Living in Society

Blue Dot in Iowa

Earth from Voyager at 6 billion kilometers, Feb. 14, 1990. Photo Credit – NASA

The recount in Iowa’s Second Congressional District was completed Saturday afternoon resulting in a win for Mariannette Miller-Meeks over Rita Hart with a margin of six votes. According to this morning’s data on the Secretary of State website, 394,430 votes were cast in the race.

Miller-Meeks won our precinct hands down, so I’m not surprised at the result.

The state is expected to certify the election results tomorrow. Unless there is substantial evidence of foul play, that will be that. Because the race was so close, I expect the 2022 campaign for the seat to begin immediately. In a politics imbued with money, that was a given for the congresswoman. If Hart runs again, she should start now.

The Des Moines Register reported the Iowa Democratic Party is expected to release the results of an investigation into the 2020 Iowa Precinct Caucuses. I’m not sure what there is to investigate. The problem was they developed a computer application on the cheap and the results reported through it were all balled up. The brouhaha about the reporting application masked something else at the time.

There were only 70 percent of the caucus attendees in our precinct compared to 2008. What happened to the missing 80 voters? I gave an answer only passing thought after the caucus. After the general election it’s pretty clear what happened. The missing voters died or moved, and new people moving into the precinct lean Republican. We are a more Republican precinct this year than when we moved here in 1993. I’m not sure if Dave Loebsack were on the ballot he would have won. It was that kind of year in local politics.

Nationally, there is a ray of hope. We elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at the top of the ticket, and retained a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. The U.S. Senate race is complicated by the two Georgia Republican Senators who failed to get a majority of votes in the general election. Both are facing a Jan. 5, 2021 runoff election. If Democrats win those elections, the senate will be split 50-50 with Harris breaking any ties. There are no guarantees Democrats will win the Georgia runoff races.

There is a ray of hope, yet like the bands of sunlight reflected by the camera in the photo it is not real. Our politics has lost its way. What is the benefit of the tens of millions of dollars being spent on politics? To common folk like me, not much. It is a crime against people who are less fortunate.

For the time being we Democrats are a pale blue dot in a vast, dark universe. It’s always been that way, although the epiphany came late to me. We have to seek the light, avoiding the camera’s refraction, and find a better way. None of us can do that alone.

Next is a jump ball and I haven’t played basketball since being a grader.

Living in Society

Pandemic Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinner 2020

The measure of Thanksgiving came this morning when I took my blood pressure and stepped on the scale.

My systolic blood pressure was normal and the diastolic slightly elevated. It was elevated to the same point where my medical practitioner and I had a conversation about medication a couple of visits ago. We decided I wouldn’t take meds and I expect my blood pressure to return to normal by tomorrow.

My weight was the same as 24 hours ago, meaning the huge plates of food consumed in the celebration, which made me feel stuffed and drowsy, won’t likely be added to my waistline.

The two of us were alone for the holiday as we’ve been for many years. Our family is small and no one makes a big deal of the holiday. We do all have some kind of feast. Phone calls, text messages, emails and social media posts were made. It was all reassuring. It all felt like normal.

Washington Post, Nov. 27, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is here and the incidence of cases elevated to the highest level since it began in March. Keeping the gathering small was easy for us: we just had to be ourselves. The Centers for Disease Control recommended Americans not travel. Americans are not good listeners. “In a pandemic-era record, 1,070,967 people passed through security at America’s airports on the day before Thanksgiving,” CNN reported. I expect the numbers on this chart to soar higher in the next couple of weeks.

We are lucky to have enough to eat. CNN reported yesterday some 50 million Americans didn’t on Thanksgiving. Food pantries were swamped and some ran out of food. The toll of the coronavirus pandemic on health, on employment, and on income is tangible. In graduate school, during interviews with survivors of the great depression, they told me having a garden was a big part of how they put food on the table. Because so much of what was on our plate was produced locally or from our garden, food insecurity was not a direct issue here. For that we are thankful.

I did most of the cooking beginning at 11 a.m., continuing for six hours. Over the years we developed recipes for baked beans and wild rice which are the two most complicated dishes and take the most cooking time. Beans and rice are the center of a vegetarian meal. For sides we had steamed broccoli, cooked carrots, butternut squash and sweet potato. I ate a few home made pickles while I was cooking. For beverage it was fresh apple cider and for dessert a take and bake peach pie, both from the local orchard. Everything in the main meal was low fat. Except for the peach pie there was little refined sugar. Eating an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet has its advantages.

Part of my Thanksgiving is politics and I spent time reading Barack Obama’s presidential memoir, A Promised Land. He wrote about the 2006 Tom Harkin Steak Fry where he spoke and my friends and I had a chance to shake his hand in the rope line. While others have written about the campaign, notably David Plouffe in The Audacity to Win, it was good to read familiar stories of that campaign. There may not be another like it because of changes in American society since then.

The president took press questions for the first time since the election while I was cooking dinner. He made what were described as “stunning claims” about the election, without evidence. We are a nation of laws. Mr. President, either show us evidence the election was rigged or shut up. He did say he will plan to leave the White House after the electoral college votes on Dec. 14. There is no doubt Joe Biden won the election. President Trump really has no say in the matter of his leaving by Jan. 20, 2021.

In normal times I would be scheduled for work at the home, farm and auto supply store this morning for Black Friday sales. I left retail work because of the pandemic. I’m not sure I will return to it. We’ve discovered how to get by on our pensions.

During my regular end of year planning it appears our budget for next year is sustainable. My best hope is 2021 does not bring another pandemic Thanksgiving.

Living in Society

When Fools Rush In

Atmospheric Haze

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” was written by Alexander Pope in An Essay on Criticism in 1711. I’m no angel yet it’s time to let the dust settle from the disastrous general election before devising schemes to react to the loss.

With two key races waiting for certification of results, for president and for the Second Congressional District, we should be in no hurry to implement solutions when we don’t understand the problems. We can wait for the haze to dissipate so we can survey the landscape in better light.

The delays provide needed time to collect data and discuss the future of Democratic politics in Iowa. Brainstorming of solutions is to be expected, politically active Democrats will not be suppressed. Settling on a course of action should wait at least until the new chair of the Iowa Democratic Party is elected and has a chance to organize their team.

As recently as a few hours ago National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told reporters in the Philippines, “On Jan. 20 we’ll have continuity of government. We’ll either have a second Trump term or we’ll have a Biden-Harris administration.” Republican elected officials have begun to weigh in that it will be the latter and transition assets should be released by the GSA. The president’s legal challenges to the election have proven in court to be like the slight of hand trick of an aging carnival magician in the last weeks before leaving to winter in Florida. There will be a 46th president.

The recount in the Mariannette Miller-Meeks – Rita Hart contest is ongoing. It’s anyone’s guess how things will turn out. In a press release last night, the Hart campaign said, “The Secretary of State’s office has repeatedly made clear that the Recount Boards have discretion over the mechanics of conducting the recount.” As the difference between the two candidates is revealed, and Miller-Meeks loses ground, her campaign questions the integrity of the Recount Board in Scott County, the district’s largest. With Secretary of State certification of the election on Nov. 30, this can only be seen as an attempt to run out the clock before all votes are recounted. We need to let the county boards do their work.

While we wait, a couple of things seem clear.

Centralized political organizing using current technology to text, mail and phone voters did not work for Democrats. Republicans appear to have had the same kinds of tools. Republican political action groups I follow offered the same kinds of volunteer opportunities as did Democrats. In fact, the solicitations for volunteers were almost interchangeable. Neither party seemed short of volunteers. Both parties had the technology to canvass during the coronavirus pandemic.

What we don’t know is whether the organizers were slug-a-beds or whether the electorate has changed. Well, we do know. It’s not the organizing effort that was the problem. The electorate has changed. It’s a change that has been coming for some time and the stark difference between Democrats and Republicans was highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic by the Secretary of State’s decision to send an absentee ballot request to every active voter. Voter turnout was notably high this cycle as a result. As I’ve written before increased absentee voting served Republican interests. If I were the Republican Party chair, I’d lobby the legislature and governor to convert our voting process to universal vote by mail because other factors are driving people to become Republicans in large numbers and vote by mail makes it easier for people to vote. No need to mention this to Jeff Kaufmann. He’s smart enough to see the efficacy of what I’m saying.

Democrats don’t need solutions yet as we don’t adequately understand the problem. I saw an analysis of Iowa voting trends Sunday afternoon and there were no surprises. Counties with less population favor Republicans, larger counties favor Democrats. Those in between appear to be in transition from Democratic to Republican. There is little the Iowa Democratic Party, on its own, can do about this other than to let go of a focus on campaigns and work on improving our cultural presence. That’s not their role.

My colleague Dave Bradley at Blog for Iowa posted an Iowa Democratic Election Post-Mortem on Saturday. In explaining what happened in the general election he points to cultural differences between Democrats and Republicans. Specifically, he discussed the impact of right wing talk radio and television on the electorate after President Ronald Reagan’s FCC abolished the fairness doctrine. The impact of this relatively new media is significant in small and medium-sized counties. President Barack Obama was unsuccessful in putting the genie back in the bottle regarding the policy so we are stuck with FOX News and right wing talkers. Creating left wing talk radio has been attempted yet none of them survived on public air waves and folks like Randi Rhodes and Thom Hartmann moved to the internet and satellite radio.

The Iowa Democratic Party is not well equipped to address cultural issues in Iowa anyway. The party should focus on key things we’ll need during future election cycles. We need good candidates (we had those in 2020), we need a source of financial support (money didn’t seem to be a problem in 2020), and we need someone to host access to the voter contact software for campaigns and continuously improve the integrity of data and user interface (also did not seem a problem in 2020). Where IDP did poorly was in messaging and to be honest they should just give it up since they and the consultants they engage are no good at it. Messaging is better left to be grassroots driven by candidates familiar with voters in their district, including those who are not Democrats. I’m going to scream if I see another “Bobble-head Bobby” ad out of the minds in Des Moines and Washington, D.C.

It can’t be said enough the dust should settle on this election before getting too carried away with “what Democrats should do,” or “what needs to be worked on,” or “IDP should do this.” For my money, what matters more is collection of observations at this point. What did we see happening that should be addressed? We should let everyone who wants provide input.

The end of year holidays are here and we’re in the middle of a devastating pandemic. Let’s just stop, take a deep breath, and let the folks analyzing the results do their work. Let’s elect a great party chair and let them get organized. It’s not unlike what I’m saying about the Second District recount. For the time being, I’m okay with being a blue dot in my red precinct. There is another opportunity to flip it coming up soon.


Favorite Movies

Morning in Iowa.

Someone asked, “What is your favorite movie and why?”

I had to think. After considering some options I answered, “The Lion King because of the music.”

I’m not sure that was completely right.

I’m also not sure which movie was the last I saw on television or in a theater. In the time of the coronavirus I watch movies on my desktop computer, either from a disk or streaming. I do keep track of what I watch. The last was on line, Public Trust: The Fight for America’s Lands.

When our daughter visited in December 2014 we watched a video cassette recording of Christmas in Connecticut together, part of a series of “dinner and a movie” events we discontinued as a regular thing. In 2017 I watched The Brainwashing of My Dad from a disk on my desktop. It was a powerful story of a family where the father got caught up in right wing media hegemony to his detriment, and then came out of it — a happy ending. I also watched The Princess Bride (for the first time) on Amazon May 31, 2013. Too many cultural references to avoid it forever. Since 2012, I watched about 20 movies, not many.

When we talk about “favorite movies” what does that mean? For me it means films seen long ago, the memory of which persists. The Lion King fits that description and I would view it again. I’d listen to the CD of the soundtrack more. There are about a dozen movies that mean something to me.

Blade Runner: We saw this at a theater the first time Jacque and I did something together outside of work where we met.

Out of Africa: Because of the cinematography. It’s a gorgeous film and I don’t use the “g” word often.

The Conformist: Few films of that era stick with me the way this one does.

The Matrix: How could someone with a Cartesian outlook not love this movie?

In a Year of 13 Moons: I was obsessed with Rainer Werner Fassbinder the way he was obsessed with subjects and themes in this movie.

Lord of the Rings Trilogy: I recall my argument with Father Harasyn as a freshman in high school about whether J.R.R. Tolkien’s books were literature. I lost the argument and was not given credit for reading them. The movie is a faithful rendering of the book.

The 400 Blows: I was enamored of Francois Truffaut during graduate school. Not as much now, but still.

The Tree of Wooden Clogs: I could easily have been one of the peasants in this film. The cinematography of Ermanno Olmi was unlike anything I’d seen.

Apocalypse Now: The first film I saw in a theater after returning stateside from Germany. It alone launched an interest in movies that persisted for the following five or six years.

Patton: The go-to film for soldiers maneuvering in the Fulda Gap. We would show it on a film projector run by a diesel generator. I knew to carry several replacement bulbs for the projector when we left garrison.

The Sound of Music: Grandmother insisted our family see this together and she paid for the tickets. She would have been the Maria Rainer character if life had been kinder to her.

There are others yet few recent ones. As the holidays draw near, and we contemplate the events of 2020, there are worse things to do than consider things we love. Movies have been part of my life in society as they are for many.

Living in Society

Stage Transition

Central Casting, Nov. 20, 2012.

Today was the last shift for our daughter at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It’s a bittersweet moment.

She arrived for permanent, full time work as an entertainment technician on Nov. 20, 2012. The coronavirus pandemic disrupted any plans she had last March. After six months on furlough she took an assignment outside technical stagecraft in retail sales as part of an agreement negotiated by her union. She took a substantial reduction in pay.

It was not why she journeyed to Florida so she asked again about a transfer to live performance, then gave proper notice and ended her work today. We discussed how live theater would always be an option for work before she took the job. Who knew the pandemic would happen? She worked hard and was well liked.

Doors that opened also close behind us, creating new beginnings. We hope for a positive outcome, especially on the other side of the pandemic.

Following is a blog post she made the day after checking in through the doors in the photo.

Down the Rabbit Hole…again.

Yesterday, I was up early in anticipation of my on-boarding appointment at the Walt Disney Casting building.  I didn’t really know what to expect, but as I had been sent a packet of materials right after my phone interviews, I was sure that they would be important.

The Casting building is prominently displayed on the highway leading to the Downtown Disney area.  You can see the large gold letters standing out against the brightly colored building, shining in the Florida sun.  There is still a thrill in seeing them, even all this time later.

The inside of the casting building is draped in images from Alice in Wonderland. This seems a terribly fitting image as one joins the ranks of the Disney Cast. Working for the Walt Disney Company really is a strange world where the rules aren’t quite the same and the characters all seem to have their own language.  One can become tongue-tied just trying to say the right thing. Fortunately, I’m still able to translate decently and spent all of my morning with a smile on my face. The strangest part for me was actually seeing cubicles again.  I am so used to being out in the park to work, there’s something strange and foreign about the office setting.  It did remind me of what I left back in Colorado though.  That strange contrast of just how different the outside world really is.

I met some very nice women who were also waiting for their paperwork to be processed.  It continues to fascinate me how, even in a company as homogenizing as Disney can be, there is still such amazing diversity among people’s own stories and personalities.  Along with that: I really must brush up on the Spanish.  I’m terribly out of practice.

I spent most of the rest of the day recovering from my two days drive. That long on the highway had not done well for my sense of direction or my personal health. The rest seemed to do me very well though, as I feel much better this morning. Some of that may have to do with my two cups of coffee this morning; that seems to have solved my headache problem.  Dear Former Office Job: I learned many things from you, but I do not appreciate the caffeine addiction, thanks.

Today, there is much to do. I must visit an apartment office, and I’m hoping they have something suitable and available, as I really don’t want to search much more at this point.  I’m currently in the midst of the Tourist district, so trying to get my bearings is quite a pain.  Everything is smashed in very close together and the drives and turns here are rather a mess in comparison to other places I’ve lived. I am also hoping I’ll have time to drive up to Orlando and visit my gym.  I have been too long away and it’s starting to be noticeable in my midsection. (I’m sure the 3 days of driving in the last week and a half didn’t help any either).

All that aside, I should be truly settled here shortly and will let you all know once that happens.  In the mean time, Live well and have a Magical Day. ;)

Who am I now? A blog post on Nov. 21, 2012 by Elizabeth Deaton
Living in Society

Remaining Strong

Pizza Toppings

With the surge in positive COVID-19 tests, hospitalizations, and ICU patients we plan to reduce trips outside our home and immediate area even more than we did beginning last spring.

Our last provisioning trip was Nov. 11, and it should hold us for at least until Thanksgiving, maybe longer. There is a doctor’s appointment in the real world and everything else will be done via video or voice conference.

We’re learning to live with the coronavirus pandemic which is expected to be with us until at least 2022. It’s hard to say what life will look like on the other side.

Weekend weather sucked. It rained all day on Saturday and high winds blew Sunday. Except for taking kitchen compost to the bin and retrieving mail, neither of us left the house. Even with ambient temperatures in the 40s, it feels like winter is coming.

When we emerge from isolation there will be much to do in society. Everyone will be out there with different agendas. With the challenges of life in the pandemic we must remain strong so we can compete. It will be a competition. In many ways it already is.

Living in Society

Republicans Sweep Big Grove

Big Grove Precinct, Nov. 3, 2020.

Big Grove Precinct is definitely Republican territory.

Republicans swept the top races in the Nov. 3 general election, choosing Donald Trump as president, Joni Ernst as U.S. Senator, Mariannette Miller-Meeks as U.S. Representative, Bobby Kaufmann as State Representative and Phil Hemingway for County Supervisor. Had there been two more Republicans in the race for county supervisor, they would likely have won here too.

The table below contains the canvassed results in the top four races.

U.S. SenateErnstGreenfield
U.S. HouseMiller-MeeksHart
State RepresentativeKaufmannPulkrabek
Johnson County, Iowa Official Canvassed Election Results, Nov. 3, 2020 General Election

Big Grove Township is characterized by its proximity to work. Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Coralville, Muscatine and the Quad-Cities are all within a daily automobile commute and plenty of people I know here work in all five places. In 1993 we chose to build our home here for this geographical reason. With the comparatively low price of gasoline, it turned out I worked in all of these places except Muscatine.

When I first read the voter list I got from the auditor in the fall I was surprised at how many new names appeared on it. We have become a community with a certain reputation: a strong faith community, good schools, ample employment opportunities, a great library, well maintained infrastructure, and reasonable taxes. Because of this we attract new people, mostly families. As a poll observer for the Democratic Party it hadn’t occurred to me that so many people I didn’t know were voting the Republican ticket. That in-person voters chose President Trump 411 to 128 for Joe Biden is evidence new people moving into the township are mostly Republicans.

Despite few options for high speed internet access, many people in the township work from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Last summer the pandemic created a much different social dynamic where neighborhoods became important and neighboring was more common than it had been. Activities that flourished had little to do with politics. I posted a photo of me wearing a Biden Harris t-shirt on my Facebook page. One neighbor commented during an in person conversation they felt likewise but couldn’t do the same because of work relationships connected through social media. While there was a lot of media buzz this cycle, many people kept for whom they were voting private and this affected our everyday interactions by making them apolitical. Until the very end, it was as if there was no election on Nov. 3.

I can’t overstate the impact of the Secretary of State’s decision to mail absentee ballot requests to every active voter. Contrary to conventional wisdom that more people voting favors Democrats, it had the opposite effect. I also noticed long-time Republican-leaning neighbors, who weren’t on my voter list from the auditor, showed up at the polls to register and vote for the first time in years. Republican turnout was huge because of the systemic variance initiated by the Secretary of State.

Something else was afoot. We don’t turn the television on in our house so I can’t assess the impact of television commercials. Like many in my situation I saw political ads on YouTube, social media and internet news sites. I assume others saw them too. Because of the pandemic my provisioning trips have been reduced to less than one per week. When I drove to get provisions I would hear political radio ads. The local newspapers focused on local races with letters to the editor and paid advertising. I felt insulated from the influence of advertising, because of no television, combined with a pro-active method of acquiring news through paid subscriptions to four newspapers and a well-curated Twitter feed. In other words, I saw hardly any advertisements on Facebook or Twitter, and what I saw in local newspapers and heard on the radio informed me of what candidates were doing rather than being any form of persuasion. Whatever may have caused it, and I assume advertising was a big part of it, people were very motivated to vote this cycle.

At this writing President Trump has not conceded the election to Joe Biden who is clearly, unequivocally the winner. The president is challenging the election results in the courts and the effort has thus far fallen flat. I can’t speak to his erratic behavior or his shoddy legal cases, yet it seems clear he has a vague notion derived from the ancient Greek Theater that the Supreme Court will somehow hand him the election deus ex machina. Good luck with that.

I looked at the county results for U.S. Representative in the Second Congressional District and Mariannette Miller-Meeks walloped Rita Hart everywhere except in the most populous counties. The race is too close to call after the counties canvassed the votes so Hart requested a recount on Friday. With a margin of 47 votes, a recount may swing the election to Hart, or it may not.

I have my beefs with the Democratic Party and how they conducted the election effort. My main concern was they provided no support for me to be able to work my precinct the way to which I have been accustomed. When asked how they planned to reach voters without a phone number in the database they provided no substantial answer. When asked to produce a list so I could work my precinct they said they could not. “That’s not how it works,” one organizer told me. The result was I was left to fend for myself, which is pretty much where the results of the election left me, on my own. Even if I had the tools requested I’m not sure I could have flipped the precinct, so my beefs are likely moot.

The friends with which I built a precinct organization beginning in 2004 are aging, dying and moving away. New people arriving are Republican-leaning. Combine that with lack of a coherent Democratic message for voters and the view from today is we will remain a Republican precinct for a long while.

Despite the challenges, I’m not ready to give up. The election hasn’t killed me yet. Here’s hoping it made me strong enough to survive the coronavirus pandemic and fight another day.

Living in Society

The Coronavirus is Home for the Holidays

Woman Writing Letter

Persistence of the coronavirus pandemic and public reaction to it is appalling. As former chair of the Johnson County Board of Health I know we can do better.

It is the first crisis of this scale we faced in my lifetime. It’s personal. Too many people I know contracted COVID-19 or died from it. As the virus runs out of control, it’s easy to predict more illness and deaths.

Statistical reports show cases of COVID-19 in Iowa increasing dramatically. The number of hospital and ICU patients with COVID-19 is rising. Epidemiologists at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics say that while there are beds, there is not sufficient staff to support the surge response.

A mistake our leaders made was to politicize our response to the virus.

President Trump all but abandoned working on the pandemic after the election. “The president is holed up in the White House, his public schedule empty, tweeting about how he has won an election that everyone knows he lost,” wrote historian Heather Cox Richardson on Friday. To the extent the president cared about the coronavirus it was a political calculation — a failed attempt to get reelected.

Governor Kim Reynolds has been as bad as the president. Her comments Nov. 10 regarding a targeted mask mandate would be comical if they didn’t endanger Iowans. In the meanwhile Reynolds touted that the state’s rainy day fund remains intact. That’s cold comfort to people having symptoms of COVID-19 who can’t get tested.

We have been left to our own devices. If you don’t wear a mask in public and are planning a large family gathering for the upcoming holidays, you are part of the problem.

Stay home if you can, wear a mask in public. Postpone large holiday gatherings until the virus is under control.

The coronavirus is home for the holidays.

~ This letter appeared in the Nov. 19, 2020 edition of the Solon Economist

Living in Society

Fall Cleanup 2020

Big Grove Township, Nov. 8, 2020

While returning from a walk in the state park I picked up four yard signs a neighbor placed in their yard. Two of the candidates are poised to win and two are not.

While crossing the street, another neighbor called out but I couldn’t hear them. They walked over to discuss Saturday’s events in the general election. They had considered leaving the country if the president were reelected. Like many in our neighborhood, they keep their politics private. Sigh of relief the president was defeated. They are good neighbors.

After my walk I drove over to a damaged street sign and removed the signs from the pole. It is hard to get the screws loosened so I brought it home to repair in the garage if I can. Leaves are mulched with the mower so the minerals can return to the soil. The smell of neighbors burning leaves permeated the neighborhood. What fall work remains in the yard is optional. Today looks to be in the 70s so it is a chance to work outdoors.

Emails began arriving from groups with which I associate after the election. This one from the Climate Reality Project is typical.

We will mobilize support like never before for federal-level climate policy, and will bolster this with continued state and local-level work, which has been so instrumental in building this movement since 2016. We will persist in fighting for climate justice, by forging partnerships and adding capacity to campaigns that address systemic ways the climate crisis hurts historically marginalized communities. And we will continue to the grow the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, ensuring we have even more voices conveying our clear message. We have the solutions at-hand, and there is no more time to waste.

Ken Berlin, President and CEO, The Climate reality Project

To work on any of the received requests, I had to get organized. Here is what I came up for post-election priorities from an email to friends:

My first Iowa work will be determining a leverage point to advocate for mitigation of the coronavirus pandemic. The virus prevents us from organizing as we are accustomed. I plan to follow State Senator Rob Hogg’s lead on this. As you likely know, experts are saying we will be challenged by the virus into 2022. This is a high priority.

I’m working on nuclear arms control issues with the Arms Control Association, and on the climate crisis with the Climate Reality Project. I’m also working with the Sierra Club on the Pattison Sand proposal to pump water from the Jordan Aquifer and ship it to arid western states. However those things dovetail with your organization will be our points of opportunity to work together.

The Biden administration will quickly become besieged with its efforts to undo the four years of the current administration, therefore I view moving the ball forward on our issues as something our folks in DC should lead. My expected local contributions include writing an op-ed for the Cedar Rapids Gazette every 4-6 weeks (arms control and social topics), organizing a group in Solon to help me work on issues including politics and political advocacy, and set the stage for a Democratic comeback in the 2022 election. Tall orders all.

I don’t see Iowans devoting much bandwidth to the TPNW (Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons) until there is an opportunity for the administration to listen and take action on the treaty. I forget who’s having the Zoom meeting that includes Rose Gottemoeller but I plan to listen in. For the time being, the U.S. government and those of the other nuclear states are ignoring the treaty. If that changes in the next couple of years I’ll get more involved.

If we don’t get organized ourselves, we will be hindered in working with others. Onward we go!

Living in Society

AP Calls it for Biden

Sunshine and fresh air after AP calls the presidential election for Biden-Harris.

Around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, Associated Press called the presidential election for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The president-elect and vice president-elect gave speeches last night and celebrations occurred around the world.

Here in Big Grove things were subdued. The township voted for Donald Trump.

With ambient temperatures in the 70s people were outside enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. Children rode zip lines into tall piles of raked leaves as their parents observed. The trail was crowded with people, some wearing masks because of the coronavirus pandemic, others walking dogs. I had my mask in my pocket yet didn’t wear it because I found few virus transmission possibilities.

The trail walk felt good.

Suddenly I felt differently. Like we could take it easy for a while. Like sunlight and fresh air would be enough for a few hours. Not sure how long it will last, yet that’s the human condition, finding space to breathe.