November 2nd, 2010
You thought a lot of American liberals don't quite cotton to the tea party? You should hear the Europeans.
From Britain to Germany, newspaper editorialists – albeit for mostly liberal and leftist party publications – have in turn called those who sympathize with the small-government, antitax tea party movement that sprung up in early 2009 "ill-educated," "drooling imbeciles," "rednecks," and even a "traveling circus of fools."
To be sure, going into Election Day many Americans also had choice adjectives to describe tea party folks. The allegation that the tea party is a Republican fringe over-fixated on race and the past is at the heart of much of the criticism against the movement in the US.
But the fiery European epithets have four very different, and key, causes:
1) Some Brits, holding on to a decades-old characterization of the former colonials as gullible and naive, still view Americans as obtuse and at times irresponsible upstarts on the global stage. The Financial Times' Clive Crook summed the sentiment up in a Monday column about the changing – and, in his view, worrying – dynamics of the American electorate on Election Day. He called the tea party driven by "pure stupid nativism."
2) The American two-party system is fundamentally foreign to Europeans. "US politics has almost always had disorganized, decentralized movements like the Tea Parties – and they have had a significant impact," writes John Judis in the New Republic. "In Europe's multiparty systems, movements cohere more easily into parties, but in the US, the two-party system discourages the transition from movement to party except when the movement takes over one of the two parties."
3) As tea party-inspired groups begin forming in countries like Britain and Israel (there's now a European Tea Party Facebook page devoted to fight "the burden of big government"), many Europeans are worried that growing frustration over large debt burdens, pensions, and immigration could coalesce around a broader tea party-style movement.
"Rather than commend the Tea Party movement as a refreshing and enviable display of American political energy, European media elites have launched an all-out propaganda assault on the movement and its supporters," writes Soeren Kern, a senior analyst at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estrategicos on the Pajamas Media news site. "The main tactic has been to seek to discredit Tea Party sympathizers as ... the exact opposite of ideal European citizens and their elite masters."
4) For many Europeans, however, concerns about the tea party center less on how the movement will affect what America does and more on what it won't do in the world. Tea party stalwart Rep. Ron Paul of Texas can only reinforce that fear with his foreign policy philosophy: “A return to the traditional US foreign policy of active private engagement but government noninterventionism is the only alternative that can restore our moral and fiscal health.”
"The world needs cooperative leadership – leadership based on a will for dialogue in financial policies as well as in other areas," counters Norwegian Labor Party Secretary Raymond Johansen on the Huffington Post. "Inward-looking austerity and Tea Party populism is not the answer, neither for the US nor for Europe."
November 2nd, 2010
Washington (CNN) -- Republicans rode a wave of voter dissatisfaction with the state of the economy to win majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday's midterm elections, while Democrats were poised to retain their majority in the Senate.
With results still coming in and voting continuing in Western states, the extent of the Republican takeover of the 435-member House was still to be determined. But CNN projected that Republicans would win at least 50 more House seats than they currently hold to wipe out the Democratic majority of the past four years.
At 10 p.m., CNN made projections in more key races. Projections are based on CNN analysis of exit poll data:
-- Republican incumbent Sen. John McCain has defeated Democrat Rodney Glassman in Arizona's Senate race.
-- Republican Rep. Roy Blunt has won the Missouri Senate seat left vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Kit Bond. Blunt defeated Democrat Robin Carnahan.
-- Republican incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley has won his bid for a sixth term as Iowa senator, beating out Democratic nominee Roxanne Conlin.
Republican candidates also were running strong in governors' races, while Democrats held on to some key Senate seats and appeared likely to stay in control of that chamber.
Tea Party-backed Republicans Rand Paul in Kentucky and Marco Rubio in Florida will win their Senate races, while another GOP candidate, John Boozman, will defeat incumbent Democrat Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas, according to the projections based on CNN analysis of exit poll data.
In Indiana, conservative Republican Dan Coats is the projected winner to take over the Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Evan Bayh. The projected victories by Coats and Boozman and John Hoeven in North Dakota gave Republicans three pick-ups in the Senate.
However, Democrat Chris Coons was the projected winner over Republican Christine O'Donnell, another Tea Party-supported candidate, in Delaware's Senate race for the seat formerly held for decades by Vice President Joe Biden.
In Connecticut, Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will defeat Republican Linda McMahon, the former professional wrestling executive, for the Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Chris Dodds.
Another big Democratic victory came in West Virginia, where Gov. Joe Manchin was projected to win the Senate seat formerly held by the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, who died earlier this year.
Other projected winners included incumbent senators such as Republicans Jim DeMint in South Carolina, Richard Shelby in Alabama, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Richard Burr in North Carolina, along with Democrats Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, and Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer of New York.
The projected victories by Coons, Manchin and Blumenthal were vital for the Democrats' chances to retain their majority in the Senate.
Republican Rob Portman, the former budget director under President George W. Bush, will win his Ohio Senate race to fill the seat held by retiring Republican George Voinovich, according to the projections. In New Hampshire, the GOP's Kelly Ayotte is the projected winner to fill the Senate seat held by retiring Republican Judd Gregg.
On the House side, Republicans picked up seats in a series of Eastern and Midwestern states. Republicans were running strongly in a number of other races, leading Republican National Chairman Michael Steele to tell CNN that he expected his party to gain 55 House seats to take majority control of the chamber.
Both Paul, the son of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, and O'Donnell rode Tea Party support to defeat mainstream Republican candidates in their GOP primaries.
Paul's projected victory to claim the seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Jim Bunning showed the influence of the movement that emerged in 2009 in opposition to expanded government and the growing federal deficit.
At the same time, the loss by O'Donnell could badly hurt Republican chances to win majority control of the Senate. Many Republicans believed the veteran congressman whom O'Donnell beat in the primary, former Gov. Mike Castle, would have defeated Coons.
Another Tea Party backed candidate, Republican Carl Paladino, will be handily defeated by Democrat Andrew Cuomo in the New York governor's race, the projections show. In other gubernatorial contests, Republicans Rick Scott in Florida, Bill Haslam in Tennessee and Sam Brownback in Kansas will be victorious, according to the projections.
Heated campaigning continued to the last minute on Tuesday, with President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton exhorting Democrats and independents to hold off a Republican surge while GOP candidates promised to change how Washington operates.
While Democrats continued to offer upbeat assessments of their party's chances Tuesday, multiple senior Democratic sources said privately that they expected to lose their House majority just four years after taking control of the chamber.
Later Tuesday, senior Democratic officials with close ties to the White House expressed concerns that the first wave of early exit polling data suggested women voters -- a key Democratic constituency in 2008 -- might not have turned out as strongly this time.
In addition, the officials said they have seen data suggesting that senior citizens may have come out in large numbers to express displeasure with health care reform, which they characterized as a troubling sign for the party.
The long and bitter campaign season drew more than $3.5 billion in spending, making it the most expensive nonpresidential vote ever, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group.
With about 100 of the 435 House seats at stake considered "in play," or competitive, an anti-Democratic mood was predicted to result in big Republican gains.
On the Senate side, where 37 of the 100 seats are being contested, the majority will be decided by key races in Nevada, Washington and a few other states where Democratic incumbents face strong challenges.
Republicans needed to win an additional 39 seats to claim the House majority and 10 Senate seats to overtake Democrats there.
If a Republican landslide occurs, it could surpass previous major shifts in congressional voting, such as the GOP's 56-seat gain in House seats in 1946.
In addition, the rise of the conservative Tea Party movement has added a new element to the election cycle, roiling Republican races by boosting little-known and inexperienced candidates to victory over mainstream figures in GOP primaries across the country.
No matter how many of the so-called Tea Party candidates win against Democratic opponents Tuesday, the impact of the movement is expected to shift the Republican agenda to the right.
"They tell me they want people who can work together in Washington," DeMint, one of the leading backers of Tea Party candidates, said in his victory speech. "I tell you this: I'm ready. I'm ready. Anyone whose guide is the constitution and whose goal is limited government, I'm ready to work with them today. But I'm not going to compromise with anyone who doesn't believe in that."
Exit polling showed voter dissatisfaction with both parties, as each received a 53 percent unfavorable rating. The economy was rated the most important issue by 62 percent of voters, far eclipsing health care reform (19 percent), immigration (8 percent) and the war in Afghanistan (7 percent), according to the exit polling.
Most voters, 88 percent, rated economic conditions as not good or poor, and 86 percents said they were very worried or somewhat worried about the economy, the exit polling showed.
Obama's approval rating was 45 percent, while 54 percent disapproved of his presidency so far, the exit polling revealed. Those figures were similar to the ratings for his two predecessors -- George W. Bush and Clinton -- who both saw their parties lose control of the House in the first mid-term election after they took office.
In a signal that Democratic campaign messaging was reaching voters, the exit polling showed 35 percent of voters blamed the nation's economic woes on Wall Street bankers, while 29 percent blamed Bush and 24 percent blamed Obama.
Voters across the country offered a variety of reasons for their choices Tuesday.
In Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, restaurant manager and internet entrepreneur Stephen Smith, 40, went to the polls hoping "that the entrenched incumbents get booted out of office," he said.
Melissa Bacon, 24, of Sacramento, California, cast her ballot partly for the thrill of the experience, she said.
"You don't get to vote every day. It's sort of its own holiday. You research the issues, vote and then wait to see if your position was the majority. It's as exciting to me as the World Series last night," she said on the heels of the San Francisco Giants' victory.
Nadya Alvarez of Parrish, Florida, went to the polls with her son to teach him about the importance of voting.
"My youngest is almost 2 years old, and I showed him the ballot, and he wanted to help fill in the circles," said Parrish, 28. "It is good to teach them from an early age to be involved in the welfare of our country and that we all have rights and duties to preserve."
Unemployment -- at a rate of 9.6 percent amid a slow recovery from economic recession -- has been the dominant issue, with Republicans accusing Obama and the Democrats of pushing through expensive policies that have expanded government without solving the problem.
Obama has led Democrats in defending his record, saying that steps such as the economic stimulus bill and auto industry bailout were necessary to prevent a depression, while health care reform and Wall Street reform will lay the foundation for sustainable future growth.
On Tuesday, Obama phoned in to three high-profile radio shows and taped a message for AOL users, saying his "ability to work on behalf of middle-class families is going to be hampered if I do not have people in Congress who want to cooperate."
Clinton called in to four Ohio radio stations during a day of campaigning that will take him from New York through West Virginia and Kentucky before he ends up in Florida.
Observers warned that the expected Republican gains offer little chance of compromise or bipartisan approaches on major issues.
Ohio Republican Rep. John Boehner is expected to be the new House speaker if the GOP wins control of the chamber. He already has signaled little appetite to negotiate with the White House or congressional Democrats, saying last week that "this is not a time for compromise."
Boehner and other conservatives say the top priorities must be spending cuts to try to balance the budget and job creation to spur the economy. However, they also advocate extending Bush-era tax cuts for everyone at a cost of $4 trillion over the next decade.
In the Senate, legislative gridlock as Republicans strengthen their current minority of 41 seats. Obama and Democrats accuse Senate Republicans of using obstruction tactics as a political tool, showing the distrust and animosity that already exists.
Democrats are also wary of a recent comment by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who told the National Journal, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."
The first test of a new relationship will come in mid-November, when Congress convenes a post-election lame-duck session to try to clear unfinished legislation before the newly elected Congress gathers in January. Among other issues, lawmakers must decide whether and how to extend Bush-era tax cuts.
CNN's Tom Cohen, Michael Pearson, Dana Bash, Ted Barrett, Deirdre Walsh, Paul Steinhauser, Rebecca Sinderbrand and Jessica Yellin contributed to this report.
November 2nd, 2010
Powerful work of art...
November 2nd, 2010
Guardians of Liberty: Part II
By Barry Secrest
When we look at the extreme overreaching of our Government, over the last several years, many often wonder "how" exactly America got to this particular point? Think about it. We have declared what amounted to anti-constitutional moratoriums against certain companies trying to perform the very thing that keeps them in business, we have had attack after attack by Democrat directed Government forces across a wide range of industries from Banking to Insurance to energy companies and numerous others scattered in between--even states, for Heaven's sake, to the point that we now have nearly half of all states suing the Federeal Government. We have even had a wide range of attacks against industry professionals themselves. These attacks range from doctors and medical professionals to news and talk show anchormen, bankers and stockbrokers. We have even had attacks on the Media itself. While the "Wizards of Wall Street" may have deserved a generous portion of negative criticism, a large proportion of those financial professionals under attack did absolutely nothing wrong, but separation via the broad brush-stroke is a normally utilized tool to the professional "Community Organizer." Read More:
When we look at the extreme overreaching of our Government, over the last several years, many often wonder "how" exactly America got to this particular point?
Think about it. We have declared what amounted to anti-constitutional moratoriums against certain companies trying to perform the very thing that keeps them in business, we have had attack after attack by Democrat directed Government forces across a wide range of industries from Banking to Insurance to energy companies and numerous others scattered in between--even states, for Heaven's sake, to the point that we now have nearly half of all states suing the Federeal Government. We have even had a wide range of attacks against industry professionals themselves.
These attacks range from doctors and medical professionals to news and talk show anchormen, bankers and stockbrokers. We have even had attacks on the Media itself. While the "Wizards of Wall Street" may have deserved a generous portion of negative criticism, a large proportion of those financial professionals under attack did absolutely nothing wrong, but separation via the broad brush-stroke is a normally utilized tool to the professional "Community Organizer."
November 2nd, 2010
By Mark Blumenthal
WASHINGTON -- Could the polls be wrong? That's a question I've been asked often in recent months, mostly by Democrats hoping that the dire forecasts produced here and elsewhere turn out to be too pessimistic. The short answer is of course they can. In an era of low response rates, imperfect sample coverage and a host of new polling technologies, nothing is certain. At this hour however, the most likely range of that error lies somewhere between a Democratic defeat comparable to 1994 and something much more severe.
Before we review our final round of polling forecasts based on whatever final polls straggle in this morning, let's take a few minutes to ponder that question a little more carefully. Every polling average on HuffPost Pollster and our Election Dashboard, and every probability we have calculated on the outcome, rests on the assumption that, as a whole, the underlying polling is statistically unbiased.
Are pre-election polls often widely variable? Yes, but averages and the "trend estimate" numbers we publish assume that most of the variation, whether based the errors involved in measuring a sample rather than the entire population, or based on subjective survey design decisions that pollsters make, from question wording to identifying the likely electorate, is random. If we average out the various polls, we minimize that random error and get a more accurate forecast. At least that's the operating assumption.
Polling aggregators -- from Bill Schneider and his CNN "poll of polls" in the 1990s to the RealClearPolitics averages, to sites like Pollster.com and FiveThirtyEight -- have succeeded because on the whole, pre-election polls over the last 15 to 20 years have been largely unbiased. If they have remained statistically neutral in recent weeks, then the estimates we have produced will be reasonably accurate.
There have certainly been examples within recent memory when the aggregate of polling had a statistical bias. There was the 2008 New Hampshire primary, when the final round of polls all showed Barack Obama leading Hillary Clinton, missing her ultimate victory. The leaked exit polls of 2004 also proved to have just enough statistical error favoring the Democrats to give everyone the wrong impression about the likely winner.
So could the polls be collectively wrong tonight? The discomforting thought for pollsters is that some surveys are clearly wrong at the national level and we have seen evidence for weeks of more subtle divides at the state level. As we noted yesterday, the final round of polls measuring the "generic" vote preference for the U.S. House -- the question that asks voters whether they prefer the Democrat or the Republican candidate for Congress in their District -- has produced a wide array of results ranging from dead even to the fifteen point, historical blowout forecast by the Gallup Organization.
Put simply, some of the forecasts on this table are inaccurate, though we will not know which ones until we have the full results.
We have also seen similar though usually less stark divides in recent weeks at the state level. For most of the fall, for example, the West Virginia senate race has produced two distinct narratives. One, driven by Rasmussen Reports' automated polls and the methodological clones produced by Rasmussen's Pulse subsidiary for Fox News, has shown Republican John Raese narrowly leading Democrat Joe Manchin up until the past week. The other, driven by virtually every other pollster active in the race, has given Manchin a narrow lead for much of the fall. Recent polls have converged, but both narratives of the race were not simultaneously accurate.
Washington -- the state whose close contest may well determine control of the Senate -- has demonstrated a similar divergence between polls (mostly using live interviewers) that have Democrat Patty Murray leading narrowly and others (mostly using automated methods) that have shown a much closer race. Again, those differences have recently converged to a degree, but either one narrative or the other has been the true story of the race, not both.
And these are just two of the most competitive and thus closely watched contests. Our colleague David Wilson points out a similar polling divide in the Delaware Senate race and there are likely similar patters lurking elsewhere.
So is it possible that our final polling "trend estimates" and win probabilities are providing a misleading picture of the outcome? Is it possible that the recent history of largely unbiased statewide state and Congressional polling will collide tonight with a one-sided wave of error? Yes, although the range of recent national poll results suggests that any such errors at the state level will favor Republicans.
The big divergence at the national level appears to result mostly from the way the significant enthusiasm gap separating Republicans and Democrats is interacting with pollsters' likely voter models. Consider this powerful bit of analysis from the Pew Research Center:
[T]he Republicans enjoy a substantial engagement advantage. The GOP's overall [48% to 42%] lead is only evident when the sample is narrowed to likely voters. Among all registered voters, preferences are about evenly divided - 44% Democrat, 43% Republican.
Read More at: Huffington Post