Sunday, November 18, 2018

Eastern Washington Remains Stubbornly Red After 2018 Midterms

2018 House Election Results, 11/11/18: Democrats 228, Republicans 199, Undecided 8.
As the days after November 6th rolled by and results rolled in, the hoped-for "Blue Wave" took shape. Democrats regained control of the House, and won governorships and state legislative seats. The Blue Wave was real, and the Republican party’s vulnerabilities with Donald Trump at its helm were revealed. The picture wasn't so rosy here in Eastern Washington.

Results won't be certified until November 27th, but, as the map above shows, Eastern Washington's 4th and 5th predominantly rural Congressional Districts voted in lock step with the rest of rural America.

Democrats up and down the ticket were shut out here in Benton and Franklin counties. For federal office, incumbent congressman Dan Newhouse defeated challenger Christine Brown by about the same 65/35 percentage margin Republicans have been winning over Democrats for the last quarter century.

Brown was a phenomenal campaigner, putting something like 30,000 miles on her Prius crisscrossing the district from Kennewick to Okanogan. She campaigned hard and employed her considerable skills as a broadcast journalist to produce excellent TV and digital ads to extend her reach, including Spanish-language ads on Spanish radio stations. Despite this, she won only 21 of Benton County's 244 precincts. She won 1 precinct in Adams County, none in Douglas, 1 in Grant, 41 in Okanogan, and 39 in Yakima. We don't yet have a precinct count for Franklin County, which she lost by 20%.

Christine Brown campaigned hard no matter the weather

Shir Regev
Leo Perales, Shir Regev, and Christopher Tracy, Democrats running for the legislature in District 8 lost by similar if slightly greater margins. Regev ran against Brad Klippert for state representative, and received the endorsement of the Tri-City Herald. The Herald said of Regev:

"She is smart – graduating from Washington State University in two-and-a-half years. And that’s before the Running Start program was implemented. She wants to help people who are struggling with health care, retirement and making ends meet."

The Herald said of Klippert that he, "has a tendency to vote against government just because it is government, and we would encourage people to look at his voting record."

Shir Regev won 7 precincts. Christoper Tracy won 8 precincts. Everett Maroon won 14 precincts in the 16th and Rebecca Francik won 13 precincts.

The turnout for the 2018 Midterms in the 4th Congressional District, at 59.13% was slightly better than that for the 2014 Midterms, at 54.85%. Benton County's turnout was 67.15% vs 55.09% in 2014, which reflects an increase of almost twenty thousand people voting. On the other hand, the county with the most registered voters, Yakima, did what it did in 2014 -- it lagged every other county in turnout, at 43.18%.

The number of registered voters in the 4th Congressional District increased by 35,183 voters between 2014 and 2018, with the biggest jump occurring between 2014 and 2016. 

Registered voters in 4th Congressional District
Over the succeeding months we will be refining the Benton County election numbers and then cross checking precinct-level results with the precincts that have PCOs and those that don't. The PCO data maintained by the Benton County Auditor shows Democrats having only 33 elected PCOs. John Harder will have data on PCOs appointed by our outgoing Chair, Allison Dabler. Benton County data shows Republicans having 61 elected PCOs. Benton County has 244 precincts.

We have work to do!

Read more here: https://www.tri-cityherald.com/opinion/editorials/article219024190.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: https://www.tri-cityherald.com/opinion/editorials/article219024190.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Be afraid. Be very afraid!

That’s the message from Donald Trump, who is making a group of immigrants straggling towards hoped-for asylum in America a political issue in the Midterm Elections.

Trump calls these people, many just children,“not little angels,” “bad people,” “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners.” The Republican President said, “Think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws!”

The fact that Republicans control not just the Presidency, but the House and Senate as well, seems to have escaped him. It hasn’t escaped us. We know that getting balance back in government is crucial to passing comprehensive, sensible, humanitarian immigration reform.

Let's send Mr. Trump a message that we will not be cowed by his shameless scaremongering. Help GOTV with one of the many campaigns where our fearless democrats are running:


For recommendations on ballot initiatives, check out the Progressive Voters Guide by Fuse. My personal recommendations are; Yes on 1631, 1639, and 940, and No on 1634 (this initiative is being heavily financed by the Sugar lobby, which is also a big contributor to Dan Newhouse). I also recommend voting "Maintained" on Advisory 19.

To participate in reclaiming America, donate to one or more campaigns, canvass, make phone calls, write letters, use social media to reinforce candidate messages. Stop on in at the Democratic Headquarters 1212 N 20th Ave. Ste B in Pasco or call Savanna Steele at (509)209-9825 to get plugged in with Canvass and Phone Banking Opportunities.

Remember, when we win, America wins!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Neil Arthur Norman, 1931 - 2018

Our friend and colleague Neil Norman passed away Wednesday night September 12, 2018, after a long, courageous battle with cancer. We'll miss him -- a lot! Neil was a mentor to many of us, and an inspiration to all of us. He walked the talk, literally, walking his precinct well into his Eighties.

I was honored to present the the Benton County Democrat's 2018 Norm Miller Leadership Award to Neil on May 31 of this year. I'm publishing the text of my presentation here in Neil's memory. It says so much about why we held Neil in such high regard.

Neil A Norman accepting the 2018 Norm Miller Leadership Award

 When I was asked to say a few words about Neil as our 2018 recipient of the Norm Miller Leadership Award, I asked his wife Jan for some input on things Neil did before joining us on the Benton County Democrats. I think she said something like, “Oh, my goodness!” I understood her reaction when I received the “summary” 3-page email outlining Neil’s service and accomplishments.

I read through Neil’s impressive record of public service and political activism. I tried to wrap my head around the idea of someone who started actively looking out for others when he was in the 3rd Grade in a little town in Tulare County, California.

As legend has it, Neil recruited his best friend, a big 5th Grader, the son of migrant farm workers, and Neil’s self-proclaimed bodyguard, to help patrol the playground to ensure children of farm workers were not being bullied. Neil, seeking an advantageous vantage point from which to survey playground unity, rode on his friend’s shoulders.

That was a long time ago — we won’t say how long — but in all that time, Neil’s dedication to fairness, to the ethical treatment of human beings from every walk of life, of every race, and religion, has never wavered. What’s changed is that Neil, throughout his long record of service, has now carried others on his shoulders.

Neil’s record of public and professional service is long and distinguished, ranging from a plethora of democratic party and campaign leadership positions from El Dorado, California, to Lynchburg, Virginia and back to Richland, Washington, and places in between, to achievements in science and technology that include everything from rocket ships to nuclear power plants.

Please visit the displays here in the room, because I don’t have time to go through all of Neil’s accomplishments, and even if I did, you wouldn’t believe me.

Neil has received many prestigious awards. Just last year he received the National Society of Professional Engineers Award — the highest award given to an individual by the Society. Their description says, “It is presented to an engineer who has made outstanding contributions to the engineering profession, the public welfare, and humankind.

And that phrase, “public welfare and humankind,” gave me the inspiration for how to tell you who my friend Neil Norman is.

When our current president attacked Muslims, Neil met with the Imam of the Tri-Cities Islamic Center to find ways to reassure members. When the president attacked immigrants, Neil worked with the Tri-Cities Immigrant Coalition to ensure that immigrants in our community knew their rights. When police in Pasco used what was perceived by the community and others as disproportionate lethal force to subdue a clearly mentally disturbed Hispanic man, Neil advocated for police de-escalation training. When refugees were relocated to our community, Neil collected donations of furniture for them, stored them in his garage, and helped distribute them.

Neil is a man of faith, and so I would like to quote from the Bible, if I may. This Bible was presented to me in 1946 — I think Neil may have been working on Harry Truman’s campaign at that time.

This is from James 2:14 - 26

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

You see that a person is justified by works, and not by faith alone.


And so, while Neil is an eminently deserving recipient of our 2018 Norm Miller Leadership award, what I think we are doing here tonight is celebrating the life of a man who lives his faith. A man whose myriad good works, define who he is.

It is my honor to present to Neil Norman our 2018 Norm Miller Leadership Award.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

September 11, 2001, Reimagined

WTC Attack September 11, 2001
On Tuesday of this week 17 years ago, Hijackers flew commercial airliners into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Passengers and crew were credited with thwarting the terrorist hijackers’ planned attack on the U.S. Capital. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attack, in which close to 3000 people were killed, was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in history.

We were fortunate at that time to have great confidence in the leadership of our country; in our intelligence community, the FBI and in law enforcement. There were system failures, particularly in communications. And sure, there was second guessing later about the actions taken in response to the attacks, but while events were unfolding, we trusted in our leaders to see the country through.

George W Bush first hears of WTC attack
Imagine what would happen now under the Trump Administration. The “usual suspects” carry out a devastating attack on a soft target with symbolic importance, like the December 19, 2016, attack on a Berlin Christmas Market — an attack claimed by ISIS.

Who would be blamed for not connecting the dots? Would the Intelligence and Law Enforcement agencies — the FBI, the CIA, NSA, DIA — carry sway with President Trump in formulating a measured response?


Who would we bomb, who invade? What new immigration restrictions would be imposed, what internment camps would we open for Muslim-Americans?

What new requirements would be added to the Patriot Act, what more intrusive surveillance on all Americans? What nature of protest would be made illegal? When would martial law be lifted?

The next terrorist attack on American soil is not a matter of if, but when. Determined fanatics willing to die for their cause will usually outwit even a well-managed Department of Homeland Security staffed with highly motivated and trained officers. A bombastic “strongman” equipped with a keyboard and wielding a heavy-handed immigration policy will never be an effective counter to terrorism. A country divided against itself will never be ready, or resilient.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

A Commencement Address Never Given But Oft Quoted

I received this email and link from a Republican friend.

Richard;

You may not like this commencement address, but I l like it, especially the points at the end.
 Bill

My response was as follows:

Bill;

This was written as a tongue-in-cheek protest by Neal Boortz* for never having been invited to deliver a commencement speech. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/texas-am-commencement-address/

Interestingly, the sentiments expressed reflect a growing sense of frustration among the “new right” (Trump’s Republican Party) that universities are “indoctrinating" students to be liberals. In fact, an Iowa state Sen. Mark Chelgren* proposed a bill that would institute a hiring freeze at state universities until the number of registered Republicans on faculty comes within 10 percent of the number of registered Democrats. Sen. Chelgren — who, it should be noted, claimed to hold a degree in business that turned out to be a certificate from a Sizzler steakhouse — is not an outlier. Not among Trump Republicans.

That being said here’s what I agree with in Boortz’s piece:

Heading off with a diploma doesn’t mean learning is over, or even that your smarter than the mechanic who works on your car, although you’re probably smarter than the President

People need to pay more attention to what’s going on in the world and despite what the President says about "fake news," read newspapers, especially your local paper, and listen to a variety of news sources. Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet, especially if its a tweet by the President (or something sent to you by one of your many gullible Republican friends).

The rest of this piece by Boortz is conventional conservative bias against those who think things such as the Americans with Disabilities Act is government overreach.

I haven’t had time yet to address your contention that the Press is unfair to Trump.

Cheers,

Richard
 _____________________________________________
*Neal Boortz is an American author, attorney, and former Libertarian radio host. Boortz writing about his talk show, said, "Don't believe anything you read on [the Neal Boortz] web page or, for that matter, anything you hear on The Neal Boortz Show unless it is consistent with what you already know to be true, or unless you have taken the time to research the matter to prove its accuracy to your own satisfaction."

*Mark Chelgren is an American politician who serves in the Iowa Senate. He is a member of the Republican Party. He was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. He represents District 41. He has said that immigrant felons who enter the country illegally should be executed.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Debate Over Abolishing ICE

ICE was created out of the old INS, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, in 2003. The on-going treatment of asylum seekers under Donald Trump's "Zero Tolerance" policy, principally the separation of children from their families, and their mistreatment in detention centers, has some calling for ICE to be abolished. Benton County Democrats will be considering a resolution to that effect in their regular monthly meeting, August 15th, 2018. Many on the Right, spurred on by Trump, see this as the Liberals' bid for "open borders." This 4 min and 22 sec interview with a former General Counsel for INS provides some useful context for the debate.

Monday, July 9, 2018

We Are a Nation of Immigrants -- Except When We Aren't

America's history of dealing with immigrants has never been that admirable, as it turns out, despite what Lady Liberty may have you believe. But never in its history has America been led by a racist xenophobe supported by a significant segment of the American populace, while a complicit Congress stands in the wings waiting to see if they'll be reelected.

I have been appalled by the Trump Administration’s cruel and incompetent handling of immigrants at our southern border seeking asylum. Separating children from their parents, and then seemingly unable to reunite the families, despite court orders to do so, is heartbreaking and maddening. Following on the heels of this humanitarian disaster is the Supreme Court ruling upholding Donald Trump’s ban on predominantly Muslim countries.

The Court’s conservative majority ruled in a 5 to 4 decision, that Mr. Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric about Islam was irrelevant in deciding the constitutionality of the ban, and instead based their decision on broad presidential powers. I’m not a constitutional scholar, but as the ACLU stated, “this is not the first time the Court has been wrong, or has allowed official racism and xenophobia to continue rather than standing up to it."

My mother and her family immigrated to America from Northern Italy. Her father, my Nono Ugo, came first in 1903, followed by my grandmother and then my mother and her brother in 1924. They were achingly poor. Ugo worked in a meat packing plant. His wife, Cesira took in laundry.

Hog butchering in Chicago circa 1905
My father’s family immigrated from Southern Italy in 1898. My Nono Vincenzo and his wife, Marianina and their five children, including my father, Stefano, lived in a small flat at 76 Carmine St., in Brooklyn. My grandfather worked as a barber. My grandmother took in sewing. All the kids worked as soon as they were able. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1912, where my grandfather was able to open his own barber shop.


My Nono Vincenzo in his barber shop in Los Angeles
More than one million people lived in Brooklyn at the end of the 19th century -- and more than 30% of them were foreign-born: Irish, Germans, Italians, Russian and Polish Jews, and other European ethnic groups, Negroes, and later Puerto Ricans, arrived in NYC mostly during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Mulberry Street, NY, cica 1900
My Italian ancestors at that time were described in terms that mirror what Donald Trump is now saying about immigrants from Guatemala and Mexico, and has said about immigrants from the Middle East. This appeared in an 1891 NYT editorial:

"These sneaking and cowardly Sicilians, the descendants of bandits and assassins, who have transported to this country the lawless passions, the cut-throat practises, and the oath-bound societies of their native country, are to us a pest without mitigation.

The Immigration Act of 1924 barred most Italians from coming into the country — causing immigration from Italy to fall 90 percent.

Trump wants us to believe that the people at our border today are somehow different than you and me, and our predecessors. They are not. They too are poor, frightened people seeking asylum, seeking a better life for their children.

We do have a broken immigration system. Let’s fix it. Not with walls of brick or hate or fear, but rather with reasoned compassion.
_______________________________________
"You have to undermine moral boundaries, inure people to the acceptance of acts of extreme cruelty. Like hounds, people have to be blooded. They have to be given the taste for savagery. Fascism does this by building up the sense of threat from a despised out-group. This allows the members of that group to be dehumanized. Once that has been achieved, you can gradually up the ante, working through the stages from breaking windows to extermination."
From; Trial Runs for Fascism Are in Full Flow, by Fintan O'Toole in The Irish Times, June 26, 2018.