1. It’s Tuesday, October 17, 2017.
2. Today is the 203rd anniversary of the London Beer Flood.
You read that right.
On this day in 1814, nine people died when vats containing more than 300,000 gallons of beer atop a brewery on Tottenham Court Road collapsed, swamping the adjacent neighborhood.
3. Sen. John McCain took a lot of folks in his own party to task last night when he accepted the Liberty Award in Philadelphia.
In his speech, the Arizona Republican said he worried the nation was abandoning the ideals it has advanced throughout its history “for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.
McCain didn’t name any of those people. Apparently, he didn’t have to, because one of them chimed in this morning.
“People have to be careful because at some point I fight back,” Trump told a Washington radio interviewer. “I’m being very, very nice but at some point I fight back and it won’t be pretty.”
Now, I’m not the biggest John McCain fan. He’s been dissed by Trump before – remember the I-don’t-like-war-heroes-who-are-captured canard – and still supported much of his regressive agenda.
But it’s clear there’s no love lost between the two. And even though he’s 81 years old and battling the ravages of brain cancer, I’d put his mind and courage up against Trump’s every day and be sure he’d win.
4. If you’re not from New York, how we vote next month on whether or not to hold a constitutional convention probably doesn’t matter.
Actually, if you’re from New York, you normally wouldn’t care either.
But this year’s referendum is a curiosity.
The current constitution requires that New Yorkers vote every 20 years on whether or not to hold a constitutional convention to revise or rewrite the document. This year is the vote.
What campaigning is being done, at least where I live and travel, is very one-sided. All the signs say vote “No.”
Rarely do the signs go into substance about why you should vote “No.” One that I saw near my mom’s house on Long Island talked about how it would raise taxes, because the convention costs money.
But the “No” signs are everywhere. On lawns and billboards. On car bumpers and magnets.
I have yet to see any outdoor display favoring this convention. There are no “Yes” signs to be found.
So I was wondering who is actually is for this thing.
One group is Citizens Union, which advocates for government reform. And goodness knows, given the propensity of scandal in the state legislature, New York could probably use reform.
It’s been my experience to live and work in three states – New York, New Jersey and Illinois – noted for their corruptibility. New York would outpace the other two, except that Illinois has had about as many governors go to prison than didn’t in my lifetime.
Anyway, Citizens Union says a convention would erase some of the problems that lead to corruption. It talks about rules on campaign contributions and election reform.
But some of the wording on the group’s own site might not be their strongest selling point.
Some opponents have stated that opening up the constitution could lead to efforts to reduce some protections that go even beyond those in the U.S. Constitution. And here’s the group’s response:
“Though an unlimited Constitutional Convention does present some risk to currently codified protections, we believe that this risk is worth taking, as it provides the opportunity to construct governmental systems that improve representative democracy through increased accountability, transparency, effectiveness, and ethical conduct.”
Citizens Union says a “Yes” vote will empower them to campaign for the things it wants in the constitution. As far as the things it doesn’t want – like, say, a right-wing effort to curtail abortion rights which you can bet a billion bucks would occur – you can trust them, they’ll fight it.
That doesn’t inspire confidence.
And yet, despite all the “No” signs and banners and stickers, the last poll taken by Quinnipiac College shows a plurality favoring this thing.
That might tell you something about the state of disgust with government.
Or it might just be that something everybody seems to hate must have something redeeming about it.
I’m probably going to vote “No” because I don’t see Citizens Union standing like Horatius at the bridge holding off the Kochs, the Trumpistas and corporate money. But if “Yes” wins, some Democrat should hire its campaign manager. If there is one.