Really? Let it go, you guys

Monday, November 16, 2020

You'd think by the title of this post I'll be talking about tRump and his pathetic refusal to admit his loss and proceed with the peaceful transfer of power to President-Elect Biden. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. I'm past being shocked or even surprised by that misanthrope's behavior, and so will probably never write about it again. He lives for attention to stroke his ego and massive inferiority complex, so like Mary MacGregor in Rob Roy, "I will think on you no more."

No, this post is about the counter-protesters in Washington, DC over the weekend. 

I read that approximately 300 counter-protesters showed up to the MAGA March on Saturday, and - surprise, surprise - violence ensued

Here's the deal, liberals. This "Million Man MAGA March" or whatever they called it consisted of tens of thousands of die-hard, incendiary, violent tRump acolytes. These were the true believers, the Proud Boys lunatics, the frothing at the mouth hero-worshiping cultists that consider tRump the second coming, the racist non-critical-thinking brain-washed followers, the believe anything he says enablers. There certainly wasn't a million of them, but the ones that were there were convinced the election was "rigged" and "stolen," lack of evidence to the contrary. They believe the lies and the spurious claims without question or analysis, and here's the thing: You will never change their minds, no matter what you do, no matter what evidence you present, no matter how many election legal challenges are thrown out of court, no matter what happens. You will never, ever change their minds. The most you can hope for is some publicity for your cause, and even that's a double-edged sword, as shown by the coverage of the altercations. 

Why, exactly, was it necessary to personally confront these people as they railed against reality? To rub in the fact that Biden will be our next President come January 20th? To try and force them to admit their hero is, in fact, a big fat loser? To gloat? What possible good would come of that strategy, especially if you incited violence? 

Here's the thing. If you think tRump was a classless, lying asshat of a President, and his supporters don't know how to act, why are you yourself acting in such a way that echoes his cult members' behavior? 

From where I sit, the time has come to try and rebuild. As I said in my post-election blog post, I have hope for a Biden presidency. I think bridging the division in our country is the one of the primary tasks of the next four years, and I think liberals have an obligation to lead in this. It's up to us to behave fairly, respectfully, and compromise with the loyal opposition. I'm not talking about the tRumpism cult of personality members - they will never try to find common ground with people they oppose. I'm talking about the individual citizens who voted for tRump for what they believe are economic reasons, or policy reasons, or single-issue voter reasons. I'm talking about the reasonable conservatives who held their noses and voted for tRump because they couldn't bear to vote for a Democrat. I'm talking about those who continue to be misled by tRump's lies, and may be convinced he was nothing but a grifting demagogue if presented with the evidence. Why are you deliberately antagonizing these people by inciting violence against people who are "on tRump's side" on national television? 

You're not helping the cause. You're hurting it. If you have ANY expectation of tRump voters accepting defeat graciously and moving on to focus on governance, then you have to be gracious winners. 

Thinky Thoughts about the Election

Monday, November 9, 2020

I have thoughts and feelings about the election because of course I do. It's been hard for me to describe my feelings in an articulate way, so as is my custom, I've come to HCDSM to write in order to clarify my thoughts and get a handle on my feelings. This is how I calm the bagful of cats that resides in my brain. 

Please note: I am not looking for a debate, or for trolls to come and inundate my space with their whataboutism and all lives matter obtuseness and her emails and conspiracy theories and other general fuckery. Questions or comments posed in good faith will be answered in the same way;  shittiness in the guise of a question will be met by the Shovel of Doom.™

________

When CNN called Pennsylvania for Biden/Harris, I cannot express my relief. It literally felt like I had dropped a weight I'd been carrying around for so long I'd forgotten it was there, and then I cried, more than once, in both relief and joy. And if I, a middle aged, CIS, straight, white woman who is a member of the 10% felt that way, I cannot even imagine how BIPOC felt. Well, actually I can, as expressed by the (normally) articulate and thoughtful Van Jones of CNN:


________

Kamala. Madame Vice-President Elect Harris. 

I’ve worked in male dominated fields my entire life. And when Kamala Harris took the stage to introduce President-Elect Biden in her white suit, I wept. She's my age, and she's the first woman elected to the Office of the Vice President. Women still have so much work to do to achieve equity in this society, but she broke a pretty big glass ceiling, Nothing but respect, Madame Vice-President Elect. 

How I wish Moe had lived to see this day. 

________

I am still registered as unaffiliated. There has been nothing in the last four years (or in this election cycle) that has convinced me to change my mind on this score. Just because I'm a liberal doesn't mean I'm a Democrat, and I have some serious issues with the way the DNC has constructed their platform and selected their candidates. I also have some issues with the current Speaker of the House, who decided it was better to deprive the American people of the relief they so desperately needed in the Time of Covid so she could score points against a President she hates. She failed in her duties to her constituents because of an emotional, partisan response, and that's just not okay. Get your shit together, Nancy - you lost some credibility with that move, and you'll have to work pretty hard to get it back. 

________ 

Speaking of losing credibility, after the last four years, I am absolutely furious with the GOP. I have voted for Republicans in the past, even after I left the party, but right now, that seems like a pipe dream. After the entire GOP tacitly accepted tRump's constant violations of the law, his racist policies, his hateful rhetoric, his bloody incompetence, I will never again vote for a Republican who was in office during tRump's administration unless there is documented proof that they showed some moral fortitude in trying to stop tRump's egregious behavior. A short list, to be sure. The list of Republican candidates I'll consider will get longer as time and attrition removes the cowards from office, but for now, fuck you, you line-towing, immoral, party first lickspittles. When push came to shove and the time came for you to prove that your constituents, the rule of law, and the concept of character is what mattered to you, you failed in the worst way imaginable. You are without honor and courage, and your oath to the ideals you swore to uphold have been suborned by your own ambition and greed. Fuck you. Character matters, and you proved, over and over again in the last four years, that your character is fundamentally flawed. 

________

I am shocked and saddened that the margin of the Biden/Harris win wasn't higher, but really - I shouldn't be. If the tRump presidency has shown us anything of value in the last four years, it's the flashlight it's shone on the deep, dark corners of American white supremacy. From a statistical, systemic perspective, there is only one way to interpret the data: white America as a group is racist AF, and white people who try to vote thoughtfully, who try to vote only after educating ourselves with reputable sources, who try to vote with empathy for the well-being of others, are far fewer than we'd like to believe. The data doesn't lie, and the bottom line really is that if you choose to vote for a mean-spirited, racist, bigoted bully, then you're supporting mean-spiritedness, racism, bigotry and bullying as cultural norms for our country. At the very least this constitutes passive racism in my mind. To the tune of 70 million Americans. Angels and ministers of grace, defend us.

________

There is so much work to be done. The destruction of our historical and current system of white supremacy will probably take generations. But this is positive work; work that proactively makes our society better and more equitable; work that is rooted in love and empathy, and supports the well-being of all of our citizens. 

The anticipation and commitment to this work is invigorating and positive in a way that the work of the last four years wasn't. For the last four years I've written countless letters to my Congressional representative and Senators and I've made donation after donation to organizations and groups who support fairness and equity in public life. I've marched and I've railed. But that was work that felt like sticking my finger in the dike - I only wanted to stem the tide, to keep things from getting worse before an electoral solution could be found. 

The work of my lifetime will be incredibly difficult, and so, so worth it. After we decompress for a bit, we will start working on a plan to be more proactive in our contributions. We need to research how to be better allies to BIPOC communities, and then act on those findings. We need to help police our own cohort, and call out racism and white supremacy when we see it. No more "passes" based on age or region, no more remaining silent in order to keep the peace. I have benefitted from the white supremacy of our country every day of my life, whether I asked for it or not. I owe it to BIPOC communities to use some of that privilege to support the equity of those who have been denied what was freely given to me based solely on the color of my skin and my socioeconomic status. 

________

Because I live in an extremely conservative district, my U.S. Congressional Representative, my State Senator, my State Representative, and my local officials are all Republicans. There's nothing I can do to change this except to try and vote them out, year after year, until a) a Democrat wins; b) a Republican comes along who isn't a complete, lying douchecanoe; or c) I choose to leave the District. I'll continue to fight the good fight, but I've resigned myself to this truth, for good or for ill. 

________

In spite of my Republican local representation, I'm proud to be a Coloradan today: 

  • We now have two Democratic Senators, sending a message that Colorado as a whole will not stand for moral cowardice in the upper house. 
  • Biden/Harris won our state by 13 points, and our state has gone blue in the last four Presidential elections. Based on our demographics, this will probably continue to be the case as the state becomes more and more liberal. 
  • We repealed the Gallagher Amendment. Gallagher is an extremely complex issue, but the bottom line is that Coloradans agreed to pay more in personal property taxes so that non-industrial communities would have sufficient tax dollars to support fundamental services such as public education, fire and police, and hospital services. Will urban homeowners pay more so that other members of our Colorado community will have a reliable tax base for essential services? Yes. Yes, we will. And good for us.
  • Colorado voted against a ban on late-term abortions by 18 points. Colorado routinely slaps down anti-choice legislation, and in this case the terms were especially egregious - only one exception was included, and that was to save the woman's life if she was in immediate danger. So if you're carrying a fetus that is absolutely nonviable, you get to carry it to term whether you want to or not, and then watch your baby die immediately after birth with no hope whatsoever that they'll live. There may be some couples that make this choice for their own reasons, but it should still be a choice. 
  • Colorado passed a proposition to create a state-run Paid Medical and Family Leave program by 15 points. This one made my heart sing. This is a REALLY expensive program - .9% of workers' salary plus matching funds by most employers - and it passed with a significant mandate. So Coloradans as a whole voted to significantly increase their state tax so that members of our community won't become homeless or have to declare bankruptcy as a result of an illness or injury, and will also have a chance to receive paid family leave when a new child joins the household. Our household will have to revise our budget in order to accommodate this additional expense, as will most Coloradans, but we agreed to do it anyway, because we care about the well-being of others. 
Of course there were other initiatives which passed (or didn't) that I don't agree with, such as approval of Colorado joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). Sometimes I think that both parties are pretty short sighted when it comes to this type of legislation. Just because such a compact would benefit the Democrats at this time in our history doesn't mean this will always be the case. States are not blue or red forever (as the tRump campaign is discovering), and when deciding on these issues, you have to remember it's a double-edged sword. 
________

I'm so, so glad that his dark chapter in American history is almost over, and I hope for a better future. I hope President Elect Biden and Vice President Elect Harris will be able to convince both parties to work in a non-partisan way to better our country and stop the incredibly hateful rhetoric. I hope they're able to restore America's place on the international stage, and work towards making us a respected ally once again. I hope that America will evolve into a country where BIPOC communities don't have to fear for their lives simply because of the color of their skin. I hope we, as a country, can bury the hatchet with our fellow countrymen and women, and try to work together civilly and without hate, rancor, and bigotry. I hope our Armed Forces are used wisely and thoughtfully when such becomes necessary. I hope respect for the rule of law becomes not only popular again, but expected in all our public servants. I hope we find a way to embrace a value system where character is what defines a person, not money, or race, or religion, or who you know. I hope we grow into a country who protects and cares for ALL its citizens, and understands that basic human rights such as having enough to eat and basic medical care is a standard for a modern civilization, and can be easily achieved if we value it enough. 

I hope. 


Politics - A Civil Discourse

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

DISCLOSURE: Please note the title of this post. CIVIL discourse. If you are so emotionally hooked that you cannot discuss candidates and policy without resorting to name calling, personal attacks and other incivility, please do not engage. I will be summarily deleting comments that I consider uncivil, regardless of who posts them, nor will I tolerate any "whataboutism," "Fake News," or other logical fallacies. You don't have to keep it clean (have you met me?) but arguments must be well-thought out and defensible with facts and references from reputable sources. So if you want to engage in poo-flinging monkey fights, please redirect yourself to Reddit, that seething den of scum and villainy. 

__________

The other day, a 45 supporter on Facebook asked a question. He said he didn't understand why anyone would vote for Vice President Biden, and he wanted to know why people would make that choice. Understandably, he wanted answers other than "He's not Trump."

I've been thinking about this question since then, because I think it's a good one. While most elections end up being a contest between a bad choice and a worse choice, I have always tried to select the candidate who most closely aligns with the ideals and ideas I find most important. But since 45 came into office, I have found that I have been less likely to try and find commonality between me and my selected candidate. This is especially true of 45, since I hold him in such contempt, but after the last four years, my antipathy has spread to the entire GOP.

Such knee-jerk reactions are part of what has made American politics so divisive, personal, and nasty. And I want to be part of the solution, not the problem. 

So I want to articulate the reasons why I think Vice President Biden is a better candidate than the current resident of the White House. Buckle up - this is going to be a long one. 

CAVEAT I: I am a tax and spend liberal. For those of you keeping track at home, this means that if the American people want a specific service from the government, then we must pay for it, i.e., taxes must be raised to cover the cost of the program. I'm okay with paying more taxes for more services for the general population, and yes, I also believe in a progressive tax rate. It's obscene that there are people in the United States who suffer from food insecurity and homelessness while our wealthiest citizens are rich beyond the dreams of avarice. I pay my taxes each year if not gladly, then at least with the satisfaction of knowing I'm doing my part to enhance the standard of living for everyone in my community, not just myself. YMMV.

The American healthcare system. The United States spends more on health care than any comparable country - a whopping 17% of GDP, compared to an average of 8.6% for other relatively wealthy countries. And yet, measurements of life expectancy, infant mortality, and unmanaged diabetes show the United States lagging significantly behind other relatively wealthy countries. 

There are a variety of reasons for these outcomes, but it seems apparent to me the main issue is that America's political machine is far more interested in healthcare for profit than in healthcare for people, and this is not okay with me. In a country as wealthy as ours, everyone within our borders should have access to basic healthcare. No one should have to choose between getting life saving medication or feeding their kids, no one should lose their house and have to declare bankruptcy because of a catastrophic illness or injury, and no one should be left to die because they couldn't afford to seek care. We can afford this. We just choose not to. 

While I personally do not think Biden's healthcare plan goes far enough, I believe it is a step in the right direction. A public option for all should be available if people need it in order to get care, and Biden's current plan is comprehensive enough to increase the number of people who will be covered. We can argue for years about the best methodology to accomplish this goal, but we can't, because I really haven't seen a comprehensive healthcare plan of any sort, good OR bad, from the current Administration. They've had four years to create one. The fact that they've done nothing regarding this critical issue (except try to repeal current protections, I mean) tells me something about their priorities, and I don't like what I see.

Foreign policy. Like it or not, the United States is a part of the global economy, and our economic health is tied directly to our trading partners. Additionally, the United States' standing as a leader of the free world is largely dependent on our relationships with like-minded countries. By acting in concert with our allies, the U.S. is capable of effecting global change for the better. 

Vice President Biden is a master at establishing, maintaining, and deepening these relationships. During his tenures as a Senator and then the Vice-President, he spent many years working with the leaders of foreign governments, and has earned the respect of other wealthy (and other not so wealthy) democracies/republics by doing the necessary diplomatic work to establish his credibility. 

Whether or not you agree or disagree with the current Administration's foreign policy, everyone can see that our standing on the global stage has diminished in the last four years. The free world no longer looks to the United States for leadership and consensus. They roll their eyes when our chief executive enters the room or tries to speak. Instead they look to Germany, led by Angela Merkle in Europe and New Zealand, led by Jacinda Ardern on the Pacific Rim. We have spent the last 80 years establishing ourselves as one of the last remaining superpowers, and sadly, it doesn't take long for that social capital to deteriorate. I believe Vice President Biden can repair our relationships, establish new ones, and hold global bad actors accountable when necessary.

I trust science and the scientific method. If anything has highlighted the difference between the candidates in this race, it's their vastly different attitude regarding science and scientific experts. There is consensus among credible scientists that climate change is real, that it is caused by human technology, and that there will be catastrophic results if we don't work to alleviate the effects, especially in low-lying areas. But that is not what the current administration believes, based on their withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, while climate change and environmentalism is a part of Vice President Biden's platform.  

The most obvious example of declining scientific advice, of course, is the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our current administration has ignored advice from recognized experts in favor of magical thinking, and has shaped their policies accordingly. The administration couldn't have been in better hands during this crisis, having Dr. Anthony Fauci as their primary advisor, who has served as the Director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. And yet, the current administration continues to spread falsehoods and half-truths, and enacted policy that has resulted in the U.S. having the largest COVID infection rate and death rate per capita in the world, and that includes third world countries. 

Based on his published platform, I believe Vice President Biden will handle this ongoing crisis in a much more effective manner, because he doesn't think he knows more than a recognized expert whose life's work has been the research and treatment of infectious diseases, and he won't pander to those who think their high school diploma or bachelor's degree makes them a qualified epidemiologist and/or infectious disease specialist.

I believe in the rule of law, the dignity of the Oval Office, and our social norms. Vice President Biden believes in these things, too. 

Character matters. While I am fully aware that the vast majority of politicians in this country equivocate or mislead the population during their tenures, the last four years have been absolutely extraordinary in this regard. Based on the number of verifiable falsehoods 45 has uttered since entering the White House, it does not appear that he can speak on ANY subject without throwing in 10 (or 20) superfluous lies. 45 is a chronic, constant liar. I'm not going to speculate on why this is the case because I really don't give a damn why he lies. The bottom line is that he can't be trusted on any subject, and I require at least a minimal level of honesty from the U.S. President. 

Does Biden also periodically lie? Yes. Yes, he does. He's a politician. But his lies are periodic, and at this point in our country's political life, I think that's the best we can hope for. 

I will not accept misogyny, racism, bigotry, bullying of the weak or disabled, white supremacy, sexual misconduct, or incitements to violence from a candidate hoping to occupy the highest office in the land. While I concede that Vice President Biden is not a person of unerring character, it is my opinion, based on 45's own words, that Biden is miles and miles above 45 in this regard. This may not matter to you provided he delivers on issues you think are more important, and that's your privilege. Just as it's my privilege to eliminate 45 from my consideration based on these character flaws. 

Intellectual honesty, curiosity, competence, and a desire to serve. To be frank, I don't think anyone is "qualified" to be the President of the United States when they begin their first term. It's a job like no other, and the weight of responsibility has prematurely aged every president in history. But there are personality traits that can predict whether or not an individual may be a good or a poor president. In an ideal world, I want a President who is smarter than me. Better educated than me. Has intellectual curiosity about the world. Has shown sustained competence in their chosen field. And I want a President whose impetus to run is to serve the people. Not serve themselves, not seek immunity from prosecution for their misdeeds. not to engage in nepotism, not to make themselves rich by violating the emollients clause. I believe Vice President Biden wants to be President for the right reasons. 

My political values are rooted in the Constitution I swore to protect and defend with my life. This means any candidate I choose to endorse must also have values rooted in our Constitution. I'm especially devoted to the 1st Amendment, 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As an Atheist, my own moral code is dictated by philosophical paradigms I have personally chosen that are outside of (but not necessarily contrary to) Christian teachings. The Constitution guarantees my right to reject religion, and when politicians try to force their non-secular belief systems down my throat via executive orders and judicial appointments, I consider it a violation of the 1st Amendment. 

The 4th Estate is the only commercial enterprise specifically called out anywhere in our Constitution for special consideration under the law. That's because the founders understood that the government required watching, and it required watching by institutions who could not be silenced by the very people they were holding accountable. 

I believe Vice President Biden shares these values. I believe 45 does not, as characterized by his constant berating of reputable news outlets, his cries of "Fake News" and "Alternative Facts," and his absolute obsession with his own press and inability to take responsibility for anything that has occurred on his watch. 

I could go on, but I won't. I think that's quite enough for one post, and to tell the truth, I'm really, really tired of politics. For good or for ill, I want this election cycle to be over. 

Everything you wanted to know about the Colorado 2020 General Election but were afraid to ask

Thursday, October 8, 2020


So. It's an election year. And this year is like no other, for a variety of reasons. 

As is my custom, I volunteered to act as an Election Judge for the election, and I've just finished my mandatory training from Douglas County on election rules, process, etc. Since so many people know I volunteer to do this, I end up getting a lot questions about it, and I want to answer them all. So here's my list of FAQs, which will be updated as additional questions come in. 

DISCLAIMER: The final arbiter of what's legal and what's not in Colorado is the Colorado Secretary of State, or if that fails, the Courts. Neither Douglas County nor the Secretary of State endorse this FAQ, and as such, I'll be providing links to the appropriate government offices as appropriate, in addition to my laywoman's perspective. I am not an election law attorney, nor do I play one on T.V. For complete details on election law and rules, see the Secretary of State's website. You can find everything you need to know there, from acceptable forms of ID, to sample ballots, to accessibility arrangements. 

__________

Q: Are there enough Election Judges to man polling places this year due to COVID-19? Are extra precautions being taken for the purpose of sanitation?

A: Yes. According to the election volunteer coordinator, Colorado residents volunteered in droves to be election judges this year, at the rate of about four applicants for every one position, and all election judges have been trained in the appropriate sanitation requirements. 

__________

Q:  Are Election Judges just picked willy-nilly?

A:  No. Election Judges must be screened, including a background investigation, before they can be sworn in. Additionally. Election Judges are selected based on experience and political affiliation. In Colorado, each polling place must have a balance between Republicans, Democrats, and Independent Judges. Ballot boxes are sealed by two individuals who cannot be of the same political affiliation, and the polling place must be manned at all times by at least two individuals who cannot be of the same affiliation. Ballots are moved from collection boxes to the election office in the same way. In the Navy, we called this "Two Person Integrity." You can identify your poll workers by the color of lanyard they wear. Red for Republican, Blue for Democrat, White for Independent, tan and teal for watchers/observers, and yellow for election staff. 

__________

Q:  Will I receive a ballot in the mail?

A:  Yes. If you are registered to vote in the State of Colorado, you will receive a ballot in the mail. Colorado sets the gold standard for mail-in voting, and every voter will receive a ballot in the mail by default. 

__________

Q:  What if my ballot doesn't arrive when my County says it should and I'm getting nervous?

A:  You can go to Go Vote Colorado and sign up for BallotTrax, or you can look it up by clicking the "Find my Registration" link. If the system shows that your ballot was supposedly delivered but it wasn't, you can call your local election office to find out how to get a replacement ballot. 

__________

Q:  With all the shenanigans surrounding the Post Office, I don't want to drop my ballot in the mail. Is there another way to make sure it gets to the election office on time?

A: Yes! Most election offices have ballot drop boxes throughout their county where you can drop off your ballot. These boxes are sealed and locked, and under 24 hour surveillance. They're emptied every day (sometimes several times a day, depending on how close to the election we are). And if all else fails, every polling place will have drop off boxes where you can put your ballot in the box. 

__________

Q:  What if I don't want to vote at home, but instead want to go to a polling place, vote in a booth, and put my paper ballot in a ballot box?

A:   You are absolutely able to do so - that's why we have Election Judges. Simply look for an open polling place in your County, and go there for early voting or on Election Day. But here's the rub: DO NOT MAIL THE BALLOT YOU RECEIVED IN THE MAIL AND THEN TRY TO GO VOTE IN PERSON. Seriously, don't. The District Attorney calls that "Voter Fraud," and you will be receiving a call from them later down the road. More on that later. 

__________

Q:  Will there be crowds at the polling place?

A:  Election authorities do in fact believe that polling places will be crowded on Election Day. This is the case for a variety of reasons, including COVID restrictions such as reduced polling locations and staff, fewer voting booths, limiting the number of voters inside the polling station, etc. If you want to vote in person, please plan accordingly, and know that as long as you’re in line by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, you WILL be able to vote.

__________

Q: What if I don't want to wait?

A: Well, early voting is the shizzle! There will be polling places in Douglas County open from October 19-31, and again on November 2nd. Different polling places will be opening in phases 1, 2, and 3 here in Douglas County. Process and procedure will be the same whether you vote early or on Election Day, and we’ll even be open one Saturday (October 31st). If you need to find the schedules for your county, check your County Clerk’s election information page, or check the Colorado Go Vote page under "Manage my Registration."

__________

Q: Why are the Election Judges taking so long to move voters through the process?

A: Because both parties have communicated that lawsuits will be forthcoming post-election regardless of outcome, process will be strictly observed at every polling station. Please be patient with the election judges as they try to ensure everything is above-board for every voter. We’ll be doing the best we can, moving as fast as we can, and election judges are there to support the PROCESS, not a political party. All we care about is that EVERYONE gets a chance to vote, legally. So try to keep your temper with the volunteers. No one likes to be yelled at, especially when they’re trying to perform a public service.

__________

Q: What if I'm not registered and I still want to vote?

A: If you’re not registered to vote, you can register AND vote in the general election at any polling place up to and including on Election Day. Go you!

__________

Q: How do I know there won't be voter fraud?

A: Ah, the question of the hour. If you want to know how voter fraud is prevented here in Douglas County, you can start by watching an excellent video called "The Life of a Ballot" on the Douglas County Votes web page. However, I often get questions along the lines of "But how do you know if someone tries to vote twice?" The answer is both simple and complex.

Every ballot issued by the County Clerk has a bar code associated with it, and that bar code is associated with a Colorado Voter ID number. So when you get your ballot in the mail, that ballot is yours and yours alone to use. Once you fill it out and drop it off, it is scanned in at election headquarters (see the video linked above), and the scanning of that bar code makes a change in the Secretary of State's voter database showing that you (and your voter ID) have voted.

Which leaves a few scenarios:

  1. If you come to the polling place to vote after your original ballot is scanned in and your voter ID shows that you've already voted, you'll be informed that the County Clerk's office has already received a completed ballot for your voter ID. If you insist that the ballot was returned by someone other than you, you will be permitted to vote a provisional ballot, and when that ballot (also assigned to your voter ID) is put into the system, an investigation will be conducted to determine what actually happened. If election officials suspect that someone did in fact return your ballot without your consent, the matter is turned over to the District Attorney's office for action.
  2. If you come to the polling place before your drop off ballot is scanned in (say, during early voting), the Secretary of State's database will reflect that you have not voted. In that case, the election judge will have no way of knowing if you mailed it or not, and the ballot you cast in person will be the first and only ballot that is counted. When the mail ballot is received at election headquarters, an investigation is launched by the District Attorney to determine what happened, because turning in two ballots, whether you meant to or not, is voter fraud.
  3. If you vote in person at a polling place to cast your ballot and then on the way home drop your mail-in ballot at a collection box, again, the database will determine that you attempted to vote twice and an investigation will be launched.

And you want to know what makes all this work? The Secretary of State's software and associated database (called SCORE) is directly connected to every polling place in Colorado, on a secure connection, in real-time. So when an Election Judge prints out your in-person ballot for you, the change in your status from not voted to voted happens at once and is then reflected in every polling place, state-wide.

And the policy of the Election Office (at least in Douglas County) is to turn over every suspected case of voter fraud to the District Attorney. Every. Single. One. Because it's not the Election Office's job to determine intent and degree of illegality. It's the DA's.

__________

Q: Does the County Clerk expect there to be shenanigans at the polling places?

A: Not necessarily "expect," but all the Election Judges have been trained on what to do in case there are any:

  1. Activities such as poll watching and observers are being managed as they always have - coordinated between the political parties and the Secretary of State’s office. Watchers are pre-designated, and they will be obtaining a Certificate of Appointment and Oath of Watcher in order to be permitted in the polling place for this purpose. Observers are appointed by the Federal government or the Secretary of State. So folks who think they can just stroll in and make sure everything is being done “correctly” will be invited to leave, by law enforcement if necessary.  
  2. Electioneering within 100 feet will not be tolerated. So leave your political t-shirts, hats, buttons, etc. at home, and keep your political opinions to yourself while you’re in the polling place. Again, this is a bi-partisan law, and have been in place for many, many years. Nothing new here, just the enforcement of exiting rules and norms.

__________

Q: Does the Secretary of State anticipate violence at the polling places, and have contingency plans been made?

A: No, and yes.
__________

And lastly, make sure you VOTE, regardless of how and where you choose to do so. Now more than ever, exercising your franchise is probably one of the most important things you’ll do this year.

Maureen's Marchers, Walking the Good Walk

Sunday, September 27, 2020


Had the pandemic not occurred, today would have been the day our American Foundation for Suicide Prevention fundraising team, Maureen's Marchers, would have been at Coors Field for this annual event. But 2020 had other plans since it was evidently sent by Cthulhu to test American mettle. 

Yet, I still try to follow Mr. Rogers' advice, and look for the helpers. And nowhere are the helpers more evident than when our fundraising team seeks donations for suicide prevention. 

For the second year in a row, I am the number one fundraiser for the Denver Metro Walk (this year called an "Experience") on the day of the walk, and Maureen's Marchers is the the number one fundraising team by respectable margins. 




This year has been especially difficult since so many folks are out of work and have little to spare. Which makes the donations we did receive that much more meaningful. 

Thank you to ALL our donors, especially the anonymous donors who we are not able to thank directly. Your willingness to continue to support this cause means the world to us, as we try to turn this unimaginable tragedy into something worthwhile. Love to you all. 
______

The donation pages will be active for a couple of months following the event, so if you choose to donate even after today, you can do so here


Stalky Stalking Stalkers

Monday, September 21, 2020

As many of you may know, this year was the first time in my life that I chose to donate money to political campaigns in support of the candidates I want to win. I haven't done it in the past for a variety of reasons, including:

  • I don't think "campaign contributions" belong in politics. I believe the government should provide a set amount of money to each candidate for the duration fo their campaign, and that should be it. No Citizen's United bullshit, no big money donors, no billionaire self-funded dipshits buying the election, no buying the candidate's ear. If they win, each candidate should have an equal obligation to every constituent in their area of responsibility, and no one should have to pay for that obligation through political contributions. I'm such a dreamer. 
  • I knew, I knew, that if I chose to donate in spite of my misgivings, the campaigns in question would become Stalky McStalkersons, inundating me constantly with requests for more money, in spite of the fact that I already know how much (and when) I'll be making additional donations to the campaigns I care about. 
But I believe this election cycle is the most important one of my lifetime, and I strongly feel the Republic is in jeopardy. So rather than tacitly agreeing to live in a Banana Republic where our fearless leader (or his whackadoodle son) wears a funny hat for the rest of my life, I sucked it up and made modest contributions to several candidates of my choice. 

Crap on a cracker, I was SO RIGHT. 

As an experiment, I started keeping track of how often the campaigns I contributed to contacted me to beg for more money. These statistics are from September 11 through September 18th, and for what should be obvious reasons (have you met me?) only include Democratic candidates. But there is no doubt in my military mind that the Republicans are doing exactly the same thing to their own donors. 

Amy McGrath9
Mark Kelly12
John Hickenlooper29
Biden/Harris29

As you can see, Hick and Biden/Harris campaigns are the Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner in the Stalky McStalkerson Sweepstakes, with a whopping 29 communications in just a seven day period.* For those who are math-challenged, that's a little over four communications a day, every day. 



And politicians wonder why people of good conscience don't want to donate to their campaigns. BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT REPRESENTATIVES OF ACTBLUE OR ACTRED OR WHATEVER PEERING IN THEIR WINDOWS AT NIGHT TO SEE WHEN YOU'LL DONATE AGAIN, THAT'S WHY.

________

*Disclaimer: These values do not include phone calls, because I just don't answer calls from numbers that are not in my contact list. I also only received one SMS from each candidate because I opted out after the first ones, which to their credit, they respected. So the ACTUAL number of attempts would be far higher were this a scientific poll with a control group. Which it's not. 

The Notorious RBG

Saturday, September 19, 2020

 
Last night's news of RBG's death has affected me in so many ways. 

First and foremost, I grieve the death of this amazing woman, and for her family. She was just...amazing. She had a towering intellect and a tenaciousness that defied societal expectations of her time. Her will was without parallel, and she was the one of the first Social Justice Warriors, with all that implied. Someone to aspire to, who worked with compassion and dignity her entire life to make life better for those without her natural gifts and her privilege. 

An amazing legacy of a life well-lived. 

So of course the Republicans will do everything they can to fuck it up, which brings us to my next emotion. Pure, unadulterated, rage. 

Of course, Mitch McConnell decides to announce that tRump's nominee (whoever that will be, but probably not a woman, because Ladybrains are not fit to decide important matters) will in fact get a hearing and a vote in the Senate during the latter part of this election year. Of course. 

Of course, the nominee will almost certainly be a bootlicking conservative of the same ilk as Brett Cavanaugh. Because tRump learned his lesson with Justice Gorsuch, with whom I don't agree politically, but nevertheless is dedicated to the rule of law and is beholden to no one. Not so Cavanaugh, an ass-kissing sycophant and possible rapist. Yeehaw. 

Of course, the newly stacked court will probably overturn cases that benefit minorities and oppressed people, cases that RBG spent her entire life championing, because fuck poor people, the BIPOC communities, women and the LGBTQ community. Fuck them. 

I'm going to quote my buddy Eric here on the impending doom of the next Associate Justice selection, because he's so very eloquent and encapsulates my feelings perfectly:

Of course McConnell is going to allow a vote. The Garland thing was obvious bullshit. Calling him a hypocrite is meaningless--he doesn't care. He has no shame. He has no pride. He has nothing but a cynical, nihilistic desire to win and ethics, morals, and principles have nothing to do with it. He doesn't care.

And for all my loathing of the son of a bitch, the thing of it is that he's the scorpion who stings the frog, the thawed-out snake who bites the sweet old lady: he is what he is and that's all he is. It's the rest of the people who still identify as Republicans who are the problem at this point. Because, unlike McConnell, they think they care; they say they have principles and it's the other side who doesn't, even if these days the other side will (just for instance) shiv somebody like Al Franken and dump him over the side of the boat faster than you can say "decontextualuzed ratfucking" because we actually do mean what we say about things like #metoo however imperfectly we match words with deeds.

Don't fucking tell me you have principles, Republicans. You don't. Trump already proved it but Mitch is gonna double down on it. You don't actually give a runny shit about any principle except scoring and your only ethic is "owning the libs". I don't want to hear any more of your sad garbage, your whataboutism and your both sides and your but her emails and all the rest of it. Take your SCOTUS seat and whatever Federalist Society bootlicker the grifter nominates, and you better hope like hell you're wrong about what we do when we eventually win--because if we decide to start governing like you jagoffs instead of like people who really do care about what we believe, you're right fucked.

So say we all. 

And finally, I am scared-to-fucking-death. I fear for the Republic. I fear for my minority friends and family who will now be marginalized and persecuted even further. I fear for the norms and institutions that make America what it is, things such as civility (yes, I know that ship has sailed), honor (however little of it politicians possess), service to the public good, voting with intellectual rigor (another sailing ship), and concern for our fellow humans. Because the disregard of our laws and norms and lack of morality embodied by tRump and his lickspittle sycophants have a very real possibility of becoming what our country is about. And that's not okay.