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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I named five the other day, but the Telegraph says there are 11 countries involved on both sides of the Somali civil war including "our allies" the Saudis and Egyptians who are sending weapons and supplies to the Islamic militants. (Somalia's recognized government rejected a peace deal struck by a group of MP's.)

(Also: There are rumors that the Ethiopians preparing to invade. From a senior US military official,"We are certainly not encouraging them or using Ethiopia as a proxy as has been suggested.")

In an effort to justify the Bajur madrassa bombing to its people, Pakistan has released this surveillance tape taken by a Predator. (If you didn't see it, the WaPo had a great front page piece today on the fracturing of Pakistan along its tribal borders after that missile attack.)

The US vetoed a Security Council Resolution condemning Israel for the latest killings in Beit Hanoun. (Russia, China, France all voted for.)

All five Hezbullah ministers have walked out of the Lebanese Cabinet.

Picture of the Day - 3

Oh, yeah. It's all amicable, right?

(President George W. Bush hosts a meeting with Democratic Senatorial leadership in the Oval Office, November 10, 2006. (Larry Downing/Reuters))


(AP) "Mortar battles have erupted between Shiite and Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad, and the once-mixed city is reeling as the two sides adopt the weapons and tactics of urban civil war."

(AP) "Sunni gunmen ambushed a convoy of minibuses Saturday night on the dangerous highway south of Baghdad, killing 10 Shiite passengers and kidnapping about 50. Across the country, at least 52 other people died violent deaths or were found dead, five of them decapitated Iraqi soldiers."

(AP) Gulf War I vets have three times the incidence of ALS(Lou Gehrig's disease.)

(Reuters) "Four American troops were killed in two separate incidents in Iraq, the military said on Friday."

(NYTimes) Democrats are looking to restore the Iraq auditor who was defunded by Duncan Hunter.

(Forbes) Suddenly, after the election, a $160 billion bill for Iraq and Afghanistan is dumped in Congress' lap.

Eavesdropping unlikely to pass through lame duck Senate

The Dems want to hold this over so that they can create the wording.
Legislation aimed at President Bush's once-secret program for wiretapping U.S.-foreign phone calls and computer traffic of suspected terrorists without warrants shows all the signs of not moving ahead, notwithstanding President Bush's request this week that a lame-duck Congress give it to him.

My question reading this is whether this version of the bill contains a "retroactive immunity" clause similar to the one in the torture/detainee bill. (Also here and here.)

Because, if the administration feels that it needs that immunity for past crimes relating to wiretapping, and the Dems block this bill until they have control, how big a bargaining chip is that?

(Unrelated: Digging back, I came across this paragraph again where "Senior military officials have told Congress those prohibitions (Geneva Conventions) were violated." War crimes admitted in Congress. Never really discussed.)

Picture of the Day - 2

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff Peter Pace.

U.S. military leaders are preparing to recommend changes in Iraq strategy but the ouster of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will not have a direct impact, Pace said on Friday. (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)


Perhaps the state of Iraq and Afghanistan can best be judged by the sliding top end definition of "winning." The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace:
Asked by one interviewer whether the United States is winning the war in Iraq, Pace replied: "You have to define 'winning.' I don't mean to be glib about that.

"Winning, to me, is simply having each of the nations that we're trying to help have a secure environment inside of which their government and people can function," he said, in remarks that seemed to depart from the administration's more ambitious stated goal of building a democracy in Iraq.

"You are not going to do away with terrorism," Pace continued. "But you can provide governments in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere with enough security capacity to keep the acts below a level at which their governments can function," he said.

When this war was being sold, the definition of "winning" was a democratic Iraq that would serve as a "beacon of hope" leading to a reverse domino "flowering of democracy" throughout the region, changing the face of the middle east forever.

Now, the top end goal is to leave Iraq and Afghanistan with few enough terror attacks to stay below some minimum threshold, "below a level at which their governments can function."

We can argue about "metrics" or any other definitional game you want to try and play, but the drastic collapse of the top end best hopes for Iraq says more about that country's state than anything else.

Also: Just a mention that the US in engaging in very heavy fighting in Ramadi right now. There are no reporters there.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Picture of the Day - 4

I just needed one more to say goodbye.

Katherine Harris reacts as she speaks about her political plans during a press conference in Sarasota, Florida, January 16, 2004. (Peter Muhly/Reuters)


Larry Eagleburger fill Gate's spot on the ISG. You may remember that during the "show consultation" with all the Sec. States so long ago, Eagleburger was the only one praising the administration.

A US official in Africa is concerned enough about deteriorating Somalia to talk to the NYTimes.

Rumsfeld faces potential prosecution in Germany, but after the last case died of politics, I wouldn't expect much.

More interesting to me was the account of Abu Omar who was rendered out of Italy by a number of currently charged CIA agents. In a letter smuggled out of an Egyption prison, he details his treatment.

And, if you didn't see it this morning, I think I'm seeing signs that the Bush administration is preparing for a major shift in Iraq strategy to the "Stability First" proposition by the ISG.

Republicans discuss their loss

As you read the various discussions, analyses, and finger pointings as Republicans struggle to understand just what happened to them, take a minute to notice that almost all of them reach backwards for a solution.

The religious right seems to believe they didn't push "social issues" enough, and the remaining "'94 Republicans" seem to be professing a belief that they have somehow abandoned "the principles of Reagan."

No matter which Republican group is making the self-acquitting explanations, all seem to rest on the premise that the answer lies in recapturing some past message or ideal with which they've enjoyed previous success.

After twelve years of a Republican Congress and six years of Congress plus Bush, does anyone have any doubt or question as to where Republicans stand on any issue? The problem isn't that the Republicans aren't shouting loudly enough or in the right language, but instead, that the problems and issues facing Americans have changed.

The current "kitchen table" issues, healthcare, drug prices, education, do not feel resolvable by an across the board tax cut, and it's become the general impression, that the bulk of those tax cuts do not benefit regular people. That Republican magic bullet now feels hollow.

I'll be curious to see which person or faction recognizes this first and offers vision on the Social/Domestic front.

(Ironically, if they'd really done it, "compassionate conservatism" could have matched this future as it did represent a look forward to these issues which are now on the national agenda.)

Picture of the Day - 3

Iraqi youths run away after pelting British armored vehicles after a British convoy was targeted by a roadside bomb in Basra Monday Oct. 30, 2006. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

Steele to replace Mehlman?

I would guess this is planted by the Steele supporters (it is the Wash Times,) but I guess he has proved himself capable of the ethics required of an RNC chair.
Also last night, Republican officials told The Times that Mr. Steele, who lost his bid for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, has been sought out to succeed Mr. Mehlman as national party chairman. Those Republican officials said Mr. Steele had not made a decision whether to take the post, as of last night.....

But they said that President Bush's political adviser Karl Rove, who is Mr. Mehlman's mentor, would rather see Mr. Steele serve in the president's Cabinet, perhaps as secretary of Housing and Urban Development. These officials said no one has actually offered Mr. Steele either the RNC post or a Cabinet post.

Irrespective of Steele, how this RNC chair race develops will say alot about how much this election damaged Rove.

C'mon, guys, make a rushed decision. I'm sure it will have no impact in 2008.

(And, don't miss Chafee's kicks on the way out. "When pressed on whether his comments indicated he might leave the GOP, he replied: "That's fair.")

Picture of the Day - 2

Two children look at the water stained with Palestinian blood covering a street in Beit Hanun after an Israeli military operation in which Israeli tanks fired on homes in the northern Gaza Strip. The world reacted with horrified shock to an Israeli army attack on Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip that killed 18 civilians, eight of them children.(AFP/Mahmud Hams)

A major change in Iraq strategy? Read on.....

The rapidly shifting situation in Iraq.
American and Iraqi officials have set a date for giving Iraq’s forces responsibility for security across the country.

Under a plan to be presented to the UN Security Council next month, the Iraqi Government would assume authority from coalition troops by the end of next year.

Only hours after Donald Rumsfeld was replaced as US Defence Secretary, American, British and Iraqi officials spoke openly about accelerating the handover process.

Reading down this article, this "handover" is not as absolute as it sounds here. Security will be handed over to the ISF in 18 provinces, "apart from the most violent," but still, this is something. It sets a hard target date that must be negotiated around.

The Iraqi government has been clamoring for this sort of control over their forces, now they're using the extension of the UN mandate to get it.

I need to read more stories before I'm sure, but, as Tom DeFrank writes, it seems that the Cheney-Rumsfeld axis has been finally broken with President Bush reaching out to the Bush I realists.

Putting these two stories together with the emergence of probable new Sec. Def. Gates (with James Baker in the background,) I think we are seeing a personnel transition to set up for a major strategic change to the ISG's "Stability First" option.

Most likely, that would mean the construction of Maliki as a "strongman," and, Gates, with his Iran Contra background, has the portfolio and experience to pull this off.

Some US troops may start heading home, and we may have avoided the geopolitical disaster that would be partition, however, Iraq will finally fall into full scale civil war and whatever democracy there is will disappear into some degree of Shia dictatorship.

Later: In an article citing the Shia/Sadr Health Minister estimating 150,000 dead civilians,

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who also has close ties to al-Sadr, told Bush in a video conference last month that he would make renewal of the U.N. mandate under which the U.S. keeps forces in Iraq conditional on a rapid handover of power.

Al-Maliki also said at the time that U.S. forces should clear out of Iraq's cities, according to top aide Hassan al-Suneid. He said the White House agreed, although that was never confirmed in Washington.

Last week, al-Maliki rejected a demand by a visiting top administration official that he move to disband Shiite militias by year's end. A senior al-Maliki adviser, who refused to be identified by name because of the sensitive nature of the talks, said the prime minister told U.S. National Intelligence Director John Negroponte it would be suicidal for the Iraqi leader to move against the heavily armed militias.

These conversations, I would argue, are what prompted the strategic change. Bush, faced with a deteriorating Iraq and an intractible Prime Minister, finally deciding to abandon the idealism that has caused the failure of this war.

As the US turns over the military to the Shia government with the militias still intact, we will finally see a full civil war.

Not only will this be a civil war, but with already established militias acting as paramilitary death squads and regional players stepping in, this could be a very "dirty" war akin to some of the Central American conflicts of the 80's.

The Bob Gates appointment makes more and more sense.

The Sunnis are responding by threatenting to walk out of the government, openly take up arms, and try to draw in regional Sunni powers Saudi, Jordan, and Syria.
Sunni members of parliament over the past two days have threatened to walk out of the legislature and take up arms. They charge the Shiite-dominated government with refusing to meet their demands for a fair division of power and natural resources.

The dean of the Sunni politicians in parliament said Thursday there were attempts by Iran to run Sunnis out of the country. Adnan al-Dulaimi then called Arab countries to support Iraq's Sunni minority.

We're nearing a very bloody endpoint in all of this.

Later: (NYTimes) "Over the past two days, however, several officials said that Mr. Gates would likely be given some latitude to redefine what constitutes victory."

WaPo on Gates, the ISG, and "Stability First,"
the panel may recommend staying in Iraq but changing the nature of the U.S. effort there. The revamped operation would place less emphasis on military operations, cutting the U.S. troop presence, and stress training and advising the Iraqi army. Perhaps most significantly, the Bush administration's ambition of planting a democracy in the heart of the Middle East would be set aside, at least temporarily, in favor of bolstering Iraq's stability.

Picture of the Day

Holding up combat boots worn by his son, a Marine serving in Iraq, Democrat Jim Webb announces his victory in Virginia's pivotal Senate race, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2006. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

(Sorry to do two Webb's in a row, but this is a great picture.)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The melee for Republican minority leadership

Boehner proxies throw mud at Mike Pence in Republican minority leader race.

Mehlman is being ridden out on a rail. On his show, Limbaugh apparently replayed Bill Maher outing Mehlman. (Now it's reached WND.)

And, check this out. After watching the big lefty bloggers fight back and forth with the Dem party leadership, how do you think this will work out adding bloggers to an already nasty leadership process?
A group of conservative bloggers want the Republican Party to consult with "its troops and especially its donors" in the race for House leadership positions after the G.O.P. "got its head handed to it" in Tuesday's elections. The right-leaning blog "Truth Laid Bear," joined by more than a dozen conservative bloggers, is organizing an effort to interview candidates for minority leadership posts before next week's closed-door elections.

Not like their opinion really matters, but still, what a potential for long term nastiness.

Shifting deckchairs

The Bush administration has renominated John Bolton as UN ambassador in the lame duck session to avoid Biden's avowal that such a nomination is "going nowhere." But, once again, soon to be ex-Senator Lincoln Chafee will serve as the block to such a nomination.

According to Steve Clemons, Chafee will shortly call "a press conference to state categorically that he will not support John Bolton's confirmation in the upcoming lame duck session."

In other moves, RNC chair Ken Mehlman is leaving.

Steven Cambone, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and one of Rumsfeld's more controversial guys, is expected to leave. (Forced out by Gates?)

And, Condi leaving? Negroponte to Sec State? Did I miss a rumor?

Picture of the Day - 4

You can dance now.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jim Webb celebrates during an election night party in Vienna, Virginia, 07 November 2006. Democratic control of the US Senate was affirmed, as Republican Senator George Allen of Virginia conceded defeat in the midterm election, giving the opposition party the last seat needed to claim the majority.(AFP/Alex Wong)

Not like a wave, more like a flood

George Allen just conceded in the Virginia Senate race.

Burns conceded earlier today in a written statement.

The Dems, against all predictions just a month ago, pickup six seats and retake the Senate.

The current House pickup number is +28 (with 10 still undecided, likely 2 more pickups.)

The Dems picked up 6 governorships, now holding a majority for the first time since 1994.

The Dems picked up 9 chambers in 7 state legislatures.

And, in each of these categories, they didn't lose a single existing hold.

Wow. It's the top end of all the preelection estimates, and a complete blowout from those made six months ago.

For the first time since 1990, Democratic turnout topped Republican turnout.

With the gradual and uneasy way this all unfolded, it did not seem to crash as a wave, violent and surprising, but instead rose slowly like a flood with Republicans nervously waiting, looking further and further into their "high ground" deep South wondering just how far the water would come.

That water rose high, very high, and listening to their statements yesterday and today, they still don't seem to understand why.

Picture of the Day - 3

The curfew's over.

(An Iraqi youth, a mortar attack victim, is treated in Sadr City's hospital in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006. A pair of mortar rounds slammed into a soccer field while young men were playing a game in a Shiite district of Baghdad on Wednesday, as more than 60 people were killed in attacks nationwide. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim))

Webb's lead has increased slightly - Allen to concede

Webb's lead in Virginia has increased to about 9,000.

According to MSNBC, Allen to concede at 3PM Eastern.

Webb is planning a press conference this afternoon, time TBA.

Burns concedes to Tester. It's over.


Is the appointment of Robert Gates, ex-80's CIA man, secondary Iran Contra figure, and ISG participant, an indication that the Bush administration has already decided to accept the ISG's "Stability First" option?

Will Pat Roberts, after years of delay, suddenly rush out the SSCI's "Phase II" report on Iraq prewar intelligence to keep it from the Dems?

And, how bad a day is it for Ken Mehlman, when, on top of everything else, Bill Maher outs him on Larry King? (CNN then deletes the statement in the 10PM replay.) (Later: CNN gets it pulled off Youtube.)

Am I supposed to feel sorry for them?

The Washington Post has two articles on the response to the election. If you're still doing your touchdown dance...

The first talks about the reaction among the Republican talking heads, from depression to outright denial.

The second, from deep in the paper, outlines all the little indignities the Republicans inflicted on the Democrats when they were the majority. (Note the ever pleasing past tense in that sentence.)

Oh, one more, Republicans' Angry Factions Point Fingers At Each Other

Later: RollCall. Out-of-Work GOP Aides Face Tough Road Ahead.

Picture of the Day - 2

Sometimes "the meek" are tougher than you think.

(Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.)

Wow. A little Gates history

From a 1998 article on the "blowback" of arming the Taleban/Al Qaeda to fight the Soviets.
While the Arab volunteers might well prove troublesome later, the agency reasoned, they at least were one-dimensionally anti-Soviet for now. So bin Laden, along with a small group of Islamic militants from Egypt, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestinian refugee camps all over the Middle East, became the “reliable” partners of the CIA in its war against Moscow.....

The CIA, ever mindful of the need to justify its “mission,” had conclusive evidence by the mid-1980s of the deepening crisis of infrastructure within the Soviet Union. The CIA, as its deputy director Robert Gates acknowledged under congressional questioning in 1992, had decided to keep that evidence from President Reagan and his top advisors and instead continued to grossly exaggerate Soviet military and technological capabilities in its annual “Soviet Military Power” report right up to 1990.

Given that context, a decision was made to provide America’s potential enemies with the arms, money - and most importantly - the knowledge of how to run a war of attrition violent and well-organized enough to humble a superpower.

That decision is coming home to roost.

(Tip to RH for this great find.)

Picture of the Day

Look at all the lights.

(Smoke billows from an explosion in Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's presidential palace in Baghdad during a coalition air raid in April 2003. (AFP/File/Karim Sahib))

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

AP calls Virginia for Webb

The AP has called Virginia for Webb. NBC/MSNBC as well, although CNN hasn't taken the leap yet.
An adviser to Allen, speaking on condition of anonymity because his boss had not formally decided to end the campaign, said the senator wanted to wait until most of canvassing was completed before announcing his decision, possibly as early as Thursday evening.

The adviser said that Allen was disinclined to request a recount if the final vote spread was similar to that of election night.

It looks like they did it. They ran the table. Incredible.

UPDATE: (Hotline) "Republicans in touch with Sen. George Allen's campaign say they they expect Allen to concede in the near future."

And, from the Allen campaign, "More details will follow from the campaign early tomorrow based on the progress of the day's re-canvassing efforts."

Calls from the right for no recount in Virginia


Bay Buchanan on CNN tells Allen not to call for a recount (after canvassing I assume.)

Redstate makes the same request with a different argument.

(Hotline) Top Republicans in Washington will give Sen. George Allen a few days to take stock of his legal and political options before beginning to pressure him to concede to James Webb. Senior Republican officials and White House aides believe that Webb won the race.

Picture of the Day - 4

Rumsfeld resigns. (But I've got a whole file of Rumsfeld photos!!!!)

(I guess that's one way to keep him from being subpeonaed.)

Now begins the ugly process of scapegoating wherein every bad decision will be tied to Rumsfeld in hopes they will sink with him.

So, who else goes? Rummy's cadre in DoD, Cambone, et al? Dare I dream that John Bolton could be thrown overboard? He still isn't confirmed.

Dems win on contacts and turnout

This guy kicked Karl Rove's ass.

CNN: "It also was a big turnout success for Democrats. They drew more voters than Republicans for the first time in a midterm election since 1990."

Hotline: "An analysis of internal RNC and DSCC/DCCC data suggests that during the final week, the Democrats made, on average, knocked on about twice as many doors as Republicans did nationally. The two parties made roughly the same number of telephone calls."

How's that taste, Karl?


UPDATE: Tester wins Montana. CNN has called it. Tester leads by 2,800 and there are about 1,500 left uncounted. Now, it's all on Virginia.

The DSCC issued a statement that both Tester and Webb have won, and they expect the remaining votes to trickle in to their advantage. (CNN live - Montana, Virginia)

Also: I don't know if anyone's noticed, but amidst all this wave/non-wave argument, the Dems are coming in near the top end of all the neutral projections. +28 House seats so far (11 still not called,) probably +6 Senate (without recount.)

Questions from the election

Will the long lag time diminish Allen's momentum? A recount can't be officially requested until after the Nov. 27 certification. (And does a Tester/Burns win alter the dynamic?)

Are they wearing black arm bands at FoxNews today?

After the revelation that the NYTimes held the eavesdropping story through the 2004 election, and the very reasonable expectation that the administration probably held some bad news through election day as well, what's coming?

Did the window for an attack on Iran get shortened through the lame duck session?

One more: Any chance Bush will take questions at his 1PM statement? (A boy can dream, can't he?)

The world goes on

I hate to intrude on the dancing, but these are both big events with pretty big implications going forward.

Israel fired artillery shells into the Palestinian town of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza killing 18 civilians, many as they slept.

In response, "Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal says that a truce with Israel is finished and is appealing to all Palestinian factions to resume attacks." ... "There must be a roaring reaction so that we avenge all those vicitms," Mashaal said.

And, it appears the leadership in the Pakistani tribal region Bajur conducted a suicide attack against the Pakistani army (as promised) in response to the madrassa attack. "A suicide bomber has killed at least 42 soldiers at an army base in northwest Pakistan."

(Two US soldiers have been reported killed in Iraq today in Mosul and Kirkuk. At least 60 Iraqis killed.)

Picture of the Day - 3

Maxine Moul lost pretty bad in Neb-01, but how cool is this picture? That little girl will have this picture for the rest of her life.

Democratic candidate Maxine Moul, left, gives her granddaughter Adia Moul, 2, a sticker that reads, 'I Voted Today' after casting her ballot in Lincoln, Neb., on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006. (AP Photo/Krista Niles)

The permanent Republican majority

Much has been made about the Bush administration's failures both domestically and on the world stage, but I think, perhaps we should add another.

Certainly it was never more than a pipe dream, but Bush's incompetence has also greatly failed his party by undermining their aspiration for a permanent Republican majority. They were talking about a generation of Republican control just two years ago.

Picture of the Day - 2

Jon Tester, a Democrat, who holds a narrow lead in the race against Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, preparing for an early morning television interview. (Getty/Justin Sullivan.)

(CNN's live count.)
A few more votes in Tester still leading +1,700. Partial recounts are underway.

Hotline: Burns has no plans to concede 21,000 absentees and some counties still haven't finished. "
Democratic officials are confident that Jon Tester (D) will win." (7:22 AM eastern time)

Good Morning!!!!

So, I wake up turn on CNN, and go into the other room to look at internet news. In the background, I'm hearing some Republican repeat the talking points, that this doesn't mean anything, that the Republicans are still the stronger party etc. He's delivering them somewhat convincingly.

So, I get up, go back in to take a look at the screen, and it's Tom Delay, and he looks like he just drove over his own puppy.

I just woke up. Is that what I'm in for today? Republicans desperately spinning through the tears?

I hadn't thought about this, but this might be a very fun day.

(Did we make Mehlman cry?)

(Later: Bush expected to make a statement at 1PM eastern. Pelosi and Hoyer and Reid and Durbin invited to lunches at the White House.)

Picture of the Day

Can she measure the drapes now, Mr. President?

(to make this extra special, I stole this picture from Drudge.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Allen just issued his recount speech to his people. Webb's still ahead by a shave. (+2,726 right now.) So, this won't be decided tonight. (Still 30,000+ uncounted early ballots in Fairfax.) (Apparently, the recount process may be weeks.)

Jim Webb just said, "The votes are in and we've won."

McCaskill is closing on Tester with the Democrats optimistically talking about the votes yet to come in. (And the optimism seems genuine.) (Hotline: There's a ton of votes from four cities left to be counted. 818 out of 1,364 not yet counted.)

UPDATE: McCaskill jumps ahead 49/48 with 80% in. (Missouri Secretary of State elections page.)

And Testser leads Burns, but it's still early.

From my wish list, Tammy Duckworth is trailing by a couple with 78% in. (Last update almost an hour ago.)

And, Ellen Cohen, my local state rep who I have supported whole heartedly, looks like she's going to win easy. Woohoo!

As the Senate seems not to be decided til tomorrow, I'm going to go watch in bed until I fall asleep. Maybe more updates tonight, maybe not. But certainly sweet dreams.

Good luck everybody. I'll be watching.


CNN calls the House for the Dems.

The Senate pretty much rests on Webb, and the Dems are running out of precincts.

Holy Crap! Webb edges out in front with 99% reporting!!! (Webb + about 2,500 votes. Wait and see.)

UPDATE: There are still 33,000 uncounted votes in Fairfax county.

By the way, CNN is misrepresenting on the Webb/Allen gender mix.

Men did vote 55/44 for Allen, but white men were 62/37 while non-white men were 25/73. So, that political analyst who kept saying men love Allen because he played football can shove it up his ass.

White men in Virginia liked Allen because alot of them have used those words, too.

(The House is officially over. FoxNews called it.)

And, (Hotline) "From WH spokesperson Emily Lawrimore: "Karl has informed the president that they've lost the majority in the House. He's obviously disappointed, but he's eager to work with Congress on his priorities and issues important to Americans.""

"NBC's Gregory: "The president I'm told is likely to retire some time soon tonight" (MSNBC)."

South Dakota abortion ban went down

Congratulations, Ginny. You did it!

Too much going on

Posting will be irregular. I want to watch this more than blog it, so, just little things I think you might find interesting.
****I'll be updating this post throughout the evening.

An MSNBC reporter just said that he'd heard from a Corker campaign staffer who said that the heavy rain in E. Tennessee depressed turnout in Chattanooga, a Corker stronghold. (I'm still not optimistic, but it's something.)

(Hotline) According to FNC's exit polls, 57% of late deciding voters are voting for Dems, while 39% are voting for GOPers (FNC).

(Hotline) MSNBC's Shuster says don't be surprised if Allen has a big lead when polls start reporting in VA (MSNBC).

(AP) "Those early exit polls also showed that three in four voters said corruption was very important to their vote, and they tended to vote Democratic. In a sign of a dispirited GOP base, most white evangelicals said corruption was very important to their vote — and almost a third of them turned to the Democrats. "

Early exit polls(?)

You know the disclaimer on leaked exit polls (partway through the day, how are absentee calculated(?), and at best a guess by the experts,) but Politicalwire claims to have them. (Link is really slow.)
Democrats are leading in Pennsylvania (+15), Ohio (+14), New Jersey (+8), Rhode Island (+7), Virginia (+7), Montana (+9), Missouri (+2).

Republicans are leading in Tennessee (+4) and Arizona (+4).

Treat this as rumor (these may be completely bogus.)

(Maryland not listed?)

Elsewhere: From Rawstory, so, again not ironclad.
Fox News Channel is reporting strong showings for Democrats in six key Senate races, with Republicans maintaining three seats. Fox failed to decline which seats were in play, saying they didn't want to affect voter turnout.

So, Fox says tied Senate? I just don't know.

I'm posting these as rumors. Use your own judgement.

(If these are wrong, I warned.)

Later: Here's another Rawstory list of exit polls. (It almost exactly matches Politicalwire. Same source?)

More from Huffpo.
SENATE EXIT POLLS AS OF 5:30 EST: Democrats Leading: Virginia (D52-R47), Rhode Island (D53-R46), Pennsylvania (D57-R42), Ohio (D57-R43), New Jersey (D52-R45), Montana (D53-R46), Missouri (D50-R48), Maryland (D53-R46)…GOP Leading: Tennessee (R51-D48), Arizona (R50-D46)

UPDATE: Obviously from the Va. race, these aren't right on.

Another tea leaf?

At midday, the White House issued a pre-announcement that Bush will not make a statement until tomorrow.

Would they do this if they thought they might win? Are they trying to avoid the appearance of a concession speech? (Note, this was made this morning after they'd gotten a feel for what's going on.)

Mehlman's going to make the statement, BUT he's in Crawford with Bush. So, it's a very intentional effort to hide the President.

Tell me again how "tough" he is.

Also: CNN just issued their first "exit poll" listing "issues that affect your vote." In the "extremely important" category in order, Corruption, Terrorism, Economy, and Iraq. (42, 40, 39, 37%?) Not good for the GOPers. (Here's the graph.) (2/3 said they were voting on national issues, 1/3 local.)

And, I may be projecting, but the CNN and MSNBC tone seems to be anticipating big Dem. (No, it wasn't projection.)

Later: Of course, Mehlman counters with "exit polls skew Dem."

Picture of the Day - 6

Can he not figure it out or not make up his mind?

Sen. Mike DeWine, a Republican candidate for Senate, casts his ballot Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

Political bits

CNN is reporting huge turnout in Virginia. Huge early voting.

Later: (CNN) Pretty big turnout in Ohio.

Add Montana and Missouri to the high turnout list, it sounds like turnout in the competitive areas is generally high.

On the other end, if they're not turning out for in Maryland for Erlich, I'm guessing they're not turning out for Steele either. Ah, well, the Republican Maryland fantasy unsurprisingly dies.
(The GOP in Maryland is handing out fake ballots pretending they're Dems.)

Denver is an election disaster affecting many races.

****I will be adding updates to these posts all day.

Picture of the Day - 5

U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) waves as she and her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, walk to their car after voting in the U.S. midterm elections. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Picture of the Day - 4

The boots and beltbuckle don't hide the mood.

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush walk from the Crawford Fire Station polling booth after voting in the mid-term elections, November 7, 2006. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

Election nerding

Poll closing times by state. Here's a map with "races to watch."

Election day weather map.

An omen for my wish list? Jeanne Schmidt's vote wouldn't go through the optical scanner. (and I'm willing to bet big money she doesn't live in a minority precinct.)

Another wish list. Early voting (1/4 of expected votes) going 58-37 to Tester. (Also: Burns' campaign was going to ban a local paper from their event tonight because the paper publishd a "bogus poll.")

In an early indication of both high turnout and chaos: , Columbus' phone system crashed overloaded by voters looking for polling locations and poll workers needing help setting up voting machines. (And, it sounds like problems all over the country.)

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Katherine Harris, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, waves to passing motorists early Tuesday morning Nov. 7, 2006 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

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Which one's the black guy, honey? I don't want to vote for the black guy.

(Senator George Allen (R-VA) and his wife Susan cast their ballots in the midterm elections. (Jim Young/Reuters))

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As close as she got.

Florida Republican Senate candidate, Rep Katherine Harris, R-Fla., second from left, , and her husband, Anders Ebbeson, look on as President Bush is introduced at a campaign rally at Pensacola Civic Center in Pensacola, Fla., Monday, Nov. 6, 2006. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Voting information

If you're nerding hard enough to be at this blog today, I can't imagine you don't already know, but find your polling location here.

Report polling location irregularities here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

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Let's add this guy to my wish list.

Jon Tester, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, shares a moment with campaign staff over a submarine-sandwich lunch Monday, Nov. 6, 2006. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

In poker, they call it a "tell"

I think this is very interesting.
The RNC just sent out detailed talking points about how unreliable exit polls have been over the past several elections. The key arguments are that exits polls typically have a Democratic bias and have wrongly predicted Democratic victories in recent years.

According to a source, the RNC expects leaked exit polls to show Democratic victories and do not want the news to discourage Republican voters from going to the polls late in the day.

So, they're trying to set up a pre-response to big losses in the eastern time zone to keep turnout up in the west.

Despite all their words, what does that tell you about the confidence level at the RNC?

The myth of the Republican machine

I recognize I'm speaking heresy, but I don't believe in the unbeatable Republican GOTV machine. It has achieved nearly mythical status over the last few elections, but there were other factors driving that turnout, primarily the linkage between voting for Republicans and "Christian duty."

I would still say that it's probably very effective, but I think the equation that translates RNC "voter contacts" into actual votes has probably been somewhat diminished by the disillusionment of the Christian Right with this president and Congress.

Voter enthusiasm is a major factor in establishing that ratio of contacts to votes, and by all indications, Republican enthusiasm is way down. How well does that carefully targeted gay marriage mailer work when someone's more concerned about Iraq?

I may be very wrong, but it seems the almost feverish promotion of "numbers of contacts" is aimed more at altering the media narrative. Notice they're not touting giant rallies and aren't mentioning volunteer numbers at all.

(However, I do have little doubt in their voter suppression efforts.)

White House pissed at Crist.

After Crist dodged the Bush rally today, the White House "did not hide its irritation" with Karl Rove venting very publicly to the AP.

The story line on the last day is another candidate running away from an unwanted and unpopular president. I'm sure that's what they'd hoped for.

Oh, and not only did he snub a planned event with Bush, but he appeared very publicly with McCain.

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A Republican
Bad hair day.

Who are you pulling for tomorrow?

Who do you really want to win, and who do you really want to see lose?

I'm pulling hard for Tammy Duckworth in Il-06 because she really seems to be running for the right reasons and has been subject to some of the most unconscionable attacks out there.

I'm pulling hard against the wicked witch of the west Jeane Schmidt in Oh-02. You may remember she called John Murtha a coward on the House floor.

Locally, I'm pulling hard for Ellen Cohen to win my State Rep seat.

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Election Day predictions

I predict that, at some point, blogger will get so bad that I will consider pummelling my monitor with my keyboard.

I predict that I will repeatedly get entranced by the very good analysts at MSNBC/National Journal only to end up shouting at my TV as Chris Matthews, Pat Buchanan, and "the panel" discuss things that have nothing to do with the election, filling up camera space, and giving me no information whatsoever.

I predict that no matter what the results, it will be spun as an underachievement by the Democrats.

It's all about turnout now.

I'm more or less throwing out individual polls at this point. Trying to make sense out of the wobbles now is more or less crazy.

There was a ton of press yesterday about closing figures on the generic ballot question, but it was a poll or two. CNN has the last five from different organizations collected and the average is 53-41. (registered voters as far as I can tell.)

So, take a deep breath, step back, and don't freak out.

(CNN's latest poll, Bush approval 35/61. Generic ballot 58/38 likely voters. So, don't freak out over one poll and don't rejoice over this one. Look at the averages, look at the trends.)

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Republican candidate Joe Negron, running for the congressional seat vacated by former Rep. Mark Foley, stands on a street corner early Monday, Nov. 6, 2006 in downtown Stuart, Fla. doing last minute campaigning. Election officials refused to remove Foley's name from the ballot, so voters must vote for Foley to vote for Negron. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)

Who organized Bush's Florida trip today?

As the polls tighten for Crist,
Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist decided Sunday to skip an appearance with President Bush in favor of crisscrossing the state in the final hours before Election Day.

But, funny thing, in this morning's NYTimes,
The White House, however, said this week that the president was heading to Florida specifically to help Mr. Crist, who, according to Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, invited Mr. Bush in the first place.

And, then to top it all off,
Meanwhile, (Katherine) Harris, the Republican candidate, says she has been invited to be onstage today with President Bush in Pensacola. The last time Bush visited Florida, she was shunted aside.

So, the President is spending the last campaign day in Florida at a rally for a governor who isn't going to show up, AND with the highly unpopular Katherine Harris, who he has pointedly not invited to other Florida appearances?

Bush's other appearance today is with Asa Hutchinson, the Arkansas gubernatorial candidate who is "way behind in the polls."

That smells of victory, doesn't it?

(Article links via Americablog and First Draft.)

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From early 2003.

Two Iraq bits

It looks like Maliki won the power struggle. After Hadley's emergency visit, Khalilzad is expected to quit in the coming months.

And, they handed down the Saddam death sentence and don't have the decision written, yet?

Sounds political to me, and I can assure you that I haven't been smoking dope, Mr. Snow. (changed to "rope" in transcript.)

Are you kidding me?

Unsurprisingly, from a Republican.
"I feel a little like somebody in New Orleans the weekend before Katrina hit," said St. Louis attorney Mark "Thor" Hearne, who was the chief election lawyer for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign and now is counsel to a conservative group working to prevent voting fraud.

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Susan Boedeker kisses the casket of her son Spc. Carl Eason during a funeral service Thursday, Nov. 2, 2006, in Lovelady, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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A photograph sits next to the casket of solider Spc. Carl Eason during his funeral service Thursday, Nov. 2, 2006, in Lovelady, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

FBI issues warning to Congressman.

That's what this article should have been titled.
The new chief of the FBI's Criminal Division, which is swamped with public corruption cases, says the bureau is ramping up its ability to catch crooked politicians and might run an undercover sting on Congress.

Did you hear that, Mr. Congressman? We're going to conduct stings.

I mean, what the hell is this? When they run a sting on the mafia, do they call ahead and say "we're going to be conducting undercover stings, Mr. Corleone"?


Rapid Response at the Pentagon

Recently there was the announcement of the formation of "a new unit (at the Pentagon) to better promote its message across 24-hour rolling news outlets, and particularly on the internet."

Basically, they're forming the equivalent of a political campaign's rapid response team targeting the US media.

Well, we don't know if this effort to contradict the Army Times editorial, "Rumsfeld Must Go," is coming out of that new unit or not, but this is the sort of stuff they're talking about doing.

How wrong is it that DoD personnel are being diverted, in the middle of a war, to defend Don Rumsfeld's reputation?

(Also, I would argue that the fact that Rumsfeld feels the need to push back before the editorial is even published means that the claims that Army commanders have lost faith in him are true.)

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Nov. 2, 2006 (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Senate Race is tightening

Treat this, as always, as just one poll, but it does generally match the larger trends of Burns/Tester and Chafee/Whitehouse closing. As we've known for months, this election is all going to be about turnout.

And, on the topic of turnout, "a new poll commissioned by TIME shows that Republicans may be approaching voting day without one of the big advantages they enjoyed in November 2004 — their ability to motivate supporters to go out and vote."

Weakness among evangelicals. Weakness across the board.

Chalabi, an asset of Iran

There have long been indications that Ahmed Chalabi had ties to Iranian intelligence. If true, it would make the Iraq war one of the greatest intel ops in modern history, one carried out by the Iranians against this administration.
David Kay, the former chief weapons inspector in Iraq, offers one of the most compelling explanations for how pivotal Chalabi’s role was in taking America to war. Kay said that while the C.I.A. had long regarded Chalabi with suspicion, disregarding much of what he gave them, Chalabi had succeeded in persuading his more powerful friends in other parts of the government — Vice President Dick Cheney, for instance, and Wolfowitz. The pressure brought by those men, Kay told me, ultimately persuaded George Tenet, director of the C.I.A., that the White House was committed to war and that there was no point in resisting it.

“In my judgment, the reason George Tenet and the top of the agency came over to the argument that Iraq had W.M.D. was that they really knew that the vice president and Wolfowitz had come to that conclusion anyway,” Kay said. “They had been getting information from Chalabi for years.”.....

Amid the debate about Chalabi’s role in taking America to war, one little-noticed phrase in a Senate Intelligence Committee report on W.M.D. offered an important insight into Chalabi’s identity. One of the principal errors made by the Bush administration in relying on Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress, the report said, was to disregard conclusions by the C.I.A. and the Defense Intelligence Agency that “the I.N.C. was penetrated by hostile intelligence services,” notably those of Iran.....

Pat Lang, the D.I.A. agent, holds a similar view: that in Chalabi, the Iranians probably saw someone who could help them achieve their long-sought goal of removing Saddam Hussein. After a time, in Lang’s view, the Iranians may have figured the Americans would leave and that Chalabi would most likely be in charge. Lang insists he is only speculating, but he says it has been clear to the American intelligence community for years that Chalabi has maintained “deep contacts” with Iranian officials.

This is a very long article with lots of curious facts and no real conclusions. It does however publicly introduce the possibility that Iranian Intelligence played a real part in drawing the US into a war to defeat Iran's greatest enemy.

(Too long and not enough meat to recommended it. This starts at page 10.)

Does it matter?

Certainly the conviction of Saddam is the right thing, but does it really matter in today's Iraq? Was there any question he'd be convicted?

Shia are dancing in the streets waving posters of Sadr; Sunnis have already attacked Iraqi and US forces. There has already been a mortar attack on a major Sunni mosque.

This is not a unifying event in Iraq, so does it really matter?

(It may well matter here, mind you. I'm guessing Bush will make a "substantial" statement probably tomorrow. Do the networks pick it up on election eve? Is this Rove's October surprise?)

Update: Bush is making a statement this afternoon. They get the papers tomorrow, but they didn't want that Monday night news cycle?

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On Sunday, it is widely assumed that Saddam Hussein will receive a sentence of death for the massacre in Dujail in mid-July, 1982..

This picture was taken Dec. 20, 1983.


This is it, the election's final home stretch. All the work, all the labor, all the effort comes to fruition in just two days. The campaign workers are exhausted, the money has been almost completely spent, and now it comes down to the last hundred yards.

Who has the enthusiam? Who has the drive? Who has the fire?

When describing distance runners, the phrase used for those who have just a little more "want to" in that last frantic phase at the end of the race is "That guy has kick."

Kick, damnit, Kick. The line is just ahead.