Things May Be Looking Up for Mark Begich.

7 11 2008

How the man has any stomach lining left, I do not know. But Mark Begich, Democratic candidate for the Senate has been in a holding pattern, 3300 votes behind Republican incumbent convicted felon Ted Stevens since Election night.

There may be as many as 80,000 ballots yet to count, including absentee ballots and those early votes that came in between Friday morning and Monday night. Nate Silver, the numbers guru at fivethirtyeight.com has looked over the returns and raises the following point:

Although Ted Stevens currently holds a lead of approximately 3,200 votes in ballots counted to date in Alaska’s senate contest, there is good reason to believe that the ballots yet to be counted — the vast majority of which are early and absentee ballots — will allow Mark Begich to mitigate his disadvantage with Stevens and quite possibly pull ahead of him.

The reasoning behind this is simple: some early ballots have been processed, and among those ballots Begich substantially leads Stevens. A tally of Alaska’s 40 house districts as taken from Alaska’s Division of Elections webpage suggests that Begich has won about 61% of the early ballots counted so far, as compared with 48% of ballots cast on Election Day itself.

So, if this trend continues with the votes still outstanding, Begich may pull this one off.  Here are the current numbers:

Mark Begich 103337 46.61%
Ted Stevens 106594 48.08%

…and then Nate Silver does all kinds of statistical, mathematical, wonky magic, and we end up with:

Begich ahead in the final count by 3000 votes.  For the man who won his race for mayor of Anchorage by 18 votes, this would be a landslide.

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Hardest Working Campaign Member Flees from Palin at Record Speed!

7 11 2008

With all the players involved in the sordid debacle that was the McCain-Palin campaign, there’s one character that has only been discussed peripherally, despite being one of the hardest workers of the campaign. I speak of the campaign jet. Now, there’s nothing to say that this jet was Republican by nature. Really, if you think about it, it was just an unwitting victim of the political madness.

Minding its own business, and with no powers of self-determination, the JetBlue aircraft was hijacked, if you will, from its normal life, tattooed with a giant blue McCain-Palin logo, and subjected to a gruelling personal schedule. Covering dozens of states and tens of thousands of miles in a few short weeks, the poor campaign jet was forced to haul Sarah Palin, her extended family, the press, the Truth Squad, and untold tonnage of newly acquired wardrobe.

Little did I know, as I stood there in the dark, freezing to death at the Sarah Palin Welcome Home event, that the campaign plane from which Sarah and her entourage disembarked, was about to make history. I was standing next to a future world record holder.

The record flight came Thursday as the E190 was being returned to JetBlue from the McCain-Palin campaign, which had chartered the aircraft. The plane had been ferrying vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin around the USA, and earlier this week returned Palin and her family to their home state of Alaska.

In a message to employees on the company’s intranet, JetBlue says “aircraft 239, the McCain-Palin charter jet, set a new record by jetting from Anchorage, to Buffalo nonstop. At 2,694 nautical miles, this was the longest E190 flight ever operated by any airline on the planet!”

“Flight 4500 took off from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport at 11:23 a.m. (Alaska time) and landed some 6 hours and 11 minutes later, at 9:34 p.m. (ET), at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. This ultra-long segment was the first leg of the aircraft’s return to JFK and its eventual return to scheduled service in the coming days,” JetBlue adds on its intranet.

Relieved of its oppressive burden of Palin family, staff, press, and seventeen brand new suitcases crammed full of Neiman Marcus goodies, the beleaguered campaign jet finally cast off its shackles, and flew free. The record setting journey ends with a well-deserved aeronautic exfoliating spa treatment of sorts, in which our little friend will have the McCain Palin tattoo scraped off its hull. What’s next for the survivor? Its normal non-partisan routine will begin soon, and the McCain-Palin campaign will be but a distant memory. Hopefully our hero will move forward unscathed to lead a normal life.

Had I been prophetic the other night, I would have given the poor thing a snappy farewell salute, and imagined it soaring off into the frigid arctic night thinking, “Free at last! Free at last….”

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Palin Post Mortem. Out of the Closet.

7 11 2008

It’s been three days since Election Day, and the post mortems are rolling in. Today, The New York Times is weighing in on the rocky relationship between John McCain and his unlikely running mate.

“I think it was a difficult relationship,” said one top McCain campaign official, who, like almost all others interviewed, asked to remain anonymous. “McCain talked to her occasionally.”

The disputes between the campaigns centered in large part on the Republican National Committee’s $150,000 wardrobe for Ms. Palin and her family, but also on what McCain advisers considered Ms. Palin’s lack of preparation for her disastrous interview with Katie Couric of CBS News and her refusal to take advice from Mr. McCain’s campaign.

But behind those episodes may be a greater subtext: anger within the McCain camp that Ms. Palin harbored political ambitions beyond 2008.

As late as Tuesday night, a McCain adviser said, Ms. Palin was pushing to deliver her own speech just before Mr. McCain’s concession speech, even though vice-presidential nominees do not traditionally speak on election night. But Ms. Palin met up with Mr. McCain with text in hand. She was told no by Mark Salter, one of Mr. McCain’s closest advisers, and Steve Schmidt, Mr. McCain’s top strategist.

On Wednesday, two top McCain campaign advisers said that the clothing purchases for Ms. Palin and her family were a particular source of outrage for them. As they portrayed it, Ms. Palin had been advised by Nicolle Wallace, a senior McCain aide, that she should buy three new suits for the Republican National Convention in St. Paul in September and three additional suits for the fall campaign. The budget for the clothes was anticipated to be from $20,000 to $25,000, the officials said.

Instead, in a public relations debacle undermining Ms. Palin’s image as an everywoman “hockey mom,” bills came in to the Republican National Committee for about $150,000, including charges of $75,062 at Neiman Marcus and $49,425 at Saks Fifth Avenue. The bills included clothing for Ms. Palin’s family and purchases of shoes, luggage and jewelry, the advisers said.

I haven’t heard of the arrival of the GOP forensic clothing accountant, and I expect that Palin and the RNC will want to keep this below the media radar. I have a picture in my mind of some guy in a suit with horn-rimmed glasses, a skinny tie and an adding machine walking through the Ted Stevens Anchorage International airport, past the stuffed polar bear, heading for the rental cars, with shiny shoes, and a steely glint in his eye.

Yes, I know he’ll have a laptop, but somehow the image of a guy going through Sarah Palin’s pile of shoes, with a stack of receipts and that little tape that pops out of the adding machine, piling up on the floor is too delicious of an image to give up.

Will he bring empty bags to pack up for his return flight? Will he just ship them out in boxes? Will they end up at her favorite consignment shop, “Out of the Closet”? If so, will she buy them back for cheap? Will the Palin-bots that attended her welcome home event at the airport snap them up and hang them in their closets just to feel the fabric? Will some guy be drinking champagne out of her red stilettos?

But more interesting still is implosion occuring in the Republican Party itself, both inside and outside Alaska. The meme that “Poor Sarah is getting torn to shreds by the Democrats” is persistent, but the fact that this latest round of horror stories is coming from the McCain campaign shoots that one in the foot. You can almost smell the smoke coming from the collective brain of the GOP when they realize that in one person simultaneously lies the best hope, and the potential death knell of the party as they know it. This confusion mimics what’s been going on here in Alaska since Palin became governor. Many Republicans in Alaska can’t stand Palin. Many Democrates like her…..or I should say, “liked” her. Past tense. Before she threw them under the bus during the Troopergate investigation, and before she accused our new president elect of “palling around with terrorists.”

Now she returns home with a strange sort of clout. She lost, but she got to run. She may be responsible for John McCain losing the election, but she may be the next great hope for the GOP. She may be a pariah. She may be President. She may be loathed by lawmakers and loved by the people. We’re going to be smelling smoke for a while.

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Bed Time in Alaska – Open Thread

7 11 2008

I love my President Elect. I’ve never said that before, because it’s never been true. One I sort of liked. A few I disliked intensely. Most I’ve tolerated. But, I’ve never loved one until now.

THIS LINK is one of the many reasons. You can’t click it, and not feel like this is your government, your country and your future.

I heard a rumor today that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was being considered to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. I was literally speechless. It was perfect. He’s actually…..(wait for it)…..an environmentalist! I thought to myself, “This President may do something I would do!” That just hasn’t happened to me. Ever.

Just as I knew that whatever TV show would come out that I really liked would be the one that was cancelled immediately after the pilot, I’ve always known that if I would do it, there was no way it was going to happen in a presidential administration. Even if RFK Jr. doesn’t end up in the position, just the fact that he was being considered was enough to bring home to me what this administration may actually mean – what they may actually DO. No more Christie Todd Whitman in charge of the EPA, telling us that there was nothing toxic in the air after the attacks on 9/11. No more “Brownie” in charge of FEMA. No more Alberto Gonzales subverting the Constitution. No more Donald Rumsfeld. No more John Ashcroft. No more Condoleeza Rice. No more Dick Cheney.

I’d been so focused on the election, and the presidency, and keeping Sarah Palin far far away from that undisclosed location, that all these new and wonderful avenues to change didn’t hit my radar until today. The floodgates are open, and the possibilities are rushing through.

Sweet dreams, Mudflatters. Change is coming.