Thursday Morning Open Thread: Take Heart, and Keep Fighting

We can’t stop pushing for every single vote, but let’s not get discouraged by the Cult of the Savvy insisting that the GOP have the election in the bag. Peter Hamby, at Vanity Fair, “Get Over Your Election-Needle P.T.S.D.: The Blue Wave Is Real, and It’s a Monster”:

National polling organizations have never really bothered to spend time or money polling House races, instead devoting their energy to sexier statewide Senate campaigns or approval ratings about the president. As a result, national pundits keep getting floored by the “shocking” success of insurgent Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, Andrew Gillum in Florida, and Ayanna Pressley in Massachusetts. If they had paid attention to the yard signs and chatter, or the opinions of the people living and breathing in those states and districts, political journalists might not have been blindsided…

For any American with a pulse and even a whiff of political intelligence, two things are now self-evident with just two months until Election Day. Democrats everywhere in the country will walk over broken glass to vote in November, and Republicans are about to confront an unholy midterm bloodbath up and down the ballot. Every single piece of on-the-ground reporting suggests a wipeout on par with 2006 or 2010.

So why are the experts unwilling to say as much? Yes, the idea that Democrats will take over the House has congealed into conventional wisdom, and Republicans on Capitol Hill will privately tell you they’re bracing themselves for a turnover in the lower chamber. But few journalists or pundits are willing to step out further and declare what should be pretty obvious to any reporter who has covered campaigns in the past: the vaunted blue wave is coming. Not only will it buoy Democrats to retake the House, but it will also propel Democratic Senate candidates in red states and power down-ballot Democrats into state legislative seats in every corner of the country. That’s exactly what happened in Virginia’s elections last year, right? That’s how it feels right now, a total wipeout for Republicans, even ones we assumed were safe. But in politics, the heart and the head are always at war.

“There is some P.T.S.D. from 2016,” said Amy Walter, the editor of the Cook Political Report. “Nobody wants to go out and feel too confident because of the ‘what if’ factor. All of the indicators are, ‘Boy, this is going to be really bad for Republicans.’ If you’re the party in power, and your incumbents in districts that were easily held before are now only up within the margin of error, that’s not good. Or you can look at it and say, ‘Well in 2016, Hillary was up by the margin of error and look what happened!’”…

‘What happened’ — as we know now — was that a foreign power colluded with the leaders of the GOP (and a deeply supine media) to steal the Presidency for a grifting moron and the thieving phonies who’d support him. But if we keep our eyes on the prize, that’s a trick that can’t be repeated. Constantly proclaiming that we’re all doomed doyouheardoomed is just another trick to distract us.

Friday Morning Open Thread: Where Did She Come From?

Molly Ball is a good writer, even if Time is a less-than-worthy venue:

Nancy Pelosi stopped caring about what people think of her a long time ago, so she has no qualms about eating ice cream for breakfast with a stranger. Dark chocolate, two scoops, waffle cone. It’s a freezing January morning in Baltimore’s Little Italy, where Pelosi grew up in the 1950s. “You know what’s good about ice cream in this weather?” she says. “It doesn’t melt down your arm while you’re eating it.”

We are sitting in an Italian café on Albemarle Street, alone save for the staff and Pelosi’s security detail, to whom she has offered coffee. The Trump era has many Democrats in a panic, but Pelosi inhabits a more cheerful reality. She is convinced that America has hit bottom, has seen the error of its ways and is ready to put her back in charge.

The 78-year-old former House Speaker knows what her critics say about her: that she’s too old, too “toxic,” too polarizing; that after three decades in Congress and 15 years leading her party’s caucus, she has had her turn and needs to get out of the way. But there’s a reason she sticks around. Had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election, she says, “we’d have a woman at the head of the table.” When that didn’t happen, Pelosi realized that without her, there might not be a woman in the room at all.

Pelosi is one of the most consequential political figures of her generation. It was her creativity, stamina and willpower that drove the defining Democratic accomplishments of the past decade, from universal access to health coverage to saving the U.S. economy from collapse, from reforming Wall Street to allowing gay people to serve openly in the military. Her Republican successors’ ineptitude has thrown her skills into sharp relief. It’s not a stretch to say Pelosi is one of very few legislators in Washington who actually know what they’re doing.

But few people talk about her in those terms. Instead, Pelosi is regarded as a political liability…

The attacks on Pelosi are particularly ironic in this political moment. Since Donald Trump’s election, American women have poured into the streets, signed up to run for office in record numbers and surged to the polls. Many of them look a lot like Pelosi once did. They are brainy, liberal and comfortably situated moms who have looked at the political system with the exasperation of a person who has seen her husband get the laundry wrong and realized that she’s going to have to do it herself. If Democrats regain congressional power in November, as most experts expect, it will be by riding a tidal wave of female rage. But rather than tout their female leader–the first woman Speaker in history, and the odds-on favorite to reclaim the title–many Democratic politicians, both male and female, are running in the opposite direction. In this season of female political empowerment, Pelosi’s power still rankles.

It seems to enrage people that Pelosi feels entitled to things: money, power, respect. Of course it does–a woman is always held responsible for her reputation. Clinton, in her years running for President, was asked over and over again some version of the question, Why do you think people don’t like you? (Despite not being on any ballot, Clinton, too, figures prominently in the Republicans’ fall campaign strategy.) A powerful woman is always defined less by what she has done than by how she makes people feel.

Pelosi isn’t humble. Many women, she thinks, are afraid to show pride and need to see an example of confidence. Besides, making sure you get your due isn’t something you can delegate. One former Pelosi aide told me everything she does is rooted in this combination of obligation and entitlement: the sense that someone ought to do something, and she is the only one who can do it. Pelosi seems to feel no need to apologize for her status in the way women are expected to and men rarely are. Perhaps the assertion of ego by a woman is the most radical act there is: the refusal to submit or be subordinate.

It is not in Pelosi’s nature to cower or grovel. She will be who she is–liberal, privileged, unpopular–and let the chips fall where they may. To some Democrats, Pelosi’s is an attitude of unconscionable selfishness: she’s willing to damage her party to hold on to the position she believes she deserves. The story of Nancy Pelosi is, inevitably, the story of what people think of her. The way she is recognized and remembered, the way she is held to account. And so Pelosi doesn’t have the luxury of not caring about what people think of her: it’s the question on which her future, and the future of American politics, depends…

When things get really, really ugly, the Media Villagers and their donors will ‘graciously’, temporarily, allow a woman to leave her proper place and come clean the place up. Or, sometimes, a Black man, as a less-emasculating alternative. Hey, speaking of the cleanup squad:

Open Thread: Another Worthy Battle Entered…

Supplementary, from the ever-excellent Mr. Charles P. Pierce:

Labor Day is a good time to think about the courts because it was in the courts that organized labor was most effectively crushed in this country, and it was in the courts that the way was cleared for it to flourish, and, it appears that the courts are being set up to crush it again.

From 1897 until approximately 1937—the end date is a matter of some dispute—the court’s relation to labor was defined by the horrendous decision in Lochner v. New York. Citing “freedom of contract” as a constitutional right, the decision was used through the decade to strike down all manner of regulations touching on business large and small. (Lochner itself was about working conditions in bakeries.) Unions, of course, came along with the deal. In Adair v. United States, the Court struck down a law that would have made it illegal for a company to fire employees for trying to organize.

Make no mistake. There is a strong strain of modern conservatism that is openly nostalgic for the Lochner Era; Rand Paul made the case a part of his campaign for president in 2016…

In the history of this country, there has not been an expansion of the middle-class without a strong, vibrant union presence. That doesn’t change just because factories move to Mexico, or because of robots. There simply is no other way for wages to rise generally other than having the people receiving those wages bargain collectively for them. That Labor Day is still a holiday at all, I guess, is something for which we can give thanks. The attack on labor itself begins again on Tuesday.

Good Government Open Thread: Senator Elizabeth Warren, Still A Model for Us All

Per CNN:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled a series of new planks Tuesday in her wider plan to stem corporate influence on government and root out corruption in Washington…

Warren’s plan, which would impose a lifetime ban on appointed officials from taking lobbying jobs, is dead on arrival in a Republican-controlled Congress. But it is likely to influence the talking points of other Democrats and, should she run for higher office in 2020, be a staple of her campaign pitch.

In a speech at the National Press Club, Warren called for Congress to “end lobbying as we know it” and not allow “the rich and powerful buy their way into congressional offices.”

“Our national crisis of faith in government boils down to this simple fact: People don’t trust their government to do the right thing because they think government works for the rich, the powerful and the well-connected and not for the American people,” Warren said. “And here’s the kicker: They’re right.”…

Among the more specific new rules Warren is proposing in her Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act are a prohibition on elected and senior agency officials owning or trading stock while in office; the livestreaming of audio from federal appellate court proceedings; a requirement to make public a record of all meetings between lobbyists and public officials; and perhaps most dramatically, the creating of a new independent agency to enforce new and existing ethics laws.
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Open Thread: Repubs Running… for Cover

(Jim Morin via

Don’t lose hope just yet, we’re scaring the bastids. From Jonathan Swan at Axios, “A blue wave is obscuring a red exodus”:

Dave Wasserman, the Cook Political Report’s House analyst, says the most under-covered aspect of 2018 is that “a blue wave is obscuring a red exodus.” Republican House members are retiring at a startling clip — a trend that senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told me earlier this year was worrying her more than any other trend affecting the midterms.

What’s happening: There are 43 Republican seats now without an incumbent on the ballot. That’s more than one out of every six Republicans in the House — a record in at least a century, Wasserman says.

Why this matters: Just in the past eight months, the number of vulnerable Republican seats has almost doubled, according to Wasserman. Democrats need to win 23 seats to claim control of the House. Today, the Cook Political Report rates 37 Republican-held seats as toss-ups or worse. At the beginning of the year, it was only 20.

The big picture: Wasserman says the most important sign that 2018 will be a “wave” year — with Democrats winning control of the House — is the intensity gap between the two parties. In polls, Democrats consistently rate their interest in voting as significantly higher than Republicans. And Democrats have voted in extraordinary numbers in the special elections held the past year, despite Republicans holding on to win almost all of these races…

Friday Morning Open Thread: Readership Capture

In before the Friday News Dump, assuming we get another one here in mid-August…


In support of Marcia Blackburn’s opponent:


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Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Excelsior!

… which is the state motto of New York, usually translated as ‘Ever Upward.’ It’s also a word for wood shavings used as packing material, and according to the nuns in my NYC parochial school, the motto was chosen because in the 1770s they couldn’t put BULLSHIT! on official documents.

Note the timestamps here. Steve Vockrodt, “Investigative reporter for the Kansas City Star:

Ohio update:

In other good news…
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