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Trump-Putin meeting, Russiagate, etc

Saying anything about this is kindof pissing into the wind. But it is, after all, the most dramatic subject in the long history of US government. So I’ll try to express this in a worthy form.


Washington DC.  July 17, 2069:

In the Henry Kissinger museum, there’s a great wooden desk he’s had since he turned 135. Noone remembers quite how it came into his possession, only rumors and legends remain, told by the staff of the museum. It is behind the velvet rope, visitors do not touch it.

This desk has a number of peculiarities. Impressions of ancient telephones and cocktail glasses. Bumps. Stains. A thousand stories for another day. Our attention drifts to the drawers. There are several. The first one, top center, is easiest to reach. It slides open most comfortably, its wooden rails worn smooth by use, oiled by history itself.

Over the years this drawer held many things. Some years, a stack of hundred dollar bills, some years a gun. Some years, a single business card. At one time, a paperweight engraved “the buck stops here”. Lace panties. A microphone and tape recorder. The odd Cuban cigar. Another paperweight that says “Not It”. A thesaurus, and a TV remote.

But those were all just relics, mementos of temporary occupants.

The final item in the drawer, and the one that was still there, was a map. An organic card stock made to last, but long since given up being flat. It was rolled up, made supple by oils used to restore it as the decades went by.

The map is a visual depiction of all of government, politics, and international relations. It took the mapmaker well over a century to assemble.

The oldest lines were draw in simple pencil. The most recent, with a quill pen. A feather from the last bird to be caught flying outside of a zoo. Ink of deepest blue. The markings in between were in various ballpoint pens, brushes, writing tools of the day, held fondly by their owner.

The map of government, politics, and IR marked its terrain as if it were land. Forests of Freedom were drawn. Mountains of electoral promises, valleys of bait-and-switch. Glaciers of Reform, deserts of bureaucracy. Cliffs of brinkmanship. Islands of Detente. Hills of finance, dotted with graveyards of idealism. Pits of defense spending. There were bodies of water as well. Rivers of blood, seas of tears.

But the most prominent was the Ocean of Hypocrisy. Surprisingly, this was the last part of the map to be charted. Even now it was not finished – the bottom of its Mariana Trench not yet reached. Unlike the physical ocean, the mapmaker concluded, human creativity has no limit.

Nevertheless, the deepest spot in the Ocean of Hypocrisy that had been found yet, in the hundred plus years of the mapmakers efforts – was labeled with an early 21st century fine point Sharpie. It said – Russiagate.


Seriously, it really makes you wonder. And all Trump has to do is acknowledge it, appropriate it (just like “Fake News”) and his critics are left with what?

There is ample reason to be concerned about the present and future of US government, and what Trumpism is doing to it. However, those who are concerned and have a spot on TV or some other national media, It’s really, really, really, really, really about time to get your feet planted on some kind of solid ground and come up with a positive story to offer voters in 2018 and 2020. Like starting now. Is there anybody home?


Progressive in NY: Interviews with Cynthia Nixon and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [Jacobin]

A pair of timely interviews. As mentioned in the AOC interview and as I’ve said a zillion times – in NY state, the primary election is the election. This election is poorly publicized if at all, is deliberately scheduled for an inconvenient time, and when there isn’t a president-of-the-US primary election on the same day, turnout is often in the single digits as a % of eligible voters. It is by far the biggest opportunity for voters to make a difference.

Interview with Cynthia Nixon, sounding off on her opponent, NY governor Andrew Cuomo.

Interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, where she talks about how she got where she is and has some words to inspire other progressives to run.

In other news, in my local NY State 23rd Congressional District, absentee ballots are in and it looks like somewhat-progressive Tracy Mitrano beat out somewhat-conservative Max Della Pia, for the Democratic nomination. The district leans Republican by a significant but not insurmountable margin.

Happy 4th of July


Image: Festivities in Carina Spiral Arm, Milky Way. In or around the year 18000 B.C. Hubble Space Telescope / NASA. [via USA Today]

Why Ocasio-Cortez’s Platform is So Great [David Swanson / CounterPunch]

It’s because the newly nominated (in Democratic primary for her congressional district) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made an articulate anti-war position. In a way we haven’t seen from a Democrat at the national level since Kucinich in 2004-2008. (Per the article’s author.)


Without speculating on how long the campaign positions of Ocasio-Cortez lasts in the face of whatever temptations are offered to new members of Congress, I agree with this completely.

As an aside, Kucinich’s angle has changed slightly since then. Counterintuitively, it turned out that the main audience for the anti-war message was actually conservative, while the Democrats completely dropped their resistance to the MIC and succeeded in erasing it from intra-party discourse. In any case, I give Kucinich tremendous credit for reviving, even if for a limited time, some badly needed agenda items, such as anti-imperialism, RCV, and the central importance of corporate money in politics).

On a simpler level of practical politics, a big take-away for me is this sound-byte / slogan level:

Peace Economy  

The US would be more prosperous with less egregious inequality, if the government weren’t spending the biggest chunk of its budget on defense contractors. I hope the success of Ocasio-Cortez emboldens more politicians to embrace this message, which has been largely missing from US politics since 2008.

I like how this wording short-circuits a lot of the BS excuses / political arguments made in favor of militarization.

variety pak – the dregs

Over 100F today, blazing sun, no wind at all. Sweating like crazy fixing a POS boat in the heat like a fool, that i’ll probably sail maybe once this season. However, marvelous swimming later, in a cool shady inland spot. Much gratitude to whoever made the finger lakes landscape.

Again tired/lazy, so the following both come via NC.

Also, violating official blog policy (no more music on this blog), here’s a music clip that’s too cute for the real tunes blog:

Turns out love interest is into her “ex” girlfriend after all. Interest in music turns right back on. Amazing.

Further violating policy (no classical music) — I mean if you educated enough in music to hate jazz, a poorly kept secret among your friends who went to music school — several pieces by Camille Saint-Saëns also came my way. Thru blog, radio, and bad memory trying to remember the one from the radio. Specifically, symphony 3, and piano concerto 4, and piano concerto 3. Exercise for reader.


NY State primary election follow-up

In my local Democratic congressional primary, NY-23 (Southern Tier), it’s too close to call, and we await the arrival of absentee ballots by mail.

Della-Pia, the “conservative-democrat” candidate is ahead of a “mostly-standard-Democrat” Mitrano, by 26 votes per initial results.

Mitrano’s website says she supports single payer, so that’s something definitely worth getting behind.  Della-Pia, from what I can tell, ran the primary campaign first and foremost on his military experience, and the presumed cross-over appeal (“electability”) this would have with the “red-state” constituency which has a majority in our our district.

FWIW, about 1% of the population voted for each of the 2 leading candidates. Turnout was about 22000 in a district with 700,000 people and 125000 registered Dem’s. I can’t say enough – primary elections matter, and your vote will count far more than in the general election.

Elsewhere in the state, and making national news, progressive Ocasio-Cortez defeated leading Democrat Crowley in NY-14 (parts of Bronx/Queens). Per NakedCapitalism, NY-24 and NY-2 also got a progressive candidate winning a Dem primary.


Vote Tuesday! NY State primaries – House of Representatives, State Senate

Several competitive US House of Representatives seats will have their primary elections this Tuesday, June 26. Look up the candidates and vote.

In particular, the following districts are competitive in one way or another [per Ballotpedia, link at end]:

  • 1st (Long Island)
  • 14th (Eastern of the Bronx, part of Queens)
  • 19th (Catskills region & Hudson valley south of Albany)
  • 21st (North end of the state, between Lake Ontario and Vermont)
  • 24th (Syracuse area).

The DCCC identifies the following congressional districts as “targeted” [ibid]

  • 1st (Long Island)
  • 2nd (Long Island)
  • 11th (Staten Island)
  • 19th (Catskills/Hudson valley, south of Albany)
  • 21st (betw. Lake Ontario and Vermont)
  • 22nd (in the middle, strip from Bing. going NNE)
  • 23rd (southern tier)
  • 24th (syracuse area)
  • 27th (betw. Buffalo and Rochester, but excl. both cities)

Regarding what “targeted” means, as an example, my 23rd NY State Congressional district (southern tier) has a Republican incumbent who won by a ~15% margin last time around. So there is some limited hope of success for a Democrat unseating the Republican incumbent, if the anticipated anti-Trump wave turns out to be big enough. But it’s a long shot.

My location used to have a Dem. representative for a long time when it was in the 22nd district, until the rearrangement of congressional districts in 2013. Since then I’m in the fairly firm Republican majority 23rd district. Like all NY State congressional districts, the 23rd is home to roughly 700,000 people as of last count. This is the granularity at which the national Democratic party does analysis and allocates resources. Note that State Senate districts are smaller, and State Assembly districts are smaller still.

Also up for grabs are nominations for some competitive State Senate seats. See same ballotpedia link below, further down within that.


Per-district info.,_2018

Map of NY State congressional districts: