It’s just a fire thrown across the wall (pt 1)

1 01 2018

Scattered year, scattered thoughts; let’s see how well I gather them up this new year.

1. I don’t really buy or even listen to much music anymore (don’t know why, don’t, . . . , just don’t know why), but this, from Erik Loomis’s best listens of 2017, is somethin’ else:

2. Got restless, reorganized my work space by turning my desk and assembling some disassembled shelves. Didn’t like it, so disassembled the assembled disassembled shelves, scooted around some other things, and now it’s fine.

3. I like to say I’m not much for magical thinking, but I just know that this reorganization will increase my writing by 1006.34 percent.

4. I don’t know what I can do for the 2018 elections but I have to do something.

5. I have combined the words “president” and “Trump” exactly twice: both times in a classroom when I had just referred to “President Obama” and/or “President Bush” and/or “President Clinton” and thus felt there was no way I could avoid saying, you know.

6. I will usually just refer to him as “Trump” or “the president” or, more rarely, Mr. Trump. I don’t want to deny reality but I’ll be goddamned if I grant him. . . anything.

7. Still, I don’t regret the two times I did say it. However awful is the current part-time occupant of the White House, I thought not saying it would have been about me rather than the point I was trying to get across.

8. Not sure if I’ll keep my Twitter account. Against expectations, I don’t tweet that often, but I do regularly pop open the app and scroll through the timeline—which, entirely in keeping with expectations, really is like snackin’ on chip after chip.

9. I mean, I’ve gotten some good sources and leads for my own work, but, honestly, this really is the equivalent of getting protein from Doritos.

10. And I could really do without the endless (ever-fuckin’-lovin’ ENDLESS) Bernie vs. Hillary debates. JFC.

11. I should also point out that I have become more sympathetic to Hillary and less to Bernie. This sympathy is completely about them as personalities, not at all about their policy orientations—which, in the end, are remarkably similar.

12. This is somewhat surprising to me, this sympathy. I’m not quite sure where it comes from.

13. Okay, it’s partly a feminist sympathy.

14. Oh, and also impatience with those who dismiss (still!) Clinton’s work-horse sensibility, not least because they don’t understand the work itself.

15. In the legislative sphere, there are process folks (e.g., Schumer), policy folks (Clinton), and passion-istas (Sanders). There are also those who just like being members of Congress, and whose function is largely to vote for party leadership and party initiatives.

16. Good legislative leaders are often process-ors who are able to herd the wonks, the bomb-throwers, and the generic MCs  through the legislative rapids to victory (or, alternatively, to dam up the other party).

17. Competent processors are often irritating (sell outs! why didn’t they do more! what’s the hold up?!) to those of us on the outside who could give a shit about procedure, but shit doesn’t get done without them.

18. Also: they rarely run for president. (Yes, I know: LBJ, but he ran for president as president, not as a legislative leader.)

19. Executives (governors, presidents) have to have some competence in all three areas, although some are stronger in one area or another; the best master all three, the worst, none.

20. Draw your own conclusions re: which presidents are masters and which, incompetents.

21. Did you notice that I left out what’s necessary for a good candidate? Because I’m damned if I know.

22. That said, I’m likin’ Kirsten Gillibrand for 2020.

To be continued.

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Singing songs and carrying signs

17 01 2017

My Congressional representative, Yvette Clarke, is not attending the inaugural. Yay!

My senators, Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, are attending. And that’s fine, too.

I have, over the years (decades. . .) come to appreciate the importance of institutional norms and of the necessity of recognizing the peaceful transfer of power. That a nation is able to vote out leaders and peacefully replace them is an accomplishment.

That’s why I’m fine with my senators attending the inauguration. But why then cheer Rep. Clarke?

Because the President-elect has no interest in institutional norms, has stated his disdain for the notion of a peaceful transfer of power when the voting citizenry elected someone he didn’t like, and has barely acknowledged that he is, in fact, the president-elect of the entire nation, not just the minority that voted for him.

Regular folks (i.e., non-political scientists) are often frustrated by what they see as the hypocrisy of politicians—the paeans to “my dear colleague” in the Senate, the inclusion of members in the opposite party in the Cabinet, a partisan president vowing to rule for all of the people, etc.—but these gestures matter. They are way of saying politics isn’t war, and we are not enemies.

That matters. A lot.

So some Democrats will attend the inauguration to uphold the principle that we, however fractious, are a people, and we honor the institutions by which we are so constituted, and some will boycott to uphold that same principle.

That seems about right.