An Observation on the State of the Democratic Party

Isaac Chotiner has a podcast at Slate called “I Have to Ask,” and this week he interviewed Michelle Goldberg, now a New York Times columnist.  They cover lots of topics, including Omarosa and the Russia investigation.  But this bit caught my eye:

“Whenever I’m in New York, I can work myself into this state of really bleak despair, and then I go out and travel and meet … it’s not even necessarily Democratic Party activists as much as Indivisible activists or Democratic Socialists of America chapters or these sort of grass-roots groups that have sprung up since the election and are just doing so much work. And it always makes me feel so much more hopeful about the future.

You hear the same story over and over again of these kind of middle-aged women who, they voted, but they didn’t necessarily pay super close attention to primaries, maybe they had to look up what congressional district they were in, and who woke up the day after the election and were so shattered and looked around for somewhere they could go and found either an offshoot of Pantsuit Nation or a local Indivisible meeting.

And you meet these women, and they go to meetings now four or five nights a week. They have all new friends. They are just astonishing organizers, and they’re kind of using this intense local knowledge that they have. You can’t replicate that when it comes to canvassing, somebody who just knows everyone on the block. So you see that being deployed everywhere, and that I think is why you’re seeing these numbers in some of the special elections, these swings that are even bigger than the swings you see on the generic ballot.”

I can tell you that I saw the same thing all over Virginia’s First Congressional District during the primary campaign this spring, and these folks don’t seem to be tiring.  So I’m more optimistic than some of my fellow Progressives that we’re really about to see a Blue Wave in November.

Go listen to the podcast or read the transcript.  Lots of good stuff.

Saturday Morning Coffee

A few links to things I read this morning:

Not sure what to think about the Omarosa Manigault-Newman thing, but this Slate article gives an interesting take.  I like this part:

Either because or despite the fact that Omarosa once belonged to this lair of liars, one can admire the skill with which she has orchestrated these tapes’ release so as to maximally damage the White House’s credibility just as it was trying to torpedo hers. The tapes are essentially booby traps. Katrina Pierson’s reputation may not be a central concern in Trumpworld, but Lara Trump’s is getting closer; no wonder the White House is scared. Omarosa knows—as even his lawyers do—that a man who lies about everything must be guarded against, and learned that lesson early.

Can’t wait to see who gets caught in the next “booby trap.” Go read.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has a plan to save Capitalism and has introduced legislation.  Over at the Washington Post, Warren answers a few questions for Jennifer Rubin.  Asked about cheating and insider trading, Warren responds:

Sure, it includes insider trading — but it’s a lot more than that. In a well-functioning market, companies compete by providing better products, better service, or better prices. That kind of competition benefits customers and rewards businesses that out-innovate or out-work their competitors.

But when companies can deceive their customers about the quality or price of their products, that’s cheating — and the market stops working. Companies that are willing to deceive their customers are rewarded with more business, while honest companies struggle to keep up. That’s bad for customers and bad for the companies that just want to do the right thing.

Yves Smith explains why she thinks this would be good for shareholders over at Naked Capitalism.  Definitely following this one.

Finally, if you don’t know about XKCD yet, you should go check it out, especially if you’re interested in coding or math.  Great cartoons, including one of my all-time favorites. But if you’re worried about hackers getting into voting machines, this cartoon won’t make you feel better.

Does the Constitution Give Congress the Power to Regulate Immigration?

Thanks to Ampersand over at Alas, a Blog, I ran across two articles by Ilya Somin arguing that the Constitution includes no enumerated power to restrict immigration.  Go check Amptoons out – he’s a killer cartoonist.

In the first, at Reason Magazine, Somin suggests that President Obama had the power to defer deportation for four million immigrants through executive order.  He thinks this is so in part because he doesn’t think the Constitution gives Congress no power to regulate immigration in the first place.  Later, in the Washington Post, Somin argues that the Migration and Importation Clause (Article I, Section 9) doesn’t fix this because it refers to slavery. Continue reading

Music Review: Get a Little

G. E. Smith and the Saturday Night Live Band released Get a Little on Liberty Records in 1992, while performing as the house band on the long-running late-night comedy show. Fans who enjoyed the band’s instrumental segues into and out of commercial breaks will find plenty to enjoy in this collection of music, including some solid lyrics rarely heard by the television audience.

A rhythm and blues style dominates this recording from the first cut, which is also the title track.  Winding in and out of a very basic blues rhythm set with drums and piano, the band’s very good horn section alternates between helping keep the beat and dueling with Smith’s eloquent guitar.  As Smith sings “Long legs, tight dress, whoo baby, I’m impressed” to the lucky lady from whom he wishes to “Get a Little,” he implores her further with rich but urgent solos.  This song opens the effort strongly, hooking blues and rock fans alike to listen further. Continue reading

Rob Wittman Pushes for Rural Broadband Internet Access – Except When He Doesn’t

Rob Wittman never had much to say about broadband internet access in the Congressional District he represents until the issue came up in the Democratic Primary this spring.  Much of the district is rural and without connection to the web services that stimulate economic development, support businesses and allow remote access to medical care.  They are without this connection because private markets do not provide what amounts to a public utility in remote areas, and no amount of deregulation will make them want to.  The return on investment simply isn’t there.

Back in the day, much of Tennessee had a similar problem with electricity.  The Federal Government, not private enterprise, solved the problem through the Tennessee Valley Authority, a New Deal Democrat effort to modernize rural areas of the state.  Could we learn something from this very successful effort? Continue reading

Miss Daisy

The Vangie Williams campaign likes to tell the story of Miss Daisy and the funeral.  If you haven’t heard it, ask Joel Leonard.  He tells it best.

Anyway, Miss Daisy, a Westmoreland County matriarch of sorts, turns 79 this month and wants to celebrate with a cookout and pickle-jar fundraiser for Vangie.

You can get the details at Vangie’s campaign Facebook page, but it’s a week from tomorrow, 18 August, from 1300 to 1700 at 447 Wilson Drive, Sandy Point, Virginia.  I plan to attend and write a check.  Please join in, and knock a few doors for Vangie on your way over.

Chris Collins and the Republican Project

Federal prosecutors indicted GOP Representative Chris Collins for insider trading yesterday.  Collins represents the 27thDistrict in northwestern New York and was an early Donald Trump supporter.  Right now his website touts three Federal grants to improve sewer, airport, and firefighting infrastructure in his district, which is how I suppose he expects to achieve his “Vision: The United States of America will reclaim its past glory as the Land of Opportunity, restoring the promise of the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.”

I guess it’s good to know that at least one GOP rep thinks Government works and should intervene without waiting for markets to allocate resources to regional airports and municipal sewer systems.  But since Collins voted for the tax “reform” act last year, he must also think borrowing money that his grandchildren will have to pay back will restore to them the “promise of the American Dream.”  Low taxes for corporations now and higher taxes for everyone else later sounds like the “Land of Opportunity,” all right – if you’re a corporate CEO or shareholder. Continue reading

Speaking Event: The Electoral College

The Williamsburg-James City County Indivisible group has invited me to speak about the Electoral College at their meeting on 29 August.  This talk will take place at the James City County Library at 7770 Croaker Road in Williamsburg from 6:30 to 9:00 PM.

Here’s a link to the Facebook Event page.

I’ll discuss how and why the men who wrote the Constitution settled on this method for selecting a President, including how slavery created the conditions that made direct election of the President all but politically impossible.  I’ll also discuss efforts to eliminate the EC or render it moot.

Please join me and the WJCC Indivisibles for an informative evening and a chance to meet new Democratic activist friends.

What to Watch For: Corey Stewart and Virginia Republicans

Photo from Monthly Review Online

Last week, Corey Stewart won the Republican nomination to run against Senator Tim Kaine for US Senate this November.  This means that the de facto leader of the Virginia Republican Party is a white supremacist from Minnesota. We know he’s a white supremacist because he thinks monuments to men who committed treason against the United States in defense of slavery belong in the public square.  The guy made his bones harassing people of color and trying to cleanse Prince William County of immigrants.

Corey Stewart likes to pal around with people like Paul Nehlen and Jason Kessler.  Nehlen is an anti-Semite who jokes on Twitter about killing political opponents.  Kessler organized the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville last August.  A rally attendee and Kessler supporter killed Heather Heyerwith his car.  Two Virginia State Troopers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Virginia, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M. M. Bates, 40, of Quinton, Virginia, died when their observation helicopter crashed on their way to assist authorities on the ground.  Kessler plans a sequel, by the way.  Wonder if Stewart will attend. Continue reading