Saturday, November 11, 2006

Remembrance Day 2006

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Siegfried Sassoon
"Prelude: The Troops"
from Counter-Attack and Other Poems (1918)

Dim, gradual thinning of the shapeless gloom
Shudders to drizzling daybreak that reveals
Disconsolate men who stamp their sodden boots
And turn dulled, sunken faces to the sky
Haggard and hopeless. They, who have beaten down
The stale despair of night, must now renew
Their desolation in the truce of dawn,
Murdering the livid hours that grope for peace.

Yet these, who cling to life with stubborn hands,
Can grin through storms of death and find a gap
In the clawed, cruel tangles of his defence.
They march from safety, and the bird-sung joy
Of grass-green thickets, to the land where all
Is ruin, and nothing blossoms but the sky
That hastens over them where they endure
Sad, smoking, flat horizons, reeking woods,
And foundered trench-lines volleying doom for doom.

O my brave brown companions, when your souls
Flock silently away, and the eyeless dead
Shame the wild beast of battle on the ridge,
Death will stand grieving in that field of war
Since your unvanquished hardihood is spent.
And through some mooned Valhalla there will pass
Battalions and battalions, scarred from hell;
The unreturning army that was youth;
The legions who have suffered and are dust.

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By Heraclitus

Glenn Greenwald has a
good post up about "how conventional wisdom is created by journalists and pundits who are either lazy, dishonest, or both." The first half is especially good, where he discusses the now-current claim that the Democrats need to move to the center (which I recently discussed here). Greenwald takes on the even stranger claim that Howard Dean needs to be axed now that the Democrats have just won an historic midterm election.

Greenwald has written a second good post, expressing his hopes that the GOP extremists will be left isolated and powerless. Some of the highlights:

In many respects, we have had a foreign policy over the last five years based on the mentality of the most irrational, insecure 8-year-old playground bully...I think the country now has a real opportunity to re-define what is acceptable political dialogue and to raise the standard -- even if only a little bit -- for what is deemed to be respectable mainstream views and what is deemed to be extremist, moronic bile.

This election constitutes a rather resounding rejection of the mindless militarism, hysterical fear-mongering, un-American embrace of lawlessness, and adolescent hate-mongering which have fueled the Bush movement.

There is a real opportunity to relegate that strain of Bush follower -- to quarantine them -- to the impotent fringes, where they belong. And ironically, they are seeking to isolate themselves, as they insist, with the belief-affirming self-delusion that has come to define everything they do, that the reason they lost the election is because they weren't extreme enough.

They believe Americans wanted them to be more militaristic and more ideologically pure. Let them do that. They will quickly become an even purer and more transparent version of what they have been -- the Party of James Dobson, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Kristol and Dick Cheney -- combining rabid, fantasy-based warmongering (both domestically and abroad) with religious and moralistic governmental control, all in one toxic, extremist mix.

But the most interesting part of GG's post are the segments from a recent post by Ed Morrissey which he quotes.

Radical Islamists want to divide Americans in order to defeat us. They will play on our differences, stoking the fires of resentment and generating more hatred between us than we have against our enemies. AQ understands that the only way they can possibly beat the US is to get us to grind to a halt with partisan warfare at home, paralyzing our ability to fight them on the battlefield and sapping our will to put them out of business. This video is transparently calculated to give enough ammunition to both sides of the political divide to do that job. Besides, if we take Abu Hamza at his word about the Democrats, then we have to take him at his word about Bush as well, and about our troops.

The partisan sniping has ceased to be germane. We've already had the election, and the Democrats are in charge -- and they will be for two years no matter what. Obviously, we will watch closely to ensure that they do not surrender to terrorism, but I'm not going to take Abu Hamza's word that they will before their majority session even starts. They are Americans, and Americans put them in charge, and they have earned the right to show us how they will face the enemy now that they control the agenda. If they fail, I'll be the first to castigate them for losing ground to the terrorists. However, I'm going to base that on their actions, and not on the word of a murderous thug who couldn't care less whether their American victims are Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, or LaRouchists.

Ah, the LaRouchists...better known as LaRouchebags. Captain Ed expands his comments here.

Meanwhile, Kai Chang has a sober round-up of Veterans' Day links.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

McCain set to begin White House run

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It's official. Almost. John McCain is running for president. According to ABC News, "[a] presidential exploratory committee is expected to be set up this month -- perhaps as early as next week," though a "final decision will likely not come until after the Christmas holidays".

Given his alleged "maverick" credentials, an outsider on the inside, the Republicans' dismal performance on Tuesday will likely benefit him. If he can position himself as a friendly critic of Bush while also standing firm against the Democratic Congress even as he cooperates to work out some sort of resolution to the war, he may be able to unify his party behind him, particularly if the party sees him as the best way to win the White House in '08. But will he be able to walk that tightrope? Will he be able to withstand a challenge from the right? Will he be able to secure the support of the evangelical right? Will his ardent support for the Iraq War end up bringing him down? How many times will we see this photo of the notorious hug, the image that links him for all posterity to the president whose leadership has been so thoroughly repudiated by the vast majority of the American people?

Here at The Reaction, Heraclitus has expressed "having a soft spot for McCain". For my part, I have admired him at times in the past but now consider him delusional on foreign policy and just plain wrong on Iraq, a true-believing neocon, more than Bush ever was, and, on social issues, a partisan hack and panderer to the evangelical right, a social conservative as much as a maverick, drifting rightward to win the support of his party's base.

So he's running. And he's a leading contender. And he could very well win the presidency. But how low will he go in pursuit of that ultimate goal?

Will the real John McCain please stand up, please stand up?

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Jack Palance, 1919-2006

By Heraclitus

Jack Palance, famous for his roles in the classic Western Shane and the comedy City Slickers, has died. I personally will always remember him for his pitch-perfect portrayal of the vulgar and abrasive but rudely vigorous American film producer in Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt (a movie which, between the scenery, the score, and Brigitte Bardot, must be the most ineffably lovely film ever made).

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Rummy redux

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The Daily Show made the same joke last night. Here's the latest from the AJC's Luckovich:

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Live blogging: Nino Scalia

By Vivek Krishnamurthy

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the United States Supreme Court is appearing this morning before students at the Yale Law School, to deliver a presentation on his originalist philosophy of constitutional interpretation, and to answer student questions. The Reaction has exclusive live-blogging coverage of the event. Stay tuned!

9:06: The Dean of Yale Law School, Harold Koh, introduces the introducer of Justice Scalia, Prof. Christine Jolls

9:09: Professor Christine Jolls introduces the introucee, Justice Scalia!

9:11: The Justice begins to speak. Hell doesn't freeze over.

9:24: Scalia speaks out on the 14th amendment doctrine of substantive due process: "Even Larry Tribe has abandoned substantive due process because it's idiotic. The idea of substantive due process is babble. Privileges and immunities is flotsam."

9:25: Student question: what are the core principles for which Bush v. Gore stands?

Scalia replies: "Oh my."

He elaborates three core principles:

1) Florida's judicial determination of the election was inconsistent with the Florida election statutes. Because sucha determination violates the provision of the Federal Constitution stating that it is for state legislatures to determine elections, the Supreme Court stepped in and invalidated the handiwork of the Florida court.

2) The court ruled 7-2 that it is possible to structure an election in a way that violates the equal protection clause, when a state entity (its supreme court) (re)counts different ballots in different parts of the state in different ways.

3) It was time to put an end to the uncertainty, as the U.S. was becoming an international laughing stock.

9:29: Student question: if you could speak to the Framers of the Constitution, what questions would you have for them?

Scalia: "What is the secret of your longevity?"

Scalia says he cares less about this than other people about what the Framers think, because he doesn't care about original intent, but original meaning. The secret internal intent of the Framers does not matter; it is the public meaning they intended for that language that is key.

On the death penalty, for example, there's no need to probe the secret intent of the framers and ask if it is "cruel and unusual punishment," because death penalty statutes were on the books at that time.

Scalia would like to ask the geniuses of the time, such as Hamilton and Madison, "What was it about George Washington? He was a relative dummy: why did they admire him? Maybe because he was the only one among them who wasn't nuts. He was the only steady man among them."

"Do you know there's an Aaron Burr society? There's someone who loves everybody. Someowhere out there there's a Judas Escariot society."

9:33: Student question: What is the case for stare decisis? (the rule of precedent)

Scalia replies:

-- Justice Thomas does not believe in stare decisis in constitutional cases.

-- Scalia disagrees with Thomas, because stare decisis does more than simply protect reliance interests (i.e. reliance on past statements of what the law is, in structuring future actions).

-- Life is too short: you can't question everything in every case! "Do you want us to review Marbury every time? Go on to the next mistake."

-- Criterion for following stare decisis should not be whether you think the decision is mistaken or not. The criteria should be how wrong it was.

Scalia uses three criteria in determining whether to overturn precedents:

1) Was the decision wilfully wrong?

2) Has the wrong ruling been generally accepted? (For example, Scalia thinks the incorporation doctrine, which uses the 14th Amendment to apply the Bill of Rights against state governments, is mistaken. That said, it is now so widely accepted that Scalia wouldn't think about reversing it).

3) Does the existing precedent put me in the role of a legislator rather than a judge? On the abortion question, for example, Roe v. Wade establishes that laws placing "undue burdens" on women's reproductive choices are unconstitutional. Scalia has no idea on how a judge can figure out whether something is an "undue burden" or not. Such questions should be left to legislative determination.

Follow-up question from Prof. Akhil Amar: If a legislature passes a statute saying the legal standard is an "undue burden," is that capable of judicial determination?

Scalia: if Congress forces me into that sort of judicial determination, then fine.

9:38: Student question: Could you say something about textualism and the separation of powers? Given the indeterminacy of the text over foreign relations and defense?

Scalia: Believes that originalism doesn't always give a clear answer to constitutional questions. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Scalia would give great weight to traditional practice, however: "if every state in the union has done something, I'll follow it!"

Scalia goes on to deliver various quips about originalism vs other doctrines of constitutional interpretation:

  • "Originalists can have fun too!"
  • "I don't pretend to have all of the answers, but I have most of them!"
  • "My point is not that originalism is perfect, but that it's better than everything else."
  • "If you are a non-originalist, it's you have zero answers. Every day is a new day for you."
  • "Stay tuned, if we look at the ceiling next year, we may come up with the answer."
  • "Unless you can come up with some theory as to how the Constitution evolves, you can't answer anything!"
Follow-up question from Prof. Akhil Amar: What about common law approaches to constitutional interpretation?

Scalia: Even as a common law judge, you need some exterior criterion by which to evaluate and decide questions.

The problem with the common law is that it is in tension with democracy. Common law judges were the king's agents, making the law in the absence of any substantive corpus of statutes. Such a role for unelected judges is in deep tension with democracy.

"The people's will is in the text."

Follow-up comment from Prof. Bruce Ackerman: "There's an internal problem in your theory. You say you are going to accept a lot of stuff that's already been done, but I'll never do it again. Why would someone like you orient yourself to tradition, when the way we got to where we are is through the model of the common law judge? For example, think of John Marshall creating judicial review in Marbury v. Madison."

Scalia: Judges in the past never proclaimed to find new doctrines in the Constitution, or to believe that the constitution itself should evolve in time. When they sought to create new doctrines, they were essentially liars. They lied as to what the real original meaning of the constitution was, and labelled their own novel readings as originalist.

9:50: Student question: Why do you have so few female law clerks? Do you feel a responsiblity toward gender parity?

Scalia: I feel no such responsibility. I feel a responsibility to select the best law clerks. "Other things being equal, if there's a male applicant and the female applicant, and there's no ohter distinguishing factors between them, I will take the female because she's a civilizing influence."

9:53: Question: What is the role of oral argument? Aren't cases now all decided on the papers?

Scalia: "Banish that thought from your mind! Don't think that oral argument is a dog and pony show... I have to tell you that... oral argument often makes the difference. Not usually, but often, Not that it changes your mind often... but because you're on the knife's edge in going into oral argument. You can show perspective a great deal more in oral argument than in the written brief."

9:57: Question: What do you think of the use of international opinions in U.S. courts? Should international courts not use U.S. opinions in their interpretation?

Scalia: Even if you're not an originalist and you think it's an evolving constitution, shouldn't the constitution represents the evolving standards of the American people? "The only reason to use a foreign opinion is to think when you put on a judicial robe, it's because you, along with all the other judges in the world, can tell the meaning of capital-H, capital-R Human Rights."

Just as Erie Railroad spoke of the brooding omnipresence of federal common law, we have judges engaged in the enterprise of creating a new "brooding omnipresence" of universal Human Rights.

American judges are engaged in the interpretation of American constitution.

You should look at other nations when you write a law, or write a constitution. If the non-originalists admit that they're writing a new constitution, then fine, cite foreign cases. But acknowledge that you're not interpreting the American constitution anymore.

10:00: Student quesion: What do you think about other countries citing American cases? Are they wrong?

Scalia: Maybe new courts with new constitutions have to take their constitutions as an invitation to philosophize when there's no tradition of rights. But given that the right of free speech in the U.S. constitution is the traditional right of Englishmen to free speech as it existed in 1791, there's no need to look to foreign law.

10:02: Question: what weight should be given to presidential signing statements?

Scalia: It's legislative history, and I don't look at it. But I find it curious that those who do look at legislative history don't look at the most important voice of all in enacting legislation: the president. Why give greater weight to a committee report than to the voice of the President?

The Constitution is not clear on what the President's commander in chief power means. Congress clearly can't tell the President to bomb one city or another. But how should we interpret those powers? We should interpret it in a way consitent with our history.

On the question of whether the President can deploy troops overseas, the answer is yes. Every president since Jeferson has sent troops overseas without Congressional authorization.

10:05: Student question: does the fact that the signing statement comes after enactment by the Congress mean that we should give it less weight?

Scalia: No. Unless the President believed the text of the statute to have the meaning which he states in the signing statement, the President would have vetoed the statute.

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Stewart clip

By Heraclitus

I know this is a little behind the news cycle, but with Bill Maher (him again?) threatening to "out" various prominent gay Republicans tonight, it seems relevant. And this is Jon Stewart at his best.

Hey, is that background at the end from the suicide chamber in Soylent Green?

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Chafee's take on Bolton

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Lincoln Chafee may have lost on Tuesday, and he may or may not be a Republican anymore, but credit him with taking a stand on the neverending saga of John Bolton and the U.N.

Thumbing his nose at the Democrats, President Bush apparently was planning to "make a push to get confirmation for John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations before power in Congress shifts to the Democrats" -- this after it looked like it was over for Bolton back in September (see here, here, and here).

But, as Steve Clemons reported earlier today, and later confirmed, still-Senator Chafee wasn't going to play along anymore. This afternoon, Chafee "put an end to the Bolton confirmation process by fomalizing his previous 'informal' opposition to Bolton in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee".

Here's how Chafee put it, according to the Post: "On Tuesday, the American people sent a clear message of dissatisfaction with the foreign policy approach of the Bush administration. To confirm Mr. Bolton to the position of U.N. ambassador would fly in the face of the clear consensus of the country that a new direction is called for."

He's right. And he's a good man.

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The dirty laundry of Robert Gates

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Bush tapped him to replace Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, but his past is hardly pristine. CQ's Jeff Stein has the story here, and it's a fascinating look at "a major player in Republican national security circles," as well as Iran-Contra and some rather distasteful work at the CIA.

Democrats may be happy to have Rumsfeld out, but they certainly shouldn't let Gates in without a challenge.

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Speaking of electoral shifts...

By Heraclitus

Apologies for distracting from the US midterms, but Der Spiegel has an interesting and slightly chilling article on the growth of the far-right (read: neo-Nazis) in recent German elections. This subject has received increasing attention recently. The chief far-right party, the National Democratic Party (NPD), currently holds seats in three regional parliaments. The next stage in their campaign for greater national power is the Bavarian state elections in 2008. They hope to make a strong showing there, and then win a few seats in the national parliament, or Bundestag, in 2009.

It's hard to tell from the article how serious the threat posed by the NPD really is. Some of the attention they garner comes from stunts and theatrics that seem somewhat juvenile. For instance, another fringe party has been elected in a regional parliament, and a central plank in their election platform was opposition to an increase in Germany's value-added tax. The NPD therefore plans to "launch an initiative" (I'm not sure of the procedural rules in German state parliaments [Landtags]). The other fringe party, the FDP, will then have to either vote with the far-right goons or abandon one of its animating principles. Crafty, but how far is the NPD going to go with that?

Part of the problem is that the party is "reaching out" to "unaffiliated groups of comrades," i.e., skin-heads and other racists thugs. The NPD is thereby expanding its reach, and consolidating what power it has among a group which previously spurned electoral politics. The authors of the Der Spiegel piece express their contempt for this alliance: "whether this balancing act between thugs and loudmouths will last is questionable." The contempt is clearly justified on moral grounds. But the question is whether it prevents the authors from taking the full measure of the NPD's potential.

I don't mean to be alarmist. But there's no question that the NPD is "reaching out to" and incorporating overtly violent elements in its ranks, and that it is gaining political power while doing so. Meanwhile, a new poll suggests that far-right attitudes and sentiments prevail throughout German society (although, having read the article, I wonder about the efficacy of many of the questions). So while this is hardly the return of the Nazis, it is, I think, a trend that cannot be ignored.

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After Rumsfeld

By Michael J.W. Stickings

At Popular Mechanics yesterday, Noah Shachtman examined at four key policy battles at the Pentagon that will determine "the shape of America's military for decades to come".

It's a fairly short but extremely interesting post. Check it out.

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Victory is ours

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Alas, I still haven't recovered from the long election night, and I'm battling a nasty cold, but thankfully the co-bloggers have had a lot to say in response to the midterms. Make sure to scroll down to find their posts. And keep checking back for much more to come. In the meantime, here are a few points and thoughts, below the photo of Senator-elect Jim Webb:

Today was, to put it mildly, a pretty good day. Burns conceded in Montana and then Allen conceded in Virginia, forgoing an anticipated recount -- the last two races to be decided, and two pick-ups for the Democrats. This gives the Democrats a 51-49 majority in the Senate. I predicted 50-50. Without Tennessee, I didn't think the Democrats would sweep the remaining races in question. Somehow I thought Allen would pull out a narrow victory in Virginia. I was wrong. And I'm happy to admit it.

Although much of the focus has been on the Senate and House, Democrats also did extremely well at the state level, picking up six governorships. This gives them 28 to the Republicans' 21 -- obviously, a majority. The still-undecided race is in Minnesota, where the Republican incumbent, Tim Pawlenty, leads Democrat Mike Hatch by about 22,500 votes, 47-46.

In the House, Democrats have picked up 29 seats, given them 229 to the Republicans' 196. Ten races remain undecided. These are CT-2, OH-2, OH-15, NC-08, GA-12, LA-02, TX-23, NM-01, WY-01, and WA-08.

Unfortunately, Republican Jean Schmidt (once Murtha's notorious foe) is well ahead of Democrat Victoria Wulsin in OH-2, and in NC-08 Democrat Larry Kissell trails Republican Robin Hayes by only 461 votes, but the Democratic candidate is ahead in CT-2 (by only 167 votes) and GA-12, and a Democrat, William Jefferson or another, is sure to win LA-02. That means that the Democrats could pick up three more seats, bringing their total to 232. Pretty impressive. Gerrymandering may have prevented a more commanding Democratic victory, as the editors of TNR predicted before the election, but Democrats nonetheless met and even exceeded expectations in the House.

Add that to their victories in the Senate and in state races across the country, and, well, the 2006 midterms turned out to be the foundation for a new direction in American politics. Bush still occupies the White House, and the Republicans remain a potent force in Congress, but let us celebrate this victory, and let us look forward to how a new Democratic Congress -- and I still can't quite believe it -- will work to guide America forward in the months and years ahead.

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George who?

By J. Kingston Pierce

I can’t help wondering whether this will be the pattern for the future. Following Tuesday’s decimation of Republican’ts in both the U.S. Congress and the statehouses, “lame duck” George W. Bush dearly wants to capture and maintain control of the near-term national agenda. But something else of greater importance or public interest keeps beating him to the headlines.

During a Rose Garden appearance this morning, the prez declared that “The first order of business is for Congress to complete the work on the federal spending bills for this year with strong fiscal discipline and without diminishing our capacity to fight the war on terror.” (Of course, Bush himself has failed to exercise fiscal discipline during the last six years, never once vetoing GOP spending bills that, together, have driven the national debt to record-setting heights.) Bush also told Congress it should pass the “Terrorist Surveillance Act,” which was introduced by the newly defeated Senator Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and would “retroactively authorize the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program and ... allow for future warrantless surveillance without judicial oversight,” according to one assessment. “We also need to pass the bipartisan energy legislation that’s now before Congress,” Bush insisted. “And ... we need to complete the work on legislation that will allow us to cooperate with India on civilian nuclear technology and pass trade legislation that will enable us to recognize Vietnam as a member of the WTO [World Trade Organization].”

Likely, Bush thinks he can win notice from the lapdog American media with such pronouncements, and make them do his work of following up on these issues. However, Bush should find it more difficult to get some of his agenda items past Congress, once Democrats are in the majority. That might be especially true of the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006 (which is really a “bill,” not an “act,” since as any high-school civics student could tell you, a bill doesn’t become an act until it’s passed into law). A vast majority of Dems in the House tried to kill related legislation in September; and though DeWine’s proposal
cleared the GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee two months ago, Democrats in the upper chamber aren’t now likely to pass it as is, if they take it up at all.

For the time being, the Connecticut Cowboy is having a hard enough time just keeping the spotlight on himself and trying to appear relevant in a vastly altered Washington, D.C. His Rose Garden message of this morning, for instance, were quickly stepped on by breaking news about Republican Senator George Allen of Virginia
conceding defeat at the hands of his Democratic opponent, former Navy Secretary Jim Webb--a move that places Dems in control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1994. Allen, who’d been plagued during the campaign by allegations of racist behavior (remember the “macaca” incident?) and questions surrounding two arrest warrants from the 1970s), was reportedly “shell-shocked” by his unanticipated defeat, and still looked it during a subdued concession speech in which he couldn’t resist alluding to his religiosity (must all Republican’ts mention God and the Bible at least three or four times in every address, no matter how short?) and tossing around a football. (He is, after all, the son of former NFL head coach George Allen.) Television news commentators quickly followed up with predictions that this marks the end of any presidential aspirations Allen might have harbored. Less than an hour after Allen’s concession, it was Webb’s turn before the cameras. With supporters cheering him on, Webb waved a pair of combat boots above his head--“a campaign trademark for the former Navy secretary whose Marine son is fighting in Iraq,” CNN explained--before assuring listeners, many of whom had voted against Republican’ts because of their dissatisfaction with Bush’s war policies, that “[Democrats are] going to work hard to bring a sense of responsibility in our foreign policy that will, in my view, result in a diplomatic solution in Iraq.”

By this point, anybody who remembered the prez saying something vague about what Congress should or shouldn’t do in the coming months was a rare bird, indeed.

Additional distractions followed, including:

-- the news that Iowa Governor
Tom Vilsack, “a centrist Democrat,” will join the race for the U.S. presidency in 2008;

reports that “Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman is all but certain to step down at the end of the year” (those reports coming not long after political satirist, author, and HBO-TV host Bill Maher suggested on CNN’s Larry King Live that Mehlman is gay);

-- and word that the White House, only one day after Bush claimed on national television that he’s looking forward to working with Democratic leaders to “find common ground in the next two years,” is
renominating John R. Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and hoping to ram through confirmation of Robert Gates as the next Secretary of Defense before Republican’ts lose their grip on the Senate. The Bolton effort comes just 15 months after the prez installed the controversial “diplomat” temporarily at the U.N. by way of a recess appointment, following a successful attempt by Democrats to block Bolton’s confirmation for the job. There’s no telling yet where the Gates appointment might go, but even FOX News concedes that Bolton “won’t get a hearing before the 109th Congress adjourns, effectively killing any chance he would have of being confirmed for his post.” Outgoing GOP Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, who as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee opposed sending Bolton’s U.N. nomination to the full Senate in 2005, has made it clear that he won’t reconsider his crucial “no” vote, and Democratic Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, who’s widely expected to become head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, says he sees “no point in considering Mr. Bolton’s nomination again.” (FOX points out that Bush “can re-appoint Bolton during the [coming] congressional recess, ... [b]ut the ambassador won’t get paid until he is confirmed by the Senate.” Better for the prez to simply put forward another nominee.)

Oh, and let’s not forget Rush Limbaugh’s much-noticed
admission that he feels “liberated” by the failure of so many Republican’t incumbents to hold onto their posts. “I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don’t think deserve having their water carried,” said Mr. Morally Upstanding. In other words, Limbaugh is nothing more than an entertainer and propagandist, so why take anything he says seriously?

With all of this in the wind, is it any wonder that Bush is having trouble finding an audience these days? Or getting folks to remember that he isn’t yet retiring to that 1,583-acre
estate-cum-ranch of his back in Crawford? Heck, he can’t even throw his trusted War Secretary under the bus and expect more than a few hours worth of attention. Poor guy.

Bush’s Presidential Quagmire,” by Walter Shapiro (Salon); “Thumper on the Right,” by Bruce Reed (Slate); “Republicans Blame Their Party Leadership for Tuesday’s Losses,” by Steven Thomma (McClatchy Newspapers); “A New Bellwether for America,” by Garrett Epps (Salon); “Chafee Unsure of Staying with GOP After Losing Election,” by Michelle R. Smith (AP).

(Cross-posted at Limbo.)

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Interpreting the midterms

By Heraclitus

So, is this election reason to celebrate? Are we finding ourselves in the middle, or at the beginning, of some brave new world of progressive politics and majorities in America? Possibly, but there seems to me reason to be a little less optimistic on that. Michael
Bérubé identifies some of the chief reasons why.

[A]ll it took was the Abramoff scandal, the Foley scandal, the Haggard scandal, the suspension of habeas corpus, the creation of the Cheney Archipelago of secret torture sites, a criminally incompetent response to one of the worst natural disasters in US history, and a hopeless war that has killed thousands of US troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and may well go down as the single worst foreign policy blunder in the history of the republic. I can’t wait for ‘08!

There's that elitist smart-assery only a veteran professor of dangeral studies can deliver. Nevertheless, I think Bérubé has a point. In particular, I wonder whether this really means that the country has repudiated the worst of Bush's policies, or just his incompetent and arrogant execution of them. In particular, I wonder if there isn't still a consensus in favor of torture, and of indefinite detention for "enemy combatants." Perhaps more importantly, I wonder if the Democrats will try to challenge that consensus, to make the case against torture and indefinite detention. Will the Democrats try to reshape and lead the American public, or just continue with their half-assed aping of the GOP? If Democrats like Sherrod Brown had to vote for torture to get elected, will they now speak and act on principle? Or is Hillary Clinton the new face of the newly ascendant Democratic Party?

These questions, of course, are bound up with the debates about whether the Dems won because they mobilized their progressive base, and brought other voters into that base, or because they seized the center, or, the Republicans' favorite interpretation, simply because the GOP had fallen too low and voters just had to opt for someone else (though they really didn't want to). In other words, do the Democrats have a mandate? If so, what is it? Is it time for a renewed centrism, or a renewed progressive politics? Ezra Klein has an interesting take on this question (via Amanda). Here comes a long quote, but it's all good, as the kids are saying (or were about ten years ago).

The ideological spectrum is a tricky thing. Take Heath Schuler, exhibit A in the rightwing Democrats meme. He's a cultural conservative, no doubt. But however far right he drifts on those issues -- which, under a Democratic Congress, he won't be voting on because they won't be brought to floor -- he's notably left on economic issues. Today, for instance, he's giving a press conference under the auspices of the United Steelworkers with Great Liberal Hope Sherrod Brown, where they'll discuss the need for new trade policies and their success in making active opposition to NAFTA a winning issue. That's not centrist Democrat. It's not moderate liberal. That's populism, kids, and it's leftier than polite company has allowed for quite some time.

So is Shuler rightwing? Seems like a tough case to me. Sherrod Brown? Liberal as they come. Defeating South Dakota's abortion ban initiative? Passing Missouri's stem cell initiative? All those progressives who toppled liberal Republicans in the Northeast? Somebody think they won in the blue bastions with roaring conservatism? Meanwhile, the most conservative of the serious Democratic challengers this cycle, Harold Ford, went down to defeat. Bravely fought race, tough environs, etc. But with an out-and-out liberal winning Ohio and a right-of-center Democrat losing Tennessee, we're really going to call this election for conservatism?

I don't think so. That distorted interpretation is being promoted by an array of rightwingers and self-styled centrists anxious to constrain the new majority's perceived range of motion. Some of them are conservatives trying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Others are "centrist" Democrats look to grad defeat from the jaws of victory. Both are, for ideological reasons, afraid that a Democratic majority will govern like...Democrats. And make no mistake: They'll convince no small number of Democrats to eschew any such legislative style. But if the country had wanted a continuation of conservative rule, they would have voted for it. Instead, they voted Democratic. And their elects should give them what they asked for.

Regular readers know which side I'm on. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, especially in light of all the hyperventilating about the 2008 presidential election that has already begun. But Klein makes one excellent point that is worth remembering in all of this: with the Dems controlling Congress (and this would still be the case even if they only had control of the House), they can set the political agenda. Bye-bye, "cultural" issues. If the GOP wants to run on flag-burning and gay marriage in 08, they'll have to resurrect those issues themselves. Meanwhile, if the Democrats do their job, the Republicans won't just have to bring them back to people's attention, but convince them that gays and stem cells should be more important to them than keeping their heads above water financially.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Decider deceives ... again

By J. Kingston Pierce

I actually managed to sit through most of George W. Bush’s rambling press conference this morning, during which he confirmed press reports that Donald Rumsfeld--the architect, with Bush and Dick Cheney, of America’s incompetent Iraq war strategy—would be stepping down as Defense Secretary, to be replaced by former CIA director Robert Gates. And I was struck most by a couple of the prez’s statements:

• He continues to be bewildered, or at least feign bewilderment in public, over why Americans would ever think that his war-making policies in the Middle East are inflexible and unlikely to be changed, even by informed and sympathetic criticism. “Somehow it seeped in their conscious that my attitude was just simply ‘stay the course,’” an exasperated Bush remarked to the reporters at one point. “‘Stay the course’ means, let’s get the job done, but it doesn’t mean staying stuck on a strategy or tactics that may not be working.” Right. This is the same incredible line the White House has been peddling for the last couple of weeks, and people still aren’t buying it. Probably because Bush has said “stay the course”
at least dozens of times over the last three years, and not until the statement became a bone of contention during the midterm elections did he give the slightest indication that “stay the course” was simply Bushian shorthand for “I’m as flexible as a $100 whore.”

• The other thing that struck me about today’s press conference was Bush’s concession that he had deliberately lied to a contingent of reporters last week, saying that Rumsfeld and Cheney would “
remain with him until the end of his presidency, extending a job guarantee to two of the most-vilified members of his administration.” The prez insisted: “Both those men are doing fantastic jobs and I strongly support them.” But then, just this afternoon, he flip-flopped, admitting that he’d been talking with Rumsfeld for “a period of time” about the latter’s imminent departure from the administration. When asked why he’d deceived reporters, Bush said testily:

… I didn’t want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer.

The truth of the matter is, as well--I mean, that’s one reason I gave the answer, but the other reason why is I hadn’t had a chance to visit with Bob Gates yet, and I hadn’t had my final conversation with Don Rumsfeld yet at that point.

I had been talking with Don Rumsfeld over a period of time about fresh perspective. He likes to call it fresh eyes. He, himself, understands that Iraq is not working well enough, fast enough. And he and I are constantly assessing. And I’m assessing, as well, all the time, by myself, about, do we have the right people in the right place, or do we--got the right strategy? As you know, we’re constantly changing tactics. And that requires constant assessment.

And so he and I both agreed in our meeting yesterday that it was appropriate that I accept his resignation. And so the decision was made--actually, I thought we were going to do fine yesterday. Shows what I know. But I thought we were going to be fine in the election. My point to you is, is that, win or lose, Bob Gates was going to become the nominee.

(You’ll find the video

So, the prez knew well before yesterday’s election that Rumsfeld--a cling-strip for criticism from both Democrats and Republicans--had one foot out the door, but he failed to tell anyone outside of his tightest inner circle. Instead, he pulled a “Rummy, you’re doing
a heckuva job” routine, forcing GOP incumbents nationwide to defend the beleaguered secretary at the cost of their own jobs, and undercutting other Republican candidates who tried to make the case that they had a chance of convincing Bush to dump Rumsfeld. I’ll bet there are a lot of those folks who weren’t happy with the prez’s shuffling of the cabinet chairs today--one day late.

Nice going, Georgie.

This is the guy who insists that politics doesn’t dictate his decision-making? Hell, Bush is a politician through and through, a man who feels so entitled to his exalted place in society, that he doesn’t think twice about letting the people he’s supposed to be helping jump on their swords for no reason whatsoever.

READ MORE:Rumsfeld’s Thumpin’,” by Mark Benjamin and Michael Scherer (Salon); “
The Press Conference Bush Wanted to Give,” by William Saletan (Slate); “Fall of the House of Kitsch,” by Sidney Blumenthal (Salon).

(Cross-posted at Limbo.)

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Tucker & Joe

By Creature

Tucker and Joe pile on the liberals, not news. Joe calls liberals racists, not news. The Iraq war was fought to help Arabs, news. From tonight's Tucker:

TUCKER CARLSON: And yet the same people who criticize this war as misguided, are the ones pushing for us to move in Darfur.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Not only that [they] were same ones that were saying that I was a cold hearted son-of-a-bitch because I didn't want to get America involved in a three-sided civil war in Kosovo, in Bosnia. A lot of adventurism going on in the 1990s, but for some reason the liberals seem to think it was bad to help Arabs, but it was okay to save white people. [emphasis me, and wow]

They have framed the Iraq war as having been fought to help Arabs, therefore how can the liberals be against this war? Liberals are the lovers of moral wars. Read Kosovo. Read Darfur. How disingenuous. How low. The Iraq war was never sold on moral terms. It was WMDs. It was terror. Whatever the intentions of the Bush administration were, helping the Arabs was last on their list. The moral stand would have been not to go in at all.

Oh, and Joe called liberals racists too.

[Hat tip to my DVR for its rewind function.]

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Predicting the Virginia Senate race

By Vivek Krishnamurthy

Some very crude calculations I've done using the raw county-by-county data from Virginia suggests that Webb will squeak by Allen with a 1450 vote majority. My Virginia election predictor basically takes counties where all precincts have not reported and extrapolates likely county results based on reported results. Using this admittedly crude methodology, here are the predicted results of the Virginia Senate race:

Webb (D): 1,226,728
Allen (R): 1,225,282
Parker (I): 27,495
Write-Ins: 2467

Projections are based on data from the Virginia real-time elections site at

You can download my Excel worksheet at

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Retaking the House in historical context

By Vivek Krishnamurthy

As we wait to hear the final word on the Virginia Senate race, it's worth putting the scope of the Democratic victory on the House side in context. As a professor of mine here at Yale pointed out, the Democrats owned the House of Representatives from the Great Depression until the Republican Revolution of 1994, save for one short blip between 1946-48. The shift in the control of the House that we saw last night is truly a historic event, therefore, and Democrats should be proud of having achieved the most difficult feat in American electoral politics.

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Some responses to the election

By Heraclitus

A brief round-up of what folks in the blogosphere are saying. Of course, the most common theme is how to interpret this election in terms of national political trends. And, of course, we all hope that this means that the days Rovian politics are over (but why am I not ready to believe that?). Andrew Sullivan has some good reflections on the failure of the Southern strategy. Also: Sullivan reads various right-wing nutjobs so you don't have to. One of the odder consequences of this election has been the rush to find Little Ricky Santorum a plush job in the federal government. So, at National Review Online, for instance, they want Santorum to be the new Secretary of Defense. Sounds crazy, I know, but Bush has shown he doesn't require competence in that job. Hugh Hewitt, meanwhile -- and you know this is going to be good -- blames John McCain for the Republicans' defeat (see! I told you!), and adds, "Senator Santorum is now available for a seat on the SCOTUS should one become available." As Sullivan succintly puts it, "clinical."

Amanda Marcotte has an interesting post about how the election results may be a sign of an emerging progressive consensus in the country, or at least a sign that the old-fashioned fear- and hate-mongering the GOP has been running on for so long just isn't going to work anymore. I certainly hope she's right, but I remain pessimistic (as is my wont).

Captain Ed has a series of thoughtful and serious posts on the election and its meaning.

Oliver Kamm has a post on how he hopes the Democrats will take national security seriously, and is consequently pleased that Lamont was defeated. He singles out Hillary Clinton as a model Democrat in this regard. I've noticed that people who support, or had supported, the Republicans on national security grounds often speak of Clinton as the best Democrat on national security/foreign policy, and indeed one of the best Senators period on those subjects. In other words, she may be a good centrist candidate on national security measures. We'll see.

Of course there's plenty more out there; feel free to add you own links in the comments.

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Rummy, we hardly knew ye

By Heraclitus

Actually, we knew you plenty, and what we knew was pretty bad. Rumsfeld is apparently stepping down as Secretary of Defense, at the request of the President, despite Bush's pledges just last week that Rumsfeld would remain in office as long as he does. So, give Bush and Rove credit for understanding that the election was, in large measure, a referendum on the conduct of the Iraq War (although there were, quite seriously, so many reasons to vote against the Republicans). And they also realized that firing Rumsfeld before the election would be too little too late for their critics, and would only further sap their support among the base. Bush, of course, has nominated another long-time family friend and "trusted ally," Robert Gates, to replace Rumsfeld. In other words, no one who will try to punch a hole in the echo chamber (although Daniel Drezner expects him to bring some of that old-timey competence to the job).

Of course, Rumsfeld's ass should have been canned, and canned with extreme prejudice, after the Abu Ghraib story broke. He should have been reprimanded after his obnoxiously self-satisfied response to the looting in Baghdad in the days after the US invasion. I would like to think that Rumsfeld is being fired for one, some, or all of the many good reasons for doing so. But, with everything we know about how the Bush administration has operated, and everything we know about Rumsfeld's performance and the total lack of criticism or repercussions from within the GOP, I can reach only one conclusion. This isn't about winning in Iraq. It's about politics.

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By Grace

Donald Rumsfeld has resigned as U.S. Defense Secretary!

Holy crap! I mean... just... HOLY CRAP.

They're falling like dominoes.

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Reaction to the election (UPDATED)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Post #2000 at The Reaction. Updated throughout the night. Scroll down for more.

Heraclitus's updated election post is right below this one. Scroll down or click here.

We've written a lot of posts on the midterms in the past day or so. Scroll down to find them below these longer posts at the top.

I'll be on Subject2Discussion tonight from 11-11:30 discussing -- what else? -- the election results. Click here to listen in live or here for the podcast thereafter. The Moderate Voice's Joe Gandelman will be on right after me.


CNN projects a Cardin win in Maryland and a Whitehouse win in Rhode Island. Two tight races go to the Dems. The RI win is a pick-up. It's a shame that the moderate Republican Lincoln Chafee had to lose -- better moderate Republicans than the extremist kind -- but as a moderate his party is simply too far to his right now. (Steve Clemons defended him here.)


And, of course, Lieberman has won in Connecticut. Quite easily. This could turn out to be a great night for the Netroots, with a number of House candidates poised to win, but Lamont, their most high-profile candidate, just couldn't pull it out. Lieberman is still too strong in that state, but Lamont's poor campaign didn't help.


By the way, Clemons is providing some solid election coverage tonight at The Washington Note.


10:01 pm ET: I must say, Santorum is exceptionally gracious in defeat. I've never much cared for him, to put it politely, but his concession speech impresses. His kind words for Casey seem genuine and sincere.


10:12 pm ET: CNN's Jeff Greenfield is contrasting two maps to show that Webb is doing better in Virginia than Kerry did in '04, particularly in the northern suburbs. Fantastic (if hardly praiseworthy). But he's still behind by a point.


10:41 pm ET: Russert just said the word: realignment.

What's up with CNN's panel of "experts"? Do they need both Carville and Begala? Couldn't they find a non-Clintonite? Or maybe a fresher face, a different side of the Democratic Party? And why Bill Bennett and J.C. Watts on the right? Is that the best they could do? Bennett is like Rush with a Ph.D. and an egotistical claim on virtue and gravitas, a bloated blowhard weighed down by hypocrisy and oversized outrage. And Watts was an interesting figure maybe ten years ago. Who cares what he has to say now?

In celebration of the Democrats' strong showing in Pennsylvania -- Casey and Rendell both winning, strong showings in key House races (more on them later) -- I've just opened a bottle of Iron City beer, brewed in the great city of Pittsburgh and, much to my delight, available here in Toronto. (Go Steelers! They're 2-6, but I still love 'em.)


10:56 pm ET: NBC has just projected that the Democrats will take back the House with a majority of 231 to 204!


11:38 pm ET: Good fun on S2D, as always.

The Maryland Senate race may be back in play. CNN has called the race for Cardin, but the Post isn't making a projection.

The anti-abortion initiative is going down in South Dakota. Great news.

Talent (R) is ahead of McCaskill (D) by six points in Missouri. Tester (D) is ahead of Burns (R) by ten points in Montana. Allen is up by about 6,000 votes over Webb in Virginia with more than 2.25 million votes counted. Recount, anyone?


11:49 pm ET: Actually, the Post has withdrawn its projection for Cardin, but CNN is sticking with its projection that Cardin will beat Steele.

Webb is now ahead of Allen by less than 3,000 votes in Virginia. The remaining votes are coming in from Democratic-leaning Richmond, says Jeff Greenfield. And from the northern suburbs, says Wolf Blitzer.


11:55 pm ET: Democratic Party HQ is going crazy. Emanuel and Schumer. Good times.

And I'm off to watch Indecision 2006 with Stewart and Colbert.

More soon.


12:37 am ET: I can't stand George Allen. And there he is speaking to his supporters. What a buffoon.

But there's some rather odd news coming out of the Virginia Senate race. CNN is reporting that its numbers may be inverted. Which is to say, Allen may be slightly ahead of Webb, not vice versa.

Carville and Begala are tracking the very ballot boxes yet to be opened. It goes without saying that this could go either way.


1:09 am ET: Webb speaks. And declares victory. Hmmm.

McCaskill has moved ahead in Missouri, and it's being reported that the St. Louis precincts have yet to report. Which, if true, bodes well for her. And Tester is up by eight points in Montana.

So this -- this being the Senate -- all comes down to Virginia, Missouri, and Montana. More or less as expected.

Ah, and Larry King's back. Who thought it was a good idea to put him on for two hours from midnight to 2 am? Sure, there are breaks, but it looks like he's about to fall asleep. So incredibly dull.

And here's Arianna Huffington! And there's David Gergen! Will the fun never end?


1:48 am ET: Alright, one last entry for tonight. I'll look at the House and some of the gubernatorial races tomorrow (uh, later today). Here's more on the Senate:

Remember that race in Maryland that the GOP was hyping and that the Post said was still too close to call? Well, Cardin is up over Steele by nine points, 54 to 45.

Obviously, much of the focus is now on Virginia, Missouri, and Montana. There isn't much more to say about them. The Dems are doing quite well in Missouri and Montana, and Virginia... well, we'll see.

McCaskill's on. And she declares victory. (Amid long-winded platitudes.) Just like Webb. Obviously, Democrats have learned one of the key lessons of 2000. When in doubt, if you're ahead even by a slim margin, declare victory. It's pre-emptive public relations.

Anyway, what strikes me is the margin of victory for the Democratic candidates in many of other key races. Cardin by nine in Maryland, Menendez by eight in New Jersey, Brown by ten in Ohio, Whitehouse by six in Rhode Island. Everyone knew that Kennedy, Clinton, and Hatch were going to win, and by a lot. But Democrats, it seems to me, have done exceeding well in race after race. Casey by 18 in Pennsylvania. Cantwell by 15 in Washington. Even Ford's three-point defeat was a strong showing given recent polls.

In other words, an exceptionally impressive showing by the Democrats in the 2006 midterms. Even if they don't win the Senate they will have narrowed the Republican majority. (Although Webb seems to have expanded his lead. If his lead and McCaskill's lead hold, all that's left is Montana, where Tester is currently up by four points. And CNN calls Missouri for McCaskill.) And in the House they now command a strong majority.

For me, anxiety and anticipation turned to relief and happiness. The Democrats have met heightened expectations. A message was sent. Enough is enough. Bush is still president and the Republicans may still control the Senate, but the American people have spoken. And the Democrats are back.

And that's it for me tonight. I hope you all enjoyed our coverage. We'll be back with more before too long, including much more on the midterms.

Good night.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Desultory election musings

By Heraclitus

I don't have anything terribly enlightening or profound to say. But that's never stopped me from dispensing a drizzle of sardonic and ill-informed commentary before; why should it now? I love the early reporting on the election results. Ted Kennedy has been re-elected. Gee, thanks. Why not just make your headline, We don't know anything yet.

Apparently Sheldon Whitehouse beat Lincoln Chafee. I lived in Rhode Island until late July, and I'm a little disappointed to hear that. Chafee was more liberal than most Democrats in the Senate; he voted against both the torture and detention bill and The Wall of Idiocy and Racism. And he was a more or less constant thorn in Bush's side. In other words, he was a better senator than Hillary Clinton and a host of other Democrats. Whitehouse, meanwhile, looked like something of a clown in his tv ads. I don't think "bring our troops home" is a serious position. (Why not? Well, if you want to take a break from all this election night tension, you can read this rather verbose post I wrote a week or so ago about recent discussions of the future of Iraq.) Incidentally, I've come to hate the phrase "our troops," and nominate it for the most gratingly dishonest and condescending phrase in the English language, at least for the year 2006.

I'm contemplating busting out the gin and tonic equipment. If and when I update this post, I may be shit-faced, or at least a solid one-and-a-half sheets to the wind.

Well, it's now about eleven o'clock, and the BBC just ran a headline saying that the Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives. Feels anticlimactic.

Okay, it's about twenty past twelve, and the Democrats seem to have won the House. Sherrod Brown has won the Senate seat here in Ohio, which isn't really surprising, considering that he was something like a twenty-point favorite for the past week or so. Michael and I talked earlier, and he has some very interesting thoughts on what it means for the Dems to have control of the House and the Senate vs. just control of the House, and I'm sure he'll write a post about it soon. Meanwhile, I'm pleased, hoping to hell that the next two years see every scumbag in the Bush administration raked across the coals in Congress, and that eventually everyone will see this administration as I do. And if Bush and his supporters are so worried that the country will be paralyzed because of all the investigations (which wouldn't be possible if Bush and his cronies hadn't been so staggeringly corrupt), he can resign. For the good of the country, just like all those GOP blow-hards wanted Clinton to (and don't forget, the Republicans single-handedly caused September 11th). Otherwise, they can all shut the fuck up about paralysis and vulnerability. You know what makes us vulnerable to terrorist attacks? Having a completely incompetent and corrupt ideologue and sociopathic brat (to repeat Amanda Marcotte's characterization of Bush, which I think captures him about as well as any two words can) for president. I look forward to seeing Nancy Pelosi clear the swamp, clean the stables, set fire to the barn and kill the rats. And I delight in knowing that all the misogynists in the GOP will be squeeling like stuck pigs because it's a woman holding their feet to the fire (yes, I like fire imagery). Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and I look forward to plenty of it being let through to shine bright and fierce in Washington. Not that I'm some true believer in the Democrats, but anything is better than this shit we've been getting. More than anything, I look forward to various light and fire metaphors being apt descriptions for what's going to happen in DC for the next two years.

Now I'm going to go watch Conan and go to bed. And, appearances perhaps to the contrary, I never took the gin out of the cupboard.

Okay, one final update. I turned on the tv, but Leno was still on. I tried to figure out where he was in his show by seeing who the guest was. I looked at her and thought, "Okay, it's Bette Midler, she's probably the first guest, so Conan won't be on for a while." But something seemed a bit off; her demeanor and mannerisms didn't seem like Bette Midler's (although, granted, my viewing experience of Bette Midler is limited to the Seinfeld episode she appeared in). I looked at her for a few seconds, and then realized, that's Courtney Love. What the hell is going on in this world?

Okay, one genuinely final update: Andrew Sullivan knows what time it is.

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Electronic voting mayhem

By Michael J.W. Stickings

See our election live-blogging here.


I may have more on this in the days to come, but, for now, see Kos's post on "the end of the electronic voting machine". It's been a bad day for e-voting across the U.S.

The Times has the story here.

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Santorum is done

By Michael J.W. Stickings

See our election live-blogging here.


CNN projects a Casey victory over Santorum in Pennsylvania.

As predicted, but wonderful, wonderful news.

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CNN's exit polls and early Senate projections

By Michael J.W. Stickings

See our election live-blogging here.


Think Progress has CNN's Senate exit polls -- see here.

The numbers look good. But who knows? Don't take them too seriously.


CNN has projected wins for Menendez in New Jersey and, just now, Brown in Ohio. The New Jersey race was close, but Menendez widened the gap in recent polls. And Brown's victory comes as no surprise.

What we need to look for now is the blue-ing of Ohio. Strickland will win the governorship, but will the state also go heavily Democratic in the House?

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High turnout in Connecticut

By Michael J.W. Stickings

See our election live-blogging here.


But is it high enough to help Lamont? And will it even matter? Likely not. Lieberman was too far ahead in the polls. Lamont could -- and likely will -- make the election closer than some of those polls were indicating it would be, but I'm afraid we must resign ourselves to the unpleasant prospect of another term for the Democrats' most notorious Bush-kisser.

And prepare for all the drama that will ensue when he rejoins (if he ever really left) the Democratic Senate Caucus. Will he retain his seniority? What role will he play in the party? And what will happen if the Senate is as bitterly divided as most of us expect it will be after today?

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Exit poll indications

By Michael J.W. Stickings

See our election live-blogging here.


The Republicans are warning us to "beware of exit polls" -- in big, bold letters -- but they (exit polls, not Republicans) are far more reliable than their post-2004 reputation.

And, according to ABC, "[p]reliminary exit poll results indicate that nearly six in 10 voters today disapprove of the way President Bush is handling his job". And -- as I indicated earlier today -- "[t]he war in Iraq is a serious concern": "In preliminary exit poll results, nearly six in 10 voters disapprove of the war, while about four in 10 approve." Whatever the specific outcomes of today's elections, that's a loud and clear vote against Bush, against his war, and against his party.

Republicans are criticizing exit polls. But what they're really criticizing are the American people, the overwhelming majority of whom, according to these indications, have rejected them.

And with good reason.

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