Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Democratic Party Wins the House AND SENATE!

"As you go to the polls, remember, we're at war." -- George W. Bush

"What's changed today is the election is over, and the Democrats won." -- George W. Bush

9:12 pm:

WEBB TAKES VIRGINIA. Democratic majority in both houses of Congress! Bush: "Shows what I know." MSNBC: "Win solidifies Democratic power on Hill." More soon...

5:20 pm: The New York Times is reporting that Jim Webb has been confidently planning his transition to the Senate, and that his aides are referring to him as "Senator-elect Webb." Meanwhile, "some members of Mr. Allen’s camp suggested...that he would challenge the vote count." The complexity of Virginia's election laws means that "results of a formal recount might not be known until nearly Christmas." The current precinct-by-precinct canvass "should be completed no later than next Tuesday."

RNC chairman Ed Gillespie seems to have assured the Times, "The conclusion of the canvass will be the official result." Also, Gillespie "said he believed a count of provisional ballots and a review of the state's voting machines would turn up additional votes for Mr. Allen."

"The recount in Virginia is unlikely to resolve all potential legal issues. In Virginia 'recounts' consist of re-tabulating the votes from the existing counts to ensure that the end-of-the-day tallies were summed accurately. Virginia uses a mix of optical-scan machines and touch-screen machines, with 11 different systems in total, across more than 130 jurisdictions, amounting to more than 9,000 machines. Touch-screen machines print out full tallies after all voting is done, and unless these printouts are unclear, officials generally do not rerun the machines. With optical-scan machines, only unclear ballots are run back through the scanner.

"While all of the state's absentee ballots were already counted, election officials said today that they did not know how many voters had cast provisional ballots, which are used when a voter does not have proper identification or does not appear on a voter registration rolls.

"In Virginia, provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct are thrown away. Voting experts say if the number of provisional ballots deemed ineligible is greater than the number of ballots needed to tip the race, there may be litigation over which ballots should be eligible. In 2004, of three million total ballots, 4,609 were provisional and only 728 ended up being counted."

One of the fun things about election coverage is that the news keeps coming in, and everyone's been up all night, and the reportage starts to get a little punchy:

"A protracted recount in Virginia is a scenario that many voting experts feared, with control of Congress hinging on a razor-thin margin in one Senate race, bringing a replay of the bitter litigation of the 2000 presidential election, which resulted in a drawn-out recount and bitter litigation."

I wish George Allen would just concede already...but if Webb were trailing, I might have more patience. So we'll see.

1:12 pm: Excerpts from Bush's press conference: "Why all the glum faces?" (Nobody laughs.) "And in my first act of bipartisan cooperation...I gave [Pelosi] the names of some Republican interior decorators who can help them pick out drapes for their new offices." (Smirk, smirk, nobody laughs.) "It is clear the Democrat Party had a good night last night." (That's the Democratic Party, idiot.) "I recognize that many Americans voted last night to register their displeasure with the lack of progress being made" in Iraq.

12:55 pm: CNN, CBS, NBC, and the Associated Press are all reporting two items of note: Tester is the projected winner in Montana...and Donald Rumsfeld is going to step down!

Well, my friends, last night was a beautiful night, and though my fingers are sore from my live blogging frenzy, my heart isn't sore at all.

Here's the latest: There are still thirteen undecided House races, but the only question is how large the Democratic majority will be. It looks more and more certain that the Democratic Party will control the Senate. Some are already projecting it, and it's difficult to imagine any other outcome at this point. They're still counting in Montana, but Tester is 1,700 votes ahead, and the precinct still being counted is a Democratic stronghold, where Tester currently leads with 66% of the vote. Verification of the Montana vote could take a day or two. The margin has to be within one quarter of one percent for Burns to get a state-funded recount. It's unlikely. Webb still leads by about 8,000 votes in Virginia, with absentee ballots already counted. Verification is underway, and may also take a day or two, but again, Webb's lead looks much more likely to grow than to shrink. (Webb has already declared victory, though George Allen has yet to concede defeat.)

Basically, the only reason not to say we've won the Senate is extreme caution. The New York Times does warn that "Virginia's election laws allow an apparent loser to request a recount if a contest’s margin is less than 1 percent -- and the margin in the preliminary results of the state’s Senate election stood this morning at about one-third of 1 percent." Furthermore, in Virginia, "no request for a recount may be filed until the vote is certified, which is scheduled to happen this year on Nov. 27th. After certification, a losing candidate has 10 days to file a recount request in the state courts."

Dueling press conferences: The next Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi -- soon to become the first woman ever to hold that office, and the highest-ranking female elected official in American history -- will speak to the press at noon. Bush will speak to the press at one.

Democrats have won a majority of state legislatures. The next session of Congress, the Boston Globe points out, "will include an unprecedented number of women," plus Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), "an avowed socialist...[elected] to the Senate for the first time in history." Also, "including last night, the House has only changed parties twice in 52 years." Keith Ellison has become the first African-American elected to represent Minnesota in the House of Representatives; he is also the first Muslim ever to serve in the U.S. Congress. In local commissions and state legislatures, an unprecedented number of openly gay candidates have been elected to office, including sixty-seven winners endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

In a major victory for both women and freedom, the South Dakota aboriton ban was defeated. In Missouri, the stunning victory of Claire McCaskill was complemented by the approval of a ballot measure supporting stem cell research. An amendment banning gay marriage was defeated in Arizona -- though, in one of last night's few disappointments, gay marriage bans did pass in six other states (Idaho, Colorado, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Virginia, and South Carolina). In a silly and meaningless (but vaguely disappointing) development, Arizona seems to have voted for English as the "official language." So I guess English is now the official language of Arizona. The state bird is the cactus wren.

It was also an election rife with symbolic victories -- the unseating of Santorum, Hostettler, DeWine, and others being the most visible and the most thrilling. The Texas redistricting masterminded years ago by the now-ousted Tom DeLay made it harder for Democrats to win a majority in the House, which makes it even sweeter to learn that Democrat Nick Lampson won DeLay's old seat! Speaking to Rita Cosby on MSNBC, DeLay emerged from the shadows to say, "Well, Rita, I'd call it a Texas whupping, that's for sure."

With the Democrats in the majority, who will be the House Majority Leader? Steny Hoyer (Maryland) and Jack Murtha (Pennsylvania) have made their intentions clear.

Associated Press: "World Sees Democrats' Win as Rejection of Bush." Damn right!

More soon.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It is STILL Still Election Day

3:48 am: The thing is, there comes a time in the life of every great patriot -- and in my life as well -- when you just can't serve your country anymore until you get some sleep. Hopefully after a few hours of good, solid daylight we'll know more about Virginia (and Montana). But wow -- until tonight, it did not seem like we'd be going to sleep waiting for the result of one (or two) race(s) to see if the Democrats won the Senate. This has been a historic night. Sure, why not?

This concludes the NERO FIDDLED Live Blogging Election 2006 Cavalcade of Thrills! Did you even know that's what this was? Well, that's what this was.

What an exciting election! What an exciting time.

3:19 am: Bad news too: NBC projects gay marriage bans in Idaho, Colorado, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Virginia, and South Carolina.

3:09 am: MSNBC: "In Virginia, Democrat Jim Webb claimed victory but led Sen. George Allen by fewer than 8,000 votes out of just more than 2.3 million cast. Several thousand votes remained to be counted later Wednesday in heavily Democratic precincts in the Washington suburbs, raising the prospect that Webb’s lead could grow, but a recount looked more and more likely. And in Montana, veteran Republican power broker Conrad Burns trailed Democrat Jon Tester, 50 percent to 47 percent, but with about a quarter of the precincts yet to report."

2:53 am:

2:41 am: Isn't this funny? We're sitting here in New York City at 2:30 in the morning, waiting patiently, eagerly, for election workers in four precincts in Virginia to let us know what's to become of America. That's what it is. Montana has tightened up a little (Tester leads by 7,428 votes; 611 of 867 precincts are in), but it should be okay. It now seems vaguely possible to get the news that the Democratic Party has the majority in both houses of Congress, and to get that news before going to sleep, and that possibility makes going to sleep impossible anyway. This is bad news, because the great silence from Virginia probably indicates, like the margin, that we're into absentee ballots. But I'm not tired. Are you?

2:16 am: CNN: Talent concedes. Webb leads Allen by 11,744 votes with 2,407 of 2,411 precincts reporting. Okay. I think the Democrats are going to win the Senate.

2:05 am: In a piping hot, super fresh Associated Press article, reassuringly titled "Bush keeps head up despite loss of House," we get a peek inside the White House this late Election Night. Bush, who is "unaccustomed to political defeat," "struck a businesslike tone" and announced his intention to call Nancy Pelosi in the morning. Nancy Pelosi, by the way, holds the highest office a woman has ever held in this country. This is heroic. She has entered history.

1:54 am: A few things:

1. CBS just called Missouri for McCaskill. If that's right, it's all about Virginia -- where state law will require a recount, plus we already know about some of Allen's Rovian dirty tricks. Regardless, in a remarkable turn of events, the Democratic Party is now...likely, perhaps, to win control of the Senate. Or at least -- the Democrats winning the Senate is no less likely than the Republicans retaining it.

2. Katie Couric is ridiculous. Someone was just making the point that many Americans have not necessarily voted for the Democrats, but against Republicans; and Katie Couric said, "Throw the bums out, but the people who are coming in might also be described as bums." What?

3. See Santorum concede!

4. In the House, the Democratic Party now enjoys a majority of eleven over the Republicans, with 32 races still undecided.

1:08 am: McCaskill is now 13,996 votes ahead of Talent. Webb is 2,726 votes ahead of Allen. Tester is 14,877 votes ahead of Burns. The inarguable truth of the situation: Of the three states the Democrats must win in order to have a majority in the Senate, they are now ahead in three.

12:31 am: Either mine eyes deceive me, or it's getting narrower and narrower in Missouri -- where at least one urban center has yet to report, along with 1,304 other precincts. Might McCaskill gain a lead on Talent, as Webb did on Allen? Now that it's past midnight, I suddenly feel like I'm talking about old vaudeville comedy teams.

Sisk and I don't have cable, but Kim Moscaritolo does, and Kim Moscaritolo says that Wolf Blitzer says that St. Louis hasn't reported yet, and Kim Moscaritolo says that Fox News says that the Missouri Republican Party is nervous because Kansas City hasn't reported yet, either. Who has reported? Kim Moscaritolo.

12:07 am:

Click to enlarge

11:57 pm: Jim Webb just took the lead in Virginia. By just under 3,000 votes. Spectacular.

11:45 pm: Virginia Senate: Allen leads Webb by fewer than 7,000 votes. If there is a recount, we will be able to say it was inevitable. In Montana, Tester leads Burns, and although there are a lot of precincts still out, a Tester victory seems imminent. But even if Webb pulls off a spectacular finish-line upset, and the Democrats do get that seat, they still won't have the majority without either Missouri or Tennessee, where the Democratic candidates are currently losing by six and three percentage points, respectively.

But as Kim Moscaritolo pointed out: Very, very recently, George Allen was one of the Rising Stars of the Republican Party; he was to casually demolish Webb and then go on to a serious run for the presidential nomination in 2008. He's now holding onto his Senate seat by -- at this exact moment -- 6,019 votes. It's still narrowing...

The South Dakota abortion ban has been DEFEATED! That whole little plan, Let's get it on the ballot so South Dakotans will vote for it so it can go to the Supreme Court so Roe can be overturned, just fell on its face. If you use Google Earth to survey South Dakota tonight, take a look, the faces on Mount Rushmore are ever so slightly smiling.

11:17 pm: CNN and others say it's over, as far as who controls the House. The Democrats do. We do. That's us, we're the Democrats. We don't have to have hearings in the basement anymore. We can investigate the crimes of the Bush regime. We have subpoena power. John Conyers is going to be the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Nancy Pelosi will be the third highest office-holder in the country, after Bush and Cheney, and if they're removed from office, she's the president. The Democrats won the House. One-party rule in America is over. Don't forget to breathe!


Yes, CNN's White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reports that although Bush "usually goes to bed early," Tony Snow says he's expected to stay up late tonight. More as this fascinating story develops.

Enjoy this. We deserve it. Gloat. It's fun.

They're not having nearly such a good time over at the right-wing blogs. Paul at Powerline: "The good news is that Connecticut has re-elected Joe Lieberman. The bad news is that [the] sweetest Senate result to date involves a Democrat winning." And, wistfully: "So the Dems may well gain three in Indiana, as they had hoped, after all. However, Fox News says there may be a major legal challenge brewing over some sort of irregularities." There goes Fox News again with its TIN FOIL HAT!

Steyn is a good writer, but an ideological monster, so his rueful agony is even more enjoyable. It's like reading this blog two years ago, only he's wrong about everything. I respect his sense of style, though. "Right now," he sniffs, "this isn't a Dem landslide but a conventional Year Six election with an underperforming opposition party." He then illustrates his point with examples from 1938, 1958, and 1986, concluding that "by historical standards this is an excellent result for the President's party six years in. Needless to say, that's not a perspective the Dems, the media, the Europeans or the insurgents will have any time for." But he wins you over with this: "Big Republican victory! In a governor's race! In Guam. But it could be the start of a big national trend."

CBS has the Democratic Party picking up twelve House seats so far. We're almost there.

10:17 pm: In the Minnesota fifth, Keith Ellison (D) has just been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the first Muslim to serve in Congress.

Santorum just conceded. He vowed to do anything he could to make sure that "the people of Pennsylvania continue to be served in a seamless way." I think he was talking about the transition, but it sounds like he's asking whether Casey will represent the state as seamlessly as Santorum.

What will Santorum do, now that he's not going to be a Senator anymore? There are countless career paths he could take; these suggestions are just off the top of my head --

1. Film critic.
2. Principal of a Catholic pre-school.
3. Work with animals.

9:52 pm: Nancy Pelosi just said we were "on the brink of a Great Democratic Victory." She is about to become the first female Speaker of the House in the History of the United States!

As for the Senate -- okay, look. Very, very recently, we didn't dream of winning the Senate, so if we don't, we don't. It looks like we'll win the House.

As for the Senate -- let's assume Ford (D) loses to Corker (R) in Tennessee, and let's assume Burns (R) loses to Tester (D) in Montana. We'll still need two seats, and the only real possibilities are Missouri and Virginia. In Missouri, Talent (R) leads McCaskill (D), 94,401 to 78,767 -- but that's only 330 of 3746 precincts. In Virginia, says CBS, Allen (R) leads Webb (D) by 28,000, with only 400 precincts left to go.

But impeachment begins in the House.

9:24 pm: Numerous races have been projected and/or officially decided, and CBS has a hell of a nice dynamically-updating results page. Don't stop refreshing Daily Kos.

So far, almost all of the news is good. The Democrats have officially picked up two seats in the Senate and two in the House, with flurries of projected victories in both houses. No Democratic seats have yet been lost. CNN projects Lieberman wins in Connecticut, which is not surprising.

The Senate race in Virginia -- with 71% of precincts reporting! -- is so close that Jim Webb and George Allen are wearing the same pair of pants.

8:25 pm: CBS calls Ohio for Brown, Pennsylvania for Casey! THE END OF THE SANTORUM ERA.

Complete CBS projections, 8:25 pm:

• Democrat Bob MENENDEZ Wins New Jersey U.S. Senate Race
• Democrat John LYNCH Wins New Hampshire Governor Race
• Democrat Thomas CARPER Wins Delaware U.S. Senate Race
• Republican Olympia SNOWE Wins Maine U.S. Senate Race
• Republican Trent LOTT Wins Mississippi U.S. Senate Race
• Republican M. Jodi RELL Wins Connecticut Governor Race
• Democrat Edward KENNEDY Wins Massachusetts U.S. Senate Race
• Democrat Deval PATRICK Wins Massachusetts Governor Race
• Democrat Phil BREDESEN Wins Tennessee Governor Race
• Democrat Ed RENDELL Wins Pennsylvania Governor Race
• Democrat Bob CASEY Wins Pennsylvania U.S. Senate Race
• Democrat Bill NELSON Wins Florida U.S. Senate Race
• Democrat Robert BYRD Wins West Virginia U.S. Senate Race
• Democrat Ted STRICKLAND Wins Ohio Governor Race
• Democrat Sherrod BROWN Wins Ohio U.S. Senate Race
• Other Bernie SANDERS Wins Vermont U.S. Senate Race
• Republican Richard LUGAR Wins Indiana U.S. Senate Race

* * * * * *

MSNBC and others report that three Senate races are already decided. One of my favorite politicians, Independent Bernie Sanders (who will caucus with the Democrats) wins in Vermont, graduating from the House and becoming (I believe) the first U.S. Senator in history to describe himself as a socialist. Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) keeps his seat for a ninth term. He is 88 and has been in the Senate for 48 years, a record. Senator Dick Lugar (R-Indiana) had no problem nailing down a sixth term.

CNN says the polls have closed in Ohio. "CNN projects that Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland will win the Ohio governor's race over Republican Ken Blackwell, the Ohio secretary of state," who of course played a major role in stealing the 2004 election for Bush. He and Katherine Harris (who played the same role in Florida in 2000) are both going to lose. Kim Moscaritolo just told me, "It's poetic."

CNN "projects that an amendment to the Virginia state constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman will pass. The vote bans same-sex marriage in Virginia."

CNN again: "With 15 percent of precincts reporting in Indiana's 8th Congressional District, Rep. John Hostettler trailed Democrat Brad Ellsworth 70 percent to 30 percent." Apparently Fox News, of all places, is calling it for Ellsworth.

Air America just reported that Democrat Ed Rendell has won the gubernatorial race in Pennsylvania.

It's Still Election Day

VOTE! To report problems: 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

The first polls are beginning to close, but of course, in the west, they'll be open until 11:00 and midnight, Eastern time, and in Alaska they'll be open for another six months.

HuffPo has some Senate race exit polls as of 5:30, showing sound Democratic leads in Virginia, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Montana, Missouri, and Maryland. (Republicans leading in Tennessee and Arizona.) Obviously, if the Democrats actually win Senate races in just six of the eight states in which they currently lead, then we'll have ourselves a Democratic Senate.

Nobody needs to be reminded that the exit polls were also very encouraging at around this time on November 2, 2004. Nobody needs to be reminded that as we speak, votes are being blocked, forged, and swiped. By an interesting coincidence this is also the name of a Cuyahoga County lawfirm.

CNN reports on exit polling indicating that "corruption" is "the top issue on voters' minds" (42%), followed by terrorism (40%), the economy (39%), Iraq (37%). More voters are basing their choices on national issues (62%) than local ones (33%). Even so, in the 36 gubernatorial races, "Democrats seem poised to win a majority of the 50 offices across the country for the first time since they were last considered a dominant force in Congress." A senior Democratic aide: "Don't underestimate our ability to blow it."

Illegal Republican robo-calling a major problem. People for the American Way calls for evidence and hearings.

Denver Post: "CHAOS: Voting extension denied amid massive computer problems."

Not for the queasy: Brad has details on suppression, intimidation, e-glitches, and other THE ELECTION WAS STOLEN skullduggery in California, Utah, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Arizona, and our favorites, Ohio and Florida.

More soon.


VOTE TODAY! Click here to find out where. Follow key races here. If you experience voter intimidation or suppression, or voting machine problems at your polling place, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.


Huffington Post: "Sen. Allen's Campaign Connected To Phone Call Threatening People With Arrest If They Show Up To Vote"

Washington Post: "An Ohio woman, who did not leave her name, called The Washington Post in tears yesterday, saying she could not keep her phone line open to hospice workers caring for her terminally ill mother because of nonstop political robo-calls. Pamela Lorenz, a retired nurse in Roseville, Calif., called her own experience 'harassment as far as I'm concerned...'"

Associated Press: "Election fixing charges fly in Utah county...Voting appears to be very popular in Daggett County, Utah. Daggett County has registered 947 voters for Tuesday's election. According to the most recent Census figures, that's four more than the county's population in 2005."

Associated Press: "New rules, machines frazzle poll workers... In Cleveland, voters rolled their eyes as election workers fumbled with new touchscreen machines that they couldn't get to start properly until about 10 minutes after polls opened. 'We got five machines -- one of them's got to work,' said Willette Scullank, a trouble shooter from the Cuyahoga County, Ohio, elections board."


VOTE TODAY! Click here to find out where. Follow key races here. If you experience voter intimidation or suppression, or voting machine problems at your polling place, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Make Them Steal Your Vote

CNN Poll: Americans favor Democrats on the issues

Associated Press: "At stake in the midterm election were all 435 House seats, 33 in the Senate, 36 races for governor, ballot measures on gay marriage, embryonic stem cell research, the minimum wage and more -- plus the overarching fate of President Bush's agenda in the last two years of his presidency."

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY): "We've always wanted this to be a national referendum, and it's helping us from one end of the country to the other."

Robert Novak: "...Actually, the President was trying to change the subject nationally from Iraq to national security. But experienced Republican political leaders privately grumble that Bush has only underscored Iraq as the pre-eminent issue, adding he would have done better to get lost for the past two weeks."

Michael Moore: "To vote in favor of the war, vote for the Republican. To vote against the war, vote for the Democrat. As crazy as it sounds, even if the Republican is against the war, or the Democrat is for it, it doesn't matter. All that will matter by midnight tonight is the math on the big tote board. Did America say YES to Bush or NO to Bush? The ONLY way they're going to add it up is by counting the number of votes under the big D and the big R. The only way to take a stand against Bush today is to vote for the Dems on the ballot.

"...And the final reason to vote today...2,836 + 655,000. Each one of them, American and Iraqi, are no longer with us because of the decision by one man to start a war. Each one of them represented a precious, God-given life that no man had the right to take away. Each one of them had a mother and father, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, friends and loved ones, little boys and little girls. It's mad, my friends, utterly mad, this senseless loss of human life."

Borgna Brunner: "The right to impeach public officials is secured by the U.S. Constitution in Article I, Sections 2 and 3, which discuss the procedure, and in Article II, Section 4, which indicates the grounds for impeachment: 'the President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.' Removing an official from office requires two steps: (1) a formal accusation, or impeachment, by the House of Representatives, and (2) a trial and conviction by the Senate. Impeachment requires a majority vote of the House; conviction is more difficult, requiring a two-thirds vote by the Senate."

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Monday, November 06, 2006

The Times, They Are, Uh, Changing

VOTE TOMORROW! Click here to find out where. Follow key races here. If you suspect voting machine problems at your polling place, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Tomorrow is Election Day, and we're talking in numbers. CNN has Democrats at 58% and Republicans at 38%. Quinnipiac has Menendez leading Kean by five points (New Jersey, Senate), but also Lieberman leading Lamont by twelve points (Connecticut, Senate). Gallup has Corker three points ahead of Ford in Tennessee, and Allen three points ahead of Webb in Virginia, but also Tester nine points ahead of Burns in Montana. (The latest numbers are here.)

On the editorial page of today's New York Times, we are reminded that "although Times editorials tend to agree with Democrats on national policy," the paper has "proudly and consistently endorsed a long line of moderate Republicans, particularly for the House," because its "only political loyalty is to making the two-party system as vital and responsible as possible." For this reason, "things are different this year:" When we turn to the editorials in tomorrow's New York Times to see who the paper is endorsing, we will find not a single endorsement of a Republican candidate, "for the first time in our memory."

The Republican majority in Congress, the editorial says, "has done a terrible job on the basics," "wrecked the budget," "hobbled the middle class," "endangered the long-term economy," "refused to face up to global warming," "done pathetically little about the country’s dependence on foreign oil," and "developed toxic symptoms of an overconfident majority that has been too long in power...Their only mission seems to be self-perpetuation." Hopefully, tomorrow's results will make it much, much harder for the Bush Republicans to perpetuate themselves.

The last paragraph of the Times editorial contains one factual inaccuracy (Bush "actually beat his opponent in 2004"), but the truth of its other words hangs heavy in the air nonetheless:

"This election is indeed about George W. Bush — and the Congressional majority’s insistence on protecting him from the consequences of his mistakes and misdeeds. Mr. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 and proceeded to govern as if he had an enormous mandate. After he actually beat his opponent in 2004, he announced he now had real political capital and intended to spend it. We have seen the results. It is frightening to contemplate the new excesses he could concoct if he woke up next Wednesday and found that his party had maintained its hold on the House and Senate."

So that's the New York Times. More exciting, because it's more surprising, is the opinion advanced this week by the magazine American Conservative. On the cover -- which asks "Who Killed Conservatism?" -- Bush is pictured as a gravedigger. This isn't The Nation or The New Republic or even The New York Times, but inside we read that "we think a vote that is seen -- in America and the world at large -- as a decisive 'No' vote on the Bush presidency is the best outcome." There are pointed passages about the administration's "endorsement of torture," and about how after 9/11 Bush "made little effort to understand who had attacked us and why," because he was "committed to a prefabricated answer."

American Conservative says that "we are now losing and cannot win" the Iraq war, which "has done far more to strengthen Islamist terrorists than anything they could possibly have done for themselves." There are references to "hundreds of thousands killed and maimed and thousands more thirsting for revenge against the country that crossed the ocean to attack them," in an invasion that "failed at every level." Bush is "feckless;" he "can't face the embarrassment of admitting defeat;" he has "learned little from his mistakes." His presidency "will stain our country's reputation for a long time," but "the process of recovering our good name must begin somewhere, and the logical place is in the voting booth this Nov. 7."

Most of what's said in the American Conservative piece is old news to us; these points have been made all over the place, including this blog. But consider the source. Republican candidates avoid appearances with Bush; the less fanatical right-wing publications and blogs express the reluctant desire to see the balance of power restored. It is against this backdrop that Americans will go to the polls tomorrow, in one of those occasional midterm elections that has the gravity of a presidential race.

As for Dick Cheney, he will spend Election Day on a hunting trip. It will be Mr. Cheney's first direct assault on the animal kingdom since the day in February when he shot his friend Harry in the face. For the sake of his companions, let's hope that this time, Cheney does what so many other Republicans are doing lately, and shoots himself in the foot.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

"The Worst Political Environment for Republican Candidates Since Watergate"

Republican Party leaders, according to the New York Times, are "increasingly resigned" to losing control of the House. George W. Bush, rather than hitting traditional swing states, has had to spend the last week trying desperately to bolster support for Republican candidates in such reliably red zones as Nebraska, Montana, Kansas, and Colorado. (In Colorado, it actually looks like one of my least favorite congresspeople, Marilyn Musgrave, may lose her seat, once considered safe.)

Joe Gaylord, who was Newt Gingrich's Karl Rove in 1994, told the Times that the Republicans would probably lose twenty-five or thirty seats in the House -- and a mere fifteen would shift the majority to the Democrats. (Gaylord: "It's very grim. Things are dreadful out there." Yes!) Everyone's been saying that the Democrats' chances of leading the Senate (six seats) are slimmer, but that the unseating of certain key Republican ghouls (including Rick Santorum, Mike DeWine, and George Allen) is all but inevitable.

And right now in Montana, Conrad Burns is polling behind his Democratic challenger, Jon Tester! How nice would it be to see him out of work? That's Conrad Burns -- named one of "America's Worst Senators" by Time. Conrad Burns -- who was elected largely on the basis of his tough stance on immigration, and went on to say, of his undocumented gardener, "Hugo is a nice little Guatemalan man." Conrad Burns -- who was once asked, by a rancher constituent, "Conrad, how can you live back there with all those niggers?" and replied, "It's a hell of a challenge," and then repeated the exchange to a reporter with not a trace of judgment or irony. The latest is that Conrad Burns received a campaign donation from someone named Sam Haddon, and then recommended him for the federal judiciary the very next day. Wanna be a federal judge? That'll be $2,000! Best deal in Montana!

"It is," said one Republican pollster to the New York Times, "the worst political environment for Republican candidates since Watergate."

But hold on. Let's all settle down for a minute. Let's not get our hopes up.

I'm not saying we shouldn't get our hopes up because the election might not go well. I'm saying we shouldn't get our hopes up because it might not be a real election. There's plenty of reason to believe that it will be a falsified election, like the presidential races of 2000 and 2004, and like numerous questionable House, Senate, and gubernatorial races in those years and in 2002. It will certainly include contests whose actual results are impossible to verify, and in which the answers to suspicious questions are forever lost in the e-voting void.

The truth is that there have been some very encouraging advances toward fair elections in the last six years -- and also some very discouraging ones. Computerworld points out that on Tuesday, one-third of American voters will use electronic voting machines which have no track record, that lawsuits challenging paperless voting "are proliferating across the country," and that "as computer scientists demonstrated earlier this year, hacking challenges to many of these machines can bear fruit even faster than demands for recounts."

So when the Times informs us that Karl Rove "has assured nervous associates that the Republican turnout operation would help save the party from electoral disaster," be very afraid. It's nice to hear all these forecasts of Republican defeat, but really, let's not get our hopes up, because these guys steal elections. Let's not get our hopes up about the United States being a democratic republic.

It used to be. The best we can hope for is that the key races involve Republican losses by such overwhelming margins that the story won't hold up.

We can also enjoy the fact that certain noxious Republicans will not be returning to office simply because they aren't running. Everything is brighter with Tom DeLay out of the picture. And as we watch one of the closest and most exciting Senate races -- the Tennessee showdown between Harold E. Ford Jr. and Bob Corker -- we should feel a certain peace, for whatever the outcome, Bill Frist will no longer be a Senator. He's still apparently serious about the presidential race in 2008, though, and in an especially creepy move, he is building himself a house in Nashville that bears an uncanny resemblance to the house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

But you know what, that's just fine. Have a good time, Dr. Frist; build yourself an Oval Office playroom if it tickles you. Every Bush Republican ought to take a little time off and build a house, while the Democrats build a House.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Happy the Clown

We are now less than two weeks away from Election Day, and the Associated Press says that 56% of likely voters plan on voting for Democrats, and 37% for Republicans -- although Gallup says only one in four Americans is "very confident" the votes will be properly counted anyway. The AP proclaims November 7, 2006 the Democratic Party's "best chance to reclaim the House since the GOP swept Democrats from power in 1994."

That would mean picking up fifteen seats. In the Senate, the Democrats need six; a Democratic takeover of the Senate is less likely than the House, but more likely than it was a month ago. New Jersey voter Mary Nyilas told the Associated Press, "I don't care if I vote for Happy the Clown, just so it's not who's there now." (Happy the Clown, a write-in candidate, is the unofficial nominee of the Surprise Party.)

If we take the House -- if John Conyers becomes the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee -- then it's time to get down to the urgent business of impeaching the terrorist Bush. If we don't take the House, there's no chance. If we do take the House but don't impeach Bush, I'm not sure we deserved the House in the first place. If Bush's crimes go unpunished, his mark on the presidency will last; there will be recent precedent for any president who sits there like an idiot for seven minutes in a room full of schoolchildren after being told that America is under attack, or who suspends decades of international law in the interest of torture, or who fabricates "evidence" and then cites it as a rationale for an ongoing war, etc. Unimpeached, Bush will also set the precedent that it's okay to slaughter women and children by the thousand as long as you don't dally with the interns.

Nancy Pelosi keeps saying things like, "Hey, impeachment has never even occurred to us!" She's nervous, because minor Republican figures keep bellowing warnings to the effect that the moment Democrats take the House they will throw aside the interests of the people and embark on a bloodthirsty impeachment crusade. We should be so lucky. Nothing is more in the interest of the American people than to wash the Bush guts off our hands and disinfect. And move on. Anyway, who says that a Democratic House can't raise the minimum wage, fix health care, improve education, and run Bush out of town on a rail? The Republicans have had no problem running a savagely efficient machine of political destruction, simultaneous with their legislative efforts.

It is nice to see the Republicans freaking out. The more tenuous their grasp on power becomes, the weirder they get; if this goes on much longer, popular wisdom will identify Democrats as the real Americans, and Republicans as those strange, sick beings who have sex with pages and attack Michael J. Fox for having Parkinson's. (Isn't that subplot a riot? How dare he arouse compassion for his cause by appearing on television, in his state! Rush Limbaugh declared Fox's performance "an act." Ha, ha. No -- when Michael J. Fox pretended to be a Republican on Family Ties, that was an act.)

They're so desperate, in fact, that they have decided to pull out their secret weapons. The Republicans, having been instructed by Bill Frist not to talk too much about Iraq or terrorism, are left with domestic artillery. In one holster is Gay People Want to Destroy the American Family, and in the other is Black People Want Your Women.

Wednesday's New Jersey Supreme Court ruling -- which decided that gay couples should have the same legal and financial status as straight couples -- has provided a natural opportunity for conservative chest-pounding. (Bush, campaigning this week in Iowa: "Yesterday in New Jersey, we had another activist court issue a ruling that raises doubts about the institution of marriage...a sacred institution that is critical to the health of our society and the well-being of families, and it must be defended." Blah blah blah.) Rep. John Hostettler (R-Indiana) will probably lose his seat to Democrat Brad Ellsworth, and in a last-ditch attempt to save himself, he warned that if Democrats take the House, Speaker Pelosi will launch a "homosexual agenda." But it's hard to get up there and crow about sexual morality when you've been leaning against the door of Mark Foley's closet.

It's certainly getting interesting in Tennessee, where Republican Senate candidate Bob Corker has accused his Democratic opponent, Harold Ford Jr., of supporting gay marriage -- which Ford actually doesn't. More interesting than this is Corker's racist campaign ad, produced for the RNC by a protégé of Karl Rove. "Harold -- call me," says a bare-shouldered white blonde, staring smolderingly into the camera, claiming to have met Ford at the Playboy Club. The message: A vote for Harold Ford Jr. is a vote for black men having sex with white women.

I've always been amused and confused by how upset some white people (especially white men) get about the idea of interracial sexual congress (especially black men). They seem to feel that if a black man is romantically involved with a white woman, he is somehow taking her away from them, as though the color of her skin makes her their property. This is a strange inversion of their old notion that the color of his skin makes him their property. A black man who has sex with a white woman is a rapist, while a white man who has sex with a black woman is Strom Thurmond.

Let's close with Bush himself. The cretin was in rare form this week during a lengthy interview with conservative columnists. In that supportive company, Bush seemed more relaxed than he usually does during press conferences, and the official transcript contains a number of places where Bush is asked a question, says something like "I'm going off the record," says something redacted in the transcript, and then says, "Back on the record."

But he is on the record when he pulls imaginary statistics from his ass, declaring that 25% of Americans support withdrawal from Iraq (it's actually 54%). And he is on the record when he denies that the Iraq war has increased the spread of terrorism: "They grab on to things to kind of justify. But if it's not Iraq, it's Israel. If it's not Israel, it's the Crusades. If it's not the Crusades, it is the cartoon. I'm not kidding you. I'm not kidding you. They are cold-blooded killers." Not only that, but some of them have sex with white women! If it's not the Crusades, it's the cartoon!

Once again, Bush inadvertently admits that the things he says to the American people are political calculations, not informative statements. "I'm trying to figure out a matrix that says things are getting better," he says, fairly collapsing from the effort. Apparently no such matrix exists. "I think that one way to measure is less violence than before, I guess." (Except there's more.) "We'll have to see what happens here after Ramadan," bush said, three days after Ramadan. "I believe these people -- oh, I was going to tell you Abizaid believes Ramadan, no question, caused them to be more violent because he says there's some kind of reward during Ramadan for violence. And I think they're trying to affect the elections." He means our elections. Those Muslims are not only terrorists; they're also Democrats.

And here, certain to go down in history, is Bush's mysterious exchange with the man he calls "Kuds" -- that would be CNBC's Larry Kudlow:

KUDLOW: I want to go on the air tonight, I want some good news. I need some good news, sir.

BUSH: Yes, I do, too.

KUDLOW: I really do.

BUSH: You're talking to Noah about the flood. I do, too.

KUDLOW: It's a hard thing.

BUSH: I appreciate that, but – go ahead.

KUDLOW: You said if we leave Iraq they'll come after us –

BUSH: Yes.

KUDLOW: -- we've heard you say that quite specifically. So maybe that's a sign of victory, is that they haven't come here.

BUSH: Look, he's trying -- this is so hard. That's what makes this more difficult -- I don't know what Harry Truman was feeling like, or Franklin Roosevelt...

No, sir, I bet you don't. But what about Happy the Clown?

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

We're Not Stay the Course

Last week, George W. Bush made the preposterous, inarticulate, and therefore characteristic statement, "We're not stay the course!" As usual, it's hard to tell what he's talking about. "We're not stay the course," translated from Bush, means that the phrase "stay the course" is not an accurate summary of the administration's Iraq war policy, and how did everybody get that idea, anyway? Within hours, the media was saturated with artful clip montages, typically starting with a clip of Bush saying, "We're not stay the course," followed by several hundred clips of Bush saying, "Stay the course." And these artful clip montages weren't just on The Daily Show and Keith Olbermann and Air America. They were also on CNN and the network news.

It takes some serious mental gymnastics to keep up with these people. For years now, they've been pounding their chests and chanting, "Stay the course," apparently oblivious to the fact that the course is one of utter disaster, the slaughter of innocents, the fanning of the flames of terrorism. Now that the people are getting wise, and "stay the course" isn't polling so well anymore, they're walking it back. "What is all this 'stay the course' stuff?" Bush seems to be saying. "I've said from the beginning that the thing to do is cut and run!"

Well, no. Backing away from the phrase "stay the course" doesn't represent a true rethinking of policy; it merely represents Republican panic as we approach November 7. So their war policy is "stay the course," and they are staying the course; while their political policy is not "stay the course," and they aren't, because if they were staying the course they would still be saying "stay the course."

Perhaps White House spokesman Tony Snow can explain: "No, the policy -- because the idea of 'stay the course' is you've done one thing, you kick back and wait for it...So what you have is not 'stay the course,' but, in fact, a study in constant motion by the administration and by the Iraqi government, and, frankly, also by the enemy...That is not a 'stay the course' policy." Well, perhaps not. (When one reporter asked, "Is the president responsible for the fact people think it's 'stay the course' since he's, in fact, described it that way himself?" Tony Snow replied, "No.")

Times do change: Not long ago, the Republicans were perceived as unbeatable on national security, so unbeatable that they only had to steal two presidential elections. Today, Bill Frist is actually urging Republican candidates not to talk about Iraq if they want to win next month. "The challenge is to get Americans to focus on pocketbook issues, and not on the Iraq and terror issue," Frist said.

Yeah! Why are these Americans so focused on "the Iraq and terror issue?" Where did that issue come from? I mean, it's almost as though an entire political party has been running around shrieking "Stay the course!" for two years.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

For and Against

Listen -- not everyone opposes torture, the spread of global terrorism, and the massacre of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

Sure, most of us do. According to the latest CNN poll, 64% of us do.

James Baker does. And James Baker is not exactly a diarist on Daily Kos, if you know what I mean. But he returned from his recent visit to Iraq "visibly shocked," according to an Agence France-Presse report, and declared that the country was "a helluva mess." Baker is to lead a bipartisan ten-member commission to review U.S. policy on Iraq, and possibly to recommend strategic changes. "It's not going to be 'stay the course,'" an unnamed participant told the Los Angeles Times. "The bottom line is, it isn't working. There's got to be another way."

Sixty-four percent of Americans believe that when "the course" is obviously a bad one, to "stay the course" is a demonstration not of strength but of stupidity.

Texans are starting to feel this way. Right now, the AP reminds us, "every statewide elected official" in Texas is a Republican -- thanks partly to the 2003 redistricting masterminded by Tom DeLay. Ironically, it's now "largely because of DeLay, who resigned in June embroiled in scandal" (AP), that three Texas seats in the House could easily have Democrats in them after the midterms. One of those seats is where DeLay once sat; there is not even a Republican on the ballot.

Even Bush's most reliable demographic -- right-wing talk radio hosts -- is starting to feel not so sure about things. In an effort to ease the concerns of this precious constituency, Bush recently invited a bunch of them to the White House for a chat. The guests were Mike Gallagher, Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Michael Medved, and the meeting was explained by press secretary Tony Snow -- himself a former Fox News personality: "You want to make sure that your friends are friendly." Sean Hannity emerged from the conference declaring, "I think he'd have an 80 percent approval rating if he could bring people into the Oval Office six people at a time and explain it all to them." I think he would have a split lip.

But again, it's not like everyone agrees with the majority of Americans. Dick Cheney, for example, went on Rush Limbaugh's radio show specifically to highlight his break with mainstream opinion. "If you look at the general overall situation" in Iraq, he said, the whole thing is going "remarkably well." Cheney dismissed dissent as "some natural level of concern out there" due to the fact that "you know, it wasn't over instantaneously." In fact, Think Progress points out, "next month, the war will have lasted longer than U.S. fighting in World War II." This probably sits just fine with the Bush regime, which has been drawing fallacious parallels between Iraq and World War II for a while now. There are a number of crucial differences, of course. For example, unlike during World War II, this time the Nazis are on our side.

And then there's Rick Santorum, who is so close to being voted out of office that he would be well advised to pack. Like Cheney, Santorum believes that the war in Iraq is going remarkably well. Unlike Cheney, Santorum chose to express this optimism by making Lord of the Rings references. "As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else," Santorum earnestly explained to the Bucks County Courier Times. "It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States."

Santorum further pointed out that there is no Eye in "teamwork."

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006


The spotlight is now shining brightly enough on Dennis Hastert that the truth is impossible to miss: Without Tom DeLay, Hastert is a floundering mess. He can't get his story straight. He can't even create the impression that he cares about the children Mark Foley abused, and his sole talking point on the Foley mess seems to be, "I won't resign, because that would be like stepping down!" As DeLay's henchman, Hastert was useful to Republicans on the Hill, but as a solo act, he's revealed -- nervous, meandering, and so politically inept that he just held a press conference with a graveyard in the background.

And he took the opportunity to pass the buck -- to his own staff. When they asked him if anyone in his office knew about Foley turning over pages, and if so, when, Hastert huffed, "If there was a problem, if there was a cover-up, we should find that out through the investigative process. They should not continue to handle their jobs."

It is astonishing to see all these "family values" Republicans responding to the Foley scandal in purely political terms; the rage, the last couple of days, has been to blame Democrats who supposedly leaked some of Foley's e-mails. "Are we saying that a 15-year-old child would've sat on e-mails that were XXX-rated for three years and suddenly spring them out right on the eve of an election?" asked Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Georgia) on Fox News. "That's just a little bit too suspicious, even for Washington, D.C." Sure, molesting pages, that's just the way things go in this town, but you wanna know what's suspicious?

Of course, the Foley scandal is politically important, and if we weren't a few weeks from the midterms, it wouldn't be as big a story. We would all like to think that the Republicans are perfectly capable of losing the House with or without a Foley scandal, and we all think that adults having sex with children is horrific, even if it does weaken the Evil Party of Bush.

Hastert's choice of a cemetery as a backdrop resonates on many levels. It could be a metaphor for the death of the so-called Republican revolution (see Monday's entry). It was also a visual reminder of the thousands slaughtered in Bush's war. The American death toll now stands at 2,747. A new study estimates the Iraqi civilian death toll falls between 426,369 and 793,663. And even our own intelligence now says that the Iraq war has contributed to the spread of global terrorism.

And while Bush and the Republicans have been busy murdering hundreds of thousands of innocents, and helping to advance the agenda of terrorists, North Korea has diligently become a nuclear state. North Korea's nuclear test -- apparently successful -- represents, in the words of a Boston Globe editorial, "the most preventable, and one of the most damaging, failures of President Bush's foreign policy."


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Monday, October 09, 2006

R.I.P. G.O.P. (1994-2006)

FOLEY: You know what I like, Mr. President? A nice little congressional page.
BUSH: Oh, yeah? Like what...about this size?

Time is saying that the Mark Foley phenomenon looks like the last nail in the coffin of the Republican Party's 1994 ascendancy. "It took 40 years for the House Democrats to exhaust their goodwill," writes Karen Tumulty. "It may take only 12 years for the Republicans to get there." On Laura Ingraham's radio show, Tumulty notes, Dennis Hastert explained why he wouldn't resign -- and revealed just how precarious his party's grasp of power is at the moment. "If I fold up my tent and leave," Hastert said, "then where does that leave us? If the Democrats sweep, then we'd have no ability to fight back and get our message out."

It's another astonishingly transparent confession: The Republican leadership is concerned about how the Foley scandal will affect the political careers of other Republicans, and not at all concerned about Foley's sexual abuse of minors. They knew about it for years and didn't do anything about it, because of the potential for political fallout; now that the political fallout is happening, it's the only regret they have.

Their lack of compassion for the teenagers of whom Foley took advantage is perfectly aligned with their lack of compassion for everybody else. The Republican world seems more ashamed of Foley's homosexuality than his pedophilia, and has even tried to equate the two. Pat Robertson, with his usual knack for saying what conservative politicians are thinking but can't say aloud, said aloud, "Well, this man's gay. He does what gay people do."

He does what gay people do -- has sex with children? That doesn't follow. More accurately, this man's a Republican; he does what Republican people do. He abuses power and lies about it. Of course, plenty of Democrats have also abused power and lied about it, but never with the current Republican Party's malice, and even Time is saying so.

The Wall Street Journal and others have been spreading the erroneous Republican claim that the Foley scandal is actually a practical joke on the part of some congressional pages. So he didn't do it, because he's a Republican, but if he did do it, what do you expect, he's gay!

Also advancing the "just a prank" theory (no doubt an official talking point), "Focus on the Family" fanatic James Dobson even had the nerve to draw a parallel between Mark Foley and Bill Clinton:

"We condemn the Foley affair categorically, and we also believe that what Mr. Clinton did was one of the most embarrassing and wicked things ever done by a president in power. Let me remind you...that it was not just James Dobson who found the Lewinsky affair reprehensible. More than 140 newspapers called for Clinton's resignation. But the president didn't do what Mr. Foley has done in leaving. He stayed in office, and he lied to the grand jury to obscure the facts. As it turns out, Mr. Foley has had illicit sex with no one that we know of, and the whole thing turned out to be what some people are now saying was a -- sort of a joke by the boy and some of the other pages."

This is all a bit confusing. If "the whole thing turned out to be...sort of a joke," and if "Mr. Foley has had illicit sex with no one that we know of," then what do you mean when you say you "condemn the Foley affair categorically?" And are you really comparing Bill Clinton's sex act with a consenting adult to Mark Foley's sex acts with teenagers? Are you stupid?

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