Phone Banking

As I mentioned last week, since April, I have been phone banking to Maine to defeat Susan Collins. Given Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last Friday, it is now more important than ever than we take back the Senate and diminish the pernicious impact of Mitch McConnell, who I consider to be the Devil.

Phone calls are one of the most effective ways we must communicate with voters. It is also one of the only safe ways to reach voters during the pandemic. If everyone reading this blog would commit to either 2 hours or 20 calls, you would all be part of reaching many voters.

You can go to https://joebiden.com/natcalls/ to make calls for Joe and Kamala. Last week I started doing this. My plan is to do it once a week until Nov. 3. If you are interested in the Senate, you can go to Ballotpedia,  pick a competitive race and start making calls for the Democratic candidate.

This week I am going to make calls for Mark Kelly in Arizona who is running to defeat Martha McSally in a special election. If Kelly wins, he could be seated as early as Nov. 30. This could provide a critical vote against lame-duck appointment of a reactionary Supreme Court Justice.

I am first vice-chair of the Amherst Democratic Town Committee and we are focusing on three states: Maine, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. North Carolina has a competitive Senate race where Cal Cunningham is running against Thom Tillis, the Republican. Pennsylvania does not have a Senate race but is critical for Biden to win in the electoral college.

The point is Do Something. Two Hours or 20 Calls. Make A Difference.

Twitter Success

Last Friday evening, I watched, virtually, a debate between the four candidates for U.S. Senate in Maine. Susan Collins is the incumbent who I have sworn to try to defeat. She pretends to be a moderate, but she is not. Every time Susan Collins could have made a difference she voted with Trump. Brett Kavanaugh, the tax cuts, impeachment; the list goes on and on.

The Democratic candidate is Sara Gideon who is the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives. There are two independent candidates, Max Linn, and Lisa Savage.

Since April I have been making calls to Maine to help elect a Democrat and defeat Susan Collins. Maine has ranked choice voting, which I don’t totally understand, so people could rank one of the independents first and then Gideon second. I do understand voting your beliefs and I have done that in the past. I feel this election is too important to vote that way. If I lived in Maine, I would rank Sara Gideon first because I would not want to take any chance that Collins could get reelected.

After Friday’s debate, I tweeted the following:

Watching the Maine Senate debate. Max Linn is a trip. Susan Collins needs to go. Vote for Sara Gideon. #takebackthesenate #BlueWave

This is the Tweet Analytics on this tweet:

Impressions, 153,918 (times people saw this Tweet on Twitter)

Total engagements 4,592 (times people interacted with this Tweet)

Likes 1,935 (times people liked this Tweet)

Profile clicks 1,401 (number of clicks on your name, @handle, or profile photo)

Retweets 518 (times people retweeted this Tweet)

Hashtag clicks 425 (clicks on the hashtag(s) in this Tweet)

Detail expands 277 (times people viewed the details about this Tweet)

Replies 36

Because of the tweet I have gained about 11 new followers. I am currently at 149. I would love to get to 150. I have been tweeting since 2007 and none of my tweets have ever had this kind of impact. It was overwhelming and I still can’t believe it. Probably the hashtags generated the wide audience and response because many people across the country are interested in the Maine Senate race.

Memories

A few weeks ago, in my writing group, Nerissa, the group leader, read, as a prompt, a portion of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, where she talked about the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, in 1953. Being a red diaper baby, I grew up believing that the couple killed could have just as easily been my parents. Of course, the Rosenbergs were innocent; for my parents and their friends there was no other truth.

March 6, 2020 was the fiftieth anniversary of a townhouse in Greenwich Village, New York City, blowing up, killing three members of the Weather Underground. I knew one of the people killed – Ted Gold. I grew up with him. He was the youngest son of one of my mother’s closest friends.

The chapter of my book on faculty wives that I am currently working is about activism in the 1950s and 60s. I focus on two women – Sarah Patton Boyle and Anne Bennett. Boyle was an early white supporter of civil rights in Virginia while Bennett worked to end the Vietnam War.

My mother was a part of this activist history. As a baby, I was wheeled to Ban the Bomb demonstrations. She was a member of Women Strike for Peace. In the chapter, I describe a demonstration in Washington, DC that WSP organized. It is very possible that my mother was there.

The arc of history from the Rosenbergs to the Weather Underground is, in a simple way, the story of the Old Left morphing into the New Left; a generational shift that I was a part of. I have often wondered what my politics would have been if I had grown up in a different household. In my house, noisy discussion about politics were an everyday occurrence. Most of my parent’s friends had also been in the Communist Party. Whenever they came over, it got even louder. Being on the left is probably in my DNA.

 

 

The Fierce Urgency of Now

Since the murder of George Floyd, I have been obsessed with exploring how I can more actively confront systemic racism. If you are not actively confronting racial injustice you become complicit.

Although I have been committed to civil rights all of my life, I have been questioning how strong that commitment is. In my comfortable life in Amherst, Massachusetts, how do I confront racism and combat it on a daily basis? The answer is I don’t.

On Sunday, I went to an inter-faith vigil on the Amherst common. Although it felt courageous; that was because of the pandemic and not because attending would threaten my physical safety.

The phrase, “the urgency of now,” which I knew was something Martin Luther King had said, has been rumbling around in my head this last week. Yesterday I googled it. Here is the full quote:

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

I can never know what it feels like to be a black person, but I can learn how to be a white ally in their struggle for equality and racial justice. It is imperative that I start the learning process immediately.

 

Social Drinking

Can you be a social drinker? I recently read an article in The New York Times that would suggest the answer was no. The article itself was interesting and the comments were even more interesting. The vociferousness of the comments that defended drinking indicates that drinking in America has been normalized. The recent Atlantic article that asked why there is no anti-alcohol movement explored some of the reasons for that normalization. When I was at my writing retreat this fall, one of the other attendees was a woman who has recently stopped drinking and has a blog about it.

Prior to Prohibition, the temperance movement saw drinking as being both a moral and societal issue. They sought a civil response to the problems of drinking. Although prohibitionists counseled individuals to have the moral and individual strength to stop drinking, the movement sought to remove drinking from society through political and legislative means.

Since Prohibition, the liquor industry has been very successful in framing drinking and the serious issues it can cause as an individual disease. There have been some moments where the public health analysis of alcohol and the society-wide problems it causes, have been in ascendance. Both the movement to decrease drunk driving and the 1991 tax increase on alcohol had public health components.

Today the liquor industry is completely in control and health information detailing problems with liquor go nowhere. On television you see public service announcements on tobacco and vaping. There are none about drinking.

Here is a picture of a cirrhotic liver as one example of the damage excessive drinking can do to your body and health.

Cirrohotic Liver

Prohibition, 100 Years Later

On January 17, it will be 100 years since Prohibition went into effect. Because of the current political climate  around immigration, I  am posting an excerpt  from Brewing Battles that describes the treatment some German-American brewers received  during the enactment of Prohibition.

The brewing industry was overwhelmingly German; most German-Americans drank beer as did many other Americans. Although German-Americans maintained many ties to Germany, the vast majority were second or third generation Americans. The founders of most breweries had immigrated to America in the 1840s and 1850s. World War I generated a tremendous amount of public hostility against Germans and German-Americans. For brewers and their fellow ethnic citizens, the war period was a test of their dual identities.

Some of the nation’s most prominent brewers faced these issues of loyalty and cultural identification as soon as America entered the war. One of New York’s most prominent brewers was George Ehret, Sr., the nation’s largest brewer in 1877. In 1914, Ehret, an American citizen, returned to Germany to live. In 1918 his son, George Ehret, Jr., turned over the family property with a value of $40 million to the federal government. A. Mitchell Palmer, who was then the Alien Property Custodian, found Ehret, Sr. to be “of enemy character.” Ehret had not broken any laws but appeared to be friendly with and under the protection of “powerful men.” He had also given large amounts of money to the German Red Cross since 1914. Palmer stated that Ehret, who was 83, could get his property back if he returned to America. He would then lose “his enemy character.” The Ehret family’s status as influential New Yorkers and wealthy Americans apparently did not mean as much as his German affiliations.[1]

Lily Busch, widow of Adolphus Busch, suffered similar problems. The Buschs, if not the country’s wealthiest brewing family then certainly its most ostentatious, owned several estates including a castle on the Rhine in Germany. Adolphus died in 1913; estimates of the value of his wealth ranged from $30 to $60 million.[2] Both Adolphus and Lily were born in Germany; Lily had become a naturalized citizen of the United States. When World War I broke out she made her German home a war hospital and served as a nurse. The German government took her property because she was an American citizen; the United States viewed her as enemy alien since she was in Germany. When she returned to the United States in 1918 the government seized her property and placed her under a form of house arrest. She died in 1928.[3]

The prosecution, if not persecution, of these prominent brewers and their families indicated the deep unease Americans felt about the presence of Germans in their country. The rhetoric of the Prohibition movement for most of its existence had been positive, extolling the virtues that removing alcohol from society would bring. . . . The final push that brought Prohibition, the Eighteenth Amendment, and the Volstead Act into being became negative and played on people’s fears as American faced a world that was unfamiliar and rapidly changing.

Jacob Rupert, owner of the New York Yankees and Jacob Rupert Brewery with Miss Harwood, 1921. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

 

[1] “Nation Gets Ehret Property,” New York Times, May 14, 1918, 1.

[2] “Adolphus Busch Dies In Prussia” New York Times, October 11, 1913, 15.

[3]; “Mrs. Lily Busch of St. Louis Dies,” New York Times, February 26, 1928, 27.

© All Rights Reserved Amy Mittelman 2020.

September 11, 18 years later

This is a post from ten years ago. That fall we were spending a month in New York City. This fall I am at home. In the past ten years, a lot has happened to both me and the country.

What is very surprising to me is that we are still involved in both Afghanistan and Iraq. We also have a president who has no clue how to run foreign policy. I fervently hope Trump will be a one-term President and then we can try to undo all the harm he has done.

My sympathy goes out to all who suffered a loss on that terrible day. May all of their memories be for a blessing.

September 11, 8 Years Later

Today is the eighth anniversary of the terrible events of September 11 2001. This is a particularly poignant day because we are in New York. Eight years ago, I had been in New York the day before, September 10, and woke up, at home. on the morning of the 11th to hear my husband’s voice on the answering machine, ” I don’t know if you have heard what happened in New York but my parents are okay.” As everyone knows, September 11 2001 was a picture perfect New York fall day and the 10th was as well. I felt very steeped in my New York roots because I had spent the evening of the 9th reading about the  pending city elections while I waited for my friend who I was visiting to come home.

Today, September 11, 2009, is not a beautiful day. The weather is  very bad, with high winds and heavy downpours. Because of these bad conditions, we have been unable to attend any commemorative event. Many of them were outdoors.

Despite that, since 2001, I have felt that this day should not be like every other day.  Apparently President  Obama and Congress agree with me. In March the federal government designated September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.  I really hope that this takes root and becomes how  people commemorate September 11th in future years.

My thoughts are with all the people who suffered a loss on that fateful day and it is my sincerest wish that nothing like that will ever happen to any person or country again.

2/3 of the Year Gone

I wrote the following last week but then I completely forgot to actually publish. This debacle accurately proves that it has become very hard for me to maintain a once a week schedule for posting. The result is that you get two posts this week. Here is this one today and there will be another one tomorrow, as scheduled.

It is September so I thought this would be a good time to look back and see, if, so far, I have been meeting my goals for the year. As I have said many times, this year it has been hard for me to post every day. When I came back from my twenty-three day break, (I know you all missed me) I came up with ideas for the first six weeks back. That has been a big help. The strategy of pre-planning so you don’t have to spend time thinking of what topic to write about, is a good one that I will try to use more in the future.

Tweeting, as always, has been easier. Politics gives me most of my material as well as tweeting picture of my travels. Of course, I still can’t tweet my URL. I have given up trying to get it fixed. Recently Jack Dorsey’s Twitter account was hacked. At least he felt some pain also.

My actual writing is going the least well. I haven’t really worked on my book since June. I got stuck in what is probably a diversion from the main project and then life intervened. I am hoping that I will get back to my writing next week. I will keep you up-to-date on my progress.

Hickenlooper

John Hickenlooper, erstwhile presidential candidate, is also a former craft brewer and former Governor of Colorado. He has an online only ad that highlights his career as a brewer. In 1988, he co-founded  Wynkoop Brewery.

The ad is full of brewing references; comparing the country’s polarization to debates in the brewing community over “hazy IPA and pastry stout.” You can read more about the ad here.

In 1988, Hickenlooper and three other men including brew-master Russell Schehrer started a brewpub with pool tables in Denver.  The brewery did produce beer for retail but stopped that in 2016.  Hickenlooper divested his holding when he ran for governor in 2010.

Wynkoop and Breckenridge Brewery merged in 2011,  forming Breckenridge-Wynkoop. The company sold Breckenridge Brewery to In Bev Anheuser-Busch in 2015. Colorado has over 400 breweries and is fourth in  in the country for number of breweries.

Although Hickenlooper has been successful  as a brewer, businessman and Governor, his presidential campaign has not gained much traction.  The New York  Times has an  article, “The Extraordinary Humbling of John Hickenlooper ,” which details his lackluster performance. I would be very surprised if he was on the debate stage in September.

As you may have noticed, I failed to post a blog last week. We had been traveling and my life has been really hectic; dealing with various personal issues. I am posting today because I will be out of town on Wednesday. I will also be unable to post the following two Wednesdays. I hope to and have every  expectation  of resuming my regularly scheduled postings on Aug. 21. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Maine Beer

I recently read an article about Maine beer. The state is second, after Vermont, in the number of breweries per capita. Maine has over 80 breweries.[1]  Maine’s love of beer is a recent development. Here is an explanation from Brewing Battles.

“In Jacksonian America, the various states regulated the retail sale of alcohol, placing license fees on dealers as a minimal control on consumption. The growing temperance movement attacked the license system as inadequate and advocated new legislation. By 1850 reformers had moved from local control of liquor sales to statewide prohibition.[2] In every northern state except New Jersey and Pennsylvania legislators enacted or popular referenda passed “inclusive prohibitory or constitutional measures.”[3]

“In the 1850s, no state had the police capacity to enforce the provisions of this legislation, known as the Maine Law. As a result, advocates of the legislation created extra-legal groups, ostensibly to gather evidence and swear out complaints. Unfortunately, the “leagues” often overstepped these boundaries, generating violence. Both retailers and drinkers refused to accept the legitimacy of prohibition legislation. Liquor sellers organized to fight the Maine Law and the extra-legal enforcement “leagues,” and German and Irish immigrants opposed the law for cultural and economic reasons. The working class as a whole also resisted state intrusion into customary behavior.”[4]

Maine was the first state to pass such a law. Most states repealed the legislation by the 1860s. Maine repealed its law temporarily but reinstated it in 1857 and didn’t repeal it until 1934.[5]

Today, however, Maine is a poor state and beer is a source of reliable revenue. You can go on a Maine Beer trail and visit some of the over 80 breweries. We will be in Maine in August and I plan to visit at least of few of the breweries on the trail. I’ll let you know about the results.

 

[1] https://www.craftbrewingbusiness.com/news/infographic-what-states-have-the-most-breweries-per-resident/

[2] Tyrrell, Sobering Up, 226.

[3]; The Cyclopaedia of Temperance and Prohibition, (New York, 1891), 275–361.

[4] Tyrrell, Sobering Up, 290–307.

[5] William L. Downard, Dictionary of the History of the American Brewing and Distilling Industries (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980), 17.