Category Archives: Electiom 2022

Quote of the Day: Tom Friedman on the Top Two Crises

[NOTE: Tom Friedman interrupts his New York Times column today, which is about Ukraine & Israel, to quote a jibe he’s hearing often these days]:

Hey, Friedman, all you seem to write about these days is Ukraine and Israel. Don’t you have anything else to say? Continue reading Quote of the Day: Tom Friedman on the Top Two Crises

Why Madison Cawthorn Was The Biggest Winner In the NC Primary.

Simple: Because in narrowly losing his congressional seat, he won, by a landslide —

A chance.

A chance for a second chance.

Until a few days ago, I was ready to simply cheer if Cawthorn lost: my largest cup for schadenfreude was more than ready to run over.

But then I read a long, deeply researched piece in Politico,  by Michael Kruse.

The profile did not change my political judgment: the sooner Cawthorn is gone from Congress, the  better.

How bad was his first term? Only recently, Kruse recounted (a partial list) —

Police stopped him for driving with a revoked license (again). Airport security stopped him for trying to bring a gun onto a plane (again). He made outlandish and unsubstantiated comments on an obscure podcast about orgies and cocaine use by his Capitol Hill colleagues. He called the Ukrainian president a “thug,” he suggested Nancy Pelosi was an alcoholic (she doesn’t drink), and the seemingly ceaseless gush of unsavory news has included allegations of insider trading, pictures of shuttered district offices, a leaked tranche of salacious images and videos, and ongoing proof in FEC filings that he’s a prodigious fundraiser but a profligate spender as well. All of this comes on top of multiple women in multiple places accusing him of sexual harassment, his role in the insurrection on Jan. 6 of last year, his growing catalogue of alarming provocations on social media and on the House floor, and his politically imprudent decision to announce he was switching districts only to reverse course. His marriage amidst all this lasted less than a year.

Yes, the sooner the better.

But when I finished, the piece had done what I thought was impossible: it awakened some empathy for him.

In a 2015 text message, more than a year after the car crash that made him a paraplegic, Cawthorn told Brad Ledford, who had been driving, that

Cawthorn, right, and Brad Ledford, on spring break before the accident.

“I miss my life,” he said. “I miss being able to defend myself … being able to dress myself … being able to use the bathroom without someone helping me … I miss not peeing the bed because I have no control over my penis … not having to have pills keep me alive … being able to compete … being checked out by girls … I miss my pride as a man … the pride my father swelled with when he spoke my name … I miss,” he said, “not having to convince myself every day not to pull the trigger and end it all.”

Cawthorn has sued Ledford’s father and his father’s company. His deposition included more searing detail:

“Can you give me,” asked the attorney for Ledford’s father’s company, “a list of 10 things that you enjoyed doing before that you can’t do now?”

A excerpt from Cawthorn’s lawsuit deposition.

“Yes, sir,” said Cawthorn. “I can’t work out. I can’t play football. I can’t stand up and pee. I can’t wake up in the morning by myself. I’ll probably never be able to procreate. I can’t run. I can’t jump. I can’t wrestle with my brother. I can’t get through the day without pain. I can’t wake up in the morning without forgetting I’m paralyzed and also falling out of my bed. I can’t be too far away from my doctors. I can’t climb anything. I can’t go adventuring in places. I can’t hike. I can’t ride horses. I can’t bail hay. Do you want me to continue?”

“You said you can’t procreate,” the lawyer continued. “How do you know that?”

“Just because I can’t.”

“Who has told you?”

“My urologist.”

“That will never change?”

“Everyone is always hopeful, but, I mean, with my injury, it’s unlikely that I’ll walk or procreate or, you know, recover.”

But he “recovered” enough to take a job with then-Congressman Mark Meadows, and when Meadows resigned to become Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Cawthorn ran for and won the seat from his wheelchair.

In the campaign, he projected an inspiring “comeback from horrible trauma” image, and pledged to be a constructive, conservative-but-ready-to-cross-the-aisle Member of the House.

But three days after he was sworn in, on January 6, 2021 Cawthorn spoke, at the “Save America” rally at the Ellipse. He was one of the speakers who riled up the crowd, many of whom later assaulted the Capitol.

“My friends,” he said, “I want you to chant with me so loud that the cowards I serve with in Washington, D.C., can hear you.”

During the storming of the Capitol, he called into the radio show of right-wing talker Charlie Kirk and said he believed some of the ransacking mob were “antifa” and “people paid by the Democratic machine.”

It was all an increasingly erratic, two-year downhill roll from there, capped by recent photos of him in women’s lingerie during a cruise, talk of orgies and cocaine among his colleagues echoing in his wake, and culminating in the primary defeat on May 17 by state senator Chuck Edwards.

The change won’t much alter the political character of the deep-red western North Carolina district. Edwards, now the heavy favorite for November, is reliably Trumpy, if more quietly so.

But maybe now, the exit door from the House could open a way for Madison Cawthorn to put his life back together, out of the limelight, with some semblance of constructive hope.

The Kruse profile describes how Cawthorn made serious efforts at physical  rehabilitation and overcoming the loss of direction and depression that survivors of such accident survivors often face.

He was on a tough road. Yet research studies have shown that many do manage to overcome the despair and find a new sense of purpose and even happiness.

Clearly, Cawthorn’s recovery was derailed by the lures, klieg lights and arrogant loopiness of the Trump world he was sucked into.

Now, as I said, when the result was clear last night, I felt empathic hope: Cawthorn had won –won a chance to have a real second chance.

It won’t be easy, quick, or guaranteed. But I hope he takes it.

The Perfect Democratic 2022 Attack Speech: A Review

Everybody on the pro-democracy side seems to be in orbit over the searingly eloquent takedown by Michigan state senator Mallory McMorrow, which melted the MAGA stickers off bumpers for half a mile around the Michigan state capitol.

And rightly so. It has garnered millions of views, and deserves to be watched half a dozen times by any Democrat who wonders how to improve their side’s morale and prospects for the November midterms. (We can watch it again here).

Right now, though, I want to take a few minutes to highlight some things McMorrow did not say, along with underlining some of what she did.

Mallory McMorrow, Michigan state senator

Note  she tore the hide off her antagonist’s slanderous fund appeal (which called her a pro-pedophile groomer and more. Yet McMrrow’s reply used almost none of the jargon that clutters up so many DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) “trainings” and “anti-racism” diatribes. (Word to the wise.)

The speech also differed from the standard fare in that McMorrow’s aim was true: she wasn’t guilt-tripping that mythical group, “white people,” and skipped the cliche of “white supremacy.” She went directly after those, like Theis, who peddle hate and marginalization. Continue reading The Perfect Democratic 2022 Attack Speech: A Review

Alaska and the Weirdest House Primary Ever?

Anchorage Daily News, April 3, 2022 (With comments)

When it comes to name recognition in the free-for-all Alaska Race to succeed the late Rep. Don Young, who served 49 years, Sarah Palin is only Number Two.
[Who’s Number One? Ho ho ho . . .]

A non-MAGA red hat was among the 50 (count ‘em) thrown in the ring Friday, when Santa Claus joined the race.

The man once known as Thomas O’Connor changed his legal name in 2005 and now lives, aptly, in the city of North Pole, outside Fairbanks, where he serves on the city council. He is not affiliated with any party but describes himself as an “independent, progressive, Democratic socialist.” He also said he would not hire any staff or accept campaign donations.

[In North Pole, Alaska, Santa Claus is a bastion of blue on a city council as red as Rudolph’s nose]

Claus, 74, said Friday that he would run only for the special election to carry out the remainder of Young’s term. “I don’t like getting dressed up,” Claus said. “So I’m thinking, well, if I went to Congress, maybe I should just wear the Santa suit.”

I’m happy to announce that I’m a Candidate in the Special Election for the U.S. House of Representatives for Alaska in 2022!
I’m an independent, progressive, democratic socialist, with an affinity for Bernie Sanders, and aim to represent ALL Alaskans :-)}

While his politics are different from those of Young, his unusual approach to Washington traditions would be in line with Young’s unique antics, which included once wearing a propeller-topped beanie to a congressional hearing.

The list of candidates who had already announced runs before Young’s death includes Republican businessman Nick Begich III, the grandson of Nick Begich Sr., who was elected to Alaska’s lone congressional seat in 1970 but disappeared during a 1972 flight from Anchorage to Juneau. Begich Sr. was replaced by Young in 1973.

Amid the who’s who of Alaska politicians were some everyday Alaskans throwing their name in the mix.

“My greatest qualification is that I’m a fully functional adult,” said John Callahan, an inspector general for the Alaska Air National Guard.

He filed . . . just an hour before the 5 p.m. deadline. “We’ve been sending weirdos to D.C. for 50 years, and I feel like it’s just time we sent a normal person.”

[Weirdos?? Is that really fair to Santa?]

. . . The race also includes some candidates who don’t even live in Alaska. Two men from California and one from Montana are among the candidates. The U.S. Constitution, which sets the requirements for serving in the House, requires that elected members of the House live in the state they represent, but it does not require candidates to do so.

[The candidate roster even includes one whose name is, frankly, Gross. Al Gross, an orthopedic surgeon. But imagine a bumper sticker: “Vote Gross.” Needs some work. Don’t quit your day job, Al.]

With a candidate list so long, politicos across the state were struggling to capture the uniqueness of the race ahead. The election will be Alaska’s first after voters in 2020 adopted a citizens initiative under which the outcome of statewide races will be decided through ranked-choice voting. . . .

“I believe we might be looking for the superlative: wildest. The most wild,” said Joelle Hall, president of the Alaska AFL-CIO and its former political director.

Hall speculated that with so many candidates in the race, it will be almost impossible to predict how many votes will be needed to advance from the primary to the general election. . . .

The huge number of candidates combined with the brief 2.5-month window for campaigning make the primary something of a popularity contest, said Democratic former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich.

Everyone registered in the state’s voter rolls by May 12 will receive a ballot in the mail. . . .

When it comes, the ballot will be a hefty one, with candidates listed alphabetically by last name, A-Z.

. . .The four candidates who receive the most votes will advance to the Aug. 16 statewide primary, where a winner will be chosen by ranked-choice voting.

Well, why not? If you’ve got Sarah the Mama Grizzly versus Santa as a friend of Bernie, and 48 more, bring the popcorn & enjoy the show.

For A Hearty Holiday: Our Democracy Is Approaching Cardiac Arrest

My fickle finger of fate, lit up for the big MRI

So: I went in for a thorough cardio checkup, a long  overnight at Duke Med. As the capstone of the process they stuck me in this MRI machine for a long hour of lying stock still on my back, eyes closed and hands slowly going numb under the barrage of whanging and zapping aimed at discovering what if anything functional was left in my upper torso.

In cardio terms, the MRI was a success: they said my heart was pretty much okay for a guy my age: go home, take the pills, and keep in touch.

But an hour later, when I clicked the news on the iPad, I got an eerie sinking feeling: maybe there had been more to that big machine than just a very noisy electronic stethoscope. What if it was also a reverse time machine, doubtless part of the CIA’s vast secret UFO research: when they rolled me in, it was 2021. When I came back out into the light, in much of America it was 1964, or maybe 1953.

Not that I was younger, or anything good was back from those days (big Hershey bars for a nickel, Cokes for a dime, and Elvis on the juke box). Instead, 56 years of civil rights history was gone. While I was in that light beige reverse birth canal, the Voting Rights Act disappeared. Continue reading For A Hearty Holiday: Our Democracy Is Approaching Cardiac Arrest