spacer

spacer link

columns button
spacer
features button
spacer
fiction
button
spacer
genealogy button
spacer
poetry button
spacer
photography button
spacer
rants button
spacer
spacer
photo essay
PHOTO ESSAY

border lines
BORDER LINES
MINI-SITE

lake
monster
LAKE MONSTER
MINI-SITE

Reading Room

Free E-cards

LIST OF
CONTRIBUTORS

E-MAIL JOHN

spacer

wheel

© Linda Hogan
REFLECTIONS IN VERMONT


spacer

CORONA NUMBERS UPDATED
WORLD: OVER 232.3 MILLION.
DEATHS - OVER 4.753 MILLION.
U.S.: 42.9 MILLION.
DEATHS - 688,000.
CANADA: CASES - OVER 1.6 MILLION.
DEATHS - 27,640.

spacer

HCR LATEST REPORT
Posted 9.26.21

AND THE BITTER FIGHT TO KEEP AMERICA'S DEMOCRACY IS NOW CONSTANT

For weeks now, I have vowed that I would finish these letters early and get to bed before midnight, and for weeks now, I have finally finished around three in the morning. That was not the case two years ago, when I started writing these at the start of the Ukraine crisis: it was rare enough for me to be writing until midnight that I vividly remember the first time it happened.

I got to thinking today about why things seem more demanding today than they did two years ago, and it strikes me that what makes the writing more time consuming these days is that we have two all-consuming stories running in parallel, and together they illuminate the grand struggle we are in for the survival of American democracy.

On the one hand we have the former president and the attempts by him and his loyalists to seize control of our country regardless of the will of the majority of voters, while Republican Party leaders are refusing to speak out in the hopes that they can retain power to continue advancing their agenda.

Since the 1980s, this branch of the Republican Party has tried to dismantle the government in place since the 1930s that tries to protect equality in America, regulating business, providing a basic social safety net, and promoting infrastructure.

Members of this faction of the Republican Party -- the faction that is now in control of it -- want to take the government back to the 1920s, when businessmen controlled the government, operating it to try to create a booming economy without regard for social or environmental consequences.

Although initially unhappy at Donald Trump's elevation to the White House, that faction embraced him as he advanced the tax cuts, deregulation, and destruction of government offices they believed were central to freeing businessmen to advance the economy.

Believing that Democrats' determination to use the government to level the playing field among Americans would destroy the individualism that supports the economy, they had come to believe that Democrats could not legitimately govern the country.

And so, members of this Republican faction did not back away when Trump refused to accept the election of a Democratic president in 2020.

Almost a year later, the leadership of the Republican Party, composed now as it is of Trump loyalists, is undermining our democracy. It has fallen in line behind Trump's Big Lie that he and not Biden won the 2020 election, and that the Democratic Party engaged in voter fraud to install their candidate.

This is a lie, but Republicans at the state level are using that lie to justify new election laws that suppress Democratic votes and put control of state elections into their own hands.

If those laws are allowed to stand, we will be a democracy in name only. We will likely still have elections, but, just as in Russia or Hungary now, the mechanics of the system will mean that only the president's party can win.

This attack on our democracy is unprecedented, and it cannot be ignored.

Tonight, for example, Trump held a "rally" in Perry, Georgia, where, to cheers, he straight up lied that the recent "audit" in Arizona proved he won the 2020 election. And yet, to overemphasize the antics of the former president and his supporters enables them to grow to larger proportions than they deserve, feeding their power. Tonight, for example, Newsmax and OAN covered Trump's rally live, but the Fox News Channel did not, and the audience appeared bored.

On the other hand, in contrast to the former president's party, President Joe Biden and the Democrats are trying to demonstrate that democracy actually works.

Rather than simply fighting the Republicans, which would permit the Republicans to define the terms under which they govern, they are defending the active government the Republicans have set out to destroy. Biden has been clear since he took office that he intends to strengthen democracy abroad, where it is under pressure from rising autocratic governments, by strengthening it at home.

To that end, he and the Democrats in Congress have aggressively worked to pass legislation that benefits ordinary Americans. The wait for such legislation to appear can be frustrating, but that is in part because the Democrats are actually doing the kind of work that used to be commonplace in Congress: hammering out compromises, finding votes, arguing, amending legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has released a letter she sent to her caucus, telling members they must vote this week to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government, as well as the two major infrastructure bills on which they have been working for months: the Build Back Better Act and the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

While news stories have often turned the negotiations over these bills into a fight between moderate and progressive Democrats, it is important to remember that while a handful of Republicans were willing to agree to rebuild roads and bridges and to bring broadband to rural areas, most of them are simply not negotiating at all.

They reject the idea that the government should invest in infrastructure, especially that kind outlined in the Build Back Better measure: infrastructure involving childcare, elder care, and climate change. And if they can run out the clock and convince voters that government can't get anything done, so much the better.

Democrats disagree about the details of their measures -- exactly as one would expect from a big-tent party -- but they all accept the principle that the government should actively help ordinary Americans. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) might disagree on the size of the infrastructure package they want, but they both agree that the government should support infrastructure.

Republicans reject that idea, standing instead on the principle that the government should simply stay out of the way of businessmen, who are better equipped to manage the country than bureaucrats.

The Charles Koch–backed Americans for Prosperity, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Federation of Independent Business are all pouring money into defeating the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill, warning: "A government takeover of our economy is a fundamental departure from the spirit of entrepreneurialism we've relied on for generations to drive prosperity, and there's only one outcome—unmitigated economic disaster that will be difficult to reverse."

The profound disagreement between the Republicans and the Democrats over the role of government has led to a profound crisis in our democracy.

Democrats' argument that the government should work for ordinary Americans is popular, so popular that Republicans have apparently given up convincing voters their way is better. Through voter suppression, gerrymandering, the filibuster, and the Electoral College, and now with new election laws in 18 states, they have guaranteed that they will retain control no matter what voters actually want. Their determination to keep Democrats from power has made them abandon democracy.

For their part, Democrats are trying to protect the voting rights at the heart of our democracy, believing that if all eligible Americans can vote, they will back a government that works for the people.

And so, the task of writing these letters has gotten more complicated of late. I try to detail the growing threat that the Republicans will succeed in destroying our democracy while also explaining the ways in which the Biden administration is trying to move beyond the current crisis to demonstrate the vitality of American democracy.

And, always, I try to keep front and center that these fights are not academic. They are, fundamentally, a fight to determine whether a nation, "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...can long endure."

Heather Cox Richardson
Letter from an American

spacer

THOUGHTS ABOUT DEALING WITH CUBA TODAY
Posted 8.12.21
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | A good many of us in the Pontiac do travel south each winter -- in non-pandemic times. A big percentage head to Cuba, probably the nearest tropical state. But, as we are constantly reminded, Cuba is a socialist state. And Canada is not.

FRED'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
Click Here

spacer
Posted 7.19.21
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

CALIFORNIA DREAMING? NOT!

My friend Janie, who lives in San Diego County, recently complained that her old California is gone, which she attributes to illegals and great wealth. But for me, I think nothing ever stays the same.

FRANK'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
Click Here

spacer
SINGLE-PARENTING, EARLY EDUCATION
Posted 6.17.21
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | We are learning more than expected from the pandemic -- from scientific insights to generalizations about well-being and good mental health. As we slog through levels of lockdown, mental health problems seem only to grow. Our kids, for example, feel isolated and stressed, struggling to focus on their on-line lessons.

FRED'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
Click Here

spacer
THE TROUBLE WITH DEMOCRA$Y
Posted 6.9.21
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | Lend me your attention for a moment. This is not about local -- only issues, not about Covid, hockey, nor low moisture in our crops. This is about money, and money is the Trouble with Democracy.

FRED'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
Click Here

spacer

PSST! LOOKING FOR A QUICKIE?
5.6.21
THOUGHT FOR TODAY
Posted 5.3.21

THIS SUCKS
Posted 5.3.21
I WISH I'D SAIDTHAT
Posted 5.3.21

I WISH I'D SAID THIS TOO
Posted 5.3.21

spacer
LOOSE TONGUES ENDANGER LIVES
Posted 5.30.21
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | The two world wars past gave us plenty of public messaging about "idle talk" which might reveal secrets to under-cover enemy agents. Every subject, from call-up notices to departure times -- anything which might give our enemies an edge -- was included. "Loose tongues endanger lives" was a common public message.
spacer
Posted 5.25.21
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

THE FRENCH HAVE FIGURED OUT A BETTER MED WAY

As one gets older, it seems like we spend more time at the doctor's offices. Even when there is nothing specifically wrong, there are visits, periodic general practitioner checkups, lab visits for blood extraction, dental cleanings, dermatologist examinations, and more.

FRANK'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
Click Here

MEMORIAL FOR THE VICTIMS OF . . . WHAT?
Posted 4.30.21
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | Among the surprises of this month's federal budget was a doubling of funds for Harper's "victims of communism" 2010 memorial in Ottawa. With a total of near $7 million, this should be one heck of a memorial.

FRED'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
Click Here
LCC WRITER: HI-5! TO COVID VAX TEAM IN VIRGINIA
Posted 2.18.21
FRANK BERNHEISEL

This morning Kathy and I received our second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Hooray!

PROTEST ... WHERE IT COUNTS!
Posted 2.1.21
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | Two street protests against pandemic restrictions in Quebec, in Fort Coulonge and Shawville, have stimulated public comment. And criticism -- many participants, generally, were not following the health rules (masks and a two-metre distance). The SQ were careful to warn protestors of the rules, without aggravating emotions and stimulating further disturbance.
spacer
STOPPING COVID-19 ~ WITH VALIUM?
Posted 1.12.21
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | One of the lesser-noted effects of Covid-19 and its lockdown is the sudden and widespread proliferation of scientific expertise. There's a touch of sarcasm here.

FRED'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
Click Here

spacer
10 POST-PANDEMIC LESSONS
Posted 1.1.21
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Zakaria celebrates America's resilience, which he says gains strength through chaos and crises. He also downplays the idea that despots like China's Xi Jinping do better than democratic leaders pointing out covid-19's leap around the world was due to China's suppression of lifesaving data. Also, that authoritarian regimes including Khamenei's Iran, Erdogan's Turkey, and Bolsonaro's Brazil, ruled did badly.

FRANK'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
Click Here

spacer
OUR 30TH ANNIVERSARY
Posted 12.28.20
ROSS MURRAY

I'm writing this on the day of our 30th wedding anniversary. Deb and I were married on December 15, 1990 in Sherbrooke. That wasn't the original plan.
spacer
ON KEEPING WITS ABOUT US
Posted 12.23.20
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | Lesson number one: The pandemic's lockdown may be teaching us a thing or two, despite it's costs. One lesson is obvious: how deeply we all depend upon contact and communication with others. The opposite side of that coin may be that we also are learning to live with our own selves, without the contact we took for granted in the past.
spacer
WHY ENVIRONMENTAL REGS ARE NEEDED
Posted 12.17.20
FRANK BERNHEISEL

As many as 12,000 children were exposed to drinking water with high levels of lead, which cause long-term health problems. The water supply change also caused an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that killed 12 people.

FRANK'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
Click Here

spacer
WHAT'S WRONG WITH "SOCIALISM"?
Posted 11.15.20
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | American friends are certainly now on the road to a healing presidential term. The Republicans may rant about individual counts, but we can also be certain that they are busy studying their playbook, "How to Sabotage a Democrat President."
spacer

spacer
logo
VIDEO CLIPS

jane
JANE DOES THE LAUNDRY

portrait
GALLERIES

WINTER SOLSTICE
This is one of 30 short poems in the chapbook Placing No Markers by Jason Krpan. You can download the book for free at Bookfellows.