Monday Evening Open Thread: Don’t Mourn, Organize!

Presumably related, from The Nation:

The gig economy has not been an enormous issue on the campaign trail, and legislators in Congress haven’t attempted to address it in any comprehensive way. But Thursday in Washington, Senator Elizabeth Warren waded into the debate with a lengthy policy speech at the annual New America conference in which she said it’s time to “rethink the basic bargain for workers who produce much of the value in this economy.”

Warren’s essential point is that for all the talk about Uber, ride-sharing apps and their brethren are only part of a larger, destructive trend toward classifying workers as part-time. “Long before anyone ever wrote an article about the ‘gig economy,’ corporations had discovered the higher profits they could wring out of an on-demand workforce made up of independent contractors,” Warren said. Indeed, 53 million Americans—one in three workers—is a freelancer

Warren sees the gig economy as more of a symptom than a cause. “The gig economy has become a stopgap for some workers who can’t make ends meet in a weak labor market,” she said. “For many, the gig economy is simply the next step in a losing effort to build some economic security in a world where all the benefits are floating to the top 10 percent.” …

Her proposals: Improve the safety net (expanded Social Security, a new system of catastrophic insurance coverage), make employee benefits portable, and increase regulation & clarify laws around part-time work. As described at the link, all of these proposals are nicely calculated to make Kochsuckers and other Republicans fall down in foaming fits. Which is a good short-term goal on its own, but they’re also important steps towards stopping the relentless erosion of the middle class for the benefit of the Zero-Point-One Percent.

Apart from agitating, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

It takes a local party

Building on Betty’s post this morning on how we need to build a leftward pendulum swing at all levels of government and society, I want to endorse and fundraise for promising candidate for Oakland County Commissioner in Michigan:

Charles Gaba is the guy behind which is the go-to source for all enrollment information about the Exchanges and a very good clearinghouse for lots of other health wonkery.

He is running for County Commissioner in a suburban county in the Detroit metro area where the Presidential top-lines have the county as a lean Democratic area but the local government has a significant Republican presence.  He is doing something about that and I want to help a colleague and a fellow wonk.  So if you can spare a few bucks, help elect a wonky progressive to a county government board:


Here is Charles’ Act Blue link:

It Takes a Party

Though I ultimately voted for Clinton in my primary, I was an early Sanders supporter and still subscribe to the theory that his candidacy moved the political conversation in the Democratic Party leftward. I think this is a good thing.

The pendulum of U.S. politics had swung way too far to the right, beginning with Reagan and continuing with Bush I. President Bill Clinton slowed it down, but Bush II accelerated it again. President Obama arrested the rightward motion and turned it back.

Now we need to build on that and achieve a period of liberal ascendency, and we need to expand it beyond the federal level to retake state governments. That’s too big a job for one person. That sort of sustained effort takes a party.

One concern I had about Sanders’ candidacy, and particularly the tone the senator took after being routed in New York, was that the young voters he was attracting were lightly affiliated with the Democrats. But there are heartening signs that this may not be the case.

Josh Marshall at TPM has more about the Harvard Institute of Politics poll (alluded to in Anne Laurie’s morning post here) that explored millennials’ political leanings in depth. Here are some of the findings:

— Among 18 to 29 year olds, Clinton beats Trump 61% to 25% to 14% undecided

— In spring of 2015, this age group wanted the Democratic Party to win the next presidential election by 15 points (55% to 40%); a year later, that spread has increased to 28 points (61% to 32%)

— For the first time in five years, the number of self-identified Democrats is higher than self-identified independents (Dem 40%-Indy 36%-GOP 22%)

Marshall points to other evidence in the polling data that suggests younger voters are becoming not only more liberal but more Democratic and concludes: “the primary process itself – as divisive as it has sometimes seemed – has deepened young voters’ identification with the Democratic Party.”

I don’t know about you, but for me, reading that is a tonic after a week of hearing comments that echoed the disastrous run-up to Nadergeddon 2000, e.g., “duopoly” and “there’s not a dime’s worth of difference,” etc.

The Democratic Party isn’t perfect, but it is the vehicle we have to effect change. Secretary Clinton, who will be our nominee, understands this better than most. That may make her the perfect woman for this particular time in history.

Here’s hoping Senator Sanders’ younger supporters won’t wait for Secretary Clinton to court them but rather will roll up their sleeves and take on the hard tasks of party building to create the political future they want to see. Because it takes a party.

ETA: J-TWO-O is keeping a running tally of Democratic Party primary and caucus vote totals. Secretary Clinton’s lead increased to more than three million last night.

On Donald Trump (Not) Appearing in Chicago

You know what also struck me about Maddow’s timeline clips? The longer he’s on the trail, the hoarser and puffier and more exhausted Trump looks. For all his braggadocio, Trump doesn’t look like a well man.

For further discussion:

Bleg Re-Post: School for Authentic Journalism

Or, to tie it to last night’s Oscars: If you approved Spotlight‘s Best Picture win, here’s a small concrete way to support the hard work of genuine journalism.

Kickstarter Bleg: The School of Authentic Journalism

If you’ve read anything about left-wing political journalism over the past decade, you already know Al Giordano’s name. Longtime commentor Watergirl reminds me: Everybody who bemoans the parlous state of actual political reporting has a chance to help train a new class of activists to find real stories (not just press releases) and to share them effectively:

Fifteen years ago – after Narco News and its journalists won press freedom rights for the entire Internet in the New York Supreme Court – we created the School of Authentic Journalism to train new generations in the skills and strategies of communicating to change the world. If you’ve already pledged to make the 2016 school happen, thank you.

If you haven’t yet made a pledge we’re running out of time and I plead with you to do so right now at this link:

Last year hundreds of readers, graduates and supporters did rally in the last week to get us to the $25,000 goal. We held a great school in November, the best yet (every new school has been better than the previous ones). But it turned out to be a bit more expensive than we had budgeted which is why we’re forced to seek $30,000 for the 2016 school.

One need only look at how the news media has elevated Donald Trump to become the presumptive Republican nominee for president in the United States to be reminded how urgent it is to train better journalists. Commercial media’s constant search for “ratings” to be able to charge more money for advertising has been what made a monster out of Trump, a man who calls Mexicans “rapists” and promises to build a wall around the country. They’ve given the man hundreds of millions of dollars in free airtime because he brings them those ratings. Yet of more than 500 graduates of the School of Authentic Journalism not one that I know of has participated in that charade. Instead, they’re out there doing the work that reporters are supposed to do, bringing attention to corruption and voice to the voiceless…

If we don’t make the goal by March 4, not only will that kill the 2016 school but could cripple it for years to come (remember we were unable to hold the school from 2005 to 2009: objects at rest tend to stay at rest). We’ll have to also seriously assess whether the project of Narco News and the other important projects of the authentic journalism renaissance will be able to continue at all.

I know you’re busy, that your time and resources are valuable. But I also know that you don’t want to wake up on March 5 to hear that this wonderful school – the most important and vital project of my lifetime and that of my colleagues – has ceased to exist because not enough of us made any pledge at all. Even if you have only a very small amount to spare the Kickstarter page lists the number of pledges and as that number grows it creates momentum and encourages others to do the same…

I’ve kicked in a bit. Even if you can’t contribute yourself right now, please share the link on social media (FaceBook, Twitter, etc.) wherever your proud progressive associates bemoan the lack of actual news in our news media.

Aux Armes, Citoyenes!

It’s just being reported that the GOP caucus in the US Senate has decided that Presidenting while Democrat and/or Black is not to be allowed to happen.

That is — the majority party in The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body™ has decided that it will not entertain any piece of President Obama’s nomination for the still dead Scalia’s Supreme Court seat.  Zip, zero, nada, nothing:  no hearing, no vote, no respect for whatever jurist Obama chooses; for Obama himself, obviously; for the office of the President, clearly; and ultimately for the Constitution so many of those prating thugs assert they hold above all else.

To which my response is:


Thank you.

You couldn’t have done a greater service to the Democratic Party’s hopes in November, and thus to the country.

It’s hard usually, as readers of this blog know, to cut through the noise of political blather and the insistent demands of daily life.  But this is one of those moments when stakes and character become clear — enough, I deeply hope, to move the dial in November. Most simply, if there were any enthusiasm gap between the parties, it’s going, going, gone now.

We have two jobs:  for one, elect the Democrat, whoever that may be, to the Presidency.  I’m more a Hillary person than a Bernie one, but I’ll pound the hills of New Hampshire for either one this coming fall, every damn chance I get.

The other:  these embarrassments as Senators must go:  Kirk, Johnson, Toomey, Portman, Ayotte.  The Florida open seat, and as distant hopes, McCain and Burr too.  I’ll be up in New Hampshire (as I may have mentioned a sentence or two ago), pounding the hills for Governor Hassan, every damn chance I get.  If you can get to a race that’s in the balance, do so.  If you can’t, do whatever else you can.

One last thought: I didn’t think that anything the GOP could do — especially an act as predictable as this — would do more than deepen my weary sense of “they are who we thought they were.” But this feels like a last straw. I’m just done with allowing any framing of this as “just politics” or what have you. I and a majority of my fellow citizens voted President Obama into office twice. The disrespect to him is something he can handle (better than I ever would). But it’s the delegitimizing of my vote, my choice, my place in American democracy that has just gotta stop. The current Republican Party has to be destroyed, root and branch. They are blight on policy, and a boil on the body politic. Time for them to go.