Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A New Beginning, and a Time to End What I Started Here So Long Ago


Twelve years ago, on this very date, on another Inauguration Day, I started this blog on a note of hope and change. Barack Obama was being sworn in as president for the first time and it was a day so overwhelming I felt as if I might burst if I didn't put my thoughts to good use. 

We had come away from what seemed like an awful eight years, brought to us by George W.  Bush and Dick Cheney. They took us into an unnecessary, deadly war. They took a huge surplus left by Bill Clinton and turned it into a massive deficit. They lied so often it became commonplace, and too many people accepted the lies and turned against the best of our programs. Ordinary people didn't have a chance.

 It seemed as if, with Obama, we were being rescued.

I needed to be a part of that, if only as an unknown witness, an observer, a chronicler. I look back on the pieces I wrote during those 12 years sometimes with joy and sometimes with sorrow. I didn't chronicle everything. I picked and chose whatever struck me and I didn't keep a schedule. I saw it as a blog and not a job. It was my place and I loved having it here.

I built a sidebar that showcased other writers doing meaningful and wonderful work. Most of them are still there, thankfully. They did see it as a job, and they never gave up. (The sidebar is still there, still up to date, still there for you to use.)

You'll notice I dropped out often after Trump was 'elected'. The heart went out of my political writing. I didn't realize as it was happening how broken-hearted I was. For four solid years I felt as if my country, our country, was barely surviving under the clutches of an abuser. I felt powerless. I was powerless. But I should have had more faith in my country's absolute requirement that democracy must prevail.

History will view Donald Trump's presidency as a warning that, as a democracy, we were far more fragile than we could have imagined. Those of us who warned against him early on couldn't imagine that a president of the United States could go that rogue. Trump was always an incorrigible liar and a crook. He was always a narcissist and a sociopath. What we didn't expect was the help he would get from a political party sworn to preserve the republic and to protect us from all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

I don't need to regurgitate Trump's four years here. In fact, I refuse. But as I write this, Joseph R. Biden Jr. was just sworn in as the 46th President of these United States. Kamala Devi Harris was just sworn is as the first Female of Color to ever advance to the Vice Presidency. The Democrats have a tenuous hold on both the House and the Senate, and Biden's cabinet is already at work to begin the healing and take us to a far different place.

And I see today, this very moment, as the perfect time to end this blog and move on. I love what I've done here, but the truth is, almost nobody sees it. I've lost the ability to allow comments and I haven't been able to figure out how to change that. It's not a community without comments. We need to have a conversation. Or at least I do. 

So I've moved to Substack, to newsletter country, and I hope I'll see you there. My general blog/newsletter is called Constant Commoner. It's a continuation of the things I write here and at Medium.

The second newsletter, Writer Everlasting, is geared toward writers and writing. Both are public and can be read at any time without a paywall. 

 You can also find me at Twitter. I spend a lot of time there, no apologies. I love that community.  This is why.

This blog will always be here, as long as Blogger allows it. The posts I've written will be available as an archive. And do keep an eye on the posts under "Necessary Voices", at the sidebar to the right. They won't disappoint.

2020 was a dreadful year for most of us.  2021 brings us new hope. I want to be there with you as we fight to make it right. But right now I want to enjoy this day. Let's all enjoy this day.

And wasn't Lady Gaga amazing?


No, seriously, I've just moved; I'm not  going away. I still have much to say, just in another neighborhood. I'm over at Substack most of the time now, though I still have a page at Medium. I've moved Constant Commoner to Substack, and I've added a blog called Writer Everlasting. (Geared to writers, though anyone can read it.)

I have an author's page. Sort of. It's all here. The doors are always open and I'm always ready for company.

Friday, November 13, 2020

We Have a New President But The Nightmare Isn't Over

Photo Credit: Sky News

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Trump Regime's Fatal Flaw: They Don't Understand Americans

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, I was four years old. Some of my earliest memories are as an activist child during wartime. We had entered World War II and my job was as Chief Tin Can Inspector. I washed cans and crushed them flat. I bought Savings Stamps at school and pasted them into albums to convert into War Bonds.

The war was a constant backdrop and my parents were among millions who took the war effort seriously. The propaganda of the day was heavily into duty and obligation — every American citizen was called into service. We couldn’t allow one man, one regime, to win his war against humanity.

It marked us, and we were never the same. Our country grew more and more precious as the war years went on. The more lives that were lost protecting us, the more we persevered — for them. And when the war was over and we grew strong again, our pride grew even stronger. We did it! We won!

Generations of us grew up believing we had an obligation to our country. When JFK said, in his 1961 Inaugural Address, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, it wasn’t a demand, it was a reminder. This is what Americans do.

We’re in a different century now — 20 years into a different century — and if you cancel out the noise you’ll find the majority of Americans still believe in some sort of obligatory service. Our obligation is to keep our country strong, not by strong-arming the government, but by strengthening its core principles. By voting as if voting is a serious matter. By entering into public service, not as glory-seekers, but as true public servants. By working to ease the lives of those who are vulnerable and less fortunate. By recognizing that threats like global warming and raging pandemics are our burdens, our responsibility. Our survival is in our hands.

We are a nation of laws, of regulations, of justice and reckoning. We reject greed and corruption and frown on nepotism. We demand equality, we celebrate diversity, we recognize our enemies, both foreign and home-grown.

And if you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering which rock I’ve just crawled out from under. This is not the America you’re seeing. Not even close.

But consider this:

Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, wasn’t even on the radar mere months ago. He was laughed at, vilified, virtually written off. He was ‘establishment’, an anachronism, an ancient workhorse destined to be put out to pasture. But, Rep. Jim Clyburn’s eloquent endorsement aside, maybe Biden’s victory was inevitable. Many of us listened to Clyburn’s call to decency, to obligation, to duty, and recognized his message as wholly, unequivocally American. 

This is who we are. We are Americans, first and foremost.

We’ve made grievous mistakes and haven’t always been proud of our actions, but the promise of the United States is ‘to form a more perfect union’. Nothing has changed. We’re still working at it, but we can’t do it by going backward. We have to move forward, but we have to win first.

The past four years will be seen as an anomaly, an experiment gone horribly wrong. We’ll learn from it, but the price, the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives lost to a pandemic ravaging through our country, largely due to government incompetence, is far too high. The experimentation has to stop. It didn’t work. We have to get back to our promised obligation —to build a strong government designed to take care of our citizens.

We will come out of this. Joe Biden has begun gathering a phalanx of experts who are already working on programs and plans so they can start on Day One in January. (Cohorts and novices need not apply.) They’re going to need cheerleaders, and that’s where we come in. 

The thing I remember most about my childhood during World War II is the optimism. 

Were my parents afraid? They must have been terrified. They lived through the Great Depression only to watch Hitler’s Nazism spread throughout historic European strongholds. One man held entire countries hostage; he bent them and broke them. How could it happen?

Then Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and suddenly it was hitting too close to home. Between a mandatory draft and a concerted need to protect our shores, millions of young men and women signed up to serve our country. Everything changed. And, except for the few predictable slackers, scam artists, and profiteers, we changed, too.

We became our country’s biggest allies. We retooled our factories, gave up luxuries, rationed necessities, pulled on our caring cloaks, found we cared deeply, and went to work as one country against a common enemy.

We did that. For more than four years we did that.

And let nobody ever tell you we can’t do it again.


(Cross-posted at Medium/Indelible Ink)

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

My Years With Joe Biden: I Didn't Vote For Joe but I've Always Loved Him

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

We’re exactly two weeks away from the election of our lives and I’m getting nervous. I keep thinking I’ve said all I can say to convince everyone to vote for Joe Biden. Apparently I haven’t gotten through yet. Let me give it one more try.

Some of you may remember that I didn’t vote for Joe during the primaries, and wasn’t all that thrilled about him even being in the race. Then Rep. Jim Clyburn gave a speech in South Carolina and I changed my mind.

I’ve known Joe for a while now — not personally, of course, but I’ve been watching him for years. On January 20, 2009, the day Barack Obama was inaugurated as our 44th president, I started my political blog, Ramona’s Voices. Over the years I’ve mentioned Joe Biden many times, and even devoted entire posts to him, including one post I wrote in 2012 called, ‘I Love Joe Biden. I Mean It. I LOVE Joe Biden’. (In case you had any doubt.) I wrote it after Joe stood before a group of military families who had lost loved ones and talked to them about the raw pain of grieving. I was crying as I wrote it, and maybe it shows.

Before that, in March, 2011, I wrote about him in my weekly feature, Friday Follies. (Included in case there are those who still think Biden is faking his pro-union stance.):

Did I ever tell you I LOVE Joe Biden? I do. Yes, he can be slightly wacky at times but in a good way. A cute way. He’s fluffy tough and the reason the word “gaffe” was invented. But the other day he spoke to union activists and every word was a keeper. Try parsing THIS, Faux News! Ha!
“You guys built the middle class,” said Biden in a virtual town hall conversation hosted by the AFL-CIO. “I would just emphasize what Hilda [Solis] said and say it slightly different: We don’t see the value of collective bargaining, we see the absolute positive necessity of collective bargaining. Let’s get something straight: The only people who have the capacity — organizational capacity and muscle — to keep, as they say, the barbarians from the gate, is organized labor. And make no mistake about it, the guys on the other team get it. They know if they cripple labor, the gate is open, man. The gate is wide open. And we know that too.”

In ‘Women, Gays, and Obama’s Ear’, Joe got taken to the woodshed for seeming to go against Obama. They called it a ‘gaffe’, of course, but couldn’t make anything stick. I wrote, Note to Joe: It’s far better to be gaffe-prone than to be mean-prone. So far, you’re okay, man. Because I thought what he did was admirable, and Obama could do worse than learn from it.

And in September, 2015, when we were waiting to see who was going to run for president in 2016, I wrote ‘Please, Joe, Don’t Run’. I did it for his own good. I wanted him to take care of himself.

But somewhere between Hillary’s loss to Trump and the beginning of the 2020 Democratic primary season, I lost interest in Joe Biden as president. I wanted a woman in the White House, and, thankfully, there were plenty of good women to choose from. Joe was so far down my list I barely remembered he was there. I voted for Elizabeth Warren and I was devastated when she couldn’t get to that place.

 Now we’re easing into the end of October and I’m thrilled that Joe Biden is the candidate. Yes, thrilled. As Trump spirals out of control, Biden is building the greatest coalition of good guys and experts I’ve ever seen. What it tells me is that if we can pull this election off, barring all roadblocks coming from the other side, we will have a central government that can be trusted to begin the rebuilding after so much destruction. They will work as if our lives depended on it.

‘Of the people, by the people, for the people’ will no longer be quaint wishful thinking, it’ll be the way we are. It wasn’t always the way we were, but if the Trump regime’s bulldozing of our government has taught us anything, it’s that we really don’t want such drastic relief from big government. We need big government, we know that now, but we have to make it better.

Except for a few holdouts, the Democrats are coming together as a formidable bloc, getting behind Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for the top jobs and supporting and donating to the Democratic candidates down the ballot. Some of them are raising more campaign funds than they could ever even dream about. Every time Trump and his Republican cohorts do something awful in these final days, the funds roll in for the Democrats.

All signs point to a Biden win, but we Democrats are still shell-shocked over 2016. We tell ourselves we don’t dare jump the gun this time, and there’s some truth to that, but Donald Trump is a known entity now. He’s still a novice, still knows nothing about government, and it shows.

Trump has made some deadly decisions based on nothing more than how they’ll make him look. His mismanagement of the COVID pandemic has raised America’s death tolls to horrific levels not seen anywhere else in the world.

He has alienated everyone the world over, but thinks if he plays to his base everything will be all right. He doesn’t know it yet, but most of America has moved past him. As a leader he’s a disaster; as a chaos agent he thinks he’s not done yet. But the country has grown tired of his antics and Joe Biden looks like the necessary antidote. We’re watching the two of them in public and the differences couldn’t be more stark.

Joe Biden has to win but he has to win in a landslide. The Democrats have to win in a landslide. It looks imminent, but it’ll take each of us working to get out the vote. This may be our last chance to get it right.

(Cross-posted at Medium/Indelible Ink)

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Will Trump Get a Sympathy Surge? Or Is America Finally Horrified Enough?


Donald Trump has COVID-19. I know you know that. It’s big news. The biggest. We can’t get a break from the drama of Donald Trump having COVID. We watched with some interest as the president’s helicopter, Marine One, eased onto the White House lawn, loaded their precious cargo, and airlifted the president* to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, some 8 1/2 miles away.

Once there, Donald Trump wanted to go home. He at least wanted his visit to seem as unlike a hospital stay as he could. He was at a desk! He was still working! Don’t worry! He recorded two videos, supposedly two days apart, but discovered by the techies to have been filmed within an interval of around a half hour. He was still wearing a suit jacket, still wearing cuff links. How bad could it be?

Outside on the street, within Trump’s view, crowds of his admirers gathered, waving Trump and blue line flags, honking horns, blowing whistles, and the man inside, already high on steroids, it would appear, was elated. His people! He had to get to them, to let them know how happy he was that they were there! Nobody knows yet how it happened, but Trump appeared on camera again, giddy with a happy secret that would be revealed within minutes — so stay tuned, America. And again we were glued.

Then, minutes later, there was real breaking news: The President of the United States, a COVID patient sick enough to have been airlifted to the hospital just two days before, was heading out the door, was getting into a black SUV, was masked but clearly joyful to be out of there, was waving and thumbs-upping to his fans — so, see? If there was a living, breathing Superman Donald Trump was it. What a moment!

And then it was over. The SUV drove through the crowd and headed back to the hospital, where Trump got out on his own, climbed the steps and went back inside. Every medical expert was and is horrified. Trump, an active COVID patient, deliberately, recklessly exposed the Secret Service members inside the hermetically sealed van to possible COVID because he couldn’t stand the thought of being inside, quarantined, away from his beloved cameras.

At this writing, he’s still high on steroids and talking crazy. He’s invincible! He beat it! “Don’t let it dominate you”, Trump tells a country still in the throes of a pandemic.

On his victorious return to the White House, he stood on a balcony, clearly breathless, but, ever the actor, with thumbs up, shoulders back, maskless. Tough guy. He went inside to greet his masked staff, who, if they had any sense about them, must have been terrified. They should have been outfitted in PPP gear, but they weren’t. Their masks were their only defense against that lunging, spewing germ factory.

The thing Donald Trump cared the most about, after his release (clearly against the hospital’s warnings), was the positioning of the cameras. They had to make him look good, the picture of health. His first thought as he entered the White House was to make a video designed to let his public know he was all right. He, Donald Trump, got through this. Everything was going to be all right.

So this morning we woke up to what might be considered his most bizarre video if there hadn’t been so many that came before. (The video is out there. It’s bizarre enough. But here are the words. Donald Trump’s words.)

From CNN:

“We’re going back. We’re going back to work. We’re gonna be out front. As your leader, I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it but I had to do it,” Trump said in the highly produced video, which he taped after reporters left the South Lawn.
“I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did. I know there’s a risk, there’s a danger. That’s okay. And now I’m better and maybe I’m immune? I don’t know. But don’t let it dominate your lives. Get out there, be careful,” he said in the video, which was filmed within close proximity of White House staffers all without wearing a mask.
Of his battle with Covid-19, Trump said, “I learned so much about coronavirus. And one thing that’s for certain. Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. We’re gonna beat it. We have the best medical equipment, best medicines.”
“I didn’t feel so good. Two days ago- I could have left two days ago. Two days ago, I felt great. Like better than I have in a long time… I said better than 20 years ago. Don’t let it dominate. Don’t let it take over your lives. “

There is nothing normal about what Trump, still under the influence of steroids known to cause mental fog and feelings of invincibility, said there. It was a reckless performance, worrisome enough coming from an ordinary patient, but Donald Trump is, at least until January, 2021, the President of the United States. He must relinquish his hold on the presidency until he is well. But he won’t do it. We know he won’t. Mike Pence, along with members of Congress, are in a position to demand that the president temporarily step down, but they won’t do it, either.

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment:

Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

So it’s up to the people now. Is Trump well enough to assume the duties of the presidency? (Okay, I’ll say it. Elephant in the room: He never was.) Have we had enough of this shit show or is it just too fascinating, too delicious, too crazy to let go of it now?

Trump, as his doctors have warned, is not out of the woods yet. His fans will get louder and more rabid as his illness progresses. The noise will not stop. Will it give him a boost among voters?

Anything can happen between now and November 3, but at this moment, Donald Trump is clearly not able to run this country. Nobody could have predicted that the president would be hopped up on steroids, telling the country to ignore a deadly virus that HE exacerbated, that HE tried to hide, that HE literally worked against fighting, that has infected many millions and has killed an unconscionable number of Americans.

Millions of us, along with the ghosts of more than 210,000 victims, say “enough”. Will it finally be enough?


(Cross-posted at Indelible Ink/Medium)

Thursday, October 1, 2020

As Shitshows Go, Trump's Presidency Tops Them All

But that first debate was right up there.

Source: UPI

I pride myself on not watching political debates — I’ve never seen one yet that was an actual debate and not a choreographed linguistic wrestling match— but I watched Tuesday’s ‘debate’ between Donald Trump and Joe Biden just to see if Trump was going to show the country how presidential he could be when push came to shove.

A day or two before the debate Trump was asked what he was doing to prepare for it. When he said he didn’t have to prep, I knew he was planning to do exactly what he did, which is exactly what he does every time he gets before the cameras. There’s a specific script in his brain and he never deviates. I wrote this on Twitter:

Donald Trump announces he’s not prepping for the debate tonight. And why would he? It’ll be:
Insult Joe — check
Fake news — check
Blue states are bad — check
Great job on COVID — check
Stock mkt booming — check
I’m the greatest — check
I beat Hillary — check

I missed ‘Biden kept me from paying taxes’ and ‘Shout-out to Proud Boys’ — and I really didn’t see ‘Reduce Chris Wallace to frazzled Kindergarten teacher’ coming, but I fully expected Trump to dominate the night by attacking and interrupting and muttering and grimacing, all in place of any real policy discussions — which he clearly, woefully cannot do.

There was a president up on that stage but it wasn’t Donald Trump.

Trump loves the trappings, the power, the attention, the title, but when it comes to actual presidenting, that’s not his thing. (Remember during the campaign when he said he’d be choosing a veep who could run things since he’d be out there being Good Will Ambassador, rallying Americans to, I don’t know, be Americans? He was never going to take the job seriously.)

Joe Biden will make a far better president, and never was that more apparent than on Tuesday, when, for 90 minutes, Donald Trump couldn’t even play one, even after Joe showed him how to do it. Trump’s idea of presidential power is in building up his already gimongous ego, in demanding loyalty, in extracting revenge when he doesn’t get it. He’ll lie and deny and think he aced it. He’ll blame anyone but himself for the bad stuff but take full credit for anything good — even when it happened long before he was ‘president’.

Trump is a thug. Everything he does is thuggish and ugly. Except for his nail-biting sycophants and his dwindling MAGA followers, the country is sick to death of his antics. He’s done. He’s toast. But dammit, he’s still our problem. What are we going to do about him? It’s a question for justice now. Will he or won’t he get away with it?

As I watched him at what was supposed to pass for a debate, I saw a man who knows he’s already lost, and his performance, sickening as it was, took on new meaning. It was pathetic. A last hurrah. His empire is crumbling, he’s a laughing stock, there’s a chance he has put everyone around him, including his own children, in jeopardy by grabbing at power he never deserved, history will make mincemeat of him, and he’s furious.

That’s what we saw before us. We saw Trump’s raw fury on display, and he’s past caring. I’ve never seen anything like it. And, for the first time in months, I slept well. Come January 20, Donald Trump will no longer be president. He may still be our residual problem, but he’ll no longer have to power to hurt us.

That thought alone gives me peace.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Donald Trump Will Not Win

Insulting America isn't the way you do it, buddy.

I know what you’re thinking: Wasn’t I one of those people who thought Hillary couldn’t lose? Yup, I was. I seriously, sincerely couldn’t see how Donald Trump, that loathsome clown whose life was completely antithetical to the norms of common decency, that shady businessman without an ounce of knowledge about how government works, would EVER become America’s president.


That was me. And probably you. And almost four years later we’re still shocked. I can’t go into how it happened. I don’t KNOW how it happened, and neither does anyone else. We’re all just guessing. But here we are, and Trump was, and is, far, far worse than we could ever have imagined. We imagined he would be as stubbornly stupid, as bombastic, as ridiculously full of himself as he turned out to be. What we didn’t count on was the Republican Party’s willing capitulation to a moron and a monster.

Trump, it turns out, was a dream come true for them. He didn’t CARE how they did it before. His job was to make the rich richer (including and especially him), and, by God, he did it.

His job, as he saw it — thanks to some friendly nudging from his pal, former KGB expert and president-for-life, Vladimir Putin — was to sow chaos and create division, and he did that.

His job (and he especially enjoyed this part ) was to bring the media to its knees in order to float above any criminal exposure or criticism — and the press rewarded him with some of the silliest whataboutism I’ve ever seen.

But along the way Trump has made some dreadful blunders. I mean, terrible. He’s a happy despot, momentarily, but he’s alienated every sane military, scientific, medical, social services, and educational expert in the country.

He has his fans and followers, and it’s true they’re louder and more obnoxious than the rest of us, but they’re not the majority. Every legitimate poll shows that far more Americans go against Trump's cockamamie decision than agree with them. Every one.

Pollsters are giving Joe Biden a bigger and bigger edge, and we’re a little more than a month from the election. (Okay. Remind me again about pollsters and Hillary Clinton and how that all went down, but (perfunctory cliché ahead) that was then and this is now.)

More than 200,000 COVID deaths, most of them completely avoidable but for Trump’s stubborn pretense that his giant brain is far superior to every scientist and epidemiologist in the land.

Kids in cages. They’re still crying, their parents are still crying, we’re still crying.

Attacks on women, minorities, the disabled, and the disenfranchised.

Name-calling and childish insults, laughable word-salad adlibs thrown in to speeches written by Stephen Miller, as if despots were still in vogue and this wasn’t America.

And now Trump, always so insanely inappropriate for the highest job in the land, has the chance to select a third Right Wing Supreme Court nominee and get her in place before the election.

And he's not done yet.

To the delight of his followers, and, let’s face it, the press, Trump is impishly pretending he might not leave office if Joe Biden should, by some slim off-chance, win. But he will leave, and we even know the date: January 20, 2021.

Donald Trump will not win this election. Joe Biden will.

Has Joe Biden made mistakes? Uh huh. Will he go on making mistakes? Uh huh. But, when it comes to mistakes, Joe is a piker compared to Donald. Trump holds the world’s record for the most hilarious, the most egregious mistakes ever made by a U.S president. Nobody comes even close. And if we’re lucky, nobody ever will again.

So I rest my case. Donald Trump should not, cannot, will not win this election. We’re going to make sure he doesn’t. Joe Biden will win in a landslide, the likes of which we’ve never seen. (Yes, I stole that from Donald.)

He will not steal our pride, our legacy, our heritage, our privileges, our rights.

He will not.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

How to Write Opinions When You're At Your Wit's End

 Political writers are America’s witnesses to history. It’s up to us to tell this story

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

I don’t have to tell you we’re at a level of chaos most of us have never seen in our lifetimes. Every day it’s something new and dire and dangerous, and every day we have to set aside yesterday’s news to try and process this new thing that sickens us and scares us and makes us want to take to our beds.

Every day we watch people give up. They can’t take it anymore. They concede we’re doomed and that’s just the way it is. And who can blame them? It feels doom-like out there. Everything is going against us.

Here in the United States we’ve passed the 200,000 mark in deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, with no end in sight.

The earth is roiling, showing her irritation at our recklessness, and she’s threatening to destroy humanity before we can do any more damage.

And, for the first time in America’s history, we’re dealing with a rogue government run by a demagogic flim-flam man who sees the presidency as the authoritarian power trip of his dreams, and is already threatening not to give it up.

And there’s more. Much, much more.

This is where the writers come in. We are the witnesses, the trained observers. We watch, we listen, we analyze, we record. It’s what we do. Those of us who write opinions knew going in we would never convince everyone. Our opinions aren’t necessarily everyone’s opinions, so — you might have noticed — we have a tendency to piss some people off.

But we slog on.

It’s our hearts that spur us on, and, because our hearts are flopping around on the outside for everyone to see, we make ourselves vulnerable. Deliberately. Why? Because we care so deeply about what we believe in we can’t keep it to ourselves. We see it as a duty to try and make readers understand. And we wonder why everyone doesn’t do it.

That’s where you come in, you writers out there who feel that same anxiety and don’t know how to express it. Do I need to say, ‘there’s nothing to fear but fear itself’? What are you afraid of, really? That your feelings will be hurt? They will be. That someone will make fun of you? Someone will. That you won’t get it right and might have to reassess? That could happen. But we need courage now, and before you can advocate for it, you have to feel it.

Our country needs us — every one of us — and our voices together will make a formidable blockade to the lies and propaganda threatening to destroy our message. We have the tools and the talent to make a difference in these next weeks before the election, but we have to get serious NOW.

Whatever you have to say doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be honest. Write from your heart and let your heart guide you. The country needs to know how we feel about the events unfolding before us. We’re not writing for the critics, we’re writing for the people.

As the owner/editor of Indelible Ink, I’ve taken steps to convert my creative non-fiction publication to all politics, all the time — at least until this all-important election is over. I’m looking for writers and I want you to consider getting your equally all-important voice out there. I’ll help you.

As I say in our Submission Guidelines:

We’ll be a political publication practicing the politics of hope, but with our eyes wide open. Be honest about your fears, your hopes, your ideas for a better future. Challenge us with your thoughts about better governing. Name names.
Talk about your own life, your childhood, your parents and your grandparents, if you’d like. Whatever is on your mind, whatever is keeping you awake at night, whatever is needing an outlet so you’re not screaming into pillows all day and all night.
Let’s build a fortress here made up of the ghosts of America’s past. Who are we? Where did we come from? How did we get to this place?

But you don't have to write for me. Writers everywhere are gathering in war rooms, ready to do battle. We can do it, we can spread the word, we can build a community and we can help each other.

We’re almost out of time. November is looming. We’re sending the call out to writers with the skills to help us witness, to chronicle not just the events but the feelings. We’ve never been here before. With Hera’s help we’ll never be here again.

This is a time like no other, and the noisemakers are winning. Our voices won’t get lost if there are enough of us sounding alarms, reminding Americans of our heritage, defending our need to build a country that reflects all of us, and not just some of us.

Opinion writing isn’t for everyone, but if you feel the calling, go with it. The need is great right now. If you have something to say, say it. As Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Gray Panthers, used to say: Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Ramona's Quotes for Posterity

White book page with words, hypothetical dialogue Stock Photo - 127529298

I always wanted to be famous enough to have my quotes immortalized on sites like BrainyQuote or Quote Garden, those places you can go to grab someone else's quote to make it seem as if it's YOU who is that smart or clever or impossibly witty. I love those places! But time's running out and it looks like it's not going to happen. Unless I do something, my brilliant quotes will go unnoticed, unread, ungrabbed, lost for all eternity. I see now I'll have to do it myself.

Not long ago (but not soon enough) I wrote a short thing on Twitter and it seemed so awesome, I thought, Damn! That's quotable! So I saved it to a file. Then I began pasting other Tweets into that file, and soon I had a bunch of quotes I really, really liked. (Note that writers sometimes like things they've written. It's okay. If we didn't like enough of our own stuff we'd stop writing and we couldn't call ourselves writers.)

I had this file I called "Ramona's Quotes" and I kept adding to it, and every time I did I'd read it again and I'd say, sometimes out loud, "Who wrote that? That is so good!"

And here it is. I'll be adding to it from time to time, so don't think this is the end of it.  Feel free to share any of them but be sure to spell my name right. Okay?
(R-a-m-o-n-a G-r-i-g-g. Thank you.)

The media can mold any story, any campaign, any election. Don’t ever think they can’t. And don’t ever let up on calling them out when they ignore their obligations to bring us the truth. They are the witnesses, not the jury.

Democrats on Democrats: It’s like being on a battlefield with your allies, thinking the way to fight the enemy is to find fault with the guys fighting by your side. There! That’ll show ‘em!

Vote as if your country is in grave danger and you’ve seen the enemy. It can't hurt.

Every time one of Trump’s insiders waits until it’s convenient for them to spill the beans instead of doing the right thing the moment they have concerns, the message to the country is, be afraid, be very afraid. Courage comes when you have more to lose than to gain. (On John Kelly’s revelations on Trump, long after his testimony might have helped to take him down.)

Change your shame to pride and it’ll give you the energy to fight against this madness. It’s not our country I’m ashamed of or appalled by, it’s the leaders — and they’re always temporary. The only way we’ll change things is if we go in believing we’re worth the effort.

Trump’s sycophants and followers are afraid to admit it’s that bad. They’ll go to great lengths to defend Trump, against all evidence to the contrary for one reason only: Reality would mean they might be complicit.

The worst offenders are the ones who voted for Trump but have now disengaged and won’t talk politics because ‘it’s boring’ or they ‘can’t stand all that garbage’. It’s like walking away from their own hit-and-run. No matter how far they run or how much time passes, it will always be their problem.

I know words and I know ‘inhabitant’ is clearly not the same thing as ‘citizen’. The Census counts inhabitants. The law doesn’t require that only citizens should be counted. We want to know how many people live in this country for many reasons and none of them are political.

The worst thing that ever happened to the United States is our slide toward capitalism without tempering it with equal parts of socialism. We should know by now what a disaster it is to run an entire country as an oligarchy, but it looks like we really are slow learners.

Trump is Trump and always has been. He’s incorrigible, irredeemable, and only plays at being president. He should never have been given a moment of power. There, American press, now build on that. For god’s sake.

“Kids in cages”, “Black Lives Matter”, or “Women helping Women”, is like this: When my kids were growing to adulthood my rule was, whoever needs the most help at the moment gets the most attention. It doesn’t mean the others aren’t important or aren’t loved. 
And, bless them, they all understood.

Reagan’s reign was the beginning of the end of our middle class. It’s maddening that he’s treated like an American hero when his first and foremost legacy is the destruction of an economy that favored all classes, not just the upper class. Trickle-down was and is a scam.

Funny how ‘bigotry’ has so many meanings these days. It’s almost as if real bigots have no idea what that word means.

John Lewis set the tone. He won the day by peacefully protesting with words, with empathy, with courage, showing us how we can be fearless in our righteous battles, even when winning is a long way off. It was, after all, ‘good trouble’.

Democracies fall, not because wannabe dictators are out there — they’re always out there — but because there are enough citizens who are willing to pave the way for their particular brand of fascism. It’s those citizens who worry me the most.

We’re not just heading toward a totalitarian government, we’re in the midst of it. We have to first admit the extent of our powerlessness before we can figure out how to change it. They’ve won and they’ve put us all in extreme danger. We can’t pretend otherwise.

Whenever anyone says we have to stop being ‘partisan’ what they mean is ‘Democrats, give in’. The Republicans have no intention of working together. They drew the battle lines. Let the battle begin.

The press is still using polite language when the times require brutal honesty. Racists, misogynists, bigots, etc., don’t deserve to be treated as anything less than what they are. They are not society’s norm, they’re abominations.

(To be continued. I'm thinking, I'm thinking!)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Medicare and Obamacare: Same Old Story

(Note: When the fur was flying over the ACA (Obamacare) more than seven years ago, I found an early story about the fur flying over Medicare in 1966. I wrote about it for the late Alan Colmes and his website, Liberaland. This is the story as it was published at, October 22, 2013.)
In the next town over from us the recycling station is in a huge semi-trailer.  You have to climb six narrow metal steps to get up into it, but there is an aisle you can walk down and there are huge open boxes in which to throw your stuff. 
The beauty of it is that while I’m dropping off my own recyclables, I can dig through the newspaper and magazine bins to see what’s there for the taking.  Through the years we’ve found some fascinating reading, some of it as current as yesterday, but last week we found a treasure trove:  Seventeen Consumer Reports magazines, ranging from1965 to 1980.

What struck me as I read through them was how much actual watchdogging went on within those pages and to what lengths they went to explain their findings. Page after page of small print, as if they actually anticipated that their readers would want to take the time to read it all. (No internet, no cable. I get it. But still. . .)
Back in June, 1966, their headline story was about the new Medicare law taking effect in July. The law was complicated.  Every aspect of health insurance, hospitalizations, physician and pharmacy services, and medical goods had to be considered.  Nothing like it had ever been done on such a large scale before. The Government was pouring an estimated $3 billion plus into it during the first year alone. Who would pay for what?  Who would gain the most?  Who would lose the most?  (Sound familiar?)
There were worries about overcrowding of existing facilities.  All of those sick folks who had never been eligible for insurance due to their pre-existing condition (old age) would now be bursting through the doors looking for a chance to live longer.
There were worries about elderly patients not wanting to leave their hospital beds, now that the money worries had been eased.  There were worries about relatives scheming to leave their kin in those happy places rather than to have to take care of them at home.
There were worries about understaffing.   They would need some 20,000 more doctors and more than 70,000 nurses, with a need for another 200,000 nurses by 1970.
But they were nothing compared to the worries keeping the insurance providers, the pharmaceutical companies, the heads of hospitals, and the Hippocratic doctors up at night.  The threat of socialized medicine was upon them.  This was it!
So let’s take a trip in the way-back machine–all the way back to the year 1961 when one Ronald Reagan agreed to make a 10 minute LP record sponsored by the AMA as part of Operation Coffee Cup, the supposed grass-roots plan to keep medicine out of the hands of the Government.
They called it “RONALD REAGAN speaks out against SOCIALIZED MEDICINE”.
This was the same Ronald Reagan who, as president, pretty much kept his paws off Medicare, that dread  portal to full-blown Socialism. I'm guessing the Heritage Foundation, much as they adore The Man, would just as soon forget the time The Best President in the Whole Wide World caved to the forces of the “politically popular” Medicare program and began talking up adding catastrophic acute care provisions for the elderly!
Such was the evolution of a hated, perennially doomed social program.  Which brings us to the Affordable Care Act.
The ACA start-up costs may well be expensive to the point of mind-boggle, but, just as with Medicare, it’s a plan that is essential and long overdue.  It’ll be full of jitters and glitches and adjustments, just as Medicare was. The full effect will be maddeningly slow, there will be a multitude of reasons to doubt it,  and the opponents–those same opponents who have spent years trying to kill Social Security and Medicare–will never give up. (Forbes is claiming the ACA website is crashing on purpose because “they” don’t want us to know how costly the plans really are. It’s also claiming a rise in insurance premiums by 99% for men and 62% for women–a claim already disputed and put to rest.)
But here’s the thing about the opposition:  When they showed their willingness to spend many millions on a Tea-Party-sanctioned hissy-fit against it that went nowhere and benefited no one, they lost any chance to have a voice in the discussion about essential, low-cost Government-sponsored health care.
It will happen, with or without them.  And years from now their cheering audiences will be shouting, “Hands off my Obamacare!”