Elizabeth Warren, Philosopher

You’ve probably seen this clip go viral. Let’s be clear as to why this speech in particular is special.

What we have now is a fundamental disagreement on the role of government. Libertarians and conservatives have made their positions clear. Senator Elizabeth Warren is one of the few Democrats that has, over time, successfully managed to articulate a clear defense of the role of government in bolstering our quality of life.

It’s not about stopping House Republicans from slashing things. It’s about a firm defense of a government that works for the people. When Democrats argue about how much they want to slash, that’s the big picture they miss. When you bargain, you start with an ideal that clearly articulates a philosophy of the role of government and then go from there.

Even if you don’t agree with me, you can appreciate the way that Warren has been framing this fight. 2016 beckons, doesn’t it? A man can dream.

Ralph Northam’s Perfidy

State Sen. Ralph Northam (D) (VCU CNS)

Voters deserve what they voted for. State Senator Ralph Northam, New York’s “Independent Democratic Caucus”, and Washington’s “Majority Caucus Coalition” don’t seem to care. This morning, Ralph Northam reiterated his openness to “power sharing” with Republicans if a duly elected Democratic majority in the State Senate happens.

While the chattering class of activists, consultants, hacks and flacks that is likely reading this will often be astonished or frustrated by the whims of the electorate, the basic principle that voters deserve what they voted for is fundamental to our existence. Even if it’s not what we wanted, if the voters choose a Republican, the voters should get one. That’s why the very idea that Democrats might nominate State Senator Ralph Northam for Lieutenant Governor is even more galling than nominating an actual turncoat.

In case anyone has forgotten, Northam was minutes away from handing control of key Senate committees away from a duly elected Democratic majority over a judgeship spat. This alone was troubling enough, but it’s absolutely appalling that he would not only lie about what actually happened as if we didn’t have the internet, but he would also think about repeating this maneuver.

What Northam proposes is more sinister. He appears to suffer from the same self-delusions that afflicts “Democrats” in other upper chambers, like the New York State Senate and the Washington State Senate. In both states, voters elected a Democratic majority in the chamber, only to find that certain Democrats thought they knew better.

The New York State Capitol (joseph a)

There’s nothing inherently wrong with a party switcher. While many are opportunistic turncoats, I take a more pragmatic view if their voting record is honest. I don’t regret supporting the few that I have like State Senator Dave Marsden, who since his election has racked up a strong voting record for what was (pre-2011) a decidedly moderate seat. But I’d trust a party switcher who honestly faced the voters more than a “power sharing” weasel. This distinction wasn’t lost on Albert Watson or Phil Gramm, both of whom resigned their seats after leaving the Democratic party and faced their constituents as Republicans in special elections and won. While this move had the self-serving purpose of increasing the legitimacy of their party switch, the principle behind it still stands. Voters deserve what they voted for. A party switcher gives voters enough credit to decide for themselves which party they want.

In New York last December, five Democratic Senators formed an “Independent Democratic Coalition” which gave Republicans most of the power, while Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo impotently allowed it to happen, barely lifting a finger to ensure an actual Democratic majority.

That same month in Washington, two Democrats formed the “Majority Caucus Coalition. In response, Washington Democrats grew a backbone and blasted them for “gross disloyalty” and “perfidious behavior”, permanently barring them from accessing party resources and calling for their expulsion from the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Voters should trust that what they voted for is what they get, whether it is a Democrat or a Republican. They deserve more than being insulted by State Senators who think they know better.

This is not just an issue of tribal loyalty. Brazenly contravening the will of the voters by handing control of key committees to a party voters did not choose is perfidious treason that severely hampers the passage of a progressive budget or legislation. Regardless of Northam’s personal beliefs on women’s rights, the environment, voting reform, and education, a change in committee structures will be far more damaging than his votes would have helped.

The last time Ralph Northam tried to pull his power-sharing shenanigans, Democrats couldn’t afford to expel him and lose his seat. What Democrats can do is prevent him from being the standardbearer of a cheap party that has no self-respect. On June 11th, Virginia Democrats have a choice. Will they be New York, or Washington? Virginia Democrats should emulate Washington’s Democrats, and not Andrew Cuomo, and vote against Ralph Northam.

Crosspost: Blue Virginia

The Art of Cracker Cooking

In the recesses of everyone’s memory (or at least of mine), there is a hallowed space for moments of satiated gluttony so outrageous that they remain as totems to a meal. Tinged with the context of who was there, the symbolic value of why I had traveled so far, they are most importantly memories of food. Seafood, especially, sticks in my memory more than any other sort of food. Fried clam strips in Kittery, Maine at Bob’s Clam Hut after a day pounding sand at the beaches of York, or family dinner at Boston’s Jumbo Seafood Restaurant after a long trek in from the suburbs. Vast, dizzying spreads of fish, lobster, and crab in Hong Kong’s legendary Lei Yue Mun district, or lunch out on the waterfront with fishing boats puttering around at Lamma Island. These are but a few of the meals I have eaten that I can recount in excruciating detail because I am not well in the head, but quite well in the stomach.

So when a co-worker (Twitter: @akinsdem for relevant news) tipped me off to a restaurant called The Art of Cracker Cooking, with an unlimited seafood and barbecue buffet, I had to see what was there. I was most certainly not disappointed.

This is Art. Here he is on the table.

The Art of Cracker Cooking

Here he is in real life.

The Art of Cracker Cooking

Authenticity is a slippery word, but this place has it in spades. No pretension (the salt shakers were plastic cups with notches cut into them!), just amazing food. Shrimp, fished out of nearby waters, prepared three ways. Crabcakes with more crab than cake. And a surprising hit: a scallop and mashed potato casserole topped with cheese. All finished with a cookie. For $18, you can eat as much of it as you want, and pile a huge box to take home. My only regret was not taking more of the fried shrimp, thinking that fried foods would not reheat well. This was false.

The Art of Cracker Cooking

I never put much stock in decor, and not too much in service when I eat, but I will give extra points for entertainment. You can always trust a chef who rings the dinner bell with a knife. This is what a man who loves his job looks like.

The Art of Cracker Cooking

Really. You should go. I know I’ll be back soon.

The Art of Cracker Cooking

Tonight on Mad Men, Advertising Eats Itself

I, Kenton Ngo, a man who works for a Democratic consulting firm, was just served an ad from Univision selling political ads.

A wormhole has just opened. They’re using ads to feed more ads.

The advertising spaces of metro Washington, DC where I grew up are filled with ads that aren’t meant for you. Commuters on the Metro scarcely notice ads touting the newest ways to blow things up plastering the Pentagon station, or whatever lobbying fight is happening at Capitol South. You are not thinking of buying a brand-new Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker out to impress the ladies, but more likely than not someone who has that purchasing power is standing there on the platform with you.

No matter. That’s just for show. Nowadays all you have to do is stick a tracking cookie on the Armed Services staff and sell them on the masculinity-enhancing powers of brand new ways to blow things to pieces.