Podcasts of the Week Ending October 24


Code Switch :: Is Trump Really That Racist?

Trump says the quiet part out loud, but a panel of experts evaluates US Presidents over the past 50 years and finds that many of them enabled racism through policy and laws.

Planet Money :: Frame Canada

A whistleblower exposes the propaganda campaign he created to (succesfully) make Americans believe that medical care in Canada is inferior to that of the United States.

The Thirty20Eight :: Disney Princess Non-Princesses & Non-Princess Princesses

What is a Disney Princess and who makes the cut? A surprisingly fascinating discussion of a cultural phenomenon.

Twenty Thousand Hertz :: Dies Irae

From medieval chants to symphonic compositions to the soundtracks of blockbuster films, a pattern of four notes has served to represent death.

What Next :: First Timers: Out of Prison and Finally Able to Vote

Incarceration strips American citizens of their right to vote, sometimes even after they are released. This podcast focuses on one formerly incarcerated person who will be participating in voting for the first time this year.

RUNNING TALLY OF PODCAST OF THE WEEK APPEARANCES

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.

Podcasts of the Two Weeks Ending August 15


I subscribe to too many podcasts while simultaneously having less time to listen to them. Forgive the interlude as I catch you up on two weeks of podcasts.

Brattle Film Podcast :: Behind the Scenes on Boston Movies

The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge had a great series on Boston Movies and all four podcasts are worth listening to, but I particularly liked this final podcast where they interview on-set dresser Adam Roffman about the behind-the-scenes production of movies in Boston and how they’ve changed over time.

Fresh Air :: Jeffrey Toobin On The ‘Tragedy’ Of The Mueller Report

How the Democrats were out-maneuvered by the Trump administration allowing him to get away with obstruction of justice.

Radiolab :: Uncounted

An episode on voting rights focuses on the District of Columbia’s non-voting delegate to Congress and the movement to lower the voting age to 16.

This American Life :: Nice White Parents

A public middle school in Brooklyn with a predominately non-white student body deals with an unexpected influx of white students and the effects that of white parents involvement in the school operations.  This is the first episode of Chana Joffe-Walt’s series called Nice White Parents that is both fascinating in its exploration of the changes at one school over time and cringe-inducing by the careless and clueless behavior of white parents (and the school districts who cater to their interests).  I particularly like that Joffe-Walt asks tough questions and doesn’t let people get away without answering them.

Have You Heard :: Pandemics Pods: Parents, Privilege, Power, and Politics

Speaking of Nice White Parents, you may have heard of the latest trend of “pandemic pods” where parents pool together funds to hire a teacher or tutor to educate a small group of students at home instead of returning to school during the Covid-19 pandemic. This podcast explains the devastating effects this latest form of “white flight” will have and how it opens the doors to the worst offerings of disaster capitalists.

99% Invisible :: Policing the Open Road

A century ago, the rise of the automobile as a predominant form of transportation led to an increase of policing to enforce road rules. The changes lead to a vast increase in ordinary peoples’ interaction with the police, increased police power and professionalization, and even the loss of Constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizures.

Throughline :: Reframing History: The Litter Myth

In the 1950s, industry leaders organized to create Keep America Beautiful that produced public service announcements against littering. The seemingly benign ads had the effect of transferring responsibility for the environment from industries that made disposable single-use packaging to the personal responsibility of consumers. This conflict in how to deal with environmental issues persists to this day, and corporations still rely on “greenwashing” to make them look environmentally responsible.

Code Switch :: Kamala, Joe, And The Fissures In The Base

If you listen to pundits, and the Democrats 2020 presidential candidate, you might come to believe that Black Americans are a monolithic voting bloc.  This myth is dispelled in Code Switch where the diversity of opinions and conflicts even within Black families over politics are strong.

Decoder Ring :: Mystery of the Mullet

The mullet hairstyle, short in front and long in back, is worn by a diversity of people ranging from macho men in rural communities to lesbian women, from hockey players to heavy metal heads. But the Oxford English Dictionary traces the use of the term “mullet” only to 1994, surprisingly late for a hairstyle identified with the 1980s.  Willa Paskin investigates this linguistic mystery.  Personally, I never heard the term mullet until the late 1990s and had heard them called short-longs prior to mullet gaining popularity.


RUNNING TALLY OF PODCAST OF THE WEEK APPEARANCES

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.