As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Quick Hits

Damn, I'm still catching up from Friday. And the next few days I'll have very limited time. So here's some quick hits:

This was stupid politics by the Bush camp, and will just lead to a greater backlash. Although, maybe that was the point: to tweak the Democrats into reacting with partisanship, and then blaming them for it. It's kind of the play in football where the ref doesn't see the initial provocation but just the second punch, and calls the flag on the second guy. Maybe that's the strategy. It'd certainly fit in with the culture of martyrdom and victimhood in the GOP. But people are reporting on the partisan moves to confirm Bolton and ramrod illegal wiretapping through.

Classic punditocracy hackery by Michael Kinsley here. He isn't always so bad, but in this, he looks at the Democratic platform and somehow manages to read what he wants to read, while neglecting all of the main parts of the platform that will be implemented immediately. It's like criticizng spelling mistakes on page 603 without reading pages 1-602.

Argentina looks to arrest Iranian leaders for their role in the Hezbollah bombing of synagogues in Buenos Aires. Good. There should be consequences for state-sponsored terrorism.

This is hilarious. Supreme Court Justice Santorum? You have to read the whole post for the comment-mining. I laughed for days.

• The Curse of The Jesus Camp: not only did best supporting actor Ted Haggard go down, but now the subject of the film, the "Jesus Camp" itself, is shuttering its doors. Amazing what a little sunlight can do.

• One of the worst things that happened Tuesday was in Michigan, where the anti-affirmative action initiative sponsored by the KKK was passed.

But saner people are fighting back.

A day after Michigan approved a proposition barring affirmative action in public education, employment or contracting, opponents filed a federal lawsuit challenging the measure as unconstitutional.

Separately, the president of the University of Michigan, Mary Sue Coleman, pledged to “consider every legal option available” to continue to fight for diversity on campus.

I believe that affirmative action is still necessary in this day and age to ensure equality of opportunity. It should be narrowly cast, but the societal benefits are enough that its repeal would not be helpful.

• College football blogging: Well, the game of the century is set. I went to Michigan, so I'm biased. And my sister went to Ohio State, so it's personal.

Now if only we can be assured that the winner will face Rutgers, provided they win out, for the national championship. If a team is undefeated and from a BCS conference, how can you pass them up for the title game in favor of a team with one loss? What a crock. The Scarlet Knights should get a chance.


Picture Gallery

Saved from the events of the past week:

And finally, after an election where progressives were elected around the country, after an election where the main issue was opposition to the Iraq war, after an election where all sides are calling for troops drawdowns and regional participation, how does Meet the Press react to that in their decision of guests this week? Who do they pick to reflect the change in the country this week?

Joe Lieberman and John McCain, probably the most hawkish elected officials on the war in the country, one of whom wants to stay the course and the other of whom wants to add troops.

Your liberal media, ladies and gents.



Went to a blogger panel discussion today featuring David Atkins (aka thereisnospoon) and Howie Klein of Down With Tyranny and longtime blogger Kevin Drum of Political Animal, the blog for The Washington Monthly. At a lunch afterwards, the talk turned to what policies the Democrats will try to enact come November, which makes sense given Kevin Drum's status as chief wonk of the progressive blogosphere.

Obviously the Democrats will try and deliver on their very narrowly defined, focus group-tested, broadly palatable goals that they've already expressed. They'll try to increase the minimum wage by about two dollars an hour, implement all the recommendations of the 9-11 commission, remove subsidies for Big Oil from the energy bill and allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies on prices for prescriptions. Some of those (9-11 Commisssion recommendations) will be signed by the President, others (Big Oil subsidies) likely blocked. The White House are likely to try to include some sort of tax relief for small businesses to offset the minimum wage increase. On that score it will be very interesting to see how things go, whether or not the Democrats will hold to their ideals or just give away the farm to the President.

Then there are oversight hearings, on Iraq war contracting, on lobbying and ethics, et cetera. I agree with Kevin that the committee Chairman need to keep it in balance and not hold a hearing every day. Proper oversight instead of either none or too much.

A few things in the news today offer some more clues. First of all it looks like the Dems will go after the AMT:

Democratic leaders this week vowed to make the alternative minimum tax a centerpiece of next year's budget debate, saying the levy threatens to unfairly increase tax bills for millions of middle-class families by the end of the decade.

The complex and expensive tax was designed to prevent the super-rich from using deductions, credits and other shelters to avoid paying the Internal Revenue Service. But because of rising incomes, the tax is expected to expand to more than 30 million taxpayers in 2010 from 3.8 million mostly well-off households in 2006.

Fixing the AMT has long been a top priority for Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who is in line to head the Senate Finance Committee. Last year, Baucus co-authored a bill to repeal the tax with Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), the presumptive chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, this week put fixing the AMT at the top of his agenda, calling it far more urgent than dealing with President Bush's request to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire in 2010.

And yesterday, House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), who is campaigning to keep his leadership post, said Democrats will make "fixing the AMT . . . a priority of tax policy next year."

If this is done and Bush's tax cuts are allowed to expire, that'd be actually more than revenue-neutral. Of course there'd be a severe funding gap until 2010 when those cuts sunset. Kevin seemed to think that the image of the Democrats going in and immediately doing a tax cut would be bad strategically, but it could cut against the image of "tax and spend" liberals (I think I'm in the latter camp). The AMT is clearly a bad tax, designed for a bygone era and never updated to reflect current reality.

As opposed to that kind of confused messaging, this would be great and right:

An effort to restore habeas corpus rights for enemy combatants could be the first test of the Democrats' resolve to change course in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who is expected to become chairman, confirmed Thursday that he is drafting a bill to undo portions of a recently passed law that prevent terrorism detainees from going to federal court to challenge the government's right to hold them indefinitely.

You have to pick your battles, and this is certainly one worth picking. I think the torture bill was actually a net negative for Republican candidates this year. If the Democrats could effectively get out the message of just how dangerous it is to remove habeas corpus, they will be thanked by the public for fixing this. Obviously the President would veto it. But this is a battle you need to fight.

Republicans are trying to push through the warrantless wiretapping program in the lame-duck session, and the Democrats are saying the right things about that. Here's Patrick Leahy again:

"We have been asked to make sweeping and fundamental changes in law for reasons that we do not know and in order to legalize secret, unlawful actions that the administration has refused to fully divulge....If legislation is needed for judicial review, then we should write that legislation together, in a bipartisan and thoughtful way."...

I don't see them backing down on this, they certainly have no reason to do so. Certainly the White House will try to demonize and play the "you're a terrorist sympathizer" card, but that didn't work this year.

There are other policies, like the Employee Free Choice Act, and real healthcare reform (starting with covering children and working your way up), that will be part of the picture. What's so great is that I can have this type of discussion with other bloggers and not have it be theoretical. We can actually IMPLEMENT this policy this time around.

UPDATE: WaPo discusses the Democratic agenda here.


Iraq Still Exists

I haven't forgotten that, regardless of who holds the gavel in the House of Representatives, there are still 140,000 troops in a confused war in Iraq that looks as despairing on November 11 as it did on November 6. The car bombings continue, and for the first time we have more legitimate numbers on casualties coming from an Iraqi official.

A stunning new death count emerged Thursday, as Iraq's health minister estimated at least 150,000 civilians have been killed in the war - about three times previously accepted estimates [...]

No official count has ever been available, and Health Minister Ali al-Shemari did not detail how he arrived at the new estimate of 150,000, which he provided to reporters during a visit to the Austrian capital.

But later Thursday, Hassan Salem, of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, said the 150,000 figure included civilians, police and the bodies of people who were abducted, later found dead and collected at morgues run by the Health Ministry. SCIRI is Iraq's largest Shiite political organization and holds the largest number of seats in parliament.

In October, the British medical journal The Lancet published a controversial study contending nearly 655,000 Iraqis have died because of the war - a far higher death toll than other estimates. The study, which was dismissed by President Bush and other U.S. officials as not credible, was based on interviews of households and not a body count.

Al-Shemari disputed that figure Thursday.

"Since three and a half years, since the change of the Saddam regime, some people say we have 600,000 are killed. This is an exaggerated number. I think 150 is OK," he said.

OK, that's an odd way of putting it.

As most people who work in war zones claim, many of the dead go unreported, a majority even. So an official count of 150,000 presages that there are many more who are unknown. But aside from the distressing number of dead, what disturbed me greatly about this article was the vow to kill even more:

Moderate Sunni Muslims, meanwhile, threatened to walk away from politics and pick up guns, while the Shiite-dominated government renewed pressure on the United States to unleash the Iraqi army and claimed it could crush violence in six months.

That would be a death sentence for the Sunnis. There's very little difference between the Iraqi Army and the Shiite militia who has infiltrated it. Essentially this would be an exercise in ethnic cleansing. And sadly enough, it's probably the idea with the most traction in the West:

American and Iraqi officials have set a date for giving Iraq’s forces responsibility for security across the country.
Under a plan to be presented to the UN Security Council next month, the Iraqi Government would assume authority from coalition troops by the end of next year.

Only hours after Donald Rumsfeld was replaced as US Defence Secretary, American, British and Iraqi officials spoke openly about accelerating the handover process.

The Iraqi Prime Minister is trying to leverage the Republican loss in the election as a pretext to get US troops out of the country and let them start ruling with an iron fist. And I'm not sure there's even a better plan.

Meanwhile Juan Cole reports that the police force, the only group who would possibly be in a position to stop the carnage, is substantially more meager than reported:

If 20% of Iraqi police recruits quit every year and 40% don't show up to work, that leaves only 40% at their precinct houses or on the streets. If they supposedly have 177,000 trained police, they actually only have 70,000 or so. As for that "trained" part, I wouldn't exactly take it to the bank.

Democrats need to be wary. There are no good options left in Iraq, and any fallout from a withdrawal or course correction is going to be blamed on them, unfairly. If I were in a leadership position I'd level with America. "We're going to do the best we can with a bad situation. The likeliness of success is frankly low."


Let The Games Begin

It took exactly two days after the election for candidates to start crawling out of the woodwork for the Presidency. First the always uninspiring Tom Vilsack, chairman of the DLC, announced. Then, as expected, John McCain started down the path to the nomination. Sounds like they both got the right message from a change election where progressives and populists and economic liberals were elected all over the country: America needs me!

It's been said that the first disqualification for President is being stupid or prideful enough to want the job. I've been very clear as to my intentions for 2008, and I don't think they've significantly changed. Five years ago, after a tragic attack on our country, only one Senator had the foresight and self-control not to allow the event to dictate the destruction of our civil liberties and our military in unnecessary wars.

Protecting the safety of the American people is a solemn duty of the Congress; we must work tirelessly to prevent more tragedies like the devastating attacks of September 11th. We must prevent more children from losing their mothers, more wives from losing their husbands, and more firefighters from losing their heroic colleagues. But the Congress will fulfill its duty only when it protects both the American people and the freedoms at the foundation of American society. So let us preserve our heritage of basic rights. Let us practice as well as preach that liberty. And let us fight to maintain that freedom that we call America."

During the election Russ either campaigned with, sent staffers to, or supported financially 24 Democratic Senators and more House members. He helped deliver one pickup in the House in Wisconsin, a hold on the Governor's mansion and a pickup of the State Senate. Doing their part in 2006 to elect a Democratic majority should be a factor in 2008. Hillary Clinton frankly bungled an historic opportunity to make a clean sweep in New York. The candidate who did the best may well be Evan Bayh, who helped turn 3 seats blue in Indiana. But Senator Feingold did his part.

If Russ does run I suspect his campaign would be about health care, smaller government (Russ has one of the best libertarian ratings in the whole Senate), getting money out of politics, balancing civil liberties with fighting terror, international cooperation and economic fairness. He is still deciding his fate. I support the efforts of Run Russ Run in drafting Senator Feingold for this opportunity.


Friday, November 10, 2006

An Open Letter To James Carville

I really don't know what you're thinking with these comments.

Says James Carville, one of the anti-Deaniacs, "Suppose Harold Ford became chairman of the DNC? How much more money do you think we could raise? Just think of the difference it could make in one day. Now probably Harold Ford wants to stay in Tennessee. I just appointed myself his campaign manager."

Are you trying to single-handedly give Adam Nagourney something to write about for the next two years? Handing him "Democrats in disarray" stories? Or are you that thick about what's happened in this country?

Here's the deal. Progressives saw a long record of failure and bad strategy in DC and decided to do something about it. DNC electors put Howard Dean in control of the party because they wanted to be a national party again and to contest everywhere, in all 50 states. Having a boatload of money doesn't mean much if you put it into a state like Nebraska with absolutely no institutional support. It's actually why there were so many more seats in play, and it's why the party is well set up to contest everywhere in the future. He also raised more money than any previous DNC chair, for good measure.

Where do you get off saying you want to oust him? I'd really like to know. The DNC's goal is to build the party, not satisfy your particular whims.

I urge you to be part of the solution instead of the problem.

Tell Mary I said hi.
a citizen

(yes I emailed him this)


Light Blogging Today

Enjoy the sunshine (or wind, or rain, or cold, whatever it may be). Will be fairly unavailable today.

The blogroll to your right is always interesting.


The Credit Game

Atrios has a nice piece about "credit" today. This has become a DCCC vs. netroots battle royale, and considering that there are as many as 10 undecided seats it's distracting from a campaign that's still ongoing. But it's important to have this debate, at least online, since the national media can't understand it and give all of the credit to Rahm Emanuel and his foresight.

Emanuel did a good job raising money, though I'm wary of the sources (he's from the corporate/DLC/Clintonite school). I immediately thought Rick Perlstein's take was significant:

The Democrats have won back the House. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), nearly tripped over himself on the way to the microphone to claim the credit. In fact, while the tidal wave in the House looks like a bit of strategic genius by Emanuel--and pundits are starting to call it that way (Howard Fineman on MSNBC noted that the Democrats even picked up a seat in Kentucky, where the 3rd District candidate was John Yarmuth--"Emanuel's fourth choice!" Fineman exclaimed, as if in awe of the power possessed by Emanuel's mere table scraps)--in race after race, it actually represents the apotheosis of forces Emanuel has doubted all long: the netroots...

The bloggers, blunt as they may be, think they have a better plan for building a lasting Democratic majority. Last night's results suggest the rest of us should start taking it seriously.

Of course, the late money Emanuel threw at certain candidates, like John Hall in NY-19, did make a difference. It also would have been put to excellent use earlier, like with Larry Kissell, still in the hunt but only 400 votes down in NC-08.

It'd be impossible for the netroots to raise the kind of money that a house organ like the DCCC can. Similarly it's impossible for the DCCC to know exactly what the mood is on the ground in local races, and to parachute their own candidates in and expect them to do well. Both can and must mutually co-exist, along with the DNC and their party-building 50-state strategy (which deserves a lot of credit), local blogospheres (which operate far differently than national ones) and the traditional liberal organizations like the Sierra Club and Common Cause and PFAW and MoveOn.

I don't think it's important to clamor for credit, but I think it's important to note that the tactic that won this election more than anything else was an insistent focus on the disaster of the Iraq War. That came from the netroots and the progressive movement, and can be attributed to no candidate more than the dearly departed Ned Lamont. Rahm Emanuel and the DC cognoscenti didn't want to talk about the war because they thought they'd lose another election on national security, when it was clear that people were fed up with the war and desired change. Getting back to Atrios:

All I know is months ago it was conventional wisdom in DC that the Democrats couldn't take the House, that candidates shouldn't talk about the war, and that the best way to try to win 15 seats was to throw all your money into about 18 of them and hope for the best. In the end that's not how it played out. The field of candidates widened, more campaigns were centered around the issue that voters consistently said was the most important one, and we did win the House. The real question is precisely how that happened. My sense is that candidates managed to build really great grassroots campaigns, managed to get some poll support by doing crazy things like talking about the war, some of those campaigns managed to get netroots attention from excellent local bloggers and from here and firedoglake and the axis of kos-mydd-swingstate (mostly the latter 2), creating additional buzz and media coverage which allowed them to attract more donors and finally some attention from Rahmbo. And then some, including one that I know the DCCC was, early on, actively hostile to, managed to win. Yay them.

I really don't care who gets "credit." I just know that it's silly to set this up as a competition, and some of the hostility you see from some in the party organizations to the "netroots" is absurd. Whatever role people online play- and the money raised isn't the most important role - they're, you know, trying to help Democrats get elected.

I hope that all sides learn lessons from this and put them to use next time. Nobody has a monopoly on how to win elections (not even Karl Rove!). There's no reason to bicker over things that don't need bickering, especially when there are still races out in the field to support.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Quick Hits, Non-election edition

I really have to get off talking about the election, though I have far more to say. But for now, let's go outside the bubble:

This detailed report about the death of Pat Tillman, finally coming to light after over two years, is unbelievably tragic and revealing. I wouldn't even know where to begin to excerpt it. The dysfunction of the military ought to be a point of emphasis in the Armed Services Committee in 2007.

Our thoughts go out to Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas, diagnosed with leukemia. We need to fight war on diseases like this, they're far too pervasive given the technology at our fingertips.

• Gay civil unions pass in Catholic conservative Mexico (albeit in their most urban of areas, Mexico City). The times they are a'changin'. In 30 years we'll all have a laugh about this stuff.

• Speaking of gay, can't this guy be comfortable with who he is instead of spending three to five years trying to deny his true self? There's a difference between succumbing to temptation and just being naturally attracted to the same sex. Ted Haggard needs to understand himself, and he'll be happier for it. Even the administrator of this "spiritual counseling" says that it's only 50% effective, after FIVE FUCKING YEARS of putting the fear of God into people.

Lots and lots of bomb threats at my old high school, one of the top public school districts in the state of Pennsylvania. That's disconcerting.

• Not election-based but agenda-based: I want to see a minimum wage increase, I want to see movement on energy independence (even with Bush's help, though I suspect that to him that means ethanol subsidies and nuclear power), I want to see changes in the Medicare bill (or as I like to call it, the Pharmaceutical company welfare bill), I'd like to see real port security where all containers are checked, I'd like to see a Voter Bill of Rights. I'm sure I can think of 20 other things, but I forgot, Democrats don't have any ideas.

• This was unusually quick: a federal judge blocked Prop. 83 in California for being unconstitutional a day after it passed! Good, it was a stupid feel-good law that would do nothing for public safety. Making sex offenders live far from parks or schools just makes them harder to track, and doesn't stop them from buying cars to drive to the parks or schools.

• Was on an excellent conference call today as part of the California Courage Campaign, as well as a debriefing from MoveOn's Call For Change program (which reached over 7 MILLION voters nationwide). I'll have a lot more to say about that tomorrow.


By The Numbers

Democrats won the union vote by 30 points and the AFL-CIO member vote by 50 points.

Democrats won unmarried women by over 30 points.

Democrats won the under-30 vote by 22 points.

Democrats won the Asian-American vote by over 40 points.

Democrats won the African-American vote by 76 points.

Other than that, this is a conservative country.


And Now Mehlman

First Ken Blackwell and Katharine Harris and Richard Pombo, then Rumsfeld, then Hastert, now Boy Kenny Mehlman:

Several Republican sources tell CNN that Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman is all but certain to step down at the end of the year, and the White House already is searching for a replacement or replacements to lead the party into the 2008 presidential campaign cycle.

Two sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mehlman has made clear to close associates for some time he was likely to leave after the 2006 elections -- and that there is no dissatisfaction with his performance in the midterm cycle. A third source confirmed Mehlman's leaving is a good possibility but said a final decision has not been made. "It would be wrong to call it a done deal," this source said.

This election is the gift that keeps on giving.

They're talking about whiny loser Michael Steele as his replacement. The guy who orchestrated this:

A Philadelphia Daily News columnist tracked down one of the unfortunate locals who had been tricked by the Michael Steele for Senate campaign to hand out deceptive pamphlets outside Maryland voting places. The result: a refreshingly candid indictment of the failed GOP candidate Steele, who now hopes to head up the Republican National Committee.

"I might not have a home," an outraged Yusuf El-Bedawi told the Daily News' Ronnie Polaneczky, "but that doesn't mean I don't care about right and wrong. No one has the right to use me that way."

The Steele campaign recruited six busloads of poor and homeless Philadelphians to hand out flyers to Maryland voters portraying Steele and his ticketmate, governor Bob Ehrlich, as Democrats. Steele is currently Maryland's lieutenant governor; Ehrlich is governor.

"People started screaming, at us, 'Do you think we're that stupid? What are you trying to pull?' " El-Bedawi told the writer. "I said, 'I didn't know it was a lie! I'm from Philly!' And they said, 'Then go back to Philly!'"

Dirty tricks and excessive martyrdom: sounds perfect to lead the Republican Party. I wonder if he'll make Mike Tyson and Don King, who both endorsed him, his "special deputies"?


Spotlight: Patrick Murphy

While I mentioned two of the candidates I most strongly supported in this election, Jim Webb and Jon Tester, I should also give congratulations to the third, "the Paul Hackett of Pennsylvania," Patrick Murphy, who gives my parents the first decent Congressman from that area in decades. It'll be great to see somebody my age in the Capitol, speaking on the House floor, providing his expertise in military matters by becoming one of the only members to serve in Iraq.

A big round of applause for Murphy.



The Bush Administration christened the new era of working together in the spirit of compromise in Washington by renominating the most divisive possible official to become the UN Ambassador once again.

And Democrats, as well as Republican lame ducks like Lincoln Chafee, responded to this gracious act of comity by telling the President to shove it:

Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), who was defeated by Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse on Tuesday, told reporters in Rhode Island on Thursday that he would continue opposing Bolton. That would deny Republicans the votes they would need to move Bolton’s nomination from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to the full Senate.

The incoming Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, has no interest in it either.

Ah, progress! So glad that the White House has learned their lesson from this election of change!


Do It For The Kids

So one of those big "election stories" is going to be how the youth vote turned out for Democrats by wide margins. It's no good being the strict daddy party when the rebellious kids come out and vote against you.

Still, there's room for improvement here. Even with these high numbers only 24% of Americans under 30 got out to vote. There's a lot of potential to reach other kids, who clearly favor Democrats (by 22 points this time around). That's why I see Barack Obama's presidential run as a distinct possibility, and although he has not yet led I think he would do well enough among this group, bringing millions of new young voters to the polls, to offset any concerns about his experience.

Of course, there's the spectre of race, but as long as Obama could carry the Mountain West he could sidestep the South, where you need to look no further than Harold Ford losing to a Howdy Doody puppet to know that's still a problem, I think it may not be a factor. And Sen. Macaca went down in Virginia, so there are purple areas to exploit.

Digby has a great post today about how the Republicans have become a regional party over the last decade, dominated by their Southern wing and beholden to its particular cultural concerns, and how Democrats should not try to become that kind of southern conservative that has been soundly rejected throughout the rest of the country. Democrats elected socialists in Vermont, populists in Montana, progressives in Ohio and moderates in Kansas. We're a big tent and there's no need to run away from that. Let's welcome back the Reagan Democrats, the pragmatic Greens, and move forward with an inclusive agenda, instead of trying to ape the party of the South with all their nasty and brutish conservatism.


And The Onion Does My Joke

Again. Not to boast, but this happens on a semi-regular basis.

Republican officials are blaming tonight's GOP losses on Democrats, who they claim have engaged in a wide variety of "aggressive, premeditated, anti-Republican campaigns" over the past six-to-18 months. "We have evidence of a well-organized, well-funded series of operations designed specifically to undermine our message, depict our past performance in a negative light, and drive Republicans out of office," said Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who accused an organization called the Democratic National Committee of spearheading the nationwide effort. "There are reports of television spots, print ads, even volunteers going door-to-door encouraging citizens to vote against us." Acknowledging that the "damage has already been done," Mehlman is seeking a promise from Democrats to never again engage in similar practices.

My exact same take a week and a half ago (it's time-stamped):

Speaking on Fox News, Vice President Dick Cheney accused Democrats of timing their political attacks and advertising campaigns to influence the midterm elections set for next week.

"I was reading something today that a writer — I don’t remember who — was speculating on increased use of phone banking and cavassing of neighborhoods and get-out-the-vote rallies by the Democrats as attempting to demoralize the Republican people as we get up to the election," said Cheney on the "Your World With Neil Cavuto" program. "And when I read that, it made sense to me."

No problem, I'm happy to be in good company. Getting paid to write it would have been nice, tho'...


The (Still) Emerging Democratic Majority

There are three seats still in play in the House, where recounts are going on. Netroots candidate Larry Kissell is within 400 votes in NC-08, despite running on a shoestring with literally no support from the national party (but Tammy Duckworth got 3 million to lose in Rahm Emanuel's backyard). Mary Jo Kilroy is within about 3,000 votes in OH-15. This looks to be a lost cause, but the Kilroy people are rallying for all votes to be counted.

In FL-13, Katharine Harris' old district (and how glorious was her resounding defeat on Tuesday? She's apparently going to write a tell-all book about everybody who "wronged" her. I imagine it will br 8,000 pages long), Christine Jennings is within about 300 votes of Vern Buchanan. And there appear to be shenanigans:

A review of Sarasota County voting results shows that in almost every precinct a high percentage of voters didn't cast ballots in the hotly contested 13th Congressional District, a trend that likely affected the outcome of the race.

Democrat Christine Jennings lost to Republican Vern Buchanan by 368 votes, making it the second closest congressional race in the country.

More than 18,000 voters who showed up at the polls voted in other races but not the Buchanan-Jennings race.

That means nearly 13 percent of voters did not vote for either candidate -- a massive undercount compared with other counties, including Manatee, which reported a 2 percent undervote.

If the missing votes had broken for Jennings by the same percentage as the counted votes in Sarasota County, the Democrat would have won the race by about 600 votes instead of losing by 368, according to a Herald-Tribune review. Even if the undervote had been 8 percent -- more than three times what it was in Manatee -- Jennings would have won by one vote.

It seems funky and the Jennings people have every right to contest it. Having that many undervotes in a contested Congressional election seems very odd. They have touch-screen voting machines in that district. Democrats will probably come up short in North Carolina and Ohio, but they ought to contest Florida virgorously. A troubled election in Florida, who'd'a thunk it?

Meanwhile, there are two more runoff elections in the House set for December. In Texas, a seat that had to be re-redistricted because of a Supreme Court decision yielded a runoff between Republican Rep. Henry Bonilla and Democratic former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez. I can't get excited about Rodriguez' candidacy after he performed so badly in trying to unseat Blue Dog Democrat Henry Cuellar early in the year.

But the other runoff, in Louisiana, is crucial. On December 9, Karen Carter will face the most scandal-plagued Democratic member of the House, William Jefferson. You'll recall that the FBI found that Jefferson had $90,000 in cash stashed in his freezer, and he spent an inordinate amount of time during Hurricane Katrina commandeering a boat and removing potentially incriminating items from his flooded home. He's named in at least two indictments of associates, and he's probably weeks away from being indicted himself.

Nancy Pelosi yesterday claimed that this Congress would be the most open and honest on record. We cannot have a major headline one month from the election be that a soon-to-be-indicted corrupt Democrat took re-election. The Democrats have actually done their part here: they stripped Jefferson's committee assignments and they denied him the party's endorsement. Jefferson won a meager 30% of the vote on Tuesday, but it was enough to get him into the runoff.

It's vital that we remove this stain from the Democrats and help elect Karen Carter to the position in Louisiana. It would send a powerful message that we mean business about cleaning up Washington.

Sometimes it feels like these races will never end....


Georgie Peorgie (and Karl Peorgie)

I guess Democratic control of the Senate is now official, and I guess George Allen is going to concede defeat in a few hours.

Pretty amazing that we managed to run the table (except for Tennessee) and get all of the seats we needed for the majority. And as Matthew Yglesias says, the Kult of Karl Rove can now be put to bed.

From the GOP perspective, while losing five senate seats is worse than losing four, losing six is much worse than losing five. Since the 2006 climate clearly wasn't favorable to the Republicans, the obvious thing to do would have been to concentrate resources on Republican incumbents running in red states -- Virginia, Montana, Missouri, and Tennessee. I feel like there's good reason to think the GOP could have won two out of those four had they focused. Instead, they tried an ambitious strategy of picking off Democratic seats in New Jersey and Maryland, two solidly blue states.

Interestingly, Rove made the exact same error in 2000, engaging in an absurd late-game effort to campaign in California. He then lost the election, only to wind up with Bush securing the White House through a series of incredibly unlikely events plus a partisan Supreme Court. Then in 2004, he did something similar with weird last minute gambits in Hawaii and New Jersey that put his candidates perilously close to losing Ohio (and with it the presidency) not withstanding a decent-sized popular majority. Learning nothing from his good fortune except an unhealthy sense of infallibility, he proceeded to do it again and then, finally, have things genuinely blow up in his face.

This election punctured a lot of myths on both sides: that gerrymandering was invincible, that the GOP 72-hour strategy was impossible to beat, that elections are ALWAYS stolen, and on and on. But no myth was bigger that Rove, and actually all of the other myths worked in concert with that one. Nobody has a monopoly on the electorate, and this election was actually more about ideas than in recent years, which is why the Democrats won.

Let me finally offer hearty congratulations to Jim Webb and Jon Tester. I supported both of these guys, the last two to cross the finish line, since the very beginning of their candidacies. They were among the first candidates to whom I gave money this year. They both faced primaries against favored, middle-of-the-road DLC candidates, and beat them. They both faced incumbent Senators in states that went for Bush twice, and beat them. They did so because they talked to regular people about their sincere ideas for changing the country. And people responded. It's good for America to have two men like this in the US Senate.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Limbaugh: I'm A Born Liar

One of the biggest losers today, and I mean that regardless of the election, is Rush Limbaugh, who admitted he is a propagandist during his show:

The way I feel is this: I feel liberated, and I'm going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don't think deserve having their water carried. Now, you might say, "Well, why have you been doing it?" Because the stakes are high! Even though the Republican Party let us down, to me they represent a far better future for my beliefs and therefore the country's than the Democrat [sic] Party does and liberalism.

I'm a radio guy! I understand what this program has become in America and I understand the leadership position it has. I was doing what I thought best, but at this point, people who don't deserve to have their water carried, or have themselves explained as they would like to say things but somehow aren't able to? I'm not under that kind of pressure.

I try very hard to back the candidates I honestly feel would move the country forward. Party hacks like Cruz Bustamante, for example, or even Harold Ford to an extent (though I sympathized with his being caught up in the Republican Southern Strategy), do nothing for me. People don't have to share all my values, but they have to offer something beyond the D next to their name.

Rush Limbaugh puts party over country, again and again, and he doesn't believe what he's saying. And he'll get prime spots on CBS after this, despite admitting to this complete intellectual bankruptcy.

The propagandists on the right probably do feel liberated. They're going to come after the Democratic majority with both barrels. They can be as nasty as I want. In fact, they like being the unbridled opposition; they're certainly better at it. But as they do, I think it's important to remember this statement. They're all admitted liars who front for a brand that has nothing behind it.


Twilight of the Neocons

The end of the ignominious career of Don Rumsfeld concluded with a defiant press event, with Rummy insultingly suggesting that only he can understand the war on terror, and he's only falling on his sword because the plebes can't figure out his brilliance.

That's completely unsurprising. The neocons are magical thinkers. They think they're the only ones who see the world as it really is, and in a way, they're right. Nobody else sees the world in the warped way that they do. Nobody else plans a war without planning the peace, because they think an Arab nation in the Middle East would greet them as liberators. Nobody else has exiled Iranian spies talk them into thinking that they'd be wildly popular and that Iraqi oil revenues would pay for reconstruction. Nobody else thinks you can win a land war without any troops to do the job. Nobody else thinks that basic military services should be carried out by price-gouging subcontractors. Nobody else thinks that the way to fight Islamic fascism is to start a wholly unrelated war in the Middle East that they could use as a rallying cry.

Nobody else thinks this way, and now the American people have resoundingly spoken; they don't think this way either. In many ways Jim Webb didn't run against conservatism but against neoconservatism. He time and again said that the military is being run into the ground by theorists who don't have the real-world experience to lead. And voters in Virginia rewarded him, throwing out an incumbent who was thought to be the next empty suit the neocons could hide behind in the White House.

It's not just Rumsfeld that's being offered as a sacrificial lamb. Zalmay Khalilzad, the supposed "savior of Iraq" after he became US Ambassador there, is likely to quit. Conservative bloggers are going off the rails left and right, denouncing this cancer that has so damaged their party. Some of the architects of the Iraq war strategy went public - although they wanted to do it after the election - by trying to disassociate themselves from Iraq and put a kinder, gentler face on neoconservatism. This involved lying about their first intentions (Ken Adelman and Michael Ledeen claiming they didn't support the war when they did) and shifting blame as much as possible.

According to Perle, who left the Defense Policy Board in 2004, this unfolding catastrophe has a central cause: devastating dysfunction within the administration of President George W. Bush. Perle says, "The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly.… At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible.… I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty." [...]

“Huge mistakes were made, and I want to be very clear on this: They were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad. I’m getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, ‘Go design the campaign to do that.’ I had no responsibility for that.”

I have to agree with Bradrocket on this one:

Know what, Richard? Go to hell. You brought Chalabi and his merry band of crooks to the White House and had them feed the CIA bogus intel. You kept insisting that the invasion was a success long after it was clear to all non-Glenn Reynoldses that it was an abject failure. And you and Frummy wrote An End to Evil, the ultimate book of neocon wingnuttery that recommended, among other things, that the United States declare France an enemy state. To say that you bear no blame for this sad human catastrophe is beyond reprehensible. You and your buddies need to be banished completely from the national discourse and be forced to beg on the street for food. Just go away. Never come back.

Everybody knows Bush is a blank slate and a bit dim, but more and more people know that the neocons are the real source of danger in the White House. And once again, they figured it out all by themselves, without help from the chattering classes. It can take Americans a while, but eventually they get it right.

It has been said today that Bush made this decision on Rumsfeld over Cheney's wishes (and then Chris Matthews tried to give the President a pony by saying "this is the first decision he's made by himself!" Hey Tweety, he's been President SIX YEARS, that's not something you'd put on the résumé!). Better than Rumsfeld, who's an instrument of policy as much as an architect, leaving is the possibility that Cheney is completely diminished. The country can stop talking about pixies and faerie dust anymore as if they're real strategies for national security.

I heard neocon Frank Gaffney today try to slam incoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Gates probably deserves some slamming, but Gaffney tried to claim that Gates would have us negotiate with terrorists, and give up our power and moral authority in the world, etc. Even Tucker Carlson looked at him with a special kind of disdain. To the neocons, anyone who doesn't agree with their agenda, which has gotten everything wrong in foreign policy for the last 50 years, is a hippie freakshow terrorist-lover. And while they congratulate themselves on this score, they're now only talking to themselves.


California, A Post-Mortem

Thought I'd sum up my thoughts on the state elections. Brian at Calitics had a good take too, and many of his points fall in line with mine.

• In the Governor's race, we simply couldn't overcome the complete co-opting of the Democratic agenda from the Republican incumbent. I read something where an incumbent governor hasn't been denied a second term in California in something like 70 years, and watching this campaign I believe it. California is almost uncampaignable, and it's gotten worse. You need millions of dollars and, apparently, an IMDb profile. I still believe Phil Angelides would have been a great governor, but he was a middling candidate with a miserable campaign team. My 1996 comparison still stands; faced with no real options, the CDP took the loyal guy to run a suicide mission. Then they gave him little support as the state legislators pretty much undermined him throughout the year. Nobody got out early enough to define Arnold Schwarzenegger; instead it was the other way around.

• I'm extremely skeptical that Arnold Schwarzenegger will continue to run as a stealth Democrat throughout his next term. The pressure will be off him, and he's already shown his true colors with that "signing statement" changing the anti-global warming law. He's said that his Special Election of 2005 was full of "good ideas" and I expect him to try and strong-arm them through the legislature. There are going to be battles in this state for the next four years.

• On the good side, the California Republican Party is dead. Buried. They won the governorship by 16 points and couldn't get more than one candidate to ride his coattails. And Steve Poizner made his own coattails with $15 million dollars and the fact that he ran against a party hack who thought it would be a good idea to run on a platform of "I lost weight." There is no Republican in this state that can win a statewide race against anything more than a marginally competent Democrat. Schwarzenegger completely sold out Republican ideals in order to get re-elected, and in so doing destroyed his party for at least a decade. My post, on the end of the CRP, still stands.

• Debra Bowen, Secretary of State of California. 'Nuff said. I'm so proud of her. That was yet another netroots victory. She was underfunded and under-publicized and still beat an incumbent.

• The only other incumbent to lose in the whole state: Dick Pombo. Jerry McNerney was a brilliant candidate, who earned this victory one voter at a time. McNerney had to fight off a DLC and DCCC-backed candidate in the primary, then withstand a barrage of negative attacks (millions of dollars in NRCC money) to win. This is a tremendous victory, and great news for the country. We have an ALTERNATIVE ENERGY EXPERT in Capitol Hill!

Great props to Say No To Pombo, a local blog who was all over this race from day one. And it's important to note that both Dem candidates able to flip seats in California were grassroots/netroots candidates.

• My bold prediction: at some point in 2007, Charlie Brown will represent the 4th District of California.
There's no doubt that John Doolittle is going down, down, down in the Abramoff scandal. He'll be the next guy forced to resign. And Brown has built up great name ID and excitement in the district.

• As for the propositions, people decided that they would rather borrow than tax, even if it's not them being taxed. Shortsighted. Prop. 84 passed because people probably thought it was part of the infrastructure bond issues, even though it wasn't. Anything involving a tax went down; the Howard Jarvis memory lives on! I'm upset that Prop. 89 didn't do better, but it was so crowded out by the other issues.

• Props. 85 and 90 went down, which is fantastic. Can we put this parental notification initiative to bed already? It did worse this time than it did last year! And the stealth-developer law got nipped at the wire as well. Among non-infrastructure propositions, only the feel-good, bad-policy sex offender law (Prop. 83) passed.

• The incumbents held in Santa Monica. Machine politics continues.

• Overall, I think the Republicans are dead in the water in California, but the Democrats aren't in such better shape. I think the CDP needs MAJOR structural reforms. The worst of middle-of-the-road, milquetoast Democrats are on display there. The progressive movement needs to make inroads in Sacramento and try to take the Party back.


Hastert's Out, Too

So sez the Corner. He won't be running for a leadership position.

Forget the first 100 hours, Democrats are producing results in the first 10!

UPDATE: Deborah Pryce is out of the GOP House leadership too. Hell, she might lose her seat in a recount.


Robert Gates

The nominee for Secretary of Defense was deeply, deeply involved in the Iran-Contra affair. He was supposed to be nominated for CIA Director at the time, but had to withdraw.

We're going to see the past from 20 years ago coming up in these confirmation hearings.

Here's a character witness for those hearings:

Independent Counsel found insufficient evidence to warrant charging Robert Gates with a crime for his role in the Iran/contra affair. Like those of many other Iran/contra figures, the statements of Gates often seemed scripted and less than candid. Nevertheless, given the complex nature of the activities and Gates's apparent lack of direct participation, a jury could find the evidence left a reasonable doubt that Gates either obstructed official inquiries or that his two demonstrably incorrect statements were deliberate lies.

Robert Gates... just wily enough to escape prosecution. Let him be the top man at the Pentagon, won't you?


Presidential Egg-on-Face Liveblog

Before Mr. Bush steps to the podium, I do want to continue to chime in about the progressive netroots difference. We took this election, we moved this party in the right direction. Without the progressive movement, Rahm Emanuel would have backed even more corporate Democrat-lites who lost big like Ken Lucas and Mike Weaver. The country wanted change and wanted that change to be distinct. Carol Shea-Porter is an amazing victory in NH-01. She's a true citizen legislator, a social worker who won without any national support whatsoever. Contrast that with Tammy Duckworth in IL-06, a fine patriot but an out-of-district candidate who Emanuel, with something like an obsession, lavished $3 million dollars on in a year when so many races were close and so many other worthy candidates needed that money. There are stories like that up and down the line. It's useless to keep carping about it, but the bottom line is that progressives took the House, and good candidates won for the Democrats in spite of the leadership.

Wow, the news just came fast and furious. Montana is ours, Michael Steele finally conceded, and the AP is reporting that Rumsfeld's gone. Wow.

Here's the Prez. "Why all the glum faces?" The only glum face is yours.

Bush is starting off with the boilerplate. Nothing unusual here. Then he laid an egg with the worst joke about drapes I've ever heard. Bush is sounding the call of bipartisanship. I don't understand how anyone can believe him.

...alternative energy gets a mention very early. There's some movement on the ground for this. Bush is basically saying no change on Iraq. I don't think Rumsfeld leaving changes the policy. The Baker-Hamilton commission will be the dodge where a different policy might be added, but I don't see it.

...Will the press understand Bush's statement JUST LAST WEEK that Rumsfeld was there until the bitter end as a FLIP-FLOP? Robert Gates has been tapped for the position. He's the former director of the CIA. I feel like he'll be a cipher, just like everyone else in the Cabinet right now. Gates, interestingly enough, is on the Baker-Hamilton commission. he's ADDRESSING the terrorists. "We still want to get you." Is this necessary? What a loser.

...first question on Iraq. Usual "I want the troops coming home to victory." What IS victory? Why doesn't anyone challenge him on that? Now about Rumsfeld. He talked to Robert Gates ON SUNDAY. Before the election. The writing was on the wall.

...Now he just admitted that he lied to the press about saying Rumsfeld was staying on. Literally, he just said "I lied to you because I didn't want anyone to know my plans."

..."I thought we were going to do fine yesterday. Shows what I know." Printed without comment. He also just admitted that Rumsfeld was out regardless of the election results.

...The media is pouncing on a lot of Bush and Cheney's remarks from the campaign trail. He can't hide from them. Bush has governed the country in an incredibly divisive fashion and now he's trying to be the great conciliator. It won't work.

..."Somehow it seeped into the consciousness that I was just 'stay the course'." Yeah, that probably came about because of the 500 times you said "stay the course" over the last three years.

...follow-up on the admission that he lied to reporters. And he backtracked on it, lying again on top of admitting the lie. "I think it's wrong for decisions to be affected by politics." Meanwhile he said that the election affected his opinion of working with the Democrats.

...talking about common ground on the Democrats 100-hour agenda. He's not going to let it go without a fight. Mentioned
"compensation for small businesses" with regard to the minimum wage.

..."It was a thumpin'."

...? on will your leadership style change. He dodges. Says "we gotta work with the Democrats," but his heart isn't in it. George Bush will govern in the same exact way as he has for 6 years. He tried to make the Congress irrelevant when the Republicans were in the majority. You think it'll change now that it's the other way around?

...the backtracking is breathtaking here. Bush is claiming that Democrats support the troops, that they don't want to leave Iraq. My head is about to explode.

...Bush is going to visit VIETNAM soon? What kind of imagery do you want to show to the world with that one?

...OUCH! "I obviously was working harder in the campaign than (Karl Rove) was." It was a joke, but a joke with a hint of the truth in it. Bush is trying to keep down the anger, but it's seeping out.

...He's now not talking about Social Security, but "entitlements." Interesting turn of phrase there.

...Talk on immigration now. Let's be clear. The Republican Party believes that bipartisanship is date rape. I'm not making that up, Grover Norquist has said it. Their vision of bipartisanship is "you agree with me". Glenn Greenwald has the same thoughts.

It is vital to remember that we already have a constitutional crisis in our government. The choice is not whether to create one (since it already exists), but whether to confront and battle it, or acquiesce to it (as the Republican Congress has done). While it is nice that Democrats have taken over the Congress, it is vital to remember that we have a President who has repeatedly made clear that Congress is irrelevant in our system of government and cannot limit the President in any way. Re-establishing the rule of law -- and the principle that the President is not above it -- is still the most compelling priority for our country.

Mike Allen reports that they're not even going to try and be bipartisan in any way. They're not even going to fake it. Bipartisanship in my mind means returning the classic role of the Congress back to prominence, and working together to make compromises, but enact real legislation that the public truly wants.


So-Cal: Ice House in Pasadena Tonight

This is a great day and it feels so good to be at the beginning (just the beginning) of the progressive movement. And if you're like me, you're in the mood to celebrate. Well, I have something for you.

Tonight I'm performing as part of the Anti-War Comedy Tour, wth some other great comedians, at the Ice House in Pasadena. This is a great event that has, among other things, raised money for Arlington West, the memorial to the Iraq war dead in Santa Monica. There will be a lot of schadenfreude on display, I'm sure, and it'd be great to see some LA-area Kossacks out in force.

The Ice House
24 N. Mentor Dr.
Pasadena, CA
8pm start
$10 cover

... sorry, I got distracted watching Tom Reynolds brag that the NRCC spent $80 million dollars. Whole lot of money for a million harrassing robocalls and a goose egg...

Anyway, see if you can come out, it should be a great event.


The Netroots Difference

Chris Bowers has the stats on the netroots victories:

The media and the right-wing blogospehre used to brag aobut how Dailykos and MyDD candidates never won, even though they might have heard of Barack Obama, Stephanie Herseth, and Ben Chandler. Well, welcome to our new generation of victorious netroots candidates:

PA-07: Joe Sestak
PA-08: Patrick Murphy
CA-11: Jerry McNerney
MN-01: Tim Walz
NH-02: Paul Hodes
VA-Sen: Jim Webb

I would like to point out that when we picked these canddiates, none of them were top tier. In fact, I'm pretty sure that right up until the end most people thought Murphy, McNerney, and Walz would still lose. But they didn't.

And we picked up a bunch more "hopeless" races as well, that dramtically expanded the playing field, and came far closer than anyone thought would come:

MT-Sen: Tester on the brink of victory.
WA-08:Carcy Burner. Votes still being counted--outcome unclear.
NC-08: Larry Kissell down by 400 votes, recount imminent.
WY-AL: Gary Trauner down by less than 1,000 votes, race undecided.
NY-29: Eric Massa not conceeding, down by less than 2%
NJ-07: Linda Stender loses by only 2%
ID-01: Larry Grant down by 5% with most votes counted.
IL-10: San Seals loses by only 6%

And there is this history too:

CT-Sen: Ned Lamont shocks world to win CT-Sen primary.
OH-02: Still competitve in 2006. We fought when few others would.

Oh yeah, here's the "rightroots" difference:

Two wins, both in Republican-held seats, one because Rahm Emanuel's pet project Tammy Duckworth was shipped in from a different district to beat the netroots-endorsed candidate in the primary (Christine Cegelis would have crushed Peter Roskam, and will do so in 2008).

For the first time in history, one party was completely shut out. Republicans did not pick up a House seat, a Senate seat, or a Governorship. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY.

I've been involved in the netroots since the very beginning. I've seen this coming, because I've been blessed to work with a group of people who were not only content to talk about their frustration, but were willing to go out and do something about it. It's a pure pleasure to be a part of this community, because I know it's about taking the country back for the people who built it. I know it's about building a progressive majority, from state legislatures, where Democrats won nine additional chambers, on up. It comes out of a sincere belief that progressive principles are what can bring America back to its former greatness. It's incredibly exciting to be at the beginning of this new direction. And make no mistake, it's just the beginning. This morning, I saw this graphic on CNN: "Selloff may not be direct result of Democratic victory."

At the time, the Dow was down 4 points.

We still have a way to go. But it feels good to start down that path.


VA-Sen: Let the Whining Begin

I'm watching Ed Gillespie go on and on about "irregularities" in the vote in Virginia. Yeah, like those phone calls to minorities telling them that they'll be arrested if they try to vote.

Look, Webb won. He declared victory, and for the good of the country George Allen needs to accept it. I have every confidence that he won't.

What you're seeing is a reversal of the stolen election of 2000, with Ed Gillespie playing the Sore Loserman role. The Democrats have learned how to do this. You get right out in front and you don't let anyone take the victory away from you.

Actually, Allen is not nearly as whiny as Michael Steele, who refuses to concede despite being down by 8 points. That's hysterical.


The New Direction

I've watched entirely too much election coverage by now, but I have some random, probably disconnected thoughts.

• The Democrats won in spite of the Democratic leadership, in spite of their reticence to make the election about the war, in spite of their somewhat muddled message (though they didn't do a horrible job), in spite of making many of the same mistakes they've made in elections past. They won because the voters figured it out all by themselves, and they had some great Democratic candidates out in the states to help them figure it out. People like Jim Webb and Claire McCaskill and Chris Murphy and Paul Hodes and Tim Walz and Jerry McNerney were good people who did wonders for the Democratic brand in their areas, against whom it was impossible to make the same charges raised against evil libruls for the last 6 years.

• And it cannot be dismissed that extremism in government was roundly rejected. South Dakota rejected the near-total ban on abortions. Arizona rejected a gay marriage ban (thanks but no thanks, John McCain), the first state in the country to do so, an historic moment in our new civil rights movement. Missouri approved the measure backing stem cell research, and it probably did much to get Claire McCaskill across the finish line. Minimum-wage laws passed across the country.

• There's going to be a pounce by both centrist and liberal Democrats to define "who won" last night. There is no argument to be made that Democrats won as Republicans in sheep's clothing. Harold Ford ran as conservative a campaign I've ever seen for a Democrat in a statewide race, and he lost to the nondescript Bob Corker. Now, the lingering tinge of racism could be a factor in that race (we're not over it in America), but there are other examples. I agree with Ezra Klein:

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.

The return of populism is great for America. I don't think it's any surprise that North Carolina, home to a huge manufacturing base that has fled in recent years, may have flipped two seats to the Democrats.

• Enough with the conspiracy theories already. As I've been saying all along, Karl Rove is not a genius (in fact, he looks pretty pitiful right about now), he doesn't hold all the strings, he can't change all the voting machines. Awareness of electoral issues is incredibly important, and I'd like to see a voter bill of rights in this country. But the most extreme concerns of many Democrats were simply unfounded, to a degree. Malfunctioning machines are a far greater concern than vote-switching. This is largely because there are noble people paying attention to this stuff, including Brad Friedman. Winning, however, will cure a lot of the hyperactivity.

• In the biggest election news, with the most wide-ranging effect, Democratic Secretaries of State won major victories across the country, in Ohio and Minnesota and Iowa and Nevada and New Mexico and California.

• Tim Walz, Patrick Murphy, Chris Carney, and Joe Sestak - 4 Iraq War veterans - are headed to Washington. I couldn't be happier with the effort of the Fighting Dems this year.

• This was an election where big change was in the realignment of the Northeast, but the biggest change came from middle America. In the House, the big victories were in Indiana (3 seats), Iowa (2), Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Credit needs to go to Evan Bayh, who hunkered down in his home state and really delivered, offering staff to the various campaigns.

• Reading the righty bloggers today is not only satisfying but has a familiar ring to it.

I'm sure I have more, but I'm still trying to process all of this. We'll continue later. But I do want to call your attention to my prediction: 28 House seats, 6 Senate seats, and 7-8 governorships. Right now we have 29 House seats, 6 Senate seats, and 6 governorships.

I'm just that good.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Because I'm Juvenile

I'll have to endorse this post at Sadly, No.

It doesn't hurt to gloat, even for a day. It feels good to be winning. But it'll feel better to govern, and put the country in the right direction.


Declaring Victory

Jim Webb: "The votes have been counted and we have won." Here's what's great, the ex-Republican in Webb came out here - he flat-out declared victory. Thumbed his nose right in the face of Allen. This is going to be a knock-down drag-out fight, especially if the Senate hangs in the balance. Remember Florida? That's what we've got to deal with. We all know that the media rewards strength. Just like Bush in 2000, Webb just walked out and said "I won." And the media will just accept it and ask the nation to do the same.

This is a brilliant maneuver by Jim Webb. And it couldn't be a bigger victory. Once again, in early 2006 George Allen was the presumptive nominee of his party for President. He's going to fight his ass off, but it looks like he lost his Senate race.

UPDATE: Here are some more victories. MN-01's Tim Walz, ANOTHER netroots candidate, wins. And John Hall of Orleans WINS in NY-19!!! And here's another hero - Jack Murtha. He just said "I'm running for Majority Leader" on MSNBC.

UPDATE: CBS just called Missouri for Claire McCaskill. Joe Lieberman just had a caniption fit. The Senate might be in his hands.

UPDATE #2: Great post by a reader over at Talking Points Memo.

The Republicans have backed themselves into a corner in Virginia. If you're going to go to the mat with dirty tricks and voter suppression, your counting on staying under the rader and that once the election is over, folks will move on. If Allen contests the results of the election it changes the election from a single day event into a 3 or 4 week event, plenty of time to chase down those callerid numbers and phone bank contractors. Virginia isn't Ohio. It doesn't have Ken Blackwell to cover up the GOP shenanigans, and the state has already requested the FBI to look into them. The Allen campaign is going to have to make the choice of whether contesting the results is worth the chance of exposing criminal activity. Let's hope they choose to contest. It's our best hope of fully exposing the shenanigans of the GOP to the light of day and getting the mechanisms in place to prevent their use in the next election cycle.

Great point. There's going to be a lot of pressure, higher-up pressure, for George Allen to shut up and go quietly.


"Democrats Are Ready To Lead"

...from Nancy Pelosi, your next Speaker of the House.

Apparently, the President is going to crawl out into the open tomorrow morning and reach out to Democrats. By the way, this press conference will officially be called "my favorite press conference ever."

I wonder if the press will remember the kind of things the President has been saying on the campaign trail recently. Like "the Democrats want the terrorists to win." I wonder if they'll ask him that.

I really don't know if the President's going to get a free pass from people on this one. He's run a government based entirely on partisanship for 6 years, shrouded in secrecy, based on deception and obfuscation. Now after the biggest ass-whuppin' of his life, one almost entirely predicated on voter dissatisfaction with him, he's going to come hat in hand and ask humbly to work together. Who exactly is going to trust him to do the right thing? I'm really curious about this one.


Rahm Emanuel

"We accept your votes, not as a victory for our party, but as an opportunity for our country."

I'm not the biggest Rahm Emanuel fan, but that's a good quote, and this is a good speech. All about putting country over party. "Time for the endless campaign to stop and the hard work of governing to begin."

There's going to be a race to define this race within the Democratic Party. In my mind, if you look at the wins, in Kentucky, in Kansas, in Florida, all over the map... the clear winner here is Howard Dean and his 50-state strategy, where EVERY race is contested, where EVERY vote is sought. In 2004 we were cheering ourselves with one or two victories, and we were literally lost in the woods, wondering where to go next. Howard Dean was made the leader of the party and in just two short years you see these incredible results. I'm talking tactical rather than ideological now, but Howard Dean carried this party on his back and dragged it across the finish line.

I'll have some more post-mortem stuff tomorrow.


More Great Wins

Jason Altmire in PA-04 over Melissa Hart, Carol Shea-Porter over Jeb Bradley in NH-01 (which is amazing, she had virtually no money and was way down in the polls), Harry Mitchell over JD "Now I know why there's anti-Semitism" Hayworth in AZ-05, Mike Arcuri in NY-24 (I guess wrong-number-gate didn't move the numbers).

Allen and Webb are in a virtual tie. 6,000 votes among 2.5 million cast so far. Now 5,000! The Green candidate received four times more than that (thanks!).

Looks like NRCC head Tom Reynolds held against Jack Davis, who decided that it wasn't worth it to campaign (no joke).

Incidentally, it looks like 21 pickups are locks, with three others leaning strongly in our direction. 10 other races look incredibly close.

John Ensign and Jon Kyl have just been projected by CNN. Too little, too late for both of them. Jim Pederson and Jack Carter were polar opposite candidates. One had a lot of money and no grassroots supports. And one had a lot of grassroots support and no cash. If we put them together we'd have a chance.

UPDATE: Webb goes UP by 2,400 votes! Amazing!


Smelling Victory

Gabrielle Giffords wins AZ-08, Ron Klein (netroots candidate!) beats Clay Shaw in FL-22, and Baron Hill gets sweet revenge from Mike Sodrel in IN-09. We're up to 13 pickups in the House.

And 14! John "Domestic violence" Sweeney loses to Kirsten Gillibrand in NY-20! We're one seat from the House!

UPDATE: CNN calls it. The Democrats win control of the House of Representatives. This was almost unheard of a year ago. Can't be done, they said. Too gerrymandered, they said.

Congratulations to everyone.


Victory Democrats

What Ken Mehlman just said, trying to distinguish between the "cut-and-runners" and the good upstanding types like Joe Lieberman who want to win in Iraq.

Hey Ken, here are some victory Democrats:

NC-11, Heath Shuler.
FL-16, Tim Mahoney.

Nancy Pelosi, your Speaker of the House. It's almost assured at this point. I think it'll end up smaller than my prediction, but more than 15, without question. CNN has it up to 9 now.

Of course Tweety let Kenny get away with that lingo. But the truth is we're not winning in Iraq right now. The whole nation knows that. And they know that course correction is needed badly. That's why you're seeing this election going this way. Your leadership has failed. Your policy has failed. The voters have spoken.


House Pickups

Looks like Chris Murphy beat Nancy Johnson (who ran one of the nastiest ads in the entire cycle) in CT-05, Zack Space took Bob Ney's seat in OH-18, and Paul Hodes (another netroots candidate) is defeating incumbent Charlie Bass in NH-02. That brings us to six pickups, and there appear to be a lot more out there.

Webb down 20,000 19,000 to Allen in Virginia with 92% reporting.

I'm watching Ned Lamont concede the race in Connecticut. That is a disappointment. I have to say I didn't buy the whole "Lamont's ground game means 5 points" against a sitting US Senator. People knew Joe and there was basically no Republican in the race (Schlesinger was a stand-up comedian). I think he ran as dishonest a race as you'll ever see, with the comparisons to Nixon being very apt. The biggest hawk in the Senate ran as an antiwar Democrat - and he got away with it.

More later.

UPDATE: Wow, is Deborah Pryce and Mary Jo Kilroy close. Same with Tim Mahoney and Joe Negron (formerly Mark Foley's seat). Republican Geoff Davis just took KY-02, that's a slight disappointment. Republican Clay Shaw is down in FL-22. Rob Simmons and Joe Courtney are within 1,000 votes of one another in CT-02.

UPDATE: Fighting Dem Chris Carney in PA-10. I lived there very briefly in the mid-90s, and it's practically West Texas up there. You have to be surprised by that, even if the opponent had strangled his mistress (Don Sherwood).

It's so great to see netroots candidates like Paul Hodes and Chris Carney come through.

UPDATE: Now it's ALL THREE bellweather House seats in Indiana going to the Democrats. And Joe Sestak takes out crazy Curt Weldon! Patrick Murphy's up early on as well. Shaping up to be a solid, if unspectacular night.

UPDATE: Just a little something. I just saw Stephanie Herseth's name flash across on MSNBC. Now, in 2004 Herseth was the biggest netroots victory, winning a special election in South Dakota's at-large seat in Congress. She won by the skin of her teeth. When she flashed by I couldn't believe what I saw. 72% for Herseth! That's pretty incredible. It feels really good to get back in the game this time around. I hope we can pull off the double-whammy, but regardless, the Democratic Party is vital again. And I have to attribute that to the progressive movement.


VA-SEN: It's Close

The Jim Webb/George Allen race is neck and neck. This is where the worst of the voter suppression went on, this is where the FBI has been called to investigate. Right now it's literally within a couple thousand seats.

This will go into overtime. Absentees and provisionals will come into play.


The Story So Far

Senator Bob Casey.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

Senator Ben Cardin.

Senator Robert Menendez.

And Senator Joe Lieberman. The only disappointment of the night so far. But as it is, right now, the Republicans will pick up a big fat goose egg in the Senate. And nutcase Rick Santorum, and Norville Barnes-like Lincoln Chafee, and whiny Michael Steele, and prissy Tom Kean Jr., will all go home.

KY-03 is a big pickup for the Democrats. This is a good bellweather. And two of the three Indiana races have been called for the Democrats as well.

This is looking good so far.


Sen. Sherrod Brown

This race was a toss-up as recently as a month ago. Congratulations to Sherrod Brown, a true populist who will be the only Senator in the country to openly challenge the wisdom of our free trade agreeements.

There was a lot of warfare internally in the progressive blogosphere when Paul Hackett was forced out of this race. What could have been a disaster was averted because Hackett was a gentleman and Brown was a really solid progressive candidate.

The fact that Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown are in the Senate is a sea change.


Wander Indiana

Like I said, Indiana could be an early bellweather. Here are current results in their three House races.

IN-02: Donnelly (D) 59, Chocola (R) 41 (26% reporting)
IN-08: Ellsworth (D) 62, Hostetler (R) 38 (32% reporting)
IN-09: Hill (D) 48, Sodrel (R) 48 (23% reporting)

Cautiously optimistic.


Bye Ken Blackwell

CNN predicts Ted Strickland is the next Governor of Ohio. And the guy who tried his best to steal the election in 2004 can go be a lobbyist.

The most interesting race so far is in KY-03. All I know about this I know from wingnut radio here in LA, where one of the hosts is friends with the Democrat, oddly enough, John Yarmuth. He's about 2,000 votes up on Anne Northrup in a swing district that I believe includes Louisville. 64% of the precincts have reported.


Early Returns

So far Bernie Sanders is projected to become the next Senator from Vermont. The Senate just got more progressive without losing a seat. Here we see Jim Jeffords - an ex-Republican who caucused with the Democrats - replaced by Bernie Sanders, a Socialist who will caucus with Democrats.

Already swinging to the left.

Incidentally, I do remember faintly when Jeffords announced his retirement that some of the smugger Republicans considered this seat in play.


Exit Polls

Exit polls supposedly were unreliable in 2004, but it's important to note that exit polls are universally seen as a safeguard against election fraud. And based on this early exit poll the Democrats would take the Senate, although Missouri is well within the margin of error.

Use the information as you will.

UPDATE: Note that these are unconfirmed and could mean absolutely nothing.


The Crisis of Confidence, Our Growing Leadership

Absolutely nobody should be surprised by today's voting fiascos. This is what happens when you have a leadership vacuum. This is what happens when you have nominal leaders who are ruthless and vicious on one side, and cautious and nervous on the other. In short, THIS IS WHY THIS SITE EXISTS. Because America suffers from a crisis of confidence in our leaders.

And we're not the only ones who know it, the whole country is aware, and best of all they figured it out all by themselves, without help from a media that was busy paying attention to other things. This story in today's Washington Post is at once disturbing and completely uplifting, because while it paints a dour picture of the national mood it shows that Americans are fed up with things as they are and ready for someone, anyone, to step into that leadership role. It's a portrait of a country waiting for a movement.

Here's something to think about when you cast your vote today: A new study shows that Americans have lost faith in the people who lead their federal, state and local governments, and in businesses, churches and schools. And they are afraid to fly.

"America is in trouble," reads the introduction to the 2006 National Leadership Index, sponsored by U.S. News & World Report and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. According to the report, nearly three-quarters of Americans think that the nation faces a "leadership crisis."

This is the survey's second year, and it has been downhill all the way, said Todd Pittinsky, the center's research director. "Most groups are following the general trend of having low confidence and, if anything, having that confidence slip further."

I wrote a post months ago (cross-posted here) called "The Era of Low Expectations" which addresses these same feelings of unease and disenchantment. We know now, with the addition of this survey, that the country doesn't expect much out of government or their leaders. In that result is both despair and opportunity. For while the Republicans continue to capitalize on that fear and resentment, depressing turnout and turning the most vengeful and angry in society into a political weapon, the progressive movement is inspiring hope. When I see record turnout in Connecticut and Virginia, I see hundreds of thousands of hopeful people returning to a vision of society where they can be confident in the forthrightness of their leaders again. When I hear about the hundreds of thousands making millions of phone calls through MoveOn, many of them having never participated in that level of civic engagement, I am hopeful. I am hopeful because of the millions that come on these "series of tubes," a growing number by the day, to participate and inform and advocate and build a movement that knows no limit.

Here's part of what I wrote a few months back.

We don't assume that we have a monopoly on scientific advancement and technological achievement. We don't believe that we can pull off the big idea anymore. We don't demand anything of our citizenry except that some of them vote and the rest of them hit the mall to serve as engines propping up the global economy. We don't expect any domestic problem to be solved at the hands of government. And we don't expect any world problem to be solved without the use of bunker buster bombs and heavy artillery.

We have the lowest expectations from government, for civic duty, for our national character, than at any time in the history of the Republic.

At least some of us do.

The liberal blogosphere is a perfect example of the untapped potential of the American spirit. The settling for low expectations out of our population is nothing but a deliberate failure of imagination. When we despair, when we give up, when we start to believe the learned helplessness that the more nefarious elements in society try to ingraine into us, that is when Republicans win. As practiced today Republicanism makes a mockery of self-reliance. They want you to believe that nothing is possible. They want you to believe that war is the only answer to foreign policy, that private enterprise is the only answer to health care and education and Social Security, that tax cuts are the only answer to fiscal policy.

They want you to know that you can't change the world.

But you can.

The country is clearly starving for real leadership on the issues that face them. Today is the first day that we begin to provide it. This journey against an entire class of media and two political parties begins today with a single step. The country is ready. All we have to do is show the way.



Here's yet another incident with broken voting machines, and this time there's actually no backup:

Calls are coming in from the 48th District of Orange County, California are reporting voting machines in over 30 heavily Democratic precincts are not working and at most of these locations there are no paper ballots available as backups.

In some of the precincts, where machines aren't working, if there are paper ballorts, they are in Vietnamese.

We barely have a democracy left on the days when Congress is in session. On days when America is most directly fulfilling their civic duty, it's turned into mass chaos. I'm not all that sure you didn't have these kinds of problems 40 years ago, except you just didn't hear about them as much. But the reliance on machines that are more sophisticated, and temporary workers who are less educated about them, is a deadly combination.

You know something is up when the chairman of the RNC decides to vote by paper ballot rather than electronic machine.

This is an absolute disgrace that will require major bipartisan action, no matter what happens tonight. And whether or not it impacts the vote is irrelevant. People are being disenfranchised in a time where precious few even bother to vote anyway. For the time being, legal consequences for voter suppression like this needs to be mandatory. Laura Ingraham is encouraging her listeners to jam voter-protection phone lines. When the Republicans in NH jammed Democratic phone lines in 2002, they went to jail.

And then there's this:

Misleading flyers were handed out at several Maryland polling places by men and women recruited by the GOP governor's campaign from out-of-state homeless shelters, the Washington Post reports. The flyers, given to voters in a heavily Democratic area, showed GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Ehrlich as a Democrat:

Erik Markle, one of the people handing out literature for Ehrlich, who is seeking reelection, and Steele, the current lieutenant governor who is campaigning to replace retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D), said he was recruited at a homeless shelter in Philadelphia.

After a two-hour bus ride to Maryland, Markle said the workers were greeted early this morning by first lady Kendel Ehrlich, who thanked them as they were outfitted in T-shirts and hats with the logo for Ehrlich's reelection campaign. Nearly all of those recruited, Markle said, are poor and black. Workers traveled to Maryland in at least seven large buses.

Ehrlich's GOP ticketmate, Senate candidate Michael Steele, is also listed as a Democrat on the flyer.

There's a story in today's Washington Post about "America's Crisis of Confidence." Today is emblematic of that. We have a crisis of leadership in this country that leads to unprofessional and unimaginable incompetence like this. Nobody, Democrat or Republican, is confident in the accuracy of the vote. Just like nobody is confident in the ability of the US to lead and establish greatness anymore. Only a mass movement will inspire change, which is what the progressive movement is all about. But this is shabby and shocking, and will only inspire more to the cause.