Friday Homestead Dispatch

Wheedling Arduous Snood

Connie introduced me this week to the work of Jan De Vliegher, a Belgium painter born in 1964. Check out these works from his Treasury Series from a decade ago which recreates otherwise overlooked porcelain plates through large paintings. The idea of taking the everyday and mundane objects we surround ourselves and doing something different with them is a familiar theme to me. His big, brushy, and rich style reminds me of the paintings of Wayne Thiebaud.

As Lee Papa points out in his recent rant, “The bullshit voter suppression laws in bullshit places like Texas and Georgia, combined with extreme gerrymandering in every state where Republicans can do it (yeah, Democrats can do it, too, but it won't be enough to counter the GOP), will allow the GOP to at least take the House, if not the Senate, too, in 2022. Then, filled with Trumptastic belligerence and fascistic glee, they would refuse to certify any presidential election that doesn't go their way, and, voila, we very quickly become Jesusstan or Christsylvania or Trumped Trumps of Trumperica.”

This is not just some liberal blather about the big mean Republicans. This is about Trump actually getting back in office, and trump-like folks taking over the government again. He goes on to say, “So, yeah, we've gotta get the stupid debt ceiling raised. We gotta pass the Build Back Better Act. And the infrastructure thing. We gotta do all that shit. But none of it will mean a goddamn thing if voting rights are left out in the rain like a rag doll forgotten by a distracted child. That's why the freak out has to happen. Anything else passed now would easily be undone by a Republican majority that will fucking laugh as they tear the filibuster out of the Senate rules on their first day back in charge. These fuckers don't care. They don't give a shit if it all burns down.”

I’ll keep on saying this; the GOP cannot win if everyone who wants to vote, gets to vote. For at least the past 50 years, modern Republicans are full-time bullies – it's all they do. They’ve managed to hold onto power by suppressing votes, promoting disinformation, gerrymandering states, gaming the Electoral College, and stacking the courts. The modern Republican Party is a 24/7 opposition research/dirty tricks/character assassination operation that then takes advantage of its success at these endeavors to elect candidates who then pretend they're interested in governing, while they continue the opposition research, the tricks, and the character smears. Do you think they really believe that their budget cuts and tax heists, climate skepticism, gay bashing, and science denial are really the best course on which to steer the ship of state? They just know it frustrates people who actually give a shit, and that's all that matters.

To that end, this year alone at least eighteen states enacted thirty laws that restrict access to voting. These laws are based on racist and false allegations over voter fraud, which has been shown to be very rare and inconsequential.

On the other hand, many (blue) states have expanded voting rights to ease registration, voting by mail, access to polls, etc…

But what would help the most is if the Senate will pass the For the People Act (passed the House already) and for Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would stop many of the restrictive laws from taking effect in the first place.

Now is the time to pressure your representatives.

Newspapers across the country are dying. In early April I wrote a brief note about the Tiny News Collective. They exist to provide the tools, resources and commonwealth of knowledge to help people build sustainable news organizations that reflect and serve their communities. In Tucson, the Sentinel does a superb job of doing just that. And in my home state, the Kansas Reflector is doing the same.

But a guy named Art Cullen, along with his older brother John, own and operate The Storm Lake Times, a 3,000-circulation twice-weekly newspaper in Storm Lake, Iowa, pop. 10,000, in rural Northwest Iowa. They publish staff editorials every edition and Art is the recipient of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing.

He is currently writing about the damage nitrates from big agriculture are doing to the water systems, especially the Raccoon River, which has screwed up the drinking water of Des Moines and eventually makes it way to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s too big a problem for local politicians as it’s a hot button issue. He believes only an act of Congress could create a new farm bill that must make a shift from an industrial policy to a conservation policy that can restore clean water and air, and can build healthy soil complexes to sustain a hungry world.

The whipped cream is a book titled Storm Lake: Change, Resilience, and Hope in America's Heartland but the cherry on top is the new documentary called Storm Lake which will premiere on November 15th on PBS. This gets into the issues of local, independent journalism, and the lack of it across the country. I am hopeful this, along with all the publicity, might inspire younger folks in smaller towns to jump on board the journalism train.

Well, duh. The Arizona Republic reports, and national press followed up, that the hand count in the recent sham audit affirms Biden beat Trump, as Maricopa County said in November. The three-volume report by the Cyber Ninjas, the Senate’s lead contractor, includes results that show Trump lost by a wider margin (did you catch that…WIDER margin) than the county’s official election results.

Fake news, to be sure.

Tucson lost another musical legend when Ned Sutton died last week. I only got to jam with Ned less than a dozen times. He’d been wanting to record his last CD for several years but time just kept dragging on. He called me a couple times to add some accordion to a song or two but it never came to pass.

Brian Smith wrote in an article on Ned in the Tucson Weekly last April, “He figured the greats wrote songs better than he ever could. But what influenced others is his command and presentation of song, the singing, the phrasing, the effortless vocal sway and glide between the conversational to the melodic, that gift of note sliding and portamento. Most listeners have no idea how difficult this is, only that it is good.”

Here’s ol’ Ned singing with the Tucsonics a while back. RIP, Ned.

And now…