Archives for category: Citizenship

Garry Rayno writes in InsideNH about the dramatic change in the legislature’s agenda. Instead of dealing with the issues that affect people’s lives, legislators are now grappling with the same fake issues funded in many other states by Dark Money: vouchers, abortion, vaccines, guns, “parental rights.”

Rayno writes:

A quick look at the House and Senate calendars for this week will convince even those with casual political interests that the culture wars have come to New Hampshire.

Lawmakers will spend hours debating the war on public education, parental rights, abortion rights, voting rights, vaccines and medical care, firearms, drugs and governmental power to name about half the debates to grace Representatives Hall and the Senate Chamber.

Not that long ago, these more global issues were not front and center in every session of the General Court.

Instead it was the state’s support for institutions like nursing homes and higher education, reducing the uncompensated care for hospitals, tax credits to attract businesses and yes how the state funds education.

It was not about furries and cat litter boxes, drag shows and grooming, or face masks and lockdowns.

How did the state get from dealing with its own issues to making New Hampshire deal with the same issues as Texas or Florida or any of the other states undergoing the same forced “rehabilitations.” [Emphasis added]

It is easy to blame social media for the universalization of issues and concerns, but it is just the vehicle. What has caused the manipulation of this country’s consciousness is the information or misinformation that has been spread over the electronic infrastructure.

Very sophisticated networks are doing damage to this country that could not have happened in a war or limited military conflict.

During the Vietnam War the conflict was often described as a war for the “hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese people.

And now the war for the hearts and minds has come home 50 years later.

The polarization between red and blue and the resulting cultural wars intended to energize “the base,” has created a country with little use for compromise and that is apparent in the New Hampshire legislature as well.

Much of what has been passed in the last three years is unpopular, some very unpopular with the general public if you read the polls, but lawmakers who push these agendas or proposals that serve a small portion of the state continue to be elected.

In New Hampshire it is easy to see how Republicans gerrymandered the Senate and Executive Council and to some extent the House, to have control of all three although Democratic candidates received more votes than Republican candidates in all three bodies.

The state has an all Democratic Congressional delegation, and until Gov. Chris Sununu won in 2016, controlled the governor’s office for 16 of the previous 18 years.

New Hampshire is truly a purple state but you would not know that looking at the legislation approved and proposed in the last three years by the House and Senate.

The public has not given the lawmakers a mandate to turn New Hampshire into a Libertarian Shangri-La but that is what is happening.

Money is being drained out of the public school system, taxes are cut and some eliminated like the interest and dividends tax which benefits the wealthy not the poor, regulations are eliminated, and personal freedoms are emphasized to the detriment of a safe society.

The one thing that has really not worked out “as planned” for the Libertarians is Gov. Chris Sununu’s power grab of federal money that he used to concentrate power in the executive branch.

And ironically it is the flow of money into politics that has driven what is happening in New Hampshire, and other states like Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Texas, Florida and in the Midwest.

Extreme school voucher programs, attacks on reproductive rights and the gay and transgender communities, all similar if not identical in legislation that is intended to reduce the power of government, its reach and return to a time that never was in our lifetimes, but did exist before the Civil War or at least before Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

The US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in January 2010 struck down restrictions on corporate contributions saying they violated First Amendment rights.

It not only gave corporations the same rights as citizens it opened the floodgates for corporate money into campaigns and allowed them to influence elections like they never had before.

It also allowed that corporate money to operate in the dark money universe where super PACs do not disclose where the money comes from.

The decision essentially took government out of the hands of voters and put it into the hands of the mega donors.

And it trickled down to New Hampshire as well.

In each of the last two elections about $1 million was spent on House seats alone, while the Senate PACs received about an equal amount with spending on a senate seat often over $100,000 and some over $200,000.

That is a lot of money for a position that pays $100 a year and you know whoever gave big money will expect a return.

Please open the link and finish reading this important and perceptive article. It is an incisive analysis of the rightwing attack on local democracy.

I had a conversation with Tim Slekar on his program, “Busted Pencils,” about the Rightwing attack on teaching history honestly and accurately.

We had fun, and you might enjoy listening:

#BustEDPencils Pod.
It’s not an attack on history. It’s an attack on #democracy.

Guest: Diane Ravitch.

Listen here:

DeSantis is rolling out one hard-right proposal after another to make news and price he is meaner and badder than Trump. Undocumented people come here to work, and he wants to be certain that no one will hire them, not even to pick crops, clean hotel rooms or do the dishes in restaurants.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday revived a push to adopt more stringent hiring protocols to prevent the employment of undocumented workers, acknowledging that a state law he championed during his first term in office has been ineffective.

Florida law currently requires all government employers and their contractors to use a federal electronic system, known as E-Verify, to check the immigration status of new hires.

DeSantis, however, says the mandate should be expanded to include all private employers in the state, saying the current law was a “compromise” reached by the Legislature following pushback from Florida’s agriculture, tourism and construction industries.

“We ended up with a compromise version that was inadequate,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Jacksonville. Now, DeSantis wants the Republican-led Legislature to help him deliver on the promise he made to voters when he first ran for governor in 2018.

After overwhelming Republican victories in 2022, DeSantis argued, the “political context” is working in his favor this time around.

“Now, we have super majorities in the Legislature,” DeSantis said. “We have, I think, a strong mandate to be able to implement the policies that we ran on and these are policies that I’ve been for since the day I became governor over four years ago.”

The E-Verify proposal is part of a larger immigration package that DeSantis is building ahead of a possible run for the Republican nomination for president in 2024, and that he is expected to use to attack President Joe Biden’s immigration policy to reach conservative voters not just in Florida, but on a national level.

To further bolster his immigration platform, DeSantis wants, among other things, to ban out-of-state tuition waivers at colleges and universities for undocumented students and prohibit local governments from issuing identification cards to migrants.

Read more at:

George Scialabba wrote this essay in Commonweal. It is worth your while to read it and think about it. It might help explain why so many red states are unwilling to fund public schools and prefer to spend public money subsidizing the tuition of children already attending private schools, transferring public funds to private and religious schools.

Unless we have reached the end point of humankind’s moral development, it is pretty certain that the average educated human of the twenty-third century will look back at the average educated human of the twenty-first century and ask incredulously about a considerable number of our most cherished moral and political axioms, “How could they have believed that?” We do it every time a movie like Twelve Years a Slave or a novel like The Handmaid’s Tale or a play like Angels in America or a work of history like Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee or of journalism like Michael Harrington’s The Other America prompts us to ask, “How could decent, intelligent people have believed they were entitled to treat other human beings like that?”

So let’s interrogate some of our beliefs about political morality with the eyes of our descendants. Two four-letter words lie at the heart of contemporary America’s public morality: “free” and “fair.” “It’s a free country” is every American’s boast; “I only want a fair shake” is every American’s plea. I doubt I need to remind many Commonweal readers of the more flagrant forms of unfairness in our national life—that one American child in five lives below or near the poverty line; that somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of our economy’s productivity gains since 1980 have gone to the top 10 percent of the income distribution; that the top twenty-five hedge-fund managers earn more than all the nation’s kindergarten teachers combined; that 100,000 Americans will die for lack of health care over the next ten years in order to give a large tax cut to Americans with incomes above a half-million dollars; and so on and so on, down the long and shameful catalog. You all read the newspapers. Our twenty-third-century descendants may ask—they will ask—how we could have tolerated such unfairness; but they won’t ask how we could have believed such inequalities to be fair, because we don’t, most of us, believe them to be fair. Let’s instead consider a different question: whether our present-day ideals of fairness and freedom, even if we lived up to them, would satisfy our descendants.

The average CEO now earns around three hundred times as much as his or her average employee. Many people are dismayed at the contrast with the good old days of the Eisenhower administration, when CEOs earned only thirty times as much as their average employees and paid a far higher tax rate, and yet the country didn’t exactly seem to be going to the dogs. But let’s put aside our reaction to this striking change and ask more generally whether and why some people ought to earn more than others.

The usual answer, I suppose, is that people deserve whatever they get through the operation of supply and demand. The competitive marketplace quantifies the value that one’s efforts have for others. Some people (like doctors) employ vital skills; some people (like baseball players) give exceptional enjoyment; some people (like corporate executives) assume extra responsibilities; some people (like investors) forego luxury consumption. All such people are rewarded in proportion to the satisfaction they furnish others, as measured by others’ willingness to pay, directly or indirectly, for those satisfactions. No payment, no service. As Adam Smith wrote: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

Of course, it’s not that simple. Consider those doctors, baseball players, and executives I used as examples of economic agents who exchange services for money. In fact, they—like you, like me—live with only one foot in a market economy and the other in a gift economy. Any doctor or scientist or athlete or nurse or teacher or carpenter worth her salt feels at least occasionally that she is making a gift of her best efforts; and as with all such gifts, the chief reward is internal: the pleasures of giving and of exercising one’s faculties at their highest pitch.

Nowadays, the gift economy leads a precarious existence, appearing mostly in commencement-day addresses in which graduates are exhorted to follow their dreams, while most of the poor things are worrying frantically about how to pay their debts. The family is a gift economy, and so is culture, including both the arts and the sciences, as well as the shrinking public and nonprofit spheres. Ever since that most fateful of innovations, industrial mass production, has become virtually universal, the market economy has progressively squeezed out the gift economy. In a mature capitalist society, competition grows in both extent and intensity—that is, both between and within economic units. Creativity and generosity are not forbidden but they are no longer self-justifying; they are, on the contrary, subordinated, like all activity in the non-public sphere, to the goal of increasing shareholder value. In the private economy, you can do whatever you like—create beauty, pursue truth, help others—as long as what you like to do makes someone a profit.

I said earlier that people in a market economy are rewarded in proportion to others’ willingness to pay. That willingness to pay is the measure of value in a market economy; and so, to say that a person deserves what she earns is to say that there is at least a rough correspondence between the value of what she produces and the value of what she receives. As Milton Friedman, the high priest of American capitalism, put it: “The ethical principle [underlying] the distribution of income in a free-market society is, ‘To each according to what he and the instruments he owns produces.’”

This notion of desert rests on the assumption that two distinctions can be made rigorously: first, that one person’s input—to any output or outcome at all—can be sharply distinguished from all other inputs; second, that merit can be distinguished from luck—that is, that diligence, good judgment, talent, and other productive qualities and character traits are not fully attributable to biological endowment, early environment, education, and other contingent and therefore morally arbitrary sources. I don’t believe those distinctions hold up.

Let’s take that CEO, and let’s assume we know somehow that she produces thirty or three hundred times as much as her average employee. Causation is a transitive relation, and production is a kind of causation. If A is a cause of B, and B is a cause of C, then A is a cause of C. If A contributes to the production of B, and B contributes to the production of C, then A has contributed to the production of C. Now, who has contributed to the production of our CEO and, therefore, to the production of whatever she produces? Clearly, her parents, spouse, teachers, fellow students, predecessors, colleagues, rivals, and friends, along with all their parents, spouses, teachers, fellow students, predecessors, colleagues, rivals, and friends, along with all those who created the physical, organizational, and cultural resources employed in the production of whatever our CEO produces, along with all their parents, spouses, teachers, fellow students, predecessors, colleagues, rivals, and friends, and, it goes without saying, all their parents, spouses, teachers, and so on through what is, if one wants to insist on the point, an infinite chain of causes.

I do want to insist on the point. Einstein famously wrote: “I have all along been standing on the shoulders of giants.” So has our CEO. Exceptional contributions, whether to art, science, or the Gross National Product, are prepared for by the whole previous development of the field. People who make brilliant, courageous, and illuminating mistakes, which may be indispensable to the ultimate success of a rich and famous artist, scientist, or entrepreneur, are not, in a competitive market system, retrospectively and proportionately rewarded for their contributions, even though Friedman’s definition of justice would seem to require it.

My point is that all production is social production. The productive assets of every age are the joint product of all preceding ages, and all those born into the present are legitimately joint heirs of those assets. And the same arguments for joint rather than individual inheritance of wealth created in the past apply to the distribution of income in the present. If this seems counterintuitive, it is perhaps because there persists a deep and ancient distinction between luck and merit, according to which we deserve praise and reward for our good actions, though not for our good fortune. But what if our good actions are the results of our good fortune?

Philosophy assimilates scientific discoveries slowly. As a result, it is always riddled with archaic concepts and images, survivals from an earlier scientific epoch. One such survival, it seems to me, is the concept of merit. It has always been partly recognized (it is, indeed, implicit in the word “gifted”) that talents and aptitudes come under the heading of luck rather than merit. But the inescapable implication of modern genetics, neurobiology, and psychiatry is that character, no less than talent, is inherited or else formed by very early experiences. Diligence, decisiveness, initiative, coolness under pressure—all these entrepreneurial virtues—are, no less than intellectual or manual abilities, part of one’s natural endowment. And from a strictly moral point of view, no one deserves a reward for being born luckier than someone else. I imagine the twenty-third century will ask: “Why did you make talent and character the measure of an individual’s desert rather than of her obligations? How could you have overlooked what is to us the obvious and elementary principle of fairness: from each according to her abilities, to each according to her need?…”

If we could speak with our nineteenth-century counterparts, we might ask questions like: “Why did you believe it legitimate for one person to own another? Why did women seem to you incapable of self-determination? Why did you consider that political authority could be inherited, for example by monarchs or aristocrats?” If they defended their morality against ours, we might learn a good deal by trying to rebut them and vindicate our own moral intuitions.

Similarly, we should try to imagine which of our current beliefs might seem benighted to our twenty-third century descendants. I suspect they will want to ask us questions like: “Why did you base desert on performance, which can’t be measured and is in any case a function of one’s endowments? After all, no one deserves her endowments. Why did you make that strangely artificial distinction between the political and the economic? It looks as though your only purpose was to prevent economic democracy. Why did you define freedom so narrowly, as the absence of constraints on one person’s right to employ her capital but not on another person’s right to realize her capacities? Why did you assume that contracts between parties with radically unequal resources could be free?”

You should read it all and ask yourself: Why do we tolerate such radical inequalities?

Darcie Cimarusti served on the school board of Highland Park, New Jersey, from 2013 to 2022. She is the communications director of the Network for Public Education. This article appeared in the Bedford Gazette.

She writes:

I have been a local school board member since my daughters, now 11th-graders, were in second-grade. In that time, I have been involved in education policy discussions at the local, state and national levels on issues related to the rights of LGBTQ+ students, standardized testing and the privatization of public education. The rise of the so-called “parental rights” movement in public education has been one of the thorniest, most perplexing issues I have encountered.

There is no doubt that parents play a crucial role in the education of their children. Who would dare argue that they don’t? But in the face of the anti-critical race theory, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-social emotional learning, anti-diversity equity and inclusion juggernaut unleashed by heavily funded, right-leaning astroturf parent groups such as Moms for Liberty, it has become imperative that we have an honest discussion about how much say parents should have in what is (or is not) taught in our public schools.

My district, unlike many, is racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse, with 31 languages spoken in the homes of our students. Educating such a diverse student body presents many challenges and requires a nuanced approach to policy and practice that ensures all students have equal opportunities to learn, thrive and grow. While it is easy for school leaders to say they embrace diversity, equity and inclusion, it’s far too challenging to implement policies promoting those principles.

I have spent my time on the school board helping to develop systems that ensure decisions are made collaboratively and with as many voices at the decision-making table as possible. This means making space not only for administrators, teachers, parents and students but also ensuring that historically marginalized groups are represented.

Decisions that affect students should never be based on the whims of those with the most privilege or power and indeed not on who has the loudest voice in the room.

However, the latter has become the hallmark of parental rights activists. They attend meeting after meeting, berating, shouting down and even making death threats against school board members. During the pandemic, battles over masks erupted at podiums at far too many school board meetings across the country and quickly morphed into demands to ban books, censor curriculum and muzzle “woke” teachers that parents accused of “grooming” their children.

In the 2022 midterm elections, parental rights activists were on the ballot in numerous states. With the support and endorsement of Moms for Liberty, they ran campaigns to become school board members in districts in red, blue and purple states. Moms for Liberty operates county chapters that aim to serve as watchdogs “over all 13,000 school districts.” Chapters empower parents to “defend their parental rights” and “identify, recruit & train liberty-minded parents to run for school boards.”

The “anti-woke” agenda espoused by Moms for Liberty endorsed school board candidates who had the greatest successes in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis proudly declared the state being “where woke goes to die.” But in many other parts of the country, parental rights candidates lost their elections, with even conservative political operatives acknowledging that many of their campaigns were “too hyperbolic.”

Chaos has already erupted in several districts where they succeeded and won board majorities, with newly formed, inexperienced boards firing superintendents or forcing them to resign. One board voted to ban the teaching of critical race theory just hours after being sworn in.

After a decade of experience as a school board member, there’s one thing I can say for sure: The majority of parents, teachers and community members do not respond well to instability and disruption in their local public schools. When school boards run amok and rash decisions make headlines, communities work quickly to restore calm. If parental rights school board majorities continue to govern recklessly, they will undoubtedly face a backlash from voters.

Creating and implementing sound school policies and practices that respect and affirm all students requires collaboration. It does not allow for the divisive, polarizing rhetoric and impetuous, rash decision-making that have become the calling cards of the so-called parental rights movement.

Jan Resseger, as always wise and compassionate, reviews the impact of the billionaire-funded culture wars on children and families. The particular focus on erasing the histories of children of color and demonizing LGBT families is harmful to them.

She writes:

Conversations about public schooling have been utterly sidetracked this year by fights about Critical Race Theory, “Don’t say gay!” laws, and whether somebody is “grooming” children at school? Where did these culture wars come from?

A NY Times analysis earlier this week tracks book banning in public schools as part of an epidemic of culture war disruption: “Traditionally, debates over what books are appropriate for school libraries have taken place between a concerned parent and a librarian or administrator, and resulted in a single title or a few books being re-evaluated, and either removed or returned to shelves. But recently, the issue has been supercharged by a rapidly growing and increasingly influential constellation of conservative groups. The organizations frequently describe themselves as defending parental rights. Some are new, and others are longstanding, but with a recent focus on books. Some work at the district and state level, others have national reach. And over the past two years or so, they have grown vastly more organized, interconnected, well funded — and effective. The groups have pursued their goals by becoming heavily involved in local and state politics, where Republican efforts have largely outmatched liberal organizations in many states for years.”

The reporters track research from PEN America: “(T)here are at least 50 groups across the country working to remove books they object to from libraries. Some have seen explosive growth recently: Of the 300 chapters that PEN tracked, 73 percent were formed after 2020. The growth comes, in part, from the rise of ‘parental rights’ organizations during the pandemic. Formed to fight COVID restrictions in schools, some groups adopted a broader conservative agenda focused on opposing instruction on race, gender and sexuality, and on removing books they regard as inappropriate.”

How is the culture war uproar affecting public schools? In a recent newsletter, the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) trackedresearch concluding: “Preparing students to participate in civil and respectful ways in our diverse democracy has long been a core mission of public schools.” Today, “U.S. high schools are struggling to fulfill this mission as they increasingly encounter hyper-partisan efforts. Those efforts have sought to spread misinformation, to encourage harassment of LGBTQ+ students, and to limit opportunities for productively discussing controversial topics. Such challenges are particularly pervasive in politically diverse areas where one party does not dominate.” The researchers surveyed 682 public high school principals and subsequently followed up by interviewing 32 of those principals. NEPC reports:

  1. “Public schools increasingly are targets of political conflict. Nearly half of principals (45 percent) reported that the amount of conflict in their community was higher during the 2021-2022 school year than it was pre-pandemic… Teaching about race and racism was the area where principals were most likely to report challenges from community members, followed closely by LGBTQ+ content.”
  2. “Political conflict undermines the practice of respectful dialogue. A majority of high school principals report that students have made demeaning or hateful remarks toward classmates for expressing either liberal or conservative views and that strong differences of political opinion among students have created more contentious classroom environments.”
  3. “Conflict makes it harder to address misinformation. Misinformation—much of it tied to partisan organizations and causes—makes it more challenging to encourage productive and civil dialogue. After all, it is difficult to develop a shared sense of how to move forward when different people are working from different sets of ‘facts.’ Nearly two thirds of principals (64 percent) say parents or community members have challenged information used by teachers at their schools. The share of principals saying parents or community members challenged teachers’ use of information three or more times nearly doubled between 2018 and 2022.”
  4. “Conflict leads to declines in support for teaching about race, racism, and racial and ethnic diversity. High schools increasingly struggle to teach students about the full spectrum of American experiences and histories, especially when it comes to issues related to racism and race… ‘My superintendent told me in no uncertain terms that I could not address issues of race and bias etc. with students or staff this year,’ said a principal in a red community in Minnesota. ‘We could not address the deeper learning.'”
  5. “Principals report sizable growth in harassment of LGBTQ+ youth. The survey results also suggest that schools are increasingly facing challenges related to teaching students to treat one another with dignity and respect… Fewer than half of principals said school board members or district leaders made statements or acted to promote policies and practices that protected LGBTQ+ student rights.”

“Parents’ rights” are the rallying cry for many of today’s culture warriors who want to protect the dominant culture and shield their children from uncomfortable controversy. But in a recent and very personal Washington Post column, “When Children Ask About Race and Sex, We Have No Choice But to Answer,” Danielle Allen, a political theorist and the Director of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and an African American mother, explains the point of view of many other parents and children. Allen examines why it is so urgently important for teachers to be able to respond to children’s own observations and questions when the students themselves initiate conversation about the same fraught subjects the NEPC researchers describe organized parents trying to ban from the schools.

Allen describes a conversation her own two-year-old daughter launched about race, while the child sat in seat of the grocery store cart as they were in the midst of shopping. The child declared, “Mommy, I think it’s not good to be Black.”

Allen reflects upon what her toddler had already observed about race in America: “My daughter’s statement was a question. Its subtext went like this: ‘I’ve noticed something, Mommy. It seems like it’s not good to be Black. But can that be right? You’re Black. I love you. How can these things fit together? And what does this mean for me?'”

Allen continues: “What I can assure you of is that even before any of our kids, of any racial or ethnic background, get to school, every Black family in the United States is having to teach its children about race and the history of enslavement and stories of overcoming that have played out generation after generation. The same must be true for kids raised in LGBTQ families, with regard to the history and contemporary experience of gender and sexuality… This means that the only way you can keep knowledge and questions about these histories, experiences and perspectives out of the school curriculum in early grades is to keep Black people or members of LGBTQ families out of school.”

Or, according to NEPC’s research, many school districts are enrolling Black and Brown children and children from LGBTQ families while the school districts may be imposing policies to silence such children, to make their realities invisible to other students, and to refuse to help them answer their own hard questions.

Public schools are required by law to serve all the children whatever their race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. It is not the business of school board members, school superintendents, school principals, or teachers to cater to any one group of parents’ rights advocates, no matter how well organized or well funded is their lobby.

Here, writing for The Progressive, is retired high school teacher, Peter Greene, who understands educators’ obligation to protect the interests of all the students who fill our nation’s public school classrooms: “Schools must balance the needs and concerns of all of their many stakeholders. Parents absolutely have rights when it comes to public schools, but so do non-parents, taxpayers and other community stakeholders. It’s up to the school district to balance all of these concerns, while also depending on the professional judgment of its trained personnel. It is a tricky balance to maintain, requiring nuance and sensitivity. It is correct to argue that ‘schoolchildren are not mere creatures of the state.’ But framing the issue as parents versus school has served some folks with a very specific agenda.”

Every important race for the House, the Senate, even some Governors’ races are a dead heat.

If you haven’t voted yet, do it now.

Stand in line for as long as it takes to uphold our democratic system of government.

Many years ago, I read in a book about political philosophy that the great strength of a Constitutional democracy is that the losing side knows they can try again next time. They take their loss in stride, shake hands with the winner, and vow to do better next time.

The thesis behind this scenario is that losers graciously concede. They know that they will not be imprisoned or murdered. At worst, they will be remorseful and brood over what they could have done better.

Our system of government depends on gracious losers and magnanimous winners.

When Al Gore lost the presidency by 537 votes in Florida, he pursued his legal remedies to the Supreme Court. When he lost there, he conceded.

When Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016 but lost the electoral vote, she promptly conceded.

Trump is the first president who lost—decisively—but refused to concede. He pursued all legal remedies for two years and lost in every case. Yet he still lies to his followers and complains about election fraud when none has been found.

He is a whiner, a spoiler, a sore loser. He would destroy our electoral system of government rather than admit he lost.

Stand up for our democratic system by standing in line as long as you have to. Don’t let the Big Liar prevail over our Constitution.

Many of the contested seats for the House and the Senate are very close. I stopped watching the polls a week or so ago, and I no longer believe in them. They are often wrong, and they tend to depress the vote if your candidate is either far ahead or far behind. Ignore the polls and get out and vote if you haven’t done so already.

I voted last week, but I’m still biting my nails. It’s unbelievable to me that some of the Republican candidates are in the running, even though they spout the Big Lie, praise the insurrectionists who tried to overturn the peaceful transition of power, and in some cases have said they won’t concede if they lose. They don’t believe in our system of government.

Are we in a period of national madness? Call it the Trump Effect. His Attorney General told him he had lost; his White House Counsel told him he had lost. A parade of decent, responsible people who worked for him told him he had lost.

But he’s a sore loser. Even though every legal challenge his representatives filed was thrown out of court, including twice by the Supreme Court, he found flaky attorneys to stoke his huge ego.

Trump spoke to a largely Hispanic audience in Miami yesterday, where he said “The socialist, communist and Marxist direction of the radical Democratic Party is one of the biggest reasons that Hispanic Americans are joining our movement by the millions and millions and millions,” Trump said. The crowd cheered him and chanted, “We love you.”

The question before us in tomorrow’s ballot is whether we will uphold the norms of our democracy and our Constitution or whether the aggrieved Trump followers will destroy our democracy by electing people who don’t believe in it.


Vote as if our democracy hangs in the balance: It does.

Vote as though the election hinges on your ballot: It does.

The following races are crucial for maintaining Democratic control of the Senate:

Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia.

Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona.

Senator Catharine Cortez Masto of Nevada.

If you have friends or family in any of these states, call them and urge them to vote.

Remind them : EVERY VOTE COUNTS.

This is a thrilling story, reported by The Intercept.

THE NATIONWIDE CAMPAIGN to stifle discussions of race and gender in public schools through misinformation and bullying suffered a reversal in Idaho on Monday, when a high school senior vocally opposed to book bans and smears against LGBTQ+ youth took a seat on the Boise school board.

The student, Shiva Rajbhandari, was elected to the position by voters in Idaho’s capital last week, defeating an incumbent board member who had refused to reject an endorsement from a local extremist group that has harassed students and pushed to censor local libraries.

Rajbhandari, who turned 18 days before the election, was already well-known in the school district as a student organizer on climate, environmental, voting rights, and gun control issues. But in the closing days of the campaign, his opponent, Steve Schmidt, wasendorsed by the far-right Idaho Liberty Dogs, which in response helped Rajbhandari win the endorsement of Boise’s leading newspaper, the Idaho Statesman.

Rajbhandari, a third-generation Idahoan whose father is from Nepal, was elected to a two-year term with 56 percent of the vote.

In an interview, Rajbhandari told The Intercept that although he had hoped people would vote for him rather than against his opponent — “My campaign was not against Steve Schmidt,” he said — he was nonetheless shocked that Schmidt did not immediately reject the far-right group’s endorsement. “I think that’s what the majority of voters took issue with,” Rajbhandari said.

The Idaho Liberty Dogs, which attacked Rajbhandari on Facebook for being “Pro Masks/Vaccines” and leading protests “which created traffic jams and costed [sic] tax payers money,” spent the summer agitating to have books removed from public libraries in Nampa and Meridian, two cities in the Boise metro area.

But, Rajbhandari said, “that’s the least of what they’ve done. Last year, there was a kid who brought a gun to Boise High, which is my school, and he got suspended and they organized an armed protest outside our school.”

Rajbhandari, who started leading Extinction Rebellion climate protests in Boise when he was 15, is familiar with the group’s tactics. “We used to have climate strikes, like back in ninth grade, and they would come with AR-15s,” he said, bringing rifles to intimidate “a bunch of kids protesting for a livable future.”

So when the Idaho Liberty Dogs called on Boise voters to support Schmidt — and a slate of other candidates for the school board who, ultimately, all lost — Rajbhandari told me he texted his rival to say, “You need to immediately disavow this.”

“This is a hate group,” Rajbhandari says he told Schmidt. “They intimidate teachers, they are a stain on our schools, and their involvement in this election is a stain on your candidacy.” Schmidt, however, refused to clearly reject the group, even after the Idaho Liberty Dogs lashed out at a local rabbi who criticized the endorsement by comparing the rabbi to Hitler and claiming that he harbored “an unrelenting hatred for white Christians.”

While the school board election was a hyperlocal one, Rajbhandari is aware that the forces he is battling operate at the state and national level. “Idaho is at the center of this out-of-state-funded far-right attack to try to undermine schools, with the end goal of actually abolishing public education,” Rajbhandari told me. “There’s a group, they’re called the Idaho Freedom Foundation, and they actually control a lot of the political discourse in our legislature. Their primary goal is to get rid of public education and disburse the money to charter schools or get rid of that funding entirely.”

For his courage and candor, he won the endorsement of The Idaho Statesman.

This is a remarkable young man with a bright future ahead of him. I am happy to add him to the honor roll of this blog.

Read the rest of the story by opening the link. Rajbhandari is a force to be reckoned with. He is a good omen of the bright, dedicated young people who stand up for their teachers and for environmental activism, who fight for gun control and against censorship. Best wishes to him!

John Merrow’s title is sarcastic. Of course he wants you to read banned books, and he is deeply concerned about the large number of eligible voters—especially young people—who don’t bother to vote.

When someone on Twitter posted a list of 25 popular books that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had supposedly banned from the state’s public schools, people went crazy. The list included Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” and Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.”

Below is a screenshot of the list. How many of these books have you read? Have your children read most of them? What on earth is going on in Florida?

People familiar with DeSantis’s efforts to restrict classroom discussion of controversial topics had no trouble believing that he would try to prevent young people from reading controversial or challenging books. If DeSantis did draw up a list, these books might well be on it.

But the list is a fake, a clever satire.

Many people were fooled, including teacher union President Randi Weingarten and “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill. Hamill’s screenshot of the list amassed more than 100,000 likes and 24,000 retweets.

(Add my name to the list of those who were taken in.)

Like all good satire, that fake list of banned books is rooted in truth, because book banning is real and growing. Florida school districts have banned around 200 books, according to a report published by PEN America, a nonprofit that tracks book banning in the U.S. Pen America ranks Florida third among US states for banning books, trailing only Texas and Pennsylvania.

We are in the midst of a pandemic of book banning, so it’s hard to imagine any title that would never be banned by some zealous or timid school board or ignorant legislator.

One way to stop this outbreak of censorship is to get active, vote, attend school board meetings, run for school board. Passivity and complaining is a losing strategy.

Time to turn back the rising tide of incipient fascism.