into the faces of their brainwashed, “Stop the Steal” colleagues, “You can’t do this! You are destroying American democratic traditions, and wiping your feet on the Constitution!” Nobody. Any opposition comes across like someone whispering in a hurricane, and it’s just as disgraceful as the events of January 6th, just as shameful as a year-long trumpeting of “The Big Lie,” just as destructive to our nation’s political landscape as the 4 years of the most heinous *administration the White House has ever seen.
America is a wonderful land, full of storied, honorable traditions and good people who want nothing more than to provide a good living and a safe place for their families, people who would reach out to each other and give the shirts off their backs and their lives if need be for those around them.
But Congress is full of some of the most repugnant individuals I have ever encountered in my life, and I’m counting people like George Wallace, Richard Nixon, Strom Thurmond, Spiro Agnew, and Joseph McCarthy in that assessment. Our nation has a deep-seated illness, and these people are the symptoms. The illness was born of 50 years (at least) of Republican gaslighting and disinformation, designed to marginalize people of color, Democrats, and anyone they considered “other.”
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman told Harper’s writer Dan Baum for the April cover story published Tuesday.
“You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Harper’s Magazine, April 2016 “Legalize It All“
This quote was backed up five years later by another Nixon aide:
“[President Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”
–H. R. Haldeman (quoted in Christian Parenti’s, Lockdown America, p. 3. Unsourced quote.
People of good conscience cannot allow this madness in our government to continue. We need to elect more people like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, young, fiery progressives who have the courage to stand up to the exclusionary, white, evangelical, xenophobia of people like Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, MTG and Lauren Boebert. These people are those of whom John the Apostle wrote, “Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”
We need Medicare for All. We need election reform (H.R. 1). We need corporate reform (repealing Citizens United). We need equality of economic opportunities and the elimination of such great financial inequality in society. We need so many things to heal the illness that festers at the heart of our nation.
We could learn from other nations… if we were willing to listen. It seems that’s what a “hearing” is supposed to be about.
The following text is from a Twitter thread written by Michael Grunwald (@MichaelGrunwald), and I thought it was important enough to share here in a more readable format. I originally saw it posted on Imgur and then a friend of mine on Facebook shared the same link with me. If something shows up a few times in succession in my life, I take it as a sign that it’s worth looking at, and this one definitely is.
I went to an obscure hearing today in the Danish Parliament. It blew my mind, not because of the substance, but because the US Congress has totally warped my view of hearings. And I’m just dorky enough to do a thread about it.
First of all, there was a dais in the hearing room, just like any congressional hearing, except the politicians weren’t on the dais. The six experts who were testifying were on the dais. Can you imagine? As if the hearing was about them and not the politicians?
The politicians were sitting in the front row of the audience. They all stayed in their seats for the entire hearing. And do you know what they did? They listened! I was in the second row and I didn’t see any of them look at a phone or talk to an aide at any time.
Actually, there was one politician on stage, the committee chair. She welcomed everyone, told the witnesses they would each have 10 minutes, then didn’t say anything until one witness asked for an extra minute. She said no. I swooned. ❤
Oh, did I mention this obscure hearing was simultaneously translated into English? They gave me cool high-tech headphones. I think everyone else in the audience spoke Danish but they take this stuff seriously.
Anyway, when the witnesses were done the politicians got their turn to speak. And none of them made speeches! They asked questions! Not leading questions designed to make a point. Thoughtful questions designed to get information!
This part really got me: The pols had to ask all their questions first, which took maybe 5 minutes, and then all the witnesses got to answer all of them, which took 20 minutes. The experts did the talking and the pols did the hearing. Is that how these things got their name?
I couldn’t tell which pols were in which party or what biases any of them had about the topic being discussed. It really seemed like they were there to learn. And by the end it was clear they had.
This thread is really about process, not substance, but I will say the topic was related to climate change, and everyone there took it seriously. One legislator told me only 4 or 5 of her 178 colleagues are deniers.
Anyway, the weirdest thing about this mostly banal experience was how weird it seemed. The lack of speechifying, grandstanding, partisanship or fake umbrage. How seriously they all took their responsibilities. The absence of bullshit.
In conclusion, we suck. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded how much we suck, and how it’s possible to suck less.
A Twitter thread by @MikeGrundwald.
I agree with every single word of this mini-essay, but I would like to add a bit of my own additional perspective on Mr. Grunwald’s conclusion.
As a nation, we don’t suck. Despite the fact that over the last 50 years or so we have lost our way in some areas and owe it to ourselves and to our global neighbors to improve¹, there are a lot of things that America has gotten right since its inception.
Our Constitution is unmatched in the history of the world. In 1835, French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville toured America with a view to seeing if our democracy was worth of emulation by the French. In his book Democracy in America, he declared that our Constitution was “the most perfect federal constitution that ever existed,” but also warned that it would be “profitless in other hands.” In other words, the guarantees and protections and checks and balances written into our Constitution only work if the people desire democracy; any piece of parchment can be trodden down by the feet of a lawless mob.
We are still a welcoming nation. The growing xenophobic right-wing movement in our country still accounts for a minority of our population, and most people understand that America has always been a nation of immigrants. It is the exquisite blending and adapting of countless cultures that makes the United States a vibrant, thriving place.
The citizens of our country are, in the grand scheme of things, a very giving people. In many parts of the country – even those who tend to be politically conservative – people will reach out to neighbors and even strangers and literally give them the shirt off their backs. As the song Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival says, “If you come down to the river, Bet you gonna find some people who live; You don’t have to worry cause you have no money, People on the river are happy to give.”
Bagels. Blueberries. Hot dogs. Pizza. Jazz. Lobster rolls. NASA. Our National parks. Rolling plains and prairies, purple mountain majesties, redwood forests, beaches, fireflies, public libraries, road trips (at least, when there’s not a pandemic going on), Jewish deli sandwiches, Hollywood, Broadway, musea, and countless other things that make me grateful to be a citizen of this nation.
The Old Wolf has spoken.
¹ The things that need work in our country (areas in which we do suck) are also many, but they are subjects for other discussions. In the meantime, this is something good to remember as we contemplate ways to make our country better:
For the first time in over five years, I awoke this morning without a crushing sense of dread to read the news and find out what indignities our former administration had inflicted upon our country and upon the world. It was a literal sense of physical relief, and I still revel in it as I write this.
Over the last half-decade, political cartoonists have had a literal heyday. Never in my life has there been a president or an administration that was more thoroughly or more deservedly pilloried. If anyone wanted to anthologize all the cartoons that were done about the Orange Screechweasel and his abortive presidency, I suspect it would look like this (Volume 1): ¹
I collected a few of these over the years, more as a pressure valve than anything else and to reassure myself that it was not just me that felt these things, but I think the one that impacted me the most was this one that appeared on the morning after the 2016 election:
The eyes said it all. And although Mr. Rowe caught a lot of flak from American Trump Cultists among others, here on the morning of January 21, 2021, when the White House is occupied by President Joseph Biden, Jr., and Vice-President Kamala Harris, and a fresh, clean breeze of hope is blowing over our nation for the first time in far too long, it becomes clear that – as the saying goes – we had no idea. Mr. Rowe’s cartoon was spot-on, but dramatically understated. The horror would be far worse than anything any of us could have imagined.
There are a handful of online comics that I follow, less than a dozen and far fewer than in days past (I was always a fan of the daily funnies from my earliest days of reading The Herald Tribune in New York City), and one of the is “The New Adventures of Queen Victoria” by Pab Sungenis. The writer’s political satire has always been a favorite of mine, but the last two days of his strip pretty much say it all:
We survived. Sadly, some 400,000 of us did not – and counting – and while not all of those deaths from the Novel Coronavirus could have been avoided, a significant percentage could have been had there been functioning adults in the White House.
Well, now there are. And while no administration of either party is perfect, I feel more hope for the future now than even I did with the election of Barack Obama, whose campaign slogan was Hope and Change. He began the trend, and with this unwanted and hideous interlude behind us, I look forward to the reparation of as much damage as possible and forward motion to a nation that works for all of us, with no one left out, and a nation that can re-assume its position at the global table as a functioning, adult equal.
The inauguration yesterday morning was breathtaking in its honesty, in its beauty, and in its hopefulness. I literally wept tears of joy and release as I listened to the speeches, the poetry, and the music. It was exhilarating and cathartic.
May the 46th Administration of our great but suffering nation bring healing and progress. May we undertake effective new steps to protect our populace from the depredations of the current pandemics, one of a new and relatively unknown virus, and a second of ignorance and brainwashing by 50 years of spite and disinformation.
Our nation awakens to a fresh, new morning of hope. May we see that hope fulfilled more abundantly than our previous fears were.
The Old Wolf has spoken.
¹ Not to mention all the wonderful video parodies by people such as Randy Rainbow, late-night segments by John Oliver and Stephen Colbert and so many like them, and serious critical essays by the likes of John Pavlovitz, Heather Cox Richardson, Dan Rather, Jim Wright, and countless others. Just had to add this because they shouldn’t be forgotten.
Joseph Biden, Jr. won our latest presidential election, the most secure in our history. It’s a confirmed fact.
The idiot currently in the White House, in my lifetime’s greatest display of pettiness, infantile spite, and breathtaking narcissism, has continually refused to honor our nation’s traditions and concede his spectacular loss – both in the popular vote and the electoral college – and continues to claim that he won the election by “a lot,” that millions of votes were cast illegally by democrats and dead people, and that the election should be overturned in his favor. Legal scholars could debate this for a lifetime, but from where I sit this is not just arrogance and megalomania, it’s an attack on American institutions and the Constitution, and hence rises to the definition of treason.
But that’s not unexpected from this incompetent, unqualified clown. In fact, given the daily outflow of lies, conspiracy theories, misrepresentations, insults, and heart-stopping displays of abject stupidity seen on this con-man’s Twitter feed, it’s exactly what many people predicted would happen. So it’s not exactly astonishing.
What is astonishing is the number of people in positions of power and influence – almost exclusively Republicans – who have hitched their wagon to this pathetic, dying star and are supporting both the man and his insane attempt to stay in a position of power that he has for too long disgraced and abused.
They have filed lawsuit after lawsuit on his behalf, the vast majority of which – over 59 as of December 13th and counting, according to a running tally on Twitter – they have definitively lost in front of judges and courts, many of which were appointed by the Buffoon-in-Chief himself. Their claims have been absurd and frivolous, and all of them (except one or two about minor procedural matters) have been appropriately dismissed by these jurists and indeed, by the Supreme Court.
“that the Court give Pence the “Exclusive Authority” to decide which Electoral College votes to count and which ones to ignore during the upcoming congressional session on January 6th when the House certifies the election. The lawsuit LITERALLY demands that Pence be given the exclusive authority to decide the election.”
Breathtaking doesn’t cover it. Heart-stopping doesn’t cover it. Mind-raping doesn’t cover it. The abject stupidity and un-Americanism of all these attempts to overturn a United States presidential election, not only by juridical means but also by loudly and repeatedly trumpeting the lie that the election was stolen by Democrats, is absolutely impossible for me to fathom. In the words of a certain segment of a previous generation, “I just can’t even.”
And the saddest part of it all is that I don’t see any consequences forthcoming for this army of sycophants and followers of our modern-day caudillo¹, all of whom have disgraced themselves in the eyes of the world and of history. Certainly, on January 20th The Thermonuclear Bowel Evacuation Currently Disgracing the Oval Office will either walk out of the White House (or be frogmarched out by the Secret Service, which I have to admit would be a more satisfying spectacle), and fade into obscurity to become an ignominious footnote in history, along with the rest of his corrupt clan and hangers-on.
That’s an indisputable consequence. And it pleases me to think that despite any executive pardons either already issued or forthcoming, many states are lined up at the starting gate with indictments and subpœnas in hand, waiting to delve into the personal and political corruption that has been on public display for the last four years. But for many of the people who have foolishly attached their names to lawsuits, or signed on as friends of the court, or done anything to try to subvert a constitutionally-conducted election, I fear that our nation is simply too complex, and the issues facing us at the present time – not the least of which is the Covid pandemic – are so pressing that things will simply return to business as usual and there will be neither punishments nor repercussions.
And there should be. There must be. From the Republican Senate’s refusal to hear evidence or witnesses during the impeachment trial, issuing a verdict based on political ideology rather than facts, to the current insanity of a disputed election, there must be consequences or our nation’s political process will remain forever tainted. Every senator who stated – in advance! – that they would not be an impartial jurist during the impeachment trial; every senator or congressperson who joined lawsuits to try to keep a drooling cretin in power for four more years despite the will of the American people – should not be seated in January or should be immediatly recalled. They have disgraced themselves, disgraced their legislative bodies, and disgraced the Constitution of the United States. If they are attorneys themselves, as so many of them are, local or national bar associations should sanction or disbar them. What they have done and continue to do is virtually inexcusable.
That’s what I demand, as a citizen of a once-great nation which has been made decidedly less great by a harlequin in a red hat. I hold out a faint glimmer of hope that in some cases, elected officials will be voted out during their next run for office, and retire in disgrace. I hope against hope that there will be legal consequences for some of them. But whether or not these things happen, I am content to have said my piece to the world. To my children and grandchildren and whatever posterity I am blessed with, know that I stood against this raging tide of folly, I voted my conscience, and did what I could to end the madness.
The Old Wolf has spoken.
¹ If you’re not familiar with the term,
“Historian John Lynch states that “Before 1810 the caudillo was unknown. … The caudillo entered history as a local hero whom larger events promoted to a military chieftain.” He gained in power by his success as a military leader. In a rural area that lacked any institutions of the state, and where the environment was one of violence and anarchy, a caudillo could impose order, often by using violence himself to achieve it. His local control as a strongman needed to be maintained by assuring the loyalty of his followers, so his bestowing material rewards reinforced his own position. Caudillos could also maintain their position by protecting the interests of regional elites. A local strongman who built a regional base could aspire to becoming a national caudillo, taking control of the state. In this situation, caudillos could bestow patronage on a large retinue of clients, who in turn gave him their loyalty. In general, caudillos’ power benefited elites. But these strongmen were also mediators between elites and the popular classes, recruiting them into the power base, but also restraining them from achieving power themselves.” (Wikipedia)
Recently the Washington Post conducted a survey of every Republican member of congress, asking who they thought won the recent election and if they would support the winner. The results are below:
Of the individuals surveyed, 27 correctly stated that Joe Biden was the winner (with 306 electoral votes, of which over 270 have been officially certified as of this date, and over 7 million more votes in the popular vote count.) Many of those in this category declined to respond directly to the survey, but their positions have been made clear in other public statements.
Two (Mo Brooks of Alabama and Paul Gosar of Arizona) stated flat out – and incorrectly – that Trump won the election, because it was fraudulently conducted.
The remaining 220 legislators refused to comment one way or another.
Now it is unheard of in my lifetime and longer that the results of a democratically-conducted election should be disputed in this way. Election night happens; one individual wins; the other individual concedes; and an administration continues or there is an orderly transition of power. That’s the way our system has worked for as long as I’ve been alive.
So why are things different now?
Because one man, with an ego the size of Jupiter and living in an artificial reality refuses to believe that there is a world where he could lose at anything.
Long before the election was held, the incumbent was telling people right and left, day and night, “If I lose this election, it was rigged.” Mail-in and absentee balloting has been a part of our electoral system; per the History Channel, “Voting by mail can trace its roots to soldiers voting far from home during the Civil War and World War II.” But in the mind of this pathetic, infantile clown, mail-in ballots are simply a channel for millions of people to vote illegally: the dead, illegal immigrants, people of color (their votes don’t really count because they’re not really Americans), and (gasp!) Democrats and Liberals. He even installed a Postmaster, a Republican party fundraiser, to make sure that the mechanism for delivering absentee ballots was crippled, so that it would be easy to claim (as Trump did) that any ballots received after election day were invalid. This, however, is simply untrue; states decide how to deal with absentee ballots, and many allow them, particularly if they were postmarked before the actual election.
Trump hammered on these lies again and again. Lies that have no basis in fact, no basis in history, and no basis in the results. The fact that he did so is a thundering disgrace. And he lost, soundly.
But 222 Republican legislators either believed the lies, or – despite seeing the writing on the wall about what had been happening to our government over the last 4 years – were unwilling to step up and accept the results of the election for fear of losing their power and their position. And this is equally disgraceful, and in my mind it approaches the standard of sedition and treason.
The president himself will be going back to the business world after January 20; that’s a foregone conclusion, although in his mind he still thinks he won and that somehow, there’s going to be a Hail Mary play in Congress or the Supreme Court that will reverse the clear results shouted by the American people. Ain’t gonna happen. And many of the 222 who bought in to his fantasy are businessmen themselves.
If there were any fairness in the world, no one would get involved with these people ever again. Trump, or his sycophantic, spineless enablers. People of good conscience would say to them, “No, thank you. I have no desire to do business with someone who has demonstrated a total disregard for the history and traditions of our nation. I have no desire to do business with someone who has no honor. I have no desire to do business with someone who is guaranteed to stiff me.
Sadly, as everyone knows, there are many people in the world who are not of good conscience. Personal interests and the desire for gain take precedence in their lives, and in the years to come we will see many who are more than happy to conduct transactions with the ex-president (at their peril!) or with other GOP members of Congress who have shown that lies and fantasy are more profitable than principles or good governance. But Americans who believe in honor will take note, and it is my hope that they will speak at the ballot box at the next possible opportunity and replace these people with others who can see past the duplicity and corruption.
In 2016 when 45 won the election, one of my overseas friends posted on my wall that the most delicious thing he had ever tasted were the liberal tears. That saddened me deeply, but it essentially reflected the attitude of 45’s supporters over the last four years. Everything about the GOP has been focused on making liberals sad or angry, whether it was good governance or not.
Now the pendulum has swung the other way. The small, petty part of me that festers in darkness wants to post snarky comments on the Facebook walls of everyone who smugly told me that 45 was going to win by a landslide, but that would be emulating the morally bankrupt, tinsel-coated con-man who will soon fade into the mists of ignominy.
I don’t want conservative tears. For the duration of this administration, many Republicans have been shoving their middle fingers in the faces of Democrats, chanting “He won, get over it.” It’s time for them to take their own advice. For eight years, Mitch McConnell did everything he could to stymie and block any legislation proposed by President Obama; it’s time for that to end. America deserves better, and if Republicans want to spend the next four years making sure that no progressive legislation is even considered, let alone passed, they will be obstructing themselves into irrelevance.
I don’t want conservative tears, I want conservative coöperation for the benefit of all of us. I want people to be able to reach across the aisle and craft legislation important to Americans the way Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch did in 1997 to provide healthcare for half of America’s 10 million uninsured children. We need this, and we deserve it.
I don’t want conservative tears. The simple fact that Joseph Biden will be president doesn’t mean that conservative values are suddenly irrelevant; it doesn’t mean that liberals all of a sudden will come for your guns, make you all have abortions, close your churches, put everyone on welfare, open our borders to every conceivable immigrant or make your children change their gender. It does mean that – as ever it has been – America consists of people with similar hopes and dreams for themselves and their families but different viewpoints about how to get there. I want to see us make America a nation (and by extension, the world) a place that works for everyone, with no one left out.
If you truly believe that certain segments of our population don’t deserve to prosper, don’t deserve to be healthy, don’t deserve equal opportunities, don’t deserve to feel safe from abuse or oppression, don’t deserve a living wage, or don’t deserve to be happy… by all means, shed as many tears as you want. There is no room in the America I believe in for viewpoints that oppress, diminish, or sideline others just to keep others feeling good about themselves. But it is my hope that you will come to see that conservatism does not mean Trumpism or authoritarianism or fascism or brutal oppression of differing viewpoints or lifestyles, and conversely that being a liberal does not equate to Soviet-style socialism or a communist ideology.
What Americans of all stripes want is jobs to support their families; safety in their neighborhoods; and national security. That’s really about all that’s important. The freedoms that so many people are screaming will be taken away by this party or that are guaranteed in the Constitution – freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, freedom of religion (or from religion), and even the freedom to bear arms. That document is so frightfully difficult to amend, by design, that it’s unlikely those freedoms will ever be abridged regardless of who is in power. If they are, then the great experiment wrought by our founders will truly have failed.
Let us work together. This election was legitimate, despite the hateful lies spewing forth from the White House. There was no cheating. There were no dead people voting. Mail-in balloting is not rife for fraud. It just happened that more people voted for the Democratic ticket this time.
Now, to my Republican friends and family, I say this: If you want to see another Republican in the White House in 2025, put forth a candidate of good character, one who can represent all Americans even if they don’t happen to agree with everything (s)he believes in. Craft a platform that shows all Americans that you care about their welfare. Campaign on achievable goals that will raise the standard of living and the quality of life of all Americans… and you will stand an equal chance of winning. Not by voter suppression, not by gerrymandering, not by hateful lies and smear campaigns, but by virtue of honesty, dignity, and human decency. But please don’t ever again nominate an evil clown like the one we’ve all had to suffer with for the last four years.
I have recently seen claims that Democrats support “abortion on demand up to the point of birth – and beyond – in some states.” This is a complete falsehood; not just a dogwhistle but a foghorn. Democrats do not believe in infanticide. Doctors do not believe in infanticide. People like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are simply lying when they claim otherwise.
Joseph Biden believes that Roe v Wade is the law of the land and supports it, feeling – just as Hillary Clinton does – that “abortion should remain legal, but it needs to be safe and rare,” but he has never said that he supports elective, late-term abortions unless a pregnancy has gone catastrophically wrong. This is another gross Republican misrepresentation.
It is important to understand that Donald Trump is not pro-life. He simply echoes the views of his evangelical supporters, the part of his base that he can most easily manipulate because of this single issue. And they themselves are not pro-life, they are only pro-birth, without any regard for surrounding circumstances.
If the GOP were pro-life, they would be providing increased government support to Planned Parenthood, which prevents far more abortions on an annual basis by providing family planning services than they ever facilitate.
“Roughly half of the more than six million pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended. And many of them are to young mothers: according to the Guttmacher Institute, the rate of unintended pregnancies among sexually active teens is double that of all women. Despite opponent’s claims, the vast majority of Planned Parenthood’s work is devoted to the organization’s more central goal—helping people avoid unwanted pregnancy altogether.”
(Michael Specter, the New Yorker)
If the GOP were pro-life, they would all be wearing masks and supporting a national, comprehensive plan to fight the pandemic instead of being “maskdebaters,” waving Confederate flags and screaming about “muh freedom!”
If the GOP were pro-life they would be marching in the streets protesting the horrible conditions immigrant families are subjected to, in cages, their children cruelly torn from them (and Stephen Miller has said out loud that cruelty was the point).
If the GOP were pro-life they would be immediately voting for Medicare for All instead of trying to take healthcare away from millions of Americans and dismantle the ACA – a plan they hate only because it was put in place by a “black, socialist president”, the thought of which still galls them – and maintain a status quo that favors profit and “maximizing shareholder value” over health and well-being.
If the GOP were pro-life they would be enacting reasonable gun-sensibility laws like banning the insane high-power, high-capacity rifles and other weapons that no one needs to hunt deer, supporting universal background checks for every gun sale public or private, and treating guns and gun owners with exactly the same kinds of regulations required to own and operate a car (which, it may be noted, almost everyone does regularly and abundantly, mostly without complaining about the “draconian government control” of education, licensing, inspection, insurance, registration and taxation that are part of that privilege.)
If the GOP were pro-life, they would immediately get us back into the Paris accords and work as a global leader with the rest of the world to control anthropogenic climate change. The National Bureau of Economic Research predicts that if climate change is left unchanged, higher temperatures could lead to 85 deaths per 100,000 people globally per year by 2100. Calculating from today, that comes to a half-billion lives lost. That’s not pro-life in anyone’s book.
No, the GOP and by extension Donald Trump – who has no other values than his bank account and his galactic ego – are not “pro-life.” They only use this term to court the evangelical right and make sure that their political opponents are demonized for being “baby killers.”
You may believe – as I do, parenthetically – that all life belongs to God and should be treated sacredly. I don’t fault you for this belief. But a huge percentage of our nation doesn’t share your values, and decisions of government should never be based on religion, as enshrined in the First Amendment.
A real pro-life stance is far more complicated than that.
I just saw something come across my newsfeed about the “Great Barrington Declaration,” a document which essentially recommends against any Covid-19 protections, like social distancing and wearing masks, and promotes the development of herd immunity by exposing less-vulnerable people through living normal lives.
But consider this, from Wikipedia (emphasis mine.)
The World Health Organization and numerous academic and public-health bodies have stated that the proposed strategy is dangerous, unethical, and lacks a sound scientific basis.
They say that it would be impossible to shield all those who are medically vulnerable, leading to a large number of avoidable deaths among both older people and younger people with underlying health conditions, and they warn that the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still not fully understood. Moreover, they say that the herd immunity component of the proposed strategy is undermined by the limited duration of post-infection immunity. The more likely outcome, they say, would be recurrent epidemics, as was the case with numerous infectious diseases before the advent of vaccination. The American Public Health Association and 13 other public-health groups in the United States warned in a joint open letter that the Great Barrington Declaration “is not a strategy, it is a political statement. It ignores sound public health expertise. It preys on a frustrated populace. Instead of selling false hope that will predictably backfire, we must focus on how to manage this pandemic in a safe, responsible, and equitable way.”
The Great Barrington Declaration was authored by Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University.
The costs were paid for by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank that is part of a Koch-funded network of organizations associated with climate change denial.
These social inconveniences – and that’s what they are, not oppressive, draconian measures – are admittedly not fun. It is a pain not to see people’s smiling faces. It is difficult to not go places we want to go, see people we want to see, travel to other cities or countries, gather in restaurants and bars for fun and celebrations, enjoy blockbuster movies in theaters, see Broadway plays, be at the side of loved ones who are going through difficult times, attend weddings and Bat Mitzvahs and funerals and Christmas parties and all the things we used to take for granted. Yes, it’s a massive pain in the tuchus.
But it’s the only way we will continue to fight the spread of this very evil, very nasty virus that kills across all spectra and leaves countless others with reduced quality of life forever, until the healthcare researchers can understand this virus and develop effective treatments and viable vaccines.
If you have never worn a mask in public because you think the government is oppressing you, or that the liberal left is promulgating a hoax, and you’re exercising your rights as a free American, or something else equally inane, you’re not a patriot. You’re an asshole. You may be maiming or killing people. And you need to go home and re-examine your life.
This restaurant in Las Vegas has the right idea:
The supposed “FTBA Mask Exemption Cards” are bogus and carry no legal or social weight of authority. If someone gives you one of them, give them back one of these:
For the love of all that’s holy; for the sake of decency and caring about your own health and that of your fellow humans around you, wear a mask and practice social distancing until this pandemic is under control and treatments and vaccines are available.
Yesterday the White House issued a proclamation on Columbus Day, purportedly from the *president.
First of all, let’s be honest: The Thermonuclear Bowel Evacuation Currently Disgracing the Oval Office had virtually nothing to do with this proclamation.
Columbus Day is not even on his radar, because it makes him no money.
It’s full of vocabulary that is only taught after the third grade, which means there’s no way the Orange Screechweasel could have penned it. It was doubtless written by one of his sycophantic staff, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it had been penned by Stephen Miller, it’s so full of jingoistic, nationalist rhetoric.
One paragraph is especially egregious:
Sadly, in recent years, radical activists have sought to undermine Christopher Columbus’s legacy. These extremists seek to replace discussion of his vast contributions with talk of failings, his discoveries with atrocities, and his achievements with transgressions. Rather than learn from our history, this radical ideology and its adherents seek to revise it, deprive it of any splendor, and mark it as inherently sinister. They seek to squash any dissent from their orthodoxy. We must not give in to these tactics or consent to such a bleak view of our history. We must teach future generations about our storied heritage, starting with the protection of monuments to our intrepid heroes like Columbus.
Instead of providing inspiring national leadership, 45’s *administration can never resist an opportunity to demonize his political opponents in particular and liberals in general. Fortunately, there are people like Justin P. Cowan, Associate Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts at Western Connecticut State University. He took the “red pen of rational thought” to this paragraph and crafted something far more reasonable.
The edited version is a much more satisfying read:
“Thankfully, in recent years, thoughtful citizens have sought to contextualize Christopher Columbus’s legacy. These mindful people seek to broaden discussion of his vast contributions by recognizing his failings, evaluating his discoveries alongside his atrocities, and acknowledging his achievements while not overlooking his transgressions. Rather than ignore our history, this centrist ideology and its adherents seek to engage with it, recognize its splendor, while not overlooking its sinister acts. They seek to cultivate a generation of thinkers and intellectuals. We must celebrate these tactics and consent to a more well-rounded, representative, and factual view of our history. We must teach future generations about our storied heritage, starting with the relocation of monuments to our problematic heroes like Columbus to museums where both their achievements and inherent flaws can be equally evaluated.”
I appreciated Dr. Cowan’s re-imagining of what a proclamation from a normal, human president might look like. It admits of Columbus’s significant contributions while at the same time refusing to whitewash the severe consequences of his journeys. Although Dr. Cowan is not a historian by profession, Dr. Heather Cox Richardson is, and in her “Letters from an American” she states,
For all of Trump’s attention to patriotic education, his proclamation is quite bad history. Aside from its whitewashing of the effects of Columbus’s voyage of “discovery,” the proclamation misrepresents the original point of Columbus Day, which had a lot more to do with putting down white supremacy than celebrating the “enduring significance” of Columbus in opening “a new chapter in world history.”
Her complete essay about the proclamation and other events of the day is definitely worth a read.
Don’t get the idea that I’m jumping on the “Hate Columbus” bandwagon with these thoughts. Half of my blood comes from Italy, and I respect and love that heritage. Columbus is part of the reason that I get to live under the Constitution of this nation, for which I am immensely grateful. But as Dr. Richardson went on to explain,
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt officially instituted Columbus Day in 1934, but the idea for the holiday rose in the 1920s, when the Knights of Columbus tried to undercut the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan by emphasizing the role minorities had played in America. In the early 1920s, the organization published three books in a “Knights of Columbus Racial Contributions” series, including The Gift of Black Folk, by W. E. B. Du Bois. They celebrated the contributions of immigrants, especially Catholic immigrants, to America with parades honoring Christopher Columbus. The Knights of Columbus were determined to reinforce the idea that America must not be a land of white Protestant supremacy.
As an aside, these are things I never knew; I certainly wasn’t taught these facts in school. History must of necessity take all factors into account if it is to be a valid basis for national introspection and growth. We can’t look just at the good, or just at the bad.
I’m grateful for the positive results of the voyages of Cristoforo Colombo, but I’m mindful of the atrocities that were perpetrated along the way. The best thing humanity can do to atone for the destruction of the Taino and Carib populations is to take a good hard look at the realities of the Spanish conquest of the Americas and vow to treat all people with equality, dignity, and respect in the future. As a race of people, we’ll never make it to the stars if we can’t stop rolling in the mud.
Watch this video (Begin at the 3:00) mark. Listen to Joe Biden’s words. If you don’t have time to watch, read the transcript below.
While not as heart-pumping as Bill Pullman’s “we will not go quietly into the night” speech from Independence Day, this one is the real thing, addressing real issues and real dangers that we as a nation face. I don’t care if you’re liberal or conservative – this is the kind of president we need right now. Issues and concerns can be debated, positions can be put forward, compromises can be made, once people of good will – not obstructive, power-hungry ideologues – are in charge of leading us.
“Thank you all for being here. Thank you. I appreciate you being here on this gorgeous day in a magnificent, magnificent setting, until you think about all the lives that were lost here. Y’all please, all have a seat.
On July 4th, 1863, American woke to the remains of perhaps the most consequential battle in American soil. It took place here on this ground in Gettysburg; three days of violence, three days of carnage, 50,000 casualties, wounded, captured, missing, or dead, over three days of fighting. When the sun rose on that Independence Day, Lee would retreat. The war would go on for nearly two more years, but the back of the Confederacy had been broken. The Union would be saved. Slavery would be abolished, government of by and for the people would not perish from the earth, and freedom would be born anew in our land.
There’s no more fitting place than here today in Gettysburg, to talk about the cost of division. About how much it has cost America in the past, about how much it is costing us now, and about why I believe in this moment, we must come together as a nation. For President Lincoln, the Civil War was about the greatest of causes. The end of slavery, widening equality, pursuit of justice, the creation of opportunity, and the sanctity of freedom.
His words would live ever after. We hear them in our heads. We know them in our hearts. We draw on them when we seek hope in hours of darkness; “Four score, and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Here on this sacred ground, Abraham Lincoln, re-imagined America itself. Here, a president of the United States spoke of the price of division, and the meaning of sacrifice.
He believed in the rescue, redemption, and rededication of the union. All this in a time, not just of ferocious division, but of widespread death, structural inequity, and fear of the future. And he taught us this, a house divided could not stand. That is a great and timeless truth. Today, once again, we are a house divided, but that my friends can no longer be. We’re facing too many crises. We have too much work to do. We have to bright a future to have it shipwrecked on the Shoals of anger and hate, and division.
As we stand here today, a century and a half later after Gettysburg, we should consider again, what can happen when equal justice is denied, when anger and violence and division are left unchecked. As I look across America today, I’m concerned. The country is in a dangerous place. Our trust in each other is ebbing. Hope seems elusive. Too many Americans see our public life, not as an arena for mediation of our differences, but rather they see it as an occasion for total, unrelenting, partisan warfare.
Instead of treating each other’s party as the opposition, we treat them as the enemy. This must end. We need to revive the spirit of bipartisanship in this country. A spirit of being able to work with one another. When I say that, and I’ve been saying it for two years now, I’m accused of being naive. I’m told, “Maybe that’s the way things used to work, Joe, but they can’t work that way anymore.” Well, I’m here to tell you they can, and they must if we’re going to get anything done.
I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president. I’ll work with Democrats and Republicans. I’ll work as hard for those who don’t support me, as those who do. That’s the job of a president; the duty to care for everyone. Refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. It’s a decision. It’s a choice we make.
And if we can decide not to cooperate, we can decide to cooperate as well. That’s the choice I’ll make as president. But there’s something bigger going on in this nation than just our broken politics. Something darker, something more dangerous. I’m not talking about ordinary differences of opinion, competing viewpoints give life and vibrancy to our democracy. No, I’m talking about something different, something deeper. Too many Americans seek not to overcome our divisions, but to deepen them, we must seek not to build walls, but bridges. We must seek not to have our fist clenched, but our arms open. We have to seek not to tear each other apart, we seek to come together. You don’t have to agree with me on everything, or even on most things, to see that we’re experiencing today is neither good nor normal.
I made the decision to run for president after Charlottesville. Close your eyes, and remember what you saw. Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK coming out of the fields with torches light, veins bulging, chanting the same anti-Semitic bile herd across Europe in the ’30s. It was hate on the march, in the open, in America. Hate never goes away, it only hides. And when it’s given oxygen, when it’s given an opportunity to spread, when it’s treated as normal and acceptable behavior, we’ve opened a door in this country that we must move quickly to close. As president, that’s just what I will do. I will send a clear unequivocal message to the entire nation, there is no place for hate in America.
It will be given no license. It will be given no oxygen. It’ll be given no safe harbor. In recent weeks and months, the country has been riled by instances of excessive police force, heart-wrenching cases of racial injustice and lives needlessly and senselessly lost, by peaceful protesters, given voice to the calls for justice, by examples of violence and looting and burning that can not be tolerated. I believe in law and order, I’ve never supported defunding the police.
But I also believe injustice is real. It’s a product of a history that goes back 400 years, the moment when black men, women, and children first were brought here in chains. I do not believe we have to choose between law and order, and racial justice in America. We can have both. This is the nation strong enough to both honestly face systemic racism and strong enough to provide safe streets for our families and small businesses. The two often bear the brunt of this looting and burning.
We have no need for armed militias roaming America’s streets, and we should have no tolerance for extremist white supremacy groups, menacing our communities. If you say, “We should trust America’s law enforcement authorities to do the job,” as I do, then let them do their job without extremist groups acting as vigilantes. If you say, “We have no need to face racial injustice in the country,” you haven’t opened your eyes to the truth in America.
There’ve been powerful voices for justice in recent weeks and months, George Floyd’s, six year old daughter, who I met with, who looked at me and said in her small child’s voice, “Daddy changed the world.” Also, Jacob Blake’s mother was another. When she said, “Violence didn’t reflect her son and this nation needed healing.” And Doc Rivers, the basketball coach, choking back tears when he said, “We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’ve been hung. It’s amazing why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back.”
I think about that. I think about what it takes for a black person to love America. That is a deep love for this country. That has for far too long, never been recognized. What we need in America’s leadership that seeks to deescalate tensions, to open lines of communications, to bring us together, to heal, to hope. As president, that’s precisely what I will do. We paid a high price for allowing the deep divisions in this country to impact on how we deal with the Coronavirus. 210,000 Americans dead, and the number’s climbing. It’s estimated that nearly another 210,000 Americans could lose their lives by the end of the year; enough, no more. Let’s just set partisanship aside, let’s end the politics and follow the science.
Wearing a mask… wearing a mask is not a political statement. It’s a scientific recommendation. Social distancing isn’t a political statement. It’s a scientific recommendation. Testing, tracing, the development and all approval and distribution of a vaccine, isn’t a political statement. It is a science-based decision. We can’t undo what has been done. We can’t go back. We can do so much better. We can do better starting today. We can have a national strategy that puts politics aside and saves lives.
We can have a national strategy that will make it possible for our schools and business to open safely. We can have a national strategy that reflects the true values of this nation. This pandemic is not a red state or blue state issue. This virus doesn’t care whether you live, or where you live, what political party you belong to, it affects us all. It will take anyone’s life. It’s a virus. It’s not a political weapon.
There’s another enduring division in America that we must end, the division in our economic life. That gives opportunity only to the privileged few. America has to be about mobility. It has to be the kind of country where an Abraham Lincoln, a child of the distant frontier, can rise to the highest office in the land. America has to be about possibilities.
The possibility of prosperity, not just for the privileged few, but for the many, for all of us. Working people on their kids deserve an opportunity. Lincoln knew this. He said that the country had to give people, and I quote, “An open field and a fair chance. An open field and a fair chance.” That’s what we’re going to do in America. We’re going to build together. We fought a civil war that would secure a union that would seek to fulfill the promise of equality for all.
And by fits and starts, our better angels had prevailed again, just enough, just enough against our worst impulses to make a new and better nation. And those better angels can prevail again, now. They must prevail again, now. 100 years after Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg, the vice president, Lyndon B Johnson also came here, and here’s what he said.
He said, “Our nation founded soul and honor in these fields of Gettysburg, we must not lose that soul in dishonor, now, on the fields of hate.” Today, we’re engaged, once again, in the battle for the soul of the nation, the forces of darkness, the forces of division, the forces of yesterday are pulling us apart, holding us down and holding us back. We must free ourselves of all of them. As president, I will embrace hope, not fear. Peace, not violence. Generosity, not greed. And light, not darkness. I’ll be a president who appeals to the best in us, not the worst.
I’ll be a president who pushes toward the future, not one who clings to the past. I’m ready to fight for you and for our nation every day, without exception, without reservation, with a full and devoted heart. We cannot, and will not, allow extremest and white supremacist to overturn the America of Lincoln and Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglas, to overturn the America that has welcomed immigrants from distant shores, to overturn the America that has been a Haven and a home for everyone, no matter their background.
From Seneca falls to Selma, to Stonewall we’re at our best when the promise of America is available to all, we cannot, and we will not allow violence in the street to threaten the people of this nation. We cannot and will not walk away from our obligation to at long last, face the wrecking on race and racial justice in this country. We cannot and will not continue to be struck in the partisan politics that lets us, this virus, thrive, while the public health of this nation suffers.
We cannot and will not accept an economic equation that only favors those who have already got it made; everybody deserves a shot at prosperity. Folks, duty and history call presidents to provide for the common good, and I will. It won’t be easy. Won’t be easy. Our divisions today are long standing, economic and racial inequities have shaped us for generations, but I give you my word. I give you my word. If I’m elected president, I will Marshall the ingenuity and Goodwill of this nation to turn division into unity and bring us together because I think people are looking for that. We can disagree about how as we move forward, we must take the first steps. It starts with how we treat one another. How we talk to one another. How we respect one another.
In the second inaugural Lincoln said, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we’re in to build up the nation’s wounds, bind up the nation’s wounds.” Now, we have our work to reunite America. To bind up our nation’s wounds. To move past shadow and suspicion. And so we, you and I together, we press on, even now. After hearing the second inaugural address, Frederick Douglas told President Lincoln, “Mr. Lincoln, that was a sacred effort.” We have to be dedicated to our own sacred effort. The promise of Gettysburg and the new birth of freedom was in hand.
I think it’s at risk. Every generation that’s followed Gettysburg has been faced with a moment when it must answer this question, will they allow the sacrifices made here to be in vain, or be fulfilled? This is our moment to answer this essential American question, for ourselves and for our time. And my answer is this, it cannot be that after all this country has been through, after all that America’s accomplished, after all the years, we have stood as a beacon of light to the world.
It cannot be that here and now in 2020, we will allow the government of the people, by the people, and for the people to perish this earth. No, it cannot. And it must not. We have it in our hands, the ultimate power. The power to vote. Its the note instrument ever devised to register our will in a peaceable and productive fashion. And so we must. We must vote. We will vote. No matter how many obstacles are thrown in our way, because once America votes, America will be heard.
Lincoln said, “The nation is worth fighting for.” So it was. And so it is, together as one nation under God, indivisible. Let us join forces to fight the common foe of injustice and inequality, hate and fear. Let’s conduct ourselves as Americans who love each other, who love our country, who will not destroy, but will build. We owe it to the dead who were buried here at Gettysburg. We owe that to the living, and to future generations yet to be born.
You and I are part of a covenant, a common story of divisions overcome and hope renewed. If we do our part, if we stand together, if we keep faith with the past and with each other, then the divisions of our time will give way to the dreams of a brighter, better future. This is our work. This is our pledge. This is our mission. We can end this era of division. We can end the hate and the fear. We can be what we are at our best, the United States of America. God bless you all. And may God protect our troops. Thank you. We can do this.”
I want our nation to return to sanity. The mad divisiveness that infects our politics now is not anything that our founders envisioned. We need to get back to government by reason and compromise instead of bombastic ideological warfare and obstruction. We owe it to our children, our grandchildren, and future generations.
This coming November, please vote to sweep the authoritarians from power, and return our nation to the democratic republic that we were given at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. ¹
The Old Wolf has spoken, but Joe Biden has spoken better.
¹ A good exploration of Franklin’s quote, “A republic if you can keep it” can be found here.