With tea party-backed candidates going down in Delaware, Colorado and Nevada, depriving Republicans of what would have been a 50-50 Senate, a bloc of prominent senators and operatives said party purists like Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) had foolishly pushed nominees too conservative to win in politically competitive states.
Movement conservatives pointed the finger right back at the establishment, accusing the National Republican Senatorial Committee of squandering millions on a California race that wasn’t close at the expense of offering additional aid in places like Colorado, Nevada and Washington state, where Democratic Sen. Patty Murray holds a narrow lead as the votes continue to be counted.
But the teabaggers really did cost the GOP control of the Senate, and the establishment’s bizarre fantasies of California triumph do indeed remain bizarre. If Florida had an electoral system that met minimally acceptable democratic standards, Karl Rove’s obsession with California would have cost Bush the 2000 election — but they’re still dreamin’.
Since some commenters who know better seem to buy this tea party excuse, I suppose I should address the argument that O’Donnell’s defeat was really a win because her primary win will keep other Republicans in line. The obvious problem with this argument is that it’s already been accomplished. I hate to break this to you, but Mike Castle was going to vote a straight tea party line on any vote that was consequential to the party leadership. And these Potemkin moderates are a real political asset to the GOP — the media just loves the senators who talk a good moderate game and then vote like Tom Coburn on any issue that actually matters, up to and including an essentially Rockefeller Republican health care plan. Sacrificing several Senate seats to accomplish something that’s already been accomplished while denying some extra political cover was unambiguously stupid.
This brings [Aleksandr] Khramchikhin back to China. He has previously written some fairly alarmist pieces about the potential Chinese threat to Russia, so this time he focuses on the possibility that China would attack Kazakhstan. This seems to be a sufficiently fantastic scenario that it could be dismissed out of hand, but instead he argues that China would easily win such a conflict while absorbing Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan with minimal effort. This means that Russia would have to come to Kazakhstan’s assistance or face the prospect of a 12,000km border with China stretching from Astrakhan to Vladivostok. (I’m not sure what happens to Mongolia in this scenario, but I assume it’s nothing good.) And at this point, Khramchikhin argues that Russia might as well capitulate on the spot.
A couple of thoughts:
1. This scenario is fascinating in that it very nearly mirror-images US concerns about Chinese expansion into the Pacific. It doesn’t include any nonsense about reputation and resolve (“If we allow the Chinese to seize Taiwan, then the Japanese and Indians will be forced to accommodate themselves to the reality of Chinese hegemony etc. etc.”) but otherwise it’s quite similar in tone. I guess that everybody has to come up with a reason why they should get paid.
2. In mild, brief defense of US analysts on the subject, I do think that a move to the Pacific is more likely than the conquest and annexation of Kazahkstan. I’m pretty sure that the PRC does actually kind of want Taiwan, and I’m not certain at all that it would want Kazahkstan even if someone were selling at bargain basement prices. I would also think that as a future grand strategy the Athenian sea-focused empire makes more sense in the modern context than the Spartan land-focused; nationalism and the expanding material and intellectual tools available to insurgency have made land based empire prohibitively expensive, which the Soviet Union discovered to its dismay.
The idea that wars should be fought at a distance has informed British military policy for centuries. To this end, the United Kingdom has historically structured its military forces with expeditionary capability in mind, even if other missions — the British Army’s commitment to the defense of West Germany, for example — have at times competed for money and interest. That would seem to apply even more today, when for the United Kingdom, virtually every conceivable military conflict is an expeditionary war.
However, the defense cuts outlined in the Strategic Defense and Security Review (.pdf) threaten to undermine Britain’s ability to undertake expeditionary operations. For the first time in centuries, the United Kingdom will effectively lose the ability to conduct unilateral expeditionary war.
This illustrates that abortion is like federal spending cuts; criminalizing abortion requires focusing on the abstract rather than the specific. “Pro-lifers” can be a pretty sizable group in the abstract, but start talking about constitutional amendments that would actually make obtaining abortions a serious criminal offense and require that sanctions not be applied selectively and support for criminalization vanishes as quickly as support for spending cuts vanishes if it’s ever made clear that this means “slashing defense, Medicare and Social Security” rather than “limiting welfare recipients to one Cadillac a year.”
Shorter Evan Bayh: “The Dems need to ‘reconnect with the center’ by ignoring any progressive legislation and focusing on deficit reduction. The way to focus on deficit reduction is through upper-class tax cuts. I mean, remember how that strategy preserved the surplus under Bush? If we do that, we’ll have the same success the Blue Dogs had last night!”
I guess Bayh’s idea for staying in the public eye is to try to be a bigger wanker than Joe Lieberman. This is certainly a good start!
Because there wasn’t enough bad news last week, the forces of discrimination strike back against three of the Iowa Supreme Court’s historic Varnum ruling. The good news is that the discrimination restoration faction faces an uphill climb, so with an effective struggle the ruling should remain in force.
O’Donnell and Angle may well have been decisive in allowing the Dems to keep the Senate. And while at least Delaware is a blue state available for personal reasons, it’s amazing that any Republican could lose a reddish purple state with 14% unemployment. For a clue as to how it could have happened, see the latest teabagger video from never-was Branson hack Ray Stevens, which seems pitched at an audience that found Lee Atwater’s racism a little too subtle:
Shorter David Brooks: “The fact that the new Republican House will totally be run by pragmatic, reasonable moderates interested in cutting deals with Democrats rather than mere obstruction gives me a Boehner.”
My very favorite part of this classic in the being-a-dutiful-stenographer-for-politicians-who-will-tell-you-whatever-nonsense-you-want-to-hear genre is this:
In 1994, Newt Gingrich talked about a Republican Revolution, but these Republicans are still suffering from the hangover. Gingrich concentrated power in the speaker’s office, weakened the committee chairmen and built his machine for speed. Today’s Republican leader, John Boehner, vows to do the opposite — to weaken the speaker’s office, decentralize authority and move step by step.
Right. And then they’ll find enough waste. fraud, and abuse in the Department of Education to pay for three more wars and a massive upper-class tax cut without increasing the deficit.
Pithier and more interesting response to some other Boehner nonsense here.