WORLD SHARING WHILE WATCHING THE IOWA CAUCUSES – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 2-4-2020


This year, politics is more critical than I ever remember it. To be fair, though, I’ve always been fascinated by our elections, debates, primaries. How they work, how people make their decisions. This year in Iowa, you can see — and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this before — people thinking about what to do if their candidate doesn’t seem likely to win. Who will they then support?

Every single one has said that the bigger issue is getting Trump out of office and will if it comes to that, support anyone who isn’t Trump. That’s a huge change from 2016. Let’s hope it’s a national trend.


And the questions are:

When was the last time you tried something new?

Tonight I tried a recipe I found in a magazine in my doctor’s office. It was a creamed bean soup and I decided Garry liked it when he came back with his third helping. It went very well with warm garlic bread.

If you were forced to eliminate every physical possession from your life with the exception of what could fit into a single backpack, what would you put in it?

Bonnie guarding my computer

You mean like with a fire taking over my world? All my meds because I can’t live without them, my computers and back-up hard drives, and my cell phone because that’s what they are for. Stuff in a couple of cameras, too. The dogs don’t count. They won’t fit in a backpack!

What simple fact do you wish more people understood?

History matters. Our life is all in the past and we don’t know the future. Things that happened more than two thousand years ago affect us today. Like, for example, the birth of Christ, the life of Confucious, the American Revolution, the Constitutional Convention.

Going back even further, the development of democracy under both the Greeks and Romans. The invention of porcelain in China. When the rest of the world was running around in animal skins, the Chinese were analyzing porcelain glazes.

So much of history lives with us — for good and ill — today. Our failure to deal with its implications has had a lethal effect on our culture.

What food item do you go through fastest in your house?  (credit to Sandmanjazz)

Cinnamon bread and fruit-flavored sparkling water (ICE in particular).

Please feel free to share something that makes you happy!  

I’m extremely happy we discovered that our toilet was about to crash through the floor and probably kill one of us. We had NO idea how serious the situation was. It would have been a lethal fall for someone.

OUR WORLD BALANCED ON THE HEAD OF A PIN – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry was a working reporter for more than 40 years, so you have to figure I have an interest in the news. I never watched all the news. I didn’t think every shooting or fatal car accident was news. Just because something happens doesn’t make it newsworthy. Even if it’s tragic. News directors believe in bad news. Good news rarely makes the cut.

I was never a news junkie. I wasn’t — and still am not — addicted to the news, but I like to know what’s happening. Not just about things which directly affect me, but how goes my town,  city, state, nation, and world. From wondering who was going to fix our local potholes to which war we are currently fighting even though I never understand why we are having another (or the same?) war.

Film at eleven!

As far as elections go? I like to get a good, long look at candidates. If you don’t watch candidates during their campaigns, how can you know who to vote for? Having enough time to get that look at candidates is probably the only advantage of our ridiculously long election process. One of the many things you can learn is if that person has a moral center, something to which I think we’ve previously paid far too little attention.

There may be more …

Right now, as I’m watching television, it appears Iran has shot a dozen ballistic missiles at an American base in Iraq. So all of this could be a moot point. For all I know, we may be in the middle of nuclear war tomorrow or by the end of the week. I asked Garry if we should call all our friends (there aren’t that many) and say goodbye.

Maybe I don’t need a new boiler after all. Well, that’s a relief. There’s always a silver lining. You just need to look for it.

Missiles from Iran to U.S. installation in Iraq

When people said: “Oh, I don’t watch the news,” Garry took it personally. After all, he was on the news almost every day. Meanwhile, he read three papers a day as well as working fulltime for a network news affiliate. To be fair, half of that reading was sports, but we all need hobbies. He knew the candidates personally because he worked with them. He knew their records. He was really good at predicting elections. He had better than average resources and by definition, so did I.

Australian fire – clouds and embers

I never read three papers a day. I spot read one and never missed the comics or anything about archaeology. I watched and recorded Garry’s daily piece. Nonetheless, I knew what was going on. I voted almost every year. I missed a few. I never missed a presidential or senatorial election, but sometimes I’d let the local elections slide because I didn’t know anything about the candidates. When you don’t know who the candidates are, voting is like scratching a lottery ticket. It has the same resonance. I can’t throw my vote to the most appealing face on the ballot.

These days, I feel like our world is balanced on the head of a pin.

REUTERS/Noah Berger – Fires in California last summer

It’s a big, blue ball and a very tiny pin. There is no room to make a mistake. A bit of imbalance and that big blue ball will crash. Given one thing and another, it may crash regardless, but until I know it has, I’ll do the best I can to make a difference. In the course of our lives, we don’t get much opportunity to influence anything outside ourselves and maybe our family. The magnitude of the world in which we live has dwarfed our efforts.

Montecito Mudslide – 2018

This little blog is what I can do. If there’s any purpose to blogging daily, it’s because maybe I can help someone. Change someone’s mind. Show them a choice they didn’t know was available. Whenever I’m tired of the whole thing, I remember that there’s a chance I can help. Maybe I’m not just spinning my wheels.

I think everyone has a minimal obligation to have a fundamental understanding of the world in which they live. I find it appalling in a time when all our lives are on the line, that so many people still hide their heads in the sand or willingly believe lies because they feel better than the truth. Then they complain when things go wrong.

It was generations of head hiders who got us here.

COMEUPPANCE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Comeuppance

When I think of the word, I think of Trump. I think of Lindsay Graham. I think of politicians. Then I get depressed and try to think of anything else. Something humorous although some days, humor is hard to find.

A very important cartoon!

I read an article this morning that said that unless more people vote (like in 2018) we’ll get you-know-who back. That totally ruined my day which had barely started.

STAYING MOTIVATED – BY ELLIN CURLEY

There’s an interesting strain in Jewish history. When Jews are persecuted, killed, locked in Ghettos or severely discriminated against, as in most of our history, we stick together. We stay strong and united. We cling to our traditions and our religion. We stay proud and unbowed as we fight to survive, as individuals and as a culture.

From: Miami-Herald

During periods in our history when persecution was lifted, we are more openly accepted into the larger societies in which we lived. When that happens, Jews rapidly assimilate. In the process, we lose some of our Jewishness. We adopt the culture of our homeland. Intermarry and raise our children less Jewish. This has happened in America since the 1960’s. Without an external enemy, we lose our motivation to maintain our cultural and religious identity. We become complacent. We lose some of our unique spirit as a people.

I believe that Democrats/Progressives are, in some ways, like the Jews. When things are going well for us, we lose our identity and our will to fight. We don’t vote in off-year elections and we don’t participate in local and statewide politics as much. We don’t stay organized, motivated and active without an external crisis to propel us into action.

We were motivated by George W. Bush. We became a vocal anti-Bush, anti-Republican, anti-Iraq war force. We voted, we protested, we became a presence on late night TV. Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” became the most trusted man in America. “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” became some of the left’s major sources of news and sustenance.

Then Obama came along and we went back to our daily lives, leaving politics far behind. We stayed home for the mid-term elections and a large majority of states were totally taken over by Republicans. In the 2016 election, many Democrats were not ‘excited’ about Hillary Clinton. No one believed that Trump could win. So too many of us stayed home on election day or voted for third-party candidates. Now we have Trump to motivate us again.

These days, we sure are motivated! We are marching and organizing with a vengeance. We are running local candidates against Republicans, even in deep Red states. We are pulling in record vote tallies in special elections all over the country. Progressive organizations are raising money like crazy, with small donations as well as large ones. Now there are many more late night shows to take up the Democratic/Progressive banner. Facebook, Twitter and other internet platforms have been a big factor in this Progressive explosion. The outrage is everywhere.

Hopefully we can maintain this level of activism and enthusiasm into the mid-term elections in 2018. That may not be enough to win over one, let alone both houses in Congress. So we may not be able to get the major change in Washington that we want through the ballot box before 2020.

But we can also maintain pressure on Congress, the intelligence agencies and the media. That eventually might result in someone being able to link Trump to the Russian hacking of the 2016 election. Or to money laundering, or something else that’s clearly illegal, even to Republicans. That could result in a resignation or impeachment, if something else, like egregious conflicts of interest, haven’t already.

There shouldn’t be a problem keeping Democrats active as long as Trump or Pence are in the White House. Let’s just hope we’ve finally learned our lesson and don’t crawl back into our apolitical holes once we get rid of the current Republican scourge on our country.

I SAID I WOULDN’T BUT I DID IT ANYWAY – Marilyn Armstrong

I said I wouldn’t donate money to anyway, but I sent $6 to Elizabeth Warren. I couldn’t help myself. I have so little money to give to anyone, it’s always a hard choice. Despite having no money, I try to donate something to Durrell on the Isle of Jersey where they try to keep vanishing species alive.

I give a few dollars to Wikipedia because I use it and I figure if I use it, they deserve at least a couple of dollars from me as a thank you. And, every four years, if I feel there is someone worth donating to, I give a few dollars to someone I think is worthy of being my President.

I sent a few dollars during both elections to Obama. I sent a few dollars to Elizabeth Warren when she was running for Senate in Massachusetts, and now, a few dollars more. I’m sure they’ll dump thousands of additional begging letters into my email, but I think she is the one. I think she’s a good one and I want to see her win.

I admitted to Garry that I’d done it again and he patted me and said “I like her too. It’s okay. If you hadn’t, I would have.” Because in the end, you have to make a commitment … even if it’s only $6.00 and very unlikely to change the election. At least I feel that I’m part of it. A small part, but I’ve made the best commitment I can manage — and that’s something. For us.

Because we really do care and I needed to show it.

And yes, okay, I bought a tee-shirt for me and an apron for Garry. Garry wears aprons all the time. He has a “thing” about getting food on his clothing. Also, I really loved the logo.

SAFELY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Middle

So. Here we are again. Back in the middle of the middle. Afraid to proffer a candidate who might actually have relevant and new ideas, looking for ways to “make things like they used to be.” Except that no matter who we elect, it isn’t going to be like it used to be. It will never be that way again and no matter how much we try and fix it, it won’t be back to “the old days.”

Walt Kelley’s first Earth Day poster

We destroyed the old days and they aren’t coming back. The seniors won’t have to live through the destruction on the horizon, but our children and grand-children will. We won’t even adopt a plan for change that might accomplish something if not everything.

Earth’s day in court

Nice idea to take away guns. 50 years late — assuming we can even do it — but I suppose late is better than never. People still wonder if we can handle a woman at the helm of the nation. How pathetic is that?

The world — the physical earth — has changed and continues to change. Dramatically in some places, slower in others. Ultimately it will encompass the entire planet. Earth — the spinning blue ball — will survive. The question is not whether or not the planet will make it. The question is, will we make it?

Call it my “happy anniversary greetings” from my little damaged house to the rest of the world. I don’t see us doing what needs doing. I don’t see international cooperation. I don’t even see all 50 of our states agreeing to anything together. I don’t see anyone going for a green electric source even though the difference is likely to be less than $10 a month to make the switchover. I think even we can handle that amount — and we are kind of poor.

So on this 29th anniversary of our marriage, I look out into the world and all I can do is hope and wonder that we all understand this isn’t a normal election. It’s not like “Oh well, we’ll get through the four or eight years and then we can get someone we like better.”

We are on the edge of the edge and we put ourselves here, mostly by paying no attention at all to the constant warnings of science what would become of us if we didn’t deal with our world.

Pogo – Walt Kelly – 1971

Not only did we ignore it in the U.S. EVERYONE ignored it. Universally. Now, suddenly, there’s a terrifying rush to fix it, but we want to go at it gently. Not upset too many people. Find a nice guy in the middle of the road who will eject the squatter from the White House and that we’ll set up a few more agencies to “investigate” the issue. Not like we already have the answers. We need more of the same answers.

Isn’t it a little late? Where was the urgency in all the years since we “invented” Earth Day? That was more than 40 years ago … and things are not better. Oh, there are cleaner skies over a few big American cities, but we didn’t do anything about carbon emission or CO2. Or drilling. We actually created an even more destructive drilling technique — fracking. What could possibly go wrong with that?

As a matter of fact, what could possibly go wrong at all? We’re all here for the ride. Wheeee!

LONG, RAMBLING POLITICAL & ECOLOGICAL POST – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango —Anyone (Technically) Can Win

These last 2-1/2 years with El Trumpo Magnifico as our Fearless Leader has made politics a lot less fun than they used to be. I’ve always been a bit of a political junkie. I love watching elections, reading about who won which debate. I even love the long debates with silly rules and far too many people. Following elections, I am constantly charmed by how quickly every candidate will break each promise made on the campaign trail.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have pulled away from the pack in most national and early-state polls over the last month.

It should not be surprising that those three candidates have risen to the top of the field of more than 20: Biden, Sanders, and Warren are the three contenders who came to the race with a national political brand, and they have used their campaigns to hone their messages with a clarity that none of their competitors have. — Los Angeles Times

This time, it’s not nearly as much fun. There so much at stake. Literally, our life and death in this world — culturally, politically, and ecologically — is dizzily spinning on the edge of nothingness. If we get it wrong this time, I’m not sure there will be time to turn back.

I don’t mean only picking a candidate who can pulverize hizzoner at the polls, but a candidate who isn’t going to abandon every promise as soon as he or she is in office based on who has the swing vote or the big money. Or both.

It’s going to come down to Bernie, Biden, or Warren. It’s obviously going to be a three-candidate race. Even though I find the ideas from other candidates interesting, they should seriously be considering running for another office. How about SENATOR?

BERNARD SANDERS

I think Bernie, great ideas notwithstanding, looks like his heart is going to explode. If I was his mate, I’d be dragging him to a hospital for a serious physical. Garry thinks his head is going to blow up. I think he’s about ready for a massive heart attack.

I don’t think he can run this country, at least not long enough to accomplish much. Maybe if he picked the right (young and healthy) running mate? But we don’t vote for vice president. Overall, I think Bernie’s time came and went. He has grown old fighting the good fight, but he needs to let others take over. As a retiree, I can assure him that once he gets over his passion to fix the world, he’ll enjoy it. He can do what Garry does: sit in front of the television and yell at the guys now doing the job he used to do.

JOE BIDEN

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., aka “Joe Biden,” certainly has the credentials. One of the reasons everyone picks on him is how long he has served and how many decisions he has had to make. Some of them may not have worked out the way he thought they would, but he has done surprisingly well for a long time.

Photo via Newscom

He has a record to attack, which is something most of the nominees don’t have. For good or ill, he has come through some pretty rough patches in life and he’s managed to come out of it a decent, thoughtful, intelligent human being. While he isn’t my personal pick for President, I would not be unhappy if he did become president. He’s a lot smarter than people think he is. He’s forgotten more about our political system than most of the erstwhile candidates ever learned.

He can do it well, especially if he picks a high-quality cabinet composed of capable people who he then allows to do the job for which they were hired. He has a lot of dedicated years as a man who cares. I don’t think he owes a lot to the big corporate groups. I hope not, anyway. This is information which is hard to unearth.


FACTOID TO REMEMBER: Yesterday, I got a call from what I assumed was our local cop shop looking for donations. At the end of the call after I explained we were too poor to be giving anything to anybody, he said he was part of a PAC and donations are NOT tax-deductible.

Watch out. They suddenly talk very fast when they get to this
part of the shpiel.


ELIZABETH WARREN

Finally, we get to my pick: Elizabeth Ann Warren. She has been our senator for some years now. I like her.

She’s a thinker and a planner. The reason she has answers for everything is that she has thought about the questions and found some answers.

Is everything on her agenda going to go exactly as planned? Of course not. No one’s “plans” are going to go exactly as stated. Because once you get into office, there are all these other people you need to work with to get the job done. No one gets it done alone — not counting our current moron-in-chief. He’s not getting anything done either, but he’s giving everyone high blood pressure while not getting it done.

I believe that within the realities of Washington D.C., Elizabeth Warren will get as much done as anybody could. It won’t be easy. It won’t be a quick fix. She will do the best she can with the people in Congress, the Senate, and lord help us, the Supreme Court. She’s got wonderful credentials including the ability to teach. I think that’s one of the reasons she makes such a good impression as a nominee. She explains information in a way that everybody can understand. She doesn’t make it simplistic or stupid. She doesn’t act like we are stupid. She simply cuts out the technobabble and uses words that anyone who isn’t stupid will understand.

Is she going to reach “Trump’s Base?” No one will reach them. They are not reachable. Personally, I thought Hillary Clinton’s “deplorable” was a pretty good description of those morons. But Fandango had a point. She should have just called them assholes. Fewer syllables are better — and wouldn’t it be great to see all those people walking around in T-shirts that say “I’M A REPUBLICAN ASSHOLE!” It would go well with their MAGA hats.


Make no mistake. This is not going to be an easy fight.

China and Russia are still working their butts off trying to skew our elections and I’m pretty sure our current administration is giving them all the help they need. Everyone — and I do mean EVERYONE — has to get out and vote. We need to show the world and prove to ourselves we care about this world and our place in it.

The problems we face are national, but also universal. Many of them we caused ourselves. We have never properly dealt with immigration and never taken our environment seriously. The information about what’s happening to our climate is not new. I was working on it when I lived in Israel and working at The University of Jerusalem’s Environmental Health Laboratory. Even in a little country like Israel, we couldn’t convince the kibbutzniks and other farmers to stop using nitrogen-based fertilizer.

It’s not that nitrogen per se is bad, but in an arid zone (Israel’s climate is very similar to Arizona), without heavy rain to “wash” the soil, nitrogen collects and seeps into the aquifer and ultimately poisons it.

Israel poisoned its aquifer while I lived there. It wasn’t a powerful aquifer. Most aquifers are fragile and you have to be careful what goes into it if you want to drink it — or even use it for watering crops.

I am told, though I have not seen them, that Israel is finally, building big desalinization plants, something David Ben Gurion had on his list of top 10 most important “issues to be dealt with” in Israel in 1948. It only took 50+ years to get to it.

Here, in Massachusetts, all our water come from an aquifer. The Blackstone watershed is a major player in our water supply. We’ve got a pretty healthy aquifer, but it’s one aquifer. When someone says (I have heard this too many times to count): “I can do what I like with my water because the well is on MY land,” he or she doesn’t get it.


The aquifer belongs to everyone. If you use too much water or weed killer or chemical fertilizer, you endanger the water we all need. Your water is my water. My neighbor’s water is your water and his neighbor’s water belongs to you, me and everyone else. 


We live and die together on this planet. Whether or not we personally hate each other, we still absolutely positively MUST cooperate in keeping our water drinkable, our air breathable, and our land free of poison.

Aquifer in action

Did you catch Trump explaining that we had to get rid of low-usage light bulbs because they make him look orange? Really. He said that. They don’t make me look orange, but he says they make everyone look orange. He really is a jackass.

I’LL GIVE YOU MY REALITY IF YOU GIVE ME YOURS – By Tom Curley

I figured it out! The solution to reality! This reality! This reality TV reality!

The problem is not so much that we are living in a reality TV reality. The problem is that we’re living in a REALLY BAD reality TV reality. Face it, it’s not working. Each time something happens that we might think is positive, the next day — or the next hour — we discover we were deluded.

youtube.com

Do you know what does work?

Fictional TV reality!

Think about it. There was a show called “Designated Survivor.” In it, the whole U.S. government was blown up during a State of the Union Address.  The Executive Branch, Congress, Supreme Court? Wiped off the earth.

The only cabinet member that had to stay home becomes the President. He has to rebuild the government from the ground up. While he’s doing that, there’s a mysterious cabal in which the ones responsible for blowing everybody up are also trying to take over the country.

In spite of that, their government and President are doing a lot better job than ours! They are noticeably more sane and coherent and sometimes, they make intelligent decisions. Imagine that!

tvguide.com

So here’s what we do.  We switch realities!

It’s a win-win for everybody. How? It’s simple — at least in theory.

First

The current administration leaves the government and instead, goes on real TV, 24/7. Every day. You like watching the news? You’ll never miss another show!

Second

On Fox News. They all go to work on sets that look just like Washington, D.C.  They do the exact same things they do now. It will be just like on  “Big Brother”. Only bigger.

And on Fox News.

quickmeme.com

They can pass laws, write executive orders, cancel health insurance for the whole nation, eliminate “Meals On Wheels” or just kick puppies. Whatever they want! Trump supporters won’t be upset because they only watch Fox News.

As far as they’ll be concerned, everything is normal.

It just isn’t real.

“And it’s only on Fox.”

Third

OK, great you say. But what about real reality? Who’s going to be the real President? The real cabinet?

Here’s who. Honest to God fictional ones.

thegeektwins.com

The cool part is, we have a lot of options. We have lots of choices for President. And if we dig into the DNC pool, we’ve got dozens more. Hell, every billionaire is ready to declare!

We could have Jeb Bartlett. He was a great President. Don’t believe me? Watch “The West Wing.” Again. As a matter of fact, just keep watching it over and over until you feel better. It’s like a political tranquilizer.

theoddessyonline.com

We’ve got Dennis Haysbert. I’m pretty sure he was President twice.

nndb.com

We’ve got Morgan Freeman. Not only was the President, but he was (is currently, I believe) also God!

knowyourmeme.com

The list goes on. Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Jack Nicholson, Peter Sellers … (Oh, for God’s sake, Google the rest.) You get my point.

Now, appointing a cabinet becomes fun!

Fourth

Secretary of State? How about Tia Leoni? She’s already a Secretary of State and seems to be doing a pretty decent job of it every Sunday. Let’s give her the job for the rest of the week.

cbs.com

Attorney General? Julianna Margulies. She’s a lawyer, ran for State’s Attorney and by almost all accounts, is a good wife.

cbs.com

Secretary of Defense? I admit, at first, I was leaning toward Schwarzenegger or Stallone. Then it hit me.

CHUCK NORRIS! Think about it. We could cut the military budget down to nothing. Nobody’s going to go to war with us. Nobody fucks with Chuck Norris!

memegenerator.com

ISIS COMMANDER: We will destroy America!

ISIS GUY WATCHING THE NEWS: Sir, America just made Chuck Norris Secretary of Defense.

ISIS COMMANDER:  Shit.

(Insert favorite Chuck Norris joke here. My favorite? Chuck Norris once counted to infinity. Twice.)

pinterest.com

Department of Education? The cast of Sesame Street.

themarysue.com

Depart of Health and Human Services? Pick any of the stern but kindly Chiefs of Staff from any medical show you’ve enjoyed over the years. Any of them will do fine. (Except for Dr. Zorba. I’m pretty sure he’s dead.) (Extra points if you get that reference.)

humansofjudiasm.com

Department of Housing? Chris Rock. OK, he really doesn’t have any more qualifications for the job than Ben Carson does. But I just like the guy. He’s funny.

memegenerator.net

(If you get that reference, you get double extra points.) I could go on, but you get the point.

Five: The Election

How do we do this?

We have an election. Not the usual kind. What with voter suppression, low turnouts, gerrymandering, the Electoral College, and just candidates that don’t have the right scriptwriters, our elections are not working out well. That’s how we got into this mess, to begin with.

We have the election the same way reality TV shows do it. Everybody gets to vote from their smartphone, their computer, their tablet, or Android device. You can email or text your vote. You are only allowed to vote up to 20 times on any given device. You can vote up until 10 pm Eastern Standard Time.

ethnews.com

Granted, this will fire up the Millennials and confuse the hell out of old folks. Maybe it’s unfair, but it’s still better than the Electoral College.

We can set up March Madness-style brackets and have an election every week for maybe a month until we get a winner. Imagine how many office pools there will be. You might even win!

yankeeinexile.wordpress.com

And we, the people, elect everybody. The President doesn’t get to appoint his cabinet. We do.

This is absolute Democracy at work!

It could work!

As a cheese-faced person who somehow actually became President of the United States said to a bunch of totally incredulous Black people:

theoddeseyonline


“Give it a try. What have you got to lose?”


BLUE WAVE FLUSHES OUT THE HOUSE, AND TRUMP’S IN DEEP DOO-DOO – Reblog – The Shinbone Star

BLUE WAVE FLUSHES OUT THE HOUSE, AND TRUMP’S IN DEEP DOO-DOO


— Andrew Prendimano/The Shinbone Star

Control of the U.S. House of Representatives changed hands yesterday, leaving Democrats giddy but still thinking about what might have been.

While watching election returns we allowed ourselves to get a little greedy as Beto O’Rourke made things interesting in his Senate race with Ted “Zodiac Killer” Cruz, but at the end of the day it appears Repugclicans will retain control of the upper chamber.

Democrats wanted a tsunami but only got a decent wave. So what’s it all mean?

Well, the good news is that with Democrats seizing control of the House, some semblance of checks and balances will be restored for Psycho Donald Trump. That’s a really nice way of saying that Democrats can make Trump’s life a living hell for the next two years, and that’s cause for celebration. Specifically:

  • Democrats will now chair House committees, meaning they will have subpoena power.
  • They will have oversight over whatever bullshit the White House tries to unleash, and lord knows Trump’s evil West Wing whackos have already unleashed plenty.
  • If the Mueller investigation reveals impeachable offenses against the president, well, the newly Democratic House can bring those charges, though they will likely die in the Republican Senate. Still, impeachment proceedings wouldn’t be a good look for the Tweeter in Chief.
  • Gains in Democratic governorships mean Republican-drawn legislative maps will now be viewed by someone more inclined to say, “WTF???”

We can now relish the fact that Republicans will soon be getting a new look at some old villains, like Nancy Pelosi who could again be House Speaker. And then there’s Auntie Maxine Waters, who is probably sharpening her long knives this very minute.

But it’s the new villains that must be most concerning to Republicans, bright new faces bringing stark contrast to an old Republican Party chock full of wrinkled white Neanderthal males. CNN’s Van Jones may have put it best in his analysis when he said:

“It’s the end of one party rule. It’s not a blue wave but a rainbow wave.”

The Shinbone Star’s staff is small and widely scattered. We can’t cover every race, but some of our crew of half-blind geriatrics burned the midnight oil covering issues and races of special interest to them:

DOWN IN THE LONE STAR STATE

O’ROURKE

We Texas Democrats of a certain age keep thinking victory will come to us, but it didn’t come on Tuesday night.

Beto O’Rourke has gone down swinging, running a campaign that a human being can be proud of — except for the part where he didn’t win. Now that it’s happened, I expect Democrats will dissect the defeat mercilessly. That’s what Democrats do.

But mark this down: a still-to-be-determined number of Democrats were elected to Congress on Tuesday, and it’s hard to imagine that any of them have anything but warmest regards for Beto O’Rourke. It was the excitement he brought to the race in Texas that brought a wave of voters, many of them new to the process.

So the sting will linger for a bit, but the 46-year-old O’Rourke will be heard from again.

In his concession speech, O’Rourke talked of visiting every Texas county, and being welcomed in every one of them. He also vowed that Democrats “will be defined by what we’re for.”

He promised to help Cruz where he can, but he most pointedly thanked his hometown of El Paso, and said the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez is a working hub of citizens from two nations. “It doesn’t need to be walled.” — Lin Lofley

NEW FACE IN NJ-11

SHERRILL

In New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District, the seat held for 12 terms by retiring Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen flipped to the Democrats as Mikie Sherrill, a former federal prosecutor and Navy helicopter pilot, scored a victory over Republican Jay Webber.

In his concession speech, Webber, who was backed by President Trump, seemed to blame his loss on the fact that his campaign was outspent by the Democrats.

The seat went up for grabs when Frelinghuysen, head of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, announced in January that he would not seek re-election.

He had come under criticism for failure to hold town hall sessions for his constituents. The campaign pitted Sherrill, a first-time office seeker, against Webber, a state assemblyman who has held statewide office since 2008. — Anne-Marie

WHY NANCY PELOSI SHOULD BE SPEAKER

PELOSI

With Democrats seizing control of the U.S. House of Representatives, there will be a struggle for leadership with some folks calling for newer, younger leadership. That would be a mistake.

Nancy Pelosi is a General Leia. She is the most powerful woman in U.S. political history and the most successful. Pelosi delivered landmark legislation for economic stimulus, financial overhaul, and healthcare.

Yeah, the Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare, aka “death panels” — which conventional wisdom declared to be such a loser that most Democrats ran away from it (and President Obama) resulted in most of them getting their asses kicked. Yet here we are eight years later and what were the smart kids running on? Healthcare. Who knew?

We now have one branch of government back under control of people not under the sway of the crazy, racist bastard occupying the White House. But those who are under the sway of the crazy, racist bastard still run the other branches of government. Democrats haven’t been the majority in the House for eight years and will now be engaged in some of the most epic political battles we’ve ever seen. Literally trying to save the freaking nation! A sports analogy: It’s the playoffs . . . do you start a rookie who hasn’t played a minute in the league or do you go with your future Hall of Famer? Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker redux! — LarryBnDC

WHY DO I FEEL DIRTY?

MENENDEZ

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) retained his seat despite a nasty campaign with multimillionaire businessman Bob Hugin that featured ads questioning the ethics of the embattled, now a three-term senator.

Hugin, a former Celgene Corp. executive, spent $36 million of his own money on his campaign, which in the end saw him too closely tied to President Trump, who he supported to the tune of $200,000 in 2016.

Menendez’s re-election followed his corruption trial that ended in a mistrial. Hugin outspent his opponent by more than two-to-one en-route to the loss. — MastaTalka

THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT

HAALAND

New Mexico native Deborah Haaland became the first Native American woman elected to the House of Representatives. Winning 59 percent of the vote, she easily defeated Republican Janice Arnold Jones.

New Mexico also has a new Democratic governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, who narrowly defeated Republican challenger Rick Pearce. Grisham replaces Republican governor Susana Martinez who couldn’t run because of term limits — mercifully.

Incumbent senator, Democrat Martin Heinrich easily defeated Republican Mick Rich with 52.9 percent of the vote compared to 32 percent for Rich. Libertarian former governor Gary Johnson received 82,860 votes, or just 15 percent.

Johnson and Jill Stein running as Libertarians in 2016, helped propel Donald Trump into the White House. Of interest to state conservationists was the race for land commissioner pitting, Democrat Stephanie Garcia Richard winning against oil industry-backed Republican Patrick Lyons. — Fred Bunch

LAND OF THE FREE

It’s almost 9 p.m. here in British Columbia, so Election Day coverage is almost over for most Americans. As a realist who leans towards pessimism, the outcome is what I hoped/expected for at best. And hey, it’s definitely a more survivable event than if the Republican Party and their morally bankrupt leader had kept everything.

So, on that note, as a Canadian, the one story I have been following is the Florida vote on whether former felons should be given back their voting rights. Yes, to all of you who just take for granted your right to vote, I typed that correctly. I don’t think many people realize just how difficult it is to actually get out and vote in the United States; state by state, rules and regulations differ.

And if you are or were a felon, that comes with a whole other box of bullshit. The U.S. is one of the harshest countries when it comes to those who have committed a crime. Florida was one of three states (the other two are Kentucky and Iowa) that held a lifetime ban on voting for any felon, former or otherwise.

That’s all changed now. An estimated 1.5 million former felons will have their voting rights restored in Florida thanks to the midterm voter turnout in favour of the amendment on the ballot.

In a country that claims to be home of the free yet has the largest number of incarcerated people on the planet, this is a big deal. It’s a big deal for those directly affected and it’s also a big deal for politics.

Florida has long been the state that determines political outcomes for the country, and now with more than a million people now able to have their voices heard and their votes counted in future elections, this could be a game-changer.

Let’s hope it’s a move towards change for better voting rights in all of the United States of America. — Madmegsblog

IT’S NOT FUNNY ANYMORE – Reblog – THE SHINBONE STAR

THE SHINBONE STAR

WRITTEN BY MADMEGSBLOG – November 4, 2018

As a Canadian watching helplessly from north of the border, all I can do is scream at the laptop and the television and type “VOTE” over and over until my fingers cramp up. There used to be a time I could tell you the current political stories and climate for both countries; now, it’s more like “Trudeau who?”I know I could walk away from social media (and I have at times) and I could shut my ears to the constant noise, but I just can’t. Most of us can’t.

What has been a constant train wreck that was both cringe-worthy and entertaining in a circus kind of way has become one giant ball of horrific attack after horrific attack thrown at the citizens of a country I used to know.

What used to be a bit of joke for Canadians to heckle has become a tragedy of historic proportions. We still can’t look away, but we sure as hell aren’t laughing anymore. None of this is funny. Hell, watching “Real Time with Bill Maher” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” no longer keeps me sane. I try to chuckle at their witty jokes, but I cry inside wondering if the disaster down below is a survivable event.

I commend the likes of Maher, John Oliver, Jimmy Kimmel, and Samantha Bee. To go on air weekly or nightly and try to make people laugh about that thing in their Oval Office that is ruining their great country one hateful tweet at a time makes my heart hurt for them.

I know I have run out of steam so I can only imagine what my American friends are feeling right now. You can see the exhaustion on their faces. It’s pretty bad when Stormy Daniels has to be the one to carry the humour on Bill Maher’s show.

It’s a scary time right now.

For Americans and for anyone who believes in democracy. Nationalism and racial divide is popping up all over the globe. Europe is in disarray and hate groups are on the rise. There are 49 countries that are officially ruled by a dictatorship.

That may not sound like a lot, but given how influential the United States is globally, the fact that the piece of garbage currently now running the country routinely threatens freedom of the press and attempts to dismantle the Constitution while cozying up to ruthless leaders gives governments in struggling countries a renewed energy to do the same. Here’s a map below to give you some idea of “freedom” in the world. Green is free, at least for now. Let that sink in.

We are all watching the decline of democracy globally, and the Great Ape in Charge of America is leading the parade. The sad part is, he doesn’t even really know it. It was never his intention; his intention is to WIN. At any cost.

The free and not-free world

So all we Canadians can do is sit and watch, and freaking hope beyond all hope that every American citizen gets out there on Nov. 6 and VOTES!!! Because if Trump and the Republican Party win and keep the majority, the cost will be huge and will be felt everywhere. The ripple effect of hate and malignant tribal politics will be far-reaching and even harder to beat come 2020. Even if it’s a Democratic sweep in November, it’s still an uphill battle to regain the political dignity that the Big O and his cronies have destroyed.

We aren’t laughing anymore. There’s no more condescending Canadian humour at the expense of our American friends. How could anyone joke about the idiot in the White House when people are dying at the hands of hate? No, we are frightened for you and we hope you can win this fight. We are behind you 100 percent.

So I will just say it one more time:  PLEASE GET OUT AND VOTE!!!

via It’s Not Funny Anymore

FOR MASSACHUSETTS: OUR GUBERNATORIAL RACE – Marilyn Armstrong

I spent some time today reading about races that are close and which are not. Here in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren is expected to win handily and I am glad. She’s a live wire in a house full of deadheads.

Charlie Baker, our Republican governor, is considered extremely likely to win in more or less of a landslide because everyone likes Charlie Baker. Even I like Charlie Baker, but I’m not going to vote for him.

BOSTON, MA. – SEPTEMBER 26: Gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez speaks to media at The Massachusetts Statehouse on September 26, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Patrick Whittemore/Boston Herald)

I’ve been thinking as a middle of the state semi-rural resident of Worcester country, I’d like to know what exactly he has done? He certainly hasn’t done anything around here.

He hasn’t paved the roads, repaired the bridges, or updated our disastrous trains (commuter trains, and Amtrak). He hasn’t invested in new or improved schools, better healthcare, or extended MassHealth (our state’s Medicaid) to people who need it. I can’t think of anything he has done that has anything to do with me or anyone in this county. I’m pretty sure the rest of Massachusetts would agree with me.

But he is a pleasant fellow. Your basic nice guy. Garry once told me the nicest people you’ll ever meet are politicians and mobsters. I’ve met both.

Garry was right.

Flowers growing in the potholes

Other than being nice, what else is Charlie Baker doing? All the problems we had when he took office are still with us. And if you live in this state, you absolutely know — 100% sure — the rails will stop working as soon as we get snow. Moreover, we won’t have enough snowplows, sand, or salt.

Charles Baker, Governor – Massachusetts

Charlie Baker is Boston’s mayor. He has little or nothing to do with anyone outside greater Boston or the wealthy areas along our eastern coastline. In short, he’s not our governor. If you live in Newton or Framingham, maybe he’s your guy, although I’m not sure what he’s done for you, either.

In fact, I’m not sure he does anything except be pleasant. He is, however, committed to supporting the Republican ticket because that’s where the money comes from. He may act like a Democrat to get elected in an overwhelmingly Democratic state, but make no mistake. He is not. It’s a political shell-game.

One of the things Gonzalez said during the debate was that anyone who doesn’t live in or around Boston must wonder when the government might do something for them. He actually said he had wanted to do this debate in Worcester, but Baker’s staff would not agree. He said he would like to be governor for the entire state because everyone west of greater Boston was still waiting to some any kind of public transport, much less upgraded transport.

That is exactly how I feel. I get that we are always outvoted by the city and its suburbs, but we live here too. Wouldn’t it be nice to at least get back the amount of taxes we pay in? Maybe have an extension so we could take a  train to Boston? How about a minibus so if you can’t drive, you are not helpless.

I don’t think charming Charlie is enough. We deserve better. Not that this post is going to change the race, but we need to stop electing pleasant do-nothing governors and find one who will actually accomplish something.

The last good one we had was Michael Dukakis — more than 30 years ago.

Facts Fuel Incentive to Vote Out Trumplanders to Save Our Country – THE SHINBONE STAR

Voting matters. Even though you are one vote, the collective number of people who DON’T vote outnumbers those who do.

Vote.

Bring your friends. There are so many places where there is no vote, no choice. Please, please VOTE.

THE SHINBONE STAR

Who could forget the way smug Republicans acted — including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — after getting a would-be rapist onto the Supreme Court. Although Graham isn’t up for re-election this cycle, his recent performances should provide incentive to vote against his Republican cohorts.

What evidence, what proof, what hard facts do any of us need to realize our country is not better off nearly two years into the Donald J. Trump era of governance in order to vote out anyone who supports the misguided, self-absorbed person currently occupying our White House?

Just to be clear, there is no tax cut on the horizon for the middle class no matter what Donald says in the next few days. Not only is there no new tax cut, but apparently the one he and his GOP cohorts bragged so loudly about toward the end of last year never materialized for the average…

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99 New: Now – REBLOG – Jan Wilburg

I could not have said it better.

Red's Wrap

I have only this to say tonight – after a day of news about people murdered while praying.

Start where you are
Use what you have

Do what you can
–Arthur Ashe

Don’t wait to be asked. Find out where people are needed and go there. Send money to people running for office who believe in equal rights, justice, fairness, and inclusion. Sign up to knock on doors or make phone calls. Go to the march. Make a sign. Hold the sign over your head so people passing in cars will see it.

Do not be afraid. The people who were killed today can’t march, they can’t vote.

We will have to do it for them.

View original post

Wasting away in MAGA-ritaville – REBLOG – THE SHINBONE STAR

I can’t write about these last two horrors. I’m literally too angry and upset … and on some level, scared. If this election goes wrong, our geese (or is that gooses?) are cooked.

THE SHINBONE STAR

MAGA-ritaville, infested with MAGATs.

Sunday, first day of a new week still dripping with horror from the one that went before.

We’re wasting away in MAGA-ritaville, people, a place where Americans of conscience must divide their attention between a plot to assassinate high-profile foes of President Donald Trump by one of his acolytes, and the horror of a Pittsburgh synagogue shooting where a right-wing extremist who called Jews the “children of Satan” murdered 11 of them.

And the president? No acknowledgement that his hate-filled agenda has anything to do with either case, even though one suspect’s vehicle was a rolling shrine to MAGA ideals, while the other’s hatred for a Jewish group that provided assistance to immigrants is a page from the course syllabus for Trumpism 101.

Facebook — swarming with news of both horrors — says I must be angry or sad, with no possibility of being both. And…

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A NEW KIND OF BALLOT FOR A NEW KIND OF TRUTH — Marilyn Armstrong

Imagine, for a moment, if we actually had a new kind of ballot.

Since we no longer have a grip on “true” versus “fake,” instead of voting for or against a candidate, we get a long list of True/False boxes for each nominee. We fill them in.

When we are finished, we add up the “true” and “false” values, then vote for whoever gets the most “true” checks. It won’t mean that the candidate is more truthful, only that we think he or she is — as Stephen Colbert so well put it — “truthier.”

True versus false?

We no longer believe in science and are letting the earth slide into disaster. We aren’t vaccinating children, so measles and whooping-cough have returned and are gaining ground with each year of vaccine-free kids.

If we aren’t going to believe in provable facts, why not design our own “truth” for voting? Let’s skip reality entirely and base our votes on what we read on Facebook or the back of a cereal box.

Or maybe we can give up using ballots at all. Just toss horseshoes at hooks. Wherever they land, someone gets that vote. It’ll work as well as anything else has.

I never imagined a world like this. I’m living in it and I still can’t imagine it.

WHEN THEY CLOSE YOUR HOSPITAL, POLITICS DON’T MATTER – Marilyn Armstrong

We don’t seem to be having much luck talking national politics. We have rigidified our views in these areas, so there is no conversation possible. Nonetheless, there is stuff to talk about and a lot of is hits much too close to home.

Entry

Each state has its own unique ballot questions. While these issues are statewide, the subjects involved affect many places not only in this country but worldwide. While no two places have precisely the same issues, many problems are similar enough. The states watch each others’ ballot issues — both on how they are fought and to see how the solutions do or don’t work.

This year, Massachusetts is trying to vote on government-mandated Nurse Staffing Ratios for hospitals. The Nurse’s Union put the issue on the ballot because nurses in many hospitals are greatly overworked. Not only are the nurses exhausted and underpaid, but tired, harried nurses make mistakes. Some of them are fatal.


According to a recent study by Johns Hopkins, more than 250,000 people in the United States die every year because of medical mistakes, making it the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. — Feb 22, 2018

No one could reasonably argue that nurses are not overworked. Except for Intensive Care Units where nursing ratios are tightly controlled, Massachusetts does not have mandatory nurse-to-patient ratios. In the U.S., the only state that has state-mandated ratios is California.

From inside looking out at UMass Memorial Hospital

The problem is, that Massachusetts doesn’t have enough nurses. Forget, for a moment, whether or not the hospitals could afford to hire enough nurses. We don’t have them to hire.

Almost anyone who wants to go into nursing can get a full scholarship. The shortage of nurses has been an issue for many decades. Nursing was a popular choice for women when I was a kid, but by the time I was an adult, women were beginning to think that if they were going to do the work, they might as well become doctors.

In an attempt to get a better grip on the subject, we had a conversation with our doctor. Garry figured he probably had a pretty good sense about it.

He thought for a while, then he said “It would probably mean closing at least 200 hospitals around the state … most of them in areas like this one where we don’t many hospitals.” Rural areas have very different issues than big or even medium-sized cities.

There’s the fundamental problem.

Milford Hospital from the Dana-Farber

Nurses — when we have recent graduates — want to begin careers in places where salaries are better (who doesn’t?), facilities are more advanced, and there are reasonable opportunities for professional growth. They don’t choose little hospitals in the middle of Worcester or Hampden counties.

“The hospital closures would,” our doctor commented, “make it very hard to find places to put patients.” Like me, I thought.

It’s not that he doesn’t think nurses are overworked. We all think they are overworked. I don’t think that’s even an issue. The problem is (1) where are we going to get all those nurses, and (2) how are we going to pay them?

What’s the answer? We are missing approximately 13,000 nurses. If we vote for government mandated nursing ratios, will the government also provide the nurses and money to pay them? A lot of hospitals are operating on a shoestring already. It wouldn’t take much to push them over the edge.

We have the same problem with teachers, police, firefighters, and medics. They work hard and they don’t get paid well. We are short of libraries and librarians and a lot of other things, too, like functional railroads and bridges that won’t collapse. Roads that urgently need paving.

It’s not like we don’t know about the problems. It’s just that we can’t always fix them by passing laws. There are secondary and tertiary problems that result from “just pass the law and work it out afterward.”

In rural areas — like ours  — if you close one hospital, there’s a very good chance there will be no place to go if we get sick or have an emergency. Boston is more than 70 miles away through very heavy traffic. Some of our “local” hospitals are not places you’d want to be if you had a serious problem.

As I am coming to realize in our personal lives, you can’t always fix the problems. Even when you know what the problems are and what needs to be done, that doesn’t mean you can make it happen. Unlike the federal government, states can’t just raise the deficit.

Putting aside all of our national problems, we still need to bang our heads together and figure out sensible solutions to problems that face us personally.

When you live in the country, these problems are at least twice as difficult to manage as they are in Boston. Hospitals are big business in Boston — and yet even there, they are merging many of the biggest and best facilities to stay solvent. Or nearly solvent.

Out here, we don’t have many hospitals. They have already closed most of the smallest ones. Unlike Boston where they make their budgets by giving parking tickets to any car that pauses too long at a stop sign, we have to live on property taxes that are already very high … too high for many of us. We don’t have enough police and if there’s a big fire, all the towns have to get together to fight it because no town has enough professionals

We have a Fire Chief, but firefighters are 90% volunteers. And some of the smaller valley towns don’t have a fire department at all. Uxbridge has a pretty good fleet of fire trucks and a new firehouse in town … but we don’t have a professional staff. For this, we — and our nearby neighboring towns — depend on volunteers.

But sick people? We have a plenty of them.


For more information, see Nurse staffing ratios: What is the 2018 Massachusetts ballot question all about?