WHAT’S AT STAKE IN THE MIDTERMS?
But, along with millions of readers, I identified with Charlie Brown, both his chronic insecurities, as well as his resilience in the face of perpetual disappointments – like how his “friend” Lucy taunted him with a football, only to snatch it away the last moment, again. And again.
As for Lucy, I came to see her as an emergent feminist, determined to escape Schulz’s own stereotype of a bossy mean girl, even as he promoted her to become the gang’s small business entrepreneur, operating her own bargain-rate therapy booth.
Peanuts is an American original.
Peanuts could not happen in a dictatorship.
Can you imagine Russia’s Vladimir Putin or China’s Xi Jinping allowing the creation of, much less tolerating and celebrating, such a subversive, seditious, revolutionary and dangerous attack against the supremacy and authority of the state?
MAYBE YOU'RE WONDERING: 'Seriously, is this guy trying to pass off a comic strip as an example of the pinnacle of national creative achievement?'
Crazyman is at it again. If you spotted me on the street, you’d probably be wise to cross to the other side.
And who’d blame you for grabbing your cell phone?
9-1-1: Please state the nature of your emergency.
CALLER: There’s some batty old bald guy yelling at everyone. Probably on the run from a locked-ward, wearing only his socks. He’s raving about the end of the Free World. Something about a make-or-break election that nobody’s paying attention to. But 9-1-1, there aren’t any elections this year, are there?”
9-1-1: No, Sir. No elections that we know about. And if there were, they wouldn’t warrant an emergency call to 9-1-1.
CALLER: But I’m still scared. This is some weird dude; can you help?
9-1-1: A rescue truck, three fire engines and a butterfly net are on their way. And Sir?
9-1-1: If I were you, I’d run like heck... .
If you don’t like my examples, why not come up with your own?
Here’s more from me:
- Two-day delivery.
- “Amazing Grace.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Martin Luther King Day.
- Southwest Airlines.
- Genome mapping.
- CRISPR gene editing.
In practice, the First Amendment does much more.
It creates space for new ideas, and the chance to second-guess the old ones; it produces the fertile soil in which you can plant the intellectual seeds that grow into cultural Redwoods.
Vote Republican on Nov. 8, and you can kiss all that goodbye.
More from my list:
Let's ask Tinkerbell to fly us to Florida, the Disney playground, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has picked a fight with another icon of American imagination, Mickey Mouse.
Right after the corporation criticized Florida’s new laws that monkey with discussion of gender and racial issues in schools, DeSantis got the state legislature to move faster than a speeding bullet to revoke the Disney empire’s self-governing status,
Censorship, meanwhile, continues to leap tall buildings and ride powerful trains to other red states.
In Tennessee this week, the legislature approved a bill that would require libraries to submit lists of their books for approval by a state commission.
During debate on the bill, state Rep. John Ray Clemmons, a Democrat, asked Rep. Jerry Sexton, a Republican, what the state would do with books that it found to be unacceptable:
CLEMMONS: You going to put them in the street? Light them on fire? Where are they going?
SEXTON: I don’t have a clue. But I would burn them.”
We have so much to lose if Republicans expand their thought-control, book-burning, don’t say gay, don’t think, don't talk, don't sing and all the other things that go with the war on reason.
Remarkably simple, it features a small piece of wood, onto which is attached a U-shaped metal bracket, powered by a strong spring. When Typhoid Terrence, the disease-spreading, wire-biting mouse, saunters by, he stops for a nimble of peanut butter that's plastered on The Victor's trigger.
Here's more from my list. And granted, my lists sometimes include things that aren't exclusively American, but that are the product of free societies:
- Same-day delivery.
- Shareholder rights.
- The UAW.
- Black Lives Matter.
- Bike lanes.
- Olivia Rodrigo.
- The atomic bomb.
- Physicians for Social Responsibility. (A doctors' group that gave rise to the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, winner of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize).
- The New York Times
STILL NOT SURE that Republicans are dictators? Think they’re just your grandfather's Republicans?
They’ve been around for years. They’re as much a part of American tradition as Charlie Brown, the A-bomb and better mousetraps. There’s not a dime’s difference between them and the "other" party, Tweedledum & Tweedledee.
NEWS BULLETIN: There is a difference.
The difference is that Democrats are your same-old, run-of-the-mill political party with older-than-average leaders, who mean well and usually govern well, except they don't come up with great campaign slogans or bumper stickers.
Republicans, on the other hand, have undergone a brain-altering transformation, becoming seditious, mean and delusional crackpots, a violent and gun-carrying band of extremists, channeling instructions from their clownish but unfunny real estate huckster and TV apprentice reality star, who, when he got to the White House, turned out to be a cruel, racist, sexist, vindictive and authoritarian sociopath.
You want crazy?
Jan. 6, 2021. A mob overruns the United State Capitol; it's not just another protest that’s gotten out of control, but a deliberate attack aimed on stopping the process of certifying the winner of the previous year’s election, a first step in resurrecting the candidate who got the fewest votes.
They’re at it again. In state after state, Republicans are passing laws to give them the power to reverse elections if they don’t like the outcomes; they're smearing opponents with slurs like pedophile “groomers;” they're bullying suicide-prone transgender kids; and sometimes they're talking nice about Vladimir Putin.
So, yes, there’s much to lose in an election that lots of people either don't know about or just don't care about.
And it is an emergency.
We don’t need to call 9-1-1.
We do need to make sure that we - and everyone that we can convince - vote.
Peanuts and a lot more are on the line.
LET'S HAVE A DAY JUST FOR YOU, DEMOCRATS. YOU MAKE US PROUD
You’re just what the country – and the planet – need.
Being a Democrat means you want things to get better - for yourself, your family, your friends, your neighbors and for the earth and everything on it.
What does being a Democrat say about you? It says that you're nice.
Don't laugh. You support the right things, a list that's super long.
Here are are some highlights, if you're a Democrat, of what you think every human should have:
- A safe, comfortable home.
- Plenty of good food.
- A powerhouse education.
- Work you're good at and provides both purpose and a paycheck.
- Medical care.
- A loving partner.
- A country you are rationally proud of.
- An end to racism.
- A thriving environment.
Because this sounds like joke.
It could be an elaborate setup for a late-night comic's satirical put down, with the studio audience waiting for the “Laugh & Hoot” sign to signal a tsunami of derisive, humiliating laughter that will live forever on You Tube.
Sounds like a proposal for sainthood. And no Democrat will fall for that.
Most likely, it's a Republican hoax, a consultant-manufactured conspiracy setting you up for a terrible storm of insult, a new smear, maybe a public hanging, since you know that they know that you know how much they absolutely detest you. You are, after all, a Democrat.
Still waiting for the punchline?
There isn’t one.
YOU DESERVE A DAY, one just for Democrats.
How about today, when we remind you of who you are and what you stand for? This is your day when, on behalf of a grateful nation, we offer a moment of appreciation for all you have done over the decades, plus what you hope to do - what you will do - going forward.
Stuff the modesty.
We know, since you're a Democrat, that you crave criticism. You're not stupid, most Democrats aren't. But being smart, you know that no one – not even a Democrat – is perfect. You understand that everyone makes mistakes and can learn from them; it's how we evolve and improve.
But leave the humble pie for some other time.
Today's banquet is to celebrate good Democrats and the good that they do.
It’s party time for the Democratic Party.
Because, as a Democrat, you need a break from the naysayers.
The abuse comes at Democrats from all sides, day and night, week in and week out. You're demonized, blamed, belittled, insulted and scolded, not just by Republicans, but by every kind of critic, attacking from every point on the political compass; you're lashed by media blowhards, taunted at the Thanksgiving table, put down on campus, and challenged when you go to the bar, the gym and the supermarket.
Gloomcasters are everywhere; sometimes they’re your fellow Democrats, and other times they're the guy in the next seat, coughing up Covid and not wearing a mask.
“You’re going to lose, Democrats.”
"You’re pathetic, and it’s your fault. And even if it isn’t, you’re still a disgrace. Nobody likes a loser. Upcoming mid-term elections: they’re going to be a wipe out, you donkeys."
Just today, the website “Politico” stuck it to you with a lethal forecast that I’m surprised didn’t come with an offer of free razor blades to slit your wrists with; just fill in the on-line coupon and we'll get them to you before 3:15 p.m. tomorrow.
Wait a little longer, and 2024 will be here before you know it, with Donald Trump back in the Oval, with murder on this mind and a vengeful list on the Resolute Desk.
And I'm here to tell you that all that stuff we were just talking about - it’s just nonsense and noise.
They are on the right side of history.
They solve problems.
They believe in science.
They promote progress.
They are artists, poets, potters, ditch-diggers, pilots, scientists, teachers, philosophers, loyal friends, loving parents. They keep the sewage plants working; they welcome dogs and cats into their homes; and they like to go on vacation. They follow the latest “guidance” on Covid. Democrats go to church and raise tomatoes; they play hockey, clean the house, run the dishwasher and sometimes empty it; they check “approve” whenever there’s a bond issue for a new school.
Democrats revere the Constitution, are committed to fair elections and willingly walk away when they don’t win. Democrats are the party of civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, indigenous people’s rights and disabled people’s rights.
Democrats want Donald Trump in jail.
Not because they dislike his vile politics but because he’s a traitor and a criminal; he's a Putin-wanna-be, a Putin-puppet, maybe both; he abetted the insurrection at the Capitol he swore to defend; and in the course of his crass, cruel life, he abused women, broke laws, cheated on taxes, shortchanged contractors and told thousands of lies.
You don’t need a Democrat to tell you that no one is above the law, but you need a Democrat to make the case.
Democrats are in favor of roads without potholes, and they support bridges that don’t fall down; they like bike lanes and sidewalks and parks of all sizes, minus the oil wells. Democrats want to make rivers and lakes swimmable, fishable and drinkable; they're big on air that’s fresh, clean and won’t kill asthmatic kids, yours and theirs. They want colleges that are affordable and farms that can support a family and average wages that keep the average person afloat.
If you are a Democrat, you believe that there is still time to prevent the environment from becoming unlivable for all creatures, even Republicans. And you’re convinced that a green environment is a job-maker and a money-maker.
Democrats are for everything Republicans are against, which is a mammoth list, but not an insurmountable one, at least if you're a can-do Democrat.
If you are a Democrat, you know that you don’t know all the answers; but you believe that the answers are there, and that all of the puzzles that befuddle us today will be solved tomorrow, and after that, there will new questions we don’t even know about.
So, please, Democrats, take a moment to be proud of who you are, what you do. Slap a bumper sticker on your car, and give yourself and each other a pat on the back. Fly the flag. Stand up for yourselves the same way you stand up for everyone else. Hug the kids. Harvest your vegetables and invite the neighbors for dinner.
There are millions and millions of Democrats, and if enough of you vote, we'll all share the satisfaction of “Politico” and the other soothsayers realizing that once again they underestimated what Democrats can do. Everybody loves an underdog, but only an underdog who wins.
You are a great bunch, Democrats, and it’s all because you’re nice. No one should underestimate the power of nice.
Think of all that has accomplished.
Democrats turned around the Great Depression and fixed the Great Recession. They won World War II and launched the War on Poverty; they invented Social Security, Medicare and Obamacare, and for a while, they had a child care credit. They got us to the moon. They elected the first President of color, and more recently, voted in one of the genuinely decent Presidents in recent memory, one who pulled the nation from the brink.
It’s an astounding record.
So think about it, Democrats.
And have a nice day
IT'S TOO EARLY - AND WRONG - TO BURY THE DEMOCRATS
familiar. Here are the basics of the story:
Who: As in, who's almost dead?
Answer: Democrats who control Congress.
What: What’s ailing them?
How: How's the prognosis:?
When: When will it happen?
Answer: Nov. 8, mid-term Election Day.
No one should have to wake up to this.
It’s Spring, and the first thing you want to hear in the morning are songs by our feathered partner-creatures, chipping their little brains out in the backyard. Absent that, how about a joyful chorus from the street, garbage crews banging the rubbish cans slowly as they they make their weekly rounds.
Frankly, anything would be preferable to the relentless river of gloom pouring out of the radio:
Democrats are toast, America.
And there’s nothing you can do about it.
In fact, the only uncertainty according this sort of "news" is who’ll get to the cemetery first: the squabbling, clueless congressional Democrats, or their stumble-bum geezer-leader, Joe Biden, the almost octogenarian, whose shelf-life had expired even before he was sworn in Jan. 20, 2021.
This funeral run-through was conducted by two undertakers: A Martinez (“A” is his first name, no period), who is a host for NPR’s “Morning Edition” program, and “Charlie” Cook, introduced as “a political analyst.”
Martinez got things rolling by lamenting the calamity of the government’s March inflation report, which he described as “the worst” in decades. (I'd have preferred a neutral adjective, like “highest”).
Cook opined that “inflation has an enormous, enormous impact on people,” (Isn't one “enormous" enough?). Cook said Democrats would try to divert the country’s attention from inflation by crowing about the low unemployment rate. But that was a fool’s errand, since only the unemployed care about unemployment stats, Cook said; whereas, inflation affects one-hundred percent of everybody.
Here’s more from the NPR transcript:
MARTINEZ: So, Charlie, I'm imagining someone waking up on November 8 with a checklist of things to do. They're going to go to the supermarket in the morning, they're going to gas up the SUV, and then they're going to go hit a voting center. I mean, how might that affect what they do in that voting center, once they get gouged at the supermarket and then at the gas station?
COOK: Well, it's – people tend to – if they are – if voters are mad about one thing or mad at a president about one thing, it tends to contaminate everything else. And so no matter what a president's doing that might be good, it doesn't mean as much if voters are really mad at you about whatever it is that they're most interested in – most involved in.
And as I said, inflation is something that just cuts through like a knife and has an enormous, enormous impact. (There he goes again with that extra “enormous”).
So this is - in midterm elections, it's about, you know, how big a turnout can a president's party get, knowing that they're - usually you're a little bit disillusioned, disappointed or complacent come midterm election time, and the party out of power is usually hypermotivated. They're angry. They want revenge.
And then there's the little 10% in the middle that's the truly independents. And, you know, they tend to get buyer's remorse in these elections.
Yes, there are enormous, enormous problems. This was one-sided reporting. It told only half the story, in addition to being unfair, misleading and dangerous.
First, it's true that Democrats could lose both houses of Congress in November. Inflation, indeed, is Worry # 1 for many voters, especially those for whom a missed rent or mortgage payment could make them homeless.
Then there’s Joe Biden’s “popularity.”
As of this writing, Biden’s approval rating is only 43.3 percent; 51.8 percent disapprove. Better figures are for, guess who: D. J. Trump, 44.9 percent approve; 50.4 percent don’t.
Covid remains a killer – 513 deaths every day, and the country is closing in on the 1 million mark for the pandemic total. Eco-Cassandras are predicting the end of the planet any day, unless Vladimir Putin hurries it along by lobbing a couple of nukes at those scrappy Ukrainians.
So, you can argue that Martinez and Cook were on the money, giving it to us straight, the bad with the badder; unblinking, just the facts, life is hard, then your party dies reporting. It's just regular old-fashioned objective, journalism. Don't like it? Turn off the radio.
Which is enormously, enormously wrong.
What was being served was costume journalism, reporters dressing up as fair, fact-based and objective messengers, when actually their stories - repeated over and over and over - abet a toxic outcome, not just for Democrats, but for democracy.
In mid-March, Biden did what most presidents do when gas prices rise: released oil from the national reserves, hoping an increase in supply would force prices down. Did Biden succeed?
I looked over my recent gas receipts. On March 18, a few days after Biden’s announcement, I paid $4.43 a gallon. A month later, the price dropped to $4.09. That’s 34-cents less, for a savings, if I bought 10 gallons, of $3.40. The price went down 4-cents a little later. Gas is still expensive, but shouldn't Biden get a little credit for “feeling our pain” and supplying an aspirin or two? Did I hear anything about that from the NPR doomsayers? Nope, Martinez and Cook were going full alarm in their “Morning Edition” version of the Doomsday Clock.
NOW, LET’S REVIEW MARTINEZ’S election day scenario. He imagined a voter, enraged by being “gouged” first at the supermarket, then at the gas pump, storming into the "voting center" to take his revenge on the Democrats.
But, is that the only possible scenario?
I know at least one voter for whom this isn't true.
When I vote, I’ll be furious, not about inflation, but at the thought of Republicans in control of Congress. Long ago, Republicans belonged to a legitimate political party, but now they're a seditious cult. These are people who nearly brought down our government on Jan. 6, and who are hoping to do so in the future.
It bothers me that Martinez and Cook were insistent that inflation would rule the election, when it’s possible – maybe not likely, but possible – that others will have the same motives that I do when they vote.
Maybe a bunch of voters will share my continuing gratitude to Joe Biden for defeating Donald Trump, the worst president in history and one of the world’s most vile leaders. Maybe they'll agree with my increasing admiration for the way Old Joe has restored sanity and competence to the federal government.
Don’t get me wrong. Joe’s not perfect. He’s made mistakes, and he'll make lots more. There's no such thing as a perfect president, both because (most) presidents are human, and because the job is impossible for any man or woman to do completely error-free. But you just have to compare Joe’s Supreme Court pick, Ketanji Brown Jackson, to the three scoundrels Trump imposed on our and future generations to understand the stakes in November and 2024.
Maybe there are more voters than Charlie Cook thinks, who are disgusted by how Republicans have condoned Trump’s stolen election Big Lie. There could be voters who object to how the GOP smeared Jackson, pretended that the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol was a tourists’ picnic; who are bullying transgender kids and turning classrooms into culture war battlegrounds.
HERE'S ANOTHER THING that alarmed me about the Martinez-Cook Doom Report. There was no hint in their discussion of what it means if the election is won by Republicans.
It matters who wins. The elections are not a meaningless contest in which it doesn’t matter who wins: whether the Red Shirts defeat the Blue Shirts, AT&T sells more iPhones than Verizon and who smacked whom at the Academy Awards.
Donald Trump and his zombie Republicans want to turn our country into an authoritarian hell.
The Martinez-Cook discussion is just one example of what we hear, read and watch every day: supposedly fact-based journalism that documents Democrats’ failures and their inevitable defeats, without mentioning the looming threat of a Trumpian dictatorship.
The cumulative effect of this defeat-is-certain news could also have an unintended result: discouraging Democratic and Independent voters from showing up at the polls. If it’s a foregone certainty that Democrats and Biden can’t win, why bother?
All of which means we'll wake up one morning, and there won’t be any authentic news coming out our beside radio, only the sound of songbirds in the backyard, and the rubbish crews doing their thing out front.
The Republicans will see to it.
I'VE BEEN a reporter and writer for 58 years, long enough to have learned that journalists don't know very much, although I've met some smart ones.
Mainly, what reporters know comes from asking other people questions and fretting about the answers.
This blog is a successor to one inspired by our dog, Phoebe, who was smart, sweet and the antithesis of Donald Trump. She died Feb. 3, and I don't see getting over that very soon.
Occasionally, I may try to reach her via cell phone.