Mueller Friday

Plasma Globe

To kick off the day, the ether was flooded with a fusillade of typo-ridden tweets. The markets chorused in with another day long rout. Fox & Friends is now at the UN. Former Secretary of State Tillerson had less than kind things to say about our illiterate President, who in turn went full third-grader, calling Rex a dumb and lazy box of rocks. All of this was merely preamble to the witching hour. Tension within Individual 1 must have continued to build throughout the day. The first shoe to drop occurred in NYC, where long time fixer Cohen had the book thrown at him, with only “a modest downward variance” in sentencing guidance. This un-redacted document should provide plenty of grist for days yet to come. All this and still no word yet on Manafort, the other shoe. A judge has already said that this document will likely be held mainly secret, like Flynn’s.

What to Cook Today?

The Colby Room

Yesterday’s roasted broccoli and fennel soup turned out quite well. This dish is vegetarian and almost vegan, except for the parmesan sprinkled garnish. I’ve juxtaposed this news with a picture from our travels of the Colby Room. 

The Colby Room, at the Boston Science Museum is a re-creation of Col. Francis T. Colby’s den in Hamilton, Massachusetts. Like a snapshot in time, the room contains original artifacts and animals representing both the life travels of Colby and the mindset of his generation. Inside the room are pelts, mounted heads, horns, and antlers. African artwork adorns the walls and tables, while shields and spears frame the gigantic fireplace in the back. The side walls are lined with a collection of guns. These items were collected in the early 20th-century.

Today, Colby represents a dangerous anachronism. A self-styled soldier of fortune, he is emblematic of a type of thinking that has almost faded from general acceptance, almost, but not quite. Many of the animals displayed are now near extinction, but most are still hunted. The environmental irreverence that was also birthed along with the industrial revolution of his generation has grown ever more dangerous. Manmade climate change now rockets us towards oblivion like a runaway train. Still, deniers question the evidence that is plain for all to see, as if humans too cannot be confined to the dustbin of history. We need to act on the issue of global warming, else ours will be the cooked goose. 

Prop 2

Venice Beach Skateboarder

On Tuesday, Missouri voters passed Proposition 2, legalizing medical marijuana. Two other competing propositions were defeated. Missouri is arriving rather late to this party, most other states have already passed similar measures.

I first encountered medical marijuana in 2011, when our LAX flight was delayed and we had a few hours to kill. We headed over to Venice Beach, which at that hour was still rather dead. Strolling the promenade there, we encountered a young man, dressed in surgical scrubs, with a stethoscope draped around his neck. His attempt to look like a medical professional was belied by the large placard that he held. He was selling marijuana evaluations for $40. A couple of businessmen playing tourists were interacting with him. They were trying to ensure that their $40 would result in some pot, but under the strictures of the law, the young man could not offer any promises. We moved on before they reached any resolution.

Last summer, we stayed in Butte, Montana. This once prosperous mining town showed numerous signs of economic distress. Getting lost on our way “uptown” for dinner, we encountered roads badly in need of repair, a derelict city center, with many storefronts closed and the seemingly only open establishments being pawn shops and payday loan outfits. Joining these other businesses were a host of medical marijuana dispensaries that were scheduled to open the next month. 

Neither of these two state’s experiences with medicinal weed bode all that well for Missouri’s. That is because medical marijuana is the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. People use and abuse these systems to get high. These laws only saving grace is that they help expedite the legalization of recreational marijuana and an end to all of the phoniness surrounding medical marijuana.

My only other regret about Prop 2 is that Chief Wana Dubie did not live to see its passage. Born Joseph Bickelle, he died last year at the age of 58. This colorful advocate of pot most famously contested Roy Blunt (R) for his US Senate seat in 2016. Maybe medical marijuana would have saved him. 

Slow and Steady

Tortoise and Hare at Copley Square, Nancy Schön, 1995

Today, the race for the next election has officially begun. Hey, I know that only yesterday was Election Day, but why dwell in the past? In Missouri there was no Blue Wave. In fact if anything the state became even redder, what with the Senate seat loss of Claire McCaskill. Maybe, you are just sick of electioneering at this point. Some of us are physically so, but remember, slow and steady wins the race. The Democrats are in a deep hole at this point. So, let’s get moving.

In the past, Missouri has employed an equally apportioned partisan commission to draw voting districts. This has led to a gerrymandered congressional map that safely elects partisan incumbents, almost all of them Republicans. Yesterday’s two-thirds passage of Amendment 1 could change this. This amendment calls for the choosing of a non-partisan demographer, who will draw the new map after the 2020 census. It is my hope that like in other states that have had their district boundaries redrawn by court order, a more representative and centrist congressional delegation will result. A few more Democrats would be OK too.

To that end, Amendment 1 was opposed by most Republicans. Only, elder statesmen from that party endorsed it (i.e. not Trumpsters). Claire endorsed it too. The amendment calls for the state auditor to draw up a list of candidate demographers that one will be selected from. This auditor is a Democrat. The MO Senate Leader (R) and Senate Minority Leader (D) are tasked to choose a candidate. In they can’t agree, then an arcane process is followed to select one.

The demographer is tasked to minimize each districts wasted votes or votes for the loser and votes more than 50% for the winner, based upon recent election results. If for this last election, this policy had been in place, the Democrats would have won more house seats than they did. Detractors on both sides are correct in arguing that this method will dilute both the black inner city vote and the white rural vote. It should increase the volatility of the MO congressional delegation, while making it more centrist, which in these times is a good thing.

Amendment 1 won’t have any impact in 2020. We’re looking at a long ball game here. The earliest that it could affect elections would be 2022. It also would not have any direct impact on offices that are held statewide. However, since most statewide office holders first work their way up to those posts, frequently though house seats, over time it would begin to affect them too.

Eeyores versus Heffalumps

We need to address the Heffalump in the room. – Royston Robertson

Two years in the making, this day of days has finally arrived. I’m not saying that she was any more anxious than the rest of us and just couldn’t wait, but Anne was up at 3:30  AM and was out the door an hour later. She is doing her election gig again and working these midterms as an election official, precinct captain no less. Her grueling portal-to-portal sixteen hour-long day will extend even after the polls have closed. She will still have to deliver the votes cast to be counted.

My day was a little bit more laid back. I slept in and when I thought that I had waited long enough for the morning rush-hour lines to have gone down, I walked over to the polling place. At ten, I found the longest line that I have ever encountered. It went all of the way down the hallway and then wrapped around and extended halfway back. Even with the very long ballot, the line moved quickly enough. I was only in line for twenty minutes. There were lots of voting machines available and like me, most voters must have done their homework. I saw two neighbors, Molly and Mary. All the single ladies… came out to vote.

Ours is a heavily Democratic precinct. So, a big turnout at the poll is a good thing. I suspect though that everywhere else is also enjoying a large turnout. There is really only one main partisan battle on our ballot, the one for US Senator. Incumbent Claire McCaskill (D) is running neck-and-neck with challenger Josh Hawley (R). I’m sure that Anne will be home long before any meaningful election results are announced. I’m not so sure though that she will still be awake when that happens.