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bigtree

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Maryland
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 71,482

Journal Archives

High Summer on the Rebound

High summer on the rebound
High summer got him low down
High summer on the rebound
High summer's got him low down

-Van Morrison, 'High Summer'




High summer's come early this year and my garden yard is blooming much faster than usual for this time of year. We're in a typical pattern of sweltering days and stormy nights and there's nothing in the garden that has wont of sun or rain. I put down 7 entire yards of compost for the very first time this year, spread out from front to back of my expansive yard. There's just a scant patch here and there of actual lawn left, and all of the plants I put in to replace the needy grass are steadily taking over those areas without seed or without fertilizer which ends up in our lakes, and, ultimately, in many of our other waterways.

All of our birds are back, except our hummingbirds haven't made an appearance yet; even though the dark red monarda they can't resist is already in full bloom. Soon, though, the red lobelia will send up some shoots of flowers and they're always reliable to our hummers for a few months of precious, life preserving nectar. Our sparkling green hummingbirds are so familiar and comfortable that I've had them actually drinking from my hose a couple of times as I watered the garden. They are graceful and elegant, both in flight and in rest high in the treetops as I watch them from our upstairs window; even beautiful as they fight furiously with each other for dominance over territory and resource.





Our successful garden yard is an outlier in our trim, suburban neighborhood where the finely clipped lawns and meticulously trimmed bushes make every day here look like a Sunday afternoon. Our plants and bushes grow wherever they can find sun underneath the oppressive canopy of trees, and their branches and stems stretch out languorously to touch, feel, and commune with their neighbors. Mischievous chipmunks dash around my feet as I referee between the foliage; catbirds, robins, and cardinals hop about foraging for food as they explore the dense underbrush. Even an occasional fox slinks in and among the high foliage at night hunting for mice and voles.

One of the most complex conflicts I have between fauna and flora are the almost nightly visits from deer who are discriminating in their foraging; waiting with great expectation, as I do, for choice buds to develop and snipping them off as a snack before I have the joy of experiencing the beauty of the flowers. This year, it's the heads of our black-eyed susans which have attracted their interest and palette. I was preemptive in covering most of them with netting this year, but, somehow, they found the few which didn't get the benefit of cover and made them into a meal.

Oh, the anguish this morning! Waking to find all of the flowers and remaining buds eaten and gone from my wife's speckled-orange Mother's Day asiatic lilies! Oh, the pain finding my prize red daylily buds I've been patiently waiting to bloom eaten and gone! Oh, deer, you're breaking this dedicated gardener's patient heart!





I try and interact and live compatibly with nature and its creatures; great and small. I want to help preserve and create, if possible, as much species habitat as I'm able. Heaven knows how much road and housing development has eliminated and reduced that habitat over the decades. The least we can do it to try and maintain as much as we can; helping to preserve the woodland's denizens as we work to preserve their macro and micro environments.

Once you've created your plant filled environment, however, you are bound to their success or demise. There's no questioning the beneficial effect of careful tending and nurturing of a yard full of plants. The wildlife which adopts the environment you've created becomes dependent on your beneficence -- as do the succeeding generations of fauna which are conceived and delivered into your garden home. Bees and other insects find spots nearby to winter over. Hummingbirds and other fowl will make your garden a regular stop on their essential feeding tours. And, yes, for some hapless gardeners, deer and rabbits make their garden paradises their own personal feeding stations and devastatingly devour the bounty to the ground.

There are consequences to the decision to establish a garden. Once adopted by our living counterparts, the future condition of that garden becomes almost essential. That's a bit like the way I view our community at Democratic Underground. We gather here, either deliberately compelled or bidden, and become reliant on the nourishment from the wellspring of activism, action, and advocacy that's been established here. I daresay that the community outside of DU can also become dependent on the diligence and effective management of the politics we intend to influence from our community of concerns.

So, high summer has come to my garden as early as our political season at DU, bringing with it an abundance of sunlight and nourishing rain to sustain the burgeoning abundance of life which both sustains us and challenges us for room to grow and prosper from the resources available. I daresay we can find space and resource to accommodate most of it all; even as we cringe at the prospect of our prize buds and offshoots serving as nourishment for other life before we can realize their bloom; none are more important than the other in this ecosystem; none are less vital than the other in our own survival.

That's what we establish gardens for; to sustain and enhance life on this planet. That's what I suppose this place is for.




Settled down to start anew
Far away from the politicians
And the many chosen few

Far away from the jealousy factor
And everything that was tearing him apart
Far away from the organ grinder
And everyone that played their part

And they shut him out of paradise
Called him Lucifer and frowned
'Cos he took pride in what God made him
Even before the angels shot him to the ground

He's a light out of the darkness
And he wears a starry crown
If you see him, nothing is shaken
'Cos high summer's got him low down


On Racism and Reconciliation in the Wake of Attacks on Our Community


ONE of the things which disturbs me when tragic violence occurs which is clearly motivated by or associated with racial animus of a white individual toward black individuals is how some observers make calls for reconciliation or togetherness as a solution. While good relationships between racial and ethnic groups are important and essential to the preservation of the fabric of our democracy and society, what's often involved isn't a case of some mutual animosity, prejudice, or discrimination. What's far too often involved is an attitude of bigotry and hatred directed solely from one side of the racial fence toward the other.

As we can see this morning from news reports of the barbaric execution of black men and women in an S.C. church, the issue isn't about whether the black community, represented by members who welcomed the white killer into their prayer circle without reserve before he gunned them down, the issue is with his simmering hatred and fear of our nation's black minority which he reportedly felt was 'taking over' the country.

One of the questions which needs to be answered is where this young white man absorbed the notion that our black community was enough of a threat to him and his way of life that he felt a need to act out with violence against some of us. There's been a resurgence in the past few decades of old racial divisiveness - it's coming to the surface again in America. It is a product of the same fear many in the white majority experienced at the birth of our Union of the potential of black Americans to assume positions of power over them - fear that blacks would act out the same prejudices which had been so arrogantly and wantonly perpetrated against them.

I've expressed a few thoughts on this here, in the past...

There has been a fear of black advancement throughout our American history - fear that blacks would rise up and dish out the same injustice & violence many in the white-dominated had perpetrated against the race of people since slavery and through the years of segregation and state-sanctioned discrimination. Yet, despite our tragic history, blacks have shown great forbearance and benignity in the face of it all.

In the immediate wake of Reconstruction and the election of a handful of black lawyers, ministers, teachers, college presidents to the national legislature, there was a concerted campaign of character assassination by their white counterparts and other detractors in a successful effort to challenge their seats and to construct discriminatory barriers to the election of other blacks which persisted for generations and generations. The 'birther' movement is no stranger to those who recall that 'Jim Crow' past.

American politics has reached a historic milestone which most of my family and peers had been impatiently anticipating all of our lives, yet, would not have predicted it to happen so soon in our lifetimes. It's fair to say that many in the black community (and without) have been inspired to believe that a black man can be elected president, in this day and age, by the audacity and urgency of Barack Obama's bid for the highest office in the land. It's also fair to say that much of that inspiration and belief has come from the mere fact of Obama's success in convincing so many non-blacks to support and elevate his presidency.

However, the ultimate effect of the persistent racism directed against President Obama and his family by public officials and others visible public figures in the media and elsewhere has been a reversion by demagogues to that initial rallying and defensive mode that pushes critical judgements about his actual performance aside in favor of an atmosphere of hatred that envelopes much more than just the target in its wake.

In effect, the racist attacks by some on President Obama and his family reflect on the black community's own aspirations for achievement and advancement. On one hand, there is satisfaction in the realization that the barrier to the highest office in the land has been broken by Americans willing to elect this African-American president. On the other, there's a reflexive need by some in opposition to stand-up against this president with attempts to define him outside of the American mainstream based on the color of his skin. Yet, to allow this president to be diminished on the basis of race diminishes us all. The persistent racism directed against President Obama has not allowed folks to feel secure in this one advancement.

Racism certainly isn't chic anymore; not like it was in the days where slurs, slights, and outright discrimination were allowed to flourish under the umbrella of segregation and Jim Crow. But, it has still been used by some, over the years since the dismantling of that institutionalized racism, to manipulate and control the level of access and acceptability of blacks in a white-dominated political system.

Open racism hasn't been in fashion for decades, but the fear and insecurities which underlie discrimination and prejudice still compel some to draw lines of distinction between black and white aspirations and potential for success. What is often unspoken is the reluctance some Americans have in envisioning blacks in a position to make decisions for a white majority, resulting in attempt to set boundaries and define the roles blacks must assume to achieve success and approval.

The federal advancement of group rights was an important element in securing individual rights for blacks, before and after the abolition of slavery. Government's role has been expanded, mostly in response to needs which had gone unfulfilled by the states; either by lack of will or limited resources. After the passage of the 14th and 15th amendments, the federal government had to assert itself to defend these rights -- albeit with much reluctance and not without much prodding and instigation -- by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That effort, and others by the federal government were a direct acknowledgment of the burdens and obstacles facing an emerging class of blacks.

Indeed, the efforts in the '60's to bolster and nurture black Americans into the social, economic, and political mainstream of America has meshed perfectly with the needs of our expanding economy and the growing markets which have eagerly absorbed millions of black Americans who were advantaged by the educational opportunities and initiatives which were focused on lifting their communities out of the squalor of indifference and disrespect of the past.

It's a dwindling majority in the workplace, and a dwindling dominance in other institutions which is, ironically, producing a familiar insecurity in some. Overall, black Americans' reaction to a dominating majority has been remarkably gracious, patient, and forgiving over the decades. Some of these dominionists could learn from that as they reconsider their role in a more inclusive society.

In fact, the gains blacks have made in our political institutions have not kept pace with even the incremental gains which have occurred in the workplace. We may well have an abundance of black CEOs, military officers, business owners, doctors, lawyers and other professionals. However, Americans have yet to support and establish blacks in our political institutions with a regularity we could celebrate as 'colorblindness.' And, to be fair, not even many blacks would likely agree that we've moved past a point where race should be highlighted (if not overtly emphasized), in our political deliberations and considerations.

I'm fortunate to have a long line of outstanding family members and friends of the family to recall with great pride in the recounting of their lives and the review of their accomplishments; many in the face of intense and personal racial adversity. In many ways, their stories are as heroic and inspiring as the ones we've heard of their more notable counterparts. Their life struggles and triumphs provide valuable insights into how a people so oppressed and under siege from institutionalized and personalized racism and bigotry were, nonetheless, able to persevere and excel. Upon close examination of their lives we find a class of Americans who strove and struggled to stake a meaningful claim to their citizenship; not to merely prosper, but to make a determined and selfless contribution to the welfare and progress of their neighbors.

That's the beauty and the tragedy of the entire fight for equal rights, equal access, and for the acceptance among us which can't be legislated into being. It can make you cry to realize that the heart of what most black folks really wanted for themselves in the midst of the oppression they were subject to was to be an integral part of America; to stand, work, worship, fight, bleed, heal, build, repair, grow right alongside their non-black counterparts.

It can also floor you to see just how confident, capable, and determined many black folks were in that dark period in our history as they kept their heads well above the water; making leaps and bounds in their personal and professional lives, then, turning right around and giving it all back to their communities in the gift of their expertise and labor.

Catherine Meeks, Ph.D., wrote in HuffPo that, "The entire discussion is almost beyond comprehension for those of us who are not being blinded by bigotry and hatred."

"Magic Mulatto, Mrs. YoMama, Touching A Tar Baby, Your Boy, Orbameo, Watermelons on the White House Lawn, cartoons with the President Obama's head and a chimpanzee's body, references to monkeys who escaped the zoo being related to the First Lady, and the list goes on with the racial slurs that have been hurled at this President and his family," recalls Meeks. "Along with these is the recent attack of racial slurs against 11-year-old Malia, his youngest daughter."

"Whatever policy issues that anyone finds themselves at odds with him about should be spoken about, debated and fought over in whatever civilized manner that discourse can occur," she wrote. "But I am talking about this low level of racist discourse that has been going on since day one. A discourse that has exhibited no respect for the office of President in the first place as well as no respect for this man, his wife and children. But even larger than this is the lack of respect that is being shown toward every African American in this country," she said.


The attacks in this generation are not to be taken lightly, even though we may assume that the nation is past all of that. The attacks need to be openly and loudly defended against by Democrats and Republicans alike. They can't just be brushed aside as some sort of acceptable standard of discourse. For the most part, they've been responded to with dispatch and sincerity. For the other, there's a glaring silence -- and even a rhetorical encouragement by some in the political arena who are leveraging age-old stereotypes to serve their cynical campaigns for office.

That's the backdrop for this resurgence of racial animosity toward black Americans; something which, for the most part, blacks have little control over. It remains for the white community to lead the way in setting the standard for discourse and relations in this nation. It's that backdrop of acquiescence to the which appears to me to have fueled this recent tragedy in S.C.. There's a cottage industry, driven in great part by petty legislative politics, of divisiveness and racial hatred which has spilled out into the public consciousness and legitimized/encouraged the pitting of groups of Americans against others.

The republican political class, in particular, benefits directly from racial and ethnic hatred and resentment that they fuel with their rhetoric at every opportunity. It's an old game, adopted from our tragic beginnings as a nation, practiced by people who should know better but don't give a damn about our humanity, as long as it provides red meat to throw to their rabid constituency.

It's going to take determination and resolve to fight all of that; resolve from folks like the good people in our internet community here who care about making a difference and changing our politics to include everyone in our progress and advancement. Let's pledge ourselves to reconcile around that determination to effect a change in our discourse and to put all of our deliberate and politically calculated, racist and bigoted divisiveness in the past.

I'll say this about Martin O'Malley

...as a lifelong Democrat from a Democratic family, Martin O'Malley has repeatedly stepped up to challenging elections and has consistently won the support of Democrats through progressive stances and progressive policy achievements. His efforts in office have resulted in significant and concrete progressive changes and improvements in the lives of millions of citizens of my state. My pleasure and pride in seeing him step up to the challenge of running against a Democrat with not only national name recognition, but a built-in support base from a previous run for the presidency, is compounded by the decidedly progressive positions his campaign has put in front of his candidacy.

Whatever the outcome of this election, I think our party will owe Martin O'Malley a debt of gratitude for attempting to steer our party's presidential politics in an aggressively progressive direction - that effort matched, of course, by Bernie Sander's own progressive campaign - both of which have resulted in a national discussion of progressive ideals and initiatives which have already influenced the debate in our national legislature, as well as positively influenced the worthwhile campaign of our party's current front-runner in the polls.

I think O'Malley's bid is a heroic effort, typical of his political career in which he's repeatedly run against adversity and other daunting challenges to advance the causes he believes in. As we debate the issues these candidates present and advocate, let's not lose sight of the valuable and gratifying service our Democratic candidates honor us with in their pursuit of public office. Also, as we reflect on the presidential bids of Martin O'Malley, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the others, let's not diminish that effort by reducing our primary to a mere horse race. There's still a lot of time between now and when the actual voting starts to further the progressive causes these candidates represent in their campaigns. That should be our main focus, not the popularity contest.

Martin O'Malley clearly enjoys meeting people & the press. Joyful and smart on the trail



Martin O’Malley made a low-key visit to Dover Saturday afternoon during his second stump in the Granite State. The hot afternoon provided the perfect excuse to meet with area Democrats at Orange Leaf on Central Avenue. While eating a blackberry-flavored frozen treat, O’Malley spoke with those interested in learning more about him.

O’Malley cited his successes during his 15 years of executive experience as a former governor and mayor, stating that the “only way to overcome big challenges is to look them in the eye.”

Labeling himself as having “progressive goals” and “progressive values,” O’Malley said America has strayed from its “true self.”





“An economy is not money,” he said. “It’s people. When we make the investments we can only make as a county…that’s what makes our economy grow.”

Earlier in the day, O’Malley was greeted by several hundred supporters at Market Square Day in Portsmouth and then 75 or so more at a house party that followed in New Castle. His last stump of the day was slated for Manchester, where he met and took questions from New Hampshire ServiceNation volunteers, alumni and board members.

read more: http://www.fosters.com/article/20150613/NEWS/150619628


O'Malley for NH ‏@omalleyfornh
@GovernorOMalley: "our economy is people" #nhpolitics




O'Malley for NH ‏@omalleyfornh
Great questions ranging from student debt to health care costs to creating jobs #newleadership #nhpolitics




SomersworthDemocrats @SomersworthDems
Governor O'Malley in Dover --- shaking every hand




Lis Smith ‏@Lis_Smith
"Earlier in the day, @GovernorMalley was greeted by several hundred supporters at Market Square Day in Portsmouth” http://www.fosters.com/article/20150613/NEWS/150619628


Matt Sheaff ‏@MattSheaff https://twitter.com/MattSheaff/status/609832469530025985


Jay Surdukowski ‏@Jay1043
@GovernorOMalley clearly enjoys meeting people & the press. Joyful and smart on the trail.


‏@cherylsenter https://twitter.com/cherylsenter/status/609851825819361281


O'Malley for NH ‏@omalleyfornh
A little Celtic music at Portsmouth market square days #nhpolitics




Laurie McCray ‏@McCrayLaurie
Martin O'Malley with Portsmouth Dems at Market Square Day #nhpolitics #fitn




O'Malley for NH ‏@omalleyfornh
Taking questions and meeting voters. The New Hampshire way. #nhpolitics




O'Malley for NH ‏@omalleyfornh
Great day in Portsmouth #newleadership




O'Malley for NH ‏@omalleyfornh
@GovernorOMalley stops by ServiceNation in Manchester to thank members for there service #nhpolitics




O'Malley for NH ‏@omalleyfornh
In Manchester talking about the importance of service #nhpolitics




Shaun Adamec ‏@shaunadamec
"We've got to go bigger, bolder" on #nationalservice - @GovernorOMalley commits to full funding of @americorps #FITN




A supporter snaps a photo on his iPhone while 2016 presidential candidate Martin O'Malley, of Maryland, greets state Rep. Timothy Horrigan. Crystal A. Weyers photo




ioanna raptis ‏@ioannaraptis
from @GovernorOMalley's visit to #PortsmouthNH #MarketSquareDay #nhpolitics @seacoastonline


Martin O'Malley Packs the House in Iowa

Jake Oeth@JakeOeth 4h4 hours ago
Great crowd in Marshalltown as @GovernorOMalley arrives! #iacaucus




Lauren Blanchard ‏@LaurenBlanch12 4h4 hours ago
Greeting people who weren't able 2get a spot inside house @GovernorOMalley. Rain is pretty heavy. Living room packed




Martin O'Malley@GovernorOMalley 4h4 hours ago
Packed house in Marshalltown, IA for #OMalley2016—overflow conversation going on the porch! #iacaucus @omalleyforia




O'Malley for Iowa ‏@omalleyforia 3h3 hours ago
Iowans talked w/ @GovernorOMalley about jobs, education & building up rural America in Marshalltown today #iacaucus




Eric Litmer ‏@ericlitmer 4h4 hours ago Marshalltown, IA
Overflow crowd watching through the windows to hear @GovernorOMalley #OMalley2016 #iacaucus




O'Malley for Iowa@omalleyforia 3h3 hours ago
@governoromalley in Marshalltown spoke & took questions from more than 65 Iowans #iacaucus #newleadership


O'Malley for Iowa ‏@omalleyforia 2h2 hours ago
Rep Nate Willems now introducing @GovernorOMalley in Mt Vernon at another packed house in Iowa! #iacaucus




Betsy Klein ‏@betsy_klein 2h2 hours ago
Big crowds for @GovernorOMalley at house parties: ~65 in Marshalltown, ~80 here in Mt. Vernon. #iacaucus #cnnelection




Martin O'Malley ‏@GovernorOMalley 1h1 hour ago
Taking questions in Mt. Vernon, IA at a packed house party! #NewLeadership #OMalley2016 #iacaucus






Jake Oeth ‏@JakeOeth 2h2 hours ago
Was watching Full House re-runs last night & now @ a FULL HOUSE in Mt. Vernon for @GovernorOMalley #iacaucus thx Nate




O'Malley for Iowa ‏@omalleyforia 3h3 hours ago
Thank you to Rep. Smith & his wife Karen for the warm welcome in Marshalltown today with @GovernorOMalley! #iacaucus




O'Malley for Iowa ‏@omalleyforia 24m24 minutes ago
Thanks so much to the Willems Family for hosting @GovernorOMalley & 80+ Iowans in their home tonight! #iacaucus




Kristin Sosanie ‏@ksosanie 31m31 minutes ago
Absolutely adorable-- host's daughter asks about @GovernorOMalley's family...so he pulls out his pics to show her




O'Malley for Iowa ‏@omalleyforia 5h5 hours ago
While her Mom & Dad prepare to host @GovernorOMalley in Marshalltown, Fiona guards the snack table #iacaucus




Ben Kramer ‏@BenKramer9 36m36 minutes ago
THIS is #MOMentum! Overflowing crowd waiting for @GovernorOMalley in IA City! #OMalley2016




Kristin Sosanie ‏@ksosanie 6m6 minutes ago
Campaigning #iacaucus style. @GovernorOMalley standing on a chair to speak bc bar is so packed in Iowa City




Press:

O’Malley touts progressive values, experience, results

MOUNT VERNON | Selling himself as a progressive who gets things done, Martin O’Malley engaged in classic Iowa retail politics Thursday afternoon at a Mount Vernon house party.

O’Malley, who later had a campaign rally at Sanctuary Pub in Iowa City, emphasized his experience and record of getting things done as Baltimore mayor and two terms as Maryland governor.

“I am the only candidate in this race with 15 years of elected executive experience.” O’Malley said more than once during a 13-minute stump speech and about 20 minutes of question-and-answer...

“It matters not only for the accomplishment of the task at hand, it matters for restoring the public trust necessary to build the deeper and larger consensus so we can start acting like Americans again,” O’Malley said.

The 52-year-old O’Malley also drew a generational distinction between himself and the “very honorable and good people” – Hillary Clinton, 67, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 73, -- who also are seeking the democratic presidential nomination.
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