Bloggers are reacting to the short extension granted the Patriot Act in the Senate, rejoicing at the end of the New York transit strike, and breaking down the now one-horse race for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat.
Patriot Inaction: The Senate voted Wednesday to extend the Patriot Act for six months, preventing the controversial counterterrorism bill from expiring at year's end but falling short of updating it. President Bush had said he'd oppose a short-term extension of the act, but the White House reportedly is on board with the compromise. Later in the day, the House voted for a one-month extension and sent that back to the Senate, where a late vote is expected.
Many are reading this as a victory for the Democrats, righties included. "It's a funny thing," said John Hinderaker at conservative Power Line. "(W)hen the Democrats are in the majority, the Democrats run Congress. When the Republicans are in the majority, the Democrats still run Congress. How does that work?"
But Blogs for Bush sees a silver lining here, in the 2006 midterms: "Polls show that a majority of Americans support the Patriot Act in its current form, or want it tougher," Matt Margolis writes, pointing to Gallup numbers. "So, this delay in the debate over the Patriot Act is sure to help Republicans in 2006."
The Patriot Act passed 98-1 in the Senate in Oct. 2001. Since then, in the absence of terrorist strikes on U.S. soil—plus the presence of constant intelligence scandals—attitudes like that of Michael Stickings at The Moderate Voice have become more common: " I do not support the Patriot Act in its current form ... this extension means that a deal could still be worked out between the Act's critics on both sides of the aisle and stalwarts in the Republican caucus who refused to budge until this latest vote."
On Balkinization, Marty Lederman links Bush's authorization of warrantless wiretapping and the re-enactment of the Patriot Act and starts down this theoretical road: "What virtually no one is pointing out is the incongruity of these two arguments -- that if the President is correct about the legality of his wiretapping protocol, then there is little need to reenact the PATRIOT Act."
Read more about the Patriot Act.
Strike out: New York City's three-day transit strike ended today, as the union's executive board voted to accept the preliminary framework of a settlement plan. City transit employees returned to work today, and most subway and bus service was to resume by Friday morning.
"Thank God," writes poster CHFDigital on Gawker, "it's now safe to leave my apartment."
Brooklyn-based Vermillionsun provides a typical commuting narrative: "The car went slower than walking pace for a good portion of the trip — there were cheers of glee every time we got up into 2nd gear ... Also my prayers to God, Mother Mary, Ganesh, and St. Christopher must've worked, because we instinctively chose the one route that was still nominally moving (the West Side Hwy) only a few minutes before it all gridlocked behind us. The trip took 2 hours door-to-door, which sucks in comparison to a typical 40 minutes on the subway, but really it wasn't so bad."
The resolution clearly comes not a moment too soon. Seattleite Jennifer Rundle, vacationing in the city during the strike, observed that patience was waning: "(E)ven the union supporters are starting to get pissed at the inconvenience of it all," she writes. "It is a bit like a blizzard in terms of its affects on the city."
The Oil Drum, reacting to what it considers anti-union coverage by Fox News, seeks to dispel some myths about public outrage against the strikers. The site breaks down polling data on the strike from Marist College.
Read more about the strike.
Campaign Pirro-ette: As widely anticipated, Jeanine Pirro officially abandoned her troubled bid for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, leaving the former first lady with no Republican opposition at the moment.
The GOP will choose someone else, of course, but it doesn't matter, The Blue State Conservatives acknowledge. "The talk now is of former Yonkers mayor John Spencer as a possibility, but in fairness Mr. Spencer has less of a chance to cause Clinton to break a sweat as he has of playing center for the Knicks. Barring a Rocky Balboa like campaign from an energetic dark horse, Mrs. Clinton can likely save most of the $14 million in her campaign fund for 2008."
Obviously, the real intrigue with Clinton isn't the 2006 election; it's the one after that. Blue Republic calls Kurt Andersen's profile of Clinton in the Dec. 26 issue of New York magazine "fantastic and depressing": "Andersen is right when he basically says that she can't win. When she's pandering (this stupid anti-flag burning bill), no one buys it, and when she's sincere (health care), no one buys it. As Andersen says, she is not her husband."