Late Night Open Thread: Happy Thought to End the Day…

Not a professional myself, but “Less than 15% of our hull has been breached!” somehow doesn’t seem like the happiest rally for the S.S. Greedy Old Perverts…

Upbeat Open Thread: Why We Fight

For our lives, the lives of our loved ones, and those of strangers we’ll never meet. Because it’s the right thing to do, of course. But also, to WIN!

Jim Newell at Slate:

Costello, a 41-year-old serving in only his second term, announced over the weekend that he will not run for re-election. What would have been a challenging race became near-impossible when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court redrew the state’s congressional lines, turning the state’s 6th Congressional District from an R+2 to a D+2 seat, and one that Hillary Clinton would have won by 10 percentage points in the 2016 election. Costello has called for the Pennsylvania judges behind the new map to be impeached.

Costello described the health care fight as the most “intense” experience of his brief political career, “period.” He remembered being one of the 15 or so members who would decide the fate of the House GOP health care bill and “getting it from all angles.” (He voted against it.) When you’re serving in a swing district in this environment, he said, “you have to know every single issue, and why you’re voting the way that you are, and to be able to explain it. Because you will get asked about it by everyone.”

“The way that these bots work”—“B-O-T-S,” he spelled it out to me, presumably referring to those deluging him with talking points—“and these Indivisible people, it’s not like they think for themself, they’re just told what to say,” he said. “They’ll take what some other expert told them to say, like Topher Spiro, or whatever that guy’s name is.” That is indeed the name of the excitable Center for American Progress policy fellow who built up quite the Twitter presence during the health care fight by imploring his followers to flood congressional phone lines.

“It’s not as though the criticisms or questions are illegitimate, but you are on the spot for answering them,” Costello said. “And so you have to be very well-prepared, and you just have to accept that no matter what you say, it’s not going to be good enough, the next criticism’s going to come at you. Which is fine.”…

“People in any district, but especially in [suburban] districts, they want to know that their member of Congress is looking out for them, not for any particular party,” he said. “It could be trying to get EPA funding for the remediation site, it could be a public transportation project. It could be forcefully fighting for DACA, or pushing back against getting out of the Paris accord. Or trying to stabilize the health insurance marketplace.” …

These ‘bots’, or constituents — whatever — they want me to act like I represent THEM! They aren’t content that I’ve learned all my lines and made a very good on-camera presentation, they want me to WORK, not just ACT! It’s as though I was being paid to represent… them!

No wonder the poor bastid looks so stunned; he feels his efforts have somehow been misrepresented.

Posters For Your March For Our Lives Event

If you, like me, can’t think up a witty slogan for March for Our Lives, here are 89 of them that can be printed out directly or subjected to your own artistic treatment. Thanks to Action Together Zurich and Crooked Timber.

Here’s a link to find an event near you.

Update: Betty sent me a message from a reader:

A friend of mine is working to help create materials for the March 24th march for our lives and I was hoping you could post a link to the materials – It’s a price tag of $1.05 to represent the amount of money Marco Rubio think a Florida student’s life is worth, based on how much he has collected from the NRA and the number of students in Florida. They are trying to get kids around the country to wear these price tags to the march. Here’s the link to the tweet and materials. Thanks so much!

Are you going? For the more creative among us, what would you put on a sign? And open thread.


RWNJ “American Priveledge” Open Thread — Everybody JUMP!

Another reminder: We Democrats just have to work harder at organizing, because we lack that lemming instinct which makes astroturfing the GOP so easy and profitable. Political scientist David A. Hopkins, “Why The “Liberal Tea Party” Doesn’t Exist (And Why Some People Think It Does)”:

Matt Grossmann and I explained in Asymmetric Politics why the Democrats are much less vulnerable to ideological purification campaigns than Republicans are, and we summarized our argument in this piece for Vox Polyarchy. Part of the story is that the American left simply lacks much of the institutional infrastructure that promoted and sustained the Tea Party rebellion on the right, such as powerful ideologically-driven media sources, interest groups, and financial donors. (The number of politically active leftist billionaires is….not large.) But it’s also true that many Democratic voters simply don’t think of politics in ideological terms or prize doctrinal fidelity over other qualities—such as perceived electability, group identity, or ability to deliver concrete policy achievements—when making their choice of candidate.

So if there isn’t much evidence of a “liberal Tea Party,” why is anybody talking about it? One reason is that the assumption of party symmetry is deeply entrenched in the minds of many political observers, who expect any trends on one partisan side to inevitably appear in comparable form on the other. Another is the well-documented tendency of media coverage to frame stories in ways that emphasize conflict, or at least the possibility of conflict (“if it bleeds, it leads”)… A third is that Republicans, facing a poor electoral climate this year, have adopted the talking point that their fortunes will be salvaged by a raft of extremist opponents nominated by far-left Democratic primary electorates.

But there’s something else at work here as well. Purist leftism, to the extent it exists in America, is especially concentrated in the circles—metropolitan, professional, well-educated, highly internet-active—in which many media members themselves travel…

Put simply, the online left is not representative of the Democratic Party. Visitors to local Democratic caucus or committee meetings in most parts of America will find that the public employees, union officials, trial lawyers, nonprofit association administrators, and African-American church ladies who actually constitute the party’s activist backbone are, by and large, neither preoccupied with ideological purity nor in a state of rebellion against its current leadership. And though the election of Donald Trump has surely angered and energized the Democratic base, there’s no particular reason to think that anti-Trump sentiment will lead to an internal ideological transformation….

Which, again: This has been true of the Democratic Party, and its GOP counterpart, at least back to the days of Finley Peter Dunne ragging on the McKinley administration’s kleptocrats. Dems are better at compromising than at enforcing ‘party discipline’… which is why, among so many other reasons, we’re not Republicans!

Monday Morning Open Thread: Never A Slow News Day!

Murphy the Trickster God only knows what’ll happen by start-of-business hours, so here’s a bunch of snippets before they get overwhelmed by this morning’s revelations. (And if this jinxes the streak so that there *are* no media-capturing revelations, you may thank me later.)

Possible media metaphor…

Santa Fe’s Ranked-Choice Election

Yesterday Santa Fe (New Mexico) held its first ranked-choice election for mayor. Out of five candidates, Alan Webber won on the fourth round.

In ranked-choice voting, you rank your choices, in this case from #1 to #5.

I liked the effect this had on a number of things about the campaign.

  • I put more thought into all of the candidates, rather than just choosing one and ignoring the others.
  • Campaigners said “If you don’t want to vote for our candidate first, please consider voting for them second.” This is both a good tactic and a more civil conversation.
  • Reporters complained that it took more time to get results. But it seemed to me that the message was that every vote counts, when the counting had to go to a fourth round.
  • The winner has a clear majority, not the 39% that the first round gave Webber.
  • We don’t have the additional time and expense of a runoff election.

The city and the Santa Fe New Mexican did a great job of educating voters, starting a month or more before the election.

I like it.


Wednesday Morning Positive Projects Open Thread

Four months ago, when 58 people were killed and hundreds more injured in a shooting in Las Vegas, a plurality of respondents told pollsters that government and society were essentially powerless to stop these incidents.

Today, however, 64 percent of Americans say that “government and society can take action that will be effective in preventing shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida from happening again.” Just 32 percent say shootings like Parkland “will happen again regardless of what action is taken by government and society.”…


And good people just go on, being good…