After Sessions: The PPDB for June 14, 2017

Breaking news: There is terribly sad news coming out of D.C.  today of a gunman opening fire on the Republican Congressional softball practice. I don’t want people to think I’m ignoring this horrible tragedy which is not far from my home. My heart sank when I turned on the news this morning. I’m going to urge caution with initial information coming out of this, however, I think we all should take a moment to pray for the victims.

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Polite Politics Daily Briefing: June 12, 2017

Before I get started I want to thank dear reader, Allison, who suggested changing the title to the PPDB for Polite Politics Daily Briefing. I love it!! It takes a village to run a blog, I tell you. Now without further ado… the PPDB for June 12, 2017.

Hey, how did everyone like infrastructure week? Did you even know last week was the White House’s infrastructure week? I’m going to guess probably not.

The beginning of this week is also looking to be “off message” for the administration as instead of talking about health care, jobs or literally anything else… we’re going to still be talking about Russian interference.

Reportedly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has agreed to testify Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, but that’s not confirmed by the committee yet. It’s also not confirmed whether it will be in closed or open session. The White House would probably prefer closed session in order to keep the issue out of the public eye and their message more on point than during “infrastructure week.” However, this would obviously not be very transparent to the public and Democrats are calling for the testimony to be open.

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Karma, karma, karma Comey-leon day roundup 

Lest you be confused about how central politics is to life in D.C., bars around town are opening at 9:30 a.m Eastern today for people to gather to watch former FBI Director James Comey testify in open session before Congress. At least one pub apparently wants to go bankrupt because it’s offering a free round of drinks each time the President Trump tweets. The hearings start at 10 a.m. Eastern/9 a.m. Central Time and will be carried on most networks, but just in case you are at work—here’s the link to CSPAN.

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Paris Agreement: Changing what we can

As I’ve aged, I’ve really started to love hiking. There’s something about wandering through nature with a friend, cut off from technology and surrounded by all of Mother Nature’s glory that just centers you.

It seems fitting that a year ago today I was spending a carefree June day hiking to the Kjenndal Glacier in Norway. I can still feel the crisp air that surrounded me as the sun shone in such a way that every drop of water and blade of grass seemed in technicolor.

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Ad Astra Per Aspera: Why the Democrats need Kansas

Kansas’s state motto, Ad Astra per Aspera, is one of my favorites. The Latin translation “to the stars through difficulty” reflects the history of my home state while also accurately describing the people I know back home. Kansans are not afraid of hard work and fighting adversity to achieve their goals.

National publications keep interviewing Trump voters, trying to understand why they would vote against their own interest and they’re missing the bigger story. This is the story I see brewing in the Heartland: The people who normally are not involved in politics, are now energized. I’ve seen friends (both moderate Republicans and Democrats) form PACs, canvas for the first time, and in many cases, consider running for office.

Maybe after the near-win in the Kansas 4th Congressional District special election last night, they’ll take notice.

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Brussels and Brexit

It’s a strange feeling to be incidentally on the doorsteps of history today. We’re on this diplomatic tour of the European Union and happen to be in town as British Prime Minister Theresa May sent the letter to European Council President Donald Tusk invoking the Article 50 separation. The EU officially received notice today that Britain will exit the union (or Brexit).

In the Press Club over lunch watching Prime Minister Theresa May address the British Parliament

What a day to be here! There were reporters all around Brussels today for this announcement. There was no room for us to join the press conference due to the amount of credentialed press for this historic event. Instead, we stood in the Press Club during lunch to watch May give her speech to parliament, then Tusk hold a press conference addressing what essentially amounts to receiving divorce papers from the U.K.


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So goes the FEC, so goes the nation

I’ve been thinking a lot lately that if you want to examine how our political climate ended up the way it is now, you have to look at the dysfunction of the Federal Election Commission—the federal agency charged with monitoring and holding accountable money in our elections. I personally think a lot of the anger over corruption in Washington and the political media can be traced back to deadlocks and lack of enforcement by the FEC.

The FEC doesn’t make a lot of national news, but believe me, the decisions they are (not) making are influencing the politics that control your community.

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Good Night, and Good Luck.

I studied the great CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow a great deal as a journalist, but this week I’ve viewed him in a whole new light: as a patriot of this country.

We’ve been studying Murrow in my public diplomacy class. Before this week I had no idea that Murrow, after being a journalist, became director of the United States Information Agency in 1961. In one of my textbooks there was a great quote from when he testified before Congress:

“American traditions and the American ethic requires us to be truthful, but the most important reason is that truth is the best propaganda and lies are the worst. To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful. It is as simple as that.”

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A welcome to the polite company!

People in the Midwest shy away from talking about politics in public because it’s considered, well, classless. You discuss politics in hushed voices around trusted friends, always mindful of not offending anyone. The rules are clear: never speak of money, religion or politics in “polite company.”

But lately I’ve been pondering if this rule of social etiquette is causing more harm than good.  Are impolite voices getting attention because they’re louder—not because they have better ideas? Are those impolite voices discouraging good folks from participating in democracy?

Political issues are complicated. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t need government leaders to find solutions. Someone would have solved the problem already. Yet, we expect to boil these complicated issues down to a catch phrase. I don’t know about you—but I’m exhausted by the horse race coverage of politics which I feel pits Americans against each other in teams of winners and losers. I don’t think that sort of mentality helps us solve the big problems in front of us.

The idea for this site has been brewing in my mind since I left my job as an investigative reporter at KSHB-TV in Kansas City in 2015. I kept hearing from my friends that they desperately wanted a place that provided non-sensationalized political news coverage.

Now I’m a Midwesterner living in Washington, DC. After a year and a half working with an open government nonprofit, I’m now taking some time off to write my capstone for my master’s at American University.  I have a little free time and have pondered what I could do to bridge the gap between the Midwest and Washington. With the support of friends and family, I’m finally courageous enough to start this site.

My hope is to write about some of the issues Midwesterners might care about, explain which lawmakers are working on those issues, and provide context to understand the process. My hope is by offering this information, you can have your own thoughtful political discussions and figure out where you are called to participate in our democracy.

It may be a little Pollyanna-ish—but I believe it is the dedicated, polite company who will make a difference in this world.

May we always remember the famous quote from Margaret Mead, “Never doubt a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

My dream for this site will be realized if you find the information you need to act to make this world a better place.

Let the conversation between polite company begin.