One month before the election, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart holdover correspondent Lewis Black turned up on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to record a fresh segment of Back in Black. He highlighted how few Americans choose to vote and urged eligible voters to overcome personal distaste for both candidates:
On Friday, after Hillary announced via txt that Tim Kaine would join her on the Democratic ticket, the Forward published an article boldly titled “5 Reasons Tim Kaine Will Be the Jewiest Vice President Pick for Hillary Clinton“. Those five reasons (spoiler alert): He supports the two-state solution “even when others don’t”, is a religious Catholic, helped Sabra attract a factory to Virginia, has hosted several Passover seders, and once set up a Rabbi’s daughter.
Without getting into whether even one of these five things suffices to make someone — politician or otherwise — “Jewy” to any degree (or, as in the case of #2, seemingly rules that possibility out entirely), let’s consider something the article sorely lacks: context. After all, the ‘iest’ in “Jewiest” implies Kaine is “Jewy” compared to at least one someone else. So we shall proceed by process of elimination.
The internet erupted in glee late last week when Donald Trump announced that Mike Pence — and not Chris Christie — would join him on the Republican ticket. The New York Times’ take on the implications for the New Jersey governor led off as follows:
“Black Thursday,” one of Gov. Chris Christie’s least favorite local newspaper columnists called it, under a headline that declared it his “worst day ever.” At the least, it was the New Jersey governor’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Poor Chris Christie. All he wants to be is Trump’s VP. Or does he?
After VP Joe Biden accused Turkey of having supported many of the forces fighting Bashar al-Assad — including ISIS — that country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan angrily responded, “Turkey has never given even the smallest kind of support to any terror organization.”
That’s the punchline.
In John Oliver’s acclaimed evisceration of the Miss America pageant, HBO’s new host investigated the pageant’s oft-repeated claim that it makes $45 million in scholarship money available to contestants on an annual basis. Unsurprisingly, he concluded that the stated figure substantially overstates reality.
But he was wrong,* and it’s all because his fact-finding elves didn’t dig deep enough into the types of people who compete in the pageant — and particularly, into their educational proclivities (emphasis added):
I’ve previously questioned the frequency with which Jon Stewart gratuitously invokes Star Wars on The Daily Show, but I’ve never before felt the need to question how they fit into some overarching narrative. Which is why I found it so striking when, last week, he made a Dick joke that looked like this:
We’re not even halfway through 2014, and you’ve already seen what Hillary Clinton has in store for the 2016 campaign (above). It certainly sounded familiar, so I dug this out of the archives:
[Headline updated to reflect the fact that a deal was reached to avert filibuster reform. The rest of this post was written before that happened.]
It’s becoming increasingly clear that Harry Reid is ready to exercise the “nuclear option” to force filibuster reform:
In a Monday speech at the Center for American Progress, the Senate majority leader announced his readiness to invoke the so-called nuclear option and push through filibuster reform on a procedural vote.
Reid, citing the refusal of Senate Republicans to allow up-or-down votes on seven of the president’s nominees, including Tom Perez to be secretary of Labor and Gina McCarthy to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said, “The Senate is broken and needs to be fixed,” and emphasized “I am prepared to take whatever actions necessary” to do so.
As the Senate inches to within reach of DEFCON 0, Reid seems to have discounted the risk that the schtick he’s about to pull will come back to bite him and other Senate Democrats in the ass [pun intended]:
“I’d actually look at what’s going on today rather than have some hypothetical in the future.”
I suppose bluffing is a good negotiating tactic, but that future — Nate Silver felt compelled to chime in — might be coming sooner than Reid would like. Yesterday, the Sultan of Stat took to Five Thirty Eight for the first time in five days to predict that control of the Senate after 2014 (the coming election) looks like a tossup:
A race-by-race analysis of the Senate, in fact, suggests that Republicans might now be close to even-money to win control of the chamber after next year’s elections. Our best guess, after assigning probabilities of the likelihood of a G.O.P. pickup in each state, is that Republicans will end up with somewhere between 50 and 51 Senate seats after 2014, putting them right on the threshold of a majority.
The post didn’t explicitly mention the nuclear option or filibuster reform, or anything else about the current Senate, but the implication was clear: Reid should be careful what he wishes for.
That said, I’m not so sure that conclusion is correct. On the one hand, Silver doesn’t predict that Republicans will take the Senate in 2014, and the smaller the Democratic majority, the more important will be its ability to break the filibuster. But his post also serves as an obvious reminder that in changing the rules, the Democrats risk ceding power to an inevitable Republican majority — if not in 2014, then sometime soon thereafter. And that’s precisely what Republicans are counting on to call Reid’s bluff (and continue blocking executive branch nominees). Said Lamar Alexander (R-TN):
“It might be a Democratic train going through the Senate now, but a year and a half from now, it might be the tea party express and some of them might not like that.”
Incorrect, Mr. Alexander: all of them will not like that. Still, Alexander makes a terrifyingly good point about control of the Senate, and it’s certainly something that should give Reid pause before he reaches for that big red button.
But I want to focus on something else Alexander said that actually undermines this line of argument:
Election day has come and gone, and while we — thankfully — already know the outcome, I can still write about it because votes continue to be counted over two weeks later. You may have heard that Barack Obama pulled out a victory in the Presidential race, earning just over 50% of the popular vote. And in a fun bit of irony, it’s looking increasingly likely that Mitt Romney will end up with roughly 47% of the popular vote.
But as you know, the popular vote doesn’t actually count for much. In case you have trouble hearkening back to 2000, a number of pre-election articles speculated that Romney might win the popular vote but lose the electoral college. A few even explored the dreaded electoral college tie (tl;dr – President Romney, Vice President Biden). And while neither of these nightmare scenarios came to fruition, that we could even conceive of such a thing underscores the extent to which our national offices need not reflect public opinion, as reflected — for the sake of argument — in the popular vote.
And the Presidency isn’t the only race in which the results need not align with the will of the collective people.
In the Senate, that much is obvious: every state, regardless of size, gets two Senators. But this year, when the Democrats expanded their slim majority to 53-47, the margin roughly mirrored the popular vote. The House of Representatives, on the other hand, was a clear outlier — Republicans comfortably held onto their majority.
What happened? Did that many people vote for Obama and for a Democratic Senator — and also for a GOP representative?
As you probably guessed: No.
Like in the Presidency and the Senate, House Democrats received more votes overall, but still managed to lose the chamber. If you prefer a graphical representation, here’s what that looks like, courtesy of Wikipedia: