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As I Was Saying . . .

Learn What’s Happening with Unions This Labor Day

I spent a part of my Labor Day reading Jonah Furman’s Who Gets the Bird? Substack and learning what’s happening with unions across the country over the past few weeks.

Furman updates us on strikes, negotiations, politics, and legislation across the nation in every edition.

A bunch is happening as workers try to take back some control as workplaces find a new normal after the COVID pandemic. This newsletter is a great way to stay up to date on developments.

The Media’s Latest Failure

Dan Froomkin writes at Press Watch about the media’s latest failure to do its job and open the window to see if it is raining outside when providing analysis of President Biden’s latest speech about the threat MAGA Republicanism poses to our democracy.

Well before the actual speech, it was clear that Biden’s sounding of the alarm for American democracy would also be an implicit reproach of the mainstream media, for its failure to do so.

So instead of directly addressing the substance of his speech, our elite political reporters stuck to their way of doing things: They marginalized any mention of the threat to democracy as a purely partisan attack (political, yes, partisan, no); they cast the speech as a tired campaign move (see, e.g., Peter Baker); they raised quibbles about the optics (see, e.g., Brianna Keilar. They also downplayed it, like it didn’t really matter.

Whether the nation heard what Biden was saying has yet to be seen. But the nation’s most influential political reporters couldn’t hear it – they literally could not take it in — because it would have meant acknowledging how far from truth-telling they have fallen.

The GOP’s Rejection of Political Norms

Jamelle Bouie writes in his latest newsletter about the latest examples of the GOP’s rejection of political norms.

One of the recurring points I make in my column is that the Republican Party, from the most junior state lawmaker to senators in Washington, has turned against many of the hallmarks of a functional political system, including a commitment to fairness and following the process. There are almost always new examples of Republican politicians rejecting any result or rule that doesn’t favor their interests, and this week we have two.

A democracy can’t work if one party decides that any loss is illegitimate. This isn’t new: it goes back at least to Newt Gingrich’s takeover of the House Republican Caucus in the 1990s. But understanding this dynamic is the first step in any effort to save our Republic.

Bringing Charges Against Donald J. Trump Shouldn’t Depend on the Number of Days Left Until the Next Election

Charlie Pierce asks an important question in his Esquire newsletter:

Why the hell would prosecutors wait until after November to bring charges against Donald J. Trump? He’s not running for anything. And if some people who are running are wounded by their association with him, that’s extremely tough beans. They should be. It should be all the reason you need not to vote for someone. 

Justice shouldn’t depend on the number of days left until the next election. Trump is not a candidate. Not acting is also a political act. So the focus should be on the evidence and on what it indicates to the prosectors. Leave the political considerations to the politicians.

Make the World Baseball Classic More Meaningful

Dan Schlossberg shares an excellent idea in the Here’s the Pitch Substack to make the World Baseball Classic more meaningful: move it to after the World Series.

Doing so would allow starting pitchers to be closer to full capacity, not interfere with spring training, and fill the gap in the month of November before the winter meetings start in December.

As Schlossberg notes, Major League Baseball is sending a barnstorming team to South Korea this November to raise awareness of the game. It should learn something from that experience.

Inhumane Tricks That Don’t Solve the Homelessness Problem

Adam Johnson writes at The Column Substack about how Democratic city leaders are relying upon increasingly inhumane tricks that don’t solve the homelessness problem.

What we are seeing in more and more cities is wrong. Instead of solving the problem, city leaders are creating Potemkin situations. As Johnson describes:

The goal, as I laid out in March, is to simply harass and arrest unhoused people from important areas into less important ones, while scooping up many for petty crime so they can languish in jail. This way electeds look like they’re Doing Something about “the homelessness problem,” but the underlying issue isn’t meaningfully addressed, much less solved. But police are kept busy and further legitimized while wealthy areas are less and less likely to have to look at the logical result of runaway inequality and soaring housing prices. 

Corporate media, pandering to the all important “angry homeowner,” is concerned entirely with the aesthetics of “cleaning up” “homeless encampments,” not the long-term housing status and fortunes of the human beings who actually live there.

Johnson shows us examples of cities cutting down trees, adding rocks, and building internment camps rather than focusing on solutions that actually can help people. We have to do better, because this problem is going to continue to get worse.

And, we should remember when some of these politicians seek re-election or try to move up to a higher office.

Deciphering DeSantism

Dan Moynihan takes a look at a potential future for the Republican Party by deciphering DeSantism in his Can We Still Govern Substack.

In his article, Moynihan makes the important point that the loss of our democracy happens in ways besides our elections. That is a reason why it is vital we examine how people like Governor DeSantis are manipulating government systems in ways that harm democratic values and norms.

As someone who studies public administration, I think about democratic backsliding as about more than just elections, but also about how government operates, how it uses its power, and the degree to which it is accountable to the public. Here, again, DeSantis has established his anti-democratic credentials. His is a record of culture war battles that are not just symbolic, but aggressively use state power to erode individual rights and freedoms, often in obviously unconstitutional ways.

Moynihan provides several examples about how DeSantis is turning Florida government into a state that supports not the people but his power. One glaring example is the treatment of felons seeking to regain their voting rights after the passage of a referendum in 2020.

Even if DeSantis insisted that former felons had to repay fines and fees before voting, the DeSantis administration failed to provide the most basic information to allow them to do so — what was owed, and to who. Instead, DeSantis invested state resources in stoking confusion, intimidation and fear. DeSantis recently went on a media blitz after 20 former felons were sent back to jail for voting. It seems clear that these citizens were not engaged in some conspiracy to engage in fraud: at least some genuinely believed that they were eligible to vote because public officials had told them that they were eligible when they approved their voter registration.

This is a preview of what a President DeSantis (or other MAGA Republicans) would do at the national level if they win the upcoming elections. They are turning the government against their political opponents. History demonstrates that this is a process that does not end in freedom.

Today’s Thought: Power of Anger

Today’s Thought from my Readwise collection is a reflection on the power of anger when properly used from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Molly Knight is hosting a book club for subscribers to her The Long Game Substack about the book. I may have subscribed for her baseball writing, but I am really enjoying this extra perk. Molly is likely to do this again in the future, so that’s another great reason to subscribe and support her work.

“Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger is a voice, a shout, a plea, a demand. Anger is meant to be respected. Why? Because anger is a map. Anger shows us what our boundaries are. Anger shows us where we want to go. It lets us see where we’ve been and lets us know when we haven’t liked it. Anger points the way, not just the finger. In the recovery of a blocked artist, anger is a sign of health.”

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way