Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bernie's Program and How It Would Work

Bernie Sanders is the political candidate I enthusiastically endorse and support and it is because his program is not only one that makes a priority of the bulk of American citizens, but also makes a great deal of sense for the country I know and love.

Writer Lauren McCauley, a staff writer for Common Dreams, reported it thusly:

"Robert Pollin, distinguished professor in economics at UMass Amherst and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), examines the major policy items under Sanders’ economic agenda. These include a single-payer healthcare system; increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour; free tuition at public colleges and universities, to be financed by a 'Robin Hood' tax on Wall Street transactions; and large-scale public investments in renewable energy and infrastructure.
"Pollin’s conclusion: this program works, handily. 

 "'All of his major proposals are grounded in solid economic reasoning and evidence,' Pollin says. 'Overall, the Sanders program is capable of raising living standards and reducing insecurity for working people and the poor, expanding higher educational opportunities, and reversing the decades-long trend toward rising inequality. ... It could bring Wall Street’s dominance under control and help prevent a repeat of the financial crisis. It will also strongly support investments in education, clean energy, and public infrastructure, generating millions of good jobs in the process.'"

Obviously, none of this would go down well with Republicans, but in a perfect world, Sanders would win the Oval Office and Democrats would take over the House and Senate (and Supreme Court). I don't expect all that to happen, but it is a sweet thought.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Another Delaying Tactic from a Dead-Stop Congress

The House Freedom Caucus is angling to eliminate the "lame duck session" of Congress, the one held following this fall's election. The elimination of the session would limit Congress to 17 days in session the rest of the year following July 15. Congress doesn't work very much already, but this is ridiculous.

Salem resident Morgan Griffith of the 9th District (you don't have to live in a district to represent it) and Dave Brat, the far-far right-winger who beat Eric Cantor of Richmond, are members. Many blame the Freedom Caucus, which, of course, is Republican, as being the gum in the system, slowing and stopping Congress on a regular basis and creating several of the least effective bodies in its history in recent years.

The rationale for stopping the lame duck session is that Congress screws the public during this period. Well, hell's bells, boys and girls, Congress screws the public on a regular basis, ducks or no. This is simply another way of delaying the inevitability of a liberal Supreme Court. Get used to it guys, it's coming, delaying tactics or no.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

It's Time to Rebel Against Hillary Clinton, Back Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders: He would win (easily against Trump)
The Clinton political machine is finally coming under the withering fire it has deserved all along, but has not received because politics as usual was still being played. Bernie Sanders--and even Donald Trump--are changing that dynamic, Sanders for the good and Trump to the horror of anybody with a brain.

"... Some once great, grass roots movements pledged their troth to a political party and lost touch with their values and their members," writes Bill Curry in a blistering evaluation of the Clinton machine in action. in today's Salon Magazine (here, a superb piece in its understanding and detail of how our system is failing).

Curry's most striking observations are about how the game has changed and why parts of it are resistant to change, even when that change makes the most sense to the organizations and individuals involved.

"Both Clinton and Trump argue their inevitability," Curry writes. "It’s an illusion propped up by rules meant to stifle dissent. (Super delegates in her case, winner-take-all in his) She’d be the weakest candidate Democrats have nominated in half a century or more. He’d be the worst ever nominated by either party. Neither will finish strong. Both may crumble. Each will then say early wins in a rigged system entitle them to nominations. Will either party have the wisdom to say no?"

Curry concludes--and I'm leaning toward agreeing with him--that "The range of possible outcomes includes a Clinton/Trump race but also a Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz or John Kasich-led ticket coming out of Cleveland 10 points ahead of Hillary Clinton or 5 points behind Bernie Sanders. It also includes a Sanders/Trump race in which Bernie beats Trump by more than FDR beat Alf Landon. It only sounds crazy if you’re wearing neoliberal blinders. Two polls in the last five days (Bloomberg and CNN) say that’s exactly what would happen."

Monday, March 28, 2016

Creeping Spring in the Deep Woods

The path was cleared of debris from a recent storm.
Pitchers, wide receivers love pine tar.
A morning hike today found more evidence of a spring season that will not be denied. Deep into the woods, the signs are faint, but they are there if you want to look for evidence like the spectacular redbuds and tiny wildflowers.

The sky was an azure, which set off any color and even made the gray trees look lovely.

Nature in these mountains is spectacular, regardless of when and where. We are extremely fortunate to live here in this wonderland.
The bright green tops of newly leafing trees against the azure sky.
This brook was noisy and brown.
A short water break gives time to absorb the sun and the beauty.
Pampa at the crest of the hike.

Big Doin's: Free Movie Tonight at Grandin

Director Josh Fox
Roanoke's Grandin Theatre, never one to duck a controversy, is playing host tonight to a new documentary by an Academy Award winner that has the strong backing of anti-pipeline activists in the region

This will be the Virginia premier of "How to Let Go of the World (And Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change" by Josh Fox, whose Oscar nomination was for the celebrated "Gasland."

Here's the Grandin's press release:

Activists, landowners and the public will are welcomed free of charge tonight to the Virginia premiere of "How to Let Go of the World (And Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change."

This new documentary  investigates how climate change threatens our world and way of life. Filmed in 12 countries on six continents, the film explores how humanity can hold on to what is most important in the face of the calamitous climate change.

Preserve Franklin and Preserve Roanoke, both chapters of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), are hosts for this free screening to highlight their ongoing struggle against the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. The MVP is a 42-inch pipeline that would transport fracked natural gas over 300 miles from West Virginia to the Virginia coast. Much of the gas is intended for export to foreign countries, while lowering property values, threatening water and air quality, and posing a threat of catastrophic fires and explosions.

Fox will attend the screening and will be available for questions during a Q & A session immediately after the screening.

Goodlatte: The Aging of the Term Limits Guy

Bob Goodlatte running for Congress, 1st term.
Goodlatte today: Term limits reconsidered.
When Bob Goodlatte, a little-known Roanoke immigration lawyer and functionary in the local Republican Party, ran for Congress the first time in 1993, he was a young man with a message a conservative district wanted to hear: Term Limits!

It was his rallying cry against Democrat Steve Musselwhite, a popular and successful Roanoke professional, seeking to fill the seat of retiring former GE director Jim Olin, who had been in the House for as long as he deemed necessary.

Today, as one of the senior members of the House, Goodlatte no longer mentions term limits. He sees the wisdom of keeping Congressmen in their seats far more clearly than he saw it 23 years ago. Eyes improving with age? Nah. But the bank account is almost certainly improved and Goodlatte is part of the party inner sanctum that Donald Trump is making so nervous these days.

Here's Why Trump is Fooling GOP Leadership

Bob Goodlatte: Representing the rich and powerful.
This New York Times article (here) is as good as anything I've seen about the decline of the Republican Party's ruling elite, which includes Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (6th District) and Morgan Griffith (9th District) from our region.

Griffith: Coal is the future(?)
Griffith is referred to in the reference to the "coal country," which is not where he lives, but it is here he represents--though that is only after a fashion. Goodlatte, who is a senior member of the House, is part of the rest of the references of legislators kowtowing to the very wealthy.

Reports The Times: " ... the story is also one of a party elite that abandoned its most faithful voters, blue-collar white Americans, who faced economic pain and uncertainty over the past decade as the party’s donors, lawmakers and lobbyists prospered. From mobile home parks in Florida and factory towns in Michigan, to Virginia’s coal country, where as many as one in five adults live on Social Security disability payments, disenchanted Republican voters lost faith in the agenda of their party’s leaders."

"While jobs in places like Buffalo were vanishing, Washington was coming to resemble a gilded city of lobbyists, contractors and lawmakers. In 2014, the median wealth of members of Congress reached $1 million, about 18 times that of the typical American household."

Sunday, March 27, 2016

BS of the Day: Chief Justice on Nomination Process

“We don’t work as Democrats or Republicans, and I think it’s a very unfortunate perception that the public might get from the confirmation process."

Chief Justice John Roberts on the confirmation non-process of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court, one blockaded by Republicans in an unprecedented move.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Margie and Pampa Go Shopping on City Market

That's both of us in one sign.
Margie looks grand in a red hat.
If it's spring, pretty, Saturday and morning, where should we all be? Roanoke City Market.

Margie and I wafted that way this morning and spent time eating (Alejandro's), cruising plants (I had my pal set aside a staymen apple tree for me), photographing street stuff and, of course, stopping into shops and boutiques.

We did all that before driving out U.S. 460 and hitting the big antiques mall for a bit (I bought a CBS News baseball cap and a 1944 Kodak camera, still in the box). Margie shopped lot and bought a little (a dish towel for her daughter that is vastly cool).

At a lovely little shop called the Gypsy Palooza, owned by a delightful young woman named Katy Newberry, one of the shopgirls noted me photographing Margie, leaned in to me and said, "Wow! She's beautiful." I nodded. "Yes, ma'am. She certainly is." And I snapped another picture.

Good time, we had. As we always do. Here's some of what we saw.

Margie rummages through the clothes.

Waiting for lunch at Alejandro's.
Katie Newberry at Gypsy Palooza.
This young woman thought Margie was gorgeous.
Pampa takes a peek.
Truer words ...
My pardner liked these, but said they wouldn't fit me.
Serious shopping.
I got hung up here.
This cash register is as old as me, and weighs as much.

Shabby Love is a cool little store downtown.
Next, let's look at the hats.
Surrounded by fragility.

One Question for Gigi

This is Gigi. She works at Thelma's, a restaurant in downtown Roanoke that serves yummy chicken and biscuits. I suspect she doesn't make the biscuits or fry the chicken.

Gigi is into decorating her fingers, beginning with rings and seguing into nails.

Four-inch nails (and we're not talking about a rock group here).

Margie and I were on Roanoke City Market a little while ago and struck up a conversation with Gigi, a bright, outgoing, fun woman who called me "honey" when she wasn't calling me "baby." I love Southern women.

After we finished talking and were a distance away from Gigi, Margie said, "I have one question: How does she wipe?"

I wondered that, too, but neither of us had the guts to ask.

Mamas and Babies Enjoying Spring

These yellow crowned night herons are nesting in a sycamore tree above the Roanoke River.
A walk in the park yesterday revealed these mamas and babies enjoying spring. Regardless of the species, it was a great day to be out.

The herons nest high in the trees hanging over the river. The humans tend to gravitate toward lower branches and even swings, while their moms do import communications thingys.

Spring Has Sprung

The flowers and flowering trees tell the whole story: Spring is here. I understand that the weather guys and gals are saying we won't have any more weather this early year worthy of the term "winter," so we can relax, get out the T-shirts and tank tops, load up the float gear and get on with it.

I shot this series yesterday with my new Leica camera, which I just love. Hope you like them.

Hey City, Fix the Dang Road

A couple of weeks ago, I ran a photo of this spot on the low water bridge in Roanoke's Wasena Park, along Wiley Drive, of this piece of deteriorating roadway. It is considerably worse now and it's time to fix it, or have it really get bad and require big bucks for repair.

Friday, March 25, 2016

NC's New Anti-Gay Law Draws Industry Protests

N.C.'s visionary Research Triangle Park: Will we hear from its tenants?
North Carolina's draconian, incomprehensible "bathroom" bill," which blatantly discriminates against LGBT and gay people is beginning to get some blow-back and the protests represent powerful stuff. Major corporations with strong presence in my home state are speaking out against the law and my guess is that anybody considering building a new factory in North Carolina has stopped in mid-sentence to see how this plays out. (Story here.)

Republicans have traditionally kowtowed to corporate America.

As many of you know, North Carolina, like Kansas and Louisiana, has become an showcase of what far right Republican rule means and it is not pretty on its best days. It most often means a state budget in shambles, threats to the survival of the state's educational system, individual rights smashed and a totalitarian mindset in the executive mansion. North Carolina is a state that has been politically purchased by a man named Art Pope (Koch Lite), who basically appointed his man as governor and who owns the General Assembly.

North Carolina prides itself on being a basketball-loving state (North Carolina, Duke, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Davidson, etc., among college, the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA), but this law has pissed off both the NBA and the NCAA, both of which are hinting that major future events scheduled in North Carolina could easily be placed elsewhere.

I would not be surprised if the NFL--Carolina Panthers--had a word to say shortly.

Will N.C. lose NCAA tournament?
An NCAA spokesman is quoted as saying, “We’ll continue to monitor current events, which include issues surrounding diversity, in all cities bidding on NCAA championships and events, as well as cities that have already been named as future host sites. Our commitment to the fair treatment of all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, has not changed and is at the core of our NCAA values. It is our expectation that all people will be welcomed and treated with respect in cities that host our NCAA championships and events.”

Big organizations don't generally begin criticisms--written criticisms--with "Those stupid bumpkins ..." It is more subtle than that. It can mean moving to friendlier states, cancelling huge events, killing jobs. And that could mean political upheaval. Republicans, for all they lack between the ears, are very well aware that they can lose their jobs.

The Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill triangle is one of the best known research areas in the United States and the well-educated people attracted to employment there will be strongly opposed to this law and all it implies about attitudes in North Carolina. We will hear from some of the companies based there shortly.

Here are some of the companies already quietly raising hell about the new law:

American Airlines