Are rank-and-file Republicans as corrupt as their “leaders”?

…Redistricting debate — over how aggressively Republicans should try to eliminate the remaining Democratic enclaves in red states — is playing out in cities across the upper South and Midwest. Local Republicans, eager to grow their numbers in Congress and provide launching pads for ambitious state legislators, might be more inclined to carve up those blue pockets. But others in the GOP are wary of a rapid and unpredictable political realignment that complicates the drawing of new maps — and the threat of the legal behemoth Democrats have assembled to counter them.

Unabashed partisan gerrymandering that was commonplace after 2010 is now giving some Republicans pause. Top party strategists are urging state mapmakers to play it safe and draw lines that can withstand demographic change throughout the decade and lawsuits.

“There’s an old saying: Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.). “And when it comes to redistricting, that is, in fact, the case.”

I hope this is as true as it reads. What I see from my semi-rural home in northern New Mexico – looking out at the rest of this nation – is a Republican Party unabashedly greedy…and Democrats complacent as well-fed piggies waiting for the slaughterhouse.

¡Viva la gobernadora!

New Mexico in recent days became the state first to provide at least one dose to half of its adult population, and a nation-leading 38 percent of adults are fully vaccinated. It’s also among the top-performing states on equity: Over 26 percent of Blacks, 32 percent of Hispanics and 41 percent of Asians received at least one shot, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation review of the 41 states publicly reporting ethnic and racial data.

They are an exemplar,” said Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association. “Their model works.”

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Michelle Lujan Grisham is the thirty-second governor of the state of New Mexico, the first Democratic Latina to be elected governor in U.S. history…

A longtime state Cabinet secretary at both the New Mexico Department of Aging and Long-term Services and Department of Health, Lujan Grisham has been a leading advocate for senior citizens, veterans and the disabled as well as investments in health care infrastructure and innovative programming that has improved access and quality of care for New Mexicans across the state.

Lujan Grisham was born in Los Alamos and graduated from St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe before earning undergraduate and law degrees from the University of New Mexico. A 12th-generation New Mexican, she is the mother of two adult children and grandmother of three. She is the caretaker for her mother, Sonja.

She would be the first to be modest. Not about these achievements; but, concerning her own role. Often, when questions are asked about the latest projects benefitting our state, our citizens, she is the first to remind us of the many dedicated workers and (dare I say it) officials who are part of the process.

Most of us in New Mexico assumed the vaccine rollout – and more – would go well. And it did.

Evidence that Greenland once was warmer…and greener

The ice sheet that covers the northernmost reaches of our planet has expanded and shrunk over the past 2 million years — but it was thought that Greenland’s bitter cold and miles-deep ice had been a more or less constant feature.

However, new evidence has suggested it was once a much warmer and greener place than we are used to today. What it took in the past to melt the ice and cover it with plants could be critical for predicting how the Arctic will respond to climate change in the present day.

A long-lost core of earth drilled up from beneath mile-thick ice in northwestern Greenland in the 1960s has shown that in the past 1 million years — and perhaps as recently as 400,000 years ago — it was once home to a vegetated landscape.

Scientists had expected to find sand and rock in the dirt but were instead surprised to see twigs and leaves.

Yup. “Lost” for 60 or 70 years. Pretty good illustration of how our nation’s perpetual concern over science, research, providing historic discoveries to institutions of education and knowledge…when we’re condemning other nations…in practice, is OK when it’s OUR MILITARY that’s aiding the research.

Even by accident.

Pandemic in the Solid South

…So far, about one in 10 deaths in the United States from COVID-19 has occurred in the four-state arc of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, according to data assembled by the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer collaboration incubated at The Atlantic. New Orleans is on pace to become the next global epicenter of the pandemic. The virus has a foothold in southwestern Georgia, and threatens to overwhelm hospitals in the Atlanta metropolitan area. The coronavirus is advancing quickly across the American South. And in the American South, significant numbers of younger people are battling health conditions that make coronavirus outbreaks more perilous…

All data in this stage of the pandemic are provisional and incomplete, and all conclusions are subject to change. But a review of the international evidence shows that, as far as we know, the outbreaks currently expanding in the American South are unique—and mainly because of how many people in their working prime are dying…

…In each state, older people are the majority of the people considered to be at risk of complications. But the Deep South and mid-South form a solid bloc of states where younger adults are much more at risk. In Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi, relatively young people make up more than a quarter of the vulnerable population. Compare that with the coronavirus’s beachhead in Washington State, where younger adults make up only about 19 percent of the risk group.

You can read on, examine the discussion, cause and effect…education, healthcare, cultural backwardness. Say they’ll learn from experience? They voted for George Wallace, and they voted for Richard Nixon and they voted for Shit-for-Brains-Trump! Ignorance breeds ill-health and all the rest. Frankly, the folks in charge of the Solid South work best and hardest at not improving at anything.

U.S. Military Marches Toward Energy Independence


Hill AFBOfficial White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

The U.S. is at a transformative moment in electricity. And the military is helping us move toward a new era of independence.

❝ The U.S. electrical grid was ranked by the National Academy of Engineering as the greatest achievement of the 20th century, and it was this vast infrastructure that helped to power our economy, enhance our communities and light up our lives. But the centralized power grid is not perfect, and it faces an array of risks from natural disasters to human and cyber attacks.

As electricity becomes more and more critical in our lives, wide-ranging blackouts won’t just be a personal annoyance — they could cripple our economy. A diversified energy portfolio that includes renewable generation creates a more resilient grid. A recent draft of a report from the Department of Energy also concluded that wind and solar energy create a more reliable grid.

❝ The added security provided by renewables is why everyone — from the military to Fortune 100 companies — is finding ways to use clean reliable distributed power systems to support their operations.

RTFA to learn how this understanding makes sense. Moving forward.

High school admin shut down this valedictorian graduation speech

❝ Wyoming Area Secondary Center’s high school valedictorian and class president, Peter Butera, did not mince words during his valedictory speech at his graduation ceremony June 16…Butera — who is due to attend Villanova University come fall — took the opportunity to thank his fellow students and the teachers and administrators who enriched his high school experience — and to stand up to those who had not.


Class president all 4 years of high schoolDave Scherbenco/AP

“Good evening, everyone. The past four years here at Wyoming Area have been very interesting to say the least. To give you an idea of what it was like, I’m going to take this time to tell you all a bit about what my Wyoming Area experience was like and the people who were a part of it.

I would like to start off by thanking my mom, my dad, and my baba, who have raised me since the day I was born and have helped me become the person I am today. Every one of us graduating have those special people in our lives that care for us every day, and love us unconditionally. And to all of you here today, we cannot thank you enough for everything you’ve done for us.

I would now like to recognize a few teachers who are extremely committed to their jobs as educators, and have worked to make me and many others, better students every day: Mr. Hizynski, Mr. Pizano, and Mr. Williams. In addition to these three, there are a number of other very good teachers at our school as well. It is dedicated teachers like these that truly help to develop students and prepare them to further their educations.

Not only does Wyoming Area have some great teachers, but a couple great administrators as well. Mr. Quaglia had been our principal for 3.5 years, and was as great a leader as they come, always extremely caring and reasonable. Over the summer, our school hired a new principal, Mr. Pacchioni, and despite the hesitancy that some students may have had about getting a new principal our senior year, he quickly put that to rest by coming in and always looking out for the students here since day 1.

Throughout my time at Wyoming Area, I have pursued every leadership opportunity available to me. In addition to being a member of Student Council since I was a freshman, my classmates have also elected me Class President the past 4 years, which has been my greatest honor, and I would like to thank you all for that one final time, it really means a lot. However, at our school, the title of Class President could more accurately be Class Party Planner, and Student Council’s main obligation is to paint signs every week. Despite some of the outstanding people in this school, a lack of real student government and the authoritative attitude that a few teachers, administrators, and board members have, prevents students from truly developing as leaders.

Hopefully in the future, this will change. Hopefully for the sake of future students, more people of power within this school, who do not do so already, will begin to prioritize education itself as well as the empowering of students. Because at the end of the day, it is not what we have done as Wyoming Area students or athletes that will define our lives, but what we will go on to do as Wyoming Area Alumni. And I hope that every one of my fellow classmates today, as well as myself, will go on to do great things in this world, and find true happiness and success. Thank you all for coming out to this great celebration today.”

I’m hard-pressed to understand why the drones in charge of education in Wyoming, Pennsylvania, felt they had to shut this lad’s speech down. When I graduated high school – a couple centuries ago in the bowels of McCarthyism – I think there were plenty of schools with sufficient gumption and commitment to traditional American ideals to support a speech like this one.

More than ever, I fear for the future of American education if this pretty moderate challenge to obedience is considered dangerous enough to pull the plug on the sound system.