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.