US Hands Off Venezuela

January 29, 2019—It is with more than a little irony that I note that on the current, fiery issue of politics in Venezuela, our U.S. President, Donald Trump, is following the traditional, U.S. capitalist/cold war line, while I am siding with Russia, China, Cuba, and the U.S. socialist, anti-imperialist Left. To be honest, I am more than a little surprised that President Trump is breaking with President Vladimir Putin and Russia on this one. I have taken President Trump to task in earlier posts on this blog for cozying up with Vladimir Putin at a recent joint press conference with him, yet here I am taking the side of Russia and Vladimir Putin, myself, as against traditional U.S., imperialist policy in Latin America, which President Trump is currently upholding and continuing (Mid-term Post-election Recap, 11/10/2018). Wow, Mr. President, such independence from Vladimir Putin. What a surprise! Perhaps you should re-think that, however. In this case, I think a little deference to Russia, in the best interests of the Venezuelan people, of course, would be a good thing. Why so much of the “America First,” for Venezuela? That is not really new, after all. I think we need a little “Venezuela First,” for Venezuela. What’s more, if you ask any of the participants in the now fluid, quickly unfolding events in Venezuela, including you, including Russia, including both sides of the bitterly divided conflict in Venezuela, itself, and including, of course, all afore-mentioned and not-yet-credited U.S. socialists, including, of course, socialist parties, such as the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the on-line media networks of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS), and including big-name, ULTRA-LIBERAL intellectuals, such as Noam Chomsky, including everybody involved, directly and also, not-so-directly, including just about everyone, if you ask any of these players in Venezuela, and regarding Venezuela, they will tell you, in one, very rare moment of agreement, that their steadfast, unyielding position has everything to do with the interests of the Venezuelan people. All that anyone does, including attempts to set up parallel governments in Venezuela, including jailing the opposition in Venezuela, with whom they wish to negotiate, including cutting off the desperately poor people of Venezuela from billions of U.S. oil consumer dollars, including denouncing the U.S. government for imperialism in Latin America, etc. etc., including everything, all sides can agree that everything they do is for the betterment and wholly in the best interests of the people of Venezuela.

Here here. All agreed.

Victory sign with flag of Venezuela – by Lalocracio

As a U.S. socialist blogger, myself, speaking up on behalf of socialism and democracy in Venezuela today, which hopefully are not too far divorced from one another in Venezuela, either, as a U.S. socialist speaking up about Venezuela, myself, I feel the need to concern myself, largely, with U.S. policy in Venezuela, and in Latin America, in general, traditionally, and apparently, still today. It is on that note that I fall on the refrain, “U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!” In this vein, I echo the words of the Venezuelan President, himself, Nicolas Maduro, who is quoted as saying, in a direct response to President Donald Trump, on Monday, January 28, addressing the new sanctions against the Venezuelan state oil company, announced by the White House earlier the same day, Maduro said, “Hands off Venezuela!” as quoted in the associated press from Washington in an on-line news story on Earthlink.net (“US Hits Venezuela with Oil Sanctions to Pressure Maduro,” 1/28/2019).

Apparently, according to the Earthlink.net article, we are talking about $7 billion in current assets, cut off now, and projected income from future oil sales over the next year to the U.S. of about an additional $11 billion, all U.S. dollars. That is a lot of American currency for Venezuela, currently a cash-starved nation, to lose.

The U.S. has pursued “big-stick diplomacy,” traditionally, which meant, historically, sending in the marines, traditionally, in Latin America. Now, under President Trump, as of January 28, 2019, we have what I would call, “big-purse diplomacy,” at this point. The U.S. has not taken the military option off the table, as of January 28, 2019, but it has already exercised the option of economic sanctions.

Meanwhile, it is sad and ironic that President Trump is threatening to hold hostage hundreds of thousands of U.S. federal workers in the ongoing immigration fight over his border wall. He is threatening to close down the U.S. government again, over this issue, leaving all Americans, and pretty much everyone, wondering if he will actually do this, again, to fight for his border wall. He will shut down the U.S. government, again, that is, but U.S. imperialism in Latin America will remain wide open for business. One would think that you cannot have your imperialism in Latin America if you actually shut down the U.S. government. The government (in the U.S., that is) actually has to be open, with its employees actually paid for their labor, in order for the U.S. government and president to throw his weight around with unnecessary intervention in the domestic politics of Latin America, and in particular, Venezuela. It just seems odd, that’s all. We talk of the harm to the people of Venezuela, and what is in their best interests, no doubt, but we also, simultaneously, talk about what is in the best interests of the people of America, and federal workers, in particular. Antonio Gramsci comes to mind. This pattern is all too familiar to U.S. socialists during the course of the cold war, workers in America and countries, abroad, all being oppressed by U.S. imperialism. We need to break this pattern.

Therefore, I implore you, President Trump, listen to your friend, Vladimir Putin. Remember, the Cold War is over. If the Cold War were still on, you, President Trump, would never have been elected President. You could not have benefited from Vladimir Putin and Russia to the extent that you did, in your campaign in 2016, if the Cold War were still on. So, if the Cold War is, in fact, over, then let Venezuela live. Trade with former, and current, socialist countries is a good thing, President Trump. Rescind your silly sanctions, and let the U.S. thaw out relations with the current, socialist government of Venezuela. Then, the U.S. can participate in talks to help end the crisis in government currently unfolding in that country. Starving Venezuela, and the Venezuelan people, of much-needed U.S. capital does not seem to me to be the most helpful thing for them.

Let me be the first to say, “End the sanctions on Venezuela.” After all, these sanctions have not been in effect for even one full day yet.

Remember, President Trump. Latin America today, and Europe, today, are all still in the same world, today. Therefore, although I have called for more independence from Russia in earlier blog posts, forget that. In this case, in the case of Venezuela, listen to your friend, Vladimir Putin. President Trump, listen to Russia. The Cold War is over. Let’s just move on, already, and get over it, like you always say. You know, standing next to Vladimir Putin at an adjoining podium at the same, joint press conference, you announced, “there was no collusion.” Then, in almost lip synch, Vladimir Putin also said, “Again, upon our review by our government in Moscow, we have concluded, also, that, undeniably, there was no collusion.” You see? You can agree! It is not all about just hotel deals and new office towers in Moscow, like New York. It is about a changing international politics in an undeniably changing world. Embrace your new friends on the international scene, President Trump. Embrace, in particular, Vladimir Putin’s traditional, Russian Cold War stance in support of remnant socialist regimes everywhere. Including in Latin America. Especially in Latin America. Even Venezuela.

So, President Trump, here is what I propose for you. Today, economic sanctions on Venezuela. Tomorrow, a second joint news conference with Vladimir Putin of Russia in which you declare that you agree with him, not only on Syria, upon your Presidential review, but also, on Venezuela! End the sanctions on Venezuela!

I think, humbly enough, that if you let the people of Venezuela have their $18 billion US dollars for their oil, you may find that you have a couple million less economic refugees fleeing the country, seeking jobs and a better life, elsewhere. You will not need a wall if you do not starve these Latin American countries, read: Venezuela, of their access to U.S. capital.

O.K. I have said enough. Probably too much. I may be getting myself in trouble now, too, since I should be siding with these new, Venezuelan immigrants to the U.S., before they even arrive here. It is a sad fact, according to the Wall Street Journal (1/28/2019, p. A5), that there are now three million Venezuelans fleeing their country. This reality, I do not actually blame President Trump for, to be honest. That migration is the result of desperate conditions in a country currently undergoing a constitutional crisis. I just hope that the U.S. attempts to make the situation better, and not, in fact, worse.

You can do the right thing, President Trump. End the sanctions, and begin the process of honest talk, real dialogue, between the U.S. and the current, socialist government of Venezuela, and even, between the contending parties in Venezuela, itself. Starving the country of U.S. capital will not help. It will only worsen the situation there.

You can do better than this, Donald Trump. If nothing else, pick up the red phone in the White House, designed to protect against nuclear annihilation with the Soviet Union, and talk to your friend, President Vladimir Putin, in today’s Russia. If you do not want to listen to me, then don’t. Listen to your friend, Vladimir Putin. He will tell you. He will tell you the same thing I just told you in this blog post. I fear that I repeat myself too much.

End the sanctions. Begin the talks.

—Nicholas Patti, Charlotte, NC

 

Letter to Editor, on the 9th District

Letter to Editor, New York Times (12/10/2018, unpublished):

In response to “Winner Says He Backs Revote, if Inquiry Finds Fraud” (New York Times, December 8, 2018, p. A11):

December 10, 2018—Although the investigation of election fraud should continue by the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement regarding the 9th District for the U.S. House, in and around Charlotte, NC, the Board should publish its results soon after their evidentiary hearing on or before December 21. They should certify the election results, also, at that time.

A quick glance at the numbers: Republican Mark Harris won by 905 votes in the general, yet he only received 420 absentee votes from Bladen County, as opposed to 258 such votes in the County in question by his Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, according to The Charlotte Observer (12/6/2018, p. 1A.) Similarly, in the primary, Mr. Harris won by 828 votes, overall, and only received 437 absentee votes in the County, according to The New York Times (12/8/2010, p. A11) and The Charlotte Observer (12/6/2018, p. 1A).

These numbers do not undermine the election of Mr. Harris. However, those responsible for the fraud should be criminally prosecuted.

—Nicholas Patti, Charlotte, NC

 

Mid-term Post-election Recap

November 10, 2018—After all the divisive, rancorous rhetoric of the campaign, the mid-term election delivered a win for all involved—and some notable losses.

Our illustrious leader, President Donald Trump, scored big, for example, by holding the Senate. Impeachment is now officially off-the-table, due, in large part, to his vigorous campaigning for Republican Senate candidates. This means that when President Trump travels to Moscow for a love-summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and declares, “there was no collusion,” no one can correct him. Trump has support among a significant voting bloc of the American public, and his brand was triumphant. He is vindicated in the Senate.

The night was not a total wash-out for the Democrats, either, however. In a significant rebuke to President Trump, Democrats retook the U.S. House of Representatives. Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi is due to retake the speaker’s gavel, and Republicans everywhere are chagrined, to say the least. Democrats everywhere are heartened by their return to power in the U.S. House, as expected during the campaign. If their previously-hyped “blue wave”did not deliver a total Democratic takeover of the U.S. Congress this election, it was strong enough, at least, to account for one chamber of power, the House. They and their voters sent a clear rebuke to President Trump, and they won a significant victory. That victory includes subpoena power, just in case President Trump steps too far out-of-line.

U.S. Congress, Washington, DC
© Alisonh29 | www. stockfreeimages.com

So, the mid-terms delivered mixed results. There was a win for both parties, and a loss. Does this spell bipartisanship? Or, paralysis, due to a woefully divided government? Only time will tell.

In the American political grain, after all, 2020 starts in 2019. Only time will tell.

Washington Monument, Washington, DC
© Pgangler | www. stockfreeimages.com

In North Carolina, a similar dynamic could be seen at work. In every closely-contested race for the U.S. House in North Carolina, counting three, Republicans won. North Carolina is sending back a Congressional delegation that remains 10-3, Republican-led, unchanged in-full from before the election. In this way, the State of North Carolina bucked the national trend. Whereas nationally, Democrats re-took the House, in North Carolina, the delegation did not change, and Republicans held on to every single House seat, including all three of the toss-up districts. This outcome represents a clear victory for Republicans in North Carolina. These headline races were watched closely across the State, and Republicans won all three close contests to keep every single U.S. House seat, previously held before the election.

In another victory for the Republican party in North Carolina, the voter ID amendment passed. Now, the State is no longer finished with the requirement to show photo ID to vote; it is now a part of the State Constitution as an amendment. Also, the income tax limit amendment passed, another victory for NC Republicans, as well as the crime victims’ amendment and the hunting and fishing amendment. NC Republicans were behind all of these amendments, and they won; Republicans will now change the statutes in State law, to follow.

The last two amendments failed, but the Republican party was split on those two amendments. Republican governors, including recent, former Gov. Pat McCrory, opposed these last two amendments, as did former Democratic governors, as well. Those two were the amendments on judicial appointments, and the make-up of the State elections board. Those two amendments would have diluted the power of the office of Governor, and shifted it to the legislature. Those failed.

The State congressional delegation and the four amendments that passed, notably, the photo ID amendment, represented victories for the Republican party in North Carolina. In these areas, Republicans won in North Carolina.

In other areas of government and the election results in North Carolina, Republicans lost, and Democrats won. Democrats won by taking enough seats in the State legislature to remove the Republican supermajority there. This means NC State Republicans can no longer readily over-ride vetoes by the Democratic Governor, Roy Cooper. Democrats won these seats in the State legislature by taking urban and suburban districts in Mecklenburg County, and other urban areas of the State. Removing the Republican supermajority was a major electoral goal for NC Democrats, and the Democrats achieved this goal in North Carolina.

Another significant area of victory for Democrats in North Carolina was right here at home in Mecklenburg County, comprising the city of Charlotte, and suburbs. There was a “blue wave” in Mecklenburg County. Democrats won all seats on the County Commission, defeating three Republicans in previously Republican districts, and the at-large, Republican candidate. The Republican, minority opposition on the County Commission is now gone; the body is now entirely Democrat.

In addition, NC Democrats swept the state delegation from the Mecklenburg County area, leaving only one, or maybe, two Republicans standing. The suburbs had been reliably Republican, but the voting shifted in this election toward the Democrats. Repeated across urban areas in North Carolina, this spelled the end of the Republican supermajority in Raleigh.

The victory here for Democrats was in Mecklenburg County itself, and in urban areas across the State, reflected in the outcome of the Democratic gains in the State legislature. Republicans did hold on to their majority in the legislature, but they lost their supermajority. Removing the supermajority was the Democrats’ goal. They achieved this, and swept across Mecklenburg County.

NC Democrats could take home a victory on these counts. Therefore, both parties in North Carolina, similar to the national trend, won some, and lost some. The politics of the United States is divided, and resulted in divided government, as a result. North Carolina is known as a purple state, and similar to national politics, both parties could take away victories, and chalk up some substantial losses.

A divided body politic in the United States led to a more divided government, with trends going this way and that, in the recent election. Similarly, in North Carolina, true to its “purple state” identity, both parties could cite victories, and defeats at the ballot box. The main irony in this comparison is that North Carolina bucked the national trend in the election for the U.S. House, showing North Carolina as a red state, in this regard. Republicans won in contests for the U.S. House in North Carolina, bucking the national trend toward Democrats, yet Democrats in the State still made significant gains in the State legislature. Hence, North Carolina is still a “purple state,” with a unique identity in the broader body politic of the United States, itself. Both national parties will continue to concentrate efforts, therefore, in this State, since either party could still win here, in future elections.

North Carolina State Capitol Building,
Raleigh, NC, by JillLang, http://www.istockphoto.com

One little victory for President Donald Trump in North Carolina is that both U.S. House candidates that he rallied for, in a recent campaign rally this election season, held in Charlotte, NC, both won. In a year in which the President just lost control of the House in Washington, it is notable and comforting to him, perhaps, that the two House Republican candidates he personally campaigned for here, both won.

Perhaps, President Trump and national Republicans will cherish this silver lining here in Charlotte, when it comes to their losses nationally in these mid-terms for the U.S. House. Perhaps, these national Republicans, and the President, will appreciate the two Republican U.S. House Representatives from the Charlotte region, both of whom President Trump personally campaigned for, here in Charlotte, when they hold the party convention here in 2020.

It’s all peace-and-love, and all kumbaya for the Republicans here in Charlotte and nationally, but do not let anyone ask the actual U.S. House Representative for the district that actually covers the city of Charlotte. Democratic Rep. Alma Adams, a newly re-elected Democratic incumbent in a no-contest district, the 12th, may disagree. She just cruised to re-election, and she actually represents the city of Charlotte, itself. Not even President Trump dared campaign against her in the 12th. In true Charlotte style, however, and consistent with the state of North Carolina, the two nearby districts (which include South Charlotte, also) both went red. Charlotte will host the 2020 Republican convention, and can champion notable, Republican wins for the House. Democratic Rep Alma Adams, however, will remain silent. Also, she will remain in office.

I feel thankful that we had this recent mid-term election. It is a very good thing that we have periodic checks on power in this country via regular, national elections. It helps to re-align our elected leaders with the will of the people on a regular, frequent basis. Especially with this president, President Trump, we need to check on his level of support among the people in this country. He tends to veer off into never-never-land in his rhetoric, especially during the campaigns, and we need to check if he is actually representing any of the American people, still. It turns out, he is. President Trump and his party, the Republican Party, still command broad, popular support, or they would not have held on to the Senate. Meanwhile, the American people expressed growing opposition to the President and his party. Hence, the Democrats returned to the majority in the House, which is the chamber of Congress more closely aligned to the people, by direct population numbers, and less-so on geographic coverage and equal, geographic representation.

Opposition to the President is growing in the United States of America, but he still retains broad support. In the true spirit of American democracy, we are already looking forward to the next national election, 2020, for the Presidency, itself. Let us just hope there is enough peace, in the interim, to allow for good governance, and not simply paralysis.

—Nicholas Patti,  Charlotte, NC

 

My sources for this article are The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC: in print and on-line, Nov. 6, 7, and 8, 2018).

A Note of Attribution

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.

 

Hurricane Florence and Politics, NC

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.

Photo of waves, general
© Daniel76 | Stock Free Images

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.

—Nicholas Patti

Charlotte, NC

 

Global Warming is Here, Now

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).

© ZrKnight | http://www.stockfreeimages.com

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.

—Nicholas Patti

Charlotte, NC

The Mid-terms and NC Politics this August

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.

Raleigh, NC — © Steverhode | http://www.stockfreeimages.          com

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.

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—Nicholas Patti

Charlotte, NC

The Strong Economy vs. the Blue Wave

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.

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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).

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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.

Only time will tell.

—Nicholas Patti