So, Magi has been cleared to mingle with the rest of us cats, and he has been having a ball. He and Jackson love to chase each other around the house. When he first came out of his room Ladybug disappeared for a day. None of us knew where she was. She is starting to get over it, but hisses at Magi if he gets too close to her. Shayna Maidel still isn’t sure what to think of him, and thus far has shown no inclination to either play with him or to avoid him. Me, I think he is great! Here are a couple of pictures:
As you can see, he is adorable, and he loves his toy dragonfly. And speaking of bugs, look at what we encountered on a walk this past week.
It is a Robinson’s annual cicada, the common cicada that serenades us on these hot summer days with its love song.
So, with a big election coming up it is a good time to talk about what Mike says is the biggest weapon in the armamentarium of those who want to preserve the status quo. The weapon is voter suppression. This takes many pernicious forms, some of which go back hundreds of years, and some are of recent origin.
The newest game in town is the crippling of the United States Postal Service (USPS). The post office has been under duress for years. Some of the challenges have been the advent of electronic communication platforms and the competition of private companies in package delivery. Added to that was the law passed by Congress in 2006 which requires the postal service to fund the pension fund of every employee going forward 75 years. This ties up revenue unreasonably, it seems to me, and puts the USPS at a competitive disadvantage. The post office receives no government funding, relying entirely on revenues derived from the services it provides. But it can’t really run like a business, because it can’t set its own rates. Congress does that for them. In 2020, the post office has been hammered by the COVID pandemic. The workers are considered essential, so they have had more virus exposure than people who get to work from home. Tens of thousands have had to quarantine because of exposure to known COVID cases, which has slowed production because of the resultant understaffing. And who knows how many have died since the beginning of the year? This has placed an increased burden on the timely delivery of the mail.
In this setting, we have a president who is determined to be re-elected by whatever means necessary. He believes that voting by mail will decrease his chances, and has been attacking absentee voting all year with his statements. He says that it is vulnerable to massive fraud, which has not been the experience of those jurisdictions where voting by mail is the norm. Congress authorized 10 billion dollars in emergency COVID funding for the USPS, but the money has not been released by the Treasury Department, which is demanding control over the USPS operations. Another loan of 25 billion has been passed by the US House of Representatives, but is being held up by the Republican controlled Senate. Very recently a major donor to the Trump campaign, Mr. Louis DeJoy, was appointed Postmaster General. He has instituted changes designed to slow the delivery of the mail, such as not allowing overtime to workers. Mail delivery has been limited to once per day. Donald Trump has attacked the USPS, calling it “a joke.” He is calling for a 400 per cent increase in rates for package deliveries, which if instituted would accelerate the financial problems of the institution as more package delivery would be diverted to private carriers. And right now package delivery is the only postal service that doesn’t lose money.
All these moves, and more, are designed to cripple the post office which could be broke by October, and to severely impact voters who depend on the mail to vote. For example, many poor people, much more likely to vote for Democratic candidates, may be unable to get off work in order to vote. Even if they could get an hour off, say for lunch, long lines would make it impossible to vote, as polling places have been drastically reduced in number in many states, especially in minority neighborhoods. Many potential voters are burdened by lack of access to child care, lack of transportation to polling sites, or are elderly or disabled. This kind of maneuvering in order to win an election is unconscionable, but not surprising. Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey has said, “Attacks on the USPS threaten our economy and the jobs of 600,000 workers. With our states now reliant on mail voting to continue elections during the pandemic, the destabilizing of the post office is a direct attack on democracy itself.” Mike thinks he will be able to vote by mail this year. but if the issue is in doubt, even though his doctor has warned him to remain quarantined until he is vaccinated against COVID-19, he will vote in person. Mike says he loves his country enough that he would absolutely risk his life to cast a vote against Donald Trump. Mike was just reading the Tao Te Ching, a translation by Stephen Mitchell. Poem #18 says, in part, “When the country falls into chaos, patriotism is born.” Still as true today as it was 2500 years ago, give or take, and still a good thing.
Happy birthday to Medicare which just turned 55 on July 30. Medicare is a good example of something which was vigorously opposed by many when it was being debated, (mostly by those who are opposed to government control of much of anything) but which has come to be highly valued by many people and institutions (such as the AMA) which originally fought its enactment into law. It is kind of like white and black people in the South drinking from the same water fountain and thinking nothing of it. There must be a lesson in this.
We should find out this week who Presidential candidate Joe Biden is going to pick to be his running mate. Donald is getting so nervous that he suggested postponing the election. It should be an interesting time, and as the Chinese are said to wish upon their enemies, “May you live in interesting times.” I have a lot more to say about voter suppression, so stay tuned for my next blog. Until then stay safe, wear your mask, wash your hands, pray for your socially distant neighbors, practice the Golden Rule, and be nice to your cats and dogs. And speaking of dogs, some of our Happy Meadows dog owners are leaving little plastic bags of dog poo lying around instead of properly disposing of them. Come on now, you know who you are. How about starting to live a better life by going back out and picking up your little treasure’s little treasures? Thanks a heap, so to speak. We love you all. Bye bye!