Monday, November 22, 2010

Every Murder Victim Has A Story: Joseph Sharps and Delvonte Tisdale (UPDATED)

The national and local media selectively cover to the lives of homicide victims. In a country as populous as the United States and with such a large number of murders, every victim cannot become headline news.

While the volume of homicides limits extensive coverage of each case, other factors like race, gender and class distinguish widely reported cases from those that remain submerged. While upper-class and white female homicide victims like Natalie Holloway and Chandra Levy continue to receive extensive media attention, scores of other victims are reduced to tiny blurbs in local and national media. Despite this disparate coverage, every victim has a story.



Joseph Alonzo Sharps
Joseph Alonzo Sharps, 17-year-old, was murdered on November 8th in Washington, DC. His best friend was wounded in the shooting.

In many ways, Joseph's murder fits a typical -- yet gruesome -- pattern of homicide in DC, in which the victims are largely poor, black, young and male. But Joseph's case stands out because it received coverage in one extensive article in the Washington Post. In most instances, victims like Joseph are reduced to a few sentences extracted from a local police blotter. Joseph's parents, however, refused to allow their son to become another "statistic."

Joseph's obituary provides some details of his short life:
Joseph enjoyed Math and was an honor student during middle and high school. In 2004, Joseph received the "Edison Leadership Award." He spent his leisure time with his friends as well his best friend “Bilbro” playing Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Often on holidays you would find “Little Joe” with his cousins waiting in anticipation to feast on his mother’s famous macaroni and cheese. Joseph was a Dallas Cowboy fan and enjoyed watching the Cowboys defeat the Redskins. He was also a Lakers and Yankees fan. Joseph always dreamed of attending the Cowboys vs. Redskins game in Dallas. Joseph was known for wearing his mix match socks in bright colors and watching ESPN. Joseph had the spirit of an entrepreneur and his long term goal was to own a sports channel. Although Joseph had a passion for sports, his desire was to be a commentator and not a participator in the game. Joseph was very candid in his conversations and was willing to share his ideas and thoughts to all who were willing listen.
Washington Post writer Paul Duggan provides more insight regarding Joseph in a very passionate article:
Cynthia Sharps [Joseph's mother], a home health-care aide, said she set boundaries for Little Joe.

"He knew my policy: No drugs, no alcohol. And I'd get after him about language. You know, he did the slang words, that street language. I'd say, 'You have to learn how to talk!' And he'd say, 'Don't worry, Ma, when I go somewhere, I know how to talk.'"

"He wasn't allowed outside late at night," she said. "The children Little Joe has been around, they all come from good families. They stay off the streets. They play sports. They go to school. All of them are school-minded, to go to college. . . ."
According to Joseph's mother, he was an honors student. After high school, Joseph dreamed of attending New York University or a school in Florida. Joseph wanted to study finance -- not to play sports. His ambitions, however, were cut short by a bullet. Police have not identified any suspects or a motive.



Delvonte Tisdale (UPDATED: SEE BELOW)
Delvonte Tisdale, a 16-year-old, was found dead in Milton, Massachusetts late last week. The circumstances surrounding Delvonte's murder continue to unfold.

Delvonte's case has received some attention in the national press -- possibly because police found his body in a wealthy suburb of Boston. Police said that Delvonte's body was so badly mutilated that they could not even guess what caused his death. Milton police found a hall pass in Delvonte's pocket that allowed them to connect his body to a missing person's case that his father filed in North Carolina.

Delvonte lived in North Carolina with his father and step-mother. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, he moved to North Carolina a few months ago. Delvonte enrolled in Junior ROTC, and made many new friends at his high school.

According to some family members, however, Delvonte did not like living in North Carolina, and he wanted to return to Baltimore. One member of his family said that Delvonte often fought with his father, even coming to blows at some points.

Family members believe that Delvonte ran away from home. According to some news reports, Delvonte said he was going to catch a ride to Baltimore with two "friends" who were driving from North Carolina to Boston. The next day, Delvonte was found dead in Milton -- the victim of a vicious homicide.

Some of Delvonte's distraught family members have expressed their anger and sadness on Facebook. Meanwhile, police are working to solve the mystery surrounding Delvonte's untimely death.

We Should Never Treat Murder As Routine
Violent crimes are often treated as routine and ordinary in the United States. When the victims are black, young, male and poor, they rarely draw attention from the public.

Everyone, however, has a stake in creating solutions to violence wherever it occurs. Murder is a general societal problem -- not simply a law enforcement or legal problem.

If any murder becomes part of the uncomplicated status quo, then the rest of society loses part of its own humanity. For this reason, I celebrate and mourn the lives of Joseph Sharps, Delvonte Tisdale, and many other victims of homicide. Focusing on their suffering allows me to reclaim and assert my own humanity and dignity.


UPDATE REGARDING DELVONTE TISDALE
Although Delvonte's death was initially reported as a homicide, investigators have concluded that he "likely" was a stowaway in the wheel well of a commercial airline. When the jet opened its landing gear, Delvonte fell to the ground, and the impact of the fall probably caused the severe damage to his body.

This is a tragic story. Now investigators must determine how Delvonte managed to breach security and board a commercial airline undetected.

Conservatives Defend "Repeal Amendment"

Randy Barnett (a Georgetown University law professor) and William Howell (Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates) defend the proposed "Repeal Amendment" in today's Wall Street Journal. If ratified, the Repeal Amendment would allow 2/3 of the states to repeal federal laws.

In a recent blog post, I describe the Repeal Amendment as "useless." Barnett and Howell, however, believe that the proposal would restore power to the states. But, even assuming that that federal government has trampled over the will of the states, this does not make the amendment necessary.

Barnett and Powell operate under the mistaken belief that:
At present, the only way for states to contest a federal law or regulation is to bring a constitutional challenge in federal court or seek an amendment to the Constitution. A state repeal power provides a targeted way to reverse particular congressional acts and administrative regulations without relying on federal judges or permanently amending the text of the Constitution to correct a specific abuse (boldface added).
This argument, however, ignores the tremendous influence that states have in the national legislative process. Although, as the Supreme Court has held, individual members of Congress represent "the people," rather than states, they undoubtedly protect state interests as well. States are absolutely capable of utilizing the national political process to protect their individual or collective interests.

Furthermore, if the legislatures of 2/3 of the states oppose a particular piece of legislation, the voters in many of those states probably disfavor the measure as well. The present system does not disallow states from exercising political power in Congress to repeal unfavored legislation.

Altering Constitutional Structure: Less Representation for the People
The proposed Repeal Amendment has a subtle, but dangerous, dimension to it. The Framers of the Constitution divided Congress into two houses. The House is popularly represented; in the Senate, however, power is distributed evenly across the states. The Framers believed that this system would result in a deliberative legislative process.

The Repeal Amendment, however, would disturb this constitutional structure. Legislators -- not voters -- from 2/3 of the states could repeal federal legislation, regardless of the population of the respective states. The proposal would transfer national legislative power from the people (represented in Congress) to state governments. Furthermore, the proposal would allow 2/3 of even the most sparsely populated states to alter federal law. This is not the framework that the Framers envisioned.

This proposal mirrors recent arguments by conservatives who want to repeal the 17th Amendment, which allows for the direct election of Senators (by voters rather than state legislatures). In fact, Barnett and Howell describe the impact of the 17th Amendment upon the states as "costly." Thus, while many conservatives -- such as members of the Tea Party -- claim to favor popular politics, the Repeal Amendment would diminish a check that the people have over the national legislative process. The Repeal Amendment is simply another version of conservative opposition to popular politics embodied in the 17th Amendment and in other parts of the nation's constitutional structure.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Conservatives Propose Useless "Repeal Amendment"

Some conservatives want to amend the Constitution in order to allow states to repeal federal legislation. The so-called "Repeal Amendment" would provide that:
Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed."
Some powerful Republicans back the proposed amendment, including House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia. Cantor says that the amendment would restrain the national government and return power to states.

Analysis
The Repeal Amendment faces an uphill battle. Congress has considered thousands of proposed constitutional amendments throughout history, but it has only approved 33 for ratification by the states. Of those 33, only 28 were ultimately ratified. The constitutional requirement that 3/4 of states ratify amendments proposed by either a 2/3 vote of Congress or 2/3 of states seeking a constitutional convention dooms most proposed amendments.

Also, many of the amendments to the Constitution came at critical points in American history. The first ten of the amendments -- the Bill of Rights -- were ratified together and were actually conceived of prior to the ratification of the Constitution itself. These amendments were added in order to quell fears in several states regarding a more powerful national government. Three other amendments -- the 13th, 14th and 15th -- were ratified after the Civil War. By contrast, the proposed Repeal Amendment lacks the historical impetus that led the the ratification of other constitutional amendments.

Furthermore, the Repeal Amendment seems utterly unnecessary. Even assuming its proponents' claim that congressional power is too large, the amendment will add nothing to the powers that states already have at their disposal to alter this situation. If, for example, 2/3 of state legislatures oppose federal laws, it is highly doubtful that the laws would remain on the books. In addition, it would be much easier for those states to lobby Congress to repeal undesired legislation, by a simple majority vote, than to coordinate votes by at least 2/3 of state legislatures. States are well represented in Congress, and they do not need the Repeal Amendment in order to exercise a check over congressional power.

Accordingly, the Repeal Amendment sounds more like a political gimmick than a substantive proposal for constitutional change. In any event, because of the procedural difficulties associated with the amendment process, the proposed Repeal Amendment will not likely go very far.

Update: Two conservatives have defended the Repeal Act in the Wall Street Journal. See Dissenting Justice for a response: Conservatives Defend "Repeal Amendment"

Barbara Bush Not High On Sarah Palin

During an interview with Larry King on CNN, Barbara Bush made some interesting remarks about Sarah Palin. The former First Lady subtly criticized the idea that Palin should seek a political office in Washington (like President).

When asked what she thinks about Palin, Bush said:
I sat next to Palin once. Thought she was beautiful," Barbara Bush said. "And she's very happy in Alaska, and I hope she'll stay there" (italics added).
Other Republicans have publicly condemned Palin. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska recently said that Palin lacks leadership skills and the "intellectual curiosity" needed to serve as President. Furthermore, Senator John McCain recently declined to endorse a Palin presidential bid, saying that it would be premature to do so.

Although Palin believes she can win a presidential election against Barack Obama, it seems that many Republicans think that a run by Palin would have catastrophic results for the GOP. On the other hand, many Democrats would probably love to hear Palin discuss foreign policy and watch her scribble notes on her hand during presidential debates.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Look What's Happening in Texas: Transgender Judge

Phyliss Randolph Frye, a longtime transgender advocate, has been appointed as an associate municipal judge in Houston, Texas. Houston voters recently elected Annise Parker, an open lesbian, as their mayor. Parker nominated Frye to the judgeship. The city council unanimously approved Frye's nomination. Frye and Parker are definitely trailblazers -- inside and outside of Texas.

Conservative Hypocrisy Regarding TSA Security Procedures

Conservative commentators have generated a lot of press with their recent protests opposing the use of body scanners and invasive manual searches by TSA officials. Their rage is hypocritical and blatantly discriminatory.

Conservative Hypocrisy Concerning Law Enforcement and Civil Liberties
In this particular setting, conservatives have been among the most vocal advocates of enhanced law enforcement authority. Most conservative lawmakers supported the Patriot Act, which greatly expanded the powers of federal law enforcement officials. They praised President Bush for creating the Department of Homeland Security. Many of them advocated and still support racial profiling at airports -- claiming that "we" must sacrifice our liberty in order to maintain security from terrorists.

Outside of terrorism and airport security, conservatives have also endorsed wide powers for law enforcement officials. They hate the Miranda ruling, which requires police officers to inform detainees of their constitutionally protected right to remain silent. Conservatives often criticize judicial rulings that enforce the Bill of Rights in criminal cases as allowing defendants to "walk" based on "technicalities." Conservatives love to bash the ACLU, even though the organization is an ardent advocate of constitutional liberty. And, in a recent moment of conservative extremism, Justice Clarence Thomas provided the lone dissent in a case which held that school officials violated the Constitution when they subjected a young girl to a strip search in order to find nonexistent tablets of Advil.

Conservatives Endorse Racially Discriminatory Policing
Conservatives are tossing aside their infatuation with law enforcement in light of expanded searches by TSA officials. In today's Washington Post, for example, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer rails against TSA safety procedures, including use of the dreaded body scanner:
We pretend that we go through this nonsense as a small price paid to ensure the safety of air travel. Rubbish. This has nothing to do with safety - 95 percent of these inspections, searches, shoe removals and pat-downs are ridiculously unnecessary. The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling - when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches. . . .

But now you insist on a full-body scan, a fairly accurate representation of my naked image to be viewed by a total stranger? Or alternatively, the full-body pat-down, which, as the junk man correctly noted, would be sexual assault if performed by anyone else?

This time you have gone too far, Big Bro'. The sleeping giant awakes. Take my shoes, remove my belt, waste my time and try my patience. But don't touch my junk.
The application of invasive security techniques to white men (touching their "junk") offends Krauthammer, who believes that the TSA should use "profiling" in order to limit its searches presumably to Arab and Arab-looking people (i.e., brown folks).

Studies have consistently shown that women, in particular women of color, are disproportionately targeted for invasive airport searches (see, e.g., here). Generally, persons of color are subjected to greater law enforcement scrutiny, including searches of their bodies and property, due to racial profiling. Conservatives, however, have not expressed similar outrage over these and other invasions of privacy. Instead, conservatives have often promoted the idea that individuals must shed their rights in order to protect the broader society. They also promote the fallacy that criminality in communities of color justifies the pervasive patterns of discrimination.

Now that "innocent" white men must endure similar scrutiny from law enforcement, conservatives have mobilized in anger. Their anger, however, reeks of hypocrisy and discrimination.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Jersey Supreme Court Rules That Voters Cannot Recall a US Senator

The New Jersey Supreme Court has held that the Constitution does not permit states to recall members of Congress. The ruling ended a Tea Party-backed effort to remove Senator Robert Menendez from office.

As I argued in two previous blog posts, US Supreme Court precedent clearly holds that the Constitution establishes the sole requirements of members of Congress. In the past, the Court invalidated a decision by the Speaker of the House not to seat Representative Adam Clayton Powell due to allegations of ethical misconduct. The Court also struck down a state law that established term limits for members of Congress. In both of these cases, the Court held that the Constitution sets forth the requirements for members of Congress and that neither Congress nor the states could alter those standards.

Furthermore, the Framers of the Constitution considered, but rejected, language that would have permitted the recall of members of Congress. The Constitution, however, allows for Congress to expel members by a 2/3 vote.

The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed with my analysis and reversed a lower court ruling that permitted the recall process to advance. Although the Tea Party frequently invokes the Constitution in its political commentary, the group made a gross misjudgment on this issue.

House Ethics Committee: Censure for Charlie Rangel

The House Ethics Committee has voted 9-1 to recommend a censure for Representative Charlie Rangel. Earlier this week, the Ethics Committee found that Rangel committed 11 violations of House ethical rules. Rangel walked out of the proceedings on the first day, but he returned the following day and delivered a very dramatic speech.

It is highly likely that Rangel calculated that the House would not expel him. The Speaker of the House cannot refuse to sit a representative simply because the individual has committed ethical violations. The Constitution, however, permits expulsion of House members by a 2/3 vote.

Rangel successfully ran for reelection with the ethics charges pending. Rangel probably believed that if he won the election, he could escape the ethics proceedings with a punishment short of expulsion. The committee's recommendation that Rangel face a censure suggests that his gamble worked.

At least a majority of the full House can impose a censure. Now, only the voters in Rangel's district can "fire" him.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rangel Convicted of 11 Ethics Violations

The House Ethics Panel has convicted Representative Charlie Rangel of 11 of 13 ethics charges. Rangel declined to participate in the proceedings.

My Take
I suspect that Rangel made a political calculation simply to ignore the proceedings. The Constitution does not allow the House to bar duly elected members from sitting. The Constitution, however, permits expulsion, but this requires a 2/3 vote of the entire House.

Although President Obama subtly suggested that Rangel should withdraw from the election, Rangel ignored Obama and eventually won. Now that he has won, Rangel probably believes that 2/3 of the House will not vote to expel him.

The House, however, could impose a lesser sanction (such as censure) by a simply majority vote. If Rangel's calculations are correct, only the voters in his district can control his fate. They have recently spoken on this subject by electing the 80-year-old Rangel to another term.

Senator Lisa Murkowski States the Obvious About Palin: Too Dumb, Not a Leader

Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, says she would not support Sarah Palin if she ran for president. Murkowski explains that Palin lacks leadership abilities and intellect:
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowki told CBS News' Katie Couric today that she would not support Sarah Palin for president because Palin lacks the "leadership qualities" and "intellectual curiosity" to craft great policy.

"You know, she was my governor for two years, for just about two years there, and I don't think that she enjoyed governing," Murkowski said. "I don't think she liked to get down into the policy." The Alaska senator added that she prefers a candidate who "goes to bed at night and wakes up in the morning thinking about how we're going to deal with" important issues.
Murkowski lost the GOP primary in Alaska to a Palin-backed Joe Miller. Murkowki, however, launched a write-in campaign that appears to have been successful (officials are still counting votes). Although Murkowski states the obvious regarding Palin, sometimes the obvious is worth mentioning -- especially in a country with voters who are so vulnerable to ignorance.

Colin Powell Tells GLBT Activists Not to Press Congress on DADT

Colin Powell warns GLBT activists not to press Congress to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Even though President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates oppose the ban, Powell says that he wants the "study" of this issue to continue. He also opposes litigation challenging the ban. Unless Congress repeals the statute before Republicans take over the House, the discriminatory measure will likely remain in place for a long period of time, absent a judicial ruling enjoining its enforcement.

Ironically, Powell himself has embraced changing course on this issue in extremely measured comments. Powell, however, played a great role in crafting DADT. President Clinton promised to lift the ban, but military leaders -- including Powell -- opposed the decision. When Democrats cheered Powell's endorsement of President Obama, I questioned this stance, given his role in President Bush's unnecessary invasion of Iraq and his support for DADT. Powell's current stance would virtually ensure that the ban remain in place.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Michigan Assistant Attorney General Fired For Stalking Gay College Student

Andrew Shirvell, a Michigan assistant state attorney general, has lost his job. Shirvell made national headlines after he started targeting University of Michigan student body president Chris Armstrong. Armstrong is openly gay.

Believing that Armstrong was pursuing a "radical homosexual agenda," Shirvell stalked the student at his residence and at the University of Michigan. State officials conducted an investigation and concluded that Shirvell's conduct made him unfit for his position. According to a report of the investigation, Shirvell engaged in several inappropriate actions, including, that he:
Showed up at Armstrong's home three separate times, including once at 1:30 a.m. . .

"Engaged in behavior that, while not perhaps sufficient to charge criminal stalking, was harassing, uninvited and showed a pattern that was in the everyday sense, stalking."

Harassed Armstrong's friends as they were socializing in Ann Arbor.

Called Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office, Armstrong's employer, in an attempt to "slander Armstrong and ultimately attempting to cause Pelosi to fire Armstrong.

Attempted to "out" Armstrong's friends as homosexual — several of whom aren't gay
(boldface added).
Employees and Free Speech

Mike Cox, the Michigan attorney general, carefully distinguished Shirvell's conduct from activities protected by the First Amendment. As a public employee, Shirvell's speech is entitled to constitutional protection. Cox, however, rightfully concluded that Shirvell's conduct went far beyond protected activities for public employees. Furthermore, Shirvell apparently lied to investigators -- which clearly does not implicate a constitutional right.

Recently, Dissenting Justice has commented on several clashes between speech and workplace decorum. I believe that many recent discharges or suspensions of individuals -- such as Shirley Sherrod, Keith Olbermann, and Juan Williams -- reflect a desire to avoid controversy by any means necessary. I do not agree with this kneejerk desire to sanitize speech.

The Shirvell case, however, differs from the others in many important respects. Shirvell, as a state attorney, was responsible for enforcing state antidiscrimination law and for executing his duties without prejudice. Also, as the report concludes, Shirvell engaged in harassing and potentially slanderous conduct. Furthermore, Shirvell lied to state officials who investigated his conduct. Finally, Shirvell used state time and resources to stalk and harass college students. His pattern of behavior raises serious questions about his professional and mental competence. Accordingly, this is one case in which a discharge was absolutely warranted.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Restoration of Sanity Fails: MSNBC Suspends Olbermann Over Political Contributions

NBC has suspended Keith Olbermann for donating money to Democratic political candidates without receiving permission from the network. According to several media reports, NBC requires journalists to seek prior approval from the network before making political donations. Other reports, however, suggest that the network has selectively enforced this requirement or that MSNBC commentators (like Olbermann) are actually exempt from the requirement.

Because NBC is a private company -- rather than a government employer -- it can place restrictions upon its employees' speech. Accordingly, absent some state or federal law on this issue, NBC's alleged contractual provision does not deprive Olbermann of any rights he has. The First Amendment does not apply to private, nongovernmental restraints on speech.

Nevertheless, NBC's decision to suspend Olberman is very troubling. Recently, Dissenting Justice criticized NPR's decision to fire Juan Williams after he made bigoted statements about Muslims. Although I found Williams's comments offensive, I believe that the decision to fire Williams resulted from a growing intolerance of controversial speech and ideas among the media.

The dismissals of Shirley Sherrod, Juan Williams, and many other individuals for isolated moments of controversy conflict with the American ideals of political debate and free speech. Although many liberals cheered NPR's decision to release Williams, I argued that NPR's position was not necessarily progressive. NBC's treatment of Olberman demonstrates that progressives should not tolerate kneejerk and intolerant behavior.

Clearly, room exists for employers to fire individuals when their private views impair their ability to execute their job-related responsibilities. In many instances, however, the decision to discharge or suspend individuals results from capitulation to controversy and momentary passions, rather than rational deliberation and judgment. NBC should reinstate Olbermann (I suspect he will soon return to the airwaves), and Americans should grow a lot more tolerant of ideas with which they disagree.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election 2010: The Bloodbath That Never Happened

In recent weeks, the media have described today's election as a certain bloodbath for the Democratic Party. The results, however, look much more measured. As of 12:48am on the East Coast, it appears that the GOP will regain control of the House, but Democrats will maintain control -- although to a lesser degree -- of the Senate.

Several recent elections have brought about similar shifts in congressional power. In 1994, both the Senate and the House went to the GOP, along with many state governorships. In 2006, both chambers shifted to the Democrats. So, 2010 is actually a little better for the Democrats than recent election results.

Furthermore, historical data indicate that the president's party has performed poorly in midterm elections during most of modern US history. Also, considering the wretched state of the economy, the Democrats could have easily suffered from a complete loss of power in Congress. This, outcome, however, did not occur.

Needless to say, Democrats lost some tough races. Senator Russ Feingold -- probably the last remaining progressive in the Senate -- lost in Wisconsin. In Pennsylvania, Joe Sestak lost to Pat Toomey by a very narrow margin. Also, in Florida, Charlie Crist lost the Senate race to Marco Rubio. Even though Crist led the three-candidate race immediately after he abandoned the Republican Party, Kendrick Meek (a Democrat) managed to pull enough liberal votes away from Crist, which threw the election to Rubio.

In Nevada, however, Harry Reid has defeated Sharron Angle. Angle, who is probably best known for her comical efforts to escape the media, ran as an anti-government, anti-social security, anti-Department of Education, Tea Party candidate. Surprisingly, despite her obviously limited intellect, she kept the race tight until the very end. Reid, however, is very unpopular among voters. Nevertheless, he has won close elections in the past, and he benefits from labor union support, which gives him a massive "get out the vote" machine. Apparently, the machine worked -- despite massive voter discontent.

The media will probably craft an electoral narrative designed to create drama and to draw traffic to their web pages. Ultimately, however, the election tallies (as exit polls indicate) likely result from one simple factor: voters' feelings of vulnerability about the economy. This same vulnerability caused them to abandon Republicans, elect President Obama and expand Democratic control of Congress in 2008.

In 2008, I warned exuberant Democrats that the election results did not mean that the American electorate had become wildly liberal. Similarly, the results of today's election do not indicate that the country is wildly conservative. Instead, partisans have voted for their parties' candidates, while moderates and independents voted against many Democrats because they are afraid of the economy. If the economy picks up by 2012, the election should provide for some very interesting and close races.

I will try to add more analysis later today -- time permitting.
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