Is Labor Leaving our Big Tent?

Yes, we are, or maybe were, a big tent party. Varying groups over the decades have joined us in the comfort and camaraderie of our big tent, giving us the critical mass to advance the cause of the common people from the New Deal forward. A few groups quietly or in the case of the “Dixiecrat” racists leave noisily, good riddens to them! That “loss” was more than made up for by the newer groups that joined us in our big tent- People of color, gays, feminists, and immigrants for a start.

Here in Minnesota the group that has literally been the core of the party for over a century, even before we merged to become the “Democratic Farmer-Labor Party” that year after year puts up the lawn signs, knocks the doors, and staffs the phone banks is the hard working men and women of labor. Labor is our party’s last name, and we don’t have a party without them.

But while labor has been quietly doing the party’s work in the back of the tent, another group has jumped up on the stage and is shrilly pushing their platform- The environmental extremists. Labor has been pushing for pollution reductions for decades, partly because we were working closest to the exhaust pipes. Years before the new breed of environmental extremists barged into our big tent the UAW lobbied for retooling auto plants for electric car production, in fact the UAW local at the St.Paul Ford plant argued for keeping the plant open to build electric cars until the last Ranger was built, and then some!

To the new breed of environmental extremists labor is just unrecognized collateral damage as they attempt to stop copper mining and now mining period, no matter how stringent the environmental safeguards are. Without mining, the iron range in northeastern Minnesota becomes another U.P., a cold and distant forest dotted with dying towns trying to survive on a 3 month tourist season with the attendant low wages.

Then a truly stupid company named Embridge got the stupid idea to replace their failing oil pipeline from the tar sands of western Canada to the Superior oil hub with a new one. Fossil fuels are a shrinking sector of the economy and Embrdige’s crude source is the rot gut poor excuse for a fuel and sure as heck not a lubricant tar sands oil… Yup, they literally have to heat the sand to get the “oil” out, and it’s a garbage oil that nobody wants unless they’re desperate, which a world glutted with oil isn’t. But they got their permits and enough stupid investors to bankroll the thing, and being a union job subbed out to union contractors the union pipeliners showed up to do their jobs… Only to be “greeted” by hateful environmental extremists who deprived them of more work and pay than the usual bad weather and breakdowns.

It gets worse… In a last ditch attempt to stop a replacement pipeline that’s pretty much already built, some DFL legislators signed a document that amongst other lies, falsely alleged that our Minnesota union pipeliners were rapists operating out of “man camps” along the pipeline. Sorry dim bulb environmental extremists, I can’t find any evidence of man camps along this pipeline in Minnesota. There have been far too many sexual assaults perpetrated especially against native women near the man camps… In western North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields that house non-union “scab” workers. The union men and women workers who you falsely accuse of rape have insisted on provisions in their union contracts that guarantee that at least half of all pipeline jobs go to local workers, those provisions have largely eliminated the need for “man camps” and provided training and job opportunities for local workers.

In the back of the democratic big tent we union folks are looking up from our thankless grunt work and listening to the names we’re being called. The Laborer’s Union put out a statement yesterday decrying the environmental extremists’ lies, followed by the legendary “49ers” union local (Operating Engineers) appearing at a presser with Minnesota GOP electeds who gave the environmental extremists even stronger rebuke. And the other shoe has yet to drop… I heard rumor that Carpenter’s Union leader and long time but now exiled DFL State Senator Tom Bakk from the range is the most likely senator to be the next majority leader, and the GOP has a thin majority in the senate…

Population shifts reflected in redistricting meant the DFL had a good chance of picking up the couple seats the MSP metro and smaller outstate metros will gain and the senate majority. Driving Bakk with his campaign $$$ stash to the GOP gives the state senate and a political lifeline to the GOP for the rest of this decade. And did I mention this thing we labor people have called “solidarity”? Our power is that we unite and act as one massive bloc… When a couple hundred thousand union members leave the DFL the mailers don’t get mailed, the phone banks go silent, and doors don’t get knocked. Then on Election Day without those couple hundred thousand union votes in swing districts the DFL is no longer Minnesota’s majority party in either statewide or down ballot elections. Then maybe labor takes over the wounded wreck of the Minnesota GOP party and gives it a couple more decades of life… As the majority party.

COVID be damned, democrats gonna win!

Last post back I depressingly detailed how the GOP had succeeded in one thing- They’d kept the COVID virus alive and killing. Today I’m gonna detail how we dems can win, COVID be damned! While mostly aimed at a rural audience, these strategies will work for democrats almost everywhere.

We came into this pandemic on the tailwind of 2018 and earlier election victories, with the GOP unable to win a statewide race in Minnesota in over a decade. We did that despite “progressives” gaming our endorsements for governor and AG followed by a “cattle call” filing scene at the SOS counter. We continued our victory streak in 2020, despite Trump wasting too much time here and having to forgo in person conventions and door knocking, which only the campaign staffers who had to make contact quotas missed. But down ballot was a disappointment if not a disaster- In 2018 we swapped congressional seats with no gain and picked up a few suburban state house districts to take back control, in 2020 we lost a congressional seat and made no progress in the legislature.

Conventional (AKA Pre-COVID) wisdom is that 2022 will be a repeat of the 2018 election at the top of the ballot, with the incumbent Constitutional Officers (Gov, LG, SOS, AG, and Auditor) cruising to an easy victory. But 8 months after vaccines became available barely half the country is vaccinated, 150,000 new cases are popping every day, and winter is coming= COVID will be THE issue of the 2022 election! Let us not avoid but embrace this issue- We are the party of science that has taken the high road for public health and safety while the GOP is devolving into a death cult. We must be the voice of hope, fulfilling our role as public health advocates while the GOP peddles bleach, dewormer, and lies. And despite the shrill anti mask and and vaccine protestations of the GOP, playing it safe polls well… So let’s make the GOP wish they’d never tried to make COVID denial an issue!

And did I mention that we’re getting redistricted? Add COVID induced virtual meetings to GOP gerrymandering attempts and our congressional and down ballot candidates will be lucky to know for sure what district they’re running in until the eve of filing. By then the usual “progressives”, Bernie Bros, and single issue “activists” will be in full attack mode, doin’ the GOP’s work for them by attacking our hard working incumbent democratic electeds.

So how do we win on this broken electoral battlefield?

For a start, learn from the lessons of 2020 when all the democratic presidential candidates but Bernie figured out that a dragged out caucus and primary campaign during the growing pandemic was beyond stupid- They figured out that Joe Biden was the strongest candidate and united behind him. From that early wave of the pandemic we learned how to conduct virtual party conventions and streamline the endorsement process. We need to continue that progress by giving our incumbent elected democrats early endorsements so they can get on with defeating the GOP without the distractions of endorsement challenges from the sore losers of last year’s pipeline protests or whatever. So let’s make re-endorsement automatic, except if the 40% of DFL delegates who could block an endorsement petition for reconsideration. While we’re at it, let’s confine the “walking subcaucus” to the Minneapolis DFL for whom it has become a sacred ritual, our party has been busting right through every diversity goal so this anachronism just adds COVID spread opportunities. So as the 2022 election year dawns our Governor and Constitutional Officers can get on with beating the GOP, who won’t have candidates endorsed for months. Downballot where the district lines are subject to redistricting tweaks, we need to give our incumbents and returning candidates provisional endorsements which will become full endorsements after the district lines are finalized. This will give our candidates the boost they need to build recognition and fundraising- I live in rural Minnesota’s Lyon County which is right next to Yellow Medicine and Lac Que Parle counties which all voted for Klobuchar in ’18 and Trump in ’20 and have enough population to be a state house district. But to win like Amy they’ll need early and frequent support and fundraising into six figures, and that requires the “head start” our candidates deserve.

Having finalized our side of the ballot while the GOP is in disarray, we apply everything we learned during the COVID campaign of 2020 and add some new tricks. Doorknocking was a waste of time beyond low turnout off year city primaries and in the age of COVID uninvited doorknockers are a liability- Instead we need to swarm the competitive Klobuchar/Trump districts with signs and block long parade units. CD7, I’m lookin’ at you- Your 4 by 8 trailers and party platform issues signage are cute, but about as effective as the churches who cover their floats with bible verses with a bonus “you’re going to hell” message. Get a tractor, get a pickup, heck, get a big truck and a dirt track race car too- Voting choices are driven by subtle “tribal” messaging, not policy positions. And get a bigger trailer so you can give us old folks a ride AND have room for 2×4 and 4×8 signs! I’ve got a like new 6 by 12 sit-in’ here doin’ nuthin’…

And repeat. Become the party of the center, left, and everywhere in between- an American virtual “governing coalition” party that denies the GOP the center and forces them to cohabit with the vaxxers, militias, and criminals. Do it all and come election ’22 we’ll win supermajorities, and in a late night online filing the GOP will declare bankruptcy and go extinct…

COVID is the “New Normal”…

Trigger Warning- This story is real and depressing, fact is that COVID isn’t going away and will affect all our lives and futures.

Friend of mine had no symptoms but tested positive for COVID-19 last fall. He worked two jobs and at age 64 was in great shape other than being a smoker. No family history of heart or circulatory disease and he isn’t diabetic and seemed like he’d shrugged off COVID. But couple months later he can’t work, had a heart attack, and after trying every treatment to improve his circulation, last week they had to amputate his foot. His wife has a mobility impairment, after COVID she has to speak hesitatingly to catch her breath. They raised two autistic kids through high school and into adulthood, both graduated with their class and the older one works and drives.

Life expectancy after amputation due to poor circulation is a bit over 5 years, my friend may make it to 70 and about all he’ll enjoy of retirement is Social Security and Medicare. Similar prognosis for his wife, she might make it to 60. Their kids will have to grow up even faster, rapidly becoming independent adults as well as caretakers. Across America and around the world their loss is multiplied- 37 million Americans have officially been infected by COVID, and several studies suggest that around 30% of them are still suffering from COVID symptoms, and 10% will be permanently disabled. Just that 10% of COVID survivors is 2% of America’s workforce, which explains the current labor shortage a lot better than increased unemployment benefits. In a nation that disables workers wholesale to the point that 20% of 61 year olds had been forced to retire on Social Security Disability Insurance benefits before COVID changed everything, the loss of just a couple percent of workers to disability will hobble our economy for decades.

Last fall a couple renowned Harvard economists predicted that COVID will cost America $14T if we can stop it in a year, and that’s “T” as in “Trillion” and eclipses any COVID emergency spending ever proposed. Almost a year later we’re in the second biggest COVID outbreak yet and it’s still growing. We’ve vaccinated half of Americans, but COVID has mutated to be twice as infectious. World vaccine production capacity was around 2 billion shots a year before COVID, and even after doubling that our world is maybe 25% vaccinated, and now we need boosters…

I’ve been grieving over this reality of continuing COVID for a few days now, so I’m going to stop now and give my readers some time to process it too. I’ll be back in a few days to discuss how we democrats can survive and thrive despite COVID, and win elections too!

Census 2020: the GOP Gerrymanderers Are So Screwed!

Yesterday the Census Bureau gave us a major data dump, and besides the expected deluge in obscure formats only bureaucracies still use, they gave us some nice readable toplines too, you can find them here:

The Cliff’s Notes summary is that the urban areas that lean democratic gained population and the rural areas where the republicans are making their last stand lost population. Most elected bodies from the U.S. House, legislatures, county boards, and on down to city councils apportion seats in those bodies based on population, so this is a potential huge gain for us democrats in the 2022 and later elections. Of course, the GOP’s gerrymanderers will be creating even more diabolically twisted gerrymandered districts to try to stay in power while the majority of the voters want them gone.

Focusing on Minnesota, our population grew by 7.6% or 403k (thousand) since the 2010 census. 243k of that gain was in the democratic strongholds of Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, and Washington counties in the twin cities metro, while dem leaning smaller outstate metro counties Olmsted, Blue Earth, and Clay added another 30k so almost 70% of the population growth was in blue counties. In contrast GOP strongholds Sherburne, Crow Wing, and Otter Tail counties gained only 16k together, though the smaller counties where the GOP is hiding out probably provided much of the rest of the state’s population increase. So we know the blue counties got at least 140k more people or nearly 3% of Minnesota’s population, but how will that effect redistricting and the 2022 and beyond sections?

We barely hung on to our 8 congressional seats so they’ll be no congressional “musical chairs” and major redrawing of the district lines is unlikely as parties tend to protect their own. MPR was nice enough to decode the numbers for us at this link: CD1 needs 23k more population, neighboring CD7 needs more to so can’t spare any but CD2 has almost that many too many, but the transferred turf is pretty “swingy” so CD1 will probably still lean red, while CD2 could pick up some excess democrats from the Dem metro vote sinks otherwise known as CDs 4 and 5. Deep red CD6 in the metro’s western and northern exurbs has surplus population too which will likely go to deep red CD7 and newly red CD8, so rural CDs 1,7,and 8 will probably remain GOP “homelands”. But as the districts “scrunch in” towards CDs 4 and 5 about 80k mostly Dem voters could be transferred towards CD6 while 100k mostly GOP voters could be shifted into already red CDs 1, 7, and 8. Being in the middle of the state and thus bordering most other CDs 6 is vulnerable to such shifts, it went the other direction from blue to red after the 2002 redistricting, and we’d love to turn CD6 blue again!

So with the GOP unlikely to gerrymander a congressional seat their way (they’ll try anyways…), CD6 could be put in play to return the DFL to a 5-3 majority in Congress. But how about down ballot? The legislators will take the first shot at redistricting and aren’t about to map themselves out of jobs, so expect the rural districts to get bigger and the metro districts will get scrunched more, but won’t matter ’cause they’re all democratic. All that scrunching will add at least a house district or two and probably a senate district to the heavily DFL metro counties and a house seat in Olmsted and possibly house seats in Blue Earth and Beltrami counties… That senate seat will give the DFL back the senate majority! There are also “wild card” red to blue flips possible in the counties Amy carried in 2018 around Bemidji, Marshall, and Willmar provided the district lines are drawn favorably.

‘Cross the state lines and despite the Dakota’s best efforts they barely rate one congress member each, but in Iowa we see a similar pattern to Minnesota as the “Peoples Republic of Johnson County” and Dem leaning Polk County had double digit population gains. Depending how the maps are drawn even northwest Iowa’s CD4 could no longer be safe GOP, but more likely IA2 will stay safe democratic while IA2 and IA3 will get bluer. Iowa has some of the best political bloggers, and “Bleeding Iowa” blog games out the possibilities for us here: Wisconsin has been the Midwest’s GOP gerrymandering poster boy and with little population increase and almost none in Milwaukee County, it’s no surprise that southwest Wisconsin’s long serving democratic congressman Kind announced his retirement just before the data dump. But wait, there’s Nebraska! Thanks to Nebraska’s breaking out electoral votes by congressional district, “NE2” has become a part of the political lexicon for over a decade. Nebraska’s 2nd district is Omaha and some suburbs and the GOP which runs the state has managed to keep it a swing district by gerrymandering a blue swath of south Omaha metro into a red district. Sorry GOP, that ain’t gonna work anymore- While Nebraska’s population grew by 7%, blue Douglas and Sarpy counties in the Omaha metro and one county away Lancaster County where Nebraska tests tractors at Lincoln grew by double digit percentages. At this point the Nebraska GOP gerrymanderer’s only choice is whether they want to surrender NE2 or take a gamble and make two swing districts.

So redistricting is good news, despite the GOP’s best attempts otherwise. I’ll report back when we get finer level data and see if things like minority opportunity districts around the immigrant concentrations in southwest Minnesota and the Native Nations in northern Minnesota are possible…

Farmfest Dying, Rural DFLers Kickin’ Ass!

Best wishes to DFL state senator Melisa Franzen and state auditor Julie Blaha for a speedy recovery from the injuries they received in a car crash leaving Farmfest.

Even the fossil fuel apologists were lonely at Farmfest…

At the dawn of the 20th century half of Minnesotans lived on farms and kept a vast “Machinery Hill” at the state fair busy as dozens of implement and seed suppliers vied for their business. By the 1970s White had consolidated 4 tractor makers into 0 and there were a dozen odd seed sellers instead of hundreds, and an even more drastic reduction in the number of farmers who’d survive Butz’s “get big or get out” farm policy. What was left of Machinery Hill’s corporate “citizens” migrated to the cheaper rent of the prairie 100+ miles west in Redwood County and they called it Farmfest.

Big Ag had a good run with Farmfest there for 4 decades, but ultimately there preferred consolidation into as close to monopolies as the antitrust laws allowed doomed Farmfest- When a dozen odd seed or tractor suppliers consolidate down to four or so they need only rent four Farmfest lots instead of a dozen. Same with the farms, as the 160 acre homesteaded farm consolidated to section sized and now township sized corporate farms with such huge buying power that they didn’t even shop the local suppliers. Throw in several years of low commodity prices and now a drought and even the surviving farmers have little reason to come and shop for equipment they couldn’t afford anyway. Farmfest was faltering before COVID, didn’t happen last year, and even the usually SRO crowds at the forums were reduced to more empty seats than occupied and maybe 20 odd policy wonks watching online.

Farmfest was a child of big ag, and ultimately through consolidation big ag has eaten it’s own.

In the same Red(wood) County 200+ dems signed in and who knows how many more just showed up…

Since the rule of President Bush the Bad southwest MN dems have gathered at Ted Suss and Janet Marti’s farm after Farmfest for an evening of sweet corn, salads. delicious deserts, speeches, and more deserts. IIRC this year’s 200+ democrats easily beats the all time attendance record.

And musical accompaniment!

And in this double digit R+ congressional district we already had in attendance not one, not two, but three declared candidates 15 months before the election. Plus a DFL Attorney General who brings corporate criminals and murdering cops to justice…

I’ve had the pleasure of voting for Keith Ellison for legislature, congress, and now attorney general.

And top o’ the ballot, Governor Tim Walz!

With fellow vet Jerry from Redwood County.

And finally thanks to Ted Suss who’s organized this great get-together all these years!

BTW, the farmstead’s for sale and Ted will give democrats a heck of a deal!

Climate Change Teachable Moments- Heat & Smoke!

Orange and pink are dangerous heat, gray is smoke- Weather map’s been way too colorful lately!

It’s the summer of the great American road trip, back with a vengeance after a year of pandemic isolation. Campgrounds are overrun, quiet highways are clogged with traffic, and you need a reservation to get into some national parks. But the promise of a memorable trip to scenic America is becoming a hellish descent into the heat and smoke of an environmental hellfire.

All four trucks have headlights on.

Case in point, yesterday I photographed the Military Vehicle Preservation Association’s historic convoy along the Yellowstone Trail to their annual convention. These convoys don’t happen every year, and after last years cancellation for many of the vets this is the trip of a lifetime. These folks value authenticy, so their restored military vehicles don’t have air conditioning, and they suffered through triple digit heat indexes on the first day of the convoy Wednesday. Thursday brought relief from the heat but smoke so thick they couldn’t see the whole 40 odd vehicle convoy stretched out along the old Yellowstone Trail while throats and lungs suffered too.

This wasn’t ordinary heat and forest fires, records for heat and drought going back over a century are now being broken daily- We have so thoroughly trashed our protective atmosphere by fossil fuel burning that all climate bets are off. Millions of ordinary Americans are seeing their summer vacations trashed by climate change and are now open to our persuasion- Just don’t go full Tesla evangelist on them and scare them off! Overcoming fossil fuel addiction like any other addiction is a series of small steps, the size of the step is less important than the fact that it’s taken… Let’s gently help our friends and family off fossil fuels and towards a sustainable future.

1st DFL MN CD7 Congressional Candidate Steps Out in Style!

First CD7 democratic candidate with a wrapped campaign vehicle too!

As I depressingly explained the other day, Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District is now double digit R+ republican. But… That don’t mean we can’t have a vigorous campaign that excites democrats to action and forces the republican incumbent to actually defend her seat instead of helping accomplices in more competitive districts. First time candidate Mark Lindquist of Ortonville is doing just that with a campaign kickoff today that was bigger than anything CD7 democrats have seen in decades- Campaign RV, merch, staging, sound system, staffers, and all. This follows thousands of dollars in just the past few days of earned media exposure in the Fargo/Moorhead and Grand Forks markets. Granted, Congresman Colin Peterson set the bar for low key congressional campaigns, but sixteen months out Mark has already outclassed Colin’s biggest event.

I don’t know if Mark’s campaign is modeling there’s after J.D. Scholten’s campaigns in similar Iowa CD4, but JD used a similar strategy of an RV, lotsa events and voter contact, and centrist rural vision. That strategy got JD within 3% of winning in 2018 in a similar R+ double digit district to MN CD4 after republican incumbent King was outed as a neo-nazi. For 2020 the republicans found another candidate who wasn’t a Neo-nazi and with Trump leading their ticket JD lost by double digits along with most of the candidates in the district. But in losing JD brought national attention to rural democratic issues and produced a noticeable jump in democratic turnout in swing counties like Cerro Gordo (Mason City) and Woodbury (Sioux City) and probably helped elect a couple democratic legislators.

That’s why we need democrats like Mark not just filing but running vigorous campaigns everywhere!

Here’s Mark’s campaign website:

And a few more photos:

Don’t worry, the campaign ain’t waist’ money- The other side ain’t wrapped.
Crowd of at least a hundred in an off year!

The Sass’ is Back!

Been a while… Since my occasional anger at the Democratic Party and our ability to “grab defeat from the jaws of victory” motivated me to vent and maybe even produce some coherent writing. After our pack of great presidential candidates wisely stood down in the face of COVID-19 and deferred to everybody’s favorite cool grandpa Joe with the ‘Vette, Trump went full crazy and gave us a well deserved four year lease on the White House and we barely control the senate. Having fought and won the political battle of our lives, most of us have been taking a well deserved rest and rebuilding of our bank accounts and vacation day stashes.

I love political science, what little there is of it guides my campaign strategy, and I’ve found no empirical data whatsoever that off year campaigning improves our election results the next year. Granted, off year campaigning for caucuses, endorsement battles, and sometimes even primaries is a necessary evil and in the democratic urban strongholds the primary is the election, with the general election being a mere republican trouncing formality. But out here in rural Minnesota we have a hard time getting even one democrat to be the “sacrificial lamb” and run for office, and often on the last days of filing. Not surprising, given folks of both left and right political persuasion’s insistence on living surrounded by like minded neighbors, amped up even more by good ol’ gerrymandering. Cue the electoral map…

Statewide 2018 election contests results, democrats won every office in green counties and republicans in red counties. Numbers are the percentage of “swing” voters.

I live in the one white county (Lyon) in the sea of red in the lower left hand corner, nice rural living where $100,000 buys you a small mansion and it takes a conspiracy to cause a multi-vehicle accident. I am surrounded by counties even Amy, daughter of Klobuchar, kick ass prosecutor, and the winningest Minnesota politician since Hubert wasn’t able to win- That clump of red counties is about 3 state house districts that you may as well cede to the republicans already. The clump of white counties above that from Marshall through Willmar to St.Cloud is almost entirely (mis)represented by republicans now, but Amy won them proving that the perfect candidate backed by multi-million dollar campaigns and incumbency can win, and our local candidates have next to none of the above. The green counties around Moorhead are solid democratic, but not as much so as “the cities”. We’ve got another even bigger clump of red “lost counties”, and some white up around Bemidji- That’s a swing districts including the Red Lake Tribal Nation. Problem is, the republicans know it and will make ugly million dollar races out of it. That’s the synopsis of western Minnesota’s CD7 which will grow a bit larger but probably no more democratic with redistricting- A couple safe democratic state house districts, a couple more toss-ups, a half dozen long shots, and the rest the republicans won’t even need to gerrymander to win. Like the rural half of Minnesota’s CDs it’s R+ double digit, so for most of CD7 the only competitive races we’ll have in 2022 are the statewide races for Governor, SOS, Auditor, and AG. That means instead of getting a “three-fer” in a competitive district where the legislative, congressional, and statewide races are in play, in much of rural Minnesota the only races even halfway in play are the statewide races.

That’s not enough to get even a rabid democrat like me terribly excited to campaign in this off year, I’d be happy to do not even a handful of parades to test out the vehicular props and stay in practice. But sure enough this spring parades are being talked up, I put together a list, and after fits and starts seems like we’ve got a dozen parades scheduled. It gets worse… With COVID-19 at bay, the state Democratic Party has regressed back into their “door knock ’til you drop” mentality. Let me get this straight… Out here in rural western Minnesota’s 7th CD we’ve got 300,000+ doors to knock, you’ll find at best 20% home, and we have no idea which aren’t republicans so that means our little crew of maybe a hundred volunteers have a million and a half doors to knock… And that’s just the “first pass”! The empirical political science is that door knocking is magically effective in low turn out primaries, we don’t much have them out here.

Ain’t even election year, and I’m already feelin’ burnt out…

Remembering Black Ancestors Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice

I’ve written before about my great great grandfather Sergeant William T. Slyter who gave his life to preserve the union and end slavery in the Civil War. Today it’s time to honor the black soldiers on my mother’s side of the family who made the same ultimate sacrifice. Black troops were usually assigned to segregated units and menial tasks but none the less proved themselves in battle. While their pay often went to their illegitimate owners, they were charged for petty debts like the loss of a canteen in battle, and were seldom given the customary benefits of burial in a national cemetery and a pension for their survivors. Yet having barely tasted freedom these black troops turned the tide of the civil war, their black community gave us Memorial Day, and the surviving black Shobes persevered to become respected judges, doctors, and public servants. 

Let’s say their names, and may they rest in power:

Private Isaac Shobe of the 67th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry

Private James Shobe of the 108th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry

Private James Shobe of the 109th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry

Private Smith Shobe of 122nd Regiment, United States Colored Infantry

It ain’t over ’til it’s over: Count all the votes!

We’re playing an away game and the crowd is getting ugly, encouraged by a profoundingly unsportsmanlike home team coach and players. It’s gotten dark and the stadium lights are dim with thunder in the distance. We bat last, put a couple runs on the board in the 8th to put us one run behind the home team and we’ve been ahead in every other stat the whole game. Most of the umps seem a little too familiar with the home team and there’s been some questionable calls, but sportsmanship comes first so we took it in stride and kept playing. We’re batting in the end of the 9th, the tying and winning runs on 3rd and 2nd, our best hitters next in the batting order, and their pitcher after too many beers is tired and sloppy…

But the home team coach demands his drinking buddy the custodian turn out the lights, while his other drinking buddy the town cop while playing with his billy club demands we leave the field while the home team’s crowd is ready to shower us with their horde of empty beer bottles.

Such unsportsmanlike conduct is rare in sports, but in this cowardly new world of Trump GOP politics is becoming standard operating procedure. Polling and exit polls are one of the best means of detecting election fraud, and the early election results in Pennsylvania alone are too far outside the margin of error of dozens of amalgamated polls to be believable. I went to sleep at 3 am after noting that in enough states to give 270 or more electoral votes to Biden enough democratic votes were uncounted to tip those states to Biden. Sure enough, I awoke at 8 am to find Biden had taken the lead in Michigan and Wisconsin giving him an electoral college win if he maintains those leads. It gets better- A quarter of Pennsylvania’s votes remain to be counted and they lean heavenly to Biden. And in the popular vote that actually defines presidential credibility, Biden leads by well over two million votes and counting.

No wonder Trump wants to take his ball and go home…