A letter to the electors

Want to write your own letter to the electors? Visit asktheelectors.org.


Dear Electors,

My name is Anthea Carns from Anchorage, AK.

I am writing to ask that, on December 19th, you will not cast your vote for Donald Trump as President of the United States.

As electors, you’ve dedicated years of your time to the political process in our country, and you understand — better than most, I’m sure — the details of how our system works. You understand the great moral responsibility entrusted to our elected officials, and the care, caution, compassion, and thoughtfulness that governing requires.

I know that there is a strong feeling this election cycle that we should carry on as normal. Asking electors to change their pledged votes is pretty far outside our norms. But this has not been a normal election:

-In July 2016 Donald Trump called for hackers, Russian or otherwise, to infiltrate American institutions, as reported by multiple outlets including CNN and the Washington Post. At the time, even Gov. Mike Pence acknowledged that if the FBI determined that Russia had been attempting to influence our election, there would have to be “serious consequences.” Now the US intelligence community has agreed that Russia was behind hacking attempts on both parties — yet Mr. Trump continues to call this unprecedented subversion of our democracy “ridiculous” and refuses to take intelligence briefings on the subject.

-Since the results of the Nov. 8 general election, Mr. Trump has been staffing his cabinet with individuals who have no policy experience, but were major donors to his campaign. In many cases these individuals have actually stated that they wish to do away with the agency they are being appointed to lead.

-Despite long-standing tradition that presidents-elect divest themselves of their business interests while in office and place their assets in blind trusts to avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest, Mr. Trump has merely handed his assets over to his children. He shows no intention of separating himself from his many businesses and has even stated that he will continue to be involved in enterprises like his reality TV show. Several Constitutional scholars have concluded that Mr. Trump’s dealings with entities like the Bank of China — a tenant in one of his buildings — put him in violation of the Emoluments Clause in Article I of the Constitution.

All these breaches of political norms, these casual dismissals of the foundations of democracy, have been seen before in other countries, and have always rightfully been causes for alarm. In this case, they speak to Mr. Trump’s profound lack of qualifications for the presidency. Even at the birth of our nation, our founders saw the potential for a candidate like Mr. Trump to reach the highest office in the land. In Federalist Paper No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote:

“Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? … The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.”

This is why the electoral college was established. This is why I am writing to you. You are the people “most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station” of President of the United States, and the people “most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”

I hope that you will carefully consider the moral and ethical consequences of this 2016 election. I hope that you will demand a complete briefing on any foreign interference that may have played a role in the campaign and the general election. And I hope that you will cast your Republican votes for a candidate who has the qualifications that you understand are necessary for such a high office.

Thank you for your time and consideration, I appreciate and respect the role you serve in our electoral process.

Sincerely,
Anthea Carns


Want to write your own letter to the electors? Visit asktheelectors.org.

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Female protester holding a sign reading DO NOT FEAR THE DARKNESS.

I live in America.

Normally when I lie in bed at night trying to go to bed I am thinking about:

  1. An embarrassing moment from seventh grade
  2. A different embarrassing moment from seventh grade
  3. What time I have to be at work tomorrow
  4. A story

Sometimes it’s the play or NaNovel or whatever I’m working on at the time; just as often it’s some silly, self-indulgent daydream. It keeps me from thinking about that other embarrassing moment  from seventh grade and it helps me get to sleep.

Since Tuesday, when I lie in bed at night I write blog posts in my head.

I am paralyzed with how much I want to write. I feel like a shaken bottle of soda, tight as a drum and likely to explode. I feel like a thundercloud.

I want to explain why I am angry at third-party voters, in a way that is compassionate and clear; at the same time, I want to explain why I am angry at third-party voters in a way that does not make nice. On Tuesday night I had several hours of panic attacks and I have not gone a day since then without starting to cry at least once. I am not in a mood to be compassionate and empathetic to others when I can’t barely keep myself together, but I also believe that speaking in languages of anger and blame changes few minds.

I want to call people to action, or perhaps scream them to action like I’m the opening victim in Jaws.

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Pictured: Disabled people, immigrants, Latin@s, Muslims, LGBTQ people, Black people, people of color, women, Jewish people, and people reliant on the ACA, among others, feeling slightly unnerved by the prospect of a Trump administration.

I want to write about why I’m wearing a safety pin, and why I’m staying off Facebook, and the bizarre, slightly unrooted sense of nihilistic freedom I sometimes feel scrolling through Twitter. Like, I should get those tattoos I’ve been thinking about for literal years! I should get a damn sleeve! I should go buy a keyboard! Why the hell not! Why put anything off anymore! Be your goddamn self, because if nothing we do matters, all that matters is what we do, and what I want to do is wear black jeans with a brown sweater and scream Green Day and Something Corporate and Indigo Girls lyrics out the car window! Whatever! Radical honesty is where it’s at, man!

 

I want to write about climate change, except even thinking about it scares me so much I can’t put words in a sentence.

I want to write a lot of poetry. I don’t think most of it will be very good poetry, I just don’t think carefully crafted argumentative essays are gonna get at my soda-pop feelings very well.

I want to yell about the electoral college and voter suppression and how none of this is actually a new problem because anti-immigrant sentiment has been strong in the USA since the Bush era and anti-Muslim sentiment has been strong in the USA since the Bush era and misogyny, misogyny, misogyny. I also want to yell about how it was not unreasonable for me to think that the country that elected Barack Obama twice could reject a man who courted white nationalists to win the presidency, was endorsed by the KKK, and just appointed an anti-Semitic alt-right zealot as his chief strategist. I don’t think it was unreasonable for me to think well of my fellow Americans. Given that Hillary Clinton appears to be winning the popular vote, as absentee ballots are counted, I don’t even think it was precisely overly optimistic.

I want to transcribe the tense, crawling feeling between my shoulderblades and the splintered mahogany weight behind my breastbone, but I don’t think the language to do so has been created yet.

I want to tell you that I love you, even in those cases where I’m mad right now.

Unless you voted for Trump. In which case I just want to know why you looked at me — a queer woman with several pre-existing health conditions — and my Latino friends, my lesbian friends, my gay friends, my trans friends, my immigrant friends, my Jewish friends, my Muslim friends, my Black friends, my disabled friends, my Native friends, every one of my friends on the fringes — and you decided we were making America less great.

Justin Kirk as Prior Walter saying I want more life.

As angry and hurt  and scared as I am, I want to end on a Kushner note. He gets me. Source.

 

Everybody look what’s going down

This is a brief post, because I don’t know what to say and I feel I have to say something.

Frankly, I’d been avoiding the news. I knew another unarmed young black man had been killed by cops. I knew there were protests and that the police were behaving badly. That was pretty much it. It’s practically boilerplate by now: the last few years have taught me the script, just like the one for school shootings.

I started this morning with my coffee, started catching up on articles and link roundups and tweets around the web, and ended up in tears, scared in ways I didn’t know I still could be over events like this.

I don’t know what to do. I know this is not okay. I know that there are times when my job as a white person is to sit down and listen, but eventually there comes a time when my job is to stand up and scream, and I think the moment when part of my country starts to descend into martial law and riot control that would make Bull Connor proud is a moment to stand.

But I’m over here, and they’re over there. This isn’t a situation where I can at give money to a relief organization and feel that that’s tangible helps — well, I guess I can, but I don’t know where to send my money. If anyone knows of organizations that are raising money for legal defense or anything like that, please let me know. (ETA: The ACLU has been suggested while I was writing this. Thanks, Kat! I’ll update this post with links when I have a chance.) If there are other ways I can help, or anyone can help, please let me know.

In the meantime, I’m adding my voice, since it’s all I have. Governor Jay Nixon needs to get this under control.  Police Chief Thomas Jackson needs to be held accountable for the horrifying tactics and behavior of his police force. And as a nation we have got to work to dismantle the institutional racism that allows cops to harass and murder young men of color with impunity. Require police to wear body cameras. Stop incentivizing murder by giving cops who kill paid leave (reportedly, the officer who killed Michael Brown is on paid administrative leave).

We can’t just let this keep happening. We can’t. We can’t.

ETA: Thirteen hours later, the situation in Ferguson looks very different, which is a relief. There are still things we can do to help:

  • Raise your voice on a local level. There are a couple of petitions going around the internet about changing policy to require police officers to wear front-facing cameras, which has been shown to reduce complaints against police and use of force by police. The petitions are a good start, but not an endpoint. Get in touch with your state government, your county government where applicable, and your city government, and see what work you can do to get camera policies enacted in your city.
  • If you want to make a financial contribution, there are a number of places you can give money (and these organizations may have other ways you can get involved, so be sure to click around):
  • As mentioned here, VOTE. Vote for federal elections, yes, but pay attention to local elections and vote in them too. Change starts at home, with you, in the ballot box.

This whole situation was — is — terrifying and sad. Every aspect of it: Michael Brown’s death, the police’s initial reaction, the police’s continued overreaction, and the fact that it could happen again. Maybe not in Ferguson — but hell, maybe in Seattle, we’ve got a terrible track record.

It could happen again, but let’s not let it. Not again.

Mini-review: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

By p1xer on deviantart.com.

By p1xer on deviantart.com.

I finally caught up with the rest of the world and saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier yesterday. I have a mess of notes I jotted down during the credits, in the vain hope that I might write a full review, but I have two posts in my drafts folder I really want to finish, plus at least two just-for-fun writing projects that I’m actually excited about, so that full review may never materialize.

I do want to touch briefly on the movie’s central ideological theme, though, before I get too distracted. Spoilers ahoy!


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Blog round-up: Friend Spotlight

A necklace for many many friends to share.

If you’re anything like me, you have a long list of blogs or sites you’re following so that you always have something to read on your phone on the bus. Many of my favorites are listed in my blogroll in the sidebar here, and I’ve made specific recs a few times. Here are a few more!

Magpie and Whale: For thoughts on journalism, Chicago, and truly quality linkspams, I always turn to my friend Esther.

I promised everyone I’d dance in the streets if Chicago made it to 50 whole degrees, and holy cats, on Monday we hit 56. So, off I went with my camera in just a sweatshirt and tennis shoes, although rain boots probably would have been a better plan, considering that all our snow and ice is now melting into gigantic pools of standing water, much of which is congregating on sidewalks and at street crossings.

Of course, it’s supposed to dump more snow on us again this week, which makes Chicago Magazine‘s musings about whether the City That Works is too cold to compete with the sunny South particularly apropos. But I assume you’re not here for me to endlessly talk about the weather. (In my hometown, you didn’t start conversations with remarks on the weather, you filled dead air with a comment on the height of the Hocking River.) I could ramble abouttreadmill desks or Amtrak’s actually sort of scummy terms and conditions for their writing residency, but let’s get to the good stuff, shall we?

In the Lyme Light Blog-a-Thon: My old friend Kat is using March to run a blog-a-thon about her life with lyme. Her first post is very heavy stuff (with a trigger warning for discussion of suicide), discussing mortality and the realities of living with chronic illness; heavy and honest. She encourages questions and suggestions for essay topics, so if there’s something you’d like to know, by all means leave her a comment and engage with the topic!

See, after my health stopped me from updating http://www.lifewithlyme.net for several years, I’m able to write on it again. I’m revamping the layout and writing regularly, and a great deal. I’m also beyond broke and in debt, hence the blogathon helping from all angles! Here’s how it works, and the three ways you can help out:

Way #1: Comment Here with Questions About Lyme, Being Sick, Etc.
Whether you want to sponsor me out not, comment here with anything you want to know about Lyme, connections, the treatment for them, and how having them had affected my life. Every single one will be answered in an essay in its own post.; I really want to answer the questions you actually HAVE–and enough people have said things that I know they do have questions–so please, do ask,.

This Blog Is Better In Vinyl: Ernie, my fellow Alaskan-kid-who-did-magic-tricks-on-the-Tonight-Show, is currently blogging about teaching in Turkey with characteristic hilarity and depth.

It was so damn quiet. There were three (again, corgi) street dogs. They were slow. They wandered into puddles and got their paws muddy. “Maybe,” Jari said, “maybe there is a brood mother somewhere in these hills.”

“A corgi brood mother.”

“Yeah. Spawning corgis. Or there’s like a corgi dominant gene.”

“They are planning for world domination.”

“The children of the broodmother will consume the whole world.”

I’m doing my best to transcribe this sort of conversation you understand because I want to convey to you how mind-alteringly slow time passes in the village. We sat on rocks next to our packs in the village center, a confluence of three dirt roads, watching dogs walk back and forth and listening to three old men talk about something in another language. When the bus came by the first time, it was going the opposite way, and both of us wanted to get on just for something to do. It was quiet, though, and quiet was pretty nice. We waited for the bus to come back around.

Feeling Elephants: Jessica is not only one of the smartest people I know, but one of the most compassionate, well-informed, and busy people I know. She also tops my list of Friends Most Likely To Be President One Day. Actually, she may be the only person on my list of Friends Most Likely To Be President One Day. Dickinson-Goodman 2026!

Like any good social justice worker, I do my civil rights head count every time I walk into a room or presented with a list of names. (how many women, how many men; how many people of color, how many white people; how many young people, how many older; how many low-income people, how many middle-class, how many wealthy; rinse, repeat).

So when I got an RNC presidential straw poll in my email this morning–because I subscribe to campaign and major candidate emails from both parties–I did my count.

The result was embarrassing: 5 female candidates of 31 options. That’s 16%, a full 3 points lower than the also-mortifying 19% currently serving in Congress.

The Unbearable Lightness of Hair Gel

Okay, okay, I’m not supposed to be blogging, I’m supposed to be finishing up my novel. (Which, for those keeping score at home, crossed 42,000 words last night, at which point I realized that in all 40k+ words preceding, I’d forgotten to set up a major plot point. WHOOPS. Anyway.)

But I wanted to comment briefly on Fred Clark’s throwback post from yesterday. Originally published in November 2011, it treats on the issues of authenticity and hair styling on the campaign trail:

The expert opinion: No one’s hair stays in place like that without some product in there. And the coloring used everywhere but Romney’s temples isn’t always done as seamlessly or artfully as it could be.

The expert also says this is all silly. There’s nothing morally wrong with using products to keep your hair in place and there’s nothing shameful about deciding to keep your hair the same color it was when you were younger. The expert feels its an insult to her profession that candidates tend to lie about this sort of thing.

Political candidates have to go before the cameras on television — that means lots of work on hair and makeup, lots of necessary product, just to appear normal under the lights in high-def. We never criticize a candidate for wearing a shirt that’s been ironed, or a suit that’s been tailored, or for otherwise looking more presentable than someone who’s just rolled out of bed. But after several election cycles of stupidity and silliness around candidates’ hairstyles, the current vogue requires them to lie for the sake of “authenticity.”

Mitt Romney (who? I swear I remember someone by that name) probably only has to touch up his hair — and possibly wear some concealer and powder, to be honest — to look normal when he’s campaigning. And if he admits that his perfect Reed Richards-esque graying temples are chemically enhanced, he’ll get called out for being inauthentic.

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The Voting Rights Act and what we can do

The Voting Rights Act and what we can do

CHECK IT:

Above is a map from civilrights.org of what states are affected by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which is part of what was struck down by the Supreme Court yesterday. Section 5 basically states that any of those olive green states up there must get clearance from the federal government before they change their voting practices, to ensure that those changes don’t have the purpose or effect of discriminating against a minority.

Hey, look, that’s my home state of AK up there! WHOOPS.

So now that the SCOTUS has ruled on the VRA, it goes to Congress. Congress already voted once, in 2006, to renew the VRA for another 25 years. 2006, friends — when George W Bush was in the middle of his second term. 390 members of Congress voted to renew the VRA then, with 33 voting against renewal.

Here’s where you come in. If you, like me, watched Wendy Davis’ filibuster last night and wanted to scream with the people in the gallery, this is the time to start screaming. Especially if you live in one of the affected states, contact your congresspeople. If you’re not in one of the affected states, contact your congresspeople anyway. Make it absolutely clear to Congress that this is important. Make it clear that everyone in Congress needs to pull together to keep the VRA effective.

Get up there in the gallery and start screaming your lungs out.

VoteSmart has thorough information about your elected officials, including how to contact them and their voting records. If your congressperson was in office in 2006, you can even see how they voted on the VRA renewal then by clicking on “Voting Record,” then selecting “Civil Liberties and Civil Rights” from the handy drop-down “Issues” menu.

You don’t have to call your congresspeople — write them a letter. It doesn’t have to be a long letter — just write them a letter. If you can pick up the phone, do! If you can tweet at them or Facebook them, do! Be respectful, be clear, and be LOUD.

Make some noise.

[Reposted from elsewhere.]