free agent, loose cannon, pointy stick ... taking an imposing analytic toolkit out of the box, over the wall and into the street ... with callous disregard for accepted wisdom and standard English

reading tea leaves from original angles, we've led with uncannily prescient takes on the federal surplus, the dotcom crash, the "Energy Crisis", the Afghan campaign, the federal deficit.

More where those came from ... stay tuned.

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All "major" articles of older material have now been imported, some with updates worth perusing. We'll keep it all on the main page for a while, will add a few loose pieces of history, will trim the main page and index the archives for convenience later.


free agent, loose cannon, pointy stick ...
... gateway to the next Progressive Era?
Some say it's nothing but a train wreck ... roll in the big cranes, clear the track, see what the crew was smoking. If I thought so, I'd not be writing this ... and if they thought so, they'd not be drumming so hard.

Many thanks to Tony Adragna and Will Vehrs, still shouting 'cross the Potomac at QuasiPundit. Early Camp Enron material can be found in QP's Dispatches department.
Wednesday, December 18, 2002

--- Winter Games Update ---

A few senators -- notably Ted Stevens, the man who would be president pro tempore -- have lined up behind Lott. Others are frantically gesturing and stage-whispering from the wings: "Ix-nay! Ix-nay! Ink-thay ark-May uhrman-Fay!".

Various sources have parsed Mississippi law re Senate vacancies. (See this from the Biloxi SunHerald.) An appointed replacement sits for 90 days if Lott resigns by the end of the 2002, or through November if he resigns in 2003. Note: from notice of vacancy, the Governor has 10 days to name a replacement. I assume (but have not confirmed) that this provision could NOT be exploited to toll the date logic and roll a 2002 resignation into 2003.

Dwight Meredith at P.L.A. logs a Count Your Fingers series on promises made to legislators and broken by Republican leaders, noting one deal even less likely to be honored by a vacant Lott.

A factor in that January 6 caucus date: most of 9 new GOP Senators won't be sworn in til then. Can mere Senators-elect vote in a leadership challenge? That depends on caucus rules. What are the rules? Don't know, but they're set by the caucus and (I assume) can be suspended by supermajority, or a 'done deal' could be adopted by gentleman's agreement before formal action in January.

Lott could score a committee chairmanship as payoff for stepping down but staying in the Senate. (Chuck Grassley's Finance Cmte. slot has been mentioned.) Lott gets a major chair, which gets yanked out from under some other senior R, who must then be bought off, which creates a chain reaction ... and its hard to find any chair that doesn't preside over racially sensitive subject matter.

Let the Mountain come to Murkowski ... who now hints he may not name his own replacement until after Christmas. Bids are open. It's a good time to be a Murkowski ... or a Chaffee ... or perversely, even a Friend of Lott.

Judicial appointments could be a huge bone of contention.
Positive Clinton would lose the 1996 race, Gingrich Revolutionaries blocked his picks from late 1994 forward. A few months of pre-election stalling would have been routine, the two-year speculative embargo was a stretch, but -- reinvigorated by impeachment prospects -- the blockade held through 2000 (punctuated by horsetrading exceptions). D's regained Senate control in 2001 with many scores to settle, blocking selected Bush nominations.
Lots of chips on the table, some big chips on big shoulders, and several guns drawn and cocked. In any grand cross-caucus bargain, these could be deal-breakers... or the currency by which hold-outs are bought into the fold.