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Vote or Don’t Vote for Charles Graham…but know why.

A good ad does not a good candidate make.

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Earlier this week, NC State Rep. Charles Graham announced his run for the US House of Representatives, hoping to unseat Republican incumbent Dan Bishop in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. And he came in guns blazing with this campaign ad featuring the KKK…

I’ve never seen a campaign ad for a Congressional race go viral on social media so quickly, but less than a day after it was released, it was all over Twitter. I reposted it too. And then I found out Charles Graham was the only Democrat in the NC House to vote in favor of NC’s HB-2, the state’s infamous transgender bathroom bill.

Back in 2017, Republican state lawmakers wrote a bill that required people to use the public restroom in accordance with the gender they were assigned at birth. Republicans cited their false intention to protect women and children from predators (a thoroughly debunked premise that I don’t need to spend time on), and Charles Graham was the only Democrat to vote in favor of it.

I deleted my Retweet immediately.

Later, I did more reading, and Charles Graham had issued an apology for his vote, and as far as political backtracking goes, this is one of the more sincere and believable ones I’ve come across.

————————————————————–

Text of the above screengrab from Charles Graham’s website reads:

I believe human dignity is a human right. It’s a value I hold dear – but five years ago I failed to uphold my own value when I voted for HB2, and it was a mistake. It was a bill written and voted on within 24 hours, with the conversation surrounding protecting children and women, but I should have done more research to completely understand the impact of the bill. After the hurried vote, I spent the following days talking with colleagues and transgender-rights activists about the impacts of the bill – I became a full supporter of recalling the bill and worked across the aisle to fully repeal it. To the LGBTQ+ community, and specifically to the transgender community who suffered real pain from this bill and the rhetoric that surrounded it, I am sorry.

I have always tried to do what is right, but I am not perfect. I’m running for Congress to stand up against hatred and ignorance, and I expect to be held accountable when I fail to live up to my own principles.

————————————————————–

I believe him. That said, you don’t have to. There are people making the case that if he were truly apologetic, he would have released this apology at any point between 2017 and now, that if he were truly in favor of trans rights, he wouldn’t have waited until his campaign ad went viral and his voting record on the issue was called into question. I don’t disagree, however, he admitted that he didn’t really have a full grasp of the issue when he voted, and once he had a greater understanding, he worked to repeal the bill. That to me is more than just lip-service — that’s action to undue something you did.

So. I decided to post his ad again, but I took a beat. I’d already made the mistake of supporting a candidate (from afar) based on one campaign ad without really looking into his record or what he supports, so I did my due diligence and it’s not great.

NC-9 has been very dramatic these past few years. In 2016, a US District Court ruled the gerrymandering in North Carolina was so heavily and obviously prejudiced toward Republican candidates, the state had to redraw the lines. Before 2016, NC-9 looked like this.

Democrats still argue that the partisan lean toward Republicans continues to be out of sync with the actual population of the state so they’re looking to have the lines drawn even more equitably, but for now, this is NC-9.

Before the lines were redrawn, incumbent Robert Pittinger won that slivery snake of a district with 94% of the vote. He lost his primary bid in the election following the restructuring of his district and Reverend Mark Harris won the Republican nomination. His Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, is a successful businessman with a solar clean energy fund called Double Time Capital. Far from the forgone conclusion of the 94% win by Pittinger, the race between Harris and McCready went down to the wire (I wonder why…) and Harris came out on top with roughly 900 more votes than McCready.

However! (Drama!) The bi-partisan state election board declined to certify the results because campaign operatives for Harris committed fraud on multiple occasions (which included tricking elderly Black voters in rural areas into filling out absentee ballots for Harris). The election was voided and Dan Harris was not the Republican nominee the second time around. State Senator Dan Bishop won the Republican primary and went on to defeat McCready by two percentage points. In the last cycle, Bishop won re-election by a larger margin against Cynthia Wallace, the first Black chairperson of NC-9’s Democratic Party, in a lackluster race that didn’t garner much attention.

This backstory is necessary to understand why the Democratic Party should put its weight behind someone other than Charles Graham. Charles Graham is a Conservative. He’s absolutely the kind of person/politician who is aligned with the Democratic Party not because he agrees with most of the platform but because he disagrees with the other side, and that’s an important distinction. Because we have a two party system, we have a lot of people who belong to to the Democratic Party by default, not by choice. If you’re a politician who hates Donald Trump and supports funding for education, you’re not allowed a voice in the Republican Party. Even if you take issue with some of the Democratic platform, you’re still allowed a place in our Big Tent, and that’s who Charles Graham is.

…critics began pointing out Graham’s more conservative voting record in the General Assembly, including his support for some abortion restrictions, in favor of allowing firearms on school grounds, and opposing a statewide mask mandate — all votes largely in keeping with the prevailing sentiment in his conservative district, which has begun trending more Republican as rural voters sour on Democrats due to culture-war issues.

(cont. MetroWeekly)

Firearms on school grounds and abortion restrictions and no mask mandates are the positions of a Republican. We don’t need another “Democrat” of this kind in Congress, so reflect back on the recent history of NC-9. If this were the snakelike sliver of the past where 94% of the vote went to a Republican and we suddenly had a chance to flip the seat, it might make more sense to focus on a Conservative Democrat. In a district where one Republican had to cheat to win, and still only won by a few hundred votes, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat. In that same district where the the election was voided and the next Republican won by 2% partly because of his alignment with Donald Trump, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat.  In that same district where Donald Trump won the state for reelection and a Black woman still managed to grab 45% of the vote, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat. A clean energy businessman narrowly lost while Trump was in office and a Black woman grabbed a huge share while Trump was winning the electoral votes. You can run the same kind of candidates against that Trump-supporter again and win if you mobilize the people to vote.

Look at this way: People who voted for Republican Dan Bishop because they like Dan Bishop are going to vote for Dan Bishop again. They are not going to suddenly vote for a slightly more liberal version of Dan Bishop just because that version has a good backstory about fighting the KKK and taught special ed. Your goal is to grab the people who don’t like Dan Bishop, so why would you run Dan Bishop-lite? Run an actual alternative who can grab the people who didn’t vote for him while also catching the attention of the people who didn’t vote at all. Nobody who voted for Dan McCready a few years ago or Cynthia Wallace last year is suddenly itching to vote for a Democrat In Name Only. Charles Graham caught a couple of headlines with a good campaign ad, but that’s about as much attention as he deserves from national politics going forward. Save your donations for his primary opponents.

(Sidenote: I do believe Charles Graham evolved quickly on trans issues and his statement was genuine. I believe it because he has not apologized for his votes on abortion. He probably believes in his heart that women do not have the right to choose, so he has nothing to apologize for. If he were an opportunist, he would just apologize for that too and keep it moving.)

 

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Eric Adams is off to a great start!

We could have had Maya Wiley 🙁

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And I mean that. If we expect a certain level of incompetence or corruption from our New York City Mayors, then Eric Adams has gone far and beyond my expectations of either.

great /ɡrāt/ adj.
of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average

The intensity of the disaster that is Mayor Adams is considerably above the norm.


I currently have the easiest job I’ve ever held. This week is busy because my boss is away and I still only know about 70% of the things I need to know in order for my department to run smoothly, but it’s not hard. I’m sitting on my couch typing this right now. When I finish, I’ll log back into the system, turn on some music, and keep troubleshooting problems until 6.

If I need the day off, I’ll send a message to my boss (or her boss) on Slack and let them know. Today I started working at 8, because I was up anyway, and I scheduled two one-hour breaks for myself. I didn’t ask anybody for their permission. I haven’t showered yet, because I want to twist my hair and I’ll do that this evening. I have a saucer in front of me with crumbs from a couple of chocolate chip cookies I was nibbling on. It’s 20 degrees outside, and I only know that because there’s a weather tracker at the bottom of my screen.

When I worked in the mall, I was standing up for 8 to 10 hours a day. It was recommended that you buy comfortable shoes. You had to arrive ten minutes before your shift, 20 degrees or not, so you could put on all your gear, stuff your outerwear in a locker, and make sure your walkie worked. If you had to pee, someone not much older than you had to give you permission. If you were thirsty, someone not much older than you had to give you permission. If it was time for your scheduled lunch, someone not much older than you had to make sure the last person was back from lunch before you could clock in. If it was time for you to leave, someone not much older than you had to give you permission to clock out. I was written up for having M&Ms in the drawer under my cash register once. I sprained my ankle and had to beg my co-workers to cover my shifts so I wouldn’t be fired for not coming to work on crutches.

I did all of that while being disrespected and talked down to by customers. An old white lady told me I looked like “a fuckin poodle” because I wouldn’t honor a coupon that expired during the Carter administration. Everyday I had to walk a very stressful line between being nice while also abiding by company policy. Too far into nice, and it’s a write up for breaking a rule. To far into company policy, and it’s a write up for not making the customer’s day. And my paycheck was a quarter of what it is now.

So when Eric Adams tried to convey his support for the Workers formerly known as Essential, I bristled.

Listen, I know what he was trying to say. I also know he needs somebody around him to help him say it better. In the words of Sophia Petrillo, “your heart’s in the right place but I don’t know where the hell your head is.”


Eric Adams, a cop who loves cops and guns, does not believe in travelling around the city with a security detail. He says cops keep the city safe and he’ll be fine walking around the city with his gun and the admiration of his citizens.

Well, that’s what he said during his campaign anyway. As with any politician who cannot be trusted, he’s reversed course and used his personal security as an excuse to hire his brother into a $240,000 position as deputy commissioner of the NYPD.

“Number one, he will be in charge of my security, which is extremely important to me at a time when we see an increase in white supremacy and hate crimes,” Adams told Jake Tapper Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.

(cont. NBC New York)

I love a convenient white supremacy soundbyte. The NYPD is a white supremacist organization that takes joy in terrorizing Black and brown communities. I remember stop & frisk, a policy Eric Adams supports. You can’t have it both ways. Either you’re afraid of white supremacy or you’re working within a system to uphold it.

Besides, Eric Adams made his assertion that he doesn’t need security detail on January 30th — that’s three weeks after the Koup Klutz Klan tried to overthrow the government. If you weren’t worried about white folks in the aftermath of that, you are certainly not concerned about white supremacy when it’s time to give your brother, who was the director of a parking garage, a cozy post at the NYPD to accompany you to events and collect a fat paycheck.


I got a message early yesterday morning.

I didn’t see it until the afternoon, because I turn off my notifications at night and I forgot to turn them on while I working, but I had no idea there was a fire. I live in Harlem and I’m not sure I know anyone who lives in the Bronx, so it wouldn’t be neighborhood news, but I looked it up.

The mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, on Monday revised the death toll from a high-rise fire in the Bronx on Sunday, saying 17 people were killed, two fewer than originally thought.

Adams said nine adults and eight children died. He did not immediately provide a reason for the lower count.

Investigators determined that a malfunctioning electric space heater started the fire in the 19-storey building.

(cont. The Guardian)

There are instances when a space heater is necessary, but for the most part, low income residents in NYC buy a space heater when the building they live in is too cold. And the building is too cold because the heat isn’t working properly or the windows are broken. Some of the most common complaints against low income housing in NYC are related to broken windows and no heat or hot water. This is true for Twin Peaks, the building in question, as well.

It’s important to note that most people do not actually file complaints until the situation becomes unlivable. If you see three apartments with NO heat, that’s another twenty apartments with LOW heat whose residents just get through the winter. Sometimes they don’t want to file a complaint because they don’t have time to sit around and wait for service. Sometimes they’ve filed before and the hassle to fix it was worth more effort than just leaving it broken the next time. Sometimes they’re afraid to file because they’re afraid problem tenants won’t have their lease renewed. This past summer, our hot water went out 7 or 8 times, and we only complained twice because getting our landlord to fix anything is a part time job in itself.

This building also lacked sprinklers throughout most of the structure. In NYC, commercial buildings must have sprinklers, but legislation to require sprinklers in residential buildings has faced strong opposition from landlords who say it will cost too much to update older buildings.

(cont. NYT)

So we have a low-income building without sprinklers where residents are using space heaters because it’s not warm enough. Buildings just like it are all over the city, but what does that have to do with our new mayor?

(cont. The City)

A landlord who doesn’t have sprinklers in his high rise buildings shouldn’t be helping to guide an administration through housing policy. We need an administration who wants to invest in public safety, not one being led by landlords who own firetraps.

We are less than two weeks into Eric Adams as Mayor, and from looks of it, it’s going to be a long four years. For me, a leader doesn’t have to have all the answers. What I’m really looking for is someone smart enough to know their limitations, someone who can effectively communicate with the public, someone who shares my goals and values, and someone who seeks out the best in their field to bring their expertise to the variety of issues facing any community.

 

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Rockstar Rittenhouse

If you enjoy celebrating a murderer, that’s just who you are as a human being. And I don’t respect you.

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Kyle Rittenhouse gets a rock star reception at the Turning Point USA event in AZ.

The teen was found not guilty of criminal charges after admitting to shooting & killing two people in WI. He says it was self defense.

He’s now seen as a hero by some activists on the right.

(Twitter: Elex Michaelson)

I don’t really understand what’s happening. And I don’t mean that in the sense that I’m surprised or that I didn’t see it coming. We all said that Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal would become a cause célèbre for the Right. He had sponsorship offers before the trial and congressional internship offers during. He’s been celebrated by Conservatives from the moment he was arrested because he’s a symbol of White America’s fight against change, a visual representation of what can happen if you are brave enough to stand up to the forces conspiring to take Amerikkka from you.

I fully understand that, so this is not a surprise at all.

I guess what I don’t fully grasp is how am I supposed to respect these people in any way? Listen y’all, I was already at the end of my rope. Trump’s election in 2016 taught me that some people are irredeemable. Before that, I generally operated on the premise that most people, even people you do not agree with politically, are not inherently evil and that you can find common ground somewhere because we’re all people. 2016 taught me that, no, some people cannot be helped, saved, or taught.

You cannot force someone to have empathy for other people. I cannot teach someone they need to care about what happens to people outside of their perceived tribe. If you think poor people deserve to die because you feel like they didn’t work hard enough, I cannot fix that. If you think drug addicts deserve to die because you feel like they made a choice to become addicted, I cannot fix that. If you think undocumented immigrants deserve to die in their own countries (that the US made unstable) because we have our own problems at home (that you refuse to address), I cannot fix that.

Still, there was a little space left in my psyche for ignorance, misinformation, and the insular nature of social circles with a feedback loop of confirmation bias. I spent a lot of the summer in the rural Deep South while my dad and stepmom recovered from a car accident. I heard the conversations and watched the local news. Part of me feels like it’s not 100% your fault if you believe poor people are amoral and lazy. That’s what you’ve heard from your politicians, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your church, and the news. I’ll be honest: a lot of my belief system has been reinforced, if not outright formed, by the variety people around me. Ten years ago, I was making transphobic jokes. Five years ago, I was called out for fatphobia on Twitter. These are issues I didn’t know I harbored negative sentiments about, things that I quickly evolved my thinking around because the people around me called me out on it and forced me to reexamine how I felt and why I felt that way, intentionally or not. All that is to say, I get it. I understand being a product of your environment.

I don’t understand celebrating murderers. George Zimmerman signs bags of Skittles for his fans. Kyle Rittenhouse is introduced at events with a production worthy of a Wrestlemania top draw. Killing someone should be traumatic. If I had to kill someone in self defense, I would have to go to therapy for a long time to work through that trauma. I wouldn’t be able to be celebrated. I wouldn’t know how to book jovial interviews to laugh about what kinds of women I like. I wouldn’t know how to sit on stage and give life advice as a teenager who has never accomplished anything other than murder.

I don’t know how to respect people who celebrate death. And that’s not to say that I find life all that sacred, because I’ve gone on record many times saying I don’t. Not really. There are 7 billion of us. Seven billion of anything means a singular one of it isn’t that special, to me. But dead people have families and friends and loved ones who are hurting, and I don’t know how to respect people who revel in the pain of others. I understand not necessarily caring. I can understand dismissiveness. Outright celebration though is so beyond anything I can relate to. What kind of person are you that you would cheer for someone whose only claim to fame is looking for a fight and getting one? What am I supposed to say to these people? I’m so disgusted by their existence I can barely put my feelings into words.

There’s no part of me that could ever be in the same room with a Republican. This is who they are as a group of people. They are a political party whose guiding principle is “sticking it to the Libs” by any means necessary. If it makes the opposition upset, that makes them happy.

Wearing a mask is not hard. Getting a vaccine is not controversial. But Republican politicians, who are vaccinated and wear masks when no one is looking, just want to upset the opposition.

Singular They is not hard. We have been using they/them/theirs as a pronoun to describe the notion of an unspecific person forever. But Republican politicians have decided it’s the downfall of society to apply it to a specific person who asks for that pronoun.

Celebrating murder is wrong. Even murder in self-defense is seen as a tragedy. But Republicans want to use Kyle Rittenhouse to gloat. They’re turning a teenaged murderer into a rockstar to stick it to the Libs. That space I had left in my psyche to allow for ignorance and misinformation is gone. This isn’t about being ill-informed. They’re just bad people. And I can’t teach someone how not to be a bad person.

If you enjoy celebrating a murderer, that’s just who you are as a human being. And I don’t respect you.

 

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Minnesota has a nice preview of the 2024 election.

The GOP is standing firm on the “stolen election” rhetoric, so be prepared.

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Minnesota is gearing up for their gubernatorial election next year and the Republican candidates had a little debate last week. Because Minnesota is widely known as a barometer for the political climate of the country and because I deeply care about what is going on in the Minnesota GOP, I watched their debate in order to gain a greater understanding of the direction in which our country is headed.

What really happened is, I saw someone say on Twitter say that nobody on the panel would unequivocally admit that Biden won the election.

So I decided to watch only that part of the debate just to see what the rhetoric was looking like and y’all — I’m so sick of them it made me chuckle.

Start at 10:11

The moderator says, “In your opinion did President Biden win a constitutional majority of the Electoral College? If yes, how did you come to your conclusion, and if no, which states are in dispute and why?”

This guy asked a panel of politicians to give an opinion on a factual statement. Uncle Joe won a constitutional majority of the Electoral College. Period. There was no fraud. This has been debunked around the planet.

Guy 1 answers: I don’t know and we have to take that attitude toward 2020. We have to take the attitude that we don’t know the results of a president election?

Guy 2 answers: This is not unique to 2020. Oh? Y’all stole 2016, is that what you’re saying? Because you won that election, so does it apply every cycle or only when the Democrats win? In Minnesota our dictator governor went around to the legislature to weaken what defenses we did have for voter integrity. Do I think that played a role? How could it not? I would like to remind y’all that in Minnesota, Republicans won the Senate. Amazing how voter fraud only applies to votes cast for Democrats.

Guy 3 answers: Don’t let me vote Democrat when I die (laughs from the audience). Because we’re going with this lie that a bunch of dead people voted. I do believe there was voter fraud at a massive scale across this country. And where is the evidence? A massive scale should show more than just a couple of pockets of  Maybe This, Maybe That over a few hundred votes. A massive scale means hundreds of thousands of instances of fraud. We need to enforce the laws we already have and prosecute the people committing voter fraud (claps from the audience). Nobody is getting in trouble. Let’s note here that “nobody is getting in trouble” largely applies to Republicans, like this Trump voter in Pennsylvania who got probation while this woman in Texas (voting for Hillary in 2016) who  did not know she wasn’t allowed to vote while on probation got five years in jail. We need people who feel disenfranchised to show up like they did in 2022 when they took Virginia back and elected Youngkin and we can take back the House here in Minnesota. Yes, white Conservatives are so disenfranchised. Their representation in Congress isn’t outsized in proportion to their population makeup in any way whatsoever.

Guy 4 answers: I don’t think the election was fair but we have the results that we have and the Electoral College is the way that we determine the election. Each state has their own deal and I’m not a fan of how it all played out, but I’m focused on Minnesota. Is this an argument for doing away with the electoral college? Because I wholeheartedly support that, Guy Whose Name I Will Not Bother To Look Up. 

Lady 5 answers: …be an election judge, be a poll watcher. The more we watch, the less they cheat. She did not answer the question directly, because she probably knows Biden won the election but she doesn’t want to say so because that is political suicide in the Republican Party right now. So the moderator asks again: Did Biden win? He was certified by Congress as having won the Electoral College. That is a political answer if ever I did see one.

So, that’s where we are y’all. The Republicans who believe with their whole chest that the election was rigged or stolen have made that part of their plan to force voting restrictions, and the ones who may have a single brain cell left are too afraid to admit that they have one lest they be cast out of the big ignorant tent erected by the GOP.

Make your voting plan early. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Help your older family members register and assist in gathering documents to make sure they have an ID. You can even find the election dates on your calendar and plan to take off work that day. Whatever you need to do to prepare for the shenanigans, go ahead and start putting those processes in place because the GOP is only going to get worse.

 

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