- Alex Shultz and Jay Willis. GQ, “How Trump Corrupted the American Presidency in Every Imaginable Way.” November 1, 2019.
- Jeannie Suk Gersen. The New Yorker, “Can the Constitution Reach Trump’s Corruption?” June 9, 2020.
Warning: This post quotes crude and vulgar language and discusses possibly triggering subjects such as assault.
This post is a little late because, after scrambling all Monday to get the garden ready for a seventy-degree drop in temperature, from dry nineties to snowy twenties (that’s Fahrenheit), by deep-watering trees and re-potting plants that need to be indoors and turning our patio table into a make-shift greenhouse, and then getting to go to the dentist the day after, I had a serious PEM (Post-Exertion Malaise) episode and staring at the computer was more than I could do. But here it is now.
Please take a moment to think about what it means to be “decent.” It’s a word, a concept that has been demoted in such a way that we tend to hear it as “barely acceptable.” It has become, at best, the faintest of praise. But it’s a word we need to restore to its former power. We need to remember how essential decency is. On that quality we found trust, faith in each other, confidence in our neighbours, reliance on the larger society, and conviction that our government, most of the time, looks out for the interests of our states and country.
Decency asks not just that we are able to trust others around us; it also asks us to look beyond ourselves. Perhaps we don’t feel threatened by a man who talks about grabbing women by the pussy,¹ who publicly mocks the disabled and is working to cut disability benefits,² but think about the people who have been and continue to subjected to the damage these attitudes inflict. And now we know that Trump was aware of how lethal and contagious the novel coronavirus was back in February and chose to let thousands and thousands die.³ COVID-19 is too virulent for any effort to have saved everyone; no one is claiming that Trump could have prevented every death that we have suffered. But the deaths — and the economic impact — would have been far, far fewer if the man in the Oval Office were a decent human being and had been honest about the dangers we were facing, and if others in the Senate and many Gubernatorial offices had not chosen to remain indecently silent.
Vote — not for perfection, not for saintliness, but for decency.
Back in April of this year, the National Geographic magazine for Earth Day was a double-sided issue. One cover bore the title, “How We Lost the Planet”; the flip-side offered “How We Saved the World.” The issue pretty much embodies how I exist these days: in a constant state of flipping between despair and hope.
Today, here in Colorado, the smoke from our own fires mixed with that from California. Early in the afternoon, the air reminded me of growing up in L.A. in the ‘sixties and early ‘seventies. We had “smog days” when we couldn’t go outside, when recess was held indoors and we played “Thumbs Up, Seven Up,” sitting at our desks with our heads down and a thumb up while a classmate would go around and tap a set of kids on the thumb. Once these children were chosen, we would be allowed to pick up our heads while the selected seven tried to guess who had tapped them. It was every bit as exciting as it sounds.
But even on the days when we allowed to play outside, our chests would hurt and sometimes we couldn’t get a full breath. We didn’t think too much about it; that was all we knew. But our parents did and for a while there were effective efforts to mitigate air pollution. The air in L.A.got better, as it did in other cities in America.
Today, my lungs thought they were right back in the L.A. of my youth. Breathing ached; my throat felt scoured; my head ached; my stomach turned sour. And however poor the conditions are here, they are fractionally as awful as California’s.
My husband and I had planned a drive today, just to get out of the house. We made it up high enough to be away from the smoke briefly, but most of the time the cab of the truck was smoke-imbued.
It was difficult to come back down where the smoke blanketed everything like fog, and nothing like fog.
By early afternoon, I was no longer thinking of Los Angeles; I was thinking of Pompeii.
Ash on the hood of the truck
I write this late in the day and ash is still falling. A plume from the Cameron Peak fire spiraled up thirty-five thousand feet (that’s a 35 with three zeroes after it. Think airplane-cruising altitude).
And these fires are not caused by a lack of raking. They’re caused by the climate changes brought on by humans. We must acknowledge that we have caused and are causing this damage and then work to undo it. Remember how quickly the air cleared when we were all on lock-down?
Wildfires are far from the only disasters caused by global warming. Plastic is raining down across the country, including in our delicate, protected preserves; hurricane season is far more dangerous now. The disdain for science so proudly promulgated by politicians and voters will cost us our lovely planet and guess what? There’s not room for all of us on the International Space Station.
In addition, a lot of us are going to be denied the opportunity to be grandparents because of climate change. The next generations are reluctant to bring children into a world that might not be around long enough for their children to live to old age or that will mean they have to live in a wasteland. I don’t have an effective counter-argument for them.
The setting sun and the moon have been orange and lurid for weeks now.
But this evening was the sun was new kind of eerie.
And tonight — tonight the moon is red, a mourning red, an angry crimson.
So vote for our lives, for our home, for our environment, for the continuation of our species, for leaders who will push us to evolve into stewards of the Earth. Vote. Please vote.
Lamy Crystal Azurite
Vote to elect representatives who will end voter suppression and will support just redistricting. When we deny people their voice, their vote, then protesting becomes the only reasonable option.
Here in Colorado, we have new laws designed to eliminate, as much as possible, the partisan gerrymandering that has impeded fair elections. A panel of diverse members will take over the redistricting. We hope to set an example for other states struggling for more equitable elections.
We shouldn’t have to say it any longer, but we do. Black Lives Matter. And today the news has given us a new name to say:
Mr. Prude was killed back in March, but the circumstances of his death while wearing a spit hood the police put on him only recently came to light. I’ll let you read the details in the accounts below.
There are other groups whose lives we similarly devalue. Some are subsets of the Black community (Black trans folk, Black women) and some are not (BIPOC groups) or may not be (Jews, Muslims, other minority religions). I’m not sure how to talk about these groups without seeming to diminish the BLM discussion,* but for the moment, perhaps the ink offers an analogy. The ink looks black when left alone, but a little water shows it comprises other colors and shades. I will continue to find a more elegant and effective means to discuss the broad swathe of people whose rights we need to affirm and whose wrongs — the ones done to them in the past and the ones we continue to tolerate, propagate, and commit — we must work to assuage.
* 4 September, 2020: I just read in the New York Times this excellent distinction made by Daria Allen, a sixteen-year-old who has been protesting in Portland, Oregon:
One of the few chants she consistently recites is “Black lives matter.” It annoys her that the phrase has become a subject of controversy, often met with the diminishing response “All lives matter.”
“When they have the breast cancer runs, you don’t see people out there yelling, ‘What about lung cancer?’” she said. “Just because I’m talking about what’s happening to me doesn’t mean I don’t care about what’s happening with you. Why do I have to constantly remind these people that I matter?”
When Ms. Allen
posted a link to the fund-raiser in a neighborhood Facebook group, a woman confronted her. Ms. Allen was destroying the city, she said. Ms. Allen fired back, arguing that the police were polluting the city with tear gas. The argument ended with the woman sending her a direct message, which Ms. Allen has saved in her inbox, just to remind herself of the mentality she is fighting against.
“If I see you on the street, you will be the next Black person hanging from a tree,” the woman wrote.
It makes me ill that anyone would throw the hateful and horrifying spectre of lynching at a Black teenager, one who is raising her voice and risking her health and life to call for justice and equality. Vote for Daria Allen because Daria Allen isn’t yet old enough to vote for herself.
Ink: Taccia Sharaku Kurocha
Noodler’s Luxury Blue Eternal Ink
Please write your senators, your congressional representatives, your secretaries of state, and your state attorneys general to urge them to keep voting safe and accessible and to stand up to everyone who is trying to undermine the postal service. Public pressure matters. Apply some daily.
It’s another thirty-day month, so it’s another #30Inks30Days challenge. Instead of getting overwhelmed with a story, this month I think I’ll offer up thirty (admittedly left-leaning) reasons to cast a vote here in November if you’re a U.S. citizen.
To everyone who is eligible to vote — whether you see the issues as I do or not — get registered, find out how your state plans to hold your elections, and make a plan to vote.
Ink: Sailor Manyo Yomogi
Well, I’ve had a difficult two months, with my M.E. surging. Hot weather, whether I’m out in it or not, often makes it worse. We seem to be cooling off a bit now, despite the fires here in Colorado. I did finish up Rivka’s story; Meredith is thinking about rounding out Emma’s portion with a story of her own. So for anyone who is wondering how this tale concludes (spoiler: no one dies), read on: