Friday, October 25, 2002

Senator Paul Wellstone, 1944 - 2002

One of the true great American public servants. He will be missed. Full coverage:

  • The Minneapolis Star Tribune main story

  • Star Tribune: "Plume of smoke"

  • Star-Tribune: Democrats looking for successor

  • CNN story on the plane crash

  • CNN Obituary

  • Fox news report

  • MSNBC report

  • MSNBC - Election in turmoil

    Of course,we now have to ask ourselves what happens next? The bloggers are all over this, but this seems to be the relevant Minnesota code; Chapter 204.13, Subdivision 2:

    A major political party may provide in its governing rules a procedure, including designation of an appropriate committee, to fill vacancies in nomination for all offices elected statewide. The nomination certificate shall be prepared under the direction of and executed by the chair and secretary of the political party and filed within seven days after the vacancy in nomination occurs or before the 14th day before the general election, whichever is sooner. If the vacancy in nomination occurs through the candidate's death or catastrophic illness, the nomination certificate must be filed within seven days after the vacancy in nomination occurs but no later than four days before the general election. The chair and secretary when filing the certificate shall attach an affidavit stating that the newly nominated candidate has been selected under the rules of the party and that the individuals signing the certificate and making the affidavit are the chair and secretary of the party.

    The upshot is that there is a clear law and procedure for this occurence. The only question is whether the Democrats have to do this. They "have the authority" to do so, but it's not clear whether that means they are compelled to do so, or merely have the choice to do so. Obviously, the Minnesota Democrats are already asserting that they have a choice in the matter; the GOP is claiming that they do not, fearing another Carnahan scenario. If the Democrats choose not to replace Wellstone on the ballot, expect the GOP to go to court.

    There is one other wrinkle, however. With a vacancy in the Senate, the GOP could theoretically claim they control the US Senate from now until the election. The Senate would be divided 49-49-1, and they could pop Dick Cheney in to break the tie and take majority control. Even Trent Lott is probably not quite low enough to do this, but the only way to block it is for the governor of Minnesota to appoint a successor. That successor would only serve until the day of the election by Minnesota law, Chapter 204.28D, subdivisions 11 and 12:

    Subd. 11. Temporary appointment. The governor may make a temporary appointment to fill any vacancy. An appointee shall hold office until a successor is elected and qualified at a special election or until a successor is elected pursuant to subdivision 12.

    Subd. 12. Succession by regularly elected senator. An individual who is elected to the office of United States senator for a regular six-year term when the office is vacant or is filled by an individual appointed pursuant to subdivision 11, shall also succeed to the office for the remainder of the unexpired term.

    Whether or not Ventura would do so, of course is the 800 lb. gorilla holding the $64,000 question. The governor went on teevee and said only that he would not appoint himself. Whether or not he would appoint a Democrat 'placeholder' to prevent GOP Senate machinations is another story altogether. An interesting sidenote is that if a valid winner is determined on November 5th, he/she takes office immediately to serve out the vacancy, if there is no successor appointed by Ventura. If the governor chooses not to appoint a successor, and the Democrats choose not to replace the Senator on the ballot, and Wellstone wins, then the Governor would get to appoint someone until the special election could be held by Subdivision 6 of Chapter 204D.28:

    Subd. 6. Special election required; exception; when held. Every vacancy shall be filled for the remainder of the term by a special election held pursuant to this subdivision; except that no special election shall be held in the year before the term expires.

    The special election shall be held at the next November election if the vacancy occurs at least six weeks before the regular state primary preceding that election. If the vacancy occurs less than six weeks before the regular state primary preceding the next November election, the special election shall be held at the second November election after the vacancy occurs.

    According to Subdivision 4 of the same chapter, a November election is either the next general election in an even-numbered, or an election held in odd-numbered years:

    November election. "November election" means:

    (a) The state general election in even-numbered years; or

    (b) The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered years.

    As such, the Ventura-appointee would only serve until the following November. Again, this scenario assumes that Wellstone stays on the ballot and wins.

    Finally, the quesion must be asked: if the Democrats appoint a replacement to Wellstone on the ballot, who would it be? The obvious answer (to me) is Walter Mondale. He's cut from the same liberal tradition, is a favored son of Minnesota, and already well-known. But we'll see.....

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Michael Kinsley Strikes Again

Perhaps we should rename SdB to "Shameless Kinsley Fanboys Online."

The latest Readme column.

So, why exactly is Iraq different from North Korea? Both are founding members of President Bush's "axis of evil," and both deserve that honor. North Korea has now admitted to a nuclear weapons development program on about the same timeline as what we only suspect about Iraq. So, why are we barely complaining in one case and off to war in the other?

Bush addressed this conundrum the other day. "Saddam Hussein is unique," he explained. "He has thumbed his nose at the world for 11 years … and for 11 years he has said, 'No, I refuse to disarm.' " The North Koreans, by contrast, said, "Yes, we will disarm"—they promised to stop building nukes in exchange for help in developing peaceful nuclear power—and then they didn't do it. I guess that's a difference, but it sounds as if we're punishing Saddam for his honesty.

Kinsley also dissects and analyzes who might actually be in charge over in the West Wing:

"President Bush" is, of course, a metaphor. Much Washington political commentary and analysis is basically a discussion of what or whom the term "President Bush" is a metaphor for. Is it Karl Rove? Is it still Karen Hughes, although she has decamped? Even more than most presidents, Bush is regarded as the sum total of his advisers. Regarding Iraq, the advisers themselves are also used as metaphors, often in plural to signify a stereotype. "The Cheneys and the Rumsfelds" evokes a retro world of confident white CEOs in suits, oil barons, and the military industrial complex. "The Wolfowitzes and the Richard Perles" evokes—well, you know what it evokes.

Go read it, now. It's a shame that Kinsley has chosen the semi-retirement of occassional Readme pieces, since he is really the most cogent, honest and sharp liberal pundit out there.....
The Colorado Senate Race Update

The Denver Post has gone over for Tom Strickland over Wayne Allard. It's still a damn tight race, and this endorsement may very well give Strickland the final push over the hump. Frankly, we're a little surprised, but we'll roll with the flow.

In SdB's opinion, this endorsement will put Strickland over, so we are changing our Senate forecast to 51 (D) - 48 (R) - 1 (I). Of course, New Hampshire still gives us the heebie-jeebies.....
Chickenhawk, the Other White Meat

The Nation has an editorial about "chickenhawks" (no, not the gay troller kind; far more sinister), officially defined as:

"public persons--generally male--who (1) tend to advocate, or are fervent supporters of those who advocate, military solutions to political problems, and who have personally (2) declined to take advantage of a significant opportunity to serve in uniform during wartime."

It's worth looking at, if only for the cover. Check it out, as well as the "official" Chickenhawk Database over at the New Hampshire Gazette.
Rumsfeld Gins More Lies

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is unhappy that the US intelligence effort can't seem to find support for his foregone conclusions, so he has commissioned his own intelligence organization within the DoD to do so.

Some officials say the creation of the team reflects frustration on the part of Mr. Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and other senior officials that they are not receiving undiluted information on the capacities of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq and his suspected ties to terrorist organizations.

But officials who disagree say the top civilian policy makers are intent on politicizing intelligence to fit their hawkish views on Iraq.

Wolfowitz even admits they are writing the conclusion, then doing the research:

[Wolfowitz] described "a phenomenon in intelligence work, that people who are pursuing a certain hypothesis will see certain facts that others won't, and not see other facts that others will."

The ubiquitous "unnamed official" weighs in on Rummy's agenda:

"There is a complete breakdown in the relationship between the Defense Department and the intelligence community, to include its own Defense Intelligence Agency," the official said. "Wolfowitz and company disbelieve any analysis that doesn't support their own preconceived conclusions. The C.I.A. is enemy territory, as far are they're concerned."

We're almost getting tired of writing about Rummy here at SdB. It is amzing to us that one of the principle pillars of the War on Iraq is based on the idea that Saddam and Al-Qaeda are in cohoots. The original "Czech report" of meetings between Iraqi officials and Al-Qaeda has been widely discredited by most people, and the Czech government formally retracted the linkage, saying they had "no confidence" in the report's conclusions.

Despite that fact that every credible, less-than-credible, and outright specious reason advanced by the Bush Adminstration in the 'Big Speech' has been thoroughly researched and gutted, the Adminstration still digs away. Where is the outrage? When will someone stand up and declare that Rummy wears no clothes?

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Hey, Why Does Suckful Look so Different?

There is a long answer, but the short answer is that all of our custom settings got lost in today's BlogSpot brownout, so we've had to redecorate. Previously, I was using a format known as 'Currency' with my own customizations, but I've been trying to get that back into shape, and it wasn't working, so I've gone with the simpler layout, to ease my troubles should there be another brownout in BlogSpot service. The useful links and archives should be back up shortly.

All of which is to say the sooner we move the our new home, the better.
Sometimes a Scatter Graph is Worth a Thousand Words

1000 words on the Bush Adminstration's performance thus far.
Where is 'Tough on Crime' Bush, Ashcroft, Mueller, et al. On the Sniper Issue?

Howard Fineman at MSNBC wants to know.

The need for a high-profile administration presence seems pretty clear. The sniper is crisscrossing a river and a jumble of jurisdictions- two states, a federal district, a half-dozen counties and cities — making unified command and control impossible. I hope I am proved wrong — the sooner the better — but it seems to me that none of the local police seems quite up to getting a handle on the whole thing. What’s needed is a comprehensive view; and only the feds, led by a demanding president and attentive attorney general, can provide it.

It leads SdB to ask, if this isn't the unusual scenario that FBI was created for, then what is? I think it's time for the Feds to step in. I applaud Chief Moose of Montgomery County for leading the investigation as best he can, but once we start adding military spy planes, dozens of jurisdictions, Interpol, the CIA, the ATF, and other assorted federal and/or international, not to menion state and county and local forces, then it's a job that only the FBI can do. In fact, this is exactly the thing the FBI was crated for. Fineman posits that Rove and Co. are keping the federales out of the mix because it plays into Democratic hands on gun control, especially in the close race between Townsend and Erhlich in Maryland. I hope that the lack of federal interest in the case is not an extension of cold electoral politics.
McBride Pulls Ahead in Florida

According to a poll by the InsiderAdvantage by the Marketing Workshop. It's still withing the margin of error (barely), but if McBride can retire Jeb from politics, it will leave GWB alone, like a babe in the woods. He'll feel like Lee did after Stonewall got shot, permanently exposed on the flank, and without critical support. Will Florida be the Bush's Gettysburg?

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Sniper Round-Up

As a former resident of suburban DC on the Maryland side, I've have been endlessly fascinated (and horrified) by the sniper shootings around the nation's capital. Here are some of the more interesting reactions and coverage of the shooter.

Monday, October 21, 2002

The Battle for the Senate

(Editor's note, 10/24/02 - we are changing our minds on Colorado, thanks to the Denver Post's endorsement of Tom Strickland, so the final tally is now 51 for Dems and 48 for GOP's, with one Independent.)

With a little more than two weeks to go before the election, SdB turns it's attention to the Senate races that will determind the controlling party in the upper chamber. Our conclusion: same as it ever was, with the Dems holding a one seat lead after the election. The path is a little tortured, so carry a map if you get lost easily.

First of all, for all of the heated discussion about the closeness of the race for control of the Senate, there are surpisingly few seats up for grabs. Of the 34 races, only seven now seem competitive. As short as a month ago, there were about a dozen that were winnable by either side. The 27 races that seem sewn up:

  • State - Winner (Party)
  • Alabama - Sessions (R)
  • Alaska - Stevens (R)
  • Delaware - Biden (D)
  • Georgia - Cleland (D)
  • Idaho - Craig (R)
  • Illinois - Durbin (D)
  • Iowa - Harkin (D)
  • Kansas - Roberts (R)
  • Kentucky - McConnell (R)
  • Louisiana - Landrieu (D)
  • Maine - Collins (R)
  • Massachusetts - Kerry (D)
  • Michigan - Levin (D)
  • Mississippi - Cochran (R)
  • Montana - Baucus (D)
  • Nebraska - Hagel (R)
  • North Carolina - Dole (R)
  • New Mexico - Domenici (R)
  • Oklahoma - Inhofe (R)
  • Oregon - Smith (R)
  • Rhode Island - Reed (D)
  • South Carolina - Graham (R)
  • Tennessee - Alexander (R)
  • Texas - Cornyn (R)
  • Virginia - Warner (R)
  • West Virginia - Rockefeller (D)
  • Wyoming - Enzi (R)

Given that there are 29 Republicans not up for re-election and 17 winners in the above list, that gives the GOP 46 'safe' seats in the Senate. On the Democratic side, 36 are not up for re-election, and they pick up 10 wins, so they also have 46 'safe' seats. In other words, the absolute worst either party will do is 46. Technically, the Democratic side could probably nudge that number up to 47, since Jeffords has cast his indepedent lot with the them. There will be no landslide in the Senate, and whichever party gains the majority will have to play hardball to get above the 60 votes needed for cloture on any debate.

Of the remaining seven races, one of them stands out from the others, due to quirks in election law. The race in Missouri isn't a standard race, it's a 'make-up' election for the one voided in 2000. When Missourians returned the at-the-time recently deceased Mel Carnahan to the Senate, the election was voided, and the governor made good on his promise to appoint Mr. Carnahan's spouse, Jean to his seat. But the appointment was only temporary until a new election could be held. Under Missouri law, that election is being held now. So the winner of this election is technically only serving out the original six-year term, which now has about four years remaining.

What's really interesting is that the result of the election is immediate. Should Mr. Talent, the GOP candidate win (and recent polls show him surging to a slight lead), the control of the Senate actually changes hands the next day. The GOP has run an effective (and unsavory) campaign based around whether or not Jean Carnahan is up to the task of being in the Senate, and according to the latest polls, this issue has ound traction with voters. Talent, if he wins (and we are picking him to do so), becomes the 50th GOP member, and Trent Lott takes the reins. So, from about November 6th to January 3th, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the White House will be under control of the same party.

The rest of the new Senators will be sworn in after the new year. And if SdB's predictions are right, Tom Daschle will again squeak in by the slimmest of margins to retake the Majority Leader's chair.

  • State - Winner (Party) - Comments
  • Arkansas - Pryor (D) - Close, but Hutchinson wll be done in do to marital scandal
  • Colorado - Allard (R) - GOP registration edge will carry this race (We're going with Strickland now. - Ed.)
  • Minnesota - Wellstone (D) - Dems better get out the vote on this one
  • New Hampshire - Shaheen (D) - Shaheen put over the top by independent voters
  • New Jersey - Lautenberg (D) - It stinks; but hey, welcome to New Jersey
  • South Dakota - Thune (R) - Bush beats Daschle in proxy war funded by out-of-state money

In Arkansas, Hutchinson and Pryor are running at a statistical dead heat. Hutchinson is facing serious problems with personal issues, involving his divorce and quickie re-marriage to a member of his staff. (The urge to comment on Arkansas politicians and infidelity is strong.....) In a close race, one of the things voters look at is a candidate's 'negatives', and Hutch is cornering the market. Pryor will beat Hutch by a slim, Florida-recount-worthy margin.

In Colorado, where the GOP holds a sizable registration advantage, all signs point to Allard being able to punch out a win over Democrat Strickland. I'll be the first to admit that I've never heard of this so-called Senator Allard and it seems Coloradans feel the same way, but he should still be able to bankroll the GOP voting edge to a larger victory margin than current polling indicates. (Or not. :p -Ed.)

Minnesotans face a choice between one of the most liberal voices in the country, the incumbent Paul Wellstone, and a liberal RINO in one-time Democrat Norm Coleman. Wellstone takes hits for being a dove in this time of Bush Administration-fabricated war, yet it seems for now that Wellstone will get by. Besides, do Minnesotans want a Senator who lost to a professional wrestler his last time out?

In bedrock conservative/independent New Hampshire, signs point to Governor Jean Shaheen beating scion of former governor John Sununu. While the GOP holds a sizable edge in party affiliation, the Granite State has almost 40% of the electorate self-identifying as prickly independents, and Jean (the Machine) Shaheen has won over the ind. crowd with her personal style and pragmatic positions. It will be close, but in the end Gov. Shaheen will carry the day.

I think the only reason why New Jersey seems close is that voters are withholding their preference for Lautenburg because of the whole Toricelli mess. In the end, though, heavily Democratic New Jersey will begrudgingly choose Lautenburg over his stuffed shirt rival, and probably by double digits or more. Not as close as people think.

South Dakota. This is the scene of the Bush/Daschle proxy fight. It's in Daschle's neighborhood, and the White House would like to humble one of it's most outspoken critics by handing him a dose of come-uppance. Out-of-state money has flowed into this campaign, and the race has turned into the first test of Bush v. Daschle that the voters get to take a shot at. I expect a late push by the White House to win this one will put them over. This one could be headed into recount land.

Of the seven close races the Dems will, according to SdB's supersensitive politcal nose, eke out four wins, to stay at 50 members after the swearing in for the next Congress. Trent Lott will give way back to Tom Daschle, and the New Senate will look like the Old Senate, with the Party of Donkeys holding a slim one-seat advantage over the Party of Elephants. Now if only the House could get its act together.....