Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sometimes only music can lift the gloom of national tragedy and disgrace. We can believe in the unheard lyrics even against all visual evidence in the daily news to the contrary. Isn't that what faith is?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Let All the Dreamers Wake the Nation, Come, the New Jerusalem

Can't vote today -- God help us! -- but we can be lifted up by music.

An Open Letter To Congresswoman Virginia Foxx

You should vote for the "Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act, 2019," which is before the US House right now, but we know you won't. You wouldn't vote for assistance to victims of Hurricane Florence, which devastated the lives of so many North Carolinians in 2018, so why would you feel any empathy for brown children on the southern border?

The brutalizing of children seeking asylum in the land of the free shocks the conscience. The cruelty of Trump administration policies appalls the heart. We know Donald Trump's first instinct is to inflict pain: "She's not my type." That appears to be your first instinct too. Do you want to be like two peas in a rancid pod with Donald Trump?

You built a nursery business in the North Carolina mountains using immigrant labor, so you certainly know how to use people. Do you also feel any sympathy? You like to brag about how poor you were growing up, which is, I guess, supposed to be an index to how much you feel for other poor people, but you don't appear to feel at all. Bragging about how poor you were doesn't open a window into fellow-feeling for others. Do you look at people sweating to make you richer and feel nothing but an uptick in your bank account? Even expendable workers need food and water, and their knowing you grew up poor doesn't help at all. It might just increase their pain.

The whole world is watching the inhumanity of the United States government toward powerless human beings. We are watching. You are part of the government. You have power. You have influence. You have lots of money. Why don't you do something other than hardening your heart?

Or are you a prisoner of your own history?

How Trump Didn't Choose McCrory

Axios got its hands on nearly 100 "internal Trump transition vetting documents" detailing facts/rumors/opinions about individuals who were being mentioned for Trump administration jobs. Former Governor Pat McCrory was on the list, apparently being vetted as a possible Secretary of Energy.

The dossier on McCrory was littered with "red flags" -- reasons he might be a disaster waiting to happen -- and as we know, he wasn't picked to be Secretary of Energy or anything else for that matter.

The dossier hit the high points of McCrory's biography -- his indebtedness to Duke Energy, his sore loser history, his "thin skin" -- and headlined his past criticism of Donald Trump. One section of the dossier, titled "General Controversy," has been completely redacted by Axios.

It's particularly interesting that the dossier views McCrory's claim of voter fraud in his loss to Governor Roy Cooper as a liability, while Donald Trump was alleging exactly the same thing to explain how Hillary Clinton got 3 million more votes than he did in November 2016.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Democratic Women Lining Up To Take Out Maine's Susan Collins

The Cook Political Report rates Maine's US Senate seat (held currently by Susan Collins) as "lean Republican," which is not exactly granite but rather pretty shaky ground for Senator Collins.

Dynamic Democratic women candidates have already been lining up for a big state primary next June 9th for the privilege of taking on Collins in November of 2020. Collins has tried to maintain her "moderate" reputation while voting with Donald Trump 98% of the time. The last straw for many in her state was her mealy-mouthed support for Brett Kavanaugh.

Sara Gideon
Today, a third Democratic woman stepped forward ... Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Sara Gideon, the daughter of an Indian immigrant father and a second-generation Armenian American mother. She has served in the Maine House of Representatives since 2012 and rose fast to become Speaker of the House. She seems like a powerhouse politician.

Hayley Miller in HuffPost:
The 47-year-old mother of three has focused her legislative tenure on boosting the state’s economy, tackling the opioid crisis, investing in sustainable energy and increasing access to universal health care. 
In the last few weeks of Maine’s first regular legislative session of 2019, Gideon oversaw the passage of several progressive bills, including automatic voter registration and expanding abortion access for women across the state. 
Her anti-poverty legislation to address the state’s “benefits cliff” and provide training for adults to qualify for higher-paying jobs received unanimous support in the state’s House and Senate on Tuesday. The bill is awaiting Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ signature.
Betsy Sweet
Already in the race for the Senate seat (she beat Gideon to the punch by about a week) -- Democrat Betsy Sweet, who ran previously in 2018 for Maine governor but lost the Democratic primary to Janet Mills who went on to win the governorship.

Betsy Sweet has decades of political activism behind her. She founded Moose Ridge Associates in 1990, a major lobbying outfit for progressive causes in Maine.
A legislative advocate at the State House for thirty years, Sweet has developed and implemented strategy and legislation for many non-profit social service and environmental clients. She can list hundreds of pieces of successful legislation to her credit. She is also known around the statehouse as one of the most effective advocates and experts on the state budget and funding services for Maine people who need them.
Lawyer Bre Kidman was actually the first Democrat to declare her candidacy for Collins seat, in April, because she feared no other Democrat was going to announce -- "someone had to take on the task," she said. Kidman doesn't have the credentials, the political connections, or the experience of either Gideon or Sweet, so there's a chance she'll drop out now that two more credible Democratic candidates are in the race.

Collins looks weak, and she shot herself in the ankle with her vote for Brett Kavanaugh and her continued kowtowing to Donald Trump's agenda while mouthing "moderate" opinions and failing to follow through.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

A 2020 Re-Play: Gail Young v. Larry Pittman

NC House member Larry Pittman (R-Dist. 83) is still fighting the Civil War on the losing side. He continuously insults Abraham Lincoln as ever bit as tyrannical as Adolph Hitler, and he thinks of homosexuals as less than full citizens. He's more than just a character. He's a legislator in the North Carolina General Assembly, God help us all!

Last year in his most recent reelection he got less than 53% of the vote against Democrat Gail Young, who polled 47.22%. That ain't bad. That actually suggests that Pittman is maybe hanging onto his seat by sheer voter inertia and force of habit.

I noticed only recently that Gail Young has declared her intention of challenging Pittman once again in 2020. She's a seasoned candidate by now, and she might bank on greater name recognition this time. Here's what I wrote about her very early in 2018:
Young is an advocate for government reform and accountability and the leader of a liberal advocacy group in Cabarrus County called Citizens in Action NC. She is also a retired career public servant, having worked for a long time for the Mecklenburg County government as a Division Director of the Land Use and Environmental Services Agency. “The politicians in Raleigh are not listening to the people they represent," Young says. "I have seen firsthand how frustrated people are after they met with their elected officials. Time and again I have heard that the elected officials don’t really listen and don’t care about the thoughts and priorities of their constituents. That must end.” Redistricting reform also played a large role in Young’s decision to run for the state House. She said she sees the legislature’s redistricting process as more an attempt to protect incumbents rather than an effort to protect the voice of the people of North Carolina.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Luckiest Democrat in the Nation

Alabama Senator Doug Jones must have a guardian angel. The improbable winner of Jeff Sessions' old seat in a 2017 special election has been staring down the barrel of his first reelection campaign in 2020, and along comes a repeat Republican offender in Roy Moore who says he intends to drag the Republican Party down again next year.

Oh goodie!

“Yes, I will run for the United States Senate in 2020,” Moore told reporters in Montgomery, Ala. “Can I win? Yes, I can win.”

Four other Republicans have already declared for the race, none of them with the name recognition nor toxic history of Roy Moore. Some observers think hope that maybe Jeff Sessions will get in and run for his old seat, in which case Roy Moore would probably be crushed in the primary.

Twitterman, who supported Moore in 2017, has turned his back on him, calling him a loser who can't possibly win the Senate seat. That's got to hurt. But it has also fed Roy Moore's ego, to prove Trump wrong. What could be more tempting than proving all the Washington establishment wrong?

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Summer Solstice 2019

Summer Solstice, at Stonehenge
The Summer Solstice strikes tomorrow morning at 11:54 a.m.

It's your moment for placating whichever gods/goddesses you acknowledge.

The earth goddesses here are Ceres and Flora, with a host of local deities of river, rock, and rise. We also acknowledge the sky gods, who've been such a problem lately. What is your problem, guys?

11:54 would be, for ancient peoples, that moment when the sun appeared to stand still, because they didn't understand the tilt of the earth on its axis and that when it reaches the max extent of its northward tilt (at 11:54 a.m. tomorrow, for one example), it begins to tilt back toward the south.

Ain't science wonderful?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A 2020 Texas Congressional Race To Watch

We've seen a boatload of videos introducing first-time candidates to the voting public, but we've rarely seen one as good as this:

Walking and talking on camera ain't that easy, but Kim Olson pulls it off with skill and aplomb. Plus the biography she's sketching -- with the help of killer graphics -- is pretty impressive, especially in Texas where she's running to unseat a Republican congressman occupying a previously safe Republican seat.

District 24 includes parts of Tarrant, Dallas, and all of Denton counties north of the Dallas metropolitan agglomeration. It's suburbia, you bet, and includes thousands of students at North Texas State University.

(Won't pause now to sketch Kim Olson's biography, except to say she was in the first generation of female Air Force pilots. You can read a stripped-down biography here and also see a stunning photograph of her during her USAF heyday.)

Olson's no stranger to candidacy for public office. She ran in 2018 for Texas Secretary of Agriculture and got 3,822,137 votes, over 46% of the total, but lost to the Republican candidate. Statewide races in Texas -- especially for Democrats -- ain't no picnic, but she made a name for herself as a rising talent.

Republican Incumbent Congressman Kenny Marchant
Kenny Marchant
First elected to Congress in 2004, Marchant has mainly coasted to reelection every year since, except in 2018 when another Democratic woman came within 8,000 votes, or 47.5% of the total votes cast, of beating him. Suddenly, Kenny Marchant, a good ole Texas boy possibly past his prime, looks vulnerable. The beef against him in 2017, heading into that 2018 election, was that he was hiding from his constituents. An Indivisible group with a sizable Facebook presence was stalking him, and he didn't like it a little bit.

He's been a member of the Tea Party Caucus and calls himself a "stanch conservative." He voted repeatedly to abolish the Affordable Care Act, part of the reason the Indivisible group wants to chat.