A brief perusal of today’s punditry reveals an even more facile acceptance of Republican spin than usual, a true accomplishment. Alec MacGillis shows just how silly it is to argue that MacAuliffe underperforming the polls in Virginia is a “defeat” for Obamacare–this is exactly the spin that losing Republicans want, but in substantive terms it’s simply not true. But in general, aside from the inexplicable Chris Christie romp in New Jersey (let’s not forget that, narratives and pageantry aside, he’s still a terrible governor who is going nowhere nationally), it was not so bad a night for progressives in many ways. Let’s take this categorically:
- War on Women: Two devout soldiers in the war lost in Virginia yesterday. It remains to be seen whether a third will do so in the Attorney General’s race given that it’s still too close to call, however, if Dems lose that it’s likely they take the state Senate due to not having to defend a marginal Senate seat in a special election.
- Environment: A small but significant story that could have big implications: environmentalists are ahead in a local election that will shortly be deciding whether to build infrastructure to make coal exports easier. If they win, less coal exports, which will throw an anvil to a domestic coal industry that is already treading water. All well and good.
- Labor: Toledo OH, a Democratic town, for some reason elected a very anti-labor mayor four years ago, a mistake which has now been corrected. Also, Boston decided to elect a union man as mayor, rather than a Rhee-style education reformer. These are not huge victories per se, but definitely victories.
All in all, not as great as it could have been, but it could have been a lot worse. I don’t see how you score this as anything but an overall win for the forces of light. But no doubt many will.
It’s a tradition, after all:
- Virginia: Not a whole lot of suspense over Governor/Lt. Governor, which is what you get when you have punchlines running for the posts. I’ll predict a clean Democrat sweep, with Mark Herring winning the only contested post (Attorney General) by a small but solid margin, 3-4% or so. Despite the small margin Herring has had the toughest race and a victory would be the most impressive of the bunch. This is definitely something you should root for: despite what undoubtedly will be a sound, landslide victory over E.W. “My initials are also how people react to me” Jackson, informed people tell me that imminent Lt. Gov Ralph Northam’s campaign has been pretty lame, he just got lucky with a hopeless competitor. Having him be “next in line” would be a very, very bad thing. True fact: a Democrat sweep would mean every statewide elected office would be held by Democrats, something that hasn’t happened since the Dixiecrat days and therefore has no modern precedent. Another true fact (and another reason to hope that Herring wins the AG slot): if this occurs, the GOP would be for all intents and purposes utterly trashed in VA for some time to come. Gov. Bob McDonnell is done, Democrats are poised to make gains in the state legislature, and the current ticket is just about to get stomped. A real opportunity to turn a very recently red state into a light blue state a la Colorado, if T-Mac and the rest seize the opportunity and prove adept at governing.
- NYC: de Blasio wins by 40 or so, and Michael Bloomberg weeps his one manly tear.
- New Jersey: Christie by < 20%. I fully predict that he’ll move to the right over the next four years and promptly squander the goodwill of his state, though he’s a much better politician than Mitt Romney and might do it with a bit more class. NJ residents will live to regret giving the man a big win, though I can’t see him going anywhere nationally for reasons that are all too obvious. Also, I predict no coattails for Christie. The lege stays more or less like it is, and life goes on until Cory Booker gets bored by being a freshman junior senator and decides to come home to run for governor in 2017.
- Alabama: I think Bradley Byrne squeaks it out over Tea Partying Dean Young. I do. I have no real rooting interest in this fight, as both are awful on the issues, and it’s a pro vs. con struggle all the way. On the one hand, a Byrne victory has been built up to mean a lessening of Tea Party influence by the media–I doubt there’s much to it, but if mainstream conservatives interpret it as an example that the Tea Party can lose on very friendly turf, maybe it helps. OTOH, Byrne embodies a lot of very negative things to me, a turncoat ex-Democrat who is a full-throated, teacher-hating, Rhee-style ed reformer. And a Young victory would just mean more attention paid to the rancid, racist birther side of the Tea Party, as well as giving Boehner even more of a headache with another wild caucus member he can’t control. So I’m split, but I really don’t care all that much. I figure Byrne wins it narrowly, and faces a primary challenge next year just because he’s him.
- Washington: Republicans already basically control the Washington State Senate due to a couple of treasonous Democrats, but a win in the State Senate 26th District would flip it formally. Hence, the race has become an enormous money magnet on both sides. I bet the Democrats hold the seat, but if they lose it the consequences probably wouldn’t be too great since the Democrats run everything else in the state, and the GOP would have to maintain it as the 2010 class comes up next year. Washington is all vote-by-mail, so turnout is less of a problem there…
Not a whole ton of elections going on in my neck of the woods. My current hometown proposed switching the off-off-year elections to even numbered years, I voted yes on that.
Charlie Crist is running for Governor of Florida as a Democrat.
I’m actually quite pleased with this. Crist was essentially purged from the Republican Party for being too moderate–for instance, appointing pro-choice judges to the state Supreme Court, backing cap-and-trade, saying nice things about Pres. Obama, stuff like that. He’s moved a bit more to the left since leaving office, and as a Dem governor he’d probably be even more liberal still, as he’d have to answer to Democratic interests.
Essentially, what you get here is someone who is well and positively defined by the electorate, who won’t have to face questions about competency or extremism, and whose very existence as a candidate is sure to infuriate Republicans unhappy to see their chickens coming home to roost. These are all invaluable in the state of Florida, against a moneybags candidate like Rick Scott. I’ve never entirely bought the idea that Scott is a sure loser because there’s a reason why the Democrats haven’t held this seat since the mid-1990s, but Crist makes me think it’s fairly likely he’ll lose. And Crist will be able to remain in office through the next round of redistricting if he wins two terms, something that could be of real consequence to Democrats down the line.
At this point, I figure that Democrats are frontrunners to dethrone governors in Maine, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida. Ohio and Wisconsin are stretches but probably still possible. After that you have the other groups of red-state right-wingers who might just be too much for their states and contests like Iowa and Nevada that are presumed to be Republican-leaning, but of which there’s been precious little polling.
Anyway, last time Charlie Crist had to post this ego-buster for using a David Byrne song without permission:
It would be pretty cool if this time Byrne campaigned with Crist, don’t you think?
It’s really hard to imagine how bad the news is going to collectively be once all of the Edward Snowden documents are finally released. Every new revelation is more depressing.
In today’s news, it seems that the NSA has been indiscriminately hoovering up the full content of internet communications by directly tapping into fiber optic cables located outside the U.S.
US intelligence access to the mounds of data held by Google and Yahoo goes far beyond the court-approved PRISM program, which was described in some of the first National Security Agency (NSA) leaks to come out this summer. Top secret documents published today by The Washington Post reveal that the NSA has tapped into overseas links that Google and Yahoo use to communicate between their data centers.
The newly revealed program, codenamed MUSCULAR, harvests vast amounts of data. A top-secret memo dated January 9, 2013 says that the NSA gathered 181,280,466 new records in the previous 30 days. Those records include both metadata and the actual content of communications: text, audio, and video.
Remember how this was all supposed to be a big nothingburger because it’s all just metadata, you pansies? (Fuck you, Diane Feinstein.)
Nope, the NSA has basically had access to the full content of every piece of data that Google and Yahoo have transmitted between their respective data centers.
As a silver lining to this latest facepalm, we did get access to the most precious national security-related PowerPoint slide in like forever (no, this is not an Onion drawing):
The events today in the Senate–namely, the Republican filibusters of nominees to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency and a D.C. Circuit seat, and threats to do so for the Fed Chair vote–prove once again that there’s literally no reason for Senate Democrats not to go nuclear right now on all appointments. In fact they do so beautifully. The basis of any defense of the filibuster is that eliminating it will improve the quality of debate. In both cases today, the arguments against the nominees were made were exceptionally poor. Mel Watt, the FHFA nominee was a politician, and thus a poor fit to run the FHFA. This doesn’t make a lick of sense, and the poverty of the argument is based more around Republicans wanting to keep an interim housing commissioner that has shut down numerous Administration plans to help the housing market. Patricia Millett was kept off the D.C. Circuit because Republicans don’t want to lose their clout there. Literally, that’s the argument. As if the president lacks the right to fill judicial vacancies.
Republicans have proven that they can’t be trusted to keep to their agreements, and they’ve also proven that they have nobody willing to buck the Heritage commissars’ rather poorly reasoned arguments. A lot of liberals–notably the current president–put a lot of stock in the power of reason to resolve disputes. But given the fig-leaf arguments used here, reason doesn’t stand a chance. Time to get out the heavy artillery.
The major thing next week’s elections will prove is that hard-core cultural conservatism is simply unsellable in Virginia anymore. I mean, if Ken Cuccinelli couldn’t sell himself to an off-off-year electorate–which is to say, the most conservative possible general electorate in the state due to well-documented turnout patterns among young and minority voters in off-year elections–then it can’t be sold. In fact, not only could it not be sold, it’s become a deep negative in the state to the extent of helping turn the election, which is sort of a new development.
Gotta say that McAuliffe has turned it out in spite of my initial doubts. You don’t win what should be a close race on paper by double-digits without doing something right, even if that something is merely stepping out of the way. It’s looking like that outcome is almost certain, the only question left is how big the coattails are. It ought to be a way to remind people of the shutdown again as well, since that issue appears to be what doomed Republicans here.
It’s that he refused to allow himself to be deified while he was alive. My thinking is that a lot of the harshly negative reviews of Reed’s later records had much to do with the fact that music writers wanted to be able to just celebrate the man without the bother of having to listen to Lulu (though admittedly a good amount of his later music was lousy), but Reed refused to allow himself to become like Elton John in his old age. He continued to be the acerbic, prickly creator he had been all along, setting out to polarize rather than to consolidate an audience or his place in history. I can’t think of anyone who stayed as true to their original life’s mission for quite so long. He was, of course, the punkest of all the punks who came after him, he never let up, and that’s a thing that I really respect.
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