Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Putin to return to power? (Or, rather, to the title he used to hold?) Is President Dmitry Medvedev paving the way for some constitutional changes to bring Vladimir Putin back into the presidency? Furthermore, after this one little constitutional edit, why not some more? From the Financial Times: But he dropped a bombshell by saying the constitution should be "corrected" to allow Russian presidents to serve longer terms. Presidents are limited to two consecutive four-year terms but can return to power after a period out of office. When Mr Putin was president he rejected calls to change the constitution to allow him to remain in power, insisting he could not alter a cornerstone of Russia's democracy. Mr Medvedev said that extending the term of office was necessary to help Russia's transition to democracy.

Bye Bye, Jackass: Democrat Larry Kissell, the small-town school teacher who came within 330 votes of winning a seat in Congress two years ago, ousted five-term U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes [he's the jackass, by the way] Tuesday in a district beleaguered by the loss of manufacturing jobs. Kissell, a former textile worker from Biscoe, had 55 percent of the vote with 98 percent of precincts reporting, and Hayes, a Republican from Concord, had 45 percent...Hayes [who is a jackass] said he was overwhelmed by a Democratic tidal wave. But he isn't ruling out another rematch: "I don't think I'm over the hill yet. I've certainly contributed to the district." But Hayes' campaign [Hayes is a jackass, by the way] spun downward after he told a crowd Oct. 18 at a rally for [REDACTED] that "Liberals hate real Americans." The Hayes campaign initially said the congressman denied making the remark, but after being confronted with tapes, the campaign released a statement acknowledging the remark.

Oh, please change these rules: A U.S. appeals court rejected a lawsuit Tuesday challenging federal regulations that heavily restrict Americans enrolling in overseas study in Cuba. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the regulations don't violate presumed rights to academic freedom and due process as argued by a group of more than 400 academic professionals that calls itself the Emergency Coalition to Defend Educational Travel, which brought the legal action.

Great idea--except that it won't accomplish anything: The government isn't doing enough to expedite drilling in federal waters and on public lands, according to a report issued yesterday by congressional investigators. In a review of the 55,000 federal oil and gas leases issued to energy companies by the Interior Department from 1987 to 1996, the Government Accountability Office found that the majority expired without any drilling and that few actually produced oil and natural gas. "We do not agree that Interior is pursuing expedited development of oil and gas leases," the report says. We need to get savvy on this report--GAO normally doesn't spew wingnut bullshit like this.

Turns out people really do care about the Supreme Court! National exit polling showed that more than half (53%) of those voting yesterday considered the U.S. Supreme Court an "important factor" in deciding their vote. Fifty-two percent of these voters supported Barack Obama, while 46 percent supported John McCain.

Georgia Senate race goes to a run-off Saxby Chambliss fell short of the 50% required to secure his seat, and will face Democratic challenger former state Rep. Jim Martin in a December 2 runoff. In the run-off there will be no third party candidate siphoning off votes like there was yesterday.

Blunt stepping down as Whip! The first GOP leadership casualty has fallen. Roy Blunt is stepping down from the number two spot in the House minority leadership. The buzz is that Eric Cantor of VA is the only contender for the job.

And a half-assed attempt is underway to oust Boehner Republican insurgents in the House aren't particularly hopeful that they will be successful in removing him from his position, but they are mounting a challenge anyway, launching an effort to draft a guy, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who doesn't really want the job, caring more about policy and his young family than politicking coast to coast for the next two years. “Paul definitely doesn’t really want the job,” a congressman involved in the effort acknowledged, “But I think there is no one better in the Conference than him.” Ryan would have broad appeal throughout the republican caucus, and selecting him would indicate that House leaders are ready to "turn the page."

Over at "The Corner" they are twisting themselves in knots trying to explain away the ass-kicking Obama the American people administered to McCain yesterday. My favorite bit of foam-flecked lunacy came from John J. Miller, who posits that a winning electoral strategy for the GOP might be for their fellas to step up and take one for the team and "Date Democrats." Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg says unmarried women made the difference for Obama. Back in 1994, when white male voters were said to be responsible for the GOP's takeover of Congress, the media came up with a label for them: "angry white men." Will the media now refer to Greenberg's voting bloc as "bitter unmarried women"? You gotta wonder if he includes K-Lo in that demographic?

Good riddance to bad rubbish Less than a day after Obama's decisive win yesterday, Julie Myers announced that she will step down as head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), effective November 15th. Myers, you may recall, got her cushy gig via a combination of nepotism and being a "loyal bushie." She had no relevant experience when she was appointed, but she is Richard "shame of the Air Force" Myers' niece and unwaveringly dedicated to George Bush, all other considerations be damned. Actually, we might miss her at least a little - we have actually quite enjoyed taking her to task for being a brainless guttersnipe in the past.

Let the wingnut hagiography begin O tis a heartwrenching tale of woe presented in Newsday today. McCain is a martyr, you see.

While correlation isn't the same as can't ignore the fact that as Palin's rhetoric became more hateful and inflammatory on the campaign trail, the number of credible threats against President-elect Obama investigated by the Secret Service climbed steadily. No, correlation is not the same thing as causation - but it does not automatically negate connection, either.

Prop 8 in California enshrined bigotry in the state Constitution, but now it faces a court challenge After losing at the polls, gay-rights advocates filed a legal challenge today in California Supreme Court to Proposition 8, a long-shot effort that the measure's supporters called an attempt to subvert the will of voters Mormon and Catholic churches. Lawyers for same-sex couples said they will argue that the anti-gay-marriage measure was an illegal constitutional revision -- not a more limited amendment, as backers said. The legal action contends that Proposition 8 actually revises the state Constitution by altering such fundamental tenets as equal-protection guarantees. A measure to revise the state Constitution can be placed before voters only by the Legislature.

Let the whining commence The day after his historic election, the Wall Street Journal saw fit to publish 1100 words of banality, beseeching President Elect Obama to "do something" about black people incessantly complaining about racism.

Well yeah, since he is in charge of cleaning up the mess! President-elect Obama will have a strong voice in selecting the staff that will administer the $700 Billion bailout of financial services companies. “Treasury recognizes that a smooth transition is in the best interests of the financial markets and is committed to making sure this one is done in a first-rate manner,” said a spokeswoman for the department.