Saturday, October 24, 2020

"We are building the world that I want to see..."

They are a team. Danell Cross and Melody McCurtis are determined to prevent what America witnessed during Wisconsin's April 7th’s primary election from happening again. ...

Listen up and get inspired.

  • Black communities have always had to fight for the right to vote. 
  • What we're up against, this time, has snapped us out of numbness.
  • All these different things is really holding our folks back from wanting to vote ...
  • I just got to keep on getting up and surviving each day.
  • We're mobilizing people to vote because we want power. ...
  • When I vote I'm voting to keep the officials accountable, not just for me but for the entire community.
  • Black folks is real skeptical right now.
  • It's a lot of misinformation, and I know it is on purpose.
  • My whole job is to outmaneuver the systematic racism in Milwaukee.
  • We don't make a lot of  money, but we are building the world that I want to see.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Friday cat blogging: Janeway has a new toy

She had pretty well chewed her cardboard scratching box to pieces, so I bought her a new, perhaps tougher, version.

She quickly decided this was a fine new hidey hole in her playpen. (We call this our home, but what do we know?)

Since she's a cat, I was not surprised she found the packing box perhaps more interesting than the toy which came in it.

Election rounds into the home stretch

So I didn't watch the debate -- because I was busy, calling voters who had at some time said they supported Joe Biden, but hadn't yet voted according to their county registrar. So I got to talk to quite a few Nevadans who were watching last night.

They were not happy with Trump. "I just hope I never have to see that man again!" one exclaimed.

Columnist Frank Bruni, who did have to tune in because it is his job, writes in the same vein on the morning after:

Enough of this campaign. Enough of this administration. Enough of the ambient ugliness in America right now. It’s time to turn the page, and that’s what, in his utterly unremarkable but strangely reassuring fashion, Biden promised to do on Thursday night. ...

I nodded along with his final remarks, when he said, yet again: “What is on the ballot here is the character of this country: decency, honor, respect, treating people with dignity.” He’s right about that. And he’s the right person because of that.

“You know who I am, you know who he is,” Biden said earlier. “Look at us closely.” I don’t need to turn my eyes toward Trump anymore. I’ve seen all that I can take, and I’m long past ready for a different view.

Eleven days remain until Election Day.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Reflections and forebodings

They say there is a debate between Trump and Biden tonight. I won't be watching. I'll be on the phones, as I am every evening, encouraging Biden supporters to get out there and vote.

As we come in for a landing in this ever-so-strange and vital election, I thought I'd share some smart commentary, looking backwards first.

Here's Joshua Marshall, reminding us of the first days of the Trump regime and how far we've come:

... In the very early days of the administration, during the round of public protests around the travel ban, David Kurtz said to me that he thought some of the people in our operation were still thinking that somehow the whole thing wouldn’t hold, that they weren’t quite accepting that this was going to go on for years. The early weeks were so chaotic that this wasn’t a crazy thing to think. I can’t say I was sure myself what would happen. It did seem like the whole thing was so jagged and chaotic, so much of the nascent presidency’s wrongdoing was so rapidly catching up to it that it wasn’t clear it wouldn’t all fall apart. ...

... it is also hard to quite remember the nature of that early chaos. Today Trump appears to be publicly decompensating. Yesterday he managed to attack his Attorney General as a softie who hadn’t yet arrested Joe Biden, which other appointees would have. He called Biden a “criminal”. He called one of the most buttoned-up members of the White House press corps a “criminal”. His Director of National Intelligence leapt into his role as campaign surrogate, insisting there was no Russian hacking behind the purported Hunter Biden emails. It is hard to think of a time in the last four years when Trump has appeared more unhinged, free from any restraint or driven by his consuming rages.

But there’s a difference. The sad truth is that we’ve gotten used to this – the casual law-breaking and bad acts, the aping of foreign strongman antics, the lies that come as easy as water flowing down a hill. It all seems normal now. In January 2017 it not only didn’t seem normal it seemed hard to see how it could be sustainable. Something had to give. Or at least it seemed so. And it did. We did.

Here's Paul Waldman, looking ahead at what will happen to the Republican Party if we do, indeed, evict the Donald. 

We’re already seeing violence and lunacy emerging from the deranged and deluded on the right. The GOP is still in charge, and Democratic governors are the target of kidnapping plots while half of all Republicans think top Democrats are involved in an international pedophile ring. Can you imagine what it will be like when Democrats are the ones holding power?

It’s probably an exaggeration to say we’re headed for a civil war, but there can be little doubt that it will be as ugly as anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. And Republicans will be doing everything they can to make it worse, every step of the way.

Sad -- and likely true. It's up to us to envision and seize a better future.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The virus finds our vulnerabities

Every morning I look at the little red graphs on the "first page" of the Washington Post's website. And these days I focus on the picture of new heights reached in North Dakota and think of my friend's 84 year old mother. She lives by herself, by her own choice, in a tiny town right in the middle of that red spike. She's an active person; she just completed another manuscript of rural history. (The E.P. and I stopped over with her during a book tour.) She's all too aware that her neighbors and family have not been taking precautions to avoid the coronavirus. She knows some in her family have been holding big birthday parties and cheering at high school basketball games. Nobody wears masks. One rancher cousin hopes for herd immunity.

Meanwhile the nearest grocery store, some twenty miles away, was closed for deep cleaning. In that same town, all the bank employees but one were out sick with COVID for awhile. According to her daughter, "she is prepared to learn to drink her coffee without milk or cream if she has to avoid grocery stores for long stretches."
The pandemic may seem to have abated in some areas. But those spikes could easily return anywhere if we get casual. Though mortality among the infected may be lower because medical personnel have learned something about treatment, the disease is still spreading wherever we let our guard down.

But our mood has changed; we live in pandemic shock.
“In the spring, it was fear and a sense of, ‘We are all in it together,’” said Vaile Wright, a psychologist at the American Psychological Association who studies stress in the United States.

“Things are different now,” she said. “Fear has really been replaced with fatigue.”
This isn't going away. Even if we elect a new administration that takes mitigating the health and economic disaster as its duty, we'll be living in the backwash of the epidemic for years. As the days shorten, it's hard not to fear a winter of despair. But we're a tough and ingenious people; I wouldn't bet against us, for all our trouble and strife.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

You too can make a difference ...

Get the word from the source:

Why I’m phone banking voters... sometimes people feel hopeless that their involvement doesn’t matter. Then we call them, we share our stories and how we impacted and in this together, and that helps encourage them to make that step needed to make changes to our current administration.

Due to our current administration not doing the right thing sooner about the pandemic I haven’t been able to visit my parents, who are getting older and not in the best health conditions. It almost been one year since we’ve spent time together. 
#TakeBack2020 #CovidIsReal #GoBlue
Sign up to join her on the phones. All day, every day, through Election Day.

One voter at a time in Nevada

In Guns, Germs, and Smoke, Erudite Partner tells the story of canvassing for all our lives -- and the climate too -- in Nevada during this election season.

Door-to-Door on Planet A

"¿Se puede, o no se puede?"

"¡Sí, se puede!"

("Can we do it?" "Yes, we can!")

Each morning's online canvass dispatch meeting starts with that call-and-response followed by a rousing handclap. Then we talk about where people will be walking that day and often listen to one of the canvassers' personal stories, explaining why he or she is committed to this campaign. Next, we take a look at the day's forecast for heat and air quality as vast parts of the West Coast burn, while smoke and ash travel enormous distances.

Temperatures here were in the low 100s in August (often hovering around 115 degrees in Las Vegas). And the air? Let's just say that there have been days when I've wished breathing were optional.

Climate-change activists rightly point out that "there's no Planet B" for the human race, but some days it seems as if our canvassers are already working on a fiery Planet A that is rapidly becoming unlivable. ...

And there's so much more to this story of election courage and determination. Above all, there are the people.  Read it all

Monday, October 19, 2020

White Christians support Donald Trump's re-election

When you read that headline, did you immediately think I was referring to evangelical Protestants -- roughly speaking, churches like the Southern Baptists, Assemblies of God, or various non-denominational congregations? You'd be right. But you would also be wrong. Research from the Pew Center finds that white mainline Protestants and white Catholics also support Trump, though not by the margins found among evangelicals. Here's the break down:

  • White evangelicals -- 78 percent
  • White mainline Protestants -- 53 percent
  • White Catholics -- 52 percent

Fortunately, there are a lot of other voters who are not white Christians, whose anti-GOP leanings overcome the Trump margin among white Christians, on the national level if not in all areas.

White Christians are a key segment of the electorate because they make up roughly 44% of  U.S. registered voters. Roughly 7% of registered voters are Black Protestants, 5% are Hispanic Catholics, 2% are Jewish and 28% are religiously unaffiliated.

Large pluralities of these latter groups want to see the last of Trump.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media, ignorantly, assumes all Christians are evangelicals, an alien tribe to them. The media may soon need to do a rethink on that.

Diana Butler Bass shared a new chart from Robert P. Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute which shows that evangelical numerical decline and a slight uptick among mainline Protestants is making the two groups nearly equal in size. Seems hard to believe, but PRRI is a reputable survey researcher.

Click to enlarge.
Bass points out that the overall decline in white Christian percentages reflects the country's shifting demographics. Every year, more of us are not white. Concurrently, more of us from all racial groupings are ceasing to identify with any religious faith.

And Bass notes something else:

... Black, Asian, or Hispanic evangelicals ... vote more in line with non-evangelicals in their communities than they do with their white co-religionists.
Might it not also be accurate to say that in segregated America, white Christians vote more in line with their white communities than with their co-religionists of color? 

Or rather, whiteness trumps religious affiliation when it comes to political orientation.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Ashley Harris -- for her family

Meet one of the hotel and restaurant workers I'm phoning alongside (over Zoom) this election season.

You can help evict Donald Trump -- in Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada and beyond -- along with Ashley and hundreds of others any day of the week through Election Day -- without leaving your home. Sign up here.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

They are coming for Trump

She's lost more than enough to Trump - Culinary Union canvasser getting out the vote.
Tim Alberta of Politico reports a series of interviews with Latinx voters in Phoenix. He is trying to uncover how it can be that eligible Latinx citizens have for so long cast a far smaller proportion of the total vote than their numbers would suggest they might. So he talked with some voters. 

The phenomenon of low Latinx voter turnout has been part of the work of my life, beginning with mobilizing against California's anti-immigrant Prop. 187 in 1994 and continuing in various venues through the present campaign. Lots of what's written about this topic seems to me either oblivious to how I see Latinx communities really living or designed to promote particular individuals or organizations as offering a magic solution to low turnout. Alberta's observations seem to go to the heart of why some Arizonans are newly voting this time and ring true to me.

Too many outside activists fail to understand that, especially in Mexican American communities, immigration status is not a binary thing -- either "legal" or "undocumented." That's not how people's lives work.

“Latinos are afraid to vote, man. Trust me. I was born here, I’ve been voting for 50 years, and I’m still afraid to vote,” said Miguel Saldiva, a 70-year-old landscaper who stopped for groceries at the Food City marketplace.
Why? What makes an American citizen afraid to vote? 
“It doesn’t matter if you have papers or don’t have papers,” Saldiva explained, referring to immigration status. “Because even if you have papers, maybe you live with someone in your house who doesn’t have papers, and you’re worried about registering with the government. You know what I mean?”
He continued, “I have a lot of friends—friends with papers—who don’t vote. They get mad, they get frustrated, but they don’t vote. They don’t want any trouble. Plus, they hear too much crap on the television that confuses them. They are good people, and they don’t want to be taken advantage of by the politicians.”
Trying to activate people with these feelings has to go beyond just getting them registered. If registering is easy enough, they'll sign up. But the mechanics, the very processes of voting, are intimidating. New voters don't want to feel stupid or ashamed by not knowing what to do. If you aim to raise voting in Latinx communities, maybe you need to put on skits (role plays or sociodramas) that show infrequent voters how to get through the mechanics. Nobody wants to feel like a dope. And nobody wants to bring down ICE on their tio. There has to be lots of reassurance from trusted sources.

According to Phoenix voter Greg Morales, the combination of Trump and a new generation of Latinx activists may just get his community out this time. 

“It’s Trump,” he cried, slapping the back of his right hand into his left palm. “He gave us the jump-start we needed. And now that we got the jump-start, there’s no shutting us down. And you know why? This new generation of Latinos. These kids, man. They’re not playing games. They’re voting whether anyone likes it or not.”
Miguel Nunez, an ex-Marine who voted for Trump in 2016, but soured on the President's failures of integrity, thinks he sees a change in his community this time around.

“I don’t think it’s political, actually. It’s the ownership we have now in our communities. Growing up here, this is day and night from when I was a kid. I never saw a Hispanic lawyer’s face on a billboard. That would have been crazy. But they’re everywhere now,” Nunez said. “So, that’s cool for my son—he’s 19—for him to see that every day. But I don’t know what that ownership means in terms of politics. ...”
For all his doubts, Nunez was moved enough to vote on the first day he could. 

So did one hundred and eighty-five other Latinx Arizonans at this obscure polling place. Alberta interviewed 15 of them -- every one of them was motivated to vote against Trump. He wonders if he has seen the rise of the sleeping Latinx giant.

This longform article is very much worth a full reading.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Friday cat blogging

Janeway loves to help me change the sheets. I've locked her out of the bedroom during the chore. She doesn't have the idea of a cloth she can't crawl under.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Indian Americans are down with Biden-Harris

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has done the polling. Here's what they learned.  

Indian Americans [we're talking here about U.S. citizens with origins in the South Asian colossus] are unexpectedly in the spotlight thanks to their growing affluence and influence in political circles and Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris (who is of partial Indian origin) as his running mate.

... The data show that Indian Americans continue to be strongly attached to the Democratic Party ... In addition, Indian Americans view U.S.-India relations as a low priority issue in this electoral cycle, emphasizing instead nationally salient issues such as healthcare and the economy.

... Between 2000 and 2018, the Indian American population grew by nearly 150 percent, making it the second-largest immigrant group in America today. The community’s elevated levels of educational attainment and household income render its members valuable campaign contributors and potential mobilizers. And in select swing states, the Indian American population is larger than the margin of victory that separated Hillary Clinton and Trump in the closely contested 2016 presidential race.

Take that Donald Trump. Playing buddy-buddy with India's increasingly dictatorial nationalist ruler, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will not win you the affections of these Americans.

° ° °

Yes, content will sometimes be a little thin here through November 3. I'll try to share interesting thoughts and factoids I come across here. But this is a time for working for a huge, peaceful Biden sweep and a Democratic Senate, not for commentary. Let's win this thing and dissect it after we know where we come out.