Saturday, November 11, 2006

 

Open Thread

Post-election notions? Pre-Thanksgiving thoughts? Whatever's on your mind...

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Friday, November 10, 2006

 

Thank You...

...to whomever created this.

(No, it wasn't me.) Quite a pleasant surprise.

I wouldn't have characterized my departure from NRO exactly like that -- but why quibble?


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Kudos To...

...Josh Marshall's muckraking crusaders for playing straight with readers and trying to keep the Dems honest by providing a handy-dandy list of the new majority party's ethically challenged members.

"The 'Culture of Corruption Is Dead! Long Live the 'Culture of Corruption'!"


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Cut & Rum

Let the real recriminations begin.

The chief architect of the '94 Republican Revolution expresses the feeling of many on the timing of the Rumsfeld dismissal:

“I was very disappointed,” said Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the House.

“If the president had replaced Rumsfeld two weeks ago, the Republicans would still control the Senate and they would probably have 10 more House members. For the president to have suggested for the last two weeks that there would be no change and then change the day after the election is very disheartening.”

That would be a sentiment more than amplified on Capitol Hill:

"The White House said keeping the majority was a priority, but they failed to do the one thing that could have made a difference," one House GOP leadership aide said Thursday. "For them to toss Rumsfeld one day after the election was a slap in the face to everyone who worked hard to protect the majority."

Exit polling suggested that an overwhelming majority of voters disapproved of the administration's handling of the war in Iraq, and members and aides were frustrated with the timing of the announcement because an earlier resignation could have given them a boost on the campaign trail, they believe.

"They did this to protect themselves, but they couldn't protect us?" another Republican aide said yesterday.

Of course. And even more fascinating, the American people saw their president admit that he blatantly lied one week ago when he told three reporters that Rumsfeld was going to be kept until the end of his term. There are many ways that a politician can shade the truth without baldfacedly lying. Bush didn't take that option:

Bush credited Rumsfeld with overseeing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while overhauling the military. "I'm pleased with the progress we're making," Bush said. He replied in the affirmative when asked if he wanted Rumsfeld and Cheney to stay with him until the end.

Consider him fortunate that this wasn't a televised interview, so he was spared the indignity of a "I did. not. have. sex. with. that. woman..." moment.

But what was most tragic about this is that, strategically, this was an incredibly foolish statement. The news that Bush was sticking with Rumsfeld -- coming five days before the election -- merely helped fire up all those voters angry over the war and sounded like Bush was "staying the course."

So, the president dithered on making a change that could have saved some Republican members, lied about the fact that he was thinking of making the change -- which created news that helped his political opponents.

If there needed to be any further evidence that much of this electoral debacle -- corruption aside -- can be laid at the feet of the president, well, he's provided it himself.

Heckuva job.

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Pick the NFL Winners - Week 10

You folks know the drill. Pick the most games right for bragging rights. No money here. If you want money for picking games right, get a bookie.

As usual, this will be cross-posted on Politics and Pigskins, American Legends, and Ragged Thots.

Now for the picks of our returning co-champion. Oh yeah, that's me! (My picks are in red):

Baltimore at Tennessee: Suuuuure Tennessee could win. And the governor of Iowa could be our next president.

Buffalo at Indianapolis: This one has all the makings of a trap game. But you won't see me betting on it.

Cleveland at Atlanta: THIS is a tough one. Cleveland is playing for pride. We still haven't figured out what Atlanta is playing for.

Green Bay at Minnesota: The "Brett Favre Farewell Tour (Good riddance!)" continues. The Vikings should bounce back after the stinker they had last week against San Fran.

Houston at Jacksonville: Houston might make this close, but the Jags should still win.

Kansas City at Miami: The Fish come back to Earth this week against the best team in Missouri.

N.Y. Jets at New England: The Pats will be hungry after losing to the Little Horsies last week.

San Diego at Cincinnati: Just a guess, but without Shawne Merriman, I think the Bolts have a harder time putting pressure on Carson Palmer. Without pressure, the Bengals have a field day on San Diego.

San Francisco at Detroit: This should be a fun game to watch, although I suspect Detroit will bring a touch more offense.

Washington at Philadelphia: Time for Washington's usual post-Dallas week letdown.

Denver at Oakland: If I had to pick one sure thing this week, this is it.

Dallas at Arizona: Arizona might give Dallas some fits. Or Arizona might get stomped. Either way, they lose.

New Orleans at Pittsburgh: When the Saints, come marching in...Pittsburgh is mailing it in this year, and the Saints are not a team to try that against.

St. Louis at Seattle: I call the Seahawks in a squeaker.

Chicago at N.Y. Giants: On paper, this looks like a great game. In reality, the Giants are going to stomp the Bears.

Tampa Bay at Carolina: The Panthers have had two weeks to prepare for the Bucs. They only needed one.

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The GOP Rejection

Kevin Drum has some interesting cross-tab analysis of demographic voting habits.

Didn't think it was possible for Jews to become more Democratic? Guess again.

That increased share of the Latino vote that Dubya scored in '04? Adios!

Republicans automatically the party of "the rich"? Um, well, not exactly.

Check it out. Might not completely agree with Kevin's take, but the numbers are fascinating.


UPDATE: Political Animal contributor Christina Larson compares the 1994 and 2006 demographic breakdowns.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

 

"I-Man", Therefore I Lose

Harold Ford.

J.D. Hayworth.

Rick Santorum.

Three very different candidates. Two Republicans, one Democrat. One from the South. One from the Southwest. One from the East. Two are white, one is black.

Yet, all these losing candidates had one thing in common: "Imus In the Morning." Yep, all three are (were?) regulars of the original shock-jock Don Imus.


Ford was most recently on ten days before the election.

Hayworth even boasted of Imus' endorsement
on his website.

As did
Santorum.

Indeed, the only Imus regular on the ballot who won on Tuesday was
Joe Lieberman -- and he lost his party's primary in August (click on August 23rd link)!

Let this be a cautionary tale for John McCain, another buddy of the I-man, who some people believe might seek higher office at some point in the future.


UPDATE: Shoshanna in the Comments also adds Imus perennial Kinky Friedman -- fourth place finisher in the Texas governor's race -- to the death toll.

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Accountability Election

With the claiming of the Virginia seat by Jim Webb (pending the completion of "canvassing" of all votes), the rout of the GOP in DC is complete.

Ffew tears here being shed.

Ideally, I would have liked to have seen Republicans hold onto the Senate by a vote or two because of the judicial appointments power. But that was about the only thing to recommend retention of Republican power.

This was a majority that was as ineffective as it was arrogant as it was corrupt. True, the corruption was primarily ingrained in the House, but considering that Conrad Burns was also
on the Jack Abramoff payroll, Bill Frist was under SEC scrutiny over possible insider trading and Ted Stevens was a poster child for earmark abuse, it's quite obvious that this was a bi-cameral problem for Republicans.

Besides,
a wise soul wrote some two years ago about the problem of lack of accountability in a one-party town.

Ultimately, on both foreign and domestic policy, the public's trust has been betrayed. Why should the public trust its leaders with future policy if those leaders deceive and manipulate the people's elected representatives to get a favored policy passed? If the American public and the world at large now react skeptically to future presidential claims that the United States faces a foreign threat, who can blame them?

...

It would be wonderful to believe the president's promise that the war in Iraq will lead to democracy in a troubled region. An immigrant--I was born in the West Indies--tends to absorb the earnest, spiritual myths of his adopted nation even more than those native-born. Democracy is indeed a human value. But initiating a war to "liberate" an entire region far from our shores can hardly be called a conservative cause. It will be impossible to restrain a government kept on a permanent war footing. And, in liberty's name abroad, liberty at home will inevitably be compromised. It already has been.

No, a Kerry administration would not be any conservative's ideal. But, on limited government, a Democratic president would, arguably, force a Republican Congress to act like a Republican Congress. The last such combination produced some form of fiscal sanity. And, when it comes to accountability, one could hardly do worse. Of course, a conservative can still cast a libertarian vote on principle.

At crucial points before and after the Iraq war, Bush's middle managers have failed him, and the "brand" called America has suffered in the world market. In any other corporate structure plagued by this level of incompetence, the CEO would have a choice: Fire his middle managers or be held personally accountable by his shareholders. Because of his own misguided sense of "loyalty," Bush won't dismiss anyone. That leaves the country's shareholders little choice.
What occurred during this past election operated on the same principle outlined above. The GOP Congress failed in its constitutional responsibility to have legitimate oversight of the executive. The end result of this election is that the Republican Congress is being held accountable both for its ethical failings as well as its constitutional ones.

Now, divided-government partisan oversight is not pretty: Often it is just a lot of witch-hunts. But many times it produces a real honest accounting and brings to light inappropriate behavior.

Now, a Democratic Congress will be asking some questions on contracting, lobbying and just regular bureaucratic decisions that the GOP Congress could have asked -- but chose not too.

Indeed, if any example of that were needed, Republicans provided it on the eve of the election, as
they pass legislation to close down the Iraq auditor's office. Insane.

Let's hope the GOP manages to regain its soul over the next couple of years, so it can make a comeback and send politicians to Washington who are committed to changing the culture rather than being absorbed by it.

UPDATE: A classy concession from Allen (though John Warner's introduction began to seem like he was going to concede for Allen).


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Ranking the NFL - Week 9

THE ELITE
COLTS: Beating New England is always impressive. The only question remaining is: Can the Colts look this good in January?

THE "ALMOST" ELITE
BRONCOS: The last victim was Pittsburgh. The next victim is Oakland. The next real test comes against the Chargers in two weeks.

SAINTS: The NFC Champs this year? Could be.

THE GOOD
CHARGERS: Without Shawne Merriman this week, they will have a real test against the Bengals.

PATRIOTS: Can't blame them for losing to the best team in football right now. Although Tom Brady throwing 4 picks is rather out of character.

SEAHAWKS: The Sea Birdies brought the Raiders back to Earth. Nine times.

RAVENS: I have to hand it to the Ravens. They have that fear factor going for them. You can tell teams just don't want to play them. Cincinnati looked SCARED.

GIANTS: Yawn. They beat Houston. They just might beat the Bears too.

BENGALS: The NFL has figured out how to beat the Bengals. Just give Carson Palmer a few love taps on the knees, and he folds like a chair.

PANTHERS: Bye week.

CHIEFS: The best team in Missouri.


THE AVERAGE
BEARS: "Da Bears" take a HUGE nosedive this week. Considering the best team they beat was Seattle, and they lost to the Dolphins, that tells me this team was a mirage.

FALCONS: Will the real Mike Vick please stand up? Yes, that was him against Detroit.

EAGLES: Bye week.

COWBOYS: I would not read too much into their loss to the Skins. They beat the Skins soundly at home earlier this season (27-10), but only barely lost to them in Washington (22-19).

BUCCANEERS: I think Al Davis had a hand in deciding the Bucs' schedule this year. The Giants two weeks ago, the Saints last week, and the Panthers coming up? Somebody get Gruden an aspirin...

JAGUARS: Welcome to the David Gerrard era in Jacksonville. Of course, if they don't make the playoffs, this era may not last past this season.

STEELERS: Maybe next year...

RAMS: The worst team in Missouri.

VIKINGS: Losing to the 49ers was not a good sign. If they don't pick it up this week against the Pack, this ranking may be too generous.

REDSKINS: Now that they have the big win out of their system, expect the Skins to return to their losing ways this week against Philly.

BROWNS: The Brownies gave the Chargers a small scare. VERY small.

JETS: Bye week.

THE BAD
DOLPHINS: The Fish are still bad, even after beating up the Bears. They just are not AS bad.

LIONS: I will give the Lions credit for looking better than the Falcons. They might even win their next couple of games with their easy schedule (49ers, Cardinals, and Dolphins). But I expect them to return to Earth in week 13, vs. the Patriots.

49ERS: Even though I thought Frisco would beat the Vikings, the most impressive part of it was holding the Vikes to 3 points. Their best defensive performance of the year.

BILLS: Beating up on Green Bay is a sign of...nothing.

TITANS: I still find it hard to believe the rumors about Tennessee letting Jeff Fisher go after this year. Have they LOOKED at this team? I have seen JV teams with more talent.

TEXANS: Got to give the Texans credit for giving the G-men a scare. That and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee.

RAIDERS: The Hawks thumped the Raiders like a Democrat over a scandal-ridden Republican.

PACKERS: According to Brett Favre, this was supposed to be the best Packer team on which he ever played. I never realized how bad those Packer teams in the 90's must have been, if they couldn't even beat this year's Bills.

CARDINALS: On the bright side, the Cards didn't lose this week. Yes, they had a bye week.

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Pick the NFL Winners - Week 9 Results

And the winner last week was...*drumroll*...a tie!

EdMcGon - 9
David - 9

Mark English - 8
Tom - 6
Robert George - 6

It figures I cannot win one outright.
(grumble grumble friggin' Cowboys grumble grumble)

I will post this coming week's contest tomorrow.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

 

Rummy Out

"Effective immediately."

According to AP, confirmed by Fox News.


UPDATE: Robert Gates "in."

The Empire Strikes Back (Damn! Those Wikipedia folks are fast -- the Gates bio was updated with the SecDef reference five minutes before Bush started speaking at 1 p.m.!)

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Declaration of Independents

National Journal's Chuck Todd assess what could be called the GOP's "unfair to middlin' voters" problem: "

So how did this happen? Two words: Bush and Iraq.

These two issues, intertwined, drove independents to the polls and toward the Democrats. As one pollster said to me last week when he predicted this tidal wave: 2006 will be known as the "revenge of the independents."

He looks to be correct. The difference in just about every close race comes down to independent voters. Turnout for the Republican base was good. Maybe not great like '04, but decent enough to hold some districts that I thought would fall in a wave (like those three seats in Ohio that the GOP somehow held).

Dems were only going to win Ohio-01, Ohio-02 and Ohio-15 with some deflation in the GOP turnout. But the base was there. What killed various Republican candidates everywhere else was their inability to woo the middle.

There was a time when I believed the Angry Independent wasn't going to vote in '06 because Democrats hadn't made a compelling case for change. If that had turned out to be the case, Republicans would have been safe in the Senate and certainly would have held the House losses to less than two dozen. But a combination of events, possibly triggered by the Mark Foley scandal, awakened the Angry Independent.

There is an important lesson for the GOP to learn when studying these returns. When a political party gets shellacked, the intra-party feud becomes dominated by the base, not the moderates. The base will swear, in this case, that the party needed more true-blue conservatives running, or that it should have been more conservative in its congressional governance. And then these losses would have been avoided.

There are some shreds of truth in that thinking, but the GOP will only isolate itself even more if it takes a turn to the right. Republicans will not regain the majority if they continue to grow away from the inner-suburban voter. Missouri and Virginia, for instance, sent that message loud and clear. "
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Congratulations...

...Madame Speaker.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

 

Election Sites

CNN.

Fox News

Josh Marshall's
TPM Cafe Election Central.

Hotline Blog.





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A Bush Election...

...according to iniitial exit poll analysis.

On Fox News, Chris Wallace added that scandal/corruption is almost equal with the Iraq war as principal reason for voting.

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I Voted For...


Governor: John Faso (R)
Attorney General : Christopher Garvey (Libertarian)
Comptroller: John Cain (Libertarian)
U.S. Senate: Jeffrey Russell (Libertarian)
U.S. Congress: Stephen Finger (R/L)

Various Republican and Conservative Party judges.

I feel very comfortable voting for a good man who will nonetheless be part of a landslide defeat. Alas, poor John Faso. It just wasn't meant to be this year.

I also felt proud to cast votes for the Libertarian Party candidates rather than reward outrageously flawed Republican candidates --perfect examples of the sad times upon which the New York GOP has fallen.

Hope you're happy, "President" Pataki
!

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Monday, November 06, 2006

 

FINAL PREDICTIONS

Okay, here are the RAGGED THOTS Final predictions for Campaign '06:

SENATE:

Maryland: Steele beats Cardin (the race which will cause Chuck Schumer's head to explode; great candidate running great campaign overcomes blue national tidal wave).
Missouri: McCaskill beats Talent.
Montana: Tester beats Burns (Ryan Sager's theme of Democratic mountain-state resurgence gets a
boost)
Ohio: Brown beats DeWine (DeWine is just one of many unfortunate victims of an Ohio anti-GOP perfect storm -- Iraq+state corruption+Abramoff federal corruption; Ken Blackwell is another).
Rhode Island: Whitehouse beats Chafee (a headline we've been wanting to see for sometime, but
under different circumstances).
New Jersey: Menendez beats Kean (The Soprano state maintains its track record of electing corrupt politicians).
Pennsylvania: Casey beats Santorum (Alas, poor (yo)Rick, I knew him well).
Tennessee: Corker beats Ford (a great camdidate and a great campaign can't overcome a political
family rife with corruption in a core red state -- if only Harold was running in New Jersey!).
Virginia: Webb beats Allen (the worst Senate campaign in history reaches its inevitable and well-deserved end).

Dems net +5, but loss of the Maryland seat forces Senate tie; 50-50, GOP retains control via Cheney tie-breaker.

HOUSE: Dem +31: GOP slaughter in Midwest and Northeast; Dems make gains in interior West (Arizona, Colorado), GOP fails to pick up one Democrat-held House seat. Hugh Laurie becomes Speaker (think about it.) .

GOVERNORS: +6 Dems.
UPDATE: Ryan Sager offers even, uh, sage-r insights.


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A Republican's Take

The DC political tip-sheet, The Hotline gets a GOPer's no-BS assessment of tomorrow's results.

Tueday: THOTS predictions and final endorsements.

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Another Vote For Divided Government

Thomas Barnett, author of the well-received The Pentagon's New Map, explains why a Democratic Congress could be a good thing with a Republican White House:

Whatever your political affiliation, you should be pulling for the Democrats' return to majority power in both houses of Congress. I offer no partisan plea. I'm just convinced that a split government would be better for President Bush, our troops overseas and the world.

A recent Harvard/U.S. News & World Report poll revealed four striking attitudes prevalent among Americans. First, they believe it's incredibly important for the U.S. to remain a strong global leader. Second, they sense America has recently lost a great deal of the world's respect in that role. Third, a super-majority believes we're suffering from a leadership crisis. Finally, more than half lack pride in our nation's leaders.

A return to the divided government of 1990s, when President Clinton was forced to deal with a Republican Congress, is currently this country's best option to restore both Washington's ability to govern and the public's faith in that ability.

Such popular faith matters plenty in our foreign policy, not just in terms of signaling our support for the troops overseas but likewise in how other governments receive our diplomatic efforts over the next two years.
Barnett has a point, though I'd prefer to keep the Senate GOP to be on the safe side -- and I think judicial confirmation is important.

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The Worst Player in the NFL

My daughter threw me a curveball question yesterday: Who is the worst player in the NFL?

My first thought was a guy like Brett Favre, who has played past his prime, or Daunte Culpepper, who came back from injury too soon. But if you dig really deep, you can find worse players than these two. For example:

QB Joey Harrington: Don't read too much into him beating the Bears yesterday. Sure he had three touchdown passes, but they were all "short field" touchdowns. Even with those stats, his QB Rating is still lower than Culpepper's (77.0 to 64.6). The only two quarterbacks rated lower are Vince Young and Andrew Walter, both first year starters.

RB Ron Dayne: What can you say about a running back who cannot even start for Denver? How about the added insult of not being able to maintain the starting RB job in Houston? With 3.0 yards/carry and no touchdowns, Dayne is fully capable of keeping the bench warm.

WR Alvis Whitted: Only the Raiders would still employ this guy. While Whitted is one of the fastest players in the NFL, he also has hands like bricks. Backup Ronald Curry has more catches than Whitted (14 to 10).

OLT Robert Gallery: Speaking of the Raiders, how can we forget the offensive lineman who is looking more like Tony Mandarich than Tony Boselli? Actually, comparing Gallery to Mandarich is an insult to Mandarich. If the Raiders put a sack of potatoes on the field, it would slow down pass rushers more.

LB LaVar Arrington: Even though he is on injured reserve now, he was clearly nothing special before his injury. In six games played, he managed 14 tackles and 1 sack. There may be worse linebackers, but no one is more overrated.

I would have to pick Ron Dayne as the worst of the worst. In his prime, he was mediocre. Now he is just pathetic.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

 

When "Conservative" = "Democrat"

Another call for a Democratic Congress -- from a surprising a source. Or perhaps not so surprising.

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