The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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Q & A on Current Events, July, 2018

July 14, 2018–

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

POEM: Pretty Little Train

“If I
had
a million
dollars….”

O.k.,
maybe not

a
million,

maybe not
even

one-hundred
million,

but
one billion dollars.

“That sure is
a

pretty little
thing,”

the woman
said

of
the new train

on
the new,

light-rail
passenger

line.
“Does it

do
anything?”

The
initial ridership-number

results,
just in,

for
the new

Lynx Blue Line
extension

to
North Charlotte,

North Carolina,
were

mixed.
Add to that

a

stock quote

from
the agency’s

chief
executive,

John Lewis,
about

“the community’s
acceptance”

and
“transit options”

and
“an alternative

to
traffic congestion,”

according to
The Charlotte Observer,

and
you have

the
results.

The

quote

sounds
real nice,

and
they say

Saturdays
were

a big hit,
but

the
question

remains:
“does it

actually
do

anything?”
Come on,

it
just

opened,
and

the trains
and

the new
station platforms

are
all

beautiful.
Smooth

ride,
just

beautiful.

Lynx Blue Line train at station
on original section of track,
photo from Yelp images

Coming in

 

at a price
tag

of just
over

one billion dollars,
however,

I
sure hope

it
“does something.”

 

—Nicholas Patti

Charlotte, NC, 4/26/2018,
posted May 4, 2018
 

U.S. SUPREME COURT CLOSES THE BOOK ON NC VOTER ID LAW

May 18, 2017–Voting rights and civil rights advocates in North Carolina won a major victory this past Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the ruling from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last summer that struck down the 2013 NC Voter ID law. This decision by the U.S. Supreme Court ends debate on this particular, onerous law as it passed in North Carolina in 2013, and finalizes its repeal, according to The Charlotte Observer (May 15, 2017, website) and The New York Times (May 17, 2017). I applaud this decision and the final repeal of the 2013 NC voter ID law.

The end of the struggle against the NC voter ID law represents a major victory in the ongoing battle to sustain the currently relevant right to vote in North Carolina. The NC voter ID law had chipped away at that right, and the effort to diminish the right to vote in North Carolina has been defeated, at least for now.

In an earlier blog post in which I interpret and celebrate NC Governor Roy Cooper’s election, I predicted that the days remaining for that law in the federal courts were numbered, now that a Democrat occupied the governor’s office. The voter ID law had already been struck down at the 4th Circuit, but an appeal remained to the U.S. Supreme Court. That forecast of mine in my earlier blog post turned out to be accurate, now that the Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal.

   Republican Party leaders in North Carolina have vowed to write and pass a new law to accomplish the 2013 law’s goals and that could pass federal judicial review. The Republican Party controls the state legislature in North Carolina, so theirs is no idle threat. Passage of such a new law would be difficult, however, in the current political climate of North Carolina, which features Gov. Roy Cooper, Democrat, as the current governor.
   “…Republican legislators will continue fighting to protect the integrity of our elections by implementing the commonsense requirement to show a photo ID when we vote,” said NC House Speaker Tim Moore in a joint statement with NC Senate Leader Phil Berger, as quoted in The Charlotte Observer (May 15, 2017, website). There may well be more-to-come in North Carolina on this issue, then, but at the very least, the 2013 voter ID law has now been repealed, finally.
   Leaders of the struggle against the 2013 law in North Carolina over the past few years, including the Rev. William J. Barber II, President of the NC NAACP, were thrilled at the news of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision. The NAACP had filed the lawsuit against the law, and in a news conference in Raleigh, NC, when the ruling was announced, people in attendance broke into a standing ovation and a chant, “Forward together, not one step back,” according to The Charlotte Observer (May 15, 2017, website).
   Nationally, according to analysis in The New York Times (May 17, 2017), the decision about the North Carolina law represents a temporary victory in a broader, ongoing struggle, according to Heather K. Gerken of Yale University, as quoted in The New York Times. More cases on similar laws relevant to voting rights, federally, are pending in front of the Supreme Court, regarding Wisconsin, Texas, and even North Carolina, in a different instance.
   Although the struggle is far from over, nationally, and even in the State of North Carolina, in the long-term, this current ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the Court rejects the appeal of the federal repeal of the 2013 NC voter ID law, this final defeat of the 2013 NC law marks a major victory for the struggle to maintain voting rights in North Carolina, and nationally. I applaud this ruling and celebrate this moment in our common, shared history.


–Nicholas Patti
Charlotte, NC

North Carolina Is No Pariah State

April 15, 2017–I add my voice to the growing chorus of voices to welcome the State of North Carolina back into the fold of the other 49 States in the United States of America. The current mayor of Charlotte, NC, Jennifer Roberts, joined fifteen other mayors across North Carolina to call for an end to the travel bans to this State, according to The Charlotte Observer (4/15/2017). Ms. Roberts was the author of the original, local anti-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte that granted access to transgender men and women to the bathroom of their choice, and that banned discrimination against LGBT people in Charlotte. That local law prompted HB2, the obnoxious State law that overturned her anti-discrimination ordinance and institutionalized discrimination based on sexual orientation, statewide. HB2 has been overturned by North Carolina, following the lead of the new, Democratic governor, Roy Cooper. As part of the deal, the original Charlotte ordinance had already been repealed, some months ago. About the replacement law, HB142, Governor Cooper was reported to have said that he would have liked it to have gone further, but that this compromise was all he could achieve, in terms of a compromise with NC Republicans in the State Legislature, who followed his lead and repealed HB2. North Carolina should be understood to be no pariah State any longer.

            Unfortunately, the issue still generates controversy. I think controversy is good, so far as it goes, but it should not extend to social and economic damage to North Carolina, and Charlotte, NC, anymore. Let us look at the facts:

 

            First, the travel bans. Just this past Wednesday, April 12th, California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, announced that his State would continue the travel ban on taxpayer-funded travel to NC despite the repeal of HB2 in North Carolina. He claimed the repeal and replacement law did not go far enough in protecting LGBT people in North Carolina from discrimination, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, VA: 4/13/2017). In addition, the City of Chicago, Illinois, and the State of Washington reaffirmed their travel bans to NC just this past week, despite the repeal of HB2, according to The Charlotte Observer (4/15/2017). Critics claim the new law is still discriminatory.

 

            In contrast to these renewed bans on travel to North Carolina, the NCAA and ACC college sports leagues gave a “vote of confidence” to North Carolina after the repeal, according to The Charlotte Observer (4/15/2017). They had moved significant sporting events out of the State, previously, in protest of HB2. The NBA (National Basketball Association) is considering bringing its All-Star Game back to Charlotte at this time, also. It had pulled it out-of-state, previously, also in protest against HB2. I support the return of the NBA All-Star Game back to Charlotte at this time.

 

            Next, we should take a look at the new replacement law, itself. The civil rights community, including in North Carolina, agrees that it does not go far enough. I would include the Mayor of Charlotte in those ranks, however, and she just called for people and government entities to drop their isolation and alienation of Charlotte and the State of North Carolina. Mayor Roberts faces re-election this year in Charlotte, also. I support her bid for re-election.

 

The problem with the new law, HB142, is that it leaves in place a ban on any new, nondiscrimination local ordinances across North Carolina until 2020, according to The Charlotte Observer(4/15/2017). Even so, the new, Democratic governor of NC, Roy Cooper, was reported to have said that the new deal would begin to reverse the economic damage already done to the State, and would prompt the return of sporting events and economic development back to North Carolina. This benefit would happen, he is reported to have said, despite the new law being, “not a perfect deal” and “not my preferred solution,” according to the New York Times (3/31/2017).

 

            The state of the bathroom policy, after the repeal of HB2, is to remove the state from the bathrooms, once again. Only the State Legislature of North Carolina may now regulate any such rules for and in the State, under the replacement State law, and no regulations currently exist (The Charlotte Observer, 4/15/2017). That means police officers will not need to be posted outside bathrooms to enforce hoped-for equality inside the bathrooms for transgender people. Instead, there will be no police in the bathrooms. The freedom that comes with no police in bathrooms will continue, but the dilemma for transgender people using this bathroom or that bathroom will remain unsolved, I think. The issue is left with our culture, changing or otherwise, and with our civil society—not our government. This is where the issue belongs, in my opinion, and where people should focus their energy to create progress for transgender people, also, in my opinion. We need to keep police, on-the-clock and on-duty, out of our bathrooms, I think, although I wish no harm to our officers, either.

 

            One less noticed provision that has been repealed from HB2 is the clause that restricted access to State Courts in North Carolina for any anti-discrimination, civil rights (or human rights) lawsuits, stemming from any acts of discrimination in the State, regardless of any local ordinances. This provision of HB2 fell without comment by civil rights advocates or anyone else, according to the New York Times (3/31/2017). I considered that quite a significant, discriminatory aspect of HB2, however, and I am surprised no one commented on it in the press, positively or negatively, and in fact, that the passing of the restriction from State Courts went unnoticed, also, by the press. Barring any comment or criticism about this provision, or about it being continued in the new law, which I understand it has not been, that provision fell, I believe.

 

            Therefore, although North Carolina is not leading the way against discrimination, not by any means, still, the State has restored standard, state-level access to justice to fight discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, on par with other states in the United States of America.

 

            What’s more, on Friday, the Republican administration of President Donald J. Trump dropped a federal lawsuit against North Carolina, one that had been filed by former President Barack Obama, on the basis that the State had been discriminating, under HB2. President Trump dropped the case in response to North Carolina’s repeal of House Bill 2.

 

 

            Although more progress needs to be made, in North Carolina and elsewhere, I think North Carolina is no longer a pariah State in the United States of America, not on this basis. People should drop their travel bans and isolation of the State, and return to North Carolina.

 

—Nicholas Patti
Charlotte, NC

POEM: …a Note on President Donald J. Trump’s Inauguration

From the Lower East Side, a Note on President Donald J. Trump’s Inauguration
 
 

The rust-colored

steel beams

rise

in the construction site

over
what used to be

a

nice, little Spanish

diner

here in the Lower East Side

of

Manhattan.

I sit

across the street,

looking out

from

the McDonald’s,
where I had

an

egg mcmuffin

breakfast

sandwich


with a

fresh, hot coffee.

I wish
I could have had

a
hash brown,

cooked
hot,

to
complete the breakfast

meal deal,
but the extra

dollar-and-a-half
would have been

too much
for me to spare.

I miss
the ketchup

I could have had
with it, too.

I savored
the coffee, though,

and
the few moments

of bliss
biting into the

breakfast sandwich,
as well.

Outside,
swirling about

in
the balmy, January air,

against
a grey sky,

but low
to the ground, mainly,

pigeons and sea gulls
are flying, nearby.

There
are lots

of
hungry people

sleeping,
probably,

down below
in

the subway
station,

underground.
None

have
come up

as of
yet

this morning
to

this McDonald’s.
Last night,

within
a couple of city blocks,

in
this neighborhood,

I read
that over one million

people
protested President Donald J. Trump’s

inauguration
in Washington, DC,

and protested here
in New York

and other cities
across the country.

The news
said, also, that roughly 800,000

people
turned out to celebrate

the inauguration,
to witness


the swearing-in
and the new, conservative President’s speech,

which
I heard, also,


here
in New York,

and which
was strident, and


partisan.
Here in the Lower East Side

of
Manhattan, however,


life continues
to

carry
on.

—Nicholas Patti, 1/22/2017

New York, NY
 

ROY COOPER’S INAUGURATION IN NORTH CAROLINA GIVES DEMOCRATS HOPE

December 30, 2016–In a year in which Democrats lost the White House and loosened their grip on governors’ mansions from 31 to 33 in Republican control, according to the New York Times (12/5/2016), the experience of one state stands out. In North Carolina in 2016, Democrat Roy Cooper defeated Republican incumbent Pat McCrory in a pivotal and closely-contested election.
North Carolina is a divided state along partisan lines. The turnover in the Governor’s office, although not the State Legislature, shines a ray of hope for Democrats in an otherwise bleak election year. Liberals and activists fought so hard against the conservative McCrory through his entire term that inauguration day on January 7th will mark a milestone for Democrats in North Carolina, in the larger South, and nationally. The turnover of power reminds Democrats nationally in the United States that hope for the future remains viable for their party despite the loss of the Presidency to the Republican, Donald Trump, in a bitter national election.

Democrat Roy Cooper in a campaign photo

Writing on The Guardian website (UK: London, 12/20/2016), Richard Wolffe is wrong to discount the significance of the results in North Carolina for Democrats nationally, and in fact for Democrats’ faith in American democracy itself. He argues that due to Republicans chipping away at the appointment powers of incoming Governor Cooper in North Carolina, after the election, that somehow the basic fact of the hand-over from Republican to Democrat in that Governor’s office is substantially less meaningful. I disagree. While the Republicans are definitely being cheap in reducing some of the incoming Governor’s power, the Governor still has the authority to defend or drop state support for the voter ID law, for example, that McCrory stood behind so adamantly. Wolffe makes much hay of the voter ID laws across the South in his commentary, also, in which he disparages the state of democracy in America, centrally, after Trump’s victory via Electoral College, but not in the popular vote.
The voter ID law probably will have its days numbered in the federal courts after Democrat Roy Cooper’s win in North Carolina. Unlike Wolffe’s view that the experience in North Carolina is insignificant, even somehow part of the bleak record for Democrats nationally in 2016, I would argue that North Carolina’s watershed moment in the State and in the broader South gives Democrats sorely-needed hope and relief in an otherwise-difficult year.
If it is possible to have accomplished such a tremendously important triumph in North Carolina, it is still possible to accomplish the same on the national level in the future. All is not lost for Democrats since Donald Trump is taking the White House on January 20th. Look at North Carolina. There is still hope for Democrats in the future in the United States of America, and the prospects for American democracy itself are still good, not faltering.

–Nicholas Patti

DONALD TRUMP WINS 2016 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

November 9, 2016–I listened to the news of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election come in over my hand-held, transistor radio on WNYC, 93.9 FM, National Public Radio, in New York. Listening to the reports roll in, I grew increasingly despondent as the night continued. I voted for and supported Hillary Clinton, Democrat, and I lost. Donald Trump, Republican, won. Hillary Clinton has called to concede defeat, but has not yet delivered her concession speech. Donald Trump has addressed his supporters in his victory speech.
     At least I could enjoy the comfort of my shared office space, my dedicated desk, with wi-fi included in the rent. This is where I listened to my public radio over my early twentieth-century technology, a simple radio, that remains a useful form of media. It is on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet, over this office space wi-fi, that I write my post. I combine earlier, simple, useful low-tech with more contemporary high-tech to post this entry on my blog.
     Small comfort. I am a democratic socialist who is sitting here now in my shared office space and watching the Republican Party sweep the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Presidency. All of this conservative ascendancy is led by our new President-elect, Donald Trump.
     There is nothing I can do but grin-and-bear-it, wince, and accept the results of this legitimate, democratic election. Woe be to us on the Left in America tonight, and presumably, for the next four years.
        Donald Trump rode a wave of what one speaker on NPR termed “reactionary populism.” I think so. Trump proclaimed economic nationalism and won, hands-down, in a white backlash vote against President Obama and the political elites of Washington, DC.
     In this broad, conservative electoral turn, President-elect Trump was shown to be right about his repeated claim that we would witness a Brexit vote here in the United States. In the U.K., voters recently turned away the plans of the political and financial elites, and stood up to take back their own destiny and take back their country. That is exactly what Donald Trump said the American people would do here in the U.S. by voting for him. Most people in the media and the polls did not believe him on this claim, but tonight the American people have done exactly that.
     The popular vote and the electoral college were both close, but Donald Trump clearly won.
     In his victory speech tonight, before Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, but after her call to him conceding defeat, in Donald Trump’s victory speech, he was not combative, but welcoming and hopeful, almost conciliatory, to all of the American people and to all countries around the world. Specifically, he promised opportunity to the American people, and fairness, and the opportunity for partnership, to all other countries around the world.
     I hope the mean tone and personal attacks between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during the campaign can be put behind them.
     Finally, although I feel disappointed that Hillary Clinton lost, I hope that we can all survive—and make the best of—this upcoming Donald Trump presidency. At this point in history, it is all that we can do.
–Nicholas Patti
New York, NY