Friday, November 24, 2006

Carnival of Divided Government SEPTIMUS - Tryptophan Hangover Edition

Welcome to the seventh edition of the Carnival of Divided Government - originally billed as The Special Turkey Edition. However, since we are a little late, and Turkey Day has come and gone, you may prefer to consider this the more accurately named Tryptophan Hangover Edition. In either case, as explained previously, we have adopted Latin ordinal numeration, in order to impart a patina of gravitas reflecting the historical importance of the series.

Introduction

In the Carnival of Divided Government SEPTIMUS - Tryptophan Hangover Edition we select volunteers and draftees from both the blogosphere and mainstream media on the singular topic of government divided between the major parties (leaving it to the reader to sort out volunteers from draftees). Consistent with this topic, the primary criteria for acceptance in the carnival is to use the words "divided government" or "gridlock" in submitted posts. A criteria that, to my endless confusion, is ignored by many of the bloggers submitting posts, which sadly results in DWSUWF reluctantly ignoring their submissions.

Although Americans traditionally dine on turkey during the Thanksgiving feast, it seems that since the election, many bloggers have chosen a steady diet of...

Sour Grapes.

Jenna sets the tone with "DOA" posted at Right off the Shore, saying, "I have very little faith anything productive or beneficial will take place. If we couldn't get it done with a supposedly unified government, how will we with a divided government?"

Well, Jenna if you look into a little history, you'll find that Divided Government is actually the usual way our country has "got it done". This is true for most productive reform legislation that lasts longer than a single administration. Unified government legislation will often last unscathed for only as long as does the single party control that passed it. Watch what happens to Medicare Part D over the next two years.

In a backhanded manner, Moonage in his post "Pelosi now ENDORSES the culture of corruption" at Moonage Political Webdream, finally acknowledges that the determining factor of the 2006 midterm politics was NOT local, and the national preference for a divided government WAS an important factor saying:

"That folks, is what you get with your 'divided government' as an only test of why a candidate should be elected. People accused Bush/Rumsfeld of wanting to be Big Brother, now you're seeing it in action. If media asks no questions, the politicians will never tell lies. That folks, IS Big Brother. Not one media source has asked Pelosi why she endorsed Murtha while persecuting people like Delay, who actually was investigated LESS than Murtha, as her example of the "culture of corruption". Murtha IS the culture of corruption the same as Delay was. Pelosi now endorses that culture of corruption and not one media source could care less. Do you all feel better now?"

Umm, yes I do, Moon. Thanks for asking. But you are still not getting it. One benefit of divided government is specifically to not have to pay much attention to what politicians of either stripe SAY, but to look at what they actually DO when placed by the voters at each others throats in a divided government. That is kind of the whole point. So regardless of what Nancy Pelosi or Denny Hastert say or don't say, right now neither the ethically challenged Hastert, nor Delay, nor Murtha are going to be in a position of leadership in the new Congress. And yes, I do feel much better about that, as should you.

While Moon opines on the sour flavor of the grapes offered by ignorant voters like me, Captain Ed finds that it is the Republican leadership that left a bitter taste in his mouth. This from an interview with the new Senate Republican minority leader in "A Chat With Mitch McConnell" posted at The Captain's Quarters:

"He seemed eager to use the divided government to pressure for better fiscal discipline, but gave us few concrete points to consider. Once again, I'm reminded that the GOP really has not decided on who it is after the midterms, and while McConnell was a lock for Minority Leader (no one ran against him), it would have been far better for the Republicans to discover themselves before holding these leadership elections."

Ed further rues "The Play The GOP Left In The Locker Room" saying:

"... this plan shows that Pelosi and her fellow Democrats will not get everything wrong in this session. The plan to hold extended debate on these initiatives, one at a time, is nothing short of brilliant -- and it will serve as a constant reminder of the opportunity that the GOP let slip away."

True. But don't worry Ed, divided government will now put it right.

We also note the recent phenomena of blogging Democrats, who (having advocated for divided government prior to the mid-terms) must now choose between consistent application of the divided government objective by supporting a Republican President in 2008 -or- exposing their true partisan proclivity (DWSUWF believes it is too early in the 2008 election season to use words like "hypocrisy" no matter how applicable). Some of these blogger are apparently foregoing a Thanksgiving turkey to instead...

Eat Their Own Words.

Most blatant of this genre, is William Brennan who first asserts "I Have No Choice" posted at Bill's Blog on Western Civilization and Other Trivial Matters, saying,

"...my own logic and tens of thousands of my own words will make it impossible for me to share in the joy of Hillary, Al or whatever other champion the Democrats choose when the results of the election of 2008 are made known... by my own reckoning that since both Houses of Congress are now solidly in the hands of Democrats, I have no choice but to support Bill Frist, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or whatever other defender of Intelligent Design is anointed by the GOP to extend its lease on the White House."

Fair enough, but Wild Bill then proceeds to disingenuously explain that one need vote for divided government only when an undivided government exists. Apparently unconvinced by his own unconvincing argument, Wild Bill subsequently follows-up with another post claiming "Consistency is the Hobgoblin..." and therein floats yet another unconvincing rationalization:

"The bottom line is that while guilty of overzealous preaching on the benefits of and the need for divided government, my pleadings for such division cannot be made in a vacuum. We voters must balance the obvious benefits of divided government with the nature of the times, the likely tendencies toward abuse of power by one branch over the others, as well as the weight of the merits of the programs and the perceived talent, and character of the candidates. Even while admitting bias toward divided government this should not bind us to voting for a party or candidates whom we believe to be inferior in talent, character, or objectives."

DWSUWF, a Registered Democrat wrestling with the same issue, reached a different conclusion in "2008 Election Prologue - Check your assumptions" and "Libertarian swing vote backs Chuck Hagel", our own humble contributions to this carnival.


John Henke, a 2006 divided government advocate also takes note of this emerging divided government narrative, in "Feeding the Machine" at The Q and O Blog, and asking a rhetorical question:
"I'm interested in the libertarians who denied being "liberals" or even "Democrats" but who believed it was important to punish the GOP and to bring back divided government. They got it. So now — being libertarians, opposed to the overweening State — they'll turn their fire on the incoming operators of the machinery of the State, right? ... it looks like we'll have plenty more opportunities to determine whether the anti-corruption dissidents were actually anti-corruption, or merely pro-Democrat."
John is close but missing the bullseye. This is not about whether Democrats in power are subject to the same criticism from the same sources as Republicans in power. It is about whether those of us advocating a Democratic vote for Congress in '06 to secure divided government will now advocate a Republican vote for President to secure the same in '08. The question is whether the "parting on the right" that put the Democrats in control of Congress, will now be "parting on the left", to keep the Republicans in the White House. That said, this narrative theme will certainly keep the divided government meme in the forefront of political discussion into the 2008 election. A good thing.

More in keeping with the season, we have a number of apres-election posts that are simply...

Giving Thanks for Divided Government.
Cicero shouts "Three Cheers for Divided Government" posted at To The People, while quoting from Steve Chapman's excellent column "Welcoming the Divide" in The Washington Times:
"There is a spring in my step and a song in my heart this morning, because the election is over and my party won. Not the Democrats, and not the Republicans. No, the party that deeply distrusts both Nancy Pelosi and George W. Bush: the Divided Government Party. "
Digby at Hullabaloo claims the mainstream media is "Having Too Much Fun" with divided government, and quotes the National Journal column "Majority Drool" as evidence:
"Obviously, a divided government is full of the tensions that produce headlines. But a Democratic Congress is also anthropologically different from a Republican Congress -- messier, louder, looser-lipped, more colorful, newsier, and, for the media class's purposes, more fun..."
Akusai offers congratulations and a warning to Democrats in "An Open Letter to the Democratic Party" posted at Action Skeptics, saying, "This post deals with my advice to Democrats after yesterday's midterm election coup that resulted in a nice divided government."

Madeleine Begun Kane offers a poetic allusion to divided government in Haiku For A Former "Genius" posted at Mad Kane's Political Madness offered here in its full and complete 5-7-5 glory:

Dream of Bush’s Brain:
Permanent Majority,
Surgic’ly removed.

Wenchypoo, submitted two posts from her Mental Wastebasket, neither of which mention the crucial keywords that are the criteria for inclusion. But upon a close reading, both posts are directly addressing concerns that divided government may solve. In "Midterm Elections and Your Wallet" she explains exactly why divided government will be beneficial over the next two years without actually mentioning "divided government." It is a mystery how she does that. In "The Politician Primer (L-O-N-G)" post she discusses "How to be the most politically-effective voter" articulating exactly why partisan voting fails to deliver expected results for either Republicans or Democrats. BTW, she claims this is a long post, but I found it to be concise and compact by the standards of a typical DWSUWF rant. From that post - this gem:
"The four steps to a political career and life:
1. Getting power through the vote
2. Holding onto power by increasing it or consolidating it
3. Defending and consolidating power
4. Getting re-elected

Lather, rinse, repeat."
Exactly. The only constraint on that cycle, is an opposing political party with power and ambition of their own. Divided Government.

Among the mainstream media columnists who have weighed in on our brand spanking new sparkly shiny divided government are three of our favorites, all of whom are also carrying the torch for the hopeless Unity08 effort - sigh - nobody is perfect.

Dick Meyer
, aCBS News editor writes in his column "Smackdown! By Independents & Moderates": "
President Bush may have run into another historical buzz saw this year: the voters' predilection for divided government. Since Richard Nixon was elected in 1968, there have been only ten years in which one party controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress. "
David Broder at the Washington Post explains how this divided government will be immediately productive in his column "Facing up to reality ":"
Pelosi's performance at her debut as leader of a congressional majority was pitch-perfect, calm, confident and blessedly free of the screeching tone of some of her stump speeches. She is leading a formidable political force in this revived Democratic Party. Bush has every reason to treat her with respect -- and a degree of deference. He is right in thinking that they could well find common ground on immigration, education and perhaps even entitlements if they tried."
Joe Gandleman at The Moderate Voice rounds out our Divided Government "Gang of Three" with his recent post "Pelosi Working To Steer Democrats To Center":
"This is the key test for the Democrats. The American public voted for divided government once again. Are the Democrats going to act like responsible guardians of the voters' concerns and provide serious, vigorous Congressional oversight, alternative policies that will increase substantive policy debate, and a higher-profile other-alternative media voice now that they have the Congressional power soapbox? Or will the Democrats quickly become like kids who were kept off candy being given the keys to enter the candy shop whenever they want?"
We will see soon enough. I'm feeling pretty good about it.

Finally, the longstanding (two month) tradition at The Carnival of Divided Government, is to include one "off-topic" submission, as a grudging acknowledgement of the many off-topic submissions received. The winner for this edition:

Jack Yoest presents Donald Rumsfeld's Rules: Advice on Government, Business & Life posted at Reasoned Audacity, saying, "Be able to resign. It will improve your value to the president and do wonders for your performance."

Why not. After all, we won't have Rumsfeld to kick around anymore.

With that we conclude this edition.Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for all of the submissions (on-topic or not). The next edition will be the Carnival of Divided Government OCTAVUS - Special Winter Solstice Edition, to be posted precisely at 16:22 PM PST on Thursday, December 21 (00:22 UST Friday December 22). Submit your blog article at carnival of divided government using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

If you enjoyed this carnival, you shoul also check out the Carnival of the Vanities: The Thanksgiving Edition hosted at Silflay Hraka, Raging Rino Sightings - The lazy Thanksgiving edition hosted at Right Thoughts, The Carnival of Economics and Social Policy hosted at The Boring Made Dull, and The Carnival of the Capitalists, hosted at Gongol.com, all of which have seen fit to include recent DWSUWF contributions among many other fine posts.


Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Gone fishin'

More accurately, gone abalone pickin'. With only one more minus tide before the season ends, DWSUWF will be hanging out in a low bandwidth environment on the Mendocino coast for a few days, watching for the right mix of weather, tide, and waves. We'll also be suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous Microsoft indignities over the weekend as we attempt to upgrade the OS of the last running Windows ME computer in the free world. Between the fun and frustration, the blog will be idling between now and Thanksgiving. Our first post election Carnival of Divided Government (Special Turkey Edition) will be posted here on November24. If your post contains the words "divided government" or "gridlock" it is on topic for the carnival, and we hope you will submit your post for inclusion here.

For the Saturday Showdowns- DWSUWF recommends taking Michigan, Cal and the points.

UPDATE: 11/23/06 Happy Thanksgiving!
DWSUWF will refrain in the future from publicly handicapping college football. The Carnival of Divided Government will be delayed for two days until the 24th due to technical difficulties.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Libertarian swing vote backs Chuck Hagel for President

Oops. My bad. That title was supposed to say "Libertarian swing voter backs Chuck Hagel for President." That voter being ummm - me. Simple mistake. Unfortunately, the Blogger service behaves badly when I change titles, so I guess I'll just have to leave it that way. Darn. Rather than change the title, we will instead strive to shape reality to the title as it stands. Think of it as telling the truth in the future tense.

To make it so, we must first posit the existence of a "libertarian swing vote". The Cato Institute recently published a policy analysis by David Boaz and Divid Kirby that not only documents the existence of the libertarian swing vote, but (as long as we are little fuzzy about the definition of "libertarian voter") also quantifies its size at 9-13% of the vote. The study (published shortly before the election) showed that the libertarian vote did indeed "swing" between the parties. Moreover since 2000 it had been swinging toward the Democrats starting in 2002 and swinging even further left in 2004, prompting this prediction:
"If that trend continues into 2006 and 2008, Republicans will lose elections they would otherwise win."
On November 7th, that prediction was realized: Ross Kaminsky at RCP finds explicit evidence of "The Libertarian Effect" in at least two senate races; Texas district 47 going blue was attributed to the libertarian vote; the LA Times asserts that California is not a "liberal state, but a libertarian state"; and there is much more anecdotal evidence that the libertarian effect is real and changing the political landscape. Given the structural disadvantages facing the Republicans in 2008, they would be well served to work diligently to get that libertarian vote swinging back to the right.

Logan Ferree at Freedom Democrat has also been thinking about the libertarian vote, and blogging about moving the Democratic party in a more libertarian friendly direction. I applaud his ambition, will support that effort, but tilting at that windmill looks like a very rough joust to me. I am more inclined to continue to lobby for the practical benefits of a divided government in 2008, and work to get the most libertarian-like candidate to carry the Republican standard into the oval office. A "two-fer" if you will, divided government and a libertarian leaning president. Chuck Hagel looks like that candidate.

Libertartian bloggers have begun to look at the Hagel candidacy, including David Beito and Keith Halderman at the History News Network:
"A Vietnam veteran and pioneer in the cellular phone industry, Hagel has long been a thoughtful Iraq War skeptic. His free market credentials are pretty solid (for a Republican), especially when compared to Giuliani, McCain, and Mitt "government mandated insurance" Romney... The more I learn about Hagel the more I like him.....though he is no libertarian."
This is not about Hagel being a libertarian. It is about him being more libertarian than any of the other26 mainstream candidate from either party.

Chuck does seem to know where to start looking for his base. Topic of his speech at the Cato Institute today "Whatever Happened to Small Government Republicans?". I'll post the speech here if and when I find a transcript or link.

A libertarian swing vote backing Hagel in the 2008 general election could easily determine which party wins the presidency. With a polarized partisan electorate, it is not only feasible, it is a probable outcome. But before we get to that point, we have a bigger challenge. First we must deal with the elephant in the room. Not just any elephant, but the wounded, clinically depressed, angry, bipolar, borderline psychotic elephant that is the GOP today. For Hagel to get in position for the libertarian swing vote to put him in the White House, he first must ride that elephant to the election.

Godspeed Chuck Hagel.

The animus against Chuck Hagel in the ragged right of the Republican party is real and significant. I don't get it. Look at his record, and you see a bona fide fiscal conservative, a social conservative, a successful entrepreneur, a limited government Republican in the Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater tradition and a decorated Vietnam war combat veteran. He is tough on crime, strong on defense, pro-gun with an "A" rating from the NRA, supports low taxes and limited spending, was rated a "Taxpayers Friend" by the NTU, is pro-business with an 87% rating from the US Chamber of Commerce, and even secured a 0% rating from NARAL indicating a perfect pro-life voting record.

Personally, I am not happy with that last position, but even libertarians will disagree on abortion. With a Democratic Congress in place, I can live with Hagel's pro-life stance, in order to get his intelligence, integrity, and independent thinking in the Oval Office. Problem being, it is exactly that independent thinking that is an issue, at least to the vocal minority on the right. This GOPBloggers Straw Poll ( image below is a snapshot of the poll in progress) pegs Hagel as apparently the most unacceptable of the Republican presidential candidates:

Snapshot of GOP Bloggers Straw Poll 11-14

I am mystified by these results. Looking to understand Hagel's big negatives on the right, I could only find comments like these:

DOCJIM commenting on a Captains Quarter's post:
"Hagel - YECH! Anybody quoted by the f***ing libs as much as he is CAN'T be a good candidate for us."
California Conservative post "Moving Forward Part II"
"We must be a team again. That means relegating John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Chuck Hagel to the back bench. If you aren’t with us on the important stuff, you’re out of there."
Just two more examples of the new Intellectual Bankruptcy of the Right.

This is my question for conservatives and the "Republicans blogging for the minority" that are particpating in this poll: On exactly what issues do you disagree with Chuck Hagel's positions? Excluding the fact that you will not find his lip prints on GWB's butt, he is a perfect conservative candidate. For all except the 31% of the electorate that still thinks Bush is doing a good job, Hagel's demonstrated independence from this administration makes him more electable in '08. If Bush had been listening to Chuck Hagel over the last four years, as opposed to Cheney and Rumsfeld, we would probably have a successful policy in Iraq, and the Republicans would still have a majority in Congress.

Net net - We have a candidate here who is a bona fide, high integrity conservative, who can retrieve the libertarian swing vote, might even pull in Democrats like Reagan did, and would certainly retain the White House for Republicans. And what is the only objection from the right? He is not a team player with the most unpopular President of the last 70 years. Good strategic thinking. Just the kind of thinking that will elect a Democrat for president in 2008.

UPDATE:
Corrected some spelling and typos in the post, and did a little housecleaning on the side columns. Since we have now moved from leaning libertarian left to leaning libertarian right in the service of our 2008 divided government goals, we dropped the ACT BLUE contribution bug, and removed the caveats from the Hagel political action committee. We left the DCCC banner flying, as we prefer and expect to see the House stay Democrat. With our explicit support of the Hagel candidacy, we also hoisted our Raging RINO colors up the mast. On that topic, check out the RINO Sightings hosted at enrevanche, where Barry Campbell is "on ur blog, linking ur posts" - among them our Disunity06 vs. Unity08 slugfest. Also, The Boring Made Dull, hosted The Carnival of Economics and Social Policy XX, and included our election predictions six days after the election - we missed it by that much. Finally, a reminder - Our first first post election Carnival of Divided Government (Turkey Edition) will be hosted here one week from today. Submit your post here.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

2008 Election Prologue - Check your assumptions.

This is not the post I expected to write. I expected the Democrats to take the House, and the Republicans to hold the Senate. That would have given us a divided congress in addition to a divided government, and (presuming that incumbent advantage reasserts itself in '08), a reasonable likelihood that we would continue to have divided government after the '08 election, regardless of which party is seated in the oval office.

I half expected to be putting the DWSUWF blog on a two year hiatus - declaring there was no need to advocate for a Divided Government Voting Strategy in '08, since cirumstances dictated we would have a divided government regardless. The blog would not have disappeared of course. We just would have spent the next two years on interesting topics like: The Chicago Bears Sherman-esque march to the Superbowl; innovative abalone recipes; the latest indignity we have suffered at the hands of Microsoft software; techniques for catching big trout in early season Wisconsin water using a weighted variation of the Marabou Leech fly (tied with legs); and whether any residual influence of the autonomous Chinese Kazakh culture imposed during the 10th century Kingdom of Khazaria can still be found in a lineage traced back to the Khotin region of the Ukraine. But all that will have to wait. We are back to politics through 2008.

As Ayn Rand said "Check your assumptions". Good advice. We make it easy to check assumptions here at DWSUWF, by spelling them out explicitly. These assumptions are the foundation on which we will build the 2008 DWSUWF positions and recommendations:

Assumption 1) The Divided Government hypothesis holds true to form.
We will have divided government for the next two years. Minimally, we expect to see restraint in the growth of spending and some evidence for more fiscal discipline on the part of the federal government. If that does not happen, the foundation for advocating divided government will collapse, and we will refocus on abalone diving on the Mendocino coast.
Assumption 2) Democrats will retain their majority in the House of Representatives in 2008.
The margin may or may not shrink, but from here it looks like the Democrats will have the edge going into 2008. Incumbents have a significant advantage, and the Democrats have a sizeable majority. The Democrats would have to screw-up on a scale of how the Republicans screwed up in 2006. They would have to pile up a record of corruption in two years comparable to what the Republicans did in six. I would not put either past them, but it does seem unlikely. Also, the Democrats made significant gains in state legislatures and governorships across the country, so they will be in a postion to redistrict to increase their incumbent advantage in 08. We have to assume they will keep the majority in the house.
Assumption 3) Democrats have an advantage retaining a majority in the Senate.
The Democratic majority in the Senate cannot get any thinner. There is certainly an opportunity and a possibility for the Republicans to retake the Senate in '08, but structural factors argue against the Republicans. There are 33 Senate seats contested in 2008. Of these, 21 are held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats. Simple numbers - the Republicans have a lot more at risk, and will be playing defense. The Democrats have many more opportunities to take seats than Republicans. Advantage Democrats.

States with Senate seats contested in 2008

This leads to an obvious conclusion. The only way to ensure divided government beyond 2008, is to elect a Republican President in 2008.

At 6:06:06 06/06/06, DWSUWF posted a stack rank of our top 10 presidential contenders for 2008, updated the list after surveying the wreckage from hurricane Annie a few days later, and have not touched it since. Our new starting lineup, and the first ranking of the official 2008 Presidential Campaign Season:

DWSUWF 2008 Presidential Candidate
Stack Ranking V 2.0

  1. Chuck Hagel (R)
  2. Joe Biden (D)
  3. Rudolf Giuliani (R)
  4. Bill Richardson (D)
  5. John McCain (R)
  6. Hillary Clinton (D)
  7. Duncan Hunter (R)
  8. Wesley Clark (D)
  9. Condi Rice (R)
  10. Barack Obama (D)
We have made a few changes to the list. John Kerry and Newt Gingrich dropped off the list. Gingrich, because we found his bellicose World War III ( IV?... V? I lose count) fear mongering to be excessive, bordering on insane. Kerry, because he is a hopeless candidate as evidence by his handling of the infamous botched joke one week before the midterm. Hunter and Obama take their place. I also dropped McCain a few notches, after he disingenuously slammed his fellow Vietnam Veteran to strike a purely political posture before the election. Still, though the bloom is off the rose, a McCain presidency would be fine by me.

We will need a Republican President in 2008 to maintain a divided government state. Fortunately we have some great Republican candidates. Hagel, Giuliani, and McCain would all make great presidents, and all are a significant improvement from what we have today.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Election Day - Veterans Day

Tuesday, millions of American citizens accepted a minor inconvenience in their weekday schedule and performed their civic duty by participating in the selection of our leaders and casting a vote. For many of us, this will be the only sacrifice in time or effort that we will make this year in direct support of our country and it's institutions.

Saturday we remember those who, both now and in the past, have been asked to sacrifice much more by the very leaders we elected, in our name and on our behalf.

Saturday, we spend a few minutes considering the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens that we have sent into harms way in Afganistan and Iraq.

Saturday,we spend a few minutes thinking about our veterans.

Regardless of what you think about Donald Rumsfeld, it is worth considering this question and answer from his Thursday speech at the Landon Lecture at Kansas State University:
QUESTION: "My concern about the global war on terror is that there are so few people fighting it. Besides the military and their families, nobody else seems invested in the war. In World War II, the whole country was making sacrifices, trying to conserve and rationing and all of those things where everybody was involved in winning. Nowadays, it seems like the average American gets up, goes to work, comes home, watches "American Idol" and goes to bed, never contributing to the war effort. And that not only are they not contributing, but the average person isn't even inconvenienced by the war. My question is, what can be done to get more of the American people invested in winning this war?"

SEC. RUMSFELD: "That is a critical question, and it's something that troubles me and that I worry about, just as you obviously worry about it. I grew up in World War II and had a victory garden and used to buy the war bonds -- $18.75, and if you held them long enough, it was $25. We, as you say, collected scrap and old rubber to be made into retread tires. The -- that was a period where the entire nation was mobilized, as it had to be, to deal with that, and it was for a relatively short period of time, and we prevailed."
If you are inclined to be a just bit more inconvenienced this week in support of your fellow citizen soldiers in uniform, check out IAVA, America's first and largest Iraq and Afghanistan veterans organization. If you are a blogger, give them a link and a little real estate on your blog. If you are not,watch the video, click this link and give them $100, or click this link and spread the word to help IAVA support our Iraq and Afganistan veterans in an important and meaningful way.

Iraq and Afganistan Veterans of America


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. - John McCrae (1915)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election Epilogue - Prognostication Scorecard - Tsunami Flotsam

It was a big news day yesterday in the wake of the election results, and three big stories touched on pre-election predictions from this blog.


50-50 Senate

Although Burns and Allen have not yet conceded, the main stream media have called the contests in Montana and Virginia for Tester, Webb and the Democrats. That leaves the final count for the Senate at 51-49 if you assume that Lieberman will stick by his pre-election commitment to caucus with the Democrats. The DWSUWF 50-50 Prediction offered two scenarios, one of which is still in play:
"There is only one outcome, no matter how improbable, that satisfies both the betting markets, and the 100 year rule: The Senate finishes at fifty-fifty, with Dick Cheney casting the controlling vote for Republicans. There is your answer: 50-50... How do we get there? ... Democrats hold NJ, and take PA, RI, OH, MT, VA and MO, for a count of 51-49 in favor of the Democrats, but then Lieberman takes a plum committee charimanship, agrees to caucus with Republicans, and again we have a final tally of 50-50."
Nailed the Senate picks, and Joe is yet to heard from, but in retrospect I now have a hard time believing that Joe will abandon the winning team. Let us just leave this one as undecided until the new Congress convenes and we see what Joe does.

This result (Democrats controlling both houses) has clear implications for the divided government voting strategy in '08. Stay tuned.

Rumsfeld Resigns (Final call for Rum & Macs)

DWSUWF originally predicted that Rumsfeld would have to go in this September 4 post - "I'll have a Rum & Mac on the rocks", which was updated and reposted November 4 - "Bartender! Another Rum & Mac. Make that a double.":
"Rumsfeld is history. It is only a question of time and timing. Rumsfeld resigns as soon as a replacement is identified and agreed. Is it politic to wait until after the mid-terms, or to act now? My guess - He resigns within the week and (since we are already out on a limb, might as well climb out on the small branches) John McCain is the new Secretary of Defense.... Rove and the Republicans know exactly what is coming, and no one has ever accused them of being politically naive... Rumsfeld can play the misunderstood, misquoted, patriotic, loyal soldier, taking a bullet for the team, while the media takes the blame. Here is his speech: - "Even though my words have been misreported and misrepresented, I cannot allow my words and my presence to become a distraction, and a detriment to the important work facing the President and the American people in this war against terror." The President expresses his regrets, and appoints a universally respected unassailable warrior in his place. In a couple of weeks, Rumsfeld gets his medal, and we move on... Will it happen? Just ask yourself - Can the Republicans maintain the majority with two months of continuous Rumsfeld/Iraq War bashing between now and the election? On the other hand, can they possibly pull it out with a "fresh start" and a new voice calling for a new direction on war?"
There are actually a number of predictions here:
  • Rumsfeld was politically radioactive and would be fired or resign (HIT).
  • It would happen within two weeks (MISS - It took two months).
  • Republicans could not maintain a majority with Rumsfeld as a convenient target during the election (HIT).
  • Rumsfeld will receive the Medal of Freedom (TBD - but it is a given).
  • He would be replaced by John McCain (MISS).
  • He would be replaced by an "unassailable warrior" (HIT).
  • Bush would rhetorically claim a "fresh start" (HIT - actual quote was "fresh eyes").

I also wrote Donald Rumsfeld's resignation speech for him, but he chose not to use it, instead he went with:
Frankly, he would have been better served using my speech.

Denny Hastert Impact on Midterms

DWSUWF predicted that the Republican efforts to mobilize their base and swing the election by demonizing Nancy Pelosi would be ineffective due to the ethically challenged Republican alternative - Denny Hastert:
The voters took Denny out of the Speaker's role, although his district put him back in Congress. He stated yesterday that he will not seek a leadership role within the new minority party. How about another prediction? Denny Hastert will resign in disgrace before his two year term is completed.

Miscellany

Several DWSUWF posts were included in Blog Carnivals this week. We are always pleased to participate in the fine blogospheric selections to be found in these compilations. check them out:

Kilo at Spark it Up
is hosting the Virginia Blog Carnival this week, and included our "Fifty-Fifty" prognostication post, despite complaining bitterly that DWSUWF is not a a Virginia Blog. Hey - at least I mentioned VA in the post. Kilo should take a hint from Paul at Newshound who did not whine about including the same post in The Carnival of Ohio Politics (and while it was still a prediction BTW). Ken at Random Thoughts also included the 50-50 prognostication in The Carnival of The Decline of Democracy. I think Ken should change the name of his carnival after these midterm results. Pat Sanity at Dr. Sanity agreed that Disunity06 trumps Unity08 in the Carnival of the Insanities earlier in the week. Pat also included Don Surber's extremely bad election prediction, hinting that Don was engaging in some serious wishful thinking. Finally, both the Festival of Investing and the Carnival of the Capitalists included some of our thoughts on Investors and Divided Government, which was cross-posted at the Inactivist.
[UPDATE] - Paul, being more industrious than I, posted a second Carnival of Ohio Politics this week to pick up the election post-mortems, including the DWSUWF post you are reading now. Also in the carnival, Paul contributes his own moderate conservative perspective in this thoughtful post. Coincidently, both the Ohio Politics and Divided Government carnivals will be posted next on Nov 22nd. If you have some thoughts on our shiny sparkling new divided government - submit your post here. Remember - if your post does not include the words "divided government" or "gridlock" it is not on topic for the Carnival of Divided Government.

I have already defused and disposed of the google bomb out of the right sidbar, but there is some more clean-up needed in the left sidebar as we clear the decks for the '08 elections. We are also facing some decisions about our blogging platform, as Google/Blogger is suggesting we move to the new "Blogger Beta". We are highly dubious. As an old software salesman, I just don't do beta.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

All Politics is Local. Except when it is not.


The politics in the 2006 midterm election was decidedly not local.

This MSNBC/AP report on the election exit polls tells the story:
Exit polls: Scandals hurt GOP more than war
In exit polls, 3 of 4 people said corruption was key to their vote

"The Iraq war and congressional scandals hurt Republican candidates in the midterm elections, as the GOP lost the advantage on their central issue of terrorism, exit polls found. Three-fourths of voters said corruption and scandal were important to their votes, and they were more likely to vote for Democratic candidates for the House. Iraq was important for just two-thirds, and they also leaned toward supporting Democrats. Voters who said terrorism was an important issue split their support between the two parties... For some voters, it was important to have a balance of power in Washington."
This election turned on three issues - listed in order of importance:
  1. Corruption in Congress
  2. Iraq War
  3. Restoring Checks & Balances in Washington (Divided Government)
The House of Representatives flipped on these national issues. A lot of great Republican Representatives lost their jobs on these non-local issues.

The impact of the corruption issue is clearly visible in the Tradesports.com GOP Control House Contract that we have been tracking in recent weeks:

Up until October, the contract was predicting a 60% probability of Republicans maintaining a majority in the House of Representatives. Within a few days of the Foley scandal hitting the news, the contract was showing the Republicans with less than a 35% chance of controlling the House. The trend was already down, which is attributable to eroding confidence in the administration's handling of the war. That trend probably would have put the Republicans below 50% by the election, but it would have been much much closer. The Foley scandal kicked Republican hopes over the cliff. It is interesting to note, that for all the publicity and gnashing of teeth over John Kerry's botched joke, it had absolutely no effect on the contract or the election. Zero. Nada. None.

I participated in an interesting off-again on-again dialog on this topic with a blogger who goes by the moniker Moon across both our blogs throughout the election season. It started with his post on his blog Moonage Politcal Webdream coincidently subtitled "All Politics is Local":
MOON: "I have stated many times here that all politics is local. Not heeding my advice, the Democrats have very openly and vocally made this year's races a referendum on Bush, again. The early result? Brian Bilbray defeated Francine Busby for the 50th legislative district in California. "
In a comment on that post, I agreed that all politics is local, but disgreed that Busby lost because the Dems ran a national campaign. She lost because she was an ineffective local candidate. We continued the conversation when I subsequently linked to his blog from my post "The Unexamined Meme" and opined that the "all politics is local" hurdle was exactly the challenge that the Democrats would have to overcome to take the house and further speculated that the "Divided Government" meme was just the cattle prod needed to get the electorate over that hurdle. That prompted this exchange in the comments:
MOON: "There is no relationship between "all politics is local" and having a divided government. None... History has proven an ebb and flow of political control in the US, the Dems will get it back at some point once they quit shooting themselves in the foot and the majority Democrat voters don't feel compelled to vote for any party but their own. I'm just pointing the way for them. Quit harping on contrived and hard to understand national issues and address local issues and they'll win."

MW: "I didn't say there was. I did say that I would like there to be. The link is purely aspirational. The notion (hope), is that the concept of Divided Government becomes popularized enough, that voters consciously decide that Divided Government is more important that local issues or their preference for an individual candidate. It's a way to "give permission" for fiscally conservative voters to vote for a Democrat in '06."
There was one final exchange, back on Moon's blog again, in a post a few weeks ago he entitled - "It's the economy, stupid":
MOON: "I'll try to make this simple. All politics is local. I don't mean that in the sense that people don't care about the War in Iraq or pedophiles in DC. I mean that the overwhelming issue is how each individual voter perceives their situation. Sure, they may totally disagree with the War in Iraq, but if their representative is bringing in jobs that affect them, and their economic situation is satisfactory, their situation will trump a war IN Iraq every single time. The only district that will be affected by the sex scandal is the district he represented. People love good gossip, but it's meaningless in their individual world. And, I don't know how often I've heard people talk about how crooked everyone in DC is, but my Congressman's an honest man."
That prompted more discussion on his blog. Mostly about ways I thought the election could be nationalized (Rumsfeld, Hastert vs. Pelosi, Divided Government, etc.). But, that is all moot now. The results are in and the lessons learned. This election was indeed a national referendum. Corruption in Washington trumped "my congressman's an honest man". The Iraq war trumped local representatives bringing home the bacon and local jobs. And "Divided Government", became a rationale for some of us to vote for a party that we did not agree with.

This election transformed a 30+ Republican majority in the House to a 30+ Democratic majority in the house on the basis of national issues. In the next election, Tip O'Neill's maxim will likely again hold sway. But the politics and issues that determined this election result was unarguably not local. Full stop.

Well, except in California District 50. Where Bilbray beat Busby yet again. Because when the Democrats ran this three time loser local candidate in California District 50, politics did remain very local indeed.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Just Vote Divided.


The 2006 mid-term election is more important than the 2008 presidential election.

As you go to the polls on Tuesday, consider:

Today, we have one political party in control of the executive branch and controlling a majority in both legislative branches. As a direct consequence of that single party control, we have record breaking deficits, runaway spending, a huge wasteful new entitlement program that we cannot afford, erosion of constitutional protection of our liberties, our country and military committed to an unnecessary war, a post-war occupation executed with such incompetence that it may now be unwinnable, complete abrogation of the congressional oversight of the executive branch, crippled ethics oversight of corruption within congress itself, and a breakdown of constitutional checks and balances on power in our government.

The very first step to solve these problems, is to take some power away from the single party on watch, and give that power to the opposition party. This is exactly what the 2006 midterm election is all about and why it is so important. This election is not about your specific congressman/woman. It is about securing better governance by sharing power between the two major parties.

Economists, constitutional lawyers, scholars and historians agree that divided government is better government:

William Niskanen, former acting chairman of President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, demonstrates conclusively that divided government has historically restrained the growth of federal spending.

Stephen Slivinski, author, economist, and director of budget studies at the Cato Institue shows that divided government results in better and longer lasting legislation. He finds that major reforms and structural changes (examples: Reagan tax reform, Clinton welfare reform) that have passed under a divided government are more likely to survive being undone by subsequent congressional action than reforms passed by a unified single party government.

Both Slivinski and Niskanen show that major wars are considered much more carefully, and entered into more infrequently under a divided government.

Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute finds that Congressional oversight of both the legislative and executive branch is stronger, and constitutional rights are better protected under divided government.

Daryl Levinson, Harvard professor of law, and Richard Pildes, New York University professor of Constitutional law, document how constitutional checks and balances are undermined by a single party controlled government and strengthed by divided government.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Just Vote Divided
.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Carnival of Divided Government Sextus - Election Eve Edition

Welcome to the sixth edition of the Carnival of Divided Government - the special Election Eve Edition. As explained previously, we have adopted Latin ordinal numeration, in order to impart a patina of gravitas reflecting the monumental importance of the series. In Carnival of Divided Government Sextus, like in every edition, we select volunteers and draftees from both the blogosphere and main stream media on the singular topic of government divided between the major parties.

In past editions, we have started the carnival with a survey of mainstream media selections, but on the eve of the one and only day when the Voice of the People is actually listened to by politicians, this - the People's Carnival, will begin with the most democratic of publishing media - the blogs.

First up, James Brush posted a succinct rationale for Divided Government at Coyote Mercury:
"Divided government by its very nature acts as an extra check in the checks-and-balances system, and in these hyper-partisan times, it seems to be the most effective. It forces consensus government from the middle. It forces compromise and policies that have a greater chance of working while having the added benefit of really torquing off a lot of powerful people."
He then takes note of our humble effort here:
"I just found a whole blog dedicated to divided government: Divided We Stand, United We Fall, which just goes to show that there really is a blog for every purpose under heaven…"
Jame's comment got me all introspective and sent me into an extended navel gazing exercise. The last time I went looking for lint, was in July and August, where I was lamenting the sad state of the "divided government" meme. (I believe I said it was "mired in the muck"). Well, if you keep shoveling coal into the furnace, eventually the temperature starts to rise. It is actually getting quite warm in here now. This graphic tracks mentions of "divided government" in the blogosphere over the life of the DWSUWF blog from its inception in April until the day before the election in November:


The meme is peaking at just the right time. Now, I'm not taking credit for this, but I do think this blog was a contributing factor in promoting divided government as a voting strategy. When I started this blog, I had to dig through years of blogospheric history to find useable references to divided government. Now, six months later, I cannot keep up with the references on a week to week basis.

One of the earliest promoters of the divided government meme, is Dr. William Frey, who opines at "The Repentant Republican". I have referenced Dr. Frey's work before, and I believe it may have been his essay in '04 that first brought my attention to the Niskanen article on the virtues of divided government. Dr. Frey has recently updated his website with another thoughtful article "Why Are 7 Prominent Republican Conservatives Supporting Democratic Victory in 2006?":
"Unlike the radio "conservatives" who would polarize America and demonize all but their most sheepish followers as "Democrats, liberals, or RINO's", principled conservatives now recognize that the core values which the authoritarian GOP has abandoned (individual liberty, fiscal responsibility, the rule of law, prudent foreign policy) are more important than partisan victory."
It is a great piece and there is a lot more there to chew on. Check it out.

Another indicator of success for a blog, is when your graphics are ripped off by larger, more established blogs and websites. Check out the graphic at the end of the post where I reference Dr. Frey (or this post), then check out this captured screenshot image of the 11-06-06 front page of the Reason magazine website (promoting the cover article "Divide This Government" by Jonathon Rauch). Regarding their use of the graphic, I have no complaints - imitation/flattery and all that - and in any case, I regularly rip graphics for use on this blog, and I created that graphic from an image I ripped myself, so I cannot complain. Still, a link would have been nice. More importantly, Rauch's article is spot-on:
"Politicians compromise because they have to, not because they like to. Divided government forces them to compromise as a fact of daily life. Although compromise does not guarantee sound or successful policy-making, it does draw both parties toward the center and produce bipartisan buy-in. It's no coincidence that divided government produced the 1986 tax reform and the 1996 welfare reform, the great reforms of their respective eras...
One-party rule, by contrast, impelled the Republicans to govern from the center of their party, instead of the center of the country. It made them dependent on their base, magnifying the power of partisans and extremists. On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, governing with a narrow majority has required the Republicans to protect every GOP incumbent and scrounge every GOP vote, forcing them to pander every which way (see: horse meat). The result is the dysfunctional mixture of partisan extremism and philosophical incoherence that has characterized the party for the last four years. The Republicans lost their way because they won control. "
Another indicator of success, is when the opposition takes notice. Not all, but much of the oppostion comes from the "party before principle" partisans on the right. Examples include Hard Starboard, Bits Blog, Soccer Dad. Their arguments rely on Democratic party stereotyping or outright invective. They do not address the fundamental factual basis of William Niskanen's (et.al.) work.

Even Rush Limbaugh felt compelled to chime in on his radio show last week labeling this transcript from his website "Divided Government and the Liberal Enemies List":
CALLER: Hi, Rush. Thanks for taking my call.
RUSH: You bet, sir.
CALLER: It's an honor and a privilege to speak with you today especially right before this very important election.
RUSH: Yes, it is.
CALLER: I have tried to explain this to friends and coworkers. I grew up in Ohio, but I also lived in Florida for about six years, and framingly [sic] enough I've heard from several different people the concept of, well, regardless of who is in charge of White House, whether it be a Democrat or Republican, that they chose to vote the opposite party into power in the House of Representatives for a checks and balances, without realizing that there's already checks and balances in place, so I thought maybe if it was coming from you it might be a little bit more persuasive to say, "Don't do that, it's not very smart."
RUSH: Well, see, I understand that sentiment. I don't think there are that many people out there. The media has put that notion out there, and they've done it for a number years. They tried it in 2002 and 2004 in the sense it would be good. "We have one-party rule. Why, that leads to corruption and leads to people becoming out of touch in Washington." They love one-party rule when it's them. The only reason they're against one-party rule is because they're not the party, and so they're trying to say it leads to all kinds of bad things. But that means they don't trust the democratic process. The democratic process delivers what it delivers, and if it delivers a Republican dominated House and Senate and a Republican president, then that's representative democracy at work.
That is what you get in a representative republic, and to sit there and complain about it is to complain about the system itself. I'll tell you what, Sean. I do not believe that Joe Six-Pack voter or Susie six-pack voter, when they walk into the voting booth says, especially in a congressional election, "We've got President Bush. I think we need Democrats to counter it," especially Republican voters. If Republican voters don't vote Republican this year, it has nothing to do with wanting divided government or checks and balances. That's not how people think when they vote. There may be some nabobs that do that, but it's such a small number as to be inconsequential."
That was about as coherent as it got. From there, Rush went off on a tangent ranting about Liberals targeting Wallmart and big drug companies that had absolutely nothing to do with the caller's question. I guess we'll find out tomorrow how many "nabobs" are voting for divided government. This is an example of what I have started calling: "the intellectual bankruptcy of the right."

Back to the world of rational discourse. We found a couple of blogging economists weighing in on divided government.

At Greg Mankiw's Blog, Greg discovers that his old colleague "Economist Bill Niskanen makes the case for divided government":
"I had the pleasure to work as a CEA staff member in 1982-83, when Bill was one of the three members of the Council. (Marty Feldstein was chairman. The staff at the time included two other well-known Reaganites--Larry Summers and Paul Krugman.)"
Mark Thomas and Jusitn Wolfers at Economists View econoblogs "How Much Do Election Shakeups Affect the Nation's Economy?":
"Finally, perhaps the lens of "left" versus "right" is not the most important factor in these midterm elections. Rather, we are facing the choice of unified versus divided government. In this context, the question is whether a Democratic House is likely to impede good government or provide a useful check on bad government.?"
And the drumbeat just keeps getting louder and more insistent. Chris Lawrence at Outside The Beltway muses about "Midterm Loss and GOP Fortunes in 2006":
"Midterm loss, however, could be a good thing for the Republicans going forward. Having a Democratic leadership in Congress will be a useful rhetorical foil for the president, and divided government will force Democrats to shoulder some of the blame for the continuation of unpopular policies–particularly if prominent Democrats are unable to follow through on their commitments to force troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan."
Um - Chris. I have yet to hear any Democrat call for withdrawals from Afganistan. If anything, they are calling to pull troops from Iraq and move them to Afganistan.

Andrew Sullivan got in the best line of the week yesterday when he said "This is not an election, this is an intervention" on Chris Matthews Sunday show. He has become a true believer preaching that divided government is the path for conservatives to save their souls. Here - two recent posts on his blog: "Divide and Govern" and "Divide and Govern II".

More blogs joining the deafening divided drumbeat include: Political Bloviation, Buffalo Pundit, Its My Mind, Battlepanda, Conservative Democrat, The Political Spectrum, Right Side of the Rainbow, and more that I just cannot get to now. There are still two important MSM contributions before we wrap up.

Brett Arends writes "A nation undivided cannot stand" in the Boston Herald:
"For the rest of us, one thing above all seems crystal clear this election. We should probably never again give one party all the keys to the kingdom. Not the Republicans. And not the Democrats. Not at any level. People in power simply can’t be trusted. If we’re going to have a Republican executive branch, we need a Democratic legislature to hold its feet to the fire. And vice-versa. So on Tuesday, I’m neither voting Democratic or Republican. I’m voting for the oldest party in the republic. Its name never appears on the ballot, but it’s always there and it has always served us well. Divided government."
Damn that was good! But we saved the very best for last:

Bruce Bartlett, a man who personifies clear headed political principle, writes about his "Vote for Gridlock" at TownHall:
"As we move into the campaign homestretch, Republicans and their talk radio friends are doing everything they can to browbeat every last right-leaning voter into pulling the Republican lever one more time. Failure to do so, they tell us over and over again, will bring untold misery -- higher taxes, terrorist attacks, gay marriage, cloning or whatever else gets the yahoos to the polls...
"Well, this is one Republican who has never voted for a Democrat in his life who will do so this year for the first time. I will cast my inaugural Democratic vote in the sincere belief that continued Republican control of both houses of Congress and the White House is not in the national interest and is harmful to the conservative agenda I have worked all my life to implement...
I think the American people like divided government. They don't trust either party to run the whole show and believe deeply in the separation of powers that the Founding Fathers established in the Constitution. To most people, dividing government by political party is just another way of separating power...
Bill Niskanen of the Cato Institute points out that every war in American history that lasted more than a few weeks was authorized by a unified government. It's also worth noting that every major entitlement program -- the spending programs that are bankrupting the country -- was enacted by unified governments...
In short, when I vote Democratic next week for the first time in my life, what I am really voting for is gridlock. I am not voting for the Democratic Party's policies, most of which I still oppose. Rather, I am voting for change, congressional oversight and White House accountability. I am voting against Republican corruption and out-of-control spending. If that takes putting Democrats in charge of Congress, then so be it."
Indeed. So be it. Starting Wednesday, let us see if we can begin to fix the Republican Party for 2008.

That concludes this edition. Since it was the Election Edition, we dropped the tradition of including one "off topic" submission, but will restore that tradition in the next round-up. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for all of the submissions. The next edition of the Carnival of Divided Government will be our Special Turkey Edition, and will be posted, sometime before 11:59 PM PST on Wednesday November 22. Submit your blog article at carnival of divided government using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Just Vote Divided.