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More than ever before, it is crucial that we get record turnout for Election 2020 and that all of those votes count. But with so many voters voting with absentee/mail-in ballots this year for the first time, I think it’s really important to help people avoid the types of mistakes that invalidate absentee ballots. It…

How To Make Absolutely Sure Your Vote Counts This November — Political⚡Charge

Super important info from a fellow blogger!!

In a different world, a long time ago, a little girl and her family were experiencing a country in crisis.

In this country, there were long lines in front of grocery stores, with people waiting for hours, often only to be told that the food in the store had run out.  The government issued ration cards for how much food each person could receive, and there was real anxiety about where our next meal was coming from.  There were tanks on our streets, and Soviet tanks waiting on our border, just in case they were needed to come in and help crush anti-government resistance.

And there were many, many people out on the streets protesting the government, including members of my family.  The protesters were met by the military and the police.  They were tear gassed and clubbed.  Some of them were shot.

This was life in the Communist Poland of my childhood.  But you would never know any of this was happening if you watched official state television.

We had only two channels on our black-and-white TV, but if you turned one of them on, you would see cheerful citizens, who would never even think of complaining.  You would see interviews with farmers who were excited to work for the socialist state.  Speeches from government officials about our glorious future, during which everyone in the audience clapped enthusiastically, because they knew they had to.  And of course, proud military parades, accompanied by much flag-waving.

And the protesters?  Their existence was rarely acknowledged, but when it was, they were described in no uncertain terms.  They were anarchists.  They were violent troublemakers.  They were drug addicts and criminals.

I made the mistake last week of watching parts of the Republican convention.  What I saw gave me a sinking feeling of the worst kind of déjà vu.

Once again, my family and I are living in a country in crisis.  Thousands are dead of a badly mismanaged pandemic.  Our economy is on the verge of collapse, with mass job losses and business closures and evictions looming on the horizon, or already here.  We see example after example of violent police brutality against Black Americans, and people are out on the streets protesting systemic racism.  And armed militias are now showing up at those protests, threatening and, at least in one case, shooting and killing protesters, with seeming support or indifference from the police.

But you would never know any of this was happening if you watched the RNC.  Here, the pandemic was mentioned in past tense, and since it’s practically over, the economy is about to bounce back!  The convention was full of happy nurses who were not experiencing PPE shortages, and happy people of color who don’t get discriminated against.  We got the requisite moving story of the prisoner who had repented and reformed, and the cop who became his lifelong friend.  And then there was the parade of shiny-faced Trump family members, telling us about how caring and compassionate this President is, how much he respects women and loves to put them in positions of power.  All this accompanied by many uniforms and much flag-waving.

According to the RNC, the biggest danger in our country right now is the “cancel culture” ushered in by liberals, which might cause a few people to unfollow you on Twitter.

To my American friends, please take this as a warning from someone who would know:  YES.  This is a tipping point.  Every time you hear another speech about how Trump is the “only one” who can protect America, you should be very afraid.  That is pure dictatorship talk.

If Trump wins re-election, that really could damage what remains of our democratic system beyond repair–or damage it so severely that it will take generations to fix it.  There are also fundamental problems with American society that have existed for a long time, like systemic racism and big money in elections, but we will not be able to work on any of them if our country slides into full-on totalitarianism.

My family was able to survive a totalitarian state once, and we don’t want to have to do it again.  We need to work to get Trump out of office like we have never worked before.  I’m ready to do my part.  I don’t want any more of this kind of déjà vu.

I’m learning how to use a gun.

I’m not thrilled about this.  I wish this wasn’t the reality I was living in.  But reality is what it is, not what I wish it would be.

Now, I’m about as far away from a fanatical gun nut as you can get.  I was raised in Europe, and there were almost no guns around when I was a kid.  The countries I lived in had very strict gun control laws, and I’m glad they did.  I continue to be a strong supporter of strict gun control laws.

But the American culture I live in is full of guns.  My neighborhood is full of guns–almost all of my neighbors have them.  Even though Portland is very progressive, there’s a strong gun tradition here in Oregon.  It doesn’t seem smart to be the only one without.

And there’s something scary brewing in this country.

Maybe this feeling has come over me because I’ve been watching the BLM protests, and the armed militias which have started showing up–and which seem to be supported by the police.  There is, of course, 17-year-old (!!!) Kyle Rittenhouse who killed two people and injured one person at the Kenosha protests, after having been given water and thanked for being there by the local cops.  In my own neck of the woods, Portland police basically allowed Proud Boys and other right-wing groups to run wild last weekend, to beat people up and point guns at them, including one guy who had a warrant out for his arrest…but was permitted to show up at the protest and then walk away.  Once the right-wingers were gone, the police declared a riot and tear gassed the protesters who remained.

Maybe I’m feeling this way because I’ve made the painful mistake of actually listening to the Republican convention this week.  I’m hoping this grave error doesn’t cost me my marriage, by the way.  Every time my poor husband walked into my office and heard one of the Trump-bots talking, he would clutch his head in horror and flee.  Thank goodness it’s over.  But it didn’t improve my mood to hear the President’s fans making hysterical speeches about how he is the only one who is standing between America and the country’s destruction by the radical left.  That is cult of personality talk, that is dictatorship talk.  It raises the temperature, and it makes me suspect that even if Joe Biden wins, we will have crazies on our hands who will be on a mission to “save America” from the rest of us.

Back in the day, when I was a bit more naive, I was one of those people who would have said “Well, if anything happens, I’ll just call 911, right?”  Unfortunately, everything that has happened recently has made me question how much we can trust our policing system.  Obviously, I realize that since I’m white, I don’t even know the half of it.  And I’m also pretty sure there are individual police officers who are genuinely wonderful people.  But when I see that instances of police brutality against black people just keep coming, and then when I see the police seemingly taking the side of armed vigilantes at protests, that worries me.

And if you visit any Facebook group or other online forum where these militia-type groups gather, you will see them discussing, with great excitement, the possibility of civil war and violent conflict in our near future.  This certainly didn’t start with Trump–I remember these same types threatening secession and armed insurrection all through the Obama years.  And I’m sure there are many big-bellied keyboard warriors involved, who may talk a lot, but would never get off their couch long enough to start a war.  Still, one theme is repeated over and over again in these discussions–it’ll be great when the shit hits the fan, because we’re the ones who have all the guns, and the “libtards” will be sitting ducks.

I used to dismiss that as idle chatter from incels stroking their own egos, but now that fanatical Trump-worship has been added to the mix, my perspective has shifted.  If the fascists ever decide to come for me, I don’t want to be defenseless.  Now, I’m not about to start doing stupid, showy things.  I’m not going to start showing up in public places or at public events wearing large machine guns.  That is just plain dumb and it’s asking for trouble–kind of like that St. Louis couple who decided to come out of their large mansion and wave their weapons at protesters, with their finger on the trigger.  But I will have a chance to defend myself if anyone ever enters my home with ill intentions.

I’m interested to hear opinions from others about this.  More and more, my point of view is shifting to the belief that the left should be armed, so that if the country slides into some ugly form of totalitarianism, we’re not completely helpless.  Or is that something that will just cause more problems and stoke more violence?  Obviously, my preference would be that we just vote Biden into office and the Trumpster phenomenon quietly dies away.  And that is what I will be working for all this upcoming fall.

But at least for now, I’m a reluctant gun owner.

 

 

 

 

All kinds of thoughts pop into our heads when we’re awake at 3 am.  Lately, I’ve been waking up at 3 am a lot.  Maybe it’s the pandemic.  Maybe my body is hinting at me that I shouldn’t be having that beer right before bed….but that’s a different story.

A few nights ago, a particularly disturbing thought came to me and wouldn’t let me get back to sleep for a long time.  In the light of day, it seems insane.  I hope it’s insane.  But I need to get it out of my system.

So, we all know that Donald Trump has a…shall we say…chummy relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin.  What if it becomes clear to Trump that he’s about to lose the election…or he does lose the election in November…and he decides to make a deal with Putin to stage some kind of terrorist attack in America?

It’s already obvious from his response to the COVID pandemic that Trump would not be too concerned about a large loss of life of his fellow Americans…especially if those Americans lived in one of those blue cities that don’t like him.  In fact, he would be thrilled if this happened in a place like Seattle, or Chicago, or maybe San Francisco, where Nancy Pelosi is from.  He is that petty of a man.  I don’t even think he would try to hide his joy.

And in the meantime–this would give him the perfect excuse to postpone the election, or postpone the upcoming transition of power.  You know he would jump on that opportunity.  It would be a national security emergency, after all!  And he will keep America safe, like nobody else!

Another advantage of working with Putin is that Trump could get around the Pentagon.  Our military has its own problems, but at this point he has pissed off enough generals and soldiers with his name-calling and his stupidity that I don’t think they would let this kind of coup slide.  If he made a deal with a foreign leader, though, they would never need to know what was going on.

And, of course, Vladimir would be more than happy to do anything that weakens and injures America.  And how hilarious would it be if the country’s own President invited him to do it?  I can hear all the Russian bots LOL’ing about it now…

Feel free to tell me I’m completely bonkers.  In fact, I hope that you will.  I hope I’m wrong.  I hope I’m crazy.  Please talk me off this ledge, because this is making sense to me, and I’m kind of scared thinking about it.

And let me note that this is what Trump’s presidency has done to me.  I hate conspiracy theories.  I hate conspiracy theory spouting people.  But I have turned into a conspiracy theorist myself, because I cannot trust this President.  I do not believe for one second that he has this country’s well-being in mind.  He only cares about his own ego and about being a celebrity, and he doesn’t care what he destroys as long as he can use that destruction to feed his insecure spirit, even if only for a brief moment.

So, let’s hope for a return to sanity in this country very soon…before my mind goes completely.  And…please tell me I’m crazy.

I’m beginning to think that Tucker Carlson’s main function in the world has become to tell white conservatives scary bedtime stories about black and brown people.

His storytelling first got my attention a couple years ago, when he was railing about immigration and demographic shifts in America, claiming this was “more change than human beings are designed to digest.”

More recently, this is the guy who envisioned a frightening dystopia ruled by BLM mobs:

Imagine if the Diversity Inclusion Department at Brown University had the power to arrest you. Imagine if the Black Lives Matter rioters had weapons and immunity from prosecution. That’s what they’re talking about. Partisan law enforcement and partisan law enforcement, incidentally, is hardly without precedent. In fact, it’s the rule in the third world. This is an attempt to bring it here.

…This may be a lot of things, this moment we’re living through, but it is definitely not about black lives, and remember that when they come for you. And at this rate, they will. Anyone who has ever been subjected to the rage of the mob knows the feeling.

I have to admit, I’m really not that scared of the Diversity Inclusion Department at Brown University.  But if you don’t buy that threat, how about those “violent young men”?

Well, violent young men with guns will be in charge. They will make the rules, including the rules in your neighborhood. They will do what they want. You will do what they say. No one will stop them. You will not want to live here when that happens.

Tucker doesn’t specify what color these young men are, but he doesn’t have to.  If these were young white men with guns, Fox News would be calling them “patriots.”

Tucker got into some massive trouble, and lost some sponsors, over those comments.  But you’ve got to give it to him, he knows what his schtick is and what his audience expects from him, and he’s not giving that up.

So here is his latest, now about Joe Biden’s VP pick, Kamala Harris:

Consider this tape in which she explains how the federal government should respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Again, whatever you think of Affirmative Action, it’s likely you never imagined Affirmative Action would be applied to life-saving medical treatment. But Kamala Harris thinks it should be.

So we make decisions about where the resources should go to keep people from dying on the basis of skin color. So only people of a certain color get the vaccine, for example. That’s what she’s arguing. Now, this is a lot of things. It’s immoral. It’s unconstitutional, obviously. But above all it is definitely not moderate.

Now, mind you, in the interview Tucker mentions, Kamala was talking about the fact that communities of color were disproportionately affected by COVID, and that some of our resources should focus on helping those communities. She did not suggest that only people of color should get the COVID vaccine.  Well…of course she didn’t, because that would be insane and not something a serious person says.

But it is Tucker Carlson’s job to sell his Fox audience scary stories about what will happen when that brown-skinned woman with the weird name gets to be the Vice President…so that’s what he does.  Expect to see a lot more of this as we get closer to November, unfortunately.

Coincidentally, one of my neighbors has a dog named Tucker.  He is a round-bellied little creature which yips pointlessly all day at cats and squirrels and other animals that are not afraid of him and completely ignore him.

I would like to think the other Tucker has just about as much effect and influence.

 

 

So, it appears my lovely little city has been in the news lately.  It feels kind of strange for us to be in the national spotlight like this…we’re usually a bit more under the radar.  Now, everywhere I go…my Facebook newsfeed, the newspaper sites…it’s Portland this and Portland that.  So, how are things here in Portland?

It’s been a bit difficult for me to get around to writing this, because the events of the past weeks have been giving me unpleasant flashbacks to my childhood in a totalitarian state.  Those flashbacks actually started even before things were going down in Portland, back when Trump gassed the protesters in DC to get his photo op, when he was speculating about putting tanks in the streets.  I have memories of things like tanks in the streets, living under martial law, secret police.  The more I see this recreate itself here in the States, the more I become paralyzed and quiet, and the harder it is for me to write and talk about it.  It’s like I’m hoping that if I remain silent enough, it will all go away, like a bad dream.  But we all know that’s not how nightmares like this go away.

However, I also have to make this clear–Portland is not some terrifying war zone, not a “city under siege” with violent anarchists running around and setting everything on fire.  The right-wing media has been portraying things this way to justify the federal government’s actions.  I live out in the western suburbs of Portland, and if I didn’t turn on the news or social media, I wouldn’t know that anything was different.  I went on a drive through downtown Portland recently, and except for a few blocks, everything looked normal, businesses were operating, cafes and restaurants were welcoming customers (with some COVID restrictions).  A few stores and banks in a small area of downtown had plywood up and some graffiti on the walls, and most of the plywood had beautiful murals painted on it by local artists–which…I have to admit…looked way more creative than the corporate logos you would usually see there.

Another thing that’s important to know–the vast majority of the rioting, burning and looting happened on one night back in May.  This is important because people keep conflating what happened back then with what’s happening now.  So…you will hear someone say “Well, the Feds have to snatch people into unmarked vans to stop the rioting!”  Except…umm…there really isn’t rioting anymore.  I have multiple friends who have gone downtown to protest the past few nights.  These have been large peaceful protests.  A group of Moms goes down there to form the Wall of Moms to protect the protesters from the police and the Feds.  Not wanting to be outdone, the Dads of Portland have shown up with leaf blowers to disperse the tear gas.  Last night, there was a wall of military vets.  Point is, these are nonviolent protesters, and night after night, they continue to get tear gassed, clubbed and shot with rubber bullets by their own government.

Which brings me to another suggestion.  Some of the most trollish comments I have seen about this situation have come from folks who…surprise, surprise…don’t live in Portland.  They are always the ones flapping their lips about how it’s the city’s own fault for not having things under control, and how they’re hoping Trump finds a way to crack down even harder on us.  My message to them is…if you want to live in a little Trump-worshipping cult compound, that’s on you, but please fuck off as far as my city is concerned.  Don’t tell us how you know what’s going on here and we don’t, don’t give us advice about how we should run things here, how we should vote here, don’t encourage this loser of a President to show up with his goons and try to run the city for us.  STAY THE FUCK AWAY.  We don’t need you or your fascist worship here.

Of course, that is easier said than done.  What does the future hold for us?  Who knows?  Our Attorney General attempted to stop the Feds by filing a restraining order against some of their more secret police-esque actions, but her request was turned down by a federal judge.  I know what you might be thinking…nope, this judge was not one of the many recently appointed by Trump…he was a George W. Bush appointee.

Meanwhile, the dark shadow spreads across the rest of the country…DHS agents have now landed in Seattle.  Once again, this is “to protect federal buildings”…but what we’ve seen in Portland is that this is only a flimsy excuse and their actions range far beyond that.  Also, the agents sent to Seattle are part of a tactical border patrol unit from Texas…what in the hell?  If you think Seattle and Portland are border cities, you are really stretching the concept….

So, be careful and stay safe.  This is happening in Portland right now, but it will probably soon be coming to a town near you.  I really wish this wasn’t the case.  Hang in there, everyone…we’re in for a rough time.

 

 

 

I miss downtown Portland.  I used to go there every couple of days, for work or for socializing or just my own entertainment, but haven’t been there in a while for the obvious reasons–I’m working from home full-time now, and haven’t been going out to do anything beyond the bare minimum since the lockdown started.

I miss my favorite places–our own, much smaller version of Broadway, the huge Powell’s bookstore, the Central Library, my favorite hangout Case Study Coffee, and of course, all those bridges.

Don’t get me wrong, my neighborhood is very nice.  But being in the suburbs all day long can…drive you a little nuts.

It’s been a few weeks since the last time I drove through downtown, so I have no idea what it looks like right now.  From what I hear, it’s been bruised and battered a bit.  First the pandemic closed down businesses, and then it got hit a second time by the social unrest.  Some fires were set and some windows were broken, and there is quite a lot of plywood up.

But that’s okay.  Change and turmoil happens to everyone and everything, and that includes cities.  Portland is still my city and our city, and we will clean it up and open it back up someday.  Except that, hopefully, we will not bring it back to what “normal” used to be–we will make it even better, a more beautiful and more caring and more creative place than it was before.

See you soon, PDX.

Downtown Pics BroadwayDowntown Pics SunnyDowntown Pics Wells Fargo

 

We’ve been in lockdown for a couple months now.  Being in quarantine has pushed me to reflect on what it means to have space.  What does it mean to feel trapped?

I’ve had a few moments in my life when I’ve felt genuinely trapped, and they always came when I was surrounded by lots of open space.  Feeling trapped while looking out at the farm fields of Poland…the endless parking lots of Missouri…a mountain range in Idaho.

On the other hand, I have been in tiny hotel rooms and apartments, and never felt more free–the world at my fingertips.  I have been squeezed into crowds of people marching in the rain, and felt liberated.

So the space I have seems to stretch or shrink as my soul is able to stretch or shrink.  I’m glad to say that the place I am now is home to me, so I do not feel trapped here, even though I’m not free to move.

I hope none of you feel trapped either, and I wish all of you plenty of space, both inside and out.

I’ve been pretty frustrated about this.  The End The Shutdown protesters do not represent the majority of America.  Poll after poll shows this.  In my own state of Oregon, 80% of residents support the Governor’s stay-at-home order.

Yet the vocal minority which opposes these safety measures gets lots of attention and camera time because, well…to put it bluntly…. they’re willing to be stupid and risk their health and life by getting together in large crowds.

While those of us who are doing the right thing and staying safe are not about to start attending rallies any time soon.  So it’s harder for us to have our voices heard…but not impossible!

Here is my one-woman, stay-at-home protest!  Be well, everyone.

DontEndTheShutdown

 

 

 

 

So, how are you all doing in quarantine?  As you can see from the picture below, I’m having a great and relaxing time.

BagLady

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