It’s The Best We Got

After yesterday’s post on Ashley Judd, Alison Lundergan Grimes, and Mitch The Turtle’s seat up for election in 2014, I feel I owe you guys some background.

I live in northern Kentucky, just across the river from Cincy.  KY-4 is depressingly red.  My Congressman, Thomas Massie, is an extremely intelligent, MIT-educated, award-winning engineer.  This means I know he’s smart enough to realize exactly what he’s doing when he sees fit to crack jokes about snow hampering DC climate change hearings, and he thinks Rand Paul and Justin Amash are the most awesome people ever because FREEDOM and LIBERTY.  And as he’s only five years older than my 37, he’s probably going to end up my Representative for a very, very long time.  In an alternate universe where the guy decided to not stick with the party of Luddite assclowns, I’d be honored to have someone like that in Congress representing me.  Instead, he uses his powers for suck and awful.  That’s got me down about the state of Kentucky politics.

Then throw in Rand Paul and Mitch, a Dem Governor who gives $60 million in tax breaks to a giant ark theme park that will probably crash and burn within the first couple years, and a bunch of other Democrats who know McConnell is vulnerable as hell and who are still too afraid of him to even attempt to run, and the fact that the only person even considering running (who happens to be the daughter of the state’s awful former Dem chair who basically put all these Blue Dogs in Kentucky in the first place) would be slightly to the left of Joe Manchin on her best day, and you’ve got a recipe for a pretty depressed Zandar.

Yes, if Alison Lundergan Grimes gets the nomination, I’m backing her against Mitch 100%.  I want him gone for all the reasons several of you pointed out in the comments yesterday.  Any D is better than effing Mitch McConnell.  I’m just bummed out because it’s the best (and looking like the only) shot we have against Mitch, and I know we could have done better.  And yes, I believe Ashley Judd would have gotten her clock cleaned for the reasons I listed yesterday.  Short of Mitch going the full Todd Akin with some Larry Craig on top, he’s going to most likely win re-election by double digits.  He’s too smart of a political animal to make a moronic mistake like that.

I will proudly cast my vote for whatever Dem rises to the challenge to take on Mitch.  I will volunteer for them and man the phone banks and help out in what ways I can on the ground here.  But some days it feels like shouting into a black hole.  I’ll persevere, because it’s the only way anything’s going to change for the better.  It just pisses me off that we’re not doing everything we can here to maximize our opportunity against Mitch, that’s all.

Carry on.



It Is What The Holy One Did For Me When We Came Out Of Egypt

It’s Passover, as I’m sure y’all know, and tonight we’ll be heading over to a friend’s house for a distinctly unorthodox (and late) second seder.

The seder — the ritual Passover meal — actually follows a Hellenistic form:  it’s a symposium, a feast in which the gathering converses into the night on some topic of interest or importance.

Tiepolo_Last_Supper

When a symposium is a seder the focus is on liberation, on justice, on the meaning of freedom and on the obligations that such a transformation imposes on those who are no longer slaves.  Most important, by long tradition and, in the best of my family’s customs, the Passover story is one to be told and re-imagined in the present tense.  That’s the meaning of the phrase in the traditional text (the Haggadah) cited in the title to this post.  Every year we are enjoined to tell the tale and to discuss its meaning understanding that we ourselves took part in the exodus.  We talk through the ritual of getting up on our own hind legs and moving (fitfully, incompletely) along that long arc that bends towards justice — us, ourselves — with no “as if” caveats involved.

I thought of all this reading Tom Junod’s post over at Charles Pierce’s shop on the gay marriage battle.  In it, he writes of his 28 year marriage, and his understanding that no one else’s nuptials constrain his own.  He writes, rightly, “like anyone who has ever been married, I understood that whatever threat there was to my marriage came from within rather than from without.”

That’s true — or rather, it’s a commonplace, obvious, the baseline of a humane understanding of love, connection and commitment.  But Junod is after more than a well-spoken penetrating glimpse of the obvious.  The meat of his piece lies with his account of the way in which his straight family is, in the eyes of those fighting the bad fight against same-sex marriage, gay as the day is long: Read more



Training Day

Veteran TPM reporter Evan McMorris-Santoro is WIN THE MORNING, Jr’s new White House correspondent, which may be the journalistic equivalent of Commander Honor Harrington showing up at Basilisk Station (or at least Jimmy McNulty getting busted down to patrolling the Baltimore docks.)  At the very least, Evan is aware of the mess he’s in, putting him up on about 97% of the rest of the people in the room about 2 PM most weekday afternoons.

Although often thought of as the most prestigious beat in political journalism, the White House is increasingly seen as a newsless land of “stenographers” — a dead end for young, ambitious reporters hoping to carve out a niche, and a constant target of criticism by the partisan public. Veteran members of the White House press corps bristle at the criticisms, even as they acknowledge the beat has lost some of its allure as the obstacles have increased.

Welcome to the NFL, rookie.

Well-crafted analysis is often the best an enterprising reporter can do. The administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama earned reputations for granting exceptionally little access to the press in an effort to tightly control the news cycles. That reality has been in place long enough to make its way even into fictional representations of the job.

True.  You know, like Breitbart.  Pretty fictional there.

What’s more, McClatchy’s Steve Thomma, incoming president of the White House Correspondents Association, said the nature of the beat makes it a magnet for criticism by both fans and antagonists of whoever occupies Oval Office.

“There’s no doubt that partisans feel the White House press corps should be tougher when the other party has the presidency,” he said. “In the Bush years, liberals wanted the press corps to be more aggressive. And now it’s the opposite.”

So you guys are cool with Ed Henry then.  Awesome.  At least he’s getting a bead on the neighbors, who have been living here since forever.  If even the McClatchy guy is treating the daily brief like SSDD, this should be fun.  Oh and Evan, I don’t envy you.  Lord knows if you ever get to ask a question, don’t make a Chuck Toddler Special.



Have some courtesy, have some sympathy and some taste

Erick Erickson has a thoughtful piece on his time at CNN (via Jim Newell):

I’ve learned that some of the people I grew up thinking were in the enemy’s camp, so to speak, are spectacular people who share many of the same interests and opinions I do.

[….]

I learned that I will never be competitive with Roland Martin on the fashion front, but he makes an excellent road trip companion through South Carolina. One of the most formative moments of my career at CNN was standing outside a hotel with Roland Martin and tourists began handing him luggage and keys as if he worked at the hotel — only because he was in a suit. His courteousness to the people when he did not have to be courteous and the fact that in the 21st century that’d happen at all really struck me profoundly.

Because of CNN I’m not just better at my job, but I’m a better person. For all the hate and angst from a lot of folks on the right over me going to CNN, I know many of the contributors I consider good friends were initially skeptical of my hiring. I had to learn an art form too often missing these days in partisan talk — the art of conversation, particularly with those who might disagree with me. I had to learn to be friends with people who I disagreed with. And I leave deeply caring for those people.



It might as well be spring

I don’t have the highest hopes for Obama’s second term or for American politics in general over the next decade, but I think something has changed last fall, and that all the right-center nation nonsense is now on its way out.

The general consensus is that Obama gave a more openly liberal speech than he gave four years ago. Atrios believes that Obama did a poor job of articulating a liberal vision over the first four years, and maybe so, but DC was wired for Republicans when Obama got here. Josh Marshall put it well in early 2009:

Most of all Washington is a city that coddles up to and worships power. But a generation of one party holding the reins selects for certain kinds of journalists in key positions of power, the policy experts at the think tanks who get the journalists calls, the lobbyists who move the most money and so forth. You build up a set of assumptions about what kinds of people and ideas are respectable and which aren’t. Which are old-fashioned, which are ‘cutting edge’ and so forth. Who defines conventional wisdom?

In all of these respects, DC remains overwhelmingly wired for the GOP.

Over time, the formal government shapes the para-government. But there’s no immediate transition. In fact, in the short-run there’s usually an intensified conflict between the two. And you see evidence of the disconnect in repeated failures of people in the capital to predict the reactions of the country to key political developments — which is something you’ve seen repeatedly in 2006 and 2008. And even into 2009.

In 2008, Obama won by seven-plus points and Democrats won large majorities in the House and Senate. This fall, Obama won by under 4 points and Republicans held the House. But in 2008, a lot of the emphasis was (incorrectly) on Obama’s special abilities and McCain’s shitty campaign and (more correctly) the public’s hatred of George W. Bush; in other words, on temporary personality-driven factors.

This time around, there’s a recognition that the political ground has shifted, that there have been permanent, profound changes in demographics and generational attitudes.

That doesn’t mean that Democrats will win on every issue. We’re stuck with a certain amount of austerity, and gun safety efforts may well be going nowhere. There’s no point in chasing dragons with a sword that’s made of tin, so I won’t be disappointed if Obama takes political stock of things and scales back a lot of what he proposed today.

Maybe it’s meet the new boss (corporatist Democrats), same as the old boss (corporatist Republicans), but I expect at least to hear a new set of political cliches over the next four years.