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« Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 375 -- Who Pays Taxes. | WILLisms.com | Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 376 -- Democrats & Protectionism. »

The Tenth Mainstream Melee -- Our New Democratic Overlords.


It's a non-blog adventure.


Los Angeles Times: "Speaker-to-be is no stranger to earmarking"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Nancy Pelosi is sending decidedly mixed messages on earmarks.

Super Succinct Snippet-

During the last congressional session, her district received far more earmarks than a typical district, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog that tracks congressional spending.


Pelosi has defended her earmarking, including at a news conference in March. "There are many earmarks that are very worthy," she said. "All of mine, as a matter of fact."


In one of her first acts as speaker, she has pledged to crack down on earmarking.

"I would just as soon do away with all of them," she told reporters this week.

This year, Pelosi was among those who assailed Republicans' use of the practice.

And when the House adopted a rule in September requiring authors of some, but not all, earmarks to be identified, she called it a "political gimmick to make it look as if something is happening."

Flip. Flop. Flip. Flop. Pelosi really is all over the map, isn't she? Especially on earmarks.



DMN: "It's our serve"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Thomas Friedman notes that the Democrats in Congress are more protectionist than their predecessors.

Super Succinct Snippet-

The big question for me is, how will President Bush and the Democratic Congress use China: as a scapegoat or a Sputnik?

Will they use it as an excuse to avoid doing the hard things, because it's all just China's fault, or as an excuse to rally the country – as we did after the Soviets leapt ahead of us in the space race and launched Sputnik – to make the kind of comprehensive changes in health care, portability of pensions, entitlements and lifelong learning to give America's middle class the best tools possible to thrive?

Thomas Friedman is torn. On the one hand, he is a believer in free trade and globalization, but on the other hand, he is politically and ideologically left-of-center. Thus, he's willing to give these economic isolationists now in power the benefit of the doubt. For now. That's not going to last very long, as Democrats choose walls and Smoot-Hawleyism over real reform.



The Wall Street Journal: "Democratic Gains Raise Roadblocks To Free-Trade Push"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Iraq was an issue, so was corruption, and the sum total nationally was a bloodbath; nevertheless, Democrats largely won individual races ever-so-marginally on a socially conservative, economically populist message in the Ohio River Valley (and similar blue collar areas).

Super Succinct Snippet-

Even in states that historically have rejected anti-free-trade campaigns, such as Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, candidates who ran heavily on such a platform won. While the dominant themes of the campaign were Iraq, terror and scandal, there were plenty of signs that economic insecurity was coloring voters' decisions.

In exit polls, half of voters said they felt the "state of the national economy" was "not so good," or "poor." Economic concerns were particularly big in the industrial Midwest, where free-trade critics won some of their biggest gains and voters in some states put economic concerns first.


Congressional Democrats have long been moving away from free-trade support. In the 1990s, dozens of House Democrats regularly supported free-trade initiatives like the North American Free Trade Agreement backed by then-President Clinton, which won 102 Democratic votes. But only 15 Democrats backed the Central American Free Trade Agreement negotiated by the Bush administration in 2005.

The incoming batch of trade skeptics that unseated incumbent Republicans largely represents a new breed. Many are conservative on issues such as gun ownership and abortion and on economic issues like taxes, but veer populist on trade issues.

From a nitty-gritty behind-the-scenes standpoint, the new Democratic majority in the House was won mostly in blue collar districts. Union voters, many of whom were microtargeted into voting for Bush in 2004, turned out for protectionist Democrats this year in a big way. This is no accident. Unions and other left-wing organizations, while still far behind the curve when it comes to identifying and mobilizing friendly voters in non-urban areas, have caught up to Republicans just enough to eek out the sorts of ~5000 vote victory margins we saw all around the country.



The Wall Street Journal: "Redistricting: Home to Roost"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Republicans spread their supporters too thinly when redistricting in 50/50 type regions like Pennsylvania.

Super Succinct Snippet-

In 2002 the fruits of the work in Pennsylvania -- as well as similar efforts in Ohio, Michigan and Florida -- were clear when the Republicans' U.S. House majority widened to 229-204. Mr. DeLay wasn't done, though. The next year, he pushed through a new congressional map in Texas that produced another net gain of five Republican seats in the Lone Star state. By 2004, his House majority had grown to 232-202.

While Republicans lauded their Texas coup, pro-Democratic union leaders at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, across the street from the White House, pored over the 2004 presidential and congressional results. They began to put together a pattern: Republican-held House seats where Democrat John Kerry narrowly won or lost also included high concentrations of union members.


"If Republicans had been a little less aggressive, they could have won several of those seats. If they gave the Democrats one more seat, they could have shored up by several percentage points the other seats," says Nathaniel Persily, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

While the article blames Tom DeLay for diluting Republican districts via redistricting, spreading thin the GOP base in Texas worked because Texas is a conservative Republican state, without strong unions.

Spreading thin in places like Pennsylvania was only a good idea to the extent that strong Republican incumbents were expected to easily hold out until the next Census, when "blue states" such as Pennsylvania are projected to lose a dozen or more Congressional seats to "red states" like Texas in the reapportionment process.



New York Post: "Are Dems Bolton Already?"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Throwing Bolton out: yet another annoying consequence of the elections.

Super Succinct Snippet-

It now appears likely that U.N. Am bassador John Bolton, faced with intransigent opposition from the new majority party, will have to step down.

That would be a tremendous loss for America's diplomatic efforts. And it would send exactly the wrong signal to the nation's enemies - who were rejoicing last week and feeling emboldened in the wake of the Dems' victory Tuesday.

Bolton = reform and common sense at the UN.

Ergo, Democrats are against reform and common sense at the UN. In no organization is the culture of corruption more entrenched and consequential than at the United Nations. Ambassador Bolton has been a strong voice for change at the United Nations. He's also been an articulate and effective supporter of American interests in the world. It's a shame that he'll likely be replaced by some lame candidate who does not even speak for the President.


The previous Mainstream Melee.

WILLisms.com and many other blogs sometimes focus too much on our fellow bloggers, while excluding well-done professional journalism from our posts.

The Mainstream Melee is a quick survey of five non-blog sources, coming atchya at completely random intervals. The stories are either underreported, particularly well-written, interesting, or otherwise important to the big picture. But generally there will be a theme of some kind in the choices.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 November 2006 12:14 PM


I find it interesting that now that Pelosi is going to be Speaker of the House she decides it is time to work together. I am remembering her message sent out to everyone earlier saying anything Bush says we will disagree with... Hmmm.

Posted by: zsa zsa at November 13, 2006 01:59 PM