Setting a “Backfire”: No Running Totals on Election Night (11/3)

SUNDAY, September 20, 2020

In yesterday’s post, I pointed out that the election will be “decided” by Trump exploiting the vote totals announced by mass media during the last hour of Tuesday, November 3. At 12:01 a.m., Wednesday, November 4th, Trump will declare victory on Twitter.

The only way to defeat this strategy is for all media to refuse to announce running totals. No report of a state’s vote should be announced until at least 90 percent of its precincts have reported.



If mailed-in ballots are still being counted — and they will still being counted well into the next day — then the state’s results cannot be announced. No state can be called until then.

Trump can hardly declare victory if he has only the final (over 90 percent) results of a dozen lightly populated states by 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 4th. The only way to mute his microphone is to refuse to give it misleading information about the vote.

If there is some other way to prevent Trump from fomenting civil war, I would be happy to hear of your proposal.

I can easily imagine, of course, that Trump’s supporters will say that I am proposing exactly what I criticized Trump for yesterday: vote report suppression. On one level, yes. Trump is an arsonist intent on burning down the fragile compact of our political infrastructure. The only way to fight this fire is with a backfire.

On another level, however, the delay in reporting votes that I propose is hardly suppression. I want votes counted. Trump doesn’t. I assume you can see the difference.

Post-Script: As my readers probably know, the West Coast has been enduring over a week of wildfires that have ravaged air quality beyond anything that our lungs can long tolerate. Our health in general has deteriorated the past six months as we have found ourselves unable to engage in the usual levels of exercise. The economy is in tatters. President Trump’s callous comments that the “blue states” are responsible for making his management of the covid-19 pandemic look inept made even a former Republican governor of Pennsylvania wince. “It’s so unworthy of a president. It’s beyond despicable. It’s soulless….. “It’s almost unspeakable in the middle of the pandemic to try to divide the country on a political basis when Covid-19 is really bipartisan.” — Tom Ridge. “Despicable…. soulless …. unspeakable.” These are not the words of a left-wing radical, but a mainstream Republican.

And then The news of Justice Ginsburg’s untimely death arrived. An ideological influenza is about to break loose that will quite possible lead this country into a calamitous war, both with itself and with those who have the capacity to bankrupt what little is left of its moral fibre.

Vote Report Suppression: Trump’s Secret Sauce

SATURDAY, September 19, 2020

“THE IDEA IS NOT TO SUPPRESS THE VOTE, BUT TO SUPPRESS THE REPORT OF THE VOTE.” — GOP campaign strategist, in an e-mail dated mid-July, 2020 (Source: Uanon)

The Democratic Party, as usual, does not understand the real problem they confront in an election. This time they believe the challenge is to overcome Trump’s attempt to suppress the vote by making it more difficult for people to cast a ballot or to have it delivered by the Post Office in time.

WRONG! Trump knows full well that he can’t suppress the vote enough for him to win the election. He also knows that when all the votes are counted, he will once again lose the popular vote.

However, if he can suppress the REPORT of the vote, then he can claim another Electoral College victory. Let’s look at how this will play out.

From Trump’s point of view, 160 electoral college votes are in the bag. White racism is not holding a fire sale. No discounts. The buyers are willing to pay top dollar.

Add to that the electoral college votes of the following states:

Pennsylvania 20
Michigan 16
Florida 29
Ohio. 18
Georgia 16
North Carolina. 15
Arizona 11
Minnesota 10
South Carolina 9
ME (2) — 1

The total is over 270 electoral college votes. Trump wins.

Now, you might say, the final vote count in Arizona and Minnesota will show that Biden won those states, so how can Trump possibly win? (cf: the Kennedy versus Nixon election in 1960; Bush versus Gore, 2000)

Ah! What you don’t understand is that reports on Friday, November 6th, that Biden has won Arizona by 132,749 votes, and Minnesota by 94,283 votes, are fabrications of the liberal media. That’s fake news derived from the machinations of a fraudulent vote.

Instead, Trump will claim, at 12:01 a.m., on Wednesday, November 4th, that all legitimate votes have been counted, and that he has won all of the above states, and therefore the electors in the delegations of those states to the Electoral College are legally bound to vote for him. The fact that the vote totals in North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida are too close for anyone to declare a winner will be irrelevant to Trump’s fantasy world.

Now I am hardly the only one to suggest the above scenario, but I furthermore say that there will be pressure put on those who record vote totals from precincts in the above states not to release information. Precincts known to be leaning towards Biden will be served injunctions, all of which have no legal basis but will be attempts to fluster people into delaying their reports. Keep your eye on the real GOP strategy: “THE IDEA IS NOT TO SUPPRESS THE VOTE, BUT TO SUPPRESS THE REPORT OF THE VOTE.”

I have put that statement in quotation marks because a “Deep State” operative has hacked into a certain political party’s campaign website, and one top-secret memo bluntly spelled out the “winning strategy.” Thank you, Uanon. Of course, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that “Uanon” has no more access to reality than its cousin, “Qanon.” Neverless, democracy’s primary rule has never glowed in such shimmering neon: Caveat emptor.


Every Anti-Racist MUST Vote, Or the Tolerated Violence of Non-Racism Will Flourish

Friday, September 18, 2020

In the aftermath of the last election, one explanation for Trump’s victory was that racists had a motive for voting. Even the KKK liked the GOP’s candidate. No third party defections for the KKK! I am not, of course, painting every Trump supporter as a card-carrying member of the KKK. It remains true that not everyone who voted for Trump in 2016 was a racist, but the chiastic category was pretty much on the mark: “every racist who voted, voted for Trump.” That rule of thumb will hold on Election Day, 2020.

Trump did not win because of the racist vote, however. He won because people who would claim that “I am non-racist” voted for him. In order for Trump to be turned out of office, it is imperative that everyone who regards herself or himself as anti-racist vote, even if they are extremely disappointed by the outcome of the Democratic primaries. If you self-identify as anti-racist and fail to vote, you are no different than the “non-racist” who votes for Trump.

Unless every anti-racist votes, and is relentless in making certain that everyone else who regards herself or himself as anti-racist votes, then the “non-racist” votes will align with the racist vote once again, and those factions will carry the day; and Trump will be re-elected.

However, that will not mean the end of America as we knew it. To fantasize that America “as we knew it” was some kind of haven for idealistic norms as a social contract is to engage in self-delusion on a massive scale. The United States of America is a genocidal project of imperialist domination, but that portion of its history will come to seem like a “good cop” at work. If Trump is re-elected, you’ll get a chance to see a “rogue cop” in action, and Dirty Harry will seem like St. Francis of Assisi, in comparison.

Florence Howe (1929-2020): Feminist Publisher and Editor

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 (updated, Thursday, September 17, 2020)

“I don’t think of publishing either as money making for the moment, or as noise making for the moment. I really think about publishing in relation to learning and consciousness over the long haul, and what is needed to make something that represents more accurately the world we live in.” — Florence Howe

quoted in “The Feminist Press’s Chief Editor, Fund Raiser, and Cheerleader” by Ellen K. Coughlin
NOVEMBER 14, 1990 — Chronicle of Higher Education

(cited in Harrison Smith’s obituary in The Washington Post: )


As founder of the Feminist Press, Florence Howe (1929-2020) made an extraordinary contribution to canonical discourse, and though her accomplishments were acknowledged in several lengthy obituaries, I would argue that they should have been longer and more detailed. In particular, more attention should have been paid to Howe’s work on the anthology, NO MORE MASKS (Anchor Books: Doubleday, Garden City, NY; 1973), which Howe co-edited with the poet Ellen Bass. While Donald Allen’s anthology from Grove Press (1960) has long been regarded as the preeminent collection of “underground” poetry after World War II, its paucity of women poets (a total of four, in fact) is exactly why Howe’s and Bass’s anthology was sorely needed.

In point of fact, though, NO MORE MASKS was not a singularity back when it first appeared. Los Angeles-based poet Ann Stanford, for instance, edited THE WOMEN POETS IN ENGLISH, which McGraw-Hill published in 1972. Stanford’s book, at 374 pages, was very close to being the same size as Howe’s and Bass’s, and I do wonder why Stanford is not included in NO MORE MASKS. Her exclusion, if it was deliberate, will hardly be regarded down the line as an act of encompassing sisterhood. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a neutral party in making this comment. Those of you who know HOLDOUTS: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance (University of Iowa, 2011) will recollect the esteem I have for her work. Nevertheless, in perusing the original volume this afternoon, I am struck more than ever with the implicit dialogue that is taking place in NO MORE MASKS. The women poets are talking to each other, and if the men don’t want to listen in, they are all the more impoverished in their patriarchal enclave.

NO MORE MASKS went on to be reprinted by Harper Perennial in an expansed edition (about twenty percent larger) twenty years after its first appearance, and its cumulative impact continues to be acknowledged. There was a tribute two years ago to this anthology at the Poets House in NYC, which included a panel featuring
Ellen Bass, Natalie Diaz, Marie Howe, Aracelis Girmay, Donna Masini, Saretta Morgan & Alicia Ostriker.

I send my condolences to Ellen Bass, especially.


Advice to Undergraduate Essay Writers

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Years ago, sometime between 2001 and 2003, I was sitting in my office at UCSD, grading yet another first year essay in the equivalent of the “Great Books Program” for the Humanities program at Revelle College. The notes I am about to post came out of a realization I had back then. I wish to thank Professor Steve Cox for the chance he gave me to work in that program. I never would have come up with this particular piece of advice unless I had worked under him.

or, How I Learned to Pay Attention to the Subject Position

Look at the title of your essay.

Then circle the word that is the subject of your thesis sentence.

If the word in the subject position of the thesis sentence is not in the title, then the left and the right hand (so to speak) of your essay don’t know the meaning of the word “coordination.”

You’d be surprised how often a keyword in the title serves as the object (in the predicate part of the sentence), but the argumentative energy of the thesis will recoil most vigorously in the subject position. The primary keyword of your argument (not the heroine or hero of the story) should find its outlet in the subject position of the thesis sentence. THE CONSEQUENCES of that idea should be saved for the predicate.

Now, all rules get broken, and this one is no exception. However, what is the advantage to your argument in diminishing the stature of your main idea by having some nondescript word (“It” or “There…”) in the subject position.

The trick is remembering to put this into practice. It sounds easy and simple enough to check your title and thesis sentence, but in practice, it’s all too easy to forget.

Finally, it you truly want to know how well the argument in your paper is developing, simply look at the subjects of all 50 to 60 sentences in your five-page essay. IT IS LIKE A CHESS GAME. Each word in the subject position represents a move on the chess board. A good chess player is aware of the sequence of moves. Each move matters. What is the advantage of choosing this word (e.g., “retribution”) over another word as one discusses the penal system? At some point in your argument, that word might appear in the subject position of a sentence, but in which one of the several dozen sentences? The writer in control of her art as an essayist knows precisely in the essay when to use that word, and also when to deploy “reconciliation.”

Now the question is: what are looking for once you have assembled your sequence of words in the subject position, for indeed each one constitute a link in a chain. Well, what is it you are checking for?



For a chance to hear a distinct critique of one of our system’s primary disaster zones, here is a link to Steve Cox addressing the logic behind wide-spread imprisonment in the United States:

LINK to Recording of Third W-E Reading

Monday, September 14

Lynn McGee, Susana H. Case, Carolyne Wright, and I wish to thank Allison Blevins, Tina Cane, Robin Myers, and Anthony Seidman for reading in our W – E Bicoastal Reading Series yesterday evening/afternoon. Their poems and translations of other poets were extraordinary, and anyone who wishes they could have caught the reading but founded themselves otherwise detained can view the entire occasion at the following link:

The next reading will be on Sunday, November 15th, and will feature Ellen Bass, and several other poets.

Third W – E Bicoastal Poetry Reading SUNDAY, 9/13

Saturday, September 12, 2020

I received an email from a reader of this blog the other day in which the poet expressed concern about the lack of recent posts. My apologies to anyone who has visited since September 1st, and not seen anything new. Teaching on-line is daunting, at least for those of us who want to provide an experience similar to being in the classroom. For reasons of profession discretion, I am unable to speak about other aspects at my job that have absorbed more time and energy than is usually extracted by my employment.

I have, in fact, had to give considerable attention to making a choice about how much longer I will continue to work full-time as a professor of literature and creative writing. “Not much longer” is the most recent preference. In point of fact, I will probably start teaching half-time starting a year from now.

In the meantime, Linda and I are enduring an onslaught of poisonous air that is unlike anything I have breathed for many years. By chance, we ordered an air filtering machine five days ago and it has arrived in time to get to work in our household. The air quality button glowed bright red immediately after it started working; it very briefly subsided to purple (“poor air quality”) after running for a half-hour, but within a minute burbled back to incandescent red. About an hour ago, I quickly darted out the front door to get the day’s mail and nearly gagged at the stench outside. The West Coast of the United States is undergoing a life-shortening ecological implosion.

In regards to “retirement,” I am allowed to work half-time for five years, which would mean that I could still teach at CSULB until the spring of 2026. After having my lungs and circulatory system bruised with this week’s task force of pollutants. we’ll see how close I get to that finish line.

Linda and I went to the studio yesterday to get some photographs for a project that is documenting the artists working at the Loft in San Pedro. I suggested to the photographers that an exhibit of the photographs (along with one recent work by each of the artists) might make an interesting show in the upstairs exhibition space. One of the hard parts for the Loft during this quarantine measures necessitated by the pandemic is that a very fine exhibit had just been hung before everything shut down. The show was hung with great care; it was kind of thing in which eye can feel how each piece is in exact parallel definition, no matter how large the incremental jump from one piece to the next. It is still on the walls, but it might well be a year from now before anyone sees the show.

Poetry is still available for its audiences, however. The W – E (West – East) series, founded by Lynn McGee and Susana H. Case, continues tomorrow afternoon.

Bill Mohr invites you to a scheduled Zoom poetry reading.

DATE AND Time: SUNDAY, September 13, 2020
4:00 PM Pacific Time

Tina Cane
Robin Myers
Allison Blevens
Anthony Seidman

If you wish to receive the link, please feel free to write me at

I hope you can join us.

Five Poems by Mark Salerno

Sunday, August 29, 2020

According to the finding guide at the Archive for New Poetry at UCSD’s Special Collections in Geisel Library, I first responded to a letter from the poet Mark Salerno in 1985. My memories have grown imperfect, and at some point I hope to get down to San Diego to review that correspondence, which lasted almost 20 years. At this point, I only remember that he had arrived in Los Angeles too late for me to include him in POETRY LOVES POETRY, which is a shame since his poetry has gone on to become far more interesting than the work done by at least two-thirds of the poets in that anthology. I suppose that Mark would make that cut-off line slightly over three-quarters, if not four-fifths, but that’s not a matter for me to settle or to adjust. Mark Salerno’s poetry is right up there with the work of Paul Vangelisti, Martha Ronk, Lee Hickman, Dick Barnes, Lewis MacAdams, Amy Gerstler, Jack Grapes, Charles Bukowski, Ron Koertge, Gerald Locklin, Michael Lally, Laurel Ann Bogen, Kate Braverman, Suzanne Lummis, Wanda Coleman, Eloise Klein Healy, Jim Krusoe, Peter Schjeldahl, David Trinidad, and Dennis Cooper, even if his poems did not appear in PLP. The twenty poets I’ve just listed, by the way, constitute one-third of PLP’s roster; I’ll leave it to the reader to pick a quartet of poets to delete from that list in order to give Charles Harper Webb, Bob Flanagan, Michael C. Ford, and John Thomas a spot in the “starting line-up.” This ensemble of poets, along with Peter Levitt, Doren Robbins, Aleida Rodriguez, Bob Peters, Holly Prado, Harry E. Northup, Bob Crosson, and Jed Rasula, was just a fraction of “the scene”/”scenes” that Salerno found himself in as he was turning 30 years old.

Salerno returned back East after a couple years in Los Angeles, but was back in town “for the duration” by the early 1990s, when he started a magazine, ARSHILE, under the imprint of 96 Tears Press, which also published his first book, Hate. (“96 Tears” was the title of a hit song in 1966 by a garage band from Michigan that is still remembered fondly by those young enough to have savored its carnivalesque fantasy of an abandoned lover turning the tables; “Arshile,” of course, refers to the painter Gorky. All in all, a perfect little example of postmodern juxtaposition.) Salerno has gone on to have had several books of poems published, including Method (Figures Press, 2002) and Odalisque (Salt Publishing: Salt Modern Poets; 2007). A volume of “New and Selected Poems” is long overdue, but Salerno is my nomination for poet-in-residence at the Ovid-in-Internal-Exile of American poets. I am no longer a publisher, so I cannot rectify this situation, but perhaps I can entice the interest of some ambitious young publisher with a sample of Salerno’s poetry. Here, therefore, are the final five poems from Mark Salerno’s ODALISQUE, a book of poems that deserves to be right alongside Ted Berrigan’s THE SONNETS on every contemporary poet’s bookshelf.

In Hours

It ends in bra logic and failed transitive devices

just to advance from one headlong desire to another
notwithstanding our cooped up notions of a primary system

or tunnel vision flop sweat and shtick to save a fairy tale

it’s how we got canned under the regime of reason

the summer after Biggie got shot I gave up my process

because it faded me a little toward the sidelines

I was M. no longer significant in the general crackdown

for a no-talent peroxide blonde in go-go boots

she was brazen as nails to give credence to the world

insofar as cue lines amounted to the dream itself

sticking my damn neck out for whore talk at Steve Boardner’s
and shoring up fragments like all the other poor immigrants

or mouthing off to authority for an odalisque I was M. I was M.


More wan beings in panoramas of their own imaginings

or mixing in with the breakfast crowd at Denny’s on Sunset
they came to the new world to get laid and freak out

in right light moments sordid greed and cheap vainglory

it was a way to be significant without recourse to the alphabet
when the double cross of seduction presented several aspects

a pile-on of widely held beliefs and plural identities

hence one grateful tether to rein her in and connect her

to the world of being under authority and castigation

along with all the other beauty school graduates roughed up
repeating the word free and killing time on the back seat

pretty soon it will all be in English or muffled under the money
the summer after I gave up my process to save a fairy tale
another summed up light in the general crackdown of desire.

Lights Out

A little roughed up and so mouthing off under authority

stranded between seeming and being in fact thrown off the squad

for a no-talent peroxide blonde in go-go boots as occurs

in the next decade of his life he becomes no longer significant

wondering what’s left of our lungs and the brightly colored air

she repeated the word free and told her soul to shut up

on faint scenes of life and numerous assorted fragments

while my part was cut down to a few lines at the end

from a synopsis that could have been found in the back pages of Tiger Beat
Barney’s Beanery Duke’s The Power House The Side Show El Carmen

flunky cops beauty school graduates despised scriveners and seduction

on mile-high heels tits out to here and a small-town history

insofar as being famous was an end in itself

notwithstanding stupid mistakes and the fall back position of blind preoccupation.

Lie to Me

It amounted to a salvage job but there you’re on your own
in twilight a few paces behind the bigshots at Fred Segal
memory that just has to jackhammer your brain for a while
as you wonder if you could ever be relevant again
suppose I didn’t care anymore about her hands or what she said

as though she were just another dumb odalisque on Hollywood Blvd.
new in town and working from a Polish blueprint and mistakes

to be the one who knows versus the one who learns as occurs

when the idolatry of reason got cashiered for fame itself

and the concomitant h.p. demands cue lines and a handful of ludes

it got headlong living below compass to shout oneself hoarse

like two-drink minimum poor immigrants and pie-eyed to be here
until one day it all blows up in your face

I was M. I was the hero this is my story.

Trouble No More

When thinking of his feelings he imagined it as carefree

having relearned risk management on the roof of Hollywood High
because he thought the years of tv light and reason were behind him
he went his own way and took his lumps for it end of story

in the movie the renegade cop resists the system and does good

by transforming the figurative and shoring up useless fragments

he was just seeing himself as unlucky he was playing the sap

if you step over the line once you get smacked you get canned

or sometimes you just find yourself over the line

he thought of himself as below compass and good to go
notwithstanding several aspects simultaneously and a lead pipe logic
immigrants beauty school graduates scriveners and the like

sentenced under The Pottery Barn Rule and mouthing off to authority
long after the point of speaking slowly and simple vocabulary.

All five poems reprinted by permission of Mark Salerno, who retains the rights to the poems.

Interlitq: the California Poets Issue (Part 1)

David Garyan is a poet who received his M.A. as well as his MFA degree at California State University Long Beach, and subsequently moved to Italy, where he is currently studying International Cooperation on Human Rights and Intercultural Heritage at the University of Bologna. He lives in Ravenna. Main Street Rag has published three of Garyan’s chapbooks, along with a full collection, (DISS)INFORMATION. A three-part poem, “Ravenna,” was published in Peter Robertson’s magazine, Interlitq:

David Garyan’s poem “Ravenna” published by Interlitq

Garyan is the guest co-editor of a special feature issue of Interlitq, concentrating on California poets.

The following twelve poets introduce the project, which has just been officially published:

Rae Armantrout
Bart Edelman
David Garyan
Suzanne Lummis
Glenna Luschei
Bill Mohr
D. A. Powell
Amy Uyematsu
Paul Vangelisti
Charles Harper Webb
Bruce Willard
Gail Wronsky


“Reliable Sources”
“Running the Numbers”

“Whistling to Trick the Wind”
“How I Came to You”
“Anyone But Barrymore”

“Those Poets Who Write About Loss”
“Why I am Not the Los Angeles River”

“Mourning Doves”
“The Fifty-Two Year Cycle of the Aztec Caldnear Stone”

Bill Mohr
“The Predicate”
“Turn Lane”
“Breaking Camp”
“Morning Wood”

“Lost Bible”
“Mike the Band”
“24 Hours from Tulsa”

“The Suitcase”
“Winter Friend, the Pine”
“To Tell the Truth”

“Almost Dancing”
From “Liquid Prisoner” (VII)

“Good with Balloons”
”Old Love Letters Becme Space Junk”
“When He Grows Up”
“Polar Air Invades LA – The Six O’Clock News”

“Flight Song”
“Coming and Going”

“The difference between a jaded vision and an honest one is a nightmare”
“Myself am Hell”
“The Non-Self”

Bill Youmans: The Best Person in My High School Class

August 25, 2020

It’s been over 20 years since Bill Youmans died. In the winter of 1999, I happened to be doing laundry at student housing at UCSD, and as I was waiting for clothes to finish drying, I spotted a loose section of the San Diego Union, and began to peruse it. The headline for his obituary spanned five three-inch columns at the top of page B-5: “Bill Youmans; public defender for the underdog.” The article noted that he had been the class valedictorian for Marian High School in 1965, and that he went on to study law at UC Berkeley, where he was a founding member of the Ecology Law Quarterly. He went on to become a public defender, arguing on behalf of some of the more reprehensible criminals to be brought into a courtroom. Youmans had the gift of advocating for the basic humanity of every person, no matter how heinous. In 1998 he was recognized as Public Defender of Year by the California Public Defenders Association.

He died on Feb. 23, 1999, and the memorial service took place a week after the obituary appeared. I didn’t see anyone I recognized, but the First Unitarian Universalist Church was packed. In addition to being survived by his spouse, he had three daughters and two sons, and I hope that all of them are still living. I also hope that they realize how much of an impact Laurens William Youmans had on the people with whom he generously shared his life.

My sister remembers him as an outfielder who literally ran through a fence in order to catch a fly ball. I remember him as someone who was already preparing to act in front of other from a very young age. He played the part of the “Gentleman Caller” in a production of “The Glass Menagerie” at Marian High School. I had done very little acting up to that point, and I still have no idea of how I ended up being cast as Tom in that play. Here is a photograph from that production. I don’t remember the last name of the woman who played the Mother, but I believe her first name was Virginia. Bill Youmans is rising from the table; in the role of Tom; I am catching Alana Milton as she plays Laura.

I hadn’t seen him since we graduated, 55 years ago, but the memory of his integrity and kindness continues to inspire me. It’s so easy to be a bully in this society and for people to admire those who engage in that kind of behavior. Tens of millions approve of such behavior to the extent that they are enthusiastic about re-electing a bully to be this nation’s president. “The United Bullies of America” — that’s what this country’s actual name is.

The other major obituaries in the Union that day were for Jose Quintero (age 74) ; Charles Bates (age 79); Lorin H. Tryon, Jr. (age 71); and Charles Blitzer (age 71).