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Tuesday, November 14, 2024
As Expected: It’s Reid
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:39 am

Via Reuters: Democrat Reid elected Senate majority leader.


Democrats also elected Dick Durbin of Illinois as assistant Senate majority leader. He has been Senate assistant minority leader since January 2024.

Filed under: US Politics | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
The Politics of Bolton
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:28 am

Writes Michelle Malkin:

The Democrats want John Bolton’s scalp. This is a moment for conservatives to stand up to the Left’s empty, vindictive obstructionism and support a strong voice for America’s interests at the corrupted, soft-on-jihad offices of Turtle Bay.

Or, maybe it’s time to recognize the following:

1) The Democrats won the elections, and hence as per the Constitution, the new majority has the right to reject a nominee of the President.

2) Beyond the current election, the Senate has built-in powers given to the minority party. This is not unreasonable, given that a given majority may not actually represent a majority of citizens. As such, there are solid democratic (notice the small “d”) reasons to give the minority in the Senate certain protections. I sometimes get the impression that some would like to do away with the advise and consent power of the Senate.

3) If Clinton (or Gore or Kerry or any other Democratic president) had appointed someone to the position as a recess appointment over the objections of the Republicans the same bloggers and pundits who are so outraged about the opposition to Bolton would be making the exact opposite arguments that they are making now (i.e., how dare the President bypass the Senate, etc.).

4) John Bolton is not the indispensable man who has to represent the US at the UN or all is lost. It is not impossible for the President to find someone else.

5) If the argument now is continuity, President Bush could have avoided the issue had he found someone else to nominate once it was clear that the only way to get Bolton into the job was a recess appointment.

6) The President gambled that the GOP would have a good midterm result when he gave Bolton a recess appointment, and he lost that bet. When you lose a bet, you have to pay up.

Also, I must confess, given all the time that is spent arguing about the impotence and insignificance of the United Nations, I have to wonder about all the emotion and energy over Bolton.

Further, I would argue that this is ultimately about partisan point-scoring far more than it is about the core necessity of Bolton’s work at the UN.

[Cross-posted at OTB]

Filed under: US Politics | Comments (4) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Well, at Least He Spelled My Name Correctly… linked with [...] Yes, that’s exactly what I said… [...]
Post-Election Politics (Democratic Leadership Edition)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:30 am

Via WaPo: In Backing Murtha, Pelosi Draws Fire

Murtha, a longtime senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, has battled accusations over the years that he has traded federal spending for campaign contributions, that he has abused his post as ranking party member on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, and that he has stood in the way of ethics investigations. Those charges come on top of Murtha’s involvement 26 years ago in the FBI’s Abscam bribery sting.

“Pelosi’s endorsement suggests to me she was interested in the culture of corruption only as a campaign issue and has no real interest in true reform,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a Democratic-leaning group. “It is shocking to me that someone with [Murtha’s] ethics problems could be number two in the House leadership.”

There are several interesting aspects to this situation.

1) It is an intra-Democratic conflict at the moment. Even the interest groups that are the most vocal at the moment are more in the Democratic camp.

2) This the collision of the two main issues of the campaign: the war and corruption.

3) It indicates that Pelosi may have a character trait in common with President Bush: loyalty. Part of the argument for Pelosi favoring Murtha over Hoyer is that Murtha helped her in an earlier leadership race and Hoyer opposed her. A similar manifestation of part of this trait is the fact that she apparently has problems with Jane Harmon and hence is willing to ignore seniority rules on the Intelligence Committee (in this case this is perhaps what happens when one isn’t viewed as loyal).

Of note is the fact that this particular character trait/traits of Pelosi are getting her in trouble right out of the gate. It will be interesting to see how this manifests over time.

If anything, I suspect we are going to get quite the education on ABSCAM over the next week or so…

[Cross-posted at OTB]

Filed under: Iraq, US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Monday, November 13, 2024
The Newest Talking Point?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:44 pm

Twice today I have heard a variation of the following: “no war has ever been won by withdrawing.” It was used by a commenter at OTB and by Fred Barnes on Special Report with Brit Hume this evening. It has the feel of new political catch phrase.

While this phrase may well be true, it strikes me as simplistic reasoning, as if we are poised for victory in Iraq and a withdrawal would ruin that.

Now, let me be clear: I am wholly uncertain at this time as to whether withdrawal in the short (or medium) term is the appropriate policy. However, I am certain of one thing: victory is not just around the corner. We are not at a stage where there choice is victory or defeat, we are at the stage where we are managing a failed policy. Recognizing and accepting this is rather important if proper decisions are to be made going forward.

And I would note: the likelihood of a swift and immediate withdrawal strikes me as highly unlikely, regardless of whatever rhetoric may be flying out there.

Even if one believes that that is exactly what the Democrats want to do, they do not have the power to make it happen at the moment.

[Cross-posted at OTB]

Filed under: Iraq, US Politics | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
The Politics of Withdrawal
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:48 am

Much is being made of the notion that the Democrats are going to do all in their power to force a withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. While I continue to doubt the capacity of the Congress to force (sans extraordinary, if not unprecedented, action) such a move, there is another power that may lead to a substantial draw down: politics.

There can be no doubt that both parties are painfully aware that 2024 is on the horizon and it doesn’t take a genius to know that Iraq is going to be central to that election. An excellent point was made on This Week yesterday (I think by Cokie Roberts, but since This Week is too cheap, unlike MTP, to provide free transcripts, I can’t check) wherein it was noted that the Democrats don’t want to win in 2024 to inherit Iraq in January 2024 and nor do the Republicans want to have to run by defending Iraq in 2024. As such, there are incentives for both parties to wish to get out of Iraq.

I would argue that the notion that there is this dichotomy of the Republicans/staying to finish the job v. Democrats/leave as soon as possible is a radical oversimplification of the situation. For one thing, the Reps, as a party, may be far less interested in staying as many think that they are. For another, the Democrats are quite aware of what it will look like for 2024 if they come in and look like cowards who “cut and run” and so forth.

Now, do I think that we will be out by before the ‘08 elections? This strikes me as unlikely, but I do except some serious policy shifts. The President is also in a position to be able to present a public face of being the guy who wants to finish the job, but who can then use the Democrat’s pressure as cover for changing policy. Something along those lines seems likely, as Bush doesn’t like to admit mistakes, but he can now couch serious policy changes in the context of “understanding the message the American people sent in the elections” as well as in the context of pressure from the newly minted 110th Congress and its new Democratic masters.

[cross-posted at OTB]

Filed under: Iraq, US Politics, 2008 Campaign | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Pros and Cons » So, now that the Dems have some power, who exactly will crack-up? linked with [...] So, shall we sound the familiar sad refrain of retreat, “realism” and cynical abandonment of one time allies who have risked and sacrificed far more than we? I actually doubt it, but it took us long enough to recover from Yalta, much less 1975, so I (and Poliblogger, with whom I disagree only about the wisdom of drawing down any time soon, unless it is to better menace Iran) had better be right about the Donkey Party, or enough Blue Dogs and otherwise sane peoiple therein, including Dame Hillary, not wanting to throw our Middle Eastern allies over the side. [...]
Sunday, November 12, 2024
Intriguing: Pelosi Backs Murtha
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:31 pm

Via Roll Call: Pelosi Puts Weight Behind Murtha in Leader Bid

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in line to become Speaker in January, is throwing her support to Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) in the race for Majority Leader, a move that will be an early test of her influence and will weigh heavily on Murtha’s contest with Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) for the post.

Very interesting. I would have thought that she would’ve been on Steny’s side-if anything because that was the team going into the elections. Perhaps this is a way to forestall Murtha seeking the Speakership?

Then again, perhaps its payback time:

Pelosi, with critical support from Murtha, defeated Hoyer in a race for Minority Whip in 2024, and sources close to the California Democrat said she wants to reward Murtha for his loyalty by backing him in the Majority Leader race.

[Cross-posted at OTB]

Filed under: US Politics | Comments (3) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Blue Star Chronicles linked with Pelosi Backs Murtha for Majority Leader
PoliColumn II (More Alabama Politics)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:31 am

On this two-fer Sunday, here’s a piece from today’s Press-Register:

Lessons of the’06 Alabama election
Sunday, November 12, 2024
Special to the Press-Register

E lections are events that always answer one set of questions while raising others. Alabama’s electoral journey of 2024 is no exception to that notion.

So, what did we learn last Tuesday and what new questions should we be asking?


PoliColumn I (Alabama Politics)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:30 am

From today’s Birmingham News:

Now, watch post-election drama of politics play out
Sunday, November 12, 2024

Election night was great drama in terms of the national races. We saw a change in control of the Congress for the first time in a dozen years. Democrats are returned to power. By comparison, the Alabama contests were dull - or were they?


Saturday, November 11, 2024
Hey Look, I’m a “right wing nut”
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:59 pm

African American Political Pundit dubs me such:

Even right wing nut…

*Sigh* Do people actually read what I write? My crime, apparently, was calling Bush’s Rumsfeld lie earlier in the week a “white” one-because I think that that it is what it was. I said that because of the kinds of lies that could be told, this one, while obvious, wasn’t exactly a major whopper that caused great harm to anyone (except, maybe, the President’s own party).

(And a note to Mr. APP: I am not angry about the election results, and there is nothing I have written that could be construed as reflecting such an attitude. My response to the Bush move was one of incredulity, not anger).

The real irony is that I have taken some grief over at OTB for my criticism of Rush Limbaugh and Hugh Hewitt and my concerns about knee-jerk partisanship.

At least Babara O’Brien of Mahablog said this week or so ago:

Dr. Steven Taylor of PoliBlog — conservative but not crazy

Perhaps that ought to be my new tagline…

Well, at least someone is paying attention.

Filed under: US Politics | Comments (8) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
On the Likely Behavior of Democrats in the 110th
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:49 am

For Representative (and member of the Class of 94) Bob Barr has very interesting piece in the AJC concerning the return to the majority by the Democrats. In it he argues that theHouse Democrats won’t repeat GOP mistakes.

I think that he is correct and th entire piece is worth reading.

His conclusion is one that I share (and noted on TV Tuesday night and on a podcast Wednesday afternoon)-that the Democrats are fully aware that they are auditioning for 2024 and that the likelihood that they will behave as whackily as some have predicted is highly unlikely.

Writes Barr:

The Democrats will do everything in their power to avoid a return to second-class citizenship. They will be more likely than were the Republicans a dozen years ago to take modest steps, and to be careful lest rhetoric overtake feasible action. The goal for Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her battle-hardened team will be to spend two years laying the groundwork for further gains in 2024, and to push an agenda that will provide a solid and likely centrist platform for their party’s standard-bearer.

Now, do I think that Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid will be able to control their respective chambers totally? Clearly, the answer to that is no. And certainly the new Democratic majorities will do and say things that will drive the right-side of the Blogosphere nuts, but that’s just normal politics.

[cross-posted at OTB]

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And the Discussion of Partisanship Continues (in a Different Form)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:58 am

Let’s set aside the talk radio discussion for a moment, and move to the question of how to tackle the fact al Qaeda has released some propaganda hailing the Democrat’s win on Tuesday.

There are various ways to deal with this.

I would argue that the more analytical and reasonable approach is to recognize it for what it is, and what I called it above: propaganda. Al Qaeda currently sees Bush as the enemy and any defeat for Bush will obviously be greeted with glee. The notion, however, that al Qaeda actually wants Democrats in charge or even ultimately cares about or understands American politics is ludicrous. They are seeking to send signals to the faithful, and will take whatever they can get.

Let’s remember: during the Iranian Revolution, President Carter was the focus of ire from radical Islamists. It is natural for enemies of the US to focus on the most visible aspect of our power, i.e., the President. Given that Americans do this (i.e., oversimplify government as being the President), is it a big shock that foreigners would do so?

Still, we get things like the following for Powerline’s John Hinderacker:

But isn’t a reasonable starting point for that engagement the fact that the terrorists are delighted that the Dems have won, and are convinced that the Dems’ policies, as the terrorists understand them, will benefit the jihadis? Don’t the Democrats have some obligation to face up to the fact that the prospect of our disengagement from Iraq-and if that isn’t their “new direction,” then what in God’s name is?-is viewed with glee by the enemy?

Again: the degree to which that al Qaeda is “delighted” or “glee[ful]” is questionable. Again, what is the likely goal here? Clearly al Qaeda is looking for any victory it can muster in a war that is as much about propaganda and perception as anything else. And again: their target audience is not us, but rather those sympathetic to al Qaeda’s cause. Of course they want to cast the elections (and Rumsfeld’s resignation) as a victory-it is essentially at no cost to them whatsoever. The CBS story linked above uses the appropriate verb for what al Qaeda is doing: taunting.

Further, we need to step back and think about how US government actually works when we attempt to assess what the Democratic victory actually means for US foreign policy.

This idea that the Democrats are simply going to capitulate to the enemy, and therefore they are themselves to be viewed as friends of the enemy is absurd.

There is also the fact, that despite a great deal of heated rhetoric in the last year, the truth of the matter is that the Congress’ ability to force the Commander-in-Chief to make radical changes to military policy is quite limited. We have seen this time and time again in the Twentieth Century, and we will see it again now. The Democrats are well aware that they cannot simply pull the plug of Iraqi funding while US soldiers are in harm’s way.

Will there be attempts to alter the course of US policy in Iraq? Yes-but dramatic shifts in the short term are unlikely. More to the point, if they do occur it will because the administration decides that the mid-term elections were a message from the electorate.

Ed Morrissey has a more reasonable response to AQ’s propaganda than Hinderaker’s. A key point made by Ed, and that comports with my thoughts above, is that there is no reason to take al Qaeda spokespeople at their word.

Some excerpts from Ed’s post:

Radical Islamists want to divide Americans in order to defeat us. They will play on our differences, stoking the fires of resentment and generating more hatred between us than we have against our enemies. AQ understands that the only way they can possibly beat the US is to get us to grind to a halt with partisan warfare at home, paralyzing our ability to fight them on the battlefield and sapping our will to put them out of business. This video is transparently calculated to give enough ammunition to both sides of the political divide to do that job. Besides, if we take Abu Hamza at his word about the Democrats, then we have to take him at his word about Bush as well, and about our troops.

The partisan sniping has ceased to be germane. We’ve already had the election, and the Democrats are in charge — and they will be for two years no matter what. Obviously, we will watch closely to ensure that they do not surrender to terrorism, but I’m not going to take Abu Hamza’s word that they will before their majority session even starts. They are Americans, and Americans put them in charge, and they have earned the right to show us how they will face the enemy now that they control the agenda. If they fail, I’ll be the first to castigate them for losing ground to the terrorists. However, I’m going to base that on their actions, and not on the word of a murderous thug who couldn’t care less whether their American victims are Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, or LaRouchists.

In fact, I think Ed overstates the degree to which this is even about disrupting US politics, but left the full comments for the sake of context.

In another post Ed elaborates:

I don’t take Abu Hamza at his word, nor Zarqawi before him. Al-Qaeda has made plenty of statements expressing delight that Bush continued to send American troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, enabling the jihadis to annihilate infidels much more easily. I didn’t buy that then, and I don’t buy this now. The Islamists have made a culture out of spinning massive defeats into sterling victories. If the wind shifted from the north to the east, these people would claim it as a sign of Allah’s grace on their jihad even if it blew half of them into the Persian Gulf. They lie for a living and a hobby. It’s the only tool they have to garner their benighted followers and convince them to die.


In fact, the more I think about, the more I wonder why anyone would take al Qaeda propagandist’s words seriously.

Of course, part of the answer is grounded in blind partisan loyalty that sees the Republicans as somehow the sole keepers of defense and security and the Democrats as the party of appeasers and cowards. Such a dichotomy is quite incorrect, but it does infuse the thinking of many.

The bottom line is that yes, there are policy differences between the two parties, but the choice not between victory and defeat.

It would help our public discourse (as well as the policy making process) if we were all mindful of that fact.

[Cross-posted at OTB]

Filed under: US Politics | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Friday, November 10, 2024
Even More on Talk Radio
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:08 pm

This time from Sully. The money quote (which is harsh, but I fear accurate):

The one thing you learn from this: Hewitt and Limbaugh are party animals. They put loyalty to party above intellectual honesty. They have admitted that they knowingly misled their readers and listeners. They can and will do it again.

Sullivan also has another Limbaugh quote that further makes the case here.

If you are following the trackbacks from Sullivan’s site, my extended thoughts on the subject are here and here.

And for the sake of clarity, let me note: the part of this that I find distasteful is that it appears that commentators like Hewitt and Limbaugh actually don’t see themselves as commentators as much as they see themselves as part of their party. There is a difference. One cannot be an intellectually honest analyst, even with an ideological point of view and be a creature of a given party. Party and philosophy do converge, but they also often diverge. It is when the divergence takes place that we find out what is most important to a given commentator or person.

And I am not saying that the only thing that the intellectually honest commentator can do is jump ship on his/her party. However, when one gets to the point where one is unwilling to criticize one’s own party for good cause because it might hurt their chances of winning, that is when one has crossed the line into hackery.

Further, I am weary of talk (on both side) that make it sound like doom comes to the country because the “other” side wins. It is as if some of us forget that ultimately we are all Americans with much in common and that losing is a healthy part of democracy.

If one wants to see what a conservative commentator looks like who doesn’t see his job as carrying water for his party, try someone like George Will (amongst plenty of others).

Filed under: US Politics, Talk Radio | Comments (9) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
More on Talk Radio
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:09 am

Joe Gandelman has another interesting post on the talk radio issue that I was discussing yesterday.

Filed under: US Politics, Talk Radio | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
On Rumsfeld
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:56 am

One of the most bizarre actions of the recent political season was the removal of Don Rumsfeld by the President this past Wednesday. The entire event was strange for a number of reasons.

1) The President lied. Yes, I know that that has been a popular refrain of the left for quite some time in regards to Iraq. However, in this case the evidence is incontrovertible: either he lied last week when he said that Rumsfeld was going to stay until the end of the term or he lied on Wednesday when he said that the move had been in the works for some time. Evidence suggests (see below) that he lied last week. Now, ultimately, it was of the “little white” variety, , but it was still bizarre because it communicated a seeming stubborn reticence on the President’s part on this issue. In turn it made it seem as if he intended no visible changes on Iraq-a truly baffling move given the centrality of Iraq to the elections It isn’t as if he had to give a definitive answer to the reporter’s question on Rumsfeld’s future. He could have equivocated, but he didn’t.

The whole situation from this perspective is surreal. It also reinforces the notion that the administration is out of touch.

2) The Elections. This can be broken down into three sub-issues:

  • The “Information is Good” Issue: Going into an election, the public needs as much information as possible so as to make an informed decision. As such, there is an argument to be made that if such moves are known to policy-makers prior to an election, the public should be let in on the secret.
  • The “Policy Responsiveness” Issue: Given that the public was clearly upset with the Iraq policy, surely it would have been a legitimate thing, in a democracy, for the White House to respond to those concerns.
  • The “Strategery” of it all: There is the fact that given the policy responsiveness issue, that it would have helped the President’s party (potentially) in the elections. If one believes that one’s policy prescriptions are legitimate, it is wholly legitimate to try and win elections by making public policy adjustments, which is what this was. The notion (again, see below) that the President didn’t want to politicize this is absurd. It is a political move, by definition. Indeed, the war is political, by definition.

3) It was a Response to the Losses. There is the possibility that the timing of the announcement was in response to the losses on Tuesday either as a acquiescence to the political will of the voters, or as a sacrificial lamb. However, if that was the case, then some sort of admission in that regard (at least a paean to the notion that the administration had “heard” the voters) would have been useful.

4) The President Didn’t want Criticism? The notion that the President was trying to avoid criticism for a political move is laughable on its face. Every move every President makes is criticized somewhere as being political-especially when that President has approval ratings in the 30s. And since when did Bush do things to avoid criticism?

At any rate, all this is even weirder, because the decision to move Rumsfeld dates back, according to the NYT to the summer (Removal of Rumsfeld Dates Back to Summer):

President Bush was moving by late summer toward removing Donald H. Rumsfeld as defense secretary, people inside and outside the White House said Thursday. Weeks before Election Day, the essential question still open was when, not whether, to make the move.

Mr. Bush ultimately postponed action until after the election in part because of concern that to remove Mr. Rumsfeld earlier could be interpreted by critics as political opportunism or as ratifying their criticism of the White House war plan in the heart of the campaign, the White House insiders and outsiders said.

As noted above: I just don’t understand the logic. Further, since when did this White House (or, any White House) not see its moves as being political in some way?

In other Rumsfeldian news, his exit is pleasing to al Qaeda. This, no doubt, will cause great umbrage at Little Green Footballs and similarly oriented sites…

[Cross-posted at Outside the Beltway]

Filed under: US Politics | Comments (6) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Hey Look, I’m a “right wing nut” linked with [...] *Sigh* Do people actually read what I write? My crime, apparently, was calling Bush’s Rumsfeld lie earlier in the week a “white” one-because I think that that it is what it was. I said that because of the kinds of lies that could be told, this one, while obvious, wasn’t exactly a major whopper that caused great harm to anyone (except, maybe, the President’s own party). [...]
Thursday, November 9, 2024
Roll the Tape
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:12 pm

If you are just dying to see me do my best impression of a talking head, the video of one of my election night appearances is here.

Filed under: US Politics, Alabama Politics | Comments (7) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
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