Saturday, November 06, 2010

Rachel on Keith

By Creature


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Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again

By Capt. Fogg

Yes, those were the days Archie and Edith Bunker sang about and the man who led us from market crash and credit crunch into full blown depression by blaming the workers instead of the actual causes. Somehow we've forgotten that Archie the lovable, small minded bigot and ignoramus was supposed to be a joke.

I admit it, I went and hid my head in Caribbean sand for a week so I wouldn't have to watch the madness, the hysteria and the lies, or endure the Fox News fits and fables -- or most of all, witness the continuing spectacle of my country eating itself alive out of a desperation to keep doing what always produces everything we're trying to fix. Sooner or later, however, and Hurricane Tomas argued for sooner, one has to come back and face the discord.

It isn't easy. It isn't easy to accept that Americans will support politicians that truly are nowhere near as smart as a fifth grader and that Americans will elect politicians who don't think the government has any business interfering with our "right" to abuse and exploit and segregate other Americans or to accept that Americans will just childishly stay home and let some 20% of the voters put a plutocrat affiliated with a billion dollar medicare scam in the Florida governor's mansion out of contempt for "elitism" and because Obaaaaaaama and the "librils" haven't restored the Bush bubble, the Bush soaring debt, the Bush job loss, the Bush expansion of federal size and power, the Bush redistribution of wealth, the Bush disenfranchisement of voters,  and Bush infringements upon civil rights soon enough to please them. Yes, that's a hell of a long sentence, but how we sank this low is an even longer story and when it comes to telling it, it's not me whose head is buried in the sand.

No, after eight years of job stagnation, job loss, and declining earnings, all we'll be hearing about is about that 9.6% unemployment Obama created without any help from Bush's tax cuts and wars -- and we won't be remembering the 9.5% unemployment in Reagan's first term (nor his tax increases, nor the effect they produced). We'll hear the gloating and bragging about the president's low popularity although Reagan's was lower at the same point in his career. We'll hear about profligate spending, but not a word about the payback with interest that tells a different story. We'll keep hearing about the debt, but not the policies that produced it and how it can only be solved by a policy that has produced the largest government sponsored redistribution of wealth in our history without creating a single new private sector job -- a policy that must be maintained for fear of Communism. Like Archie, we'll keep longing for that romanticized version of a Hobbesian hell with every white man for himself, minorities in the minority, stragglers will be shot and no prisoners taken. We'll keep ignoring reality and we'll keep repeating the slogans as we count our beads, fabricating facts and citing false history when we pay attention to history at all.

Meanwhile the sand is warm and the hurricane is moving out to sea...

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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I knew this would happen

By Carl 

It was only a matter of time after the SCOTUS allowed corporations to have the same rights as individuals that individuals would begin to see their rights stripped. 

Keith Olbermann has been suspended for the high crime of donating a few bucks to some candidates in this election.

Sign a petition, help him get his job back


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Friday, November 05, 2010

Iowa voter's fancy themselves above checks and balances

Iowa's ousting of several state supreme court judges who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage is a scary day for those who believe an independent judiciary is essential to democracy.

And supporters of removing the judges for making legal decisions that some don't like completely miss the whole point of having judges rule on constitutionality issues in the first place:

“I think it will send a message across the country that the power resides with the people,” Bob Vander Plaats, a Republican who led the campaign after losing the Republican nomination for governor, told a crowd of cheering supporters at an election night party peppered with red signs declaring “No Activist Judges.” “It’s we the people, not we the courts.” 

One of the roles of judges is to protect the minority against the majority, who could strip them of their rights if it were put up to a vote.  In Iowa's case, that's essentially what happened.  Conservatives were able to remove judges, though a huge spending campaign funded largely by non-Iowans, who made a ruling based on the law that conservatives didn't like. This is exactly why judges should not be chosen by election--because judges aren't supposed to be beholden to the people, but to the law. 

(Cross-posted to Speak Truth to Power.)

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Pelosi to run for Minority Leader

By Creature

And I'm thrilled. First, because she kicks ass. Second, because it'll piss off what's left of those damn Blue Dogs.

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Contemplating and interpreting the midterm election results

What did these midterms actually mean? That depends on which data you use, and how you want to spin it.

I want to ponder a few things about the voting results:

The GOP gained 60 seats. Four of them are from Progressive Caucus Democrats, who lost 2% of their (79) members. 28 were Blue Dogs, whose caucus shrank by half. Many of the Blue Dogs were from conservative-leaning districts. And it was the protection of these members' seats that took the progressive teeth out of the health care bill. So we were left with a health bill that few understand, giving the space for Republicans to trump up fear over the bill, and that was less progressive than many Americans wanted. Something to think about...

These midterm results were actually not unusual, as pointed out by Rachel Maddow. In fact, if it is at all unusual, it's because the Democrats didn't lose the Senate too (the House has never flipped parties without the Senate flipping too). Save 3 midterm elections, the president's party has always lost seats in the House during midterm elections going back to the 30s.

The role of the voters:

Independents: Roughly the same percentage of independents voted for Republicans in 2010 as voted for Democrats in 2006 when the House flipped under Bush. But this flip should not be read as support for Republican ideas: only 25% approve of Congress, 53% see the Democrats favorably and 53% see the GOP favorably: no one party is more favorable to the American people than the other right now. And there is no voter consensus on what to do next, either. From Open Left:

Voting Republican was largely a response to being dissatisfied with the economy, regardless of who's actually responsible for the mess or which party is looked at more favorably. Not to mention the White House's awful PR job (what they should have done). (Sidenote: I so miss the teacherly explanations of candidate Obama that seem to have disappeared with President Obama.)

Higher turnout for GOP voters: This is obvious, the “enthusiasm gap,” which I believe resulted from Obama not going far enough on the health and stimulus bills (more than 1/3 of the stimulus was tax cuts, not stimulative spending) and by the aforementioned bad PR by the White House.

Age: NPR Reports: "In 2008, voters under 30 outnumbered, as a percentage of the electorate, voters over 65, 18 percent to 16 percent. Yesterday, only 10 or 11 percent of the electorate was under 30; 25 percent was over 65."

A recent survey shows that only 11% of 18-29 year-olds support the Tea Party. 60% of those over 65 voted Republican.

How the results are being interpreted by the Republicans serves the advancing of their agenda, regardless of what voters actually support. They are presuming that people voted for them and their positions. Republicans took the House but not the Senate, voters have very low approval of Congress, and voters don't favor Republicans over Democrats. Yet Boehner et al. seems to think that voters endorse the Republican platform.

Listening to Boehner's speech election evening was a clear display of hypocrisy. Boehner et al is pledging "no compromise" with Republican beliefs. Yet when Democrats, who in 2008 had in fact been given a mandate, attempted to stick to their beliefs, Democrats were not principled, but were being "partisan." Democrats, were derided for not "compromising" enough (read: caving into GOP demands) and embracing Republican ideas, even though the GOP lost badly in the 2008 election and the Democrats, quite frankly, didn't owe them anything. So with Republicans gaining just the House, we should expect Republicans to use Democratic ideas in the spirit of compromise, right? Not according to Boehner; they will work with the President when he is willing to come over to their side. Otherwise, they will cling to their beliefs, in accordance with what the American people want. That is the argument that is made when elections are misinterpreted.

All the "what the American people want is" talk from Tuesday night reminded me of this gem from The Daily Show last year:

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Winners, losers, and our addiction to the grand narrative

I know a thing or two about politics, and one thing I know is that winners and losers will tell you exactly what the outcome of an election means even if their analysis grossly oversimplifies what really just happened. 

Everybody loves a "big picture" analysis.

Winners will say they won because the electorate, in its infinite wisdom, chose to embrace every plank of their platform and every nuance of every argument they put forward.

They will say that they now have a mandate, that the American people have spoken, and that losers, if they have any respect for the will of the people, need to get behind this newly defined direction for the nation.

Losers lost, they will note, because the electorate rejected, holus bolus, everything for which they stand.

Losers will argue that extraneous forces conspired to deprive them of victory, despite the fact that their main arguments remain valid and worthy of support. They almost always admit that they bear some blame for not adequately communicating their message. If only they had better articulated their vision, voters would have knocked over furniture to get to the polls to support them.

But, as is only fair under the rules of the game, winners get to speak the loudest.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the election, "[w]e're determined to stop the agenda Americans have rejected and to turn this ship around. We'll work with the Administration when they agree with the people and confront them when they don't."

Okay, but this does beg a rather significant question: Where was Mr. McConnell after the 2008 election when the Democrats won the presidency, the Senate, and the House by such large margins? Where was he when America spoke so forcefully on that day and what in hell was he doing opposing everything the Obama Administration did to implement the mandate so obviously given to them?

True to form, Republicans have an answer and that answer is to deny that Obama was ever given a mandate. Something else was going on. And that "something," it seems, is offered by Tea Party activist Phillip Dennis in his observation that: 

President Obama and the Democratic majority misread the 2008 election. They envisioned their victory as a mandate to take America to a European-type socialist democracy based on the legislation they have passed or proposed. 

In fact, as far as losers are concerned, winners always misread the intention of the voters who got them elected.

Mr. Dennis continues that Democrats lost the election because they refused to accept the fact that Americans "did not approve of expanded government programs with large price tags such as bailouts, the stimulus bill, Cash for Clunkers, cap and trade and 'Obama care.'"

Well, yes, maybe, sort of, kind of. The truth is that voters vote the way they do for any number of reasons, and no doubt some voters were focused on the things cited by Mr. Dennis, but there is always more to contemplate.

We know, for example, that presidents usually take a hit in the midterm elections perhaps because the results of their first two years of work can never live up to the lofty rhetoric of the campaign trail. And how often do we hear rhetoric loftier than Obama's?

We know that the Republicans did so poorly in '06 and '08, and frequently in places they usually hold, that it was inevitable that seats they lost in these years would be won back sooner rather than later.

We know that when the economy is in the crapper voters take it out on incumbents. Who else are they going to blame? We don't get to vote for Wall Street executives.

We know that Obama pulled a lot of younger people and black voters to the polls and that many of these voters didn't show up on Election Day because Obama was not on the ballot.

We know that the Republicans have been very good at frightening people and vilifying Obama and the Congressional leadership. In many ways, the Dems where just out-campaigned.

We know that Obama and the Democrats disappointed some on their left flank, likely resulting in less enthusiasm from previous core supporters.

We know that a lot of third-party money was spent and that this benefited Republicans disproportionately.

Anyway, it is not my intention to provide a comprehensive assessment of "what happened" to the Democrats, only to make the obvious point that a lot of different things happened.

And, as noted at the top, winners will claim a clear mandate and losers will claim still to have the confidence of the American people while recognizing that they have been sent a message -- and life will go on.

This is the way politics works and the way the media cover it. Complexity is just not that interesting and it is never very sexy to begin every second sentence with "on the other hand."

I don't know what's going to happen over the next two years, before we are visited by another election, but let's stop pretending there is anything simple about the will of the American people.

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Even in defeat, Alan Grayson is right

House Democrats were swept out of power because party leaders tried to hard to "appease" Republicans on major issues, said a high-profile member Thursday who lost his seat.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) said Democratic leaders should have been more aggressive and shut Republicans out of the negotiating process, arguing it would have helped them in Tuesday's midterm elections.

"I think that the Democrats are saddened and demoralized by this policy of appeasement," he said on MSNBC, noting that Democrats suffered from low turnout.

Even though Grayson — a liberal firebrand — was defeated Tuesday, he continues to have good standing on the left. He countered the Republican narrative of their midterm victories, that voters repudiated President Obama and his policies by booting Democrats from power in the House.

Of course, there were many other factors in play, such as low turnout among younger voters, Blue Dogs losing largely Republican districts that Dems picked up in the '06 and '08 waves, widespread anti-incumbent sentiment, the lack of a coherent message from Democrats, a seemingly unenthusiastic Obama, and, of course, the still-terrible economy, but Grayson is certainly right to point to this "appeasement."

Democrats should have pursued a more progressive agenda and, instead of cowering before Republican charges of socialism, actually defended what they were doing. Instead, they were consistently on the defensive, running scared as the Republicans launched their fearmongering propaganda at the American people. And, of course, Obama himself could have more progressive instead of consistently attacking his progressive base -- even on Jon Stewart last week he was largely dismissive of progressive concerns. As for what could have been done, it wouldn't have taken much. Obama could have acted to repeal DADT by executive order and Democrats in Congress could have forced a vote on the expiring Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. A little more courage and a little more confidence would have gone a long way.

Don't get me wrong, a great deal was accomplished during Obama's first two years in office, including health-care reform (even without a public option), but it was never clear that Democrats were actually proud of what they were doing. And they never really made a forceful case to the American people that what they did was actually worthwhile, and in the best interests of the country. This allowed Republicans to control the dominant narratives with their lies and distortions.

And what happened? Voters chose the party that they like even less than the one in power, a party of crazy right-wing extremism and an agenda of total obstructionism at a time when the American people need their elected leaders to act aggressively to get the country back on track. That's the embarrassment here. It's bad enough that Republicans won -- flipping the House, narrowing the Dems' Senate majority, and doing well at the state level across the country. What makes it worse is that the Democrats' lost to such an appalling party that should have been beatable (just as Angle and O'Donnell, two of the craziest of the crazies, were beatable).

Anyway, "appeasement" is a strong word, but it applies, at least in some cases. I understand Obama's desire to reach across the aisle so as to be able to say he tried to seek bipartisan solutions and was rebuffed, but he and the Democrats never really got away from seeking cooperation and compromise with an opposition party that had zero interest in bipartisanship. The message was pretty clear early on, and yet the reaching out never seemed to stop. Of course, with the filibuster rule in the Senate, Democrats could do little without 60 votes, and it was hard enough just keeping their own ranks together. And so, in a way, Grayson's assessment is far too black-and-white. But one really must wonder how things would have turned out had the Democrats only been more aggressive in pursuing their agenda and in defending their record before the American people. 

But what's done is done, and it's just too bad Grayson won't be in the House to speak with such force against what is sure to be an overreaching, ideologically extreme, and deeply partisan GOP majority.

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California dreamin'

Guest post by J.S. Norquay

J.S. Norquay, which may or may not be his or her real name, is a former midwesterner, documentary filmmaker, and academic who now toils deep inside a large public sector institution in eastern Canada.

California has the third highest unemployment rate in the United States at 12% (Nevada and Michigan are higher). So why did the Republicans' red wave not make it to the Golden State? Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown won big while the Democrats lost just a single House incumbent. The answer should be considered encouraging for Democrats – it was the Latino vote and those of other minorities. As Nate Silver pointed out, the pollsters underestimated the Latino vote in places like California, Nevada, and Colorado. This explains why Harry Reid was behind in the published polls but won comfortably.

One can account for Reid's and Colorado Senator Michael Bennett's victories in part by the fact that they faced Tea Party fruit cakes like Sharon Angle and Ken Buck. But demographic trends suggest California could be the future of America, a place where minorities will play an increasingly important political role, particularly Latinos.

The exit polls from California report that the electorate on Tuesday was 62% white and 38% minority (22 points of which were Latino) compared to a 78-22 ratio nationally. Like elsewhere, California whites voted Republican -- for Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman. (The poll is not broken down by age and race, but it seems likely that a majority of whites aged 18 to 29 voted for both Boxer and Brown).

And the Republican strategic approach to the election didn't matter. As the L.A. Times noted:

California Republicans had multiple reasons for head-shaking on Wednesday. For decades, the state party has squabbled over whether success would come more easily to candidates running as conservatives or those who presented a more moderate face to the state's sizeable bloc of independent, centrist voters. This year they tried both. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina ran a firmly conservative race and Whitman took a more moderate road.

The problem for Latinos, simply put, is Republican attitudes on immigration as reflected in Fiorina's support for Arizona's new anti-immigrant law (Whitman was opposed). Three quarters of California Latinos have an unfavourable view of Republicans. And their share of California's population continues to grow.

California endorsed the state's efforts to curb climate change by rejecting a proposition aimed at rolling them back. In California, Obama's favorability ratings remain strong. Ideologically, the Democrats should be listening to Californians, not trying to make nice with Republicans east of the Sierra Nevadas.

Back here in the east, all the leaves are gone and the sky is gray.

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Fatigue, exhaustion

You'll have to forgive my complete lack of posting the past couple of days. That whole live-blogging thing Tuesday night really knocked me out -- seven hours or so of constant blogging. I'm still not over it.

I'll be back at it soon, and we'll have some great posts from the co-bloggers on Friday, too. So stay tuned -- and keep checking back.

Let me just say this about my predictions/projections: I got the House wrong, badly. Optimistically, I thought the Dems would do a lot better than expected, mainly because of better turnout than expected, and limit the GOP gain to 49 seats. Some extremely close races have yet to be called, but the GOP gain currently stands at 60, pretty much at the high end of the range of reasonable pre-election projections but still below some crazy conservative hopes, as well as below early projections on election night -- it looked for a time like it could be around 70. I should have known better. Youth turnout in particular was bound to be low, and an older, more conservative electorate than the one that voted in '08 ended up propelling Republicans. And I thought a few more Blue Dogs would hold on. They, in particular, did very badly.

With Patty Murray's win in Washington, though, I got the Senate exactly right, a gain of six seats for the GOP. And maybe this was because I was following the Senate much more closely than the House. And I got all the close races right. I get why Democrats in the House would lose in generally Republican districts that they won in '06 and '08, but I didn't see state-wide races going overwhelmingly Republican. I knew Blumenthal would win in Connecticut, as well as Boxer in California, but I also predicted wins for Manchin in West Virginia, Bennet in Colorado, Murray, and, yes, Reid in Nevada. I was tempted to predict a smaller gain because I thought that Sestak had a good shot of beating Toomey in Pennsylvania and that Giannoulias might pull out a win over Kirk in Illinois, but I stuck with six in case one of the others lost (like Reid, a prediction that didn't exactly have my full confidence). But Sestak didn't get the urban turnout he needed in Philadelphia (blacks didn't vote in the numbers they did in '08 either) and Giannoulias was a crappy candidate -- so six it turned out to be. Which isn't really so bad, is it? It's just too bad Feingold lost in Wisconsin. That's a huge loss for the Dems.

Alright, enough. I need sleep.

Take it easy.

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Nice going, Rahm

By Edward Copeland 

Not many people can have the claim to fame that Rahm Emanuel now does. He has now managed to ruin the attempts of two Democratic presidents to reform America's miserable health care system and as a result have had both presidents' parties manage to lose their control of the House of Representatives two years later. God help you Chicago if he actually becomes your mayor.


Apparently, many Obama advisers agree with me and are blaming Rahm for the Election Day losses.

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Two anecdotes

I've had so many things on my mind relating to cluster known as the 2010 midterms, but today two independent things, small and insignificant, really brought home to me what happened to the Democrats this year.

First off, coming home from work I had an envelope in the mail addressed to me. It lists "President Barack Obama" and "Democratic Headquarters" as the sender and has in big letters, "Deadline: October 29." Note, today is November 4, two days after the election.

Naturally it's asking me for money to help with the final days of the election.

"A day late and a dollar short" goes a long way toward how the Obama administration has governed, and particularly in how it is managing its relations with the base.

Next anecdote: I was sitting in the jacuzzi at the gym after working out the other evening and there were several elderly gentlemen speaking about the election and a couple of them were just droolingly upset about Obamacare, knowing their pensions and health care are being taken away from them, etc. I tried to engage them for a few minutes, but it really was futile. They have been fed a lot of nonsense by opportunists trying to scare them and sell them stuff. It didn't matter what the facts were, they were scared and livid and, by damn, they voted.

It's easy to talk about how the Democrats have squandered Howard Dean's work with the Fifty State Strategy. It's easy to talk about how independent thinkers and donors and doers have been discouraged in an attempt to centralize and micromanage. It's easy to talk about how the White House strategy is too timid, too aloof, and too willing to compromise. It's been done before, and how it's not speculation, we know the result.

A day late, a millions of dollars short, and the agenda up for grabs for the next two years. Why were the Republicans allowed to control terms of debate? A dispirited base has consequences. Letting the teabaggers lie through their teeth and outright make things up without challenge has consequences.

  1. The 2008 electorate was 74% white, plus 13% black and 9% Latino. The 2010 numbers were 78, 10 and 8. So it was a considerably whiter electorate.
  2. In 2008, 18-to-29-year-olds made up 18% and those 65-plus made up 16%. Young people actually outvoted old people. This year, the young cohort was down to 11%, and the seniors were up to a whopping 23% of the electorate. That’s a 24-point flip.
  3. The liberal-moderate-conservative numbers in 2008 were 22%, 44%, and 34%. Those numbers for yesterday were 20%, 39%, and 41%. A big conservative jump, but in all likelihood because liberals didn't vote in big numbers.

The fall-off in young and minority voters can't be understated. Yes, Sharon Angle is a moron, but Harry Reid will remain a U.S. senator because he got 90% of the Latino vote. Nearly comparable numbers have been reported in California and Colorado which were also relative bright spots for Democrats.

Polls showed before and after the vote that people like Republicans less than Democrats. They voted for them anyway. The election was the Democrats' to lose, and lose they did.

But there are some bright spots. Yes, we had help from the Tea Party, but the Senate held. Many of the worst of the worst Tea Party candidates lost. Sarah Palin's endorsements turned out to be less than golden.

Better still, the remaining House Democrats are, in fact, better Democrats overall. And Senate Democrats, being further from the "magical" sixty, are less dependent on individual senators to allow things to get done, perhaps making it more difficult for individual troublemakers to hold legislation hostage. Time will tell, but there is cause to be cautiously optimistic for the next couple years.

Of course, there's the down side... Election 2012 is now underway.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The emergence of the PEA Party

PEA Party = Palin Endorsed Americans

From Nick Wing in the "liberal" rag Huffington Post:

Palin divvied out 57 total endorsements of House, Senate, and governor candidates in the run up to the midterm elections. Ten of these candidates lost their primary battles during rather paltry first few rounds of endorsements, leaving 47 to face voters on election day. Now, with most of the final races finally wrapping up, however, Palin has put forth a rather impressive performance, showing off a ratio of 27 wins to 15 losses (five races such as Alaska Senate and Minnesota Governor, as well as some smaller congressional races are still awaiting official results).

Palin ass-kisser Miller in Alaska is a goner (and she will end up with mortal enemy Lisa Murkowski). But lets go with the current status. Wing claims a record 27-15 for this election. I think Mr. Wing flunked his math SATs. Based solely on his own information Palin's electoral win-loss record is 27-25 with 5 undecided, which is 52%, or about 50/50. As I said, the Alaska Senate is probably a loser for her. So that would make the win-loss a count of 27-26. For argument's sake, I will chalk the 4 remaining races as wins for the half-term quitter, taking her stellar record to 31-26 or 54%. That probably wouldn't even make the playoffs. There is a distinct possibility she could end up with a losing record in an election which the Republicans are probably winning over 60% of all contested races.

Some king maker. More like a shit sandwich maker.

Paul the Octupus -- who is dead -- could have picked as many winners. A pig throwing lipsticks containers at a dartboard would do just as well. Flipping a coin 57 times would be just as likely to end up with the same record. A chart of random numbers could have done better than her.  I would have better luck on the Pass Line with Sharron Angle as croupier.

Despite her mediocre record, the punditoria, (led by old white men who enjoyed an evening of free-flowing testosterone), was falling over themselves in the quest to be the first to call Palin the most influential politician in America. (Never mind the comments about her new boner-inducing hairstyle -- one that I am positive is hiding spiders and snakes). Palin handicapping might be a fun sport for the TV crowd -- but it is kind of hard to take seriously a bunch of "journalists" who treat every tweet and Facebook post from the False Princess as a valuable piece of news. In a very twisted way, it is fun to watch an entire industry fall into a pile of moose dung.

The Palinbaggers have NO idea who or what they voted for or against. They just listen to the whiney voice moron and like the good lemmings they are -- they follow. They would have voted for Eva Braun or LIzzie Borden if she deemed it.  This is a crowd more concerned with sitting at the cool lunch table with the popular girls than with actually fixing the country.

The puditoria might think Palin is the ultimate king maker. To the people living on planet Earth - she's a reality show star who lost the 2008 VP election, quit her elected job as governor for financial gain, and cannot name one Supreme Court case. How is her endorsement of 57 people running for political office supposed to be relevant? If producing testosterone was the only requirement for political expertise -- I bet they could get Marion Jones or Mark McGwire a lot cheaper -- and be just as accurate.  And have a whole lot more brains on the panel.

Sarah Palin is the political world's Zsa Zsa Gabor -- famous for being famous.

Like the brilliant strategy of saying crazy things and then apologizing -- I think using Palin as the mouthpiece of the GOP (PEA bagger verison) is just as ingenious. Folks like Rove, Romney, Barbour and probably even Gingrich pretend to like and respect her because they know she drives intelligent people crazy.

No one understands the attraction -- but it is know that chemical hormones in the bloodstream cause some very bizarre behaviors. They just can't understand the appeal. The Palin-as-rock-star is not much different than Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen - except Lindsay isn't endorsing 57 candidates. But I would bet Sarah and Todd have trashed a few hotel rooms in their day.

I have an idea for the Democrats - hire the Great Palini to endorse candidates -- and then pick the opposite. With a Democratic record of 40% yesterday -- Nanook of the North's impeccable skills at seeing into the future can only mean an improvement for them.

I have said many times I think Sarah Palin is probably the worst thing that has ever happened to the political process of this country -- worse than Bush, worse than Reagan, worse than Nixon -- and even worse than Joe McCarthy. There has never been in the 235 year history of the U.S. someone so utterly worthless becoming so ridiculously famous. She is a phenom -- the ultimare star of selfishness, racism, evil, and ignorance.

In the end, it's not at all clear how much her endorsement helped (or hurt) those candidates, given the fact all of her "peeps" had wall-to-wall Fox propaganda and huge amounts of corporate money backing them up. In all likelihood, they would have won without her endorsement, probably by bigger margins. But she clearly lost the senate. Supporting crackpots like Angle, Buck, Fiorina, Raese, O'Donnell, and Miller would not be something the party powers wanted.

That the pundits seem to overlook.

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Election hangover

By Creature

I'll take my happy in small doses this morning. I'm more than pleased that O’Donnell and Angle lost (and that Buck and Miller will most likely join them). I'm pleased that half the Blue Dog Dems are gone. Good riddance. And finally, that Andrew Cuomo will be my governor.

The sad, of course, is plentiful. The House led by Boehner. Ugh. No Feingold. Ugh. And, no Grayson. Ugh.

Overall I think letting the GOP/Fox etc. control the narrative, from day one, was a big problem. I think the optics around the passage of health care, not the actual bill, was a fatal wound as well. And, sure, an economy in the tank didn't help. That said, Dems still control the White House and the Senate so all hope is not lost.

The next few years will be interesting, for sure.


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Whither Democrats?

By Carl 

Last night's debacle is over. It actually ended up better than I feared. When I went to bed, MSNBC was projecting a net gain of 80 seats in the House. It ended up less than 60, which means we stole back 20 seats from the jaws of defeat.

So what to make of this difficult election? I thought I'd follow up yesterday's critique of Obama with a critique of Congress.

Let's look back for a moment and see what could have been done better.

First, the legislative agenda was completely screwed up, and for that, we have to blame Pelosi and Reid. There should have been a meeting between Reid, Pelosi and Obama in December of 2008 that set priorities, and I'm betting there was.

But the follow up was sorely lacking and it showed. Reid and Pelosi, but mostly Reid, should have caucused with the Democrats and hammered home a final bill for healthcare reform, the bank bailout and the stimulus package. That they got all this accomplished in the first two years is a testament to the will of Obama's underlings to get him re-elected, but Obama's presidency was never about the first term.

It was about the first two years: the golden moment when he'd own Congress.

I understand the laxity. After all, you had a bulletproof majority in the House and a near-bulletproof majority in the Senate. But near bulletproof is not bulletproof and the second any politician senses an opportunity to grab more power, he or she is going to do so.

It was mission critical for Obama that Senators like Nelson and Lincoln (who thankfully lost last night) and Congresscritters like Bart Stupak be brought into the fold and a unified front be presented to the nation and the Republicans.

Had the people of America seen the bills as pre-packaged law, they would have known that Democrats had things under control and would have felt better about the future. Likely, Dems would have retained both houses comfortably.

But there's more: someone over there needs to take control of getting everyone on message.

Say what you will about the GOP: they may be brutish nasty little fucks, but they're ALL brutish nasty little fucks with the same message.

Here's what should have happened.

The second wave of bank bailouts, a follow up to Bush's short-sighted and selfish money pit, should have been rolled out first. It should have been called or at least characterized "Emergency (Rescue works even better) Liquidity Loans."

"Loans" being the operative word. Then as each bank repaid the Fed, Obama should have held a schmaltzy ceremony with an oversize check made out to Uncle Sam which included the amount loaned and interest. A photo op proving that the economy was getting back on its feet.

People know what a "bailout" means. It means that you have low expectations of getting your money back, that it's a gift.

Next up, tackle the stimulus bill. It has to follow quickly, and the reason these all should have been pre-packaged was to avoid the shambles of Senators trying to get a bigger piece of the pie.

Two points should have been hammered home in the passage of this bill: one, it contained the single largest tax cut in American history ($300 billion) for 95% of Americans, and it was being passed by Democrats, not Republicans. That should have been the centerpiece of the discussion of the bill and not the "shovel-ready projects" nonsense that was featured.

Second, the additional stimulus spending was given to state and local governments to spend on projects most critical to them. "Shovel-ready" to me meant that these were projects that in an already declining economy, those governments had committed to seeing thru. They were critical. Additional funding would allow those projects to expand without the need for local revenue, freeing those to retain teachers and firefighters. They should have been called "critical repairs" or "vital infrastructure," with images of the I-35 collapse played over and over again on the TeeVee.

"Shovel-ready" to other people just sounded like a pile of horseshit waiting to be moved.

The most important political reason this bill needed to be passed quickly was to get the money into the hands of people. The most important political reason to pass it in the fashion I suggested was to force the GOP to oppose a tax cut. Highlight that fact, early and often, and you can run a year later on that opposition. Also, it blunts the Teabaggers' most effective and contrived weapon.

One more point on this bill: the deficits were out of control, it's true. What the Democrats should have pointed out, and much much more forcefully, is that when Obama took over, the national debt stood at $11 trillion and will come in around $13 trillion this year.

When Bush took over, the national debt was $6 trillion. That's right, Bush's tax cuts and war-mongering cost us $5 trillion, with no consummate spike in economic activity (Bush actually ran a negative job growth figure until 2005, despite his enormous expansion of the government AND three tax cuts). This lays the groundwork for two things: one, this spending is necessary and two, we're going to have to adjust taxes to account for it.

Third, healthcare reform. As I pointed out yesterday, it took a year from proposal to passage. THat was too long, for a very important logistical reason: implementation of even the simplest parts took six months.

Had the bill been passed in the fall of 2009, or better still, the spring, Congress would have had real success stories coming out of HCR. Denial of coverage would have been a thing of the past. Children would be allowed to stay on their parents' plans. On those alone, much good would have been reported upon. Think about the economy and how if people could take money they were spending on emergency healthcare and spend it on paying down the mortgage or even finding some way to buy a few nice things, we'd have an economy primed for recovery already.

It would already have encouraged maintaining good health over specialized care, which to me will be the most important element of the bill. A free mammogram is going to be cheaper for everyone than an uninsured's mastectomy. That's just common sense, and that portion of HCR would be in effect already.

The Democratic leadership blew the roll-out of the Obama agenda and as such, deserved the losses they suffered.

But what to do going forward?

Undoubtedly Boehner will try to push thru some of the Teabagger agenda of lowering taxes and cutting spending. He'll fail miserably at it, but some legislation will get thru, and will get stoned in the Senate.

He'll fail because there really isn't much spending to cut and cutting revenues now will only serve to lower an already decrepit tax revenue stream. Something like 60-70% of Federal expenditures are for defense or Social Security and Medicare.

If you'll recall, much of the Teabagger anger was at "keeping government hands off my Medicare!"

Yeah, so Boehner tries it, and he'll see an uprising.

I'm tempted to say to the Dems in the House, sit back and enjoy the show. But there's an opportunity here to mediate the conflict, and to come off as the party of reason between the oligarchists and the populists. This, along with Obama's coattails in 2012, should be enough to recapture the House, if they finally find a message mill who can frame the discussion for them (I'm available, of course).

Keep pointing out that the House was never in this much disarray under Pelosi, that the Congress got more accomplished for the American people and should have earned their trust (for the reasons I mentioned above) but were so focused on doing good work that Democrats forgot we needed to polish up our resumes.

In the Senate, well, I hope they oust Reid as Majority Leader, but I don't see it happening. What Reid needs to do is to hand off the public face of the Democratic leadership to another, more popular Senator. Feinstein's an interesting choice for this, so is Schumer, but my dark horse here is NY's other senator, Kirsten Gillibrand. She has centrist chops, to be sure, but she's photogenic and has shown a capacity to understand and execute orders. Failing that, Patrick Leahy or Amy Klobuchar would make excellent major domos.

Legislatively, there's an opportunity to pull off a surprise: work with Rand Paul. Bernie Sanders, the Socialist from Vermont, surprisingly had a good rapport with Paul's father, Ron and claimed he was able to work with him. Ask Sanders to approach Rand in the same fashion, and the 2012 campaign can be blunted by pointing to Rand Paul's cooperation with Dems.

The Senate under Reid for the next two years will be the Senate under Reid for the past two years: a place where bills go to die (unless they water them down). With a majority party in opposition in the House, this should be a pretty dull Senate session.

I can't recall a situation in recent memory where the Senate was firmly held by one party and the House by the other. This ought to be an interesting two years.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Apocalypse now? Live-blogging the 2010 midterm elections



Alright, here we go...

6:46 pm - I'm a bit late getting started this evening, but it took a long time getting home. Bad traffic. Torontonians, it seems, are all rushing home to watch CNN, waiting with bated breath for the election results to start pouring in. (No, not really. There's far more interest in tonight's Leafs game. And the main Senator my fellow Torontonians are interested in is Jason Spezza or Daniel Alfredsson.)

6:48 pm - It's hard to believe it's been two years (minus two days) since that glorious night of Obama's 2008 victory.

6:50 pm - I'll be doing most of the blogging here tonight -- and I'll be here well into the early-morning hours -- but it'll be more of a team effort, with some of my great co-bloggers contributing along the way. I'll add their comments directly into this post.

6:51 pm - I mentioned earlier that I'd give my predictions before 7:00. But I wasn't sure if I'd get them out on time, so I tweeted them about an hour ago: The Republicans will pick up 6 Senate seats and 49 House seats. In both cases, this puts me at the low end of the range, or even below the range, of conventional wisdom (or generally accepted forecasts). Charlie Cook, for example, predicts the GOP will pick up 6-8 and 50-60, while Nate Silver's model has the GOP picking up, on average, 54 in the House. As I also mentioned in that post from earlier today, though, Silver presents a scenario whereby the Democrats do much, much better than expected. While I don't think (who honestly does?) that the Dems will hold onto the House (the GOP needs a gain of at least 39) -- the Dems apparently realize it's a foregone conclusion, too -- I do think that they'll do relatively well, that is, that there's won't quite be the total apocalypse some in the media and many on the right are predicting.

7:00 pm - CNN states the obvious: "Democrats privately admit House loss looks likely."

7:01 pm - By the way, I don't think I'm being irrationally optimistic in thinking that the Dems will do better than expected. I'm not saying they'll do well, after all, just relatively well. And I think this is largely because Democratic turnout will be better than expected -- not enough to make up the "enthusiasm gap," but enough to allow them to hold onto a few seats that they might otherwise have lost. (And maybe the polls really have under-represented Dem voters, even if the (sad) truth is that the polls, taken together, are usually right.)

7:05 pm - Yes, Republicans will do well tonight, but not because voters actually like them. Exit polls show that voters don't like either party. Democrats actually have a two-point advantage (not much, but something) in terms of favorability over Republicans (43-41), with both parties at 53 percent unfavorable. 

7:10 pm - As expected, crazy libertarian extremist Rand Paul has won the Kentucky Senate race. Another Republican, Dan Coats, has won in Indiana, picking up Evan Bayh's seat. Bayh is hardly much of a loss, as he's been one of the most Republican of Democrats, but it's still a Republican gain (albeit in a state that for the most part leans red).

7:17 pm - Okay, just going to take a quick break. Be back in a few...

R.K. Barry: "MSNBC has called Rand Paul as the new senator for Kentucky. Paul said earlier today that if elected he would not be an automatic vote for the state's senior senator, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The quote was: "We will challenge him from day to day, but there will be many areas in which we agree." Assuming the Dems hold the Senate, it is hard to image a Rand Paul vote that would matter that much, but it does tell us something about the attitude of Tea Party Republicans as they begin to pack their bags for the trip to Washington."

7:34 pm - The Atlantic's Chris Good wrote today about five "bellweather" races to watch (and a possible sixth, Barney Frank's in Massachusetts, where Frank should win easily but may not). These are:

-- Indiana's 2nd, where incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly is facing off against "Tea-Party-esque" Republican Jackie Walorski;

-- Kentucky's 6th, where incumbent Democrat Ben Chandler is facing off against Republican Andy Barr, whom Democrats call a "criminal" for using a fake ID when he was 18;

-- North Carolina's 11th, where incumbent Democrat, ex-NFL QB, and Blue Dog Heath Shuler (running away from Pelosi) is up against Republican Jeff Miller in a generally Republican district;

-- Florida's 22nd, where incumbent Democrat Ron Klein is up against Republican Allen West in a beachfront district that does not include any of Miami-Dade; and

-- Connecticut's Senate race, where state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, contronts high-profile Republican Linda McMahon of the WWE.

The polls showed Donnelly and Chandler with narrow leads. The question is whether they can hold on against the Republican "wave." Blumenthal should win in Connecticut, but it might be close -- and a Republican surge could put McMahon over the top. West was up and could flip that district. And a loss for Shuler, who is very popular, would be a terrible sign for Democrats, even if it makes sense that his district would go Republican again.

So where are we now?

-- Walorski is currently up 55-40 with 17 percent reporting, but the race hasn't yet been called.

-- Chandler is currently up 53-47 with 61 percent reporting -- also not yet called.

-- Shuler is down 56-44, but... 0 percent reporting? 

We shall see.

R.K. Barry: "GOP polling guru Frank Luntz is predicting Republicans will win seven Senate seats and 50 House spots, based on exit polls he had seen. On a conference call with associates from K Street, Luntz also said he thinks Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will win reelection."

Hey, that's sort of in line with my own predictions! I always knew Luntz and I were of one mind. But can it really be that Reid hangs on? -- MJWS

R.K. Barry: "According to Washington Wire, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said late this afternoon that Democrats are 'on pace to maintain the majority in the House of Representatives.' I know politicians have to say things like this, but I kinda wish I lived in a world where they didn't. Sorry, Nancy, this isn't going to happen, and you know it, but you're just doing your job, I get it."

8:04 pm - And Christine "I'm neither a witch nor a masturbator" O'Donnell... loses. What a massive triumph for Chris "I am not a Marxist" Coons and the Democrats! Huge!

No, not really. This one was a given, a lay-up... nay, a slam-dunk. It's just that so much media attention, including at this blog, was wasted on this race, and particularly on one of the most ridiculous candidates we've ever seen, so much so that all that attention distracted us, detracting attention from more competitive races and more serious, if similarly extreme, Republicans, like Toomey in Pennsylvania and Buck in Colorado.


8:10 pm - Latest Senate projections: Jim DeMint, one of the GOP's craziest and most extreme, wins in South Carolina. He's clobbering Alvin Greene -- remember him, one of the worst candidates of all time? And -- this is much bigger -- Marco Rubio has won in Florida, that great bastion of democracy. It was never going to be all that close, not with Charlie Crist running as an independent and the non-Rubio vote split between him and Democrat Kendrick Meek. Remember all that much ado from a few days ago? Yeah, whatever. Rubio has a pretty face, and may very well be a leading Republican for years to come, but he's still very much at home in the right-wing insanitarium.

8:17 pm - Crap. Incumbent Democrat Tom Perriello, who appeared on Colbert last week and who has embraced Obama, is behind in Virginia's 5th, 55-43 with 64 percent reporting.

R.K. Barry: Given the exit polls, "Republicans might want to show a little humility tonight."

Prediction: They won't. -- MJWS

8:21 pm - Hey, at least ABC News fired Andrew Breitbart, before he even started. Score a point for media sanity.

R.K. Barry: "CNN has called for Chris Coons in Delaware as was widely expected. Earlier in the evening there were reports that Coon's campaign was uncomfortable with lower voter turnout in key districts they needed to come in big. It turned out either not to be true or not to matter, but I did have a few stomach-churning moments at the thought of O'Donnell in the Senate. The Republicans are no doubt glad to see the back of this women.

8:26 pm - CNN's "greatest political team on television," or whatever the hell it's called, is annoying me already, and I've only been watching for, like, 30 seconds. Bill Bennett and then James Carville? Oh, the horror.

8:32 pm - So long, Blanche Lincoln. While I hate to see the Democrats lose a Senate seat, and while I suppose I supported your re-election (while holding my nose), your riddance is good.

8:33 pm - And Blumenthal wins in Connecticut! There you go. One bellweather down.

8:34 pm - And, dammit, Republican incumbent Richard Burr has defeated Democrat Elaine Marshall in North Carolina's Senate race. It was an uphill battle, and the result is hardly a surprise, but still. I followed this race close, not least because I was on Marshall's mailing list, and it's a shame.

R.K. Barry: "CNN reports the following comments from Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle after she voted when asked what her first priority would be if elected. Her response: 'Well I think it's the first act of business that the people of America and the people of Nevada want, and that is: Repeal Obamacare and to make the tax cuts permanent. And that should happen even before we're sworn in.' Go Harry Go!!!!!!!!!"

8:39 pm - Another big win for the Democrats: Gov. Joe Manchin has beaten right-wing extremst Republican John Raese (global warming denier, etc.) in West Virginia's Senate race. No, no, I'm not getting too excited. The Republicans will still walk away with the House tonight. But there are some victories still worth celebrating, and this is one of them -- even if Manchin is hardly a progressive.

R.K. Barry on Manchin's win: "A win for the Democrats is a win, I guess, even though he pretty much ran to the right of every other Democratic candidate across the country. Ain't politics grand?"

9:05 pm - Sorry, just putting together "Mike's Blog Round Up" for Crooks and Liars tomorrow, looking for posts that will still be relevant once tonight is over. (Here's today's round-up, by the way.)

9:06 pm - Rand Paul on the teevee: "We're here to take our government back!" So sickening. "Tonight, there's a Tea Party tidal wave..." Ugh. Fiscal sanity, balanced budgets, limited government. Uh-huh. Sure. Then cut the military and the national security state. Don't take out your right-wing ideological extremism on the vast majority of Americans who actually like much of what government does and who need government to protect them from the brutality of the market Rand promotes.

9:09 pm - But Kirsten Gillibrand won in New York. Which is great. I was skeptical of her at first (to put it mildly), after Gov. Paterson tapped her to fill Hillary's seat, but she's been, from what I can tell, an excellent senator, including on such issues as same-sex marriage and DADT repeal.

R.K. Barry: "On MSNBC, Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow are interviewing some generic Republican member of Congress and asking over and over again what government programs she would cut to pay for extending the Bush-era tax cuts. I have to give her credit, she spoke at length and said absolutely nothing. I am impressed with the discipline of these Republicans while disgusted with their duplicity. Will their supporters ever catch on? Hard to say.

9:16 pm - CNN projects that the Republican Party will win control of the House. "This is a major, major projection," trumpets Wolf Blitzer. Yes, yes -- as predicted by pretty much everyone. The question is whether Republicans will pick up closer to 39 or closer to 70. Either way, get ready for Speaker Boner, er, Boehner. (And Wolf and John King hand it off to... Bill Bennett. What a crock o' shit.)

9:19 pm - And there's Mary Matalin. Fantastic. And she thinks Boehner will be amazing.

R.K. Barry: "Rand Paul is now giving his victory speech. I find it interesting that he used the phrase, 'we've come to take our government back.' He didn't say, 'we have come to take our country back.' Is that something different? Is that a slightly moderated tone? Even still, this is the guy who is going to give the GOP leadership in Congress the biggest headache. Incredible arrogance."

9:26 pm - And here comes Rubio. I need a drink. "A rising star in the Republican Party," Wolf helpfully reminds us. A double.

9:36 pm - O'Donnell's concession speech. How sweet it is -- if also full of her usual nonsense. "The Republican Party will never be the same," she happily avers. "This is just the beginning." Is that a threat? A warning? A promise? I certainly hope the GOP keeps running candidates just like her. (And now, dearest Christine, I must take my talents to South Beach. Kidding. Maybe.)

R.K. Barry: "Democrat Kristen Gillibrand holds her Senate seat in New York. Good to see my absentee ballot being put to such good use. Now to see if incumbent Democrat John Hall can hold NY-19, my home district. That'll be a tight one."

R.K. Barry: "As I listen to Rubio's speech, I am reminded how well these guys were able to run away from the Bush legacy. Two years later and they act like they never heard of the guy. And the amazing thing is that they are getting away with it. How can that be?"

9:41 pm - CNN's Ali Velshi -- a Canadian, I think -- reports that, according to the exit polls, the vast majority of Americans think the economy is in bad shape. No, really? You don't think that might have something to do with Republicans doing well against the party in power, do you?

9:46 pm - Nevada polls are set to close at the top of the hour. Obviously, the Reid-Angle race has been one of the most closely-watched, including by us here at The Reaction. As the Las Vegas Sun's Jon Ralston reports, Democrats had just over a two-point advantage in early and mail-in ballots going into today. Meaning:

-- "If Harry Reid is not ahead when those first numbers pop up on Election Night – the tallies of the early and absentee votes – he probably will lose."

-- "These numbers indicate Angle probably needs a double-digit win among independent and other voters. If Reid can keep that margin in single digits, he probably will be re-elected."

Ralston has actually predicted a Reid win. Hmmm. This one could be very, very close. I suppose it will also depend if the unions turned out for Reid. 

9:52 pm - Other big Senate races: Bennet leads Buck in Colorado, Sestak leads Toomey in Pennsylvania, and Giannoulias leads Kirk in Illinois. But, as expected, Feingold is losing in Wisconsin. That will be a huge loss for the Democrats. (What other genuine progressives do we have in the Senate?)

And, yes, Alan Grayson has lost in Florida's 8th -- by a lot. Too bad. He's been one of the few Democrats willing to stand up to and not take any shit from Republicans.

9:57 pm - Deval Patrick is well ahead in his quest for re-election as governor of Scott Brown's Massachusetts. Looks like the state, where I once lived, has come to its senses again.

R.K. Barry: "ABC news is reporting that on her first appearance on Fox News' election coverage tonight, Sarah Palin said that it's 'time for unity' between the Tea Party candidates and the GOP establishment. Not sure what this means, especially in light of recent reports that the GOP establishment is trying to find a way to throw Sarah under the bus. I'm still not sure they'll be able to play nice. I just don't see it."

R.K. Barry: "Rand Paul said that there is no rich, no middle class, and no poor, because we are all interconnected. This is a very peculiar man. He also said that he was going to get to work setting up a Tea Party Caucus in Congress. Oh boy, this is going to be fun."

10:00 pm - Grassley wins in Iowa. Ho-hum. McCain wins. Obviously. This is anti-immigrant Arizona we're talking about, and he conveniently turned into a right-wing Minuteman extremist during the campaign. Vitter wins in Louisiana. Family values! Oh... wait

Check out our very own Mustang Bobby's election-night post.

R.K. Barry: "The Sacramento Bee reports the following age breakdown for the vote to legalize marijuana in California: Voters aged 18 to 39 generally support Proposition 19 by slim margins, but the measure is trailing among voters 40 and older. Respondents 65 and older also reported voting no. So what's this among Boomers? Do as I say, not as I did?

10:22 pm - Let's look at those bellweathers again (see 7:34 entry).

-- Donnelly is clinging to a narrow lead over Walorski in Indiana, 48-47 with 99 percent reporting.

-- Chander and Barr are locked in a dead-heat in Kentucky, 50-50 with 98 percent reporting. Chandler holds a lead of less than 900 votes.

-- Shuler has won in North Carolina, and quite easily, 54-46 (with 97 percent reporting).

-- West is up over Klein in Florida, 55-45, but with just 42 percent reporting. This looks like it could be a loss for the Dems, but not really a surprise in a fairly conservative district that was redistricted to Republican advantage.

-- Blumenthal has beaten McMahon in Connecticut, as I mentioned.

-- And, in Massachusetts, Frank is up by 17 points, 57-40, with 85 percent reporting. That's a fairly decisive victory.

R.K. Barry: "Chris Matthews just asked Michelle Bachmann if she still thought the media should investigate Democratic members of Congress for un-American attitudes. She obviously and incredibly ignored the question every time it was asked, while offering the same tired speaking points from the Republican platform. Matthews was hilarious when he asked Bachmann if she was in a trance. Good moment."

10:31 pm - The idiots on CNN are talking about what spending to cut. Begala is occasionally okay, and Roland Martin is usually fine, but it's basically a phony discussion about nothing.

10:32 pm - Bill Bennett comes out against marijuana! Hoo-wah. But how about gambling?

10:40 pm - Sestak narrowly ahead of Toomey in Pennsylvania. I'm worried about this one. As John King is showing us, as I type, Sestak is doing extremely well in Philadelphia -- but will it be enough? 

10:42 pm - Toomey just took the lead. 

R.K. Barry: "Andrew Cuomo has been elected governor of New York. Now Carl Paladino can go away and, if we are very lucky, we will never have to speak his name again. I was raised a proud New Yorker and am glad to see some sanity prevail in the Empire State."

10:55 pm - Feingold loses. Alas.

11:01 pm - Good exit poll numbers from California (Boxer over Fiorina, Brown over Whitman), and even from Washington (Murray over Rossi). 

11:02 pm - South Carolina, one of the craziest states in the Union, deserves Nikki Haley. Sarah Palin loves her. Enough said. And it doesn't matter that she's Indian and a woman. Crazy is crazy. Extreme is extreme.

11:15 pm - I'm taking a short break. Be back soon. 

11:23 pm - Okay, so here's what I'm drinking... a nice "very small batch" bourbon whisky I picked up when I was down in Pittsburgh a while back. (Actually, I bought it at a Giant Eagle somewhere north of the city.) It's called Jefferson's, bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky. Yes, the state that elected Rand Paul. Still. It's a fine, fine beverage, and very smooth.

11:29 pm - A few minutes ago, John King -- why am I watching CNN? -- almost gleefully noted how red his map is, calling the Republican wave a "shellacking." But it is? Republicans are doing extremely well, in terms of flipping seats, in the economically depressed industrial heartland, in purplish states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, where one would expect the party in power (i.e., the Democrats) to do poorly in a time of economic difficulty. Isn't that what's happening here? It's the economy, stupid -- combined with a frenzied Republican base, an unaroused Democratic base (certainly compared to '08), and a whole lot of fear, anger, bitterness, and resentment among huge swathes of the electorate. It would actually be surprising if this weren't happening, if Democrats were somehow holding onto power in the House. Remember, the Republicans lost seats in '82, Reagan's first midterms. What's more, many of the seats Democrats are losing are basically Republican seats that they picked up in '06 or '08, riding those Democratic waves. And these are midterms, elections with low voter turnout and a generally older electorate -- this is also why midterms often go conservative. (And the wave that swept Obama to the Oval Office in '08 just isn't there this year.) AND -- While Republicans are winning the House, they aren't winning the Senate -- at least, it doesn't look like it. It's not like this is some massive repudiation of the president or of the Democratic agenda generally (which, by the way, has been rather moderate/centrist). But such an explanation won't do for the media, which prefer the sensational over the true. So aggravating.

R.K. Barry: "Now it's Wolf Blitzer's turn to ask a Republican what he would cut to make government smaller, Eric Cantor in this case. And again the Republican ignores the question. There really ought to be a protocol among journalists that they, and by extension the American people, will not tolerate being disrespected by this kind of crap. It is all too much. Republicans like to say that they are tired of "inside-the-beltway politics," but this is the worst example of that very thing. Hypocrisy you say? I'm shocked!"

11:41 pm - Boehner speaks. He appears less orange than usual. (Again, though, this isn't about some grand message being sent by "the American people.")

11:45 pm - Boehner: "This is not a time for celebration." Fine, and he did say he was open to working with Obama, but we all know he's full of shit, right? The Republicans aren't about to do anything different, anything that's never been done before. (Oh, here come the tears! How phony is this guy? And the crowd chants "USA! USA USA!" Jingoism while the empire collapses.) They aren't about to slash spending, and they aren't about to impose limited government. This is a party that is all about tax cuts for the wealthy, cutting those specific programs that help the worst off in society, pandering to its corporate backers (yes, the K Street lobby is back in business!), running up massive deficits, and, more so since Bush-Cheney, enhancing unchecked executive authority and the national security state at the expense of civil liberties. It talks big about the Constitution, but it's really all about distorting the Constitution to fits its radical right-wing ideology. Boehner can say what he wants, and he may even be somewhat sincere, but his party, especially in the House, with a caucus that is certainly on the far right, won't let him do anything that smacks of compromise, let alone appeasement. It will paralyze government, and hurt the American people, to score as many political points as it can and to keep its base as angry and fearful as possible. Period.

R.K. Barry: "Both Marco Rubio and Eric Cantor have been thanking America for giving them (Republicans) another chance. It's frustrating because they are still all about the same old tired and failed fiscal conservatism, but the line is obviously working with enough voters. My god, two years ago these guys drove the economy into the ground and now they have the nerve to claim to be it's saviour? Social amnesia indeed." 

11:57 pm - CNN calls the Senate for the Democrats. A dramatic turn of events? No, not at all. Though there has been a good deal of wishful thinking on the right and among pundits, a massive "sweep" (a word I just saw in a Yahoo! headline) was never likely. And yet, again, this is being treated as a huge Republican win. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

11:58 pm - Boxer beats Fiorina, projects CNN. At least this failed CEO won't be heading to the Senate to line up as a good Republican partisan.

12:07 am - And another big California win: Brown beats Whitman for governor. He's baaaaack! ("You can't necessarily buy an election," says Wolf, referring to Whitman's massive spending, much of it her own money. But you can sure try. And she did.)

12:15 am - I'm a Democrat, and proud of it, but it is unfortunate that someone like Charlie Rangel, despite all his many (ethical) problems, can win re-election yet again by a massive margin, 82-9.

Other races of interest:

-- It looks like John Hall is going down in New York's 19th. He's currently down 54-46. Mr. Barry will not be amused.

-- Patty Murray is up by a bit in Washington, 51-49, with 54 percent reporting. 

12:20 am - John King just used the word "shellacking" again. Please. What we're seeing is a turnover in the House, that's it. Sure, a fairly sizable turnover, but hardly anything so dramatic.

12:21 am - These two are hard to take: CNN projects Pat Toomey the winner in Pennsylvania, beating Joe Sestak for Senate, and John Kasich the winner in Ohio, beating the incumbent Ted Strickland for governor. Given all the electoral problems in Ohio, having a Republican as governor will put Democrats at a major disadvantate. The GOP also won the governorship in Pennsylvania, with Tom Corbett beating Dan Onorato. Looks like there just wasn't enough urban/black turnout. And, of course, Toomey, while seemingly less extreme than many of the GOP crazies who ran this year (O'Donnell, Angle, Buck, Raese, etc.), is still a hardcore conservative.

12:26 am - Oh right, that's right-wing blowhard blogger Erick Erickson on CNN's panel. I think I just tried to pretend otherwise whenever he opened his mouth. And there's the vicious Ed Rollins, too. And the idiotic Alex Castellanos. How is this at all balanced? Maybe I'll turn over the MSNBC to see what's going on. But what would be the point?

12:32 am - Mark Kirk beats Alexi Giannoulias in Illinois. No Republican gain is good, but this is hardly a great loss for the Democrats. Obama likes him, but his tenure at Broadway Bank from '02 to '06 was marred by bad loans -- the bank was seized by the state earlier this year.

12:37 am - In Colorado, Michael Bennet holds a narrow lead over Ken Buck, 48 to 47, with 68 percent reporting. 

12:38 am - So it is being reported that Obama is already reach out across the aisle. Good luck with that.

12:39 am - And... Harry Reid... beats... Sharron Angle... in Nevada. Wow. Looks like a solid victory, too. Nice call, Jon Ralston. But does this mean Reid gets to be minority leader? Haven't we had enough of him? (Of course, he won this race mainly because the Republican elected an incredibly terrible candidate.)

12:45 am - Bush has now pulled ahead of Bennet, 49-46, with 72 percent reporting. This can't be... and with Democrats generally doing fairly well in Colorado this year, including winning the governorship, with John Hickenlooper at 51 percent, independent (i.e., crazy Republican nativist) Tom Tancredo at 37 percent, and Republican Dan Maes a distant third at 11 percent.

12:51 am - Is it just me or does Dana Bash look like she belongs in a Munch painting? 

Here's a selection of recent tweets from Creature:

-- "Wow. Harry Reid did it. Big Tea Party fail."

-- "At a minimum Reid's win helps change the narrative toward the positive for Dems. So thrilled."

-- "Trying to stay positive, but a Boehner led House so depresses me." 

12:57 am - No marijuana legalization in California. Proposition 19 goes down 56-44. I guess even California isn't ready for it yet. Yet.

12:59 am - John King playing "what if" games: What if Republicans had nominated moderates instead of Angle and O'Donnell. But they did nominate Angle and O'Donnell and many, many other extremists around the country. That's who the Republicans are these days. Why not play the game from the other side. What if there hadn't been any sort of Tea Party "movement" this year? Or what Bush and the Republicans hadn't screwed the economy and left Obama and the Democrats with a mess? Oh, but that wouldn't fit the pro-Republican narratives that, predictably enough, the media are pushing.

1:06 am - Some thoughts from my friend Steve Benen of The Washington Monthly's Political Animal:

-- On Dan Coats's win in Indiana: "Indiana will replace Evan Bayh (D) with an old, wealthy Washington insider, who left Indiana more than a decade ago, and who's spent several years as a corporate lobbyist. This, of course, is evidence of the public's desire for a fresh, new perspective in Congress, with senators who can relate to regular people." (Hypocrisy or ignorance? From voters, a lot of both this year.)

-- On Joseph Cao's loss in Louisiana: "Rep. Joseph Cao (R) lost in a very Democratic New Orleans district today. There aren't many of these red-to-blue House districts this year, but this was one Dems expected to win." (Republicans can't stand the guy. Too moderate, too willing to work with Obama.)

-- On Russ Feingold's loss in Wisconsin: "NBC is reporting that Sen. Russ Feingold (D) really is going to lose. The polls all showed this as practically inevitable, but it still seems incomprehensible. The guy who beat Feingold is, as regular readers know, Ron Johnson. To say he's not ready for prime time is a dramatic understatement. It's bizarre that he even ran for the U.S. Senate; that he's actually won is ridiculous." (It's a crazy year dominated by crazy candidates and crazy politics.)

-- On Patrick Murphy's loss in Pennsylvania: "There have been some real heartbreakers tonight, but the apparent loss of Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) in Pennsylvania is just awful. Patrick was not only the first veteran of this Iraq War to get elected to Congress, he was also a forceful champion of DADT repeal." (I agree, a really bad loss for Dems -- and for the country.)

-- On Rand Paul's win in Kentucky: "Maybe it's just me, but I still find it odd that Kentucky would elect to the U.S. Senate an odd, self-accredited ophthalmologist who doesn't know much about public policy, the state he lives in, or even his own political ideology. Sure, we knew he'd win, but that doesn't make this any less bizarre." (It's a crazy and bizarre year.)

1:22 am - Did I mention that my election predictions were picked up by the Times earlier today (er, rather, yesterday) -- specifically at the Opinionator blog, which put me in with the likes of Nate Silver (who's been live-blogging as well), Larry Sabato, Charlie Cook, Mark Blumenthal, and Markos Moulitsas? I predicted a Republican gain of 47-52 in the House. I actually ended up going with 49. It looks like I was way too optimistic, and way off, with the GOP poised to pick up at least 60 seats, beyond even Silver's forecast. So much for Democratic under-representation in the polls, so much for great Democratic turnout. I'm doing much better on the Senate side, where I predicted a 6-seat GOP gain. Oh well.

1:44 am - By the way, the Tea Party hasn't come to power, as the Times suggests. It won some seats and is a major force, perhaps the major force in the Republican Party, but Democrats still control the White House and the Senate. What will be interesting is not so much what these Teabaggers do in office but what happens to the GOP now that they've gotten a taste of victory. They are deeply arrogant and self-righteous, but they don't have any sort of mandate to govern, and, ultimately, I think the Republican Beltway establishment that made peace with the Tea Party and indeed co-opted it (just as, in a way, the Tea Party co-opted the GOP) will have problems dealing with these right-wing radicals who hold Washington, and democracy generally (including the political process), in such contempt.

1:47 am - Alright, that's it for me, for tonight. I'm exhausted, and this post is already probably the longest I've ever written. We're still waiting on Colorado (where Buck is narrowly ahead), Washington (where Murray is narrowly ahead), and Alaska (where write-in Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski leads Republican Teabagger Joe Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams 40-34-25), but I need some sleep.

1:50 am - Harry Reid is at the podium. "Today you made possible what many called impossible." I'm afraid not. What happened was that Angle was too crazy and too extreme, an insane choice for Republicans. And Nevada didn't really choice to go forward -- what it chose was the lesser of two bad candidates. Look, I'm happy that Reid won, I really am. And, on the whole, while this was a bad night, it is time to move on. And I hope Reid is serious about wanting to keep fighting. But for what? For concessions to Republicans? That just won't do. If he's the minority leader, he'll need to do better.

1:53 am - Good night, everyone. Thanks for being here. I can't say it's been fun, or pleasurable, but it had to be done, and we have to keep fighting for the liberal-progressive values we believe in. This is a major setback for America, to be sure, but that's all the more reason not to give up.

Take care, and be good to one another. We'll be back with more, much more, later today.

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