Thursday, November 30, 2006

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

It seems that we've attracted the attention of government workers at the state and federal level today.

SOMEone at the United States House of Representatives spent a fair amount of time today searching the internets for information on "a big fat slob" (using Google and the IE browser on a Windows machine hooked up the the House network):
Domain Name: States Government)
IP Address: 143.231.249.# (Information Systems, U.S. House of Representatives)
ISP: Information Systems, U.S. House of Representatives
Referring URL: big fat slob
Search Engine:
Search Words: a big fat slob
Now, I don't know that this was related to my articles about Reprehensible Tim Murphy, or my email inquiries sent to his Communications Director, yesterday and today. But, one can make a reasoned guess. I hope they found out what they wanted to find out.

And, I am sure that they also missed the irony here. My write-up on Reprehensible Murphy had to do with his use of his campaign staff to investigate the backgrounds of citizens who dared write letters to the editor critical of Murphy. Of course, instead of simply responding to my inquiries, they, naturally, began an investigation into the background of this Big Fat Slob. Wonder how long it will take that paranoid jerk to get his enemies list up to 30,000?

Moving from Southeast of home to Northeast of home, it looks like Luzerne County Courthouse workers were also "curious" -- if not assigned -- to find out more about Your Slob.

An employee at the Luzerne County Adult Probation Office spent part of the workday searching the 'net for information about "the [sic] big fat slob":
Domain Name: (Commercial)
IP Address: 216.37.230.# (epix Internet Services)
ISP: epix Internet Services
Visitor's Time: Nov 30 2006 9:21:47 am
Wonder what the work-related reason for that search was?

But, the big winner for wasting Luzerne County money was this curious soul from the Luzerne County Courts, who spent the better part of over five hours of the workday on the 'nets searching out information about Yours Truly:
Referring Link big fat slob&FORM=MSNH
Host Name
IP Address
ISP Epix Internet Services
Visit Length 5 hours 43 mins 34 secs
Browser MSIE 6.0
Operating System Windows 2000
Resolution 800x600
Javascript Enabled
Navigation Path big fat slob&FORM=MSNH
November 30th 2006 09:21:11
November 30th 2006 09:25:34
November 30th 2006 09:29:52
November 30th 2006 09:32:56
November 30th 2006 12:24:28
November 30th 2006 12:24:50
November 30th 2006 13:34:48
November 30th 2006 13:36:29
November 30th 2006 15:04:10
November 30th 2006 15:04:45
So, right after I run a piece about the hit job pulled on Luzerne County Judge Ann Lokuta, and the rumors that President Judge Conahan and other members of the bench were secretly involved with the complaints leading to the charges, two County employees, using County property and on County time, are investigating whatever background information the internets will cough up on the Slob.

I'm sure that Conahan will get right on this and ferret out whomsoever is wasting County money and illegally using County property. The investigation will begin at once . . . . unless, of course, Conahan already knows who did it because he directed it.

It's unfortunate that the good people of Luzerne County, who have four newspapers within the range of a swung cat, don't have a single journalist willing to challenge Conahan and his heir apparent, Mark Chiverella.

And, I am sure that this all gives the people of Luzerne County a warm and fuzzy feeling to realize that Justice in their County, lay in such hands.

Finally, here's an obscure little ditty with which Murphy, Conahan, and their respective posses should become intimate.


Newt Gingrich has posted on his website the portion of his speech, given earlier this week at the at the annual Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications First Amendment award dinner, which honors people and organizations that stand up for freedom of speech, suggesting that we need to crack down on free speech.

If you need help recalling why Newt's name is vaguely familiar, you can start here.


Nevermind that it won three Tony awards (and ten nominations), three Outer Critic awards, two Lucille Lortels, nine Drama Desk nominations, two Obies, and a sizable handful of other awards, it's title is just too icky for Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman.

Trautman put aside all the unimportant issues facing his Church, to issue an edict that, while allowing the show to go on, precludes the kids from telling anyone the name of the show they are promoting is, gasp, Urinetown.

Nice object lesson for these high school kids.

What a moron. (Oh, boy, just wait until he hears about the plan to screen one of Kevin Smith's movies during Senior Week.)

(photo credit: AP/Reed Saxon via

British Up Retirement Age to 68

In a move that fired-Senator Santorum endorsed before he opposed, the British government has raised the age to qualify for government retirement benefits. The age was increased to 68 (from 65) for everyone born after April 6, 1959, and will be phased in over two decades. Government workers, however, will continue to qualify at age 60.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Channeling Richard Nixon

Remember the good old days -- secret tapes, break-ins, and the "Enemies' List"?

Nixon's Enemy List was the creation of former & reformed Nixon henchman, John Dean. In August, 1971, he sent a memo to fellow Nixon henchman Larry Higby entitled Dealing with our political enemies.

In the memo he proposed using the agencies of the federal government to gather information on American citizens who opposed (or offended) the Nixon Administration:
This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration, Stated a bit more bluntly--how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.
The list started out modestly, with 20 names; soon they added a few dozen Senators, Representatives, and organizations. Eventually, they put 30,000 Americans on their list. It was that kind of imperious attitude which permeated everything the Nixon clan did and lead ultimately to Nixon's impeachment and resignation. While Dean denied knowledge that Nixon was aware of the enemies list, eventually the Nixon Crime Family were secretly tapping reporter's phones, invading opposition headquarters, raiding psychiatrist's offices, and listening to super-henchman Gordon Liddy talking about assassinating Jack Anderson.

I was fortunate to have the kind of job that allowed me to watch most of the Watergate Hearings live in that 1974 summer which, memory says, was unusually hot.

It seems like U.S. Reprehensible Tim Murphy (PA-18) is also reliving 1974.

Melissa Meinzer, of the Pittsburgh City Paper reports that Murphy used his campaign staff to begin gathering information on everyday citizens who didn't understand how unAmerican it was to write a letter to the editor opposing Murphy's policies. Meinzer reported on an internal campaign memo to Murphy from his campaign manager. Here's what she wrote:
"The following is the information I was able to retrieve on the individuals who wrote negative letters to the editor about you," reads the beginning of a three-page memo dated June 23, 2006. The memo, addressed to "TFM," was apparently written by Murphy campaign manager Justin Lokay.

The memo includes copies of two letters to the Post-Gazette from earlier that month. The first, by Brian Rampolla, criticizes Murphy's claims that a visit to Iraq had shown him the war was going well and getting better by the day. The second, by Christine Gallo, echoes Rampolla's statements.

In addition to Rampolla's and Gallo's addresses and phone numbers, the documents detail Rampolla's voting record and religion, his stances on gun control and abortion, and his place of business -- as well as his supposed support for Rick Santorum's Democratic opponent in the 2000 U.S. Senate race. Gallo's voting record and place of business are also noted in the document.
Meizner also mentioned in her report that the memo had been uploaded and linked to the Wiki article on Murphy. Coincidentally, a few hours after the Meizner article appeared, and anonymous editor deleted the links from the Wiki article. Gee, wonder who and why? Fortunately, on the internets, almost nothing is ever gone for good. I've replaced the link on Wiki, but, just in case Murphy or his henchmen again delete the Wiki links, here's the section with the links restored:
The documents that have been leaked by Murphy's staff so far include:

* a document that shows “background research” performed by staff members on constituents who wrote letters to the editor
* documents that indicate campaign work being handled through the DO,
* a document showing a planned teleconference with John Braebender, a media consultant for Rick Santorum. Oh, and if Reprehensible Murphy's own personal G. Gordon does manage to make the linked documents disappear, lemme know, because I have also downloaded them.

A Bite 'o the Cheesesteak to Capitol Ideas with John Micek for Meizner's article.

(photo credits: Reprehensible Murphy, Haraz N. Ghanbari, Associated Press, via Post-Gazette; Nixon, unknown)

Since Reprehensible Murphy (i) keeps his e-mail a secret and (ii) accepts e-mail through the HR server only from constituents, I sent an e-mail to his Communications Director inviting comment and also asking a few questions, like whether Murphy had ever had anyone else checked out this way and whether his staff had anything to do with the disappeared Wiki links. So far, they have ignored the e-mail.

Hadley's Memo

The New York Times reports today about a memo from Bush National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley expressing serious doubts about Iraq Prime Minister Maliki's ability to control the sectarian violence in Iraq.

Seriously, no shit?

Hadley paints a portrait of a man working at cross-purposes with the current United States objectives:
Despite Maliki’s reassuring words, repeated reports from our commanders on the ground contributed to our concerns about Maliki’s government. Reports of nondelivery of services to Sunni areas, intervention by the prime minister’s office to stop military action against Shia targets and to encourage them against Sunni ones, removal of Iraq’s most effective commanders on a sectarian basis and efforts to ensure Shia majorities in all ministries — when combined with the escalation of Jaish al-Mahdi’s (JAM) [the Arabic name for the Mahdi Army] killings — all suggest a campaign to consolidate Shia power in Baghdad.
From the reap what you sow department, it is ironic and sad that Maliki seems to have learned how to govern at the feet of the worst President ever:
The information he receives is undoubtedly skewed by his small circle of Dawa advisers, coloring his actions and interpretation of reality. His intentions seem good when he talks with Americans . . . . But the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action.
Sadder still, this President seems intellectually and emotionally incapable of any sort of reflection, much less the quality of reflection which allows most of the rest of us to draw parallels and learn lessons about ourselves from evaluation of the actions of others. So, the irony of this little paragraph in the report no doubt remains unabsorbed by anyone in the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. Even if the rest of the country sees it, large and clear, for what it is -- the first grand tragedy of the 21st Century.

CNN is reporting confirmation that the memo is genuine. As if.

(photo credit: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP. Baghdad. June 2006, via YahooNews via HuffPo)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Just wondering why Jimmy Kimmel's younger brother is guest-hosting on Hardball tonight.

Pot, Meet Kettle

Judge Ann Lokuta, sitting on the Court of Common Pleas for Luzerne County, has been a thorn in the sides of the County Democratic Party (who didn't support her candidacy), lawyers, prosecutors, and court staff throughout most of her 15 years or so on the bench (from what this outsider can tell, the problem seems to be as much from the good ol' boy -- emphasis on the gender-- attitude up there, as it is from Judge Ann's own "unique" personality).

Most of all, she has been an irritant to the other judges on that Court (apparently, especially, her boss, the President Judge, as the charges expressly refer to her criticisms of the way he runs the courthouse).

They have, finally, gotten back at her.

The Pocono Record reports today that the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board has filed a 22-page complaint against the Luzerne County jurist. Sources tell me that this is the result of months of effort by many of her fellow-judges.

Back in the day, when I was a practicing attorney, I spent only a little bit of time in the Luzerne County Courthouse. While I never had the pleasure of appearing before her, I did have the chance, on several occasions, to observe her behavior and have, of course, listened with bemusement to all the gossip about her supposedly bizarre behavior.

I do not rise to defend Judge Lokuta -- let her able defense counsel take care of that.

But don't think that Judge Lokuta is an aberration on the Luzerne County bench -- based on years of conversations with lawyers who regularly and irregularly appear in Luzerne County, most of Judge Lokuta's fellow judges have no concept of what it means to be a judge.

With exceptions so rare you can count them on two fingers, the Luzerne County bench often can be depended on to allegedly decide cases based on the identities of the parties or their counsel.

They can be relied on to give the finger to litigants and the law by absolutely refusing to do their jobs -- minor, unimportant things, like issuing opinions explaining their decisions. Only a few weeks ago, one of their elite issued a large verdict in a defamation case and didn't bother to give the parties an opinion on why he reached the results that he did.

This lack of care is not surprising, consider that their President Judge was elected to office without ever having set foot in a courtroom, anywhere, as a lawyer representing a client -- he inherited a magistrate's job in Hazleton before he got hard for the big time.

They also delight in their unwritten rules -- such as granting a motion to compel discovery without even requiring the lawyer to notify the other side that the motion has been made.

Many of the judges also love to harass attorneys from outside the County for no other reason than that they can. (Okay, I'll have to admit a personal grudge about this one.)

As a whole, Judge Lokuta might be at the lower end of the lot, but it is already a fairly low lot of judges on the Luzerne County Bench. Collectively, this Bunch is one of the best arguments for merit selection you can find.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Brownback's Hypocrisy

"I will work to guarantee that judicial nominees receive an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate." (Brownback 2004 Campaign Proclamation of Principles)

“For four years we have been working to get an up or down vote on the president’s nominees—to have them approved by a majority of the Senate, as required by the Constitution . . . .All of the president’s nominees—both now and in the future—deserve a fair up or down vote." (Brownback Statement, 5/24/2005)

"I hope those tactics of obstruction will become the historical relics they deserve to be. . . . the President’s nominee deserves nothing less than a prompt, respectful confirmation hearing in the Judiciary Committee and a fair up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.” (Brownback Statement on Judicial Nominees, 7/1/2005)

“'All of the President’s nominees, both now and in the future, deserve a fair up-or-down vote,' said Sam Brownback, of Kansas. "(New Yorker, 11/14/2005)
"Sen. Brownback leaves judicial nominee in limbo over gay marriage issue." (USA Today 11/26/2006)
Brownback has placed a hold on the nomination of Janet Neff for a seat on the United States District Court in Michigan. Neff's nomination was approved by the Judiciary Committee last month, but Neff decided that she wasn't going to get a up or down vote because he's squeamish about gay marriage and Neff -- gasp -- once attended a lesbian commitment ceremony.

As we always knew, all of that crap about "up or down votes" and the "nuclear option" had nothing to do with principle and everything to do with cheap political points.

Oh, yeah, Brownback wants to be President.

How to Stop Global Warming

It seems that the petrochemical industry has hit on an effective strategy to end global warming as we know it -- education.

By slicing off a teeny portion of their record profits and picking up a small portion of the government's failure to fund education, the industry has managed to bribe science teachers into adopting curricula designed to confuse young minds about the reality of global warming. Through financial support of the National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA), ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, and American Petroleum Institute (API).

In today's Washington Post, Laurie David, a producer of An Inconvienent Truth, and founder of, tells us that the NSTA rejected an offer of 50,000 free copies of An Inconvenient Truth for use by their members. According to David, the NTSA said it was rejecting the offer because, among other things, would place "unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters."

'Targeted supporters' -- meaning Exxon & friends from the API. As David explains in Science a La Joe Camel in today's WaPo:
In the past year alone, according to its Web site, Exxon Mobil's foundation gave $42 million to key organizations that influence the way children learn about science, from kindergarten until they graduate from high school. . . . [T]he oil industry, the coal industry and other corporate interests are exploiting shortfalls in education funding by using a small slice of their record profits to buy themselves a classroom soapbox. NSTA's list of corporate donors also includes Shell Oil and the American Petroleum Institute (API), which funds NSTA's Web site on the science of energy. There, students can find a section called "Running on Oil" and read a page that touts the industry's environmental track record -- citing improvements mostly attributable to laws that the companies fought tooth and nail, by the way -- but makes only vague references to spills or pollution. NSTA has distributed a video produced by API called "You Can't Be Cool Without Fuel," a shameless pitch for oil dependence. . . . John Borowski, a science teacher at North Salem High School in Salem, Ore., was dismayed by NSTA's partnerships with industrial polluters when he attended the association's annual convention this year and witnessed hundreds of teachers and school administrators walk away with armloads of free corporate lesson plans.

Along with propaganda challenging global warming from Exxon Mobil, the curricular offerings included lessons on forestry provided by Weyerhaeuser and International Paper, Borowski says, and the benefits of genetic engineering courtesy of biotech giant Monsanto. . . . An API memo leaked to the media as long ago as 1998 succinctly explains why the association is angling to infiltrate the classroom: "Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science will begin to erect barriers against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future."
Brilliant strategy. Defeat global warming by spending millions in faux educational materials designed to grease the slide for their faux science designed to deny the existence or human causes for global warming. Effective, also. How often do we hear people referring to "common sense", the cycle of ice ages, and the canard about volcanoes spewing out carbon dioxide? Talking points straight out of API propaganda and huge number of people who were in public school at anytime from the 90s onward were likely introduced to skewed science.

Fight back. Here's a great holiday gift idea.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Eat at Portofino in Philly -- Tomorrow

I'll bet that schmuck at Geno's never gave away anything:

Restaurant to open its doors to homeless

"If you have no Thanksgiving meal to go to, no family, no turkey, please, you are welcome to come to my Portofino Restaurant to share our Thanksgiving meal with us," Ralph Berarducci said with an Old-World Italian charm that has survived four decades in Philadelphia.

As he has done so often since opening Portofino 30 years ago on Walnut Street near 12th, Berarducci, 70, is welcoming the poor and the homeless to his elegant eatery for a free Thanksgiving dinner, served from 1 to 6 p.m.

He's expecting 500 to 600 people.

Already, he has quietly invited hundreds of men from the city's Ridge Avenue shelter, the nonresidential men who regularly eat lunch at St. John's Hospice on Race Street near 12th and the poor and homeless who receive services from several Center City churches.

(h/t A Smoke Filled Room)

Happy Thanksgiving

According to the latest report from the United States Department of Agriculture, 35,000,000 American citizens (not including the homeless), are frequently "food insecure" (Bushspeak for hungry). While this is only marginally better than the record 38 million in the last report, this year the cronically hungry increased by 100,000.

As the Bush Administration continues to ignore this unnecessary evil, there is something that you and I can do to help.

The Hunger Site is the world's first online activism site. It gives you a daily opportunity to quickly make a difference in the fight to end hunger. In about half a second, you can click on the HELP FEED THE HUNGRY banner and, at no cost to you, send food to the hungry in the United States and the world.

No forms to fill out, no e-mail to give, no money out of your pocket. Corporations pay for each click in return for having a advertisement on the page that opens after you click. 100% of the funds collected goes to purchase food which is then given to America's Second Harvest and Mercy Corps.

You can click once a day (per computer) for the rest of your life.

If you want to do more, shop for holiday gifts in their extensive on-line store. A portion of proceeds also go to help feed the hungry.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sadder than Sad

Since 2001, the United States Department of Agriculture has issued the results of its Hunger Survey in October. This year they waited until after the mid-terms to release the 2005 figures. And that's not all that has changed. There's a lot less hunger in the report this year.

But it isn't because there is a lot less hunger in the United States. Nope. No one is "hungry" this year -- they are now "food insecure". Hope that makes you feel better. Because over 35 million, that's 35,000,000, of your fellow-citizens don't feel better. They are the re-labeled food-insecure. 12.1% of Americans often do not get enough to eat -- the food they can buy runs out before they can afford to buy more. (N.B.:The survey excludes the homeless and those in transient housing.)

The Administration is crowing that this is a reduction over the prior year (2004), when the figure was 13.2%. That is true. But, like most of what you hear out of this crowd, there's a little something more they are depending on you, and the MSM, to ignore -- every year since Bush has taken over, hunger has increased dramatically. Last year was the worst EVER; in raw numbers and percentages, there were more households hungry, excuse me, "food insecure", in 2004 than at any time since 1995 (the earliest year for which reports are available on the Department website).

So, I guess congratulations are in order. And I'm sure you'll see Tony Snow doling them out.

But, in the meantime, if you'd like to do something really, really, easy to help fight hunger -- and I mean ridiculously easy, so fucking easy that you have to have a heart made of shit and splinters not to bother to take the time to do it, go to The Hunger Site and click the bar that says "HELP FEED THE HUNGRY". For every click (one per computer, per day), corporate sponsors give money and 100% of those funds go to hunger projects -- every dime. And it doesn't cost you a penny.

Why are you still here? Go click, please. And bookmark it. Go back there every day to click again.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Idiot's Tale

The problem of Iraq is of a Shakespearean dimension. The incompetent administration of flawed policies has given us an Iraq in intense civil conflict. Sunnis battle Shiites, but need to keep an eye out over their shoulders for the Kurds, and within and between them are numerous other sub-groups taking up arms against a sea of other troubles. As bad as things are now, they easily become much, much worse. Sadly, and tragically, the only thing standing between the terrible and the horrible is the United States. Withdrawal without regard to the situation we have created would be immoral. Placing ourselves in the middle of a civil war is a betrayal of the flesh and blood Bush sent there.

I have little faith that this administration will figure it out because a successful strategy requires that they recognize the need to bring the world into the discussion. Including people to whom they refuse to speak.

Compare the approach in Afghanistan with how, why, and what the U.S. did in Iraq. That difference is what has, to date, prevented the kind of regional engagement necessary to any real resolution of Bush’s Morass. When Bush finally went to Afghanistan, there was no talk of using the new regime there as a stealth virus to infect the rest of the region with democracy; Bush didn’t promise that the new Afghan state would become Israel’s best friend in the region. If he had, he would have precluded the support of Russia, Pakistan or Iran for the war and help in securing the post-war Afghanistan.

Bush positioned everything differently when he lied us into Iraq. While we were all taken with the claimed threat of WMDs, the rest of the world was listening, with increasing alarm, to the neocon promise of using the new Iraq to transform the region. If there was any way that the neocons pulling Bush’s strings could ensure that Iraq’s neighbors would not embrace the American invasion of Iraq, it was by promising that, after we finish with Iraq, we’ll be looking around for the next “success”.

This strategic blunder only deepened the tragedy caused by the arrogant, inept refusal to plan for the post-Saddam Iraq. Given the long, complex histories of the competing factions in Iraq and the neighbors in the region, it really wasn’t too difficult to imagine that, if Iraq did devolve into sectarian conflict, the sects would look to sympathetic regional states for support – and guidance. It was therefore critical that the neighbor states be engaged and supportive before the fact. Unfortunately, Bush and his neocon handlers did everything they could to ensure that the regional players would see it in their best interests to play only in the shadows. With BushCo. continuing their talk of reforming the landscape of the region, the sponsor states and groups outside Iraq have no motive to work towards a unified Iraq.

It’s not too late. What is needed now are clear signals of a changed, and chastened, American plan for Iraq. Drop the regional reformation rhetoric and work at developing a vision for a unified, if federal, plan that all of the regional states can get behind. In other words, the primary motivation of American policy should be towards stabilization, not reformation.

This requires diplomacy. Diplomacy requires actual dialogue – we need to talk, directly, with the players in Iraq and the region. We don’t need to like them, nor they us. But we need them if we want to see Iraq stabilized. We’ll need the help of the United Nations and European Union to begin the discussion towards engaging the role players in, and alongside, Iraq. Eventually, this will include the appropriate introduction of the Arab League in the discussions. The Arab League could play a crucial role in bringing the Sunnis to the table. The United States needs to give up the determination to control the outcome in favor of a mediation, which necessarily means concession and compromise.

No one can say what the answer to Iraq will be, but we can be certain that it will not include continued domination and open-ended occupation; nor will it involve leaving with washed hands. The answer is not a threat to “shape up” before we “ship out”, whether we ship out on a temporal or event timeline.

Worst of all, the answer is not going to come from this Administration. Not now, it is too late for that. Thanks to the way Bush has failed miserably in this wrong-headed invasion, the best we can hope for now is to facilitate the discussion that will lead us to a possible answer.

Unfortunately, this Administration appears to lack not only the talent for, but also the emotional capacity to embrace, the discussion.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Lesson of Big Ben

In college, a psyche-major friend experimented on lab rats. Nothing horrid, rather pedestrian, actually. He had a favorite, a huge mutha of a white rat named Big Ben. Ben was placed in a box with a little red light at the top, a lever on one wall and a dispenser next to it. If Ben pressed the lever, the light would burn and a tasty (to lab rats) pellet would plop into the dispenser.

Ben was a slow learner. He'd hit the lever every now and then. Then, he'll find the pellet and enjoy the treat. But he never really associated the pellet with the lever. Until, one day, when it hit him.

As my friend described it, Ben took an interest in the light, which was just out of his reach. Ben hauled his long, pudgy lab rat body up on his hinds, reaching for the light. Lunging and lurching in a doomed to fail attempt to make contact with the thing, Ben lost his balance. Tippling backwards, his head thumped down the lever and, in that position, he was facing the dispenser. He saw the pellet plop out and finally "got it".

Yes, from that eureka moment, Big Ben suddenly learned how to get all the pellets he could stand. Several times an hour, Big Ben would lift his frame up on his hind quarters and throw himself backwards, intentionally smashing his lab rat skull on the lever. He'd then stagger to his feet and wobble over to the dispenser for his reward.

Last evening, on the News Hour, Mark Shields designated Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid as big winners from the Tuesday results:
I guess, beyond that, I'd have to say that the unsung story of this campaign, Rahm Emanuel did a good, terrific job in the House for the Democrats in the campaign committee, but it was really Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, and Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate leader, who backed him up every step of the way.

They intruded in primaries, which has never been done before. That's considered bad form, but think about it.

RAY SUAREZ: Anointing preferred winners?

MARK SHIELDS: And backing people, and risking anger.

RAY SUAREZ: "This is the guy we'd rather see as our party's nominee"?

MARK SHIELDS: Best example, Ray, was Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, a pro-life Democrat. Chuck Schumer got 10,000 e-mails, messages and calls from the National Organization of Women and other abortion rights groups, who are just livid that he had anointed and backed Bob Casey. You got Ed Rendell, the Democratic governor, to do the same thing.

They did in Rhode Island with Sheldon Whitehouse. They did it in Ohio, with Sherrod Brown, same thing. Jim Webb in Virginia, they intervened before the primary, who ended up beating George Allen. Harold Ford in Tennessee, and Amy Klobuchar, we mentioned, in Minnesota, and went and chased Claire McCaskill down in London to persuade her. And Harry Reid talked to her husband to tell her that it would be OK.

So, I mean, that was really a first, and they did a terrific job. And they risked making lifetime enemies, and they made some, in the process.
Shields is right -- Schumer interfered in the primaries, that is considered bad form, and he made lifetime enemies in the process. And, of course, the Democrats won. But he is wrong to suggest that the notion of designating the primary winner from without, and running so-called moderate candidates, is what won the day for the Democrats.

Not only is Shields wrong in that conclusion -- believing it will be the beginning of the end of power for the Democrats. (Shields also got some of the facts wrong -- Schumer didn't convince Rendell to back Casey, Rendell convinced Schumer -- it conveniently got Casey off the radar for the Gubernatorial primary.)

Worse than Republicans believing that the 2006 midterms were the result of Democrats running to the center/right, is the Democrats believing it.

While Schumer did, purposefully, select candidates who, on many issues, rejected traditional Democratic positions, those candidates did not run on those issues. Bob Casey only mentioned abortion rights when he was forced to answer a reporter's question (which was rare enough -- Casey ran away from reporters and reporters who did corner him tossed their usual MSM softballs).

Democratic challengers who took back the Senate all ran and, based on the exit polls, won on the same issue -- Republican excesses. They ran against the absurdity of Iraq, they ran against the Imperial President, and against the Republican response to absolute and unchecked power -- corruption.

As quickly as the Republican talking machine had their excuses out, Glenn Greenwald laid out the reality for them:
Democratic candidates won -- in every part of the country and regardless of their ideology -- by committing themselves to one basic platform. They vigorously opposed what have become the defining attributes of the Republican Party and they pledged to put a stop to them: unchecked Presidential power, mindless warmongering, a refusal to accept or acknowledge realities (both in Iraq and generally), and the deep-seated, fundamental corruption fueling the Bush movement and sustaining their power.

Virtually every Democratic winner, from the most conservative to the most liberal, in the reddest and bluest states, have that in common. They all ran on a platform of putting a stop to the radicalism, deceit and corruption that drives the so-called "conservative" political movement.
For the Democrats to take any other lesson from these victories would be dangerous for them. Schumer is throwing his head back against the lever if he believes that interfering with the primary system to install moderate-to-right candidates is what won the day on Tuesday. What won the day was a united opposition to the incompetent and corrupt administration of mindless and shortsighted policy to which these Republicans had become increasingly addicted over the last six years.

It is more than a little sad that all of us dedicated to traditional liberal principles have a tender spot on the back of their heads after the Tuesday elections. It was not necessary to run Bob Casey to defeat Rick Santorum. It was not necessary to run Tester or Webb to win those races.

The Republicans weakened themselves -- enabled the debacle which they have become -- not in small part because of successive, accumulating compromise of their traditional principles in favor of obtaining and maintaining power. They have spent six years thrusting themselves backwards onto the lever and paid the price earlier this week. If the Democrats begin to believe that it was necessary to run Casey or Tester or Webb, it is they who eventually will suffer from the same headaches to the same disastrous results.

Hey! Where Did Everyone Go?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I'm Guessing Penn DOT

(From The Greenbelt)

Friday, November 10, 2006

NY Daily News -- Yesterday's Front Page

Thursday, November 09, 2006


(h/t Pennsylvania Progressive)

Solid Advice

epyonymous crafts an Open Letter to Democrats.

Don't Let Them Steal the Victory

De-bunking the election myths floated by the Republicans.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Don't Look Now, Montana Recount Looming

I am not sure what percent of the vote has been counted in Montana, but know it is greater than 99%. Right now, Tester is 1,798 votes ahead of Conrad Burns (no word if anyone woke Burns with the news). Out of 361,135 votes cast (lol), the difference is 0.4%.

Under Montana law, the results of the election must be certified within 20 days. The putative loser can only seek a recount if the gap is 0.5% or less. Burns is 8 votes under the maximum for a recount. If he wants one, he must request a recount within five days of certification. But, unlike the Virginia situation, because the difference is not 0.25% or less, Burns has to pay the expenses of the recount.

What We REALLY Won: Rumsfeld Gone!!!

Well, we thought it would happen later than this. But Rumsfeld was forced out today. President Bush made the announcement at his press conference today:
As the commander in chief, I take these responsibilities seriously. And so does the man who served this nation honorably for almost six years as our secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Now, after a series of thoughtful conversations, Secretary Rumsfeld and I agreed that the timing is right for new leadership at the Pentagon.Our military has experienced an enormous amount of change and reform during the last five years while fighting the war on terror; one of the most consequential wars in our nation's history. Don Rumsfeld has been a superb leader during a time of change. Yet he also appreciates the value of bringing in a fresh perspective during a critical period in this war. Don Rumsfeld's a patriot who's served our country with honor and distinction. He is a trusted adviser and a friend, and I'm deeply grateful to his service to our country. I've asked Bob Gates to serve as the secretary of defense. Bob is the former director of the CIA and current president of Texas A M University.
But, in case you are, like me, approaching an age where change is not always welcome, not to worry, it'll still be "full steam ahead" at the ol' WH Corral:
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

Does the departure of Don Rumsfeld signal a new direction in Iraq? A solid majority of Americans said yesterday that they wanted some American troops, if not all, withdrawn from Iraq. Did you hear that call? And will you heed it?

BUSH: I'd like our troops to come home too, but I want them to come home with victory. And that is a country that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself.

I mean, I can understand Americans saying, Come home. But I don't know if they said: Come home and leave behind an Iraq that could end up being a safe haven for Al Qaida. I don't believe they said that.

And so I'm committed to victory. I'm committed to helping this country so that we can come home.
The President apparently sees it as perfectly reasonable to lie to the American public for political reasons -- not to protect us from attack, not to avoid spilling state secrets, not to save a life or even some money, but merely and exclusively to save some Republican congressional asses. Yes sir, that's our President:
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.Last week you told us that Secretary Rumsfeld would be staying on. Why is the timing right now for this? And how much does it have to do with the election results?

BUSH: Right.

No, you and Hunt and Kyle (ph) came in the Oval Office and you asked -- Hunt asked me the question one week before the campaign, and basically it was: You going to do something about Rumsfeld and the vice president?

And my answer was, you know, they're going to stay on.

And the reason why is I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign.

And so the only way to answer that question and to get you onto another question was to give you that answer.
Ohhh, that's alright, Mr. President, as long as you had such an important reason for lying to us. It's not like you really didn't believe that stuff you were saying about the Democrats and letting terrorists win, and all of that. I mean, we all know that no one would stoop to saying something like that for political purposes if they didn't really, truly, believe it in their hearts -- especially the President, right? Errr,
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.You said you're interested in changing the tone and committed to changing the tone in Washington. Just a few days before this election, in Texas, you said that Democrats, no matter how they put it, their approach to Iraq comes down to: Terrorists win, America loses. What has changed today . . . ?

BUSH: What's changed today is the election's over. And the Democrats won.
And, what about the "stay the course" stuff . . . . on or off, now that "the election's over" and all and you don't have that very good reason to lie to us?
QUESTION: Mr. President, thank you.You acknowledged that this is a message election on the war in Iraq. And so the American public today, having voted, will want to know what you mean in terms of course correction on Iraq, and particularly in light of this fact that last week the vice president pointed out that you and he aren't running for anything anymore and that it's, quote, Full speed ahead on Iraq.So which is it? Are you listening to the voters or are you listening to the vice president? And what does that mean?

BUSH: I believe Iraq had a lot to do with the election, but I believe there's other factors as well.

People want their Congress -- congressmen to be honest and ethical. So in some races, that was the primary factor.

There were different factors that determined the outcome of different races, but no question, Iraq was on people's minds. And, as you have just learned, I am making a change at the secretary of defense to bring a fresh perspective as to how to achieve something I think most Americans wants, which is a victory.

Somehow it's seeped in their conscience that, you know, my attitude was just simply Stay the course. Stay the course means let's get the job done, but it doesn't mean staying stuck on a strategy or tactics that may not be working. So perhaps I need to do a better job of explaining that we're constantly adjusting. And so the fresh perspective (ph) on what the American people here today is we're constantly looking for fresh perspective.

What is also important for the American people to understand is that if we were to leave before the job is done, the country becomes more at risk. That's what the vice president is saying. He said, if the job is not complete, Al Qaida will have safe haven from which to launch attacks.These radicals and extremists have made it clear they want to topple moderate governments to spread their ideology. They believe that it's just a matter of time before we leave so they can implement their strategies.

We're just not going to let them do that. We're going to help this government become a government that can defend, governor and sustain itself and an ally in the war on terror.
Hmmmm, I'm not sure, was he saying we are going to stay the course? Is it still "full steam ahead", or not? Here's a thought -- let's ask him to clear that up a little for us,
QUESTION: Your message today is not full speed ahead? Is that right...
BUSH: We got another man with the mike, David. Please.
Oh. Well, if someone else has the mike, then by all means, don't bother telling us what you are really planning to do in the central issue on the minds of every American, on the war which is costing us the blood of our children and creating a massive debt for the ones that you don't send over there to be killed. Nope, better to follow the procedure.

Miserable failure.

The Race Santorum Won

Those of you who pay close attention to these things might recall that in the primary election this year, Rick Santorum, running unopposed because he squeezed out his opposition with a petition challenge, pulled down 21,000 fewer Republican primary votes than did Lynn Swann.

Of course, everyone on the other side of the aisle denied it was a harbinger. But, Santorum can rest easy. In the General Election, he managed to out-poll Swann, by just under 53,000 votes.

Congratulations, Rick.

In case you were wondering -- Virginia Recounts

Under Virginia law, only the apparent losing candidate can ask for a recount, and only if the difference between the apparent winning and losing candidate is 1% or less of the total votes cast for the two candidates.

There were more than 2.3 million votes cast in the Senatorial contest in Virginia yesterday. The one percent threshold would be 23,000. Currently, with 99.8% of precincts reporting (see note, below), the difference between the candidates is 7,146 votes -- well within the threshold.

The apparent loser cannot request a recount until after the election is certified. The State Board of Elections will not meet to certify the results of the November 7, 2006 election until Monday, November 27, 2006. George Allen will have has ten days from the certification date to request a recount, so the time frame for filing a request for a recount for this election is November 27, 2006, through December 7, 2006.

An apparent losing candidate requesting a recount of an election for a statewide office must file a petition requesting a recount with the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond. The Chief Judge and two other judges appointed by the Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Virginia make up the recount court.

The Chief Judge of the Richmond Court is Theodore J. Markow. Markow is somewhat infamous for his ruling that a plaintiff could not recover damages from a former lover who had infected the plaintiff with herpes. Markow threw out the case holding that the plaintiff was barred from recovery because fornication between unmarried persons was illegal. (You see why Santorum likes living in Virginia?) His ruling was later overruled by an unanimous Virginia Supreme Court.

The recount court sets all of the rules and procedures for conducting the recount and appoints the people to perform the recount. In setting the procedures for the recount, the court will also decide if the actual counting of votes cast will take place in the various localities or in a central location. After all of the votes cast are recounted, the court will certify the candidate with the most votes as the winner.

The counties and cities involved in a recount are responsible for paying the costs of the recount if the margin of difference between the apparent winning and losing candidates is a half of a percent or less or the candidate requesting the recount is declared the winner. Otherwise, the candidate who requested the recount must pay the costs of the proceedings.

NOTE: According to information obtained from the Virginia State Board of Elections, the uncounted votes are the absentee ballots in Fairfax City. Fairfax City cast 7,456 total votes, 56% of which were in favor of Webb. Even if there were 7,000 absentee ballots and they ALL went to Allen, Allen still loses.

What's to Lose?

The Democrats have retaken the House, Senate, and Gubernatorial offices. In an election in which exit polls made it clear that this was a nationalized mid-term, voters across the country delivered a severe message to the bloodied Republicans left in Washington -- "Son of a gun, better change your act!" In exit polls yesterday, 60% of voters said they were opposed to the Iraq war amd four out of ten said that their vote was intended to be a vote against the President. Corruption was also revealed by the exit polling as a crucial issue to many voters. Independents broke heavily for the Democrats. All of this is clear to everyone, but one.

The miserable failure in chief has scheduled a press confab for 1:00 today. He will say that he is "lookin fowood to aworkin wit the new leadership". But what he will mean is, "I don't care what the good folk in America say, full steam ahead, hehe, yasee".

He will fail to recognize the demand of the American people for a change of course in Iraq; he will refuse to see the election results as a complete repudiation of his small-minded, incompentently admininistered policies; he will endorse Rumsfeld, again.

Sometime in late January or early February, 2007, he will be startled to learn just what Congressional oversight the Consitution intends. He'll see things he has never seen before -- like White House subpoenas.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day Coverage

12:45 AM -- Chuck Todd on MSNBC Reports Vote Discrepancy: Chuck Todd just reported on what I said a half an hour ago -- there is a discrepancy between the official count and the news counts. He also confirmed that the CNN and MSNBC counts were based on an AP stringer's count. But now, the Virginia elections board appears to have straightened that out and they also have Webb ahead, but by different numbers than AP.

He also reported over 20,000 votes yet to be counted in a heavily Democratic area of Fairfax County, a nice end of the night bonus for Webb.

Allen gave a concession speech but left out the conceding part. He replaced it with saber-rattling implying counting and recounting.

Claire McCaskill, in Missouri, is closing the gap as the larger cities begin reporting. Now, with 2680 of 3746 precincts reporting, it is a three-point race. Talent is leading 49% to 46%. NO Kansas City votes have yet been counted, they should be more than enough to put McCaskill in striking distance of 51%.

In Montana, Tester's lead continues to grow. With 30% reporting, he is up by 10 -- 54% to 44%.

And I am now, done for the day.

Hope someone enjoyed this along with me.

12:30 am -- Virginia, Montana, Tennessee Updates: Bob Corker has defeated Harold Ford in Virginia. With 91% of precincts reporting, Corker owns 51% of the vote to Ford's 48%.

In Montana, with only a handful of precincts reporting, Tester has a 14,000-vote lead over incumbent Conrad Burns.

In Virginia, the state website is now reporting 99.26% precincts reporting with Webb now leading Allen. Here's how the vote stands:

Webb Democratic 1,148,750 49.44%
Allen Republican 1,146,952 49.36%
Parker Independent Green 25,719 1.11%

12:10 am -- Virginia Vote Report Discrepancy:
Not so fast, guys. CNN and MSNBC are each reporting Webb leading Allen, 1,141,052 votes for Webb to 1,138,676 for Allen.

Yet, the Official Virginia web site has Allen in the lead, with 1,141,753 votes to Webb's 1,139,885. The state's district and county crosstabs have the same results.

Either someone at the state went in and transposed the vote totals of some of the later reports, or the stringer (likely an AP stringer) used by MSNBC and CNN did.

So, what gives??

11:45 pm -- Final, Final Update: I just had to have one more look at the close races. Webb has pulled to within 2,200 votes of Allen, with 97.67% of precincts reporting, here's the tally:
Allen 1,114,969 49.47%
Webb 1,111,806 49.33%
Isn't this fun?! Most of the unreported precincts are in the heavily Democratic areas of Richmond and environs.

CNN is now reporting that, with 99% of the precincts reporting, Webb has taken a 3,000-vote lead (my official Tennessee source doesn't have that number yet -- I am told with 99.1% reporting, Allen still leads by 1,800 votes. The effing Green Party candidate took 25,000 votes out of the mix. If Webb doesn't hold up his lead here, the Greens could well be responsible for control of the Senate staying with the Republicans.

This is too exciting, I may not be retiring yet.

Is anyone listening?

11:30 pm -- Final Thoughts: As I retire, the control of the House is clearly with the Democrats and the Senate takeover remains a possibility, but a remote one. In Missouri, the Democrats are depending on their traditionally reliable heavy percentages in the big cities to make up the difference. In Virginia, Webb is closing the gap, but running out of time. With 97.42% of precincts counted, Allen's lead is now under 5,000 votes. In Montana, only 4% of precincts have been counted, 90 minutes after the polls closed. The Dems need a sweep of these races, or two of them and a big turnabout in Tennessee, which seems unlikely to happen. The Maryland vote seems to me to have been perhaps called a bit quick for Cardin, but the morning will bring that answer as well. All considered, I expect to awaken with a 50-50 Senate staring back at me from the morning screen.

In Pennsylvania, Bob Casey has a 20-point lead over Santorum, but that will lessen a bit as the remote areas supportive of the former Senator will start to come in. The Democrats in the contested Pennsylvania House races have done well, and several races are yet to be decided.

There is much good news in these events today. The best news being the engagement of the voters -- the high numbers turning out lifts the soul.

There is also great cause for concern -- the so-called "new breed" of Democrats, Casey, Tester, Webb, Sestak, Carney, and on. The country was being run so far into the shitter by these clowns who have co-opted the Republican Party that I cannot whine too loudly about getting into bed with this "new breed". But I fear that the Democratic Party will begin to prefer winning to principle -- which is what killed the Republican Party -- and confuse the notion of a "big tent" with abandonment of first principles in favor of victory.

More anon.

11:19 pm -- Tennessee Race Going to Republicans: With 82% of the precincts reporting, Bob Corker has a 53,000-vote lead over Harold Ford. The Republican has 51% to Ford's 48%.

11:12 pm -- Virginia Race Headed for a Recount: With 96.6% reporting, Allen has a 0.59 point lead over. Allen has recorded 1,106,775 votes (49.69%) to Webb's 1,093,722 (49.1%). Regardless who comes out on top in this tally, Virginia law entitled the loser to an automatic recount when the difference is less than 1%. If McCaskill wins in Missouri and Tester in Montana, we could see control of the Senate head to the Virginia election board and, eventually, possibly the courts.

11:08 pm -- PA 8th Tied Up: With just under 60% reporting, Patrick Murphy (D) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R)(I) are all knotted up at 50%.

10:57 pm -- Montana Returns Coming in Slowly: With a little more than a third of the precincts reporting, Montana incumbent Jim Talent enjoys a 51.5% to 44.9% lead over challenger Claire McCaskill. That's a 51,500-vote spread out of 750,000 votes counted so far. But, NO votes from St. Louis nor from Kansas City have been counted. They are HEAVILY Democratic and Faux News has reported that Republicans are disappointed with their showings in Republican suburbs. Local news reports in St. Louis and Kansas City were that the turnouts in those areas was extremely heavy.

10:42 pm -- Virginia Race a Nail Biter: With 95% of the voter counted and about 135,000 more votes still to come in, incumbent George Allen maintains a 10,600 vote lead over Democrat Jim Webb. The heavily Democratic Richmond area still has a number of precincts outstanding.

10:35 pm -- PA House Races:

PA-4, Melissa Hart (R)(I) v. Jason Altimire (D), with 25% reporting, Altimire is leading Hart, 50.7% to 49.3%
PA-06, Lois Murphy (D) v. Jim Gerlach (R)(I), under 25% in, Gerlach barely ahead, 50-49%
PA-7, Admiral Joe Sestak (D) torpedoes crazy Curt Weldon (R)(I), with 74% of the vote counted, Sestak has 57% of the vote in his pocket.
PA-8, Pat Murphy (D) v. Mike Fitzpatrick (R)(I), with 36% counted, Patrick Murphy is ahead with 51% of the vote
PA-10, Chris Carney (D) choked off Don Sherwood (R)(I)
PA-16, Lois Herr (D) v. Joe Pitts (R)(I), with 20% in, Herr leads Pitts, 54%-42%.

10:29pm -- Local TV Calling the Race for Carney

10:25 pm -- Movin' to Montana, Soon: The polls in Montana closed twenty-five minutes ago and no numbers are available yet (I think some precincts still send them in by horseback). But the CNN exit polls show incumbent Republican Conrad Burns and Democratic challenger Jon Tester splitting the male vote at 49%-49%, and Tester winning the larger women's vote, 55% to 43%. Tester also wins the over and under 61 age groups. And all of the income groups. Basically, CNN's exit polls, if near the mark, portend a Democratic victory and another take away from the Republicans.

10:20 pm -- Ford Behind in Tennessee: With 50% of the vote counted, Harold Ford is 5-points and 65,000 votes in back of Bob Corker in the fight for Bill Frist's Senate seat.

10:18 pm -- Oh, Yeah, Rendell Won: Big Surprise, huh? With 34% reporting, he's only got 63% of the vote.

10:15 pm -- Sestak Knocking off Weldon: With 50% of the voptes counted, Admiral Joe Sestak has 57% of the vote, as against incumbent Curt Weldon's 43%. Crazy Curt is being retired.

10:10 pm -- Dems Pick up IN House Seats: Back before the 6:00 hour, I pointed out two Republican seats in Indiana and suggested that if the Demcoratic challengers take those seats, it could be a harbinger. The Democrats won both races.

10:01 pm -- Santorum Concedes Defeat: Called new Senator-elect Bob Casey, wished luck, pledged support to help him transition into the job. He ran an excellant campaign, is a fine man, and will do a fine job. . . . Thanks God (as do we). Thanks family. Sacrifices. Thanks staff. Thanks everyone. Too steep of a mountain to climb . . . . Buh-bye, Rick.

9:48 pm -- PA House Races: There is insufficient information available to even bother talking about the PA House races, yet. If any of the campaigns have reports which they would like to share, please send them on, abigfatslob-at-gmail . com & we'll get the information up. From PhillyBurbs:
With 16 percent of precincts reporting, Democratic challenger Joe Sestak led Weldon, 57 percent to 43 percent. Sherwood was trailing his Democratic opponent, Chris Carney, 58 percent to 42 percent with 23 percent of precincts reporting.
9:35 pm -- Chafee Loses RI; Virginia Gets Closer: Catching up with YT, ABC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC have all called RI for the Democrats. With 85% pf the vote counted in Virginia, fewer than 8,000 votes separate the two candidates.

9:20 pm -- Cardin wins in Maryland: CNN and MSNBC just caught up with me and called Maryland for Cardin, who successfully beat off a late surge by Steele to keep that the Senate Seat for the Democrats.

9:15 pm -- Virginia Race Tightens: With 77% of the vote tallied, fewer than 10,000 votes separate Webb and Allen, who are virtually tied at 49.6% for Allen and 49.1% for Webb.

9:05 pm -- Lieberman wins CT; Chafee in Trouble: They are calling the CT race for Lieberman, but I am not sure that Lieberman will get to 50%. In Rhode Island, no tallies yet, but the CNN RI exit polls make it appear as though Chafee is out, and that Republican Senate seat would go to the Democrats.

9:00 pm -- Pennsylvania House Races:

PA-10 - With 2% reporting, Chris Carney trashing Don Sherwood, 62%-38%.
PA-12 - With <1%, style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0); font-weight: bold;">8:55 pm -- IN 02 & 09 Turning Blue: At the beginning of the evening I suggested watching these two seats to see if there might be a national trend in favor of the Democrats. With half the votes counted, the Republican incumbents in these House seats are on their way to being replaced by Democrats.

8:41 pm -- Allen widens lead over Webb; MSNBC Call Ohio for Brown: With almost 60% of the vote counted, Allen has a 20,000-vote lead over Webb; percentage-wise it is 50%-48%.

8:35 pm -- MSNBC Calls NJ for Dems: FOX agrees with the Santorum call, but will not give NJ to the Democrat, yet.

8:30 pm -- Finally, NBC Calls Pennsylvania for Casey: Finally, someone is calling the obvious -- Santorum is FINISHED.

8:13 pm -- Virginia, Pennsylvania, NJ, TN: No one is willing to call anything.

Webb, with 35% reporting, has moved into a dead heat with Allen.

CNN's exit polling in Tennessee makes it close, but puts Ford on the losing side. BUT bear in mind that 30% of Tennessee voters voted early/absentee.

In Pennsylvania, Santorum is killed by Casey in CNN's exit polling.

No numbers on the NJ Race yet, but the CNN exits there favor Menendez.

In Missouri, CNN exit polls puts the race very very close.

In Maryland, the exits make it look like Cardin has beaten off the late Steele surge.

Turnout has been very high all over. That may actually help Republicans in some areas (Missouri, Montana), but overall it is a Democratic plus.

7:55 pm -- Virginia Returns: With 9% reporting, Allen had a firm lead over Webb, 54% to 45%; with 15% reporting, it is now 50-48%, with less than 8,000 votes separating the candidates. It will be a long night in Virginia, but I remain confident that Webb pulls it out. The CNN exit polls give him a slight advantage.

7:40pm -- KY-03 Update: Yarmuth(D) on way to victory over Anne Northrup(R)(I), with 65+% of precincts reports, Yarmuth leads 50% to 49%.

7:00pm -- Initial Projections: MSNBC, Virginia too close to call.
CNN, Virginia too close.
Fox, Virginia too close to call but exit polls are "very troubling" for Republicans -- 34% said their vote in Senate Race was vs. Bush; 43% said they voted based on Iraq, 2-1 broke for Webb. Fox fellas looking glum.

6:58 pm -- Hmmm MSNBC & CNN Think Kentucky Polls Open Until 7: We've been watching the KY results here since the polls closed at 6pm. With 15% reporting, Democrat John Yarmuth is leading Republican incumbent Anne Northrup in KY-03, 51%-48%.

6:29 pm -- KY-03 Going Dem: With 1% in, Democratic upstart in lead 66% to 32% in initial returns

6:29 pm -- KY-04 Going Dem: Democratic upstart in lead 49% to 44% in initial returns.

6:25 pm -- CNN Exits Polls Show Corruption Top Issue: From TPM Cafe,
Is corruption in Washington, D.C., the dominant issue driving voters at the polls today? That's what CNN's exit polls are showing, according to Wolf Blitzer and Bill Scheider, who are chatting about their exit numbers on TV as we speak. Scheider just said that 42% of voters cited "corruption in Washington" as the issue which is "extremely important" to them. If true, this would obviously bode ill for the GOP, given the string of GOP officials facing investigation or indictment and given the fact that the GOP runs the place.

Other issues right up there with corruption, according to CNN's exits: terrorism, the economy, and Iraq. (The numbers don't add up to 100% because voters gave multiple answers). One other interesting tidbit: An overwhelming amount of voteres (62%) say national issues are motivating them, while around half that (33%) say local issues are. In whose favor would that play?
6:15 pm -- Exit Polls Allegedly Favor Dems: From Political Wire, via Americablog,
Early Senate numbers (uncomfirmed . . .):
Democrats are leading in Pennsylvania (+15), Ohio (+14), New Jersey (+8), Rhode Island (+7), Virginia (+7), Montana (+9), Missouri (+2).

Republicans are leading in Tennessee (+4) and Arizona (+4).
5:45 -- First Polls Close in 15 Minutes, What to Watch: Indiana polls close at 6pm and offer the first opportunity for the Democrats to pick up House seats held by Republicans. (Republican Senator Richard Lugar is running unopposed.)

In Indiana's Second, Democrat Joe Donnelly is challenging two-term incumbent Republican Chris Chocola. Chocola defeated Donnelly in 2004, 54% to 45%; that year Bush received 56% of the voter in IN-02. The latest poll on the race put Donnelly barely ahead, 50% to 47%.

IN-09 gives the Dems another chance to turn a red House seat blue, as Democrat Baron Hill challenges Republican Rep. Mike Sodrel in their third campaign against each other for southern Indiana's 9th District congressional seat. Hill's lead in the polls is an average of 2.7%.

If the two Democratic challengers do very well, it could bode ill for the Republicans overall.

Watch the results here.

Kentucky polls also close at 6 pm Eastern time and the KY-02, 03, and 04 are worth watching. In KY-o2, the Republicans are expected to retain their seat, but the Republican seats in the 03 and 04 are being toughly challenged. If two of these three seats go to the Democrats, it would also be a great signal for the Democrats on what might be to come this evening.

Watch the Kentucky results here.

5:30 pm -- FBI Investigating Claimed Repub Voter Intimidation in VA: From MSNBC,
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the possibility of voter intimidation in the hard-fought U.S. Senate race between Sen. George Allen, a Republican, and Democratic challenger James Webb, officials told NBC News.

State officials alerted the Justice Department on Tuesday to several complaints of suspicious phone calls to voters who attempted to misdirect or confuse them about election day, Jean Jensen, Secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections, told NBC’s David Shuster.

Jensen told NBC that she had been contacted by FBI agents. The FBI in Richmond refused to comment.
4:30 pm -- Santorum Promises Nuke Attack if Dems Win: Moments ago, Tucker Carlson asked Rick Santorum about his nuke advertisement and if Santorum believed that the United States would be more at risk for a nuclear attack if Bob Casey were elected. "Oh, there's no question in my mind", the insane, classless, and clueless Senator from Virginia replied.

4:00 pm -- Voter Turnout Reports: In Virginia, turnout reports say that the numbers of voters coming out is roughly equal to presidential year turnout. Officals are suggesting that they are on a pace to see as much as 65% of eligible voters this year.

In Tennessee, reports are that the turnout is at about twice the rate expected for mid-terms.

Unusually heavy turnout is also being reported by officials in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Missouri voters are also apparently turning out in Presidental election-year numbers, according to press reports there.

High turnouts, most agree, support the Democrats.

1:40 pm -- OnPoint Releases Key Senate Polls: OnPoint Polling released four polls today in key Senate races.

In the Missouri race, they put McCaskill ahead of Republican Talent by three points, 49-46.

In Montana, they give Democratic challenger Jon Tester five points (49%-44%) over incumbent Conrad Burns.

And in New Jersey, the OnPoint polling gives Democratic incumbent Menendez a 9-point advantage over Tom Kean, Jr., 50%-41%.

They see the Tennessee race as a one-point advanatage for Republican Corker over Democrat Ford in the battle to capture retiring Republican Senator Bill Frist's seat.

If the OnPoint figures -- based on polling done through yesterday -- hold up, the Dems will recapture the Senate.

The OnPoint polls are interactive telephone polls and were conducted yesterday, November 6, among a random sample of registered voters with a history of voting at least once in the past three years. The margin of error on these polls is about 4%.

9:55 am -- SURVEYUSA Calls MO for MC: SurveyUSA comes in, not on the last day, but on the very last day.

Its (presumably) last poll on these midterms, released today, election day, shows Democrat Claire McCaskill with a six-point lead, 50%-44%, over Republican incumbent Jim Talent. This comes on the heals of a later poll issued yesterday by the SurveyUSA folks, showing McCaskill 9 points up. Today's release reflects a rolling average of the interviews conducted Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Missouri is a must-win for the Democrats to have a shot at re-taking the Senate.

Election Day links:
Official Returns:

Maryland Polls Close 8pm Eastern Time.
Missouri Polls Close 8pm Eastern Time.
Montana Polls Close 10pm Eastern Time.
New Jersey Polls Close 8pm Eastern Time.
Pennsylvania Polls Close 8pm Eastern Time.
Rhode Island Polls Close 9pm Eastern Time.
Tennessee Polls Close 8pm Eastern Time.
Virginia Polls Close 7pm Eastern Time.

CNN Election Day Coverage
MSNBC Coverage
PBS-Newshour Vote 2006 Coverage

Election Night Special

Democracy, Use it or Lose it

"You better get out and vote"
-- Bob Weir, before leading the band into a rousing version of U.S. Blues to cap a three hour show at the Sherman Theatre, Stroudsburg, Penna., Nov. 6, 2006.

U.S. Blues

Robert Hunter
Jerry Garcia

Red and white, blue suede shoes
I'm Uncle Sam, how do you do
Gimme five, still alive
Ain't no luck, I learned to duck

Check my pulse, it don't change
Stay seventy two, come shine or rain
Wave the flag, pop the bag
Rock the boat, skin the goat

Wave that flag, wave it wide and high
Summertime done come and gone, my oh my

I'm Uncle Sam, that's who I am
Been hiding out, in a rock and roll band
Shake the hand that shook the hand
Of P. T. Barnum and Charlie Chan

Shine your shoes, light your fuse
Can you use them old U.S. Blues
I'll drink your health, share your wealth
Run your life, steal your wife

Wave that flag, wave it wide and high
Summertime done come and gone, my oh my

Back to back, chicken shack
Son of a gun, better change your act
We're all confused, what's to lose
You can call this song the United States Blues

Wave that flag, wave it wide and high
Summertime done come and gone, my oh my

Monday, November 06, 2006

Webb's Got it Done

SurveyUSA has a new poll out on the Virginia race and it puts Webb up by 8 points among likely voters. It is not so much the bottom line as the crosstabs which I find so helpful for Webb. Webb is virtually even among males (47% of the voters), with Allen's once 25-point lead now reduced to two points. Although the gender vote is not broken down into racial subcategories, it looks like Webb could be pulling 40-45% of the white male vote.

Webb's closing the gender gap on men in Virginia is huge. Especially because Webb is pulling in the women's vote 57%-39%.

The only age group in which Webb trails is in 65+ (16% of voters), but even there Webb is down only three points. Webb is walking away with the black vote, with 71% support. Six of ten independents prefer Webb, as do 7/10 moderates.

If the third-party candidate were not in the race, Webb would likely be picking up nearly all of the 2% going that way. Once inside the polling booth, I expect half of the thrid-party supporters to vote for Webb or Allen, with 3 of 4 breaking for Webb. Turning the numbers inside out, I do not see a way for Allen to survive.