Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Win In Progress?
(Quick, pre-work, nary the time for links, almost post-election post)

Seeing where the remaining seats fall (VA and MT still awaiting Senate decisions and 13 House seats going down to tiny margins) will tell part of the tale (check here for updates to the map), though even if both Senate seats were to go to the Democrats there are sizeable flies in the ointment.

The biggest of the flies is Benedict Lieberman, who would then be a position of great power as an "independent" vote potentially deciding the balance.

Aside from that, many of the Democrats who won spots are self-described conservative to moderate Democrats, and they'll have to be weeded through one by one to see what's actually meant by that. Having read pseudo-Dem Ford's stances months ago I wasn't terribly shaken by his failure to win in Tennessee, though the practical matter of a Senate with a Democratic Speaker, too, would have had substantial advantages even if he wasn't wholly on our team.

The House under Democratic control provides the party the opportunity to take a stand and choose directions. Dubya's veto pen is more likely to get a workout over the remaining two years. I'm still far more worried about the reality-altering power of his signing statements.

The GOP will (doubtless, they're already writing the copy, leaving key elements open as their own form of Mad Libs game) take every opportunity to claim the Democrats have no plan and try to undercut them as nothing more than obstructionists and detractors. It will largely lie to the new House to set the direction, since the Democrats in the Senate will still, ultimately, almost certainly remain under a GOP thumb.

I might not be a big fan of the tune, but I do like the theme. A little music for thought for many in the new congress set to be sworn in come January, perhaps?

Sure, it'll still be a battle, but given the nonsense Congress was tied up with in persecuting Bill Clinton with in the '90s this path should be a no-brainer -- certainly more of one than waterboarding, Dick.

Here in PA, most of the voting went my way, with Santorum and Weldon ousted by Casey and Sestak, respectively. You can depend upon me to be prodding each of them now that I believe I have representatives who actually come close to representing me.


Blogger SuperFiancee said...

Looking at the NPR chart, I was curious who the 'other' independent winner was. Do you know? And, yeah, Lieberman has gotta be doing the happy dance today. Dems and 'pubs will both be lined up with kneepads.

10:53 AM  
Blogger MJ Norton said...

I can't recall his name, but I believe it was the former Republican who switched to Independent a couple years back as a protest within his party. The way the chart's set up is a little distracting since the "New" header for the second column is simply to refer to a new total, which includes the many whose seats weren't up for a vote this time out.

10:58 AM  
Blogger MJ Norton said...

Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the other independent candidate. It seems that's another person to look into.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike Sawin said...

I'm interested to see that Democrats have won the election, all of the charges of voting fraud have disappeared faster than a campaign promise.

It seems a little funny to me that the election results run one way are "the will of the people" but if it were to have gone the other way, it would have been called "stolen". Just a couple of days ago, "the fix was in".

5:38 PM  
Blogger MJ Norton said...

If the intent is to cause me to think that previous voting results weren't tampered with, good luck. It's not going to work. Just a couple days ago we were worried that the fix was in, because we had little reason to believe the same moves weren't going to be pulled again as they were in the past two elections.

My estimation is that too much heat was turned up and too many of the problems spotlighted to allow the same methods to be applied this time. It's also likely that there were too many leaks in too many little ships in this mid-term to be able to do anything substantial without it being terribly obvious. The war in Iraq has been so disastrous, public sentiment even among the tragically misinformed (I still know people who believe that Saddam had fully-operational WMD programs, that the UN inspections didn't work, that Saddam's government harbored al Qaida operatives and training bases and that he had some hand in 9/11) has eroded to a point that what we've seen this week was too inevitable a force.

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Mike Sawin said...

My intent is to point out that there are people who want it both ways. I do a lot of reading, and the complaints were out there even on election day -- warnings of tampering and fraud and "proof" that Republicans were up to shenigans. Drudge updated with new accusations from all over the country several times in Tuesday. Yet all of that quieted down when the results started coming through.

Frankly, I think the whole lot of the folks in Washington are in it deep up to their elbows in self-serving, criminal crap. I don't care if there is a D or an R in front of their name...I'm sick of the whole thing.

And yeah, I voted. And I no more believe that Democrats are going to make any meaningful changes in the way things are than I do that there is a real difference between Bush, Kerry, Kennedy, or the rest of those guys. They all went to the same schools, belong to the same clubs, take money from the same backers and serve the same taskmaster -- which is the system that gives them literal cradle to grave power, privilege and comfort.

Handsome referenced that tirade about Bush being connected to all kinds eeeeeevil powerbrokers a couple of days ago, but the top Democrats are exactly the same way! It's all a big fat shell game; it's just that the pea is being hid by a different set of hands now.

7:36 PM  
Blogger MJ Norton said...

I don't take any responsibility for various things posted on other blogs concerning more extreme allegations. I understand the money stuffed in a suit/privileged/ivy league/"connected" charges against most candidates that reach the level of being able to take the presidency. It's the message Nader was pushing heavily in 2000. To a degree -- that it generally takes huge amounts of money and influence to successfully take the presidency and that most candidates will eventually sell the people out to corporate/powerful interests carries some weight with me.

However, as I consider Al Gore and John Kerry in contrast to G. W. Bush, I see some substantial differences.

I've never once gotten the subtext from Gore or Kerry that they believe in Biblical prophecies and would even entertain the notion that there are various signs to be watched for to herald the coming of Jesus' return, Armageddon, etc. The moment someone comes across as both an idealogue and one who believes he's been chosen by God to run for office, my alarms go off. That's a dangerously unstable mindset to be hooking up with all this power.

I would much rather deal with a politician who is playing the system than some idealogue who believes he's the hand of God on Earth.

For the first time in an extremely long time I have some elected officials I can communicate with and hold accountable. It will require us to stay on top of important issues and keeping lines of communication open.

Concerning vote tampering and fraud I'm not at all convinced that they haven't gone on in [b]this[/b] election, too. Since the 2004 election we've seen a sudden push by GOP mouthpieces and sympathizers to suddenly declare exit polling to be inaccurate despite such polls being highly reliable up until then and even now in most places. Curiously, the places where the polls suddenly seem to go wild are in areas where the GOP picks up substantial numbers of votes.

That all of this coincides with the emergence of electronic voting machines primarily provided by heavily GOP-connected companies, who insist that the inner workings of their machines are proprietary information, and generally offer no paper trail for verification... is more than suspicious.

Perhaps it would have taken even more extreme tampering to counter the wave of voter dissatisfaction, and that was considered either too risky or it was decided to let it cool off so it would be easier to repeat it in force come 2008.

This should be a post unto itself. I might not get to that for a day or so, though.

9:04 PM  
Blogger MJ Norton said...

Correction: I meant 2002, not 2004, with elements of it go back to 2000.

9:11 PM  
Blogger MJ Norton said...

One more correction (how can it be such a long, grinding week and only be Wednesday night?): I misspelled "ideologue" twice. There are probably other spelling errors, but that one jumped out at me and this is easier than deleting the comment and reposting it in a corrected form.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Mike Sawin said...

Mike, I'm sorry that if I came off antagonistic, because I certainly didn't mean to. I was a bit crabby about other stuff, and I'm afraid that I wasn't as circumspect as I should have been in choosing my words.

But my point is now (and has been for years) that the problems in American politics are systemic in nature, as opposed to issues-based. And i still think it's funny that all of the allegations of voter fraud and machine tampering dissapated as soon as people saw that the vote was going "their" way.

I have come to the point to where I don't believe that any of the people who are running our country truly give one whit about any issue -- if that issue really gets in the way of them grabbing whatever and keeping keeping whatever they have, there isn't a politician out there that will truly risk losing anything.

And why should they? They have carved out for themselves a perpetual niche of power and privilege. No matter where they stand on the war, or abortion, or censorship, or economic justice -- or just pick an issue that is close to you -- the checks still keep coming in, the perks keep piling up, and even the ones who are voted out enjoy a retirement and medical plan that is perfectly okay for them, but would considered "socialism" for you and me.

And the majority of these people are already wealthy; they don't need us to take care of them.

We just keep handing them over money and power in hopes that they will fix all of our problems. But the only thing that is truly fixed is their position of benefitting from the way the system is set up.

And the fact that some of them mouth the stuff that a majority of us might want to hear doesn't excuse them. "Sure, he's a wealthy son from a powerful family educated at the same colleges, belong to the same clubs, take money from the same backers as that other guy who I hate...but at least he cares about gun control!"

My biggest laugh comes from the voters who rant on and on about how replacing one of these guys with another is truly going to change anything.

They are all the same, and they are all invested in keeping things exactly as they are. The wars -- on drugs and on terror -- are a distraction. Follow the money. See who truly benefits in terms of power.

It's all of those guys, and from where I sit, I don't see an R or D any more. I don't see conservative or liberal.

What I see is a bunch of pigs at the trough getting fatter by the moment, fed by me and people like me who are working multiple jobs -- working harder than ever before, but having less to show for it. All the while our government gets bigger, costs more, and siphons more of our personal liberties all the time.

10:54 AM  
Blogger MJ Norton said...

No worries, as it's going to be an emotional issue since we all live under it and are generally left feeling powerless in the face of it.

Points understood, just not wholly agreed with.

The claims of voter fraud haven't gone away, but instead have become less relevant at the moment. Those who are concerned need to express to their representatives that safeguards have to be put in place before the '08 election, at least, preferably within a year. It is important that we make the process as transparent and verifiable as possible; too many people don't vote because they believe it will only be "lost" if it doesn't fit the plans of those in control of the process.

Cynicism is both too easy and a dead end unless one's intent is to become a true revolutionary - be that by violent means or passive ones of civil disobedience.

I cannot subscribe to the idea that these people are all interchangeable. While I'm unsure what Kerry would have been able to do at that late date, I don't believe that had Gore been sworn into office that we would have forces occupying Iraq today.

I do not believe that a Gore or Kerry nominee for the Supreme Court would be the same as the Bush nominees. I also don't believe that the Bush nominees would stood the same chance in a Democratically-controlled congress as they did under a GOP-controlled one.

I don't believe that under a different mix of people and different leadership we would have become the new nazis on the world stage, with secret prisons and routine programs of torture -- worse, ones who defend the programs once they're revealed as "no brainer" moves, adopting a mode that it's better to indefinitely imprison and torture dozens or hundreds of people on the chance that one of them might have important information to spill.

Moreover, we can't simply look at the people vying for the top office in the land, since by that point they're generally as deeply mired in the web of power as one can become. Trying to connect with them at that late point is choosing the worst point to do so.

We have to choose our candidates, preferably at first at lower levels of office and keep with - and keep after them - as they move up the chain and become more deeply mired in the web of power.

As you know, we don't live in a democracy, we live in a democratic republic. If we simply elect people and then don't monitor their actions and hold them accountable then part of the fault for what happens is ours. It's going to be a tough slate of work, and I know I'm not going to be be up to it all the time and able to stay on top of it, but I'm going to give it a good shot as Casey replaces Santorum, Sestak replaces Weldon, Murphy replaces Fitzpatrick, etc.

I have to at least try.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Mike Sawin said...

You're right about Gore. He wouldn't have taken us to war against Iraq. But he would have found a nice big misdirection to keep our eyes -- and votes -- busy while he and others like him help themselves to another helping at the taxpayer-fueled buffet.

I'm not saying that in terms of issues these guys are interchangeable. I'm saying that they benefit no matter what the issues are because the system feeds them.

I'm not as much cynical as I am tired; I sometimes forget the words of Dorothy Day (one of my heroes -- right up there with Captain America and Andrew Vachss) "We have to build a new society within the shell of the old."

I love this country -- at least the country that I was brought up to believe in. But I have been aware for a long time (like since I was in high school) of the excesses and abuses we have committed.

The secret prisons, the torture and the rest of the crap that has come to be common knowledge has been whispered about in polite company for decades. But there are people who have been yelling and screaming about all of this stuff from the fringes of society for just as long.

Bush isn't the problem; he's a symptom. None of this stuff originated with Ronald Reagan or any one leader; it's been part and parcel of how mankind has operated since time began. And the charges of American crap goes back at least to the first half of the twentieth century.

I just want to believe that we are better than we are...and it still pains me when I realize that we're just as bad as anyone else.

12:52 PM  
Blogger SuperFiancee said...

...I know I'm not going to be be up to it all the time and able to stay on top of it, but I'm going to give it a good shot...I have to at least try.

That's what it's all about. To expect less is to throw up one's hands in disgust and head for a cave.

I'm not ready to do that, either. So we try. And we try, again, if it didn't work the first time. And, if we have to try fifty times, that's what we do. Maybe it'll never work. But if we keep tweaking, maybe it'll work for our kids. or our grandkids.

The allure of the corruption is strong, and when most of them start as lawyers and successful businessmen, it's not hard to understand that morality is not exactly overflowing when they get to DC. Maybe reminding them who they work for is all we can do.

But I'll take that over the cave. At least for now.

2:15 PM  

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