“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Kennedy Led the Way. Dodd and Dorgan Quitting. Can the GOP Retake the Senate This Year?

Toby Harnden is the Daily Telegraph's US Editor, based in Washington DC. More about Toby. Contact

Could Republicans win back the Senate in 2010?

By Toby Harnden World Last updated: January 6th, 2010

A few months ago, anyone suggesting that Republicans might be able to retake the Senate – where they currently have 40 seats compared to the Democrats’ 58 plus two Independents who caucus with Barack Obama’s party – would have been liable to be certified insane.

But with the shock decision of the Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, it’s beginning to go from impossible to long shot. Some 34 seats are up for grabs, 18 Republican and 16 Democratic. The GOP needs to pick up 11 seats to secure a majority.

I certainly wouldn’t bet the farm (or even an outbuilding) on a GOP win that gives it 50 seats - far from it. Obama’s poll fortunes would have to continue to slump and absolutely everything would have to go right for Republicans. But just remember that in 2002 just about everything went right Senatewise for the GOP and in 2008 a similar thing happened for Democrats. Here’s how it could happen for the GOP this time around:
Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington are safe Democratic seats. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah are safe GOP seats.

Connecticut (D) – Chris Dodd is highly vulnerable. Likely GOP pick-up. BREAKING NEWS UPDATE 12.05am EST Blimey, Dodd is to announce he won’t seek re-election. Actually, this will give the Dems a much better chance of keeping the seat. Moves it from likely to possible GOP pick-up, I’d say.
Arkansas (D) – Went heavily against Obama in 2008 and Blanche Lincoln has her vote for health-care reform to worry about. Likely GOP pick-up.

North Dakota (D) – Byron Dorgan looks likely to hold his seat but North Dakota is a Republican state and the GOP will fancy its chances, especially if Governor John Hoeven throws his hat into the ring. Likely GOP pick-up.

Nevada (D) – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seems to be in big trouble. Possible GOP pick-up.

Colorado (D) – Always a swing state, it looks good for the GOP this time. Possible GOP pick-up.

Delaware (D) – Joe Biden’s state has been reliably Democratic in recent years but moderate GOP candidate Mike Castle has shown his ability to be elected statewide and could well take the veep’s old seat. He also has a sense of humour. Possible GOP pick-up.

Illinois (D) – Barack Obama’s state should be Democratic in any normal year but the Blagojevich fiasco, the Burris fiasco, attorney general Lisa Madigan deciding not to run and a strong GOP candidate in the person of Mark Kirk mean that the GOP could just do it. Possible GOP pick-up.

Pennsylvania (D) – Arlen Specter, who switched from the GOP, has a tough primary against Joe Sestak, who is running to his Left. If he survives that – or even if he doesn’t – Pat Toomey, once considered too conservative for the state, looks a very possible winner winner. Possible GOP pick-up.

California (D) – Here’s where it gets really tough for the Republicans. It’s one of the most liberal states in the Union but the GOP believes that Barbara Boxer’s record may be just a bit too liberal. And Carly Fiorina is a potentially powerful candidate. Losing California would be a Doomsday scenario for Democrats but Republicans can still dream.

If they won all of the above currently Democratic seats, Republicans would still have to also hold New Hampshire, Kentucky, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio and Missouri, all of which have degrees of vulnerability for them.
That would leave them with 49 seats to the Democrats’ 51.

But what if Joe Lieberman (I) flipped to the Republican party? Very possible, particularly if he was induced with a juicy committee chairmanship.

That would mean 50-50. But still Vice-President Joe Biden would hold the casting vote.

Then, as Thinking Independently points out, the Grim Reaper would be needed to secure Republican control. Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia is ailing and 92, though his state has a Democratic governor who would presumably fill the seat with a Democrat. Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey is 86 and healthy but his state now has a GOP governor. And Hawaii’s two Democratic Senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inoue look fit enough but they are both 85 and the state where Obama was born (sorry, Birthers) has a Republican governor.

Of course, there’s a strong argument that 60 is the magic number in the Senate and anything less than that is not really control at all – and the closer to 50 you get, the less the degree of control. By that standard, the Democrats will surrender their grasp on the 100-member American House of Lords in a year’s time in any event.


  1. It means that Obama and Pelosi and Reed will pull out all the stops to ram their agenda through in the next few months before campaign 2010 gets into swing.

    Even if the Pubs don't get the Senate this year, we're moving away from the near filibuster-proof majority that tempts Donks to do things without even getting input from the Pubs. That will shove Franken's snigger right down his throat.

  2. The New Case Against Immigration,Both Legal and Illegal

    We've all heard the laments: "My grandpa from Sicily learned English, and my grandma from Minsk got by without welfare. So what's the problem with immigrants today?"

    As Mark Krikorian argues in this provocative book, what's different today is not the immigrants, but us. Today's immigrants are very similar to those of a century ago, but they are coming to a very different America -- one where changes in the economy, society, and government create fundamentally different incentives for newcomers. In other words, the America that our grandparents came to no longer exists. And this simple fact must become the new starting point for the explosive debate about immigration policy.

    Krikorian argues that although mass immigration once served our national interests, in today's America it weakens our common national identity, limits opportunities for upward mobility, threatens our security and sovereignty, strains resources for social programs, and disrupts middle-class norms of behavior.

    So as the politicians argue about border fences and amnesty, they are missing the bigger picture: the harmful impact of large-scale settlement of all kinds of immigrants, whether legal or illegal, skilled or unskilled, temporary or permanent, European or Latin or Asian or African. Modern America has simply outgrown immigration, and we must end it before it cripples us.

    (Obamacare gives benefits to illegals that it does not give to citizens.
    ...benefits paid for by citizens, not illegals!)

  3. The Dems are less popular, but it doesn't help the Republicans any. They're just plain, stinking unlikable. And, stupid.

    Pubs will, probably, pick up four, or five seats. Like any other first, off-year election.

    Also, I hate to tell you this, but, the Dems "could" have a rip-roaring economy on their hands come election day. I'm not, necessarily, predicting this; but I wouldn't bet the farm against it, either.

  4. Lifeof's partial defense of our new police state:

    91. Lifeofthemind:

    It is not computing for me why TSA would be asking Michael Yon these questions. Are we sure it wasn’t CBP? The fact that he said the Port Authority police intervened argues for TSA, who are not LEOs and depend on the local authorities for support. TSA inspect you going out and CBP inspects you coming in. Unless Yon had to be rescreened when changing planes why would an arriving passenger need to go through TSA? So who actually handcuffed Yon? CBP of course are Federal LEOs and turn people over to ICE. It is possible for me to think of a scenario in which CBP is doing a smuggling investigation and ask about your income.

    Jan 6, 2010 - 5:33 am

    92. Doug:

    Please read the “Border Bullies” link above and see what they did to his Thai friend.
    …intimidation not visited upon her by dozens of other countries, including Communist China!

  5. Dodd leaving the race is a benefit to the Democrats, as far as the election goes. His personal unpopularity with the voters is personal, not ideological.

    Colorado is in flux, but going blue. Mr Ritter leaving will not have that much impact, there.

    On Morning Joe it was reported that the COB at Chaman had been chasing Osama since 1997, obviously not a FNG, there at the Langley, but a professional Federal of long tenure.

  6. The most effective "screening" question you can ask: How much do you make?

    If he gives you a big, fat Fuck You he's an American; let him pass.

  7. "On Morning Joe it was reported that the COB at Chaman had been chasing Osama since 1997, obviously not a FNG, there at the Langley, but a professional Federal of long tenure."
    Isn't that what Trish said?

  8. For Ash and his Jet Stream theory:

    Winter Could Be Worst in 25 Years for USA...
    CHILL MAP...
    Britain's big snow shuts ctities...
    Elderly burn books for warmth?
    Army drafted to rescue 1,000 snow stranded motorists...
    Vermont sets 'all-time record for one snowstorm'...
    Iowa temps 'a solid 30 degrees below normal'...
    Seoul buried in heaviest snowfall in 70 years...
    3 die in fire at Detroit home; power was cut...
    Midwest Sees Near-Record Lows, Snow By The Foot...
    Miami shivers from coldest weather in decade; Florida Gov Signs Emergency Order ...
    Cold snap spurs power rationing in China...

  9. "Also, I hate to tell you this, but, the Dems "could" have a rip-roaring economy on their hands come election day. I'm not, necessarily, predicting this; but I wouldn't bet the farm against it, either."
    Yeah, and if East Germany becomes part of the Union again, they may overtake Japan as number 2.
    ...but I'm not bettin Sonia's palapa on it.
    Or her kindnesses.

  10. She said that the COS was a lifer, but that the COB and staff had not had their bios published and could have been FNGs.
    I found that spin hard to accept, that we'd be sending newbies to command an forward operating base.

    Reality sets in.
    Those agents were lifer Federals, experienced veterans of the fight against terror

  11. There were also reports that the bomber detonated upon leaving the vehicle, upon his arrival, not during a briefing. It was also reported that there is video of the incident.

  12. To err is human
    To err is fatal

  13. So WIO's contention that he was a Pali has been confirmed!
    Detonation without hesitation!

  14. Washington Post!
    Airline attack shows Obama's listless approach to terrorism

    A president can't be held responsible for every mistake at every level of government. But every level of government takes its cues from the president and his main advisers. And it is difficult to argue that the Obama administration has even attempted to create an atmosphere of urgency in the war on terror. The listless, coldblooded and clueless response of the Hawaii White House to the Christmas Day attack was only the most recent indication. Over the last year, nearly every rhetorical signal from the administration -- from the use of war-on-terror euphemisms such as "overseas contingency operations" and "man-caused disasters" to its preference for immediately categorizing terrorism as the work of an "isolated extremist" -- has been designed to convey a return to normalcy, a contrast to the supposed fear-mongering of the past.

    Add to this the Holderization of the war on terrorism. Attorney General Eric Holder began his work not with a high-profile assault on al-Qaeda but with a high-profile assault on the CIA -- making clear to every ambitious officer that counterintelligence is a dead end of recrimination and legal bills. And now both the mastermind of Sept. 11, 2001, and the underwear bomber are headed toward celebrity trials. According to White House terrorism adviser John Brennan, the decision to prosecute Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in civilian court was made almost immediately by the Justice Department -- though the president now concedes that "al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula trained [Abdulmutallab], equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America."

    This civilian prosecution strategy would make sense if the goal is punishment for an attempted mass murderer. But it makes no sense if the goal is vigilance in the war on terrorism -- gaining information to prevent future attacks. Abdulmutallab evidently talked a bit with FBI investigators when first captured. But any defense lawyer -- and now he has one -- will urge him to withhold information for use in bargaining with prosecutors down the road. The reality here is simple and shocking: A terrorist with current knowledge of al-Qaeda operations in Yemen has been told he has the right to remain silent.

  15. Well, doug, the US military in Iraq is tasked to be a police force in a foreign land. With soldiers acting as arresting officers and having to provide testimony in Iraqi courts in an effort to convict those "criminals".

    This has been the case for a number of years, now. It is the "Standard" that we are attempting to emulate in Afpakistan.

    That being the case, it is hard to envision that Local or Federal police in the Homeland would operate outside the scope of their normal operating procedures.

    If the terrorist in Iraq is considered a criminal, by US, there in the acknowledged war zone, then why would the terrorist be handled differently here, in violation of Federal laws and procedures.

    Why would anyone want to enhance the Federal police powers, especially under an Obama administration.

    One that has been accused of being Communist, Fascist, Racist, Socialist and anti-American, here at the Bar on various threads.

    Now the objection to the ObamaNation is that they are not abusing the law, but obeying it.

    Freedom is not free of risk and there is no way to create perfect security.

    Security is not the foremost goal, regardless, freedom is. If there is a price to be paid, in collateral damage amongst our civilian population, that is not enough to diminish our freedoms.

    Not enough to surrender the acknowledged personal rights we all now enjoy, to Team Obamamerica.

  16. Doug said...
    So WIO's contention that he was a Pali has been confirmed!
    Detonation without hesitation!

    Wed Jan 06, 08:55:00 AM EST

    You will find that WiO and I were on that instantly.

    As you know, the Feds have classified the recidivism rate of Gitmo parolees. The number of Palestinians who have acted as human bombs in various theaters is probably also classified, for obvious reasons regarding the "Peace Process".