Election Thoughts, 2010

Because I busied myself with revamping the site last night, I went to sleep blissfully unaware of the election results, and then woke up, refreshed, to deal with what went down. Here are some early thoughts.

* It’s not Blue America or Red America, it’s Orange America! Yes, my representative, John Boehner, America’s Tallest Oompa-Loompa, is now the presumptive Speaker of the House. As I’ve noted before, I don’t think the circumstances that allow for his speakership are such a good thing, but that said, it’s certainly not bad for my district. I think prior to last night there was some discussion as to whether or not Boehner was actually the slam-dunk favorite for the Speaker position, but I imagine that winning the largest House swing in, what? 62 years? means that the guy in charge of the GOP in the House will see some benefit from that. Boehner also quite obviously won my district, and by the usual amount, about 66% to 30%. Sorry, Justin Coussoule. You know I voted for you, man.

Elsewhere in Ohio, it was a GOP night as well, with GOPers taking the big state positions as well as our Senate seat that was up for election this year. It’s a mirror image of the result in 2006, and the GOPers elected here by and large qualify as mostly moderate (as did the Democrats four years ago), so I think this is less about Ohio being hugely blue or red and mostly about it being the bruised purple it’s been since I’ve been here.

* As for the GOP tsunami in the House, well. It’s not what I wanted. You might recall that in 2006, when the Democrats took the House, I said that I felt the US had taken a sanity pill; right now I think the US might have gone off its meds. The GOP, its practices and its brain trust haven’t really changed between now and then; it’s the same intellectually dim bunch who led the economy and country into a wall during the 00′s. Insanity is often defined as doing the same thing and expecting different results, so congratulations, folks, we’ve gone a little nuts here.

Inasmuch as the GOP political strategy of mendacious loudness paid off in spades last night, I don’t really expect anything else out of them except more of the same for the next two years at least. We will see how well that strategy works in the long term, but obviously at this point there’s no reason for them not to keep doing it.

* But as I’ve noted before, the GOP may have put a gun to the head of the Democratic majority in the house, but it’s the Democrats who said, “dude, you’re holding it wrong,” jammed the gun into their own temple, and then pulled the trigger. The most accurate word I have for my feelings about the Democrats right now is disgust; disgust that they could get elected on a platform of substantial change, execute on many of the changes they campaigned on, and then allow the GOP and its allies to turn those actions in liabilities — well, again, disgust is not too strong a word.

Dear Democrats: You managed to lose the House in historic proportions to a party whose strategy was to harness the inchoate anger of old white people so stupid that they don’t sense the inherent contradiction of screaming about a smaller government whilst cashing their federal checks. You are morons. Please find someone who can play this game and put them in charge of your electoral strategy, because what you’re doing now isn’t working. Also, henceforth, every time you whine about Fox News and shadowy financiers of the Tea Party, we get to beat you with a hammer. This is the political landscape now. Deal with it.

* Ironically, the Democrats might have lost the Senate too, if not for Sarah Palin, who used her appallingly not-inconsiderable political weight to back the vaguely-insane candidates Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell in races that might otherwise have easily gone GOP with more mainstream, non-insane candidates. At this writing, the Democrats have 51 seats in the Senate, but they could have had 49, and it’s fair to say that it’s not so much that the Democrats held the Senate — the Democrats didn’t hold a damn thing last night — than Palin lost it for the GOP. This naturally suits me just fine. Dear GOP: Please keep using Sarah Palin for everything.

* For everyone exulting/panicking that this means Obama’s a one-termer: After last night, do we really need to be reminded that two years is a very long time in politics? Let’s also recall how horrible the 1994 mid-term elections were for Clinton’s re-election chances in 1996, i.e., not really at all, thanks for asking. So please, tamp down the freaking out or gleeful rubbing of hands together, depending on your political inclinations. Let the future take care of itself, and let’s focus on the now.

That said, now quite obviously isn’t good for Obama, and once again I think the fault for that lies less with Obama than it does with the Democrats in the House and Senate, for the reasons noted above. This isn’t to absolve him of blame, mind you; his held-in reserve, non-losing-his-mindness demeanor suits me fine but I think the rest of the country would probably like to see him more worked up, and in the end he really should have ridden herd on the Democrats a lot harder than he did, and punished every one of them who wandered off the ranch. And now he gets to deal with it for the next two years, at least.

* The good news for people philosophically aligned to Obama’s plans is that a) he did have those first two years, in which despite everything he managed to get quite a lot done, and b) thanks to Sarah Palin, the Democrats have kept the Senate, so what we’ve got here is a divided government.  This means that the things already passed on Obama’s agenda aren’t going to go away (although their funding might, which is a not inconsiderable thing) and that assuming as I will the GOP isn’t suddenly going to transform itself into a pragmatic and moderate party willing to work with Democrats and the President, the House Republicans are going to see lots and lots of stuff die in the Senate.

The bad news for people philosophically aligned to Obama’s plans is that, well, you’ve had your fun now, haven’t you. The House is dead to you as of January, and it won’t be the quiet sort of dead; no, it will be a “fast zombie” sort of dead, the kind that rushes you and wants to feast on your brain while ripping open your guts. Enjoy that.

* Contrariwise, the good news for people philosophically aligned against Obama’s plans is that a) divided government means the president’s legislative agenda comes to a grinding halt, b) the GOP has two years (at least) to make its case that they are better stewards of government than Obama and his crew.

The bad news here for you is that the GOP this time around wasn’t elected because of its legislative philosophy, it was elected by a bunch of folks screaming “do something” without particularly well enunciating what it is they want done, except possibly thwarting Obama. However, Obama, who is not stupid, will likely shift his focus to administrative implementations of his agenda, and while the House may howl at this, any attempt to stop him is likely to get spiked in the Senate, or vetoed. So not only will the GOP not be thwarting Obama on many significant things, it also won’t be able to do much of anything legislatively, either. And it will be interesting to see how that plays out in the next couple of years, and in the 2012 election.

All of which is to say it will be an interesting time for everyone. Just what we all wanted.

* And you may ask, that’s all very interesting, John, but what does the election mean for you? Well, I’m touched at your concern and I’m glad you asked. One, as I noted, my Representative is very likely to be the next Speaker of the House, and that’s probably excellent for my district, and so naturally I’ll benefit from that. Two, as most of you know, I am white, male, heterosexually-paired and well-off, which means of course that the GOP has totally got my back.

So while I am philosophically not aligned with the real-world aims and goals of the Republican party at this time, on a direct and personal level, the short-term effect on me is either neutral or mildly positive. So thanks for your concern, I’m fine. It’s folks not like me who might be twitchy. And oddly enough, most people aren’t the whole package of white, male, heterosexually-paired and well-off. I’m puzzled that enough of you keep looking out for me, even when I really don’t want or need the help. Really, folks, I and people like me are fine. Take care of yourselves, please.

199 thoughts on “Election Thoughts, 2010

  1. As we all know, political threads can be contentious, particularly right after an election, when some of you may be sore or alternately in the mood to gloat. So this is just me reminding you to be polite to each other in the thread. Otherwise the Mallet of Loving Correction will be pleased to make your acquaintance.

    Aside from that, please feel free to be venty, or gloaty, depending. It’s that sort of day. I’ll pop up and lead you back in if I feel you’re going a bit overboard.

  2. Being from Florida (you know, the place where old white folks from everywhere else tend to retire to and vote Republican) and having to put up with listening to Democrats who pretty much got wiped off the map last night to ultra-conservative Tea Partiers claim that they DIDN’T really like the President and his agenda all that much during their now-failed campaigns, I’ve got to agree with you that the Democrats helped the Republicans aim the gun and pull the trigger. I don’t really think last night was a victory for the Republican Party (much to John of Orange’s dismay in the future, I suspect) as it much as it was for the uber-rich, secretive corporate types and political insiders who managed to bamboozle a lot of people who thought they were voting to “take the country back”; well, they succeeded, because it looks like we’re going back about ninety years, to the post-WWI era of “normalcy”, as that fine President, Warren G. Harding said. Getting Rand Paul and some of the other Tea Parties to play nice will be like herding cats for the GOP leadership. Have fun, guys!

  3. Sigh. Not completely unexpected, but it was still a bit of a disheartening election night. I suppose, now that the GOP has control of the House, they *have* to do something other than shout “No No No No”, right? ….. Right?

    I agree with the thoughts regarding Sarah Palin – the argument can be made (and will be made) that she cost the GOP the Senate with her endorsement of crazy people. Of course, the fact that her endorsements made such a difference in the GOP primaries is something I find really disconcerting, but then I’m not really her target demographic.

  4. I think Rubio said it well when he pointed out that all this means is that Republicans have a second chance.

    I also think Frank Fleming did a good job of putting it in perspective. In 2006 Republican fiscal irresponsibility was as annoying as a neighbors dog that barks all damn night so people voted to get rid of that dog. And what they got was the Zombie Apocalypse. So last night they voted to get rid of that thinking that the the worst that could happen is they get the barking dog back.

    But regardless, after a while they’ll still want that dog to stop barking.

    I have no problem with replacing the whole damn Congress every two years until we finally get people who act like adults.

    Republicans are on probation at best.

    The question is, will anyone trust Democrats again anytime soon?

  5. “The House is dead to you as of January, and it won’t be the quiet sort of dead; no, it will be a “fast zombie” sort of dead, the kind that rushes you and wants to feast on your brain while ripping open your guts. Enjoy that.”

    Some damn fine writing right there, Mr Scalzi, and I don’t say that lightly…

  6. In 2006 Republican fiscal irresponsibility was as annoying as a neighbors dog that barks all damn night so people voted to get rid of that dog. And what they got was the Zombie Apocalypse. So last night they voted to get rid of that thinking that the the worst that could happen is they get the barking dog back.

    B-frackin’-S. It was the 2000-2004 Republican majorities in Congress and friendly White House that passed the financial deregulations that led to both the housing and financial crises, and it was the same guys who authorized the tax cuts on the rich that are such a big problem right now. These exact same guys have almost unilaterally voted against any sort of housing regulations, financial reform, or reinstatement of valid taxes on the rich. And yet you claim they were the annoying barking dogs as opposed to the lethal zombies? Give us all a break and stop quoting PajamasMedia, which is made up of or sympathetic to the worst of the Sarah Palin/Mark Levin/Michelle Malkin/etc know-nothings who spent 8 years lavishing praise on people like Tom DeLay.

  7. “mendacious loudness”

    I like that. Also, nice metaphor with the gun-to-the-head thing. So true.

    Unfortunately, it reminds me a lot of the 1980s when the Democratic Party was made up of well-intentioned, but incompetent handwringers. See, not much different, is it?

    Really, I’m totally a Democrat, but their inability to capitalize or even communicate their own success just grabs my gag reflex.

  8. What I find most interesting, looking at my state’s results, are the votes for judges. I don’t mean trial-level judges, but appellate court judges, few, if any, whom had anything to do with any high-profile decisions that the average voter would be aware of. My state doesn’t actually have contested elections for these judges but requires the voters to yes/no whether they should continue in office.
    At least a quarter of the voters, for each judge, voted no.
    Now, probably a sliver of those no voters are lawyers who don’t like those particular judges, but I find it very hard to believe that around 25% of California voters thought “I really disagree with Justice Cantiil-Sakauye’s approach to federalism and unfortunately her opinions on Pitchess motions render her unfit for the bench.” No, I’m guessing it was a reflexive, throw-the-bums-out, negativity that led most of those people to check the no box.
    We get this every so often. Things aren’t working now, so clearly what we need is to fill government with a lot of people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing, because that will show the guys who are already in office.

  9. I think Rubio said it well when he pointed out that all this means is that Republicans have a second chance.

    I’d agree with this if the Republicans had given any indication that they had actually adjusted their approach; e.g. they would not be cutting taxes while increasing spending in practice while rhetorically shouting about small government. Given the Republican budget plan from the leadership (not Paul Ryan’s, which has its own issues but some merit) a while back (and their demagoguery about the Medicare Advantage cuts in the healthcare bill), they haven’t; any budget that simultaneously insists on tax reductions and not touching Medicare, Social Security, and Defense spending isn’t a serious budget proposal.

    So it’s not so much proved Republicans have a second chance as Republicans have unlimited chances and never actually have to deal with this whole budget thing.

    Also, the economy sucks. Which is a bigger factor than anything the Democrats have actually done; the “Republicans are winning because the Democrats suck more” idea runs into the problem that the electorate that just delivered a Republican landslide still has a higher opinion of the Democrats than the Republicans.

  10. As a Wisconsinite I’m terribly upset at Feingold losing his seat to Tea Party whackjob Ron Johnson. Here is a Senator who stood alone against the obviously unconstitutional Patriot Act while his fellow Dems clucked like chickens. He’s done a ton for this state, and was one of the most reasonable and sane voices in congress.

    Also, we now have Governor Walker. A man best known for a tenure as Milwaukee County Exec that was marked by literal bridge and parking structure collapses due to poor maintenance. Hey guess what, if you slash government services and spending past the bone, bad things happen!

  11. strech @10

    So it’s not so much proved Republicans have a second chance as Republicans have unlimited chances and never actually have to deal with this whole budget thing.

    Perhaps you have forgotten that the balanced budget and “surpluses” that Clinton always gets credit for was the result of the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress; of course with Clinton’s help.

    However, I agree that

    any budget that simultaneously insists on tax reductions and not touching Medicare, Social Security, and Defense spending isn’t a serious budget proposal.

    But there’s more than that because now we’ve added all the new spending in health care as well as the fact that we have to pay for the stimulus.

    Luckily, not all of the stimulus money has been spent so it may be best not spend what isn’t spent. So that’s one thing. And perhaps they’ll now be able to implement some of their health care ideas like allowing policies to be sold across state lines.

    But ultimately “Medicare, Social Security, and Defense spending” do have to be tackled and there will have to be cuts in the public sector because every employee ( and their associated benefits and retirement packages) are a liability on the government books which adds to the debt.

    And public sector pay has to be brought in line with private sector pay because right now the average salary of a public sector federal employee is a way above their equivalent in the private sector.

    And its pretty clear you simply can not expect Democrats to deal with public sector unions for obvious reasons but Republicans will have to if they want to live up to fiscal conservative expectations.

    So there are opportunities and historical precedent that Republicans can do this.

    We’ll just have to see if they do…

  12. You hit all the key points.
    -disgust at democrats who run screaming from victory
    -dissapointment that republican screaming was so effective
    -things shall stay as they are

    Of course, we could be utterly wrong. We could be entering a new golden age of bipartisan cooperation. A time of nuanced discussion and reasonable debate. Senators will burn the midnight oil to dissect the talking points and find the details that everyone can agree on. Hyperbole will be met with disdain and the foamy-mouthed lunatics will be excused from polite discourse and we’ll reach a new Utopia with efficiently run government providing excellent value for tax dollar, nominal unemployment, and secure infrastructure.

    I want a pony.

  13. And public sector pay has to be brought in line with private sector pay because right now the average salary of a public sector federal employee is a way above their equivalent in the private sector.

    Pretending that’s completely accurate for the moment, sounds like your beef is that the private sector needs to cowboy up and pay its people more, yes?

    Until defense, Medicare and Social Security spending are tackled, it’s a waste of time and a deliberate distraction to talk about cutting elsewhere.

  14. Sanity pill and off meds? Clearly not. I think that America woke up from the fantasy dream that Obama sold them. Two years, Trillion plus further in debt, nothing any better and nothing to show for it. Government corruption still the norm, politics as usual (No Change) and the Dems feeling they can do whatever they want without listening to the people.
    Big plus is that we will not have to endure looking at or listening to Pelosi anymore!

  15. Could we, at least, agree to work from reality in these discussions and not from ideology? I think that’s helpful.

    (Note that I have my own ideological blinders, but I’m open, if something grudgingly [heh] to correction. Could we agree to that around here?)

  16. Ben #13: Your comment reminds me of the really ancient SNL skits with Steve Martin as eithier “Theodoric, the Medieval Judge” or “Theodoric, the Medival Doctor” who, as he is getting ready to maim or kill someone with primitive medical procedures or throw an accused witch into a river to see if she floats (and is, therefore, a witch) or sinks and drowns (yea! She was really innocent!) and then gets that moment of reflection where maybe we could try a jury by one’s peers or look to the modern scientific method to treat disease….NAHHHH!

    Which is EXACTLY what our new RepubliTeaParty majority in many states and in the House of Representatives will be saying when we ask them to work towards compromise and civility…NAHHHHHH!

  17. Luckily, not all of the stimulus money has been spent so it may be best not spend what isn’t spent.

    Hm. I think that is exactly the direction the country will take. But I think it’s exactly the wrong direction.

    Demand is not in the private sector. If left to itself, there’s a real danger of negative feedback leading to deflation. You do not want deflation.

  18. Gwangung:

    “Could we, at least, agree to work from reality in these discussions and not from ideology? I think that’s helpful.”

    One of the things I’ve been taking to doing recently is reminding people that Republicans and Democrats aren’t football teams, and mindlessly cheering either’s gains as if they made a touchdown is more than a little silly.

  19. Republican? Democrat? Does it really matter who gets elected?? I mean, really, they are ALL owned by the special interests\ lobbyists\corporations and don’t represent US in any way…. we’re just living in the illusion of a democracy…. the two party system is killing this country…just sayin’

  20. I would like to hear from some republicans/tea-partiers what they think is going to happen now that republicans control the house and contrast that with what they want to see happen. Please be specific. Saying “Reduce Spending” is not specific.

  21. Perhaps you have forgotten that the balanced budget and “surpluses” that Clinton always gets credit for was the result of the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress; of course with Clinton’s help.

    I agree that Republicans worked to balance the budget in the past; but they’ve given no indication they will do so this time. And they way they ran – promising not to touch entitlements or taxes – is incompatible with doing so in practice. And Boehner has *already* abdicated actually doing anything about the problem:

    While our new majority will serve as your voice in the people’s House, we must remember it is the president who sets the agenda for our government.

    Sounds like another 2 years as the party of “No”, followed by another round of popular rhetoric about protecting entitlement programs while cutting taxes and talking about budget balancing and smaller government. All of these positions poll >50% even though they’re largely mutually exclusive. And they just got a bunch of Republicans elected despite Republican profligacy in recent memory. So they work, and they avoid the risk of passing an unpopular entitlement cut.

    I hope I’m wrong and Republicans tackle the budget as a different bunch of Republicans did when sharing power in the past. I just see no sign I’m wrong about this batch of Republicans.

    And you’re right about the pensions and the public sector union influence on them. Let’s see how the train wreck in California sorts out.

    But there’s more than that because now we’ve added all the new spending in health care as well as the fact that we have to pay for the stimulus.

    Most of the stimulus money has been spent, for better or worse. And the healthcare bill can remain mostly paid-for if Congress resists the urge to repeal all the unpopular (revenue-generating/cost-reducing) parts such as the mandate, the Medicare Payment limits, and the Med Advantage cuts while keeping the popular (expensive) parts, although some of it (such as the increased small business reporting / tax requirements for purchases above $600) do really need to go.

  22. “”[T]he GOP may have put a gun to the head of the Democratic majority in the house, but it’s the Democrats who said, ‘dude, you’re holding it wrong,’ jammed the gun into their own temple, and then pulled the trigger.”

    John, if you ever want to get gay married I’m totally your guy. File that away, just in case.

  23. Frank@12:
    “And public sector pay has to be brought in line with private sector pay because right now the average salary of a public sector federal employee is a way above their equivalent in the private sector.”

    Flat wrong. Factually, completely, totally incorrect. Falls into the catagory of “you get to have your own opinions but you don’t get to make up your own facts”.

    The average federal salay is indeed higher than the average private sector salary–because the federal government doesn’t hire for minimum-wage retail, landscaping, mini-mart attendant, and similar jobs. When yo do compare occupation by occupation–rocket scientist, lawyer, financial analyst, plumber, electrician, aircraft mechanic, VA hospital nurse, program manager, take your pick–federal occupations almost always pay less than the priivate sector does. There are a few exceptions (I’ll let you dig them up for your own education) but by and large federal salaries as measured by occupation using any approach you want–mean, median, or mode–lag the private sector.

    Historically, federal careers were attractive because the evil big government provided good benefits. As the private sector has done away with those–Meaningful retirement plans? Gone. Sick leave and vacation? Gone. Full-time employment? Being replaced by a combination of temps/freelancers/part-timers. Medical care? somewhere between going and gone–federal benefits, without changing, have become markedly better than the private sector.

  24. Perhaps you have forgotten that the balanced budget and “surpluses” that Clinton always gets credit for was the result of the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress; of course with Clinton’s help.

    Wrong. First of all, BBA was in the 1996 Congress, but in any case, the deficit had already started falling in 1990, mainly due to the deficit reduction laws passed by Democrats and signed off on by Bush I (for which he is still hated). The “surplus” didn’t magically appear, it was an extension of an already-existing trend that started before 1994.

    But there’s more than that because now we’ve added all the new spending in health care as well as the fact that we have to pay for the stimulus.

    First of all, ACA is mainly deficit-neutral (as was the BBA, for that matter), and most financial pulls don’t even start until 2014. Second of all, the stimulus has proven to be effective at providing a staunching of blood from job losses, just not as much as predicted. It’s quite telling that many Republicans who yell about it turn around and ask for that same money.

    And its pretty clear you simply can not expect Democrats to deal with public sector unions for obvious reasons but Republicans will have to if they want to live up to fiscal conservative expectations.

    So there are opportunities and historical precedent that Republicans can do this.

    Really? What are these precedents? What Republican lawmakers have actually proposed this? Because your claim has no merit if nothing’s actually been proposed.

  25. mythago @14

    Until defense, Medicare and Social Security spending are tackled, it’s a waste of time and a deliberate distraction to talk about cutting elsewhere.

    See? We agree.

    But what what was the majority’s thoughts on this? What I heard was that Social Security was self-funded. What I heard was: Hey let’s expand Medicare to every human that washes upon our shores. That’s what I heard from the former majority.

    And what I also heard during the election was whenever a Republican candidate attempted to bring this up, their opponent would brand them as a dangerous extremist.

    sounds like your beef is that the private sector needs to cowboy up and pay its people more, yes?

    Um….no.

    Government doesn’t have to make a profit which is the ultimate underlying cause of government waste. These types of pay and benefit packages done in a fiscal vacuum.

    In terms of a macro business environment, people have to realize that the cost of government is essentially overhead: it is not direct labor (i.e. labor that is directly value added).

    And if we the people are watching our pennies, we have to be very careful about controlling our overhead costs. Just like any business that hopes to survive to pay wages and produce wealth.

    The overhead sector of a business never is the part of the business that produces wealth and value.

  26. I saw someone make the point prior to the election concerning the probably Republican gains that it might actually help the Democrats in 2012 to have a more recent boogeyman to run against. Now the classic “do nothing Congress” line can be trotted out. When everything isn’t rainbows and unicorns, Democrats can say “Well, if the Republican obstructionists hadn’t been wasting everyone’s time in the House, we could have made the world a better place!” Who knows if voters will actually buy that sort of stuff again.

    But that might have been just looking for a silver lining.

    The election results were disappointing for me (a lot of races in Michigan went Republican – more than seems usual to my untrained memory). But I’ll agree that the Democrats we have had in Congress haven’t exactly been all that grand.

    I also wonder just how much of the big shift was due to taking the reins off of corporate election spending? I really, really fear just how many absurd political ads we will have to put up with in… ug… just over a year. Because you all know they will keep starting earlier and earlier, just like the stores with Christmas decorations up with the “Back to School” sales.

  27. Also, for anyone who thinks Republicans are going to be “serious” about the economy, I should note that the new chairman of the Energy Committee is none other than Joe “I would like to apologize to BP” Barton and the chairman of the House Oversight Committee is Darrell “I only care about impeaching Obama now” Issa.

  28. In the end, I think that this election boils down to one thing: In times of 10%(+) unemployment, you got to focus on the economy. That I think should be the message to the Dems.

    The rest of the post, I absolutely agree.

  29. The greatest reduction in spending I would love to see is a reduction in our foreign wars. I listened to a Republican spokesman this morning talking about “burying our children in debt”. I worry about that too, but I’m even more worried about burying our children. The Iraq war was stupid from the start. I worry about more neocons in the government making the same kind of mistakes again.

  30. I don’t know what to feel, frankly. Certainly, the democrats seem to be as poor at winning as they were at losing. I take heart that the exit polls show that most people weren’t voting for certain candidates so much as voting to ‘throw-the-bum-out’. But the people who’ve been voted in seem to have no desire to actually fix things, just throw empty platitudes towards audiences eager to believe that change will come. Both sides ran ugly, ugly campaigns that upset and embarrass me and should embarrass them.

    I understand why people are upset. Preventing a financial meltdown isn’t the same as fixing the economy. Preventing unemployment from reaching 11% is not the same as lowering it back to 6%. Houses are being foreclosed upon…things are Not Great. But it seems like the Republican candidates that have been voted in have no greater platform than ‘we’ll fix Washington’ in some vague way. Which appears to mean ‘I’ll oppose whatever the president does, since you probably don’t like him right now’. How that will get the housing market fixed, the economy improved or guarantee my personal freedoms (something the Republican party has worked very hard to erode in the past 10 years and the Democratic party hasn’t even bothered to safeguard)….well, I’m not seeing a link, there.

    It’s just frustrating that the best result we can hope for is a repeat of 2006′s ‘well, we can limit the damage he does’ approach to governance (which wasn’t great then, it’s not great now). The few Republicans I would have voted for were bumped in favor of Tea Party candidates, not-quite-so-adamant-about-masturbation-prevention republicans or Democrats of questionable ethics. It just makes me TIRED.

  31. But what what was the majority’s thoughts on this? What I heard was that Social Security was self-funded. What I heard was: Hey let’s expand Medicare to every human that washes upon our shores. That’s what I heard from the former majority.

    Wow, you can’t even try to tell the truth. HCR was about expanding decent health care to those Americans who couldn’t afford it. That’s, you know, most people. If you’ve got proof that the insurance companies were working to expand health services to people, be my guest.

    And what I also heard during the election was whenever a Republican candidate attempted to bring this up, their opponent would brand them as a dangerous extremist.

    Again, where’s the proof? I recall exactly one Congressman–who lost last night–who made this claim. And of course, it was Republicans burning and/or hanging effigies, calling people “socialist,” bringing guns to rallies, and trying to sabotage gas lines to the houses of Democratic Congressmen and their families.

    Sounds like you “heard” all of this on Fox News.

  32. I’m also disgusted with the Democrats for not standing up for the accomplishments of the last two years. But I don’t think changing the messaging would have helped. The people that voted the Republicans into office yesterday aren’t interested in facts, analysis, or reasoned argument.

    The Dems came into power in 2008 with a ton of political capital. They could have hoarded it to minimize their losses in this election. Instead, they spent it on things the people who voted them in wanted: health care reform, financial reform, economic stimulus. In doing that, they pissed off a lot of entrenched interests that knew how to work the existing system to their advantage and made a lot of voters anxious about change. That reaction was evident yesterday.

    House Republicans will now take a few halfhearted swings at repealing things to mollify the conservative base. The next couple of years will be a legislative stalemate like John says, and the Obama administration will spend its energy making the legislation of the past couple of years the new status quo. There’s nothing Congress does better than protect the status quo, so a few years from now the same people who were screaming about socialized medicine and death panels will be staunchly defending your access to health care and likely pretending it was their idea in the first place.

    As a center-left Democrat, I take some comfort today because I think yesterday’s thumping wasn’t a sign of failure, but a signal and a natural consequence of legislative success.

    (I’m curious whether stuff we take for granted today – social security, medicare, unemployment benefits, the EPA – were seen as good things in the political moment of the time, or as the end of the world as we know it. I don’t know enough of the history, maybe someone can enlighten me).

  33. “The overhead sector of a business never is the part of the business that produces wealth and value.”

    Yet still you need it – without OH the whole business falls apart. And the bigger the business, the worse the OH ratio. There is probably an optimum somewhere, although that is obscured by all the opportunities for charlie foxtrots in any system.

    The USA has a relatively low “OH rate” for a first world nation, despite a relatively huge percentage of military spending. Perhaps it is too low for optimum efficiency. Evidence is ambiguous, although I will note that all of my life I have been told that the Euro social democracies were going to implode economically under the weight of their bloated social welfare programs any time now.

    Still waiting. OK, Greece. OTOH, Germany.

    On the third hand, what nation is the biggest threat to America’s economic hegemony in the immediate future? Right, the PRC. (To be fair, I am not sure what to call their system.)

  34. Never underestimate the ability of Democrats, politicians and voters alike, to shoot themselves in the foot. Witness the behavior of some in the NY state senate when their party finally regained control in 2008. (It depresses and disgusts me too much to go into detail here; just do a search for “New York Senate” and “gang of three.”) And of course the flabbergasting inability of many (if not most) of them to counter what John brilliantly termed “mendacious loudness.”

    I expect the Democratic majority in the US senate will mean less than it should, and not just because of the need to reach a super majority for bill passage (and how did that get to be The Thing, anyway?); there’s going to be a powerful temptation to let self-interest trump principle and scurry to the right.

    I don’t want to hear one word of complaint for the next two years from anyone who didn’t vote.

  35. What I’m afraid is that the GOP has learned that doing nothing and obstructing allows them to blame Obama for not fixing everything. So now they’ll just do the same thing, but even more effectively because they have the House. They might even go back to the old playbook, and impeach Obama. That’d keep him from getting anything done.

    The only hope is that the Dems change the Senate rules to allow that old-fashioned majority rules, and eliminate the filibuster. But I think they’re afraid to do that, both out of fear of political blowback and worrying about what happens if they then lose the Senate.

    Hope I’m wrong, but it looks like the next two years will be even more frustrating than the last two.

  36. martin on @34
    You almost wonder if the people who get antsy about medicare and HCR also pick fights with Denny’s Managers over the seniors’ discounts.

    One feature that seems consistent for alot of the “old white people” is that they get strangely defensive when asked if they are going to surrender their own government benefits. They usually hem and haw and make excuses like “Well, I’ve been paying into it for a long time so I should get what I paid for, but younger folks should do something else” or “I have a government job with benefits, but it’s ok cause I don’t get paid alot.”
    “Keep the government off my medicare” is not a joke. A non trivial percentage of these folks really believe it.

  37. Here’s what I feel (from California): I’ve just spent way too much volunteer time trying to keep a massive, multinational solar plant from trashing a very nice piece of desert. It’s so nice that, as predicted, someone filed suit to stop the plant November 2nd, as soon as it wouldn’t hurt the dems in the polls.

    This is lesson #1 billion on how money does not buy intelligent actions. In 2008, a lot of us voted for solar cells on our roofs, not multinational boondoggles in the desert in the name of green energy. But we got the later, thanks to the democrats in Washington.

    Oh yeah, and in California, it just got harder for the state to raise money. Wonderful. More service cuts, thanks to all the morons. Note to anyone not in California: Feel free to mock our politics. We really do deserve it. And by the way, pay special attention to lampooning California voters. That’s who is really causing the mess. Not whoever is up in Sacramento.

    As for the Tea Party: remember the Summer of Love, 1969? Remember how it ended? (hint: google Manson and Helter-Skelter). Right now, I’m waiting for the atrocity that will scare the momentum out of the Tea Party. Grim thought, but kooks and guns are a bad combination, no matter what politics are involved. Stay safe, everyone.

  38. California survived the elections with a fair amount of success to my mind. Marijuana legalization didn’t pass, but an amendment to allow the state budget to be approved by a minority did. In addition, the electorate clearly saw through Proposition 23, an attempt by out-of-state oil companies to circumvent California’s anti-pollution laws.

  39. Cribbing from Andrew Sullivan, one immediate consequence is <a href="Link text “>hearings on the scientific fraud of global warming. Oh dear.

    Add another reason why I’m glad I came to Toronto for grad school…

  40. Also, henceforth, every time you whine about Fox News and shadowy financiers of the Tea Party, we get to beat you with a hammer.

    Yeah, you’re right but the Koch Brothers have been putting much of their billions behind the Tea Party while the Democrats really only have George Soros. I’m personally worried about my own state and our new Gov. Paul “Bullshit” LePage.

  41. Cursorial @ 33 – My understanding is that Roosevelt had (consecutive) massive great stonking majorities when he pushed though the New Deal. Like you, I don’t know enough of the history to know why that big outlay of govt money remained popular enough to maintain his majorities, whereas the recent Obama initiatives haven’t. Because, certainly, the New Deal was a considerably larger expansion of government than the Democrats’ moves of the past 2 years have been. Possibly the difference is that the Republicans in Roosevelts time weren’t defined by being utterly nihilistic, and the Democrats weren’t actually afraid of their own policy platform? Which is to say – what Scalzi said.

  42. ben @37

    Yeah, it always seems to be “wasteful government spending” = “money spent on other people”. I don’t think I have ever heard people claim government money spent on them was a waste.

    I read a funny article in Rolling Stone (or maybe Salon, but that site usually annoys me, so probably not) where the reporter was attending a Tea Party rally and commented on the irony that it was almost entirely white senior citizens railing against government spending while sitting on their Medicare funded scooters.

  43. Eddie C@45: I am in the middle of a Roosevelt biography so it is fresh in my mind: In Roosevelt’s first term, the Democrats had something like 70% of the senate at a time before you even needed 60% to get things to the floor. Roosevelt could completely ignore the opposing party and all his negotiations were with more conservative members of his own party.

  44. Two, as most of you know, I am white, male, heterosexually-paired and well-off, which means of course that the GOP has totally got my back.

    With social conservatives like Sarah Palin, you would need to add “Christian” and replace “paired” with “married”.

  45. Keep in mind, John, that 51 includes 2 independents who currently caucus with the Democrats. If the Republicans can get them to caucus on the other side, they get the majority (but they need both, with only 1, VP Biden becomes the deciding vote).

  46. I don’t think either is going to switch over. They have more power where they are. And of course the thought of Bernie Sanders caucusing with the GOP is enough to make one’s brain stem pop.

  47. @ Steve Burnap – I know, but the thing is he KEPT that majority in his 2nd term, too. In both the house and the senate. Obama didn’t keep it even half a term! (and is the bio any good? was always curious to know more about Roosevelt)

  48. There are still three Senate races yet to be declared, with Bennet in CO and Murray in WA likely victors. That would give us 51 Dem senators, 47 Rep senators, and two Independents. (Or, possibly 46 Rep and 3 Ind.)

    (Alaska has to count all their write-in votes before they know whether Murkowski beat Miller. Murkowski has already announced she’ll caucus with the Republicans, though.)

  49. I’m not best pleased with most of the results in Ohio in general, but I am pleased by 1 result locally, and that’s the fact that Rich “I Like To Play Nazi Dress-Up” Iott got his ass handed to him by Marcy Kaptur.

  50. Frank @26: what I heard was “cut my taxes but keep my entitlements – no, not the other guy’s, you can cut those, just keep mine”. I really don’t know where you’re getting the ‘dangerous extremist’ thing, And I live in California, which is not a state whose motto is “Say Nice Things About Republicans.”

    The GOP plan is to cut everything except popular programs like Medicare.This is the equivalent of saying “Honey, I’ve decided to give up my immoral, selfish ways and become a better husband. Of course I’ll keep running around with other women and blowing the rent money on the ponies, but I’m going to take out the garbage once a week and I will stop frittering away money buying lattes at Starbucks”.

    Now, this isn’t an argument that GOP bad, Dems good; it’s just an observation that you can’t really pretend to be the party of fiscal responsibility, unlike the other guys who are blowing through the public treasury, when your plan is “oh, we’ll cut something that doesn’t matter, we don’t know what yet.”

    Regarding business vs. private sector, your argument is that government employees are overpaid because the average government salary for many categories of job is higher than the private-sector equivalent. Let’s pretend for a moment that this is completely true and we’ll ignore the whole thing about what “average” means for purposes of this discussion, even though it’s important. Does this mean the government pays people too much? It could. It could also mean that the private sector pays people too little, perhaps because private-sector unions are nonexistent or weak in the equivalent jobs. It could also mean that the particular government jobs within those categories are higher-paid jobs; for example, if prison nurses are higher paid than private-sector general RNs, and the government has to hire a lot more prison nurses than the private sector does, we would see that the ‘average’ nurse’s salary is higher in a government job.

  51. #51 by John Scalzi:

    I don’t think either is going to switch over. They have more power where they are. And of course the thought of Bernie Sanders caucusing with the GOP is enough to make one’s brain stem pop.

    Lieberman would do it in a hot second if the Repubs guaranteed him as little as 10% more face time on the talking-head shows. Especially if he also thought there was as much as a 1/1000 chance of being able to have himself made Emperor, so he could dissolve the Senate.

    Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, would find the idea of caucusing with Repubs hilarious, and the entire state of Vermont would be laughing with him. I mean, despite all the “mendacious loudness”, he’s the only congresscritter who really is a socialist. If even a fraction of the people in Congress who’ve been accused of being socialists were like Bernie, we’d be a whole lot better off.

  52. Bearpaw @ #57
    Can you imagine Bernie caucusing with the republicans? Those meetings would be awesome. He’d just spend the whole time going “pfffft”, rolling his eyes, and coughing loudly while Newt was talking. Not to mention, asking for, like, the millionth time for them to explain the whole supply-side economics thing to him again.
    The republican party would self destruct out of annoyance induced aneurysms.

  53. John this is a brilliant piece of writing–and you are so right.

    Monday Night Rachel Maddow reviewed what the 111th Congress passed, including:

    The Lilly Ledbetter Fairpay Act
    The CHIP expansion to cover another 4 million children
    The ARRA (The Recovery Act)
    The Edward Kennedy Serve America Act
    The Credit CARD Act
    Cash For Clunkers
    The Mathew Shepard Act
    Health Reform
    Financial Reform
    Student Aid Reform
    Caregiver and Veterans Omnibus Health Care Act

    Even my perception was that they didn’t get a lot done–and yet it was a hugely productive Congress. It testifies to the fact the Republicans and Fox completely dominated the message game.

    Any half decent politician should have been able to stand on their accomplishments and acknowledge that, as Paul Krugman said on day one, the stimulus was too small–that the Republicans (and now much diminished Blue Dog Caucus) kept us from passing legislation that was as big as we needed.

  54. Ah divided government, what better thing could there be to wake up to in the morning, possibly bacon, but it would be close. Maybe the checks and balances that are in places can start working the way our founders intended them to work, and we can see what actual governance in a democracy looks like, if not… As a conservative, I honestly would not mind seeing government do nothing for 2 years, not having government running around trying to “save” everyone and everything by take it over will bring some needed stability to the economy.

    Your fast zombie comment made me laugh, not simply because it was a politically accurate observation, but because I do enjoy zombie flicks, and I am going to enjoy watching this zombie (s) run around eating the brains of the nearest person, which just happens to be a congressman. And there is no better kind of zombie than a zombie congressman, not even Nazi zombies come close.

    Anyways, I have enjoyed reading your observations, even tho I disagree with some of them. Lets enjoy the feeding frenzy!

  55. I can’t wait for America to have its “Suez” moment (this will probably China saying they’ve had enough and taking Taiwan by force, or rolling up North Korea into an official part of itself) and realise it isn’t the world dominating power it used to be. That is the heart of what is happening. Much like the European powers after WW2 America is on its downslide from superpower and its populace kinda know this in their heart of hearts, so they’ll vote for anyone who can promise that they can still have it all. At this stage in the deal fear and uncertainty will beat out reason and compassion any day of the week.

  56. @John Scalzi #49

    I hope you didn’t take my comment as a personal attack. I was attempting to point out that there is more to the description of the GOP base than is in your list. I apologize for not making my thesis clearer.

  57. I’m still just waiting for the day when Kentucky decides to show some damn common sense and opts not to vote in the whack-a-doo. Sadly, yesterday was not that day. What’s worse is he’s not even technically our whack-a-doo. He’s from Texas. We have enough nutjobs running for political office in this state, I’m not sure why we felt the need to import one from Texas.

  58. Eddie C@52: It’s ok. The title is “Traiter to His Class”, but it isn’t a book with an agenda as the title suggests. It doesn’t seem to actually go into much depth about the New Deal.

    In 1932 he had a 23 seat majority in the Senate and a mind-boggling 196 seat majority in the House.

    I personally think most of the blame for losing the House last night lies with congressional Democrats, particularly in the Senate. They didn’t operate as a single party and as a consequence failed to get much done.

  59. realise it isn’t the world dominating power it used to be. That is the heart of what is happening. Much like the European powers after WW2 America is on its downslide from superpower

    I know that’s a popular meme at the moment, but it has the exciting element of being almost completely untrue. The US, measured by military and economic means, is *more* dominant in the post-Cold War period than it ever has been (except _maybe_ 1945-50).

  60. Paul @ 69:

    I can’t speak for Steve Burnap, but off the top of my head the one thing they out and out didn’t do that I would have liked seen done was the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And the failure to do that sums up the Dems’ weakness in one little package. Polling suggested that repeal was supported by almost 70% of the country, and even by a bare (like 51%) majority of registered republicans! And yet they couldn’t muster the political courage to do something that is both self-evidently right AND not even unpopular!

    The rest, well, I don’t think it was what they did or didn’t do, but HOW it happened. Wrangling, back room deals, obvious party indiscipline. When you can’t even convince your elected caucus to support your policies, it is kind of hard to ask the rest of the country to do so, regardless of the merits. A solid 10% of their senate caucus (Nelson, Bayh, McCaskill, Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor, Joe Lieberman) were ‘unreliable’ votes, and even more so in the house (the “Blue Dog” democrats). The Republicans don’t have the same problem because, as far as I can tell, the only two moderate elected people in the whole party are both Senators from Maine.

  61. Hey John, did the inchoate anger of stupid old white people elect brown Mark Rubio over the almost-as-orange-as-Boehner Charlie Christ?

    Why is it Ok for Democrats to bring up race in every political conversation but not Republicans?

    And why do you hate orange people so much? Admit it, they scare you. Boehner makes you feel like Juan Williams boarding a plane doesn’t he?

  62. I tend to avoid the comments section on these kinds of posts but John you say the GOP should be more moderate… umm what do you think this election was about? it was getting Obama to move away from his Socialist agenda. In order to do that you need to balance the left with the right. Your argument frankly confounds me.

    For the others, there’s a difference between getting things done and just spending wildly.

    “In the first 19 months of the Obama administration, the federal debt held by the public increased by $2.5260 trillion, which is more than the cumulative total of the national debt held by the public that was amassed by all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Ronald Reagan.”

    http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/72404

  63. Also, henceforth, every time you whine about Fox News and shadowy financiers of the Tea Party, we get to beat you with a hammer. This is the political landscape now. Deal with it.

    I agree with this so much. I couldn’t believe it that a few weeks ago suddenly the Democrat’s message was that there was a loophole that allowed a lot of undisclosed financing for campaigns. Yeah that’s a bad thing and we should fix it sometime, but people, complaining about that is not a winning strategy.

    I am employed and well-off and have health insurance and have no relatives in the military and do not have an underwater mortgage, etc. — in other words, I am not personally very affected by our current troubles — and even I don’t care about that issue. Someone who is struggling financially or scared about the future really doesn’t care about how their movement is being financed if their movement is speaking about issues that matter to them. Which the Democrats, too often, weren’t.

    And public sector pay has to be brought in line with private sector pay because right now the average salary of a public sector federal employee is a way above their equivalent in the private sector.

    As others said above, this is crazy. Believe me, I am familiar (and intellectually sympathetic, albeit not practically) with Libertarian thought, and this is never part of the complaint about government spending — the complaint is that there are too many public employees, not that they get paid too much, because they don’t.

  64. David @68, it was up until Iraq. Since that little diversion China has been closing the gap with frightening speed. If the US said no to something and China cared enough to say yes then the US would be out of the game before anyone could blink. India is also snapping at China’s heels too, and Russia (while it will never be the powerhouse it was just after WW2 ever again) is resurgent. From the late eighties to the mid 2000s America did have no rivals, and was able to dictate terms to everyone true, since then internal mismanagement, failure to keep eyes on the ball, constant outsourcing of much of the industrial base and the knowledge economy, have caused things to reverse. The Republicans, and to a much greater extent the Teabag party, want to ignore this trend. Iraq isn’t the Suez moment, but it is the precursor of it.

  65. Hey Bill @ 71:

    Happy to be proved wrong, but I’m sure if you looked at the voting demographic, Rubio got more “old/white/angry” vote than did Crist and Meek, and Crist and Meek probably got more “brown” (as you put it) vote than Rubio. Although that really is an aside. As far as I understand, all the polling that has been done suggests that the Tea Party is older and whiter than the electorate as a whole. And anger at govt ovverreach and overspending is at the core of its raison d’etre!

  66. DH @72
    “I tend to avoid the comments section on these kinds of posts”
    Then you can be excused for not knowing that throwing words like “Socialist” around without knowing what they mean won’t win you a lot of points here.

    “Socialist Agenda” is a meaning-free buzz-phrase.

  67. I can only look at the results of this year’s election with a feeling of grim satisfaction.

    The GOP accomplished much of what it wanted, true. The power of Nancy Lugosi’s House has been shattered. The power of the Dems to break filibusters in the Senate is broken. The gains in statehouses across the country means possible gains in the realm of redistricting.

    But it’s not over yet. This election was the battle that ground the advance of the Obamunist agenda to a screeching halt. Now it’ll be two years of trench-warfare stalemate before we even have a hope of regaining significant lost ground.

    Every new Republican Congressman and Senator should consider themselves on “double secret probation.” They need to prove they will be working for us, not trying to “compromise” with the Obamunists, or they will feel our displeasure in 2012. They also need to be “preparing the battlefield” for the day when we will elect a Patriot President and Patriot Congress. They need to keep pushing the Administration, forcing them to go into full Chiroptera lunarii mode and reveal themselves to the nation for what they truly are. But they can’t overreach. Impeaching Obama, for instance, is an automatic loser; they’ll never get the Senate to convict, and they risk a sympathy backlash that could propel his re-election in 2012.

    Now it’s time to get to work, and to do what must be done. The countdown to November 2012 has begun.

  68. @ DH @ 72:

    Obama isn’t a sociali…….

    Oh forget it. I could make a detailed argument but I don’t need to. I live in a jurisdiction that’s had a socialist govt in recent memory (Ontario). I’m from a country which had strong left wing govt for 10 years (New Zealand). I’ve seen socialist policies at work. Obama wouldn’t be let into any socialist party anywhere in the world. In fact I recall Scalzi posting a link earlier this year with the leader of the US Socialist party saying that Obama wouldn’t be welcome there. It’s fine to discuss politics, to disagree on policy, but I despair when people don’t even TRY to engage with reality.

  69. Should I be bothered that you are basically my favorite political writer on the internets now? Don’t answer that.

    Corporate spending was huge in Hawaii. $$ flooded in from the Mainland to try to influence our big ticket races, but did not manage an upset (although the House 1 race was rather closer than it would normally have been due to the Republican being a short-term incumbent who squeaked in in a 3-way when Abercrombie vacated his seat to run for governor, which he won handily).

    The Republicans picked up 2 seats in the state leg, which is a gain for them since normally they can’t field a basketball team much less a baseball team. But they’re down to 1 state senator. Unfortunately, my state legislator is one of the gains, a very young youth pastor, replacing a reliable Dem vote (it’s actually still too close to call, but I think he’ll pull it out by about 69 votes), so I’m bummed about that.

  70. #69, Eddie

    You have hit the nail on the head, How or the Means, as some would call it, is very important. If you (Not you, but the Dems) are unwilling to compromise in how you attempt to govern, and simply wish to govern through tyranny of the majority, than you are going to run into problems, especially in this country. If you are unable or unwilling to bring over a few republicans to support your ideas than this is what are are attempting to do. The republicans became the party of no, not simply because they are mean or hate Obama its because Obama and the Dems were unwilling to compromise on their agenda and instead they tried to force it down our collective throat, and we saw how that went. Overwhelming majorities were turned into loses in two years later, because of this type of governance

  71. Paul – I don’t disagree that the lack of smooth legislating was punished, but I do have some sympathy for the Dems here (also be interested in your thoughts on DADT :P). Please look at the use of the filibuster in the previous congresses under Bush as compared to now. I.e. see this chart here:

    http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/reference/cloture_motions/clotureCounts.htm

    Note that the number of filibuster votes DOUBLED as soon as the Democracts took control of congress in 2006. This period includes 1 congress (the 110th) under President Bush, and 1 (the 111th) under President Obama.

    It is provably NOT about ebil Obama’s ebil Socialist policies of Ebil. The Republicans are the party of no because they are the party of no. It’s a nihilistic obsession with opposing everything simply because that’s what you do in politics. That’s what the stats show. It works much better electorally than wishy washyness, don’t get me wrong, but it will work terribly now that they’re in charge. It is now incumbent on the Republicans to be constructive rather than destructive, and I simply don’t think they’re up to it. Of course, the next 2 years will be the proof or the refutation of that, so we’ll see!

  72. @Paul, 80 How the heck is passing a republican health plan not reaching out?

    The truly progressive ideas didn’t even make it to the table before they were negotiated away.

    The entire summer of health care ugliness was because the Democrats didn’t want to scare away the moderates while the Republicans were screaming about Death Panels.

    Just what compromises would you allow the Republicans to make in order to govern rather than impose a single party view?

  73. Paul #80
    Sure.

    Or

    We have Tyranny of the minority. Republicans brought everything they could to a screeching halt, refusing to consider anything that came out of democratic legislation or the Obama administration, including ideas that they had come up with themselves years earlier. Everything, including the confimation of Judges was threatened with filibuster. Their goal was to Kill any and all potential solutions to issues in the hopes that they could hang the fallout around Obama’s neck and howl suckers into voting for them because “Look at how bad things are!”

    Evidence? The HCR bill started out with a Public option, no mandate, etc…
    The bill we eventually received was the Democrats attempting to Compromise with the republicans. Every time they compromised, Republicans and Lieberman moved the goal posts back some more. Eventually it became clear that they weren’t interested in any bill under any circumstances if it might be considered a victory for the Obama administration.

    See how different that sounds? And it has the added benefit of being falsifiable.

  74. Billy Quiets:

    “Why is it Ok for Democrats to bring up race in every political conversation but not Republicans?”

    “Orange” is a race?

    DH:

    “John you say the GOP should be more moderate”

    Actually, what I’d like the GOP to be is less aggressively stupid. If I believed they had a rigorous philosophical underpinning for their actions, I’d find it less irritating, even if I disagreed with it.

    Also, the “Obama is a Socialist” line is a big red flag that your political sophistication is not up to snuff. Try not to play that one here.

  75. How about Nikki Haley? Did the inchoate anger of stupid old white people get her elected as well?

    Do you think she’s “intellectually dim” and “vaguely insane” just because she is a Republican?

  76. Since that little diversion China has been closing the gap with frightening speed. If the US said no to something and China cared enough to say yes then the US would be out of the game before anyone could blink

    Yeah, no. Chinese GDP is still behind Japan’s and one-third of the United States. The Chinese defense budget is one-sixth that of the United States.

    India is also snapping at China’s heels too, and Russia (while it will never be the powerhouse it was just after WW2 ever again) is resurgent.

    Yeah, even more no. India’s GDP is one-fourteenth the USA’s, and Russia’s is less than India’s. Russia’s military budget is one-tenth that of the United States and India’s is one-fifteenth.

    From the late eighties to the mid 2000s America did have no rivals, and was able to dictate terms to everyone true, since then internal mismanagement, failure to keep eyes on the ball, constant outsourcing of much of the industrial base and the knowledge economy, have caused things to reverse

    Yeah, extra even more no. In 1995, US GDP was less than twice its nearest rival (Japan). Now it’s almost three times its nearest rival (still Japan).

  77. #72 by DH:

    I tend to avoid the comments section on these kinds of posts but John you say the GOP should be more moderate… umm what do you think this election was about? it was getting Obama to move away from his Socialist agenda. In order to do that you need to balance the left with the right. Your argument frankly confounds me.

    Your argument would amuse me, if it wasn’t being parroted by so many people who are either ill-informed or dishonest.

    If Obama had a socialist agenda, he kept it so well-hidden that practically none of it even made it into committee, let alone out of it. Perhaps he’s such a sneaky socialist that he totally disguised his agenda by pushing to implement an entirely different one. Very clever!

    Seriously, there’s a shitload that Obama should be criticized for, even from an honestly conservative perspective. But for some reason there seems to be a lot more corporate backing available to amplify the bullshit criticisms. I wonder why that is.

  78. WizarDru @31 has it right; Bush and Obama’s stimulus packages stopped unemployment at 10%, much better than the likely 12-13% peak we’d have otherwise seen, but much much worse than it had been before the meltdown.

    People don’t viscerally understand “…but it would have been much worse.” They viscerally understand “I, or someone (and likely someones plural) in my familiy, friends, and neighbors is unemployed due to the downturn, and hasn’t been rehired yet).”

    People have a roughly 6-month economic voting horizon, and actual economic fixes take at least 2-4 years from a serious disaster like what started in 2008. Longer, if you do the wrong things to fix them (see Japan in 1990s, Europe now, a little of US too-small stimulus).

    Obama has delivered for his base much of what they asked for. What he failed to do was visibly feel the unemployed masses pain and make it clear that he’d go for a larger stimulus to get more of them working again, but the Republicans kept blocking him. What he failed to do was stand up and talk the economics talk (“Yes, if we sell bonds to put people to work we’ll have to pay the bonds back, but if we do that you’ll be working and paying taxes and we can afford to pay them back if you’re working and paying taxes. Do you want to be working, or unemployed? I want you working, and I think you do too…”).

    The Republicans capitalized on the “Oh, Crap, I’m Unemployed!” sentiment, but are NOT going to help the economy if they do what they promised to do.

    Unless an economic miracle occurs or the Repubs have an attack of the sanity virus before 2012, that election will be held in a still depressed economy, and will fundamentally be all about spinning whose fault it is that people are still out of work. Which outright sucks.

  79. Eddie C @ 70:

    I vaguely remember (and correct me if I’m wrong) that the Dems /did/ finally try to repeal DADT but couldn’t get past the automatic filibuster, i.e. this is actually something you can’t blame them for.

  80. What is this craziness? You give us all this big long election-ey thoughts post, but nothing on what you thought of “The Walking Dead?”

    The column on cool scenes does help restore some of the geek cred, though. Some.

  81. Billy Quiets:

    “Did the inchoate anger of stupid old white people get her elected as well?”

    It may have; I haven’t seen her voter demographics. You seem to be under the impression that I think stupid old white people won’t vote for non-white people whose political interests align with their own, which is not a very impressive argument.

    Make better arguments, Billy, or go elsewhere to fulminate.

  82. @heteromeles:

    I’ve just spent way too much volunteer time trying to keep a massive, multinational solar plant from trashing a very nice piece of desert.

    Deserts happen to be very useful for solar power, seeing as they get a vast amount of sunlight. And it’s not like you can grow a lot of things there. Solar power is not a panacea and it’s not as easy as so-po activists would have one think it is, but it certainly helps and it’s tapping a source of energy coming from outside the system, which makes it very nice from a conservationist perspective. Solar power in cities is nice, too, but why can’t we have BOTH?

    @LizC:

    We have enough nutjobs running for political office in this state, I’m not sure why we felt the need to import one from Texas.

    Hey, our surplus has to go somewhere. It’s the basis of trade.

  83. @89 – point taken. I still think its something they should have been able to defeat a filibuster on, and they may well have got Susan Collins/Olympia Snowe support if they’d taken the measure forward as a separate one rather than bundled with some other quite controversial stuff. But still, you’re right. John McCain led filibuster. I’d forgotten how far he’d fallen from the principled man he used to be.

  84. Just quoting your own screed John. I’m not fulminating, merely pointing out the inconsistency of your commentary. It’s ok for liberals to label an entire movement based on their color. It’s ok for liberals to repeatedly call Republicans “stupid” or “aggressively stupid” or whatever but God forbid someone should call Obama a socialist.

    You want a “rigorous philosophical underpinning for their actions”? We have one, it’s called the Constitution.

  85. @ 94 – Dude, if you don’t want to be labelled aggressively stupid, stop being aggressively stupid in public!

  86. #81

    Eddie it is not simply about smooth legislation, its about the means of governance. Legislation is never smooth, it has always been about compromise, and that is a very rough and bumpy process. Its about how the party in power chooses to govern because it is incumbent (if that is the right word) upon them to set the tone, because they are the party in power so it is there responsibility to govern and it is the minorities responsibility to be the honest opposition, that is why they are there, that is the idea behind checks and balances and why there are so many branches of government, (the executive, the congress, and the judicial), because if one branch gets to out of control its the other branches responsibility to reign in their power. This whole system of government is set up with the belief in mind that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so that is why the founders devised the divided system of government that they did. It is also why we have a constitution that is based around the idea of individual rights that are inherent and not granted by government, which can also be framed as minority rights, (because there is no smaller group than the individual), this is also another reason the previous type of governance was so unpopular, its because the majority (DEMS) attempted to run rough shad over the minority, and the people, simply because they could and were unwilling to compromise.

    As a conservative, I do not want to see republican one party, or the republican party dominate all of government, because the amount of power is very corrupting and no matter how great or benevolent their intentions maybe, that amount power is ultimately going to be turned upon us the people. That is one of the reasons I am a conservative and seek limited/small government, because bureaucracy is always attempting to grow/spread which in turn increases the amount of power that government has, so my push for smaller government is about resisting the almost inevitable increases in government’s power.

    The doubling of filibusters is a sign of the times and not simply one parties choice, we have become more divisive or polarized as a political culture. And simply saying no because it works electorally is not a very good strategy because it can lead to becoming obsolete, in the sense you can be seen as not being necessary in the process of governance. In this case it worked well because the process of governance was so unpopular and they were seeing as more sympathetic or responsive to the will of the people. I also think it was due to the fact that Obama and the Dems miss read the public that gave them their win in 08, I think they were elected upon the perspective that they were going to change DC and not America.

  87. Well, I think it’s neat that we have a person of color as President AND speaker of the house.

    Look, I think it would be swell if Republicans would actually start actively pursuing a small-government low-spending approach to things. But they won’t. First, their low-spending small-government notions never seem to extend to military adventurism, the Great War on Terror, the Great War on Drugs, or government-as-teacher-of-cultural-orthodoxy. Second, they ain’t got the stones to go after any big-ticket items. Third, like everyone else, they want power — and government fiefdoms give power.

    As for the Dems — feh. As much as I don’t like Feingold on fiscal issues or campaign finance, I admire his civil libertarian stances. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, I like my beer cold, my Tivo loud, and my Democrats FLAMING. But Democrats have caved to “tough on crime” rhetoric for more than a generation, have been spineless on war issues, and have trampled each other to be more in favor of the post-9/11 Security State. Look, if I wanted a Republican with an even more tenuous grasp on fiscal responsibility, I would freaking vote for one. Feingold at least acted like being a Democrat meant something distinctly different than being a Republican.

    Republicans, at least, TALK about freeing individuals from government, even if they are only referring to freeing us from regulations on the percentage of rat feces in breakfast cereal and have no problem with telling us whom we can hump, what we can watch, whom we must fight, what we can smoke, and where to stand when the did-badly-on-his-Cracker-Barrel-assistant-manager-interview TSA employee ass-probes us. Democrats lack the spine to stand up on those issues any more. It’s thoroughly depressing.

  88. Paul @ 97 – fine, can agree with most of that (indeed, I’m a lawyer who works mostly in bureaucratic control). But you’re simply ignoring the stats on the filibuster because they’re politically inconvenient. It might be a “sign of the times” but those times coincide EXACTLY with the republicans losing control of congress. Not with the inauguration of president obama. Not with (to pick a date out of nowhere) democratic righteous anger at Al Gore losing in 2000, and the Bush presidency was sure as hell not much less polarised than the US today. The Republicans in the minority in congress = a deliberate attempt to frustrate EVERYTHING the majority does. This is not something the Democrats did to anywhere near the same extent when they were in the minority.

  89. David @86. The trouble is America cannot bring that power to a point, so a country that has less total power, but can harness it better beats the US. America dominated the world from the late eighties based on three things. Illusion of overwhelming military prowess, that was made a mockery off by Bin Laden, The Taliban in Afghanistan, and the quagmire that was Iraq. Sense of admiration because America was the land of equality and justice, you don’t need me to tell you why that isn’t the perception anymore. Finally, the sheer power of the dollar and America’s inexhaustible wealth. That went out the window when the sub-prime market in America collapsed and almost took the rest of the world with it, the dollar isn’t trusted in the same way it was, the US market isn’t believed in, and there is massive resentment over the damage that was done to the total global economy. America hasn’t reached its Suez moment yet, it is still respected and still a massive power, but it is on a downward slope it doesn’t command the instant obedience or fear it once did. People now look at what the US says, and then look at China, India, and to a lesser extent Russia before reacting now. The direction of travel is what makes people scared, and gives the fuel to the put it all back the way it was parties.

  90. @ Ed, again

    Firstly you are wrong. The Constitution isn’t a philosophy, its the bootstrap instruction manual on how to run the US government.

    And just what did the Democrats do that was unconstitutional? They were legally elected, used the proper procedure and had many of their policies stopped cold by extra-constitutional action (the filibuster).

    And again, what compromises were or are you willing to see the minority Republicans make? Remembering that the Republicans only control one house of congress and do not hold the executive.

  91. Eddie @ #100, while I am no political historian, (I don’t keep track of who did what when, very well), I do believe that Bush was able to get some key legislation, including the so called tax cut for the rich, passed with democratic support, in both the houses of Congress. I am also not stating that they filibuster is not a political tool that some one chooses to bring out when they have a political ax to grind, because it can be that. But it is hard to say whether or not a minority party was more interested in filibustering or a majority party was less interested in compromise, because that would require a careful observation of what actually went on, and we don’t see much of that out side of the belt way, except for the occasional out burst on C-SPAN. But we can look at the results and from what I remember the republicans had less of a majority than the Democrats did and they were still able to get things passed in a bipartisan way even without a filibuster proof Senate with less filibustering, but the Democrats who had a larger majority and for a time a filibuster proof Senate, were able to get fewer things passed in a bipartisan way and had more filibustering. But again it is hard to say who was less or more willing to compromise.

  92. Paul – completely off topic and will continue to disagree with you on topic, but love the Fallout avatar :P!

  93. I like it too, and so I really like this new layout, that John decided upon. I am thinking of getting a collection of them together especially some of the more sinister ones and change it weekly or something. Also if you are a fan I would recommend New Vegas, if you haven’t tried it already.

  94. Billy Quiets:

    “It’s ok for liberals to repeatedly call Republicans ‘stupid’ or ‘aggressively stupid’ or whatever but God forbid someone should call Obama a socialist.”

    The thing is, Billy, Obama is manifestly not a socialist, and anyone who actually knows anything about it knows this. Calling him so is, in fact, stupid. And, dare I say it, aggressively so.

    “You want a ‘rigorous philosophical underpinning for their actions’? We have one, it’s called the Constitution.”

    Oh, Billy. Your rhetorical skills are like a teenage boy’s first fumbling at a bra clasp; endearing in its way, but not actually getting anywhere near the intended objective. Eventually the object of the affections gets bored and leaves.

    This is my way of saying to you that unless you can actually improve your arguing skills, I’m going to boot you off the thread. I’m not actually stupid, and you’ll have to do better than contentless posturing.

  95. A long way in to New Vegas! Torn on it. The old Fallout humour is back (missing from F3), and the gameplay is as good or better than F3, but as with all obsidian games it’s a lot buggier than it should be.

  96. The trouble is America cannot bring that power to a point, so a country that has less total power, but can harness it better beats the US

    See, the problem with that, is that it doesn’t actually make any sense. The Chinese are not stopping us from invading Long Island, while we are effectively stopping the Chinese from invading Taiwan.

    People now look at what the US says, and then look at China, India, and to a lesser extent Russia before reacting now.

    You are imagining a history that didn’t exist. The US has always had rivals that other people looked to; the difference in the Cold War was that they were rivals that could actually incinerate us.

    Again, Americans have always imagined that the United States is in decline, even as far back as the Founding Fathers. That fear had usually been largely disconnected from reality and the same is true now.

  97. John, I won’t entirely credit O’Donnel and Angle to Palin, they were supported by a majority of the Republican voters in the primaries. Primaries do tend to swing extreme compared to general elections. I’m not up on results here in California, but it would be interesting to see what happens if one proposition passed. And especially interesting to see what happens when California’s first truly open primary is held.

  98. Alan Kellogg:

    On California’s propositions, I think the most significant one to pass is the one that returns to passing the budget on a simple legislative majority. Suddenly much of California’s annual political drama is done and over with, and as a former citizen of that state, THANK GOD.

  99. Come on man! Where’s the love?

    Actually, I never called Obama a socialist, I merely pointed out that you have no problem calling names when describing Republicans or anyone else who disagrees with your position.

    But no problem, I’ll take my fumbling (yet somehow erotic) rhetorical skills somewhere else.

  100. There’s something scary about the fact that the mind that conceived Android’s Dream has posted the sanest and most sensible thing I’ve read all day. :-)

  101. Billy Quiets:

    “I merely pointed out that you have no problem calling names when describing Republicans or anyone else who disagrees with your position.”

    I’m not aware of calling all Republicans stupid, however. I am aware of calling the current GOP leadership intellectually dim, and given its history I think it’s a defensible position. Likewise, I do think the folks clamoring for the shrinking of the government except for the part that gives them their checks are kind of stupid, because you would have to be to do that. Although I am fully willing to grant they may be smart, and just hypocritical.

    But even if it was just a matter of name-calling, calling someone “stupid” can be a matter of opinion, while calling someone “Socialist” means that person has very specific politics. “Socialist” isn’t actually an epithet, even when people use it as such.

    As for your erotic rhetoric — well, I don’t want you to go, if you want to stay. I just want arguments out of you that are a little tighter and meatier.

    Hmmm. That didn’t come out right.

  102. @David 109.

    On the specific example of China being able to take Taiwan, what is stopping China is that there is no real advantage to taking it. They would lose Political currency in the rest of the world an d they are not above that (yet), and would just be getting themselves another guerilla conflict which would take time and money to crush (and they would crush it make no mistake). It was American support in the past, but that isn’t an issue any more. If China wanted Taiwan enough they would be the occupying power within a couple of hours. The cost in American lives to make the attempt to throw them out would be unsustainable, even if it were militarily possible to mobilise the required forces, which is doubtful in the current climate as American forces are still stretched to breaking point even with the Iraq pullout.

    As to America’s influence abroad, it is on the wane, no doubt about that. Look at the UK and France two of Americas closest client state (especially the UK where America pretty much sets its defence policy and even owns the UK’s nukes). Hilary basically told them not to go ahead with their defence cuts and with that carrier sharing deal and they went…yeah…no and went ahead with it. Face it America’s mystique is in tatters and the publicity that kept America as the golden defender of freedom, fairness and progress is gone. America: Myth Busted.

    But I doubt I’ll convince you of that, so this is my last post on the subject.

  103. I can roll with it all except for Bachmann…. in a House leadership position.

    It’s probably time to buy stock in Viacom. They own Comedy Central and that network is going to do well with The Daily Show and Colbert Report over the next few years.

    *****

    YuriPup: And just what did the Democrats do that was unconstitutional?

    Well, I’m with Glenn Greenwald — This President hasn’t stopped or prosecuted the war crimes originally sanctioned under Bush/Cheney. I think that was craven and it’s been a great disappointment to me. But then there are at best a couple Republicans that would do it differently and they’d never be allowed in any such decision making process. I can’t think of many other cases where one could reasonably apply the ‘unconstitutional charge’ against the Dems.

  104. @92: Desert solar. YES, deserts CAN be wonderful places for solar power. The problem is the Homestead Act. That’s not a non sequitur, keep reading.

    One of the concepts under homesteading is that you “add value” to the land. The practical implication of this is that I can take a piece of wilderness, bulldoze it for five years, and the value will go up. Certain rights to things like water and minerals accrue to the bulldozed land, and it is worth more per acre than the wilderness that was there.

    There’s plenty of trashed land out in the deserts that would be perfect for solar. There are plenty of sites that are flat, have no resources worth mentioning, and are near existing power lines Unfortunately, to keep costs down, the solar power companies are focusing on leasing wilderness, because it costs less per acre than something that’s been bulldozed or otherwise tampered with.

    Is this insane? Absolutely. Unfortunately, our legal system does not have a method for valuing wilderness lands. It’s also not an easy problem to solve, because we want to give a real value to existing wilderness without accidentally stripping the land value away from all American home owners.

    As for the energy value of desert solar, the desert gets about 10-15% more sun than do the cities of coastal California. Ironically, there will be something like 10-15% power losses transmitting the solar power from the desert to the city. Therefore, it makes sense to put solar panels on roofs in the city and ignore the transmission losses. This is also probably safer, in that local solar avoids the installation of high voltage power lines that tend to spark large fires in the back country. But again, the political realities of the moment favor large-scale development, by multinationals, in wilderness areas.

    In the case I’m talking about, an Indian tribe is now suing to block the solar development, claiming (rightly) that the land is covered with the artifacts and sacred sites of their ancestors. It also hosts endangered species that are part of their creation myths. I suspect that, once all the legal battles have been settled, it would have been cheaper to develop that solar plant on private land. Unfortunately, none of the developers thought it through properly.

    It’s really too bad, all the way around. And although I’m a democrat, I do blame Obama for this one, because the stimulus package that sparked this whole desert land-rush ends at the end of this year. That tight deadline forced everyone to rush and fight, instead of figuring out a way to do green energy properly.

  105. A question for the novelist: In novels, it’s often a matter of courage (and fear). The protagonist may (or not) start as a somewhat silly person, often smart but trivial in attitudes, who (finally) rises to the challenge of events and shows true courage (whether pure or with an admixture of flaws). Or perhaps the protagonist starts brave but foolish, ends up in a confused position, but then rises (finally) to the challenge of being both brave and (somewhat) wise.

    I’m writing this think of how Obama fits, since he’s already made of his life a book or two. As a reader of novels, I so wish the man had more and wiser courage. The Democrats went down (many of us think) because too many lacked that. Is this just novelistic conceit, or a (somewhat) true analysis?

  106. what is stopping China is that there is no real advantage to taking it

    Actually, it’s the 7th Fleet plus the Republic of China (Taiwan) Armed Forces.

    America: Myth Busted

    You keep saying these things without, you know, actually providing evidence. You would make much more effective arguments if you added in some.

    Here, I’ll provide an example with actual data included: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/11/03/election-thoughts-2010/#comment-223880

    Something like that would be a good way to make an effective argument.

  107. John, unfortunately the positive effect of passing prop-25 (the simple majority budget measure) is mitigated by three things.

    (a) the state constitution still requires a 2/3 majority to raise taxes.
    (b) at the very same election, the voters adopted a new measure imposing a 2/3 majority requirement to raise “fees”.
    (c) at the very same election, the voters prohibited the state government from borrowing money from subdivisions of the state.

    so: unless the budget in question is an austerity budget with massive cuts, it hasn’t actually gotten much easier, and the drama will continue.

  108. John, I hate to disagree with you. The Democrats, namely the President, turned their mandate to provide universal health care into a gift-wrapped present to Wall Street, George Soros’s Perseus-Soros investment group (HEAVILY leveraged in Big Pharma, which is still charging diabetics at least a hundred bucks a month for insulin, and if they’re in the “donut hole” as I am owing to cancer medication, that sort of sucks), and of course the health insurance industry. 280 million of us are about to have our pockets picked big-time to provide medical care.

    I can’t help but think that Obama’s good friend George Soros arranged the closed-door meeting at which Big Pharma got to do big-priced business as usual in exchange for some pro-Obamacare TV ads, just after the inauguration. Montana’s Max Baucus, D-MT, took $6 million in campaign funds to shepherd Obamacare through the Senate as Senate Finance Committee chairman. And bailing out GM and Chrysler WITHOUT reforming the massive overkill of union benefits which are the reason that GM loses money on the exact same sales volume Toyota turns a profit on – that was pure Democratic logic. As was giving Big Labor and Federal employees (already somewhat overpaid by the rest of our standards) exemptions from the “Cadillac health care plan” tax for six years.

    And the nearly trillion-dollar giveaway seems to have mainly stimulated jobs for Obama’s core constituency – unionized construction workers, research scientists (not known for overpaying their grad assistants, as I can testify), and… of course… Wall Street. The demand for bizjets may go up as a consequence of the stimulus, but one out of every ten people in the job market is out of work, up from one out of every twenty-five when the Democrats took Congress over.in 2006.

    This was the People firing idiots who bollocksed (note the British spelling – it’s more descriptive) up their job, pure and simple.

    John, it’s your blog. Say what you want in it. Just don’t expect not to be called on it by someone who can see clearly.

  109. coonas @121: Ford has the same union as GM. Ford didn’t need a bailout. Whatever you may think of unions philosophically, they didn’t kill GM; stupid management did.

    I’m amused at the idea that Scalzi is cowering in fear at being called on the carpet by the grown-ups who, being conservative, are in the right, but he can handle that himself, I’m sure.

  110. Uh, “coonass,” what “massive overkill of union benefits”? Are you aware that the entire amount of GM’s going over budget on pensions and medical care can be accounted for by the ballooning of those for retired top management? And yes, Toyota doesn’t overpay (and over benefit) its top managers the way GM historically has. No other nation does except maybe Brazil. Certainly not Germany, certainly not Japan. Big American firms now pay CEOs over 300 times what an average employee gets – and over benefit them too. And our firms are so much better run than the European and Asian firms that don’t do that … how?

    Blaming shortfalls on the unions shows ignorance of the real accounting.

  111. John,

    If my statement is a red flag, your rebuttal is further evidence that you do not know of what you speak. perhaps you need to look up the definition of socialism, Marxism and Leninism and overlap Obama’s political policies, philosophies, rhetoric, appointees and associations you just might learn something you’ve never cared to learn beforehand.

  112. DH:

    “your rebuttal is further evidence that you do not know of what you speak.”

    As someone who has actually read Das Kapital, yeah, you’re going to have to do better than that, DH.

    But not here. Please go be ignorant of what socialism actually is somewhere else; this thread is not for yet more tiresome examples of people not knowing what they’re talking about trying to assert it’s the others who are ignorant, not they.

    Coonass:

    “Just don’t expect not to be called on it by someone who can see clearly.”

    I’ll be waiting for that moment, Coonass. Note the tense, there.

  113. #117

    Do you know how much power is lost from sunlight falling on the deserts right now? 100%. That’s right, all the sunlight now falling on the deserts is lost because it’s not being recovered. You may want to check out the November Scientific American, it has an article on integrating America’s energy grids and upgrading out transmission lines.

  114. #125

    So Obama is not a Das Kapital socialist. Does that mean he can’t be a socialist of any sort?

    Doctrine doesn’t describe what you can be, doctrine limits what you can be. We see it in Judaism, we see it in Christianity. Doctrinal differences separate Zen Buddhists. Can you be sure that doctrine doesn’t separate different socialist sects?

  115. Alan Kellogg:

    “So Obama is not a Das Kapital socialist. Does that mean he can’t be a socialist of any sort?”

    Of course not. However, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s not a socialist. He’s really not. Just ask the actual socialists. They laugh their asses off every time the contention gets made.

    That said, the discussion of whether Obama is a socialist is not one we really need to recycle here.

  116. Alan @129: “But how do you know Obama ISN’T a Socialist?!” is not exactly persuasive. Using terms like ‘socialist’ and ‘fascist’ as shorthand for ‘far to the left/right of where I stand’ is silly and rightfully is going to get mocked here. Saying Obama is a Socialist because he believes A and B and attempts to implement Socialist policy C is a logical argument; “Socialists believe X, Y and Z, Obama believes in weak-Z, therefore he’s a Socialist” is not.

  117. I have to say, this is one of the best-written things I’ve read about the election.

    I, too, am disgusted by the Democrats, who have proven themselves incredibly incompetent at messaging. But I’m also very annoyed at 18-29 year olds (a demographic that still includes me for a few more weeks) for failing to turn out. Why should young people expect elected officials to care about their priorities when they fail the most basic test of civic engagement? And I really dislike the “I didn’t vote because I did last time and it didn’t do any good” excuse. For one thing, it ignores the very real progress that was accomplished. But second, failing to vote isn’t going to fix anything. It just makes politicians even less likely to care about your priorities.

    Eternal Destiny @127:

    “GOP” is a really handy abbreviation for “Republican”, since “Rep” is already taken for “Representative” as a title for a member of the House of Representatives (e.g. Rep. John Boehner or Rep. Nancy Pelosi).

  118. `I don’t know what you mean by “socialist,”‘ Alice said.

    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant “a center to center-left politician.”‘

    `But “socialist” doesn’t mean “a center to center-left politician,”‘ Alice objected.

    `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    `The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master – - that’s all.’

  119. Obama is Bismarck in an Armani suit. A corporate shill who throws out some coins to the Democratic base so they won’t notice how most of the boodle is going to the guys in Wall Street who raised his campaign treasury.

    He’s just about enough of a socialist to get away with handing the treasury to Wall Street, George Soros in particular.

  120. Stealing from Taranto — Pajamas Media’s Frank J. Fleming summed it up best when he observed last month that Republicans were going to “win huge” because they “kind of suck”–in contrast with the Democrats’ “Godzilla-smashing-through-a-city level of suck–but a really patronizing Godzilla who says you’re just too stupid and hateful to see all the buildings he’s saved or created as he smashes everything apart.”

    DH — A noble effort, but your mistake is taking Scalzi seriously in this context. His talent, while considerable, lies in fiction, not reality, and the two often don’t mix well. “Socialist” is of course a term proudly worn by people all over the world who lean in the direction Obama has been pushing the country these last two years, and the objection is a particular hoot considering the tone of his post — we’re nuts and stupid, but “socialist” was a bridge too far! — but for us is the harsh chill of the importance of the marginal propensity to produce as articulated by von Mises, Hayek, and Friedman, and Bastiat’s that-which-is-not-seen. Best to leave those happily infantilized wards of their desired nanny state to making shiny pretty things for us to enjoy — a valuable task, which those of such persuasion are often well-suited to. We’ve seen today that enough of America understands what’s needed for the great rise of productivity to continue.

  121. As a Canadian centristish type (many of whose beliefs would likely, and laughingly, be called “socialist” by those on the American right and some on their left as well), I would like to point to the wikipedia page of someone who was actually a socialist and to suggest that being socialist doesn’t make some one scary boogey monster. https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Tommy_Douglas

    (Fun fact: Douglas’s grandson is Kiefer Sutherland of 24 fame.)

  122. TallDave:

    “His talent, while considerable, lies in fiction, not reality, and the two often don’t mix well.”

    And thus TallDave rather amusingly proves himself ignorant of a number of things, but most specifically in this case of the fact that I have written several non-fiction books, including my first, which was on finance, and that I have written financial newsletters and for financial magazines, and that some of my corporate clients over the years include Oppenheimer Funds, Warburg Pincus and US Trust, among others. You can certainly try to make the argument that I don’t actually understand economics or finance, but the fact I’ve consistently made money writing about and working in these fields is a fairly effective counter-argument. The implication that I as a fiction writer must be reality-deficient, is, of course, so flatly stupid that it deserves no mention other than to note that it is, in fact, flatly stupid.

    Shorter version: Wow, TallDave, you really just showed your ass there. Hope you enjoyed it. I sure did.

    Also: WE ARE DONE DISCUSSING WHETHER OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST ON THIS THREAD. Further stupidity on this score will be summarily deleted.

  123. #134 &#135 are such blind regurgitations of GOP talking points you would think they were parodies. But no, though a post that argues that Obama is both Otto “Blood and Iron” von Bismarck and a socialist in the space of a few sentences is a special kind of parody all its own.

    harsh chill of the importance

    Although evoking the “White Man’s Burden”
    (Take up the White Man’s burden–
    Have done with childish days–
    The lightly proferred laurel,
    The easy, ungrudged praise.
    Comes now, to search your manhood
    Through all the thankless years
    Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
    The judgment of your peers!)

    is a lovely obliviousness as well. Things down on the plantation going well, are they?

  124. Strictly speaking I’m not sure that it’s a contradiction to roll out a long list of things that the government shouldn’t be doing while at the same time demanding that they send you a check for some reason or other (unless you’re an anarchist). Not that I think this is a wise position to take.

    Question: if the majority of the country really does want the changes that Obama has made then why these results? Did a whole bunch of people who love what Obama has done fail to go out and vote? Isn’t it also possible that many people who now dislike Obama’s policies simply didn’t care enough to vote in 2008?

  125. My district elected a judge – a JUDGE – who ran as a republican.

    By a large margin.

    I haz a sad. And an outrage.

  126. I realize now that my last post may seem a little cryptic (what can I say? I’m an engineer…I’m good at making simple concepts cryptic). My larger point is this: I think when you view an election as a microcosm of the country at large you lose a lot of information. It’s possible that the Democrats are so incompetent that they lost a country full of supporters after doing exactly what they said they were going to do. It’s also possible that, in doing exactly what they wanted to do, they pissed off a lot of people who previously didn’t care about politics one way or the other. I think there are many possible explanations for the Republican victories last night.

  127. Adam @139: the contradiction is in defining appropriate functions of government as limited to “those things that lead to me getting a check” (or similar benefits). For example, a person who believes that regulatory agencies should leave manufacturers alone and let the tort system sort ‘em out may be silly, but is not contradicting herself by receiving Medicare. A person who insists they believe in shrinking government and in making people be self-reliant, but receives Social Security disability, is contradicting himself. Also, he’s kind of an asshole.

  128. If your goal is self-reliance then yes you’d be contradicting yourself. If your goal is to get a check from the government then I don’t think it contradicts that to say that no one else should. This could also make someone an asshole but that’s different from a hypocrite.

  129. Adam @144: The problem is that “I should get a check from the government but you shouldn’t” is rarely phrased with that level of honesty. It’s generally wrapped in some principled reason that the government shouldn’t give you a check, with special pleading as to why it should nonetheless give me a check.

  130. The fiscal conservatives appear to be taking a beating from the social conservatives who demand wedge issues like abortion and same-sex marriage be dealt with before the fiscal conserviatives can proceed with their agenda.

    America remains a strong and vibrant country, its people remain able to overcome just about anything, except perhaps, its national interests being sold out from within.

  131. I hope you don’t mind a comment from a Canadian (albeit one who used to do politics — Canadian-style, at least — for a living):

    To me, the most interesting result of this election is in the turnout numbers. In the last congressional election, in 2006, 96 million Americans voted, representing 48 per cent of the voting-age population.

    In this years’s election, the turn out numbers were 90 million and 42 per cent respectively. And bear in mind that the voting-age population had increased by, I estimate, seven or eight million between the two votes.

    So, in this election, which was supposed to be so crucial and which was characterized by hundreds of millions of dollars in attack-ad spending and way more vitriol than 2006, the net result was that substanitally fewer Americans voted.

    I believe that was exactly how the people who spent all the money wanted things to work out.

    There has been, for many years, a strong, concerted effort by the more extreme elements of the American polity, particularly I think on the right, to drive the middle out of the political arena. That effort has been expertly conducted and extravagantly resourced, and it has worked. The right now needs only about twenty-two per cent of the electorate, committed and highly organized, to win a majority in the House.

    To me, on the outside looking in, that’s a sign of a morbidly dysfunctional political system.

  132. Matthew Hughes @148 I’m not sure that this is evidence of systemic dysfunction. The system still gives people the freedom to vote however they want. We’re free to punish people for their vitriolic attack ads by voting against them. Whether or not politicians want this result they ultimately have no guaranteed way of achieving it.

  133. Adam @149: Of course, you’re free to vote as you like.

    But that’s a theoretical outcome. The actual outcome is that more and more of you don’t vote. And politics is about securing actual outcomes.

    I submit that, when huge amounts of money and expertise are consistently applied to a system, what consistently comes out of that effort is what was intended to come out.

  134. 147 @ Doug: “America remains a strong and vibrant country, its people remain able to overcome just about anything, except perhaps, its national interests being sold out from within.”

    Excellent point and I think it is the crux of the problem faced by all of us, whatever party we claim allegiance to. The politicians, saying whatever they wish to get elected, are not held responsible for those promises… instead, their vote is sold to the highest bidder and we are stuck with the bill (pun intended).

    Will this ever be corrected?? How can it be when those who are benefiting are the one’s who have to legislate against it??!!

    On another note, this thread is the best fiction I have ever read!!!

  135. In 2009 California passed and the Gov signed over 600 new laws. That is the lowest number of new laws since the early eighties. I have a problem with this.
    Unlike our host I am not happy that a simple majority can now pass a budget. How much to spend and what to spend it on is one of the most important issues that elected officials deal with. It shouldn’t be easy and it should involve significant compromise from both sides. The fact that they can’t do this in a timely manner shows a lack of something. I can’t think of the right word. It’s their freaking job.
    The thing politicians seem to forget is that they didn’t win in a landslide. One of the senators from my state Barbara Boxer won with 52% of the vote. Her republican oppenent got 42%. Shouldn’t Boxer take into account the fact that 42% of us don’t like her politics? Maybe try for a little, dare I say it, moderation?
    My life would be better if the republicans would stay out of my bedroom and the democrats would stay out of my wallet.
    So what is there to gloat about? The deficit is insane at both the state and federal level.

  136. Matthew Hughes @150 “I submit that, when huge amounts of money and expertise are consistently applied to a system, what consistently comes out of that effort is what was intended to come out.”

    That’s a complete non sequitur. In this instance both parties spent nearly the same amount of money to get their people elected (the numbers I saw were somewhere around 1.6 billion (Republicans) vs. 1.5 billion (Democrats). How can both parties get the outcome they want? Their desired outcome is certainly more than to encourage a lot of people to stay at home. Politics is primarily about winning. How to explain all of the incumbent politicians who almost always spend more than their opponents and yet still got kicked out? They applied money to the system and didn’t get their desired outcome.

  137. John,

    I’m aware of your nonfiction — and quite glad you’ve found your forte.

    Of course I didn’t argue you “must” be reality-deficient, I only said the two often don’t mix well. This is precisely the sort of distinction in reality that seems to elude you generally (hence my charge of unseriousness). And on this basis you called me “stupid,” which was as rich in irony as deficient in argument, and a better proof than any I could offer of my argument. All in all I’m not sure you could have done more to prove me right had you set out to do so deliberately.

    But such is the nature of the thing that you will not comprehend this, which is why it wasn’t addressed to you, but to those who would waste their time reasoning with you as though you were amenable to reason. I am not so foolish and so I bid you adieu, and good writing.

  138. Adam@153:

    It was Lincoln who said “You can fool some of the people all of the time.” If you can winnow down the electorate to the some you can fool, by driving the others away in disgust, you greatly improve your candidates’ chances of winning.

    That is what has been happening. I say it’s deliberate. Are you saying that driving the middle out of American politics is not a desired end of the professionals who are gaming the system, on both sides of the dichotomy? That it’s some sort of unintended result?

  139. TallDave@154: I know you must feel yourself a master of words (and hey, who doesn’t want to use that liberal arts degree most of us here have?), but you could have saved yourself, and all of us, so much time if you would have just reduced your response to its primal essence .

    “I know you are, but what am I?”

    See? Now we can all get on with our lives. Well, most of us.

  140. I think that there is a truth in saying that while financial, and largely, social interests are met, the fact that religion is so important for the right wing leaves non-Christians at a disadvantage. There was a study done, where the results were that the least-trusted group in America was atheists, with agnostics and muslims a close second and third. While everything else may fit the republican agenda, agnosticism does not.

  141. TallDave:

    “And on this basis you called me ‘stupid,’ which was as rich in irony as deficient in argument, and a better proof than any I could offer of my argument.”

    Well, except that I didn’t call you stupid, just your implication. Because it was, as is this current argument, seeing that it’s based on a reading of the text that ignores the actual text. Likewise, you seem to be having a problem with the concept of implication in a general sense. There is irony going on here, to be sure, just not where you think it is.

    All of which is to say that you must really enjoy showing your ass here, because, look, you’ve just done it twice in the same thread. It undermines your attempts at condescending superiority, it does. Best you should stop trying now. I don’t think I’m up to a third showing of ass.

  142. Thank you, as always, for saying exactly what I was thinking.

    Boxer did win by a margin of around 10%. And in politics, that is a huge number. All the votes aren’t counted yet, but I bet it’ll stay around that number. I do love that California bucked the trend. Not saying I hated Arnie, because I really didn’t (I know, I’m in the minority here). At least he tried to get something done, unlike Gray Davis. Will Jerry Brown get anything done? Who knows. Would Meg Whitman have gotten anything done? Probably not. I think people in California were tired of so-called politicians who try to buy a race with money. She spent over $160 million, most of which was her own money. Jerry only spent $25 million, with another $35 from other interests.

  143. Rembrandt:

    “Unlike our host I am not happy that a simple majority can now pass a budget. How much to spend and what to spend it on is one of the most important issues that elected officials deal with. It shouldn’t be easy and it should involve significant compromise from both sides.”

    It is one of the most important issues. It’s also the primary responsibility of the legislative body and one of their most powerful checks on the executive.

    Decision by simple majority is how these things are designed to work. The check is the ability to vote out your representative should you not like their ideas and or their endorsement of their peers through the use of their vote.

    Getting more than a simple majority to agree on any single thing is a damn amazing accomplishment.

    But, you know. Your state. Advocate as you like. It does seem though that requiring a super majority hasn’t worked out all that well either. Weren’t there a bunch of state workers that were forced to furlough because they couldn’t get the requisite vote?

    My experience is seeing the Senate try and operate on 60 votes for everything. Doesn’t seem to have worked out super well for anyone. I know government is designed for a slow grind, but this filibuster has been glacial.

  144. Those wondering how this happened: There’s a phenomenon called the “crazy third” — about a third of all people are fantastically wrong on any issue you could care to contemplate. Politics being what they are in America, the so-called “crazy third” forms about 30% that always vote Democrat and 30% that always vote Republican.

    Which leaves the remaining 40% to vote based on vague feelings of well-being. If they and their friends are doing well, they vote for the guy whose butt is currently in the chair (no matter how little said guy has done for them — his actions and conduct could have been entirely opposed to their interests.) If they or their friends are doing poorly, they’ll vote against the guy whose butt is currently in the chair (no matter how much said guy has done for them — his actions and conduct could have been entirely aligned with their interests.)

    So the Dems were in power. And people don’t have jobs. It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to understand why a flood of Republican victories doesn’t amount to a mandate.

    Also, understand that young people (who, remember, were the driving force behind Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008) didn’t vote in this election. Think about why that is. This election wasn’t a referendum on democratic policies (which virtually no one is actually aware of,) but a stunning rebuke of the incompetence and cowardice of Congress.

  145. I’m finding the Republican reaction to the election somewhat puzzling. Yes, they won the House, but they didn’t win either the Senate or the Presidency (not even up for election in case they hadn’t noticed). However, many of them are proclaiming that they will now get rid of health care reform and everything else that seems to bother them.
    In reality, there is no chance that they will be getting rid of anything like this. So, it seems that they are either:
    a) Seriously deluded (always possible)
    b) Just making a lot of noise so they will seem committed to the tea partiers.
    c) …

  146. shalter1:

    You can’t blame them for making the assertion; you can blame the Senate if they go along with it. Or Obama if he doesn’t veto such a thing, which I expect he would.

  147. Young people normally don’t vote much, and they especially don’t vote in midterms. There are a lot of reasons for this; a large one is that it’s often difficult for college students to vote–for reasons of town/gown animosity, they’re usually strongly encouraged to vote absentee in their home districts instead of registering where they go to college, which means they have to go through the process of requesting absentee ballots sufficiently far in advance.

    2006 and 2008 were actually quite unusual in this regard (and young people were still underrepresented, just not as much); 2010 is a reversion to the norm, in which lower-turnout elections are dominated by retirees and older voters.

  148. …Also, note, if you’re a student far from home voting absentee in your home district, you may well not be exposed to any relevant campaigning in anything other than a presidential election. You have to go out of your way to keep up with politics in a distant location, or else all the candidates and issues are meaningless names.

  149. John:
    I certainly don’t blame them for the assertion/crowing, but the odd thing is that a fair number seem to actually believe it. And, yes, I think such things would never make it out of the Senate.

  150. Matthew @156: This was a midterm election. They always have lower turnout.

    No, I don’t think there was an effort to suppress ‘the middle’; both parties would much rather have those votes, particularly because the crazies tend not to do exactly what you want them to do (for example, voting for extremists in the primary who are guaranteed to lose in the general election). In the US, voter-suppression efforts tend to be aimed at African-Americans and the poor.

  151. JediBear @162

    There’s a phenomenon called the “crazy third”

    Well that’s more like speculation about human behavior than a “phenomenon” or even a theory on human behavior.

    There is another train of thought that is closer to a theory that proposes that large numbers of minds working on the same problem tend to average to the correct answer. Call it distributive human processing.

    New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki wrote about this research in a 2004 book called “The Wisdom of Minds”.

    “the many are smarter than the few.” In one experiment, participants were asked to estimate the number of jelly beans in a jar. The group average was 871, only 2.5 percent off the actual figure of 850. Only one of the 56 subjects was closer. The reason is that in a group, individual errors on either side of the true figure cancel each other out.

    Now the interesting thing about this is that people do not have to be right to arrive at the correct answer. But there are conditions to preclude things like mobs (which are rarely correct) and herd behavior:

    For a group to be smart, it should be autonomous, decentralized and cognitively diverse…

    I think the American electorate qualifies.

    And it explains why Democracy works, on average most of the time. And it explains why it is that I trust the electorate even if I disagree with 90% of the individuals that make it up. And even if it decided that Obama was better than McCain.

    And, I think, it’s good to keep this in mind when an election turns out not to our liking.

    Because thinking that when things do not turn out they way you think they should is just the result of stupid, sheeple, is to, in general, deny the viability of Democracy itself.

    In which case we should have just one more election to pick our supreme overlord and just be done with it…

  152. 163 Steve:

    The repeal of HCR is based on the idea that some DEMs are also against it. At least one new elected Democrat Senator campaigned against it and some other DEMs may be cajoled based on results in their state. Just like the Bush Tax Cut extension was supported by enough DEMs that Pelosi/Reid delayed any vote so as to not show their stance was divided on the subject. Some issues will be overturned/neutered , that is what I hear the GOP saying. Seriously the only delusional words I hear are the deniers of change in the status quo.

  153. How many Republican congressmen does it take to change a lightbulb? NO!

    Let’s jump back a bit here.

    The Republicans bought a light bulb from Haliburton three years ago for $1000. It never really worked right and it took an entire coal plant to keep it going, but because it was surrounded by a bunch of other bulbs that were already burnt out, it was at least working better than the rest.

    Then the Dems were elected, and a few months later the bulb burnt out. Clearly, that was the fault of the Dems, since it burnt out on their watch.

    The Dems then asked the GOP for help in changing it, but the Republicans said, “No.” When asked why they wouldn’t help, they said it was fiscally irresponsible to replace the light bulb.

    So the dems went and bought a new lightbulb. They wanted to buy one of the new LED bulbs that would last for centuries and consume 1/90th of the energy of the old bulb, but since that cost $20 from Home Depot, the Republicans said no, and pointed the American People to the incandescent bulbs the next aisle over and said “Look, why aren’t they buying the 3 for 99 cents pack?”

    Afraid of the mounting pressure from those still using candles, the Dems reduced their demands and bought the CFL bulbs instead, to which the Republicans then accused the Dems of trying to kill everyone’s grandparents through Mercury poisoning, because the CFL bulbs definitely contain Mercury that can SEEP INTO YOUR BLOOD every time you turn on the bulb.

    The Dems now had the lightbulb and wanted to put it in, but it was election time again, and the Republicans won, so the GOP will go out and buy their own lightbulbs (from Haliburton for $1500), but not put them in. Why? Because they want the Dems to have to install them the next time one of them gets elected. Then the GOP can point and say, “Look at all the money they waste! We’ve been without lights for all these years, and we’ve been doing just fine.”

    And the rest of the world cries.

  154. Joe Beernink @171

    The Dems then asked the GOP for help in changing it, but the Republicans said, “No.”

    What people keep losing sight of is that even assuming the premise is correct (which I don’t)…

    …the Dems didn’t need Republicans to change the stinking light bulb…

    In the real world, the problem the Democrats had was that the opposition to their plans was bipartisan, while the support for their plans was purely partisan.

    And why was the opposition bi-partisan?

    Well just look at yesterdays election results for the answer.

    Yet another extract from Fleming’s brilliant piece

    AMERICANS: “So, the economy is pretty bad and there’s high employment. You think you can do something about that?”

    DEMOCRATS AND OBAMA: “We can spend a trillion dollars we don’t have on pork and stuff.”

    AMERICANS: “No … that’s not what we want. We’d really like you not to do that.”

    DEMOCRATS: “You’re stupid. We’re doing it anyway.”

    AMERICANS: “That’s not going to help us get jobs!”

    DEMOCRATS: “Sure it will; millions of them … though they may be invisible. You’ll have to trust us they exist. And guess what else we’ll do: We’ll create a giant new government program to take over health care.”

    AMERICANS: “That has nothing to do with jobs!”

    DEMOCRATS: “We don’t care about that anymore. We really want a giant new health care program. We’re sure you’ll love it.”

    AMERICANS: “Don’t pass that bill. You hear me? Absolutely do not pass that bill.”

    DEMOCRATS: “Believe me; you’ll love it. It has … well, I don’t know what exactly is in the bill, but we’re sure it’s great.”

    AMERICANS: “Listen to me: DO. NOT. PASS. THAT. BILL.”

    DEMOCRATS: “You’re not the boss of me! We’re doing it anyway!”

    AMERICANS: “Look what you did! Now the economy is way worse, we’re even deeper in debt, and we have a bunch of new laws we don’t want!”

    DEMOCRATS: “You’re racist.”

    AMERICANS: “Wha … How is that racist?”

    DEMOCRATS: “Now you’re getting violent! Stop being violent and racist, you ignorant hillbillies! And remember to vote Democrat in November.”

    The analysis is really not rocket science…

  155. Frank @172: c’mon. A unified front by one party, with the addition of a few stragglers from the opposite party, is not “bipartisan”.

  156. A unified front by one party, with the addition of a few stragglers from the opposite party, is not “bipartisan”

    In the house, the health care bill passed 220 to 215. 176 Republicans, and 39 Democrats voted against it.

    1 Republican voted for it.

    According to the New York Times,

    Among 22 who provided crucial yes votes from particularly risky districts, 19 ended up losing on Tuesday.

    So what does that tell you? One way to interpret that is to say there should have been 19 more votes in the House against it had these representatives been voting the will of their constituents.

  157. The changing of the political guard doesn’t surprise me, given the economic landscape. What surprises me is Jim Trafficant ran for Congress and got 16% of the vote. Yes, the man who was expelled from Congress and convicted of federal corruption crimes won 16% of his district.

  158. mythago

    who was that one House Republican? Again: c’mon

    Um, it was Louisiana’s 2nd district congressman Joseph Cao (at least in the Nov 2009 vote to which I was referring).

    And he lost on Tuesday giving the Democrats one of the few flips.

    Why?

  159. Scalzi,

    I’m curious why you think that the Democrats were elected with a firm mandate to enact sweeping social change. The 2008 election seemed to me to be a confluence of voter exhaustion with the wars, coupled with massive enthusiasm for the person if not the policies of Obama on the left and center, and massive apathy regarding McCain on the right. It seems clear that you think that the Democrats refusing to make this election a referendum on their legislative achievements over the past two years was a massive blunder. But I think it is telling that so many of them ran away from those accomplishments and focused on the perceived insanity of their Republican opponents instead.

    My read of this election is that it is a backlash against the Democrats for legislative overreach and their perceived lack of seriousness on the economy. The ‘stimulus’ under the Democrats (and the Republicans before them) seemed to give tons of money to the wealthy bankers and a few specific corporations without any appreciable positive effect on the nation. Coupled with other high profile bills like health care it seems like we are getting trillions in additional debt and burdens for no perceivable gain to the average voter.

    Also the unpopularity of the legislation over the past two years why do you think that the public would appreciate TARP and HCR after the fact and reward Dem candidates if they had run highlighting those programs?

  160. Honestly, would it be too much to ask for term limits, so we can regularly have a congressional flush and be rid of the deep corrupt ties that exist on both sides of the aisle?

  161. Frank @177: The March 2010 vote was the one that put the health-care bill on Obama’s desk and apparently, Cao voted against it then, apparently. This wasn’t a “bipartisan” vote. Whatever the merits or lack thereof of the health care bill, I really find it tiresome to map the mentality of sports fandom (go our team! beat their team!) onto politics.

  162. Betelgeuse:

    “I’m curious why you think that the Democrats were elected with a firm mandate to enact sweeping social change.”

    I’m not aware of saying that. I am aware of saying Obama and the Democrats generally didn’t hedge about what their plans were once they were in office, and people elected them. Now, one may argue that people didn’t know what they were getting when they bought into the Dem label, but I’m less than convinced about that.

  163. Scalzi @ 181:

    I was attempting to paraphrase the third bullet of your original post, but thank you for the clarification. I still think a large part of the Democrat victory in 2008 was due to the massive enthusiasm gap between Obama and McCain. I was mystified by the enthusiasm for Obama, but it was undeniable. I don’t know anyone who really enjoyed voting for McCain and I think that had a spillover effect on a lot of other races.

    I do also appreciate your comments on Democrats whining about Fox News, that is almost as annoying as Republicans whining about the Main Stream Media, and both sides whining about the other’s financial donors.

  164. I’m curious why it seems that any elections Republicans win (no matter how slim the margin) are regarded as an Unshakeable Mandate from the Almighty People whose Will (as interpreted, of course, by Republicans) Must Be Obeyed, while any elections that Democrats win (no matter how large the margin) are regarded as aberrations to be disregarded and cause for blatant obstructionism of the blandest and most inoffensive majority proposals.

  165. Joe_1967 @ 183:

    Try reading partisan spin from both sides. No matter the side, no matter how slight the victory it is ALWAYS a mandate. Conversely, no matter how crushing the defeat it was never a repudiation of the platform.

  166. And why was the opposition bi-partisan?

    Because the Democrats had sufficiently large majorities that when the Republicans made it clear that they weren’t interested in genuine negotiations, the Democrats only had to convince sufficient numbers of their own members to pass the bills. This is how legislation works. Bipartisanship is, fundamentally, ridiculous. I don’t want my Congress passing stuff that is so anodyne that it draws substantial support from both sides of the aisle. We have elections to decide who we want to make policy, and those people should go and make the policy that they promised in the elections. That’s exactly what the Democrats did, more power to them.

  167. I fail to see how this:
    old white people so stupid that they don’t sense the inherent contradiction of screaming about a smaller government whilst cashing their federal checks

    and this:
    while I am philosophically not aligned with the real-world aims and goals of the Republican party at this time, on a direct and personal level, the short-term effect on me is either neutral or mildly positive

    differ in any way but assignation of motive. It’s possible to both a) play the the rules as extant, and b) think the current rules suck — even if one stands to benefit from those rules. There is no “inherent contradiction”; there’s doesn’t need to be a contradiction at all.

  168. mythago

    This wasn’t a “bipartisan” vote.

    Sure it was. It was bipartisan against. Which was my original point.

    The single vote by Cao in the first vote could be rightly assigned the term of “straggler”. The 39 against in November and the 34 against in March is a bit more significant than mere “stragglers”.

    What’s more, when Stupak changed his vote to “yea” in March, he promptly retired.

    And was replaced by a Republican.

  169. Frankl @187: well, if you’re conveniently defining ‘bipartisan’ to mean ‘a bill that did not split 100% along party lines, then I guess that you could call it bipartisan, which would make pretty much every bill ever passed, ever, ‘bipartisan’ and thus make the term kind of meaningless; also, I suspect you would (rightly) criticize a Democratic policitian who claimed ‘bipartisan drafting’ on a committe that was composed of two dozen Democrats and a single, liberal Republican.

    Outside of that strange definition, ‘bipartisan’ generally means broad support/opposition from both major parties, not a party line vote where you persuade a couple of the other guy’s stragglers to cross the line for you. YMMV, I suppose.

  170. Matthew Hughes @156 I’m saying that they have no way to make this happen whether or not they would like it to happen. I’m saying that the result, while it may be desirable for some politicians, is not entirely predictable based solely on the amount of money spent on a campaign. They can spend all the money they want and hope that it results in driving out the middle of the country but I don’t believe a direct causal relationship can be established.

  171. Based on Obama’s post election address, it seems likely that the moronic holy grail of ‘bipartisanship’ has become replaced with the moronic pursuit of the new holy grail of “consistency” . Ick.

  172. “the GOP may have put a gun to the head of the Democratic majority in the house, but it’s the Democrats who said, “dude, you’re holding it wrong,” jammed the gun into their own temple, and then pulled the trigger”

    Not sure. The House passed a lot of progressive stuff, it all died in the Senate, and the House Dems payed the price. If any Dems are to ‘blame’ for more progressive ideas not getting through, it’s the few conservative Democrats that were needed to make up the supermajority to get *anything* passed in the first place.

    The real problem, in the end, are the voters who thought they did their job electing Obama and were disappointed that every piece of legislation he signed was almost exactly what he said he’d do in his campaign. Because of their cynicism they failed to show up when it was time to give Obama the legislature he needed to pass the rest of his agenda. The voters got the governent they deserved.

  173. Obama is on track to be the biggest political dissappointment for an entire generation. After getting people inspired enough to vote on a ‘yes we can’ change government, he has basically come back with treebeards ‘lets not be hasty’ attitude. Apparently obama thinks the presidency is a twenty year term or something. He as on jon steweart saying in effect that he campaigned on change but voters may have misconstrued that to mean something would change in four years.

    Obama campaigned against torture, on rule of law, closing gitmo, and has done nothing but make speeches about why he can’t do what he was voted in to do. All through health care reform he said he wanted a strong public option, but then the truth came out that he had negotiated secretely with insurance companies and promised them there would be no public option.

    And so the dems campaign was ‘yes we can’. To which many progressives said ‘no you didnt’. And this cycle dens campaign strategy retreated to ‘but its not my fault’.

    Nobody votes for ‘its not my fault’.

    Dens only other strategy was to point at the most extreme tea bagged nutjobs and shriek ‘if you don’t vote for us, you’ll get them!’.

    And people don’t rally to vote for the ineffectual over the insane.

  174. Anyone claiming that R’s had an unqualified sweep of the board needs to look past the raw numbers for a few seconds: The Congressional Progressive Caucus (the hardcore Socialist Commie Dems, if you like) had over 80 members before the election. If the election results were supposed to be a widespread repudiation of progressive, liberal legislative aims, then how come only three members of this caucus, sadly including the great Alan Grayson, lost their seats?

    Contrast that with the Blue Dogs, who dropped from 54 to 25 seats (with a few more losses still possible by the time the counting is over). Progressive Dems: Give thanks to your nearest Teabagger, and make their heads explode, for doing your dirty work for you, i.e. purging the collaborators.

    coonass @121: Everybody thinks autoworkers’ compensation is excessive until they, or their children, get hired by the Big Three, or indeed by the Asian transplants, since their employees enjoy wages/benefits on par with the UAW (not because Toyota et al are such nice guys, but because they want to make unionization less attractive). So you don’t want your kids or your neighbour’s kids to make a good living, eh? Why on earth not?

    Somebody up above pointed out excessive executive renumeration and bad business decisions as much more likely culprits for the B3′s woes. Here’s another: Blue collar retirees are far more numerous both because of all the buyouts over the years and because GM, Chrysler and Ford have been in North America likely since your grandpa was just a gleam in your great-grandpa’s eye. Compare the number of UAW retirees with the number of transplant retirees someday. Hint: You’ll be able to count the latter on one hand and still have enough fingers left to hold a pen.

  175. The Congressional Progressive Caucus (the hardcore Socialist Commie Dems, if you like) had over 80 members before the election. If the election results were supposed to be a widespread repudiation of progressive, liberal legislative aims, then how come only three members of this caucus, sadly including the great Alan Grayson, lost their seats?

    Because they’re in the most liberal districts is largely why.

    Contrast that with the Blue Dogs, who dropped from 54 to 25 seats (with a few more losses still possible by the time the counting is over). Progressive Dems:

    Because they were in the most marginal districts is largely why.

  176. David @194

    Because they’re in the most liberal districts is largely why….
    Because they were in the most marginal districts is largely why.

    It is important to keep this in mind when we hear claims that Democrats didn’t come out and vote. They did. And that helped Democrats who supported Health Care “reform” in districts where HCR was popular.

    Brendan Nyhan pointed this out in a good piece at Pollster now owned by the Huffington Post.

    House Democrats who supported health care reform, TARP, the stimulus bill, and/or cap-and-trade performed worse than those who did not controlling for the partisanship of their district. This finding directly contradicts the simplistic claims above about the effects of health care, cap-and-trade, and the Blue Dog agenda.

    So basically, the Democratic legislative agenda only hurt Democrats who voted against the interests of their constituency.

    So no matter how you cut it, these programs were unpopular to the majority of Americans and had these representatives been reflecting the desires of their districts, they wouldn’t have passed.

    That is pretty much the lesson of this election cycle.

  177. I love the smell of blatantly crazy right wing propaganda in the morning. Smells like victory.

    You know, someday this war is going to end.

  178. So basically, the Democratic legislative agenda only hurt Democrats who voted against the interests of their constituency.

    What the article says, Frank, is that Democrats in marginal districts were harmed by votes for the Democratic agenda; in districts that leaned strongly Democratic, the effect was either neutral or positive.

    So, in a giant shock to political science everywhere, Frank has discovered that a party’s overall agenda might skew away from districts in the middle and that politicians might suffer at the ballot box because of it. In 2006 and 2008, it was the GOP candidates, in 2010, it was the Democratic.

    Or, to put it as I did in the first place, the most left wing Democrats survived well because they were in left-wing districts and the most right-wing Democrats got hit because they were in marginal districts.

    Thanks for trying to demagogue it so as to make it seem as if all Democrats suffered for supporting HCR.

  179. @ #181 How does Barney Frank fit into this “Democrats generally didn’t hedge about what their plans were once they were in office” notion?
    Also, is Frank non-dim?

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