December 5, 2023

Immigration Marriage

Feel Good With Immigration

We Did Good this Year

Blue fireworks

We did good this year. Take a moment to celebrate.

Welcome 🌻 to Friday’s Roundup of Good News!

Welcome to the last Friday of 2022!

Before we move on to celebration, here’s a question: How come so many of the GOP politicians are so very awful? Who has the time to be so awful? It’s because they work at it. The awfulness is a bug and not a feature.

The awfulness comes in various forms. We have the performative cruelty of politicians like Abbott and DeSantis. We have the kleptocrats such as Rick Scott and Dr Oz. We have the incompetents such as Herschel Walker. 

Why do the Rs promote these very terrible people? Well, sometimes it’s because the cruelty is admired. But it’s often because they are trying to break the system. After all, thieves and other lawbreakers will look the other way when someone is, for example, planning a coup. The incompetents, even if humans of good will, are too incompetent to stop the coup planners. And some are outright purchased (I suspect Ron Johnson, Rand Paul). Then there are those who are probably compromised (Lindsey Graham is my favorite candidate).

After all, the more disgusted Americans are with their leaders, the more likely they are to lose faith in democracy. Therefore, these wretches are supported by dark money from home and abroad.

Now, I know this is a little less happy talk than my usual introductions. The good news is that many of these people were rejected in the midterms. 

Obviously, if guys like George Santos can slip through, we still have work to do.

Truth matters. Competence matters. Hard work matters. As we have shown this last year and will continue showing in 2023. And, as you know, love matters, guiding us in what we do.

Come in and see what some of the good guys are doing! And please, bring your own news.


Regular Scheduled Programming

No one here is naïve; we are aware of the many who are fighting to destroy our country. Some of us expected it: the cheating, the lying, the chaos, and yes, even the attempts to cling to power despite the clear will of the people. But we are here to read the efforts and the positive results of those (including us and our fellow gnus) who are working so hard to save our country from those very bad people.  We are furious with them for what they are doing and we are letting them know.  Remember:

💙 There are more of us than there are of them.

💛 They are terrified when we organize.  THERE IS LOTS OF EVIDENCE THAT THEY ARE TERRIFIED!

💔 They want us to be demoralized. The best way to keep up your spirits is to fight. So, take the time to recharge your batteries, but find ways to contribute to the well-being of our country and our world.

🗽 Biden as President! 🗽

Biden, Harris and their administration have been hard at work are taking some vacation — but they’re still getting stuff done. Here are the last week’s posts at the White House briefing room.

👎 Out with the Bad, In with the Good 👍

Repetition works! Repetition works! AND, when you STOP repeating a lie, sometimes the problem goes away!!! Confidence in elections improves David M Shribman, Craig Press

Americans’ ratings of the overall performance of the country’s democracy are higher than they were before the election. Public confidence that the votes in last month’s midterm congressional elections were counted fairly has substantially increased since the election. And the greatest growth in that feeling of confidence came from the group that failed to meet its electoral expectations: Republicans. These findings emerge from a representative survey of the American public just released by Bright Line Watch, a nonpartisan group that monitors threats to democracy in the United States. It prompted the scholars who oversee the project to breathe a tentative sigh of relief.

“These encouraging results show that confidence in the election system can recover and that we can resist attacks on the legitimacy of our elections,” said Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth College political scientist involved in the survey. “The increase in voter confidence among Republicans that their own votes would be counted and that votes in their states would be counted correctly was encouraging.”

The midterms were conducted amid grave worries, stirred by former President Donald Trump and his allies, that Americans may have lost faith in the integrity of the country’s elections. But that apparently isn’t the case. Americans’ confidence their vote would be properly counted increased among both Republicans (where the figure rose from 68% to 78%) and Democrats (where the rate, already high at 95%, inched up to 97%).

❤️ 💙 ❤️ Feel like a blue dot in a red sea? Want to make a difference? Listen to Michael Moore and his 12 days of podcasts. Or just listen to the first one, and you’ll hear how we made a difference in 2022.

💰 Later today: tRump’s tax returns are going out to the public!

Addition: here they are!

Biden signs omnibus bill! No government shutdown this week!

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💣 Republicans: Party of Crimes and Chaos 💣

George Santos is a poster boy for lying. This won’t prevent the Rs from welcoming into the House. However, other things might do it. Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo

Absent getting shamed out of office for being an inveterate liar and weasel, the issue will come down to potential criminal conduct. So let’s run down the most likely points of vulnerability on that front.

1.There’s abundant evidence going back to Santos’s late teenage years that he has lived as an openly gay man. But in 2012 he married a woman from Brazil who came to the U.S. and appears to have become a citizen. Their divorce was finalized just before Santos declared his first candidacy in 2019. There’s little evidence they lived as a married couple during this time and he appears to have continued to date men during the entirety of the marriage. We don’t have proof that this was a sham marriage for the purposes of immigration fraud. But there’s substantial circumstantial evidence pointing to that conclusion. If that is the case, that is a serious felony carrying substantial fines and jail time.

2. During the two years between his first failed campaign in 2020 and his second successful one in 2022 Santos appears to have gone from being a relative pauper to worth many millions of dollars, and this on the basis of a private firm of which he is the sole owner and which seems to have little more than a paper existence. He could have gotten really lucky. As a wise man once said, he can’t help it if he’s lucky. But there are real questions about where that money came from. Given his established record of serial falsehoods he doesn’t merit any benefits of the doubt.

There are several other reasons given, but there’s the issue of Fair Use. And alas, this TPM piece is behind a paywall. 

Not all elected Rs are happy about George Santos Matt Taylor, The Daily Beast

Despite brutal reports from The New York Times, The Daily Beast, and other publications showing that Santos fabricated large parts of his resume and even his very identity, it seemed virtually inevitable he would take a seat in Congress next month.

That may still be the case. But on Tuesday, Nick LaLota—a fellow Republican who just won a congressional seat on Long Island to the east of the New York district Santos won—called for a probe of his would-be colleague.

“I have heard from countless Long Islanders how deeply troubled they are by the headlines surrounding George Santos,” LaLota said in a statement. The Republican went on to call for “a full investigation by the House ethics committee and, if necessary, law enforcement” of Santos.

Who do you think will win this among the Rs? My money is on Santos, unless the local Long Islanders continue making a fuss. It’s also possible he will be hauled off for criminal activity. After all:

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Oh, and another NY Republican is guilty in election stuff. If only it were a surprise!  Brendon J Lyons, Times Union 

TROY — Jason T. Schofield, Rensselaer County’s Republican elections commissioner, is scheduled to plead guilty to federal criminal charges in January in connection with an ongoing investigation of voter fraud by the U.S. Department of Justice.

“He is scheduled for a change of plea and with his change of plea he will be resigning from his position,” Danielle Neroni, Schofield’s attorney, said Wednesday.

Schofield’s scheduled guilty plea to felony charges on Jan. 11 would mark the second conviction in the federal investigation that’s being spearheaded by the FBI and has focused on the harvesting of absentee ballots in elections over the past two years. A source close to the case said Schofield’s plea agreement includes a pledge to cooperate in the wide-ranging investigation that has also examined the use of county resources and employees to gather absentee ballots.

⚡️ tRump threatens 3rd party run if he loses GOP 2024 presidential nomination Kerry Eleved, Daily Kos

🚚 💙 Democrats Deliver 💙 🚚

Susan Rice has a list of the Biden-Harris accomplishments for 2022 White House Briefing Room

After listing the headline events

✂️ It’s an impressive list by any measure. But, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. For every high-profile bill signing on the South Lawn, there have been dozens of other highly impactful executive actions, agency regulations, and notable initiatives centered on delivering opportunity for the American people. As we close out a remarkably productive year, here are 12 Biden-Harris Administration achievements you might have missed over the past 12 months:

  1. Continued implementing a historic Day 1 Executive Order advancing equity and racial justice across the entire federal government. This included releasing 90 agency equity action plans, containing over 300 commitments on issues ranging from maternal mortality to language access to environmental justice.
  2. Signed a historic executive order to advance safe, effective, and accountable community policing to build public trust and strengthen public safety by requiring federal law enforcement agencies to ban chokeholds, adopt stricter use-of-force policies, greatly restrict no-knock warrants, implement body-worn cameras, provide de-escalation and anti-racial profiling training, establish a national database of officer misconduct records, restrict military equipment transfers, and more. The order also directed federal agencies to provide training, technical assistance, and funding to support state and local law enforcement agencies in adopting the same measures.
  3. Made progress on the President’s goal of increasing the share of federal contracting dollars awarded to small disadvantaged business (SDBs) by 50 percent by 2025. In 2021, the Administration awarded a record level of contracting dollars to SDBs, with 2022 expected to set a new record.
  4. Hosted the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in more than 50 years and released a National Strategy to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030. Over $8 billion in new private- and public-sector commitments were announced at the White House Conference.
  5. Launched the Rural Partners Network in 36 communities in 11 states and territories, advancing a whole-of-government initiative—led by the Department of Agriculture and supported by more than 20 federal agencies and regional commissions—that places full-time federal staff on the ground to help local leaders navigate and access federal resources.
  6. Made historic investments in Tribal Nations, including more than $32 billion in the American Rescue Plan, $13 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and over $700 million in the Inflation Reduction Act specifically for Tribal Nations and Native communities. In addition, the Administration secured—for the first time in history— advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service, which will ensure a more predictable funding stream and improve health outcomes across Indian Country.
  7. Hosted a historic United We Stand Summit to combat hate-fueled violence, and announced a host of new federal and nonfederal deliverables, including the launch of the White House Initiative on Hate-Motivated Violence, the creation of an online clearinghouse of prevention resources, and over $1 billion in philanthropic commitments for unity-building activities.
  8. Addressed our failed approach to marijuana by pardoning all federal and D.C. simple marijuana possession offenses, urging governors to pardon state and local offenses, and starting the administrative process of the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services reviewing how marijuana is scheduled.
  9. Launched a whole-of-government mental health strategy to address our nation’s mental health crisis and transform how we understand, access, and treat mental health in America, including the transition to the nationwide 988 suicide and crisis Lifeline. This includes increasing funding to community mental health organizations, school districts, and institutions of higher education to increase the number of school-based and community mental health professionals.
  10. Strengthened Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) by defending DACA in court against ongoing attacks, issuing a Presidential Memorandum to preserve and fortify DACA, and releasing a final rule codifying the 2012 DACA policy.
  11. Reunified and provided support services to more than 570 families who were separated under the previous administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy. Of the children who remained separated when President Biden took office, more than 70 percent of their families have been contacted and offered the opportunity to reunify.
  12. Proposed rules to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, which is projected to save as many as 654,000 lives, including up to 238,000 Black Americans.

Even Mark Thiessen (notorious conservative) admits Biden did some good this year. He has a list of 10 Washington Post

6. He secured extradition of the terrorist charged with bombing Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 190 Americans

5. He kept Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations

President Donald Trump listed the IRGC in 2019 as part of his “maximum pressure” campaign after he withdrew from President Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal. Iran demanded that Biden delist the IRGC before it considered returning to compliance with the deal. Despite his misguided efforts to revive that agreement, Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in April that the IRGC would remain on the list and that the decision was “absolutely final.”

4. He won support for Finland and Sweden to join NATO

While he must still manage Turkish intransigence, Biden got both NATO allies and a 95-1 bipartisan majority in the Senate to support the admission of the two Nordic nations to the Atlantic alliance — a major blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who opposes any NATO expansion.

2023 just might be pretty good!

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Democrats enter 2023 with momentum in state houses Stef. W Knight, Axios

Democrats’ unexpected strength in the 2022 midterms extended to state legislatures, where they picked up seats in 21 states and took control of five chambers from the GOP, according to data from Ballotpedia.

Why it matters: State legislatures have vast power over abortion laws, voting rules, gun policies and other issues with a direct impact on American lives. ✂️ 

  • Republicans maintain more state trifectas, veto-proof majorities, chambers, and overall state legislative seats in their control than Democrats.
  • But in November, Democrats managed to flip more chambers, earn more state trifectas and pick up seats in more states controlled by the opposing party, while also matching Republicans for the number of new veto-proof majorities.

💜 Unity? 💜

Bills signed by President Biden this week included the renaming of a lot of post offices, but there were also these bipartisan nuggets White House Press Release

Tribal trust in AZ

H.R. 4881, the “Old Pascua Community Land Acquisition Act,” which directs that certain land be taken into trust for the benefit of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe;
Thank you to Representatives Grijalva, Leger Fernandez, Gosar, Schweikert, and Lesko, and Senators Sinema and Kelly, for their leadership.

Getting rid of some awful laws

S. 789, the “Repealing Existing Substandard Provisions Encouraging Conciliation with Tribes Act” or the “RESPECT Act,” which repeals certain obsolete laws relating to Native Americans;
Thank you to Senators Rounds, Smith, Lankford, Sinema, Lujan, and Cramer, Representatives O’Halleran, Dusty Johnson, and Cole, and many others for their leadership.

Working on the floods

S. 558, the “Flood Level Observation, Operations, and Decision Support Act” or the “FLOODS Act,” which establishes a National Integrated Flood Information System within the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); requires NOAA to improve flash flood watches and warnings to improve the communication of future flood risks; and establishes an Interagency Committee on Water Management and Infrastructure;
Thank you to Senators Wicker, Peters, Ernst and Booker, Representative Sherrill, and many others for their leadership.
 

Working on mental health

S. 3846, the “Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act of 2022,” which authorizes the Department of Justice to award grants under the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program for training relating to diversion programming and implementation, suicide prevention services, and case management services;
Thank you to Senators Cornyn and Klobuchar, Representatives Bobby Scott, Chabot, Jackson Lee, and Emmer, and many others for their leadership.

Improving the federal acquisitions

S. 3905, the “Preventing Organizational Conflicts of Interest in Federal Acquisition Act,” which requires the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to update the Federal Acquisition Regulation to update and expand coverage on organizational conflicts of interest;
Thank you to Senators Peters and Grassley, and Representatives Maloney and Slotkin, for their leadership.

Alternatives to force

S. 4003, the “Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act of 2022,” which authorizes the Justice Department to award grants for training on alternatives to use of force, de-escalation, and responding to mental and behavioral health and suicidal crises;
Thank you to Senators Cornyn and Whitehouse, Representatives Issa, Trone, and Chabot and many others for their leadership

📥 Actions You Can Take 📤

Tax-exempt organization complaint referrals. 13909. You can fill this out for the NRA and lots of other organizations. How about if some of us white folk go into some of the MAGA churches and video record what they’re saying?

Voting rights. This may be the biggest issue threatening our democracy right now. Besides contacting your representatives at the state and federal level to do the right thing (depending on who they are), you can support and contact these organizations:

ACLUAmerican Civil Liberties Union

Democracy Docket — founded by Marc Elias, so important in fighting the challenges after the last election.

Fair Fight — founded by Stacey Abrams

🌱Grass roots. Biden and Harris can do the top-down stuff, but we have to support from the bottom. I don’t know how to deprogram 75 million people, but some things have been written about, such as deep canvassing, and lots of people are talking about this. If you know someone (who did not storm the Capitol), then see if you can be pleasant. Instead of trying to reason with them (logic is obviously not their strong point) distract them with something else. We need to remove the sources of lies and to take down the temperature. If we get more of the Rs to wear masks and to get vaccinated and to vote for Ds, the country will be a better place. We need to coax some of them out of the rabbit holes and diffuse the anger and the crazy.

🏃 Run for something. If you want to run for something, but have no idea what to do, these people will help you. They also like money and volunteers to help those people who are running, so even if you’re not in a position to stand for office, you can help. Note: they are especially planning to target the 57 Rs in local governments who participated in the insurrection.

👎 Defund the seditionists. Defund the seditionists. This is a list with companies that sometimes have donated to the seditionists. The list is long. You will recognize many of the corporations, and you probably have a relationship with some — either you are a customer, a shareholder, or maybe even an employee. Contact them and compliment or complain, but let them know you are watching. Forward it to others.

🐍 Schadenfreude 😈

Misogynist Andrew Tate arrested in Romania Rachel Olding, The Daily Beast

Just a day after being roasted by teen activist Greta Thunberg, misogynist MAGA influencer Andrew Tate was arrested Thursday in Romania on human trafficking and rape allegations.

Romania’s Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) confirmed in a statement that cops raided five homes tied to four suspects as part of an investigation into organized crime, human trafficking and rape. It did not name the four suspects but said two were Romanian citizens and two were British citizens, who allegedly kept at least six women captive in houses surrounding Bucharest, where they were sexually assaulted and forced to produce pornography for social media under threats of violence. ✂️

Adding insult to injury, Tate’s sad attempt to clap back at Thunberg on Thursday may have actually led police to his front door.

Police confirmed to Gândul that they relied on social media posts to figure out that the Tate brothers, who were constantly traveling out of the country, had returned to Romania.

Isn’t it nice when criminals post stuff about themselves online? I guess you’re more prone to do this when you suffer from smalldickenergy. In case you want the picture:

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Peter Thiel’s conservative dating app not getting asked out much Noah Kirsch, Zachary Petrizzo,The Daily Beast

Twelve weeks after its rocky launch, conservative dating app The Right Stuff is still failing to seduce large numbers of right-wing users. ✂️

The app, cofounded by former Trump administration official John McEntee, continues to face an onslaught of negative reviews and criticism from its target demographic: young conservatives. Its intense verification process—intended to foster a sense of exclusivity and weed out potential trolls—has made it inoperable for many users.

“I downloaded this app more than two months ago, even got sent a package from them to become an ambassador, and STILL have not been accepted onto the app. That’s ridiculous and unacceptable,” read one review posted on Dec. 19.✂️

Even before its launch, The Right Stuff hit roadblocks. Despite recruiting Ryann McEnany—younger sister of former Trump White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany—to promote the startup, conservatives in D.C. told The Daily Beast last fall they were concerned the app would be hijacked by trolls, or would simply match them with people they already knew.

“It’s all of Mitch McConnell’s staffers,” one female Republican operative said at the time.

Another criminal investigation for some people who may have violated their oaths.

Judge orders Lake to compensate Hobbs for some legal fees Stephanie Becker, CNN News

A Maricopa County judge on Tuesday ordered Arizona Republican Kari Lake to compensate Democratic Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs for some legal fees related to the election lawsuit Lake had brought challenging her loss, but he stopped short of sanctioning Lake for filing the lawsuit. ✂️  

Attorneys for Hobbs – the current secretary of state – had charged that Lake and her lawyers knew their challenges to the election could not be substantiated, which would violate legal ethic rules. They wanted sanctions against Lake and her team. Thompson did not agree. “The Court finds that Plaintiff’s claims presented in this litigation were not groundless and brought in bad faith,” he wrote on Tuesday.

But he ordered Lake to pay Hobbs $33,040.50 in compensation for expert witness fees and again reaffirmed the election of Hobbs, who will be sworn in on January 5.

Another kidnapper wannabe is going to rot in prison:

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📣 Let’s Honor Truth ☀️️

Cassidy Hutchinson has been honored here before, but after the publication of the transcripts, she deserves to be honored again. Without her, we would know so much less about what happened around J6 — and now we know some of the terrible pressure that was being put on her. Liz Dye, Wonkette

On Monday, at the final public hearing of the House January 6 Select Committee, Rep. Zoe Lofgren hinted that some attorney in Trumpland might be in deep shit for urging his client to tell fibs to the committee. Speculation immediately turned to Stefan Passantino, the former Trump White House Ethics (if any!) lawyer whom blockbuster witness Cassidy Hutchinson fired before making her damning public testimony. CNN confirmed Wednesday that Passantino was the attorney in question, by which time his bio had disappeared from the website of his law firm Michael Best. Reached for comment, Passantino told the network that he had resigned “given the distraction of this matter.”

And indeed, the transcript released yesterday of Hutchinson’s testimony about her dealings with Passantino will probably prove to be quite a distraction for the lawyer, both personally and professionally. Particularly since Hutchinson said that she’s had discussions about this very topic with the nice people at the DOJ. 

The passage where Hutchinson described Passantino saying New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman is “friendly to us” made immediate headlines. But most of the 138 pages released yesterday is Hutchinson’s narration of how she wound up in the clutches of a bunch of older Trump attorneys who exploited her inexperience, loyalty, and most of all her financial straits to keep her quiet about what she’d seen.

And it’s filthy.

She stood up for the truth when everyone around her was against her. That’s tough. Also, the article contains some of the best excerpts, if you don’t want to read 138 pages.

Other people protecting democracy:

🌹 Let’s Celebrate Love ❤️

Kindness wins!

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📎Odds & Ends 📎

Repair Café Wales helps people upcycle instead of buying new Caitlin Aitken, BBC News

“You’re encouraged to sit down with your fixer, and it really helps people to see that process and feel more confident with having a go themselves next time.”

The cafes have a 60% to 70% success rate in fixing items brought to them.

Phoebe said: “It’s about people thinking of repair as an initial response.

“It’s a shame that the reason for that will be people financially struggling.

“But the silver lining is that we are reassessing our relationships with our stuff, because we have to.

Alas, not only am I not in the UK, I could hardly bring in the bathroom sink that has problems. But it’s a great idea!

Even when it’s cold out there!

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Mussel farming is healing UK coastal foodchain Alexander Turner, Reasons to Be Cheerful

“When we first got there, the seabed was completely dredged, a classic scallop-dredged ground. There were species there — lots of scavenging species — but the diversity was very low.”

“We have found [the farm] is providing a settlement for all sorts of species: hundreds of thousands of brown crab, scallops and all those kinds of species which might be habitat lacking. Certainly within the water column, every year we seem to see another species using the nets to feed and aggregate around.”

PhD students Danielle Bridger and Llucia Mascorda Cabre are collecting data from the farm and comparing it with nearby control areas in Lyme Bay. “After eight years, the overall diversity and abundance of mobile species had increased by a third within the farm compared to the control areas,” says Bridger.

Though it is early days on Skye, Brown and Airnes say an inspection of their ropes reveals a thriving and happy food chain, from top to bottom. “Suddenly you have the whole trophic system… you have the bigger fish right up to sharks and right down to micro molluscs. When we are diving and checking the sites, we have seen big shoals of pollack, lots of wrasse, shrimp and lumpsucker. We have seen small-spotted cat sharks around the sites. Suspended mussel ropes create that habitat,” says Brown.

This is an old story — Alfie died years ago at the age of 110 — but it was so charming I wanted to share it. Why put the penguins in sweaters? Because they were hit by oil and they need to be prevented from licking it off.

🐦 I do a lot of other writing. A recent offering: Hunters of the Feather, a story about a thinker-linker crow who wants to save birdkind from extinction, and the sequel, Scavengers of Mind. (They’re really good! They’re really cheap! Buy and review or rate positively! And Hunters is also available on Audible!) Other stories, based on Jane Austen novels — including a new one for lovers of Pride & Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet’s Advice to Young Ladies — and others on Greek mythology, can be found here. All titles are available through Kindle Unlimited, but I only get paid if you turn the pages.

💙 What You Can Do to Rescue Democracy 💙

It turns out that participation in democracy is not just an every-four-years event but requires active participation, like, whenever you can find time.

Current projects:

Look in the comments for Progressive Muse’s report on Postcards to Voters

And some other ideas:

You can relax and recharge.

You can join protests and freeway blog.

You can help register new voters.

You can smile.

You can get out the vote for special elections.

You can reach out to upset Republicans.  We need to win some back.

You can share your ideas below.

🌻

💙 Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we all are created equal and the harsh ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial, and victory is never assured.” 💙

President Joseph R. Biden

🌹 🌹 🌹

TRUTH MATTERS. LOVE MATTERS.


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