Ouch

I did a pretty good job not obsessing on election returns most of the night.  Watched the best Eastbound and Down episode of the (disappointing compared to last) season off the DVR and watched Mad Men Season 3 episode 7– another brilliant episode.  Alas, now it’s back to harsh reality.  A couple of brief comments for now.

1) How did Bob Etheridge in NC-2 (the district contains NC State) lose to “batshit crazy” (quoting one of my students “victory mosque” totally unqualified Renee Ellmers while at the same time Mike McIntyre holds on in NC-7 and Larry Kissell cruises in NC-8?  Seriously, I thought if Etheridge lost in his R+2 district, I thought those guys with better opponents in more R districts would surely be toast.

2) The biggest reason this sucks for Democrats is because it makes it that much harder to take back the House in 2012.  Policy-wise, I honestly think it hardly makes any difference whether R’s have a 1 vote or 50 vote majority in the House.  The problem for Dems with the latter, is that’s a helluva lot of seats to take back and chances are there’s not going to be national partisan tides this strong again for a while.

3) More tomorrow.

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Predictions

I feel like I should make some predictions.  I hate to do that when I’m so uncertain.  I’m much more comfortable predicting presidential nominees months out (especially since I did a damn good job of it in 2008). Thus, I’ll just give some vague, lame, conventional wisdom predictions.  Republicans pick up between 42-57 House seats to take a majority in the House, but top out at 48 in the Senate.  More confident prediction: nothing useful to actually help our economy get going passes Congress in the next two years and people are not particularly more happy in 2012 than they are now.  Less confident, prediction: this all sets up Sarah Palin well as the Republican nominee.  Sub-prediction: if the former proves true, it proves to be an epic mistake on the part of Republicans.

The deficit pose

I know it’s a dead horse, but it’s an important dead horse, damnit.  Jon Chait has a great timeline of the history of policy approaches to deficits over the past 30 years.  There really can be little doubt that Republicans are not and never have been concerned about deficits (excepting GHWB who is an apostate for it.  Here’s what I think is the key bit:

The story begins in 1990, when George H.W. Bush decided to compromise with Democrats in Congress and sign a major deficit reduction law. The deal contained significant cuts in spending, along with a small hike in the top tax bracket, and pay as you go budget rules requiring that any entitlement increases or tax cuts have offsets to make them deficit-neutral. Conservatives revolted, voting en masse against the deal — just 10 House Republicans supported it — despite a full-court lobbying effort by Bush. The deal is still remembered as a betrayal by Bush and the prototypical example of how a GOP president should not govern. Every major adviser associated with the deal from Bush’s side has since been purged from the party.

In 1993, Bill Clinton’s administration decided that the deficit was still too high, and pushed through another deficit-reduction measure — similar in design to the 1990 deal, though somewhat smaller and more titled toward tax increases. Republicans declared it an economic and moral abomination and, having completed their reaction against the 1990 agreement, gave the Clinton budget zero votes in either house of Congress. After gaining control of Congress, Clinton fought with Congressional Republicans over how much to reduce the deficit and whether it was appropriate to enact a large regressive tax cut as part of such a program…

The next most important debate over the deficit occurred during the appearance of a budget surplus at the end of the Clinton administration. Republicans argued that the surplus demonstrated the affordability of large permanent tax cuts. Clinton argued that a surplus at the height of a red-hot business cycle ought to be devoted to reducing the national debt.

Once Republican George W. Bush took office, Clinton’s veto was gone, and Republicans immediately began dismantling the bulwarks of fiscal conservatism. They ended the pay as you go budget rule, and passed a series of large tax cuts. They also passed a Medicare prescription drug benefit, also unpaid-for, and major military and homeland security spending increases. Much of the criticism over the enactment of these policies, especially the 2001 tax cut, centered around the durability of the surplus, which Democrats called uncertain, and Republicans insisted was bound to continue growing.

The most frustrating part to me is the Bush tax cuts because they occurred under the fanciful and ahistorical belief that a booming economy was simply the new state of the world and would not wane.

 

Sex and Violence

Great slideshow in Slate about public attitudes and advertising campaigns about sex.  Short version: they do it way better in Europe.

You totally need to check out the whole slide show, though.  They treat sex in an adult, non-puritanical manner and have vastly lower rates of teen pregnancy and teen STD’s.  On a Slate related note, Emily Bazelon has an article about whether banning absurdly violent video games from minors is an infringement on free speech.  The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today.  Under current law, only restrictions on pornography are permitted.  In her visit yesterday, Dahlia Lithwick noted, and I agree, that this likely traces to America’s uniquely Puritanical roots, as there’s plenty of us who would rather keep our kids from games where the point is to literally rape and maim other humans than keep them away from naked people.   But its the naked people are society seems much more concerned about.

Headline of the day I don’t believe

From the Post:

Sorry, don’t buy it.  Are Republicans really going do selectively not pursue their pro-Corporation agenda to punish those companies that game the Democratic majority some support?  I seriously doubt it.  Just how does the Republican party punish Wal-Mart without punishing all sorts of corporations?  Furthermore, their threats are entirely non-credible, e.g.,
“There’s going to come a time when pharma companies are going to want Republicans to take a tough vote for them, and they’re going to be like, ‘Why are we going to walk off a cliff for you guys? You were fighting against us,’ ” said one Republican lobbyist, who declined to be named in order to speak candidly.
So, instead, the Republican Congress will vote against Big Pharma and vote with the interests of consumers?  Riiiiight.

I’m voting today

So, I posted about early voting last week, but what I failed to mention is that I always vote on election day.  And always will, damnit.   I love the election day registration we have here in NC with early voting, but I still think voting should (generally) be on voting day.  Here’s the key paragraph from Barry Burden’s op-ed on the matter:

When Election Day is merely the end of a long voting period, it lacks the sort of civic stimulation that used to be provided by local news media coverage and discussion around the water cooler. Fewer co-workers will be sporting “I voted” stickers on their lapels on Election Day. Studies have shown that these informal interactions have a strong effect on turnout, as they generate social pressure. With significant early voting, Election Day can become a kind of afterthought, simply the last day of a drawn-out slog.

Anyway, look for me sporting my “I voted” sticker today.  The only election day I missed voting on was exactly 11 years ago– when I missed Cuyahoga County municipal elections in 1999.  I’ve got a good excuse for that one– David was born that day.  As it was, poor Kim had a really long labor (over 30 hours) and I had decided I was going to pop out for 20 minutes and vote when the nurse finally determined that it was time to push.   She pushed for over two hours, though– I still could’ve made it :-).

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