Turn on the TV, shut out the lights

I figured people could use a fun thread to take their mind off Alabama.

What are the best movies, tv shows, and books about politics? Please don’t say West Wing.

Let’s interpret politics both narrowly and broadly.

For movies narrowly about politics, the only good movie I’ve seen is “The Candidate”. For movies broadly about politics, I’d go with “Chinatown” (it begins with some kind of city public hearing right, that’s got to count).

For books, “All The King’s Men” is my favorite of all time, by far.

I’ve never seen a tv show about politics that I liked, unless you count “Benson”.

He uses magazines

I just saw that the editor of Vanity Fair is stepping down and for some reason the NYT and others are treating this like a big deal. That magazine has always annoyed me though I will say one thing for it: they employ James Wolcott, and he’s the only magazine writer I enjoy reading. I used to like Matt Taibbi but I got sick of him, plus he’s a Russiagate denier and possibly a sex offender. James Fallows and TNC are good, too, of course, but that’s a different type of article, more like serious reading.

I used to be a big New Yorker reader when I was younger. In high-school, it was probably my only contact with the larger world, other than David Letterman (I grew up in the middle of nowhere), and even now, I’m one of those people with an unhealthy reverence for Pauline Kael. I still remember the great profiles I read of Paul Schaefer and Penn & Teller. But when I try to read the New Yorker now, a lot of it seems either corporate (profiles of Jeff Bezos and that kind of crap) or pathetically trend-chasing (read the part of this about Bien Cuit etc. — whatever that stuff is — if you want to be mildly nauseous). I know there’s important stuff too about how the world is going to end because of plastic and so on, but again, that’s too serious for me. Plus, the style generally annoys me.

Do you all read any magazines? Who’s a good magazine writer in a lighter style?

The can-can’s such a pretty show

The other day Atrios wrote:

I went through a brief slatebro contrarian phase. Not sure how bad I was but I can’t deny the possibility that “Will Saletan has a good point!” was something I said once.

What’s the dumbest Slate-syle/very serious sort of thing you ever believed or argued in favor of? Mine is a two-way tie between telling my dad that they should “teach the controversy” on evolution (which I took directly from a Gregg Easterbrook article) and saying (to whom I forget) that maybe Fareed Zakaria was right that by invading Iraq and improving relations with Iran we could establish a bloc of US allies in the Middle East. (Note: I was against the war by the time it was being seriously considered.)

Breakin’ the law?

I have close to zero interest in most things Joe-and-Mike related but I’m curious to know if this kind of thing is legal (if true, which it certainly it is). Is it?

“We got a call that, ‘Hey, the National Enquirer is going to run a negative story against you guys…’ And they said, ‘If you call the president up, and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike this story,” Scarborough said.

Scarborough didn’t name names, but he said “three people at the very top of the administration” called him about this.

“The calls kept coming and kept coming, and they were like ‘Call. You need to call. Please call. Come on, Joe. Just pick up the phone and call him.'”

In other words, grovel to the president and he’ll make the mean story disappear.

Good manners and bad breath will get you nowhere

You all know by now that SC-5 ended up being closer than GA-6. You probably also know that SC-5 is full of hopeless rural idiots whereas GA-6 is full of well-educated suburbanites who just need a little non-ideological persuasion to start voting Democrat. David Atkins nails it:

The lesson of the special elections around the country is clear: Democratic House candidates can dramatically outperform Clinton in deep red rural areas by running ideological, populist campaigns rooted in progressive areas. Poorer working class voters who pulled the lever for Trump can be swayed back to the left in surprisingly large numbers—perhaps not enough to win in places like Kansas, Montana and South Carolina, but certainly in other more welcoming climes. Nor is there a need to subvert Democratic principles of social justice in order to accomplish this: none of the Democrats who overperformed Clinton’s numbers in these districts curried favor with bigots in order to accomplish it.

But candidates like Clinton and Ossoff who try to run inoffensive and anti-ideological campaigns in an attempt to win over supposedly sensible, wealthier, bourgeois suburban David-Brooks-reading Republican Romney voters will find that they lose by surprisingly wide margins. There is no Democrat so seemingly non-partisan that Romney Republicans will be tempted to cross the aisle in enough numbers to make a difference.

The way forward for Democrats lies to the left, and with the working classes. It lies with a firm ideological commitment to progressive values, and in winning back the Obama voters Democrats lost to Trump in 2016 without giving ground on commitments to social justice. It does not lie in the wealthy suburbs that voted for Romney over Obama in 2012, or in ideological self-effacement on core economic concerns.

I think it’s quite possible to run different kinds of campaigns in different areas, and I’m not faulting Ossoff for running the campaign he did. But I do think there’s something fucked up about the Democratic party’s idea that it should run civil, non-ideological campaigns. We’re not running to be the president of Fred Hiatt.

No amount of civilitude and centrist common sense is going to get suburban upper-middle class white voters who have spent their entire lives voting Republican to reconsider their obsession with tax cuts and become Democrats en masse (yes, you can pick off a few I’m sure).

The whole non-ideological civilitude thing smacks of class bullshit. We don’t need to fight, we’re all reasonable here, not like the poors! That’s what it sounds like to me, at least. Republicans have gotten lower-income white Americans to vote Republican by feeding them xenophobia and resentment. Xenophobia doesn’t pay your medical bills. Obamacare does. We just can’t cede rural America to Republicans, not when Republicans are offering so little to rural America policy-wise.