It’s a tradition, after all:
- Virginia: Not a whole lot of suspense over Governor/Lt. Governor, which is what you get when you have punchlines running for the posts. I’ll predict a clean Democrat sweep, with Mark Herring winning the only contested post (Attorney General) by a small but solid margin, 3-4% or so. Despite the small margin Herring has had the toughest race and a victory would be the most impressive of the bunch. This is definitely something you should root for: despite what undoubtedly will be a sound, landslide victory over E.W. “My initials are also how people react to me” Jackson, informed people tell me that imminent Lt. Gov Ralph Northam’s campaign has been pretty lame, he just got lucky with a hopeless competitor. Having him be “next in line” would be a very, very bad thing. True fact: a Democrat sweep would mean every statewide elected office would be held by Democrats, something that hasn’t happened since the Dixiecrat days and therefore has no modern precedent. Another true fact (and another reason to hope that Herring wins the AG slot): if this occurs, the GOP would be for all intents and purposes utterly trashed in VA for some time to come. Gov. Bob McDonnell is done, Democrats are poised to make gains in the state legislature, and the current ticket is just about to get stomped. A real opportunity to turn a very recently red state into a light blue state a la Colorado, if T-Mac and the rest seize the opportunity and prove adept at governing.
- NYC: de Blasio wins by 40 or so, and Michael Bloomberg weeps his one manly tear.
- New Jersey: Christie by < 20%. I fully predict that he’ll move to the right over the next four years and promptly squander the goodwill of his state, though he’s a much better politician than Mitt Romney and might do it with a bit more class. NJ residents will live to regret giving the man a big win, though I can’t see him going anywhere nationally for reasons that are all too obvious. Also, I predict no coattails for Christie. The lege stays more or less like it is, and life goes on until Cory Booker gets bored by being a freshman junior senator and decides to come home to run for governor in 2017.
- Alabama: I think Bradley Byrne squeaks it out over Tea Partying Dean Young. I do. I have no real rooting interest in this fight, as both are awful on the issues, and it’s a pro vs. con struggle all the way. On the one hand, a Byrne victory has been built up to mean a lessening of Tea Party influence by the media–I doubt there’s much to it, but if mainstream conservatives interpret it as an example that the Tea Party can lose on very friendly turf, maybe it helps. OTOH, Byrne embodies a lot of very negative things to me, a turncoat ex-Democrat who is a full-throated, teacher-hating, Rhee-style ed reformer. And a Young victory would just mean more attention paid to the rancid, racist birther side of the Tea Party, as well as giving Boehner even more of a headache with another wild caucus member he can’t control. So I’m split, but I really don’t care all that much. I figure Byrne wins it narrowly, and faces a primary challenge next year just because he’s him.
- Washington: Republicans already basically control the Washington State Senate due to a couple of treasonous Democrats, but a win in the State Senate 26th District would flip it formally. Hence, the race has become an enormous money magnet on both sides. I bet the Democrats hold the seat, but if they lose it the consequences probably wouldn’t be too great since the Democrats run everything else in the state, and the GOP would have to maintain it as the 2010 class comes up next year. Washington is all vote-by-mail, so turnout is less of a problem there…
Not a whole ton of elections going on in my neck of the woods. My current hometown proposed switching the off-off-year elections to even numbered years, I voted yes on that.
Charlie Crist is running for Governor of Florida as a Democrat.
I’m actually quite pleased with this. Crist was essentially purged from the Republican Party for being too moderate–for instance, appointing pro-choice judges to the state Supreme Court, backing cap-and-trade, saying nice things about Pres. Obama, stuff like that. He’s moved a bit more to the left since leaving office, and as a Dem governor he’d probably be even more liberal still, as he’d have to answer to Democratic interests.
Essentially, what you get here is someone who is well and positively defined by the electorate, who won’t have to face questions about competency or extremism, and whose very existence as a candidate is sure to infuriate Republicans unhappy to see their chickens coming home to roost. These are all invaluable in the state of Florida, against a moneybags candidate like Rick Scott. I’ve never entirely bought the idea that Scott is a sure loser because there’s a reason why the Democrats haven’t held this seat since the mid-1990s, but Crist makes me think it’s fairly likely he’ll lose. And Crist will be able to remain in office through the next round of redistricting if he wins two terms, something that could be of real consequence to Democrats down the line.
At this point, I figure that Democrats are frontrunners to dethrone governors in Maine, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida. Ohio and Wisconsin are stretches but probably still possible. After that you have the other groups of red-state right-wingers who might just be too much for their states and contests like Iowa and Nevada that are presumed to be Republican-leaning, but of which there’s been precious little polling.
Anyway, last time Charlie Crist had to post this ego-buster for using a David Byrne song without permission:
It would be pretty cool if this time Byrne campaigned with Crist, don’t you think?
The events today in the Senate–namely, the Republican filibusters of nominees to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency and a D.C. Circuit seat, and threats to do so for the Fed Chair vote–prove once again that there’s literally no reason for Senate Democrats not to go nuclear right now on all appointments. In fact they do so beautifully. The basis of any defense of the filibuster is that eliminating it will improve the quality of debate. In both cases today, the arguments against the nominees were made were exceptionally poor. Mel Watt, the FHFA nominee was a politician, and thus a poor fit to run the FHFA. This doesn’t make a lick of sense, and the poverty of the argument is based more around Republicans wanting to keep an interim housing commissioner that has shut down numerous Administration plans to help the housing market. Patricia Millett was kept off the D.C. Circuit because Republicans don’t want to lose their clout there. Literally, that’s the argument. As if the president lacks the right to fill judicial vacancies.
Republicans have proven that they can’t be trusted to keep to their agreements, and they’ve also proven that they have nobody willing to buck the Heritage commissars’ rather poorly reasoned arguments. A lot of liberals–notably the current president–put a lot of stock in the power of reason to resolve disputes. But given the fig-leaf arguments used here, reason doesn’t stand a chance. Time to get out the heavy artillery.
The major thing next week’s elections will prove is that hard-core cultural conservatism is simply unsellable in Virginia anymore. I mean, if Ken Cuccinelli couldn’t sell himself to an off-off-year electorate–which is to say, the most conservative possible general electorate in the state due to well-documented turnout patterns among young and minority voters in off-year elections–then it can’t be sold. In fact, not only could it not be sold, it’s become a deep negative in the state to the extent of helping turn the election, which is sort of a new development.
Gotta say that McAuliffe has turned it out in spite of my initial doubts. You don’t win what should be a close race on paper by double-digits without doing something right, even if that something is merely stepping out of the way. It’s looking like that outcome is almost certain, the only question left is how big the coattails are. It ought to be a way to remind people of the shutdown again as well, since that issue appears to be what doomed Republicans here.
It’s that he refused to allow himself to be deified while he was alive. My thinking is that a lot of the harshly negative reviews of Reed’s later records had much to do with the fact that music writers wanted to be able to just celebrate the man without the bother of having to listen to Lulu (though admittedly a good amount of his later music was lousy), but Reed refused to allow himself to become like Elton John in his old age. He continued to be the acerbic, prickly creator he had been all along, setting out to polarize rather than to consolidate an audience or his place in history. I can’t think of anyone who stayed as true to their original life’s mission for quite so long. He was, of course, the punkest of all the punks who came after him, he never let up, and that’s a thing that I really respect.
I remember back in 2006, after Democrats won Congress in the midterms, that the conventional wisdom about the new Speaker and Majority Leader broke down like this: Pelosi was allegedly this very liberal, independent, activist leader, while Harry Reid was a stolid centrist without much in the way of dynamism. It’s interesting to consider this now nearly seven years later, when you can make a fairly solid case that the reverse is now true. At this point Harry Reid is the Democratic leader I trust the most on budget issues, both in terms of issue positions and the ability to do the right thing. Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi has let herself become Obama’s proxy on practically every issue that’s come up recently and often not on the right side, nearly to the point of becoming a rubber-stamp. There are good reasons as to why she might have chosen to do this–running the House minority doesn’t count for much at this point in time, so drawing closer to Obama makes her stronger in some ways–but it’s sad, and it’s wrecked my estimation of her as any kind of independent force. Can you imagine Pelosi agreeing to chained-CPI if proposed by Bush? Of course not, and it suggests that she’s become ideologically compromised by her relationship with Obama. Admittedly, Pelosi was always more pragmatic than her image would have you believe, and Reid at the moment is far from perfect in a number of ways (e.g. filibuster reform). But it’s hard to argue that Reid has kept the faith with progressives to a greater extent than Pelosi has the past couple years. Given the latter’s (most likely) irreparable damage with the electorate and large number of enemies, I find myself unexpectedly thinking that a clean sweep of the Democratic House leadership would not be a bad thing at all, might increase Democrats’ House prospects since it takes the bogeyman of Speaker Pelosi off the table, and perhaps going with a few non-septuagenarians in there (crazy I know!) might better reflect the base of the party right now.
So the question then becomes: who would replace Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn? I’ve heard John Larson‘s name batted around as a leadership prospect a number of times and I’d definitely endorse that move, every time I read him quoted in news articles he sounds smart, sharp and candid. He’s served in the House leadership twice and even resembles Tip O’Neill if you squint a little bit. It seems also very likely that Chris Van Hollen would figure in, given his leadership role, relative youth and DCCC leadership. I also think this would be a good move. Probably he’d be a solid choice for whip. Which would leave the Majority Leader post empty and, obviously, a House leadership team with three white men would go over like a lead balloon (as well it should). Looking at the House leadership chart here leaves one with a couple of good options–the symbolism of giving the post to John Lewis would be sweet, and it would be a fine valedictory given his age and distinguished career. But Xavier Becerra would also be a good choice, as there isn’t a large history of Hispanics in House leadership offices (Ted Cruz’s de facto role notwithstanding), and the post would be a logical next step from his current post as caucus chairman. Plus, he’s originally from the Sacramento area, which is obviously a plus for me–the last famous politician originating from the area was disgraced former Sen. John Ensign, and we could use a bit of redemption.
by Bill O’Reilly
FOX News Host, Author, and Middle Eastern Food Enthusiast
How’s it hangin’, pinheads? It’s me, Billy-boy O’Reilly of the FOX-set, here to rap at you (but not literally) for another exciting column.
Say, I heard some of you really didn’t care much for my article about how my kids were stupid because their taste in movies differs from that of a sixtysomething man. The article (which is no longer discoverable on the internet if I’ve done this correctly*) prompted some reasonable questions among all you good folks out there. After all, American Graffiti is essentially a nostalgia piece, which I of course connect with as I was there, man. But my kids were understandably not into it, since they (ages 14 and 8) just don’t care about the ’50s, you know, with all their carhops, malteds, red scares, rampant unintended pregnancies, etc. Fair enough. I can get down with youth culture–don’t forget that I’m a big fan of Bruno Mars. Also, I think that Chris Martin fella sure has something special. Finally Brian Eno has found something worthwhile to do with his time!
Anyhoo, I got the message loud and clear. No more nostalgia pieces. So I sat down the kids to watch some real art from my decade of choice, the 1970s. We had a full-on film festival with not a scintilla of sentiment to be found, and I have to say, I’ve come to an unmistakable conclusion: my kids are simply devoid of any good taste. No other way to put it.
Let’s go over this blow-by-blow:
- I started with an undisputed classic, Apocalypse Now. War, explosions, you know, stuff little kids love. The film holds up better than ever, as if my kids could comprehend its brilliance. I raved over the opening shot of a peaceful Vietnamese countryside suddenly aflame with napalm, which neither of my kids seemed to find interesting. Both were fairly offput by Martin Sheen’s drunken tai-chi routine that ends with him breaking a mirror and slicing his hand, though they perked up momentarily when Harrison Ford showed up for a brief role as a staff officer. I kept hoping they’d get into it and see the brilliance, but unfortunately the 14 year old was put off by the first violent battle scene and started texting. The 8 year old was sorta into it and liked the explosions, though he winced a bit at some of the onscreen deaths. He did laugh a bit at Robert Duvall’s wanting soldiers to surf in the middle of a battle. Unfortunately as the film went on neither one seemed all that interested in what was happening on screen, despite my increasingly strenuous pointing out of brilliant shots and superb moments of filmmaking. They just couldn’t get it, the stupid idiots! I just stopped it after the brilliant, hallucinatory, metaphorical Do Lung Bridge scene, figuring that they didn’t even earn the right to see the ending.
- Next up was something a bit different. Taxi Driver. Travis Bickle’s sensitively portrayed mental decline, echoed brilliantly by the decay of New York City of the time, has always inspired me. Every time I’ve seen the film, it’s given me new stuff to think about. Except this time. My 14 year old girl, when it started up, asked who was the star of the movie. I said it was Robert De Niro, of course. She couldn’t believe it! She said, “I can’t believe that he used to be hot!” So she paid some amount of attention for that reason. My 8 year old son kept getting distracted by his damn phone even after continual alerts from me, the paternal unit, about amazing stuff that was happening on screen. All they noticed was the younger versions of actors they knew from other stuff–they got a kick out of seeing Peter Boyle young, because they knew him from the Raymond show. And they both were very interested in the “You talkin’ to me?” scene. But they never quite got into the story like I wanted them to, and the 14 year old really was disturbed by the violent ending. Kids. They don’t get anything! The worst moment was when Bickle goes into a porn theater and the 8 year old asked if that’s what pornography was really like. He seemed grossed out, so I seized the moment and said yes. The 14 year old didn’t ask that question, and between that and her interest in young Harvey Keitel suggests a new topic of discussion we’ll have to have together in the near future.
- Finally, I had wanted to show them the movie about the dancing contest, but I couldn’t remember the name. (It’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? as I later learned.) For some reason I confused it with Last Tango In Paris, and started playing it via OnDemand. At this point I got a frantic call from Roger Ailes saying that Hannity had gone missing from his cage again–just a joke, it’s really a nicely furnished apartment, but he is held there in captivity because despite many attempts he simply can’t make it in the real world, and Ailes insists I’m the only one who can find him because I alone understand how he thinks. Whatever. I left immediately and found him after two hours under the Triborough Bridge and called Ailes, who sent a helicopter to that very location and picked him up. When I got back the movie was just wrapping up. They both said they really liked it. The 14 year old asked if there was any butter left in the house, and I said no, we used it all on the popcorn. I had no idea what she meant at the time. The 8 year old said it was his favorite movie ever, which made me give a wide, paternal smile. Until the next day when I realized my mistake.
* You can read it here.
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