Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rain On The Parade - Why it's not all good and why it's only just begun.

But, the news is not all good, especially in the House and Senate.

Third party candidates screwed the pooch in two key senate races.
It's still within 600 votes, but Al Franken is currently losing to Norm Coleman in the race for national senate in Minnesota. But third party candidate Dean Barkley picked up a whopping 15% of the vote.

The inexplicable re-election of Saxby Chambless (the guy who won election in 2002 by calling triple war-amputee Max Cleland a traitor and/or unpatriotic because he disagreed with Bush on the details of the Homeland Security Agency) over James Martin was aided by the 3% given to Independent/Libertarian candidate Alan Buckley.

Speaking of bad news in Minnesota, somehow the deeply unpopular Michelle Bachman barely won re-election. This is impressive considering that the GOP pretty much abandoned her after she told Chris Matthews that senators should be investigated to determine how patriotic they are.

Go to jail, but first to the Senate: Despite his conviction on multiple counts of violating federal ethics laws, Alaska senator Ted Stevens appears on the way to re-election. This is worse than you think. Should he go to jail, his replacement will be named by... ta-da! Governor Sarah Palin. How much you wanna bet she appoints herself in this cushy Senate seat as step one to her 2012 presidential bid?

The Ballot Initiatives:

Who were these people in California who voted for Barack Obama? They voted for banning same-sex marriage, they voted against both alternative energy proposals, they voted against treatment and alternative punishment for low-level drug offenders, and they barely passed an initiative for a new mass transit system and funds for a childrens' hospital. They do realize they just elected a Democrat to the White House right? They did, however, pass an initiative against animal cruelty to farm animals and they did vote No on a bill regarding parental notification for minors seeking an abortion.

Florida and Arizona also banned same-sex marriage, but the kicker was the overwhelming victory in Arkansas for a bill that would prohibit any unmarried couple for adopting children and/or becoming foster parents. Let's hope the courts strike that one down right quick. So much for 'putting children first'.

The good news is that Michigan passed initiatives allowing stem cell research and medical marijuana. And Washington approved doctor-assisted suicides.

And of course, the very worst news of all. George W. Bush still has 76 days to go before he leaves office. And it looks like he's going to take advantage of every one of them. Obama and the Democratic Congress needs to make it perfectly clear that if the Bush Administration engages in reckless, spiteful geopolitical moves, like bombing Iran, taunting Russia, or inflaming Pakistan, that they will be held accountable.

This is not the end of anything. This is merely the beginning. We have to put pressure on the Democrats to actually behave like Democrats. Obama won a sweeping electoral victory and needs to act as such. The Democrats have a nearly filibuster-proof lead in the Senate, and they have to remember that voters voted FOR Democrats, not purely AGAINST Republicans. Harry Reid needs to stand up and let the Republicans filibuster popular legislation, rather than knuckling under and taking the bills off the floor. The congress needs to thoroughly investigate the deeds of the last administration, so that the whole story can finally be heard. Timidity and complacency have no place in Democratic politics today. Inexplicable homophobia aside, we are a center-left nation and we need to make sure they remember that. To paraphrase Tom Hartmann, Tag, we're it.

Scott Mendelson

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