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November 03, 2006

Comments

I was in a crowd of people singing "Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead" outside the White House fence on election night in 1992. That was back before people worried about being hogtied and held incommunicado for doing such a thing outside a free speech zone.

Reason 1: as cleek said above, probably the most important thing is to change party control of Congress. The Democrats will probably be unable to do anything serious while Bush is in office with veto power. If they make significant gains this time, they will probably face a bunch of serious challenges to their weaker candidates in the House in 2008 (big waves tend to wash in a few people who would never have succeeded normally), and if they screw up, they will lose power again.

What they will be able to do is hold hearings. I don't think they will go the witch hunt route; they'll be more likely to do things like investigations into Iraq reconstruction funds and the like. That will be a very, very good thing: for six years now, the GOP (Congress and administration) has had the power to spend money essentially without any oversight, and getting some has to be good.

I don’t necessarily disagree with this. I am voting D for the House, and I fully expect the Democrats to take the House at this point {Speaker Peloski – shudder}. But we are talking about the Senate here. I’d like to see Republicans retain control of the Senate. One of the main reasons is that I do expect the Democrats to go a little crazy with their new subpoena and investigative power. While I expect that to hurt their chances in 08, I don’t think they will be able to resist. A Republican controlled Senate will be a check on that. Possibly they won’t get too carried away if they know it will amount to little more than show. I don’t disagree that certain things could use a little daylight, but they mostly pertain to money (and the squandering there of). In fact, I’ll go on record as saying I would approve of an investigation into Iraq reconstruction funds. But again, we are talking about the Senate here – you already have my vote for the House. It is the House that has the investigative and subpoena powers, not the Senate.

Reason 2: Mitch McConnell. McConnell is, by all accounts, going to succeed Bill Frist as GOP leader in the Senate. If the Republicans have a majority in the Senate, he will have the power to set the agenda. Read about him here and here (more background from his hometown paper here), and decide for yourself whether you think that's such a great idea. (My condensed version: money money money lobbyists lobbyists lobbyists; and oh did I mention that unlike Frist he is actually good at playing hardball, which would be bad even if his main goal didn't seem to be money money money.)

This is your most compelling argument, and the one I have to give the most consideration too. On the one hand, it is not a bad thing in my mind to replace Frist with someone who would be a more effective leader. And his fund raising skills are phenomenal. On the other hand – all the corruption which I abhor comes back to money doesn’t it? You would have my vote for dismantling K Street and banning most lobbyists. It is not really a shocker to me that the Senator from Kentucky supports the tobacco industry, which is after all his state’s top cash crop. But all in all, he does seem to be bought and paid for. This doesn’t make him unique of course, but he may be at the head of the crowd. I wanted to keep this to the context of Steele v. Cardin, but of course there are wider implications. So again – this is your most compelling point and the one I will give the most consideration to.

Reason 3: But what about Steele himself, you ask? Well: I think that one of the most important questions that will face the next Congress is what to do about the deficit. Steele's approach seems to be: I am very concerned about the deficit, so I will cut spending, but I will also make all Bush's tax cuts permanent.

On this one I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. I am a firm believer that tax cuts increase revenue and boost the economy. The basis for that is real life experience – the Carter recession and the Reagan tax cuts. Even while increasing defense spending, those tax cuts got us out of a very bleak time. I know you can point me to many sources refuting this – and I can point you to an equal number confirming it. The top tax rate was 70%! That is just inconceivable to most people today. I am firmly in favor of eliminating the estate tax (we have debated that before). I am firmly in favor of cutting discretionary spending.

“Tax receipts are up $253 billion, a whopping 12 percent over last year. That's the thirds consecutive year of strong revenue growth after a dismal performance in the early part of the decade.”

The revenue growth is there – it is the spending that has to be reigned in. So on this I am directly aligned with Steele. If only the rest of the Republican party was too.


You say that your vote is in play -- on what issue do you break from the Administration? Why would you expect Steele to vote against his caucus on that issue?

Mostly on issues of corruption. There are other things, but that has angered me more than anything lately.

Steele wants to increase transparency in politics and hold everyone in Washington to high ethical standards. He wants to prohibit former members of congress or their staff from having any contact (as a lobbyist) with sitting members or their staff for four years. He wants to eliminate all gifts from lobbyists, even the little stuff like meals, drinks, sporting event tickets. He wants to eliminate any gift of travel – currently there is no restriction.

He wants to require that all earmarks identify the lawmaker responsible, and make this info available to the public on the Internet. He wants to eliminate the floor privileges of former congressmen who are registered lobbyists.

On the environment, he supported the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act as Lt. Governor. He supported funding for open space programs. He has been a big supporter of environmental issues, and they are important to a lot of Marylanders.

He wants to stabilize and improve Social Security, he doesn’t support private accounts.

All of that cribbed from his web site, but I have heard him discuss them all. Does that sound like the typical Republican?


how about: the 2000-2006 rubber-stamp Congress ? you haven't had enough yet ? you want more ?

I’m giving you the House. I want to keep the Senate as I described above. Maybe the impasse is just what we need for a couple of years.

Speaker Peloski – shudder

why shudder ?

About tax cuts and boosting the economy. Obviously, if people have disposable income they will go out and dispose of it, thus creating employment for others, etc. The problem is that Republicans want to cut taxes for those who already have plenty, if not excessive amounts, of disposable income, which shifts the burden of paying for essential services to the middle and working poor, cutting their disposable income down, which means they can't go out and buy things and create jobs, etc. The ideologs behind the cut-taxes-for-the rich think that in the long run this will force us all to redefine essential governnment services. But it won't. People want parks, schools, student loans, subsidies for their local pork barrel industry, paved roads, adequate sewer systems, etc. These things are too expensive to pay for at the state and local level. Most Americans do believe that the government exists to promote the common good. When the common good cannot be supported by state and local taxes most people expect federal money to make up the difference. Even most Republicans act as if they believe this. They certainly expect thhe serrvices to arrive. However that doesn't keep the Republicans at the state and local level from bitching just as much about paying for the things they want as the Republcans at the national level do. The problem with the Republican approach to managing government tax dollars is that their fundamental goal is to get something for nothing, or, at least, at someone else's expense. They want the stuff but want somneonne else to pay for it. The "they" I am referring to is the Republican voter who still insists, after over twenty years of cuts in federal assistance to states, on receiving the same services to which they feel entitled, while also insisting that tax cuts can be made, the services will still exist, the budget be balanced and, if not, it is all the fault of liberals or bums on welfare.
Besides if people really want to build the econnomy thheyy need to thinnk inn terms of innvesting tax dollars inn things like studnt loans and grants, preparations for dealing with global warming, energy independence, etc.

OCS, I don't doubt that he says things like that. But a vote for McConnell for leader is totally at odds with these 'wants.' There aren't going to be bills on these issues for Steele to vote on, and if there were, they'd be crafted (or at least approved) by McConnell.

McConnell isn't just another senator wrt the legalized corruption / lobbying issue. He has taken a strong position on campaign finance and other such issues.

It's not that Steele's a typical Republican. It's that even an atypical Republican can't do anything against the leadership. Can you identify Lincoln Chaffee's victories against the Republican leadership?

I should say that one of my closer friends at work, the guy with the office next to mine, has known Steele for many years, and thinks very highly of him. I've not doubt that he's a fundamentally decent guy, and if the Senate was 52-48 Democratic, I think he'd be a real asset in the body. (I still wouldn't vote for him, because I disagree with him on a substantial number of issues). Much of the Senate work is done on a comity basis, and I can see that if he was in the minority, Steele would reach across the aisle often enough to make a real difference. His would be a vote Democrats would be trying to get, when they could. In the majority, though, he'd be a hostage to his leadership, and to McCain's quest for a nomination and the President's for a legacy.

Hilzoy – your McConnell argument is pretty solid. I have to admit that this guy was under my radar. I think I kind of assumed in the back of my mind that McCain would get the leadership position. It does appear McConnell has a lock on it.

I read your links last night, and I’ve been researching him all morning. Wow.

It would be intellectually dishonest of me to claim corruption is one of my biggest issues and at the same time support this guy at all, even indirectly.

I really like Steele, and in the back of my mind had the thought he could be the country’s first black president. A term in the Senate would give him the national exposure he needs (I know a Governorship would be better). It is a shame for him to lose my vote because of McConnell.

I will not vote for Cardin. I absolutely disagree with him on Iraq. I watched the debate on MTP last weekend and decided before it was over that I could never vote for the man.

I won’t sit out the election, I feel too strongly about the privilege of voting.

That leaves me with write in candidate Lih Young (D). I’m not crazy about her either, but then she has exactly zero chance of winning.

It is not 100% yet, but at this point there is a very very good chance I will essentially spoil my ballet by voting for the write in candidate.

Congratulations – you may have saved the country :) Think about that – the Republicans keeping the Senate may come down to the MD race. That race is so tight now, that it may come down to very few votes. You quiet likely just moved one out of the R column.

All the screeching and shrieking on other lefty blogs never had a shot at doing that. But your calm and thoughtful analysis is tough to resist. You and the regular commenters here have gradually moved me to this place over a period of months.

If you are ever having a bad day and feel like the time you spend writing is wasted or that your writing has no impact – remember this.

G*d. Nancy Peloski AND Harry Reid. I’m not gonna be able to show my face in the right-o-sphere and Karl is going to personally revoke my VRWC membership card…

The basis for that is real life experience – the Carter recession and the Reagan tax cuts. Even while increasing defense spending, those tax cuts got us out of a very bleak time. I know you can point me to many sources refuting this – and I can point you to an equal number confirming it. The top tax rate was 70%! That is just inconceivable to most people today.

The greatest explosion in middle-class prosperity in this country's history occured during a period when the top rate was more than 20 points higher than that. I've yet to see you address this simple fact in any of the discussions on this topic.

Oops - meant to say "Hilzoy and CharleyCarp – your McConnell argument is pretty solid"

Late to this thread, so I hope I am not repeating a point already made several times.

There is no incompetence.

Alone, this would only be a data point. But with the A Q Khan story, the indifference to proliferation, the refusal to negotiate with NK and Iran, it should be apparent that the Bush administration wanted as nukes everywhere, deliberately and intentionally aided and abetted proliferation and development.

As I told Andrew, who thinks me evil and crazy, the idea is Cold War II, with an American advantage in space and Strategic Defense. But they want a century of tension, proxy and low level wars, and a fully militarized United States. A century.

Ugh, Gromit, I've been following the CIA prison thing through the briefs. One of my cases is before Judge Walton, and so you can imagine that I've been following his rulings -- he shows more sympathy to the government than maybe he should, and a couple of times the government has, imo, abused that. And gotten slammed for it.

I haven't been to Camp VI yet -- it was still under construction last time I was there -- and so I don't know how isolated the new prisoners really are. I'll go out on a limb,* though, and say not perfectly. That is, I expect that any prisoner one might meet could, by now, give a decent account of what happened to KSM.

That's not to say that I could get it declassified. Ask me in mid-December. One of my guys was held by the CIA for a while, but in an old Soviet facility near Kabul, not one of the 'black prisons' in Europe or North Africa. (Or is it Jordan?)

Obviously, the government can't put any of these guys on trial without lawyers being able to talk to them. So the argument for the MCA that passage was necessary to allow for the trial of KSM might have been, uh, puffery. Not only can the government not try them to commissions, it can't even have CSRTs. I guess if the government wanted to prove our point on the St. Cyr issue -- the insufficiency of the MCA/DTA procedures as a substitute for habeas -- this is more or less what they would do.

It'll be interesting to see what Judge Walton does with it.

I've been reading the Reply brief, now declassified. My favorite lines are from a footnote:

The information the Respondent seeks to conceal is Petitioner's personal experience of torture, disappearance, and indefinite detention by U.S. personnel. . . . It is intolerable for the government to assert its own unacceptable and notorious treatment of this man as the very foil that is used to
perpetuate his isolation.

* Not that far out on a limb -- I've been in Camp V.

OCS, write in yourself. You deserve a vote.

Maybe Steele should run for governor next time. It's better experience for a presidential run anyway.

A fine line from a comment by jo fish on Kleiman's site:

The adminstration can stonewall this for as long as they want. I doubt that their classification nonsense will survive Congressional subpeonas, but that's not a done deal yet. When this all breaks, we will look far less like the shining city on the hill and more like the slums of Manila.

Sort of OT, but does anyone know of a good, comprehensive site for putting together a sample ballot for a given precinct? vote-usa.org places me in multiple districts for some smaller local offices and doesn't include the ballot initiatives.

there is a very very good chance I will essentially spoil my ballet by voting for the write in candidate

Credit to Jes for that BTW. Here I thought we could never find common ground :)

I wonder what people think about the editorial that appeared in all the military papers.

the comment forum attached to the article is pretty good. most of the military posters agree with the idea that Rusmfeld needs to go; and then there's a handful who seem to think that's an unpatriotic idea.

(no, i don't know how my reply got ahead of what i was replying to)

I don't think Nancy Pelosi is the rapid bitch she's made out to be. You might be pleasantly surprised. I'm more worried about the committee chairs because some of the Democrats in line are not people I can respect much. Steny Hoyer, for example, is more likely to view a Democratic takeover as his cchance to tap into KStreet than a chance to clean the House.
Is it Ok to change the subject? I wonder what people think about the editorial that appeared in all the military papers.

A fine line from a comment by jo fish on Kleiman's site:

I liked my own line posted elsewhere (since refined): The Administration needs to stop using "The Trial" as a replacement for the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Thanks for your thoughts Charley.

Gromit, the best bet might be on the website of the board of elections for your state. Google '[your state] Board of Elections' to find it.

@Bob McM: I made the same case earlier, but welcome the reinforcement. That's a point of complete agreement between us, even if our strategies for response are different.

I don't think you overstate the regime's policy at all; it's there in black and white in the admin's National Security Strategy documents of 2002 and 2006.

OCSteve, thanks for taking the time and thought to lay out the issues and themes that are most important to you in voting. A useful exercise for us all.

it is the spending that has to be [reined] in

Given the scale of the deficit, this will continue to be an appealing line of argument. Here are a couple of charts to help ground your thinking about this over the next six years or so.

I can never participate in these threads, but I would like to give kudo's to OCSteve. Not because of whom you vote for, but because you really try to think and form you own opinion. That's always hard, but especially in such polorized partisan environments.

The fact that you usually stay calm and state your points mean that I take those points much more seriously that when people in... more conservative environments... make the same statements. You say that that's what Hilzoy et all do for you, but it is also what you and the more persistant conservative commenters here achieve.

I still disagree about the tax bit, but that is a different discussion :)

[reined]

Quiet was supposed to come out quite. Always had trouble with Q.

Damned M$ Word corrects you as you type and you don’t always notice. I am a hunt and peck typist, so if you look at the keyboard rather than the screen, it will get you.

Frackin’ machines. They are taking over. I think the AF may have launched SkyNet this week.

Nell: Gromit, the best bet might be on the website of the board of elections for your state. Google '[your state] Board of Elections' to find it.

That was my first thought, too, and they have a crude tool for finding your elected representatives, but it only tells me my Federal and state legislative districts, and nothing about county and municipal offices or ballot initiatives. I can hunt all this information down piecemeal, but it seeing as they already have all this information in digital form for the black box voting machines, you would think they could make it accessible in one place online in advance.

you would think they could make it accessible in one place online in advance

have you tried looking for the local party branches on-line ?

our local Dem party went door-to-door with a handy list of who to vote for (including all those non-partisan positions and referendi).

ex Wake County (NC) (where i am) puts their list on-line. i just searched for "wake county democratic party"

Yeah, they link to the county government website which has a sample ballot with something like 60 races on it. I'm voting for about 12 offices. Anyway, between that and the Vote-USA sample ballot I think I have all the information, it would just be nice to have it in one concise and complete package.

I wondered if I might be over-generalizing from the convenient service provided by the Virginia Board of Elections site. There you select a locality and an election, and it displays a complete ballot, with the choices listed as voters will see them (and in the order in which voters will see them).

OT:

Q:

(this will be a little better once i do the HTML right)

OT:

Q:would you like to play a game?

Rumself: Nah. Screw your games.

OCSteve, a friendly cautionary word: check how your election authorities handle write-ins. In Oregon, for instance, when I lived there, it turned out that ballots with unauthorized write-ins (for anyone who hadn't registered as a write-in candidate ahead of time) would be discarded altogether. It'd have been nice to know that, but while the information isn't necessarily actively hidden (cf the bypass plans at the start of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), they seldom go out of their way to publicize it.

So take a bit to check, so that the rest of your ballot doesn't go into the trash. The same goes for anyone else planning a write-in.

OCSteve: I hope I've said on some previous occasion that I have a lot of respect for you, because I would hate to have it sound as though I was only writing that after I convinced you of something ;) -- Seriously: I think that if people of good will on both sides can keep talking to one another the way you do here, we will somehow manage to pull through this all with respect for our fellow citizens, those we agree with and those we don't. Thanks for that -- and if you'd be interested in watching the election returns in Baltimore with a bunch of barking moonbats, just drop me a line.

bob m:

There is no incompetence.

...it should be apparent that the Bush administration wanted as nukes everywhere, deliberately and intentionally aided and abetted proliferation and development.

I have supported your wacky world view in the past, but with a twist.

You give them to much credit for being able to shape the flow of events -- they are as much reacting incompetently as they are cleverly making things the way they are. Proliferation will occur naturally -- all it takes is inaction or incompetence for it to succeed. I think they are indifferent to proliferation if preventing it requires something more subtle than threats and wars.

They do prefer a world in which the US imposes its will by force -- hence numerous policies that allow disagreements to morph into conflicts. What's the point of that big shiny military if not to use it? But so far, they have been mighty incompetent at doing even that.

Maybe time for a new post? Perhaps on Saddam Hussein's death sentence? Jim Henley has some interesting thoughts, and "Saddam Urges Iraqis to Not Take Revenge on U.S. Forces" (a headline that will no doubt bring Fox outraged letters from grammar cranks).

check how your election authorities handle write-ins.

I received my sample ballot Friday. It states that Lih Young is a recognized write in candidate for Senator. Thanks for the warning though, I appreciate it.

I think that if people of good will on both sides can keep talking to one another the way you do here, we will somehow manage to pull through this all with respect for our fellow citizens, those we agree with and those we don't.

A worthy goal and one that I think is possible. My mother is more liberal than I believe you are. The bulk of my friends are Democrats, most of the citizens of my town are Democrats. We’re not at each other’s throats; well, not over politics anyway.

Can’t make it to Baltimore, but if you could put up an election night open thread that would be great.

Oh, the sample ballot… I thought I was all done my election research and ready to go. But we have four (4!) ballet questions I know nothing about. Today goes to researching those I guess.

Q:would you like to play a game?

Rumself: Nah. Screw your games.

Come now cleek, that was done during the Clinton administration, and therefore must be evil and wrong.

But we have four (4!) ballet questions I know nothing about.

Just write in plie for all four.

My apologies if this has been previously posted around here, and for not using an open thread--the computer I'm using at the moment is challenged, shall we say, and doesn't seem to like search functions.

I ran across this via Digby. It is what we might call an extremely good example of the arrogation of power by executive branch agencies. Apparently, the DHS plans to begin, in 1/2007, controlling whether or not US citizens can leave or return to the US directly. On the word of DHS agents.

sorry, got cut off in previous message by dumb*** computer. Also, link was mistyped, should be this. Lo mucho siento.

Anyways, IANAL, but it seems to me that this is a case of unconstitutional prior restraint, and the supreme court has also explicitly affirmed the right to international travel (and return, of course). I keep thinking these things shouldn't surprise me anymore, and then they do.

As I said, sorry if this has already been noted on the site. I am sufficiently aghast to be at a loss for further words.

speaking of sample ballots

cleek, thanks for that link to the sample ballot chicanery. It's always wrong, but many states it would also be illegal to distribute a sample ballot without a disclosure line ('Authorized and paid for by xxxx', where xxxx has to be a real, identifiable party organization or registered political committee).

The sample ballots we're offering to voters on Tuesday include not only our party committee but our phone number, because Virginia's non-partisan registration forces voters and parties to make a big effort to find each other.

thanks for that link to the sample ballot chicanery

i should add: Josh Marshall has more examples of it.

It's always wrong, but many states it would also be illegal to distribute a sample ballot without a disclosure line ('Authorized and paid for by xxxx', where xxxx has to be a real, identifiable party organization or registered political committee).

Hmmm. Mine has nothing like that. The return address is:

Worcester County Board of Elections.

Then it tells me my polling place. In the middle is a stamp that says “Official Election Mail” and in way fine print “Authorized by the US Postal Service”.

Then “Official Specimen Ballot”. Nothing as to party affiliation. Should I be suspicious?

OCSteve -

Sorry, I've been confusing by using the term 'sample ballot' for two different things.

There's an official sample ballot, put out by the board of elections, that shows all of the choices facing voters, in the order (and layout) that they'll be seen in. That's what you got in the mail. [Is one sent to every registered voter in Ocean City, or Maryland as a whole? We can only dream of that here. They can be picked up at any registrar's office, though.] Here, they're printed on yellow paper.

What volunteers of both parties often hand out at the polling places (beyond the electioneering line, sixty feet out) is similar, only with the recommended choices marked. We refer to those as 'sample ballots', but that's just shorthand; they're more accurately 'recommended ballots'.

The board of elections insists that the party ballots be printed on something other than yellow. [After a set-to in last fall's governor's race, a ruling has been made that 'goldenrod' is not yellow.] Ours is light blue; we have no intention of trying to fool anyone, and every intention of giving local Democrats another opportunity to get in touch with the party.

But we would also be flouting election law to put our sample ballots out with no disclosure line. Election officials and pollwatchers can only really deal with what happens inside the polling place. Enforcement of electioneering rules depends on each party having 'greeters' at the polling places, and alert and knowledgeable volunteers among early-day voters. Cell phones, especially picture-taking ones, are a wonderful tool that's cut short a lot of nonsense, too.

[After a set-to in last fall's governor's race, a ruling has been made that 'goldenrod' is not yellow.]

Heh.

Lisa: I'd like 25 copies on Goldenrod.

Clerk: Right.

Lisa: 25 on Canary.

Clerk: Mmhmm.

Lisa: 25 on Saffron.

Clerk: All right.

Lisa: And 25 on Paella.

Clerk: Ok, 100 yellow.

Judicial races here in North Carolina are officially/ostensibly non-partisan, i.e., no party designation appears on the ballot. The (Raleigh-based) News & Observer reported yesterday - sorry, I just read this in hard copy, so no link - that at one of the early polling sites, a reporter was approached on his way to vote and asked what party he favored. On responding that he was a Democrat, he was congratulated by a (female) volunteer and handed a "sample ballot" of recommended candidates, which he stuffed in his pocket while he proceeded to vote. Pulling it out afterwards, he realized that these were in fact the Republican candidates, which she was apparently handing to Democrats - and presumably Independents as well - assuring each of the voters that these represented their own choices/values.

By the standards of this election, mild stuff indeed, but still . . . blecch.

Nell - thanks for the clarification.

"I guess it’s still possible that they were presenting 1990 documents in 2002. I agree that they need to clarify this point."

It's pretty much nailed down in this para (guess wingnuttia didn't read down to the end of the story):

"In September, the Web site began posting the nuclear documents, and some soon raised concerns. On Sept. 12, it posted a document it called “Progress of Iraqi nuclear program circa 1995.” That description is potentially misleading since the research occurred years earlier.

The Iraqi document is marked “Draft FFCD Version 3 (20.12.95),” meaning it was preparatory for the “Full, Final, Complete Disclosure” that Iraq made to United Nations inspectors in March 1996. The document carries three diagrams showing cross sections of bomb cores, and their diameters."

[endquote]

"One more question – does this now mean we (you, me, the NYT) accept this archive as being authentic? Previously translated documents demonstrating ties to terrorism, ongoing WMD work etc. were discounted as not being proven genuine"

If you go a supermarket and grab the magazines in the rack, you'll pick up the Atlantic, Harpers, the New Yorker, but you'll also vacuum up Cosmo and the Weekly World News. Clear now?

Thank you, THANK YOU, for clarifying that "a year away" part, because the version of the story I read online read much less ambiguously as if it meant 2002 -- in fact, it was SO unambiguous that after doublechecking to see that it said what I thought it said, I immediately e-mailed the reporter. Never heard back, of course, probably because he thought I couldn't read. Now I know I wasn't crazy.

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