On the morning of Wednesday April 18, I rode my bike downtown on clean dry streets. By 7pm, the world around purplearth world headquarters looked like this:
In a recent news report on the 2016 election, impoverished West Virginia coal miners were asked why they voted for Trump. They said “he seems to be on our side”. I believe they were gravely mistaken.
Trump and the Republican Party are not on the side of working people and they never will be. Republicans like Trump are manipulative con artists who fool people into believing empty promises that are instantly broken on inauguration day.
Whose side are Republicans on? Meet Don Blankenship, who owned a big coal mining company in West Virginia. He played fast and loose with safety regulations until his criminal negligence led to a massive explosion, killing 29 miners. Don briefly went to prison for this, but he’s back in West Virginia running for the US Senate as a Republican.
Republicans are on the side of mine owners like Blankenship. Democrats are on the side of the miners themselves, looking out for their safety and fair treatment.
If you work in a factory, it’s the Democrats who are on your side. Republicans are on the side of the corporate bosses who treat their workforce as a commodity to be overworked, underpaid and discarded.
Democrats are on the side of farmers – people who work the fields, tend livestock, and harvest and process our food. Republicans are on the side of the corporate food processors who underpay the farmers, overcharge their customers, and overpay themselves.
Republicans are on the side of those who poison our air and water, crush our wages, degrade our quality of life, and muffle our voices thru voter suppression and union busting.
So unless you’re a rich and greedy sociopath, it’s the Democrats who are on your side. Please remember that in November.
On the morning of August 21, RoZ and I were in Service Creek, Oregon for the total solar eclipse. We were with our friend Sage, his 8-year-old son Cosmo and their greyhound Serendipity.
We had driven 300+ miles from Seattle the day before and camped on the roadside near an old back-country stage stop. After marveling at the high-desert skyscape, we got a good night’s sleep and had breakfast at the stage stop in time for the big event. Read on
A week ago, we took our first Limo ride of the season on the La Crosse River Trail, which crosses a few miles of marsh as it leaves town. I packed the “good” camera, just in case…
On our way out, we saw blue herons, egrets, and Canada geese… the usual suspects. As we stopped at our favorite bench, a sandhill crane passed closely overhead.
Once I got the camera out, they all hunkered down…
After we got on our bike for the trip home, we were greeted by geese with a group of newly hatched young. The cranes and the egrets came closer.
Then on the city marsh, we saw this:
Thankfully, after a day of watching the “usual suspects” keep their distance, the unusual visitors came close to say “Hello.”
Presidential election campaigns get wall-to-wall media coverage for four years, which holds our attention and leads to high turn-out (though one can argue it’s not high enough). But when local elections are held a few months later, turn-out can languish in the teens or in single digits. I believe this is upside-down.
A national election affects the overall attitude and direction of national policy, but its immediate effect on our day-to-day lives is minuscule relative to the outcome of a local election. For instance, an election for municipal judge is widely ignored. But if we have a dispute with a neighbor or an unjust citation, we stand before the municipal judge.
The city council approves zoning rules that determine what we can do with our own property. They hire police officers with the power to arrest and detain us, as well as the officials responsible for the upkeep of our roads and parks.
The members of the school board determine who will teach our children, what they will be taught, and how well we care for the buildings where our kids spend their days.
Yet with all the direct impact that local officials have on our personal lives, local elections seem to be universally ignored. We ignore these elections at our peril.
Now more than ever, we must pay close attention to local elections. Most candidates are only a phone call away. Talk to them about the issues you care about, then show up to vote on April 4.
My statement for Ron Kind’s “listening” session was occupying my brain cells for several days before-hand. In spite of showing up early and following all of the rules, most of the people who got called on showed up long after I did.
I can only conclude that either the process for choosing people to call on was grossly unfair, or unappealing questions were filtered out of the pile. I suspect a combination of both. At any rate, after three hours invested in my attempt to participate in democracy, I was never called on.
Here is what I would have said if Kind had had the courage to call on me:
The last time we spoke, it was during breakfast one morning last summer in Philadelphia. Our encounter was hurried and awkward, and it didn’t go well for any of us, and I apologize for that. So let me take this opportunity to respectfully and politely explain why so many people have a problem with your position on international trade deals.
We are not against trade per se, but we prefer FAIR trade over “free” trade. The problem with NAFTA, CAFTA, SHAFTA, the TPP, and all of the other trade deals you support so enthusiastically is that when they were negotiated, the only people at the table were representatives of trans-national corporations.
Those who represent working people were not given a seat at the table.
Those who represent the interests of the environment were not given a seat at the table.
The entire process was conducted in the dark, and the general public – even members of Congress – was forbidden from knowing what was being negotiated in our names.
If these agreements had been negotiated openly, and with advocates for workers, local communities, and the environment at the table, then we might have reacted differently.
But the biggest deal-breaker is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement provision. ISDS allows a foreign corporation to sue a domestic government for passing a law that may affect potential future profits. For example, there was a state that wanted Country Of Origin Labelling on food products, but a Canadian food processor sued for potential (NOT actual) lost profits.
This is an attack on our national sovereignty, as it puts the interests of foreign corporations against the will of our own people. I really hope you can reconsider your position on such international trade deals in the future.
Perhaps my mistake was being truthful when I filled out the space on my sheet with my question. “I’d like a response to some concerns on trade.” I don’t remember hearing ANY questions where trade was the central topic.
During the last half-hour of the “listening” session, I could see Kind sifting thru the pile of question sheets in front of him. Some were discreetly shuffled to the side. I suspect the word “trade” got my sheet shuffled to the side.
“I’ll be holding another listening session in La Crosse,” he said as time wound down. But I’m not going to waste my time showing up unless those of us who didn’t get called on are guaranteed to be at the front of the line next time.
When I see newcomers hated and disrespected, I remember the story of a war hero named Al Maliki.
Al Maliki’s father was brought to America as a toddler, and Al himself was born an American citizen.
When Al became a young adult, America was at war with his ancestral homeland. But Al Maliki was a proud and loyal American, so he enlisted in the US Army. The recruiting officer told Al that his foreign name might create hostility, so he translated his last name into English and changed it to that.
Al still knew his ancestral language, which made him valuable as an interpreter for one of the generals. Al Maliki was honored for his service and came home a war hero.
This is a true story, but it involves another people at another time.
A century ago, the first world war was raging and Germans were so hated that the German language was purged from Americans’ lexicon. Bratwursts were called “liberty sausages,” sauerkraut was “liberty cabbage” and dachshunds became “liberty puppies.” On the north side of La Crosse, Berlinstrasse was renamed Liberty Street.
In spite of the hate and derision directed at German-Americans like him, a young man named Albert Koenig enlisted in the Army, and changed his name to Albert King in order to get along. Many years later, I got to know him as “Grandpa.”
We feel shame, regret and bewilderment as we look back on the treatment of German-Americans during the first world war, internment of Japanese-Americans in the second world war, the genocide of First Nations, the kidnapping and enslavement of Africans, and countless other injustices and atrocities scattered thru our history. Our grandchildren may feel the same way about us if we continue this shameful history.
There will always be newcomers to our country. Let’s offer our new neighbors the warm welcome that our grandparents were denied.
It appears that having been a delegate to the DNC got me on the White House (at least Obama’s White House) Holiday Card List. It was a Really Cool surprise to find this in the mailbox this morning:
In eighth grade, I was a bench-warmer for my Catholic grade school’s football team. Our star receiver was a guy that was always a dick toward me on the school playground. In fact his name was Dick, and his friends called him Dickie.
One Saturday morning we were playing a road game. I was standing on the sidelines (as usual) when our quarterback threw a bomb to Dickie who then sprinted toward the end zone. As I was jumping up and down screaming, “go, Dickie, go!”, a little voice in my head reminded me, “hey, don’t you hate that guy?”
Indeed, I did hate that guy. But at that moment, he was part of my team and he was helping my team to win, and it made everyone on the team happy.
As a National Bernie delegate, that’s how I feel about voting for Hillary. I have problems with her hawkish foreign policy and her coziness with Wall Street. On the other hand, she has adopted most of Bernie’s playbook; and a growing number of “Bernie players” are on the team.
We all would have preferred to have Bernie as our quarterback, and we feel sore about how the choice was made during tryouts. But Hillary is now our quarterback, and there is nothing we can do now that will change that. For our team to win, we must respect and support our quarterback, just as I cheered for Dickie in eighth grade.
Remember, Bernie people: we’re winning! If we elect Hillary and flip the Senate, then Bernie Sanders becomes one of the most powerful people in Washington. So do his allies such as Elizabeth Warren and (hopefully) Russ Feingold. These are OUR people, and Hillary can’t do anything without their help and approval.
So this is no time to walk off the field in disgust. To support a third party this year is a waste of effort, like picking a high school team to win the Super Bowl. We need to make sure our team keeps the ball. Letting it fall to the other team would be a disaster.
With our players on the field, and the quarterback running our plays… that puts us in a good position to get our quarterback on the field next season.
The game doesn’t end on election day. That’s when the second half begins.
You can learn a lot about someone by looking at the company they keep, so it’s disturbing to see the Republican Party hanging out with the repulsive sewer-rats of humanity.
Ever since their “southern strategy” of the Nixon years, Republicans have appealed to bigots with “dog whistle” terms only racists would understand. When white nationalists flocked to the party like flies to a cow pie, Republicans doubled down. They saw only votes where they should have seen vermin.
Now the vermin have promoted a sleazy bullying con-man to the top of the Republican ticket. Party leaders express outrage when he says (in plain English) what Republicans have said in carefully coded language for generations. But the somber condemnations always end with, “He has my vote.”
I’m sorry, that is unacceptable. Any candidate running as a Republican is disqualified from holding any position of public trust.
By nominating Donald Trump for president, the Republican Party embraced hatred, bigotry and mean-spiritedness. The American people must loudly and unambiguously demonstrate to the world that this is not who we are, and we must do so by rejecting every Republican on every ballot in the nation.
The Republican Party has degenerated into a party of white hoods, brown shirts and dunce caps. Democrats may not be perfect, but their candidates are sincere good-hearted people working to improve everyone’s quality of life thru public service. Democrats are far more worthy of our votes than the creeps and clowns on the other side of the ballot.