Post-Election Notes, 2014

Election results for the Ohio Governor’s race. The Democratic candidate got his ass handed to him.

And they are:

1. Well, that was disappointing, if not entirely unexpected. The smart money was for the Republicans taking the Senate, which is what they did; in 2015 they will have 54 seats, which is a comfortable majority, but not anywhere close to a veto-proof majority. So: Welcome the the Obama Veto Era, in which the president shoots down anything he doesn’t like, and that’s essentially the end of it. This means that gridlock will happen somewhere else than in the Senate, which is where it’s been for the last four years. No doubt this means we will hear Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans intoning about how this means the president is obstructionist, etc., which will be ironic, at least.

2. I’m not the sort of person dense enough to say “The GOP controls the Congress! This is great news for Obama!” but I’m not going to lie, either: I’m very curious to see how Obama handles this upcoming congress. The man has no more elections in front of him and no reason to do any damn thing the Congress will want him to do if doesn’t want to. And as noted above, he wields the power of the veto, which the GOP is very unlikely to be able to overcome. This has the potential to very interesting, indeed.

(P.S., GOP: You still really really really shouldn’t try to impeach Obama. It’s not gonna work. But don’t listen to me, if you don’t wanna. In fact, I don’t imagine you will. Which dovetails nicely into the next point:)

3. The main thing I think we’ll see is the federal government once again getting incrementally stupider and/or mendacious, because at this point the GOP does not put a premium on intelligence, when it comes to its elected officials. And why should it? Fielding nincompoops seems to be working for them, and has for the last several election cycles at least. I find this exasperating but I don’t think there’s any short-term cure for it. Until and unless the GOP gets hit with massive election losses, over several cycles, there’s no percentage in them changing a damn thing.

4. A good number of my Democratic/liberal friends wonder what the hell just happened. The answer: Look, there are a lot of Republican and conservative leaning folks in the US, and they’re not going to just wander in front of a bus and disappear. Indeed, most of the Senate races last night were in conservative-leaning states and the 2014 election was GOPers/conservatives last chance to register their displeasure at Obama, who they hate with a foamy passion. Did you think they were going to miss out on that chance? As noted above, from a practical point of view, as regards the federal government it’s going to be for naught, but that’s not the point.

Now, as a side effect, the GOP also survived in state-level races where it absolutely should not have. The fact that Sam Brownback and Rick Scott in particular managed to get re-elected as governors in Kansas and Florida despite their abject incompetence is bad news for both of those states, I think Kansas in particular (Florida, it seems, has a larger buffer for stupidity in its state house). Once again, this says to the GOP that it doesn’t have to change anything it’s doing, because again, why should it? It can win elections with politicians just this dumb.

5. But let’s not let the Democrats off the hook, either, shall we. In my particular state, Ohio, the party absolutely humped the bunk, with a disastrous candidate for governor (he won only two of 88 counties, and just 33% of the vote — Jesus, he even lost Cleveland), a poor showing in statewide races (i.e., a big fat goose egg with only one Democrat in a statewide race getting more than 40% of the vote) and loss of seats in the legislature. The Ohio Democratic Chairman has resigned, as well he should have (he also lost his state House seat, which is injury to insult).

Ohio is not a red state; it’s as purple as they get. The margins of victory here should not have been nearly as lopsided as they were. You can’t just blame voting laws, the Koch brothers and luck of the electoral draw for these losses, either here in Ohio or elsewhere. The Democrats should also look to their candidates and their organizations. You have to give people a reason to vote for you beyond voting against the other team.

6. This election is a cogent reminder to Democrats and other folks of a liberal/progressive bent that they can’t just wait about smugly expecting the Great Blue Demographic Wave to swamp the GOP, bringing about a new shiny utopia of health care and solar power. I’ll note that I warned folks two years ago not to get cocky and that the mid-terms were out there, and that the GOP (despite the general low quality of its recent candidates) is not stupid. Surprise! Now, maybe the GOP is eventually demographically doomed and maybe it isn’t, but even if it is, you can’t just expect it to go down without a fight. This is what that fight looks like. If you didn’t see it coming, you can’t blame the GOP for that. It fights dirty (which is different than fighting illegally) and it’s got lots of money. Expect more of the same. The question for Democrats/progressives is what they are going to do about it.

(GOP/conservative folks: Don’t get smug either. You have problems of your own, and Hillary’s out there, lurking about.)

7. Finally, if you’re a Democrat/progressive freaking out now, remember what the GOP were doing two years ago, and what you were doing four years ago, and what the GOP was doing six years ago. US politics is in an especially messy phase in recent years, and I don’t see it getting much better anytime soon. What I do know is — yet again — a lot can change in a couple of years. A lot is almost certain to change in a couple of years. If anyone thinks this election was indicative of anything but of this particular election cycle, well. History would seem to be giggling at you for that impression.

In any event: Election’s done, the results are in, and these are the cards we play for the next two years. Let’s see what happens next.

245 thoughts on “Post-Election Notes, 2014

  1. Play nice with each other, please. Also, if at all possible (and it is possible) avoid either gloats of exultation or portentous posts of utter doom and ruin. It ain’t football. Thanks.

  2. I find it interesting that voters seem to want higher minimum wage (AR, AK, NE, SD), legal pot (OR, DC and got 55% in FL but didn’t “pass”), tighter gun control (WA) and less restrictions on abortion and birth control (CO)……and Republican representation. Seems legit.

  3. “This election is a cogent reminder to Democrats and other folks of a liberal/progressive bent that they can’t just wait about smugly expecting the Great Blue Demographic Wave to swamp the GOP, bringing about a new shiny utopia of health care and solar power.”

    This. There are surely lots of narrow, bigoted, ignorant people up there, but if the Dems can’t run good campaigns (and from what I saw, a lot of them can’t) it’s not the voters’ fault.

    In many areas liberal initiatives, like raising the minimum wage and legalizing marijuana, were voted in while liberalish (emphasis on “ish”) politicians weren’t. A sure sign that the politicians failed to make their case.

  4. I think that people have given up on government. I have to wonder if things won’t turn violent if the govt continues to be ineffective. I’m not some revolutionary i’m pretty left leaning these days, but I just see a lot of people frustrated and eventually that leads to someone losing patience and doing something extreme.

    One thing about the GOP owning both houses, they will have a hard time blaming anyone else for the failure of government to pass legislation. Aside from vetos, but I don’t suspect there will be a lot of those. Unless you have some extreme positions coming through.

  5. It’s days like today that I could weep for the world we are leaving for my son and Athena and their children.

    And the ****ers will be long dead before the chickens come home to roost.

  6. I don’t see Hillary being a problem for the GOP. I don’t think she’s electable, and I can’t figure out why so many people seem to think she is.

    One thing the Republicans do waaaay better than the Democrats is to get people to vote in mid-term elections, which is why it always goes this way. If you really want people to feel enfranchised, get them to vote when turnout numbers are down! That’s when a single vote really does make a difference.

  7. I didn’t jump into politics until the election of 2012, at the ripe age of 32, so I really don’t know what was going on before then. Is there anything I should be reading to know what happened 4 years ago?

    Right now I’m doom and gloom but we’ll get through it.

  8. Republicans did a great job of inspiring fear and hatred…Democrats did…? Hopefully they’ll figure out something by 2016. I’m just hoping Obama woke up this morning and thought “Fuck it…I’ve got nothing to lose.”

    And I’m clinging to those small silver linings in different places like Prop 47 in CA and sick leave in MA both passing and the personhood bunk in CO getting defeated.

  9. Also keep in mind that several longtime Democratic senators retired in predominately red states, the seat pickup for the GOP was not a surprise there. The silver lining is that 23 of the 33 seats up for grabs in 2014 are currently held by Republicans, which means the Dems have a decent chance of gaining the ground back in the next election.

  10. As you noted, it was a bad playing field in the Senate (Democratic wave election in 2008 meant that the Dems were defending largely red state pickups from that year; sixth year of the Obama administration), and I think the Democrats played it pretty badly. Some of the Democrats who won in 2008 were stiffs (Udall in Colorado, Hagen in NC, Warner in VA) and they didn’t do well in a horribly competitive year.

    You know it’s a bad year for Democrats when Maryland elects a Republican governor (only one in the last 40+ years).

  11. As a liberal I can’t get that down that the Democrats lost. They are only slightly better than the Republicans and don’t do much when they have the majority anyhow.

    The one thing I wanted to go right last night did, we got rid of our terrible Republican governor in Pennsylvania. I’ve been waiting 4 years for that.

  12. @The Gneech I agree completely on Hillary’s chances of being elected, which are very small. If this is the Dem strategy for 2016, they’re not paying attention to the noise on the ground. The Democrats need to find better candidates for the next mid-term elections and for 2016.
    This was a DNC debacle.

  13. My suggestion: Before the end of the year, ram through every judicial and executive nomination still awaiting confirmation.

  14. It is unfortunate that the Democratic line-up for the state-wide offices wasn’t better than it turned out to be. Mr. FitzGerald set too much of the tone in the top-line race with issue after issue erupting starting with him abandoning his first running mate pick. Others down the state-wide races ticket stayed too quiet until it was too late, it seemed.

    Seeing normally hard-blue Ashtabula County vote for Governor Kasich was certainly a shock when the unofficial numbers were posted at night’s end last night.

  15. The ads weren’t against policies of the Democrats (which are mostly significantly to the right of Nixon’s) – they were against the president – who wasn’t running.

    All of the policies that the left hates about Obama are policies that the right doesn’t wish to mention – as the right likes them.

    We will see what happens. The election that I found to be most telling is Scott Walker’s reelection. Apparently economic failure of his policies aren’t nearly as important as other issues.

  16. Meh. I’ve been of the opinion that once the Republicans got control of both houses, the Democrats should just sit back and let them pass everything they want to. Figure after a while enough people will be burned and send the whole party packing /fantasy>

    On the more serious side, I hope President Obama has a good supply of “Veto” stamps.

  17. What republican is going to be able to beat Hillary? I am not excited by her, but she’s got way more approval, excitement and electability than anyone else you can mention. I can’t imagine that some unknown will emerge as a strong contender in the two years.

  18. I think this is a double edged sword for the GOP. They have just enough rope to hang themselves. They have control of the senate. But if they can’t do anything productive with it in the next two years the presidential election is going to suffer. And productive hadn’t seemed to be a priority lately.

  19. McConnell is by no means guaranteed the post of Senate Majority Leader. That position is chosen by the Republican senators, and doesn’t mean that the “senior” senator gets it….although it might seem that way. On the other hand, the President Pro Tem is a more prestigious, if largely less powerful than the SML. I’m not enthused about having McConnell as the SML, any more than I am about having Boehner as the Speaker of the House. As for impeaching Obama, I think that would be a big mistake, since it would bring the Vice-idiot, er, Vice-President into the office, something that would be an even bigger disaster.

  20. With regard to Hillary Clinton, let’s note that her (still potential) involvement is two years away and that, despite my aside, this comment thread should probably focus on the election that just took place. In other words, let’s not make this an “all Hillary Clinton” thread, please.

  21. Personally, I live in Cleveland – I voted Green this election because here we remember Mr. FItzgerald for his fifteen minutes of infamy. It seems indicative of what happens when the Dems don’t put sufficient emphasis on running a smart candidate. (Or checking history.)

  22. A big problem for Dems is that with the passing of a form of national healthcare they really have no salient issues that fire their imagination.

    If you want to be blunt, both parties have shot their wad and we could use a new party system.

    The problem with the politics of populism for the Democrats is that this normally means embracing racism.

    The problem for the GOP playing footsie with the politics of populism is that, eventually, they’re going to have to cross the folks who write the checks, and that’s not going to happen.

    If there was a lost opportunity for the Dems it was not to look at the the debacle of 2008 as partly caused by criminality, and seriously try bringing those people to justice. Barring that fighting for mortgage relief might have been the next best thing. I wasn’t a big fan of the concept, in as much as if you were stupid enough to sign a bad mortgage I’m not sure I have a lot of sympathy for you, but it would be a serious symbol that the Dems took the middle class seriously.

  23. I voted against incumbents and anybody who spammed the airwaves or my mailbox, without regard to their party of record. I have given up on the whole lot of them.

  24. “You know it’s a bad year for Democrats when Maryland elects a Republican governor (only one in the last 40+ years).”

    Maryland last had a Republican governor (Bob Ehrlich) from 2003-07. It’s not impossible here, for a moderate Republican.

  25. On the progressive policies/Republican policy makers thing: in 2004 Pew Research (I think) released the results of a poll that showed a majority preferred John Kerry’s platform, but attributed it to George W. Bush.

    After that I really started to notice that was a consistent pattern in mainstream “neutral” media — sympathy for Democratic and liberal policy preferences, but a strong partisanship toward Republican candidates.

    Even in very liberal Seattle, our only daily physical paper, The Seattle Times, pulls this routinely — supporting, say, pro-environmental policies, at the same time they endorse anti-environmental Republicans.

    Why? And what’s to be done about it?

    I don’t know. But I get really sick of media outlets portraying a “wave” election like this as if the sentiment of the voters as a whole has changed. I guess they like that narrative because it makes it seem like American voters shift their political opinions really dramatically every couple of years. But, you know, I didn’t change *my* mind. And I’ll bet none of you did, either.

    The other problem is obvious: liberal-leaning voters tend to sit out mid-term elections. Why? And what’s to be done about that?

  26. DAVID:

    You know it’s a bad year for Democrats when Maryland elects a Republican governor (only one in the last 40+ years).

    And the one before him was Spiro Agnew.

  27. Well John, I am British and have no standing in this matter, but I will say to anyone who complains about the result-did you vote, are you politically active. Are you an active Democrat or something else? If you do not like the result organise and work for 2016 and the result you want.
    I am active in UK politics so I can say this.

    P.S. Earth to the US its been nice to know you but goodbye, have fun as you disintegrate.

  28. The question as to what GOP candidate could beat Hillary leaves unspoken the woman’s ability to beat herself; this is always an option. She kind of did it the first time around by being surrounded by too many people who told her what she wanted to hear and being out-maneuvered by Obama’s ability to run a campaign.

    It is also not to be assumed that the issues (mostly superficial) of 2014 will be those of 2016; if the dynamite does go boom on the foreign policy front that can only have a major impact. I can’t see things going well for the GOP if they run another candidate selling “National Greatness.” Neo-isolationism from the likes of Rand Paul might sell though. Particularly if Hillary gets tarred-and-feathered as the person who lost the Middle East.

  29. The GOP candidates lack, well, knowledge of the world around them. I am a conservative, and have always leaned toward voting for Republicans (although I am not, generally, a straight GOP ticket voter, I tend to, you know, vote for people who can do the job), and I have been disappointed in who the GOP puts forth as candidates. This year, I should not complain, since I did not vote, but I am going to anyway- (Having recently moved, and not being registered in the state and county in which I now reside, I felt that it would be silly for me to cast an uniformed vote) I am tired of trying to choose a candidate based on one or two issues, and I am tired of both sides (but mostly my own party) making it that way. The Republican candidates who won did so based on one or two key issues on which they pontificated during most of their campaigns. The ones who lost, well, made all Conservatives look bad with their avoidance of concession speeches and their comments of “well, let’s wait until all the votes are cast,” making us all look like childish sore losers. Ugh. That is all.

  30. Once again, I’m delighted to live in the progressive utopia of the PNW. We’ve been consistently left-leaning for decades, and are thriving here, including economically. Of course, I do worry about what nonsense will be visited upon us at the Federal level now, to say nothing of worrying about the rest of the country save New England.

  31. This election cycle sucked. Obama sucks and I voted for him twice.

    And add me to the list of Democrats who loathes the idea of Hillary for President in 2016.

  32. A friend of mine who follows politics more closely than I do (and I see it was mentioned up above as well) noted that voters seemed to vote for a lot of liberal issues—tighter gun control, higher minimum wage, looser controls of abortion—while voting in conservatives.

    Which makes me wonder—and I probably don’t have the energy to research this—if some of these conservatives were actually far more liberal than their Tea Party predecessors. Time will tell.

    And for whatever reason, it seems like people really, really have short-term memory issues. Maybe it’s something in the water, but 2008 wasn’t that long ago. The GOP almost collapsed the economy, companies were laying people off left and right, housing prices dropped through the floor, unemployment was high, etc.

    Yet people claimed yesterday that we were on the wrong track.

    I don’t get it, but I have a long track record of not really understanding how people respond politically to things going on around them.

  33. Well when the new majority leader takes over, he’ll open a drawer somewhere and find all the legislation from the House that did not get acted upon by the Senate because Senator Reid was trying to protect his caucus from going on record with some tough votes.

    How’d that work out for ya?

    Also Mr Reid was attempting to protect the President and his Party from getting the “obstructionist” label they were trying so desperately to pin on their political opponents. But now thise chickens will be coming home to roost as the President will either have to veto everything or make a deal.

    As for the Republicans, it’s not enough to win. They have to do come up with a legiislative agenda and get bi-partisan approval for the bills they enact. They have to not run Congress like the Democrats have.

    They can get bipartisan bills on tax reform, immigration, and fixing the aweful legislation that is Obamacare. And they need to pass pro-growth economic measures.

    They can do all that. And they should.

  34. The thing of the Veto power is that it can be used quite effectively by the GOP. Sure, there will be a straight repeal of the ACA which Obama will veto. But they can also send stuff up to the President that are antithetical to Obama (e.g., a guarantee that plans that existed pre-ACA are still allowable under the ACA, that sort of thing). The GOP was far more disciplined as a party this cycle than most before it, and I think Boehner and McConnell are smart enough to allow the right about of Kabuki theater from their caucuses without doing anything particularly self-destructive.

  35. David @ 9:53, Maryland’s governor from 2003 to 2007 was Bob Ehrlich, also a Republican

    @MaximumBob @Joy Yes, that’s why I said “only one in the past 40 years.” That one would be…Bob Ehrlich.

    McConnell is by no means guaranteed the post of Senate Majority Leader. That position is chosen by the Republican senators, and doesn’t mean that the “senior” senator gets it….although it might seem that way.

    Oh, he’s pretty much guaranteed Senate Majority Leader. He helped take the Senate back and his only credible rival (Rand Paul) wants to run for President in 2016. Hard to do that and be SML.

  36. It was a midterm election. The president’s party gets whacked in midterms, and that was especially true this time, because this class of Senators rode in on Obama’s coat-tails in 2008. Congress is still going to be useless, because now the Dems will wave around the filibuster threat, and Obama will veto anything that gets through.

    Was it a fun night? No. But it wasn’t unexpected, and it isn’t going to ruin the world. At least not to any new extent.

  37. Ugh. Lost a sentence in there… “But they can also send stuff up to the President that are antithetical to Obama (e.g., a guarantee that plans that existed pre-ACA are still allowable under the ACA, that sort of thing). By finding stuff that’s popular, but which Obama cannot sign without causing a great deal of tsuris for the Democratic base, they can cause quite a bit of trouble simply by the fact of forcing the President to take broadly unpopular positions.

  38. Congress will achieve a lot in the next two years:

    1) 397 veto’d attempts to repeal Obamacare
    2) Another 2,000 hours of Ben Ghazi !!111!!!! hearings
    3) Abortion restrictions at Federal level, probably some sort of personhood bill
    4) Tax cuts for the mega-wealthy, social security “reforms” for the rest of us
    5) Impeachment hearings of Obama for being President while black.

    Hopefully Obama will start being angry and call the Reps on their utter bullshit, but I doubt it – it’s the Democratic way of rolling over rather than sticking the boot in (no hearings about the disastrous Iraq war, compare that 4,000 US dead, 500,000 Iraqi dead, $1 trillion in debt) to the Benghazi sideshow (4 dead – tragic, but in a different scale, and the ambassador was off being a spook on a State Department issue, while the CIA were doing their own thing).

  39. Small note of good news, in New York, the Working Families Party (progressive) got enough votes to stay on the ballot (50,000 votes).

  40. David, thought you were referring to the incoming elected last night. My bad.

    No worries. I can see the confusion.

    In other news, the new House of Representatives got a head start on its work today by, even before they were inaugurated, impeaching President Obama and, just for good measure, reimpeaching President Clinton.

  41. Growing up in NE Ohio, I can’t ever remember both Lorain and Cuyahoga counties going Republican — second Rhodes administration, maybe?

  42. The best way of understanding American Politics is to assume that the Republican party is a Chinese Communist front organisation dedicated to destroying the US.
    May I be the first here to congratulate The PRC on it’s latest success.

  43. Really David, where’s your imagination? You don’t think that they would pre-impeach Hillary Clinton second, rather than re-impeaching Bill? Best way to keep her off the ballot!

  44. I see that Scalzi voted for the Green candidate for governor in his state. Would that there had been a Green candidate in my state. I had the choice of a Democrat I didn’t want, a Republican I didn’t want, and a Libertarian I really didn’t want.

  45. While I’m primarily distressed about the Senate changing hands, and all the governorships remaining/becoming Republican, I was also distressed that the district I vote in, in upstate NY, didn’t even have a challenger for the incumbent Republican Representative to the House. Come on, I watched West Wing, isn’t this the kind of thing (fictional) Josh Lyman should’ve been all over?

    [And unless someone has some fantastic alternative candidate to recommend for 2016 (someone less hawkish & again fracking, please), I’ll be rooting & voting for Hillary.]

  46. While people hate LBJ for Vietnam, others remember him for the Civil Rights Act. Often, it is our most disparaged Presidents during their tenure in office who seemingly achieve the most, despite being reviled. Please count me with those other folks on SNL’s “How’s He Doing” as a person who is still a supporter of Obama. I find this hilarious: http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/hows-he-doing-with-chris-rock/2823749?onid=148621#vc148621=1

  47. You left out the likely ‘obama executive action without congress’ part of his presidency. Word is he is going to legalize illegal immigrants on his own. I am not sure this will stand in court. Before liberals get all excited and support this, this moves power to the executive branch… you won’t be so excited when the next republican president (and there will be a next one) uses the same authority to do stuff you don’t like.

    My self interest big concern is Obama decides to unilaterally increase H1B visas. I know lefties cry racism any time anyone has issues with immigration. You don’t even look at the issues. These are indentured servants. My employer has cut wages of new hires by 40%. They are able to do this because they can get h1b transfers. Like most h1b employers they don’t sponsor for greencards (costs money and employee will quit to get paid when they get a greencard) so they own them. The only reason employers won’t this is low wages and ‘you can’t quit so you have to put up with whatever we want’. This often includes repeated move at your own expense, sign contracts in india that would not be legal here, seizing tax returns (google this its called ‘forfeiture’), not paying out 401k when they quit, sueing them for quitting, working 80-100 work weeks. These are all things they can’t do to me because I can quit and I don’t have to worry about being deported.

    I don’t know if he will unilaterally act on this. If he does, the result will be alot of american citizens lose their jobs to lower wage indentured servants. If you actually know people on h1bs ask them. They will confirm this treatment.

  48. I wonder whether McConnell and Boehner will be able to hold back the flood of IMPEACH BENGHAZI EBOLA IMPEACH KENYAN IMPEACH BENGHAZI BENGHAZI IMPEACH! that has built up behind their dam. Ted Cruz, at least, is going to go after Obama (and almost certainly after McConnell as well), and that has the potential to create enormous rancor among Republicans (and perhaps some cheap amusement for Democrats). Mind you, it won’t do the party, the Senate, or the nation a bit of good, but I can’t say with confidence that Cruz & Co. won’t try it.

  49. In Illinois the only statewide race that was under actual contention was the Governorship, and the Republicans won that one. I can’t say I’m thrilled, but the incumbent Democrat wasn’t doing a great job, so I’m not surprised. About the only thing you could say for Quinn was that at least he wasn’t corrupt. The new Gov isn’t a teapartyer, and does support birth control being mandated to be provided in employer-provided health insurance, contrary to Hobby Lobby, so that’s something. And he’s been very coy about it, but he appears to be pro-choice. Possibly. Considering that there’s approximately no downside to a Republican being against any abortions anywhere anyhow think of the BAYBEES, his reticence on the subject is something I can only regard as a hopeful sign.

    I wish him well, and hope he does a good job for the state.

    On the more progressive front, we had two state Constitution questions which both passed with large margins, one which “would prohibit any law that disproportionately affects the rights of eligible Illinois citizens to register to vote or cast a ballot based on the voter’s race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or income” and one which “would expand certain rights already granted to crime victims in Illinois, and give crime victims the ability to enforce their rights in a court of law.” Basically it’s to let crime victims know about criminal hearings.

    We also had three non-binding advisory questions, one to increase the minimum wage, one to require all health insurance plans to cover contraception, and one to tax income of over a million dollars at 3% to fund schools. All passed quite comfortably.

    Our Senate race was never in doubt, but now I can go back to eating ice cream again. (The challenger for the Senate seat would be a terrible Senator, but his company makes AMAZING ice cream.)

  50. Before liberals get all excited and support this, this moves power to the executive branch

    The next Republican President is going to try to shift power whatever Obama does, so forgive me if I’m not shaking my fist at this one.

    See, eg, Bush, George W.

  51. This seems to me to be pretty much what happens in a midterm election–at least, it’s happened many times before, to FDR, Truman, Reagan, Clinton… It’ll happen to the republicans, too; if they manage to take the White House in 2016, look for a democrat majority in the house and/or senate in 2018.

  52. @Andrew Lloyd at 10:38

    That’s what I’m wondering, too. Forget veto-proof, 54 seats in the Senate isn’t enough for cloture. It would be profitable for Democrats to let the President do the heavy lifting and veto everything, that would allow sitting Senators to avoid being painted with the same brush as they do Republicans who use the filibuster. But can they trust him and do their interests always align?

    The minute Republicans get something through that the President can live with but is problematic for Senators, they open themselves up for some serious challenges. If I were looking to challenge a Senate seat in 2016, I’d be working up a line something like “A ‘No’ vote is just a ‘Yes’ in disguise when the Senate only has 54 Republicans.”

    The Republicans can be very strategic right now, passing legislation that sounds compelling to the center but can be seen as a defeat for the Democrats, forcing the Democrats to filibuster or veto popular measures. It’s what the Democrats have been doing to the Republicans. The question is, will the Republicans do so, or will they keep their focus on their base and not force the Dems to make hard decisions?

  53. Joy: the problem is that “moderate Republican” appears to be an endangered species. There aren’t many left out in the wild. Most of the ones I know have become Independents.

  54. Guess, a Canadian policy similar to H1B blew up spectacularly when it hit the news that companies were hiring temporary workers preferentially over Canadians. I think the government ended up scrapping the whole thing, which they had introduced. Hopefully Obama was paying attention.

  55. Forget veto-proof, 54 seats in the Senate isn’t enough for cloture

    What remains of the filibuster is unlikely to survive the next Congress if McConnell thinks he can get Obama’s signature on something.

  56. For the most part, Obama’s going to veto the more obnoxious bills that he can, and while the Republicans were able to dominate the Senate in 2008-2012 by threatening to filibuster things with their 40-seat minority, the Democrats won’t be able to pull that off.

    The tough parts are going to be budgets (because Obama has to pass some kind of budget) and judicial appointments (especially if there’s a Supreme Court vacancy.) I hope the Democrats have the guts to filibuster any budget that defunds Obamacare, and Obama has the guts to veto it, but who knows what else the Republicans will defund, or what other parts of the big intrusive Homeland Security / Pentagon mafia they’ll try to give more money to.

    Hillary Clinton was very electable in 2008, except that there was suddenly a brilliant public speaker who was mostly anti-war while she was much more pro-war, and Obama won the primaries and the Convention. Her big negative for current electability isn’t the pro-war position, it’s that the Republicans who passionately hated her for being a Clinton, and a woman, and a liberal, have had eight more years to demonize and attack her, though that mostly works with the people who also hated Obama, and her perfomance as Secretary of State was hopelessly lackluster.

  57. This jumped out at me: ” US politics is in an especially messy phase in recent years, and I don’t see it getting much better anytime soon.”

    And when it is, watch out brown people in far-away places that cross US corporations.

    Bad US public policy is bad for US citizens, and even worse for the rest of the world.

  58. Well they DID legalize recreational marijuana in D.C. so I’m thinking if they just start eating some pot brownies and cookies during session everything will be just peachy. Maybe mix it in their coffee and tea. Blow some through the air vents.

  59. I think that, along with the usual mid-term election nonsense, we’re seeing the GOP’s long range plan to sew up the country via gerrymandering and voter suppression beging to take effect. And the more they control state governments, the more that will continue to increase.

    As for the ‘there’s no difference between them’ crowd, we’ll see what you think in 12-18 months. If Justice Ginsburg goes, that will be something to be very very worried about.

  60. I agree with your entire post. Love what you said about Rick Scott, but we deserve what we get from him. The voters of Florida are our own worst enemy.

  61. The tendancy for progressive initiatives to pass while regressive politicians are elected does boggle me. Does it just boil down to the cult of personality?

  62. Wow, this is gloomy.

    I for one am upbeat in spite of this setback a few thoughts:

    1. This is Obama’s fault. Obama kept reaching his hand out to work with the party of no even when it was clear that they had no intention of working with him. There comes a point when you realize that you have to fight for principal hopefully the President has now learned that and will stop the repukes from the games they plan to play.

    2. That said, the GOP’s head will explode, and it will be fun to watch, when Hillary becomes President, and yes mark these words she will.

    3. This will be the last great victory for the GOP. White House insiders have promised that an executive order for immigration reform is coming, but even if it doesn’t we will see reform come and the party of the privileged white male will come to an end.

    4. Admittedly the GOP was very clever to quiet the radical elements of their party from the religious nuts to the teabaggers but now the rats will come out of the woodwork, and when they do, the country will be vary happy that the President will be there to stop them and that Hillary is waiting in the wings.

    5. The GOP also wisely was quiet in their war on women, but again, the idiots can’t help themselves, this will also help Hillary in 2 years.

    6. Mark these words, 2016 will be deja vu, it will seem like 2008 all over again as the Democrats not only retain the White House, but gain the house and senate as well. The tide will turn, hey look even gamergate is already dead!

  63. All this election did was swap one set of corporate interests with another.

    The notion that Hillary Clinton is some kind of liberal is about as absurd as her husband being some kind of liberal, or Obama being some kind of liberal. They’re all center right corporate puppets that govern from a center right, corporate friendly position. 40 years ago they’d all have been republicans. In fact, I think 40 years ago Hillary *was* a republican.

    There hasn’t been a liberal in the White House since 1944, and there hasn’t been a serious liberal lobby in the congress since the 60s. That the nation has slipped so far to the right that we call these people “liberal” with a straight face is the saddest thing.

  64. As a NH resident, I’m just happy our state had the self-respect to not elect Scott Brown. I’m not an enormous fan of Jeanne Shaheen, but at least she’s lived here for more than ten months.

  65. @Blackadder:

    “6. Mark these words, 2016 will be deja vu, it will seem like 2008 all over again as the Democrats not only retain the White House, but gain the house and senate as well. The tide will turn, hey look even gamergate is already dead!”

    2008 had a very big tail-wind for the Dems, what with war weariness, a huge financial crisis, a deeply flawed Republican ticket and a charming fellow in Barack Obama. I don’t see that confluence building anything close to that for Hillary Clinton.

    I am not saying she can’t win — as they say in Arkansas, she might should — and the 2016 map looks tough for the Republicans to hold the Senate, but there just won’t be anything like 2006 or 2008 for the Dems to pick up the House. Where are those 37 seats going to come from?

    I also think that too many folks see HRC’s political acumen through the lens of her husband’s incandescently great political skills. I don’t think she shares them, particularly.

  66. A couple of pieces of analysis I’ve seen that interest me: One, someone pointed out in regard to the strange contrast between progressive referendums passing and the election results, it’s much harder to gerrymander a referendum. And two, Hilary now has someone to run against. Before she was in the awkward position of having to distance herself from Obama, now she can run against the GOP controlled congress.

  67. I want to add this thought about Hillary. Are we really so sure that she is going to enter the race? Is she maybe too old?

    And I have, one other, more basic fear with her, ever since I read a John Birmingham novel. Some right-wing nut assassinating her (there I said it), there-by plunging our country into recriminations and outright intrigues.

    But even beyond that I see:
    — A Limit on Abortion Rights
    — A Limit on LBGT Rights
    — More Jim Crow style laws
    — A Repeal of Obama Care (ACA)
    — More Tax Cuts for the wealthy
    — More Taxes for the Poor and the Middle Class (hidden and obvious)
    — Soldiers on the Ground in Iraq and Syria
    — That darn XL Pipeline wet-dream
    — Abolishing the EPA (you want clean water, “buy you” a filtered water bottle bud)
    — More coal burning plants
    — Reducing the MPG requirement for passenger cars and trucks
    — Restricting immigration, BUT allowing more Tech Visas for companies like Microsoft and Google (even though plenty of tech people are still looking for a job)
    — Reducing National Parks and allowing clear cutting and such
    — More Deep Horizon please (Drill Deep, Drill Now)
    — You say they took God out of School and Politics? Let’s put him back in!
    — Cut science funding to $0
    — Eliminate SNAP
    — Eliminate Medicaid
    — Eliminate Medicare
    — Privatize Social Security
    — Eliminate Unemployment Insurance

    All these and more are coming soon…..

    J/K…..

    Oh wait….. They’ll vote for them, then after Obama VETOES every single Bill, they’ll Impeach him, right around May or June.

    Yeap, it’s coming. Americans just voted for all of this.

  68. Seems like we had an awful lot of “What the heck…let’s see what happens” candidates in my corner of of the country this year, especially for the Democrats. Not entirely surprising, since I live in a very red district in a mostly red state, but it reinforced my impression that the Democrats don’t have their @*#&* together.

    It felt a bit like I was trying to hire someone for an important job. But the candidates didn’t have the right skills, didn’t know what the job entailed and weren’t actually interested in the position.

  69. Well they DID legalize recreational marijuana in D.C.

    And now we wait to see whether congress stops it in the next 60 days.

    As far as this Maryland governor thing, I think people misunderstand the political landscape in Maryland to some extent. They’re a strongly democratic state in a somewhat atypical way, particularly if you judge by federal government standard. There’s a lot of people in Maryland who are registered democrats and vote for democrats… both of who would be republicans in other places. There’s also a lot of strong pockets of conservatism. Watch the signs as you drive from the DC area to the Eastern Shore and you get a picture of this.

    If you’ve ever talked to a California Republican you get a sense of this phenomenon. Judging state level stuff by the way the folks caucus in the federal buildings doesn’t work exactly well.

  70. Much as I hate to say it, the GOP managed to be (electorally) smart in one very important respect — message discipline across the board. If there were candidates out there prone to chuntering on about “legitimate rape” and wombs that could magically repel rapist semen, the more… florid anti-Obama conspiracy theories and how generally disgusting the poor, women, queers and poor people are, they were kept well off the radar.

  71. “It ain’t football.”

    Thanks for that, Mr. Scalzi. If there’s one thing that drives me completely nuts about American culture, it’s our endless fixation on identifying black vs. white over comparing shades of gray.

  72. Greg, this poll result tells you all you need to know about Obama Derangement Syndrome among Republicans:

    “Who do you think was more responsible for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina: George W. Bush or Barack Obama?,” 29 percent of a pool of Republican primary voters in Louisiana blamed Obama, who took office in 2009, and 28 percent blamed Bush, whose term lasted through 2008. Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005.

    Short version – fact don’t influence peoples voting. Otherwise Yertl the Turtle would have lost Kentucky, for blatantly lying (Kynect will stay, but I will repeal Obamacare!” and the lapdog media not pillorying him for it.

  73. rochrist: contrast between progressive referendums passing and the election results, it’s much harder to gerrymander a referendum.

    But senators and governors are voted on by the whole state. That a bunch of southern states elected republican senators/governors doesn’t surprise me. But Massachusetts is as blue as you get, yet they just elected a Republican governor, and you can’t blame that on gerrymandering. Sometimes it feels like no matter how progressive/forward we get with referendums, people still want a strong authoritarian daddy type in office who talks tough and is “serious” and makes the world black and white and decisions are easy.

    Before she was in the awkward position of having to distance herself from Obama,

    She distanced herself from Obama by showing how much of a Hawk she’s willing to be, at which point, does it matter who’s elected if both candidates end up trying to out-do the other as to how eager they are to go to war against whoever the boogeyman is at the moment?

    now she can run against the GOP controlled congress.

    The only good thing I can see about the next two years is maybe the republicans will try to impeach Obama and fail. Maybe they’ll try to ram some of their more crazy right-wing legislation through and fail because Obama vetoes it. They might try to portray Obama as the obstructionist, but with a little luck, they’ll tip their hand as to just how fricken rabid and insane some of them are. The best thing that happened last cycle was McCain let Sarah Palin talk and show the world just how nutso she is. Maybe if the R’s do that for the next two years, it’ll sway voters come 2016.

    Cause Ginsburg is getting old and we can’t afford another right wing nutjob on the supreme court.

  74. Hats off to the Republican Party for the consistent messaging and marketing. The drum beat of “fail fail fail” from all the corners of the right set the terms of the arguments, and Democrats didn’t really succeed in countering the message.

    My only hope is that the candidates that presented themselves as center-right are truly center-right. The concern is that this group of candidates were better at not publicly shooting themselves in the foot. Time will tell.

    In Illinois, we have a venture capitalist that is going to start as our new governor in 2015. He is inheriting some serious issues (particularly the state employee retirement systems) left over from many previous administrations and legislatures ignoring the state constitution and failing to pay into the constitutionally protected retirement program. The laws are such that state employees are not allowed to pay into Social Security. The money went into anything else the legislatures and administrations wanted. Now the retirement bills are coming due. I can only hope he is up to the task. Unfortunately, the track record with Illinois Democratic and Republican governors hasn’t been exactly stellar in the last 20 yrs.

  75. There’s a great book on defense acquisition (“Augustine’s Laws”, by Norm Augustine) that has a vignette where a defense contractor has just won the bid on a major program. The company executives and marketeers are in the center of the big post-award party, having a drinks and celebrating. The poor engineers and S/W developers are packed away in a corner, getting drunk to drown their sorrows, knowing that they have to somehow accomplish the impossible task of providing the promised product per the promised cost and schedule.

    Somewhere in the Republican rejoicing I think there’s the equivalent of those engineers.

    But I do look forward to my tax cut with a balanced budget, vastly improved K-12 schools once we eliminate the Common Core, improved medical care when we jettison the ACA, actuarially sound Social Security and Medicare programs without cutting benefits to recipients, cutting unemployment by ending unemployment insurance and ending hunger by ending SNAP. Truly a forthcoming era of peace and prosperity.

  76. Florida insight…

    Scott and the Koch Brothers and a LOT more dirty money flooded the state with anti-Crist ads that were politifact pants-on-fire lies that a lot of people either wanted to believe or were too stupid to care. That, and there was SO MUCH of it you couldn’t avoid it. Crist shellacked Scott in all the debates, but it didn’t matter. (It was stupid close though).

    As far as the Senate goes, the Filibuster will just be firmly set in place from the other side of the isle. The ONLY issue will be when we lose a supreme court justice in the next couple years, the GOP will fuck Obama hard.

    The dems got lazy and tried to distance themselves from Obama and got killed over it. They should have EMBRACED Obama, embraced the improvements Obamacare brought us and how we are better off despite the obstructionists in the GOP. Mitch McConnell won because his opponent wouldn’t even admit she voted for Obama, she PLAYED RIGHT IN HIS HANDS.

    The Dems slept hard and tried to deny their core beliefs because they courted the GOP voters instead of firing up their base. Their base didn’t show up.

  77. But senators and governors are voted on by the whole state. That a bunch of southern states elected republican senators/governors doesn’t surprise me. But Massachusetts is as blue as you get, yet they just elected a Republican governor, and you can’t blame that on gerrymandering.

    True, and the truth about the senate results are mostly that it was just a bad year. Most of the seats up for grabs were in red states. As for the MA governor race, that rests on two things. First is the MA Democratic party’s insistence on repeatedly running Martha Coakley for things. She may be a nice person, or competent, but she’s an utter failure as a campaigner. I don’t know what she has on them, but it must be good. Secondly, Charlie Baker is one of those guys who is pretending to be a Democrat running as a Republican. Ok, I lied, three things. MA also has a long and somewhat bizarre history of electing Republican governors when the state is firmly Democrat controlled and has been for like forever.

    Cause Ginsburg is getting old and we can’t afford another right wing nutjob on the supreme court.

    This is my biggest fear and the reason that elections do matter. Who gets appointed to the Supreme Court is the power with greatest long term effect of any of them. Laws can be undone. Supreme Court justices are to close to forever for my comfort. And I’m afraid at this point, if she resigns, there’s no way Obama gets any appointment through, and there’s no way on earth she outlasted the next president.

  78. P.S…. Why anyone, and I mean ANYONE who makes under 100K a year votes for a republican is BEYOND ME.

  79. As far as this Maryland governor thing, I think people misunderstand the political landscape in Maryland to some extent. They’re a strongly democratic state in a somewhat atypical way, particularly if you judge by federal government standard. There’s a lot of people in Maryland who are registered democrats and vote for democrats… both of who would be republicans in other places.

    Yeah, still that thing with 1 Republican Governor in the past 40 years (not counting the incoming one). Maryland’s pretty Democratic in some quite typical ways (the thing about people who are registered Democrats but who would be Republicans elsewhere? Lots of other states like that).

    “Who do you think was more responsible for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina: George W. Bush or Barack Obama?,” 29 percent of a pool of Republican primary voters in Louisiana blamed Obama, who took office in 2009, and 28 percent blamed Bush, whose term lasted through 2008. Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005.

    Short version – fact don’t influence peoples voting

    Or the Republican voters just didn’t feel like cooperating with the pollsters.

  80. From: Not the Reddit Chris S.
    5) Impeachment hearings of Obama for being President while black.

    This “being President while black” level of analysis bothers me a lot. Republicans support Republicans and criticize Democrats. It’s part of belonging to a political party. Republican attitudes wouldn’t be discernibly different if Obama were white.

    Utah, where the black population is 1.27 percent and Obama only got 24.69 percent of the vote, just elected a black women to represent them. Ponder that for a while and consider whether the little racist box you’ve drawn around Republicans is actually accurate.

  81. As far as I can tell, 3 states are still in the air. 54 is the probable number, but it could be anywhere between 52 and 55.

  82. This “being President while black” level of analysis bothers me a lot. Republicans support Republicans and criticize Democrats. It’s part of belonging to a political party. Republican attitudes wouldn’t be discernibly different if Obama were white.

    Riiiigggghhhht. .And all the dog whistle stuff? The hatred for Michelle? Pull the other one.

  83. @RobL

    “Republican attitudes wouldn’t be discernibly different if Obama were white.”

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on that. The level of vitriol against Obama (who governs as a center-right politician pushing a Republican health care plan) is at least partly driven by racism. The flip flopping to oppose Obama when he supports a policy that the Republicans espoused is on another level from business as usual.

    Utah is not the deep south.

  84. To second some others here, the R’s had good message discipline and even pretended to like Dem things. “sure, i voted for a personhood amendment – but I respect the right to choose.” Nevermind those two things are antithetical… The Dems were not the happy warriors for class equality, instead they relied on various ‘war on…’ strategies (that did work in 2010/2012 with worse Republican candidates). They should have defended Obama and dem policies – starting in 2013 – and blamed Rs for blocking minimum wage increases and more taxes on the rich. People wanted some class warfare but the dems wouldn’t do it – no ‘positive vision’ thing.
    As for race, some voters are racist. Sure. But mainly on the right, they’ll hate on liberal urbanites (like Pelosi) just as much. They mostly vote party over race.

  85. It just pisses me off that every GOP campaign ad said they created jobs, when every jobs bill ever introduced in congress got killed by the bastards.

    Actually it’s their whole hypocracy. And that facts are not things they recognize.

    Maybe what pisses me off is that the stupid electorate doesn’t seem to notice or care. CONGRESS HAS A 10% APPROVAL RATE AND A 90% RETENTION RATE. WTF???

  86. Passing a “budget” means NOTHING — it does not fund the government. What counts is getting the House committees to actually prepare the thirteen appropriation bills that actually do authorize funds that pay the government’s bills and employees. Those bills are supposed to be done by September 30th every year. Did anyone notice that we’re running under a continuing resolution again?

    As for Ohio, can anyone tell me why Fitzgerald was picked to run for governor, and who the hell vetted him? They could have had a chance if they’d run someone like Jennifer Brunner. I can honestly say that none of the Democrats seemed to understand how to campaign this year.

  87. rochrist: 29 percent of a pool of Republican primary voters in Louisiana blamed Obama

    I just… can’t… even….

    RobL: Ponder that for a while and consider whether the little racist box you’ve drawn around Republicans is actually accurate

    Dude, when Ben Stein gets respected media space to say Obama is the most racist president ever, you’re only kidding yourself if you think racism against Obama hasn’t had any measurable effect on party politics. One cannot read this kind of nonsense and not see it. Racism today shows up most vocally in the media in the form of “look, we elected a black president therefore there isn’t racism in the country any more, so lets stop talking about it as if racism is a thing”.

    It’s like there’s all these systemic effects of racism, but apparently those effects aren’t the result of racists, because, you know, racists don’t exist anymore.

  88. @Maximumbob: I don’t know if Washington state is a good example, since the gop didn’t gain any ground here. The two contested races went blue.

  89. Schadenfreude is the best word right now. Great night it was. People sent packing certainly deserved it.

  90. If Maryland had fielded a stronger Democratic candidate for governor, things might have come out differently. I found Brown to be a lackluster candidate who campaigned poorly. Brown never connected with voters that I could tell, and negative campaigning isn’t enough, especially against an opponent who runs a strong campaign.

    This is a pretty good analysis, I think:

    http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2014/11/05/why-anthony-brown-lost-the-maryland-governors-race.html

    I think it’s probably true that voters decided to take a chance on Hogan, as the writer says. Because the alternative was taking a chance on Brown, who hadn’t offered much substance. He was O’Malley Lite, and O’Malley isn’t all that popular. I think it’s safe to say that the days when all you had to do was be a Democrat to win in Maryland are gone.

    Also, if another article I read last night is accurate, no candidate who is a sitting Lt. Gov. has ever won the governorship in Maryland, so this result was perhaps not such an outlier as it might at first have appeared.

  91. “Maybe what pisses me off is that the stupid electorate doesn’t seem to notice or care. CONGRESS HAS A 10% APPROVAL RATE AND A 90% RETENTION RATE. WTF???”

    That baffles me too. But it also makes me think that congress-wide or party-wide approval ratings aren’t particularly useful. I’d much rather know whether or not people approve of their own senators and representatives.

  92. Ohio I no longer see as being purple and not for the last few years. The state congress is completely controlled by Republicans, the governor is Republican, you only have one Democratic Senator, and only four Reps out of 16 are Democrats. Ohio has been passing a roster of un-Constitutional social conservative laws from voter I.D. laws, reproductive rights restrictions to the ban on marriage equality, and that will be increasing for the next two years at least. As will selling off state assets to Republican corporate backers. I don’t envy that economy, though it probably won’t be as bad as Kansas.

  93. CONGRESS HAS A 10% APPROVAL RATE AND A 90% RETENTION RATE. WTF???

    I think it’s reasonably well established that it’s Congress as a whole that has that dismal approval rate. Your own Representative/Senators are good and noble and honest – it’s those other low life scum that are the problem. You know the ones I mean.

  94. How a moderate Republican becomes viable in Maryland–have the previous Democratic governor increase the sales and gas taxes. And then have the candidate going in, the Democratic lt. governor, be responsible for the huge, expensive boondoggle that was Maryland’s attempt at an ACA exchange website (which had to be totally scrapped btw). Neither helped Brown, and thereby helped Hogan and the GOP. (Note also that Ehrlich beat another lt. governor in 2002, who basically ran on the platform “I’m a Kennedy, so elect me.” So I’m guessing running against a lackluster lt. governor is a bonus)

  95. On the one hand it is quite possible that some Republicans desire to impeach Obama for being president while a Democrat, rather than for being president while black. Look how they treated Clinton, after all.
    On the other hand I don’t recall them calling Clinton a honky or lynching him in effigy and then taking pictures. I don’t recall them trying to suggest he was foreign, or a member of an unpopular minority religion. I don’t recall them making a big point of coming armed to demonstrations against him.
    Perhaps my memory is poor; what can I say?

  96. There is absolutely nothing surprising about what’s going on if one pauses to consider the fact that the vast majority of voters have absolutely no idea what’s going on. They went out there to vote their disapproval and based on what they’d heard. The Democrats listened to their idiotic (or self-interested) consultants and wasted a ton of money on TV ads (to the benefit of those consultants) and “strategy” rather than actually recruiting good candidates and engaging with the electorate. The political game on the left has become as short-sighted as the Wall Street bankers the politicians are in bed with. Give up the current analogies of Red vs Blue and start focusing on a message of how to fix government. Hint, it starts with reform of the electoral process – redistricting, voting process, and especially money/corporate influence. These things can only be dealt with at the local and state levels, and we’ll only get enough officials in favor if we run good candidates and focus on the primaries.

  97. so this result was perhaps not such an outlier as it might at first have appeared.

    When you’re a Democrat and you lose worse than Martha Coakley, it’s an outlier.

  98. AlanM: it’s those other low life scum that are the problem. You know the ones I mean.

    I always hear “scum” as a dog whistle for the Rebel Alliance. Are you saying the rebellion has seats in the Imperial Senate?!?! ZOMG. When did this happen?

    tgillett: Give up the current analogies of Red vs Blue and start focusing on a message of how to fix government. Hint, it starts with reform of the electoral process

    54 Senators all democrats and independents voted for an amendment to overturn Citizens United. 45 Senators, all Republicans, voted against them.

    Yes, we need to fix the electoral process, but anyone asserting both parties are equally to blame and equally obstructing reform, is not basing that assertion on reality. You want to fix the process, you’re only hope is the Democrat party. That’s the reality.

  99. Maybe what pisses me off is that the stupid electorate doesn’t seem to notice or care. CONGRESS HAS A 10% APPROVAL RATE AND A 90% RETENTION RATE. WTF???

    Well, let me counter that with a few questions — Perhaps the “stupid electorate” notices a lot of things, and why should they bother engaging with a political establishment that doesn’t even bother trying to hide its naked, cynical contempt for them anymore? Which makes them pretty smart in my book.

  100. I have younger friends who are moaning over the “upset” and can’t quite get why my attitude has been “this too shall pass”. Part of it is where we are (San Francisco); part of it is age-( I lived through Nixon)- and part of it is that they just haven’t been through this cycle before.
    I do think, from what I’ve seen, that part of the problem was that the Democrats didn’t have the courage of their convictions–they’ve been to too many pollster/advisor meetings where it was suggested they tone down their message or not give the other side ammunition. Sure, you may lose–but you lost anyway. Wouldn’t it have been better to go down on your own terms?
    But then, I’m not a Party person and for all the dreams that President Obama will finish his term doing what’s right instead of politically palatable, I personally think he’ll be more concerned about what’s good for the Democrats and not the country as a whole.
    PS–I also think the nutjob wing of the House will see this as a mandate for them to go even more batshit-crazy so that will be fun watching the part of the Republican Party that looks ahead trying to minimize them.

  101. blockquote>I have younger friends who are moaning over the “upset” and can’t quite get why my attitude has been “this too shall pass”.

    As I pointed out earlier, just one more supreme court justice and no, it won’t pass. Not for at least 20 or so years.

  102. Giorgio – Why would you ask “Are we really so sure that she is going to enter the race? Is she maybe too old?” She is 69 years old this year and will be 71 in 2016.

    Did you ask the same thing when Ronald Reagan ran (just shy of 70 years old when he became president)? Or when John McCain ran in 2008 (at the age of 72)? Or when Bob Dole ran (at the age of 73)? If not, why not?

  103. Ghoulie: “The other problem is obvious: liberal-leaning voters tend to sit out mid-term elections. Why? And what’s to be done about that?”

    How about some liberal-leaning candidates for a change? (There’s a good reason that Senator Warren is wildly popular — she’s the rare high-office Dem who’s actually liberal.)

    And while I agree that Repubs are excellent at getting their votes out, well, the trick seems to have become not just taking advantage of low-information voters but actively creating and using negative-information voters. (E.g. Using non-existent “voter fraud” bullshit to block likely-Dem voters. That’s a neat trick if your interest in winning outweighs your interest in democracy.)

    And as far as their demonstrated incompetence at actual *governing* … anyone elected in part by at least pretending to believe that “government is the problem, not the solution” has a strong incentive to make *sure* that government doesn’t work.

  104. JohnD: Don’t know about the others, but McCain’s age certainly was an issue, especially in regards to his choice of VP.

  105. It’s John’s fault. He made a minor comment during the Obamacare roll out and then dead silence on anything political until the Republican majority leader’s loss in the primary. I have to admit that 2014 wasn’t much to write about for the Obama administration. From Obamacare to Benghazi, to IRS to illegal immigration flood to ISIS to Ebola, the administration didn’t have a chance to do much positive. Then President Obama made the election about his policies, and floated executive action on immigration after the election. I doubt that the Republicans would have reached 50-51 seats if he had kept his mouth shut.

  106. @Not the Reddit Chris S.—

    “Utah is not the Deep South”.

    Certainly not. The Mormon Church opened the priesthood to black men as early as 1978, while the South’s Jim Crow laws weren’t repealed until… oh, wait.

  107. Regarding Maryland: The Democratic candidate (whom I voted for without enthusiasm; I preferred one of his competitors in the primary, the state attorney general) was the sitting lieutenant governor. No lieutenant governor of MD since the modern-era position was created in the early 1970s has ever succeeded to the governorship by election; this is also what happened in 2002 when the then-lt.gov. (Kathleen Kennedy Townsend) lost to Bob Ehrlich. I think there is simply resistance here to what’s perceived as extending any 8-year governorship, of either party, by another term or two; also, the office of lt.gov. is not one of much substance or prominence (whereas two of the last three Democratic governors were multi-term mayors of Baltimore first). Brown’s campaign therefore had built-in weaknesses, apart from the candidate’s failure to make any impression personally.

  108. “There is absolutely nothing surprising about what’s going on if one pauses to consider the fact that the vast majority of voters have absolutely no idea what’s going on.”

    Agreed! That is how things went down in 2008 and 2012.

  109. I suspect that the next two years will be mostly everyone in Washington levying the charge of obstructionism against everyone else (not with equal validity, of course). The only potential issue I see with the Obama Veto Machine is that the Democratic party will be fielding a candidate in the 2016 election and would probably like to plausibly make the standard claim that their candidate can work with Republicans and get things accomplished. Saying that in the face of the OVM may be a bit problematic.

  110. I think the Obama administration has been spending more time putting out fires rather than building bridges (literally and figuratively)

  111. I agree–this isn’t football, but I can still construct a cute metaphor, right?

    Democrats, for too long, have been meekly asking “can we switch to two-handed touch?” Republicans laugh at them, call them pussies, and keep playing Irish rugby. Until Dems find their fucking spines, this will continue.

    And why likely-Dem voters don’t make the connection between a) scary court nominations, and b) continually sitting out midterms is a particularly infuriating mystery.

  112. JohnD: Did you ask the same thing when Ronald Reagan ran (just shy of 70 years old when he became president)? Or when John McCain ran in 2008 (at the age of 72)? Or when Bob Dole ran (at the age of 73)? If not, why not?

    Yes, I remember age being very much an issue with all three of those candidates.

  113. I think the Obama administration has been spending more time putting out fires rather than building bridges (literally and figuratively)

    Two points, Jimbot.

    1) I really don’t know how the fuck you “build bridges” with people who aren’t exactly shy about admitting they’re going to blow up the foundations every time you try. And frankly, the GOP’s idea of “compromise” is wholesale adoption of their entire agenda, which strikes me as… somewhat eccentric.

    2) As for “putting out fires” – that’s what actual governments do more often than not. It’s very easy to set the agenda on the campaign trail, or in opposition. When you’ve got the top seat at the big table, you rapidly find the big wide world has its own timetable and your convenience isn’t a big priority.

  114. “GOP does not put a premium on intelligence, when it comes to its elected officials. And why should it? Fielding nincompoops seems to be working for them”
    This is–I think–the biggest and worst problem from these election results. Shutting down the government, harming the US’ credit rating, and threatening the world economy with the most unthinkable of defaults. That really happened. It was done by the “pro-business” party. The price that party paid in the very next election? A gain of 9 senate seats, and hosannas all around. That’s even scarier than the science and environmental denialism. Being pro-business is their freaking brand.

  115. It blows, but not unexpectedly.

    I am appalled at Brownback’s re-election. That snowflake does not get nearly as much attention as he deserves.

  116. I’m an Irish-American living in Ireland. Observing the US election from here, two thoughts occur to me:-

    1 Despite all the sound and fury, the differences between the Republicans and Democrats seem quite small, which may be a good thing. In particular, the policies of President Obama are closer to those of President George W. Bush than either they or their supporters might care to admit.

    2 The overall US political landscape is essentially unchanged for decades, which may also be a good thing.

  117. And now we get Jim Inhofe running the Environment Committee, the ‘gentleman’ who compared the EPA to the Gestapo.

  118. So sad that “Hillary’s out there” can be a valid point. — First term Obama vs Hillary vs McCain. I’d still have to vote for the one who didn’t have IMO enough experience for the job. – Hillary vs McCain. Tough choice, but with a democrat controlled congress it would be (with me sobbing from terror) McCain while with a R. controlled C. I’d have to go with Hillary who would maybe not damage the country very much.
    (My understanding of first term Obama is that he, by being a nothing, was a better choice than M. My understanding of Hillary is that she would not lose her temper and go, like, all nuclear.)
    Note that a president is different from a congress critter (CC): There are a bunch of CC’s that argue with each other and [snipped] and eventually decide something while the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces.

  119. There is a ton of legislation the Republicans could pass in the next two years that Obama would be willing to sign.

    I predict that they will waste the next two years trying to impeach Obama and only passing legislation that they know he’ll veto.

    I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.

  120. Dear Ghoulie,

    “On the progressive policies/Republican policy makers thing: in 2004 Pew Research (I think) released the results of a poll that showed a majority preferred John Kerry’s platform, but attributed it to George W. Bush.”

    This may have had something to do with the unfortunate fact that many of Kerry’s campaign statements (words directly from his mouth, fergodsakes, not dubious attributions) sounded like they should’ve come from George Bush. That he’d be inclined to ignore UN resolutions if he thought they did not serve US interests, that he was committed to balancing the budget by cutting social services if necessary, and that what Bush was doing wrong in our two Asian wars was not prosecuting them vigorously enough.

    It’s the only time I’ve ever voted third party for president. Because there was no way I was going to vote for “that man” (historical smile) but I sure wasn’t going to vote for a Republican wolf in Democrat’s clothing.

    ~~~~

    Dear Shayde (and rochrist),

    “The ONLY issue will be when we lose a supreme court justice in the next couple years, the GOP will fuck Obama hard.”

    And me, I’m not thinking even that is going to much matter. Because, as we’ve seen, the Republican **minority** has been entirely happy to obstruct court appointments that they have deemed too activist or liberal, And they’ve been quite successful at it. Now that they have a majority, they can just do it more straightforwardly, instead of by threat of filibuster or bottling it up in parliamentarian games. And it’s not like Obama is suddenly going to start nominating conservatives.

    So it will be pretty much the same old, same old. It would be different if the Democrats had actually chosen to run the show when they controlled the Senate, but since they never bothered to do so…

    And just to throw a wild card into the mix, everyone’s short list of possible Supreme Court retirees includes Thomas and Scalia. So, you know, we might end up with the court that’s more liberal, not less.

    That part’s up to chance and fate. But it’s sure got nothing to do with which party has a majority in the Senate. The Republicans have been calling the shots either way.

    ~~~

    Dear Robl,

    “Republican attitudes wouldn’t be discernibly different if Obama were white. ”

    Okay, so in one post you managed the “not all Republicans…” Dismount and the “some of my best friends are…” Dismount. Excellent work!

    Too bad I don’t buy it for one minute.

    Because, here’s the thing. The Republican Party, collectively, and their leadership, quite specifically, were entirely happy to let individual members of the party and their anointed mouthpieces repeatedly and interminably engage in racist talking points and codewords about Obama. The people who did so were never called to task. You cannot be responsible for policing-in-advance the vile opinions of every single person associated with your organization, but you can bloody well repudiate the ones who say repugnant things. Parties do this all the time when someone goes thoroughly beyond the pale.

    The Republicans, collectively, were happy to let racist vileness permeate the discussion. They did not call people on the carpet over it.

    Yes, that makes them racists. Even if the words don’t come out of your mouth, if you’re entirely comfortable associating with people who do, if you don’t challenge them when they spout racism, you’re an accomplice and an enabler.

    If you have trouble believing, let’s engage in the following Godwinesque thought experiment. Imagine some Republican politician or flunky or mouthpiece had suggested that the real problem was the Zionist Conspiracy that secretly ran the US and that the best thing for the country would be to round up all the Jews and put them in camps, much as we did with Japanese-Americans at the start of World War II.

    How many milliseconds do you think would pass before every semi-sane Republican on the planet did their damnedest to distance themselves from that comment and thoroughly repudiate its source?

    Because, very reasonably, they wouldn’t want the faintest possibility that people might think that they subscribed to any flavor of Naziism.

    But making obliquely… and overtly… racist remarks about Obama and his family? Oh, that’s just the diversity of opinion and free speech at work.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    ======================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com
    — Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com
    ======================================

  121. Bearpaw: How about some liberal-leaning candidates for a change? (There’s a good reason that Senator Warren is wildly popular — she’s the rare high-office Dem who’s actually liberal.)

    The idea of Warren for president 2016, now that would be an awesome thing.

  122. “If you didn’t see it coming, you can’t blame the GOP for that. It fights dirty.”

    Both major parties fight dirty; neither has a monopoly on that.

    Personally I wish we could have kept the Democratic majority, because of Harry Reid. I liked the gridlock with him letting the bills pile up on his desk. Seriously. More laws won’t fix our problems, and politicians don’t generally repeal bad laws. The combination of the two means that our lives are generally better when legislators do nothing.

  123. JS– you are a gifted writer but your political analysis is stuck at about the 7th grade level. There is an almost endless line of skilled analysts out there who have given detailed analysis of what happened in the election. Yours is not very good.

    Very quickly:

    1. It’s only disappointing if you are a fan of gridlock. There is a long record of consolidated Congressional control and opposing Presidents doing quite a bit more than the current configuration. The worst case scenario was status quo. This is better than that.

    2. There is a huge incentive for Obama to do stuff he doesn’t want, which is, the GOP will completely control the budget process. Almost anything can be done with 51 votes through reconciliation. That’s how the ACA and it’s attached bills were made law – through budget reconciliation. Congress will make a budget, Obama will either have to sign a budget or rejected it. The other huge incentive is judicial nominations. A vacancy on the upper courts presents a powerful bargaining opportunity of Obama to get Congress to do somethings he want.

    3. Name calling is very silly, how does that comport with your own directive to “place nice”. A clear demonstration of hypocrisy. Regardless, the fact that you consider the winners various mean names is telling. Republicans ran against some of the least principled candidates in decades. Lifelong Democrats who would not state plainly that they voted for Obama – how smart is that? The empirical evidence suggests that the GOP fielded excellent, mainstream, electable candidates this time around.

    4. The GOP ran individual races against specific items on Pres. Obama’s agenda – his overhaul of insurance care delivery (Obamacare), his reported plan to legalize millions of immigrants and grant them worker status, and his economic policies. For the 10th straight national election, the economy was the #1 issue on people’s mind. How smart of it for Democrats and liberals to continue to try to focus on other items, when this is still the top issue for voters? The issues that high-level Democratic politicians and supports care about – climate change for example – barely register in the minds of voters (of any political affiliation).

    5. The evidence suggest that Ohio is not a purple state, your blue self not withstanding.

    6. Presidential politics are one thing. Congress however is not about simple vote majorities, but distribution and timing, both of which have been trending towards GOP favor. The 2016 election will have an entirely different electorate than the 2014 and 2010 mid-term electorates, and that is the number one driving factor in national politics – turn out modeling. The Democratic base reliably cannot be bothered to turn out and vote except once every four years. Demographically, even with an attractive candidate, the GOP has shown it can do well with newer minorities. Texas Hispanics voted 55-45 for the DNC. Texas blacks voted 87-13 for the DNC. Meanwhile the white vote – men and women – continue a 12 year trend towards consolidation around GOP candidates.

    This election season was not especially dirty. The DNC ran poor candidates across the board, it’s incumbents voted nearly uniformly with a deeply unpopular 2nd term President, and it’s base voters are not engaged enough to be bothered to vote.

    7. The GOP was not especially freaking out two years ago. They made bad choices in several primaries, and so the outcome of the Senate races were not largely in doubt. They also traded in less conservative representatives and Senators for more conservative and more forceful ones, who are not firmly entrenched and may never face competitive elections before they retire – namely, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul. They also did well across state houses and governor races. The top of the ticket (Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan) did not win, however, it was not particularly close or unexpected. Unlike the DNC, the GOP continued to execute the plan that was put in place four years prior, denying Pres. Obama any legislative achievements, insisting on holding the line on spending and taxes, and presenting resisting large changes to immigration, tax, and other polices. Namely, they were conservative, and resisted change to the maximum degree possible. In the very next election, they have nearly swept the board, winning more seats than even most optimists had predicted.

    The 2016 election is not a big mystery either. The House will very likely stay narrowly in GOP hands, the Senate with split or tilt back just barely to Democratic control, and as long as the DNC doesn’t nominate Vice Pres. Biden or Sen. Warren, the country will elect Sec. Clinton, one of a few moderate Democratic governors, or an as of yet unknown darkhorse democratic lawmaker.

  124. John Shea: ….. the differences between the Republicans and Democrats seem quite small…..

    True, but I think in US politics, the differences are a bit TARDIS-like – Much bigger on the inside than the outside.

  125. Patrick Nielsen Hayden pointed out today that the thing about voting for the lesser of two evils is that you get less evil that way.

    DAVID: Or the Republican voters just didn’t feel like cooperating with the pollsters.

    Or the Republican voters have even less memory than the general population. Or the Republican voters believe that Obama has a time machine (that being how he made that fake birth announcement appear, remember).

    Or they’re just so knee-jerk “blame Obama for everything” that they don’t even stop to think before blaming him.

    All these seem more likely than your explanation.

    RobL: Republican attitudes wouldn’t be discernibly different if Obama were white.

    Patent nonsense. NO President has been obstructed this much, ever. And do you think we’ve forgotten the signs, badly photoshopping Obama into a “witch doctor,” or a monkey, or any number of things? The Tea Party is RUNNING the GOP now, remember.

    John Shea: Despite all the sound and fury, the differences between the Republicans and Democrats seem quite small, which may be a good thing.

    Yeah, little unimportant differences like the Voting Rights Act and separation of church and state. Don’t even need to know you’re Irish-American to know you’re white and (culturally at least) Christian, if you think these things are unimportant; and if you don’t, the differences are obviously not “small.”

  126. Xopher–

    The TEAPARTY was soundly rejected this cycle by the GOP base. Most such candidates never made it out of the primary. No incumbents were lost to the Tea Party. The GOP establishment re-established itself and did so firmly. Roberts was saved by the party. Alexander was saved by the party. Every Senate candidate was vetted and put on a leash by the party. Traditional GOP interest groups like AFP and the Chamber of Commerce dominated the election.

    Secondly, correlation is not causation. The GOP has proven that obstruction is a winning electoral strategy. Convincingly. Just because a new tactic has been developed does not been it’s because of a correlation attribute. During the Clinton years, the GOP suffered politically by Clinton’s now famous “triangulation” strategy. The natural response has been to develop a counter to it, and that counter is to refuse to do anything of substance to deny the President any running room for achievements or to satisfy his base. This has been validated by successive mid-term waves. It is a highly successful strategy.

    The presence of racist photoshop images or other racist imagery does not mean that the opposition to Pres. Obama in Congress is race based.

  127. What I found particularly…well, we’ll go with sad, is that rather than saying “we gave people better and cheaper healthcare, and did this and did that, and I plan to do more of the same!” most of them were running from it, ignoring it, and otherwise disassociating from it.

    Georgia was highly unlikely to go blue (it’s been red for some time now) this year, but Nunn’s ads in particular were weak, while GOP ads were attacks that twisted the truth. And there was only one she made any effort to refute: the others got ignored, and rather than tell us what she had accomplished and planned, she resorted to attacking his record (hell, even a mix of “he’s done this” and “this is what I’ve done and plan to continue to do” would have been better than what wee got). Honestly, the Dem base seemed more enthusiastic than she was: this was the first year in the 10 I’ve lived here that anyone came to my door to encourage me to vote and to discuss issues and candidates. They even helped me get my absentee ballot, which I was having trouble doing since it either required a printer or a car, neither of which I have atm. I just hope they don’t stop the enthusiasm. She was defeated, but I suspect the margins were narrower than in the past.

  128. In defense of Republicans:

    1. I am conservative and vote accordingly. I do not choose the Republican candidates because I, like most others, want to spend as little time as possible with politics and aren’t involved in party functions, etc.

    2. The war on women as a proxy for abortion is horseshit. Respect that some deeply principled people equate aborting a fetus with dissecting a newborn baby with a scalpel. They are on the side of the mostly female fetuses that are aborted that otherwise would have grown up to be laughing little girls.

    3. I voted for Obama in 2008 because I thought he was special, even if he was much more liberal than my tastes. I voted against him in 2012 because he is incompetent domestically and an embarrassment on the foreign stage. He plays way too much golf. He is disengaged and couldn’t lead his way out of a paper bag. I could care less than he is black. Shit, I voted for him BECAUSE he was black and I thought it would be great for America to have a black president.

    4. You may lose a Supreme Court justice. Boo hoo. The score in the culture war football game over the last 10 years is about 35 to 3. Christianity is on decline. Soon churches will lose tax exempt status if they will not perform gay marriages on the principle that a 2,000 year old Hebrew text shockingly forbids it on a fundamental level. (Come on folks, you can say the Bible is horseshit and you don’t believe a word of it but please don’t be intellectually dishonest and say that it supports gay marriage).

    5. I work very hard. I earn good money. I don’t want to pay a lot of taxes to support programs I don’t support and are mismanaged. You should love me and people like me who work hard to be taxed to support all of your progressive wealth redistribution programs.

    6. Don’t confuse Republicans with Republican political candidates. I don’t pick em. I wouldn’t want to hang out with them. But they generally or at least sometimes represent the conservative viewpoint when Democrats never do.

    7. Democrats fight dirty. Very dirty. So do Republicans. In some ways they exist only in opposition to one another and just bash the other because they can’t explain coherently what it is that they do stand for.

    Well, I’m going to bed.

  129. “That said, the GOP’s head will explode, and it will be fun to watch, when Hillary becomes President, and yes mark these words she will.”

    I’ll mark them here, bookmark even, and we can revisit this in two years. You could be right, but you could also be wrong. There is no such thing as a sure bet in politics. Hillary was supposed to cruise to victory in 2008 but…

    “3. This will be the last great victory for the GOP. White House insiders have promised that an executive order for immigration reform is coming, but even if it doesn’t we will see reform come and the party of the privileged white male will come to an end.”

    I am not sure of the constitutionality of doing something like that. Why have a congress if the president can just issue executive orders? That’s a dangerous dangerous road to follow. Having an opposition is healthy in democratic countries.

    “4. Admittedly the GOP was very clever to quiet the radical elements of their party from the religious nuts to the teabaggers but now the rats will come out of the woodwork, and when they do, the country will be vary happy that the President will be there to stop them and that Hillary is waiting in the wings.”

    I wouldn’t bet on the GOP overreaching. Many “commentators” thought the GOP overreached with the Clinton impeachment but a scant two years later they won the White House. The GOP has learned something cultivated by decades in the minority: party discipline. Occasionally it slips, but the GOP is a political party and like every other political party that has ever existed needs to gain and retain power in order to maintain its relevance. So overreach, what you are referring to here, is unlikely. Not impossible, but unlikely.

    “5. The GOP also wisely was quiet in their war on women, but again, the idiots can’t help themselves, this will also help Hillary in 2 years.”

    You seem to think there are no women in the GOP, or who vote Republican.

    “6. Mark these words, 2016 will be deja vu, it will seem like 2008 all over again as the Democrats not only retain the White House, but gain the house and senate as well. The tide will turn, hey look even gamergate is already dead!”

    The big concern if you are a Democrat is that the GOP controls more state houses than at any time since the 1920s, state legislatures where congressional districts are drawn. Eighteen of the last 22 years has seen the GOP control the House of Representatives, that trend is likely to continue, because of GOP control of state houses, for some time to come.

  130. Dear ConservativeJoe,

    It’s a very safe bet that John is not going to let us wander very far down the primrose path of abortion politics, so i will keep this brief (for moi).

    I will believe it’s all just about the moral high ground of not taking innocent lives when the anti-abortionists put as much time, money and legal might into anti-war activities as they do anti-abortion. ‘Cause if they want to talk about the state sanctioning the forcible taking of innocent lives on a wholesale scale…

    Until then, I’m a’callin’ bullshit on the ‘moral high ground.’ They’re not arguing against the immorality of killing, they’re just deciding it’s OK under the circumstances they approve of.

    (please take note that this sidesteps the whole fetus=person thing. I can spot them that point, although I don’t buy it for a moment, and still beat them on their own turf.)

    pax / Ctein

    P.S. Your point 5? I would suggest to you that that’s not a good tactic, not here. ‘Cause, based on the national economic statistics, the odds are better than 90% that I’m doing more to hold up this country, tax-wise than you, and our ‘Steamed Host likely has us both handily beat (I know he trumps me). So, no, I don’t gotta love you and your “I’ve got mine, screw society, Jack” attitude, not so much.

  131. I really wonder why so many comments here seem to endorse the idea of the Executive branch circumventing the checks and balances built into the constitution.
    Party immaterial, this sort of action does not end well for a country.
    The idea that “The next republican president will do it anyway, so President Obama should do it now” is also shortsighted.

  132. John, so glad to see that you’re such an open-minded equal opportunist when it comes to politics. Just think, we can have some semblance of non-gridlock on certain things and yet have a dictator….ummm….president who will do what he does best: takes his ball and go home, and rule by executive order. Ahhhh, thems the days that we dream of.

    ‘Course, no other president in recent memory (or any memory for that matter) makes it a point of habit of ruling by executive fiat.

  133. Or the Republican voters have even less memory than the general population. Or the Republican voters believe that Obama has a time machine (that being how he made that fake birth announcement appear, remember).

    Or they’re just so knee-jerk “blame Obama for everything” that they don’t even stop to think before blaming him.

    All these seem more likely than your explanation.

    There’s a lot of political science literature that looks at polling responses and one of the consistent results found is that people play games with the pollsters, especially if the pollsters are perceived as being from a different partisan background. They make jokes, they use coded language, and, yes, they blame people they know aren’t responsible for something. I don’t think that’s completely what happened (and I can’t know because I didn’t look at the poll numbers) but I suspect that that’s a lot of it. If you think it’s more likely that the voters thought there was a time machine, there’s not a lot I can do to change your mind on that one.

    But think about this: the Democrats have two abiding failings after a loss like this: 1) blame the ignorant voters (“If only they understood”) and 2) have a circular firing squad. Neither one of these is particularly going to help with the next election.

  134. A lot of policies the national electorate don’t like seem to perpetuate as result of bureaucratic inertia (regulatory rules replacing sound policy, etc.). In FL, where I am, good campaigner or not, the Dem for governor was outspent 2-to-1. So, what my congressman calls “sewer money” carried the day here. Literally, (since Scott spent about $12 million of his own in the last two weeks of the campaign) money initially scammed from social security was, in effect, used to prevent the Obamacare expansion of Medicare here.

    The US would be a very different place, and even momentarily better, if folks didn’t take the first sentence in this paragraph all personal-like, and just shut up & voted. Hell, if even HALF the electorate actually showed up, most of these races would’ve gone the other way. It’s especially disappointing in Rick Scott FL, where a medical marijuana end-run was an attempt to bypass the australopithecacious legislature this cycle. It failed by 3% of the vote after Sheldon Aldelson, the Las Vergas billionaire, decided on a whim to dump $5 million opposing it into the discussion. Outspent in advertisements 2.5 to 1, it failed.

    Not that the majority of people being in favor of something, then saying so in the form of a constitutional amendment, has, in the past, stopped our gerrymandered (Republican & Democratic) legislature from doing the opposite. (viz. “fair districting” here, the lukewarm implementation of an amendment to the FL constitution which has since been back and forth to the courts.)

  135. ConservativeJow: “Respect that some deeply principled people equate aborting a fetus with dissecting a newborn baby”

    I have a hard time respecting it when the idea is extended till a single cell ferilized egg deserves personhood. Anyone calling the day after pill murder/dissection is arguing for ensoulment or their simply using emotive language like “murder” to hide that their real concern is simply “sex is evil”. And no, I dont have to respect people who want to shove their religion into everyone elses lives.

    “Boo hoo. .. Christianity is on decline.”

    Any religion at its best is an opportunity for the individual to look inward and improve themselves. Religion at its worst uses dogma to judge others. The catholic church preaching morality while hiding molesting priests? Thats hypocricy religion at its worst, and you dont get to blame anyone but them if their misbehavior drives people away from the church.

    “Programs I don’t support and are mismanaged. You should love me ”

    yes, we should love people who only look out for themselves. Jesus saId a lot about helping the poor and calling that “wealth redistribution” occurs to me as more of that religious hypocricy.

    Miller:”‘Course, no other president in recent memory (or any memory for that matter) makes it a point of habit of ruling by executive fiat”

    Given how the actual numbers for this actually pan out, i assume you also blame Obama for Katrina.

  136. ‘Course, no other president in recent memory (or any memory for that matter) makes it a point of habit of ruling by executive fiat.

    I just spit my coffee out. You were clearly in a coma for the Bush years. Rip? Rip van Winkle?

  137. John Shea: the differences between the Republicans and Democrats seem quite small

    Thanks to the new Republican majority, we now have a head of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee who explicitly believes, and I quote, “My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.” God has a thermostat in the sky and nothing we humans can do can possibly change it. And besides, global warming is good for us: “It’s also important to question whether global warming is even a problem for human existence. Thus far no one has seriously demonstrated any scientific proof that increased global temperatures would lead to the catastrophes predicted by alarmists. In fact, it appears that just the opposite is true: that increases in global temperatures may have a beneficial effect on how we live our lives.”

    But there’s no real difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, right? And having a climate change denier in position to block any environmental legislation the US might consider passing for at least the next two years can’t possibly affect the rest of the world at all.

    Sleep well.

  138. Miller: no other president in recent memory (or any memory for that matter) makes it a point of habit of ruling by executive fiat.

    If nothing else, this flat-earth denial-of-fact rewrite-of-history view does remind me of one important lesson Dems need to learn: Just because you’ve got the facts on your side, doesn’t mean you’ve got the votes on your side.

    Republicans and especially the Tea Party have recently demonstrated that the facts don’t mean a damn to them, as perfectly demonstrated by Miller here.

  139. I really wish there was no difference between R and D, but unfortunately there is:

    If McCain had been elected, we’d still be in Iraq, Afghanistan, plus Iran and probably Syria and Libya, too (or at least as many as possible, until we ran out of troops)

    The extension of a particularly nasty form of Christianity into secular life would have continued

    Even more institutionalized attacks on contraception and abortion (but not for the kids of the rich who made a “mistake”, they can always fly out of state/country to get theirs, its just the poor sluts who will have to have a child)

    The willful and total disregard for science

    I just don’t understand how those who suffer most under a governor who wrecks the economy (Wisconsin), should be in jail for Medicare fraud (Florida) and a senator who would deny 400,000 people in his home state health insurance (Kentucky) gets re-elected? is there really that much cognitive dissonance?

    As for income levels voting R or D, we’re in the top bottom of the 1% household income wise, and neither of us would vote R. Even though we are well-off, we know that the Republican plan for tax reform would leave us worse off – the two key elements will be to remove the Federal tax allowance for state taxes paid (which really impacts the Dem states, and we live in California, so political blow back would be limited) and removing the tax break on mortgage interest (because it applies to “only” the bottom $1.1M of mortgages (including second homes) so is of limited impact on the truly rich.

    I’d rather have inefficient government spending at home, where it might at least do some good, rather than trillions of dollars and thousands of lives thrown away in futile overseas wars, where the dollars go to crony capitalists, and tax cuts put on the credit card, like the last few R regimes.

  140. To note, sorry – the use of the “s” word in the above was to illustrate a point of view, not my own personal belief or value judgement. Apologies if anyone was offended.

  141. It is a bit easier I suppose to bare this as a progressive living in Texas. Here in Austin we like to think of ourselves as a tiny blue island in a vast redneck sea.

    That being said it is still very hard to grock how people tend to vote so much against their own self interest. I am a physician and my wife is a lawyer and not to bragg but we have been easily in the top one percent of the income range for many years but cont. to see progressive values as a boon to the country and hence our well being in the long run. Yes I guess my taxes are lower under republicans, but I do much better when the economy is booming and the lower and middle class is climbing. But what really messes with my mind is how the lower middle class white male head of household really thinks the republican party has his best interest in mind.

    The book Whats the Matter With Kansas really cuts to the heart of the problem and lays out the con job the right wing party leaders and the wealthy donors have done on these voters. I hope that for the 2016 election, we on the Left will run a real progressive and not try to do republican light . Though I like Clinton and will vote for her. I would prefer Elizabeth Warren. She and someone from the West coast and a strong platform of progressive reforms would perhaps have a real chance to win in their own terms.

  142. I have my own issues with the Democrats (waaaay too willing to roll over), but I have noticed that the main people saying that there’s no difference between the two parties are straight white guys. When your bodily autonomy and/or civil rights are up for grabs, there’s definitely a difference.

    As far as abortion: I recognize that some people think “first term embryo=baby”. I also recognize that some people think the world is run by shapechanging reptile people, that chemtrails control our minds, and that dinosaurs are a Satanic lie. I don’t intend to *respect* any of these views.

  143. This election might be titled, “The Revenge of the MAWM*”.

    As mid-term elections don’t draw the number of voters that presidential contests do, the elections are decided by those who always vote. And that group is considerably whiter and older than the group that voted in 2008 and 2012.

    So, if you voted in those years and not this time around – well, guess what. Not casting a ballot is letting someone else’s ballot count double.

    *Middle-Aged White Male”.

  144. As a life-long Democrat, I’ve seen all this before. Any time one party controls both the presidency and the legislature, the American people will switch the legislature around. Carter had a huge Democratic wave and lost nearly everything four years later. Reagan had a huge Republican wave, but lost the Congress two years later. Clinton had a huge Democratic wave, but lost the Congress two years later. Obama had a huge Democratic wave and lost the Congress two years later. The only thing that’s surprised me is that Obama held onto the Senate for as long as he did.

    The American people seem to consistently want divided government. And I believe we are wise in this. Divided government prevents too much power accumulating with one or the other party. It encourages compromise and in this case compels the Republicans to present an agenda beyond bashing Obama.

    So Democrats are the loyal opposition again? Big whoop. Dry your tears and bring it on.

  145. I’ve seen gloatings over the fact that, after six years of Obama, Congress has just gone entirely Republican.

    That’s no worse for the Democrats than, after six years of George W. Bush, Congress going entirely Democratic was for the Republicans.

  146. Dear Rob, GB, et.al.,

    The Imperial Presidency is not new, and it is 100% bipartisan. The term gained common currency in the 60’s, which was half a century ago. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. wrote The Imperial Presidency in 1973.

    Personally, I hate it. But…

    1) It is not the province of any party or persuasion. ALL the Presidents do it. One side is not better or worse. Selective historical blinders and cherry picking your data points won’t change that reality.

    2) There hasn’t been a single remotely-credible presidential candidate who has campaigned to reign it in. Every one of them wants that power and will use it.

    3) It is not unconstitutional. Not until The Supreme Court says it is. And so far they’ve done their best to duck the broad question (although they have ruled on specific orders) and I have every expectation they will continue to do so. And, given points 1 and 2, I cannot envision a change in the Court makeup which would make them more inclined to address the concept.

    So get over it and stop yer whining. It’s the way the gummint works. It ain’t new– it started when Jefferson decided the President could unilaterally take the country into war (another constitutionally-dubious authority which the SC won’t touch). We are stuck with it in its most modern form, detestable as it is. Sometimes it’s going to work for our personal political preferences, other times against. Too damn bad, but it’s what it is.

    If you think trying to pin it more on one party or President than another is useful or informative, you have missed the picture.

    pax / Ctein
    ==========================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com
    — Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com
    ==========================================

  147. There sure are a lot of racist and sexist comments on here today. The Republican Party is not just a bunch of white males. In fact there are more Republican women in Congress than Democrat women. There were 160 female candidates up for election to Congress, 109 Republicans and 52 Democrats. So, the prevailing theme here is not just incorrect, but strikingly ignorant.

  148. “Soon churches will lose tax exempt status if they will not perform gay marriages” — this will not happen, until we repeal the free exercise protections in the Bill of Rights. Churches are allowed to refuse to marry anyone for *any reason whatsoever* without any threat to their tax exemption. Pastor doesn’t like your fiancee’s religion, the fact that you’re living together, the fact that you’re not church members, anything else–too bad, go try elsewhere. It’s the judges at the county courthouse that have to marry anyone with a valid license.

  149. This is a good place to remind people that I look upon cue-card-reciting soapbox nonsense as malletable offenses, and I’m seeing a lot of soapboxing, on the right-hand side of the discussion. Let’s do better, please.

  150. Here, Billy, you can use this handy utility to see how wrong you actually are: http://media.cq.com/pub/demographics/

    Women in Senate: 4R vs. 16D
    Women in House: 19R vs. 58D

    PoC members of Senate: 3R vs. 3D
    PoC members of House: 6R vs. 72D

    If your point was about the 2014 elections: then you’re less wrong, according to Rutgers, but you’re still wrong.
    http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/fast_facts/elections/candidates_2014.php

    Yes, the Republican party is not entirely white and male. The Republicans fielded their FIRST African-American woman into Congress (only 45 years after the Democrats) and the first African American senator from the South since reconstruction. But the vast majority of candidates it fields are white and male. The fact of those two elections is illustrative of that fact.

  151. 4. A good number of my Democratic/liberal friends wonder what the hell just happened. The answer: Look, there are a lot of Republican and conservative leaning folks in the US, and they’re not going to just wander in front of a bus and disappear.

    Not unless we, you know, spread the rumor that not wandering in front of buses is a liberal ploy created by Obama to beef up bureaucrat numbers on Obamacare death panels or something…

    Hmm.

  152. The bottom line in polling showed that as usual, the GOP and old people came out to vote and the Dems and young didn’t.

    Like EVERY MIDTERM EVER.

    Two years from now, the Dems will slap them around again and aside from taking the gerrymandered house, will likely be back in the driver’s seat again.

  153. Dems need to learn: Just because you’ve got the facts on your side, doesn’t mean you’ve got the votes on your side.

    However, I would add that if you’re a Republican quoting completely made up facts that can be easily proven false with a single link, while it doesn’t take away your vote, it certainly does make you look like a complete idiot. Probably want to save that sort of nonsense for your right winger militia newsletter.

  154. Shayde–

    The 2016 elections demographic may overcome the districting, or it may not. It could be close. Typically by that point in the cycle, most of the damage done by redistricting has leveled out, but this cycle was very deeply gerrymandered, so it may be 2018 before it recedes (which means, that 2020 is the next chance for a solid Democratic house).

    Say what you will about the GOP, but at least their voters, you know, vote.

  155. Why isn’t liberal soap-boxing a malleable offense? I haven’t heard an original thought yet. All hysterical cue-card reading.

    @Isabel – Pro-life = belief in shape changing lizards? That’s the best you can come up with? LOL.

    Whatever.

    Here’s the problem with this whole discussion.

    We should be talking about national debt, monetary policy, national security, etc. but that topic is beyond the scope of the regular electorate. Such important items can’t be summarized in 30-second sound bytes.

    Anyway, I’ve broken my rule about engaging in debates on politics and religion. See you on a different thread.

  156. Why isn’t liberal soap-boxing a malleable offense?

    It is a malleable offense. Just not a malletable one. Actually it is, but apparently our host disagrees with your evaluation.

  157. ConservativeJoe, yeah, dogma is as dogma does. Lizard overlords is dogma. Ensoulment at conception is dogma. The only reason you see them differently is because you believe one dogma and disbelieve the other.

  158. Dear ConservativeJoe,

    1) If all you’ve heard was cue-card reading, then you’ve clearly skipped most of the postings. Or, at least the ones you couldn’t dismissively reject out-of-hand for daring to challenge your world-view.

    2) You seem to be under the mistaken notion that this is a public equal-opportunity forum for discussion. It is John’s private playground. He has *never* entertained all points of view with equal tolerance. He has never said he did. Which you’d know if you came here at all regularly. Obviously you don’t.

    3) If there is a “problem with this whole discussion,” it is entirely of your own making. No one demanded you introduce your talking points. You own this discussion, bucko. If it’s a problem, it’s your problem.

    pax / Ctein

  159. DAVID, wrt Billy Quiets, I refer you to Greg’s comment about Miller. Billy is not atypical in that regard.

  160. “If McCain had been elected, we’d still be in Iraq, Afghanistan, plus Iran and probably Syria and Libya, too (or at least as many as possible, until we ran out of troops)”

    Umm, so we’re not still in Iraq and Afghanistan? Must be news to the thousands of troops still there. Well at least Gitmo was closed…oh wait.

  161. Umm, so we’re not still in Iraq and Afghanistan? Must be news to the thousands of troops still there

    That’s disingenuous. If McCain were there, we’d still be having sustained combat operations, and hundreds of casualties per month. Do you know how many Americans died in Afghanistan last month?

  162. One more point on the election itself. Yes, as Mr. Scalzi points out the Republicans have “issues” and electorates are fickle because people in general can be fickle, thus one party comes into power only to be swept away in another election. But I think the significance of this election should not be underestimated either.

    In modern-day, (since 1930) American political history the GOP has been considerably in the minority within Congress. From 1931-1995 all but four years saw the Democrats in control in the House of Representatives, so 60 out of 64 years. Since 1995 the Republicans have controlled the House 18 out of 22 years. So still a long way to go to match the Democratic dominance of the 20th century.

    More importantly the Republicans control over 66% of the state houses where congressional districts are drawn, so the likelihood that the Republicans will continue to hold at least the House for the next several election cycles is high. Now things can happen, unforeseen economic catastrophes ala the Great Depression, or foreign policy blunders like the war in Iraq that could change voters’ minds quicker and roust a party from power, so nothing is written in stone, but for now that’s how I see it.

  163. “That’s disingenuous. If McCain were there, we’d still be having sustained combat operations, and hundreds of casualties per month. Do you know how many Americans died in Afghanistan last month?”

    It’s disingenuous to assume that McCain would have “sustained combat operations” (whatever you mean by that, Afghanistan is still defined as a combat mission by the US military as is Iraq. Do you mean an increase in troop levels?) in these countries. You cannot predict the future, remember it was assumed by some in 1980 that if Reagan was elected nuclear war would break out.

    And two Americans died last month in support of the Afghan mission, and two died in Iraq.

  164. Greg: “Anyone calling the day after pill murder/dissection is arguing for ensoulment or their simply using emotive language like “murder” to hide that their real concern is simply “sex is evil”. And no, I dont have to respect people who want to shove their religion into everyone elses lives.”
    As you doubtless well know, Greg, there are plenty of pro-lifers out there whose views have absolutely nothing to do with “ensoulment”, religion, or the idea that “sex is evil”.
    There are those who do fit these criteria, I admit, but it’s worth noting that having a pro-life (or anti-choice, if you prefer) position is not inherently predicated on such concepts.

  165. Amitava: “plenty of pro-lifers out there whose views have absolutely nothing to do with “ensoulment”, religion, or the idea that “sex is evil”.”

    Anyone who opposes the morning after pill is doing so based on some dogmatic reason that somehow decided the life of an adult women was less important than a single cell. Its monty pythons “every fertilized egg is sacred”. And its just as silly. Dogma is as dogma does.

    So no cookie.

  166. Mendacious?

    You do realize that Obama’s second term (and first) are built up on lies (Obamacare: “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan”), fear (the mythical GOP “War on Women”. Which isn’t to say there isn’t a “War on Women” it’s just coming from the Dems) and hate.

    I do hope the GOP does learn and instead of making the mistakes of the Dems and focusing on their take on the social issues the GOP focuses on what Americans of all “parties” want: doing things which foster a better economy. And here’s a hint: regulation, taxation, fear, hate and envy aren’t going to cut it. Like I said, the Dems tried that the last 8 years (2006-2014) and they failed miserably at it. And got tossed out of power.

  167. Ignoring scientific evidence because of ideology looks pretty much the same whether it’s coming from Operation Rescue or David Icke, yeah. Although Icke isn’t trying to deprive people of their bodily autonomy, so perhaps I’m being unfair to him.

    And the people who I think have a legitimate “pro-life” but not “sex is bad” viewpoint are those that work for better sex-ed, more reliable contraception, and an improved safety net for women and children. Otherwise? You can *claim* all you want that your views are about more than that, but you’re either lying to the world or yourself.

    Anyhow, yeah, I am also entirely frustrated with my demographic and their lack of voting. The number of whiny-ass white thirtysomething guys I saw on FB election day posting about how they don’t vote because “it’s just the lesser of two evils” blah blah blah…first of all, you can vote for a third-party or write-in candidates, and second, the lesser of two evils is *less evil*, and also I loathe the whole “if it’s not perfect why even bother” thing.

    And it’s too early to start drinking. DAMMIT.

  168. Scorpious: “Obama’s second term (and first) are built up on lies (Obamacare: “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor… fear.”

    Yes and Palin harping about Death Panels was reasonable discourse. Cheney spent most of 2002 at CIA headquarters leaning on analysts to lie in their reports, which gave us the heaping pile of BS that was the NIE of 2002 saying with “certainty” that Iraq had WMD’s. This was fed to congress just before the vote to authorize military force came up, which not surprisingly had a lot of them assuming the NIE was true, and making speeches about wmds that werent there. Cheney also is the one who pushed for torture and lied about it. Abu Graib was a few bad apples? No it was orders from the highest levels.

    As for war on women, the number of republican politicians making moronic statements about rape is just staggering. Might as well enjoy it? You cant get pregnant from legitimate rape? Yeah, thats a war on women.

    Scorpious, i think maybe your used to making these sorts of outrageous lies in you right winger websites, where people cant remember actual history and have no sense of fact versus fiction. Stop watching Fox Newz, it rots your brain.

  169. Greg: I see now looking back at your post you were referring specifically to the morning after pill. A “morning after pill” is usually not considered an abortifacient; for what it’s worth I’ve prescribed emergency contraception, so as you might guess I’m not opposed to it.
    My point was addressed to what I take to be your view of the pro-life position itself. It’s not something that need be based on religion or sex aversion. I imagine you might say it’s “dogmatic”. In which case (forgive the “if by whiskey”): if by dogmatic you mean based on a fundamental moral or philosophical tenet which I’m unwilling to cross (eg “first do no harm”), then I’m willing to admit that. Most moral code is based on some level on a form of dogma. If by dogmatic you mean I follow a precept blindly and unthinkingly, simply because it’s what I’ve been told (eg “xyz is wrong because my holy book says so”), then my position is not dogmatic at all.

  170. I think it’s also worth noting that you can be personally unwilling to get or perform an abortion, and can personally think it’s wrong, without being what I consider “pro-life”–in favor of ending or restricting access for other people. I do respect the first position, though I disagree with it and what I said above still applies; I don’t respect the second, nor see why I should.

  171. It’s disingenuous to assume that McCain would have “sustained combat operations” (whatever you mean by that, Afghanistan is still defined as a combat mission by the US military as is Iraq. Do you mean an increase in troop levels?) in these countries.

    It’s not disingenuous when the candidate runs explicitly on a hawkish platform (“bomb, bomb, bomb Iran”) to assume that he will follow up on that.

    And I said “sustained combat operations” because the US military in Aftghanistan, while still fighting, is working on withdrawal: forces are being consolidated and drawing down, units are being withdrawn from various provinces and then the country.

    And two Americans died last month in support of the Afghan mission, and two died in Iraq

    And in the equivalent month of the last Republican administration, that number was 17 and 111. That’s 124 extra deaths under the Republicans. No, the comparison probably isn’t exact, but it shows how ludicrous your comment about us still being in Iraq and Afghanistan was.

  172. re: DigitalAtheist “Meh. I’ve been of the opinion that once the Republicans got control of both houses, the Democrats should just sit back and let them pass everything they want to. ” //// this would result in the destruction of national healthcare (such as it is), Medicare, Medicaid, non-privatized social security, and do incredible damage to hundreds of millions of lives.

  173. DAVID: That’s disingenuous. If McCain were there, we’d still be having sustained combat operations, and hundreds of casualties per month. Do you know how many Americans died in Afghanistan last month?

    According to this page, two. Their names were Commander Christopher E. Kalafut and Major Jonathan Walker.

    There’s really no reasonable debate that casualties would have been far higher in Afghanistan had McCain been elected. Probably we’d also be at war with Iran. We wouldn’t be at war with China, because if he got us into that one we’d all be dead.

    We actually did have two deaths in Iraq last month, which I didn’t realize until I checked; their names were Lance Corporal Sean P. Neal and Corporal Jordan L. Spears. They’re the only ones this year, and there were NONE last year and only one the year before.

    All four deaths are classed as “non-hostile,” which means they were accidents (or gods forbid, suicide), and not the result of enemy action.

    I use iCasualties for my weekly report on US Combat deaths. The names are read aloud during the Prayers of the People in the church where I sing. I also post them on Facebook and Twitter and to a private listserve.

    My idea is that their names should be known and recognized. I’ll do it for every war that has US military casualties; I expect that if the GOP takes the White House in 2016, I’ll have to remember a LOT more names, since they’re in bed with the war profiteers (you didn’t really think the Iraq invasion was about 9/11, did you?).

    2liberal: Obama wouldn’t sign any of those. His veto pen is going to get a workout the next two years!

    Ooo, idea: everyone send him ONE ballpoint pen, with a note saying “veto everything those bastards try to do.”

  174. “Yes and Palin harping about Death Panels was reasonable discourse.”

    Funny thing, IPAB Death Panels (however you want to define them) are an admitted fact in Obama’s U.S.!

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/10/canada_has_death_panels_and_that_s_a_good_thing.html

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/07/death-panels-108553_full.html

    http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-obama-care/080913-667073-sarah-palin-vindicated-as-democrats-oppose-ipab.htm

    On a personal note: my 72-year-old mom just started Chemo for breast cancer. Her doctor told her straight up that it’s good she took so good care of herself given that she’s elderly and on Medicare since if she were in poor or even mediocre health they’d deny her the treatment under the IPAB.

    Lies aren’t things you don’t want to be true but which are; lies are things the liar (Obama) claims aren’t true when he knows they are.

  175. Not entirely on topic, I know, but I wondered what your take on this new court ruling on gay marriage was? I thought Ohio was settled in favor, but now it appears they’re free to go back to banning it?

  176. @ConservativeJoe: You write: Soon churches will lose tax exempt status if they will not perform gay marriages on the principle that a 2,000 year old Hebrew text shockingly forbids it on a fundamental level.

    Sorry, but that’s nonsense. To see why, consider this: are churches in danger of losing tax exempt status if they will not perform marriages for people of other religions? Can Jews demand to be married in a Catholic Church by a Catholic priest? Can Catholics demand to be married by a Rabbi in a Temple? Or even more to the point: Are churches in danger of losing tax exempt status if they will not perform marriages of mixed-race couples? (There was a recent instance of this happening, in case you think it doesn’t happen anymore.)

    No. And yet, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of religion or on the basis of race, and there is a Supreme Court decision specifically striking down bans on mixed-race couples. So why aren’t churches in danger of losing their tax exempt status on these grounds?

    Because Churches and religious institutions have a constitutional right to deny such services on the basis of their faith, because they are religious non-profit houses of worship (as opposed to for-profit businesses). So long as they maintain that status (which comes with a number of priviledges, such as tax-exemption, and a few obligations, such as not politicking in favor or against particular candidates), they are not providing services to the public at large and cannot be forced to abide by any kind of accommodation, service, or employment rules. In fact, if a Church was forced to perform marriages that go against its liturgy and canon, you’d have the ACLU and organizations like Americans United for Separation of Church and State lining up to defend the Church.

    (Of course, I don’t like having ministers be agents of the state and perform legally binding marriages. I would much prefer the model from Mexico, where the only marriage that has any legal standing is the civil marriage; people still marry in churches and temples, but it’s a religious ceremony with no more legal weight than a First Communion or a Bar-Mitzvah do).

  177. Dear Scorpius,

    Wow, those three articles do NOT support your claim that Palin was speaking truth. Did you even read them?

    Prolly not, since your weasel-out of “(however you want to define them)” pretty much means you’re going to move the goal posts to wherever you think they’ll let you score.

    So, we’ll make it simple. As PALIN used the term, she lied. Flat-out lied. No amount of spin gets around that.

    Your efforts to spin it into truthiness are impressive.

    As Dickie Smothers would say, “That’s not a compliment.”

    Obamacare sucks… and that’s entirely because of compromises forced by your ilk. It still beats the hell out of no system.

    Not so BTW, I’ve seen the Canadian system at work, first hand last year– a lover’s mother who had a (terminal, ultimately) brain tumor. And it’s so superior to what operates here in the US that you can’t even discuss them in the same paragraph. It’d be like comparing apples and… well, shit. I could write long articles just discussing the important points, let alone the nuances.

    What’s your **personal** experience with that system, boyo? Since you want to take it to that level.

    pax / Ctein

  178. To expand on ctein, the Slate article is about resolving disputes between doctors and family regarding end of life care. The second is about how the death panel rhetoric has distorted the conversation regarding end of life care. The third is about Democrats helping attempts to repeal the IPAB.

    Scorpius’ mother’s doctor seems to have misunderstood the relevant law, since the IPAB is explicitly forbidden from rationing care.

  179. I use iCasualties for my weekly report on US Combat deaths. The names are read aloud during the Prayers of the People in the church where I sing. I also post them on Facebook and Twitter and to a private listserve.

    That’s an awesome thing to do.

    (I use icasualties too, and I was wondering if James knew, since he was speaking with such authority. To his credit, he did).

    lies are things the liar (Obama) claims aren’t true when he knows they are

    Ah. So when you wrongly claimed that there were more GOP women than Democratic in Congress, were you lying or simply mistaken?

  180. DAVID, I think that was Billy, not Scorpy. They’re kindred spirits, sure, but they’ve been around too long to be sockpuppets.

  181. Dear Noble,

    Thanks for the expansion. And to further expand, the Slate article was about resolving dispute in ONE Province’s law in CANADA. Suggesting this is applicable in any way to Obamacare or has anything to do with Palin’s lies is, well… a lie. Or else a notable ability to fail to read in even minimal context.

    I think a partisan’s reporting of what one doctor supposedly said to his mother should not be taken as gospel… or an accurate description of the law as it exists in this country.

    pax / Ctein

  182. DAVID, I think that was Billy, not Scorpy. They’re kindred spirits, sure, but they’ve been around too long to be sockpuppets.

    Darnit! I’m having trouble keeping my crazed right-wingers straight.

    Sorry, scorpius! I impugned you for the wrong thing.

  183. ctein – I’ve seen the Canadian system at work also; it is shit. I do know that we have the best medical system in the world measured as a survival rate given that your survival is dependent on medical services. In other words: Cancer survival rates, diabetes survival rates, heart disease survival rates are all #1 in the U.S. BEFORE O-care.

  184. Scorpius, please support. That apply to EVERYONE in the US, or just those who are covered? Or ALL who are covered?

    Your previous cites showed the sloppiness of your research, so please forgive us when some of us express doubts.

  185. Gwangung: you have the highest probability of surviving these diseases GIVEN you are treated in the U.S. It’s the best way of measuring the “worth” of a health care system quality; access is a different matter. But even then. Even if you are poor or uncovered your best chances of survival is if you reside in the U.S.

  186. Scorpius, please support. That apply to EVERYONE in the US, or just those who are covered? Or ALL who are covered?

    For everyone, survival rates in the US are the best in the world for those over 65 years old. Under 65, US is average.

    http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2012/12/worlds-cancer-care.html

    you have the highest probability of surviving these diseases GIVEN you are treated in the U.S. It’s the best way of measuring the “worth” of a health care system quality; access is a different matter.

    Access is a critical part of measuring the worth of a health care system. “It’s the best in the world and no one can use it” isn’t a very comforting logic.

  187. For everyone, survival rates in the US are the best in the world for those over 65 years old. Under 65, US is average.

    Funny thing about people over 65… their healthcare is paid for by the US government. I wouldn’t say this is an argument that the US healthcare system for people who aren’t senior citizens is the best in the world…
    Scorpius, do you want to claim that our healthcare system is best in the world only for people on Medicare?

  188. See– parts of the right are feeling empowered now so we’re going to hear all the same old crap as before. Claiming the President lied about keeping your healthcare; Death panels. And that after the young woman in Oregon has shown that we could use someone to help navigate the way to a peaceful death.
    What makes me want to smack them about the head is that Palin and that crowd KNOW THEY LIED. But they’ll do whatever it takes.
    But what pisses me off even more is that too many people fall for that crap even when they know better.

  189. Harold, i think the right wing showed what it was capable of with cheerleading WMDs in iraq and having complete amnesia when none were found, and then having a shit fit about benghazi as if it were worse than a decade in Iraq.

  190. Speaking as a Floridian; Rick Scott won not because of more money. But because of two reasons.

    1. Crist was already Governor once and decided that he wanted to be a Senator more.

    2.Scott was running against a Republican, no an Independent, no wait a Democrat.

    Why vote for a man that decided he wanted a different job the first time he had it and two he can’t make up his mind what party he belongs too?

  191. I would like to point out that scorpius is under the impression that survival rates (specifically expressed as the percentage of people alive after 5 years) are the best way to measure the effectiveness of health care, and not morbidity rates (as in the rate of people actually dying.)

    The US had a strong push towards early awareness of cancer and thus detects cancer far earlier than most countries do. Consider a cancer that generally kills people after about 10 years, is fairly obvious in symptoms at 5 years but can be detected with screenings as early as 2 years. The US will have substantially higher survival rates even if the cancer is completely resistant to any treatment, just due to early detection. Note, this does not cover the complications of unnecessary treatments issued which have added effects and are a large part of why other countries tend towards wait and see policies on treatment. This is an especially large issue with prostate cancer.

    You can get a further run down here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNiORew3uRY

    You will very frequently see the right wing talk about survival rates because it is the only metric that the US health care system even compares on in results. It is more expensive and less effective in every other metric. Of course, as you pointed out – even by the biased metrics we actually don’t do much better. Is spending substantially more than other countries – including more in taxes than countries that provide 100% health care really worth an extremely small increase in survival rate for some (not all cancers)

    If there is one policy that Democrats should be absolutely hammering the GOP on it should be health care. Stop letting the lies be the only thing said. Embrace a full health care system across the board and start pushing for it hard and providing truth to every lie the GOP tell.

  192. “It’s not disingenuous when the candidate runs explicitly on a hawkish platform (“bomb, bomb, bomb Iran”) to assume that he will follow up on that.”

    So you take an off-color and rather poor joke as the basis of his foreign policy platform?

    “And I said “sustained combat operations” because the US military in Aftghanistan, while still fighting, is working on withdrawal: forces are being consolidated and drawing down, units are being withdrawn from various provinces and then the country.”

    After a huge surge orchestrated by Obama which saw American casualties double. Also, the troops are not being withdrawn from the country, not for at least another ten years. There will be probably 10,000 American troops stationed there for a while.

    “And in the equivalent month of the last Republican administration, that number was 17 and 111. That’s 124 extra deaths under the Republicans. No, the comparison probably isn’t exact, but it shows how ludicrous your comment about us still being in Iraq and Afghanistan was.”

    Well no, if you are looking at October, 2008 since it would equivalent to October, 2014 the deaths are 14 for Iraq and 16 for Afghanistan. So the difference is 16. The total deaths of Americans in the Afghanistan war under Obama stands at 1720, under Bush it was 630.

    Granted, Iraq was much worse in terms of fighting and combat deaths, but the heavy lifting there was over by 2008. Now Obama’s term isn’t over yet, and he just announced the doubling of US troops to Iraq so we’ll see how many Americans end up there and how many deaths will occur in this war on ISIS over the next few years.

  193. “(I use icasualties too, and I was wondering if James knew, since he was speaking with such authority. To his credit, he did). ”

    I do speak with some authority on this topic. Even though you don’t know who I am or what I do, but I can tell you I’ve done work on casualty rates in COIN ops for the CAA (no not CIA, the acronym is correct).

    At any rate to continue from my last post the drawdown in Iraq was initiated by the Bush administration in 2008, Obama just followed it through. However, he did try with some effort to keep US troops in Iraq beyond 2011. That was ultimately nixed when the Iraqis said no to immunity for US troops.

    Do you really think a President McCain faced with the same situation at the end of 2011 would allow US troops to stay in Iraq without immunity from local laws? I doubt it.

  194. So you take an off-color and rather poor joke as the basis of his foreign policy platform?

    No, I used it as an example. What I take as the basis for his foreign policy platform is — wait for it — his foreign policy platform:

    “John McCain believes it is strategically and morally essential for the United States to support the Government of Iraq to become capable of governing itself and safeguarding its people. He strongly disagrees with those who advocate withdrawing American troops before that has occurred.”

    He also argued for increasing American efforts in Afghanistan, similar to what President Obama has done, but without the deadline.

    Also, the troops are not being withdrawn from the country, not for at least another ten years. There will be probably 10,000 American troops stationed there for a while.

    You’re misreading, willfully or otherwise. Troops are being withdrawn from the country. Not all of them, but the vast majority. Unless you think there’s no difference between the 100,000 that were there in 2010 and the 10,000 that will be left in 2014. There’s a BIG difference between a force engaging in active combat operations (McCain’s idea) and a holding force there to stiffen the locals.

    Well no, if you are looking at October, 2008 since it would equivalent to October, 2014

    Unless October 2014 suddenly became the month before a presidential election, then October 2008 is NOT equivalent to October 2014. What I said originally–October 2006 (the month before the second set of midterms in a two term Presidency)–is. So still 124 extra deaths.

    The total deaths of Americans in the Afghanistan war under Obama stands at 1720, under Bush it was 630.

    Try again. Total deaths for Bush were 1384. For Obama, 1720. Those two figures assign the 2009 deaths to Obama, though he wasn’t inaugurated until January of that year and (unless he withdrew all troops on day one of his presidency) had no decision making power over the troop presence until well into 2009.

    But even if you go with the 1384 and 1720 numbers, what exactly is your argument? That it would be better to elect a man (McCain) who would still be banging his head against a wall trying to win a counterinsurgency? How long do we take the casualties until it’s time to come home? Obama–to his credit–recognized that. I don’t see that John McCain, who wanted to intervene in Syria most recently, would have managed such an epiphany.

    Do you really think a President McCain faced with the same situation at the end of 2011 would allow US troops to stay in Iraq without immunity from local laws?

    Do you really think that a President McCain would have allowed the Iraqis to take the immunity away? How naive.

    I do speak with some authority on this topic. Even though you don’t know who I am or what I do, but I can tell you I’ve done work on casualty rates in COIN ops for the CAA (no not CIA, the acronym is correct).

    The Creative Artists Agency? The Canadian Automobile Association? The Colonial Athletic Association?

    And I’m a military historian who’s written multiple books on American counterinsurgencies. There, we’ve both waved our authority around. That and $5 will get us pumpkin spice lattes.

  195. Try again. Total deaths for Bush were 1384. For Obama, 1720. Those two figures assign the 2009 deaths to Obama, though he wasn’t inaugurated until January of that year and (unless he withdrew all troops on day one of his presidency) had no decision making power over the troop presence until well into 2009.

    Whoops. Double-checked my addition, and I was incorrect. James had the numbers right. So my correction above is wrong.

    However, the second paragraph is still spot-on, and I would add to it that I’m not sure why Bush gets credit for letting Afghanistan fester so badly that it breaks out into even more intense warfare after he’s gone. He let Bin Laden escape, and let Afghanistan rot, and Obama was left cleaning up the mess.

  196. Why vote for a man that decided he wanted a different job the first time he had it and two he can’t make up his mind what party he belongs too?

    Because his opponent is a crook and has completely failed to run the state for the benefit of its citizens? Just speculating.

  197. So you take an off-color and rather poor joke as the basis of his foreign policy platform?

    Ha ha! Just kidding! So fucking hilarioius!

    So fucking hilarious.

    lighten up already, it’s just a joke and not indicative of my real desires to bomb half the planet into oblivion.

    Now laugh motherfucker before I bomb the shit out of you too….

    I mean… HAHA!!!

  198. “No, I used it as an example. What I take as the basis for his foreign policy platform is — wait for it — his foreign policy platform:

    “John McCain believes it is strategically and morally essential for the United States to support the Government of Iraq to become capable of governing itself and safeguarding its people. He strongly disagrees with those who advocate withdrawing American troops before that has occurred.”

    I didn’t see anything about bombing Iran. Also, as I stated before his hands would have been tied by the SOFA agreement Bush signed with Maliki in 2008.

    “He also argued for increasing American efforts in Afghanistan, similar to what President Obama has done, but without the deadline.”

    So, it’s the same, since the “deadline” has been moved back to 2024. Oh, troops there may be classified as “advisory” instead of “combat” but do you seriously think they won’t be considered legitimate targets by the Taliban?

    “You’re misreading, willfully or otherwise. Troops are being withdrawn from the country. Not all of them, but the vast majority. Unless you think there’s no difference between the 100,000 that were there in 2010 and the 10,000 that will be left in 2014. There’s a BIG difference between a force engaging in active combat operations (McCain’s idea) and a holding force there to stiffen the locals.”

    From the original comment about US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan: If McCain had been elected, we’d still be in Iraq, Afghanistan, plus Iran and probably Syria and Libya, too (or at least as many as possible, until we ran out of troops)”

    I pointed out the error in this statement and then you pop in and say I am being disingenuous. So I told you one cannot predict the future, particularly an alternative one in which the losing candidate was elected, and now you tell me I’m misreading?

    “Unless October 2014 suddenly became the month before a presidential election, then October 2008 is NOT equivalent to October 2014. What I said originally–October 2006 (the month before the second set of midterms in a two term Presidency)–is. So still 124 extra deaths.”

    You referred to the last October of the last Republican administration, it is the only month that is comparable to the last October of the current Democratic administration, which was last month. 2016 hasn’t happened yet (again with the future predictions), when it does we can compare 2016 to 2008 and 2014 to 2006 if you like.

    “But even if you go with the 1384 and 1720 numbers, what exactly is your argument? That it would be better to elect a man (McCain) who would still be banging his head against a wall trying to win a counterinsurgency? How long do we take the casualties until it’s time to come home? Obama–to his credit–recognized that. I don’t see that John McCain, who wanted to intervene in Syria most recently, would have managed such an epiphany.”

    Your math was wrong, but at least you admit that in the next post. My argument is that not only did Obama not withdraw troops from Afghanistan but he actually increased the number of troops in country, only after several years did the troop drawdown go into effect. Since you claim some expertise in counterinsurgency (see below) I don’t need to tell you what an increase in troops means. Also, it is probably the same strategy that McCain would have followed.

    “Do you really think that a President McCain would have allowed the Iraqis to take the immunity away? How naive.”

    So I take it you don’t understand concepts like national sovereignty or the US’s SOFA agreements. A President McCain, a President Obama, a President Clinton, really has no say in whether another country will a.) allow US troops to be stationed there and b.) whether those troops are granted prosecutorial immunity.

    “The Creative Artists Agency? The Canadian Automobile Association? The Colonial Athletic Association?”

    You are either profoundly ignorant of the structure of the US military and DOD, or you are just baiting me. If you must know:

    http://www.caa.army.mil/

    “And I’m a military historian who’s written multiple books on American counterinsurgencies. There, we’ve both waved our authority around. That and $5 will get us pumpkin spice lattes.”

    I doubt this claim very very much. An American military historian who makes such basic research errors? Tell me the names of your books, or the COIN ops you wrote about. And no self-publishing does not count, they have to have undergone the peer-review process.

  199. “Ha ha! Just kidding! So fucking hilarioius!

    So fucking hilarious.

    lighten up already, it’s just a joke and not indicative of my real desires to bomb half the planet into oblivion.

    Now laugh motherfucker before I bomb the shit out of you too….

    I mean… HAHA!!!”

    I didn’t say it was a good joke, I said it was a poor joke, done in poor taste to be precise. It was in response to a question by a supporter at one of McCain’s town hall meetings. McCain said: “That old, eh, that old Beach Boys song, ‘Bomb Iran,'” he said. “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, anyway, ah …”

    I’m not saying he isn’t open to criticism for making a bad joke, but to suggest this would be actual policy is still a stretch.

    Some of you may be surprised by this with all the talk of “Imperial Presidency” but there are constraints on presidential action in foreign policy, both domestic and foreign. Anybody ever hear of two-level games?

    Also some Presidents are very skilled at saying one thing to their domestic constituents and then doing something completely different in their foreign policy. Remember the old adage: “Only Nixon could go to China.”

  200. James: “I’m not saying he isn’t open to criticism for making a bad joke, but to suggest this would be actual policy is still a stretch.”

    The link in that post shows this was more than just a one-off joke. McCain is a hardcore militant.

    “there are constraints on presidential action in foreign policy”

    Historically, when a president orders the military to attack some country, congress succumbs to the effect of the diffusion of responsibility. If they take a vocal stand against presidential action, but the war goed well and people support it, they get bad pr. If they want a war before the president orders one, strong vocal stand in favor of war that ends up going bad gives them bad pr. If they just keep their head down possibly make some vague if-by-whiskey statements about military action and generic support-the-troops comments, then they arent tied to a bad war and arent tied to opposing a war that is popular. If they just shut ul and hide among the hundreds of other congress critters, they can jump on whichever bandwagon is popular during election time and retcon their support to match their voters.

    Nixon committed. treason and encouraged south vietnam to pull out of a peace treaty so the administration would look bad and he could win the election.

    You keep pushing ultra naive interpretations of politics in order to hand wave away straight forward, common sense views that McCain was a bloody hawk.

  201. “The link in that post shows this was more than just a one-off joke. McCain is a hardcore militant.”

    From Mother Jones, yes not a biased source at all… You do know how domestic politics works right? Republican candidates tend to follow Nixon’s advice: run to the right in the primaries and return to the center during the general election. McCain made that joke during the primaries.

    “Historically, when a president orders the military to attack some country, congress succumbs to the effect of the diffusion of responsibility. If they take a vocal stand against presidential action, but the war goed well and people support it, they get bad pr. If they want a war before the president orders one, strong vocal stand in favor of war that ends up going bad gives them bad pr. If they just keep their head down possibly make some vague if-by-whiskey statements about military action and generic support-the-troops comments, then they arent tied to a bad war and arent tied to opposing a war that is popular. If they just shut ul and hide among the hundreds of other congress critters, they can jump on whichever bandwagon is popular during election time and retcon their support to match their voters. ”

    This is a bit rambling, so may be difficult to dissect. When I talk about domestic constraints, I just don’t talk about the “people”, there are others: bureaucratic, structural, even legal (not to mention the real strain on the military already evident in 2008).

    “Nixon committed. treason and encouraged south vietnam to pull out of a peace treaty so the administration would look bad and he could win the election.”

    A red herring, and misses the point of my example entirely.

    “You keep pushing ultra naive interpretations of politics in order to hand wave away straight forward, common sense views that McCain was a bloody hawk.”

    When you tell me what you know about two-level games then we can decide who is being naive about politics.

    Try to step away from the talking points and broaden your horizons a bit. I’ve never even said that I was a supporter of Sen. McCain. I just find the statement that you and others seem to agree with that (paraphrasing) “If elected a President McCain 100% unequivocally without a doubt would have launched multiple wars against XYZ countries” a bit ludicrous.

  202. Apologies, I’ve made my point.

    Anyway, the midterms look good on the surface for the Republicans but things change quickly in politics. The key for the Dems is I believe the state houses. If they can start to win back the state legislatures then they can work on regaining the House and the Senate: build a lasting majority that is.

  203. I doubt this claim very very much. An American military historian who makes such basic research errors? Tell me the names of your books, or the COIN ops you wrote about. And no self-publishing does not count, they have to have undergone the peer-review process.

    One error, immediately corrected. The others are your fantasy visions from deep inside the Republican echo chamber.

    As to books:

    http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JSACNC

    You can decide whether they meet your standards, but I’ll note for those that don’t feel like clicking through that they’re all with a major publisher, they’re all peer-reviewed, and 2 of the 3 books are on COIN ops (The Philippine War of 1899-1902 and the Boxer Rebellion of 1900).

    Why, what a shock. One’s even been the subject of a Big Idea on this here web site:

    https://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/04/05/the-big-idea-david-j-silbey/

  204. Wow, DAVID, I’m impressed. Sincerely. I’m going to tread carefully if I ever disagree with you on military stuff. Fortunately that hasn’t really come up in this thread!

    Not sure if this will work, but here’s my Call to Remembrance page. I’ll include last month’s Iraq dead on next week’s post.

  205. Not sure if this will work, but here’s my Call to Remembrance page. I’ll include last month’s Iraq dead on next week’s post

    That’s an eminently worthy project. Good work.

  206. “One error, immediately corrected. The others are your fantasy visions from deep inside the Republican echo chamber.”

    You didn’t know what the Center for Army Analysis was, you didn’t recognize that an increase in troop levels almost automatically corresponds to an increase in casualty levels in counterinsurgencies, not knowing how a SOFA Agreement works (Come on you’ve studied the Philippines!) and you didn’t understand how to properly compare the casualty rates from the previous administration to the current one. Finally, for an historian you certainly don’t make much effort to overcome your own bias: I never said I was a Republican, let alone a supporter of McCain’s.

    “You can decide whether they meet your standards, but I’ll note for those that don’t feel like clicking through that they’re all with a major publisher, they’re all peer-reviewed, and 2 of the 3 books are on COIN ops (The Philippine War of 1899-1902 and the Boxer Rebellion of 1900). ”

    I see one book not books on American COIN ops, (including the excursion to China) and none on the Iraq or Afghan wars. The rest is social history masquerading as military. Even your dissertation “Their graves like beds: The British working class and enthusiasm for war, 1914–1916” sounds more like a social history. Not that there is anything wrong with social history but trying to piegonhole it into military history is a bit of a stretch, but that’s just my opinion. I see you’re also a member of SMH, so we may see each other at the next meeting.

    “So, the basis for your “point” is a strawman”

    I saw no equivocating by anyone, none whatsoever. You and David, and whomever else on here have taken it as a foregone conclusion that if McCain had been elected President there would be war everywhere. I am saying I don’t think that would be the case, it could be the case, I seriously doubt it, but I never said McCain would never go to war with Iran, Syria, etc., but I am saying it is by no means a certainty that he would have. And the direction Obama has taken is probably not much different from what McCain would have likely done had he been elected. For someone like you maybe these concepts are hard to understand. For someone like David, with his education, and vantage point as an historian, well he should know better.

    All right, now I’m done.

  207. You didn’t know what the Center for Army Analysis was

    I made fun of the fact that you threw CAA out there, expecting everyone to know it. I still think it would be better if you said you came from the Canadian Automobile Association.

    As to the rest, and despite your denial about partisanship, I think I’ll go with my previous analysis that “the others are your fantasy visions from deep inside the Republican echo chamber.” Among other things, you seem to be unclear on the distinction between not understanding something and not agreeing with it.

    I did want to comment further on one thing:

    Not that there is anything wrong with social history but trying to piegonhole it into military history is a bit of a stretch, but that’s just my opinion

    For non-historians in the thread, there’s long been a divide between social history and military history. The former looks at social and cultural issues and events and the latter looks at military matters. They’ve tended not to mingle. The problem is that the two (as everyone has probably already realized) are inextricably linked, especially in counterinsurgencies. You can’t just look at one and not the other. One of the reasons the United States got into such trouble in Iraq was that it thought the same thing — that it could ignore the social and cultural issues and simply fight on the battlefield. The military then got very confused when it turned out that the battlefield was malleable and indistinct, and that it was fighting a battle of society as much as war (being the military, of course, it had to refer to this as “Human Terrain,” because Exciting Name Requirement). It took them a long time to break out of that paradigm, time in which Iraq spiraled into a quagmire.

    James, your attitude is a remnant of that disastrous mindset, still locked into the idea that society and war can be separated from each other, and unable to comprehend that the two are tied together and that you can’t understand one without the other.

    Everyone else, If you’ve read this far, congratulations. You now have a better understanding of counterinsurgencies than someone with some small responsibility for America’s actual war effort.

    Actually, James, it really would be better if you claimed to come from the Canadian Automobile Association.

  208. “I made fun of the fact that you threw CAA out there, expecting everyone to know it. I still think it would be better if you said you came from the Canadian Automobile Association.”

    Nice try, but I doubt you knew what it was: Quantitative analysis and operations research are not exactly in your purview as an early 20th century historian.

    “As to the rest, and despite your denial about partisanship, I think I’ll go with my previous analysis that “the others are your fantasy visions from deep inside the Republican echo chamber.” Among other things, you seem to be unclear on the distinction between not understanding something and not agreeing with it.”

    I never voted for McCain, never said I did, actually I walked away from American politics long ago, the partisan rancor that pervades these discussions now is not congenial for civilized discourse. I am just here trying to make dispassionate observations about the midterm election, which I did not vote in, and correcting what I believe to be a misperception about Sen. McCain’s foreign policy per the 2008 presidential election (which I did not vote in).

    Your comment on McCain forcing the Iraqis to accept American troops is especially egregious since you have done work on American involvement in the Philippines. You should know in what manner American troops finally left the Philippines, (yes they came back for COIN ops after 9/11 and may establish more permanent bases but there is real popular outrage over against the American military in the Philippines right now).

    “James, your attitude is a remnant of that disastrous mindset, still locked into the idea that society and war can be separated from each other, and unable to comprehend that the two are tied together and that you can’t understand one without the other.”

    A good discussion to have at the next meeting I suppose, another reason my doctorate is in political science (international relations/strategic studies). I have a lot of respect for the history profession, but one main problem I always had with it is this attempted marginalization of military and diplomatic history (the percentages of military/diplomatic historians in university history departments have been falling since the 1970s).

    I know, I know we’re dinosaurs, irrelevant (and my personal favorite), you study people being killed, and now war cannot be separated from society. True, war is a human endeavor, but it is intrinsically political rather than cultural. Military history looks at how wars are fought, strategic studies looks at why wars are fought, and social history looks at what people do at any given point in history (including during wars).

    But like it or not “people” (the collective) do not drive policy. There can be groups of people who do so, elites, interest groups, bureaucrats, so on, but even in the most democratic society “people” do not get an up or down vote on national policy. And war, even insurgency, is based on politics/policy. I know, how Clausewitzian of me, but what do you expect from a dinosaur.

    So carry on with your important research into military history and broadening the young minds at Cornell, and I’ll do what I do. I suspect our paths will never cross unless we do meet at a convention, but while I’ll know who you are, you won’t know, and probably won’t care, who I am.

    “Everyone else, If you’ve read this far, congratulations. You now have a better understanding of counterinsurgencies than someone with some small responsibility for America’s actual war effort.

    Actually, James, it really would be better if you claimed to come from the Canadian Automobile Association.”

    Nothing wrong with Canadians is there?

    That’s all the personal info you’ll get from me. I did doubt your claim to be a historian because you acted like a partisan, and didn’t demonstrate any real knowledge about counterinsurgency. Perhaps you thought to steamroll me, but I’m not one to be steamrolled.

    Is this the end, or does your ego demand the last word? I suspect our host will cut me off fairly soon, and I do have my “small responsibilities” to get back to, so I’ll leave it here.

  209. Hey, James? It’s clear part of what’s happening now is some sort of long standing, interdisciplinary pissing contest, which is leaving both of you smelling none to good. But here’s something to consider: while you’ve both made fun of each other, the worst David ever called you was wrong. You’ve twice called David a liar.

  210. I never called him a liar, I said I doubted his claim, there’s a difference. I said he was free to provide evidence to back up his claim which he did.

    Now, I don’t know about the second “lie” you are referring to. About knowing what CAA stands for? He had an opportunity to prove that claim, he didn’t, or chose not to, not my problem. Also I didn’t call him a liar, I said I doubted (means he could be telling the truth, calling someone a liar means you definitively believe that person lies), he knew, but there is no way to prove one way or the other now.

    I have now a semantical disagreement with David over the term “military historian,” which morphed from our disagreement over a mythical McCain presidency’s foreign policy vis-a-vis the current Obama administration’s. You and he are free to agree, disagree, or ignore as you see fit, If I come across as “poor” in an online debate on a sci-fi author’s blog, then well I’ll try not to lose any sleep over it.

  211. coo1blue:

    “Well when the new majority leader takes over, he’ll open a drawer somewhere and find all the legislation from the House that did not get acted upon by the Senate because Senator Reid was trying to protect his caucus from going on record with some tough votes.”

    I’ve noticed that the right-wing history revisions have been completed:

    1) The Democrats were obstructionists and refused to compromise (i.e., 2009-10 is not to be mentioned).

    2) The word ‘filibuster’ is to be temporarily erased from history. It will be revised, as an Evul and UnAmerican Commie thing, the moment that 40-odd Democratic Senators using that back at the GOP Senators.

  212. James, without getting into the meat of your argument (not just because Scalzi said to drop it but because I upfront know nothing about it), let me point out that David knows how to operate the Google and pretending not to know what CAA is entirely characteristic of his humor (granted, you haven’t been here to see other examples). Heck, even I’d heard of it, though I’d have had to look up what the letters stand for. In the same breath you accept his claim to be a published historian AND believe that he’d choose displaying ignorance of a term you used over looking it up? Come on. And yes, your phrasing did come across as calling him a liar; expressing doubt of someone’s words is not that semantically different in practice. You could’ve asked him about his books without that, or the assumption that they were all self-published, etc.

    I do understand that the topic is one that tends to bring self-proclaimed experts out to bloviate, but it’s just as effective to ask for confirmation of expertise without snark as with and makes you look much better should it turn out that that expertise is in fact legitimate.

    More generally, thank you all for the thread, especially Scalzi. I’m generally not qualified to join in on any political threads but I always enjoy reading them and learning from them, under the Mallet’s loving and watchful gaze.

  213. Robin, it has been suggested by our host that this topic be dropped, so I’ll be brief.

    If true then David’s comments could be construed as mocking (since interpretations are apparently loose here). So he was either ignorant or being a jerk. Either way I stand by my responses.

  214. James: “David’s comments could be construed as mocking ”

    Hm. You insist on strict, pedantic readings of you words, multiple people say you called David a liar and you dismiss that because *technically* you didnt use that specific word. Yet here you are making all sorts of non strict, quite subjective readings of what David said to put your own spin on it. So, you’re pedantic only when its to you advantage. since you have specifically allowed construing to occur now, i would construe that you’re being a hypocrit.

  215. Wait a sec. You pulled this stunt more than once on this same thread: James: “paraphrasing) “If elected a President McCain 100% unequivocally without a doubtthread: ”

    So, you demand strict reading of your statements, but you treat “paraphrasing” and “construe” as magic words that allow you to completely strawman/fabricate your opponent’s position.

    One might even construe, and I’m paraphrasing here, that you’re arguing in bad faith.

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