Saturday, December 15, 2012
O, ye Electors of little faith
Monday at noon, in the State Reception Room at the Legislative Building in Olympia, I may have the opportunity to cast ballots for President and Vice President.
I haven’t talked about the Electoral College here, but if you’re interested in the story of how I got to be the Alternate Elector from the 7th Congressional District, you can click over to my DailyKos diary On November 6, Washingtonians might be voting for *me*, written on May 23.
I’m all but certain the WA-07 Elector will be in attendance, so I probably won’t be one of the 538 Americans who actually elect the President. But I’ll definitely be in Olympia to meet Secretary of State Sam Reed and Governor Chris Gregoire, and to participate as much as I can.
But that’s not my subject in this diary (though I’ll have more to say—and, if I can somehow take viewable photos with my digital camera, show—after the Electoral College meets). For now I want to talk about an interesting(?) letter I received the other day.
It arrived in a light purple envelope, postmarked from Harrisburg PA. From the color and size of the envelope, I assumed it was a Christmas card. I don’t know anyone from Harrisburg, but several of my friends are Pennsylvanians, so I didn’t find it particularly odd.
Even as I opened the envelope, I didn’t think it was anything unusual. I could see a folded piece of bond paper with typing on it, which appeared to be (I thought) a standard-issue Christmas letter. That thought evaporated immediately upon reading the first line:
ATTN: Electoral College RepresentativeI do have to say that the tone of the two-page letter was respectful, even while listing several of the right wing’s favorite conspiracy theories about the “stolen” election. As well as a couple I hadn’t heard before.
[Quoting the letter:]While the letter had been mailed in central Pennsylvania, the writer’s phone number had a 714 area code (Orange County CA). She also provided an email address (@rocketmail.com).
- A case where Republican ballots were thrown into a river where not all could be recovered with an unknown loss of votes (estimated hundreds+)
- Undefined loss of military votes because of miscommunication of deadlines and counting of ballots (military servicemen/women surveyed said they would vote Romney at least 2-1), the very citizens fighting to protect us and our freedom to vote
The “ask” didn’t come until halfway through the second page. The writer implored me to be what she called a “faithless vote” (in other words, be a faithless Elector), and cast my Electoral College vote for Romney. Interestingly, there was no such request in the Vice Presidential race. Romney-Biden, anyone?
Now, of course, if I do have the opportunity to cast a vote as an Elector, I won’t take the advice of my correspondent. And it won’t be because the state of Washington would fine me up to $1000 for doing so.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Honoring 11 on 11/11
It’s become a tradition here on Peace Tree Farm to write a post on Veterans Day. Most of those pieces have revolved around the 11-11-11 idea. As I’m sure you know, that means honoring the holiday’s origins as Armistice Day, commemorating the end of hostilities in the Great War, which took effect at 11am on November 11, 1918.
This year, I celebrate Veterans Day by honoring veterans. Eleven specific veterans, that is. Veterans who have affected me and my life in some way, large or small.
Let’s begin in the family. To find vets among my relatives, you have to go back to World War II. There are veterans on both sides, at least by marriage.
- My father’s first cousin (and therefore my first cousin once removed) B.L. served on the crew of a destroyer escort, though to be honest I don’t know whether that was in the Atlantic or Pacific theater. He talked about the war on very, very rare occasions, saying very little about it on those occasions. His younger brother S.L. may also have served, but I don’t really recall.
- My mother was the older of two sisters. Although her work colleagues at the Signal Corps were a major part of our family’s network of friends when I was growing up, I can’t include my mother as a veteran. Her sister’s husband L.S., however, definitely did service as a translator in Europe. His fluency in German (and Yiddish) became increasingly important as WWII was winding down.
- My mother’s first cousin’s husband H.N. was one of the lucky ones. So very many of his fellow B-24 crews were shot down in the Army Airforce’s Operation Tidalwave campaign against the Romanian oil refineries at Ploesti, but he made it back from that raid and many others.
- That would be B.P., the father of one of my closest undergrad friends. He’d been one of the thousands of soldiers who waded onto a beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944, and trudged eastward into Germany during the succeeding year. He saw concentration camps too.
- My ex’s uncle E.P. did two separate military stints. He was on a ship off the Southeast Asian coast during the war, and later on he volunteered for the Army. Both times, he was a supply sergeant (or whatever they call the Navy equivalent).
- My Congressman, Jim McDermott, was a psychiatrist in the Navy during Vietnam. I’m certain that Jim’s experience treating the PTSD and related ailments of shattered Vietnam War servicemen was a contributing factor in developing his progressive political philosophy.
- After serving on the ground in Vietnam, my friend and fellow PacNW blogger Shaun Dale was lucky not to be one of those patients treated by Dr. McDermott. His “proudly partisan” activism as “A Democrat - without prefix, without suffix, without apology” (those slogans are right at the top on his Upper Left blog) is always informed and often based on his time in the Army.
- The prolific and fierce HorsesAss commenter known as Roger Rabbit (I don’t know his real name) also carried a rifle in Vietnam. He’s a retired lawyer and former judge, but he proudly points to his military service while ceaselessly battling the trolls and poltroons that infest the HA comment threads.
- One of the seminal influences on Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, whose nickname “Kos” is so well known in the progressive political scene, was his stint in the US Army. As he himself admits, his service is what changed him from a Republican to a progressive Democrat. As a very early Kossack (I started participating before commenters had to sign up for usernames, and registered as N in Seattle on the first day of the current site), I’ve met Markos many times.
- Another Gulf-era vet—also a longtime Kossack—is R.H., who lives over in Bellevue. He retired from the Navy after more than 20 years, so he’s also an Iraq War vet. His military experience continues as a principal focus, as he has a major role in the national VoteVets organization.
- My friend R.N. was deployed to Iraq twice before his discharge from the Army. He was trained as a translator—a Korean translator—yet he was never ordered to Korea or anywhere else in East Asia. Raised an evangelical in the Mountain West, he was (like Markos) “Democratized” in the Army. Now living here in Seattle, he’s aiming toward a degree in political science, political campaign activism, and perhaps even political office some day. He’d be a good one if that’s what he chooses to do.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Detroit is going to the World Series after crushing the Evil Empire. In their 4-0 sweep, the Yankees never led ... not even a single half-inning. ARod and Granderson were benched for Game 4, though both did eventually participate. Rodriguez went 0-for-2 and Granderson whiffed (again) on three pitches.
The aging, fading (I hope) Yanks were absolutely pathetic at the plate in this series. Cano went 1-for-18 (.056). Granderson was 0-for-11 and seven of those outs were strikeouts. ARod hit .111 (1-for-9).
Sure, Jeter’s injury created problems for the Yankees. I’d like to believe that they would have been just as thoroughly flattened even if Mr. Overrated had been on the field for all four games.
Those who—unlike me—are fans of Ichiro! will be happy to know that he was perhaps the only pinstriper with (superficially) good stats during the series against the Tigers. His line was .353/.389/.529 with a homer in Game 1 and a walk today.
As for me, I’m happy to see that Ichiro! isn’t going to play in the World Series. Of course, it’s much, much more satisfying that the detestable Yankees are done. That Ichiro! is denied a WS appearance is just a small added bonus.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
In the 113th Congress...
In case you’ve forgotten, I’d like to remind you that Washingtonians will elect 10 people to represent them in the House of Representatives in the upcoming 113th Congress. That, of course, is an increase of one over the nine Representatives we’ve sent to DC for the last 20 years.
Incumbents are running for reelection in seven of the redrawn Congressional Districts, and every one of them is all but certain to win. Therefore, I offer congratulations-in-advance to Rick Larsen, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Doc Hastings, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jim McDermott, Dave Reichert, and Adam Smith ... the Representatives in, respectively, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, and 9th Districts. That’s three Democrats (Larsen, McDermott, Smith) and four Republicans (Herrera Bueutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert).
But what of the two open, and one brand-new, seats?
It was widely acknowledged that the principal goal of the Democratic members of the Redistricting Commission was to center the new 10th CD on Olympia, and to anoint Denny Heck as their candidate. He faces underfunded Republican Dick Muri, who unsuccessful challenged Adam Smith in the old WA-09 two years ago. Well, it looks like Tim Ceis and Dwight Pelz got their wish, as the Cook Political Report rates WA-10 Solid D and DailyKos Elections calls it Likely D. The two organization agree that WA-01, where Suzan DelBene faces teahadist John Koster, Leans D.
The third open seat came as something of a shocker. Norm Dicks surprised many Washingtonians when he announced his retirement after 18 terms representing the 6th District. Conventional wisdom suggested that WA-06 had remained in Democratic hands largely because of Dicks’s seniority (ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee) and close ties to the strong Navy presence on Hood Canal and Puget Sound. The sprawling, largely rural WA-06 doesn’t fit the usual mold of Democratic CDs.
Well, conventional wisdom appears to have been wrong. Even though a Republican self-funding Weyerhaeuser relative is on the ballot, both Cook (Likely D) and dKos put the District strongly in the Democratic column. In fact, on Monday DailyKos Elections upgraded WA-06 from Likely D to Safe D.
The principal reason behind this happy outcome is the superb Democrat running in the 6th District, Derek Kilmer. I’ve known Derek ever since I arrived in Washington in 2001; at that time he and his wife Jen were colleagues of my sister in the 36th District Democrats. We in Seattle were disappointed when they relocated to Gig Harbor (he’s Vice President of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County), but it was clearly the right thing for them. I’m thrilled that the people of WA-06 see the same positive qualities in Derek that I recognized.
When Derek won his first political race (State Rep from the 26th LD in 2004), I began thinking that he could be a great candidate to replace Norm Dicks when the old warhorse decided to hang ‘em up. I didn’t expect it to come quite so soon, but it seems like I was onto something.
So Derek will, in all likelihood, slide into Norm’s position as a Democratic Congressman. That leaves the overall status of Washington’s delegation in DC in the same place it was when the Redistricting Commission finished its work—five Democratic CDs, four Republican CDs, and one up for grabs. If, as most pundits predict, DelBene keeps the odious Koster away from DC, we’ll be 6-4 Democratic. Not nearly what I’d like it to be, but I believe that would be an accurate description of our state.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Sunny and dry, and that's a problem
Here it is, the end of September, and the weather is glorious! Bright sun all day and an afternoon high of 68, with the overnight low expected to come to a nice cool 50. Nothing better than snuggling under blanket and quilt! Seattle’s 10-day forecast, according to the Weather Channel, shows nothing but sunny days one after another. It may get a bit warmer or cooler, within a fairly narrow range centered around 66, each afternoon, and the overnight readings are anticipated to fall into the mid-upper 40s.
Tempering this wonderfulness is the observation that it’s actually been too clear here. Although our string of no-precipitation days officially ended at 48 (July 23-September 8), the “rain” has been only the merest of sprinkles—0.01 inches on each of three days in the middle of the month, though I don’t recall seeing more than three or four drops the whole time.
Bright weather west of the Cascades means that it’ll be even drier than usual on the other side of the passes. As in parched, sunbaked, arid. As in tinderbox. As in wild fires.
As reported by the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, it’s been a very bad year for fires. Their current Large Fire Map looks like this:
Clearly, the hot spots lie right along the eastern slopes of the Cascades. The biggest of them, Table Mountain (over 60 square miles, in Cle Elum) and the Wenatchee Complex (more than 85 square miles, west of Wenatchee), were touched off by lightning strikes on, respectively, September 8 and 9. Yep, while Seattle was cloudy with a few sprinkles, the other side of the mountains saw thunderstorms (but no rain).
Three weeks later, neither of those fires has been contained, much less extinguished. NWCC estimates that Table Mountain is 55% contained, with containment expected within a week or so. The Wenatchee Complex is only 45% contained, with no containment estimate given. Those fires are on steep, extremely difficult terrain. Under the command of the Forest Service, over 2000 firefighters, on foot and in helicopters, are combating the two fires. Hundreds of homes and other structures have been destroyed, with nearly 1000 more still threatened.
Every once in a while, when the wind blows from the east, Seattle gets just the slightest whiff of smoke in the air. I’m sure it’s stronger and more frequent on the Eastside, and still worse in Snoqualmie and North Bend. But it must be rather hellish on the other side of the Cascades.
Obvious as it may be, this isn’t the time or place to drone on about funding cuts in federal and state services. Nor is it the time or place to say a lot about how the teahadists, libertarians, anti-government types, and wingnuts are undoubtedly pleading for more federal and state manpower, equipment, disaster relief, etc., etc.
I’m sure that if their heads weren’t pounding from all the smoke they’ve been inhaling, they’d recognize just how dissonant their cognition turns out to be.