Friday, November 5, 2010

Oklahoma voters may have accidentally outlawed the 10 Commandments

November 4th, 2010
By Bruce Maiman, Populist Examiner

It looks like voters in Oklahoma just ratified the law of unintended consequences.

Lawmakers in the Sooner State put a constitutional amendment banning the application of Islamic law by Oklahoma courts on the ballot for Tuesday's election.

But the amendment, which also banned the use of international law in judicial decision-making, might force Oklahoma judges to ignore all laws that were conceived on foreign soil, including the 10 Commandments.

"I would like to see Oklahoma politicians explain if this means that the courts can no longer consider the Ten Commandments. Isn't that a precept of another culture and another nation?" said a University of Oklahoma law professor. "The result of this is that judges aren't going to know when and how they can look at sources of American law that were international law in origin. Many of us who understand the law are scratching our heads this morning, laughing so we don't cry."

The measure was overwhelmingly approved, despite months of resistance from legal experts who argued that it blatantly violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and, oh yeah, sharia law has never once been applied by an Oklahoma judge.

The amendment's principal author argued that the state needed to make a "pre-emptive strike" against the dangers of Islamic theocracy.

American Public Gets Exactly What It Deserves For 112th Straight Election

2010 Midterms by The Onion
November 5, 2010 | ISSUE 46•44

WASHINGTON—Dismayed by the fact that over the past 24 months they have not experienced the immediate short-term personal gain they had hoped for, Americans went to the polls Tuesday and, for the 112th consecutive time, elected the candidates they deserve. "It's my duty," Reading, PA resident Bethany Albertson said as she cast her ballot and joined the staggering majority of citizens who, like every single previous generation of voters, will reap exactly what they have sown. "I haven't seen much difference in my paycheck, and we need a voice for change in our government." Exit polls indicated most voters will be content with what they've got coming to them as long as they see sharp reductions in taxes, health care costs, home foreclosures, economic regulation, unemployment, and the national debt by the time the 112th Congress is halfway through its first legislative session.

Keith Olbermann SUSPENDED From MSNBC Indefinitely Without Pay

11- 5-10 HuffPo

MSNBC has suspended star anchor Keith Olbermann following the news that he had donated to three Democratic candidates this election cycle.

"I became aware of Keith's political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay," MSNBC president Phil Griffin said in a statement.

Politico reported Friday that Olbermann had donated $2,400 each to Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, and to Kentucky Senate contender Jack Conway. While NBC News policy does not prohibit employees from donating to political candidates, it requires them to obtain prior approval from NBC News executives before doing so.

In a statement earlier Friday, Olbermann defended his donation, saying, "I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level."

Griffin's statement underscores that it was Olbermann's failure to obtain approval, and not the actual political donations, that prompted the suspension.

The move is doubly significant in that it represents a major development in the relationship between Griffin and Olbermann, who once told the New Yorker, "Phil thinks he's my boss."

"Keith doesn't run the show," Griffin told New York Magazine recently. "I do a lot of things he doesn't like. I do a lot of things he does."

In recent months, Griffin has taken several bold steps to declare his authority over the network and its sometimes unruly talent: he sent a stern memo warning hosts to not publicly fight with each other, he suspended David Shuster indefinitely for filming a CNN pilot, suspended Donny Deutsch, banned Markos Moulitsas from the network, and reprimanded Ed Schultz for threatening to "torch" the network.

The New York Times' Brian Stelter and Bill Carter report that, according to one NBC executive, Friday's suspension is "not a step toward firing" Olbermann, though a source also told the New York Observer that there was "no time frame" for Olbermann's potential return.

A Taxonomy of Logical Fallacies

Missing: A Vision of Economic Possibility

This election showed us that neither of our two major parties has a credible vision for our economic future. And that's why this is a moment of opportunity.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010 by YES! Magazine
by David Korten

It is now the morning after. Republicans, as expected, are celebrating a sweeping victory. Democrats are licking their wounds. Meanwhile, record numbers of people are still contending with the hardships of unemployment and foreclosure with no relief in sight. And the nation braces for deepening political gridlock.

It is a moment of opportunity for America to set a new course and for a young President Barack Obama to establish his place in history as a path-breaking leader.

So how does electoral failure and political gridlock create a moment of opportunity?
Neither of our two major parties has a credible vision for the economic future of our nation.

We are a nation consumed by short-term thinking and fragmented political contests centered on narrowly defined issues. Neither of our two major parties has a credible vision for the economic future of our nation.

The Republicans offer only their standard prescription of tax cuts for the rich, a rollback of regulations on predatory corporations, and elimination of the social safety net-a proven prescription for further job loss and devastation of the middle class.

The Democrats have no identifiable program for economic recovery, let alone for adapting our economy to the dramatic demographic, environmental, economic, and political changes that rule out any chance of a return to pre-2008 business as usual.

In an insightful interview, Populist historian Lawrence Goodwyn suggests that this creates a historic opportunity. He observes that bankers have been a dominant ruling power throughout much of our national history and a barrier to realizing the democratic ideal on which our nation was founded. It has not been within the power of any American president to break their hold due to lack of an adequate public understanding of the nature of the problem.

We now have 15 million unemployed people who feel deeply betrayed and upwards of two million homeowners whose homes have been foreclosed-all as a direct consequence of the actions of Wall Street bankers. These same interests used conceptual deception backed by massive political spending to swing the election in favor of right wing extremists devoted to policies that will further decimate the middle class without resolving the pain of the unemployed and the foreclosed.

The deception, which can be maintained only so long, sows the seeds of its own self-destruction. In taking control of the House and leaving the Democrats with only a slim majority in the Senate, Republicans now share responsibility for what is certain to be continued economic failure.

The administration, however, remains in the hands of a now seasoned Democratic president who Goodwyn believes has the potential to rise to the occasion, lead his party to a second term victory, break the power of Wall Street, and actualize the democratic ideal that has for so long eluded us.

It requires, however, a vision of a New Economy that is truly democratic, based on sound market principles, rooted in community values, and accountable to community interests. Economists steeped in the economic models that got us into this mess are not going to provide President Obama with such a vision. He will need to look to the people who are working from the bottom up outside the halls of established power to frame and implement a new economic vision aligned with the values of caring and sharing at the core of authentic spiritual teaching and for which scientists tell us our brains are wired.

This vision is being articulated and popularized by alliances such as the New Economy Working Group and the New Economy Network and implemented by groups such as the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, the American Independent Business Alliance, Transition Towns, local food movements, and many others. The vision is grounded not in some utopian ideology or theory, but rather on the work and experience of millions of people are already engaged in living the New Economy into being through grassroots actions that flow from their deepest values and aspirations.

The emerging vision calls for a fundamental economic restructuring to put life values ahead of financial values, give the creation of sustainable livelihoods for working people priority over bonuses for Wall Street traders, and root the power to create and allocate money in people and community rather than in Wall Street financial institutions. David Brancaccio has documented impressive examples in a PBS television special titled "Fixing the Future" scheduled to be aired on November 18, 2010.

As awareness grows that no adjustments at the margin of the existing Wall Street-dominated economy will resolve the plights of joblessness and the homelessness, so too does potential political support for fundamental economic restructuring in support of the emerging vision. The political party that responds to this rapidly growing economic and political force will gain a decided advantage in 2012 and beyond.

It is President Obama's opportunity to win a second term and establish his place in history not only as the first African-American president, but as well the president who liberated the nation, our democracy, and the market from the grip of Wall Street. I have drafted a framing presidential economic address ready for delivery by the future president who dares to take on the challenge. Imagine a president delivering this speech. Let us make it happen.

Rich Media, Poor Democracy

by Amy Goodman Thursday, November 4, 2010 by

As the 2010 elections come to a close, the biggest winner of all remains undeclared: the broadcasters. The biggest loser: democracy. These were the most expensive midterm elections in U.S. history, costing close to $4 billion, $3 billion of which went to advertising. What if ad time were free? We hear no debate about this, because the media corporations are making such a killing by selling campaign ads. Yet the broadcasters are using public airwaves.

I am reminded of the 1999 book by media scholar Robert McChesney, "Rich Media, Poor Democracy." In it, he writes, "Broadcasters have little incentive to cover candidates, because it is in their interest to force them to publicize their campaigns."

The Wesleyan Media Project, at Wesleyan University, tracks political advertising. Following the recent Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United v. FEC, the project notes, "The airwaves are being saturated with more House and Senate advertising, up 20 percent and 79 percent respectively in total airings." Evan Tracey, the founder and president of Campaign Media Analysis Group, predicted in USA Today in July, "There is going to be more money than there is airtime to buy." John Nichols of The Nation commented that in the genteel, earlier days of television political advertising, the broadcasters would never juxtapose an ad for a candidate with an ad opposed to that candidate. But they are running out of broadcast real estate. Welcome to the brave, new world of the multibillion dollar campaigns.

There have been efforts in the past to regulate the airwaves to better serve the public during elections. The most ambitious in recent years was what became known as McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform. During the debate on that landmark legislation, the problem of exorbitant television advertising rates was brought up, by Democrats and Republicans alike. Nevada Sen. John Ensign, a Republican, lamented: "The broadcasters used to dread campaigns because that was the time of year they made the least amount of money because of this lowest unit rate. Now it is one of their favorite times of the year because it is actually one of their highest profit-margin times of the year." Ultimately, to get the bill passed, the public airtime provisions were dropped.

The Citizens United ruling effectively neutralizes McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform. One can only imagine what the cost of the 2012 presidential election will be. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., lost his re-election bid to the largely self-financed multimillionaire Ron Johnson. The Wall Street Journal editorial page celebrated Feingold's expected loss. The Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which also owns the Fox television network and which gave close to $2 million to Republican campaign efforts.

"The elections have become a commodity, a profit center for these radio and TV stations," Ralph Nader, consumer advocate and former presidential candidate, told me on Election Day. He went on: "The public airwaves, as we know, belong to the people, and they're the landlords, and the radio and TV stations are the licensees. They're the tenants, so to speak. They pay no money to the FCC for their annual license. And therefore, it's really quite persuasive, were we to have a public policy to condition modestly the license to this enormously lucrative control of the public airwaves 24 hours a day by these TV and radio stations and say, as part of the reciprocity for controlling this commons, so to speak, you have to allow a certain amount of time, free time, on radio and TV for ballot-qualified candidates."

The place where we should debate this is in the major media, where most Americans get their news. But the television and radio broadcasters have a profound conflict of interest. Their profits take precedence over our democratic process. You very likely won't hear this discussed on the Sunday-morning talk shows.

Obama Economic Team Passes Out the Kool-Aid

by Mary Bottari  - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 by PR

It’s the day before a hotly-contested national election, where it appeared the rabble was well positioned to deliver a colossal spanking to the elites who have too-long ignored their plight, so what does Team Obama do?

They have a press conference to talk about their eagerness to complete the Korea Free Trade Agreement negotiated by President Bush. "The president has long said we want to try and address the outstanding issues regarding the Free Trade Agreement in order to bring it forward for approval," said Mike Froman, Obama’s deputy national security advisor for international economic affairs. “[W]e're going to put every effort into achieving ... an acceptable agreement, a satisfactory agreement, by the time the president comes to Seoul," he told a news conference on Monday.

Are these people nuts?

In case they had not noticed, Democrats across the country were getting hammered on the charge of exporting jobs to China via the stimulus package. It does not matter that the charge is false and that Democrats leapt into action to block U.S. companies who were considering ordering wind turbines from their subsidiaries in China. The republican ads, which ran in key races nationwide, cleverly turned a democratic advantage on fair trade into a republican advantage.

This latest free trade idiocy caps a long list of failures from the White House economic team:

-Failure to treat sustained high-levels of unemployment as the national emergency it is.

-Failure to pass a bank bailout package that placed any tough conditions on the banks.

-Failure to pass a Wall Street reform bill that was big enough or bad enough to make the big banks reign in those infuriating bonuses.

-Failure to put even a single CEO responsible for the financial crisis behind bars.

-Shameful failure to address the housing and foreclosure mess that will soon put one in four families in American underwater with their mortgages.

No wonder the people are voting to throw the bums out.

Much of the blame for the staggering electoral losses has to be laid at the feet of the president's economic team who seems to think that 14 months of near double-digit unemployment is acceptable.

“Their primary misjudgment is they did not understand how serious the downturn would be,” says economist Dean Baker who sounded the warning about the accumulating housing bubble as early as 2002. “Summers, Geithner, Greenspan, Bernanke, none of these guys thought bubbles were a big deal. They expect the economy to bounce back on its own, and if it didn’t, unemployment was not such a big deal either.”

As a consequence, Team Obama's one shot to get the economy going again -- the stimulus/jobs package -- was not big enough. Christina Romer, former head of the Council of Economic Advisers recommended over a trillion dollars in direct job creation funding, but the final package contained about half of that.

"Summers managed to marginalize alternative views on nearly everything … the size and composition of the stimulus, whether and how to discipline the banksters or do a housing refinance,” says Joel Rogers, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and COWS, the national “high road” strategy center. “He very ably represented Wall Street and the rich against everyone else." But you can’t exactly blame him for success in that. The president declares what economic discussion should be about, and who's in it.

While some will celebrate the people throwing the bums out, the tragedy of course is that the bums-in-waiting advocate policies like tightening spending that is the opposite of what is needed in this type of downturn. Plus, the best of the best – those who have always stood with the people against the big banks, the bailouts and even the Obama economics team, are being swept up in the mob mentality. Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold voted no to every free trade deal, no to the bailouts, no to weak Wall Street reform and no Tim Geithner’s appointment as U.S. Treasury Secretary, but he was beaten by a self-financed tea party millionaire who will advance exactly the pro-free trade, pro-corporate agenda that Wisconsinites abhor.

Pass Out the Pink Slips or Receive One Yourself

If this president does not learn the lesson of this election, he will of course be forced to repeat it.

“In 2008, Obama only won the election because he won the critical states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin by differentiating himself from McCain on trade. It's pretty obvious with Dems and GOP nationwide running against the trade status quo and its job offshoring damage, that if Obama flip flops now in favor of more job-killing NAFTA agreements, he will lose those states and end up a one term president,” says trade expert Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch group.

So the pink slips need to go to Summers, Geithner, Froman and the other henchmen of the failed status quo. Even Obama’s new chief of staff, Peter Rouse, who touted an incredibly uninspiring forward agenda of education and free trade in a New York Times magazine profile of Obama, needs to go.

Obama needs a new economics team, one that does not disregard the suffering of families facing unemployment and foreclosure, and one that puts job creation -- not free trade -- at the top of their economic agenda.

Bought and Paid For

From the White House to Congress to Politico

If you think things changed on November 2, pick up a copy of today’s Politico.

Which I just did.

And it sinks it just a little bit deeper.

Fundamentals still in tact.

Before November 2.

Big corporations firmly in charge.

And after November 2.

Big corporations firmly in charge.

From Congress.

To the White House.

To the press – down to your local Politico.

The November 4, 2010 issue of Politico carries about 25 articles.

Not one of which deals head on with the question of corporate crime or corporate power.

The same issue carries about13 full page ads – at about $10,000 a page – from big corporations and lobbying groups.

Bought and paid for.

Let us count the ways:

Chevron: Big Oil Should Support Small Business. (Two page color spread.)

Altria: A company is only as strong as the people behind it.

Siemens: What can a century-old factory teach us about the future?

Boeing: Real Facts, Real Americans.

AT&T: One is the loneliest number.

Shell: Let’s keep delivering heat to our cities. Let’s Go.

CTIA The Wireless Association: With a 92% Approval Rating, You’d Think We’d be Satisfied.

Lockheed Martin: Meads – It’s All About Ability: Capability. Interoperability. Affordability.

JP Morgan Chase: There are many ways forward for small business.

Ford: For every 52 cars Korea Ships Here, The U.S. Can Only Export One There.

Finmeccanica: The Symbol of Commitment.

BlueCross Blue Shield: From Annual Eye Exams to Free Glasses.

Goldman Sachs: Meet a Small Business Leader with a Recipe for Success.

Politico runs a couple of full page ads for itself, including one about a Politico conference titled “What’s Next for Technology – How Washington will Act on Key Policy Issues in 2011."

Sponsored by Qualcomm.

WTOP, the local hyper corporate news radio channel, runs a full page ad, touting itself as “the fastest way to reach the corridors of power.”

Perversely, the only direct attack on the Washington corporate power structure comes from a full page ad from the libertarian Cato Institute, admonishing President Obama for not eliminating federal programs we don’t need.

It then runs a list of ten which Cato says “we don’t need,” including “military overreach.”

“The Constitution envisions a U.S. military that ‘provides for the common defense’ of the United States, not one that serves as the world’s policeman and nation-builder. By withdrawing our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, we could save at least $125 billion next year. Eliminating other unnecessary, overseas missions would allow for a leaner force structure and defense budget, saving at least $100 billion a year without undermining U.S. security.”

And another one titled “Drug War.”

“Since the start of the federal War on Drugs in 1970, we’ve spent hundreds of billions on a futile crusade that’s done little to curb drug use and much to impair our civil liberties. In fact, a Cato study showed that Portugal’s decriminalization of drugs actually lowered drug-related problems. Returning drug policy to the states – where it belongs – would save at least $15 billion annually.”

So, the sun did come up after November 2.

And it snuck on through the crevices of a corporate funded Cato ad.

Take That You Smug Bastards!

Later Never Came

Maple Glen, Penn.

The Democrats were blown out of the water on Nov. 2.

But it’s not because of the Tea Party, or because of a resurgent Republican majority.

The Democrats deserved to lose because they have long since abandoned whatever principles they had, and more important, they’ve pissed on their most important supporters--the left, real liberals, African Americans, women, unionized workers, and workers in general. So I say hooray, all those groups have struck back!

Barack Obama set this disaster for the party and his presidency in motion before he was even sworn in as president, by choosing Wall Street hacks as his economic advisers in the midst of the worst economic crisis in 75 years, and by choosing as his key political adviser Rahm Emanuel, who famously called progressive critics “fucking retarded,” and who, when warned that the GM bailout plan would hurt the United Autoworkers members who worked there, also famously said “Fuck the UAW!”

Emanuel never, at least in public, ever said “Screw the Schwarzes!,” but he and Obama might as well have, for all the help they’ve offered to a population that is suffering with twice the unemployment rate of whites, and that is being imprisoned at a rate that is virtually re-enslaving the nation’s young male African-American population.

Those progressives and liberals and minorities and workers that Emanuel and Obama, and most of the Democrats in Congress have dissed and pissed on have now returned the favor.

When you have a state like mine, Pennsylvania, where Democrats have a one million advantage in voter registration, to lose both the governor’s race and the Senate race to Republicans, takes some serious screwing up. And that’s what happened. Both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature went from Democratic to Republican, the outgoing and popular Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, whose two terms were over, was replaced by the Republican attorney general, Tom Corbett, and the Senate seat held by Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter, who was defeated in a primary by Rep. Joe Sestak, went narrowly to a right-wing Republican, former Rep. Pat Toomey.

Looking at the Democratic Party debacle in Pennsylvania gives a worm’s eye view of what the national party did to itself. Pennsylvania is often said to be a deep south state with two or three liberal northern enclaves--Philadelphia in the southeast, the Pittsburg region in the far west, and the old industrial area of Scranton-Wilkes Barre in the northeast. Democrats typically win in statewide races by piling up huge majorities in those three regions--especially Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.

Those regions voted overwhelmingly for Onorato and Sestak, as usual, but not in the numbers necessary to overcome the enthusiastic turnout of conservative voters in the middle of the state. Looking at the vote in Philadelphia, which is roughly 50 per cent African American in demographics, even though the total voter turnout of 41 per cent was on the high side for an off-year election, the party split -- 82 per cent Democrat and 18 per cent Republican--was not as lopsided as it was in 2008, when it was 90 per cent Democratic. That difference alone would have given Sestak, who lost his race by just 2 per cent, a victory. Worse yet, the black voter turnout was lower than expected. Again, had blacks turned out in better than historical numbers, as whites did in Philadelphia, Sestak, and probably Onorato, would have both won their state-wide races. The same argument can be made for several congressional races in the Philadelphia suburbs, where turnout was low, and Democrats, including several incumbents, lost.

African-Americans didn’t vote because they have been largely ignored by President Obama and Congressional Democrats over the past two years of economic disaster. Homes have continued to be foreclosed at a rapacious pace, no jobs programs have been created for people at the bottom (what good do funds for highway and bridge construction do for minorities or women or minority women, when most construction workers are continue to be white males?), the health care “reform” bill, if anything, has weakened Medicaid programs, which is how most poor people get what health care they can get, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are sucking up funds that could have been used to reduce class sizes in urban schools (In Philadelphia schools, kids sit on the floor in overcrowded classrooms with insufficient desks and still use battered textbooks that date from the 1970s, or if they’re lucky, the ‘80s or ‘90s).

Union households couldn’t be roused to go out and do the door-to-door campaigning legwork or the evening phone-bank calling after having done so two years ago on the promise of passage of an Employee Free Choice Act to make union organizing fair, only to have the Obama administration and the Democratic Congressional leadership walk away from the issue, saying they’d save it for “later.”

“Later” never came, of course.

Every progressive, every liberal, every union member, every African-American dissed by Obama and his potty-mouth advisers, or ignored by his Wall-Street enamored economic team, or his medical industry obsessed health bill advisers, was not just a vote lost. It was a persuasive vote-getter lost.

That’s why the Democratic Party was crushed on Tuesday.

It was a fully deserved trouncing.

I went to my polling station in the church one block from my house to cast a vote, and found my self in conversation with an ardent local Democrat who was handing out local Democratic sample ballots, and an equally ardent Tea Party guy advocating for a right-wing candidate running for the local congressional seat. I found myself agreeing much more with the Tea Partier.
The Tea Partier said that the government had “lost touch” with ordinary people. I couldn’t agree more. He said that the health bill was a costly and overly bureaucratic disaster. Again, I couldn’t agree more. The Democratic activist countered that Obama and the Democrats in Congress weren’t getting credit for any of the good things they had done in the past two years. I just don’t see it. Judges? Obama named two very mediocre, middle-of-the-road jurists who may even side against liberal positions, like the death penalty, or presidential executive power. The wars? We still have 50,000 troops and an enormous army of mercenaries in Iraq, and a deepening quagmire in Afghanistan that is looking more like Vietnam every day. That’s change? And education? Show me the money. All we’re hearing is charter schools, and the studies show them to be costly failures that simply suck the life out of the rest of the schools in a district. Jobs? Right. Regulating the banks? There’s a laugh! They are bigger, more concentrated, and more powerful than ever, and engaged in the same crooked behavior that caused the economic crisis.
The good news is that the voters have told Obama, the Democrats, and their oh-so-smart political advisers, “Fuck you!”

One would hope that we won’t be hearing any more dissing of progressives from the White House or Congressional Democrats after this election, but then again, the Democratic Party long ago lost any pretense of being the party of the common person, so who knows?

Never mind that of the 80 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, only 3 lost their seats, while the conservative/neoliberal Blue Dog Caucus, with 54 members, lost 26, or almost half of its ranks. Democratic leaders, including the president, may nonetheless come away from this election deciding once again that the answer is to become more like the Republicans. (Already the Democratic Leadership Council, that loathsome cesspool of conservative and Neoliberal Democrats like Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, is claiming that the reason Democrats got trounced is that they "lost the middle"!)

And we have all seen how well that works.

The Impotence of Elections

Growing Anger

In his historical novel, The Leopard, Giuseppe di Lampedusa writes that things have to change in order to remain the same. That is what happened in the US congressional elections on November 2.

Jobs offshoring, which began on a large scale with the collapse of the Soviet Union, has merged the Democrats and Republicans into one party with two names. The Soviet collapse changed attitudes in socialist India and communist China and opened those countries, with their large excess supplies of labor, to Western capital.

Pushed by Wall Street and Wal-Mart, American manufacturers moved production for US markets offshore to boost profits and shareholder earnings by utilizing cheap labor. The decline of the US manufacturing work force reduced the political power of unions and the ability of unions to finance the Democratic Party. The end result was to make the Democrats dependent on the same sources of financing as Republicans.

Prior to this development, the two parties, despite their similarities, represented different interests and served as a check on one another. The Democrats represented labor and focused on providing a social safety net. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, housing subsidies, education, and civil rights were Democratic issues. Democrats were committed to a full employment policy and would accept some inflation to secure more employment.

The Republicans represented business. The Republicans focused on curtailing big government in all its manifestations from social welfare spending to regulation. The Republicans’ economic policy consisted of opposing federal budget deficits.

These differences resulted in political competition.

Today both parties are dependent for campaign finance on Wall Street, the military/security complex, AIPAC, the oil industry, agri-business, pharmaceuticals, and the insurance industry. Campaigns no longer consist of debates over issues. They are mud-slinging contests.

Angry voters take their anger out on incumbents, and that is what we saw in the election. Tea Party candidates defeated Republican incumbents in primaries, and Republicans defeated Democrats in the congressional elections.

Policies, however, will not change qualitatively. Quantitatively, Republicans will be more inclined to more rapidly dismantle more of the social safety net than Democrats and more inclined to finish off the remnants of civil liberties. But the powerful private oligarchs will continue to write the legislation that Congress passes and the President signs. New members of Congress will quickly discover that achieving re-election requires bending to the oligarchs’ will.

This might sound harsh and pessimistic. But look at the factual record. In his campaign for the presidency, George W. Bush criticized President Clinton’s foreign adventures and vowed to curtail America’s role as the policeman of the world. Once in office, Bush pursued the neoconservatives’ policy of US world hegemony via military means, occupation of countries, setting up puppet governments, and financial intervention in other countries’ elections.

Obama promised change. He vowed to close Guantanamo prison and to bring the troops home. Instead, he restarted the war in Afghanistan and started new wars in Pakistan and Yemen, while continuing Bush’s policy of threatening Iran and encircling Russia with military bases.

Americans out of work, out of income, out of homes and prospects, and out of hope for their children’s careers are angry. But the political system offers them no way of bringing about change. They can change the elected servants of the oligarchs, but they cannot change the policies or the oligarchs.

The American situation is dire. As a result of the high speed Internet, the loss of manufacturing jobs was followed by the loss of professional service jobs, such as software engineering, that were career ladders for American university graduates. The middle class has no prospects. Already, the American labor force and income distribution mimics that of a third world country, with income and wealth concentrated in a few hands at the top and most of the rest of the population employed in domestic services jobs. In recent years net new job creation has been concentrated in lowly paid occupations, such as waitresses and bartenders, ambulatory health care services, and retail clerks. The population and new entrants into the work force continue to grow more rapidly than job opportunities.

Turning this around would require more realization than exists among policymakers and a deeper crisis. Possibly it could be done by using taxation to encourage US corporations to manufacture domestically the goods and services that they sell in US markets. However, the global corporations and Wall Street would oppose this change.

The tax revenue loss from job losses, bank bailouts, stimulus programs, and the wars have caused a three-to-four-fold jump in the US budget deficit. The deficit is now too large to be financed by the trade surpluses of China, Japan, and OPEC. Consequently, the Federal Reserve is making massive purchases of Treasury and other debt. The continuation of these purchases threatens the dollar’s value and its role as reserve currency. If the dollar is perceived as losing that role, flight from dollars will devastate the remnants of Americans’ retirement incomes and the ability of the US government to finance itself.

Yet, the destructive policies continue. There is no re-regulation of the financial industry, because the financial industry will not allow it. The unaffordable wars continue, because they serve the profits of the corporate military/security complex and promote military officers into higher ranks with more retirement pay. Elements within the government want to send US troops into Pakistan and into Yemen. War with Iran is still on the table. And China is being demonized as the cause of US economic difficulties.

Whistleblowers and critics are being suppressed. Military personnel who leak evidence of military crimes are arrested. Congressmen call for their execution. Wikileaks’ founder is in hiding, and neoconservatives write articles calling for his elimination by CIA assassination teams. Media outlets that report the leaks apparently have been threatened by Pentagon chief Robert Gates. According to, on July 29 Gates “insisted that he would not rule out targeting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange or any of the myriad media outlets which reported on the leaks.”

The control of the oligarchs extends to the media. The Clinton administration permitted a small number of mega-corporations to concentrate the US media in a few hands. Corporate advertising executives, not journalists, control the new American media, and the value of the mega-companies depends on government broadcast licenses. The media’s interest is now united with that of the government and the oligarchs.

On top of all the other factors that have made American elections meaningless, voters cannot even get correct information from the media about the problems that they and the country face.

As the economic situation is likely to continue deteriorating, the anger will grow. But the oligarchs will direct the anger away from themselves and toward the vulnerable elements of the domestic population and “foreign enemies.”

Why Summers Goes and Geithner Stays

The Bankers' Poodle, Obama's Pet

If Barack Obama needed any help in guiding the Democratic Party over the cliff he certainly got it from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Voters have told pollsters that the state of the economy, their own in particular, was their principle concern. Though impelled by the specter of unemployment and homelessness, the image of Geithner, toady to the bankers, can only have encouraged them in their fury. A sensible president would therefore already be running out the plank prior to giving this disastrous financial overseer an encouraging shove between the shoulders. But in this case, we may not be that lucky. CounterPunch can reveal the crucial role played in these matters by a group close to the President but unknown to the outside world.

Throughout the administration, Lawrence Summers – now departing the White House -- loomed over the president’s other shoulder as Director of the National Economic Council, a figure as well known and even more widely disliked than Geithner. However, one former official who knows both men well suggests that there is something to be said for Summers, at least in comparison. “Larry has some idea that there is more to the economy than just the welfare of large banks,” this official suggests. “He did push for a larger stimulus and more jobs programs, for example. Tim just cares about banks.”

Nevertheless, despite Geithner’s recent campaign to sell the public on the notion that we were in a “Recovery Summer” that failed to materialize, it was Summers who has been sent packing. CounterPunch can reveal that a decisive factor in his departure was the enmity of a little known group of wealthy African-American entrepreneurs who have the President’s ear.

“These are the people Obama likes to hang out with. He plays poker with them, and takes their advice on financial matters” a former White House official told me. “They hate Summers for one simple reason: they think he’s a racist. They have never forgiven him for Cornel West [the eminent black scholar contemptuously ejected from Harvard by Summers when the latter was President of the university.]”

However commendable these men’s grounds for disliking Summers may be, the president’s reliance on their advice may be unfortunate. One of their number, for example, the wealthy investor and former hedge fund director George W. Haywood, has led Obama financially astray in the past. When Obama first began making money from his books he turned to Haywood, one of his wealthy contributors, for investment advice. As the financial commentator Henry Blodgett succinctly summarized ensuing events in Slate back in 2007, “This was a bad decision. Haywood recommended that Obama talk to an unnamed broker at UBS (bad advice), who immediately plunked some of Obama's money into two speculative stocks (terrible advice). One of the stocks was AVI BioPharma, which was seeking to develop a new flu-related drug around the same time that Obama was pushing for more federal money to fight avian flu. The combination of the lousy investment advice and the perceived conflict of interest cost Obama not only money but credibility."

While Haywood and his pals were dissing Summers, Obama had come to actually like Geithner. Who knows why? Perhaps the life-long financial bureaucrat is good at explaining financial arcana to the innumerate chief executive, or maybe he is just adept at flattery. In any event, the relationship goes back some way. “Obama decided on Geithner for his Treasury Secretary in August 2008,” one former Treasury official told me, “probably at the urging of Mike Froman, acting on behalf of Rubin, Weill and Prince.”

Froman, currently deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, was at the time a senior managing director at Citigroup, where Robert Rubin was chairman and Charles Prince was CEO, while Sanford Weill hovered in the wings as the architect and former CEO of the tottering colossus. They knew full well that the ship was heading for the rocks, and needed to ensure that Treasury would be in a safe pair of hands. Geithner, President of the New York Fed at the time, was a perfect choice.

Within a month of this unannounced selection came the epic crash of Lehman Brothers, a collapse that certainly required the New York Fed’s cooperation by refusing a bailout, which Geithner subsequently justified on the grounds that he lacked the power. (A lie.) Though the abrupt downfall of the insolvent bank brought the global financial system to its knees, it did shove Obama into a commanding lead in the polls, which can only have commended Geithner further in the candidate’s eyes.

Whatever he did to Lehman, Geithner certainly did right by Citigroup, a development that appears even less surprising given his conflict of interest on matters concerning that bank. The conflict is revealed in a telling passage on page 61 of Too Big to Fail, Andrew Ross Sorkin’s account of the Lehman crisis. By this account, Geithner had been quietly approached in November 2007 by Weill and asked if he would be interested in becoming boss of Citi, a move that could garner him untold millions. Geithner was certainly interested, pondering the matter while on long walks round Larchmont with his dog, Adobe, but a firm offer never materialized. At that time the credit crisis was really starting to bite, and the giant bank had just reported a record loss. “Weill had no executive function at Citi. He wouldn’t be the one making that call if they were seriously interested in giving Geithner the job” points out one banking analyst in commenting on the story. “How else can we interpret this but as a nice juicy carrot being dangled in front of the President of the New York Fed by a bank that was going to need Fed help in a big way.”

Once installed in the Treasury Secretary’s commodious office, Geithner’s first public address panicked the market into a 700 drop within ten minutes of his opening his mouth – even though he was announcing another bank bailout. Though Rahm Emanuel reportedly insisted thereafter that all of the Treasury Secretary’s announcements be cleared with him, the bond with Obama was unaffected. Perhaps, at this late date, the hapless president may be realizing that this was a mistake.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Capitulation--by the people, of the people, for the "people" (who never die and never have to obey the law)

Starting to think this week's election was ultimately about capitulation. The people saw how much money the corporate run GOP and its billionaire financed "righter" wing, the tea party, had to throw at a midterm--not a presidential election (only time most people vote) or constitutional amendment ratification ballot, but a midterm during the worst economy of modern times. We gave the Democrats two years to get it done, they failed, economy still sucks, let's switch sides!

So, the Republicans will get two or more years--more if the Perry-Palin ticket (or Beavis and Butthead Do America) unseat an Obama, who after yesterday's speech, seems to have conceded the 2012 election already. Appealing to the lowest common denominator by exploiting irrational fears and mixed with so they'd resemble actual concerns, the corporations have their paid for men in place to enact complete deregulation of every industry; bankers with unfettered sway over and access to all the money in the world (damn near), and a return to simpler times in which the world is 6000 years old; minorities drink from separate drinking fountains and can't enter most establishments--including public restrooms; a time when "duck and cover" protects a child from nuclear annihilation; a time when actions committed by US Armed Forces in another part of the world never makes the news until its urgency has expired; a time when garbage trucks remove all our garbage and take it away, and that's all that mattered, not where they took it away to; a time when you never question product safety--cigarette commercials said cigarettes were healthy, and that's all we needed then; and a time when unfair, inaccurate corporate/pro-war/propaganda was delivered with a straight face by the "unbiased" newscaster trusted by us Americans (though that never changed--neither did the propaganda, no matter which avatar claimed the presidential seal).

The Democrats were no match for the cash the GOP spent, or the extreme discontent with their policies held by a confused electorate, or the fact that Democrats serve the same corporate interests that the Republicans do, but much less convincingly. And the economy still sucks. And the Democrats have the ignorant gall to tell us the economy is improving (but leave out "improving at a barely substantial rate that can recede just as much next quarter as it might have expanded the previous one). The same rah rah bullshit that convinced the electorate that Obama would bring in real change, when what he brought in was the same thing we see every time leadership lists to the right or left, to whichever side is due up next: the same faces that ran things the last time the Dems had power. It's a really predictable ping-pong game with lots of manufactured drama and odds that always remain at 50/50.

When you can base a campaign and legislative agenda on opposing everything presented by the other side, you will always stand a good chance of being elected, even when you are a corrupt and babbling idiot. Moreso, even.

Being entrenched in the two-party system will always mean never being able to progress forward without taking too many corresponding steps backward to even the playing field. It means that corporate influence over lawmaking will continue unabated, protecting and expanding the rights of corporations rather than those of the people. And see, voting out the bums who proved ineffectual to begin with is a valid statement to make at the polls--but not if there is just one other choice. In that case, there isn't really a choice at all. It either/or, and when it comes down to bad or worse, then there can be no improvement in this or any situation we face. When distracted from real issues by intentionally divisive "right/left" moral debates that are never resolved though perpetually debated, we don't tend to use our rational thought processing skills.

We willingly contribute to this downward spiral that to some people might not seem worth getting riled up over now, because they are sufficiently distracted (after all, over 78% of Americans able to work are gainfully employed and work many hours  they inherited due to layoffs in their dept). Why make waves? If corporate ownership is what we get, might as well get used to it. Rights were needed back in the days before they were so plentiful, right? we can abridge them now in the name of an unregulated free market economy, in which environmental preservation is voluntary, and the free market determines whether products sold to the public are safe to use or consume, even when the manufacturer has no competition in the market to help kick in that free market self-regulation to protect consumers from harmful defects, unhealthy additives, or fatal side effects, "overlooked" during trial periods.

We, the people, capitulated. If we were the man in front of the tank in China in 1989, then we just picked up our bags and scuttled across the street, hoping no one saw our momentary fit of courage and principle. We are the lesser of pack dogs, rolling over and exposing our bellies to the m uch more powerful and aggressive corporate alpha dog and his pack of bankers, lawyers, and media PR reps:
 "You got all the money, what could I possibly do to oppose your agenda?" we shrugged. "Eight years under Republican control sucked donkey piss, but after two years under Democratic control, we're ready to try again the failed policies that contributed to the widespread corruption and economic failure we continue to endure. And we'll flip back, or maybe not depending on how well each side sells it message. We could stay pat on the right, or go left many options!" 
I wonder how many voters woke up Wednesday morning to see the hot chick they "picked up" Tuesday at the polling place, was now some fat white dude in his 60s with a wallet so fat, it gives him back problems...

Somehow, we were again sold the same bullshit we supposedly rejected in favor of the same bullshit with a different brand new label two years ago. Lewis Black said it best:
"The democrats and republicans are a bowl of shit looking at itself in the mirror. "
Our intentions were respectable: vote in new blood, reject incumbents. But all we ever do really, is dosi-do with two partners. "Swing yer partner round and round, dance with the other feller's partner, well there's your other partner again--look, there's someone new, oh it's the partner before last..." And it's a pretty messed up square dance.

We buy it. We don't question it. We live with, then endure it. Ultimately, our acceptance means WE are the sellouts. We don't resist corporate control--rather in our moment of glory, we instead crowned corporate control king, we licked it on the cheek, and we rolled over on our backs, exposing our soft under-bellies. Confident we didn't do anything to make things worse, right?

Expecting what? Whether we admit it out loud, or just to ourselves, or if we refuse to admit it at all, we know that we have not improved anything. Our lives, the economy, the wars, the environment, human rights. We have made things worse. No matter which of the two choices was the one to which we capitulated.

Political optimism lasts only as long as it takes to wake up enough to notice the fat white guy in his 60s still in your bed, and you remember the previous night drunken blackout on which to lay blame.--jef

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

America the Clueless

Gridlock is Good

The American people have spoken, but it’s impossible to decode their incoherent message. Drunk with their capture of the House of Representatives, the Republicans thunder that the verdict of ballot boxes from Maine to Hawai’i is clarion-clear: the ultimate evil in America is government, specifically government as led by President Barack Obama. But when exit pollsters questioned voters on their way to those same ballot boxes, as to who should take the blame for the country’s economic problems, 35 per cent said Wall Street, 30 per cent said Bush and 23 per cent Obama. The American people want a government that mustn't govern, a budget that must simultaneously balance and create jobs, cut spending across the board and leave the Defense budget intact. Collectively, the election makes clear, they haven't a clue which way to march.

Has the Tea Party changed the political map? Scarcely so. In concrete terms, it ensured that a significant portion of the political map didn’t change at all. Unlike the House, the U.S. Senate will stay in Democratic hands, albeit with only a tiny edge. As I wrote last week, purely on the basis of cui bono – who stands to gain – one could make a sound case that the Democrats invented the Tea Party out of whole cloth. If it wasn’t for Tea Party lady, Christine O’Donnell, the Republicans would be counting victory in Delaware. But the sometime-Satanist ensured the surprise victory of a dreary Democratic unknown, Chris Coons.

No single Democrat was targeted more fiercely by Republicans than Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic senate majority leader. His was the symbolic scalp they craved. Right-wing millions poured into the state, backing Tea Party Republican Sharron Angle. Tuesday evening one could sense Republicans holding their breaths, ready to blare their joy at the victory for Angle suggested by many polls.

Around midnight east coast time it became clear that Angle had gone down, victim of the political suicide she actually committed several days ago, dint of one of the most racist, anti-Hispanic campaign ads in many years. It had escaped the attention of that supposedly consummate Republican political strategist Karl Rove – born in Sparks, Nevada, -- that the Hispanic vote in Nevada is not insignificant. Hispanics went for Reid by a factor of about 75 per cent and he slid through to victory.

It should be added that the powerful corporate and labor interests in the state of Nevada , most notably in the gambling and entertainment and construction sector, were all aghast at the possibility that economically stricken Nevada might cease to have its cause promoted in Washington DC by the most powerful man in the U.S. Senate, and instead have as their tribune a racist dingbat with zero political clout. If ever there was a need for the fix to be in, and seasoned fixers available to face the task, it was surely in Nevada. But that said, Angle and the Tea Party may have engineered defeat all on their own.

Just over half of the 17,000 respondents to a national exit poll said that their votes in House races had nothing to do with the Tea Party, pro or con. The other half was split, pro and con. Over 60 per cent said the all-important issue is jobs; 87 per cent said they are worried about economic conditions. Between government laying out money to create jobs and government slashing expenditures to reduce the deficit there’s also pretty much an even split.

Is there anything new in all this? Of course not. Republicans always campaign on homely pledges – economically illiterate – to balance the government’s books the same way as their household budgets. Pressed, as many triumphant Republicans were last night, as to exactly where they would start cutting the federal budget to achieve this end, they invariably slid into the programmatic shadows, with hoarse ranting about freezes and “across the board” budgetary carnage, except for military spending. As California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, now even more unpopular than the man he ousted, demonstrated, it’s easier to terminate in a movie script than in a legislature. The incoming California governor, Jerry Brown, demonstrated, that even if you spend more of your money than any other candidate in US political history, around $150 million (as did his opponent, Meg Whitman) you still need to treat your maid right if you want to win.

The second craziest victory speech of the evening came from a Tea Party man, Rand Paul, now the Republican senator from Kentucky. “We’re enslaved by debt,” he screamed at his cheering supporters and followed this by savage diatribes about any constructive role for government. Now it’s possible that Paul, inflamed with libertarian principle, could actually try to filibuster the next vote in the US Senate to authorize an increase in the US national debt. As awed commentators swiftly noted, he could plunge the United States into default, bring economic devastation to the world.

On the other hand, the history of the Republican Party is supposed crazies, like Ronald Reagan who campaigned against the deficit in 1980, coming to heel and plunging the United States into a vast new ocean of red ink, courtesy of his tax cuts. It’s what drives the Tea Partiers crazy. They do know one basic truth - that to govern is to betray and they are in line for betrayal. The craziest speech? The visibly psychotic Republican gubernatorial candidate in New York, Carl Paladino, soundly thrashed by Andrew Cuomo, swinging a red baseball bat with the transparent desire to dashing it into Cuomo’s skull.

The landscape has changed. The Republican swing in the House was as dramatic as in 1994, after two years of Bill Clinton. Democrats who entered Congress on Obama’s coattails have now been ousted. What lies ahead is a war of maneuver, between the White House and the Republican leadership. Obama has been weakened -- deservedly so, because a large part of Tuesday’s disaster for his party can be laid at his door. He laid down no convincing political theme, mounted no effective offense, relied on a team of advisors of dubious competence, which had run out of steam. He himself tried to run for and against an effective role for government, made the same childish equations of domestic and federal budgets, sent out mixed messages, lost the confidence of the young and of a vital slice of the independents.

All the same, after two years, the polls show Obama is no more unpopular than was Clinton in 1994. By 1996 Clinton had outmaneuvered the Republican leadership and won reelection in 1996. Today the economic situation is far worse than it was in 1994. No effective political and economic strategy for recovery is on the cards in the current atmosphere. As always, these days in America, our last best friend will be gridlock.

Big Business Makes Wish List for GOP

By Tana Ganeva | Sourced from AlterNet
Posted at November 3, 2010

Now that Republicans have been propelled to victory by resentment over the nation's crippling economic problems, they can get to work making them worse by pandering to big business.

According to the Wall Street Journal, business leaders have begun articulating the specific ways they'd like the newly Republican Congress to promote their interests at the expense of the country, environment, and world:
The head of the National Association of Manufacturers, John Engler, said his group's members want an across-the-board extension of the Bush tax cuts plus new cuts to stimulate hiring; a rollback of selected pending regulations unfriendly to manufacturers in the Environmental Protection Agency, labor, and energy departments among other moves.

Mr. Engler and Ms. Schneider said big GOP gains would force a change in approach and tone at the White House. Mr. Engler said he hoped that would include a housecleaning at regulatory agencies.

Roundtable members like International Business Machines Corp., Merck and Company Inc. and Caterpillar Inc., could get a reprieve from higher taxes on overseas profits and potential penalties for moving jobs to overseas under a GOP-led Congress.
Bankers would also like for Obama to stop hurting their feelings. And to roll back the tiny, incremental finance reforms that squeaked by Congress a few months ago:
Cam Fine, CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America, said he wanted a GOP Congress to act immediately to overhaul the nation's mortgage finance system and change a provision in the financial markets overhaul legislation passed earlier this year that allowed the Federal Reserve to set banking interchange fees.
But business leaders are also concerned! "Some business leaders worry that some of their priorities could be rejected by tea-party legislators, whose small-government stance was a key to their election." Shocking how big business claims they want government out of private enterprise -- just not when it comes to pro-business government interventions like subsidies, trade promotion and the whole range of corporate welfare.

Can the Teabagger candidates be counted on to sell out their pretend populism in order to kowtow to business interests? Chances are, yes! (See: the economic policy proposal Rand Paul presented post-election: "Don't tax yachts, because that hurts everyone!")

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election 2010: Results So Far...

LA Times: Legal Pot Loses ... Reid Looking Good in NV ... Paladino Brings Bat to Concession Speech ... CA: Jerry Brown + Boxer Projected Winners Pa. Sen: Sestak Loses Lead
November 2, 2010

LA Times: Prop 19 Goes Down

LA Times: "Prop. 19, the measure to legalize marijuana in California, drew its strongest support from voters under 25 years old, Democrats and big-city-dwellers. But the California exit poll also found that opposition to the initiative was widespread. The Bay Area was the only region that tilted toward the measure -- and just barely, at 51% to 49%. It lost 54% to 46% in Los Angeles County, and 59% to 41% in the rest of Southern California."


Reid Looking Good in Nevada

NYT: We've finally gotten some votes in from Nevada. They're early ballots, it looks like, and they're from Clark County, home to three-quarters of the state's population, where Harry Reid has a roughly 12-point lead over Sharron Angle. By contrast, Barack Obama won Clark County by 19 points in 2008, when he won Nevada by 12.5 points over all. If you extrapolate those numbers -- the Democrat performs 6-7 points worse in the whole of Nevada than he does in Clark County -- it suggests that a 12-point margin in Clark County would be enough for Mr. Reid to carry Nevada by a couple of points. But there are several caveats. First, we don't know if the results of live ballots will match those of early ones. Second, rural turnout might be comparatively higher in this election than it was in 2008. Still, that is not a bad number for Harry Reid, which is why trading markets now think the race slightly favors him."

Paladino Brings Baseball Bat to Concession Speech

HuffPo: Carl Paladino, erstwhile Republican candidate for New York governor who lost tonight to Andrew Cuomo, used his concession speech as an occasion to wave a baseball bat around and cry, "You have not heard the last from Carl Paladino."


CA: Jerry Brown + Boxer Projected Winners -- 8:15 PST

LA Times: "With the polls now closed in California, Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown is projected to become the next governor of California, based on exit poll results. Brown, who had previously served as California's youngest governor since the 1850s, became the oldest Californian ever elected to the post Tuesday, winning a decisive victory over Republican Meg Whitman."

More LA Times: "Sen. Barbara Boxer is projected to win a fourth term in the U.S. Senate, based on exit poll results.

Boxer defeated former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina after a bruising multimillion-dollar campaign. The Democratic incumbent bucked the national tide that saw Republicans make gains in the Senate and take control of the House of Representatives."


Feingold Not Conceding Yet -- 1.4 Million Uncounted Votes

TPM: Via the blog WisPolitics, Feingold is not conecding. "Russ is down by 80,000 votes, but...up to 1.4 million votes haven't been counted," his campaign manager, George Aldrich, said at Feingold HQ. "[N]ot a single vote" from the liberal city of Madison has been counted yet. "We are confident that this race is going to tighten, it is going to tighten quickly, and we may be in for a long night here," he said.


Joe Sestak Loses Lead in Penn.

NYT Nate Silver: "We wrote earlier that Joe Sestak needed to perform strongly in Berks and Lehigh counties to maintain his advantage over Pat Toomey. Unfortunately for the Democrats, he hasn't: both those counties have now flipped to Mr. Toomey, as has the state of Pennsylvania, although by an extremely small margin. The Times's Matthew Ericson reports that if you extrapolate out the current vote in the remaining counties, Mr. Toomey would win by about 30,000 votes. That clearly makes the state too close to call, although the advantage is now Mr. Toomey's."


GOP Rep. Joseph Cao Loses In LA-02

Talking Points Memo: "In one of what seems sure to be a very small number of Dem pickups tonight, Democrat Cedric Richmond has beaten GOP Rep. Joseph Cao, the AP projects."


NBC: Feingold Loses in Wisconsin

MSNBC: "NBC News projects that incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold has lost his bid for re-election to the Senate. Republican Ron Johnson, a businessman, defeated the liberal senator from Wisconsin in what became an unexpectedly tight challenge for Feingold."


Racist Tancredo Goes Down

Washington Post: "Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper has won the Colorado governor's race after a campaign in which the GOP nominee imploded and a third-party candidate made a late surge.

Hickenlooper is a former brew pub owner who benefited from the collapse of GOP nominee Dan Maes. Immigration hard-liner Tom Tancredo got in the race as a third-party candidate and couldn't overcome Hickenlooper's widespread popularity."



LA Times: "One in ten voters who showed up at the California polls today were there to vote primarily on proposition 19, exit polls from California show. For younger voters, the figure was slightly higher, with the pot legalization initiative ranking as the third-strongest motivator, behind the governor’s race and the Senate race, the L.A. Times reports." This is a major piece of election news -- if pot inspires a 10% turnout, then expect all the more effort put into legalization efforts across the country. Of course the prohibitionist LA Times desperately tried to undermine this shocking statistic in its article.


Ill. Sen: Dem Giannoulis Still Leading

From TPM: "About half the vote in in Illinois, and Alexis Giannoulias has a 6 point lead."


Pa. Sen: Sestak on Verge of Upset Against Toomey

NYT-Nate Silver: "Joe Sestak's numbers in Pennsylvania look ... more robust. He's holding his own in the western portion of the state, the Philadelphia suburbs, and performing well in the industrial areas in the eastern portion of the state. He has accumulated a 100,000-vote advantage so far in Philadelphia. This race ought to worry Republicans."


OH: Progressive Kaptur Holds off Nazi Impersonator

Huffpo's Ryan Grim: "Marcy Kaptur, an Ohio Democrat, is claiming victory. She fought off Rich Iott, who infamously enjoys dressing up as a Nazi, with "a clear focus on jobs and improving our economy for our middle class," she tells HuffPost in an email. She notes that she was outspent 4-1."


Prostitute Scandal Doesn't Stop Vitter from Re-Election

TPM: "If the Louisiana Senate race was a referendum on Democratic rule, it was also a referendum on Sen. David Vitter (R). He joined the House in 1999 as a values conservative on the right flank of the Republican party, replacing the disgraced Bob Livingston. Rumors swirled around Vitter for years, but he nonetheless moved to the Senate in 2005 replacing the retiring Democrat John Breaux. His reputation was shattered in 2007, though, when he was discovered to have solicited prostitutes in both Washington DC and Louisiana. Tonight, however, he defeated Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon in one of the most vicious campaigns of the 2010 cycle."


MO Sen. -- Blunt Beats Carnahan

TPM DC: "The Missouri Senate delegation will remain divided in 2011, as tonight Republican Rep. Roy Blunt defeated Democrat Robin Carnahan to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Kit Bond."


Oklahoma Votes to Make English State's Official Language & Bans Sharia Law

From the AP: "Oklahoma voters have approved a measure requiring that all official state actions be conducted in English. The author of the official English bill, Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, has said that English and the 'melting pot' process it makes possible,'"has made the United States the most successful multiethnic nation in history.' The measure drew opposition from several groups, including the League of Women Voters of Oklahoma, which says the question discriminates against new citizens who want to do business with the state."

And Oklahoma has banned sharia law as well.


Cuomo Wins Big Against Paladino, Progressive Schneiderman Leading

NYT: "Andrew M. Cuomo, whose career in government appeared all but over just eight years ago, was elected the 56th governor of New York on Tuesday, a stunning comeback for the scion of one of the state’s legendary political families. ... Recent polls that show State Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, the Democrat, with a thin lead over Daniel M. Donovan Jr., the Republican district attorney from Staten Island, in the race to succeed Mr. Cuomo as attorney general. In the state comptroller’s race, Thomas P. DiNapoli, the incumbent, is trying to eke out a victory against a dark-horse Republican opponent, the former financier Harry J. Wilson. Polls showed that race also tightening in recent weeks."


NBC Calls House for Republicans

Politico: "NBC News has projected that Republicans will win the House of Representatives. According to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, the network predicts Republicans will win 236 seats and Democrats will hold 199 seats. The margin of error is 13 seats. The network made the call after polls in 14 states closed at 9 p.m. EDT."

Alan Grayson Goes Down

From Talking Points Memo: "With 160 of 239 precincts reporting, Republican former state Sen. Dan Webster leads Grayson 57.4%-39.2%, and has been projected as the winner by CNN and the Orlando Sentinel."


House Challenger Krystal Ball Loses in Va.

From the Daily Press: "Democrat Krystal Ball won a measure of fame during her initial run for public office, but it was hardly enough to pull off an upset on Tuesday. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland, cruised to an easy win over Ball in the 1st Congressional District, a conservative swath of Virginia that stretches from the Virginia Peninsula to the Fredericksburg area. With 44 percent of the vote tallied. Wittman had 64 percent to 34.1 percent for Ball, according to unofficial returns. Independent Green Party candidate Gail Parker finished third with 1.2 percent." AlterNet published Ball's essay on fighting her smear campaign and breaking through the glass cieling of male-dominated politics on earlier in October.


Joe Manchin wins in W. Va

From Talking Points Memo: "We now have a result in a key red state -- where Democrats have been saved the loss of the seat that was previously held by the late Dem Senator Robert Byrd since 1958 -- as Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin has defeated Republican businessman John Raese. With 12% of precincts reporting, Manchin leads by 54%-43%, and has been projected as the winner by NBC News and Fox News."


Two Key GOP House Seat Gains

Nate Silver at NYT: "The races in Virginia's Ninth Congressional District, where Rick Boucher, the Democrat, had been thought to be a slight favorite, has instead been called for the Republican, Morgan Griffith. So has the race in Florida's 24th District, where Suzanne M. Kosmas was defeated, although her loss had been expected. While there haven't been any huge surprises so far, this continues to look like a fairly good night over all for the Republicans."


Dem Insiders: Feingold Still Alive?

From Sam Stein at the HuffPo: There is an obvious interest among the national Democratic Party in keeping voter enthusiasm and interest sustained for as long as possible. Races on the west coast are ongoing. News of a blowout along the Atlantic would depress turnout there. Still, two separate Democrats have now reached out to the Huffington Post to caution against writing off Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), who had been trailing badly in most polls leading up to the election. A senior Democrat relayed media consortium data that showed the Wisconsin Democrat down just one point in exit polls. Another survey of voters leaving sites had him in a dead heat. It’s spin, to be sure. And the betting money remains on Feingold losing. But combine that with optimistic takes on the chances of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and one gets the sense that Democrats aren’t quite as bearish as they have been about their Senate prospects. “How real the data is I don’t know,” the senior Democrat said of the Feingold numbers. “But we will fight the fight as if it is real.”


Blumenthal Wins -- WWF CEO McMahon Defeated

From TPM: "Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has defeated McMahon, the Republican nominee, in the contest to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd.

With less than 1% or precincts reporting, Blumenthal leads by 62%-36%, and has been projected as the winner by Fox News and NBC News. (Keep in mind that with so few precincts in, the margin is likely to fluctuate considerably throughout the night -- the current numbers are not final.)"


Dems Holding out in Kentucky

Nate Silver at NYT: "O.K., here's a sign that tonight might not be an apocalypse for Democrats: the Kentucky Third District, where John Yarmuth, a Democrat, had been favored but the polling had been erratic, has been called for him. The other vulnerable Democrat in Kentucky, Ben Chandler, is also leading so far in Kentucky's Sixth District. Even though Rand Paul has won the Senate race in Kentucky, I'm not sure he didn't hurt the G.O.P. at the margins down ballot."


Christine O'Donnell Loses in Delaware

WILMINGTON, Del. — Democrat Chris Coons easily won Delaware's Senate race over Republican Christine O'Donnell, a tea-party backed candidate who struggled to shake old television footage in which she spoke out against masturbation and talked about dabbling in witchcraft.

An Associated Press analysis of exit polling data showed Coons easily winning the race. O'Donnell's upset win in the GOP primary over moderate congressman Mike Castle likely cost Republicans the contest. Castle, a popular former governor, had been heavily favored to win Vice President Joe Biden's old seat. Coons is a wealthy attorney and the stepson of the founder of the company that developed Gore-Tex fabrics. He is the executive of the state's largest county and mostly supports the Obama administration's agenda. -Associated Press


Rand Paul Wins: What Does It Mean?

From Mother Jones' Josh Harkinson and Nick Baumann: "Tea party Republican candidate Rand Paul has won the Kentucky US Senate race. Throughout the campaign, Democrat Jack Conway occasionally seemed to come almost within striking distance, but ultimately Conway, the state attorney general, was unable to overcome a bad year for Democrats in an increasingly red state. The real nail-biter now is how politically extreme Paul will be once he's in the Senate.

Even at the end of this obsessively watched campaign, it remains unclear how Paul would legislate--or anti-legislate. Is he a libertarian with tea party tendencies, or a tea partier with libertarian impulses? It's hard to know, because Paul won this race virtually without talking to media. One of us went to Kentucky to try to get someone--anyone--on the Paul campaign to discuss Paul's positions on various issues and policies. We didn't have much luck." Read More


Lynch Wins in New Hampshire

From the AP: "Democratic Gov. John Lynch has overcome an anti-incumbent groundswell and defeated Republican John Stephen to win a historic fourth consecutive two-year term as New Hampshire's governor.

The 57-year-old Lynch faced one of his toughest re-election battles against Stephen, a former health and human services commissioner. Stephen tried to tap voter unrest by promising to cut state spending without raising taxes. He said Lynch's mismanagement would leave a huge budget deficit for the next governor to fix."

Welcome to the next Great Depression

Tonight, by giving the Republicans control of congress, we, the people, have sealed our fate. Outsourcing of jobs overseas will continue unabated; corporations and especially banks will assume greater control over our lives, and the depression will deepen. The Democrats serve the same corporate interests as the Republicans, but the Democrats hid that fact better. And one or two of them were worth a damn, like Russ Feingold, who finds himself without a job now. The dejected left didn't turn out to vote like the outraged and well-funded right did. The first election that was legal to purchase was legally purchased by groups funded by the Koch brothers and Karl Rove.

Expect much of the same that will get worse. Welcome to the next "Great Depression," while the wealthy continue to get wealthier--increasing the income disparity more than any other point in history--and the poor and middle class continue to get poorer. The middle class is all but doomed to disappear soon, anyway. That was by design. The design was very successful and the voters fell for it.

I hope the next election will see many more independent candidates to wrestle away the power from the Republicans. The Democrats have proven ineffectual when they had the opportunity to pull us out of this nosedive. The Republicans will only increase the velocity of the nosedive. It's up to independent and 3rd party candidates to save the day in 2012, though by then, it might be too late.--jef