Every sport has an off-season and dead periods in which a fan will lower his or her standards considerably to be entertained. College football, for instance, has a dead month between the end of the season (around Thanksgiving) and its Bowl games (centered around Jan. 1). Some of the more piddling Bowl games try to take advantage of this by scheduling themselves on dates with no other sporting competition. Say you run the Hot Dogs Bowl, which matches up teams like Southwestern Tech vs. Wyoming A&M – not exactly clash of the titans. You can play on the same day as most of the Bowls and nobody will watch. Why would they, when the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl are on? Or you can schedule your game on something like Dec. 17 and be the only game on TV for a span of several days.

As a fan of the sport, if you are sitting at home with nothing else to do or out at the bar with your friends and the game is on the big screen, you are likely to watch. But there is always a moment in which you look at the fourth-rate action and ask yourself, "What in the hell am I watching this garbage for?" And you answer yourself immediately: Because there is nothing else on. This is it. And since you're a fan, it scratches your itch a little even if it's basically crap.

(The Beef O'Brady's Bowl is a real thing, incidentally.)

This is a Special Election in a nutshell. Everyone who is interested in politics focuses on it, and the forces of money and enthusiasm within the system are brought to bear upon it for the simple reason that there is nothing else for them to do at the moment. The 2018 Elections won't begin in earnest until next spring. Everyone is sick to death of hearing and talking about 2016. The day-to-day of DC politics is grinding along, but people (read: clickers, viewers, and readers) find elections more interesting than procedure. So if there is an election – any election, anywhere – CNN and the like start beating the drum hard.

We just got a week of saturation coverage of a goddamn special House race in Montana. Montana. And not one but two non-consecutive weeks of wall-to-wall coverage on an R+20 suburban district in Georgia. Like any election, the media are desperate to have these isolated races Mean Something. In reality they do not. Yes, the GOP probably should take it as a not-stellar sign that Democrats were able to get anywhere close to either of these seats. But what these races "mean" in the larger sense is nothing. They mean that when held singly, a House race gets thousands of times the attention it would get if held simultaneously with the other 434.

In ordinary circumstances, GA-06 would not even be a blip on the radar. You would not have it on any list of "races to watch" and you certainly would not be able to name either candidate or put any stock in the outcome. That's worth bearing in mind when the tidal wave of Hot Takes washes over us this week.



  • Thanks, Ed, for some sorely-needed perspective.

    But Michael, I have to ask why you say Ossoff was kinda racist?

  • @Michael, LOL. What's not so funny is that the Dems blew a lotta dough on a Republican "lite" candidate in a Republican district in their continuing (and imo mistaken) belief that they can win over well-educated Republican suburbanites with "moderate" political positions and dull, technocratic candidates.

  • Prairie Bear says:

    I've long wondered why there isn't an end-of-season bowl game between the two worst football teams in the nation.* It would be called … well, the name I'm thinking of is too obvious and puerile, so whatever. I think it would really have a lot of potential. It might bring some TV money to two colleges who otherwise don't get any football money. It would be better than 99% of the crap that is on TV, which is a pretty low bar. It would be fascinating to see how they would play — would it be a desperate fight to not be the absolute worst, or would there be a perverse incentive to say, "Fuck it; if we're gonna be bad, we might as well have the distinction of worst."


    … people (read: clickers, viewers, and readers) find elections more interesting than procedure.

    This is one of the biggest causes of our political problems, along with the fact that people — and I would include all the "professional" watchers of, and commenters on, politics, in your parenthetical list — are more interested in presidential elections than congressional ones, more than state ones, etc.

    *There might actually be such a bowl game for all I know; I care and know less than nothing about football.

  • I suspect that there's an underlying desire on the part of the media to build a narrative–OK, that's always the case, but a SPECIFIC narrative here about "This Is The Fall of Trump. Finally. Really. Seriously, You Guys, This Time It's Really Happening." Or, failing that, "Trump Is Unstoppable. Fear the Reaper, For He Is Undefeated and Undefeatable." Since Ossoff lost, they're going with the latter.

    Which is ridiculous–a lot of people on the left really, really wanted the GA district to "suddenly be competitive because Holy Shit Trump is so awful finally people will come to their senses" and a lot of people on the right really wanted Handel to win because "Goddammit we did NOT fuck up when we elected Trump now let's get back to repealing Obamacare"–so both sides went into this minor event with the same kind of enthusiasm as Hollywood insiders at the People's Choice Awards ("the inside track to an Oscar!!!")

    Which: No. It was an "R" district. Has been for decades. Demographics haven't changed enough to make it purple. Just…deep breath, everyone. This was not a referendum on ANYTHING.

    The American Media: Our slogan: "Because Fuck Empiricism."

  • Further perspective, this is the wealthiest county in Georgia, and therefore the highest concentration of old, rich, white people. No surprise they voted Republican.

    Let's hope real hard the Supreme Court fixes gerrymandering. However comma I have seen projections that this will not nessesarily help Democrats at first, but I still maintain a less skewed playing field is vital.

  • What's not so funny is that the Dems blew a lotta dough on a Republican "lite" candidate in a Republican district in their continuing (and imo mistaken) belief that they can win over well-educated Republican suburbanites with "moderate" political positions and dull, technocratic candidates.


    Especially given that these districts are the core of Trump support, not the booger booger working class methheads the media keeps focusing on. (the latter don't vote in large percentages).

    Want to find Trumpalos? As Ed has noted here, head for the gated subdivisions and, more critically, the megachurch parking lots. It's all about JAY-ZUS.

  • "Want to find Trumpalos? As Ed has noted here, head for the gated subdivisions and, more critically, the megachurch parking lots. It's all about JAY-ZUS."

    It's all about PRETENDING that it's all about JAY-ZUS.

    @ Michael:

    Could you restate that in 120Pt Copperplate Gothic bold?

  • Steve in the ATL says:

    "Kinda racist"? "Republican "'lite'"?

    You guys have no idea what you are talking about. I assume neither of you lives in or near GA-06. I, on the other hand, have lived here since 1999. Ossoff was the first credible D candidate in the 18 years I have lived here. He was the first D candidate to run a real campaign, perform extensive voter outreach, and come closer than 20 points to winning.

    And I'm sure John Lewis hired him because a neoliberal corporatist shill like Lewis regularly hires rightwingers who are uncomfortable around black people.

  • Doctor Couth says:

    It's even more horrifying than you think: it's the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl (sic, including the non-English punctuation).

  • It is awesome to see people who barely knew there was a DNC a year ago making grandiose claims about how much and how they blew it in Georgia.

  • @Steve, thanks for the real world perspective. My comments were maybe a LITTLE hypocritical as I DO bash the Dems for playing it safe and not really contesting everywhere. Otoh, it was Newtie's former district though, right? That's got to be a tough nut to crack for anyone without an R by their name on the ballot.

    I don't know. It just seems like moving ever further to the right has been a losing strategy since about the turn of the century.

  • Have been watching and reading a lot about the 06 special election. It seems to me the choices were the earnest, hard-working guy who was knowledgeable about the issues and could discuss them in complete, intelligible sentences….against the Komen-teat-suckling idiot making stupid attack ads and blathering about how she had tentacles * (*not even kidding about this).

    In other words, a mirror image of the November election with the genders swapped. And just like in that election, the old white people picked the buffoon.

  • @Katydid: yep. White people are the worst.

    @Steve in the ATL: If you haven't figured out by now that the middle of the road white male technocrat Democrat, however basically competent, is kinda racist — or that John Lewis is a goddamn grownup who will take what he can get — I don't know what I can do for you.

  • @ Michael:

    You are completely full of shit. I could deconstruct your stupid, but it's a waste of time. You're obviously a BernJilGarbro who's STILL pissed that your non-DEMOCRAT candidate didn't get the nomination or help from the OTHER party that they ran against.

    "John Lewis is a goddamn grownup who will take what he can get."

    And you're calling Ossof a racist?

  • @Demo; Michael is pretty stupid and most likely a young Berniebro. I think he's accusing Ossoff of being a racist because….he pulled that info out of his butt? He also appears to think Democrats are technically savvy? Not sure what alternate reality he's living in. I wonder what the color of the sky in his world is?

    Who were the voters in the 06? Overwhelmingly white, older, conservative suburban folks who are terrified to go into Atlanta itself. Who did they vote for? One of their own.

  • "It's all about PRETENDING that it's all about JAY-ZUS."

    Demo: Agreed. As a resident misotheist, I might note it is ALL about pretending. Not a single "Gospel" writer knew Jesus or anyone associated with Jesus (assuming there even was a singular Jesus wandering around Palestine at the time). Paul, the source of much of Christian doctrine, only met Him in a hallucination.

    I won't bore you any more with the litany of reasons why I think liberals should avoid doing their own cherry picking in describing the character of "Jesus", whose church, after all, grabbed the nastier parts of Greek mythology and invented the concept of eternal torture in Hell. That doctrine alone, along with substitutionary atonement, original sin, the foul nature of man (somehow this perfect creator God ended up creating nasty slugs like Newt Gingrich!) to me makes the whole package fundamentally immoral.

    Ach. I'll shut up now.

  • @ Brian M:

    Word, yours, not the one of the guy who doesn't exist.

    I took a long circuitous route to regaining the faithlessness that I enjoyed as an infant.

  • There were probably two or three basic issues with the GA-06 race that contributed to Ossof losing:
    – PoC voter suppression
    – Scalise shooting
    – Deep red district

    Arguments about Ossof being racist or not leftist enough don't carry much water without additional and significant evidence.

  • Long time reader, first time commenter, voter in the 6th district in Georgia. I actually thought yesterday "I have to put on makeup to go down the street and vote, the National Media are there." There was exactly no line. I was the only one there.

    Y'all, it rained yesterday. It makes a difference when getting out the vote is what counts. I didn't see that fact covered anywhere, probably because there's nothing we can do about it. Early voting helps a lot! Great improvement! But when you're trying to overcome fascism and entrenched oppression, a little help from the weather gods would not go amiss.

  • GA-06 was a test bed for the same strategy that cost the Democrats the White House. I.e., chasing suburban white Republican "moderate" votes. It was a failure – yes, they came "close", but they also shattered fundraising records to do it, which does mitigate that. They are blind to this fact and every Democrat I know is spinning it as a "moral victory". They are utterly full of shit.

    I think Democrats will make some gains in 2018. They might even retake the WH in 2020. But as long as they continue to employ the so-called Panera Bread strategy, expect them to disappoint you both in their election performance, and in what they'll accomplish in office. Expect to hear more excuses from centrist Democrats about how there margin of victory wasn't enough for them to actually do anything, or how they have to really pick their battles when standing up to Republicans, and so on.

    The GOP is showing us what happens when a group of people that actually want to do things (horrible, horrible things to be sure) seize power: they are able to do it. Turns out "incrementalism" is bullshit if you have courage of your convictions, and it would be good for the left to remember that going forward.

  • All of the people who bash the dems; let me ask you a few questions.

    Are you alive?

    Did you get to go to school and have something approaching a decent education?

    Did most of your siblings survive infancy and the ensuing years to get through college/trade school/Hamburger U or whatever to become productive and employed?

    Are you confident that MOST of what you eat is safe to eat?

    Did you stop smoking or never smoke because you were bombarded with advertising for most/all of your life about the dangers of doing so?

    Did you get vaccinated for protection against a host of infectious diseases like polio, diptheria, mumps, pertussis and others?

    Did your parents/do you have a job with benefits (regardless how meager) at least a minimun wage, rules for a safer workplace and mandates for your employers to provide protective gear and training in its use?

    Did your parents/do you work in a unionized workplace or one that is paying better wages and providing benefits so that the workplace won't become unionized?

    Have you ever stood in front of a judge with no money to pay an attorney and had one appointed to represent you at the court's expense*?

    Have you ever been ill/injured and been taken care of in an ER or trauma center, regardless your ability to pay for the care?

    Have you ever ridden a city bus or other mass transit in areas that are not economically viable for such service to be provided?

    Those questions are off the top of my head. I'm sure other commenters could add a shitload more to that list.

    If you answer yes to any of those questions, you can thank democratic legislators, mayors, governors and presidents for introducing legislation, passing ordinances and by-laws, hammering out budgets that help fund myriad social programs and seeing that they are signed into law.

    You can also thank, "incrementalism" for all of those things happening. It took over a century of labot unrest before the idea of ALLOWING unionization made a law.

    The GOP hasn't always been the Greed Only Party but it has never really been a friend to people who go down into the mines or work in other dangerous environments.

    It is obvious that Trumpligulamygdala and his henchscum are working with furious speed to dismantle all of the things that guarantee a less-tilted playing field–it's never been level. If they continue along the path they're on, "Take your daughter to work Day" will become a 52 weeks a year/7 day a week deal–where there are even any jobs.

    DNC sucks, I don't like Hilz, I know that I'm not going to be here when the food riots start. You likely will get to deal with that and if you refuse to work from the bottom up instead of trying to pull a coup d'etat on the DNC–well, good luck.

    * Note: A large number of people who work as public defenders are zealous and skilled attorneys–they have to be to get past he politicized judges and prosecutors as well as dishonest cops.

    Do you drink water that is potable and free of toxins/pathogens?

  • @TA (and Steve), I heard Rush Limbaugh mention that it was raining in the ATL on election day, chortling and noting that "Democrat" voters' turnout is usually lower in bad weather. I took this to mean, "LOL, black folks don't like to get wet". Putz.

  • I said it somewhere else: I really don't know what do do with citizens who refuse to go out in the rain to exercise their right to vote–and to make sure a monster doesn't go to Congress to represent them. Jesus. We are so fucking doomed.

  • @Demo, I can add these: do you get US Postal Service, electricity, telephone, and police/fire protection even though you live in the sticks and there's no profitable reason for any of the above to bother with your unable-to-afford-this-on-your-own ass?

    @Geoff and Mothra; I heard that most voting was done early, so the rain wasn't necessarily a problem. I really think it comes down to demographics–who's the predominate person in the 06? White/conservative. Who do white conservatives overwhelmingly vote for? The candidate that's the conservative, just like them. (In a race with no overt conservative, they prefer the one who's the least politically-minded and the most willing to run baseless attack ads).

  • @demo:
    We are in Jr. High. Nobody cares whether the world actually works, we wanna see bright lights and hear rad music.
    The candidate who calls his rivals the best put-down insults will win our {brief) attention.

    We are also intensely tribal. Jaeesus is not real in any sense except as a magic organizing talisman.

    My opinion on political sales is that Ds ought to embrace competence. Your list is exactly what they should be running on except it should all be about future improvements.

    In my world, anyone who hates incrementalism is either a troll or a teenager.

  • But what if this glorious incrementalism is all negative? I'm not a teenager by forty years, and I can still easily counter Demo's list:

    World War I
    Korean War
    Vietnam War
    The Sainted Peanut Farmer's Deep State Spookery (Central American terror, Indonesian Genocide, Afghanistan, Iran…stuff that is still messing up the world (no thanks to Ronnie Raygun doubling down on the mess)
    Elimination of standard welfare
    Obamacare (better than Trump, but still terrible policy)
    Financial Deregulation and the resulting flam flummery
    Obama's "We worry about the future" canard while funneling a trillion bucks to the bank gangsters with no real consequences for the latter

    There are reasons beyond teenage or troll demands to be suspicious of the Other Wall Street Party, guys. Even though, yes, I vote for them (Hillary was not actively insane and mentally ill like Trump).

  • @Brian M: Obama's medical plan was much more functional before the Republican obstructionism. They settled for getting something that would pass, as a first step.

  • Kaydid:

    I don't want to overdo the both siderism, but demo's list deserved a response. Suspicion about The Other Wall Street Party is not limited to the naïve.

    It is what it is. The United States is a full bore THEOCRACY which amusingly enough worships a religion and priesthood which can be construed as to be utterly opposed to the teachings of the religion its leaders to profess. Mammonism is totally in charge, with a particularly virulent sect, Late Stage Crony Financialism, calling the shots.

  • "Every sport has an off-season and dead periods in which a fan will lower his or her standards considerably to be entertained."

    Exceptions: Rugby union and cricket. When it's the off-season in the Southern Hemisphere, the Northern Hemisphere has high-quality action, and vice versa.

    It's also averted with women's soccer. The seasons in France and Germany are fall-to-spring, while those in the United States, Sweden, and Japan are spring-to-fall.

  • How does anyone claim that WWI, WWII and the Korean conflict are "incrementalism?"
    This is not about parties, it's about competence in government. At one time, Republicans did good things. Now, not so much.

    Sounds like something a teenager would come up with.

    If you don't get Clinton care and it's a terrible fight to get Obamacare, how do you claim that starting fresh with MagicZcare sometime in the future would be better?

  • World War I–not sure why that would be the dems with something like 32 years of the preceding 40 being a republican controlle WH.
    Korean War–Russia
    Vietnam War–The Dulles Boys
    The Sainted Peanut Farmer's Deep State Spookery (Central American terror, Indonesian Genocide, Afghanistan, Iran…stuff that is still messing up the world (no thanks to Ronnie Raygun doubling down on the mess)–Again, primarily the Dulles Boys, Bill Casey, et al.
    Elimination of standard welfare–Bad decision by Clinton–one that he had staved off until his party got trounced in the mid-terms.
    NAFTA–Another bad decision that Clinton bears responsibility for.
    Obamacare (better than Trump, but still terrible policy)–The alternative was nothing.
    Financial Deregulation and the resulting flam flummery–There is no way a Clinton veto of the repeal of Glass-Steagall could have been sustained.
    Obama's "We worry about the future" canard while funneling a trillion bucks to the bank gangsters with no real consequences for the latter–Most of the stuff that happened took place shortly before or shortly after Obama took office. Are we blaming him for George W. Bush's mistakes?
    Syria–Bush, Bush, Reagan
    Libya–Bush, Bush, Reagan, Nixon mostly

    It's pretty much impossible given the "Flywheel effect" of any large system to say exactly who is to blame for a lot of things that happen.

    It's a virtual certainty that without the democrats controlling the house for 40 years that most of the good stuff would have never happened. I'll take the dems over the repukes any day of the week and there's really NOT another team on the field. I'm all for third parties–they need to start the way ALL parties start, locally, and build on that.

  • I'm in "old man yells at the sky" mode.

    There was a Republican plan for healthcare reform.
    One criticism of Clinton care was that it was the old Republican plan rehashed.

    Well, if we had the Republican plan, Clinton care could have been an INCREMENTAL improvement.

    Then, Obama care could have been another INCREMENTAL improvement.

    Instead, we have the current bunch of yahoos trying to start over because yahoos hate incrementalism.

    Reality is a harsh mistress.

  • "Reality is a harsh mistress."

    Well, it's been rumored that Trumplugulamygdala likes "water sports"; I'd say a large %age of his base who are on various sorts of gummint assistance are gonna find out that "Reality" is a ballbusting, downpunching dominatrix.

  • Demo: I would quibble quite a bit with some of your responses, but will only say your last two paragraphs are still overwhelmingly true. (I think the Carter Administration* was far more to blame than you do, while noting (as I did) that Reagan made it far, far, far worse).

    Assigning specific blame is ultimately pointless, as the Party of Big Money makes the United States a one-party state. That is not pure both siderism, because I think the hard right is certifiably insane right now. Especially given its infestation by religious kookery (i.e., almost 50% of the population claims to believe in Young Earth Creationism)

    *Jimmy was in the Submarine Service, full of deep state spookery in attitudes

  • Carter set a lot of things in motion, Reagan did little more than dial them up to 11, and claim they were his idea.

  • @Brian M:

    Yeah, it is difficult to say how and why things happened in the period 1945–1992 because we had a succession of warhawks in the Cabinets and certainly the CIA/NSA from their inceptions.

    I think that a major difference between the dems and the republicans vis-a-vis foreign policy and intrelligence/covert ops is that the dems have never been (to me) as anxious to be drawn into stupid, pointless wars as the reps–that's just my take. I do not remember Obama, Clinton or Carter taking the sort of photo ops with a USN Aircraft Carrier that Cmdr. Codpiece did.

    Hyman Rickover was a bit like Jedgar Hoover–except for the to the bone evil part–I think. Very insular, trusted no one ans somewhat paranoid. If he had his way he'd probably have gotten 2-3 times the number of hunter-killers and nuke capable subs.

  • We do have a long held-tradition in America of arming our enemies. We need to keep feeding the Lockheed beast, because Reasons.

  • @Aurora S:

    "Fairness Doctrine"–I've been saying that for years, most people think I'm being silly.

    Like "Net Neutratlity". Two words. two innocuous words–until you realize what a vast change they make in the game.

    I remember when it happened. I also remember thinking, "This will not be good.".

    Hate drives voters. Hate sells ads. Win-win for the GOP.

    Inculcate the roobz with hatred and distrust while selling them shit that they don't need and in many/most cases doesn't deliver on it's promise; so, like the political cant the GOP excels in–another useless product.

  • And we still do this. Even recently, President Obama essentially (and surely inadvertently) assisted in arming our enemies by way of our profiteering allies in Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, et al.And he was criticized and accused of being a pussy by the Republicans for not pulling a Reagan and selling arms to Assad's jihadist opposition outright, because of course they fucking did. I'm certainly no expert on war strategy or foreign policy, but the only way any of this makes sense is that if the consequences of *not* selling arms to our clients overseas are greater than doing it. And I wonder who has their boot on our sack.

  • Aurora S:

    Now you're just being silly. Of course the Bigly White Fathers in Washington must sell the new repeating rifles to the benighted savages in the Orient. How else we goin' be able to continue to fund the development of the weapons/weapons systems that we need to defeat them once we arm them up? Huh, answer me THAT?

    Sides, if'n they ain't clingin' to their AK's and Kuranz how we goin' justify helpin' them get our'n o'l outta the ground?

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