The Cliffhanger: Election Day special edition

I used to do a quick-hits news summary in the mornings, which I dubbed “The Cliffhanger.”  It was a lot of fun to write, but it proved to be a somewhat inefficient use of my writing time.  I thought I’d bring the format back for an Election Day special edition, to clear a bunch of funny little stories off my blotter.

Jeanne Shaheen was in cahoots with Lois Lerner: This first item’s a real knee-slapper.  It turns out that Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) was one of several high-powered Democrats behind the IRS targeting of conservative groups in the 2012 election.  After the traditional refusal to comply with transparency laws that we’ve grown so accustomed to during the Obama years, the IRS finally coughed up some correspondence that showed Shaheen was in the loop when the IRS suddenly decided to vigorously enforce some regulations it claims had long been gathering dust, and somehow wound up delaying the tax-exempt approvals of a couple hundred conservative groups, and absolutely zero left-wing applicants.  Funny how that worked out.  (For those who still fall prey to the hoary liberal-blog talking point that some lefty groups eventually got hassled too, that’s not true – a tiny handful of left-leaning groups had their applications denied, not delayed in limbo until after the election, for perfectly straightforward reasons that had nothing to do with the Lerner-Shaheen crusade.)

Shaheen is locked in a margin-of-error battle with Republican Scott Brown, one of those races that just seemed too close to call when the sun rose on Election Day.  I doubt her ties to the IRS scandal are likely to make much of a difference at this late hour, since voters who would be swayed one way or the other by this revelation have probably long since made up their minds.  (It’s not considered polite to mention it, but there are Democrats who love the IRS targeting scandal, and would be more inclined to support Shaheen as a win-at-all-costs vote-suppressing warrior if they knew she was involved.)

Fear and Loathing in Wisconsin: Another example of below-the-belt Democrat race-baiting, with an absolutely perfect response via Twitter:

Dontre Hamilton may be a somewhat less familiar name outside of Wisconsin than Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin.  Hamilton was shot by a police officer in a Milwaukee park last April after getting into a physical altercation with a police officer during a pat-down search.  By “physical altercation,” I mean Hamilton gained control of the officer’s baton and beat him with it.  The officer was put on leave and just recently fired, on the grounds that he should have treated Hamilton as an “emotionally disturbed person” rather than  violent criminal.  The Milwaukee Police Association describes Officer Christopher Manney’s firing as an act of “cowardice, certainly unfounded and unsupported by fact,” while Hamilton’s family wants the ex-cop thrown in jail.  Presumably Governor Mary Burke would make it illegal for police officers to defend themselves while being beaten with clubs, or require them to take their chances with potentially armed individuals instead of searching them for weapons, or institute some other reform that would police work in Wisconsin more exciting, if less appealing.

Down and out at Trek Bicycle: Speaking of gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, it turns out the only real bullet point on her resume was of a much smaller caliber than she originally claimed.  Yes, she was an executive at Trek Bicycle, the business owned by her family, but insiders say she hasn’t been completely honest about why she left the position.  Specifically, it turns out she was fired by her own family for subpar performance, after which she went on a snowboarding vacation.  Burke responded to these revelations by modifying her resume to claim she wasn’t fired, exactly; it’s just that her position was eliminated, and she stopped getting paychecks.  Then she went snowboarding.  Maybe she can teach Wisconsin cops how to snowboard, so they can escape their beatings.

Pick your prognostication: If you’re looking for Election Day odds, the bookies at the Washington Post give Republicans a 97 percent chance of taking the Senate, while the New York Times only offers 75 percent.  It is therefore better to place your bets at the New York Times, because the payoff will be better, and you’ll have more fun when you show up to collect your winnings.  Of course, if the GOP does not take the Senate, the explanations from the 97-percent pollsters for how they got it wrong will be more amusing.  No matter what happens, there will be plenty of political entertainment available tomorrow morning.

Repeating the conclusion of poll-cruncher Nate Silver that statewide polling averages in the home stretch of an election are usually right, even when the lead for a candidate is very slim, Jim Geraghty of National Review calls a few tight Senate races – Mitch McConnell wins in Kentucky, David Perdue wins Georgia but probably not until the runoff, Pat Roberts loses Kansas to fake “independent” Greg Orman by a hair, Bill Cassidy likewise knocks off Mary Landrieu in a Louisiana recount, Joni Ernst wins Iowa in a squeaker – and comes up with a 52-seat Republican majority, although it will probably look like a 50-50 split on Wednesday morning.  That would provide incredible fodder for bloggers, which means (a) Geraghty’s position may be a self-serving attempt to manipulate the outcome and inaugurate Blogger Nirvana, and (b) I’ll go ahead and agree with his prediction, although I lean somewhat more toward Roberts winning and Cassidy avoiding the runoff.

Such an outcome will, of course, be spun as such a massive Republican failure to meet expectations that GOP leadership might as well grab cannonballs, jump overboard, and end it all.  They will be lectured on the need to reach compromises with the Democrats, instituting a bipartisan “co-leadership” of the Senate that leaves Co-Majority Leader Harry Reid with the keys to the minibar in the leadership office.  It goes without saying that a mere 52-seat Republican majority should rubber-stamp everything President Obama wants, on the rare occasions when he feels the need to seek congressional approval.  The flaming sword of the filibuster will once again be held high above the fruited plain in the grip of Democrats, becoming the very beacon of liberty.  52 seats will also be just enough to make the Republicans responsible for everything bad that happens between now and 2016, including trouble caused by any rowdy viruses that happen to roll into the United States looking for trouble.

Stick a fork in Iowa, or maybe not:  “This race looks like it’s decided,” said the pollster for the Des Moines Registerafter producing a survey that showed Republican Joni Ernst ahead by 7 points.  Quinnipiac begs to differ, slapping down a survey that says the race is a dead heat – never mind all that 0.8 percent lead stuff, you can’t find the lead in this race with an electron microscope.  That’s probably the biggest difference in final polls between two highly respected outfits you’re likely to find in the Senate battle.  Iowa watchers speak very highly of the Register’s accuracy, but on the other hand, Democrat Bruce Braley had a good week – no high-ranking Party cheerleaders mispronounced his name, while the candidate set a personal-best record for consecutive days without insulting Iowa voters.

Retiring Democrat Senator Tom Harkin handled the latter duty for Braley, musing that Iowa voters were only drawn to Joni Ernst because “she is really attractive, and she sounds nice” – specifically, she’s “as good-looking as Taylor Swift” and “as nice as Mr. Rogers.”  Every reporter covering this news quickly rebooted their computers before their “War on Women” macros could automatically denounce Harkin as a sexist pig – that’s only for Republicans, don’t you know!  Democrats are incapable of sexism because abortion.

Ernst handled her creepy old stalker with aplomb, saying “I was very offended that Senator Harkin would say that… I think it’s unfortunate that he and many of their party believe that you can’t be a real woman if you’re conservative and you’re female.  If my name had been John Ernst attached to my resume, Senator Harkin would not have said those things.”

Close call for a stimulus profiteer: Certain North Carolina media outlets have been throwing themselves on top of stories about incumbent Senator Kay Hagan and her family bagging hundreds of thousands of dollars in Obama “stimulus” loot, as if the stories were live grenades.  The Charlotte Observer screwed up and accidentally published some news by accident in the middle of the night, but fortunately quick-thinking news-suppression specialists were able to nuke it off the website before too many voters saw it.  Remember, the primary function of the “news media” today is to prevent voters from knowing about things that might confuse them.

Whether or not any given paper chooses to report it, it looks like state officials think the Hagan’s stimulus dealings merit “further legal review.”  Luckily for Kay Hagan, North Carolina voters have extremely low standards for her – they didn’t even mind when she blew off a debate to avoid answering questions about the stimulus story, leaving Republican Thom Tillis to debate an empty chair.  It looks like another photo-finish race going into election eve.  After spending the entire campaign pretending she barely knows this “Barack Obama” guy, Hagan was worried enough about turnout to put an Obama get-out-the-vote radio ad on the air.  Imagine what some poor schlep who voted early for Hagan, because he believed all her tripe about distancing herself from the unpopular President, is going to think when he hears that ad floating from his car speakers on the drive home.

An anonymous Democrat strategist told CNN that all the Democrats who ran away from Obama during this election cycle “look like chickens**t” – a slur anonymous Democrats normally reserve for the prime minister of Israel.  The thing is, Anonymous Boy might be right, or at least he should be right.  How can you run away from the leader of your own party during an election without making voters think you’re a wimp, especially when said President is holding press conferences where he says the election is all about him?  Does anyone really believe any Democrat on the ballot today would vote with Obama less than 90 percent of the time, including on issues that directly injure the voters of his or her state?  Or is that just a fairy tale Democrat voters tell themselves to maintain Party loyalty while they’re steaming the Obama/Biden 2012 bumper stickers off their cars?

Mark Uterus heckled by his own millionaire donor: Incumbent Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) hasn’t had much to say during this campaign, except declare his uncompromising and eternal love of abortion.  It is only the intransigence of Bible-thumping Republican anti-choice fanatics that keeps Colorado from having a drive-thru abortion clinic on every corner.  (When you talk to the scary plastic clown at the ordering window of the drive-thru abortion clinic, be very careful to specify exactly which seat the pregnant woman occupies in your car, lest the robot arms go to work on the wrong person by mistake.)  Udall’s single-issue candidacy finally proved to be too much for one Leo Bessera, who yelled, “That’s not the only thing you stand for!  Jesus Christ!” during a political rally.

Bessera’s not just any heckler – he’s a Wall Street millionaire who has given oodles of money to Colorado Democrats.  Which is kind of odd, because the Democrats supposedly hate Wall Street, except when they’re pointing to stock-market numbers as the sole sign of “recovery” during Barack Obama’s presidency.  You don’t suppose these Wall Street millionaires know a few things about what “populist” anti-Wall Street Democrats really stand for, do you?  At any rate, the people who make money off abortion already give plenty of campaign cash to Democrats, so you can see why Bessera might want Udall to broaden his political portfolio a bit.

Meanwhile, over in the House of Representatives: The Republicans are forecast to add between 5 and 12 seats to their House majority.  If they hit the high end of that range, they’ll have the biggest House majority they’ve enjoyed since World War II.  If they do better than +12, it will put them in all-time high territory.  Also, the Wall Street Journal notes that a few seasoned Democrat incumbents are on the way out, and some rising Republican stars are on the way in.

“The midterm is expected to bolster the GOP ranks with both pragmatic Republicans and unyielding conservatives alike,” predicts the Journal.  Democrats dejected over bad results tonight can at least look forward to loads of pragmatic Republican yielding over the next two years.

Joe Biden lets the cat out of the bag in Kansas: It’s a few hours too early for Vice President Joe Biden to slip into Kansas and declare that “independent” Greg Orman “will be with us” in a radio interview, don’t you think?  That was supposed to be a secret until after the rubes finished voting, Joe.

Martha Coakley grabs a beer: As a metaphor for the Democrat view of total politics controlling every area of American life, Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Marthal Coakley sticking her finger in some poor guy’s beer is just about perfect.  There is nowhere the fingers of government cannot be stuck, citizen.  Coakley’s Republican opponent, Charlie Baker, is the favorite to win, with a polling advantage just outside the margin of error.