Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bush-whacked, First Female Speaker, First Muslim Congressman and a possible lame duck Senate

Maybe not yet.

In the corner of the world where its strongest superpower is located, the race for power that probably affects all on earth are watched closely to see how much of a lame duck will President Dubya Bush will be at the end of the vote count.

The whole day today America is all about Midterm election results and the initial prediction of my SiPM colleague, Mat Merah, is the Democrats have as much chance to win the Senate as the DAP breaking the two-thirds majority of Barisan Nasional.

The initial predictions via CNN is "Democrats appear poised to win control of the House and possibly the Senate in Tuesday's midterm elections amid a national clamor for change after four years of war in Iraq."

And true to their predictions the Dems are back in control in the House after 12 years, comfortably holding 52% of the house eventhough 13 key races are still undecided.

But who would have guessed that the race for control of the Senate to be nail biting.

With most of the votes counted the race for the control of the Senate now hangs on hair line margin wins in the states of Montana and Virginia where the Dems are poised to hold on for the photo finish.

However the catch is this: the Dems need to win both seats to secure the majority in the 100 seat Senate. But the GOPs only one more seat to pinkie-wrestle the control away from the Democrats.

And the GOPs can only do this by ordering a recount of the Virginia results where by law "the apparent loser can request a recount after the votes have been certified if the margin is less than 1 percent of the total votes cast. If that happens, the result may not be clear for weeks."

Even in Montana the law is the similar although more stringent: "In Montana, a recount can be requested by the loser if the margin of votes between two candidates is less than one-quarter of 1 percent.

If the margin is between one-half of 1 percent and one-quarter of 1 percent, the loser can petition for a recount if the candidate is willing to pay for it."

And if the winnings are split between the GOP and Dems a 50-50 seat tie will result in the GOPS having the upper hand as Vice President Dick Cheney's constitutional authority to break tie votes as President of the Senate.

For the uninitiated the US Congress is separated into two houses: The Upper House ie. The Senate and the Lower House ie. The House of Representatives.

A good way to compare them would be with Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara. Sort off...

The Senate has 100 seats while the House has 435 seats.

And of the Midterm Elections, this is from the wiki:

"Midterm elections are elections in the United States in which members of Congress, state legislatures, and some state governors are elected, but not the President.

On the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of every even-numbered year, elections are held for all 435 members of the United States House of Representatives and 33 or 34 of the 100 members of the United States Senate. However, Presidential elections occur only every four years. Those elections for Congress that do not coincide with Presidential races are called midterm elections, because they occur about midway through a Presidential term.

34 of the 50 U.S. states elect their governors to four-year terms during midterm elections, while Vermont and New Hampshire elect governors to two-year terms in midterm and presidential elections. Thus, 36 governors are elected during midterm elections. States also elect officers to their state legislatures and county offices every two years, occuring with both mid-terms and presidential years,"

and GOP stands for the Grand Old Party to which the Republicans are also known as. Why? Read here and here for context.

Congratulations! You now know more of American politics than the majority of Americans. :)

Even though it does not really affect us Malaysians that much I am going to post the election results: the Dems shaved away 6 of the GOP controlled states making making them control 28 out of 50 states with still 2 states undecided.

Besides the tough race, the Midterms are braced for the record books with the installation of the first ever female Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

And for the Islamists, we have now the first ever Muslim Congressman in Keith Ellison.

So how does this US Midterm Election results affect us?

CNN and many other international news agencies reported that a slim majority of the voters are disagreable with how the Bush administration is handling Iraq and is generally concerned with bringing the troops home early.

Christmas is after all around the corner.

And the Dems are likely to bring up civil liberty issues that is brought about by the Patriot Act.

However, there is so much the Dems can do within the House as the President still have veto powers and in today's communication both the President and Pelosi reiterated the need for bipartisanship to solve the problems together.

America is always about protecting their self-interest first and if they were to pull their troops earlier, the situation in Iraq will not improve one bit.

The War in Iraq also contributes to global war on terrorism. And with that coupled with the discouraging news in Palestine the whole thing looks like another lame duck situation, much like the President if the Senate goes to the Dems.

So we're pretty much screwed there.

So the results does not change the status quo: the Iraqis and Palestinians are still fucked and there has not been any clearer indication that the Dem will 'bring change' on those fronts.

The Middle East and the fight on Terror is definitely a complicated mix with the rest of American politics to have a Muslim agenda.

It's like trying to stir a barrel of petrol with a unclipped grenade. Stir too fast and KABOOMM.

A popular Islamic Middle East Agenda would entail the withdrawal of troops in Iraq and achieve peace (errr any clues on this?) plus the solving of the Israel-Palestinian Issue.

If anyone can solve the latter without calling to arms I'd eat 20 whole roast chickens in one sitting.

Even with the signs showing that Americans are open to a Muslim Congressman in Keith Ellison his views on the Middle East is not consistent with the rest of the pseudo fanatical ummah:

  • Ellison on Hamas and Terrorism: "… Hamas represents the greatest obstacle to [peace between Israel and in the Middle East], and… [U]ntil Hamas denounces terrorism, recognizes the absolute right of Israel to exist peacefully and honors past agreements, it cannot be considered legitimate partners in this process… Terrorism is the greatest impediment to peace. At this point the Palestinian Authority (PA) has yet to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank. The United States cannot support any government that condones or embraces terrorism." (
  • Ellison on Iran: "The other serious threat to the security of the region is Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. This must be stopped. A nuclear-armed Iran would upset the strategic balance in the region and pose a clear threat to world peace. Iran's sponsorship of international terrorism as well as financial aid to terrorist organizations endangers peace around the globe." (
  • Ellison on Peace in the Middle East: "The United States should encourage dialogue with peaceful Palestinian leaders that recognize Israel, condemn terrorism, and honor past accords… Only with a democratic Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel can the safety of the entire region be assured." (
On the plus side we can already see some changes in American politics which we must welcome:
  1. Rumsfeld has resigned. Even the Army wanted him to go.
  2. The President can't go all crazy with the defence budget which amount to USD$3billion per week with the war in Iraq.
But Not All Hope is Lost There Things We Can Learn Though

Jeff Ooi gives us a good backgrounder on why the Dems won and it serves to give us some inspiration for our own country:

  1. From CBS: "When one political party controls all the levers of government power, it also carries the burden of responsibility for the state of the nation in voters’ minds." Does this sound familiar? I guess not, we like to give the a specific component party 92% of the parliamentary seats and then complain about why everything does not work for us.
  2. Also from CBS "Democrats argued that Republicans in Congress represented a “culture of corruption.” This theme appears to have resonated among voters." So don't go and vote for corrupt candidates in the next elections ok?
  3. Vote on issues. The Americans have shown us that issues do matter and for them it was the troops in Iraq and how the war on terror has affected their safety, it was about the economy how high petrol prices have a affected them and the Dems taking advantage of this by promoting initiatives of alternative energy, immigration and like Malaysia too Moral Issues. Things like single sex marriages, abortion and stem cell research played a big role in swinging votes.
  4. Don't just vote on empty issues. The Dems highlighted the problems and offered a solution. So vote for people who have solutions that you can work with.
By the time I am at this point of the article reports are trickling in that today's canvassing are showing that the Dems are going to control the Senate.

But it's important to be clear on this. This means the tightly contested seats in Montana and Virginia will have their recount proceedings take place sooner than we could say 'recount'.

And these proceedings will take us well into post Christmas holidays.

The President may look like the lame duck towards the end of his term but it is the Senate who is looking more like the lame duck for the next 2 months or so.

No comments: