Well, tomorrow is it. It’s V-Day. If you haven’t already voted I hope you are planning on doing so. And if you aren’t planning on voting blue across the board, I strongly recommend you watch the John Oliver videos below first before going to the polls.
And because this week is such an historic and unusual and momentous and important week I’m going to have more than seven things – some things will fire people up but hopefully some will help relieve some stress and maybe even elicit a laugh or two.
1. This Photo of AUTUMN in all its Splendiferousness – my friend Kathy took this shot and it takes my breath away every time I look at it. Full disclosure, fall is my favorite time of year, so pretty much everything makes me happy about this seasonal change. This was taken in Sussex, Wisconsin. It’s actually at the cemetery. I wouldn’t mind spending eternity there. BUT my dad already bought my plot in Dubuque, IA. and there is nothing but a few pine trees around. I should really look into that.
2. This new John Mulaney Musical on SNL – this is the fourth musical by Mulaney. It follows Diner Lobster, Bodega Bathroom, and Airport Sushi. All four sketches (or is the last one a skit?) star Chris Redd and Pete Davidson as buddies who go to common everyday places like diners, the airport, or a souvenir shop but in each one Pete Davidson always makes a completely unwise choice such as wanting to order the lobster off a diner menu, wanting to the use the bathroom at a bodega, or wanting to buy the sushi at the airport. This leads the cashier (always played by John Mulaney) to break into song and it goes into full-Broadway after that. Completely brilliant and if they did one of these every week it would never get old. But I suppose having to wait several months just makes them all the more special – you know, like waiting for Christmas.
3. This Political Appointment in New Zealand – Jacinda Ardern has done it again, not only making history but doing what is right and fair for the people of her country! Congratulations to Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta!
4. This Bookshop in China, Dujiangyan Zhongshuge– click on the photo or the links to see more photos. I didn’t want to post them all here. You need to see them all. It’s like a cathedral mixed with Space Odyssey.
5. This Film Short called Selfish by Po Chien Chen – from October 15th to the 29th Milwaukee Film held its Festival and this year it was virtual! That meant I was able to see way more movies than usual because it’s a heck of a lot easier to watch movies from home than it is to go to the theater. It also meant it was completely worth it to buy a pass this time, which I did. I managed to watch 13 films but technically it was probably closer to 50 because four of the “films” I watched were collections of short films. This is one of them and it was one of my favorites. It was in the Kids Shorts: Size Large collection (meaning for older kids) and it’s about how plastic is destroying the planet.
6. This Tweet from Lynda Carter, our original Wonder Woman – a friend of mine told me that standing like Wonder Woman can boost your confidence (try it, it works for me though there are naysayers.) Today and tomorrow I think we should all channel our inner Diana Prince and do a little spinning and a lot of power posing.
7. This Female Comedian’s video on Triangulation – I discovered Anna Akana by watching Julie Nolke (one of my all-time favorite female comedians – she’s hilarious.) Anna is a bit difficult to label. I wouldn’t call her a comedian per se. It’s almost like she’s a self-help comedian? A therapist comedian? Not every video, mind you, she does music videos like Swim (she’s seriously good!) But the majority of her videos have some sort of lesson on how to live a better life, told in a completely hilarious and zany way. I LOVE HER!
8. This Video of Obama – no words necessary.
9. This Example of American Ingenuity – My friend Molly took her twins trick-or-treating this weekend in Chicago and posted a bunch of photos of their day of fun. They were all so much fun to look at, it was like I went trick-or-treating with them! This photo caught my eye in particular – one of the silver linings of this pandemic (and I actually have started a blog post about pandemic silver linings, after this election there may be a flurry of posts depending upon how things shake out) is how creative and ingenious people have become to accommodate and THIS is SUPER genius level (in my head I keep hearing this in Wile E. Coyote’s voice but I do sincerely mean this is clever!)
10. These John Oliver Videos – yesterday Oliver did two main stories because this week is SO important. And he got to vote for the first time as a U.S. citizen – how cool is that?? By the way, if you didn’t watch Last Week Tonight last night, you are going to want to watch these two videos because they will show you how VITALLY important this election is. When people have been saying to you, this is the most important election of my lifetime, and they are in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s – they are NOT exaggerating.
1. This Music – I’ve been working on this playlist for a while and although I don’t think it’ll ever be finished, at least I feel it’s good enough to put on my blog. Over twelve hours of my favorite tunes from the past fifty years (with a few outliers from before I was born.) I hope you enjoy it and feel free to share!
Now, on to the Menopausal Broad Christmas Playlist!
2. This new Mural in Milwaukee by Shepard Fairey titled “Voting Rights are Human Rights” –
3. This Song by Demi Lovato, Commander in Chief – I’ve always been a fan of Demi Lovato but I think she’s underrated as an artist, disregarded as a “pop star.” I know that I thought that until I heard the song Stone Cold. It blew me away, what a voice. I wish she would do more songs like that. She was wasting her talent. But now she’s done this song. Fantastic. And the video, it makes my heart hurt. I hope she’s decided to start making songs with meaning.
Gloria Allred. Conservatives hate her, even conservative women. They can’t even recognize they are benefiting from her accomplishments. Conservatives don’t attack liberal powerhouses like Allred for what they are doing. Oh no. They attack them for things like being too loud or too aggressive or too unladylike. Because that’s what sexists do when they disagree with a strong woman. It’s a tactic people need to stop condoning.
7. This Fisher Price Museum on Instagram – welcome back to your childhood! How many of them did your family have? The problem for me is that I recognize most of them and I can’t remember if we actually had them, if my cousin’s family had them, or if I saw them in the Toy Story movies. I hate my memory. Either way, it’s warm & fuzzy time and that’s all that matters.
Okay guys, so I was collecting thing for my upcoming blog post and not only did I have WAY too many but a lot of them seemed to be food related so this week I’m posting two blogs simultaneously. Don’t worry, I don’t think this will be a regular thing.
1. This video showing How they make croissants at the Le Marais Bakery in San Francisco. Mesmerizing. And man, they look so good. Dammit, how much longer until we can freaking travel. Or at least leave our homes? My state unfortunately is becoming a new hotspot. Some hospitals not too far north of where I live have had to start wait-listing or transferring patients. I’m going to go watch this video again….
2. This Black Forest Piecaken – my friend Kathy made this! You’ve probably heard of a turducken, which is a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, further stuffed into a deboned turkey. Well a piecaken is a pie baked inside a cake. You can make it with pretty much any kind of pie and any kind of cake but this is a cherry pie baked into a fudgy chocolate cake. Only in America!
I’m not sure if this is the same recipe my friend used but the photo is mighty close to the end result so it could be. OR if you don’t want to put as much work into it, you can use this boxed cake recipe but that’s not going to be as good.
3. This pizzeria – Vinnie’s Pizzeria, that has added “Comforting Words” to its menu at the low cost of $1! 2020 has a silver linings here and there.
4. This Australian tradition – “Democracy Sausage” or another reason why the rest of the world is superior to America. Oh em gee, why aren’t we doing this???? Because most countries don’t try to discourage voting/making it difficult to vote and actually try to lure people to the polls, in Australia at many elections they grill these sausages, called “snags” and offer them either for free or to raise money for local causes. I realize during a global pandemic this may not be a good time to start this (and I’m sure they won’t be doing it in Australia for the next year or so either) but we really need to try harder.
5. This Snow Globe Gin from Harvey Nichols – two of my favorite things in one package. Pinch me. They’ve used edible gold flakes for the snow. It’s times like this that I ask myself yet again, why the hell am I not living in the UK? (You can’t see it on their website until November, not that they can ship it to the U.S. Trust me, I’ve tried to have gin shipped here.)
6. These Tips for tidying up your kitchen — I’m obsessed with Food52 and this article had some amazing tips on how to clean up your kitchen quickly and easily. I particularly liked the part for keeping an “orderly fridge.” Genius.
7. This article about how theIrish Supreme Courtruled that Subway Bread is too sweet to be bread. Yes, it’s official, Subway bread is not bread. FINALLY!
After all, we all know that we should all be eating bread like this on a daily basis. Mmmmmm, Irish Brown Bread. There’s nothing better. This photo is from the website Hungry Enough to Eat Six and they have a dandy recipe for Irish Brown Bread here.
1. This Excerpt from an Op-ed by Ruth Bader, Grade 8B1 which she wrote for her school paper in 1946 at age thirteen (found on brainpickings):
Now we have a fifth great document, the Charter of the United Nations. Its purpose and principles are to maintain international peace and security, to practice tolerance, and to suppress any acts of aggression or other breaches of peace.
It is vital that peace be assured, for now we have a weapon that can destroy the world. We children of public school age can do much to aid in the promotion of peace. We must try to train ourselves and those about us to live together with one another as good neighbors for this idea is embodied in the great new Charter of the United Nations. It is the only way to secure the world against future wars and maintain an everlasting peace.
Full op-ed included in My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a collection of writings selected by Justice Ginsburg herself, published by Simon & Schuster
2. VOTING – there is no better way to pay your respects to Justice Ginsburg than to make sure you vote in this election, and to vote wisely.
The ideal way to vote is to vote EARLY, in-person, if you are able to do that. Check your local municipal website (they are most likely getting bombarded by calls) or call if you can’t look it up online.
If you’re at-risk, sign up for an absentee ballot. This would be the second best option. Be sure to do this NOW, as early as possible. You need to give the application to arrive at your municipality, get processed, have it go back in the mail, get returned to you. That can take a few weeks. Don’t dawdle!!! Also, if you can, drop your absentee ballot off directly at your municipality rather than putting it back in the mail. Many municipalities have drop boxes now.
Worst case scenario, you can’t vote early and you didn’t get an absentee ballot, DO show up to the polls on November 3rd. People keep saying it but it is true, this is the most important election of our lifetimes.
If you would like to find some information about voting in your state Stephen Colbert has put together a very useful site called Better Know A Ballot. He’ll eventually have a video (like below) for every state but until he does you can still find the basic voting info like how to register in your state, when early voting begins, how to get an absentee ballot, and how to vote in-person.
3. This NYT article, “For Women, the Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Brings a Particular Grief“ by Sheryl Gay Stolberg – I think men can’t quite understand what RBG’s death truly means to many of the women and girls in this country. She wasn’t simply someone who made decisions that we were happy about. RBG was our role model. She was our mentor. She was our teacher. She was our mother. She was our hero. This article puts it into words much better than I ever could.
4. These RBG movie, RBG & On The Basis of Sex – if you haven’t seen them yet, now is the time. If you’ve already seen them, now is the time to re-watch!
5. This time when Stephen Colbert worked out with RBG – Colbert was trying so hard to make her laugh but she was f-o-c-u-s-e-d.
6. This Artist, Adrian Wilson, who turned the 50th Street subway sign in NYC into a tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg (found on hyperallergic) …
7. This Tweet by the Washington National Opera showing a photo of when Justice Ginsburg appeared in a performance of The Daughter of the Regiment in 2016 alongside the opera house’s Lawrence Bronwlee. RBG was a great lover of opera and what a delightful tribute (found on Deadline, more details available.)
Bonus: I had to include this – the RBG Rap from SNL
Bonus: This Vigil held at the Supreme Court – “Honor her wish.”
(Sorry guys, had to go over seven things this week. There were just too many things to include. Pour yourself a cup of tea, this is a long one!)
1. Supermajority – “A community for women who want to work together to build economic and political power, organize for gender equity, and transform this country.”
I signed up for Supermajority a while ago and it’s fabulous – provides a lot of interesting and useful information. But as the election draws nearer they are kicking it into high gear. Last week a friend of mine (who is also a member) posted on Facebook that she had signed up as Supermajority Supermajor, a leadership program to help get out the vote. I immediately signed up too. This upcoming election is the most important election of my lifetime, and as you all know, I’m not being melodramatic.
I’m scheduled for a few online training sessions this coming week and after that I’ll be texting, calling, writing letters, and helping to recruit poll workers. All things I can safely do from my home!
There are a lot of organizations helping to get out the vote but I like this one because of its focus is on women, particularly women of color. If you aren’t already signed up for something consider joining right now!
Also, the leadership at Supermajority is a wonderfully diverse group of women (and two men) that includes one of my heroes, Cecile Richards.
2. Protect the Results – they are “building a coalition of voters ready to mobilize if Donald Trump refuses to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election.”
I don’t know if my fear of things going badly after the election is an irrational fear being promoted by the “liberal media” but based on everything I have been reading and seeing, I don’t think….
Oh hell, it’s primarily due to this: when Kayleigh McEnany, the White House Press Secretary (who clearly has had a few too many cult initiation sessions for the Church of Trump) was asked, “Is the president saying if he doesn’t win this election, that he will not accept the results unless he wins?” She responded, “The president has always said he’ll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath. It’s the same thing he said last November.”
W……T……F. That’s not the way you answer that question.
By the way, this was preceded by:
“The president said this week the only way we lose this election is if the election is rigged,” a reporter asked McEnany at a briefing Wednesday. “It begs the question: Does the president believe there’s any circumstance under which he can lose the election fairly?”
“The president believes he’s done a great job for the American people, and he believes that will show in November,” McEnany responded. “He believes that voter fraud is real, in line with what we see all across the country, particularly with mail-in ballots which are prone to fraud.”
McEnany: Trump will ‘see what happens’ before accepting the results of the election: Washington Post, August 19, 2020 https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/08/19/mcenany-trump-will-see-what-happens-before-accepting-results-election/
Bernie Sanders is the latest in a string of respected and long-standing government officials, both former and current, who have voiced concerns about Trump possibly not conceding if he loses the election.
Last week on the Samantha Bee’s show they had a segment on this exact topic. The video clip is below and it’s where I heard about Protect the Results. I suggest you watch this, it includes discussions with a few experts including Rosa Brooks who led the ‘Transition Integrity Project,’ a group of current and former senior government and campaign leaders, academics, journalists, polling experts and former federal and state government officials formed out of concern about potential disruptions to 2020 United States presidential election and transition by the RNC. They ran multiple war-game scenarios to see what would happen depending on various outcomes of the election and, well, it wasn’t pretty.
3. The Cast of the Princess Bride (and Patton Oswald) – the cast and director of one of the most beloved films ever made – Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Carol Kane, Chris Sarandon, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, and Rob Reiner – are going to have a reunion where they will do a table reading of the script of ‘The Princess Bride’ and answer questions sent in by attendees, moderated by the wonderful Patton Oswald. This is being done to raise money for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, which we all know is one of the major battleground states for the upcoming election. Kudos to them for using their fame for good! I’ve made my donation, registered and even sent in a question. You can go to this link to make a donation. You;ll receive an email acknowledging your donation (you can donate any amount!) and it will include a link that says “Get access to the event URL here.” Click on that to actually register for the event itself and you’ll get the URL so you can watch everything on Sunday, September 13th at 6 pm. SO EXCITED!!!
4. Penzeys Spices – If you are a Penzeys’ fan you are already aware of the advocacy that they have been doing over the past three and half-plus years. They decided to take a stand fairly early on and have not been shy at all about declaring their opposition to the person occupying the White House.
Just one example of the sort of thing they’ve been doing – recently they offered “Get Out the Vote” supply kits – totally awesome.
Another cool thing though unrelated to voting, Penzeys has a store in Kenosha but it is some distance from where the protesting and turmoil is/was going on. Bill Penzey, not at all unexpected, wrote to his customers in support of the BLM protesters. As usual received a flood of kudos mixed with a little bit of criticism from a few of his customers. (If you look at their Facebook page, especially at the posts from 2017, you’ll see hundreds of supportive comments on every one of his posts interspersed with a negative comment here and there such as “I will never shop at Penzeys again.” He clearly is having no problems business-wise with his decision to oppose the “president.”)
Penzey said that someone wrote to him “that you would be singing a different tune if it was your store being looted.” In order to show that he wouldn’t be “singing a different tune” (and to put his money where his mouth is) he decided to loot his own store! He took a photo of the inventory that day and then gave away that exact amount of inventory to community organizations that could benefit from the donation. He asked people to make recommendations to community groups/organizations that could benefit from the donation and in just a few days had received over 5,000 messages! Be sure to support Penzey’s! Not only is it a local business but they are clearly socially aware and awesome!
5. The Milwaukee Bucks (and the sports teams which followed suit, not just in the NBA but in other leagues as well) – the Bucks was the first team to take a stand and protest the Jacob Black shooting by sitting out for a playoffs game. This led to other teams joining them, not only other NBA teams but teams in the WNBA, the MLS, NFL, MLB, NHL, and CFB. Ultimately the Bucks actions led to a negotiation between the NBA and the players union on several things including using the arenas for polling places for the November 3rd election. Bravo Milwaukee Bucks!
6. The Lincoln Project – is a political action committee (PAC) that was formed in late 2019 but several current and former Republicans, one of the most well-known being George Conway, Kellyanne Conway’s husband. Recently both George & Kellyanne quit their positions to focus on their family after their daughter, Claudia, made a very public announcement that she was seeking emancipation. This family has the most complicated home life – you have the (now) former senior counselor to the “president” married to one of the leading “Never-Trumpers” and their kid appears to be as far left as one can be. And yet, although she says that her mother’s job has ruined her life and while criticizing her father (though I would have thought she’d be happy he’s against Trump) she still says, “They are the most generous, most well-educated people I have ever met. I look up to them and want nothing but success and good fortune for them. They are my parents and that trumps all — no pun intended.” C-O-M-P-L-I-C-A-T-E-D.
Here’s an example of the kind of work that the Lincoln Project is doing. They are prolific, sometimes having more than one video released in a day. And the quality is exceptional. I think they may have some Hollywood people helping them out.
And this one, which just brings tears to my eyes. Compare this man to the person currently occupying the White House. If we don’t have Joe Biden as president, well, I don’t know what I will do.
7. Old Navy – Old Navy is paying its employees to staff polling places on election day. As I’m sure you’re aware, there has been a massive shortage of poll workers due to the pandemic. Most poll workers are retirees and therefore are at-risk from COVID-19 so the people that normally work the polls are bowing out leaving municipalities across the country short-handed.
To give you an idea of what kind of problems this could cause, the State of Wisconsin chose to hold its in-person primary elections IN APRIL (right in the middle of when most states had issued shelter-in-place orders) and the republican controlled legislature refused to allow them to be postponed. The municipality that was most greatly affected was Milwaukee. Normally Milwaukee would have had 180 polling sites but they ended up with only FIVE. That led to very long waits and long lines and increased the risk of people who went to the polls. Here’s an article that explains why Milwaukee ended up with so many fewer polling sites than Madison.
Maybe other companies will follow Old Navy’s lead and do the same thing. Having employees go work the polls and/or giving them the day off to go vote would be an incredibly good thing to do for the nation and it wouldn’t be bad for their public image either (aka free marketing.)
8. Mrs. Fred Rogers– Joanne Rogers doesn’t mince words when talking about the “leader of our country.” She is most definitely not a fan, mostly because of his lying and his character. I think that this is something that I find most astonishing, how so many people who claim to be Christians can support him. Talk about selling your soul to the devil.
9. Fact Checking – if I hadn’t been a librarian this would have been my other dream job.
FactCheck.org – this site is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center which is a center of study for public policy at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. It describes itself as a “consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics”. It is primarily funded by the Annenberg Foundation, which is a family foundation that funds non-profits in the US and around the world. Their primary focus is in educational television on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) as well as programs in science and the arts.
Snopes – one of the “oldest fact checking sites,” Snopes was originally called “Urban Legends Reference Page” and was founded in 1994 by David & Barbara Mikkelson. The amazing thing is that because it’s been around so long and because so many people reference it as the to go place to check whether something is legitimate AND most likely because it is a couple at the helm, there are all sorts of conspiracy theories flying around about the Mikkelsons themselves. It’s gotten so bad that even other fact checking sites had to fact check them.
Ad Fontes Interactive Media Bias Chart – the Ad Fontes Media Bias Chart has a rather complicated methodology for how it ranks the various media outlets. If you want to see how it is done you can read about it here. I have used this one for years because one of my family members constantly sends me things from sources I’ve never heard of. I am able to send him back information saying this is where this media outlet is located on the Media Bias Chart. At one point I told him I would only believe things from the Associated Press and Reuters which were the two news sources most highly rated as being least biased/most accurate. That worked for a bit but eventually even those because “too left-leaning” and “fake news” for him. Right out of the fascist handbook.
Media Bias/Fact Check – I’ve been using this site a bit more because, well frankly, the Media Bias Chart started to charge money to download the static chart and the interactive chart of it isn’t as easy to use. This site is funded mostly through ads and memberships and donations. It was founded by Dave Van Zandt, an academic administrator and law professor. Plus it gives a bit more detail than the Ad Fontes Media Bias Chart.
10. Republican Voters Against Trump – While waiting for the next Chef Kobe video, I spend a lot of time on this YouTube channel. It helps me know that the entire country hasn’t gone insane. It’s one video after another like this….
They also had these two very important videos…
11. Walter Shaub – the former Director of United States of Government Ethics resigned fairly early after Trump’s regime, I mean term began, in July of 2017. His resignation was primarily due to Trump’s refusal to divest his businesses and the administration’s delaying in disclosing ethics waivers for appointees. That seems so long ago and so mild compared to what he does now. Walter’s personal Twitter account has been a sanctuary for those of us who felt that our country was going mad. I know for myself, it was always assuring to see someone I know to be of such high moral standards freaking out over the same things I was.
12. Voter Accessories – Getout the Vote bling!
This VOTE ID Bracelet – from Kris Nations, this beautiful bracelet is inspired by the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment which guarantees and protects women’s constitutional right to vote. And 50% of the purchase price goes to When We All Vote, a non-profit “working to ensure that every single eligible voter is registered and ready to vote in the 2020 elections.” (I am totally ordering one for myself. I will wear it all year round because we should already be reminded of the importance of voting and celebrate the accomplishments of the Suffragettes. Course if things don’t go well in November I may feel differently.) $48 for the sterling silver (the 18K gold vermeil are sold out.)
This Vote Rhinestone Bobby Pin – I LOVE this! According to MyDomaine, “This sparkly rhinestone hair clip represents an important partnership between stylist Justine Marjan, the brand Kitsch, and the When We All Vote organization, which encourages people who haven’t yet registered to get out and vote. For just $29, this sparkly statement accessory can be yours. Wear it proudly between now and election day, and feel good about the cause you’re supporting along the way.”—Melanie Berliet, General Manager
This V-O-T-E Necklace from ByChari – I’m sure you all heard Michelle Obama give her inspiring speech at the Democratic National Convention. Well, if you are like me, in between listening to everyone, you can’t help but notice all the wonderful details like this necklace Michelle was wearing (or that the letters on the shelves behind Elizabeth Warren spelled out B L M.) Well, not surprisingly this is from a black-owned business called ByChari and you can get it in gold, silver or rose gold. If you really want to make an investment, you can even have the letters be in diamonds! I would LOVE one of these. $295-$1260
This Vote Tote from ClareV – Again, via MyDomaine, “This blue cotton tote by Clare V. reads ‘I Vote, You Vote, She Votes, We Vote, They Vote’ in a lovely French script. While it’s an easy way to advocate for voter participation, part of the bag’s proceeds are also donated to When We All Vote—a nonprofit organization co-chaired by Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Janelle Monae, among others—so you can feel good about the fact that your money is being funneled into worthy grassroots campaigns around the U.S.”—Chelsea Stuart, Senior Lifestyle Editor $25
This VOTE Mask – Via MyDomaine, “I’m a big believer in the power of positive peer pressure when it comes to voting, and I can’t think of a better way to remind everyone of their civic duty than by wearing this mask when I leave the house. It’s from a collaboration between Resistance By Design and Stacey Abrams’s Fair Fight Organization, and a portion of the proceeds from each sale will be donated to the Southern Center for Human Rights.”—Karli Bendlin, Email Editor
I think we all need to do whatever we can to make sure that everyone we know gets out and votes in this election. Make sure your friends and family members have requested their ballots. And besides voting for Joe Biden, we need to also be voting for Democrats across the board, not just in the presidential election. Because change isn’t going to happen if we still have a republican controlled Senate or republican controlled legislatures across the country.
We’ve have six years of republican control – in our Senate and ten years in our State Legislatures and Governorships and look where we are. And if you’re argument is, well it’s because of the pandemic and it isn’t fair to judge, the fact is, we should have been much better prepared and we would have been, if the current president hadn’t reversed a lot of things that had been put in place to deal with emergencies because he didn’t think they were necessary and he was looking for things to pay for his tax cuts.
(Side rant – And were those tax cuts so important? We can look at it now and now that they weren’t, especially when we see who benefitted the most:
IRS data on the 2018 tax season released in May 2019 shows that savings for taxpayers were uneven. For example, the average refund was $90 higher, nationally, in 2018 than 2017. But the taxpayers who saw the largest refund increases had an adjusted gross income (AGI) of at least $200,000. Tax returns showing an AGI of less than $100,000 paid less income tax overall, but returns with an AGI just above $100,000 (many middle-class families) owed more tax, on average. Note that this AGI is per tax return, not per taxpayer: A married couple where each spouse has a salary of $65,000 could very well have an AGI of just above $100,000 if they file jointly.
We also know that businesses didn’t actually use the tax cuts they way they were intended, to invest in employees and the business. Instead they used it for buybacks, which helps shareholders and the company.)
Oh, I’m adding this John Oliver at the end, because he’s awesome and this is a great episode and you need to watch this if you haven’t seen it yet.
Growing up I was extremely close to my grandfather. I wasn’t the only person who loved him, Gramps was everybody’s favorite person. He could light up a room, make you feel better when you were blue, make the hurt go away, fix things when it all seemed a big mess. He was an extremely jolly, affectionate, and giving man.
I was fortunate having grown up with someone like him teaching me how to laugh, how to be kind, how to be generous. And because of his influence I constantly find myself constantly saying – What would Gramps do?
I am definitely saying that now – pretty much every day. What would Gramps do if he were here today? Well, it’s obvious. He would try to help as many people as he could. It wasn’t all luck that gave him everything he had, he worked very hard for it. But he still knew he was lucky nevertheless, and he wanted to share his good fortunate with those who weren’t as blessed.
There are a lot of people who are having a rough time right now. And I’m not just talking about those of us who are feeling pent up because we’ve been stuck at home for a week or two (or three) and may be for weeks to come.
There are people who have been laid off from their jobs. There are people who have already started to run out of money because they live from paycheck to paycheck. There are people whose small business are on the verge of folding. There are people who have been scrambling to get onto unemployment, which will help, but that is only sixty percent of their normal pay. There are people putting their lives at risk every single day so that the rest of us can stay in our homes.
So what can we do? Because if there’s one very important thing we all need to remember right now – there is no us or them, there is only we.
Here’s a few suggestions of things to try:
1. I mentioned in my last blog post about supporting small businesses – USA Today set up a website where you can buy gift cards from small local businesses, to use at a later date, which will help those businesses while they have to stay closed. Potentially this will help them continue to pay employees, pay their rent and other fixed bills, pay for employees health insurance, and/or give employees small bonuses, etc. You can see which businesses have gift cards listed in your community at this link. If your favorite business(es) aren’t listed, notify them of them website so they can sign up! OR see if they have gift cards available for purchase directly on their website.
2. Try to get tips to your hair stylist, manicurist, massage therapist, eyelash technician, restaurant servers, bartenders, etc. (anyone you normally tip) via venmo or PayPal or mailing a check. Many of these people rely on their tips as a large part of their income so even if they are still getting paid and/or are getting unemployment, they are losing quite a bit of money. If you hire a cleaning service and you’ve put that service on hold (and can afford it) consider still paying them. I know that this may seem odd, paying someone not to work, but you are not only helping them, you are helping the economy and that ultimately will help everyone.
2a. Update: here’s a new site I just heard about where you can leave a Virtual Tip for people working in bars and the beverage industry.
2b. Another update: Buy Aviation Gin!
3. Donate to the Coronavirus Rent Relief Fund – this GoFundMe sponsored GoFundMe fundraiser is raising money to help people who need help paying their rent. So far they have raised over $125,000.
Those who actually want to apply for assistance can click on this link.
4. Make a donation to your local food bank(s) – call you local food pantry to find out what they need most and how they want you to drop it off or better yet, see if they accept donations on their website. Another option would be to donation to Feeding America. They are helping local food banks deal with the outbreak.
5. Eater has made a list of Relief Funds for Restaurant, Bars, and Food Service Workers – you can make a donation to any of these nonprofits or organizations. Remember, even though restaurants are still doing curb-side service, they are only doing a fraction of the business they normally do. Plus, they most likely are only keeping on the staff they need to run the kitchen and possibly a few servers to take food out to the customers so not everyone is making money. Also, if/when you order from your local restaurants, be sure to give them big tips!
6. Direct Relief– they need your donations! This non-profit provides essential equipment and supplies to medical workers around the world and during the pandemic
“The humanitarian relief group Direct Relief has been delivering personal protective equipment including masks, gloves and gowns to China since January. Recently, it shipped oxygen concentrators to China, said Direct Relief spokesman Tony Morain. They’re devices that coronavirus patients can use to help them breathe at home, rather than being hooked up to a ventilator at a hospital. They’re needed because hospital beds are in short supply in China, Morain said.
China is about six weeks ahead of where the U.S. is, Morain said. While communal transmission has slowed, there are still recovering coronavirus patients who need help breathing. Direct Relief recently bought about 500 oxygen concentrators for U.S. patients, and it’s committed $2 million to help nonprofit community health centers in the U.S. prepare for the outbreak.”
8. Volunteer with Meals on Wheels – again, only if you are healthy, but Meals on Wheels is predicting that they are going to see a rather large increase in demand during the outbreak. As we’ve all heard many times, older individuals can be in the high risk category and health officials are saying that extra precautions should be taken for anyone over the age of 60. The majority of individuals receiving meals from Meals on Wheels will be in the high-risk category.
9. Donate to Planned Parenthood – there are some states that are placing abortion on the list of non-essential procedures that should be delayed. There has been systematic attempts by anti-abortion politicians, with support and funding from anti-abortion groups, to make access to abortion more difficult, but their attempts have become more intense over the past three and a half years. For those who may not be familiar with this fact, abortion has been legal in the United State for nearly 50 years, since 1973. It is also legal in the majority of first world countries. The fact that politicians who choose this time to push their ideological agenda is more than disgusting.
10. VOTE. Hopefully you are a registered voter, that will make it much easier to vote absentee or by mail. Check on your local municipal website to get instructions on how your state has set up for you to vote if you have an upcoming election. In my state (Wisconsin) there is an election on April 7th. Wisconsin Residents who are registered can request an absentee ballot so they can vote via mail until April 2nd. For more information on Wisconsin voting you can go to this link. Here’s an NPR article from March 24, 2020 about how many states are looking at expanding absentee voting.
11. Don’t need your stimulus check? (Notice the emphasis on need, versus want.) Individuals earning up to $75k will be receiving $1200 and families will receive an addition $500 per child. Here’s an excellent article from the New York Times on where you can donate some or all of the new found income.
Update (April 14, 2020) : Here’s an article on 10+ Funds/Foundations for Artists impacted by COVID-19. Although the article is intended to help the artists who are seeking assistance, any one or more of these organizations is looking for donations.