12 November 2006

The Republican Party has no respect for democracy or the rights of those who disagree with them

Republicans made dishonest, even threatening phone calls to intimidate and confuse likely Democratic voters.
Within hours of the polls opening in Virginia - battleground of one of the tightest Senate races in the mid-term elections - both the state attorney's office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had opened inquiries. But reports of dirty campaigning, most if not quite all of it carried out on behalf of the Republican Party, cascaded across the country so fast that it was almost impossible for law enforcement, or anyone else, to keep up.

In several states, Democrats - especially African Americans - complained that they had been called and told the location of their precinct had changed, when it hadn't. In 20 of the closest House districts around the country, registered Democrats and independents found themselves bombarded with so-called "robo-calls" - computer-generated messages that sound at first like get-out-the-vote initiatives on behalf of Democratic candidates but grow ever more negative as they go on until it finally becomes clear they are endorsed by the Republican Party.

Voters complained not only that the messages were deceptive, but that they arrived with deadening regularity, sometimes very late at night, in what appeared to be a concerted effort by Republicans to anger their recipients and turn them off the idea of voting at all. Some of the underhand tactics were even perpetuated by the media. The conservative radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham spent some of her morning show openly mocking a voter protection hotline set up the Democrats and repeatedly aired the phone number - leading to a spike in crank calls that slowed down voters with bona fide complaints to air.

10 November 2006

The trade-off in redistricting is between safety and maximizing the numbers

You can't do both.
Gerrymandering was supposed to cement Republican control of the House of Representatives, offering incumbents a wall of re-election protection even as public opinion turned sharply against them. Instead, the party's strategy of recrafting district boundaries may have backfired, contributing to the defeats of several lawmakers and the party's fall from power.

The reason: Republican leaders may have overreached and created so many Republican-leaning districts that they spread their core supporters too thinly. That left their incumbents vulnerable to the type of backlash from traditionally Republican-leaning independent voters that unfolded this week.

Redistricting, the traditionally once-a-decade process of redrawing of House districts to adjust to population trends, has always been a contentious procedure. But Republicans, under the leadership of Mr. DeLay, took the opportunity to use it as a reward or punishment to new heights in 2002.

In so doing, Republicans created two new vulnerabilities: the dangerous dilution of core voters and the nurturing of a sense of invulnerability that contributes to corruption and scandal.

The drive to maximize seats was seen by Republicans as a matter of survival. Democrats regained ground every cycle after the 1994 Republican takeover. By 2000, the Republican majority had shrunk to 221 seats from 231 in 1994. Democrats, aligned with the chamber's one independent, needed just six seats to retake control in 2002.

So Mr. DeLay and House Speaker Dennis Hastert turned to their allies in the statehouses to redraw congressional district boundaries to erase Democratic seats and give Republicans new ones. "We wish to encourage you in these efforts, as they play a crucial role in maintaining a Republican majority," the two leaders wrote in a letter to Pennsylvania lawmakers.

There are three weapons to employ in redistricting. "Packing" involves concentrating a group of voters, such as African-Americans, in one district. "Cracking" means splitting up a group of voters to diminish their influence. "Pairing" forces two incumbents into the same district. Pennsylvania lawmakers used them all.

7 November 2006

Here are the final polls

Election Day 2006

The scorecard shows 239 Democrats 195 Republicans and 1 Tie for House races, 51 Democrats 49 Republicans for the Senate race tally.

2 November 2006

Is Kerry's statement true?

John Kerry is taking a lot of heat for this statement^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H, er "botched joke":
You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.

First Kerry went on the offensive in response to wide scale backlash. Since then, he's made a formal apology.

As unpleasant and unsavory as it is, is the pronouncement true?

I bet it is. I am sure (without data; I see this feelingly) that the kids who are serving in Iraq are not nearly as well educated as, say, the kids who are getting internships at media companies that served the Koolaid on WMD, or serving as pages to closeted gay Republican congressmen.

It's an economic draft, stupid.

In days of past, I would eagerly scour the net for information and statistics to prove or disprove such assertions, but today I find myself burdened with tasks galore, and an even a "to post" list here that I need to get to ASAP, and thus I am unable to devote any attention to proper study. But I would wager that the statement is indeed true — that while there are many who eagerly volunteer to serve despite their individual economic circumstances, an equally greater lot exercise an option motivated in large part by the matter of economic livelihood.

One thing I am certain of is that Kerry's "foot in mouth" faux pas isn't anywhere near as offensive as this famous presidential indiscretion that made light of the deliberate misrepresentations fostered by the Bush administration for its illegal, immoral and unconstitutional invasion of a country that posed no threat to the United States.

And I stand by the statement that anyone who tars Kerry for this latest gaffe, yet is unwavering in loyalty to a chickenhawk president who during an age where he could have served in a war he supported, instead opted to skip out via pulling influential family strings, is a blinded partisan, impervious to reason.