William Katz: Urgent Agenda
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NEW AUDIO COMMENTARY TODAY: "What have we become?"
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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2008
11:45 P.M. Fox is predicting a Democratic pickup of about 25 seats in the House, which has to be described as impressive. In the Senate, though, the Democrats have, thus far, only picked up five seats. Several races are still out, but it seems unlikely that the Democrats will pick up the nine seats needed to have a filibuster-proof majority.
Disgracefully, though, Al Franken is doing well in Minnesota against a a fine Republican senator, Norm Coleman, in part because a third-party candidate seems to be taking votes from Coleman. Reports say the Coleman people are very concerned. The idea of Al Franken in the Senate should be embarrassing, but apparently not this year. All the major Democratic papers endorsed Coleman.
11:43 P.M. John Murtha has been reelected in western Pennsylvania, an area he openly called racist. I have no idea what those voters were thinking. Maybe they should pay attention.
11:31 P.M. John McCain has just delivered a classy, elegant concession speech worthy of the character of the man. He went out with style. Sarah Palin did not speak, but McCain's reference to her got the biggest applause of his address. We will hear from her. This campaign is over.
11:15 P.M. The Democratic celebrations have begun. We wish the new president well, and hope he serves the country with distinction. We will applaud him when we think he's right, and respectfully oppose him when we think he's wrong. That is the role of the responsbile citizen.
10:57 P.M. Polls close on the West Coast within minutes. Once California is called, and it will be for Obama, the networks will start making it official, and I'd imagine there will be a concession announcement. We fought the good fight. We still fight to keep those opposition numbers down in the Senate and House. Never give up.
10:45 P.M. Fox calls Virginia for Obama.
10:23 P.M. Both CNN and Fox are reporting that senior McCain aides concede there is no path to victory for the Arizona senator. This is not a great shock.
NOTE AT 10:14 P.M. Just wanted to point out that some of the irresponsible journalist bravado that we saw in the last day or so, suggesting that some networks would call the race by 8 p.m. ET, has faded away. Although it is clear that Obama will win, barring some real upset in a western state, the race overall seems to be closer than many had predicted. And the Senate results thus far show Democrats picking up only four seats. So all is not bleak. Stay with it.
10:07 P.M. Well, what do you know, Fox has just pulled back on its report that Roger Wicker has kept his seat in Mississippi. They're calling it too close to call. Also too close to call is the Senate race in Louisiana, where Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu is in some trouble. If she loses, that would be the only Democratic turnover of the night. Very close.
10:03 P.M. Roger Wicker, the incumbent Republican senator from Mississippi, has held on to his seat, eliminating a serious Democratic challenge. As the hours go on, the chances of the Dems reaching 60 in the Senate, are slipping away.
9:59 P.M. There seems to be, as they say, a lull in the fighting. No key decisions have been made for a while. We are awaiting decisions in key states like Virginia, Florida, and Missouri. But McCain would have to win all of them, plus pick up some unlikely states, to pull a surprise. It doesn't seem to be happening. In Senate races, we're looking at Minnesota, where incumbent Republican Norm Coleman is trying to hold off comedian, and ridiculous candidate Al Franken. We're also looking at Georgia, where incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss is in a tough race, but seems to be hanging on. Iowa has just been called for Obama, which was expected.
BULLETIN AT 9:24 P.M. Fox has just called Ohio for Obama. No Republican has ever been elected while losing Ohio. The chances of McCain pulling an upset tonight are now extremely bleak. The issue is how large Obama's victory will be, how big a "mandate" he can claim. The other issue tonight, of course, is the Senate. Will the Democrats reach 60 seats, a filibuster-proof majority? That may be the biggest suspense story of the election.
9:06 P.M. Democrats just gained another seat in the Senate - Tom Udall has won the seat left open by the retirement of Pete Dominici, a Republican. The Dems have now picked up four seats in the Senate.
8:56 P.M. Michael Barone just noted very high WPE's in Virginia. WPE stands for Within Precinct Error. It's the difference between the exit poll result and the actual vote. As in the primaries, the WPE's generally show much higher exit poll results for Obama than actual votes. That may not mean much in the end, but at least it makes us feel a bit better.
8:42 P.M. CNN again scanned the crowd at the Obama victory party in Grant Park, Chicago. Every face was young. This is an entertainment event. The centrifuges are still spinning in Iran.
8:40 P.M. Fox calls Georgia for McCain.
8:31 P.M. Fox has just called Pennsylvania for Obama, a huge defeat for McCain. The McCain campaign put enormous effort into Pennsylvania, but the state has a large African-American population, and a large population of affluent, "educated" voters who are going Democratic.
8:28 P.M. Fox just called the New Hampshire Senate race for Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, defeating incumbent Republican John Sununu.
8:22 P.M. Several news organizations are calling Pennsylvania for Obama, but others are holding back. The fact is that there are very few actual returns in from Pennsylvania. Michael Barone just reported that, thus far tonight, there have been precincts where the exit polls have Obama eleven points higher than the actual returns.
8:09 P.M. Fox just called the Kentucky Senate race for Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell. But Fox also just called the North Carolina Senate race for Demcorat Kay Hagan, who defeated Elizabeth Dole. North Carolina is a major turnover for the Dems. Kentucky is a major hold for the GOP.
7:53 P.M. Bill Kristol, at Fox, notes that the early actual returns - not exit polls - seem to be confirming the pre-election polls. However, Brit Hume notes that it doesn't look like the kind of early blowout that some had predicted. The key states where polls have closed are still too close to call. A number of important states close at 8 p.m. ET, about seven minutes from now.
7:39 P.M. Polls in Virginia and Indiana are closed, but the states are too close to call. However, early indications in both, as analyzed by Michael Barone, are less than favorable for Senator McCain.
7:30 P.M. Polls are closing in North Carolina and Ohio, both critical.
7:25 P.M. CNN just showed crowds rushing into the Obama "victory" party in Grant Park in Chicago. It looked like an American Idol celebration, not a political event. In certain respects, a bit disturbing. We're electing a president. I hope they know it.
7:10 P.M. Again, no surprise. The Dems picked up a Senate seat in Virginia - former Governor Mark Warner.
7:01 P.M.: No surprise. Fox called Vermont for Obama, Kentucky for McCain.
WE'RE NOW STARTING, AT ABOUT 6:50 P.M. ET., OUR UNINTERRUPTED ELECTION COVERAGE. STAY WITH US.
Posted at 6:09 p.m. ET
They just keep coming. They're collectible. We warned last night about the kind of journalism to expect today. We haven't been disappointed. But this blog by the certifiable nutbag Christiane Amanpour, of CNN, one of the most biased reporters in the trade today, has got to be eligible for some kind of prize. I hate to use a cliché, but you really can't make this up:
Yes, I checked. I quoted that accurately. That's what she wrote - comparing the United States, with more than two centuries of peaceful, democratic elections, to third-world countries.
Moderate? Did she say moderate? Well, I guess Albert Speer was moderate compared with Adolph Hitler. Maybe that's the example she had in mind.
Oh, come on. Please. Readers, she did say that. She had to inform us that she rode her son by bike. No carbon footprint there. Just a clean, green bike. That line has got to be worth an invitation to Al Gore's next birthday party.
Oh, by the way, in New York City you have to ride bikes in the street, never on the sidewalk. So this brilliant chunk of parenthood was riding her son on her bike, and watching the polling places, rather than the traffic. Another mother-of-the-year.
We do quite a bit better, Christiane, than the dictatorships you seem never to mind. This "international correspondent" is Iranian, a leftist, and a flack for Arab causes. She's judging us?
In fact, only one leading tabloid is right wing, or conservative, as we prefer to say. That's the New York Post. The other "right-wing" tabloid she's apparently referencing is the Daily News, which endorsed Obama. Apparently she never noticed. Must have been watching the polling places.
Barely contain themselves? This is the way she describes her "colleagues"? I guess we've been right about this crowd all along. Thanks, Christiane, for your honesty about that, if about nothing else.
And the big finish:
Notice she says 1968. Apparently, in her self-written history book there was no 1980. Reagan? Who was Reagan? Could he have possibly been as important as Eugene McCarthy?
I'm always amused when reporters bring up 1968, as a kind of nostalgic act. It was the year, after all, of the worst journalistic scandal of modern American history - the misreporting of the Tet offensive, which mislead the American people into thinking we were losing, and led to our ultimate tragedy in Vietnam.
This blog exposes Amanpour for exactly who she is. The sad fact is that there are clones of this woman throughout journalism, which is why we may suffer another tragedy before coming to our senses.
November 4, 2008. Permalink
COMMENT: Utterly sickening. In the end, Hillary will do anything. Al Franken is a sick joke, a man who has written vile things about women, a preacher of leftist hate. And there's Hillary, right beside him, building up political credits for the future. And she calls herself a feminist, a word that has lost all meaning.
Posted at 2:46 p.m. ET
Boy, they don't wait long, do they? Although he represents a good chunk of the broadcast industry as a senator from New York, Chuck Schumer is already on the warpath on behalf of the so-called "fairness doctrine," which would regulate the political content of over-the-air broadcasting. Liberals are also going totalitarian in their support of a union measure that would deny workers the right to a secret ballot in union-organizing elections. Nice, huh? We the people.
So pornography and political content are to be treated the same? Hmm. What about murder and double parking? They're both violations of the law, correct? See that guy in the Toyota, double parked? Life sentence. Lock him up.
Under "card check" there would be no secret ballot. Great for democracy, isn't it?
Don't think it stops there. I wouldn't be shocked if there are assaults on democracy in other areas, like the internet. There are initiatives under way at the UN to regulate internet content, and some countries already do it. But we want "civil" speech, don't we? We don't want "hate" speech, do we? Get ready for those arguments.
This is coming from the left wing of the Democratic Party, and these are angry folks.
Now please go out and vote. That's the first step in fighting back.
November 4, 2008. Permalink
COMMENT: Maybe. Maybe not. But let's not forget that McCain's fortunes began to slide dramatically after the financial meltdown, even though much of the cause of that meltdown - the subprime mortgage scandal - could be traced to Democratic policies. The voters punish the party in the White House.
COMMENT: I suspect there'll be a lot more stories like this in big cities today. We'll keep watch.
NOTE AT 9:14 A.M. ET: A question to consider today. If Obama is elected, who will be the new U.S. senator from Illinois, replacing him? I'd imagine that Obama himself will do the picking of the man or woman to finish his term, which expires in January, 2011.
There is speculation that Rahm Emanuel, the fiery Dem congressman from Chicago, will be tapped to be White House chief of staff, effectively taking him out of the running for senator. There may something cynical in that move, as it clears the way for...Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. African-American power groups would almost certainly demand that Obama be replaced with another African-American, and the Jackson pick would pay off political debts. It would also enrage many whites, who see the young Jackson as representing the old racialist wing of the movement.
NOTE AT 8:49 A.M. ET: We cautioned last night about the kind of journalism to expect today. Here is a particularly disgraceful example:
That's a news story? it must be, because it isn't labeled "analysis" or "commentary." It's presented as news.
So, we're told that "the world" was riveted by something. We should always dismiss stories that tell us that the "world" is doing this or that. What world is that? Did the reporter interview the entire world? It reminds me of Alan Jay Lerner's complaint about lyricists who tell us, in their songs, about "hearts" doing things. My heart did this, my heart did that. Hearts really don't do much expect pump, and attack us.
This is awful journalism. It further erodes whatever is left of the credibility of the press. We can't count on them anymore. We just can't.
Posted at 7:44 a.m. ET
All right, I know that sounds like the title of one of those 1970s thrillers, but it fits. It was perhaps inevitable that the media would give us one final outrage on this election day. They always come through, don't they?
One of the great stories of the 2004 election was the wild inaccuracy of the exit polls. You'd think the press would have learned. But the press rarely learns anything. So we have this, as reported by The New York Times:
Unreliability? Hey, what kind of a word is that in today's journalism? It's just another point of view. Right?
Everyone knows that one effect of that kind of reporting is to discourage people from voting - especially people on the losing side.
How long has this campaign been going on? Two years? Can't "journalists" wait a few more hours to tell us who won, and keep the election process relatively pure? I guess not.
The patriotism. The statesmanship. Damn those founding daddies. What did they know?
When the loser concedes, then we'll know.
November 4, 2008. Permalink
Early voting from those little New Hampshire towns that vote first is heavily Obama, even in places carried by Bush in 2004.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2008
COMMENT: Thanks for telling us, now that her reputation has been pretty well trashed on this issue. Let's see who apologizes.
Posted at 7:41 p.m. ET
I recall the feeling on election eve, 1980, when I was preparing to cast the first vote of my lifetime for a Republican presidential nominee - Ronald Reagan. For those of us who made the journey to the Reagan Revolution, the vote was not that difficult, or traumatic. As we said at the time, we had not left the Democratic Party. The party had left us.
We vote again tomorrow. I will vote McCain/Palin. The times are too important, too threatening, for the nation to be left in the hands of an inexperienced man about whom we know too little.
You'll see a lot of print in the next day or two, and hear the talking heads burn calories with their mouths. Ignore 98 percent of it. Transformational election? Maybe. Yes, if Obama is elected he'll make racial history. But words like "transformational" are best left to the judgment of historians twenty or forty years down the line. There are very few transformational elections.
Change? There's always change with a new president. Often, it's more style than substance. If it's Obama, we'll see what he really means by "change." When he confronts his first international crisis, we'll see if that change is creative and positive, or catastrophic.
This campaign will be remembered. Sadly, it will probably be remembered for the negatives. It was a campaign remarkably lacking in substance or depth, given the great issues at hand. It was a campaign truly built for the age of American Idol, not the age of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. It was a campaign in which the attacks of 9/11 were rarely if ever mentioned. They have been washed away by time, and it may well be that our vigilance as a people has been washed away as well.
The campaign will be remembered for one major thing - the almost complete collapse of the responsibility of the press. The rights of the press are enshrined in the First Amendment, one of the great constructions and pieces of writing in political history. Those rights are there because the founders, in their great wisdom, understood that a republic cannot function without an informed electorate. The press has always been an imperfect servant of that ideal. In this campaign it has betrayed the very premise of its existence. It may pay a price for its betrayal. The nation will almost certainly pay a price.
Urgent Agenda will start our election coverage tomorrow morning, with reports on turnout. We'll be on until the results are known. We'll go light on the long articles tomorrow, replacing them with brief reports on what is happening. Please be with us. And do vote. You never know.
November 3, 2008. Permalink
COMMENT: McCain's only realistic hope, if one trusts in polls, is that the IBD/TIPP poll is accurate, and that those undecideds break heavily in his favor. IBD/TIPP will publish a final result late tonight.
COMMENT: Further evidence that it's Obama, not McCain, who's gained in these final days. I can't claim to understand it. On the basis of what? I suspect the voters are simply angry, and want to throw the party in power out. There is a terrible immaturity about all this, given the problems the country faces. (If you wish, listen to my audio commentary on that, here.)
COMMENT: According to the polls, there is no last-minute surge toward McCain. If anything, Obama has strengthened his position. Now the key will be turnout. The election is tomorrow. Despite what the spin doctors tell us, it is not in the bag for anyone. Only voters decide.
Posted at 7:55 a.m. ET
You may have heard that there's an election tomorrow. About 40 percent of the nation will be voters. The other 60 percent will be pollsters. I have never seen so many polls taken. And I still have yet to meet anyone who's been surveyed.
There are no current polls showing McCain ahead. But there is a marked variance in the polling results, with Obama's lead ranging from 13 to 2 points. Can McCain pull an upset? Of course. The only poll that really counts is the one on election day, and that depends on turnout. If turnout predictions are off, anything is possible. And remember, the poll that shows Obama only two points ahead, IBD/TIPP, was the most accurate poll in 2004.
I've seen very little journalism of significance this morning. Writers have said what they've wanted to say. The Wall Street Journal, though, has an almost philosophical piece, chiding Obama on his candidacy:
Right over the cliff.
Of course, he didn't actually do anything, which isn't the greatest recommendation for the White House.
Ouch. Mustn't be too harsh on one's journalistic brothers and sisters.
Change we can't believe in.
And a weak or nonexistent foreign policy. Remember Carter's? Real human dynamo.
Quite a gamble. The 9/11 hijackers could not have imagined this.
November 3, 2008. Permalink
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