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Week's End Thoughts & Reflections, October 20, 2018

My anxiety about the November elections is ramping up. I would like to take heart from today's election update provided by FiveThirtyEight:

The topline numbers remain much the same — Democrats are strongly favored but not certain to take control of the House. As of 8:45 a.m. on Oct. 20, Democrats have a 5 in 6 (84 percent) chance of capturing the House and are expected to pick up 39 seats on average.

Yes, this is way better than the 16 percent chance it gives Republicans to maintain control of the House. The odds are low but not negligible, and the consequences of continued Republican dominance are beyond dire. I cannot shake the thought that Democrats will find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Down in Miami Donna Shalala is running for Congress in a district heavy on Cuban-Americans who are not fond of Fidel Castro and Venezuelan exiles with a dim view of the Nicolas Maduro regime. Politico describes this as an open, Democratic-leaning seat that was once assumed to be Shalala's for the taking. Apparently no longer.

Nobody seems to know which genius invited Nancy Pelosi and her California comrade in the House Barbara Lee to appear at a Shalala campaign event.

Pelosi may may well be an effective leader within the halls of Congress, but she is toxic in certain parts of the country where the Democrats need votes. And she does not seem to get it. Even better, it so happens that in 2016 Lee said that Castro's death should be mourned. She also asked Barack Obama not to impose sanctions on Venezuela. The firestorm ignited by the announcement about the event should have been entirely predictable. Lee's subsequent cancellation did nothing to douse the flames.

What is wrong with these people? Shalala says she does not know who invited Lee. Pelosi says she does not know why Lee canceled. Politico reports that

Lee’s decision to come to Miami came at the request of Pelosi, whose visit was planned a month before. Lee’s appearance was relayed to the Shalala campaign through Washington Democratic channels on Monday night, said the sources, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid angering Pelosi. (Marc Caputo, Shalala walks into anti-Castro buzz saw, Politico, October 18, 2018)

Shalala's staff felt "they were boxed in." They could not afford to offend Pelosi, who hopes to be the next Speaker of the House. The obtuseness she displayed here is another reason that she should step aside, or be pushed if it comes to that.

Now comes a Vox report that Democratic Party outreach to Latino voters is sadly lacking (Li Zhou, Democratic outreach to Latino voters doesn’t look much better than it did in 2016, October 19, 2018). Good grief.

In the meantime, President Donald "Stop and Frisk" Trump has come out in support of assault on journalists (Ed Pilkington, 'He's my guy': Donald Trump praises Gianforte for assault on Guardian reporter, The Guardian, October 19, 2018). The president proclaimed credible the Saudi tale that Jamal Khassogi died in a fist fight at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul with some fifteen burly government agents half his age. Even Lindsey Graham says he is skeptical of the Saudi account. Not that this counts for much. In the end Graham will again pull up his shirt and roll over for Trump to scratch his belly. We can hope that the likes of Bob Corker and Marco Rubio are made of sterner stuff. I am not counting on it.

Yesterday I trekked south to Oregon City for a stroll along the bluff above Willamette Falls and an espresso and journal session at Singer Hill Café. More time was spent in transit than in Oregon City, but it was time well spent reading Austrian historian Friedrich Heer's book Europe, Mother of Revolutions, where I happened on this description of Britain at the end of the nineteenth century:

The masses, putting it briefly, were against the liberalism and humanity of the older upper and middle classes, against 'weak tolerance', foreigners and Jews. They were for strong policies, strong words, strong men, and pride in imperialism. Their spokesmen were army officers, naval men, colonial officials, academics, and globe-trotters.

Sounds eerily familiar, n'est-ce pas? Maybe add wealthy, unscrupulous businesspeople to the list.

The view from the bluff is nice. It was good to get away from the neighborhood and the usual downtown haunts for an afternoon.

Keep the faith.

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