Massachusetts: It’s Time to VOTE!!!


Today it is exactly four weeks until Election Day on November 3rd, 2020. It’s an exciting and terrifying time, but I remain hopeful. Voting alone will not help restore democracy and help make our country that works for all its people – advocacy, activism, and protest will be necessary as well – but I believe the results of the 2020 election can give us a big push in the correct direction.

I need my fellow Massachusetts citizens to do the following things:

Please share this post widely on social media and feel free to contact me if you need help figuring how to navigate the electoral system in you city or town.  I’m pretty good at tracking those things down.

2020 Election Challenge: Governors


Gubernatorial elections never get the attention of Presidential elections, but the day-to-day life of most people is affected more by what goes on in state government than at the Federal level.  In recent decades, right-wing and corporate interests have targeted state governments to consolidate power for their agenda.

If you live in one of the 11 states where a gubernatorial election is taking place it is important that you vote for the Democratic candidate, mobilize your friends and families to vote, and volunteer and donate to their campaigns.  If you don’t live in one of these states, adopt one or more states to target with your donations and volunteering.

Likely Democratic Victories

Two Democratic governors are ahead in the polls for their reelection, but don’t rest on these laurels, VOTE!

Washington: Jay Inslee (incumbent)

Delaware: John Carney (incumbent)

Competitive Races

These elections are a toss-up.  If you are limited on time or money, target these races for volunteering and donations.

North Carolina:  Roy Cooper (incumbent)

Montana: Mike Cooney

Missouri: Nicole Galloway

New Hampshire: Dan Feltes

Longshots

The Republican candidates are ahead in the polls in these states, but getting out the non-voters can still turn around these elections.  Especially in progressive Vermont, c’mon!  Even West Virginia has a progressive streak.

Vermont: David Zuckerman

Indiana: Woody Myers

North Dakota: Shelley Lenz

West Virginia: Ben Salango

Utah: Chris Peterson

 

Let’s Win the US Senate in 2020!


I’ve said it before and I’ll say again.  If we want to restore democracy and build hope for our future in the United States, the US Senate elections are as important and maybe even more important than the Presidential Election. Please join me in an all-out campaign to guarantee that the the US Senate will be under the control of Democrats and progressive independents.

This year there are 35 Senate seats up for election this year and 23 of them are currently held by Republicans.  That means there are 23 opportunities to flip a seat to the Democrats and create a strong majority in the Senate.  Below I’ve listed the names of Democrats running for the Senate with links to their campaign website.  Your mission is to:

  • Vote for the candidates running in your state
  • Adopt one or more candidates running in another state, especially if there’s no Senatorial election in your state
  • Donate and/or volunteer for the campaigns of as many Senate candidates as you can
  • Help people register to vote and advocate for your state to support things like automatic registration or same-day registration
  • Make sure that everyone is able to vote and have their vote counted by advocating for vote by mail, early voting, and sufficient polling locations
  • Volunteer on election day to help at polling locations and/or observe potential irregularities

If you are short on money or time, please target the 15 senate elections marked with in asterisk where there is a very good chance of Democratic victory and/or removing a particularly odious Republican from the Senate.

2020 DEMOCRATIC PARTY CANDIDATES FOR US SENATE

* Alabama: Doug Jones
* Alaska: Al Gross
* Arizona: Mark Kelly
Arkansas: Dan Whitfield (a progressive independent candidate because the Democrats didn’t run a candidate)
Colorado: John Hickenlooper
Delaware: Chris Coons
* Georgia (regular): Jon Ossoff
Idaho: Paulette Jordan
Illinois: Dick Durbin
* Iowa: Theresa Greenfield
* Kansas: Barbara Bollier
Kentucky: Amy McGrath
* Maine: Sara Gideon
Massachusetts: Ed Markey
Michigan: Gary Peters
Minnesota: Tina Smith
* Mississippi: Mike Espy
* Montana: Steve Bullock
Nebraska: Chris Janicek
New Hampshire: Jeanne Shaheen
New Jersey: Cory Booker
* New Mexico: Ben Ray Luján
* North Carolina: Cal Cunningham
Oklahoma: Abby Broyles
Oregon: Jeff Merkley
Rhode Island: Jack Reed
* South Carolina: Jaime Harrison
South Dakota: Dan Ahlers
Tennessee: Marquita Bradshaw
* Texas: MJ Hegar
Virginia: Mark Warner
* West Virginia: Paula Jean Swearengin
Wyoming: Merav Ben-David

Two states will hold non partisan primary elections held on November 3, 2020. 

* Georgia (special)
Special Election: November 3, 2020: Raphael Warnock
NoteAll candidates will be on the same ballot regardless of party affiliation.  If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election, to be held on January 5, 2021

Louisiana
Nonpartisan Blanket Primary: November 3, 2020:  Antoine Pierce and Adrian Perkins appear to be two of the strongest candidates out of 15 candidates running including 5 Democrats and 7 independents!
Note: All candidates will be on the same ballot regardless of party affiliation. If no one candidate wins a majority of the vote in the primary, there will be a runoff election on December 5, 2020.

Massachusetts Primary Elections on September 1 #MAPoli


Primary elections in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are just three weeks away!  The 2020 election will be an opportunity for Massachusetts residents to push forward popular programs for responding to the Covid crisis, reforming criminal justice and policing, addressing the housing crisis, supporting high quality public education for all children, and defending immigrants among many other issues.

 

Here are some candidates in contested primaries who I believe deserve your vote:

US Senate: Ed Markey

US House of Representatives:

State Senate:

State House of Representatives:

2020 Election Challenge: Targeting the Senate


A few months ago I challenged my readers to work toward making the 2020 election about more than defeating Trump and electing Biden, but to work on getting Democratic control of both houses of Congress as well as removing Republican governors and taking over state legislatures from the GOP.  In this post I am going to focus on the elections for the US Senate.

You want to hear a hot take on how important I think the Senate elections are this year: The future of the United States will be better off if the Democrats take control of the Senate and Trump wins than if Biden wins but the Republicans retain the Senate.  Luckily, that’s not a choice we’ll be forced to make because if we can get a strong turnout of people voting for Democratic candidates to the Senate, it will almost certainly means that Joe Biden will win the Presidency as well.

This year there are 35 Senate seats up for election this year and 23 of them are currently held by Republicans.  That means there are 23 opportunities to flip a seat to the Democrats and create a strong majority in the Senate.  Below I’ve listed the names of Democrats running for the Senate with links to their campaign website.  Your mission is to:

  • Vote for the candidates running in your state
  • Adopt one or more candidates running in another state
  • Donate and/or volunteer for the campaigns of these candidates
  • Help people register to vote and advocate for your state to support things like automatic registration or same-day registration
  • Make sure that everyone is able to vote and have their vote counted by advocating for vote by mail, early voting, and sufficient polling locations
  • Volunteer on election day to help at polling locations and/or observe potential irregularities

If you are short on money or time, I’ve marked 15 senate elections with in asterisk where there is a very good chance of Democratic victory and/or removing a particularly odious Republican from the Senate.

 

2020 DEMOCRATIC PARTY CANDIDATES FOR US SENATE

* Alabama: Doug Jones
* Alaska: Al Gross
* Arizona: Mark Kelly
Arkansas: Dan Whitfield (a progressive independent candidate because the Democrats didn’t run a candidate)
* Colorado: John Hickenlooper
Delaware: Chris Coons
* Georgia (regular): Jon Ossoff
Idaho: Paulette Jordan
Illinois: Dick Durbin
* Iowa: Theresa Greenfield
* Kansas: Barbara Bollier
* Kentucky: Amy McGrath
* Maine: Sara Gideon
Massachusetts: Ed Markey
Michigan: Gary Peters
Minnesota: Tina Smith
* Mississippi: Mike Espy
* Montana: Steve Bullock
Nebraska: Chris Janicek
New Hampshire: Jeanne Shaheen
New Jersey: Cory Booker
New Mexico: Ben Ray Luján
* North Carolina: Cal Cunningham
Oklahoma: Abby Broyles
Oregon: Jeff Merkley
Rhode Island: Jack Reed
* South Carolina: Jaime Harrison
South Dakota: Dan Ahlers
Tennessee: Marquita Bradshaw
* Texas: MJ Hegar
Virginia: Mark Warner
West Virginia: Paula Jean Swearengin
Wyoming: Merav Ben-David

Two states will hold non partisan primary elections held on November 3, 2020. 

* Georgia (special)
Special Election: November 3, 2020: Raphael Warnock
NoteAll candidates will be on the same ballot regardless of party affiliation.  If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election, to be held on January 5, 2021

Louisiana
Nonpartisan Blanket Primary: November 3, 2020:  Antoine Pierce and Adrian Perkins appear to be two of the strongest candidates out of 15 candidates running including 5 Democrats and 7 independents!
Note: All candidates will be on the same ballot regardless of party affiliation. If no one candidate wins a majority of the vote in the primary, there will be a runoff election on December 5, 2020.

2020 Election Challenge


Today is the first Tuesday in May, which means that we are SIX MONTHS AWAY from the first Tuesday in November, Election Day!  On November 3, 2020, American voters will participate in one of the most important elections in the nation’s history.

At this point the Democratic Party has already decided that their candidate for this vital Presidential election will be Joe Biden.  I have my reservations about Biden, in that I think he does not have the qualities to be a good President to address the many crises our nation is facing.  But even more so, I’m terrified that his weakness leave him more vulnerable that other potential Democratic candidates to losing the election to Donald Trump!  Nevertheless, the Democrats have made their decision, and they will now have to convince voters in America’s disaffected voters that it will be worth their effort to vote for Biden.

What I want to focus on today is the other elections that will take place on November 3rd.  I often note that the election of Presidents is given inordinate attention while elections for Congress, state, and local officials are widely overlooked.  These elected officials often hold the power that influences our daily lives but it gets very little attention at election time. Consider that Trump administration would not be able to cause nearly as much damage as they have had they not been supported by a Republican majority in the Senate (and in fact, Trump’s presidency may have been ended by now without them).  Similarly, Barack Obama, who I believe tried to do the right thing most of the time, had his hands tied for most of the Presidency by Republican majorities in both house dead set on blocking his every effort.

With this in mind, I would like to get people enthusiastic about supporting  Democratic (or progressive independent) candidates for Congress, state and local elections. Here is my challenge to you:

  • find out who is running in your state for the Senate, House, Governor, and State Legislature.
  • after researching the candidates, pledge to vote for the Democratic/progressive candidate you like most and help their campaign in any way you can (donations, telling your friends & family, sharing campaign information across social media, canvassing, volunteering at the polls, etc.)
  • if there is no election for Senate and/or Governor in your state this year, chose at least one candidate from the lists below to “adopt” and support like they were your own

A good resource for learning about the candidates who are running and dates of primary elections is Ballotpedia. I’m also available to help with research if you want to leave me a comment.

Senatorial Elections

States where Republican incumbent is running for reelection:
NOTE: The incumbent Senators from these states all voted to acquit Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of congress in relation to the Ukraine scandal. All but one of these incumbent Senators (Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) voted to confirm the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh despite credible testimony of his committing sexual assault. These irresponsible, partisan-driven votes of the Republican incumbents (and many others) need to be front and center in the campaign against them.

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Georgia (special election)
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • West Virginia

States where Republican incumbent is retiring:

  • Kansas
  • Tennessee
  • Wyoming

States where Democratic incumbent is at risk of having seat flipped to Republican:

  • Alabama

Gubernatorial Elections

States with Democratic incumbent running for reelection:

  • Delaware
  • North Carolina
  • Washington

States with Republican incumbent running for reelection:

  • Indiana
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia

State with no incumbent running:

  • Montana (current Democratic governor is term-limited)
  • Utah (current Republican governor is retiring)

UPDATED (5/6/2020):  I saw this relevant information on Twitter regarding state legislatures.  If you live in these states make sure to get involved!


We have six months to carry out a comprehensive, nationwide campaign to clear out the Republican deadweight and work toward creating a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Please share this post widely so as many people as possible can get involved.

The Great Baseball Card Bubble of 1987


I saw this tweet the other day and I had to laugh because it brought back memories of the time in my childhood when I was deeply invested in the baseball card collecting hobby.  I can’t remember when I started collecting baseball cards, but sometime in the early 80s my uncle gave me a large number of cards from the 1978 Topps set.  To this I added current cards from wax packs my parents would buy me, hoping to get cards of the two New York City teams and some of the big stars of the day like Reggie Jackson, Pete Rose, Tom Seaver, Mike Schmidt, Eddie Murray, George Brett, and Fernando Valenzuela.

Oddly, my baseball card hobby actually preceded my baseball fandom by several years, but by 1985 when I started following baseball intensely, my card collecting also picked up. Now I I would my money from birthdays and such at corner stores on wax packs hoping to get my favorite team (now solely the Mets), the best players of the day, and hopefully complete the set.  I started getting Baseball Cards Magazine and learned a lot about the history of baseball cards going back to the 1950s when Topps started, and even earlier cards made by no longer extant companies.  I also learned that Topps was not alone, but had competitors named Fleer and Donruss, and soon a company called Score would release a set with color photos on both sides of the card!

Baseball Cards Magazine informed me that older cards were most valuable, but there were also error cards from more recent sets that were rare and valuable.  I searched my cards, but alas, never found the rare variants. Another type of card considered valuable is the rookie card, which is the very first card issued for a particular player by any company.  Sometimes rookie cards were issued before a player even made their Major League debut, and I found I had a Mark McGwire card from when he was on the USA baseball team in 1984. The Baseball Cards Magazine price guide said my card was worth $15 (I never sold it though).

Towards the late 80s, the baseball card hobby began shifting more and more toward emphasis on collecting rookie cards.  It helped that a large number of young players began emerging as potential stars at that time.  Wally Joyner, pictured above, was the first rookie player elected to start in the All-Star Game ever in 1986, and in 1987 even more rookies made the All-Star rosters.  Soon the ads in the back of Baseball Cards Magazine were all selling lots of rookie cards by the 100s for players like Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Will Clark, Mike Greenwell, Mark McGwire, Gregg Jeffries, Benito Santiago, Kevin Seitzer, Ruben Sierra, Cory Snyder, Danny Tartabull and of course, Wally Joyner. The hope for collectors is that by buying up lots of cards of players when they were young would make them more valuable for resale when they became Hall of Famers. The hobby became less appealing to me the more it became an investment vehicle like the stock market.

Of course, none of these players were inducted into the Hall of Fame, and most of them weren’t even superstars.  Bonds, Canseco, and McGwire were superstars but are also among the most prominent players to have their legacies tarnished by using performance enhancing drugs. I avoided buying the lots of rookie cards, although I was convinced to save up my money to buy the 1987 Topps Traded set, which had 132 cards of players traded since the original 1987 set was published and included the first cards of several “prominent rookies.” I believe I saved up $15 plus shipping & handling to get this set by mail order.  This spring when I was in a baseball card shop in Cooperstown, I saw the exact same set for sale for $10.  The lots of rookie cards that my fellow hobbyists invested in 30 years ago have similarly not appreciated in price.

These days, my son – and to a lesser extent, my daughter – has taken up an interest in baseball card collecting.  Baseball cards have come a long way, and following the innovations of that first Score set now have color photos on both sides on high-quality card stock.  Unfortunately, this means one can no longer buy a pack with pocket change at the corner store, but have to spend several dollars for a pack at a specialty shop.  Instead of a rookie card bubble, my son is drawn in by the chance of getting limited edition cards inserted into packs that have actual player autographs and swatches of game-used uniforms and equipment (which strikes me as eerily like the relics of Christian saints).  While I can’t say these cards are worth what my son is paying for them, it is nice that they are actually something unique and pleasant to look at. You can’t say that for a lot of 100 Wally Joyner rookie cards.

Remembering Tony Horwitz


I just learned that journalist and author Tony Horwitz, one of my favorite writers, died today at the young age of 60.

Horwitz’s writing was part history, part participatory journalism,  and part travelogue – three things I love to read, so naturally I enjoyed reading the combination of all three.  He had a way of bridging past and present, and shaking the assumptions we have about history.  He will be missed.

Here are the Horwitz books I’ve read with links to reviews:

I also learned that he just released a new book earlier this month called Spying on the South, which is about Frederick Law Olmsted of all people, a strange confluence of my interests.  Rest assured I’ll be reading that soon!

Baby Shark: An Appreciation


This week, the Billboard Top 40 chart included an unusual debut song, with “Baby Shark” ranking at 32 on the list for January 12.  If you’re not familiar with “Baby Shark,” it is a children’s song sung at camps and preschools about a family of sharks accompanied by appropriately shark-y hand gestures.  I first heard this song in the early 1990s on a college beach trip, and since the people singing the song remembered it from their childhood, it goes back to at least the 1970s.  Stranger still, the version of the song on the chart is not by a famed popstar, but is from a video made by the South Korean education company Pinkfong in 2015.  The popularity of the song has been aided by the viral meme of the  where people film themselves performing the song’s choreography.

I’m tickled by the “Baby Shark” song’s chart success, because we expect the Top 40 to be filled with finely crafted pop recordings from internationally famed musicians.  “Baby Shark” instead is a song performed everyday by hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, especially children.  It turns everything we know about chart success on its head.

More personally, when my son was a baby, my wife & I sang a version of this song we called “The Magic Shark Song,” because sometimes it was the ONLY thing that would soothe him when he was fussy.  Our version had a slightly different tune and lyrics.  Most significantly, instead of the famed/notorious “doo doo doo doo doo doo” chorus, we sang:

“Baby shark, baby shark, ba, ba. Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba,
Mommy shark, mommy shark, ma, ma. Ma, ma, ma, ma, ma…”

And so on, with the repeated sound being the first syllable of each member of the shark family.  As time went by, I varied the song to sing it in the style of Ethel Merman and Carol Channing (RIP).  Trust me, singing “shark teeth are a girl’s best friend” was a hit with the infant!

So, I lift a fin to “Baby Shark” this week.  Long may it chomp!

 

MASSACHUSETTS: VOTE NOVEMBER 6th (or earlier)!!


Once again, I’m sending out a message to my fellow Bay Staters to get out and vote in the upcoming elections.  A Senate seat, congressional representatives, the governorship, and numerous state and local positions are up for the vote this year. We will will also be voting on three ballot measures.

  • Make sure to Register to Vote by October 17th!!!!
  • Visit My Election Information to see the candidates on the ballot in your district and find out where your polls are located.
  • Consider taking advantage of Early Voting. Early voting in Boston runs from October 22nd to November 2nd, and will be available in other Massachusetts’ communities as well.

When you get to the polls, please consider voting for Jay Gonzalez for Governor.  He is a progressive and will advocate for bold ideas to challenge great amount of inequality in the Commonwealth.  He is focused on supporting public education, repairing and expanding public transportation, improving healthcare (and cutting healthcare costs), and addressing serious environmental problems that contribute to climate change. As the national political scene deteriorates, it is ever more important that “blue states” mobilize to do what needs to be done to protect our people locally and be a model of progressive values.

Which is why Massachusetts definitely cannot continue under a Republican governor.  Charlie Baker is often presented as a moderate and is inordinately popular with Massachusetts Democrats, but he is still a Republican whose conservative ideology benefits the wealthy at the expense of the most vulnerable. Baker has refused to take a stance against the Trump Administration’s worst offenses, and in fact continues to fund raise money for Republicans that is funneled to Trump.  His “reform before revenue” plan for the MBTA has done nothing but allow public transit to further deteriorate.  His Board of Education chair Paul Sagan made illegal campaign contributions to efforts to privatize public education.  And Baker used taxpayer money to make a deal with General Electric, a company whose stock value is crashing and may never build their headquarters in Massachusetts, but will still cash in on Baker’s sweet deal.  Baker is not good for Massachusetts, don’t vote for him!

I also encourage you to vote YES on all three ballot measures:

  • Question 1 – Sets limits on the number of patients a nurse can be assigned to.  It is important that patients receive quality care and attention in Massachusetts’ hospitals and that nurses are not overextended.  I know a lot of nurses – some of the hardest working and compassionate people I know – and they all say to vote YES ON 1.
  • Question 2 – Creates citizens commission to advocate for changes to the U.S. Constitution regarding political spending and corporate personhood. It’s vital to begin to reverse the trend toward oligarchy and make our state and national government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Vote YES ON 2.
  • Question 3 – Maintains a 2016 a law prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. We shouldn’t ever have to vote on the basic human rights of any group of people, but since this question is on the ballot, I implore you to defend equality, dignity, and livelihoods for transgender people by voting YES ON 3.

Happy voting! Let’s all get out and vote for a better future for Massachusetts!