Tag Archives: Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich: Incredibly Disliked

20 Apr

Today, Carl Paladino will host a campaign rally for all-but-dropped-out Newt Gingrich. Gingrich is the preferred choice of the right wing of the Republican Party who can no longer vote for theocratic lunatic Rick Santorum. 

A recent poll shows this about Gingrich

That’s a close match with George W. Bush’s final favorability rating of 25%. In other words, about the same number of people who like Gingrich still liked Bush as the world financial meltdown of 2008 was underway. True believer right-wing Obama-hating people who probably forward loads of false “N0bama” chain emails that they didn’t first run through Snopes. 

This sounds less like a campaign stop – because really, there’s no campaign left – and much more like a paid personal appearance. And no one ever voted for Newt Gingrich ever again. The end. 

On to Florida

23 Jan

Newt Gingrich is the anti-establishment candidate; the outsider. It doesn’t get more surreal than that.

Mitt Romney will deign – at long last – to release his tax returns, but only for 2010 and 2011. The LGBT community is fascinated to see whether he helped the effort to abolish same sex marriage in California. The rest of us are curious whether he pays something remotely considered “fair” in federal income taxes.

Barack Obama must be tickled over the Republicans’ infighting and the Gingrich surge.

But after Saturday’s South Carolina primary – the place that helped clinch the nomination for George W. Bush in 2000 over a still-moderate, sane John McCain – it’s become quite an interesting primary race.

And one thing is for sure – no one would be paying this much attention to Mitt Romney’s income and his tax bracket were it not for the Occupy movement that has highlighted just how rigged our entire economic and political system has become in favor of the very wealthiest Americans, and how the middle class has been left behind since Reaganomics became our version of a national religion.

The Morning Grumpy – 1/23/2012

23 Jan

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

Flo Rida, “Low

1. The Buffalo News story about 97 Rock’s morning show left me asking a few questions.

Since late 2008 — Norton has been broadcasting most of his morning show — announcing school closings, celebrating Bills victories and bashing local leaders — from Florida.

“We were hesitant to talk about this story because I don’t want to offend listeners who think that somehow I’ve given up on Buffalo,” Norton, 55, said over the phone from his home in southwest Florida. “That’s not the case at all. I came down here for good reason.”

What’s his reason for being in Florida?

For years, Norton’s father Wallace “Wally” Norton lived in Cape Haze, Fla., where he had moved after losing his wife, Bertha, to cancer in 1995.

“[Barb and I] had been going down here almost every month checking on him, getting him to the doctor. He asked if we could take care of him, because he didn’t want to go into a nursing home,” Norton said. “It’s what I had to do. He was my father.”

Well, I know I would do the same thing if I were in Larry’s shoes. Family always comes first with me as I’m sure it does with you, but that isn’t the issue.

Larry’s father passed away nearly two years ago, but Larry is still in Florida. Noting the emphasis I put on Larry’s quote at the beginning of this story, why didn’t the reporter ask him why he is still there? Why has Larry not moved back to the city “he hasn’t given up on”?

Norton may very well have a good reason and I suppose he doesn’t owe anyone an explanation about his residency. However, if a reporter is going to do this story, asking why he isn’t back here full time seems like the logical followup, doesn’t it?  Since Larry tried to assuage concerns of his listeners who might be upset that he doesn’t live here anymore, the reporter should ask why he doesn’t. Half-assed reporting annoys me, even when it’s a silly little story like this.

2. The intellectual dishonesty by the executives featured in this story is simply breathtaking. In short, why does Apple make the iPhone overseas?

Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.

The president’s question touched upon a central conviction at Apple. It isn’t just that workers are cheaper abroad. Rather, Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.

Really, I wonder what they mean when they say “flexibility, diligence and industrial skills”? Oh, here it is!

Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”

Ah, yes, the lament of America’s wilting middle class. If only we were willing to live in tiny dormitories, working in hostile conditions, exposed to unregulated and dangerous chemicals, paid less than $17 per day, forced to work 16-18 hour shifts six days per week and forced to sign a pledge to not commit suicide due to the live/work conditions…we’d all have jobs from our benevolent corporate masters.

I guess we’re just not “flexible” or “diligent” or “industrious” enough. America’s new motto should be “Maximizing Shareholder Value”.

3. Next time you hear Newt Gingrich talking about Barack Obama being the “food stamp President” or hear other Republican candidates imply that the unemployed are lazy, maybe watch one of these videos. People waiting on lines for hours on end for the chance to apply for a job. This is America. People with real problems, living lives of quiet desperation in search of their piece of the American Dream. Yes, Newt is running for President on a platform of ridiculing a program which kept people from starving during a recession they had little part in causing. GOP 2012!

4. The fruits of abstinence-only sex education in schools.

A new government study suggests a lot of teenage girls are clueless about their chances of getting pregnant. In a survey of thousands of teenage mothers who had unintended pregnancies, about a third said they didn’t use birth control because they didn’t believe they could pregnant.

Nationally, teen pregnancy rates have been falling, but they are up significantly in the south and southwest regions of the country. Broadly speaking and due largely to religious influences on school curriculum, these regions are leaders in the promotion of abstinence-only sex education in schools. Where kids are taught about birth control and STDs, pregnancy rates are lower. Big shock.

5. Respected journalism professor and media critic, Jay Rosen, linked to a story the other day which highlighted the polarized media that now influences elections and politics.

With just hours remaining before South Carolina’s Republican primary, it’s clear to campaign strategists and voters alike that the revolution in how Americans get their news has dramatically altered the political process. There’s more campaign news and commentary out there than ever before, but more and more citizens are tucking themselves inside information silos where they see mainly what they already agree with. The result, according to voters, campaign strategists and a raft of studies that track users’ news choices, is an electorate in which conservatives and liberals often have not only their own opinions but also their own sets of facts, making it harder than ever to approach common ground.

The reporter rarely, if ever, asks the $64,000 question. What role did we play in this and why? Did we drive them away? Until editors ask themselves that question rather than blaming the audience, newspapers will grow increasingly irrelevant. If Marc ever puts my WNYMedia archives back online, I’ll link to the dozens of articles I’ve written about his issue over the years. It merits serious discussion in this one newspaper town.

Fact of The Day: Keep buying that cheap shit at Wal-Mart, if you hate America. The world’s biggest retailer, U.S.-based Wal-Mart was responsible for $27 billion in U.S. imports from China in 2006 and 11% of the growth of the total U.S. trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2006. Wal-Mart’s trade deficit with China alone eliminated nearly 200,000 U.S. jobs in this period.

Quote Of The Day: “The business of government is justice” – Millicent Fenwick

Song Of The Day: “Girls In The Backroom” – Ike Reilly

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chrissmithbuffalo[@]gmail.com

Gingrich Family Values

19 Jan

Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory. – John Kenneth Galbraith

As Newt Gingrich rises in the polls, becomes the darling of the less pragmatic, ideological right, it’s easy to forget just what a detestable person he is. There’s his inner hypocrisy and his inflated sense of self-worth and importance, there’s his casual demagoguery and epic fits of pique, but there’s also Newton Gingrich the person. We know that he left his first wife as she was recuperating in the hospital after uterine cancer surgery, and we know that he fought her so hard on a financial settlement that she was left almost destitute for a time. We also know that he left his second wife shortly after she was diagnosed with MS, at which time he told her about his 6 year-long affair with a much younger staffer, Callista, is future ex-third-wife. 

Newt’s second wife, Marianne, has claimed that she could end Newt’s political career with one interview. 

Marianne just gave ABC a two-hour long interview, set to air as soon as practicable.

And that’s the sticking point. Newt is doing reasonably well in South Carolina, and the primary there is scheduled for  Drudge says that ABC was agonizing over whether to air the interview before or after the primary – after all, a televised interview has a different effect than one from a magazine.

So, is ABC right to air an interview about a Presidential candidate on the Thursday night before a primary being held on Saturday? Of course they are. It’s news that’s relevant to the election, to the primary, to one of the candidates. What difference does it make if they air something that affects the South Carolina primary as opposed to Florida, which comes next?

What it all means for me, however, is that Newt Gingrich is the living, breathing proof that family values are of no importance whatsoever to contemporary Republicans or conservatives. “Family values” is something to be used as a sword against Democrats and homosexuals. It’s ok if you’re Republican.

When Mitt Romney Came to Town

12 Jan

I’m sure the Obama team and national Democrats would all like to thank Newt Gingrich-friendly SuperPAC “Winning Our Future” for producing this Mitt Romney hit piece for them.

The Morning Grumpy – December 14th

14 Dec

All the news and views for you to consume during your “morning grumpy”.

1. The local post offices have averted a manufactured crisis which would have led to the closure of the local mail processing facility on William Street, and dozens (if not more) of branches.

The U.S. Postal Service announced it will delay closing those facilities until May 15 of next year in wake of pressure from 14 U.S. senators, including Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

The senators said they wanted time to work on postal reform legislation.

“In New York, more than 1,000 jobs, 100 post offices and seven area mail-processing centers will continue serving their communities while Congress works on reforming the Postal Service to ensure its survival,” Gillibrand said.

The national conversation about the need to reduce costs in the US Postal Service, shutter local offices, and change the business model has been focused on the reduced need to sustain regular physical mail delivery. Usage of private services like FedEx, UPS, and DHL has increased while more people utilize email, text messages, and social networks for communication. Makes sense, right? Well, somewhat. The USPS is a vital communications link for rural Americans and provides a regulated manner for distribution of government and personal communications. It might need some restructuring, but the closure of thousands of local offices and the reduction of nearly half the labor force is a manufactured crisis.

Though the USPS runs as an independent “business”, its finances are tied to the federal budget as postal employees participate in federal retirement plans. In 2006, Congress passed something called the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA).

Under this legislation, the USPS was forced to “prefund its future health care benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years in an astonishing ten-year time span” — meaning that it had to put aside billions of dollars to pay for the health benefits of employees it hasn’t even hired yet, something “that no other government or private corporation is required to do.”

The mandate has essentially set the postal service up for failure, which was obviously the entire point of the legislation.

I don’t know about you, but I like efficient, reliable, trustworthy mail delivery at competitive prices from the USPS.

2. Why don’t Democrats defend government?  While Tea Party ballbags scream like unhinged lunatics that government needs to be reduced, costs need to be eviscerated, and Americans left to fend for themselves in an austere darwinian world, where are the Democrats who fight for government? Who advance the case that government is inherently a good thing?

It is undeniably the case that all of our ideological battles in this country eventually come down to government. Its size and scope and legitimacy—that is to say, the questions of political philosophy—and then, even if one acknowledges some degree of legitimacy for it, the practical question of whether it can do anything right. Conservatives and Republicans have been, as we know, making mendacious but awfully effective arguments on both fronts for three decades. And it gets even worse: In a cruel and surreal and self-perpetuating farce, Republicans let government fail while they are in power (FEMA in New Orleans, financial regulators and the crash) by not executing the missions of the agencies in question, and then, after the failure, turning around and chortling: “See? Government can’t prevent these things!”

Oddly, no one on the liberal side really defends government much. In the progressive solar system there are groups devoted to every specific issue and cause you can name, but there is no group I’m aware of that is devoted to the simple premise of standing up in public and saying: Government does this, and it’s good.

Will someone ever make the case? If not, why not?

3. Is our cultural addiction to Facebook making us miserable?

Since our Facebook profiles are self-curated, users have a strong bias toward sharing positive milestones and avoid mentioning the more humdrum, negative parts of their lives. Accomplishments like, “Hey, I just got promoted!” or “Take a look at my new sports car,” trump sharing the intricacies of our daily commute or a life-shattering divorce. This creates an online culture of competition and comparison. One interviewee even remarked, “I’m pretty competitive by nature, so when my close friends post good news, I always try and one-up them.”

Analyzing my Facebook feed from the past couple of days, you’d think that my friends and family were some of the most successful, happy, well-balanced and organized people in the world. The thing is, I know most of them are struggling to maintain a balance between their responsibilities and find happiness, just like everyone in the world.

4. 2011, an incredibly eventful year

I don’t think this video, as robust as it is, captures everything. But, it comes close.

5. One of my favorite headlines of the year comes from Andrew Sullivan “Newt Gingrich Is A Dumb Person’s Idea Of A Smart Person”, as he links to this post,

I have been perplexed for some time why Newt Gingrich is routinely acknowledged even by his bitter enemies within the Republican Party as a “genius,” but the answer turns out is simple: he acts exactly like one of those obnoxious elitist intellectual know-it-alls that the right-wing no-nothings think is the hallmark of an intellectual. He is constantly reminding us of his doctorate in history; he routinely claims he understands issues more deeply than anyone else; he has made a career of denouncing or (when he had the authority) eliminating professional expertise that might challenge his own certain pronouncements; and he is a veritable fount of crackpot “big” ideas (mining minerals on the moon, protecting the United States from sci-fi doomsday scenarios, and “fundamentally transforming” everything as a first step to doing anything.

Fact Of The Day: On this day in 1979, “London Calling” by the Clash was released.

Quote Of The Day: “One-fifth of the people are against everything all the time.” – Robert Kennedy

Song Of The Day: “Clampdown” by The Clash

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chrissmithbuffalo[@]gmail.com

Gingrich: Give Millionaires a Leg Up!

14 Dec

The Palinist wing of the so-called “tea party” is just a front group for superwealthy conservatives. As further proof of that, their favored Presidential-candidate-of-the-month, Newt Gingrich, is proposing a reformation of the tax code to codify a lower marginal income tax rate on millionaires than on middle-class families earning $40 – 50,000.

It’s all part of the Republican Party’s war on the middle class, and the social safety net that Americans fought for throughout the course of the last century. A tax cut of this magnitude on the superwealthy would starve the federal government of revenue, resulting either in a fiscal crisis or massive cuts to programs like Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, and other things on which people depend when they are elderly or in the midst of a personal financial crisis.

It’s part of an ideology that treats any public expenditure as redistributionary socialism and represents a real danger that the country slips back to conditions extant during the times of the robber barons.

Right down to Gingrich blaming America’s underclass for being poor.

Right down to Gingrich’s support for an abolition of child labor laws.

Newt is the Palinists’ Pick?

12 Dec

Only one person is quoted directly in Bob McCarthy’s weekly political column in this past Sunday’s Buffalo News. Also, Gingrich? Really? That’s the pick for the local Palinists?

Manning Up to Palin

2 Dec

Well, it’s about time.

Your humble writer has been waiting for a reputable national voice to harmonize with on the subject of Sarah Palin since her fortunate VP election loss. I had begun to fear that no such voice was coming. At least, before it was too late. Two years ago I declared Sarah Palin not the future. Since then it has been more a hope than a substantial prediction. Now, finally, blemishes in the immutable Republican Wall are appearing, and it seems our private political wilderness soul searching may finally turn public.

Image courtesy iMaksim.com

Conservatives have long taken unity as a point of pride. But equally cherished is Seriousness, of which Palin does not have a single bit in her entire body. Outsiders to the Republican movement can be forgiven for seeing a single monolith and criticizing it as such. But the fault lines are now publicly being displayed, and how the fractured Republican base reacts in the next year in the run-up to the next primary will be interesting to watch. Some camps to watch for and take note of:

It was The Bow Tie Crowd that drew me to Conservatism in the first place. These intellects, now mostly deceased, looked at the world with pragmatism as their ideology, and what worked became policy. William Buckley, Irving Kristol, William Safire were the greats – their (at times) adequate successors of George Will, David Brooks, and Charles Krauthammer (those who harrumphed at Krauthammer should read his very well reasoned and prescient recommendation to restructure the tax code around a gas tax – in effect, the Liberal dream consumption tax) will influence what is left of the reasoned, thinking wing of the party. Joe Scarborough’s defense of the “blue bloods” was really a defense of a more reasonable age where principles were held in a loser grip, and compromise was less of a four letter word. David Frum’s firing from the Bow Tie stronghold of the American Enterprise Institute did not bode well for the long term success of thinking conservatives. Perhaps we can reverse this trend. 

In the George W. Bush era, too many bow tie wearers branched off into Neo-conservatism. Irving’s progeny took up residency here some time ago, and Krauthammer dips his wheelchair spoke in regularly. Nostalgia for the Cold War and a “Yes We Can” attitude has been broken, humbled in wars in Central Asia that most Republicans are now questioning. Many outside of Republican circles may not realize that the neo-con movement involved large chunks of voters, not just a circle of Presidential advisors. Huge percentages of the electorate in 2002 and 2004 listed national security as their #1 issue. By 2006, that vote waned, and the movement lost steam, the Iraq Surge as the last full-throated gasp. The only national security issue I see in 2012 is how soon we are leaving Afghanistan, and at what cost. If Korea goes hot, however, please disregard everything I write in this column.

The previous boogeyman of the Left, the godful Evangelical Right, has been quietly disillusioned for some time. Note that Mike Huckabee is not a serious player, and Mitt Romney is a legit candidate. Sarah Palin spends more time burnishing her tax cutting rhetoric than publicly discussing her faith and explaining how she speaks in tongues. It will be better for the country as a whole if what is Caesar’s is left to Caesar, and the evangelicals concentrate on their faith and good works outside of the explicitly political arena.  

Which leaves us with the unhereto unmentioned Tea Party, the comic book-like hero antithesis of the Bow Tie villain. Uninformed, angry, unreasoned, and potent. Now that the grassroots enthusiasm won a (in the grand scheme of things, unimportant) midterm, the party is starting to question the rationality of letting such a force dictate the play for the upcoming grand prize in 2012. And for good reason. The Tea Party, like all emotional and ideologically driven movements, would rather take defeat over an impure victory. It is the great strength of America’s two party system that the establishment party battleships do not feel this way.

Many astute readers at this point are wondering where the vast majority of prominent Republican politicians fit in. Why, no where, of course. Mitch McConnell, John McCain, John Boehner, et al ceased having a camp a long time ago, and are now Corporate Politicians, more similar to their colleagues across the aisle than the constituency movements that organize to elect them. Those few politicians that are still part of a movement (Rand Paul) never rise to sufficient prominence to lead the party generally, though they can influence policy choices. And previous corporate politicians reduce their national chances by veering too far – intellectual heavyweight Newt Gingrich, for example, proponent of healthcare reform, has descended into Tea Party madness.

An intriguing difference between Republicans and Democrats is the opposing models their cultures use to head their movements. Democrats seek an Intellectual. Republicans look for a Leader and Manager. Conservative policy wonks would rather be on a staff or in a think tank than run for office. Democrats want their wonks (Clinton, Obama) on the top of the ticket. When elected, this means Republican Presidents have a deep bench of advisors, department heads, and policy analysts at their disposal. Democrats, not so much. At first blush, in 2000, George Bush was the perfect candidate – an empty vessel who would hire the right people and whose gut was in the right place. His appointees had more clout, credentials, and staying power than his successor, who chose poorly initially, and is seeing an exodus early. The model that has served Republicans well – pick a leader who leans on the intellectuals – is in peril. 

So where does this leave us for 2012? Is the party current capable of choosing Reagan, Bush or Bush again? Republicans are not comfortable with public disagreements and battles. We prefer to find a consensus candidate that balances competing forces – Bow Ties, Neo-cons, Evangelicals and Tea Partiers – behind the scenes. Joe Scarborough has rightly recognized that the danger in 2012 is that Sarah Palin, a vacuous movement true believer, has a shot at blowing that well crafted system out of the water. Will the rational party rally to save itself? We can hope.

Hopes and Fears on Election Day

28 Oct

It is to the consternation of reformers and the delight of conservatives (small c) that little changes on Election Day. In an election season based upon fear – of The Other, the status quo, taxes, healthcare, immigrants – it should be reassuring to know that the world will not end on the evening of November 2nd, no matter the results that appear.

Based upon the issues receiving the most attention nationally, it may come as a surprise that the status of witches, an armed insurrection, and the banning of mosques will not appear on the Congressional agenda in the next term. Our legislatures are naturally reactionary, as members only vote on the bills presented, and most have little power to have any substantive effect, especially as a freshman Senator or Representative. The President has the ultimate power to set the agenda, only partially shared with Congress in the cases of divided government. So if Christine O’Donnell (a long shot), Sharron Angle (a better chance), or Mark Rubio (put money on it) win next Tuesday, what effect will they personally have on the Senate? Almost none.

Image courtesy podbop.org

The base of each party is either blissfully unaware or purposely self-delusional about the most basic of truths of our legislative system: a vote for or against a bill is of no more or less effect if the legislator is a pragmatic centrist or a die-hard ideologue. There is no Tea Party vote that is worth two. There is no Liberal vote that automatically doubles the appropriation of every line item in the spending bill. The Tea Party is about to have their heart broken, the way the grassroot Netroots did years before. Elect a barn-burning Tea Party champion, and they will have the same practical effect as 95% of other Republicans. In Utah, reliable Republican Senator Bob Bennett was dumped for purer Tea Party candidate Mike Lee. How will his voting record differ when elected? It won’t. Even if the Senatorial stenographer is forced, by Tea Party decree, to use a red pen (made in America by non-union non-illegal immigrants) when recording his votes, it counts no different. And he will introduce less legislation, and have less effect in committee, than Senator Bennett did. Sorry.

No pure Tea Partier will be elected enough times to rise to a leadership level to make a serious impact, and any Tea Partier elected next week that does last that long will be nothing more than an insider, corporate Republican by the time they take a committee chair.

No, instead it is in the margins and at the leadership level that some small change can occur. The House is currently composed of 256 Democrats and 178 Republicans, the Senate 59-41. . Where are the Republicans, pundits and Democrats ask, for us to work with on the other side of the aisle? Why are they so recalcitrant? The Republicans they used to work with were voted out of office in New England, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina. The 178 Republicans left are in safe seats. The members in those 178 seats never reached out across the aisle, and their constituents don’t want them to compromise. Democrats, last year you had something better than a Republican from New Hampshire to work with – you had a member of your own party. The failure of that overwhelming and filibuster proof majority to enact legislation will be recognized next week, as those swing seats return Republican overwhelmingly.

Likewise, Democratic leadership is in trouble. New Yorker’s should cheer for Harry Reid to lose – Chuck Schumer, a strong Democrat from a strong Democratic state, would likely take over leadership. A prime example of how the Democrat’s are unable to effectively govern is that they choose leaders like Reid and Daschle, in weak positions at home, who have no room to either compromise or take bold positions. Hyper-partisan and embittered Nancy Pelosi is another matter – she has the political capital and strength of seat to be a leader, but not the social skills, patience, or aptitude to drop a grudge to win a vote. No matter – Pelosi is about to be demoted, and in or out of office, Reid seems destined for a smaller role. Closer to home, Rep. Slaughter should be fired for her abuses in the Rules Committee alone – for the first time in 221 years, not a single piece of legislation was brought to the floor open for an amendment. That’s the post-partisan Hope and Change I know Obama was going to instill to Washington. Unfortunately, she has as much chance of losing as O’Donnell has of winning.

Americans of pure motive and progressive (small p) spirit should hope for one thing next week: a Republican take over of both the House and Senate. Any other combination produces two years of gridlock. If power is truly divided, both parties share responsibility for the country’s problems. John Boehner becomes Gingrich, and Obama becomes Clinton, and taxes and the deficit have a small chance of being addressed. If the Democrats keep both houses in a weakened state, then we endure 111th Congress Redux, a sequel with less action and more fighting, and everyone waits for 2012. Worse, if only one house swaps, then nothing will ever come out of conference committee, and both parties will argue they need full control in 2012. President Obama has always been more of an individual force than a Democratic insider – more Change will occur if he places his 2012 fortunes above those of his party, and deals with Republican leadership for the next two years to strengthen his own hand (at the expense of Democrats as a whole).

In New York, there is even less change coming. The Assembly is stuck. The Senate will swap to a minor advantage for the Republicans, and Dean Skelos may not survive as leader. Andrew Cuomo is going to enter into office in the peculiar position of having a large electoral victory, but no mandate to actually do anything. Rarely is the faux incumbent placed in office simply for not being “The Other Guy.” Cuomo’s campaign technique of staying low and letting Paladino self-destruct will work politically, but leaves him, unlike Spitzer, weak entering office. The strongest man in the Albany three-way is Sheldon Silver. Woe to Western New York.