Friday, September 30, 2005

The Love Affair Continues

I don't mean to swoon over every word Barack Obama writes, I really don't.

But Christ almighty, is he good. This is just a great and critical point for liberals to hear, that this type of "with us/against us" dichotomy that one so often hears, where one "wrong" vote makes a politician a "war-supporter" or "Bush-lite" or "practically Republican," is damaging to a progressive agenda and harmful to the Democratic party. We shouldn't tolerate it. And Obama manages to make this point without alienating those he criticizes too.

And I might I just point out how refreshing it is that he actually is engaging in a discussion with the blogosphere that neither belittles nor kowtows to it? This is a serious point Obama is making in his post. Indeed, while DKos has a general policy of not elevating the diaries of actual politicians to the main page, they made an exception because the post "addresses in substance an issue that has been a major focus of discussion in our community." Tied to the fact that the folks Obama is attacking are, in a very real way, Kos' key constituency, and it just shows yet more how incredible this man really is.

Eyes on the Prize

Noted moral maven Bill Bennett has raised a bit of a stir when he claimed that a way to lower crime rates would be to abort all black children. To be fair, he quickly added that this would be "morally reprehensible." However, he and his defenders (who, at the moment, does not include the Bush administration) state that the comments are perfectly acceptable because on sociological grounds (blacks do commit a disproportionate amount of crime), he's accurate. Does this get him off the hook?

I'm not sure it does, and inadvertently, it's James Joyner's defense that explains why. He writes:
Even aside from the genocide issue, that blacks (or the young, or the poor, or white males, for that matter) commit crimes at a statistically significant higher rate than the population as a whole is incontrovertible.

The emphasis is my own. Now, I find it at least somewhat amusing to read the phrase "aside from the genocide issue"--as if this is some minor thing we can just table for later. When Bennett assures that he doesn't actually want to kill all black people (because that would be very, very, wrong), it still has the subtext of "but the world would be better off if we could. Damn deontological ethics!"

But that's not where my real critique comes from. It's in Mr. Joyner's admission that Bennett's comments could equally be applied to killing all white males, young people, or poor people. Yet, I cannot imagine anyone ever even doing the "one step forward, one step back" tango Bennett did with regards to any of those groups. In other words, when we discuss "groups that commit a disproportionately high amount of crime," it always, immediately, and solely translates to "black people," even though many groups fit the description. Why is that so? What are the implications?

This is why the "statistically, he's in the clear" argument doesn't cut it for me. I'll just ignore for now the problems in general that exist with statistic-based arguments (you can get at least some of them here). If we made these statistical arguments uniformly and neutrally, it might not be so bad. But there is no attempt at equity here--other groups which could as easily fit inside Bennett's statistics are left out, and only blacks are put in. This creates a distorted social perception of black criminality--a conception which helps reaffirm and reify racist mentalities. It's like finding 30 drug dealers, half white and half black, releasing the white ones, charging the black ones under our (draconian) drug laws, and then defending it all by saying "well, they're guilty aren't they?" That's obviously a relevant consideration, but it isn't the only one, and reducing the argument to "well, they really do commit crimes (really are guilty)" excludes some very important issues critical to the debate. And unfortunately, nobody defending the remarks addresses it.

Ironically though, I am actually hearing a fair few people say that Bennett's remarks are equivalent to saying the same thing about poor people or white males--the argument that, as I note above, has never actually been made independent of defending folks like Bennett. I thus say "ironic" because the folks employing it act as if that argument is made all the time to moral silence, and we're somehow being hypocritical by only making the condemnation when the topic is race. But of course, this is exactly opposite of what happens: the only time the meta-argument is made is in this (racial) context, and the only time the particular cross-application to white males or young people occurs is when defenders assert the argument's racial neutrality by proclaiming that, in some fantasy-land, the argument is made all the time with a variety of multi-racial targets. It just isn't true.

I should note that the one defense, Brad DeLong's, partially gets out of this. He asserts that Bennett's overall point was a critique of ends-based analysis by pointing out that it leads to all manner of bad things. I don't think this entirely gets him off the hook (since it implies that the benefits of aborting all black babies via lowered crime rates outweighs the costs of, well, massive genocide), but it is a superior argument to the simplistic "it's true" claim. It just so happens that he's the only man making it--the blogosphere as a whole is not being quite as sophisticated.

Protein Wisdom also tries to address a version of my argument--but I don't think he quite gets it (to be fair, he posted before I wrote all of this, so we can't really blame him). I'm always pleased to be chatting with PW, since they are among the few conservatives with a real grasp of post-modernism. They write the following:
the idea that Bennett's words are still his beyond his intent to use them in a certain way--which simply echoes the old Judith Butler axiom that "actions continue to act after the intentional subject has announced its completion," which, while true, is nevertheless incidental, and becomes dangerous as an assertion when interpretation is released from the ground of appealing back to the speaker's intent. That is, what is at stake here is the role the subject plays in the "meaning" of the act vs. the role played by contingency in giving that act its (subsequent) meaning(s)--or, to put it more specifically, what William Bennett meant vs. what his words can be made to look like they might mean by those in whose interests it is to damage him. In short, they are taking ownership of his words, resignifying them, then using that resignification to taint Bennett with the charge of racism.

Let's start out by dealing with the question of whether Bennett is "racist." I do not think he is racist in the sense that he overtly dislikes blacks qua blacks--nor do I think that these comments undermine that (again though, his comparative weight between "no more blacks" and "less crime"--putting the latter as an outweighing positive--is troubling in that respect). So in this respect, I think it would be better to call Bennett's remarks "racially insensitive" rather than labeling himself racist. However, PW overstates it's case. The racial impact of Bennett's argument does not just kick in when the statement is distorted or taken out of context by those who wish to damage him. As my above argument shows, the racial impact flows even when Bennett is taken completely in context, because it portrays black criminality inequitably compared to other equivalent social groups; more specifically, that in doing so, it reifies the prevailing social attitude that blacks are different vis a vis these other groups even though they're not. So in this respect, this argument still is a morally wrong one to make in the racial context. The secondary question, on whether Bennett can be held morally liable for these problems, also goes against him. While I am willing to concede that Bennett did not intend a racist statement, intention cannot be the only factor at stake here. Bennett has to be mindful of the context his remarks are operating in--not just how partisans might distort them, but also how they might be damaging even in their "real" context. To not do so is negligent on his part and can be condemned (though obviously to a lesser degree than if he had been actively trying to cause the harm).

Finally, perhaps the most interesting response I've read is by Paul Butler, who argues that we as a society basically are "eliminating" the entire black population, we're just waiting a bit longer to do it.
When I was a student at Harvard Law School, my criminal law professor told us he knew of a sure way to reduce the crime rate. Every young man could be incarcerated. If that was too much, he said, another way would be to incarcerate every young black man. In a limited sense, our criminal justice system has selected Option # 2.
Even if marginally effective, mass incarceration and abortion are immoral if their only purpose is to lower crime. Mass incarceration is also an inefficient way of achieving this end. It is like amputating a leg to heal a broken toe.

Our criminal justice system is structured such that it incarcerates a huge portion of young black men. It is true that this is better than killing them off. But in a way, it's achieving the same goal--in order to reduce crime in our society, we're trying to remove as many black people as possible. And it's interesting that while killing blacks is seen as beyond the pale by nearly everyone, this alternative mechanism for removing blacks from American society provokes (at best) a severe partisan split.

Again, one can make the "but they actually are criminals" response, and again, it doesn't fly. Although young black men commit a disproportionate amount of crime, they are also arrested disproportionate to the amount crime they commit. We also punish "black" crime more harshly than white crime, both in terms of giving lengthier sentences to crimes associated with the black community (the crack/powder cocaine example serves here), and in giving harder sentences to the average black offender versus white offender convicted of the same crime. Again, the equity argument comes into play here--while there always will be some people getting heavier sentences and some people getting lighter sentences, and some people getting arrested and others not caught, the point and problem is that these effects aren't randomly distributed, but concentrated to the advantage of white people and disadvantage of black people. That's the problem being critiqued here.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Turnabout Is Fair Play

Like most people concerned about how widespread torture has become in American policy, I was heartened by a District Court ruling holding that pictures of American abuse had to be released to the public. The Bush administration had argued that doing so would aid our enemies by inciting them to act against us. That sounds to me like a good reason for ending the abuse and showing to the world that it will never be tolerated, covered for, or minimized. But I'm not Bush, and he appears to prefer the cover up route. In any case, Kevin Drum points out how the judge neatly dispatched that argument:
U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said that terrorists "do not need pretexts for their barbarism" and that suppressing the pictures would amount to submitting to blackmail.

"Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command."

Beautiful. I've always been a fan of this sort of political jujitsu by principled opponents of conservative excesses, because the rhetoric they use to justify themselves nearly always can be thrown back in their face. Since terms and "gut feelings" are so important in political discourse today, liberals need to take back some of the critical phrases that inhabit our discursive terrain: "values," "security," "strength," etc..

For example, when I was approached by a Republican asking me if I was going to vote for Bush, I'd always answer something along the lines of:
No, I couldn't do that. I support the war in Iraq.
Always stopped them dead in their tracks. And for my part, it was true--one of the key reasons I opposed Bush (though not the only one by any stretch) was that I supported the war in Iraq and thought it unforgivable how he butchered it. But they were so used to those terms and issues leading to a default Bush vote, that they didn't know how to respond when they were hit on their own territory.

And for the record, I agree with Judge Hellerstein one hundred percent. Terrorists don't need excuses to kill us, and submitting to blackmail is not the American way. We are a free nation, that strives to do good but does not hide from its mistakes. Or so we should be. It's high time the Bush administration remembered that.

For Love or Money

It's funny. A short while back, I posted a defense of a group posting the addresses of folks opposing gay marriage in Massachusetts--addresses already in the public domain, mind you--for the express purpose of initiating a dialogue between gay marriage supporters and opponents. Seems some folks thought that it was tantamount to intimidation, despite the fact that the gay marriage advocates already had begun meeting with opponents, and the opponents themselves characterized the meetings as "gracious" and not the slightest bit hostile.

My take on it was that, so long as intimidation stayed out of it, this was precisely the type of positive, grass-roots conversation that we should be encouraging in American democracy. People shouldn't be allowed to completely isolate themselves from folks negatively impacted by their votes. Yet, for the most part, that's the reality we live in. Most white voters know few, if any, African-Americans who will be effected by their votes on Affirmative Action or Reparations. Most rich voters know few, if any, poor voters who are dependent on the Welfare and Job Training programs they try to cut. And most heterosexual voters have little personal contact with gay and lesbian Americans whose rights they wish to expunge from our constitution. Ultimately, this segregated political state undermines Democratic ideals--and efforts to combat it should be applauded, not smeared as intimidating or hostile.

But I digress. Whatever claim anti-gay marriage advocates might have had in terms of "high ground" in the process of putting this issue on the ballot has evaporated at the point where they bus in out-of-state petition gathers and pay them by the signature (H/T: Sullivan). Gay marriage supporter Tom Lang was approached by a signature gatherer who asked him to sign a petition to put an anti-gay marriage amendment on the 2006 ballot. As Lang describes it:
[the petition-gatherer has a] Petition about Traditional Marriage that he would like me to sign..."You know", he said, "if you believe in 'Adam and Eve.'" He then added, "this signing on either of these just means you want it on the ballot, it doesn't really mean anything today."
I was then asked if I wanted to sign "the traditional marriage petition." When I said no, He told me that he was being paid $1 a signature and that it would really help him if I could sign!

This seems quite unethical if you ask me. Many people who are apathetic toward the gay marriage issue will be loathe to not do someone a favor for something as "meaningless" as signing a petition. But this undermines the whole point of democratic deliberation. It's hard enough to convince people to vote based off of rational considerations, but it's ridiculous when, in addition to that:
[W]e now have to worry about a "puppy-dog eyed" signature gatherer claiming that the signer is "helping him out financially" and that signing "doesn't really mean anything."

Worse yet, this may be the tip of the iceberg. Another Blogger reports that some of the gatherers aren't even telling their targets that they're signing a gay marriage petition--saying that it is for selling alcohol in supermarkets (as far as I can gather, they have the petition for both and make it into a "sign here and here" deal).

It's amazing how contorted our system has become. Out-of-state lobbyists busing in out-of-state activists soliciting signatures for cash is a-okay, but a program enabling neighbors to talk about the real impact on their own lives a political issue will have is caricatured as a threat to public safety. I'm somewhat resigned to the fact that big lobbyists are an inextricable fact of the American system. But this is the first time I've seen them literally placed on a higher scale than actual person-to-person debate.

One wonders why I become more cynical by the day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Oh Happy Day

Tom DeLay's been indicted!!!! Oh baby, this feels good.

So what, exactly, is the scoop? Well, via Orin Kerr we find the indictment itself. It's in legalese, but as far as I can gather its an indictment for conspiracy--the only way that DeLay is in the jurisdiction of Travis County. But criminal law is not something I'm an expert on, find someone else to parse the indictment itself.

[Update: Mark Levin thinks the indictment is very weak. I have to admit, I didn't see much in it either. However, Bulldog Pundit says that indictments are commoly quite thin on details. Lorie Byrd gets both hat tips, and adds for her part that she doubts Earle would make the indictment unless he could make the case. She then engages in gratutious Clinton-bashing that, from my perspective, utterly inverts reality, but we'll forgive that. Excellent legal analysis at Southern Appeal as well. On a related note, Kevin Drum thinks that to make the conspiracy charge stick, Earle will need to flip some of the folks already under investigation to testify. I've heard rumors that he's been trying to do that--does he have the goods?]

Powerline gives us excerpts of DeLay's PR defense. It's boilerplate--Earle is a partisan hack, I did nothing wrong, I'll be vindicated in court, etc etc.. The kicker line:
Let me be very, very clear. I have done nothing wrong. I have violated no law, no regulation, no rule of the House. I have done nothing unlawful, unethical, or, I might add, unprecedented even in the political campaigns of Mr. Earle himself.

My defense in this case will not be technical or legalistic: it will be categorical and absolute. I am innocent. Mr. Earle and his staff know it. And I will prove it.

He specifically claims that he has done absolutely nothing wrong or unethical, and is quite adamant about it. This is interesting, because of a certain passage I recall from a recent Washington Times interview conducted with him:
Mr. Hurt: Have you ever crossed the line of ethical behavior in terms of dealing with lobbyists, your use of government authority or with fundraising?
Mr. DeLay: Ever is a very strong word.

Not quite as blustery back then.

The line that Earle is a partisan Democrat is also belied by the facts. In his time as district attorney, he's prosecuted 11 Democrats for corruption, versus 5 Republicans. And as the Austin American-Statesman informs us, the Democrats weren't small fries either: he went after a state attorney general, state house speaker, state supreme court justice, and state treasurer. Aside from people just asserting it, I've never heard evidence to suggest that he is partisan. The modified version of the meme is that he goes after his "political opponents," but I don't see the evidence to support that either. After all, why is DeLay one of his political opponents anyway? He's not in his district, DeLay wasn't threatening his job or anything. This seems to be paranoia, nothing more.

Democrats are mostly jubilant (as they should be). I concur with Kevin Drum that this has to be the spearpoint of our 2006 campaign--anti-corruption should become the mantlepiece of the Democratic party. This is a major turning point, where the wise and ethical politicians (they do exist) can stand up and say "enough!" Bruce Reed's recommendations are a good start. And If opposing corruption means throwing our members of the dirty 13, so be it.

The Republican response has been interesting. Though there still are some die-hard defenders (like Powerline and Malkin), many others think that the party has made a mistake in defending DeLay. And Legal Fiction (not himself a Republican) wonders how many Republicans are secretly glad to see DeLay step aside?

I would have thought it would be a lot--but recent developments leave me unsure. The word on the street say that rank and file Republicans bucked their leadership to install Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) as the new majority leader over David Drier. That's an interesting decision, because Blunt is probably DeLay's closest ally (and it shows--he too is a member of the dirty 13). If elected Republicans really were interested in seizing this opportunity to clean house, they're doing an odd job of showing it.

What makes Blunt really interesting is that he, unlike Drier, has an independent power base. Which means he might be able to hold the majority leader position even if DeLay comes back. The upshot is that the GOP is trying to jettison DeLay while preserving the sleazy politics he founded and Blunt whole-heartedly signs onto. All the more reason for Democrats to hammer on it.

Excellent roundups at Project Nothing and Outside the Beltway. But man, this makes my day. It's the beginning of the end for Tom DeLay and his K Street Crew buddies.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Central Force

A long and great post by Tom Strong on the perils of being a centrist blogger. It has a lot I agree with, and a fair amount I disagree with. But I think the most important thing to draw from it is a centrism of underdogs.

A key part of Strong's narrative is his transition from hippie, WTO protesting leftist, to part of the "sensible center." I identify with this trip, because I made a similar one--I went from a self-described Democratic Socialist to a New Republic style moderate liberal. To some extent, it's a big change, but to some extent it isn't. Strong points out that:
Both "radicals" and "sensible centrists" are basically consigned to being political outsiders. The insiders, these days and all days, are political partisans, party people. If you like to root for underdogs, you will eventually find yourself outside all parties, looking in.

My philosophical framework has always been bottom-centric, not just rooting for but trying to actively aid the "underdog". Society, I think, is obligated to look first to the least well-off. Though this position is identified more with the left than the right, I do not think it is a resident of either pole, because marginalization is very contingent and often includes conservative-identified groups. My favorite example here would be conservatives themselves. Though we don't often think of conservatives as marginalized (and for the most part, we're right), at universities they are very much rendered unwanted outsiders. Liberals are ideologically blinded from seeing this problem, for the simple reason that liberals are defined as in opposition to conservatives and thus are not naturally inclined to see them as someone needing their aid. Liberals also have trouble dealing with cross-cutting forms of oppression where one source is one of the usual suspect oppressors (The West, Whites, males, etc..), but other sources include groups commonly seen as victims. This explains the incoherency of leftist outrage to the US deposing Saddam Hussein in Iraq, which though arguably within the stock framework of western imperialism, more concretely was a liberation of persons brutally oppressed by the Iraqi regime (most notably Shiites and Kurds). Because its pre-set ideological predispositions have allies and enemies which precede (though which try and correlate to) oppressors and victims, attempts to formulate anti-oppression theory and praxis solely from the left are doomed to failure.

A bottom-centric centrism can dodge this problem by inverting the chain--letting social realities of oppression precede our decisions on allies and enemies, rather than the other way around. Since sometimes our supposed enemies are on the bottom, centering on the bottom means occasionally centering on theoretical enemies. For example, the main "enemies" of centrists are partisans. If centrists were oriented by the traditional notation of self-interest--helping oneself (and one's friends) and hurting enemies--then we'd attack partisans at every opportunity. If a line is being parroted by the RNC pundit-corps, we'd oppose it on those grounds. However, centrists don't (or shouldn't) tend to operate that way. Rather, we examine the message as such, and see whether it creates a more just world. If so, we don't care who the speaker is--we'll stand up and support it (a position which will put us sometimes in favor of Democratic partisans, sometimes Republican partisans, and very often neither one). Alternatively, centrists might argue that a suppressed message labeled "extreme" be allowed into the limelight--even if we then proceed to bash it later. It is in this respect ends-oriented insofar as the end is hearing as many voices as possible--but this should not stop us from attacking hostile or unhelpful opinions. This is not a strain but a logical conclusion: the goal here is to have a constructive and comprehensive social debate, which requires both the opinions themselves (bring out suppressed voices) and those willing to refute/defend them (smack them down or applaud their insight).

Bottom-centric centrism is combative, militant, forceful, and activist. It does not "simply" try to mediate between opposing poles (although that is an important role, and I'd also assert an active value in of itself). It also must forward unique, innovative plans of its own to bring in voices not being heard within the dominant hierarchy. Above all, centrists must press for and defend a fair social playing field in which all perspectives have a chance to be heard and no person or group is condemned to perpetual marginalization.

Who Are You?

Two posts over at BlackProf cause me to think of my old posts on intersectionality and minority conservatism.

The first post is about a supposed formula to determine which Congressional Black Caucus members best represent the interests of African-Americans. I'm a bit conflicted here, because I think that such an indice is, at least abstractly, useful and because the author of the post (GW Law Professor Spencer Overton) specifically acknowledges the possibility that the methodology used (like any methodology) could be flawed. Nonetheless, two things caught my eye. The first was that the breakdown of "best" and "worst" representatives almost completely tracked "most liberal" to "least liberal." Among the "best" were far left names like Barbara Lee and Cynthia McKinney (as well as Congressional All-Corruption Team nominee Maxine Waters). The "worst" included moderate names like Harold Ford and Albert Wynn. Second, the title of the post was "Black Enough?" Taken together, its a disturbing message--that not only is being hyper-liberal the sin qua non of helping black people (I presume folks like Stephen Carter would disagree), but those that don't fit the paradigm aren't even black at all.

The second post was by Iowa Law Professor Adrien Wing, and was a plea that minorities not be taken in if President Bush nominates a minority conservative to the Supreme Court. I'll admit to confusion though--Wing seems to think that even other minority conservatives should be rallied against a minority conservative Supreme Court nominee. I see no rationale behind this--even granting the implicit argument holding that conservativism is hostile to minority interests (which, to be fair, I think is often true), clearly minority conservatives think differently (otherwise they'd be minority liberals). Wing is calling for racial solidarity to precede political solidarity, but this effectively marginalizes minority conservatives by placing them as outsiders, deviant, threatening to the community at-large. As I argued in a previous post:
[Minority Conservatism] is a minority story--especially given intersectionality theory. This posits--correctly in my view--that the experience of a double minority is different than the sum of the two minority groups she belongs. For example, the status of a Black Woman is not merely Woman + Black. Similarly, the status of a female minority conservative is not just Female + Minority + Conservative. The simplest reason why this is so is because whereas becoming a conservative by itself means joining a relatively popular and broad group, becoming a minority conservative means being subjected to endless taunts of being an "Uncle Tom" or traitor, accusations (and occasionally, true moments) of being "used" by majority peers, and other hardships. In other words, while my (White) life would not be significantly changed by switching my political affiliation, for a minority, this switch comes with a lot of baggage. Because the tropes associated with "conservative" are contingent upon one's other identities, one can't simply atomize conservatism (or any other identity) and examine independently of the rest.

The framework Professors Overton and Wing operate in reifies this mindset. It is the deliberate and tactical suppression of a disfavored identity as inauthentic, false, or dangerous (not "Black enough"). In a way, it isn't anyone's fault that we do this. The folks most well-versed in intersectionality theory are almost all leftists, so convincing them to play nice with conservatives is a difficult endeavor. But their critique doesn't lose any of its potency just because the targeted group this time is one that is positively despised by the leftist critics themselves. It just makes it harder to see.

This doesn't, by the way, mean that we should fetishize the move of some blacks to more conservative circles. I was appalled by this NYT article which argued that the Republican Michael Bloomberg's gains amongst black voters in the NYC mayoral race was a sign of growing political "maturity" in the black community. Meaning what? That for the most part, black people are ignorant political babies who vote based on their irrational, pre-adolescent whims? (But look! Some are voting Republican now! Sigh...they grow up so fast...). This is patronizing and paternalistic to the extreme. We should respect black voting decisions as rational, autonomous choices (at least as far as we do for other groups)--not just assume they are in some primordial state of political infancy, waiting to emerge.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Bad Bad Men (and Women)

DKos points to an LA Times article listing one groups notation of the 13 most corrupt members of congress. The report, titled "Beyond DeLay" (the exterminator was exempted from the list), has a variety of familiar faces, and consists of 11 Republicans and 2 Democrats. The full set:
-Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) (Senate Majority Leader)

-Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) (House Majority Whip)

-Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT)

-Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH)

-Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL)

-Rep. Richard W. Pombo (R-CA)

-Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)

-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) (Republican Conference Chair)

-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham

-Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-LA)

-Rep. Charles H. Taylor (R-NC)

-Rep. Marilyn N. Musgrave (R-CO)

-Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ)

We should be dismayed that, including Rep. DeLay two of the top three leaders in both the House and the Senate are among Congress' most corrupt (Santorum's position places him #3 in the Senate leadership hierarchy. The two congressmen in leadership that aren't on the list are Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) (Speaker of the House) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (Assistant Senate Majority Leader)). What does this tell us about the current state of affairs in Washington?

We should also note that Kos did not shirk from splashing the Democratic names over his website either. While Rep. Jefferson is the type of Blue Dog Democrat that the lefties tend not like much anyway, Rep. Waters is a stalwart in the House Progressive Caucus. That they put her name up shows that, extreme politics aside, they still care more about clean government than defending even friendly politicos. That's heartening.

UPDATE: Into the Traffic Jam we go.