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November 29, 2006

Schumer: Reaganism dead

Chuck Schumer is no doubt going to offend a lot of conservatives by declaring the demise of Reagan conservatism.

"We're in better shape than [Republicans] are, because they don't realize that Reaganomics is dead, that the Reagan philosophy is dead," he said. "We realize that New Deal democracy, which is still our paradigm, which is sort of appeal to each group ... that doesn't work any more."

He had said a bit earlier, "The old Reagan theory which dominated -- which is, 'Government is bad, it's out of touch, chop off its hands as soon as it moves.' -- is over."

This will be regarded as controversial, no doubt, but one wonders why. My only nit with Schumer's statement is that he makes Reaganism's demise sound recent. The truth is, it's been dead for years. Hell, it probably died while Reagan was still in office. Peace Be Upon Him, but Ronnie took office with plans to shut down 3 or 4 cabinet level departments, but ended up adding a brand new one by the time he left 8 years later. So it goes.

November 28, 2006

Like father like son?

I've been hearing rumors for some time now that President Bush is contemplating a biggish tax increase as part of a deal to "save" Social Security. They're still only rumors, but they're beginning to include far too many details for me to comfortably dismiss them as bogus. I will reserve the bulk of my vitriol until it actually happens, but when and if it does, be prepared.

Last of the true Republicans

There are at least two real Republicans in the U.S. Senate, and they seem hell-bent on going out in a blaze of glory, God love 'em.

It's been years since federal agencies have screamed this loudly about fiscal discipline being imposed on them. GOP Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina have decided to take a stand against overspending by objecting to the nearly 10,000 earmarks, or member-sponsored pork projects, larded throughout the spending bills Congress is currently considering.

Their obstinacy has convinced the leadership of the departing Republican Congress that they probably won't be able to pass spending bills in next month's short lame-duck session. Instead, they are likely to pass a stopgap "continuing resolution," which will continue funding all programs at last year's level until the new Democratic Congress passes its own versions of the funding bills.

Mr. Coburn says the decision not to pass earmark-stuffed catchall spending bills could save taxpayers a cool $17 billion. All 10,000 earmarks in the pending bills will expire if they aren't passed by the end of the year.

Nice work! The usual suspects are screaming bloody murder, of course. What kind of cruel, miserly Republican would starve a poor, defenseless bloated federal bureacracy by asking that it live within the previous year's budget (shudder. I know, it's almost too horrific to contemplate, isn't it?)

Perhaps not surprisingly, it isn't only federal agencies who are caterwauling, but the pork-addicted Republican leadership as well. Cry me a river, pork daddies. Total federal spending has increased by almost half since 2001 alone, so I don't even want to hear your poor-mouthin'! Shut up. Tom Coburn's spokesman was exactly right when he said "Any agency that can't figure out how to function under a one-year CR is incompetent." Don't want to sound incompetent? Shut up and quit whining.

Just think what it would be like if all Senate Republicans had been a bit more like Coburn and DeMint on fiscal issues. Would Republicans still have lost Congress? Probably. Perhaps they might have even gone sooner than this year. But they sure would have left the budget in better shape when they left.

November 17, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

So what's everyone doing for the holiday? I'm going to North Carolina for a week, starting tomorrow. And when I get back, I'll officially be in my forties, so I guess you can expect wiser, more mature commentary after my return.

November 16, 2006

To dance with the Green Fairy

I don't know if I've mentioned it here or not, but I like to brew my own beer. I've also been known to make homemade wine, and I've even dabbled here and there with distilled spirits. I thought that made me pretty cool, but I must now forever take a back seat to my friend Doug, who successfully distilled his very own absinthe, made with wormwood that he grew in his own garden, as well as calamus root, which he got from... somewhere. I didn't ask too many questions.

I'd known for some time that Doug was working on this, so when the time came to finally sample the wares I was prepared, and I figured it would be fun to photodocument the occasion (plus if anything went wrong, the pictures might be useful to the coroner.)

So anyway, here's the stuff being poured. Note the nice, authentic, jade green coloring.

Due to a lack of advance planning on my part, we didn't have one of those cool, specialized absinthe spoons for pouring it over the sugar cube, so we had to make do with a fork. (We also decided to forego the "Czech method," which apparently involves burning the sugar cube with a match. Next time, maybe.)

So here is the final product. I have to admit, I was quite impressed. I've tried a number of anise-based liquors over the years, including Ouzo, Pastis and others. They were a natural for me, because at Easter time I was always the weird kid who wanted the Easter Bunny to bring me a basket full of nothing but black jelly beans. Well when I moved to France in 1991, I quickly discovered that drinking Pastis was very much like drinking black jelly beans, but in booze form! Hooray!! Sadly, an experience in June of that year, in which I was partying with a bunch of Americans and drank an entire bottle of Pastis in a single evening, has moderated my ability to enjoy the stuff in years since.

But I still like it. And although I'd never tried "real" absinthe (Switzerland and a few other brave countries are only beginning to re-legalize the stuff with actual wormwood in it), this stuff tasted exactly like I'd always imagined absinth to taste. It was like Pastis with a very bitter (wormwoody) undertaste, and just enough of a psychic twinge to let the drinker know something a bit unusual was afoot.

Here is the final product, properly diluted.

Love the color. Loved the taste. Doug pulled it off, and I spent a euphoric evening with my friends, and then went home to dream me some "tremulous dreams," as Lord Buckley might say. But I never got quite so fucked up as this woman from the Degas painting L'absinthe.

Heh, it looks like her shoes are on the wrong feet. But no, I had none of that. I awoke the next morning still in possession of my eyesight (such as it is) as well as full renal function. I didn't even have a hangover. In short, absinthe rules. Now, of course, I am faced with the challenge of one-upping my friend Doug. If anyone out there knows how I might go about distilling my own laudanum, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Milton Friedman, RIP

I know, I know, he's been ancient for as long as I can remember, but this is still sad. We need more champions of liberty, not fewer.

Murtha out

Just this morning, I saw John "Okinawa" Murtha claiming he had the votes for majority leader, but it looks like he miscalculated. It wasn't even close, actually. Steny Hoyer was elected by a vote of 149-86.

Congratulations to the Democratic caucus for rejecting this guy. Unless they wanted to cede the moral high ground on corruption and pork right off the bat, I don't think they really had a choice.

But now Nancy Pelosi has just soundly flunked the first test of her power as Speaker, and she hasn't so much as hefted a gavel yet. I'll still never understand why she chose to roll the dice on Murtha this way. But she did and she lost. Not only has she shown her hand way, way too eary, but she was only holding a pair of threes.

Anyway, wouldn't you just love to see the roll call votes for these leadership roles in both parties?

November 15, 2006

The stupid party

Meet the Senate's "new" leadership: Mitch McConnell and Trent Lott, who was elected whip by a margin of one vote. I guess one can always hope that the House leadership races will come out a little better, but I'm not holding my breath.

I swear to God, even a rat in a lab maze can eventually learn where the damn cheese is. Not these guys.

Shaken, not stirred -- with a side of eggs

Folks, I give you the world-famous bacon martini.

...made by marinating three strips of fine-cured Tennessee bacon in vodka for 24 hours, then straining it through shaken ice. It's served in martini glass, with a piece of bacon on the bottom like a tequila worm.

The League of Socially-Challenged Superheroes

I liked the story about House saving Borat from getting his ass kicked, but I really want to see them team up to fight crime.

What is Pelosi thinking?

I'm old enough to remember ABSCAM, unfortunately, and I remember that John Murtha didn't come out looking so great. Still, it was more than a quarter century ago, Murtha was never indicted, and Pennsylvania voters have long since made their peace with the man. I really hope the Republicans have enough sense not to launch some ethics witch-hunt against Murtha in his quest for the majority leader position. Given their lack of moral authority on the ethics issue, they'd do well to let the Democrats police their own for a while.

That being said, I have to wonder what Nancy Pelosi is thinking by publicly wading into the leadership battle on Murtha's behalf. With all her talk about "draining the swamp" and rooting our corruption, why would she willingly open herself up to the inevitable charges of hypocrisy before the new term even begins? She knows good and well that her hand-picked choice for majority leader is going to draw fire from Pelosi's critics due to his past.

I'll even go one further. Why the hell would Nancy Pelosi publicly weigh in on anybody's behalf in a leadership race? She's Speaker. Why not stay about the fray? If she wants to support someone behind the scenes, that's one thing, but I don't see what she gains by diving in the morass on one side or the other. If her man wins, she's unnecessarily antagonized the losing side. If her man loses, she has visibly and publicly diminished her power as Speaker before she's even been seated.

I know she's a newly-minted Speaker and all, but she's hardly a political neophyte. She's led the Democratic caucus in the House for several years now. What is she thinking? Seriously, can anyone explain what's going on?

November 14, 2006

More gratuitous John Kerry mockery

"So, uh... You guys going to lunch now, huh? So where we goin'? Uh... guys?"

(Hat tip: K-Lo)

The future of the GOP

Bob Novak, depressing as ever, reports that the newly minted GOP minority is on track to re-elect essentially the same leadership roster. Couple that with the recent decision to to let Mel Martinez head the RNC and it's enough to have Republicans chugging Zoloft like Tic-Tacs. This party may spend more time in the wilderness than I thought.

The only bright spots for Republicans these days seem to be related to the race for the White House, which has, believe it or not, already begun. This week saw Giuliani and McCain both form exploratory committees while they both continue to top GOP preference polls. I know a lot of people doubt that either of these men could actually clinch the GOP nomination. They may be right, but I don't believe them. Surely, if they are ever going to make a go of it, 2008 would be the year.

In any case, 2008 is the GOP's last chance for me. I'm remaining a registered Republican for now because I want to vote for one of these two men in the presidential primary. If they lose, however, and the Republicans nominate someone lame, I see no reason to remain in the club.

Today's "Nixon in China" moment

Speaking of Lollapelosi, it looks like Madam Speaker wants to make the practice of "earmarking" a bit more trasnparent. No longer would the Don Youngs of the world be able to hide anonymously behind their "bridges to nowhere." If you're going to shovel the pork back home to your district, then at least be man enough to put your name on the budget item.

This seems like a positive, no-brainer first step to me, and I hope she follows through. Some conservatives will no doubt complain that such measures are cynically calculated window dressing, contrived to craft an aura of "reform" around the new Congress that perhaps may be undeserved.

Well, those people may be right. Regardless, it's a good thing to do. Republicans didn't do it, and they should have. If the Democrats do it, regardless of the reasons, that's a good thing too, and they will deserve credit for it. Let's wait and see whether it happens.

I want to be the first

As you've no doubt heard, Nancy Pelosi wants to hit the ground running with her new majority. She plans to usher in New Jerusalem within the first 100 seconds, or something like that. Anyway, such an ambitious agenda needs a name. Might I suggest the Lollapelosi tour? Get it? You know, like Lollapalooza? Back in the 90's? Remember? Heh. That's pretty witty.

Michael Moore to conservatives

Michael Moore, I've read your "pledge to disheartened conservatives". I'm not sure I belong entirely to the target audience of your pledge, but I do appreciate the sentiment. Your laundry list of pledges and commitments, while breathtaking in its naiveté, is no doubt well meaning.

But regarding point number 9... you will never, ever take my handguns, you fat piece of crap.

Thank you, that is all.

November 13, 2006

More gratuitous mockery of John Kerry

Because really, why not? Here's a list of other "botched" jokes. Go ahead, read the list. You know you want to.

(Hat tip: Treacher)

More on Lieberman

There was more confirmation this weekend that my interpretation of Joe Lieberman's remarks were correct. Check out this transcript from yesterday's Meet the Press.

MR. RUSSERT: Jim Jeffords of Vermont crossed over and joined the Democrats.


MR. RUSSERT: And they gave—they gave him his committee chairmanship.


MR. RUSSERT: You’re, you’re not ruling that out at some future time?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I’m not ruling it out, but I hope I don’t get to that point.

Please note that I'm not predicting Lieberman will jump ship. I think he'll stay with the Democrats. He is, however, making it abundantly clear to the Democratic leadership that the option remains on the table, and that they'd damn well better not forget it.

November 12, 2006

Go democrats!

I strongly support the new Democratic congress in at least one of the high-profile items on its agenda: tax cuts for the rich.

Yeah, I know $100,000 to $500,000 a year doesn't exactly make you John D. Rockefeller, particularly in strong Democratic bases like New York and San Francisco, but it's an income group that overlaps substantially with the infamous and much-maligned "top 2 percent" of income earners.

At issue is the Alternative Minimum Tax, which represents a stealth tax increase on an ever-increasing number of upper income families, and I think Congress would indeed to well to beat it back. The structure of the AMT isn't really the problem here -- it's a simplified and much flatter tax code than the individual income tax. The problem is that when your income exceeds a certain level, you're obligated to calculate your tax liability according to two different, parallel tax codes, and pay whichever one is higher.

I'm with the Democrats on this one, and I hope they succeed, but let's be clear about who stands to benefit. People who pay pay the AMT aren't exactly sharecroppers. You generally have to earn well into the six figures before you even have to think about it. It's one more indication that the Democratic Party ain't quite what it used to be in the Walter Mondale days, which is a good thing, in my opinion.

(Hat tip: Altouse)

November 11, 2006

Life imitates Scrappleface

All right, I apologize in advance for this, but I just can't resist. Suppose a right-wing blogger had predicted that the headlines in the first week after Tuesday's elections would include "Iran Declares Victory," "Rumsfeld Charged with War Crimes" and "Democrats Seek War Advice from George McGovern." Outlandish. Coulteresque, if I may.

Sometimes, however, truth is stranger than fiction.

November 10, 2006

Meet the new king of the Senate

My prediction has come true. Forget Harry Reid. This is the most powerful man in the Senate.

Here is the reality of what the Kos Kids have accomplished. With Lieberman, the Democrats have a senate majority. Without him, they do not. That makes him a very, very important person to Harry Reid. The new senate leadership, however, has little leverage over him, since he's technically an independent. He owes the Democratic Party precious little, since only 25% of Democrats in his home state voted for him.

Lieberman announced he is going to caucus with the Democrats, since they agreed he could keep his seniority. That's no surprise, but what is surprising is the way Lieberman chose to deliver the news (emphasis mine.)

Lieberman briefly joked about how the Republicans might coax him into joining the GOP, a switch that could keep the closely divided Senate under Republican control.

"There is a little playfulness in me that wants me to make a joke about that, but it's too serious. The answer is no," he said. "When I give my word I stick with it, and I am definitely going to organize with the Senate Democrats."

Translation: "Since Harry Reid bribed me with a pretty sweet deal behind closed doors, I'll vote with the Democrats... for now. But the second they piss me off and don't agree to everything I want, all bets are off."

He said he delivered that message Wednesday in a phone conversation with the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada. He did not take Reid's call on election night.

Translation: "Screw Harry Reid. He's the one who needs to lick my ass, not the other way around."

"He was gracious enough to call me last night, but in the pandemonium, I didn't get to take the call," said Lieberman, who did accept a congratulatory call Tuesday from a Republican friend, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Translation: "Did you get that message, Harry? I take calls from Republicans before I take them from you. Do you get what I'm sayin' here, buddy? The Democrats weren't there for me, but I'll be gracious and be there for them... so long as I feel like it, har har har..."

"My mission now is really an independent mission," Lieberman said Wednesday, calling his win a mandate to "be beholden to no one except the voters of Connecticut and my own conscience."

Translation: "You're not the boss of me! In fact, you're my bitch now, Harry! How do you like it, bitch? Huh? Huh??"

Other than keeping his seniority, he was asked, what is the reason to organize with the Democrats?

"Well, I've been a Democrat," he replied.

Any reasons beyond that?

"Seniority is an important factor," he said.

Translation: "I have nothing, nothing keeping me loyal to the Democrats. If they forget that, they do so at their peril. Bow down before me, Harry. Kiss my ring. KISS it, beeyatch!! BWAHAHAHAAAA!!!"

Nice going, Kos. Nice going, Jane. Look what you've created.

This should be entertaining.

I really want to see this movie

Draining the swamp

Radley has some ideas as to how Pelosi and Reid might begin to "drain the swamp."

[Alan] Mollahan is, to say the least, "ethically challenged." There's no sensible reason for him to retain his seat on the most powerful committee in the House of Representatives. If Nancy Pelosi is serious about "draining the swamp," she'll kick Mollohan off the appropriations committee before she pounds her first gavel.

As for [Robert] Byrd, his history of earmarking excesses makes Ted Stevens look like Ron Paul. Earmarking is little more than legalized corruption. It's buying votes. Not only did Robert Byrd perfect the practice, he's the one who put a "secret hold" on a bill that wouldn't have even eliminated the practice, but would merely have added a bit of transparency to it. Democrats who rightly railed against the "Bridge to Nowhere" can't be taken seriously if they sit back and let Byrd resume diverting millions of taxpayer dollars to wasteful pork projects in West Virginia. Harry Reid should remove him from the Senate Appropriations Committee.
[I]f you're going to change the culture of corruption in Washington, you'd go a long way toward demonstrating your seriousness by starting with your own party.

It would also be nice to see the lefty blogs pick up on this, and give Pelosi and Reid the cover they need to do the right thing.

Dawn of a new era?

From my mailbox:

No recounts?
No injunctions?
No lawyers?
No whining?
Just cordial concession calls?

Yeah, I guess all that stuff only happens when Democrats lose. You gotta love the Dems! See, they're ushering in a new era of civility already.

The press and the Democrats

This is known as the "honeymoon phase," during which the media writes glowing, positive portraits of those recently elected to power.

These periods are always fleeting, though. I don't give this one more than 20 or 30 years, tops.

Winners and losers

Here are some of my ideas about the winners and losers of Tuesday's elections.

Democrats: Winners.

Republicans Losers.

But moving beyond that, I'd like to take examine a few specific individuals.

John McCain: Winner. He has just solidified his nascent status as presidential front-runner. Because of his "maverick" persona (I like calling him a "maverick" because it pisses off the moonbats) his image is of a senator not strongly beholden to the outgoing leadership. That will serve him well as as Republicans begin to look for change. Moreover, McCain has warned of this bloodbath for years, if Republicans did not amend their ways, and now he has been proven right. His stature will rise in the upcoming term.

Joe Lieberman: Winner. Even less beholden to the Democratic leadership than before, Lieberman's power will be enhanced as he reaches across to craft compromises and break logjams. Look for the Senate to become the "McCain-Lieberman Show." The two senators will be in their glory, brokering deals left and right in an almost evenly divided chamber. It's what they live for.

Chuck Schumer: Winner. Even long after the House was a lost cause for the GOP, the smart money never convincingly gravitated to a Democratic takeover in the Senate. Nonetheless, Schumer engineered an unlikely victory by recruiting moderate, centrist candidates who were palatable to heartland voters that were fed up with the GOP, but still very wary of Beltway liberals.

Markos Moulitsas: Loser. The Ned Lamont nomination proved he can whip his moonbat base into a frenzy, but we already knew that. But Tuesday's election proved (again) that Kos's power to reach beyond his core base of foam-at-the-mouth leftists is approximately zero. Kos's hand-picked, anti-war candidate lost handily to a pro-war petition candidate in a very blue, very anti-war state, even in the face of a split Republican vote. That was distinctly unimpressive. Expect Schumer to remind Kos of that frequently.

Those are the big ones I can think of for now. Any others?

November 09, 2006

Term Limits

A simple proposal.

Presidents, VPs, Senators and Representatives all get a single 6-year term. The term limits for Congress would be staggered so that 1/3 of the seats would turn over every 2 years.

Six years is long enough to get things accomplished yet short enough to prevent the onset of Washington-itis. And with no re-election campaigns, there is less of a need to raise money. We will get 6 full years of service from our elected officials.

No more perpetual campaigns, no more career politicians.

The ongoing post mortem

A lot of congressional Republicans (and former congressional Republicans) have a vested interest in blaming President Bush and the war in Iraq for Tuesday's electoral shellacking. These played a part, no doubt, but there's a lot more to it than that. Without the stench of corruption that surrounds the current leadership and the fiscal recklessness of the GOP caucus, it's easy to imagine that Tuesday's outcome might yet have been much different, despite all the other factors that contributed to a Republican headwind.

Dick Army had a great line in the Wall Street Journal today.

I've always wondered why Republicans insist on acting like Democrats in hopes of retaining political power, while Democrats act like us in order to win.

Yep, that's a good question, and one that all Republicans should be asking themselves during their time in the wilderness. Dick Army says the 1994 Republican Revolution officially ended this week, and history will probably record it as such. "Official" dates notwithstanding, I submit that the actual revolution ended almost a decade earlier, in 1998.

In 1994, when Republicans gained control of Congress for the first time in 40 years, I think they regarded it as some kind of a fluke. Consequently, they tried to ram through as many reforms as possible in the limited time they had available. I shared this viewpoint myself at the time. But the Republican's aggressive agenda, culminating with the impeachment of Bill Clinton, alarmed the country, and Newt Gingrich's popularity plummeted. The GOP got hammered in the mid-terms, and nearly lost its majority. Gingrich resigned as Speaker.

That's when the revolution ended. Republicans went into "hunker down" mode. They elected a new leadership whose focus was retaining power, period. Not retaining power as a tactical move for the purpose of enacting more conservative reforms, but maintaining a permanent majority as a goal in itself. That's when they began "acting like Democrats," to use Army's term. They became addicted to pork and perks and the conservative revolution died at their own hands. Bush, despite his many problems, cannot be blamed for that.

Social conservatives and libertarians are not natural allies, and yet the Republican Party needs both in order to win elections. Fiscal prudence has always been the glue that held this uneasy coalition together. This season, however, the defining trait of tradition Republicanism had been so thoroughly tarnished that both the libertarians and the social conservatives abandoned the party in droves.

Maybe with enough soul-searching, the GOP can eventually become a conservative party again. Some time in the back benches will help realize that. It will remove the conflict of interest that the enemies of big government inevitably face when elected to power. I think it may be a while, though. And if they do get their conservative street cred back, will they remember the lessons learned about power versus principle? I'm not holding my breath for that either.

November 08, 2006


All right, I'm fine with Rumsfeld "resigning" and all? But why now? Why not six months ago, when it might have actually done some good? And Robert Gates? A CIA dude?

It's pretty goddamn clear who's running the show now. I'm not naming names, but his initials rhyme with "James Baker."

Memo to the GOP

I'll ask the Republicans the same question my father used to ask me after deliberately allowing me to make some colossal (if instructive) mistake, and I was lying on my back, bruised and bloody.

"So.... Do you know what you did wrong?"

The aftermath

Harold Ford lost, of course, because Tennessee is RACIST! Oh well, what can you expect from a former Confederate state? Meanwhile, let's congratulate the enlightened, progressive voters of Maryland for defeating Michael Steele.

Not with a bang but a whimper

Twelve years of Republican rule in the House comes to an end. Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Oh wait... no it wasn't.

November 07, 2006

I for one welcome our new Democratic overlords!

(Sorry. Just wanted to be the first to post that.)

Election fraud

Predictably, rumors of electoral fraud are already circulating.

I used to oppose ballot-rigging, but after watching Battlestar Galactica I now see why it's necessary.

Someone I neglected

I somehow neglected to mention Michael Steele in my (short) list of candidates I'll be pulling for tonight. I'd like to see him win, but he probably won't.

A great day!

Two years ago, I was worried that a Kerry win would bum me out for the whole day. Consequently, I hedged by buying some Kerry contracts on TradeSports, so at least I'd make a buck or two. That way, I was guaranteed to be happy on Election Day no matter what.

The futures really took off on the big day, and by early afternoon I was up nearly a thousand bucks, so I closed my position and took my profit. It wasn't until the contracts had almost stopped trading that they did an abrupt turnaround and broke for Bush. Anyway, it was cool because I made money and Kerry lost. Score!

But my point is this. Until my fond little trip down memory lane this morning, I had forgotten how badly TradeSports botched the last big election. I'm still fascinated by the predictive markets, but they might not be quite all they're cracked up to be. The TradeSports contracts for GOP control of Congress seem to be diverging rather widely from the polls. I can't help but believe TradeSports is exaggerating GOP chances on the downside for the House and on the upside for the Senate. I guess we'll see.


It's quiet this morning

...too quiet....

November 06, 2006

Tightening polls?

First, I'm not buying the polls. Second, I'm not buying that either Rahm Emanuel or the folks over at The Plank are naive enough to buy them either.

This happens every single election, folks. The races suddenly "tighten" at the very end, because the media has a vested interest in bringing you a "horse race." It's every bit as predictable as the perennial chorus of "This is the most negative campaign season ever!" Don't fall for it.

One more prediction

Here's a prediction I forgot to make. If the Democrats do well tomorrow (i.e., take control of at least one chamber of Congress) then this race will have been a referendum on President Bush, and the voters will have rejected him. If the Republicans somehow manage to hang on, this will not have been about President Bush at all, but rather a collection of individual races driven by local issues, in which incumbents have huge advantages via gerrymandering.

But I tell you, if tomorrow's election is not perceived as an up-or-down vote on President Bush, it won't be for lack of trying. I don't know about the rest of the country, but every single Democratic campaign ad up here is nothing but "BUSHBUSHBUSHBUSHIRAQBUSHBUSHBUSHBUSHIRAQWARBUSHBUSHBUSHBUSH!!" Tom Kean, Jr., for example, has a nothing job in the New Jersey state assembly, but you'd think he were George W. Bush's senior right-hand man in charge of policy and torture, judging from Menendez's ads. All the campaign spots spend more time showing Bush making a monkey face than showing either the candidate or his opponent. "STOP BUSH!" signs are up all over Hudson County, as if it's 2004 or something.

Honestly, if the Republicans do somehow manage an upset tomorrow, it will be because they didn't have anyone running against them. All their opponents were running against a lame duck who's never running for elected office again.

My pre-election post

Listen up, fellow Republicans! This race is going to be about TURNOUT! Remember, if we can suppress more minority turnout than our opposition, we can still win this thing.

Haw haw haw, I kid of course. And yet I am a registered Republican, so that explains the light blogging today, as I was busy all morning tampering with voting machines, and making fake robocalls using my Bob Menendez voice. But now I'm done, and the rest is up to Diebold™.

It occurs to me that I haven't really picked many favorites in this election, other than to express a vague hope that the current congressional leadership will be removed from power. The reason is that there aren't too many races that have me excited this year. I can't bring myself to care who wins the senate race here in New Jersey, and I seem to be the only person in American who doesn't care who wins in Connecticut (but I don't, and you can't make me.)

So what races do I care about? I'm already on record as pulling for Casey in Pennsylvania, and I'll go ahead and throw in Nelson in Florida as well. Neither of these races really counts, however, since they're both gimmes. I'd also like to see Ford win in Tennessee, although now that's looking increasingly less likely, and Webb in Virginia.

Yes, I know what this means. The four candidates I'm rooting for are all Democrats. This is surely a sign of the apocalypse. But think about this. Among the myriad variables that are coming together to form this "perfect storm" of anti-Republican sentiment, there's one in particular that's worthy of mention. This is, without a doubt, the most conservative roster of Democratic candidates I've seen in my lifetime. To the extent that you can "throw the bastards out" without having to sacrifice your ideologies (not any more so than usual, anyway) then so much the better. I'm thinking that 2007 may very well be the year of the Blue Dogs.

November 05, 2006

Bold predictions, or just plain denial?

I know that all the polls we obsess over on a daily basis should be taken with a grain of salt. I also know that such polls often under-represent Republican strength. Still, when I read predictions such as these and these, I can't help but believe there's a lot of wishful thinking going on.

I guess we'll find out soon enough. Put me down for the Democrats to win a small majority in the House. The Senate is going to be extremely close, and may very well come down to a single seat one way or the other. Either way, the Senate isn't all that relevant. It takes 60 votes to achieve anything of significance these days, and neither side is going to be able to command that. Despite all the attention we've lavished on Corker vs. Ford, Allen vs. Webb and the others, the real action is going to be in the House, where even a small majority can leverage substantial power.

The verdict is in

Cue whiny Western human rights organizations.

November 03, 2006


Looks like one to me, if TradeSports is to be believed. The contracts for GOP control of the House has slipped to 25. Next Tuesday will be a good test of the predictive markets.

Meanwhile, the folks at The Corner are obsessively poring over more conventional tea leaves.

November surprise?

Some October surprises come out in November. Actually, given the fast-paced world we live in and an ever-shortening news cycle, this is probably the new trend. Anyway, the latest entry is again from Bush's opponents rather than his supporters. It's a New York Times piece concerning a seized cache of Iraqi documents. The government, under pressure from conservative supporters of the administration, posted many of these documents online.

The Times now says that the government might have made a serious mistake by posting these. Some of the documents, they say, contain information about building an atomic bomb that is not readily available on the internet, and that posting this information might have the unintended consequence of aiding Iran (or other enemies) in its own pursuit of nuclear weaponry.

It's a nice try by the Times, but I know there's nothing to this story. Why? Because we know that Saddam wasn't anywhere near having an atomic bomb when we invaded his country. Hell, he wasn't even trying. Joe Wilson told us so. In the New York Times.

Except... there's this, down in the fourteenth paragraph (emphasis mine):

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

So much for the "Bush lied" meme, I guess. Man, that Karl Rove really is a genius.

Vote for pork!

I like my mayor. He lives just down the street from me, and I pass his house every time I walk the dog. Sometimes he ribs me. "A day this beautiful should be taxed!" he'll say. "Don't give Corzine any ideas," I'll reply. But in truth, he's a miserly old cuss, and an accountant by trade whose parsimonious handling of the municipal budget keeps our property taxes among the lowest in the state. In fact, almost everyone in town likes our mayor. During the last election he ran unopposed and won basically 100% of the vote. I honestly can't even tell you whether he's a Republican or a Democrat.

That's why when I received a letter from him yesterday, I actually read it, rather than tossing it directly into the garbage with the other political mass mailings. The mayor struck all the proper, non-partisan tones in the letter, but then went on to urge us to vote for two particular candidates on Tuesday's election. The reason? They brought a lot of federal pork to the region. He didn't word it that way, but he might as well have. The candidates in question happened to be Democrats, but it really didn't matter, because the only "issues" were funds for upgrading this park, restoring that old water tower, a bike path here, a ball field there.

To his credit, our mayor is very frugal with local residents' tax dollars. Like everyone else, however, he evidently loves to grab all the federal largesse he possibly can. It was an eye-opener. I guess I'm naive, but I always wondered why lawmakers so zealously guarded their pet pork projects. It was almost inconceivable to me that people's votes could actually turn on something as silly as a bike path or some other damned nonsense. I guess now I know better.

Strange dream

Last night's dream was this: My wife and I were eating dinner at an outdoor restaurant overlooking the ocean. Without warning, the water level dropped 10 or 20 feet. In the confusion that followed, black helicopters began landing on the beach, part of the vanguard of an occupying force that would overthrow our government. The newspaper the next day announced the coup, and contained the headline: "Mayor: 'Have Hope,'" echoing the words of Admiral Adama.

Seems pretty straightforward to me. The drop in water level presages the Democratic tsunami that will sweep Republicans from power. The helicopters are the Democrats seizing the reins of power. The "mayor," of course, is Rudy Giuliani, who waits in the wings to undo the "coup."

My political dreams tend to be fairly transparent. On the other hand, I'm not a professional. It could actually represent a repressed homosexual fantasy, for all I know.

November 02, 2006

Joe Lieberman as Obi-Wan Kenobi

The Kos/MoveOn axis struck Lieberman down, but he just may become more powerful than they could possibly imagine... to coin a phrase.

New York Observer's Kornacki writes, before the election "Lieberman really didn't have a choice" on whether he'd vote with Dems but "next Tuesday, Lieberman will be in a position to name his price." GOPers "certainly have reason to make a run at him" but ultimately Dems "have the advantage in any bidding war" for Lieberman's loyalties since, if they win a majority, "they're fully prepared" to hand him the chairmanship of the Homeland Security Cmte. "The only thing that seems certain" is that Lieberman "is going to be left with more power and influence than ever before - wherever his party loyalties lie." A closely divided Senate would give Lieberman "unique clout: the ability to leverage his tie-breaking independence on vote after vote for -- well, just about anything on his wish list." After being rejected by Dems in the primary and opposed by some colleagues in the general, "his wont to go against his party on crucial votes is likely to become only more pronounced." CT voters, "far from sending mixed signals," will have used this election "to create their own national power-broker"

Santorum sucks

There's an amusing piece at National Review called Libertarians for Santorum. With a title like that, I just had to read it. Not surprisingly, I found it wholly unconvincing.

I know that libertarians often have to make some truly unholy bargains when it comes to choosing between two very deeply flawed candidates and/or parties. We've all been there. Still, I think there comes some point where one has to draw the line, and I draw it at Rick Santorum.

Granted, he's got a good record on economic issues, but that's not enough to salvage the rest of the package. People like me are accustomed to being betrayed by Republicans and "conservatives" who talk a great game about limited government only to abandon those principles whenever it's convenient. Santorum goes well beyond that, however. I doubt any libertarians are engaging in the usual handwringing about whether or not it's acceptable to form a tactical alliance with the likes of Santorum. The question is moot, as Santorum has all but declared war on the most basic underlying principles of our ideology. Indeed, he sees opposition to libertarianism (for lack of a better term) as the defining attribute of his political philosophy.

Don't believe me? Check out this clip from an interview in which Santorum actually launches a full frontal assault on "the pursuit of happiness." How much more explicit does he need to be?

Next week's elections, like any other mid-term, will represent a mixed bag of disappointments and happy surprises. One bright spot I can count on, however, is that this freedom-phobic dweeb will finally be stripped of his ability to craft laws governing our behavior.

(Hat tip: Sully)

November 01, 2006

The gift that keeps on giving

I'll confess I've spent much of this year asking myself why the hell I voted for Bush in 2004 after having refused to vote for him in 2000. But suddenly, I remember! This is why:

You gotta love this guy! Two years later, he's still helping Republicans at the polls. (And from the looks of it, he's still wearing that gay LiveStrong bracelet as well.)

According to Kerry, of course, it was all just a terrible, terrible misunderstanding -- or a Karl Rove plot -- or... something. What he meant to do was talk about how Bush was lazy and uneducated (even though Bush's grades at Yale were slightly better than Kerry's)... or something.

But anyway, the important thing is that he did not, I repeat, NOT disparage our noble troops in any way. I mean, how could anyone honestly believe that Kerry would malign U.S. troops during a time of war? I mean, where would they even get such an idea?

October surprise?

October's come and gone, and gone with it is all the Halloween candy in our house except for a single Gummy ™ severed finger. So where was Karl Rove's widely anticipated "October surprise" that lefty bloggers have been wringing their hands about for months on end? Didn't happen, I guess. Just like it didn't happen the last time they predicted it.

Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of October surprises this past month. There were the leaked Foley IM's, the leaked NIE assessment, the bogus Lancet study, State of Denial, and so on. Problem is, none of them were Rove's handiwork. They all came from the other side.

Nor is this year atypical. 2004 saw the release of the infamous (and bogus) TANG documents, as well as screaming, pre-election headlines about a huge missing weapons cache at Al Qaqaa. In 2000, it was the last-minute revelation of Bush's DUI charge. In 1992, it was the Casper Weinberger indictment. You get the idea.

The October surprise is the M.O. of the Democratic political machine, and it is the Democrats who have elevated it to an art form. Kind of makes you wonder why they spend so much time worrying about Republican surprises that, more often than not, never materialize. I think in the mental health profession they call this "projection."

How it really is

Here in this bastion of blue-state Bush-bashers, I frequently have bruised shins. They're the result of my wife kicking me under the dinner table as I cast a huge pall over everyone's festive, Bush-bashing atmosphere by expressing my own opinions. But, as I explain to my wife, I never start these political conversations at social gatherings. Ever. I think it would be bad manners to do so. But when others start them (as they inevitably do) I will nonetheless finish them. It's odd how people feel free to make assumptions about others around them, and launch into a completely unsolicited political diatribe, yet then react in shock in horror when you respond in kind. Here's a great post from someone who knows exactly what it's like.

They always start political conversations. None of us do. We have learned that no one wants to argue issues on their merits, that the room gets very quiet and unfriendly, that people start screaming at you, or rant the most loopy beliefs and conspiracy theories. We just assume that is not a topic anyone can treat in a dispassionate manner.

But they always provoke political conversations. Well, not conversations, which would be enjoyable and enlightening. They make pronouncements. And look around the room to see if anyone not only doesn't agree, but doesn't agree enthusiastically. As a friend deep in the closet in the theater world put it, you can't just sit quietly and wait for the topic to change. No, you are suspect if you do not vocally endorse the official opinion of the group. You thought you were in a project meeting or a coffee klatch or a dinner party, and all of a sudden it has turned into the Communist Youth League Self-Criticism Session.

And then, after they have assumed, because no one in the room has fangs or horns, that a political support group is what everyone wants (and they do, except for you) - if you express your difference of opinion, they are offended that you spoiled the intimate feeling in the room by being other than they assumed, based on their superficial reading of you. In other words, they brought up politics, but they are the only ones who get to play. If you join in, you are the one who soured the conversation by bringing up politics. Because they weren't trying to start a political discussion, they just wanted to commiserate with friends. You party pooper.

Amen, sister. I can totally relate. Liberals are all for diversity and everything, but clearly there are certain kinds of diversity that they cannot abide -- diversity of opinion being foremost among them.

(Another way to look at this disparity: The left wing of the Democratic Party is trying to purge one of its most venerable leaders, Joe Lieberman, by painting him as a Republican in donkey's skin. The right wing of the Republican Party keeps Rudy Giuliani one of the top five contenders in straw polls for 08. They don't say that Giuliani or McCain and Schwarzenegger aren't Republicans. Nobody is trying to purge them and a surprising number of social conservatives would vote for Guiliani. Thus the Republican Party is a bigger tent than the Democratic Party.) (Dems hate it when you tell them that, but they can't refute it.)

Good point.