By Lauren Mayer, on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 3:00 PM ET
Like many of my peers, I grew up in a completely traditional family, with 2 parents, 3 kids, several pets, and a house in the burbs. My parents were each other’s first marriage, we all had the same last name, and we were just like nearly every other family on the block. However, that model is increasingly rare, even in my own experience – I’m divorced from my kids’ dad and remarried, plus I never changed my name either marriage, so our neighborhood carpool chart has to refer to us as ‘The Mayer/Grinthal/Visini family. Plus my ex has remarried a woman with kids of her own, so we’re all one big happy blended family, meaning we can all sit together at graduations and barmitzvahs (and giving me better material than I could ever write – I landed one corporate consulting gig through my first husband’s second ex-wife’s third husband, which as you might imagine I love to say!)
And my kids are growing up comfortable with all sorts of families. When my son Ben was about 8, he met a kid who was being raised jointly by a gay couple and a lesbian couple, and Ben informed the boy that he also had two dads and two moms – Ben was referring to his parents and step-parents, but in his view there really wasn’t any difference. Families now come in all shapes and sizes, and so when I was asked to write a kid-friendly song for a special needs program, I couldn’t resist throwing in my own agenda – plus as we get closer to some pivotal Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to celebrate diversity!
By John Y. Brown III, on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 12:00 PM ET
I just found out Lent lasts for 40 (forty) days!!!
That’s almost 6 weeks of self-denial!!!
Man….that is a very long time.
That fact wasn’t fully disclosed to me when we joined the Presbyterian Church several years ago. I’m not accusing the church of a bait-and-switch….But “Wow!!”
40 days! Of not doing things we enjoy!
That is a material fact that should have been disclosed in large print on the front page.
I’m not going to make more out of it for now ….and just try to let it go. Maybe I should have been more inquisitive. I just assumed Lent was, like, I dunno— a weekend or week-long thing. About as long as Chanukah but easier to spell and Catholic. And involving putting ashes on your forehead and not eating your favorite food for, like, the weekend.
This is actually some really major league commitment here….
What if we put twice as much ash on our foreheads?
Can we cut in half the amount of self-denials expected of us?
Is there a “Lent for Beginners” program for newbies that starts off slow and builds to full-fledged Lent sacrifices in, like, year 10 or 15?
By Artur Davis, on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 10:00 AM ET
The New Republic’s recent piece on Andrew Cuomo’s presidential ambitions will rankle most conservatives at first glance: its description of the New York Governor as a centrist seems like an ill-fitting label for an unabashed champion of gay marriage, sweeping gun control, decriminalizing marijuana possession, and lately, eroding restrictions on third trimester abortions. But the article is important for a variety of reasons. First, of all the likely Democratic possibilities should Hillary Clinton stay on the sidelines, it is Cuomo who comes closest to Barack Obama’s raw skill and resilience, Cuomo who is best positioned to match either Clinton or Obama as a fundraising machine, and it is the governor who is most likely to reprise Obama’s strength with the metropolitan professionals and suburbanites who are crucial in the big state primaries that will decide the nomination. Short term, the article is illustrative of two points that might explain why extending the Democratic run for another presidential cycle is a more dicey proposition than the gloom about demographics and infighting on the right suggests.
The first point is the extent to which the 21st century brand of centrism in the Democratic Party omits even a scintilla of social conservatism. Cuomo’s stances on social issues may be decidedly to the left of the ground Obama staked out in two presidential campaigns (was it just five ago that Obama was declaring his religious reservations about gay marriage and soft-pedaling his views on abortion?) but they are already orthodoxy among the activists who will dictate the outcomes of caucuses and primaries in 2016 (even in states like South Carolina and Alabama, where the steady migration of conservative Democrats has left primary electorates not much distinguishable from an Iowa or a Maryland).
It’s a shift, though, that will produce a platform and more importantly a nominating campaign that will not resemble the calibrated positions on abortion, gay rights and gun control which Democrats relied on for a generation. Much as 2012 was an object lesson in the Republican shift to the right on subjects like immigration and the distrust in grassroots GOP ranks of every element of Obama’s agenda, the 2016 Democratic race will be a template of what liberal politics sound like when their base has a monopoly on the primaries.
And the reframing of the Democratic Party as an unrestrained defender of social liberalism will have uncertain consequences for the white working class share of their coalition—the share that actually accounted for Obama’s 2012 wins in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, after all four states had elected Republican governors just two years earlier. As Ruy Teixera, who is ordinarily bullish on the prospect of an enduring Democratic coalition, has pointed out, socially progressive politics may no longer be toxic, but they also have no demonstrated appeal to white blue collars who prioritize the manufacturing jobs and wage growth that Obama barely touched in his inaugural speech or State of the Union.
And it is possible that as liberals assert themselves on themes that they barely mentioned in the economy driven environment in 2008 and 2012, that working class voters will be the leading edge of any gathering cultural backlash around, say, guns or reviving third trimester abortions. In addition, the next election will happen against one of two backdrops, either of which could end up disadvantaging Democrats. Either a worst case, another four years of tepid growth accompanied by continued angst that specific policies like Obamacare haven’t slowed premiums and may have cost jobs, or a best case that has its own risks: a return to robust growth would only divert attention from 2012’s focus on economic fairness. Both scenarios will mean that the thorough-going social liberal who emerges as the next Democratic nominee, either Cuomo or someone who has managed to outflank him, will have to fend for blue collar whites (including conservative Catholics) without the competitive edge Obama enjoyed in running two surrogate campaigns against George W. Bush’s record.
At the same time, as the New Republic suggests, the reformer impulses that have distinguished Cuomo’s record in Albany and given him a genuine claim to the political center, may well end up not influencing a Cuomo presidential platform in any real manner. For example, it will be hard for Cuomo to win his party’s nomination by assembing a combination of national positions akin to his budget reforming, cost-cutting maneuvers and his toughness on public sector unions, both of which have enabled him to garner, until recently, eye-popping approval numbers with Republicans.
Reining in spending nationally would require engaging entitlements, which is a more complicated political beast than reworking pension contributions and trimming fat in Albany. As commentators like Ross Douthat have pointed out, there are major differences between the space for reining in public-sector unions and the tougher terrain of selling reductions of entitlements that are universal. Taking on, for example, federal employees is a non-starter for a Democrat who will need to replicate Obama’s strength in the suburbs of northern Virginia, and the issue has never gotten much national traction anyway. There is certainly no substantive or rhetorical evidence that Cuomo is inclined to challenge the liberal consensus that entitlements are foundations of the social contract that should not be seriously disturbed.
Read the rest of… Artur Davis: Cuomo and the Coming Democratic Dilemma
By Jonathan Miller, on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 9:15 AM ET
If you haven’t yet subscribed to The Recovering Politician‘s KY Political Brief (click here RIGHT NOW to do so), here’s what you missed over the past few days about the potential epic 2014 U.S. Senate battle between Ashley Judd and Mitch McConnell:
2014 SENATE DERBY
—Will Ashley Judd challenge Mitch McConnell for Senate? Kentucky Democrats think so – ABC News – “She hasn’t announced yet, but her biggest supporter in Kentucky, Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth, told ABC News, “I would be surprised if she doesn’t run at this point.” … One thing that’s guaranteed is it will be a brutal race — a 30-year veteran of Washington against a Hollywood star active in liberal Democratic politics from a legendary family. … Yarmuth says Judd is ready and has even done opposition research on herself to see areas McConnell will try to “exploit.”” [ABC News]
—THE R.P.I. — Handicapping the 2014 U.S. Senate race — Quick glance: #1 Mitch McConnell … #2 Ashley Judd … #3 Alison Lundergan Grimes … #4b Steve Beshear … Unranked: Larry Forgy [Full RPI]
—NEW THIS MORNING: Liberal PAC launches new ad hitting McConnell on guns – The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal PAC that recently ran a television ad attacking Sen. Mitch McConnell on gun control, is launching a new ad featuring a Kentucky gun owner and hunter beginning this morning. The group spending at least $25,000 to run its second ad in the Lexington, Louisville, Bowling Green and Paducah markets and online in Kentucky. The PCCC says it will soon have spent $100,000 on its campaign against McConnell and said the ad is timed to precede Wednesday’s Senate “Hearing on the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013.” [See the ad]
—IN GOOD HUMOR : Ashley Judd, Mitch McConnell and how to tell a Tea Party candidate from a Democrat [Insider Louisville]
—Mitch McConnell vs. Ashley Judd: The Most Epic Election Battle Of 2014 – PolicyMic – “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has an unprecedented re-election battle on the horizon. Despite his power in Congress, at home, he is incredibly vulnerable. … Enter Ashley Judd. Raised as a Kentuckian, her experience and active participation in Bluegrass politics have led Democrats around the country to rally around her as-yet unconfirmed election bid. There are several reasons why liberals find her candidacy compelling.” [PolicyMic]
—Ashley Judd starts March with two public events – in Washington [C-J]
—NY Magazine: Don’t Run for Senate, Ashley Judd! It’s a Trap! – In ‘Daily Intelligencer’ post: “… while a Mitch McConnell concession speech after losing to Ashley Judd is possibly the most gratifying political event I could possibly imagine, it is also impossible. … Democrats are going to lose the Senate race pretty much regardless. But Ashley Judd would raise a ton of money across the country and spend it bolstering turnout across the state, which would help other Democrats, most of whom would be distancing themselves from Judd like she was George Clooney.” [NY Mag]
By John Y. Brown III, on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM ET
Getting an unpleasant message about yourself….
I heard some awfully wise advice at Sunday School last Sunday.
Our teacher said “Sarcasm is a sign of intelligence……without wisdom!”
His wife added the second part, and I think those are words to live by. So I try to be cautious and watch for sarcasm and crankiness and cut them off before they spread to the tip of my tongue.
But I am usually a little late to the scene. We need others to let us know when we are veering off course and have a tendency to dismiss unflattering feedback about ourselves. It seems to work itself out in ever escalating stages.
For example: When your family tells you that you are being grouchy and sarcastic, you can chew on it and disregard (several consecutive times) without consequence.
When a friend tells you that you are being grouchy and sarcastic, it gives you pause and reminds you to be more cheerful around them next time (or avoid them altogether for a while).
But when a person who is more of an acquaintance (hence objective observer) tells you that you are being grouchy and sarcastic…… Well, put it this way, it’s kind of like when you were a child and your parents told you that you needed to take a bath, but you didn’t. Then a friend suggested a bath, and you ignored them. But when someone who you barely knew suggested it was time “That boy took a bath,” well, you figured it was getting pretty close to the time to take a bath.
Or in this case, to stop being a sarcastic grouch and soften up a bit….at least until you are, as I heard someone once say, “Sweeter than a bumblebees behind.”
Or thereabouts, give or take. ; ) At a minimum, sarcasm is to the soul what poor hygiene is to the body.
And if bystanders notice, it’s time for me some lye soap. For the soul. ; )
By Erica and Matt Chua, on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 10:00 AM ET
Sailing the Nile for three days sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Sailboats conjure up feelings of freedom, relaxation and, let’s be honest, opulence. How often do you associate sailing with anything less than the high-life? My last multi-day sailing experience, yachting around the Galapagos, was exactly what sailing fantasies are made of. Sailing on a felucca for three days up the Nile though was not.
The idea of sailing from Aswan to Luxor as the ancient Egyptians did is romantic. Wanting to see the Nile, relax and enjoy a little more of Egypt’s scenery we signed up for the two night, three-day tour. Originally we had planned to do the five-day cruise, but people had told us that two nights was plenty, actually they told us one night was probably enough. Even with this advice we decided to spend a little extra time, hoping to see more of the Nile, little did we know that extra time didn’t equate to extra distance.
Getting on the boat around 1 PM we lazily drifted a couple hundred meters to what we presume was a police checkpoint. Waiting there for a few minutes, we were excited when the captain returned to start our voyage. After drifting downstream for another 20 minutes we stopped at a beach to “swim”. Only LOCAVORista took the opportunity to dive into the Nile while our two German shipmates and I read on the boat. After LOCAVORista finished her swim the captain continued playing in the water for another hour or so. When he finally returned we were excited to really get moving, maybe actually sail.
Read the rest of… Erica and Matt Chua: Sailing the Nile — Dream or Dull?