Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Note About The Elections

Yes, I voted. Electronically. I assume it counted, everyone I voted for won, as far as I know.

Nationally, things didn't go entirely the way I would have wanted. The GOP simply didn't do a good enough job to win re-election, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. The crusaders of 1994 were replaced by the incumbents of 2004, and running to keep your job is different than running to do the work of the people. It certainly reflects different electoral results. In 1994 it was +56 House seats for the Republicans, but then they were the recipients of the House Bank scandal and a general fed-upness with 40 years of Democratic rule.

The Iraq War was third behind the 'corruption' and 'the economy' in things leading people to make decisions, according to exit polling. Third, it should be noted, is not first. Yes, it's important, but nationwide it didn't carry the day. Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay (who will be acquitted, IMO), as well as The Bridge To Nowhere, The Railroad to Nowhere, pork by the barrel-full and a host of other issues doomed the Republicans, pretty much all acts they performed to their own detriment. I think that had the GOP balanced a budget now and then they would still be in office despite Iraq, but that's just my opinion.

The interesting thing is that most of the Democrats who won did so by running to the right of Republicans, we're seeing the resurgence of the 'Blue Dog' Democrat, at least at the polls. Immigration was a big issue the GOP couldn't manage to touch. At least if they had passed a tough immigration bill it would be law, as things stand they didn't materially address immigration and they dropped from 40% of the Hispanic vote to 25%, and lost anyway. The '700 mile fence' has not been funded, so at this point it's simply statutory authority. Not a post will be driven until it's funded, and that's most likely off the table now. Yet another failing.

I don't envy Nancy Pelosi her job. The majority in Congress is now the GOP plus the conservative Democrats, if the Blue Dogs can muster themselves as a caucus they can block anything the liberal wing tries to pass that seems beyond the pale. I would be surprised if we don't get a minimum wage increase, Bush seems eager to sign such a bill despite the economic evidence that it will result in loss of jobs. Of course, with a 4.6% unemployment rate there aren't a lot of jobs to be lost, and it's likely that few if any people are making minimum wage at this point. I made more than minimum wage as a cashier at Sam's in 1989-90, and with a tight job market anyone offering minimum wage will have a hard time finding decent workers. What this does is to put upward pressure on union contracts, and hey, that's pretty much what Ford and GM need right now is increased labor costs, right?

Losing the Senate was bummer. I really didn't believe the Dems would win all of the at-risk Republican seats, but they did. Nice to see Lieberman win -- again, by running to the right of his Democratic Party challenger. He won't flip to the GOP, Harry Reid is too smart to treat him like a stepchild and put the Senate back to 50-50 (i.e., GOP control with the Vice-President casting the deciding vote). He said as much, and I don't see Joe changing his mind. He's a person of principles. Nice to have oppostion you can respect.

I don't see Charlie Rangel's House Ways And Means Committee defunding the troops in the field, so a Congressionally-mandated pullback is unlikely. Iraq is truly a thorny problem, particularly for Democrats who observe that the US didn't send sufficient forces and give the answer for that deficiency as removing our existing forces. The answer to "not enough" is "none", apparently. Must be the math they teach you in Congressional Budgeting Class. I imagine there will be lots of committee meetings and some document or another will be produced. It probably won't be 'the answer' either. There is some suspicion that a successful exit from Iraq isn't in the Dems' political wish-list, at least not until there's a Democratic President to welcome them home. To be honest, the one thing Iraq needs more than anything else (aside from prayer) is time.

Bush should have accepted Rumsfeld's resignation a year ago, but last Wednesday was enough of a bad news day that cutting Rumsfeld loose is as good a time as you can choose. Bob Gates is reportedly a very smart man, if he's good enough for Texas A&M he's good enough for the Pentagon. There is some idea among some hawks that this will be justification for upping the number of troops in Iraq -- I don't see that happening. Getting our guys out of the cauldron is a noble goal, but getting them out and letting Iraq descend to chaos isn't a desirable outcome. About the only thing the various warring factions in Iraq agree upon is that a stand-up fight with the US is a bad idea. We're the militia for people who don't have militias, at least until a stable and professional Iraqi Army and Police can be trained. From what I read, the Police are the bigger challenge, the Iraqis don't have a history of clean cops.

Funny that you don't hear a lot about how the elections were stolen by Diebold this time. It's not because of the margin of victory, most of the races were pretty close. On this list of district results, ten of the elections were decided by 10,000 votes or less in the Democrats' favor. The balance of the Senate was decided by a roughly 7,000 vote margin in Virgina, and by about 2,500 votes in Montana. These were fairly close elections, the kind it's far easier to steal. I'd be happy to go back to paper ballots and optical scan in return for identity verification in voting. If you have to show your ID to write a check, is it such an imposition to do so when you vote?

So, in summary, the GOP is back in the Congressional wilderness for a while. Much like Moses, the GOP struck the rock from whence the water came, rather than giving credit to the source of their power -- in this case the voters, the conservatives who put them in office. When you don't govern in a conservative manner, you're unlikely to get re-elected by those people. I hope they'll spend these two years in deep thought and return in 2008 with a new Contract With America that will last for more than 12 years before devolving into the sodden mess that was the 109th Congress. I hope the Blue Dogs will be as conservative as they portrayed themselves, maybe it will stop the humming sound coming from Scoop Jackson's grave (created by him spinning like a lathe) whenever we hear Democrats who can't decide who they want to win in Iraq get in front of a microphone. And lastly, I hope the media features our new Democratic Overlords in all their glory. I anticipate some significant buyer's regret in the coming years.


RoseCovered Glasses said...

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years in the Defense Industrial Complex working on many of the weapons our troops are using today.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled "Odyssey of Armaments".

The Pentagon is a giant, incredibly complex
establishment,budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Adminisitrations and the Congresses come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps on grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate the machine.

How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the Sec. Def. to be - Mr. Gates- understand such complexity, particulary if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details. Answer- he can't. Therefor he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

This situation is unfortunate but it is ablsolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won't happen unitil it hits a brick wall at high speed.

We will then have to run a Volkswagon instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.

Troy M. Stirman said...

Darren, nice wrap up on the political genocide of the GOP. I'm wondering if you will soon wax prophetic on the upcoming '08 election process as the pundits turn their sights toward the next prize for the much hopeful Dems. (I can't even fathom a Dem controlled Legislative and Executive Branch- especially if "Shrillary" is a shoe in as many suspect.

BTW- nice shot at the Aggies!