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As I Was Saying . . .

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

Check Our Assumptions About Midterm Elections

John Stoehr of the Editorial Board asks us to check our assumptions about midterm elections as he examines what happens to the party holding the presidency over a longer time period.

While we hear so much about how the party holding the presidency loses Congressional seats during the midterm election, this “fact” is based only on recent elections and excludes data from much of the last century:

One is that the Congress did not change after the following midterm elections, according to my friend Bill Scher, who writes for Politico magazine, the Washington MonthlyRealClear Politics and others. 

Since 1900, they are: 1902, 1906, 1914, 1922, 1926, 1930, 1934, 1938, 1942, 1950, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1990 and 1998. 

That’s 19 midterms. There were 25 in the 20th century.

Six midterms flipped the Congress in 100 years.

There are other strong factors in play this year, starting with heavy partisan-based gerrymandering in Republican-held states. But we should be careful to base too much of our analysis on a small dataset.

Democratic Party of Contra Costa County August 2022 Newsletter

I am editing the Democratic Party of Contra Costa County (DPCCC) monthly newsletter and wanted to share it with you. The August 2022 edition includes updates about:

  • a presentation at the DPCCC general membership meeting about Reproductive Freedom: Meeting the Moment at the Ballot Box from leaders with Planned Parenthood Northern California Action Fund,
  • a CalMatters story that included the DPCCC’s work to counter Republican efforts to take over school boards across California,
  • ways to take action to support Democratic candidates,
  • resolutions and legislative positions adopted by DPCCC members; and
  • early bird tickets are now available for the DPCCC’s BBQ on September 10.

Donald Trump’s “Very Fine People”

Parker Malloy takes us back to the aftermath of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and examines the context of former President Donald Trump’s horrific comments about how there were “very fine people” on both sides.

It is important to recall what happened, and just what the former president tried to do to provide cover to white supremacists. As Malloy writes:

One of Trump’s strategies has always been to stake out every possible position on any given topic. That’s exactly what he did here. He talked himself into a knot.

But again, he went back to saying that he “looked the night before — if you look, there were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.” That was not true. “The night before” was the tiki torch march. People were chanting “Jews will not replace us” and “Blood and soil.” There were “very fine people” within that group? No. There weren’t. Trump referred to some of the attendees of a neo-Nazi rally as “very fine people.”

Malloy will be breaking down and analyzing this important event in her The Present Age Substack. It’s a great reason to subscribe today.

Today’s Thought: We All Have a Choice

Timothy Snyder wrote in his essential book On Tyranny about how authoritarians need professionals to cooperate in carrying out their evil. We must remember that we all have a choice.

If lawyers had followed the norm of no execution without trial, if doctors had accepted the rule of no surgery without consent, if businessmen had endorsed the prohibition of slavery, if bureaucrats had refused to handle paperwork involving murder, then the Nazi regime would have been much harder pressed to carry out the atrocities by which we remember it.

Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny