Fun! Rome Circa 350 AD; a Bird’s Eye View

Something totally unrelated to Super Tuesday Eve.

Via Vox and from and the Khan Academy: “What Ancient Rome Actually Looked Like.”  (Well we think.)


48 Years of 12 of the 10 Most Consequencial Public Servants


The following table of Supreme Court Justices by seat was compiled using the following sources:

List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States by seat (Wikipedia)

The Potential for the Most Liberal Supreme Court in Decades  (NYT:  The Upshot 2/18/16)

As I am wont to do, I’ve added red and blue to categorize party or a left-center partisanship.  The partisanship of the judges is based on the Martin-Quinn scored used effectively in a couple of graphics in the NYT piece above.

Table One:  US Supreme Court Seat by Year.

Supreme Court



As you can see from this admittedly simplistic chart if Scalia’s seat 9 is occupied by someone appointed by a Democrat who has left-of-center leanings on topics such as corporate power, women’s rights, gun control, and campaign financing then there will be a “fundamental transformation” of our political structure as people like Glenn Beck have been frightening their listeners about ever since President Obama used that phrase.

Scalia’s replacement will more than likely be that 5th left-of-center judge that I’ve not seen during my adult lifetime.   The Republican leadership lead by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell understands that they must pull out all the stops to pander to their evangelical and low-income/wealth Republican voters who have been sold the lie that America as they understand it is the one protected by Justices like Antonin Scalia where money is speech, the 2nd Amendment meant that any US governing agency could not restrict armament ownership, the struggle for civil rights for all citizens is as good as done, workers do not require special protections against their right to organize, marriage is for men and woman only, and state governments have the right to in-effect ban women from seeking abortions.

In short the line on the right will be that we are losing our Judaeo-Christian principles and heritage to the liberal heathens and in these types of struggles, political hardball including abdicating one’s Constitutional duties to an extent never seen in our Country’s history would remain a righteous cause.

One more thing, please note from the graph that the reason we have gotten where we have with a consistently right wing bench is 12 of the last 16 Supreme Court Justices have been nominated by Republican presidents who have had intense pressure since Roe vs. Wade from their religious base to appoint conservative Justices.  An example?  Does anyone remember the outrage from the Right when George W. Bush had the audacity to nominate family friend Harriet Myers that in the end resulted in the President withdrawing his nomination and appointing the very conservative Samuel Alito to the bench?

Continue reading “48 Years of 12 of the 10 Most Consequencial Public Servants”

South Carolina: This White Northern Liberal Is Listening (UPDATE)

Today is the Democratic portion of South Carolina’s primary season. Nate Silver’s 538 doesn’t give us Bernie supporters any real chance.

But that is as it should be.   Any result will be how it should be.

SC was once a Confederate state with passions so hot that states had the right to protect the institution of slavery that South Carolina’s Ft. Sumter was where fighting began on April 12, 1961.

Ft. Sumter, South Carolina

The Democratic Party was of course the party of the Southern rebellion and loyalty remained for Southern Democrats until Northern Democrats finally won what must have been an uneasy truce within the party.  South Carolina was exclusively a Democratic state until 1948, “the year that changed South Carolina politics forever.”  Here is what happened from a short recent history of the SC Democratic Primary from SC’s Newspaper “The State”.

In 1947, George Elmore of Richland County challenged the state’s all-white Democratic primary for denying blacks the right to vote.  At the time, South Carolina effectively was a one-party state and winning the Democratic primary was tantamount to election.  The judge sided with Elmore, writing in his decision, “It is time for South Carolina to rejoin the Union.”  In an effort to block integration of the primary, the party’s executive committee started requiring all voters to take an oath pledging to “support the social, religious, and educational separation of the races.”  But the judge threw out the oath, putting an end to the all-white primary.


George Elmore

From the site

George A. Elmore born March 31, 1905 died February 25, 1959. At the time this picture was made, Elmore was probably a driver with the Blue Ribbon Taxi Club in Columbia. His would become one of the best known names in the annuls of post-World War 11 Southern legal and political history. He attempted to vote in South Carolina’s all-white Democratic primary in August 1946. Denied the ballot, he agreed to become the “guinea pig” in a suit filed by the NAACP on February 21, 1947 in Federal District Court for the Eastern District of South Carolina against the manager of Columbia’s Ward Nine and the Richland County Democratic Executive Committee, with John L. Rice named as defendant.

Elmore’s case was argued by Thurgood Marshall before Judge J. Waites Waring, who on July 12 ruled that the Democratic Party of South Carolina could no longer exclude qualified Negroes from participating in primary elections. Waring’s decision destroyed the all-white primary in the state.

So, fast forward to today in Humboldt County, CA.  I had been planning on writing a post from an activist’s perspective about South Carolina, but then a Charles Blow column on Berniesplaining changed that.

In his most recent column he also writes this…

There isn’t one black America, but two: The children of the Great Migration and the children of those who stayed behind in the South. (Black immigrants are another story.) Having spent the first half of my life in the South and the second in Great Migration destination cities, I can attest that the sensibilities are as different as night and day.

There is a scene described in the Stanley Nelson’s fascinating documentary “Freedom Summer” about an integrated delegation from Mississippi to be seated at the 1964 Democratic Convention instead of the all-white one.

At one point, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. of New York is dispatched to the integrated delegation to persuade them to accept a pathetic compromise to remedy the standoff between the delegations.

Powell reportedly said to Fannie Lou Hamer, a member of the integrated delegation, “You don’t know who I am, do you?” Hamer responded, “Yeah, I know who you are. You are Adam Clayton Powell.” She continued, “But how many bales of cotton have you picked? How many beatings have you taken?”

It was her way of telling her Northern brother not to dictate what those in the South should do or how they should think.

African Americans make up 55% of South Carolina’s Democratic electorate. I look forward to hearing about the results of the primary today and I and tens of millions of others will be a proud supporter of whomever you elect as your candidate.  One way or another we will have a strong candidate on the issues coming out of our Democratic Convention.

UPDATE: (2/28/16 5:37 AM)

And from an Op/Ed in the NYT:

Juanita Moore, 62, said that she wished fellow black voters had done more research into Mr. Sanders’s campaign platform before making up their minds and voting for a familiar name.

For me, South Carolina’s voters closed the door on the possibility of a Sanders Democratic nomination.  I think the campaign was a great idea and it did amazingly well.  I haven’t paid close enough attention to Hillary’s  positions but the fact she came out strongly for universal health care is a good starting point.

My personal hope, and you saw some of this during the last Democratic debate, is that Bernie focuses on concrete proposals that would help shift an economy broken in part by inequality.  The most clear example of this is to begin to ask the question:  Why do we have a cap on the Social Security payroll tax at $118,500?  Hillary, could you please work to remove this?

Also, I think it’s never too early for Northern progressives such as Elizabeth Warren to reach out to Southern Democratic parties.  The 50 state strategy is critical, especially in the states where our African American brothers and sisters have been left behind by the dominant Republican Party.

Continue reading “South Carolina: This White Northern Liberal Is Listening (UPDATE)”

Three Fifths a President

I don’t believe the reflexive political decision by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (see tweet below the fold) was primarily because the President is African American.  I do believe racial politics allow McConnell and Republican Senators to imagine preventing a Democrat from appointing a Supreme Court justice to replace Justice Scalia.

The primary reason for an unprecedented level of coordinated obstructionism on one of the most important duties of a president is the high stakes involved in the appointment of the next justice.

As a Democrat, if the roles were reversed I know I too would be desperate that those sharing my political views would do everything they . could .. to …..

But to what?  Delay?  Demand a justice appointment closer to my views?

We have to learn to accept that partisanship (see below for definition) is extant, ubiquitous and all things considered, not a bad thing.  Partisanship is of course a part of being a Supreme Court Justice as in the end they are human too.  We all have our biases and beliefs.

Having said that, we are also a nation of laws, and this too is a good thing.  So here are a couple of suggestions to President Obama and Democratic leaders.

a)  President Obama – Nominate a Justice as is your responsibility and right. Democrats and right minded Republicans – do everything you can to insure those who voted for President Obama in 2012 are represented as they should be.  Presidents are elected for full terms, not some fraction of terms.

b) As there is strong consensus on the Republican side that there should be a ban on nominations being passed in election years, let’s make this law.  Pass a bill that delineates the last day a sitting President can nominate any Federal Judge and receive advice and consent.  Let’s set the rules and then let’s follow them. We can’t make them up as we go along.

The current declared and unconstitutional obstructionism, if anything more than a political ploy to encourage President Obama to nominate a more acceptable Justice, is one in a long line in the Republican war against governing.  Under this current political practice they really don’t lose (1) because in the end, one of their goals is to reduce the efficacy of government and one way to do that is to insure that governing only occurs when people who share their views are in charge.

The timing of Justice Scalia’s death does beg the question, when is the last date a President can nominate a Justice and be guaranteed his or her choice can be appointed timely?  If Republicans are determined to continue this charade, let’s make sure the first African-American President will not be the only president that only gets 3/5’s of his term.  Let’s make them put in writing that they believe what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

(1) I mean until they have to try to win elections in blue states or for President of the United States where it seems the electorate has figured this out.

Continue reading “Three Fifths a President”

24 Days. It’s Not Too Late To Change Humboldt…

March 3rd is the filing deadline for candidates state wide for the June 7th primary election.

Humboldt County DemocratsI can here you now, “I’m not a candidate, why should I care?”.  Well, you should be a candidate.  Especially if you, like me, are listening to the Democratic debates and feeling like we can continue important progress President Obama has made not only nationally, but locally.  Hillary or Bernie will need us on board if we are to return to a county powered again by people, not money.

The local Democrats, organized as the HCDCC or Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee elects its members every four years and it’s being done in this presidential year primary.

We need you, especially if you happen to believe in things like our common future and sustaining what is best about ourselves, our county and our world into the future.

What it would cost?  A monthly meeting and as much time volunteering as you have depending on your interests and how much time you have available.  A four year commitment.

What could you gain? There is an infinite opportunity for those interested to learn:  from rubbing elbows with local elected officials, to understanding campaign finance laws, to parliamentary procedure, to how to find candidates (including yourself?) and help them get elected.

Are you interested?  The deadline is March 3rd and we definitely need your help.   I realize all to well the trend is for people to denigrate partisan politics and our two national parties.  However, I challenge any one to come up with a more effective way to leverage what one person can do to change the world outside of their daily occupation and hobbies.

If you are not ready to commit to 4 years yet, come to a meeting periodically and get to know  a little those currently carrying the torch for local left-of-center politics.  We meet the 2nd Wednesday of each month. If you are ready to commit, and (again) we need YOU *points finger*, please visit the HCDCC main page where we have outlined the relatively simple way you can get yourself on the Humboldt County ballot this June.  This is also re-published below.

If you have any questions, our office number is (707) 445-3366.  I’m also happy to answer any questions or concerns in the comment section

From the HCDCC website:

Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee
Elected Membership

All Democrats registered to vote in Humboldt County are eligible to become elected Members of the Democratic Central Committee.

Those interested, including current Members of the Central Committee, must file papers with the Elections & Voter Registration office.

It is important that all potential candidates for the Central Committee understand the time and financial responsibility of becoming Members. A good place to begin deciding if this Committee is for you, is to read the By-Laws.

Filing Instructions

Take out candidate papers at the Elections & Voter Registration office beginning January 4th.

3033 H St.
Room 20
Eureka, CA 95501

To qualify one must have 20 (twenty) verified signatures. The Committee strongly encourages you to submit 25 (twenty-five) signatures as a precaution in case some of your signatures are not verified. (Experienced Members have turned in as many as 30 (thirty) signatures. The Elections Office stops checking when they get to 20 (twenty) valid signatures.)

Signatures must be of registered Democrats living in the same Supervisorial District as you do.

Turn in the signatures by March 11. We recommend turning in the names early in case any of your signatures aren’t valid for your District and you need to collect more. (Additionally, the Elections office strongly encourages your to turn in your names early so they can verify them in a timely manner.)

If the same number, or fewer, candidates for your district are qualified, you will be elected as your candidacy is uncontested.

If more than the legally allowed number of candidates for your district submit qualified signatures, you will be on the ballot in your District for the June Primary election.

Number of legally allowed Members per District:

  • District One – 4
  • District Two – 4
  • District Three – 5
  • District Four – 4
  • District Five – 4

Please contact Committee Chair or Vice-Chair if you have any questions.

“i can’t close my eyes and make it go away”

Part Two of a post on the decision Friday by the California Coastal Commission to fire Executive Director Charles Lester for doing his job making deliberate decisions to protect CA’s coast.

Here is a chart of the votes. Red denotes the “please fire this public servant who was doing his job well” and the blue denotes those requesting “could we please let the Coastal Commission do it’s job”.  Governor Brown’s name was highlighted in red as all his appointees totally coincidentally happened to vote to remove Lester.

  Commissioners Job Appointed By: Date Tenure
1 Erik Howell Councilmember Governor Brown 02/21/14 2
2 Effie Turnbull Sanders Commissioner Governor Brown 01/13/14 2
3 Martha McClure Supervisor Governor Brown 05/20/11 5
4 Wendy Mitchell Commissioner Governor Brown 12/31/10 5
5 Olga Diaz (Alternate)   Speaker 09/09/13 2
6 Mark Vargas Commissioner Speaker 04/24/13 3
7 Roberto Uranga Councilmember Senate Rules Committee 03/18/15 1
8 Chair Steve Kinsey Supervisor Senate Rules Committee 05/20/11 5
9 Dayna Bochco Commissioner Senate Rules Committee 05/20/11 5
10 Mary Shallenberger Commissioner Senate Rules Committee 11/22/04 11
11 Mary Luévano Commissioner Speaker 08/31/15 0
12 Carole Groom Supervisor Speaker 05/20/13 3

SOURCES:  Coastal Commission  and LA Times article linked below.

Just FYI.  Tables and graphs sometimes can make things clearer than a bunch of type-words.


Coverage from the LA Times:

No other commissioners offered explanations following the vote. After giving Lester a moment to speak, they adjourned.

The dismissal takes effect immediately, with senior Deputy Director Jack Ainsworth leading the agency until the commission selects an interim and permanent replacement.

Commissioners took the action in closed session because they said they were bound by law to honor Lester’s right to privacy.But their reasoning did not align with advice from the agency’s chief counsel, who told the panel they were free to discuss any current issues involving Lester’s performance because he had chosen a public hearing to defend himself.”

“This created an atmosphere of public distrust.  We need to set the record straight. There was no coup by developer interests.  But this is like trying to convince people that the fluoride in their water was not a communist plot,”   –  Commissioner Mark Vargas


“I would like to discuss with the press the reasons we are here.  It is not about developers and their consultants. We have been terribly mischaracterized as developer hacks.”  – Vice Chair Dayna Bochco

“You’re getting killed here today, told commissioners.”  – Humboldt’s Ralph Faust everybody!  From the LA Times:  “He urged them to make their decision in public, adding that “whatever it is, own it and defend it.

“A former chairman of the commission, Mel Nutter, said the way the hearing was structured — with hours of public testimony before any commissioners uttered any criticisms of Lester — was “totally backwards.”

“The public was asked in effect to present a defense against a set of charges that were never presented,” said Nutter, a Long Beach attorney. “It was totally backwards and that put the public at a huge disadvantage.””



Coastal Commission fires executive director over objection of hundreds of supporters – LA Times
Commissioners vote 7-5 to dismiss executive director – LA Times

A great stench in Morro Bay – Today’s Editorial in the Times Standard.




“i can’t believe the news today”

i can’t close my eyes and make it go away.

how long must we sing this song?

– U2

This was the news today.  The Coastal Commission voted behind closed doors to fire a public servant who was doing too good of a job.  The Edge of U2 needed his home where no one else could build one, and so did many others.  Looks like the scales of development justice have just been made a great deal more favorable.

The development that will be built in expedited fashion from a new Executive Director that might not have the expertise but will be a more willing listener to what the people through their representatives want.


Lookit, a couple of early morning thoughts as we begin to live in the new world that we have known was in the offing for a couple of years.

a) This is an outrage b/c it’s another example of what sadly, Humboldtians are all too familiar:  crushing the responsibility of a governmental agency from the inside.  The problem is not with the Coastal Commission who was doing it’s job just fine, thank you very much.  The problem was the Development Commission wasn’t doing it’s job.   Of course there isn’t a Development Commission, so to change things we have to tweak the mission of the Coastal Commission just a bit.  Maybe we should rename it the Incentivizing Coastal Protection and Development Commission.

b) This is not about growth vs. no growth (from the NYT “It stirred longstanding tensions here between environmentalists and advocates of growth.”).  This is about where to grow and how.  I have no problem with Edge or the myriad of nameless and soon to be much more well-to-do land owners and tenets with the amazing views, but it is right that we do the development where it is appropriate and it would be nice if we had strong and competent individuals to follow the mandates behind the Coastal Commission and the Act that created it.

c) We need more information.  Please, please more public interest reporting on this.  Who voted for firing Charles Lester?  Who nominated them (update:  more coming and here), what are their backgrounds and their interests?  How did they understand what is needed to protect the coast better than a professional?

d)  As a member of Gen X, as someone who has spent countless hours listening actively or passively during my formative years to Bono and The Edge, let me say to those younger and older: I’m sorry.  I’m sorry that we haven’t been more active.  I hope this will change in months and years to come with those Gen Xers who get it.  Who knew that all that amazing music was, in the end, really about buying the coolest homes you couldCongrats.  Glad I could contribute.

Continue reading ““i can’t believe the news today””

Live Updates of a CA Coastal Commission Meeting?

Yup.  Via the LA Times.

Also coverage from page A10 of the NYT yesterday.


Trump Coming Home to Roost

I thought I’d be writing today about how the voters proved the whole Trump phenomena was a media-driven charade.

But the Republican voters in New Hampshire proved otherwise.  Donald Trump beat expectations and won the New Hampshire primary yesterday in a landslide (approximately 35% with Kasich a distant second with 16%).

What strikes me is the first reaction from conservative radio host Bill Bennett early this morning.

Let me tell you something very subtle that Trump is doing….It’s always about them and us and it’s always about I’m going to do for Americans.  The villains in Donald Trumps’ piece are other people, people from other places, Chinese, Japanese, Mexico Middle East, and it is Americans that are the victims.  If you think about the enemies, the people you should hate or you should not trust, they are people from other places.

– Bill Bennett 2/10/16

This is a hint to me that Bill and others do get what they are doing.   They can see in others what they themselves do, whether it is to Muslims, immigrants or the rats in the Democrat Party.

(Bill Bennett among many other conservative politicians and pundits have a tick where they will not say “Democratic” as in Democratic Party, it’s always the Democrat Party.  Always.)

In his next sentence, he rightfully points out that the left does this too and our “enemies” are the rich, the one percent etc.  And where that is true for us on the left, we have to change, but this is not two sides of the same coin.

The results of Republican policies will inevitably be more torture, less health care for immigrants who come here to do the work we won’t, and war of attrition against this or that antagonist.  This is the world of the Donald Trump’s voter.  At worst we call bankers “banksters”.  Where we on the left use words like “enemy”, we shouldn’t because our policies understand we need all of us to solve our problems to the high standards we as a people insist upon.

People as far flung as Glenn Beck and much of the Republican Party establishment understand the darkness that votes for Donald Trump represent.  That same darkness does not exist in fellow anti-establishment candidate Bernie Sanders.  It simply doesn’t, and I hope we can have an honest discussion about these differences instead of lumping both together as different sides of the same anti-establishment coin.

For 30 years a successful right-wing media business model  has told a segment of American willing to listen that liberals, progressives, community organizers, feminists, immigrants, activists telling us black lives matter, etc. are either the enemy or somehow a little less than American.  Therefore the opinions, the justice served, and ultimately the lives of the myriad of others shouldn’t count as much.  The absurdity that is candidate Trump is a direct result of those millions of hours of populist right-wing media.

It’s clear from the statement above that Bill Bennett understands how it is done.  What I wonder is if he understands that he does the same thing?  Does he realize that his rhetoric over the years has lead directly to 34% of New Hampshire voters voting for Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for President of the United States? Continue reading “Trump Coming Home to Roost”

Media-splaining Democrats and Socialism

I’m going to say this bluntly. The only person standing between a confirmed socialist who is calling for political revolution in this country winning the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, which has always been more moderate than that, is you.

– Chris Matthews interviewing (or mediaspaining to?) Hillary Clinton

There is so much to unpack in this sentence alone, not to mention the entire interview.

Let’s talk about 3 words that Chris uses to instill the view with fear.

a) Socialism:  When Bernie talks about socialism he is talking about a political system such as Denmark which insures workers are not exploited. For example, in Denmark, McDonald’s employees that get $20/hr.  Bernie is decidedly not speaking about Communism where adjectives such as “confirmed” might be necessary.  It’s simple and Democrat FDR would have understood this.

b) Revolution:  When Bernie talks about revolution, he isn’t speaking about journalists getting murdered in the streets, he is talking about a political revolution, one where money is not speech, corporations are not people, and the news is not infotainment.  It’s simple and Democrat FDR would have understood this.  Political revolutions are common in Democratic governing history and they include the SSA, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and the Civil Rights Act.  Bernie’s revolution is to continue to walk back the destructive Reagan Revolution – something we are only beginning to do.

c) Moderation:   There was nothing moderate about the reforms Democrat FDR passed that continue to help us avoid the natural down cycles of a free market system.

We still depend on the modern-state and worker-protection reforms such as Social Security, FDIC, et. that he and the Democrats were able to pass while the “economic royalists” did (and are still doing) everything they could to prevent and then repeal these.  Btw, the first Republican president after these reforms, President Eisenhower, also understood the importance of a modern state and invested in infrastructure like our highway system while maintaining a 90% top marginal tax rate.  Today, arguing for returning to these top marginal tax rates or protecting SSA programs or even Medicare is seen as immoderate or even unconstitutional.  This doesn’t mean it is, it just means the conversation has moved so far to the right that protecting and expanding common goals such as universal health care or paying for the maintenance of our common infrastructure now seems extreme.

So if you can make it through that first sentence of mediasplaining in the Matthews/Clinton interview you should.  You’ll learn a lot about the common-sense of the media middle right now and what is at stake. (Don’t forget this is the media that gets slammed as being too liberal.)

Thankfully Hillary didn’t take the bait as much as she could.  I think she comports herself well and I understand sentiments of hers like (paraphrasing) “rolling up one’s sleeves and compromising”.  Here is one example of Hillary pushing back.  Chris Matthews said this.

Can the Bernie people be taught—not him, he can’t be taught—can the kids behind him be told that this is how it works in our system?

Darn kids, we in the media gotta learn ’em good.  Secretary Clinton replied, in part, with this important concept.

People have to believe they have a stake in it, that their voices count, but then they gotta see results from their investment in our democracy. Our democracy has to work better. Our politics have to work better.

Yes, Secretary Clinton thank you, and I would add this.   Even more than just believe, our politics have to work better in having people actually have a stake in the results.

My question to both Secretary Clinton and for Mr. Matthews who mentioned a NDC mentality (November Doesn’t Count) from the sixties, what becomes of the middle when the right is made of up exaggeration, false narratives with the left as the “enemy”, and  outright lies and deception.  Isn’t the moving of the center rightward through obstruction and fabrication part of the game they play?

What can we on the left then do to prevent that strategy alone from moving the governing center when in the end the right does not even care if there is governing?

I would like to hear some mediaspaining on that topic please. Thank you.

Continue reading “Media-splaining Democrats and Socialism”