In my previous post, “Hurricane Florence and Politics, NC,” I reported that the November ballot for North Carolina was agreed upon and ready, and that reaching this point required a high level of litigation, this year. My source for these two points was The Charlotte Observer (September 9, 2018, pp. 11A, 21A). Thank you.
September 14, 2018—In politics as with the weather in North Carolina this Fall, the only thing normal is that nothing is normal.
The top story right now: the arrival of Hurricane Florence on the North Carolina coast. As I write this blog post, I am holed up near Charlotte, North Carolina, awaiting the hurricane as it crawls Westward across South Carolina toward the mountains of Western North Carolina. It is dumping unbelievable amounts of rain, complete with wind damage, as it goes.
Five people have already died, along the coast when Florence made landfall this morning, and so far, today, according to CBS Radio News (9/14/2018, 5 pm).
But this is September, the height of hurricane season in North Carolina, and damage and destruction like this from a hurricane at this time is normal. The only thing is, there is nothing normal about it.
I feel anxious about the storm arriving here, imminently, and have been preparing as best I can. The stores were all busy in the last few days, with shoppers swiping up all the bottled water at the supermarket, for example. I was able to buy a last six-pack of bottled water, myself. The newspaper, The Charlotte Observer, ran a story yesterday that included reports of similar shoppers, noting that stores were still re-stocking, at the time (9/13/2018, p. 1A).
The roads had a similar eeriness about them. At times, stretches of roadway were unusually empty, and at other places, at around the same time, the congestion was incredible. The highway going North, I-77, was unusually congested at one town North of Charlotte, in Huntersville, NC, for example. That highway is always congested there, at most times, but it was even more congested when I drove it, Wednesday. My main feeling was that it is high time to get off the roads, and stop driving, anywhere. I am happy to report that I am off the roads, now.
Although these are normal preparations for a hurricane, when not advised to evacuate, there is nothing normal about it. It does not feel normal, at all, either.
Talking about politics at all does not feel normal right now, either. Suffice it to say, in the context of this hurricane and, later, tropical storm, I will keep the commentary on politics brief.
I would like simply to congratulate NC government officials for finally agreeing on the ballot for this November. The election is all set to go, as usual.
What was not normal about the process this year was the high level of litigation it took to bring us to the point of a final ballot. That is all resolved now, at least temporarily, through the election, but there was a lot of wrangling and lawsuits about what was going to be on the ballot, namely, the constitutional amendments, and about a candidate’s party listing, and of course, the federal, congressional districts. That is all set now for the election; then, the back-and-forth on the districts will continue.
In the context of recent North Carolina politics, perhaps this squabbling is not entirely unusual. The bickering in the courts this year was in the vein of the squabbling that has gone on in recent years in North Carolina. The bathroom bill of a couple years ago comes to mind. This year’s politics did not rise to that level, but it was in that recent tradition.
In politics in North Carolina this year, then, what was not normal was normal, once again. At the end of the day, also, we still have a certain level of normalcy that has been achieved. The election will proceed, of course, as usual.
The real story right now, however, is Hurricane Florence, which later, to the time of finishing this post, weakened to a tropical storm. I still await the heavier winds and rain to arrive, here in Charlotte. We are expecting about 24 hours of rain; then, the storm will pass.
What is unusual about this storm is just how slowly it is moving, now across South Carolina. Also, it hammered the coast of North Carolina, and somewhat, South Carolina, pretty badly. The storm surge and flooding along the coast, and just inland, was severe.
My heart goes out to all of the people affected, on the coast, and I await the rains now here in Charlotte.
August 22, 2018—Global warming is here, and we are living with it, now.
That is the message from Kim Cobb, earth and atmospheric scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA. “What we’re seeing today is making me, frankly, calibrate not only what my children will be living but what I will be living, what I am living currently [sic],” said Cobb, as quoted in the Charlotte Observer (8/12/2018, p. 30A). “We haven’t caught up to it. I haven’t caught up to it, personally.”
The hottest year recorded, worldwide, was 2016, according to the Charlotte Observer (8/12/2018, p. 30A). What’s more, 2017 was the third-warmest year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as cited in the Charlotte Observer (8/12/2018), and the first half of 2018 was the fourth-warmest, ever. Sea levels continued to rise substantially, too, in 2017, as compared with levels in 1993, according to the NOAA, as cited in the Charlotte Observer (8/12/2018).
In Charlotte, NC, this summer has been a hot one, so far, according to the Charlotte Observer (7/12/2018, p. 3A). The temperatures reached 90 degrees or higher on 8 days out of the first 11 this July, and 90 degrees or hotter on 19 days in June. Forecasters in mid-July predicted “warmer-than-normal” temperatures for July, August, and September “across the Carolinas,” according to the Charlotte Observer (7/12/2018).
I can attest it has been another hot summer in Charlotte, as usual. The facts, available in the local, daily newspaper, indicate the temperatures are rising, now, and that global warming is here.
One of the main causes? Industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, which have reached record levels in 2017, according to the Charlotte Observer (8/12/2018). Carbon was estimated to be at the highest levels in the earth’s atmosphere in the past 800,000 years. Facts like that make one take a step back, and pause. That time frame dates back to before humanity existed on the planet, after all, according to all theories of the beginning of our species on Earth, I would note.
The change now is that we are beginning to feel the effects of a warming world, now.
“Decades ago when the science on the climate issue was first accumulating, the impacts could be seen as an issue for others, future generations or perhaps communities already struggling,” said Katherine Mach, a climate scientist at Stanford University, as quoted in the Charlotte Observer (8/12/2018, p. 30A). “In our increasingly muggy and smoky discomfort, it’s now rote science to pinpoint how heat-trapping gases have cranked up the risks. It’s a shift we all are living together.”
Reading these facts in the paper, and living through the beginnings of the effects of global warming, now, leads me to believe that we must do something, now, to address this issue.
Unfortunately, our current president, President Donald Trump, is worse than missing-in-action on carbon emissions and global warming. Denouncing what he calls a “war on coal,” President Trump shifted the weight of regulating coal power plants from the federal government, to the states. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) named Trump’s plan the “Dirty Power Plan,” a play on the Obama-era policy name that Trump just dismantled. Obama’s regulatory plan was called the “Clean Power Plan,” dating to 2015. The NRDC was quoted in the Charlotte Observer (8/22/2018, p. 3A).
In addition, earlier this month, President Trump froze the vehicle emissions standards, through fuel efficiency standards, that also dated to the Obama era. “These are the two biggest sectors of the economy that contribute to greenhouse gases in the country and are just hugely significant in terms of emissions,” said Janet McCabe, Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief. The transportation sector and power sector contribute over half of the emissions from the USA, according to the EPA, as quoted in the Charlotte Observer (8/19/2018, p. 26A).
To me, the issue is obvious. It is not so-called “fake news.” A warming earth, and global warming, is real, and we are beginning to feel the effects, now. It is, however, political. Sadly, with our current president acting against bringing global warming due to carbon emissions into control, the issue is now, still, political.
This blog post is not about listing all of the dangers of global warming, but rather in noting that global warming can be documented to be here, now, with the effects beginning to be felt, at this time. I leave describing all of the ill effects of a warming earth to another article. Let it be known, however, that we are in this new climactic reality, now.
Despite the changing reality we can easily document on our planet, we are, in terms of US policy, back where we were in the 1980s. That is, do nothing, and deny, deny, deny.
I find that to be terribly sad. Our current state on this issue requires us to step back, take a pause to reflect, tune out all other politics and issues, and resolve to do something, once again, on this issue, now.
It is no longer an issue only for our children, after all; it is now an issue for us, today.
August 10, 2018—The Red Sox blew out the Yankees in a series sweep this past week, and the Atlanta Braves are creeping up on Philadelphia for first place again, this week.
It’s August in America, and politics, as well as baseball, are active.
In politics, the Special Election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District just went down, and it foretold the field for the mid-terms, this Fall. The result? Too close to call in a heavily red district. The implication? Democrats have the edge this Fall, but we do not know whether the math will add up to enough for them to take the House away from the Republicans. In Thursday’s news, after all, Republicans are reported to be girding up for “a 90-day campaign of trench warfare” to keep control of the House, according to the Charlotte Observer (8/9/2018).
In North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District in and around Charlotte, the implication of Ohio’s special election is clear: a close race in a heavily Republican district, featuring a solid, electable, middle-of-the-road, Democratic candidate spells a tough fight until the end. At this point, the special election in Ohio signals a similar situation in North Carolina, where it could go either way, but we cannot predict a definite turnover from Red to Blue hands.
Meanwhile, the political grind continues in North Carolina politics. I am not prepared to go as far as the former governor, Republican Pat McCrory, did on his radio show on WBT-am. On this past Monday, August 6th, Pat McCrory said, “the deception going on in Raleigh is disheartening.” He was referring to the Democratic Governor’s, Roy Cooper’s, silence on the Chris Anglin candidacy for Supreme Court Justice. In that race, even the Charlotte Observer blames Anglin for “trying to game an election,” namely, by switching parties at the last minute and running as a Republican for the judgeship. There already is a Republican on the ballot, and Anglin is taking advantage of a bad law by the Republican legislature to pull this electoral trick on voters. In the editorial in the Observer (7/29/2018), the paper takes to task Governor Cooper and state Democratic leaders for remaining silent on the issue, and essentially, allowing it to happen, giving the appearance of complicity from the state Democratic party.
AIDS activists of the 1980s claimed that “silence = death.” Now, Pat McCrory argues on his radio show that, “silence = deception.” Perhaps, but I am unwilling to place any active role by Governor Cooper that would tend toward deception. I think, to lie, you have to say something. Saying nothing does not rise to the level of actual deception.
In fairness to the former Gov., Pat McCrory, he also denounces the Republican legislature for deception. He described their constitutional amendments, specifically the two that take power away from the current Governor and the executive branch in North Carolina, as “a clear power move by the Republicans” (8/6/2018). In the legislature, McCrory argues, the Republican leaders are simply trying to take away the Governor’s power, regardless of party. McCrory is against this move.
I agree with Governor Cooper and former Governor Pat McCrory. In this case, the Republicans are proposing bad constitutional amendments, which is a more active role. Again, I am not sure this qualifies as outright “deception,” but now I feel I am splitting hairs on language with Pat McCrory, current radio host.
Having said this, I still think that, with the exception of the two amendments that Governor Cooper is contesting, that the rest of the six constitutional referenda that Republican legislators in Raleigh are proposing, that these should be allowed to come to a vote on the ballot this November. In the interest of the balance of powers between the separate branches, the Legislature, Republican or otherwise, should be allowed to put new laws to a vote in a referendum. This is traditionally their purview, and not an abuse of power. The Republican legislators are just doing their jobs, here, from their perspective.
I disagree with the content of the amendments, and I will vote against them, but I do not have a problem with them putting new laws up for a vote, in general. The two that would take power away from the executive and give it to Republican legislators, those two are too much, however, and should not come to a vote this Fall.
Perhaps, the more important matter, aside from the mid-terms, is the beginning of the race for the pennant in baseball. There, I do not count out the Braves, but I am not sure anyone can really beat Boston this year.
Charlotte, NC, July 31, 2018—One man has not forgotten the effective campaign slogan of former President Bill Clinton in his campaign in 1992 against former President George H.W. Bush: “It’s the economy, stupid.”
That man is current President Donald J. Trump. In his campaign for Republicans in the mid-term elections this Fall, President Donald Trump is touting the economy as a central achievement, according to The Charlotte Observer (July 28, 2018). The economy is doing great, too, including in North Carolina.
Gross domestic product grew in the United States at a pace of 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2018, according to the Commerce Department, as quoted in The Charlotte Observer (July 28, 2018). This growth rate places the United States on track for its best year in over ten years, according to Ben Casselman, as he reported in The Charlotte Observer.
In North Carolina, according to Mark Vitner, senior economist for Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, the unemployment rate has dropped down to near 4 percent. That figure is down from the double digits a few years back, during the “Great Recession,” he claimed in The Charlotte Observer (July 18, 2018). Now, there are nearly as many jobs open and available in North Carolina as there are unemployed people. That low unemployment figure tells of a rosy picture in the economy in North Carolina, I would argue.
The economy is doing just great, and although I am a Democrat, I think President Trump deserves credit on this issue. I cannot fall in line in agreement with President Trump’s policies on trade and taxes, although I recognize, as economic experts point out in the July 28 article in The Charlotte Observer, low taxes serve as a stimulus. Although I see the failings of an internationalist neo-liberalism—this economic globalism further enriches the wealthy, while leaving large segments of the working-class behind—still, I cannot line up behind simple economic nationalism, either, or “America First.” Substitute your country’s name in that slogan, and you have the international vision behind that economic world order. This nationalism seems misplaced, misguided, over-simplified, and self-serving. It is the epitome of the “ugly American” in the world, when applied to the United States. It is one thing to have one of the strongest economies in the world, and I do not doubt the truth behind President Trump’s words on this one, but it is quite another thing to dismiss out-of-hand the fates and fortunes of the rest of the world, including major trading partners. We should be able to strive for a better vision of the world, one better than simple economic nationalism and self-indulgence at others’ expense.
Nonetheless, the economy in the United States, and North Carolina, is responding like an engine when someone hit the gas pedal. Acceleration is the word. This will only help the Republicans in the mid-terms.
What, then, of the so-called blue wave? This wave refers to the Democratic edge in the polls and by political prognosticators, who agree that Democrats are on-a-roll, according to a report in The Atlantic (web edition articles, July 27, 2018), for example, or again, The Charlotte Observer (July 25, 2018).
Let us look at one congressional district, the 9th, in and around Charlotte, NC. This one is considered generally Republican, yet a poll by the Civitas Institute (based in Raleigh, NC) has the Democrat, Dan McCready, ahead of his conservative opponent, Mark Harris, by 7 points, according to The Charlotte Observer (July 12, 2018). The margin of error in the poll is 4.6 percent. That indicates a close race, with the Democrat holding the edge.
Another recent poll by the same group, however, was just proved wrong in the Republican primary, in that district. There, a Civitas poll had the Republican incumbent, Robert Pittenger, ahead by 32 points, during this year’s Republican primary. In the election, held this past May, Mark Harris beat Pittenger by 828 votes, according to The Charlotte Observer (July 12, 2018). The more conservative candidate won, in defiance of the poll numbers.
Taking into account this poll, the conservative nature of the district, and this year’s Republican primary election outcome, I would argue that this district remains a toss-up. The district counts as one of those Republican districts that could fall to Democrats in Congress, but we see that it is a toss-up, I would argue.
Democrats do have momentum going into this Fall, I think. If the economy remains a top issue, like it was for President Clinton in 1992, however, then do not count out President Trump and the Republican party.
On the political wind in the United States of America: The whole country is waiting on the mid-term elections. Will there be a momentous blue wave sweeping Democrats into office? This is unknown. Will the election be the President’s day for the Republican party? This is also unknown. We are all waiting on the November elections to see the current direction of the country. I think the election comes down to a strong economy, for the Republicans, vs. President Trump’s ongoing excesses and antics, for the Democrats. President Trump does not look good right now, but the country is humming along, doing great. What will the American people decide in this election to determine the Congress? This is unknown. On President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh: The confirmation process will be predictable. There will be some delay and hard questioning by Democrats, but ultimately, they will not be able to stop this nominee. He will be approved along party lines, before the elections in November. His appointment will mark another victory for the Republicans, and it will continue the trend toward a more conservative Supreme Court under President Trump. The long and short of it all? President Trump will have delivered again for his conservative political base. On President Trump’s ongoing legal trouble: Once again, this outcome depends on the mid-terms. A Republican Congress equals a safe President Trump. A Democratic Congress? President Trump will have serious legal trouble, possibly impeachment. In this light, the scandal appears political, aside from the separate issue of Russian interference in our elections, which can be handled separately. Both candidates in the 2016 presidential election had international connections. Now-president Trump made great hay as a candidate of Hillary Clinton’s Clinton Foundation, and all of the funding, internationally, she openly received there from supporters and governments around the world. President Trump’s Russia ties are not to be blown out-of-proportion. What does this mean for the trial of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager? It means nothing. These people are not above the law, routine connections or otherwise. If he broke federal law, he will be found guilty. If not, then prosecutors should not waste our time. My feeling is that he will be found guilty, but we will not know that until the trial actually happens. On the World Cup, Russia, 2018: Viva la France! –Nicholas Patti Charlotte, NC
May 4, 2018–Although my recent posts have come from New York City, Charlotte, NC, and Albany, NY, I was living in New York City. Now, I have moved back to Charlotte, NC. My posts will be originating out of here, Charlotte, NC, at this time.