The Rats Know

Like all mariner tales, the story slips in like a schooner on a foggy, becalmed day. Rats, the story goes, might leap off the lines that held a boat fast to the dock if they knew the next voyage was doomed. And rats, as creatures of the bilge, always knew. When you see them on the lines do not sign on to that ship for she is bound for Davy Jones’ locker.

People today are rarely as superstitious as ancient sailors. But when you have far too many hours adrift at sea with no winds, like this Congress, the mind does wander. A change of leadership isn’t always up to the voters, as it were, but up to the crew and their desire to not miss the message of the rats.

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Final Thoughts

What more is there to say before we get this dreadful election over with?

No matter what, the sun will come up on Wednesday, November 9th. We will all go about our daily business even if some parts of the results aren’t finalized yet. America will survive and everything will be largely OK.

But one thing will be different. We won’t look at each other quite the same way again.

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What to Watch on Election Night

Who will win the election? If you haven’t been paying attention lately, well, good for you! But beyond that it’s all about Clinton at this point at the top of the ticket. As Barataria said many times, everything changed with the debates. People may not feel that they like Clinton, but the alternative is horrible in far too many ways. But this is far from what’s up on 8 November.

We also have the Senate, under Republican control with 54 seats going into the election – and 24 of the 34 up this year are held by Republicans, last elected in the big 2010 sweep. And let’s not forget the House, which hardly anyone thinks is in play except … well, Paul Ryan is more than a little nervous.

If you were thinking that election night might be boring with a Clinton landslide in the cards, think again. There is a lot to watch on election night if you know what you are looking for.

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Whither, Republicans?

The Democrats lost the election bigtime, far more than the Republicans won it. As a Democrat I naturally worry more about my own party and what we should be doing, but that’s far from the most interesting story. After all, the Republicans inherited the vacuum amid 37% turnout and approval ratings for Congress at around 14%.

That’s not a win, it’s a default. And it’s not good to have power without any strong mandate.

What on earth should the Republicans do about it? There are two main schools of thought. One is to show that they deserve to be in government by demonstrating competence, the other is to keep pounding the Democrats and show how bad the other guys are. Governing seems like the obvious choice, but the landscape that has to be crossed is full of landmines. This might be an interesting two years.

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Losing? Change the Rules!

What would it take to end the shutdown or, more importantly, raise the debt ceiling in time to avoid default?  As polling shows that this tactic (not strategy!) has proven to be a terrible disaster for the Republican Party it would seem reasonable that there are enough votes in the House to pass a “Clean CR” or bill to fund the federal government and reopen everything.  CNN has polled the membership and found that indeed if the Senate bill was introduced on the floor of the US House it would pass rather easily with bipartisan support.

So why doesn’t a vote come up?  House rules normally allow any Representative  to bring a bill from the Senate with differences from the House directly onto the floor for a vote.  But in a highly unusual parliamentary maneuver the House simply changed the rules to take that out of the hands of any member and put it exclusively in the hands of Eric Cantor (R-VA).  And so it stands that he is the only person in the US right now that can end this standoff.

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2012 Predictions

The election is a week away.  It’s time to make a few predictions and offer some analysis, if only so that everyone can make fun of me when this is all over.

Regular readers know how much disdain I have for the horserace that characterizes most of the reporting, but in the end it comes down to that.  Still, there are many issues revolving around the ability to call this thing properly that are fascinating, at least to someone too far into it.  My fondest hope is that at least some of them break in ways that defy conventional wisdom and shake things up.

Ready?

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