Wednesday, November 29, 2006

McCain-Lieberman '08 

I considered including this possibility in my pre-election post arguing that Lieberman was unlikely to become a Republican when reelected. Joe's raison d'être is to be President, or at least Vice President (preferably for someone who'd be 72 at inauguration and has a history of cancer). There is no way that that will ever happen as a Democrat (even Joementum himself finally realizes that) and there is no way it would ever happen as a Republican. If he becomes a Republican, he's just another pro-choice (well, mostly) Northeasterner without Giuliani's mythology or Pataki's record of being, well, a Republican. Only as a Democrat does he bring anything to a ticket.

The Republicans know their best (only?) chance of winning is by hiding what they stand for, since the post-Gingrich Republican agenda has never been widely popular (and is clearly less so post-2006 elections). That was the whole point of "compassionate conservatism" and "uniter not a divider". It was a deliberate lie to conceal what Bush intended to do. But Americans have seen that movie, and I can't see the same game plan working again. The 2006 elections sent the clear message that just saying "we're different from Bush" is not going to work.

McCain is the perfect person to lead such a strategy of deception. He's a conservative Republican who has convinced the media he's a principled "maverick" who's not part of the Republican machine. What better way to reinforce and amplify this very helpful media dynamic than picking a Democrat (and Gore's VP no less)? I suppose Lieberman could help in the same way with someone else at the top, but it really only works with McCain, because without him the maverick angle doesn't fly with the media and it looks a bit like choosing Zell Miller....


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Because It Would Be Unseemly For A Man To Mention Breasts? 

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is getting some criticism for sending new parents letters of congratulations (at state expense) right before the recent election.

The letters contain public service information, have been going out since 1988, and are sent by 33 other states, so that criticism is probably off target (unless there's evidence Blagojevich tinkered with the timing), but I had to wonder about this:
The cards contain a list of recommended vaccinations as well as a record for parents to track when their children receive them. There is also a growth chart and a note from first lady Patti Blagojevich reminding mothers that state law allows them to breast-feed in public places. (Emphasis added.)
Now, I'm all in favor of spreading the word about laws protecting breast-feeding mothers, but -- precisely because it is a matter of public interest -- that is a message that should come from the governor. Doesn't having his wife address breast feeding, while he addresses other aspects of child health, imply that breast-feeding is something that can't be discussed freely like other public issues, thus implicitly undermining the message's stated goal of normalizing public breast-feeding?


A Reminder... 

...that the Christian Coalition is nothing more than a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican Party:
The president-elect of the Christian Coalition of America has declined the job, saying the organization wouldn't let him expand its agenda beyond opposing abortion and gay marriage.

The Rev. Joel Hunter, who was scheduled to take over the socially conservative group in January from Roberta Combs, said he had hoped to focus on issues such as poverty and the environment.

"These are issues that Jesus would want us to care about," said Hunter, a senior pastor at Northland Church in Longwood, Fla.


Rush Holt for Intel Chair 

He's eminently qualified. He has no skeletons in his closet. So let's get past this whole Harman-Hastings thing and get someone who can do the job really well.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Not What I Would Call An Improvement 

Steve Gilliard, along with everyone else, correctly condemns Seinfeld's Michael Richards's bizarre rant during a stand-up routine, where he repeatedly called a heckler "nigger".

What I don't get is Gilliard's apparent adoption of a reader's email suggesting that the correct response for Richards would have been to attack the heckler as gay or the heckler's mother as a slut:
Comedians have lines they use for hecklers. Richard Pryor destroyed many a heckler--in character often. Robin Williams f*cking verbally drowns his antagonizers. I heard Chris Rock years ago stun a heckler into silence with a forlorn look heavenward while asking "WHY didn't I wear a sc*mbag when I f*cked this dude's mama twenty years ago? Damn!"

Or you trot out the old stand-by, "Hey, take it easy...little respect. I don't come down to your job and:

a.) Slap the d*ck outta your mouth in the bus station bathroom when you're givin' blowjobs.

b.) Interrupt you and your mom's live sex act at the peep show.

Or some such variation thereof. What so-called professional comedian or person familiar with stand-up comedy doesn't have an idea of how to deal with something as common to the game as hecklers? (Emphasis added.)
That is what Richards should have said?


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Republican Grief Therapy 

Killing things:

[Conrad] Burns isn't sure what his future plans are, but the AP reports that "he indicated he was looking forward to taking some time off."

"I hope there is still a good-sized buck out there, because I am going hunting," Burns' statement said.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Very Definition of Bad Atmospherics 

Tom Harkin, 11/7/91, on DOD Secretary-appointee (and, apparently, Hussein coddler) Bob Gates:

Mr. President, I also have doubts and questions about Mr. Gates' role in the secret intelligence sharing operation with Iraq. Robert Gates served as assistant to the Director of the CIA in 1981 and as Deputy Director for Intelligence for 1982 to 1986. In that capacity he helped develop options in dealing with the Iran-Iraq war, which eventually involved into a secret intelligence liaison relationship with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Gates was in charge of the directorate that prepared the intelligence information that was passed on to Iraq. He testified that he was also an active participant in the operation during 1986. The secret intelligence sharing operation with Iraq was not only a highly questionable and possibly illegal operation, but also may have jeopardized American lives and our national interests. The photo reconnaissance, highly sensitive electronic eavesdropping and narrative texts provided to Saddam, may not only have helped him in Iraq's war against Iran but also in the recent gulf war. Saddam Hussein may have discovered the value of underground land lines as opposed to radio communications after he was give our intelligence information. That made it more difficult for the allied coalition to get quick and accurate intelligence during the gulf war. Further, after the Persian Gulf war, our intelligence community was surprised at the extent of Iraq's nuclear program. One reason Saddam may have hidden his nuclear program so effectively from detection was because of his knowledge of our satellite photos. What also concerns me about that operation is that we spend millions of dollars keeping secrets from the Soviets and then we give it to Saddam who sells them to the Soviets. In short, the coddling of Saddam was a mistake of the first order. (Emphasis added.)


Shameless Gloating 

As Elizabeth points out in comments, Jim Webb is going to win Virginia. Just for kicks, via Intrade, here's the market's estimation of George Allen's odds of winning the GOP Presidential nomination (click picture to enlarge):


We Won 

We won we won we won we won.

Intrade has GOP chances of keeping the Senate at 10%.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

From The Androcentric Headlines Department 

Alchohol deaths soar among middle-aged men

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of middle-aged men drinking themselves to death has more than doubled since 1991, according to official figures released on Tuesday....

Deaths among women in the same age group also nearly doubled....


Gallows Humor 

Colin McEnroe:
[P]eople report it is even harder than they thought to find Joe Lieberman on the ballot. One correspondent: "You'd have to be stupid to vote for Lieberman. And then they make it hard for stupid people to find him. It's not fair!"
At least it's funny gallows humor.


The Enemy of the Enemy of the Enemy of the Enemy Is ... My Friend? 

From Iraq War supporter Tom Bevan:
The Providence Journal captured Chafee's retort, which I thought was fairly effective:
Calling Clinton "disingenuous," Chafee said: "It infuriates me, that President Clinton is coming, saying, Get rid of Senator Chafee, the guy that voted against the war,' when his own wife did not. I know they are separate people [actually, Bill personally has supported the Iraq War too--FV] but I voted against the war. He should be here saying we need more people like Senator Chafee in the Senate working on both sides of the aisle, casting good votes unlike his wife on the war."
He's got a point there, don't you think?
And you have to admit, Bevan has a point.

So to review: We have an anti-war blogger (me) agreeing with a pro-war blogger (Bevan) agreeing with an anti-war candidate (Chafee) that a pro-war ex-President (Clinton) is a hypocrite. Of course, my conclusion (Clinton should have opposed the war from the start) isn't the same as Bevan's (Clinton should back Chafee).


Monday, November 06, 2006

Senate Predictions 

Robocalls, voter suppression, tightening of generic ballot polls. They all give us some pause. Maybe my pick of 38 seats in the House ends up being twice what we get -- but even with 19 seats we take back the House, and looking at the race-by-race data I really don't see how it can get much lower than that.

As to the Senate, I see a net gain of five seats, meaning Dick Cheney breaks the tie and the GOP controls -- unless Ted Stevens is indicted. Here are the contested races -- all percentages are of the two-party vote except for Connecticut:

Arizona: Jon Kyl defeats Jim Pederson, 55-45. Reports that this one had a pulse were greatly exaggerated.

Connecticut: Joe Lieberman defeats Ned Lamont and Alan Schlesinger, 50-38-12. It's fashionable to predict a Lamont upset or at least an election substantially closer than the polls (I guess based on groundgame, or an assumption that Republicans will really pull the "R" lever when they get in the booth), but honestly that's a fantasy. The polls have been eerily stable that we're going to be stuck with Lieberman for six more years. I'm betting he wins an outright majority.

Maryland: Michael Steele defeats Ben Cardin, 50-50. I see this one as a squeeker. Cardin's ahead in every poll, but a lot of his support is soft, especially in Maryland's large black community. That's why Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have visited Maryland this weekend, but I fear Cardin will not get the turnout or margin that he needs from the black community.

Missouri: Claire McCaskill unseats Jim Talent, 51-49. McCaskill is popular and has been consistently ahead in the polls. Missouri tends to go Republican, but elected a Dem to this seat as recently as 2000 (when Mel Carnahan's corpse defeated John Ashcroft).

Montana: Jon Tester unseats Conrad Burns, 51-49. I know the polls are tightening, but Conrad Burns is still Conrad Burns, America's least popular incumbent Senator, and this is a state that has a track record of electing statewide Democrats who run strong campaigns.

New Jersey: Bob Menendez beats Tom Kean, 52-48. I was never worried about this one. New Jersey always looks scary in the fall, and then always goes Democratic by a couple of points. So long as you don't run Jim Florio.

Ohio: Sherrod Brown unseats Mike DeWine, 55-45. Done and done.

Pennsylvania: Bob Casey unseats Rick Santorum, 55-45. This is one we would have won even in a Republican year; Santorum in 2006's Al D'Amato.

Rhode Island: Sheldon Whitehouse unseats Lincoln Chafee. I'm pretty confident heavily Democratic Rhode Island will fall our way, but it's hard to get a feel for the likely margin, which could as easily be one point or ten. I'll split the difference as say 52-48.

Tennessee: Bob Corker defeats Harold Ford, 56-44. Yes, it's partly racism. Although, honestly, going to a Playboy event shows pretty poor judgment for someone who has serious political ambitions. And crashing Corker's event was a gigantic mistake. And Ford had to find a way to defuse the SSM issue without alienating his progressive base. Ford earned this loss.

Virginia: Jim Webb unseats George Allen, 52-48. Virginia's never going to be blue, but it sure has a track record of liking its conservative Democrats. Virginians have finally met the real George Allen, and they're not impressed.


Obligatory Lieberman Speculation Post 

Everyone's trying to guess what Joe Lieberman will do assuming he is reelected on the CFL line, and assuming he is in a position to flip control of the Senate by switching parties or by resigning for a post in the Bush Administration.

Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but I'm betting against Lieberman flipping. Here's why:

First, an administration position offers Joe too little. In two years, he's out of a job. Plus, you can't campaign for President when you're Secretary of Defense. It's one thing to miss a ton of votes, another to be in Iowa while our soldiers are facing IEDs. Yes, he could cash in as a lobbyist, but he could have done that right now without the independent run. Plus the two positions he would most want, State and Defense, are already taken by people to whom Bush is very loyal. Plus, think of the confirmation hearings. Appointing him to the Supreme Court would solve the job security problem, but if you think Bush had trouble convincing his base to accept Harriet Miers, just wait until they hear that his next pick is the pro-choice Lieberman. If Lieberman does join the Administration, my guess is it will be at Treasury, but I just don't see it.

Second, switching parties would also come at an enormous cost to Lieberman. Yes, he has six years of job security, but it will be obvious to all of his Democratic colleagues (most of whom have at least tacitly supported him) and to the voters of Connecticut that he has lied to their faces and stabbed them in the back. Lieberman's credibility with the media, which comes from a reputation as a Democrat who criticizes Democrats, will be completely shot -- and with it any chance he has of being President (none anyway, but he doesn't think so). (Think about it -- even Zell Miller never formally switched parties.) And he has to know that it would get very cold indeed in two years if the Democrats retake the Senate. If Joe's going to switch, then Harry Reid, Bill Clinton, Chuck Shumer, Barack Obama, Mary Landrieux and all the other Dems who have helped him are idiots. I think they've behaved dishonorably, but I don't think they're idiots.

When I spoke to Mary about this, she didn't buy my analysis. Her question, and it's a good one, is why else would the Republicans invest so much in Lieberman, unless they were getting something out of it? In the end, Mary may be right. But I'll offer that the GOP still gets an awful lot from having Joe Lieberman rather than Ned Lamont in the Senate. Part of that is simply his reliably pro-Bush vote on Iraq (and Iran), and probably on Social Security and anti-abortion justices.

But a big part of is probably money. If Dems retake the Senate, Lieberman is in line to be the Chair of the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee. And if he's not reelected, that spot probably goes to partisan Democrat Carl Levin. The difference between Lieberman and Levin is likely a lot of money for the GOP's corporate backers and for GOP districts. The Committee is responsible for overseeing a homeland security budget in the range of $40 billion (and growing) that has been an enormous boon for corporate security providers like GE, IBM, L-3, and Honeywell. And Lieberman has already been criticized for exacerbating Homeland Security's pork problem. A big pay day in DHS pork is a lot of incentive for the corporate types to support Joe.

And beyond money there's accountability. Rove's biggest fear is Democrats controlling the subpoena power. He knows that once investigations get started, they are hard to contain, and that a lot of people could start going to jail. Lieberman's HSGA Committee is the logical one to do a lot of that investigating; it's sort of the Senate analog of what will soon be Henry Waxman's House Government Reform Committee. (Indeed, back when Lieberman was running for President, he and Waxman joined forces to call for investigations of Halliburton.) Muffling the Senate's subpoena power would be a big, big win for the GOP elite.

So there you have it. I think Joe will stab us in the back, where the media and his Senate Democratic colleagues can politely look the other way, but I don't think he's stab us in the front.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

If I'm Dreaming, Don't Pinch Me 

OK. Don’t read this if you’re superstitious.

Since my prediction of the Yankees over the Tigers in three went so well, I’m offering my prediction for the House of Representatives.

I see a pickup of 38 seats, giving us a majority of 241-194. The race-by-race predictions are below.

I'm listening to the beginnings of the Saddam Hussein verdict reporting on CNN right now. I'm assuming that the verdict has no net effect on the election. While it could give Republcans a timely bounce with a few voters who just tuned in (see Bush Cycle ("artificial spikes following events (9/11, the Iraq war, the capture) followed by steady falls to earth"), it keeps the broader focus on Iraq, and that can't be good for Republicans. I am worried about it, but I don't have the sinking feeling I had two years ago when Osama popped up to throw Bush a life preserver.

D Pickups

AZ-5 – Harry Mitchell unseats JD Hayworth
AZ-8 – Gabrielle Giffords defeats Randy Graf

CA-11 – Jerry McNerny unseats Richard Pombo

CO-4 – Angie Paccione unseats Marilyn Musgrave
CO-7 – Ed Perlmutter defeats Rick O'Donnell (Bob Beauprez’s seat)

CT-2 – Joe Courtney unseats Rob Simmons
CT-4 – Diane Farrell unseats Christopher Shays
CT-5 – Chris Murphy unseats Nancy Johnson

FL-13 – Christine Jennings defeats Vern Buchanan (Katherine Harris’s seat)
FL-16 – Tim Mahoney defeats Joe Negron (Mark Foley’s seat)

IA-1 – Bruce Braley defeats Mike Whalen

IL-6 – Tammy Duckworth defeats Peter Roskam (Henry Hyde’s seat)
IL-8 – Daniel Seals unseats Mark Kirk

IN-2 – Joe Donnelly unseats Chris Chocola
IN-8 – Brad Ellsworth unseats John Hostettler
IN-9 – Baron Hill unseats Mike Sodrel

KY-3 – John Yarmuth unseats Anne Northup
KY-4 – Ken Lucas unseats Geoff Davis

NC-8 – Larry Kissell unseats Robin Hayes
NC-11 – Heath Shuler unseats Charles Taylor

NH-2 – Paul Hodes unseats Charlie Bass

NJ-7 – Linda Stender unseats Mike Ferguson

NM-1 – Patricia Madrid unseats Heather Wilson

NY-19 – John Hall unseats Sue Kelly (he wrote “Still the One”, so he has to win)
NY-20 – Kirsten Gillibrand unseats John Sweeney
NY-24 – Mike Arcuri defeats Ray Meier
NY-25 – Dan Maffei unseats Jim Walsh
NY-29 – Eric Massa unseats Randy Kuhl

OH-2 – Victoria Wulsin unseats Jean Schmidt
OH-15 – Mary Jo Kilroy unseats Deborah Pryce (Pryce is pro-choice and House Republican Conference Chair (#4 in leadership))
OH-18 – Zack Space unseats Joy Padgett (Bob Ney’s seat)

PA-6 – Lois Murphy unseats Jim Gerlach
PA-7 – Joe Sestak unseats Curt Weldon
PA-9 – Patrick Murphy unseats Mike Fitzpatrick
PA-10 – Christopher Carney unseats Don Sherwood (mistress abuse)

TX-22 – Nick Lampson defeats Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (Tom DeLay’s seat)

WI-8 – Steve Kagen defeats John Gard

WY-AL – Gary Trauner unseats Barbara Cubin

Close But No Cigar

CA-4 – Charles Brown loses to John Doolittle
CA-50 – Francine Busby loses to Brian Bilbray

ID-1 – Larry Grant loses to Bill Sali

IN-3 – Tom Hayhurst loses to Mark Souder

MN-1 – Tim Walz loses to Gil Gutknecht
MN-2 – Coleen Rowley loses to John Kline
MN-6 – Patty Wetterling loses to Michele Bachmann

NH-1 – Carol Shea-Porter loses to Jeb Bradley

NY-3 – Dave Mejias loses to Peter King
NY-26 – Jack Davis loses to Tom Reynolds

OH-1 – John Cranley loses to Steve Chabot

WA-8 – Darcy Burner loses to Dave Reichert


Friday, November 03, 2006

More GOP Racist Code 

Hard upon the GOP's unsubtly coded racist appeal to vote for Corker over Ford in Tennessee, the GOP is using a different code in Wyoming.

Incumbent Barbara Cubin (R-WY) is running ads that focus on the fact that her Democratic opponent, Gary Trauner, is from New York -- even though he's lived in Wyoming for 17 years and raised his family there. Just take a guess -- what do you think Trauner's religion is? Yup. Trauner is Jewish, and "New York" is, in certain circles, a well-used code word for "Jewish".

I suppose one could argue that being from out of state is a legitimate campaign issue ... at least until one learned that Cubin was born in California and went to college in Nebraska....

Of course, maybe I'm being unfair to Cubin, since she doesn't usually feel the need to use racist code words:
On April 7, 2003, Cubin said on the House floor, "My sons are 25 and 30. They are blond-haired and blue-eyed. One amendment today said we could not sell guns to anybody under drug treatment. So does that mean if you go into a black community, you cannot sell a gun to any black person?"
UPDATE: One of Josh Marshall’s readers has the same reaction, almost verbatim:
The first I thought when I watched the anti-Trauner ad, where he's attacked for being from New York, was: "Is he Jewish?"

Yep. He is.

Surprise, surprise. After the anti-Ford ad in Tennessee, we get a classic bit of anti-Semitism ("New Yorker," nudge nudge wink wink) in Wyoming.

I'm not sure if you were implying this in your comment, but you might want to make it explicit for those who aren't so familiar with the traditional New York/Jewish anti-Semitic code-word.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

No Candy For Fred 

"I got a rock." -- C. Brown

New Q-Poll reports Lamont still down by 12. Sigh.


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