Fasten Your Seatbelts

Because it’s going to be a bumpy ride… Really, the quote is ‘bumpy night’, but ride sounds better. This morning, I got not one, not two, but three spam calls from the ‘United States’ warning me that because of account irregularities, my “social number” will be suspended. I can only assume that they were referring to my Facebook account number, an account that I no longer use. After three tries, since they were too stupid to spoof their own phone number, I blocked it.

In the mail, Anne received a solicitation for her very own Joe Biden listening device. Good for those debates that don’t involve a screaming idiot. Reading it, she decided that the ad was really meant for me. Do you listen to the radio or TV too loud? Huh? Do you struggle to understand women? What? All my life. Or the high-pitched voices of children? Since they were born. What did you say?

Yesterday, we were walking by the De Mun Kaldi’s coffee shop, when Anne noticed a women with some hand-painted coffee sacks. These were the big 150 lbs. burlap kind that coffee is shipped bulk in. Turns out that they were being sold there as a charity thing, for $10 a piece. We bought two and plan on hanging them in our kitchen. We have just the wall for them. In the morning, we will not only be able to smell the coffee, but we’ll get to see it too.

Anne did her election judge training yesterday afternoon. Normally, she has to go to the election commission’s headquarters to do this, but in these Covid times, her training was conducted online via Zoom. I hunkered down in the next room, while Anne and her class learned about all of the new pandemic procedures, poll pads and all things elections. It went on and on for hours. Sometime in the middle of it though, I heard a woman screaming. One of her online classmates was dealing with a home intruder. Class stopped and everyone was ready to spring to her assistance, but what could they do? She had asked that no one should call the cops, but it was already too late for that. I hope she is OK.

Later, we watched the debate together. I had prepared bingo cards, to help us weather the storm, but I wasn’t expecting the tempest that we got. Anne soon won our game, and after that we were left with little for our defense. Dana Bash (CNN) summed up the evening the most succinctly, “It was a shit show.” The terrible toddler Trump was out-of-control. The moderator Chris Wallace couldn’t do a thing with him. Joe Biden was left with having to endure his ninety minute tantrum alone. In the end, Trump called upon the terrorist organization Proud Boys and his other Alt-right stooges to disrupt the coming election and ensure his victory. And I thought that the dangers of Covid would be the worse thing that Anne had to face, while working the polls on Election Day.

The Verdict of the People

Stump Speaking, George Caleb Bingham, 1853-54

Three-quarters of the American electorate is expected to watch tonight’s debate. Among these viewers, the vast majority have already decided who they’re going to vote for. A million voters, like myself, have already voted. Except for those few, those happy few undecided voters, who are likely not watching anyway, the rest of us are watching to root for our man. Of the four debates scheduled from now to Election Day, this is by far the most important. It will receive the largest viewership and set the tone for all subsequent ones. Supposedly, due to the pandemic, but also speaking to the enmity between the candidates, there will be no opening or closing handshakes. Maybe rooting is too benign a word for some people’s feelings about this event. Some people are watching, hoping for blood.

The County Election, George Caleb Bingham, 1852

There will be gotcha moments, either cannily sprung or simply pulled from an old can. People and pundits alike will seize upon these moments in the hours and days to come, blowing their significance all out of proportion and in the end signifying little. When all is said and done, few minds will be changed. Oh sure, networks will trot out examples of this fabled endangered species, the undecided voter and they will hold forth about what they liked and didn’t like, but in the end not announce their decision, because once they do they’ll lose access to the limelight and have to sit down and like the rest of us, just watch.

The Verdict of the People, George Caleb Bingham, 1854-55

How can anyone be still undecided? When you have two candidates that are so diametrically opposite from each other that any undecided voter would have to be schizophrenic to not be able to choose one from the other. I hold that the truly undecided are the same as the uncaring. Many in the end will not vote because of apathy and those that do will decide on Election Day. Be it the weather, what they had for breakfast that day or whatever, their vote is currently known only to God. Even they won’t know what it is until they enter the voting booth that day.

George Caleb Bingham was a 19th-century painter and obtained fame, at least around here. During his lifetime, he was known as the Missouri Artist. His best paintings feature ensembles, where each individual is distinctly captured and brought to life. He assembled these players on his large canvases, with individual studies that he would first sketch and then collect in his sketchbooks. He did this with the intention that one day he would use them in one of his larger, more lucrative works. His best works feature scenes from life on the Missouri River, but he also created a trio of paintings that detailed 19th-century political life. He dabbled unsuccessfully in politics, which inspired him to create these crowded scenes. In them runs the spectrum of human existence, from our loftiest of ideals to our basest desires. They show how little things have changed.

Who Paid More Taxes?

Noble Église – Silver Doubloons

Regarding Federal income taxes, for over a decade…

  • People living in poverty paid more taxes than Trump
  • Minimum wage workers paid more taxes than Trump
  • Undocumented immigrants paid more taxes than Trump, but Donald did pay more taxes than Mexico paid for his wall
  • Part-time student workers paid more taxes than Trump 
  • A certain porn star paid more taxes than Trump 
  • Melania’s shoes cost more than Trump paid in taxes. Though bad news girl, now he can’t even pay the settlement on your prenup
  • Most Social Security retirees paid more taxes than Trump
  • Enterprising teenagers across the country have paid more taxes than Trump
  • The PS-5 bundle costs more than Trump paid in taxes
  • Al Capone paid more taxes than Trump—Bad news for you, Donald
  • Wesley Snipes paid more taxes than Trump—Ditto
  • His hair stylist paid more taxes than Trump
  • Trump paid more to the Turkish government than he paid in taxes
  • Barack Obama is both richer than and paid more taxes than Trump
  • Teachers spend more on school supplies than Trump paid in taxes
  • 206,000 Americans who died from Covid paid more taxes than Trump
  • Millions and millions of the now currently unemployed workers from the pandemic paid more taxes than Trump
  • In the first year they were elected Abe Lincoln paid more taxes than Trump
  • Priest, minister and rabbi who paid more taxes than Trump walk into a bar 
  • The captain of the Titanic, the inventor of New Coke and the producers of Ishtar paid more taxes than Trump
  • The simple fact is that most Americans have paid more taxes than Trump
  • I paid more taxes than Trump and I’ve won as many Nobel Prizes too

Nuttier Than a Squirrel’s Turd

Nuttier Than a Squirrel’s Turd

Autumn-time and the living is easy
Acorns are falling and the nuts are stored high
Your boar is rich and your sow is good looking
So hush, little kitten, don’t you cry

If I had had 2020 vision instead of 2020 hindsight, what would I have done differently this year? Probably not much. With all of the crazy bad things that have occurred so far this year, I have been blessedly immune, at least so far. I have not been sick (Knock on wood!), I am not in dire financial straits and no one has shot me either, always a win-win. I have gotten a little bit stir crazy, some might say nutty, but even there I have been luckier than most. For all of these things, I am truly thankful.

A daily deliverance and a real sanity check have been everyday walks together. Anne and I try to get out as much as we can. Early in this pandemic we were more apprehensive while strolling, always striving to find the least populated locales for our rambles. Inevitably though we would approach others. On a collision course, one had to be like the Picasso of passive-aggressive karate. Playing a game of chicken, while deciding whether to be the first to turn aside or wait for the other party to do the right thing. We always tried to yield to children, dogs and old people, of which we are among, but then the indifference of youth would often get my hackles up. Now while masked, we still practice avoidance, but without all of the previous angst.

While many have suffered the scourge of disease, many more have been beaten down by its ancillary economic effects. Many people have lost their livelihoods and now find themselves teetering upon the edge of a precipice, with nothing but an abyss to greet them. Meanwhile, finance bros for whom economics is nothing more than astrology peer into their crystal balls and predict a V-shaped recovery, while counting their portfolios, as their markets rebound, leaving others behind.

There is one script for this year and that is voting. With the coming election we can turn this country from the wrong track that it has been on for too long and put it on the right track again. You should get out and vote. Vote early, like I have, if you can, but vote. Remember, voting is like driving, R goes backward and D goes forward and who really wants to relive 2020 for four more years?

I Voted At Home

I Voted At Home

This last Tuesday Missouri law permitted the mailing out of ballots for the November 3rd election. Wednesday, we received our ballots in the mail. We filled them out and I mailed mine back in. Anne is going to work as an election judge and needs to get hers notarized first, but she will be voting early also. I’m using the Covid excuse that does not require a notary. My ballot has 40 days to make it across town. I think that it will get there in time. Anyway, I can check up on it and make sure that it got there. I believe that I correctly filled out my ballot, so that my vote will qualify. No hanging chad here, thank you very much. All I have to do now is kickback and wait until election night, for this long national nightmare to be over?

Not so fast there! Because I then made the mistake of reading Barton Gellman’s new article in The Atlantic entitled, The Election That Could Break America. In this piece he details all of the possible ways things could and likely will go wrong after the polls close on November 3rd. Fundamentally, the problem is that Donald Trump will never concede defeat. This convention of American politics has been a cornerstone of fair and free elections, a smooth transfer of power and in a word, our democracy. The only way that he will abide by the outcome of the election, is if he is declared the winner. He has just explicitly stated this and if we have learned nothing in the past four years, he always says what he means.

Trump has been railing against mail-in voting. Lying that it is fraught with fraud. Meanwhile, he has little problem with absentee voting and in fact votes this way himself.  In Missouri, the same document doubles as both an absentee ballot and a mail-in ballot. It is even labeled as such. It can either be dropped off in person as Anne’s will be or mailed in as I did. 

He has been consistently behind in the polls for months now. He knows he has little chance to repeat even his razor thin Electoral College victory. His only option now is to steal the election and he has announced that he will do just that.

He doesn’t want to count mail-in ballots, in part because more Democrats than Republicans have requested them. He wants to suppress the Democratic vote. How say you? Once a ballot is mailed that person has voted. How is that person’s vote suppressed? Voted—yes, counted—no. On election night, Trump could hold a lead in the ballots counted. He’ll declare himself the winner. That’s why he has been saying lately that the election night totals should stand.

However, on election night not all ballots cast will have been counted. This phenomenon called the blue-shift was seen in the 2018 midterms. Republican candidates who led on election night saw their leads disappear after all the votes were counted. He will do everything in his power to prevent this from happening to him. Having planned the heist, this is when he will steal the election. 

Settling-In

Turning the Neighborhood from Red to Blue

It has been a few days since we landed back at home and the dust has finally begun to settle. In our absence, Joanie had taken in the mail and looked after the house. Thank you! Included in our mail was the pictured Biden & Harris 2020 campaign sign that Anne is ably modeling. We are pretty much unpacked, almost all of the laundry is done and our larder has been rebuilt. We are settled back at home for the duration.

The first day home, we were not particularly active, but every day after that has featured a 10K step walk. We started with our neighborhood walk, followed by Tower Grove, the Riverlands, Forest Park and today, Shaw Nature Reserve. The weather has been much cooler then it was here when we left. No A/C and no heat either. The opening and closing of windows has kept the house temperature pleasant, both day and night, not too hot and not too cold. Goldilocks!

In other returns Dan and Britt made it back to Brooklyn. They left the cabin a day before us, but got home a day after us. They camped for two nights in Ohio at Hocking Hills State Park. This park features a gorge and waterfalls. They had hoped to fly their drone, but while allowed, restrictions on how you could fly it made using it impractical. Instead, they went for a ten mile hike. They got an odd campsite, accompanied by interesting neighbors, but still had a good time.