Support your local democracy workers!  This is an essential mission in times like these.

I spent some time this week listening to congressional hearings about the infamous Cyber Ninjas election audit in Arizona.  There was a lot of crazy involved in the audit situation…but one of the most painful things, for me, was hearing the Arizona election officials talking about the death threats and intimidation they’ve received from their fellow Americans.  Jack Sellers, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, talked about Sheriff’s department vehicles being parked in front of his house all night due to specific threats directed at him.  Keep in mind that this man is a Republican, but he is being punished anyway for not going along with Trump’s Big Lie.

This same pattern is playing out in many places across the country.  In red states, Republican legislators and election officers who dare to uphold the results of the 2020 presidential race are being harassed and pressured to leave office.  And school board members are resigning because of the vicious attacks they are receiving over mask mandates.  We hear a lot about the squabbling in Congress, but there is a different battle taking place all over the nation. The Trumpist right wing has turned its assault on democracy local.

This strategy works to their advantage on multiple levels.  Number one, it pushes people unwilling to kowtow to Trump out of these jobs, and replaces them with loyal followers who will toe the line.  In the future, the actual vote counts in an election might not matter, if state legislatures and officers are happy to overturn the results.  Number two, it creates a chilling effect which keeps responsible community members from running for these positions.  Who wants to deal with this much stress and fear for doing hard work which is either low-paid or voluntary?

As a volunteer for our county Democratic party, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of our local school board members.  These are regular, everyday Moms, former teachers, immigrants who live and work in our community.  They are not people with a Secret Service detail.  They cannot and should not have to deal with constant threats to their safety.  Fortunately, in the area where I live–as far as I can tell–the situation is not that dire, but many others are not so lucky.

So what can we do?  As always, just throwing up our hands and getting angry about terrible Youtube videos is not the answer.  I’m forever on my soapbox about how we need to be involved in local politics, but this is especially true now.

If you have the courage, time and resources, running for or volunteering for one of these positions is a beautiful thing.  The right is currently working on getting its very special Trump-approved candidates to fill these slots.  We need good, sane people to push back on this.

That is not realistic for everyone, however.  For those of us who cannot run, we need to find ways to show support for our local helpers of democracy.  One way is to show up to meetings.  Often, the majority of the community actually supports things like mask mandates, but the minority which opposes them is loud and aggressive about it–and they are the ones who show up and speak out (or scream out, more accurately).

Another way is to show support on social media.  This may seem like a small thing, but again, if you visit the social media accounts of your school district or city council or state legislators, you will often find that the comments are dominated by a flood of trolling and negativity–even for someone who just a few days ago may have won the community’s vote!  If they are doing something you agree with, leave a thank you note of support.  If we let the trolls take over, it gives the false impression that the community is opposed to popular policies.

And of course, around election time, support the campaigns of those who are trying to do the right thing.  Donate if you can, volunteer if you are able to.

It’s not glamorous and it’s not going to get national media coverage, but it’s actions like this, putting in the work day after day, election after election, that will save our democracy.

To the democracy workers–thank you for what you do.  We’ve got your back.

When the 2016 election results were announced, I was devastated. I was angry and sad. Trump wasn’t just anathema to everything I believed in–he seemed like a danger to everything I loved about America.

But I never once allowed myself to believe fantasies about Hillary getting reinstated halfway through the term, or conspiracy theories about the election results getting overturned. Not only because overturning the results of a legitimate election would be wrong, but because this just…was not…reality. And I knew that allowing myself to believe in fairy tales would only bring me pain and suffering in the end, when they turned out not to be true.

So instead I worked my butt off to promote my ideas and values on the local and state level, and volunteered as much as I could during the midterms and presidential election. It was sometimes discouraging and hard, but it was the only way to really make a difference and move things forward.

It’s rough–I know!–but the only thing to do when you’ve lost an election is to work to get the vote out and persuade voters that your ideas are the ones that will help them. Anybody telling you about a quick and easy solution is trying to sell you something. And threatening violence is truly the lazy person’s way out. “We can’t have our way, so we’ll have to shoot you.” Guess what: that only makes things worse, and more complicated. And it does not bring other people over to your side.

Please, don’t buy what the Russian bots are selling you. It will only make your life, and all of our lives, more difficult.

Because I’m actually patriotic.

Like, in a real way.

Unlike fake “patriots,” I don’t pretend America is perfect and that one should never be allowed to criticize it. I understand that there is a dark side to American history. But I love and appreciate all that is most exciting and creative and dynamic about America–the diversity of cultures and religious traditions and political ideas and cuisines which make their home here. I love jazz and hip-hop and salsa, and how those sounds weave their way in and out of the fabric of the nation. Pizza, burritos, falafels, pierogi–yes, please! I’m a big fan of our new Vice-President, the child of Jamaican and South Asian immigrants–and a big fan of my new Muslim county commissioner, Nafisa Fai, who’s got Somali refugee roots. Pre-pandemic, one of my favorite things in the world was a noisy Portland street full of guitar-playing buskers, anarchist protesters and crazy end-times cult members trying to convert me. America wouldn’t be America without them.

But the people who call themselves “patriots”–people like Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity–truth is, they don’t really like America. Not most of it, anyway. They hate cities. They don’t like immigrants, with a few (white-skinned) exceptions. They disdain large parts of American culture–all the music and movies and TV shows created by those coastal “libtards.” Lately, even sports has been in their crosshairs, seeing as so much of it is played by African-American athletes who will not remain conveniently silent about the racism they experience on a regular basis.

They love America only in the most narrow and most unimaginative way–as defined by one race, one religion, one culture, and controlled by one gender. And this from the people who love to talk about freedom….

The white man who drives a big truck, goes to church and listens to country is part of America, too. But the “patriot” movement wants him to become the definition of America. One shade of color instead of the entire rainbow.

But here is the true punchline of this joke…

The wealthy who lead and inspire this movement don’t even respect this middle American white male they mythologize. As far as they are concerned, he can remain poor, employed for a low wage, unable to obtain health care or a secure retirement. They don’t care if he’s able to keep the heat on when extreme weather comes through. They only care about him as long as he can be manipulated into voting for laws that allow them to retain as much of their wealth as possible.

So are they really patriotic? Do they like their fellow Americans?

I’ve got my doubts. And I will not be joining the Patriot Party anytime soon.

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.

Well, the 2020 election season is starting to fire up, and here comes the predictable chorus saying the same thing we always hear.  When it comes to people who actually want to transform the system we live in–people who support things like a single payer health care system, a higher minimum wage, affordable college…

You want free stuff!

Lazy moochers.  You want a handout, don’t you?  You want to be given something for nothing.

Let me just stop this tired old song before it even gets started.  I’m not a moocher.  I’m certainly not lazy.  I drag myself out of bed and work my ass off every single day.  I don’t want a handout–I just want what I’m rightfully owed for my hard work.  A decent wage.  The ability to see the doctor if I’m sick.  A roof over my head.  Working people should be able to have access to these basics.

Conservatives twist this into the idea of class envy.  If you want these things, it must be because you’re envious of what other people have and want to take that away.  I don’t envy the rich their lifestyle.  I certainly don’t envy Donald his garish, gold-covered absurdity of an existence.  I’m not asking for what belongs to anybody else–I’m asking for what is already mine.  The fruit of my hard labor.

Most Americans I know are like that.  I’ve known a couple of people over the course of my life who I could genuinely describe as moochers, but they were a small minority.  The majority of people I know in this country work themselves to the point of burnout and exhaustion, and they get screwed over in return.  It amazes me that so many of these working class Americans still support Trump.  The man has done his best to weasel away even more from them–everything from overtime pay to the ability to file a workers compensation claim for an on-the-job injury, and he certainly hasn’t helped with the tax situation.  Yet they continue to love the guy who robs them of what little they have.

So no, I’m not interested in “free stuff.”  But hey, getting treated with some dignity by the country I’m investing my life and work into?  Now that actually sounds like a good deal….

I rarely ever post non-fictional political blogs anymore, mainly because everything is just too depressing.  And it’s not just the scandalous tweet of the day….it’s all the stupid little things.  Today I was once again reminded that we left the UN Human Rights Council a couple months ago, and felt another little pang of regret for another stupid decision.

Sure, the UN is mostly a rambling deliberative body and isn’t capable of stopping war and conflict in the world.  But it’s the symbolism of the thing.  The Human Rights Council continues speaking out on rights violations in Myanmar, Sudan, Syria.  The United States is not a part of that anymore, only confirming the suspicion that it didn’t care much about this stuff in the first place, anyway.

Is it a coincidence that we’re leaving the Human Rights Council just as our country is on a not-so-subtle slide down the road to fascism?  Legal residents are having their passports taken away.  Journalists are condemned as the “enemy of the people.”  Many refugee children torn away from their parents have still not been reunited with them.  What other human rights violations would the Trump administration love to be able to get away with?  What violations is it planning to get away with in the near future?

Anyway, there are my sad musings for the night.  For what it’s worth, another reason I have less time to blog is that I have been phone banking and canvassing like crazy for my local Democratic Party.  Will there actually be a Blue Wave coming in November?  I have no idea.  I’m the wrong person to ask, because I’m naturally a pessimist…about everything.  But I will keep working for it, whatever the chances of it happening may be.  Lord knows we need someone different than the people in charge right now.

 

 

Dedicated to my Bernie-loving friends

First, they would come for the guns.  That was obvious.

He had always expected that to happen.  He was surprised that it hadn’t happened during the Obama years–the international left-wing cabal must’ve been even craftier than he suspected.  The Trump years were a relief, although he knew the deep state never stopped working for evil.

But now, the unthinkable had happened, and that Bernie guy had won the presidency.  Goddam commie.  How was this possible?  Sure, President Trump–Trump would always be *his* President–he had made a few missteps.  The recession and the massive tent cities were bad PR.  And that incident with Angela Merkel, the one which caused a break in diplomatic relations between US and Germany–people thought that was a big deal, although who needs Germany anymore?  They should be taking better care of their local Muslims, he muttered.

So now, Barfie was President.  Brokie?  He really needed to come up with a better nickname for him.  He had a lot of fun with “Obummer” during Barack’s tenure, but he just wasn’t feeling as creative right now.

Anyway, now was not the time for fun–it was time to be vigilant.  Thank goodness he was self-employed and mostly worked from home, so he only left the house when absolutely necessary, and never unarmed.  Fox News kept him informed about the goings-on in the outside world–the Great American Crisis, as they called it.  He had started seeing black and brown kids walking around his neighborhood.  What were they up to?  Where did they come from?  Another sign of the times he was living in.

It would be gradual.  First, taxes would go higher and higher, so they could fund all those government programs.  He already had some dumb bitch at his door a few days earlier, telling him about a public health care program he could sign up for.  It would be less expensive, she said.  He slammed the door in her face.  He was no fool.

Soon, they would want everybody to stop driving.  He remembered when they built that light rail line near his house.  He had known that was trouble even back then.  If these people had their way, everyone would be riding a bicycle.  And if they couldn’t force him to bike, he would end up on some stupid train with a bunch of loud and smelly assholes who didn’t speak English half the time.

Then the final blow:  they would come for the homes.  These leftie planners didn’t like the suburbs with the big yards and parking lots.  They would take the houses and move everyone into tiny apartments in the city, so that the space could be given back to nature, or some stupid shit like that.  Not that he hated nature.  He had hunted since he was a little kid.  Animals had been created by God as a special gift for man’s enjoyment, and he appreciated that.

By the time they would take his house, the gun confiscation program would have been completed, so he would either be dead or in prison by then.  At least he hoped so.  He didn’t want to be around to see this.  Although he was planning to put up a hell of a fight before he went out, that was for sure.

Once they got all the people crammed together in the city, they would be easy to control.  Then the social engineering could really get rolling.  The only jobs available would be in government-owned factories and stores.  No freedom at all.  Going to church would be forbidden.  Women could be ordered to get abortions.  Hell, they would probably outlaw soda and fast food, and make the sheeple eat a mandatory vegan diet.  He shook his head at the thought.

The day of reckoning hadn’t come yet.  But it wouldn’t take much longer, he figured. And when it did, he would be right here waiting for it, with his television on and his gun in his hands.

 

Those of you who are following my blog (and let’s face it, there aren’t that many of you) may have noticed that the posts have dropped off a bit lately. Fact is, life has been very much on the hectic side. I’ve been planning my wedding for a few months from now…and wedding planning, it has turned out, is craziness. Part of me is excited, part of me will be relieved when it’s all over and done with.

But enough about romance…I’m going to use my entry into marriage as an excuse to talk about politics…because of course I am. Thinking about the married state, husbands and wives, has reminded me of one wife in particular. Specifically–oh, how much I miss having Michelle Obama as a First Lady.

Michelle and Barack are such a great model of what a marriage is supposed to look like. I loved her feistiness. I loved that when she and Barack started dating, she wasn’t that interested in being with him at first. He had to prove to her that he was worth her while. She was a strong and successful woman in her own right. I loved the way they would tease and poke fun at each other in conversations.

And now that he’s no longer President, Michelle has gleefully admitted that he got the “worst room” in their new house.

What a contrast with what we’ve got now. Don’t get me wrong–I don’t think Melania Trump is a mindless bimbo. That’s what makes this situation even sadder. She is also a strong and intelligent woman. But she is not able to or chooses not to show it. Her role in the relationship with Donald is not that of an equal partner. She is a woman who was purchased by a rich husband, and so she is expected to be a beautiful, silent backdrop to what he does. Some of Trump’s fans call it being “classy” and “gracious.” That Michelle was so loud and so opinionated (and so black!) I’ve always found the concept of a graceful woman a bit suspicious. Too often, women are called graceful when they’re quiet, when they behave. When they don’t raise too much of a stink about things they disagree with.

Now, I have seen the photos and videos of Melania refusing to touch Donald or swatting his hand away from hers. They are certainly amusing. But it’s all so…passive aggressive. Again, it’s a woman who can’t allow herself to express her feelings in the open. It’s hard for me to imagine Michelle putting up with Barack cheating on her as brazenly as Donald did with Stormy. The man would be out on his ass, most likely.

Perhaps the best we can hope for is that after Donnie is out of office, Melania will sue for divorce and take him for all the billions he doesn’t really have. The best I can hope for is that my own marriage will not be full of dishonesty and manipulative little games.

It has to be a true partnership, and you have to really really like and respect the person you’re married to because it is a hard road. I mean, that’s what I tell young couples. Don’t expect it to be easy, melding two lives and trying to raise others, and doing it forever. I mean that’s a recipe made for disaster, so there are highs and lows. But if in the end you can look him in the eye and say, “I like you.” I stopped believing in love at first sight. I think you go through that wonderful love stage, but when it gets hard, you need a little bit more. — Michelle Obama