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Long Road for the GOP in this Center-Left Nation

Long RoadNDN got some fun attention over at Townhall today, where Don Lambro gnawed on Simon's argument (originally posted here, and featured in The Hill yesterday) that the GOP is looking at a long road back to anything resembling power. Townhall, for the uninitiated, is one of the leading right-wing news sites-- something like a conservative answer to the Huffington Post.

Lambro accused Simon of "irrational exuberance," brushing off geographic, demographic, and hard electoral realities, and falls back on the old saw that "we still live in a center-right nation." To Lambro, I say, quit falling back on your saw, and fall on your sword, instead!

The simple fact is that, compared to Republicans, Democrats are playing on a field that is much larger-- and growing.

The GOP is seriously limited by geography-- they are increasingly competitive only in the South and upper Rockies.  In the next Congress, three-fifths of Senate Republicans will come from those two areas. Obama proved that Democrats can win without winning the Deep South, while picking up three states in the new progressive south-- Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina.  The GOP will need to find a new part of the country to win, and it's not looking good for them anywhere.

Even more ominously, Democrats represent a large, diverse, and growing demographic coalition, while the Republican coalition is homogenous and shrinking. In particular, Hispanics and Millenials both voted for Obama by a 2:1 margin this year. Neither of these demographic groups carried any electoral significance 25 years ago (we Millenials weren't even born!), and are positioned to become serious political forces in the 21st century.

Lambro also marshals historical references to shore up his argument, but his analogies are bogus. While some have compared 2008 to 1964, it seems far more appropriate, given the current state of the economy, to compare this election to 1932.  And if I may, I'll call Lambro's attention to the congressional election of 1934, when the Democrats picked up nine seats in the House and ten in the Senate. In 1936, Dems sealed the deal as they maintained their majorities in congress, and Roosevelt won all but two states. En garde!

And as for Lambro's favorite old saw, I'll pass that question to Hoover Institution fellow Tod Lindberg. Says Lindberg, the idea that we live in a center-right nation is dead. Welcome to a center-left America. 

Of course, events could change these patterns and shift these trends, but the way things are going, Simon's "coroner's report" was anything but irrational exuberance.

Thanks to Mike Hais and Morley Winograd for their help in putting this together!

12/19 Roundup: White Knight to the Rescue, Deep Throat Six Deep, Sledges vs. Extinguishers

White KnightLeader: White Knight to the Rescue

-  In the wake of the Senate's refusal to bail out the big Detroit auto makers, the White House has come up with a $17 billion package to rescue GM and Chrysler. The bailout is dependent on serious restructuring within the corporations, particularly the reduction of their debt obligations and renegotiation of their agreements with the UAW union.  $13.4 billion will come as an immediate emergency loan, and another $4 billion will come in February.

- WH Press Secretary Dana Perino made everyone's teeth chatter yesterday when she suggested that the administration was considering opting for an "orderly" bankruptcy process.

- As a bonus measure, the White House is sticking it to the man, by demanding that the auto execs get rid of their corporate jets, and sacrifice some of their pay.


- Ron Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas, will serve as Obama's trade representative. A member of NDN's advisory board, Kirk brings strong free trade credentials to the job.

- Rep. Hilda Solis will be Secretary of Labor.  She served on the Education and Workforce committee, and will be a powerful voice for working America.

- Mark Felt, better known as "Deep Throat," died at 95 yesterday.  The famous anonymous source helped bring down Richard Nixon.

- You've heard of a millie, and even a billie, but Obama's stimulus plan, which just keeps growing, is approaching a trillie.  There's all sorts of good stuff in there.


- The majority party in South Korea blockaded themselves into a committee session yesterday, in an attempt to move forward a free trade deal with the US.  The minority party busted into the meeting with sledgehammers, only to be sprayed in the face with fire extinguishers.  The deal has not yet been passed.

- The US military conducted a raid of an Afghan village near the Pakistani border yesterday. The military is calling it a successful counterterrorism operation, and the Afghans are calling it a massacre of civilians.  This is just the latest episode in rising tensions between the states.

One More Thing

- Alaska keeps it classy.

12/18 Roundup: Maliki Roundup, Chrysler Shutting, Help for Nobody

MalikiLeader: Baghdad Roundup

- As many as 35 Iraqi government officials have been rounded up and arrested by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on accusations that they were trying to reconstitute Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. As many as six of those detained worked in Iraq's Interior Ministry.

- Maliki is generally seen as a strong leader, but one with few political allies. He is also, reportedly, deeply suspicious of a coup by military officers. Some suspect this move may have been intended to consolidate his own power. 

- In related news, Maliki says that the infamous shoe-thrower has apologized to the Prime Minster for embarrassing him on television.


- In the face of zero demand, Chrysler will be shutting their doors for a month, and not making any new automobiles. Chrylser execs are reportedly seeking a merger with GM, once again. Many Chrysler factory workers are understandably concerned that the doors will not reopen, and they'll find themselves jobless within a month.

- OPEC, presumably trying to be helpful by solving that deflation problem, is planning to cut oil production by 2.2 million barrels/day-- a record amount.

- Cancel your trip to Japan! The dollar has hit a 13-year low against the Yen.


- The full program of Obama's inauguration ceremony has been released.  The big news is his selection of Rev. Rick Warren, an Orange County evangelist, to give the invocation.  Many are up at arms over the selection of Warren, who outspokenly opposes abortion rights and gay marriage.  Everyone, however, thinks the selection of Aretha Franklin was a terrific idea.

- Rep. Pete Stark, Chair of the Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, says any vote on healthcare reform will have to wait until early 2010. Congress, he says, just has too much else to do this year.

- Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, will be Obama's Secretary of Transportation. Many transportation reformers are not happy.

- Mary Schapiro, a serious regulator, will be running the SEC under Obama.  


- China is sending a naval fleet to the Gulf of Aden to do battle with pirates.  Ban Ki-Moon says the time is not yet ripe to send UN Peacekeepers to Somalia, whether to battle piracy, anarchy, or whatever else they might find there.

One More Thing

- Last, remember that Help for Homeowners program that was going to save us all? Not going so well:

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12/17 Roundup: Free Money, Dynasty and Nepotism, Suspected Mafiosi

Free Money!Leader: Free Money!

- Just when we thought the federal funds interest rate couldn't go any lower, the Fed reminds us there is, in fact, a number below one... The new rate will float in a range between 0 and 0.25%. This, in effect, exhausts the Fed's most powerful monetary tool, unless they're going to start paying people to take their money (which actually doesn't seem so implausible anymore).

- This move was more symbolic than anything else; much more importantly, the Fed announced they would not hesitate to print as much new money as they need to loosen up the credit markets.  In normal times, these measures would cause the danger of spiraling inflation, but considering recent deflation (the consumer price index fell a dramatic 1.7% in November, the biggest drop... ever), nobody's too worred about that right now.

- David Leonhardt of the NY Times finds a silver lining in the present deflation-- falling prices could soften the recessionary blow for many families.  


- Caroline Kennedy has a new ally in her hunt for a senate seat: Harry Reid.  Politico would like to have a conversation about dynasty and nepotism in the Democratic Party. So would Joe Klein, who offers up a few as-yet unheard names of potential star Senators.

- Jesse Jackson, Jr., it turns out, has been an informant against "Crooked" Rod Blagojevich for years now, though not in the current investigation.  He may come out of this scandal looking clean after all. Howard Fineman wonders why the Obama team is looking to bury the report on their dealings with Blago by releasing it Christmas week.

- The Bush administration has generously been preparing memos to the incoming Obama team, offering contingency plans in the event of a global crisis very early in the year.  

- Tom Vilsack will be the next Agriculture Secretary, and Xavier Becerra will not be the next US Trade Representative.


- In the latest sign of the demise of print media, the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News have both decided to stop home delivery of their newspapers. Paper and ink just doesn't sell anymore.


- One of Robert Mugabe's chief henchmen was shot, non-fatally, in a nighttime ambush in his home. By all accounts, this was a failed assassination attempt. Was it a political opponent? A supposed political ally? Nobody knows.

- The Italian police arrested nearly a hundred suspected Mafiosi, in a city-wide raid in Palermo yesterday. This was an attempt to prevent the Mafia from regaining control 

One More Thing

- Guess who is Time's Man of the Year? Hint: It's like, duh

- Last, Bernard Madoff is very close with the regulators.  I think they'll soon be a whole lot closer:


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12/16 Roundup: Caroline Who?, Capitol Defections, Dog Election Deadlocked

Caro & BOLeader: Caroline Who?

- Caroline Kennedy's hat is clearly in the ring in the contest to become Hillary Clinton's successor as junior senator from New York.  She's taken on a few veteran political advisors, begun making calls to her formidable network in New York politics, and gotten serious coverage in all the relevant papers. Karen Tumulty at Time wonders if Caroline is ready, and, also importantly, if she will even like working in the Senate.

- She's already racked up the endorsement of Rep. Louise Slaughter from upstate New York-- a good start. Slaughter applauded her experience as a lawyer (among other, more significant, accomplishments), which brought to light the slightly embarrassing fact that, until last week, Kennedy's legal registration in NY was delinquent.  It's not clear that she's ever practiced law.

- After seeming uninterested in politics for so long, what's driving Caroline to Washington now?  The Caucus thinks it might be the brutal experience of turning fifty last year.


- Arne Duncan, the superintendent of Chicago(!) public schools, is Obama's choice to be Secretary of Education.  His choice is a compromise-- he is one of few notable educators not to have taken sides in the hard-line teacher accountability vs.  teachers' unions fight.

- Ken Salazar will be the next Secretary of the Interior. With defections mounting on Capitol Hill, Josh Marshall observes that the Senate really must not be much fun these days. Why is everybody leaving? Perhaps because congress isn't so good at the "Internet."

- With Obama and Salazar on the way out, and Mel Martinez planning to step out in two years, Sen. Menendez could be the only member keeping the Senate from becoming a total cracker barrel.

- It has looked like confirmations of Obama's cabinet would hurtle through congress at record speed. Republicans may be throwing a wrench into the machinery by asking that Attorney General-selectee Eric Holder's hearing be delayed until the end of January. Sen Leahy, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has obligingly obliged.

- Mike Madigan says: You're done, Blago.  After giving him six days to resign, the Illinois House Speaker says it's time to move forward in the legislature with impeachment hearings.  Those begin today.


Retail prices fell dramatically in November, leading to a month of flat inflation and even sparking fears of deflation. Oil prices led the way, putting the big plans of some oil companies in jeapordy.

- Bernard Madoff's mega-Ponzi scheme has hit Jewish individuals and groups particularly hard, reports the LA Times.


- The Iraqi shoe hurler has quickly gained fame around the world, and has become something of a cult hero in parts of the Middle East. Yet more evidence of the power of one short video.

- Writing in Sunday's WaPo, Sarah Chayes had an extraordinary Op-Ed on home for the past seven years: Kandahar, Afghanistan. Use of the Taliban by the Pakistani military has gradually resulted in "invasion by proxy" she says.

One More Thing

- With more than 70 candidates in the race, no single breed was able to garner more than 13% of the vote in the race to become the Obamas' new dog. It's unclear how the impasse will be resolved.

- Joe Biden and Barack Obama will roll into DC by train, making whistle stops in Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore. How cool is that?! (Or is it just me...?)

- Last, the Illinois legislature gets ready to tear Crooked Rod into a million crooked pieces:



12/15 Roundup: Hardworking Rod, Ponzi Schemes, (lame) Ducking Shoes

Lame Duck!Leader: What next, Blago?

- The ongoing saga of Crooked Rod continues.  Yesterday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan suggested that Blago might step down today. Crooked Rod responded: "Like hell I will! There's work to be done!"  It's seriously hard to imagine him sitting behind the governor's desk, going about his business as usual.  Although, knowing what we now know about what "business at usual" means for him, maybe it's not so strange.

- John Heilemann takes a look at Obama's Chicago pol past, and wonders how "past" it even is. It's nearly impossible to completely escape that kind of a swamp, but we had better hope, for Obama's sake and our own, that this is the last we hear of this kind of thing in this presidency.

- Jon Alter has a tribute to Chicago journo Mike Royko, who would have carved up Crooked Rod from the moment he came on the stage.


- Thirty states are on the edge of insolvency, at risk of becoming unable to pay unemployment benefits.  Two states-- Michigan and Indiana-- are already themselves on the federal dole, to keep  individuals on the dole.

- The details of Bernard Madoff's stock trading operation-- the biggest Ponzi scheme in history-- are bizarre, convoluted and depressing, not unlike the details of the rest of our economy.


- At Salon, Tom Schaller talks to Steve Clemons, Rick Pearlstein, and Winnie Stachelberg about the numerous, colossal problems that will face Obama on day one, and how he should prioritize.

- James Steinberg is the likely pick for Deputy Secretary of State. Mark Lippert will be CoS at the NSC. Tom Roemer is the probably choice for the top intelligence job.  Which job that is remains to be seen. 

- Shaun Donovan will run HUD.  He's the former housing commissioner for New York City.

- John McCain isn't sure he'd support Sarah Palin in a 2012 run.  Coincidentally, Sarah Palin's church was set on fire Friday.


- Politico and Reuters have joined in a partnership, whereby third party publications can subscribe to and use the content of both news agencies together.  I applaud them for continuing to work to find ways to fill the vacuum and make the news business a functional business.


- President Bush made an unexpected trip to Iraq, to defend the war and insist the struggle is not yet done.  He has now moved on to Afghanistan for similar purposes.  The whole trip was overshadowed by [see video below]. 

One More Thing

- The Obamas wanted to move into the Blair House on January 15th-- ten days early-- so that their daughters could start school at Sidwell on time.  Response: Denied!

- Remember how Barack promised Sasha and Malia they could get a puppy when he won the election? Apparently Jill Biden made the same promise to Joe. It's sooooooo cute!

- Last, GWB suffered the gravest insult in the Middle Eastern books when a journalist, shouting and yelling, launched his shoes at the President's head. Let it be known that Bush's ducking skills are anything but lame:



12/12 Roundup: Very Bad Christmas, Inauguration 2.0, John McCain Doesn't Want to Talk About the Bleeping Campaign

Car CliffLeader: Senate to Big Three-- Drop Dead

- With just 52 votes, the bailout bill failed to gain cloture in the Senate, and no action will be taken before January.  GM and Chrysler have both suggested they might not make it that long, and GM, in particular, could go up in flames before the new year. Both auto manufacturers are hoping that President Bush will authorize the Treasury to use some of the $700 billion in the Wall Street fund to bail them out. 

- At times through the marathon negotiation session, it appeared the two sides would be able to reconcile and reach an agreement. The ultimate sticking point was over Republican demands for steep cuts in pay and benefits for the United Auto Workers union members. Democrats agreed in principle, but disagreed with the timetable insisted upon by the GOP. 

- European and Asian markets tumbled on the news,  and US markets have begun the day in the red. As Harry Reid said last night: "This is going to be a very, very bad Christmas for a lot of people as a result of what takes place here tonight."


- A bipartisan Senate panel published a report that blames Donald Rumsfeld and other senior Bush administration officials for detainee abuse at Guantanamo. Their decisions led to excessively harsh treatment in Iraq and elsewhere.

- Election 2.0 is past, Presidency 2.0 is in the future.  Coming soon: Inauguration 2.0, in which regular folks are inspired by their president to use new tech to prepare for inauguration.

- With an approval rating of seven percent, Crooked Rod Blagojevich does not stand to last very long.  We still don't know how the empty senate seat will be filled, but if it's a special election, two things are fairly clear: Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. will not be a candidate, and Rep. Jan Schakowski will.

- Now that all the racial boxes have been checked, people are looking for other constituencies absent from Obama's cabinet. Found one! Southerners.


- A suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded restaurant in Kirkuk, killing 48 (The WaPo says it was 57). The attack injured nearly 100, and is the deadliest in Iraq in six months.

- Joe Klein returns from Afghanistan with a question: What are we doing there?

One More Thing

- Last, John McCain doesn't want to talk about the bleeping campaign:



12/11 Roundup: Blagojeblog, Scientists in the Cabinet, Your Declining Popularity

Crooked RodLeader: The Skullduggery of Crooked Rod

- Fallout continues around "Crooked Rod" Blagojevich. Though the unflappable, hardworking man obstinately went back to work yesterday, Barack Obama called for him to step down, as did all 50 senate Democrats-- Harry Reid leading the pack.  This, perhaps, is not surprising, as Ezra Klein recalls a New Yorker piece describing a 1978 incident in which Reid nearly strangled someone for trying to bribe him.

-Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. was identified as the mysterious "Candidate #5" from the complaint against Crooked Rod-- that candidate who allegedly offered Blago half a million bucks for the senate seat. Jackson, in no uncertain terms, denied the accusation, and as Mike Tomasky points out, all the evidence we have at this point comes from the mouth of one crazy man.

- CQ covers another bit of fallout from the skullduggery of Crooked Rod: Democrats might not be able to hang on to Obama's senate seat.


- A $14 billion auto bailout has cleared the House with some room to spare, but the bill will face serious opposition in the Senate. Will Senate Republicans kill Detroit?

- The Economist reports that Japan is sliding into what could turn out to be a very painful recession.


- Obama's environmental team appears to be set:  Steven Chu, a Nobel-prize winning physicist, will run the Department of Energy, Lisa Jackson, who worked in New Jersey's DEP, will be run the EPA, and Carol Browner, head of the EPA under Clinton, will act as a White House-based Energy Czar.  Is anybody else really excited by the idea of having a scientist in the cabinet?

- Rather than a Secretary of Agriculture, writes Nick Kristof in the NY Times, how about a Secretary of Food

- Sen. Max Baucus likes the Health IT system in Obama's stimulus proposal, but would like to see SCHIP in there, too.  The two together could pave the way to serious healthcare overhaul.


- China just announced that its exports dropped 2.2% in the past year, which is very bad news for nearly everyone on earth.

- An article from Lydia Polgreen in the NY Times looks at a recent massacre in the Eastern Congo, one of the most horribly war-torn parts of the world. 150 were killed, despite a UN peacekeeping force less than a mile away.

One More Thing

- Not getting invited to any holiday parties this year?  Don't worry, it's not because you were bad this year.  (Or was it?)

- Check out this fun new ad from the Big Three this holiday season.

- Last, Jon Stewart on Crooked Rod: 

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