A month into isolation …

For the first time in many years, the Himalayan range is visible from India, as the shutdowns caused by quarantine clear pollution worldwide.

Isolation, Day 29: It’s hard to believe I’ve been home for four weeks.

I still have plenty to do every day, thanks to the water disaster in my garage, the fact that the big mower is broken and won’t be fixed for another two weeks (we’re using the reel mower, which is great exercise) and the beginning of gardening season. Plus, I still have about a quarter of my granddaughter’s wedding quilt to finish, if the cats will let me work on it.

Around the world, there are reports of pollution being reduced, the air and water clearing, because we’re not out driving, rushing around to buy more stuff, much of it utterly useless. I have hope that we’ll realize there are more important things in life than consuming just to consume.

I’m doing OK except for the moments of utter panic, when I realize how serious this is and how unprepared we are to face it.

Republican friends all think I’m just blaming the current occupant of the Oval Office, but it started way before he ever schlumped into office. We as a society believed we were so smart and knew so much science that a pandemic like the 1918-19 flu couldn’t happen again, even though scientists warned us it was not just likely, but absolutely certain to happen again

But our policymakers knew more than the scientists and, starting with Reagan, we cut funding to public health and the CDC. We denied millions access to care in the name of profit, and allowed tens of thousands of people to die unnecessarily. We cut spending on public health so rich people could get more tax breaks and amass more and more and more money.

Both Republicans and Democrats did it, and now we have a presumptive presidential nominee in the Democratic Party who vows he will not allow Medicare for all to happen, even while 70 percent of Americans want it, and we’re being told that if we don’t vote for this deeply flawed old white man — a man who refuses to apologize for the way he treated Anita Hill or his support of welfare reform and other policies that have proven destructive — that WE’RE the problem.

Since 1980, even the Democratic Party leadership hasn’t believed in Democratic Party ideals of strengthening labor, building up public infrastructure, of government funding of scientific research, of doing things for the common good instead of just for profit. Even the Democratic administrations attacked workers’ rights, refused to take profit out of essential services like health care and education — in fact, they helped the process of de-funding essential services, slashing the social safety net and cutting taxes on the rich.

And now you want to criticize me for saying this nominee is so deeply flawed it may be impossible for him to defeat the most corrupt, the most ignorant, the most despicable man ever to set foot in Washington.

You say I have to get in line to vote for someone who won’t even begin to work on climate catastrophe, which is unfolding before us in the form of global climate change and the unleashing of pathogens like the novel coronavirus because of the way we have encroached upon the habitats of animals we once rarely encountered but now eat.

This candidate is a man who went silent at the beginning of the pandemic, while Bernie Sanders had encouraging words for us and pushed for policies that would help more of us survive.

I’m not saying I won’t vote for him. I waver between saying, OK, I’ll hold my nose and do it, and saying I’m only going to vote down-ticket — although I’m not happy with many of my choices there, either.

I’m seeing people attack me because I think Biden won’t be able to win in November, and I do think he will lose, even if I do cast my vote for him.

The moment Sanders suspended his campaign, I started seeing threatening messages from moderates, demanding we all get in line and not complain about our only choice being this 1960s-era Republican.

I was a Democrat in the 1960s, when the party platform called for universal health care, before Reagan came alone and made “liberal” a dirty word and raised greed to the level of a religion.

I left the party several years ago, when my resolution to include an immediate wage hike to $15 so those making minimum wage could survive on a full-time job, was changed to a raise to $10 an hour over five years. I walked out and never looked back.

This month at home has given me a lot of time to think about where we need to go as a nation, and it isn’t in the direction of do-nothing moderation.

We need to be bold. We need to take the reins away from the fascists and moderates and build a society where everyone can thrive. I will support nothing less, and neither should you.

If we can move Biden to support Medicare for all, a living wage and free tuition for community college, I will be happy to vote for him. Otherwise, I will make no promises, even though I’m likely to be frightened enough by the prospect of President for Life Trump to cast my vote for the slightly-less-bad alternative.

Thing is, I’m not the problem here. The Democratic Party, the Republican Party and all their ultra-wealthy controllers are. Our corporate overlords have stacked the cards against us again.

The morning after

Looks like this is the match-up for November.

Looks like this is the match-up for November.

 

It appears we have a Democratic candidate, and it is historic.

Millions of racists are about to show their sexism, and millions of poor losers are ready to let the nation crash and burn because they didn’t get their way.

Welcome to the world of politics, Millennials.

Hillary Clinton was not my first choice; Bernie Sanders was, and I was as passionate in my support for him as anyone.

Most people who know me understand that my most important issue is access to health care, and Hillary Clinton has said she doesn’t see us ever getting to single-payer. Bernie promised me he would fight for it.

I met Bernie twice and told him how my son died from lack of access to health care. Both times he hugged me and said, “I’m working on this, I promise you.” He will keep working on it in the Senate now and I have to be OK with that.

Movements take time and revolutions rarely achieve their goals at the voting booth.

So, rather than flip the bird at the country, I will vote for Hillary and hope that we who supported Bernie will pull her to the left.

I say this because I don’t believe violence is the answer, and the fuck-you attitude of some of Bernie’s supporters will only lead to violence.

Here is why I don;t think writing Bernie’s name in or voting for Jill Stein is the solution:

Four years ago, when the Democrats here in North Carolina ran Walter Dalton, an incredibly weak candidate, people shrugged and said, “So, let the Republicans take it all, and then we’ll win it back because people will be so pissed off.”

I told one friend I thought that was a dangerous tactic, and I was right. The damage the extremists have done in this state is epic, and some if it will never be fixed.

Coal ash pollution is forever, as are fracking chemicals (which have yet to be unleashed, but the General Assembly has approved their use and the governor signed it).

The 8,000 or so people who have died from lack of access to health care because these people refuse to expand Medicaid can’t be resurrected. They are gone. Ask their families how your attitude worked for them.

The children who are in our schools are missing a decent education as teachers stage a mass exodus from the state, and those kids can’t get that opportunity back.

There are damages that can be fixed, but they will take time. Rebuilding our state’s reputation will take a generation or more.

So, go ahead, flip off the candidate that could prevent these things on a national scale. Sure, let Trump take it and see how quickly we’ll be at war with China or North Korea, or both. Watch things escalate in the Middle East. See how long it takes somebody to use a nuclear weapon. Maybe we could start a pool to see who comes closest to the date and time. Bonus dollars for a reason for the mess. (“China insulted my wife.”)

Vote for Trump and watch your Social Security and Medicare disappear. Watch your Supreme Court become a rubber stamp for the wishes of the extremists and billionaires. Watch your water become too polluted to drink while what little drinkable water is left is privatized and sold for profit. And watch as minimum wage is abolished and your children are forced to subsist on $2.50 an hour.

Hillary Clinton is the most examined candidate of all time. She has endured a quarter century under the microscope, and no one has found anything concrete. She did not break the law with her e-mails, even though her detractors want to believe she did. She did not cause the embassy in Benghazi to be attacked — the Republicans in Congress who denied her request for funding for security there are far more responsible for that fatal attack than she was. She didn’t kill Vince Foster.

Hillary may not be as slick as her husband, but she is highly intelligent, and she is highly qualified.

I will vote for her, and I will hold her feet to the fire because movements take time. It took the right-wing extremists decades to take power, building a strong base as they climbed; it will take us time to get it back.

You can be more constructive by encouraging the formation of a viable third party in time for the next election, but there is no excuse for allowing a Trump presidency. None whatsoever.

So, instead of whining, get to work. You’ll never get anything if you don’t work for it, and sitting in a corner flipping the bird and sulking will get you nowhere.

 

 

 

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Not later, NOW!

bernie hillary trump

I’m feeling beyond frustrated today as I listen to the acrimony between Hillary and Bernie supporters, each blaming the other for the demise of the Democratic Party.

I support Bernie because I want someone who will fight for universal access to health care now.

Yes, I know it will be blocked by Republicans, but if we start negotiations in the middle, we wind up with an agreement right of center and with millions of people still without care.

When President Obama and Nancy Pelosi took single-payer off the table, we lost all hope of getting that public option that would have given me a choice to buy into Medicaid. It would have offered competition with the insurance companies, which now have a legal monopoly. What we got was a half-assed solution that, although it offered millions of people the chance to buy health insurance, it shut out millions more and left the for-profit insurance companies in charge of the system.

We’re seeing employers stop hiring full-time employees rather than give money to the insurance companies. We’re seeing people having to buy high-deductible plans that they can’t afford to use, so they’re getting nothing for their money.

About once every 18 to 20 minutes, an American dies from lack of access to care.

But sure, let’s do it incrementally. Let’s tell the bereaved families of these people who are dying that they have to be patient. After all, we don’t want to offend those who support the system as it is.

There are very real and very high stakes in this election. Each election cycle, the corporations gain more ground and we the people lose. We can’t get a living wage, we can’t get universal health care, we can’t get affordable housing, we can’t get reasonably low rate college loans for middle-income kids, we can’t get big money out of politics.

But rather than focus on all that, we follow every move of Donald Trump, who’s only doing as well as he is because the media have decided he’s the story.

You see, in case you haven’t noticed, the media write the scenarios and we blithely follow along.

Four years ago, the media started saying the Republicans would take the Senate in 2014. It was an unlikely scenario, but the media kept repeating it until it became reality.

Now the media are saying Trump will beat Hillary if she is the nominee, and you can bet it will become a self-fulfilling prophesy unless we the people wake up and start thinking for ourselves.

Four years ago, the Democrats ran a lame candidate here in North Carolina, and he was beaten by Pat McCrory (#OneTermPat). As the election neared and Walter Dalton trailed, several Democratic friends told me they thought it was OK.

“Let them have it all and people will be so pissed they’ll send them packing,” people said.

Well, here’s what really happened. We cant expand Medicaid — in fact, we’re about to privatize it, and we’re cutting funding for the care of medically fragile children. That’s right, we’re going to let sick children suffer and die rather than ask the wealthiest to pay their share of taxes.

Our schools are suffering and being choked to death as we give more money to for-profit charter schools. Our teachers are among the lowest paid in the country, and our per-pupil spending is the lowest in the nation. Our once-proud university system is being cut down, bit by bit. In fact, some of our state universities are about to be starved to death, including some traditionally African-American schools.

We can’t raise the minimum wage, so people are in desperate need for social programs, like food stamps, which are being cut. Child care costs as much as college tuition, and we’re cutting programs that help parents afford it while refusing to pay a living wage.

If you lose your job because of discrimination, you can’t sue in state courts, and you have the shortest duration and the least compensation in the country on unemployment. The GOP did that almost as soon as McCrory took office.

Cities and counties can’t set their own wage levels or discrimination policies because of HB2, which most people think is just about bathrooms.

We are well along the road to becoming a third-world country in terms of the life of average citizens. Income inequality is at record levels, global warming is at the tipping point, we keep fighting pointless wars, and no one seems to notice.

We’re so complacent that half of the right-wing nuts who want to establish a state religion and allow people to die in the streets rather than give them access to health care are running unopposed.

Un-o-fucking-posed!

So the predictions of people finally waking up if Trump wins the election are wrong. If North Carolina is a predictor, and I believe it is, people will allow him to set up a fascist state because we’re too distracted by the media’s shiny issues to do anything about it.

Kindness matters, as does your vote

Keshia Thomas, one of the marshals in America's Journey for Justice. She walked from Selma, Ala., to Washington, DC.

Keshia Thomas, one of the marshals in America’s Journey for Justice. She walked from Selma, Ala., to Washington, DC.

I met Keshia Thomas in the heat of summer, walking along roads in eastern North Carolina with America’s Journey for Justice, a march from Selma, Ala., to Washington, DC. I was impressed immediately with her kindness and wit, and not at all surprised to learn about her “15 minutes” of fame.

Keshia was just 18 when she put her life on the line to protect a white supremacist who was being beaten by an angry mob.

She covered this man with her own body to protect him from the mob, even though she knew he hated her because of the color of her skin.

A human life is a human life, she says, and no one should have to suffer violence.

Today, Keshia travels the country and abroad, speaking about kindness and respect, doing what she can to help bring about peace and justice.

“I’ve always believed in justice,” she says. “I’ve always just wanted to be of service. Anybody can do it; you don’t need a PhD, just a desire to be of service in any way you can, large or small, every day. It’s the foundation of everything.”

In Baltimore, during the unrest after Freddie Gray died in police custody, she took a young man by the hand and told him not to throw the rock he was holding. She taught him how to protest peacefully and encouraged him to shake hands with the police.

“I left behind a young man who will work for justice in the right way, a young man who has no police record to hinder him,” she says.

So it came as no surprise when we were talking politics that she’s supporting Bernie Sanders in this presidential election.

“Bernie’s one of us,” she says. “When he says, ‘not me but us,’ I believe he means it. This isn’t about Bernie’s ego, this is about what we can all do together to bring about change.”

When Sanders was asked about fracking, his simple answer was, “No.” He knew the damage fracking can cause because he consulted scientists.

“He didn’t consult the DNC to ask about Democratic policy, he talked to scientists and made up his own mind.”

Of course, a vote for president is just one piece of every American’s responsibility, Keshia says.

“It’s about Congress and it’s especially about your vote in local elections,” she says. “The way the Tea Party gained power was to start in local elections — school boards, town councils — and work their way up. That’s what we have to do now if we want to see things change.”

In short, Keshia works for the peace and justice she wants to see in the world. Sometimes that means helping one person in a small way; sometimes it means supporting a candidate in whom she sees her own ideals.

Change can be large or small, and often big change comes in small increments. You can change one person’s view on one issue, and if you do that one day, and again the next and the next and the next, that kindness and respect will spread like ripples on a pond from a single pebble dropped into the water.

Another person on the Journey for Justice, the late Middle Passage, was a perfect example of spreading love one person at a time. M.P. often chest-bumped or hugged police officers, knowing their positive encounter with him might change the way they see black men.

Donald Trump’s nasty rhetoric is contagious, but so is kindness. We can combat vitriol with small acts of kindness, and with a vote for a kind and sensible man.

Instead of walking away from Trump’s mean-spiritedness, we can find something in common with everyone we encounter and build on that. In fact, that might be the only way we will bring about positive change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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