Election Connection: Welcome to the Biden Administration


The Election Connection series will be a bit more sporadic, posted on a need-to-know basis now that we have an Administration that cares about its citizens in all the important and even in the most mundane ways. I still feel waves of PTSD at moments and then I see Press Secretary Jen Psaki swatting stupid questions, not arguing with White House correspondents, and offering experts to give briefings and answer questions, and I remember that it’s all going to be okay. It’s like the last four years were a dream, and I’m Pamela Ewing.

Unfortunately, the last four years weren’t a dream, and as nightmarish as it was to live through, it wasn’t a nightmare either. It was very real.

We need to take that same energy from the last years, the same energy brought to the Georgia Senate race, the same energy brought by the summer protests, and we need to focus it unrelentingly on the next two years, and then the two after that, and then the two after. We can never get complacent again.

Complacent = Complicit

We came very close to losing our republic. As it was, we witnessed a coup attempt, an insurrection that struck at the heart of our democracy. Five people died, including a Capitol police officer, but hundreds of others were injured. Two members of law enforcement have committed suicide. And still, there are Republicans who refuse to comply with law enforcement requirements to go through a magnetometer before entering the House floor. I mean, let’s be realistic and honest here, they’re also refusing to wear masks despite common sense and Executive Order, putting their colleagues and staff at risk (four members of Congress plus one spouse became covid infected because of Republican negligence on January 6th, and that was without their obvious complicity in the attack on the Capitol).

So, it’s time for a Civics lesson, and I will go extra slow as if I were speaking to the newly elected Senator from Alabama (this one) who doesn’t know the three branches of government (see below*) or a Supreme Court justice (this one) who doesn’t know the five rights guaranteed in the First Amendment (see below*).

Some things are etched in stone – the Constitution including the Bill of Rights is one of those things. The Constitution may be amended, and there are procedures in place to do that. In fact, we have amended the Constitution twenty-seven times, most recently in 1992.

Some things are not – Number of Supreme Court justices, the use of the filibuster. Supreme Court justices were based on the number of circuit courts, which have increased to thirteen. This is why many experts feel that the Supreme Court should be expanded to cover each circuit court with its own justice (as established in 1869 with what is known as the Circuit Judges Act).

The filibuster is not part of the Constitution, which makes it easier to change than amending the Constitution would be.

A couple of points:

Unity does not mean to continue to allow ourselves be abused or gaslit.

Unity does not mean giving in to bullies.

Unity does not mean power sharing when Democrats have a clear mandate.

Below the cut are Twitter follows of the Biden Administration, the House Managers of the Impeachment Trial, a selection of podcasts, and other accounts that I follow regularly and find are very informative and honest. Add your own in the comments and I can include them in the next Election Connection.

*Branches of Government
| | |
Legislative Executive Judicial

*5 Rights Enumerated in the First Amendment:
1. Freedom of Speech
2. Freedom of Religion
3. Freedom of the Press
4. Freedom to Assemble
5. Freedom to Protest the Government

Continue reading

Who to Follow on Social Media


Updated 3/31/20


Dr. Celine Gounder

Ronald Klain
Dr. Scott Gottlieb (added 3/9/20)

Dr. Tom Frieden (added 3/31/20)

Dr. Abdul el-Sayed (added 3/13/20)

CDC – I have serious concerns about the information coming out of the CDC based on Dr. Brix’s false statements this week. Please be wary and use good judgment. (added 3/27/20)

WHO (World Health Organization)

Richard Engel

Epidemic Science & Health list on Twitter compiled by Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo (added 3/5/20)

Chef Jose Andres – he’s on the frontline of getting food to the people in disaster relief

Andy Slavitt

Asaf Bitton

NY Governor Cuomo

Speaker Nancy Pelosi – for updates on coronavirus related legislation

Obama Book Club – Doris Kearns Goodwin


For most of the past Mondays, I’ve shared with you some of President Obama’s book recommendations as outlined and discussed in this Entertainment Weekly Article.

I’ve tried to share books that I am somewhat familiar with. I am currently listening to the audiobook of Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I am slightly distracted by the voice of the narrator, Richard Thomas, known in my childhood as John-Boy on the the popular show from the 1970s, The Waltons. He is the perfect voice to read anything related to the Civil War or this, a biography of Abraham Lincoln and his Administration, his team of rivals.
I’ve been reading a lot of history and biographies lately. Part of that I believe is to show myself how far we’ve fallen but also to be reminded of how much potential we have as a country. We can come back from anything. After all, we came back from the Civil War.We came back from 9/11. We can come back from the Trump Administration.

President Trump could learn a lot from Lincoln and how he worked with his oppositional party. It’s the only way our country can flourish; by coming together for the betterment of all.

The idea of an Obama Book Club was mentioned with humor in an article I read, probably that one I’ve linked to above, and I thought it was a great idea to recommend books that President Obama reads and recommends.

In the following weeks, I will share other “book clubs”, beginning with Emma Watson in one week’s time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing inside our former president’s mind, a man who reads for work, for context, and for pleasure, all good reasons to read and to emulate.

Election Reflection – Mr. Trump’s Cabinet and Conflicts of Interest


I had originally intended to post these two topics separately, but the more I read and the more I thought about it, I realized that just like President-Elect Trump and his conflicts, his Cabinet has their own conflicts. In addition, there are conflicts between his Cabinet and himself that are being ignored. One question that should be asked is why has he picked who he picked?
After spending the whole campaign touting how he’d hire the best of the best in their respective fields to run the departments they have the experience with to make the best difference, this is who he has come  up with.

To quote the PEOTUS, “sad!”

What makes Ben Carson qualified to be the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development? The original pretense was that Dr. Carson lived in federal housing, commonly known as The Projects, but it’s been revealed and confirmed that he did not, in fact, live in low-income housing. He certainly grew up poorer than he is now, more than likely poorer than I was at the same age growing up in urban/suburbia, but it sounds like I’m more qualified. I mean, we’ve both lived in a house.

Betsy DeVos. Nominee for Secretary of Education. In this case, I actually am more qualified than Ms. DeVos, and should be considered for this Cabinet position. After all, I have a Master’s degree in Educational Issues, a Bachelor’s in elementary education, a graduate minor in medieval studies, and an undergraduate minor in political science. I am certified to teach in New York state from nursery/preschool through fifth grade, and from 7th to 12th grade in the subject of social studies. My certification in New York also makes me qualified to teach in several other states due to reciprocity. I was a teacher for a decade. I worked for the MWR department of the Department of the Navy and wrote the child development curriculums for their preschool aged program. How am I not a candidate for this Cabinet position? Could it be that I didn’t contribute exorbitant amounts of money to Mr. Trump’s campaign or to the RNC?

NSA Director nominee, Michael Flynn. A conspiracy theorist who recently tweeted about a Hillary Clinton connection to a pizza place, a false story that almost got someone killed when an armed gunman (are there any other kinds?) showed up looking for answers..

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson who can’t answer a simple question about what Exxon/Mobil thought about climate change while he was there. Not now that he’s no longer with the company, but while he was there.

Do I really need to explain the objections to Senator Jeff Sessions? I think it might be different if over the past several years his attitude and opinions had changed, but they hadn’t. How can someone who doesn’t believe in civil rights for everyone be tasked with protecting everyone’s civil rights?

Winning the election partly on criticizing Clinton’s speeches at Goldman Sachs, cherry-picking her words to fit his narrative, as well as Ted Cruz’s wife’s association with them, and then hiring three, or is it four, former Goldman Sachs employees to run the economic aspect of his Administration.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry for the Department of Energy, an area that when he was running for President said he would disband.

A head of the EPA that doesn’t believe that man contributes to global warming.

A head of Labor who was just described on Monday as not liking all of the blowback and “all the paperwork”. Being an employer, in fast food, no less doesn’t make you an expert in labor practices.

Searching for an Hispanic to run Agriculture. I guess because they know the most about farming because of crossing the border illegally to be migrant workers, right?

Mr. Trump declaring that jobs stay in the US but at the same time applying for a waiver for his companies to hire foreign labor as visiting workers.

The fiction of his transition team’s insistence that Mexico will pay for ‘the wall’. They won’t. They’ve said they won’t. Raising the import tariffs on Mexican goods will only negatively affect the poor people who the cost will be passed onto.

Chief of Staff Reince Preibus and incoming White House spokesman, Sean Spicer talking about moving the press corps away from the West Wing to accomodate more reporters. That is such a smokescreen. Have the main news groups stay there and rotate the other press passes. It’s really not that hard. And don’t threaten to throw out someone for simply doing their job. Watch some tapes of Josh Earnest, Robert Gibbs, and Ari Fleischer to get a feel for it if you’re that out of touch. Add Breitbart if you want. Just don’t let them sit in Helen Thomas’ seat. 

In addition, Mr. Preibus told news outlets that the ethics department needs to watch how they cover Mr. Trump and implied that there would be retaliation. It was basically reminiscent of The Incredible Hulk television series – you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry or unethical; whatever.

It’s not a Cabinet position, but bringing on Robert Kennedy Jr. as the head of his vaccine safety committee. Hiring someone already indisposed against vaccines instead of someone who has some kind of medical background just doesn’t make sense.

But what in this Cabinet does? It seems like Mr. Trump looked at a list of who is the most against this department and that’s who he picked to run it; the one person who will run it into the ground. Or they are the one person who will personally benefit from the changes they will implement in their department. Either way, it is not effective as a leadership role or reducing the conflicts of interest.

Most of these nominees haven’t undergone the required ethics committee clearance and haven’t completed the paperwork for the ethics committee. Senator Mitch McConnell is the biggest hypocrite of them all, suggesting that the ethics requirements can come later when he said the exact opposite in 2008/09 for President Obama’s nominees, who did not have any problem meeting the ethics guidelines

And let’s not forget the transition team’s request for the names of people in the energy department working on climate change/global warming issues and those civil servants working on women’s issues including family planning and contraception. The Trump transition team requested of Congress, and received a revival of an 1876 rule, the Holman Rule, gone since 1983, that will allow the new Administration to reduce federal workers pay to $1, thereby eliminating the need to actually fire people illegally, but force them to quit if they want to continue to support their families.

This is a Cabinet and an Administration starting things on the wrong foot, trying to swindle the people of the United States through showmanship and rhetoric and Twitter into creating a windfall for themselves.

We the people are the only ones to stand in their way, and we must act. We must Resist and use our First Amendment rights through speech, assembly and supporting the Free and Independent Press while we still can. Anyone who thinks this is hyperbole, please go look and see what the transition team has already done to benefit themselves. Follow Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary, Dan Rather, and Connie Schultz as well as the political team at Vox. Visit my new page for links and suggestions on places to read about what’s going on.

It’s up to us.