Coming up: Antoine Clarke's weekly round-up of election news

The problem:

I collect news and blog items about elections several times a day.

My various writing and business committments prevent me from posting on this blog for days on end.

I don't yet understand how to use Furl, and I want to do more than just post a list of URLs without comment, so I don't want to simply post my newsgator feeds as they occur.

My conclusion is to start a weekly round-up of election news.
This adds to whatever I can post in the course of the week, and will consist of the most relevant articles and blog posts I've read in the past few days, with my analysis.

Having just evolved into a Wiggly Worm (according to The Truth Laid Bear ratings), I think this is a better service I can offer. I have just realised that there's a problem with my RSS feed setup, so readers may not have been able to load this site into their news aggregators. I shall be looking to solve this by next week.


Rudy for '08?

Speculation in Time magazine that Rudolf Giuliani is testing the waters for a run for U.S. President. I think he's got the name and the public recognition. Will the Republican base tolerate his liberal views on abortion and guns? If there were a strong Republican governor (Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush) I'd confidently say, Rudy doesn't stand a chance. But against John McCain or some relatively anonymous U.S. Senate colleague? The bookies have Giuliani as second favourite.

The problem for Mr Giuliani is the South, but only for primaries and not if the field is split. I can't see Texas, Florida or Georgia going Democrat because the choice is Mr Giuliani or Mrs Clinton. The prize he dangles is breaking the Democrat stranglehold on the North-East. Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland all look less convincingly Democrat with a Giuliani-Clinton contest. I'd guess California doesn't look so solid either.

Forecast: if the Republicans are going to field a pro-abortion pro-gun control candidate in 2008, Rudy's the only man, and barring health issues, he beats Hillary Clinton or Mark Warner hands-down. So maybe Rudy has do a deal on guns and abortion? Fancy that! Time tells us that Rudy has the acquiescence of Pat Robertson and has opened a law office in Texas.

The Supreme Court as it stands probably helps him. With a conservative majority in place, the concern over a moderate Republican President has to be reduced among the core supporters.

Alito is in, what were the Democrats playing at?

In the end it was a walkover. First 41 Democrats couldn't be found to support a filibuster (out of 44 and 1 independent) AND they didn't have the sense to avoid a cloture vote.

Thank you again, Senator "I-only-need-to-win-New-Hampshire-to-be-President" John Kerry. I guess in a year's time we should be grateful we won't be hearing about how Senator Kerry actually voted for cloture before voting against it.

Then, 58 Senators voted for Sam Alito, a rather more comfortable score than might have been anticipated, given just how mad and disappointed the liberal base is going to be over this result.

Where did the Democrats blow it?

1) They picked a terrible candidate for U.S. President in 2004. A man George W. Bush could beat in Iowa, Ohio, Florida, West Virginia and New Mexico. A man who nearly lost Oregon, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and even Minnesota. Who barely won New Hampshire and apparently thought that he didn't need to gain anywhere else (someone must have explained the 10-yearly census to him before polling day).

A better candidate for president and the whole issue would never have arisen.

2) They simultaneously wanted to derail Alito on abortion, but didn't want anti-abortion voters to know about it.

So we had the grotesque performance of Senator Ted Kennedy trying to sound upset about Judge Alito's treatment of women. Unlike the Massachusetts Senator, Mr Alito was not held to be responsible for abandoning a car in a ditch with a woman inside it to drown. The judge's "crime" was to join a student society that didn't allow women members, in about 1973. Which would sound one heck of a more convincing felony if the person making the accusation weren't himself a member of similar clubs and societies. I think they tried to pin some vague suggestion that some of the people attending this club were racists, a bit like that Democratic Senator who once joined the Ku Kux Klan, and I'm awaiting the refusal of other Democratic Senators to share a platform with him.

The bit they might have had something to say for themselves was in the question of presidential powers, at a time when there was a row brewing over the federal government's use of surveillance against U.S. citizens. If it were true that judge Alito would give too much leeway to a President, then I'd say this was something to chisel away at the moderate Republican Senators with. But not after the buffoonery of Senator Kennedy.

3) The cloture debate: at one point Senator Harry Reid was said by the clerk in the U.S. Senate chamber to have voted in favour of closing the debate, before hurriedly being corrected to a "nay" vote. The leader of Democrats in the Senate had said a week ago that there had been sufficient time for Senators to discuss the appointment, but obviously a week later this was no longer true.

So by tonight, Alito will be sworn in, by May he will be interpreting the Constitution, and Democrats will be fighting other Democrats over who is to blame.

100th posting on Antoine Clarke's Election Watch

This is my one hundredth posting on Antoine Clarke's Election Watch. I'm writing this from Chillicothe, Ohio where I'm spending the week. I was going to do a round-up from the forty or so clipping I've amassed in the past week on Newsgator, but I'll leave that for the next posting.

I also watched my first ever U.S. Senate debate and vote yesterday evening: the cloture vote (a "guillotine vote" in the U.K.) on the debate over nominating Judge Samuel A. Alito as a member of the U.S. Supreme Court (roll call here). I think this is the most important democratic event in 2006, given the power that the U.S. Supreme Court has to overturn the law, and decide on disputed elections. The vote seemed to take ages longer than necessary, over half an hour, probably more than 45 minutes.

Although I probably support many of Mr Alito's views, I can certainly understand the Democratic Party's activist position that they should delay and filibuster all they can. The lines of Dylan Thomas spring to mind:
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I would have challenged the quorum, as often as permitted under Senate rules (you get two supporting Senators to walk in and out during the count to confuse matters, I mean come on, do you guys need lessons?). I'd have demanded a recount (for example a Senator keeps saying "aye", "nay" and walks out), asked for the vote to be delayed because a Senator was injured in a car crash in Nevada. Someone should have pressed the Fire Alarm. Activists should have stormed the Chamber, pretending to be anti-abortionists shouting that Mr Alito was going-to "sell-out", someone should have tossed glue into the hair of Senator Dole. Someone should have got a public endorsement for Mr Alito from Al Jazeera.

Instead Senator Kerry made a scaremongering speech that was three months too late and Senator Kennedy made a screech that will be described as "passionate" but which I though was rambling in content. The Reverend Doctor Ian Paisley, would have done it sooo much better. There's something to be said for fire and brimstone preachers: they can make it sound like the Earth is going to open up and swallow us all.

I mean, this is it. The Supreme Court is now lost to liberalism until either John Roberts discovers his feminine side or Clarence Thomas retires and there's a liberal U.S. President. Worst case scenario: it could be decades away. Imagine if a couple more liberals leave the Supreme Court and President Bush packs two more conservatives in? Roe vs. Wade? At least the states can decide and a trip to California, Massachusetts or New York won't be a huge financial constraint. We're talking challenges to any gun control, federal anti-discrimination laws, election laws as we know them, even the Social Security system.

It has taken a while to reach the century mark (I started on July 13 2004), and I intend that the 200th posting will be during 2006.

Most of my readers seem to come my way from searches for "Canadian election polls" or "Palestinian authority election". It's always great to be near the top of a search for such general news stories. I guess it also means that I'm not good at getting into other sites' blogrolls, many people's news aggregators or in the frequently accessed part of "my favourites" tool on browsers.