November 17, 2006

This is supposed to be a happy occasion

Filed under: Laws and Sausages — tomemos @ 1:33 pm

Those of you who’ve been following the news may feel, like I have, that you woke up on Wednesday or Thursday and found that the resounding Democratic victory had been transformed, in the media narrative, into a debacle of infighting and politicking. This because Nancy Pelosi wanted Murtha to be Majority Leader and he didn’t get to be. Even the paper of record got into the mix, using such restrained language as “tempts disaster” (in the headline!), “acted like some old-time precinct boss,” “skepticism … about her political smarts,” “intramural vendetta.” I can hardly wait to see what the coverage is going to be like once, y’know, the Democrats actually take power.

Now, dear reader, I am capable of admitting that Pelosi made a mistake sticking with Murtha. He’s a controversial public figure who has a bunch of skeletons in his closet. And certainly politicians have power insofar as they convince people to do things, so this betrays some not-quite-sure footing on Pelosi’s part. However, I do think it’s worth noting that:

1)In and of itself, this really doesn’t matter very much. An election was held, a guy won. They held that election two years ago and they’ll hold it two years from now. Therefore,
2)This is only a “disaster” for Pelosi to the degree that the chattering class says it is.

And they’ve decided to say that it really, really is. If you’ve read this far, I really recommend two admittedly longish articles on this topic: one by Digby, and one by Glenn Greenwald. These are two of the smartest, most level-headed left-wing blogs there are—in fact, they are the joint winners of the inaugural Most Level-Headed Left-Wing Blog Award, presented by me. Both of them come to a conclusion that is hard to dispute: that the media treats Democrats differently. I won’t say “worse,” since it’s probable that the Republicans get picked on in their own way, but they sure as hell don’t get the “incompetent party management” label as much as the Democrats do. Consider that the Republicans just completed a Senate leadership election at least as “divisive” (formerly-disgraced Trent Lott won Whip by one vote), plus they lost a Congressional election not so long ago, but you don’t hear about them tearing themselves apart. Nor did you in 1994, when (Digby tells me) Newt Gingrich didn’t get his pick for Majority Leader, either.

One thing I haven’t seen talked about directly, though it has been alluded to, is the element of sexism in all this. Would we be seeing all this talk about catfights, personal vendettas, and power squabbles if this was a male Speaker of the House-Elect? This CNN screenshot, given in the Digby post, makes me think that they’re talking about Pelosi’s suitability as a wife rather than the viability of the Democrats as a party. And I don’t think that Bill Frist has ever been described, as The New Republic’s Marty Peretz described Pelosi, as “rather svelte.”


November 8, 2006

If you beat me in a dream, you better wake up and apologize

Filed under: Laws and Sausages — tomemos @ 9:19 pm

I wish someone had taken me up on that $10 bet I proposed, because it’s already entered the “sucker bet” category:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A Democratic takeover of the Senate is appearing likely after an ongoing canvass of votes in Virginia produced no significant changes in the outcome of the hard-fought race led by Democratic challenger Jim Webb, sources told CNN Wednesday.

Wednesday night, with Webb leading Republican Sen. George Allen by about 7,200 votes and the canvass about half complete, The Associated Press declared Webb the winner.

So, um, that’s that. Control of both chambers. And it looks like we may not even have to wait too long to be sure. When I read this article on Kos, saying that Allen was considering not seeking a recount, I thought it was intriguing, but ultimately wishful thinking. I figured there’s no way that an incumbent Senator would let such a close result go, particularly with control of the Senate at stake. But check this out, from the CNN article:

While stopping just short of saying Allen will concede, the [Allen] source said it is a “daunting proposition” for the senator to overcome Webb’s lead.

And, from the AP:

The adviser said that Allen was disinclined to request a recount if the final vote spread was similar to that of election night.

It makes a certain kind of sense: the recount would almost certainly not result in any change for Allen, so at least the GOP can avoid the “Sore Loserman” tag. And, as Kos points out, Allen really wants to be President, not a weakened Senator; he’s probably anxious to nurse his wounds. But it’s still startling that the Republicans are so shell-shocked that they are apparently not going to go to the wall for the deciding Senate seat.

Incidentally, the NY Times article I linked to below now says that Bush called the victory a “thumping,” not a “thumpin.” Which is it, mainstream media?

Unknown unknowns

Filed under: Laws and Sausages, The Gray Lady — tomemos @ 6:56 pm

The best sentence I’ve read today, in the New York Times no less:

“Mr. Bush portrayed the results as a ‘thumpin’ of Republicans and conceded that as head of the party, he bore part of the responsibility.”

“Thumpin.” That is so charming. I think I’m starting to understand why people like this guy.

You have no chance to survive make your time

Filed under: Laws and Sausages — tomemos @ 3:03 am

My excitement about the Democrats’ win in the 2006 midterms does not match my crushing, bitter disappointment in 2004, which genuinely depressed me (I believe the record will bear this out). I’m excited now, certainly, and optimistic, and energized, but I don’t feel that my world has changed much. Partly it’s that I expected us to win; the polls were certainly going in that direction, and so as soon as things started going well I wasn’t surprised. Partly it’s that in 2004 we were going up against Bush directly, rather than dozens of evil surrogates. And I suppose that it’s hard for relief to match up with disappointment. My team narrowly lost the 2002 World Series, and those memories still haunt me. If we had won, I doubt that would sustain me for long; I’d want another championship. You can’t get enough of success.

(Do you like my persistent use of the first person plural to refer to both the Democrats and the San Francisco Giants? I did give like $20 to the DCCC, and I bought a bunch of baseball tickets in ’02, so I would say I can claim some stake in it all.)

I am certainly relieved that there is not some magical GOP curse that means the Democrats will never win another election. Karl Rove is not the boogeyman, he’s just a man—an evil, awful man, but still just a (horrible, ugly) man. The Republicans did not steal this election, and it never looked like they would: as Acephalous pointed out, this one was not close enough to steal. So democracy works, sorta. Close enough for government work.

I’m going to write more lucidly about the election soon (maybe), but I wanted to get this much down on e-paper while it’s still fresh: I will bet anyone in the world ten dollars that when the dust settles the Democrats will have won the Senate too. If you want to take me up on this, leave a comment saying so and we’ll settle it when the decisions are official. In the meantime, don’t spend my money on anything.

12:33 p.m.: Edited to fix a few 3 a.m. grammar mistakes.

November 6, 2006

We have never been at war with Eurasia

Filed under: The Old Dirty War — tomemos @ 10:35 am

That’s a novel fucking approach:

An ABC News undercover investigation showed Army recruiters telling students that the war in Iraq was over, in an effort to get them to enlist.

ABC News and New York affiliate WABC equipped students with hidden video cameras before they visited 10 Army recruitment offices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

“Nobody is going over to Iraq anymore?” one student asks a recruiter.

“No, we’re bringing people back,” he replies.

“We’re not at war. War ended a long time ago,” another recruiter says.

Everyone’s going to remember to vote tomorrow, yes?

(courtesy of Sadly, No!)

November 5, 2006

Everybody’s talking at me

Filed under: Blogs Themselves — tomemos @ 2:12 pm

Edit: I deleted a sentence below which may have been hurtful to Livejournal users. For the record, I have nothing against LJ; I meant only to point out trends in the blogosphere. I apologize to anyone who felt denigrated.

Everybody’s getting married, and everybody’s starting a blog. In the digital age, this is part of becoming an adult. The internet is not yet advanced enough to allow me to link to these impending marriages, but I can recommend some blogs, that I can do. These are both by grad student friends.

The first is one that’s been around for a while, but which I’ve only begun reading recently. Its topics are widely diverse; the most recent one is a particularly insightful discussion of UCI students and the things about them that make us scratch our heads. I present Pons Asinorum, a Latin phrase that means…actually, I’ve always been too embarrassed to ask. Someone help me out.

The second one is brand new, by someone who’s commented here a few times (I don’t know how far back the veil of anonymity is supposed to be pulled here). Its title reflects the tentativeness of the new blogger, or else is ironic: Irrelevant Narcissism.

Get to ’em!

Create a free website or blog at