"The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave." --Patrick Henry
Government & Politics
Election Wrap: The House
By summer, it was widely expected that the Republican Party would snatch control of the House of Representatives from the Democrats this year, but the extent of the GOP victory was nothing short of historic. Republicans gained at least 60 seats Tuesday, swinging them to a 239-186 majority so far. Ten races are still undecided as of this writing. The results surpassed the 1994 Gingrich Revolution that netted 54 seats and to which this year was frequently compared. In fact, Tuesday's GOP victory was the largest gain for either party since 71 Democrats were defeated in the 1938 midterms.
The message among the electorate was loud and clear in the House races: Turn out big spenders and yank the speaker's gavel from Nancy Pelosi's hands. The Speaker had become a lightning rod in the final weeks of the campaign, and election results demonstrated that the American public had finally tired of her arrogant and far-left "leadership."
Key to the Republican House victory was targeting vulnerable freshmen Democrats who rode Obama's coattails into office two years ago. Several such representatives were elected in 2008 by thin margins in traditionally Republican districts, indicating that their victory was more repudiation of the GOP than embrace of Democrat principles (if there is such a thing). The Democrats' lukewarm conservative Blue Dog coalition took a huge hit as well. Their ranks were reduced from 54 to 26, with two retirements, two leaving for higher office, and 24 electoral defeats. Of course, only 24 of those 54 voted against ObamaCare, which gives us an idea of just how "conservative" the caucus is.
Other notable defeats for Democrats included Chet Edwards of Texas, Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt of South Carolina, and 17-term fixture Ike Skelton of Missouri, who was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Barney Frank of Massachusetts and John Dingell of Michigan survived hard-fought Republican challenges to their seats, but we can take pleasure in knowing that they will no longer be chairing any committees.
Tom Perriello of Virginia kept the Obama Curse alive by going down to defeat after repeated personal appearances by the president. The president's personal endorsement also proved fatal in other races. So much for the guy who had boasted to a concerned House Democrat, "Well, the big difference here and in '94 was you've got me."
Election Wrap: The Senate
Republicans fell short of taking the Senate, but they managed to gain at least six seats as of this writing. Republican Dino Rossi has conceded Washington's Senate race to incumbent Patty Murray, but the contested Alaska seat is sure to remain in Republican hands. There, Democrat Scott McAdams dropped out after coming in a distant third behind current senator and write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, and Republican primary-winner Joe Miller. It will take time to tally the write-in ballots, but at this point, it seems Murkowski has accomplished the unthinkable.
Notable Republican gains included John Boozman over Democrat Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas and Dan Coats over Democrat Brad Ellsworth in Indiana. Russ Feingold was also sent packing by voters in the birthplace of progressivism, Wisconsin.
As in the House, the Tea Party's contribution to GOP gains was mixed, but mostly positive. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio handily won their contests in Kentucky and Florida, respectively. Conservative Pat Toomey defeated Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania, one of many GOP victories that rocked the Keystone State Tuesday night. In a key symbolic win, moderate Republican Mark Kirk beat Obama basketball buddy Alexi Giannoulias to take the president's old Illinois seat.
World Wrestling Entertainment mogul Linda McMahon was defeated in Connecticut by Richard "Fighting Dick" Blumenthal, and Leftmedia punching bag Christine O'Donnell lost in Delaware to "bearded Marxist" Chris Coons. Both McMahon and O'Donnell were victims of less-than-enthusiastic support from the state and national Republican apparatus. California voters continued to defy all reason as Carly Fiorina fell short in her bid to unseat the obnoxious Barbara Boxer. In Nevada, Sharron Angle failed to send Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid back to Searchlight.
Reid faced the fight of his political life Tuesday in a state with 15 percent unemployment and a record-high home foreclosure rate. Despite the poor economic conditions and Reid's longtime Washington insider status, some 11 percent of voters didn't make up their minds about who to vote for until the weekend before the election. Most of them ended up voting for Reid. Angle drew strong support from voters disappointed with Obama and Washington, but Reid spared no expense in a massive get-out-the-vote campaign that chartered buses to shuttle voters to the polls. Reid's win may not be great news for Republicans, but his gift for shooting off his mouth or, alternatively, putting his foot in it, will serve its purpose in the battles to come next session.
The outlook for 2012 could be even better for Republicans. Democrats will have to defend 21 seats then, compared to just 10 for Republicans. Several of those 21 Democrats won election for the first time in the Democrat takeover of 2006 and must defend their seats in red states. As they look at losses in Illinois and Wisconsin, Democrat senators from Nebraska, Florida and Missouri must be getting a little nervous.
Election Wrap: The States
Republicans cleaned up on the state level, too, with a net gain of 10 governorships -- Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Republicans also picked up more than 650 state legislator pickups across the nation. The GOP now controls both houses of the legislatures of 26 states, and controls the governor's mansion in 15 of those 26.
That will be an important factor as the run-up to 2012 begins. State legislatures control redistricting, and governors can play key roles in presidential races, turning out voters and donors for candidates visiting their state. This year's sweep was good timing for the GOP because they are now in position after the 2010 census to re-draw the lines of certain states' congressional districts advantageously. That could help them preserve their gains in 2012 and perhaps even recapture the White House.
Quote of the Week
"We make a great mistake if we believe that ... these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party. What they are is a second chance, a second chance for Republicans to be what they said they were going to be not so long ago." --Senator-elect Marco Rubio (R-FL)
"In short, despite all of the flack and the arguments from a couple months ago, I am forced to conclude that the Buckley rule still seems the most sound: vote for the most conservative candidate electable. Now, I will concede that's hardly an easily applied rule of thumb like, say, 'Never try to tickle a wolverine when it's eating.' But I think reasonable people understand that electability is a perfectly valid factor to consider and not impossible to apply, either." --columnist Jonah Goldberg
This Week's 'Braying Jenny' Award
"Looking at what happened [Tuesday], what we heard and saw [then] is -- let's understand the message. The message was not, 'I reject the course that you are on.' The message is it didn't go fast enough to produce jobs. ... No regrets. Because we believe we did the right thing. I feel very at peace with how things have proceeded." --soon-to-be-former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
From the Files of the Just Plain Bizarre
"Harry Reid isn't just Dracula, he isn't just Lazarus, he's our leader and our whole caucus is thrilled that he's unbreakable and unbeatable." --Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
Rebutting Obama's Rebuttal
Patriot Post Publisher Mark Alexander responds to Barack Hussein Obama's spin on the midterm election derailment of his endeavor to "fundamentally transform America." Read more here.
"Everything was going great and all of a sudden secret money from God knows where -- because they won't disclose it -- is pouring in," said Nancy Pelosi, shortly before Tuesday's midterm elections. She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Speaker was referring to the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. FEC ruling in January. The Court struck down provisions of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (a.k.a. McCain-Feingold) that limited corporate campaign spending, holding that they violated the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech.
Obama criticized the decision at the time, spinning scary predictions of foreign entities' involvement in American politics. But what he and his cronies really feared were American companies contributing to candidates friendlier to the free market.
In fact, it has been primarily Democrats that have reaped the benefits from McCain-Feingold since its passage. The law still permits political contributions from 527 groups (named for the section of the law that allows them), many of which work for Democrat electoral success (e.g., ACORN and MoveOn.org). In the 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections, such 527 groups spent $667 million on Democrat candidates, nearly three times more than on Republicans. But as dissatisfaction with the Obama-Pelosi agenda grew, so did groups willing to oppose them. The Citizens United decision leveled the playing field even more, as evidenced by Obama and Pelosi's indictment of it and by the Republican's electoral wave earlier this week. Ironically, the law, which amounted to little more than incumbent protection, didn't work for one of its authors, soon-to-be-former Sen. Russ Feingold.
News From the Swamp: Now What
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), currently minority whip but likely to become majority leader, has released a 22-page plan for House Republicans now that they have control of the chamber. "Delivering on Our Commitment" outlines several priorities. For example, Cantor aims to do away with legislation recognizing "individuals, groups, events and institutions," which he believes takes up too much of Congress' time. Better oversight is another crucial thing under his plan, with committees asked to produce quarterly reports on their areas. Of course, curbing runaway spending is the primary goal for Republicans. It remains to be seen if they learned their lesson after their own spendthrift ways cost them control of Washington in 2006 and 2008.
In other news, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) stepped down from his post at the head of the House Republican Conference, a post he has held since 2008. "Now that we have restored a Republican majority to the House of Representatives and I have fulfilled my commitment to the Republican Conference, my family and I have begun to look to the future," Pence wrote to Republicans. Many interpret his words about the future as indicating a possible run for president in 2012. Pence, a solid constitutional conservative, would be a welcome addition to the field.
On the other side of the aisle, Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) face ethics trials. House Ethics Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) announced in October that the trials wouldn't happen before the elections. Rangel's trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 15, while Waters will face trial Nov. 29.
Amazingly, Nancy Pelosi has indicated she is considering staying in Congress to run for minority leader. It had been widely expected that she would leave Congress. Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), a member of the Blue Dog coalition, is among a few Democrats publicly urging Pelosi to step aside. Schuler says he will challenge her for the minority leader post if she seeks it.
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Warfront With Jihadistan: Bomb Plot Thwarted
Last Friday, two explosive-laden packages on board FedEx and UPS cargo planes bound for the U.S. from Yemen were intercepted in the UK and Dubai. The bombs, wired to explode using cell phones as timers, were powerful enough to bring the aircraft down, according to U.S. and British officials. French officials said that one bomb was only 17 minutes from exploding. Discovery of the bombs led officials to conduct wider searches for additional such devices at the Newark and Philadelphia airports, as well as a delivery truck in New York City. It also prompted the Air Force to escort a passenger plane to New York. No other bombs were found.
The packages, addressed to Jewish synagogues in Chicago, were intercepted after a detailed tip from Saudi intelligence that included the packages' tracking numbers. It is believed that al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemeni group that is affiliated with Osama bin Laden and includes the radical U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, is responsible for this latest attack. It is also believed that the group, responsible for last year's failed Christmas Day undi-bomber attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, performed a dry run of this cargo plane attack in September.
This latest incident has governments and aviation authorities around the globe ramping up security. In typical Beltway fashion, even though the bombs targeted synagogues exclusively, a politically correct FBI agent warned, "Since two of the suspicious packages that were intercepted were addressed to religious institutions in Chicago, all churches, synagogues and mosques in the Chicago area should be vigilant for any unsolicited or unexpected packages, especially those originating from overseas locations." Why would mosques need to worry about bombs from radical Islamists -- unless someone there was expected to help with their final "delivery"? The Long War is being made even longer with this kind of pathetically PC thinking.
Department of Military Correctness: Light Sentence
On Sunday, a military judge sentenced Omar Khadr, a teen terrorist convicted of five war crimes, to 40 years in prison. That sentence, however, was merely symbolic as the U.S. had already agreed to limit his prison time to eight years, the bulk of which will be served in Canada. Khadr, who is from Toronto, planted land mines in Afghanistan and hurled a grenade that killed Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer in 2002. The seven-officer jury was unaware of the sentencing deal before deliberations began on Saturday. According to McClatchy, "The Pentagon's Chief War Crimes Prosecutor, Navy Capt. John F. Murphy, said he made the eight-year plea deal with Khadr to secure the certainty of a conviction for the victims of the so-called 'child-soldier.'"
Former Army Sgt. Layne Morris lost an eye in the firefight that resulted in Khadr's capture, and he had a different perspective, saying Khadr's short sentence put him on "the fast-track to freedom'' during "the prime of his life." And tragically, SFC Speer and his widow had the prime of their lives ripped away by this brutal jihadi.
In related news, today marks the one year anniversary of the attack at Fort Hood, which left 14 dead (including an unborn child) and 32 wounded. U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, M.D., who was paralyzed from the chest down when civilian police shot him, faces the death penalty.
From the Left: A Passage to Asia
A familiar adage says that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Notoriously thin-skinned Barack Obama doesn't strike us as particularly tough, but after what he called Tuesday's "shellacking" of his chosen party, he's leaving anyway, embarking on a 10-day Asian trip to India, Indonesia, Korea and Japan, complete with a fleet of 34 warships.
Yet the part that has raised eyebrows is the cost: The three-day Indian portion of the junket has been reported by Indian media as costing $200 million a day. Apparently, coconut removal is expensive. Considering the idea of the trip is to promote American jobs, though, it seems like we're redistributing an awful lot of cash by sending 3,000 people on the trip.
While the Mumbai trip is noteworthy for its scheduled visit with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a celebration of the Indian Diwali holiday, also included in the itinerary is a G-20 summit in Seoul and an Asia-Pacific leaders summit in Yokohama. But the president will return just in time for a lame-duck session of Congress that will likely spend much more than $200 million a day. It's possible that this Asian trip could be a comparative bargain to taxpayers.
Business & Economy
Regulatory Commissars: De Facto Drilling Ban Continues
The administration's ill-advised moratorium on deepwater oil drilling ended last month, but no one is in a hurry to issue permits. None have been issued since last May and it could be months before the first new one is issued. Michael Bromwich, Director of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE, which we pronounce "bummer"), was coy when asked about permits. He hopes it happens before year's end, which doesn't boost our confidence, nor probably that of the oil companies seeking the permits.
It's not just deepwater drilling permits that are going nowhere either. Shallow-water permits have dropped 53 percent since last year. Michael Hecht, President and CEO of GNO Inc., an economic development agency, said, "The concern is that we still have a de facto moratorium." For an administration supposedly focused on creating -- and saving -- jobs, their actual policies continue to have the opposite effect. No doubt, though, they will take all the credit for the economy adding 151,000 jobs last month and the stock market surging this week. The expected political tsunami Tuesday might have had something to do with that.
The Federal Reserve Has a Plan
Perhaps spurred by the smashing success (cough, cough) of this administration's economic stimu-less package, the Federal Reserve has announced it will buy $600 billion in government bonds over the next eight months in an attempt to speed up the economic recovery. This is known as "quantitative easing," which is known in straight talk circles as inflation. Combine this with the $35 billion the Fed is dishing out monthly to replace mortgage bonds in its portfolio that are being retired, and the "investment" total is monumental. As The Wall Street Journal explains, "In essence, the Fed now will print money to buy as much as $900 billion in U.S. government bonds through June -- an amount roughly equal to the government's total projected borrowing needs over that period." Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) described the risk of this move as "incalculable," and Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Thomas Hoenig called the decision a "bargain with the devil."
Indeed, economists from Macroeconomic Advisers, LLC said that even were the Fed to buy up $1.5 trillion in Treasury bonds, unemployment would drop by only 0.3 percentage points in each of the next two years. Meanwhile, the injection of newly printed money isn't sitting well internationally, and the London Telegraph reports that several countries have implemented or are considering capital controls to deal with the "Fed's lax policy [which] is causing havoc."
Yet despite the risks and ramifications, the Fed marches on. After all, when it comes to interfering in the market, the only pace bureaucrats know is full speed ahead.
Red Tag Sale at GM
Even President Ronald Reagan used the government to rescue Chrysler, probably against his best instincts, but his rescue didn't involve a ridiculous federal government takeover of the company accompanied by the willful destruction of stock and bondholder rights. What is more, whereas Reagan's plan worked because it was limited in scope, today's typical government bureaucrat never mentions just exactly whom Obama's takeover helped. It certainly wasn't "the little guy."
Under the steady guidance of the Obama administration, government-owned General Motors is planning on issuing its first stock IPO since it became Government Motors. The company's goal is to raise $50 billion, but that may be hard to do given that GM expects to sell it's stock at $27 a share -- half what the government needs to earn a profit.
There was no word on why the Obama administration decided that now is a good time to cash out and reduce its ownership in Government Motors from 50 percent to 35 percent. We're sure it can't possibly be related to the continued decline in GM's share of the U.S. auto market and the central planners' failure to solve the cost issues that drove GM into bankruptcy in the first place.
Culture & Policy
Around the Nation: Notable Ballot Measures
Congressional seats weren't the only things on the ballot around the country Tuesday. Notables include rejections of the individual mandate of ObamaCare in Arizona, Oklahoma and Colorado. The provisions, while largely symbolic at this point, were to be strong rebukes of Democrats' takeover of the health care system and unconstitutional mandate that individuals purchase insurance. The measures won in Arizona and Oklahoma by comfortable margins, though Colorado voters fell for leftist propaganda and the measure failed. Numerous state legislatures will take up some version of a rejection of the mandate when those legislatures return to session next year, while court challenges work their way through the system.
In Iowa, three state Supreme Court justices were voted out of office, marking the first time that had happened since the current system was set up in 1962. Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and justices David Baker and Michael Streit were voted off the bench, all as a result of the court's unanimous ruling this year legalizing same-sex marriage. Supporters of the justices formed a group called Fair Courts For Us to try to save them from electoral defeat. Dan Moore, the group's co-chairman, said, "What I want Iowans to know is that our courtrooms need to be the safest place for parties to go to work out their differences and disputes. They need to know courts will be fair and impartial and decisions won't be based on fear and popularity." Of course, had justices not legislated from the bench, this triple play never would have been an issue.
As we noted last week, voters in Portland, Maine, considered allowing legal residents who are not U.S. citizens to vote in local elections, but not state or federal elections. That measure failed Tuesday 52-48.
Finally, California's Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana, failed 46-53. What was particularly interesting is that many police and parents supported the measure, while marijuana growers and potheads opposed it. The reason for that apparent oddity is that, for pot growers, Prop. 19 would so tax and regulate marijuana as to make it unprofitable. Besides, if people can smoke it at the World Series with impunity as it is, why go to all that trouble to make it "legal"?
ACORN Files Chapter 7
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was founded in 1970 as a way to get out the vote among various leftists, particularly minorities. However, last year, after an undercover investigation revealing a willingness to break the law on the part of ACORN workers, the organization has had a hard fall from the tree.
Ironically, ACORN filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Election Day. CEO Bertha Lewis was defiant to the end, saying in a statement, "For over 40 years ACORN has fought the good fight." However, a "barrage of unmitigated accusations certainly took its toll," and the "ongoing political onslaught caused irreparable harm." She continued, "We have spent our remaining resources trying to dissolve the organization with integrity, while continuing to respond to the extremist attacks. Let us all learn from the past, and march boldly into the future." We hope that future is something other than enabling voter fraud and aiding other illegal activity.
From the 'Non Compos Mentis' File
Do you have kids who are learning to ride a bike? Better buy some insurance along with those training wheels. A New York Supreme Court justice recently ruled that a six-year-old girl can be sued over accusations that she hit an 87-year-old woman with a training bicycle. The judge's decision revolves around a 2009 accident, in which a pair of then-four-year-old children struck an elderly pedestrian with their bikes. The woman, who underwent surgery for a fractured hip, died from complications three months later.
King's County Supreme Court Justice Paul Wooten rejected arguments presented by the attorney for one of the children that the case should be dismissed because of the child's age and that the child shouldn't be liable because she was under her mother's supervision. Instead, Wooten determined that the child has apparently reached the age of sue-ability. "For infants above the age of 4," he wrote, "there is no bright-line rule." It seems there is also no bright light of common sense in the judge's ruling. With judicial activism like this, infants who spit up on Aunt Susie's favorite blouse will soon be liable for property damage.
Nancy Pelosi's home city made some waves on Tuesday. "San Francisco has become the first major U.S. city to pass a law that cracks down on the popular practice of giving away free toys with unhealthy restaurant meals for children," Reuters reports. Indeed, the tolerant "live and let live" Board of Supervisors in one of America's most leftist cities has targeted McDonald's by requiring certain nutritional standards for kids' meals before toys may be included in the package. Those standards include, according to Reuters, "meals that have less than 600 calories, contain fruits and vegetables, and include beverages without excessive fat or sugar." Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the measure, crowed, "We're part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice." Apparently, "food justice" is nothing more than taking toys from kids. You could call it No Child's Toy Left Behind.