Thursday, July 07, 2022

The antidote for mourning is to fight back

Feeling miserable because of the recent US Supreme Court massacre of our personal choices? Skeptical that a log-jammed Congress will come to the rescue for those people who need/want an abortion?

You should know that activists are DOING something in a couple of dicey states.

In Michigan: State Rep. MalloryMcMorrow (@Mallory McMorrow) shouts on Twitter ...
You are NOT powerless. A ballot initiative to get an amendment to the state Constitution on the Nov ballot which would enshrine abortion access and reproductive rights in Michigan has collected the most signatures of any ballot effort IN STATE HISTORY. Volunteers are STILL GOING.
Activists explain that they must submit 429,000 signatures to qualify. So far, they have 800,000 signers and still going.
“We are past the threshold, and we are very confident that we are going to have a large cushion,” [Merissa] Kovach [policy strategist with American Civil Liberties Union] said Tuesday. 
... More than 10,000 donors from across the country have given more than $100,000 to the campaign since Friday, Kovach said Tuesday.  
The campaign told reporters Friday it had attracted a total 30,000 volunteers to circulate the petition and collect signatures. 
“Our volunteers have exploded,” Kovach said.
Winning in November will be a fight -- in Michigan it always is for progressives. But this popular outpouring bodes well.

In Kansas: On August 2, voters will have a chance to vote their desire for legal abortions even sooner. The state constitution currently protects a right to abortion. The forced pregnancy forces thought to overturn this rule in a very low-turnout summer primary election. The Supremes have unleashed outrage that may spoil their plan.

According to TPM:

In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court found that the state constitution protects the right to an abortion. Anti-abortion groups wasted little time in strategizing how to nullify that decision. 
They settled on a ballot vote to amend the constitution with language making it clear that the constitution protects no such right, and asserting that the state does not require government funding of abortion services. It guarantees the very conservative legislature’s right to pass abortion laws “including, but not limited to, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother.” 
... The sleepy primary is suddenly being held in a time where abortion is headlining the national conversation. The fresh wave of attention has given opponents of the amendment, many of whom admitted to TPM that they were very worried about the vote before the leak and final decision came out, a dose of renewed hope.
When they knock you down, girls get up and fight some more.

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

75

How odd -- here I am, turning age 75. Still here and still kicking.

What does 75 mean? Guess I'll find out this year.

I've learned that I can't do physically what I could do even a couple of years ago. Physical training just doesn't produce the same bodily results. But I keep going. Of necessity, I've learned, at my much lesser level, what the mountaineer Conrad Anker observed:

“Eventually,” he allows, “the bell-curve of what I do will get to the point where walking down a path will be my personal Everest. And I’m fine with that."
Well, I'm fine most days.

I concur with my Clydesdale Virtual Racing Team compatriot Byron Oost:
"It's okay to grow old. Just don't grow old and fat!"
Working on that one, just as most of us Clydes have been for decades.

Dhruv Khullar made these observations writing about the pandemic, but they seem true more generally.
Aging involves confronting an ever-expanding set of risks; it means accepting that one’s days are growing more dangerous. A strain, a pain, a virus that in youth might have passed without notice—each new malady becomes saturated with a sense of foreboding. There is no escaping the bodily tax of time.
I find that, having got to this age, many of the people I've known and loved have died. I miss them every day. I notice people my own age falling away. The locution "passed on" stops feeling like an annoying euphemism for death and seems more an accurate description of the great flowing course of humanity.

I cling to the wisdom of my friend Malkia, written from within boundless grief for the woman they loved, for their enduring struggling community, for their suffering ancestors:
It’s never too late
It’s never too late
to change or
maybe
to become more and more
myself
On to another year.

Getting up to speed on Nevada before the campaign

Nationally, Republicans are pushing the Big Lie about voting fraud and trying to get rid of non-partisan election officials who won't play along. And this attack seems to have taken one scalp in Washoe County -- that's Reno and surroundings, where Erudite Partner and I will be working this fall.

John L. Smith explains in the Nevada Independent:

You may have missed the recent story on the resignation of Washoe County Registrar of Voters Deanna Spikula, who departed after 15 years on the job.

Prior to her announcement, Spikula had taken a leave of absence after receiving threats at her office from promoters of baseless claims of voter fraud. The pressure faced by Spikula and other county registrars and clerks responsible for election security in Nevada has been intense and continues even as Donald Trump’s big lie continues to collapse in scandal.

In a week that saw a former White House insider calmly tell the House Jan. 6 committee that former President Trump knew many of his supporters were armed on the day they stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, the departure of a respected protector of one Nevada county’s election didn’t rate as a top-line news event. ...

I've worked with Registrar's offices all over the country. In 2018, Washoe was probably the best organized, most informative, most responsive one I've ever encountered. That's what Nevada Republicans can't stand. Washoe has been run so as to encourage eligible Nevadans to vote. Working in Reno, we'll see whether this professionalism survives Spikula's exit.

Meanwhile, Nevada's Democratic governor who is running for re-election is out with an early ad.

This might seem pedestrian, but Sisolak is addressing what will probably be a central difficulty for Democrats this fall: the economy really is doing well, people have jobs if they want them, but rising prices and the residue of the pandemic leave us all in a lousy mood. And there's real hurt out there. We all easily can ask reflexively, what have you done for me lately? Sisolak toots his administration's horn and recognizes people's pain. Will this work? Probably not easily. But it's worth getting started.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

The morning after the night before

The Mission was hopping last night. The private fireworks shows continued until about 2am.

Carly the Pit Bull needed xanax.

Janeway was less disturbed. She just sought out a lap.

What went wrong in Poland, Hungary, and their neighbors?

In The Light That Failed: Why the West Is Losing the Fight for Democracy, Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev and US law professor Stephen Holmes offer their account of why Poland and Hungary have embraced authoritarian illiberalism. When the long Soviet Russian deep freeze finally melted away in eastern Europe in 1989, westerners and many eastern Europeans themselves expected their countries would make a quick transition to consumer capitalism and long repressed individual liberties. And some of that came to pass, as well as a great deal of kleptocratic appropriation of national treasure by newly minted robber barons, as well as culture shock when the rest of Europe became accessible.

Krastev and Holmes posit that these countries went through an "Age of Imitation" during which they tried to mirror western European societies, attempting "copycat Westernization." And what many felt they got was national humiliation. For their mimicry, they were looked down on by the prosperous neighbors they imitated. And so eastern Europeans were ripe for xenophobic nationalisms and anti-democratic leaders who staunched their psychic wounds.

Illiberal politicians owe their political success to popular resentment at having spent two decades genuflecting before putatively canonical foreign models.
Observing this from the United States, it is easy to look at, for example, Orbán's Hungary and see a society bent on building a vicious wall to exclude immigrants. And that's a reality. But Krastev and Holmes insist the actual demographic panic is about emigration.
This fear ... is fuelled by a largely unspoken preoccupation with demographic collapse. In the period 1989-2017, Latvia haemorrhaged 27 per cent of its population, Lithuania 22.5 per cent, Bulgaria almost 21 per cent. Two million East Germans, or almost 14 per cent of the country's pre-1989 inhabitants, went to West Germany in search of work and a better life. 3.4 million Romanians, a vast majority of them younger than forty, left the country only after the country joined the EU in 2007. The combination of an ageing population, low birth rates and an unending stream of emigration is arguably the principal source of demographic panic in Central and Eastern Europe. The fear of nation-killing depopulation is seldom openly voiced, perhaps because publicizing high rates of expatriation will encourage imitators. ... 
... An otherwise inexplicable panic in the face of a non-existent immigrant invasion from Central Europe can therefore be understood as a distorted echo of a more realistic underlying fear that huge swathes of one's own population, including the most talented youth, will leave the country and remain permanently abroad. ...
And there's more that riles these places. A gulf between generations commonly existing in a rapidly changing world has been exacerbated in countries where Soviet Russian domination induced cultural stasis.
For those born after 1989, in particular, it was as easy to "synchronize' their attitudes and behavior with Western standards as it was uncool to "coordinate" their expectations with those of earlier generations at home. In post-communist societies, as a result, parents lost their ability to transfer their values and attitudes to offspring. How the parents lived and what they achieved or suffered under communism ceased to matter in either material or moral terms. The young were not really revolting against their parents, as happened in the West in 1968. Instead they started feeling sorry for them and otherwise ignoring them.
Now there's a combustible set up! No wonder the youth leave, an opportunity which the European Union offers.

Could this conjunction of ills Krastev and Holmes describe have been avoided? Probably not, once these countries gave market capitalism free rein. Liberal societies in the West have grown up in tandem with rapacious capitalism and, as a consequence of long push-and-pull, have built some obstacles to its total dominance. Eastern Europeans got the worst of it without historical defenses. The result is not pretty.

• • •

I found this book very interesting -- and also wondered whether the framing the two authors have created doesn't leave much out. I'm not nearly enough of a student of these countries to be able say for sure, but I scanned the index and found no mention anywhere of the Catholic Church. Both Poland and Hungary are famously Catholic countries -- might this be part of why liberal democracy failed to take root?

• • •

And the eastern European disjunctions and discontents that point toward authoritarianism seem all too familiar here in our country. I'm an escapee myself from mid-twentieth century Buffalo, New York, a city losing its steel and auto industry and thus its pride and innovative energy.

And just the other day, I read this sad report from rural Montana, once the home of Wobblies, union members who resisted their exploitation by mining tycoons.

It is hard to overstate the love and attention that rural towns lavish on their children. Local newspapers devote pages of coverage to high school sports and other school news. Many towns have banners hanging from streetlights, each with a picture of a member of the graduating high school class. Each graduate also gets a sponsored picture in the local newspaper, with a paragraph detailing their parents, siblings, and plans after graduation. ... Rural towns pour their scarce resources into school kids, and most of them end up moving to either bigger towns in the state, or to big cities out of state. That’s real, not manufactured, rejection and loss. 
The movement of rural kids is mainly driven by lack of opportunity in small towns, but I can’t see that the Republican desire to revert to Sharia Law will do anything but accelerate the exodus. It’s easy for a 70 year-old to put up an “abortion stops a beating heart” sign, a common sight along rural plains roads. It’s quite another thing to be a 19 year-old young woman who has to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to get an abortion, or to live somewhere they’ll get hassled if they want contraception. 
Montanans were smart enough to enshrine the right of privacy into their constitution, so at least they won’t lose the abortion right because of a trigger law (unlike all the bordering states). But who knows how long that will last. And why stick around to find out? Better to get out of town, get a college degree, and move somewhere where freedom is more than a bumper sticker slogan.
And so the divides in our country grow -- but there is reason to believe that there are more of us -- and the future is progressive. If the place remains habitable ...

Monday, July 04, 2022

Beyond the festivities, the burden and the inspiration


David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) offers an Independence Day twitter thread for these "times that try our souls." He's not exactly Tom Paine but his response to the Trump presidency was to write a book he called Traitor and to found the Deep State Radio Network. I've shortened the thread, edited slightly, and will chime in using italics. Rothkopf is indented here.
On this July 4, I think of all the progress the US has made & the struggles we have endured & am convinced that ultimately those who seek to undo that progress & steal that democracy for which we struggled will be defeated.
If I were writing this, I'd go a little lighter on the "progress" and a little heavier on the "struggles." He's just enough younger than I am so that our country's Vietnam aggression was childhood background noise, not the morally indefensible crime it seemed to a very slightly older cohort. Our young men were sent to suffer the moral injury of committing crimes against the Vietnamese. For nothing. Younger people have their own points of disillusionment with US wars and other crimes.
[Winning for democracy] is going to take a long time. Our system will be tested & weakened before it can be strengthened again. Indeed, we will be reminded in the years and perhaps decades ahead that the struggle for freedom is never over, that current generations will have to do their part. 
This holiday is not a time simply to look back at the accomplishments but to recognize that we are in one of the great struggles in our history
I could not agree more. I'm reading these days about the early months of the Abraham Lincoln's 1860 administration when it was not at all clear that the Union could be preserved and the rebellion of the enslaving states turned back. Preserving the country was not at all foreordained then. Or now.
One of our two major political parties, the GOP, seeks to turn back the clock & strip away essential rights we thought had been won. They are actively and, thus far successfully, trying to turn America--once again--into a minority rule nation. There is every reason to believe that their success will continue in the years immediately ahead.  
The Supreme Court majority are now extremist political agents. They are likely to continue to curtail voting rights and give unfair electoral advantages to their allies.  
To the extent Republicans in Congress regain power, they will do the same--attacking core rights of all but those of the white, rich, Christian, male elites they serve. 

Not all GOPers are elites. Many are just people who have been scared into identifying their safety and interests with those of  white, rich, Christian men. That includes some women.

They will continue to harness the power of biased, unprincipled, media outlets to inflame the grievances of a base they claim to serve--but who are actually among those they exploit most egregiously.  
They will win more elections, take more court seats, further enshrine their radical views into law. As long as Democrats seek to compromise with them, to treat them as though we were engaged in the politics of decades past, to negotiate with ourselves, to seek to "reach out" to those who refuse to hear, we will lose ground. 
What makes this struggle so difficult is that it has been engineered for decades by the opponents of democracy within our own country to look as though it were not a struggle at all, to look as though grave defeats were actually "our system at work." 

Baloney!

My optimism is based on the fact that those who believe in democracy, who reject the views of the radical right (which, we must be honest, is today virtually the entire Republican Party), are actually in the majority. Indeed, it is not even close. We are two-thirds of America.
This is true. Issue polling bears Rothkopf out. The struggle is to make our majority forces effectual and powerful. That's always the democratic (small "d") project.
Demographic change is also on our side. The white supremacist impulse of the right is a manifestation of their awareness a more diverse future is coming.  
I also believe that next generation leaders are emerging who will gradually gain more power. These leaders understand the urgency and gravity of the threat we face, that we are in fact at one of those turning points that will define what kind of nation we have... and they understand we cannot take past promises and guarantees for granted.
The sooner this new generation assumes the lead in this fight, the sooner rising generations of voters back them and turn out, the sooner the tide can be reversed. That is not to say older voices must be silenced, but those inclined to compromise and capitulate must be ignored. 
Throughout our history, strength in the face of grave threats, a refusal to meet the enemies of our democracy halfway, has guided our greatest victories, the ones we typically celebrate on Independence Day. 
We need to keep that resolve and spirit in mind as we enter the next phase of this struggle. And make no mistake, while the enemies of democracy have co-opted our system to advance their interests, they have also shown they would go farther, embrace violence, steal, cheat. ... 
Failing to hold them accountable for their crimes would be a defeat. Failing to turn out to deny them majorities in our Congress would be a defeat. Failing to call out their lies each and every time they advance them would be a defeat.
Failing to use every tool at our disposal to undo the damage they have done, reverse the unfair advantages they have given themselves, would be a defeat. And each of these defeats must be seen as every bit as resonant as those we once thought confined to battlefields. ... 

But ours cannot be a contest on a battlefield. The best of us knew that. Martin Luther King knew that. Lesbian feminist activist Barbara Deming knew that, teaching that nonviolent power can win, but only if we understand that our people may have to take most of the casualties. A hard teaching, but one that seems true.

But I have hope this July 4th, that thanks to the over-reach of our enemies and the resolve of many to call out and make clear their crimes, that we are starting to see the dangers we face for what they are.  
[S]uch an awakening along with the trends on our side will ultimately bring yet another set of victories that restore our values and our commitment to progress, to the great (if never fulfilled) aspirations that are America's greatest strength. 
I am not over-confident and none of us should be. But there are reasons to be hopefully, not the least of which is the essential spirit of the American people and the fact that we have not lost such battles before.
I agree with this framing. That's why we're going to Nevada to fight an election against Republicans alongside unionized workers. The particular NV Republicans we need to turn back are pretty dangerous specimens. This sort of campaign is not everything, but in this moment, it is one thing. 

A little more Tom Paine seems appropriate to the day: "Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered ... "

Sunday, July 03, 2022

A campaign operative's confession and cri de coeur

Tim Miller's Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell might not be to everyone's taste, but it sure was to mine. Miller made a career as a minor Republican campaign operative and media spinner over a couple of decades -- but knew in his gut that he couldn't stomach Donald Trump and bailed rather than work for the Orange God King. He now is a charming, queer fixture of the Never-Trump Bulwark (also not everyone's cup of tea).

Here's how Miller describes his new book:
Why We Did It is a book about the people who submitted to every whim of a comically unfit and detestable man who crapped all over them and took over the party they had given their life to. It’s about the army of consultants, politicians, and media figures who stood back and stood by as everything they ever fought for was degraded and devalued. The people who privately admitted they recognized all the risks but still climbed aboard for a ride on the SS Trump Hellship that they knew would assuredly sink. ... These people are not all barbarians or megalomaniacs. They are flawed men and women with shadow wants and desires. It’s just that in this case those desires allowed them to accept an unusual evil.
Being of the "what the hell is wrong with these people?" school myself, I wanted to know how Miller understood them. The book rewards with a history of how the Trump cult became ascendent within the Republican Party and with a taxonomy of its GOP enablers.

On the former point, Miller's answer is scary and convincing: the Republican Party has become what its most loyal constituency -- aggrieved old white men -- always wanted.

He got a glimpse while working on John McCain's campaign in Iowa in 2008. The candidate believed in honest, decent, if limited, public policies to enhance the lives all citizens. That's not what Miller encountered doing advance work:
A part of me realized that the party I had started volunteering for as an early pubescent teen was slipping away from me and the trajectory we were on was a dark one. The Republican voters I saw in Counciltucky [he didn't like Council Bluffs] weren’t looking for straight talk or paeans to national purpose. What they really wanted was to stick it in the other’s eye and be comforted by convenient lies. They just needed a leader shameless enough to give it to them.
As was likely the case for many confused Republican operatives, it was that anarcho-fascist Steve Bannon who offered insight into where the druthers of the GOP voters could be found:
“Centering the commenters” meant elevating the issues that most motivated core readers. Bannon would talk about the “hobbits” and “deplorables” who read Breitbart and how they powered the campaigns of the site’s favored anti-establishment candidates.  ... 
The result of this consistent elevation of and advocacy for fringe views was that it forced the political campaigns to respond to the things that highly engaged voters cared about. In theory, this is a good thing. In practice, it led to madness. People care about a lot of crazy shit to begin with, and when they are being goaded and inflamed by a [right-wing] propaganda machine it leads to fresh concerns that resonate emotionally, while being quite far afield from their daily lives.
Less inflammatory, more conventional Republicans didn't know what hit them when Donald Trump turned up, tickling the ids of GOP base voters.
It was the commenters, the hobbits, who had taken charge. And they were the ones dragging us along, no matter how we assured ourselves that we were in control.
Miller goes on to describe the flailing of his peer Republican campaign operatives and policy nerds when the party they thought they worked for vaporized and then was transformed after Trump's flukey 2016 election victory. He provides a taxonomy of enablers he names Messiahs and Junior Messiahs, Demonizers, LOL Nothing Matters, Republicans Tribalist Trolls, Strivers, Little Mixes, Peter Principle Disprovers, Nerd Revengers, The Inert Team Players, The Compartmentalizers, and Cartel Cashers.

The distinctions he draws between these groups are clearly of some importance to Miller, but I found these vignettes somewhat boring. These Republicans found lots of ways to be assholes, but I just don't care. Obviously, something (and it was more than a paycheck) was missing in these people. Here are some of Miller's conclusions:
• For many people in Washington, their party is more a part of their identity than their ethnicity, religion, or personal history. It’s how they see themselves and how everyone in their social network defines them. Shedding an ingrained identity that others use to define you takes courage, even if that identity is toxic and self-destructive. All of this makes the bar for removing “Republican operative” from a person’s identity pretty hard. 
• ... my friends who stuck around the GOP had a visceral loathing that I’m not sure I realized was there even when I was part of it. When we were sparring with our Democratic counterparts, some of us were kind of faking it, going along with the kayfabe. While the rest of them were employing faux outrage and gamesmanship as well, it turns out that underneath the performance was a much more deep-seated desire to see the other side punished. To watch them get owned. Their grievances were based in part in ideology, but more often it seemed like simple interpersonal annoyance and privilege. 
• They live in liberal bubbles and find their neighbors’ excesses grating. They are sick of being told what they should and shouldn’t say or do. They are embittered that the media is always being unfair to them. They are tired of diversity requirements that mean they lose out on jobs to “people of color.” They blanche at the DEI packets being handed out at their kids’ schools. ... 
•... All of that annoyance and envy bottles up until it boils over. ... They all wanted to cut the left down a peg. Put a cap on the diversifying cultural elite who were flourishing at what they perceived was their expense. Trump was the vehicle for doing it.
All that seems an inadequate excuse for selfishly overthrowing a 230-year-old evolving democracy -- but hey, I've never been a Republican.

Why did the individual named Tim Miller bounce out -- become a RINO -- and join active resistance to Trumpism? It's got to have mattered that he's gay and had already chosen to affirm his orientation while still on the GOP team.
Coming out was the best decision I ever made, by a landslide. If you happen to be reading this and are still on the fence, I’m telling you, you should do it. It improved my life in myriad ways, big and small. It widened the aperture through which I viewed the world and expanded my capacity for empathy. It saved me. ... 
... coming out still required me to unravel a mindfuck that was a quarter century in the making. The closet is omnipresent and omnipotent. It engulfs you. It makes everything you do a lie.
Before and for quite awhile after he came out, he lived inside the cognitive dissonance of  compartmentalization: diving into his gay "personal" life while he "contorted himself into defending homophobes."  He could sustain the dissonance for awhile; and then he could no longer. Coming out prepared him to bolt away from Trump.

• • •

What made this book for me was Miller's candid description of "The Game," the ethos (and sometimes flexible ethics) of the work of campaigns. Been there, seen that, participated in a small way in its pleasures and its corruptions. Some quotes from Miller:

I confessed ... that politics offered me the same kind of competitive outlet that sports fandom had.  
... The horse race mindset, taken to its logical conclusion, makes ideology subordinate to gamesmanship.  
... They were hacks through and through, adrenaline junkies who were in it for the fight. No matter which role they were in, staffers began to see themselves as tacticians in this made-for-TV blood sport rather than as functionaries in a system that is aimed to produce the best policy outcomes for their fellow citizens.  
... Whether something was the right thing to do only mattered to the extent that it was also the right thing to do politically. When the strategy, politics, and policy impacts all aligned: great. But when they didn’t, well, that was a concern for the wonks. Not our problem.
Although almost all the campaigns I've worked in pretty much every year since 1989 have been for the success of what I consider desirable ideological ends -- more fairness, more justice, more equity, less cruelty -- I know the delicious rush that is doing campaign battle. You do bizarre things that your project demands: for example, in the service of trying to end the death penalty in California, I found myself working side by side amicably with the consultant for the state's Roman Catholic bishops. He had previously steered the successful 2008 Prop. 8 campaign to ban gay marriage. We each brought something ... I've also promoted candidates about whom I had plenty of reservations -- but enough hope to make the effort palatable. 

Election work is indeed an ethically dangerous game, but also a hell of an absorbing racket.

Tim Miller provides a delicious picture of that life for a Washington DC operative. I couldn't help enjoying that story, even as I loathed his employers.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

There is no bottom for Republicans

We live in a strange place and time. I find myself reading conservatives and Republicans. Why? Because the rare ones who can bring themselves to break with their racist and radically anti-democratic political party speak with a clarity that those of us who are more forward-oriented seldom match.

Liz Cheney believes in terrible things, most certainly guns for all and unconstrained U.S. foreign adventures. But she also seems to care about the country's faltering democratic vision.

Last week she braved that GOP citadel, the Ronald Reagan Library, to call out the political party which is ejecting her for clinging to belief in the rule of law and elections where the most votes win the prize. (Excerpts via Charlie Sykes.)
I ... know that at this moment, we are confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before. And that is a former president who is attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional Republic.  
And he is aided by Republican leaders and elected officials, who've made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man. 
No party, and no people, and no nation can defend and perpetuate a constitutional Republic if they accept a leader who's gone to war with the rule of law, with the democratic process, or with the peaceful transition of power, with the Constitution itself.  
... As we have shown, Donald Trump attempted to overturn the presidential election. ... 
... It's undeniable. It's also painful for Republicans to accept. And I think we all have to recognize and understand what it means to say those words, and what it means that those things happen.  
But the reality that we face today, as Republicans, as we think about the choice in front of us: We have to choose. Because Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution…. [LOUD APPLAUSE]
Not everyone was applauding. A Republican hack protested to Fox News inciter Laura Ingraham:
[Craig] Shirley predicted that the presidential library would face a backlash over its decision to host Cheney, the chair of the House Jan. 6 committee, which many Republicans in Congress have denigrated to Trump’s delight. The library, Shirley said, “is going to see donations trickle down because of this and attendance trickle down because of this.”
Dissenters from the Orange God King must be punished. 

In the country at large, Republicans cannot win a majority of freely cast votes. Oh sure, they can win in unpopulated and unprosperous rural areas. But most of us want something else, even if we're not very good at agreeing on exactly what. So Republicans have to rig electoral districts, rig election procedures, and ultimately rig the courts to try to hang on to power over the majority of us. They will not stop unless/until we stop them, outvote them, outlast them, and ultimately peacefully overwhelm them.

Friday, July 01, 2022

Friday cat blogging

We love Janeway's freckle. You might think from this picture that she was growing into being a matriarch -- and then she starts racing around, her tail flares out, and you remember the freckle.

While we go to Reno to do our bit for saving U.S. constitutional rule by way of the midterm election, Janeway is going to what we suspect she'll consider reform school: living with 3 other adult cats and a elderly dog. Also two animal-loving humans to whom we are very grateful. Will she return more mature? Will she remember us when we come home? Time will tell.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Gleaning in the Mission

The old fashioned definition of gleaning is "to gather (leftover grain or other produce) after a harvest." I think of the word as referring to gathering any food stuffs freely available. Gleaning in my mind is a little more agricultural than dumpster diving for left overs, but still something people in need do. And should be entitled to do.

And there's a street tree that has produced highly edible tasty plums right outside our house. If you were not observant, you might not notice the fruit.

It looks like any sidewalk tree.

But note the urban gleaner's foot descending from the tree.

 
Folks have been eating free plums from this tree for a week. I've having one that one of them offered me right now.

The residue of Brexit

Six years on, The Guardian revisits Brexit, Britains' messy divorce via referendum from the European Common Market and the project of a united Europe. The article is long and detailed but paints a convincing picture of Brexit failure.

On 23 June 2016, Geoffrey Betts, the managing director of a small office supplies business in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, had high hopes for his firm, and the British economy, when he voted for Brexit. 
“I thought we would be like … ‘here we go, here we go. We are going to become the most competitive country in Europe and we are going to be encouraging business.’ Now I think: ‘What have we done?’” 
His firm, Stewart Superior, has survived, but not without major restructuring and huge efforts to get around obstacles that Brexit has put in the way of the export side of the business.
For a lot of people in Britain, Brexit isn't working out as they were promised and had hoped. Add in the global pandemic, and the economy became mired in doldrums.


I've been convinced that the flat out insane vote for Brexit was the product of a creaky, elitist, oblivious political system that had delivered the poisonous Iraq war and a generation defining economic crash during the 2000s, but couldn't provide constructive leadership or widely shared prosperity to many Britons. (Yes ... that has all too much in common with the conditions that elected Donald Trump in the same year.)
Six years after the referendum which took the UK out of the EU, the economic case for Brexit is proving increasingly difficult for its supporters – including inside the Conservative party – to make. 
The impression was that there would be no downside. We would thrive outside Europe’s bureaucracy which was strangling our companies with red tape. The huge benefits of the single market – trading freely across borders, with common standards – were never highlighted by Vote Leave, and rarely by the crudely alarmist Remain camp, either. 
Only now, with the worst of the pandemic (probably) behind us, and ministers unable to blame Covid, is Brexit reality being laid bare. Next year the OECD calculates that the UK will record the lowest growth in the G20 with the exception of Russia whose economy is being drained by its war on Ukraine.
Going it alone attracted a slim majority of British voters in 2016. It now seems the Boris Johnson's Conservative Party may finally pay a price for the drag that Brexit is exerting on British well-being. Last week the Tories lost two special elections in areas they had controlled.

But, as in the United States, the damage inflicted on the national edifice by an impulsive vote by frustrated people will be hard to recover from.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Blog housekeeping notes

If you read this blog on a desktop or a tablet, you'll notice some changes to these pages. I decided that it was time to clean things up a bit.

The photo above shows what may get lost during the upcoming campaign season: Reno, Nevada is a beautiful place, when you get away from the casinos and when the air is clean. We'll be there through mid-November, duking it out for the Dems. Campaigns coincide with fire season, so clean air is not a given. But early in the morning and at sunset, the skies and surroundings can be breathtaking. Maybe by November, I'll have photos of the same duck pond and surrounding peaks after the first snow ...

Erudite Partner and I report for campaign duty in Reno at the end of the first week of July.

In the right sidebar, I've added links to summary posts about what's at stake in the 2022 midterm elections: governors, Senators, and Secretaries of State. After all, that's what we'll be focused on.

And here's a link for anyone who might want to get paid to dip deeply into the electoral fray this fall in several locations with UniteHERE, the national hospitality workers' union.

I've shortened the blog list at the right, cutting back to odd web outposts you might not encounter -- or, some of them, even want to encounter. I like a lot of variety. Makes me think.

Will I post every day during the campaign? Maybe not. This round will be a test of my aging body and stamina. But I've posted regularly if not deeply through campaigns before, so we'll see. I post to focus my own thinking, oftentimes, as well as share with others.

This very week will be a test of how much I'm driven to post. If it seems burdensome, I won't. The Erudite Partner and I are taking three days away at a hot springs to mark some significant birthdays. "Significant birthdays" are ones divisible by five -- and these qualify. Imagine I'll put up a few things here, if only pictures of relaxation before the storm.

On into campaign season ...