Friday, February 22, 2019

More than ready for a Green New Deal

Climate activists rallied outside Diane Feinstein's San Francisco office this morning; they know what they want from their Senator.


SEIU Local 1021 which represents local government and some healthcare employees sent a speaker.

But most heartening, Youth vs Apocalypse and #usclimatestrike announced the upcoming student climate walkout planned for March 15. Their time is now.

Friday cat blogging

In general, while Walking San Francisco, I don't see that many outdoor cats. Too many cars around here. But the other day, in what is a pretty posh neighborhood, this beauty crossed the sidewalk ahead of me.
Instead of hiding, this cat came right up to the stranger with the camera, rubbed, and confidently asked to be patted. Oh, such security!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Just for fun

I found this video delicious, perhaps because I was the sort of child who would have delighted in such a "playground." I don't remember there being any playgrounds in the urban neighborhood where I grew up. There was the street -- not heavily traveled, good for playing catch or in winter throwing snowballs at cars. There were back yards, some accessed by wandering up some neighbor's driveway, others by climbing a fence. There were garages -- ostensibly off limits, though not always in actuality. And, best of all, there were garage roofs, sometimes reached by climbing power poles. At best, it was possible to traverse multiple yards jumping from roof to roof.

My entire childhood urban landscape was an "adventure playground." We amused ourselves for hours without adult supervision. Yes, there was risk ... but we lived through it; I don't even remember any terrible injuries.

Enduring hope

Writer and producer Reniqua Allen offers an essay on the lives of black millennials in the New Republic. I found it haunting.

To comprehend the black millennial experience in America is to comprehend what it means to hope. Not in a feel-good way, not in a naive way, but in a desperate way, as a way of life, because the alternative is unacceptable. This is the story of black America, a story of strength and overcoming. But I sometimes wonder: When do we give up? When will hope fade? I am reminded constantly that, despite the hope of a black president, it was under his watch that the movement for black lives started. And it’s in his shadow that a racist president exists.

Go read it all.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

We know what we have to do ...

If Donald Trump had declared his trumped up "state of emergency" two years ago, I'd have been terrified. Now I'm just pissed off at his latest attempt to invent his own reality. He's a fabulist with too damn much power. Real people get hurt everyday while he tries to implement his racist dreams and, more quietly, his GOP enablers do actual damage to country and system of government.

As Daniel Drezner explains succinctly:

... Trump is a weak, disorganized president. But the office he occupies is so strong that even a weak-minded fool can leave lasting scars.

It's worth remembering that most of us are still not taken in by Trump's rambling bluster. According to a recent poll:

Fifty-six percent to 33 percent, more say they trust Mueller’s version of the facts than Trump’s. And by nearly as wide a margin, more believe Mueller is mainly interested in “finding out the truth” than trying to “hurt Trump politically.”

The serious media seem to think the Mueller investigation is moving toward some kind of conclusion after all those indictments and even convictions, though why they think wrap-up is immediately pertinent is not obvious from where I sit. Just today, the New York Times and the Washington Post, always competing to readers' benefit, have attempted wrap-up stories about Trump's tangled skeins of Russian profiteering and betrayal.

In any case, looking ahead if we can just get there, though presidents are usually re-elected, Trump looks distinctly vulnerable. His predicament is simple and satisfying to those us who want a different country:

The president is running hard on a strategy of riling up his base. But by doing that, he riles up the Democratic base, too, and that one is bigger.

Nate Silver at 538 insists we don't have to fear that Trump is a political magician.

Trump does unpopular stuff, and he becomes more unpopular. The erosion mostly comes from independents because Republicans are highly loyal to him and Democrats are already almost uniformly opposed. But Trump will need those independents to win re-election. He needed them to become president in the first place.

Democrats simply have to nominate someone who large fractions of us don't find loathsome. According to Amy Walter at the Cook Political Report who is no partisan:

... the battle for the 'ambivalent' voter as the most critical piece of the 2020 strategy. Trump has done little in his tenure in office to woo those not already in his base. The only question now is if Democrats will nominate a candidate who can appeal to these voters, or if they will choose a flawed candidate who will, once again, force these voters into having to decide between the "best-worst-choice."

We know what we have to do ... unify, work, and turn out everyone who would rather chase hope than wallow in fear. We can do that.

Photo from a window at a card shop on San Francisco's hippest street. Thanks Serendipity.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

#NotMyPresident Day 2019 in San Francisco

As a speaker from Indivisible SF reminded a crowd of several hundred people at the Federal Building, this was our third observance of Not My President Day. We remain determined.


We're not feeling respectful.

We are not impressed.

We are not complacent.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Reflections on the making of a world class athlete

At this moment in time, my courtesy niece, Tara Geraghty-Moats, is the most successful Nordic Combined Women's competitor in the world. The sport, which consists of ski jumping and cross-country racing, has just opened to women this season. Tara has won the first seven high level international competitions, most recently in Rena, Norway.

I've had the privilege of watching this world class athlete come into her own. What did that require of her?

Well, first off, it required good genes. People who are capable of this level of excellence are different from the rest of us.

And it has required a lifetime of willingness to train her body to access her gifts and hone her technique to an exceptional edge. A lot of that was simply grit: day after day driving her body, often in dark and cold. Fortunately, she says this is what she delights in. Top of the line performance probably requires that quirk of character.

But there's so much more. In Tara's case, it has required recovery and rehab from a series of devastating injuries -- two blown-out knees and a smashed arm. This habit of jumping off 100 meter hills isn't for sissies. But she has found flying over snow worth the attendant pain.

And then, there's the fundraising. Nordic sports aren't cheap, especially at the elite level. Competition requires specialized equipment suitable for each setting and every possibility. And winter athletes have to travel widely and frequently to train and race where the hills and snow are located. As a new sport, Women's Nordic Combined has not got much institutional support. Tara, a working class rural young woman, has been piecing together the money to follow her vocation for over a decade. I got my first fundraising letter before she finished her high schooling. But more significantly, she's worked every off-season at a produce farm and pieced together local endorsements to scrape by. Perhaps with her current success, some of the big names in athletics will begin paying her bills. But this is no sure thing in an obscure discipline.

Finally, success for a world class athlete usually requires some level of emotional maturity, the capacity to overcome travel disorientation, anxiety, and pressure, again and again. The necessary focus could be called a positive obsession. This requirement contradicts another reality: world class athletes are usually quite young -- in their teens, twenties, maybe by a stretch their thirties. Yet the champions need to be able to find an inner even keel which is at odds with their own age, hormones, and experience. The ability to find this magic equilibrium may be as rare as those special genes.

It's a my delight to watch Tara finally able to earn recognition for her achievements.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Ahead of his time; ready for our time

One hundred and fifty years ago, the abolitionist and statesman Frederick Douglass addressed the question that underlies the POTUS's immigration panic: what kind of country is this? Who is it for? Douglass did what remains "an amazing job" envisioning what we still find difficult: this is a "composite nation."

Listen up:

We have for along time hesitated to adopt and may yet refuse to adopt, and carry out, the only principle which can solve that difficulty and give peace, strength and security to the Republic, and that is the principle of absolute equality.

We are a country of all extremes—, ends and opposites; the most conspicuous example of composite nationality in the world. Our people defy all the ethnological and logical classifications. In races we range all the way from black to white, with intermediate shades which, as in the apocalyptic vision, no man can name a number.

In regard to creeds and faiths, the condition is no better, and no worse. Differences both as to race and to religion are evidently more likely to increase than to diminish.

Based on his observation of reality, he refused to be panicked by Chinese immigration; by his account, thousands of laborers were already resident, building the railroads.

... I believe that Chinese immigration on a large scale will yet be our irrepressible fact. The spirit of race pride will not always prevail. ... Assuming then that this immigration already has a foothold and will continue for many years to come, we have a new element in our national composition which is likely to exercise a large influence upon the thought and the action of the whole nation. ...

If this prospect alarmed his fellow citizens, they should get over it. He addresses the white portion of the U.S. population, but not them alone.

... There are such things in the world as human rights. They rest upon no conventional foundation, but are external, universal, and indestructible. Among these, is the right of locomotion; the right of migration; the right which belongs to no particular race, but belongs alike to all and to all alike. It is the right you assert by staying here, and your fathers asserted by coming here. It is this great right that I assert for the Chinese and Japanese, and for all other varieties of men equally with yourselves, now and forever. I know of no rights of race superior to the rights of humanity, and when there is a supposed conflict between human and national rights, it is safe to go to the side of humanity. I have great respect for the blue eyed and light haired races of America. They are a mighty people. In any struggle for the good things of this world they need have no fear. They have no need to doubt that they will get their full share.

But I reject the arrogant and scornful theory by which they would limit migratory rights, or any other essential human rights to themselves, and which would make them the owners of this great continent to the exclusion of all other races of men.

I want a home here not only for the negro, the mulatto and the Latin races; but I want the Asiatic to find a home here in the United States, and feel at home here, both for his sake and for ours. Right wrongs no man. If respect is had to majorities, the fact that only one fifth of the population of the globe is white, the other four fifths are colored, ought to have some weight and influence in disposing of this and similar questions. It would be a sad reflection upon the laws of nature and upon the idea of justice, to say nothing of a common Creator, if four fifths of mankind were deprived of the rights of migration to make room for the one fifth. ...

... The grand right of migration and the great wisdom of incorporating foreign elements into our body politic, are founded not upon any genealogical or archeological theory, however learned, but upon the broad fact of a common human nature.

For Douglass, free migration was a right arising out of humanity itself.

I've just learned that the Episcopal Church Calendar remembers the prophetic witness of Frederick Douglass on Wednesday, February 20.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Saturday scenes: planning for a new Tulip Bubble?

Somebody's front yard boasts quite a display.

Also their side yard.

All this in mid-winter too.
...
The Tulip Bubble (or mania) in Holland in the 1630s was the first instance of a recurrent feature of capitalism: in a sort of frenzy, speculators begin to ascribe fantastic values to assets which realistically are close to worthless. You know it is is bubble when the inevitable crash follows. (See also mortgage-backed securities with no underlying housing value in 2008.)

Just today in the tech section of the New York Times, it comes out that JPMorgan Chase has decided to jump into the crytocurrency market:

Despite questioning Bitcoin’s legitimacy, Mr. Dimon has said he recognizes blockchain’s potential in the future of the global financial system. And JPMorgan has already released a blockchain platform, Quorum, that several institutions are using to keep track of financial data.

With the announcement of its coin, JPMorgan is widening its experiment and moving to make the idea of digital currencies more palatable to its typically risk-averse corporate customers.

Do I sniff tulips?

Flowers encountered while Walking San Francisco.

Friday, February 15, 2019

What will winter in San Francisco be like in 2080?

A clever mapping app hosted at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science provides some informed speculation, assuming we (the whole human race!) don't manage to halt our polluting carbon uses.

Folks should play around in it for some pretty daunting predictions. For example, it might be time to get out of Phoenix where winter is predicted to be 12.4°F warmer and 44% drier than today, more like Esperanza in central Mexico.

Friday cat blogging

Morty has perked up over the last few weeks. He still has a potent baleful stare.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Thanks Minnesota!

The long suffering poor peasants of Central America have been waiting for this (and so much more) for 35 years. In this clip, Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar demands Trump's Venezuelan enforcer own up to our past imperial crimes in El Salvador and beyond -- Elliot Abrams clearly never thought such a non-person could be in a position question him. The old defender of death squads was taken aback. Per CNN:

"I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful," Omar said. When Abrams attempted to respond, she told him it was "not a question," to which Abrams countered that it was "an attack."

... The Minnesota Democrat also brought up Abrams' past comments on the US policy in El Salvador. Abrams called that policy "a fabulous achievement" and during a February 1982 Senate testimony, he appeared to downplay reports of a massacre in the Salvadoran town of El Mozote in December 1981. Nearly 1,000 people were killed in by US-trained and -equipped military units in that massacre -- it was the largest mass killing in recent Latin American history.

The seemingly endless migration of desperate people from devastated societies in Central America that Trump so abominates has much of its genesis in the exploits of swashbuckling Reagan-era imperialists of whom Abrams is the exemplar.

I carry no brief for today's Maduro government in Venezuela, but let's hope Abrams can be restrained from letting loose more of the same in that unhappy country.

Valentine for this country

Fine sentiments on the most sentimental of holidays.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Elections have consequences: Nevada Dems move gun background check bill

They aim to have the measure covering private gun sales signed by the one year anniversary of the Parkland High School mass shooting on February 14. Steve Sisolak, the new governor our Reno campaign helped elect, has promised to approve the legislation, commenting:

... in the long run I firmly believe it’s going to save lives.”

Nevada Democrats have been working for this for a long time. They passed a similar bill closing the gun show sales loop hole in their state in 2013; the Republican governor vetoed it. So they went the initiative route, passing a background check measure in 2016 when they also carried the state for Hillary Clinton. But their victory was extremely narrow, 10,000 votes or .9 percent of the the total. They carried only Clark County (Las Vegas). The measure was never implemented because of disputes over what branch of law enforcement would conduct the checks and the hostility Republican office holders. So today's victory for a small measure of gun control has been a long time coming.
...
Here in California where we have more gun control than anywhere else in the country, and look to win more in the current Dem legislature, it's worth remembering that this took a while and strange twists and turns facilitated it. In my memory, protesters could carry visible firearms into the state capital. (Unmentioned in the video, a failed attempt to recall Diane Feinstein when she was mayor of San Francisco in protest of our gun laws launched the now-seemingly perpetual Senator in our political universe.) Well worth a look.
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