Friday, July 13, 2018

Weekend Reading: Before a Hiatus Edition

I'm sending this out on my lunch break instead of after work because I have a science camp expo to go watch soon, and am going to be mostly offline this afternoon and evening. Even so, it has already been an eventful news day. I'm not going to include links to analysis about the latest round of indictments. But here's a thread that pulls out some particularly interesting parts. Note the one about the Congressional candidate.

My "if you read only one thing" pick this week is actually a recommendation for something to listen to. Ezra Klein had another chat with Susan Hennessey about the Russia investigation, Mueller, and the general state of play right now and it is once again very useful.

Some things to read:

I've seen many arguments that Democrats must not match Republican hardball tactics or we risk destroying our Republic. Jamelle Bouie essentially argues the opposite, and I find his argument the most convincing one yet for abandoning what I've seen called "normcore" politics. Here's an earlier Matt Yglesias essay on the same topic. (For what it's worth, I don't think statehood for DC is all that radical, and nor is statehood for Puerto Rico. I support those suggestions right now. No taxation without representation, right? Court-packing schemes seem far more radical to me, and I'm not at all convinced on those yet.)

If you're uncomfortable with the arguments for Democrats to change to hardball tactics, you might find it helpful to think about what happens if they don't, and we enter an era of persistent minority-rule by the Republicans. This short article by Seth Masket outlines three ways a minority party can govern. The Republicans have essentially done all three at this point. Look around and notice the mounting legitimacy crisis. How long do you think our government will continue to be seen as legitimate by the majority? What happens when the majority no longer sees a government as legitimate? 

We're in a scary place right now. I know I keep saying it, but the 2018 midterms are the most important elections of my lifetime. Please vote. Please think hard about all the implications of your vote this year. If you're as worried as I am, please try to find a way to get involved in the effort to turn things around.

I'm thinking of adding gubernatorial races to my list of races to consider sending money to:

Some good news: my state has met our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for 2020 two years early. We'll have a much harder time meeting our 2030 goals, but I think we're up to the challenge. 

And here is a good thread about stories that are actually climate change stories:

This made me smile:

And so did this:


I'm going to be absent from this blog for a couple of weeks. I don't want this just to be a weekly list of links, but when I've sat down to write something more, it hasn't worked out. I am going to take a short break to try to get my writing mojo back.

Have a good couple of weeks, everyone! I hope to be back writing actual posts soon.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Summer Is Here Edition

We're having our first summer heat wave, which is nothing compared to the heat wave other parts of the US has been having but is making Mr. Snarky feel pretty good about having got a whole house fan installed on Monday. So summer is here.

Mr. Snarky and I both had yesterday off. Both kids still had camp, and both kids are loving their camps this week so there was no question of them skipping. This means that Mr. Snarky and I got a day off with just the two of us! We went for a long walk on the beach and had lunch at a favorite old spot in Mission Beach (a restaurant called Guava Beach, for anyone who's curious: they have delicious guava-ritas and a coconut crusted chicken sandwich that is quite good).

I had to work today, but Mr. Snarky still had the day off (his company shuts down for the week of July 4), so we're taking advantage of the fact that he will be home to head out for some Friday evening summer fun with the kids, too.

This is my new strategy for not getting despondent over the mess in our country right now: Lots of summer fun to distract me. (Don't worry, I'm still writing postcards and supporting campaigns, too.)

Anyway, let's have some links.

You may not have heard about this amidst all the other news this week, but the House once again failed to pass any sort of immigration bill. I think there is no path to a bill that involves the Freedom Caucus, and since the moderate Republicans don't seem to want to work with the Democrats (who I think would compromise with them)... we're stuck. This Vox piece has a good explanation of the sad recent history of attempts to fix our immigration system.

Vox's The Weeds podcast did an episode on open borders (and the fact that despite what Trump and other immigration hard liners keep saying, no elected Democrat is actually pushing for open borders). It is a good and interesting episode, but like many The Weeds episodes, I was unsatisfied at the end because they didn't talk about one specific thing I think should be discussed - namely, that if our interest is in ending illegal immigration, whatever system we move to must have a legal and realistic path for low skill immigration. Otherwise, the combination of our really long border and the large number of low skill jobs that employers struggle to find Americans to fill will continue to pull people in without documentation. Maybe in some future immigration episode....

Still on immigration: This story about the informal, migrant-run system to keep track of whose turn it is to go and seek asylum is really upsetting to me. We are being so callous.

An independent journalist (who seems really well-respected in the online law/national security circles) wrote about deciding to become an FBI informant and the risk that puts her in right now.

Josh Marshall on the whether the calls to abolish ICE will backfire on Democrats. (My opinion on this one is that I don't know, but that we're not going to stop the calls for it at this point, so I guess we'll find out.) Jamelle Bouie wrote about the same topic, and argues that Democrats shouldn't worry about "swing voters" because they increasingly don't exist.

Josh Marshall also had a good podcast episode about some of the outrageous stuff that is going on and that a Democratic House might be inclined to investigate.

Matt Yglesias on our period of Constitutional hardball and what that means for the next time Democrats have power.

San Diego's current approach to homelessness got a favorable write up in Mother Jones. A lot of local homeless advocates are less positive on this approach. I don't know what I think about it yet, other than that we need to build more housing.

This is really interesting: The Texas Observer republished Molly Ivins' piece from when the Roe v. Wade was made.


This is wonderful. Let's build the monuments these kids suggest.

This is cool:


Have a good weekend, everyone!

Monday, July 02, 2018

That Sense of Impending Doom

I've been feeling really unsettled lately, like I'm slightly off-balance. At first I thought it was because I'm still figuring out the new job. It involves working with a lot of different people, so each new project I pick up is an adjustment as I learn the work styles of the new team.

But I don't think that's the problem. I realized when Justice Kennedy announced his retirement that what I'm feeling is a sense of impending doom about the state of the country. On the second day after the 2016 election, I wrote a post about what I thought might happen next. I knew then that the Supreme Court would swing more Conservative, and that this swing would mean the loss of some rulings a lot of people rely on. I have not been surprised by the policy coming out of the EPA, even if I have been surprised by the astounding corruption of Scott Pruitt. I knew immigration policy was going to get bad, but I confess I didn't expect we'd get to "ripping young children from their parents' arms and putting them in cages."

The Kennedy retirement jolted me because I realized that one of the worst things I thought would happen is now happening... and yet, it is not the worst thing that is happening now.  I think that perhaps I got an expanded sense of just how bad it is likely to get, and that gave me the perception to recognize what my subconscious has been telling me for quite a while.

So now I can name the feeling in the pit of my stomach: It is a sense of impending doom. It isn't just due to the fact that so many of my fellow Americans are enthusiastically on board with Trump's dehumanizing language about immigrants and cruel immigration policy. I think I'd already accepted that fact. It is also the fact that quite a lot of other Americans are sort of sleepwalking through this, rationalizing away the sort of language and behavior that in the past has taken countries to really terrible places. I know so many people who aren't really doing anything differently. They'll vote, but that is the extent of their involvement. I'm glad they'll vote and I hope that the rest of us can make that be enough to stop our slide.

I am hoping that once I really accept that there are going to be a lot of bystanders in this fight the feeling in the pit of my stomach will go away, or at least lessen. Or maybe I just need to learn some new techniques to let the fear and worry go for short periods of time, so that I can rest and recharge.

There are things giving me hope right now. Perhaps I need to focus more on those. I have been encouraged by all the people showing up to fight for the families separated at the border. I have been encouraged by all the different faith leaders who spoke out against that policy. I am encouraged to see the Indivisible groups mobilizing to fight against another Heritage Foundation endorsed Supreme Court justice. I suspect we'll lose this fight, but I thought we'd lose the ACA fight and we haven't yet, not completely. So maybe in fighting we can get a judge who is more moderate and more representative of what the majority of people in this country actually believe. Anyway, it is worth a try.

I am also encouraged in a weird way to remember that the Court has usually been a small c-conservative institution, and that the period I've grown up in is actually an anomaly. I hope the fact that many of the rights-expanding decisions will be overturned will focus people's attention on spending more effort on state level elections. Here is a good thread about that:

I worry about what the next court will do to voting rights. I think we're going to have to work really, really hard to overcome structural disadvantages, both the ones that are enshrined in our system (e.g., the way the Senate and the Electoral College over-represent the people living in small states) and the ones that we've allowed to accrue because we weren't paying enough attention to the anti-voting moves going on in some states (e.g., voter ID laws, voting roll purges, extreme gerrymandering). I think we're in for a hard fight to win this at the ballot box, but I think we can still win it. I think we can turn the tide.

And so I keep working towards that goal, trying to push myself to do more to achieve it. I doubt that sense of impending doom I have will go away anytime soon, so I just have to learn how to work through it.