Greg Mitchell | The Nation

Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.


Continuing an Election Day tradition (first at Editor & Publisher, then Huff Post),  I will be blogging news and views all today, until after midnight.  Since many of you keep up with news sites, blogs and Twitter, I may lean heavily at times on cable TV reports, which most are probably "missing."  Updates will be added at top with an ET time stamp.  While you await results, check out my new campaign book here. Twitter: @gregmitch

Folks, if I have to bow out here for awhile, go on over to my Twitter feed.

12:30 AM Alexi G and Sestak did lose. Harry Reid just declared winner. Bennet and Murray winning narrowly....Rep. John Hall lost in NY, Dan Quayle's kid won in AZ.... polls just closing in Alaska but no way GOP can take Senate—unless Lieberman and Ben Nelson caucus with them!

10:50 Feingold has lost. Sestak in PA and Alexi G in ILL who led all night now trail. Ilario Pantano, the House hopeful who killed 2 unarmed prisoners in Iraq, then desecrated bodies, has lost. Sarah Palin and the ghost of Gerry Ferraro on Fox in mutual admiration socieity. Sad.

10:20  Rep. Cantor says "it's great to be on  MSNBC on a night like this.".... Maddow keeps asking him about tax cuts for rich... Tom Tancredo loses gov race in Colo....Chris Matthews asks Michele Bachmann if she is "hypnotized" and "in a trance" because she gives same answer to every question...

9:55 MSNBC raises GOP pickup in House in projections to 240-195.... close Senate races still out.... Rand Paul on CNN says can't raise taxes on rich because everyone works for rich person or serves him.

9:30 Nate Silver now giving Sestak great chance in PA, would be big Dem upset, and other Senate races too close to call. If Dems run table on close ones would be big offset to House disaster.... watching GOP victory speeches impresses one again with the lightweight, blinkered, vision.

9:05 Many expected call against Feingold now but MSNBC finds too close to call. Ditto on PA, Colo, Ill. MSNBC projects when all done GOP will hold House by 237-198, more or less. 

8:40 Big one: MSNBC calls W. Va for Manchin.  GOP taking Senate almost impossible now. Blanche Lincoln loses... Rachel says Blumenthal in CT, after his fake Vietnam record, needs to "become the Senator from IAVA." That's the leading Iraq-Afghan vet group.

8:25 MSNBC calls CT for Blumenthal.... Kathleen Parker and Erick Erickson on CNN actually hailing number of black Tea Party candidates. CNN sets looks like football locker room with 22 starters at two tables....Nate Silver ups GOP pickups in House to 57 with Dem setbacks in VA, FLA, IND....Grayson losing badly in Fla.

8:05 MSNBC calls wins for Rubio, Coons over O'Donnell, Manchin and Blumenthal leading. 

8:00 Amazing, 9/11 "Truther" ad airs yet again on MSNBC.... Nazi cross-dresser loses to Marcy Kaptur.... Dems hold a toss-up seat in KY, helping their cause a bit....

7:45 Mike Isikoff on MSNBC says Paul first big winner under new campaign finance non-limits.

7:40 2 Dems trailing in Ind House races, bad sign...Rachel slams Indiana Tea Party people claiming anti-feds but electing Indiana guys who are lifetime Wash insiders

7:30 Best moment of MSNBC coverage so far--Rachel ripping Evan Bayh for 1) giving GOP his seat 2) keeping all the money he raised for non-race 3) slamming other Dems as TV pundit now.

7:15 Lawrence O'Donnell says no way there is ever a vote in Congress to repeal health care reform bill.  Fineman disagrees.

7:10 Lexington, KY elects openly gay mayor

7:00 As expected, races calls for Paul and Coats. Now the heavy lifting and nightmare scenarios begin.

6:55 Leaked exit polls on key Senate races—take them with grain of salt—show Dems keeping Senate due to wins by Murray, Manchin, Blumenthal. Reid race tossup. Win for Boxer. Losses for Feingold, Crist, Sestak.

6:45  Huff Post claims early exit polls show good news for Dems in tight contests.

6:40 Few Clues From Early Voting, NYT sez... Mike Pence declares victory on MSNBC, says first order of business no tax hikes at all. Lawrence O'Donnell: "That's what they're all about. No surprise." 

6:25 Well, networks haven't called it for Paul and Coats yet, so that's a plus.... need more ballots at San Diego State U due to fervor over Prop 19 and pot.... Luke Russert on MSNBC, Keith and Rachel now running show.

6:00: Ha: NYT breaks embargo on Bush memoir, obtaining copy somehow a week before pub. Remember that Bush put off to avoid election conflict.

5:45 MSNBC has been airing a 9/11 "truther" ad. Where are the protests from the anti-mosque people? 

5:40  Ed Rendell on MSNBC claims huge African-American turnout in Philly, seeing election "about Obama."  National?

5:20 CNN reports poll: John Boehner: Favorable 25 percent / Unfavorable 26 percent / Never heard of 30 percent / No opinion 19 percent...  Exit polls embargoed until 5:30, dam may burst then....

5:00  MSNBC kicks of marathon coverage—no Pat Buchanan as featured talkihg head, total tilt left. TPM up with its vote tracker now. GOP still tough fight for Senate control unless win CT and W.VA.

4:50  Frank Luntz foaming at mouth with Neil Cavuto about "Tea Party here to stay"  and poll, "Tea Party better for America than unions."  Plus Fox playing big former Gov. Doug Wilder's critique that Obama blew it by not focusing enough on jobs. 

4:35  Nate SIlver post his election night viewers guide. Polls close in 85 minutes in KY and Rand Paul likely to be declared winner pronto.

4:25:  ABC finally and completely boots Breitbart from election coverage tonight. Surprise: Will not be replaced by Michael Savage.

4:05  O'Donnell has chance? Claiming intimidation, Dems concerned about low turnout in key Delaware counties. 

3:55  Palin just tweeted: "Headed back 2 FOX studios after break for Central Park run. (Beautiful!) Outstanding FOX team great to work w/"

3:20  NYT collects latest predictions from left, right, center. None show Dems keeping control of the House.... Watch The Daily Show’s 2002 ‘Midterm Election’ Song  

2:55  Switching off Fox before my head explodes. You messages constantly repeated there: "Vote Republican" and "Buy Gold, Preferably from Goldline." 

2:40  Huckabee on Fox denies he is part of stop-Palin drive, refuses to rule out his own race: "I have great Fox News gig." So does everyone else in field..

2:30  Fox guest calls for Obama bringing in moderate Republican as a senior adviser, a la Clinton and Gergen. New Fox mantra: "Voters are always right." Didn't hear that in 2006 and 2008.

2:15  Megyn Kelly on Fox with guests (what a shock) Andy Card, then Laura Ingraham. The latter expects quick accomplishments from new GOPers—under WHAT scenario?  Gridlock for sure.  Megyn praising Tea Party's "ideological purity." Blonde on Blonde. Next up: Mike Huckbee on primary challenge for Obama in 2012. Not from him, we presume.

2:05  MSNBC: People in Washington can send in ballots until late tonight so can't possibly be counted for a few days, meaning quite possible can't call race tonight....

1:55  Movie director brother of likely winner of Colo governor's race, Hickenlooped, has died while visiting state.

1:50  Okay, switching over to watching TV "coverage" now. Hilarity may ensue. What's dominating now: LA car chase! Or may just be a candidate trying to make his/her getaway.

1:40  NBC's Chuck Todd: "Palin's political future...on the line. If Murkowski is able to show all these GOP men, 'Hey I stood up to Palin, I took her on.'" Meanwhile, it's snowing up there.

1:10  Okay, folks, leaving now to, you know, vote.  Hope that's okay.  Matt Damon will smile.

1:05   Huf Post:  Early reports point to high voter turnout in urban areas.

1:00  Wash Post first news org to pay Twitter for a "promoted" trending topic, in this case, #election.

12:45  Rachel Maddow interviewed today about how arch-conservatives captured the GOP. 

12:35  Pundits already giving Tea Party credit for giant GOP gains—while failing to mention the races they blew for party in Delaware,  New Hampshire, plus (may well turn out) Nevada, and elsewhere.  

12:20  What news orgs have planned for election night. Then there's Fox.

Noon  Final extensive polling via Huff Post puts GOP gains in House at "just" 48, below consensus... Tom Tomorrow: "Let's be sure we have our post-election narrative straight: Democratic losses were due to some left-wing bloggers who wanted public option! "

11:55  Adam Serwer: Sarah Palin now "pallin' around" with radicals—i.e. Tancredo... If GOP doesn't do so well today will we see rush of gun sales tomorrow for possible "Second Amendment remedies"? We've been warned.

11:45  Bizarre NYT graphic charts Twitter traffic by candidate—better after taking LSD probably. 

11:29  Tea Party already intimidating black voters in S. Carolina? And 55 complaints in Houston.

11:20  Talking Points Memo expands coverage this year—leading now with Democrats the party has already written off... What happens if California does vote to okay legal pot? Will feds step in? 

11:05  Breitbart vs. ABC in full meltdown mode now. On the brighter side, you can watch Katrina vanden Heuvel on Colbert tonight, and Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

11:00   Preparing my "Don't Blame Me, I Live in New York" bumper sticker as Cuomo, Gillibrand, Schumer head for massive landslide wins....  Did GOP use a mimic to do Morgan Freeman's voice, and then lie about it? 

10:50  Take a break and try to get a laugh out of this attack ad.

10:35   Tom Engelhardt: "Ballot Box Blues: The Most Dispiriting Election of a Lifetime." ... Paul Krugman  "pre-mortem" blog post: Forget most punditry, mainly "the economy, stupid." 

10:25   Still the one? Latest odds still show my personal candidate Rep. John Hall as slight underdog in NY.  How he goes may go the nation....  Andy Borowitz:  "Don't be scared by electronic voting machines. There are instructions in English, Spanish and Tea Party."

10:10   The real prize at state level today: Redistricting for next Congress (i.e. gerrymander control)....So who got most coverage of any 2010 candidate? Naturally one with little chance of winning. You guessed "witch" one. 

10:00 AM  Early morning previews: 

Nate Silver: 5 Reasons Democrats Could Beat the Polls and Hold the House....  Huff Post has its own state-by-state predictions based on polling.   Also collection of forecasts by pundits and others.... Comical David Brooks: claims those GOPers about to take over are "modest" and "sober.".... Rosanne Cash to John Boehner: ‘Stop Using My Dad’s Name as a Punchline, You Asshat.’ ....  Andy Borowitz:  "Every Election Day, the majority of us put aside our differences--and don't vote at all."

You think this year's campaigns dirty? This one topped them all--and check out Chamber of Commerce role.  And check out the first attack ads ever created for the screen to destroy a candidate—by MGM's revered Irving Thalberg.

DAYBOOK for Tuesday: Olbermann Drops 'Worst Persons,' Election Day Dawns

 WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.


Due to election day blogging, will be limited Daybook today. Look for all-day-and-night blogging here starting this morning.

Keith Olbermann, responding to Jon Stewart, is dropping Worst Persons in the World out of concern about tone Now waiting for Limbaugh to drop racism, Beck to demolish blackboard, Hannity to lose smirk... Jon Stewart, for his part, criticized for "false equivalency" slams at left and right pundits at rally, went especially hard after Fox last night.

Terrific Anthony Shadid piece on the deadly church bombing in Iraq and how it reveals continuing troubles at the core of the society.

Let us now praise a Republican: Robert G. Marshall, a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, asked the state's attorney general to launch an investigation of the now-controversial Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, whose, um, streamlined process for registering 65 million home loans has led to chaos about who has the legal right to foreclose on borrowers. "There are too many people getting foreclosed on not properly," said Marshall, "The disdain with which the conditions of law have been treated by those who want to make money too fast is very troubling to me."

Nate Silver: 5 Reasons Democrats Could Beat the Polls and Hold the House.

Comical David Brooks: claims those GOPers about to take over are "modest" and "sober."

How will majority vote today? Answer: majority will not even vote.

Rosanne Cash to John Boehner: ‘Stop Using My Dad’s Name as a Punchline, You Asshat.’

Andy Borowitz: "Every Election Day, the majority of us put aside our differences—and don't vote at all."

You think this year's campaigns dirty? This one topped them all—and check out Chamber of Commerce role.  And check out the first attack ads ever created for the screen to destroy a candidate—-by MGM's revered Irving Thalberg.

Honorary Oscar for Godard revives charges of anti-Semitism.


At last, the day you've been waiting for—or dreading—for months is nearly here: Election 2010. We've been following it daily here, in stories or in Daybook, since April but now we're ready for the Day of Decision.

So join me tomorrow morning for blogging "All Day and All of the Night," as the Kinks would have it. I'm an old hand at this sort of thing, having done the same at Editor & Publisher in 2004 and 2006, and for Huff Post in 2008. See you soon.

Greg Mitchell's election campaign books include Why Obama Won?, Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady, and The Campaign of the Century: Upton SInclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Poltics (just published in a new edition).

Monday DAYBOOK: Grim Election Scenario, Matt Damon Votes, Jon Stewart a Hit or Miss? More

 WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.


Nate Silver's nightmare scenario for truly massive GOP sweep tomorrow...New polls showing strong Democratic unhappiness with Obama, including high number who want primary challenge in 2012... NYT: Young voters claim they feel abandoned.

David Carr: Jon Stewart blamed the messenger (the media) at the DC rally  instead of the message (right wing kookiness?): "Personally, I enjoy Mr. Stewart in his regular seat where he is less reasonable, less interested in obvious targets and less willing to suggest that all political ideas and movements are like kindergartners, worthy of understanding and respect if only the media would get out of the way." One thing Carr misses: Yes, cable audience not large but resonates on Web, which IS massive.

Daily Show site posts 10 clips from rally.... If you've missed, text of Jon Stewart's closing sermon, "from the heart."... Experts in aerial photography hired by CBS who said 87,000 at Beck rally find 215,000 for Jon.... Not a joke: WaPo/ABC poll gives Stewart 2-1 edge over Colbert—in a race for the White House....

Sad to report death of Ted Sorensen who did so much to shape JFK's image and wrote the inaugural lines, "The torch has passed to a new generation" and "ask not....." And did much else. He joked that his name would be surely misspelled in his obits as "Sorenson." And the Wash Post, at least early on DID.

NYT editorial slams lack of progress in Democratic Congress on gun control. 

From 2005 to 2009, 1,100 servicemembers committed suicide—an average of 1 suicide every 36 hours. Read report here. ... George W. Bush threw out first pitch last night at World Series. How many thousands of US soldiers no longer able to throw a ball because of him? 

ABC hires Breitbart for election analysis, then partly un-hires him after protests, now Breitbart attacks and ABC defends. What did they expect? 

My new piece on final days of "dirtiest" election campaign ever. Naturally, wacky GOPers, church leaders  and Chamber of Commerce involved.

GOING TO THE MATT Join Matt Damon in supporting progressive power a la Working Families Party tomorrow.

LET"S GO TO THE VIDEO NYT headline: "Alaska Three-Way is Surprise Hope for Democrats."

OMBUD DOESN'T GET BURNS Public editor's report on NYT and WikiLeaks mentions, then ignores, John Burns' hit piece on "rogue" Assange. 

PHOTO FINISH Embarrassing? MSNBC ads directly across from full-page photos of Tea Party or GOP candidates in new Time election issue. Seen as endorsement—or commentary?

THE JUNGLE  My latest piece: When the liberal president screwed a famous Democrat in closing days of campaign. 

DEATH AND TAXES  Classic Drudge headline: "Congresswoman: Estate tax hike has some planning death before Dec. 31."

 ON THE CAN-PAIN TRAIL Sen. Feingold on GOP strategy this election: "hold focus group.... then lie".... Most experts now say Dems will hold Senate, with Boxer, Murray and Manchin all winning.... Politico claims GOP leaders will next turn their guns on stopping Sarah Palin.... Preparing bumper sticker, "Don't Blame Me, I Live in NY," as Cuomo and Gillibrand headed for landslides.


If you missed the great Tony Bennett doing "America the Beautiful" at the DC rally on Saturday.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear  
Tony Bennett - "America the Beautiful"
Rally to Restore Sainty and/or Fear The Daily Show The Colbert Report



Those wacky Taiwanese animators take on the Reid-Angle race.




Jon Stewart's Closing Statement at Rally, 'From the Heart'

After 100 minutes of music and comedy (not all of it funny or biting) today -- see my blow-by-blow here-- host Jon Stewart took to the stage for a final time on the Mall in D.C. and delivered, at last,  a ringing speech that was more serious than not.   At a press conference later at the National Press Club he said he had stayed up late last night and written it 'from the heart." 

The text:

I can’t control what people think this was.  I can only tell you my intentions.   This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or at passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear.  They are and we do. 

But we live now in hard times, not end times.  And we can have animus and not be enemies. 

 But unfortunately one of our main tools in delineating the two broke.  The country’s 24-hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems but it’s existence makes solving them that much harder.  The press can hold it’s magnifying up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic. 

 If we amplify everything we hear nothing. 

There are terrorists and racists and Stalinist and theocrats but those are titles that must be earned.  You must have the resume.  Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate.  Just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe not more. 

The press is our immune system.  If we overreact to everything we actually get sicker and perhaps eczema. 

 And yet with that being said I feel good—strangely, calmly good.  Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false.  It is us through a fun house mirror and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass shaped like a month-old pumpkin and one eyeball.

 So, why would we work together?  Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin assed forehead eyball monster? 

If the picture of us were true of course our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable.  Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own?  We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is—on the brink of catastrophe—torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do.  We work together to get things done every damn day!

 The only place we don’t is here or on cable TV.  But Americans don’t live here or on cable TV.  Where we live our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done.  Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, Liberals or Conservatives.  Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do—often something that they do not want to do—butthey do it.  Impossible things every day that are only made possible by the little reasonable compromises that we all make. 

Look on the screen this is where we are this is who we are.   These cars—that’s a schoolteacher who probably thinks his taxes are too high.  He’s going to work.  There’s another car-a woman with two small kids who can’t really think about anything else right now.  There’s another car swinging I don’t even know if you can see it—the lady’s in the NRA.  She loves Oprah.  There’s another car—an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah.  Another car’s a Latino carpenter.  Another car a fundamentalist vacuum salesman.  Atheist obstetrician.  Mormon Jay-Z fan. 

But this is us.  Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief and principles they hold dear—often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers. 

 And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile long 30 foot wide tunnel carved underneath a might river.  Carved, by the way, by people who I’m sure had their differences.  And they do it.  Concession by conscession.  You go.  Then I’ll go.  You go then I’ll go.  You go then I’ll go, "Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car?  Is that an Obama sticker on your car?"   Well, that’s okay—you go and then I’ll go.

 And sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute, but that individual is rare and he is scorned -- and not hired as an analyst. 

 Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together and the truth is, there will always be darkness.  And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land.

 Sometimes it’s just New Jersey.  But we do it anyway, together.

 If you want to know why I’m here and want I want from you I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me.  You’re presence was what I wanted. 

 Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder.  To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine.  Thank you.

A new edition of Greg Mitchell's award-winning "The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics" has just been published.



BLOGGING THE 'SANITY' RALLY: Massive Turnout—Here's Full Report!

As is my wont here, I'll be following a major event, in this case the Jon Stewart (plus Stephen Colbert) rally in DC all day, via online and TV, with updates added from the top with a time stamp. 

Late Saturday update: Expert company hired by CBS to do aerial count of turnout at Glenn Beck's rally in August—they came up with 87,000, give or take a few—just announced its findings for the Stewart/Colbert demo. The number:  215,000, or 2 1/2 times the Beck turnout.

2:55: Closes with Jon thanking crowd for restoring HIS sanity. Brings out Tony Bennett for great "America the Beautiful" (Tony can still hit the high notes). Then everyone there for Staples' "I'll Take You There." Kareem on stage with everyone else. Comedy Central signs off at 3, C-SPAN still with crowd and questions from viewers.

2:45 Jon finally turning serious, long hit at media, defense of doing good work, almost preaching. "We live in hard times, not end times." "If we amplify everything we hear nothing." "We work to get things done every damn day." Only place we don't "is here [DC] and cable TV."

2:35 As I predicted, wingnuts going nuts over Cat Stevens at rally.

2:25 Jon and Stephen at podiums. Robots. Some fun slaps at scary cable news reports. Equal opportunity, plenty of Keith and Ed Schultz hits. Too equal?

2:20 Sheryl Crow, as promised. With, surprise, Kid Rock. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as example of good Muslim. Surely the biggest example. 

2:10 Fun Jon & Stephen duet. Then more awards. Fear award for Mark Zuckerberg for not protecting privacy on Facebook.

1:55 Jon and Stephen hand out sanity and fear awards. Great Jeff Tweedy and Mavis Tweedy song. 

1:35 Jon and Stephen compromise on O'Jays and "Love Train." CNN cuts to Ted Nugent at GOP rally in W. Virginia.

1:25 Cat "Yusef" Stevens on to do "Peace Train."  Kind of gutsy given usual rigthwing attacks on him. Or is it Jimmy Kimmel portraying Cat? No, real, and Ozzie interrupts for the "Fear" side.

1:20 Fox showing Tea Party rallies—thanksgod they ignored Guido Sarducci at Jon's rally. Now Sam Waterston on to read Colbert poem that is pretty good.

1:10 Colbert arrives after lame first few minutes with Jon and Stephen off-stage. 

1:05 Jon claims 10 million there and perfect "demographic" of USA. Then on to Daily Show correspondents in crowd.   Colbert due at 1:20. Interesting: 6 second tape delay  online live vs. TV pickup.

12:55 Jon takes stage. Only Fox cuts away for it briefly. "Some folks" have gathered, they say. "Star Spangled Banner"  by "4 Troops" group. Then Jon begs for no littering. 

12:50 First crowd estimate from the stage: 150,000. Or: 1,150,000 in BeckWorld. Sign in the crowd: "Birthers for Hawaii statehood." Crowd size should peak at 2 pm.

12:40  Now on to the comedy or at least performance art. Doing the wave. Even Olivia Munn would be an improvement on this. The 100 Huff Post buses stuck in traffic may turn back to NY if they have heard about this.

12:35 Another cool sign: Little girl in a princess dress with the sign "I'm taking back my tea party."

12:25 Sign spotted in crowd: "GET BIG GOVERNMENT OUT OF MY CAULDRON."

12:20 The Roots return to 1973 with Bil Withers classic tune. Jon Stewart still set for 1 pm. CSPAN covering fulltime now.  And natch Comedy Central.

Noon The Roots kick it off right on time with hip-hop. Colbert tweets his early estimate of crowd: 6 million. Must be using Beck as spotter.

11:45: Fox into 2nd hour of counter-programming. Jack Welch, even.

11:40 What's gotten little coverage so far: "Sanity" rallies in other cities.

11:30 Live feed from NBC via TPM here. Ironically, ad next to it right now for GOPer who is leading Colbert fave John Hall in hot NY race for House. 

11:25: CNN and MSNBC cut away once in awhile for reports from rally. Spotted one Fox mention but Neil Cavuto anchoring from Manhatttan with the handful of New Yorkers not at rally walking behind him on street.  

11:00  NYT live blog up and running. "We haven't seen a crowd like this since the inauguration," one attendee claims.  The (likely) success of this rally once again will put the lie to mainstream pundits, including the many liberal naysayers,  further diminishing what's left of their brand. But we'll see. 

10:40 Andy Borowitz notes that if Cheney was still Veep he would have declared a terror threat level "RED" for the mall today.

10:30: Luke Russert on MSNBC just called the early turnout "amazing," saying it seems well on its way to reaching the promise of the Facebook signups, over 200,000 (or 2  million, in Beck math). I have predicted stupendous turnout from the beginning and questioned the naysaying of pundits, liberal and otherwise.

10:20: No CSPAN coverage yet. MSNBC shots show sunny day and large crowd already on the mall.   Reports: AT&T service already "spotty" on the Mall.

10:15 Following Twitter reports, one placard reportedly says "This Sign Is Heavy" as competition begins for most witty.  Also reports from the Huff Post buses (or is that busses?), and Twitter pics. Arianna in a tweet claims 10,000 people on 200 vehicles. 

10:10 My first ever DC rally: the first truly giganic antiwar demo, November 15, 1969, more than quarter million strong.   Many followed. Spoke at 1995 rally to mark 50th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing.

A new edition of Greg Mitchell's award-winning "The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics" has just been published.

WOMEN CANDIDATES: You've Come A Long Way, Maybe

There are more women candidates for high office this year than ever, and the good news is that most are rising or falling on their merits, not sexism. As with their male counterparts, many are not too bright or experienced—make your own list—while others are exceptional in every way. Yes, women are still underrepresented in Congress and in statehouses but the gains have been impressive, even if the candidates not so much.

Things were much, much worse, just a few years  ago. Consider the 1950 race for the US Senate in California. It is best known for its role in the rise of Richard Nixon, and as one of the dirtiest, red-baiting campaigns, but it is equally revealing as an early test of women in politics in the United States.  I was the first to focus on this angle in my 1998 book for Random House, Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady. 

The Pink Lady, of course, was former actress, longtime Democratic activist—and three-term congresswoman—Helen Gahagan Douglas. She was the first women to seek high-level office in California, and only a handful had won across the nation. Sixty years later the state has two powerful women in the US Senate, and GOP female candidates for the Senate and the governor's slot this year.  

I thought it would be valuable to publish an excerpt from the opening of my book (below), which sketches what Douglas encoutered as she easily won the Demooratic nod that year—even before she faced the wrath of Richard Nixon (among other things, he would charge that she was "pink right down to her underwear").


In an atmosphere of vigilance and fear, Californians went to the polls on June 6, 1950, to nominate two candidates for the US Senate, setting the stage for a sensational election contest that fall.

As polls opened on primary day, political "dopesters" went "stir-crazy" trying to predict the results, the Hollywood Reporter observed. With California's population surging it was impossible to predict how the new arrivals would vote. At midafternoon, Helen Gahagan Douglas, the Democratic front-runner in the Senate race, received a telegram from actress Greta Garbo that read, "Helen--Tonight or Never. God bless you." Tonight or Never, a Broadway hit, had catapulted Helen Gahagan to stardom in 1930 and introduced her to future husband Melvyn Douglas, who later appeared opposite Garbo in Ninotchka.

Garbo must have sensed her friend's need for a boost on primary day, for the campaign had been painful and exhausting. The outgoing Democratic senator, Sheridan Downey, had announced that Douglas did not have "the fundamental ability and qualifications" —i.e. she was a woman—to replace him and accused her of giving "comfort to Soviet tyranny." Privately, an associate had advised Downey that Douglas was "a self-seeking, highly perfumed, smelly old girl," adding, "I don't believe in sending women to the House of Representatives or to the US Senate either. "

A San Jose newspaper reported that if not exactly Red, she was "decidedly pink." Westbrook Pegler, the syndicated columnist, cataloged her female deficiencies: her inattention to serious duties and her willingness to be nothing more than a "fluttering satellite" of the far left wing of her party. On top of that, fraternity boys at the University of Southern California had sprayed seltzer at her during a campus rally.

Perhaps the most distasteful personal attack, however came from the state's leading political writer. Kyle Palmer of the Los Angeles Times had criticized her Democratic rival, Manchester Boddy, for running a colorless campaign with "too much dignity" but advised that he "might still defeat the lady if he tried—in a political sense, of course—to slap her around a bit." And so as the race tightened, Boddy charged that a "subversive clique of red hots" was attempting to take over the Democratic Party, and he accused Douglas of harboring "communist sympathies."

But it was the newspaper he published, the Los Angeles Daily News, that first put into print a new nickname for Helen Douglas. "The Pink Lady," the Daily News called her.

Through it all, Douglas had remained confident, and with some cause. She was intelligent, articulate, and attractive, one of only nine female members of Congress, the best-dressed woman in public life (according to the Fashion Academy in New York), and the first prominent actor to run for high office. "I know I am going to win," she informed a national Democratic leader. Most of the party leaders in California, however, opposed her. They didn't like the idea of having a woman in the Senate "with whom they can't make deals," she charged. "In the House it is all right since it is like having a feather stuck in your hat, but it is not all right in the Senate."

She had fought back, campaigning furiously, barnstorming by helicopter—the first time this had been done outside Texas. An editorial cartoon portrayed her in a football helmet, stiff-arming male politicians. Another, under the title IF A BODY MEETS A BODDY, pictured Douglas and Boddy blocking each other's path, with the caption "Coming through the rye, should the Body or the Boddy let the other by?"

Tall and stately, Douglas was the number-one glamour girl of the Democratic Party, a writer for a New York newspaper observed. On the campaign trail, however, she had little time for "feminine necessities" such as getting her hair and nails done, according to the reporter, and she had already put on ten pounds, munching on candy bars to keep up her energy and consuming cakes baked for afternoon teas. Another writer observed that a woman running for the Senate has problems that never bother a "baldheaded candidate." A man goes straight to bed at night after a final speech, but a woman "has to get a shampoo at midnight. She has to go to bed with her head in a towel to dry while she sleeps."

Douglas also had to contend with the demands of two children at home. "But mother!" her eleven-year-old daughter, Mary Helen, had recently implored. "Why must you work so hard? Why can't you stay home and go swimming with me?"

When Douglas visited Santa Clara, a local columnist revealed that she had arrived for a campaign appearance right on time, "sufficiently remarkable in any woman." She looked young for her age, which was forty-nine, and the former opera diva and Hollywood star did it without the usual artifice of makeup, retouched hair, or "trick millinery." From this, the columnist concluded that she was interested "in persuading the minds of her audience, not in charming them off their feet." Still, the political attacks on the candidate grew harsher, and she was too busy defending herself from attacks by Democrats to go after her likely Republican opponent, Congressman Richard M. Nixon. Yet she told her San Diego organizer, "You know, what happens to me personally isn't very important. But that pipsqueak [Nixon] has his eye on the white House and if he ever gets there, God help us all."

Close to primary day, Douglas assured her mentor, Eleanor Roosevelt, that Boddy's Red-baiting was so excessive "it helped us." In San Francisco near the end, she led a march of women carrying grocery baskets up Market Street to protest the high cost of living. A local newspaper published a photo of a radiant Douglas surrounded by the huge crowd under the headline NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A—. Over the radio, Douglas confidently proclaimed, "Money alone never has won and never will win an election."

Most of Nixon's advisers felt that Douglas would be a formidable foe; she was as brave and as energetic as their man, with twice the charisma. For the record, Nixon concurred, calling her "a colorful, aggressive, vote-getting candidate" who had long been underrated by the "wise boys" of politics. But privately, he and campaign strategist Murray Chotiner felt otherwise. If Senator Downey had run for reelection, the outcome, they believed, would have hinged on farm issues, not on the Communist threat.

But that all changed with Downey out. Nixon and Chotiner wanted Helen Douglas to win the nomination because her liberal politics played into the freedom-versus-socialism theme they had already decided would dominate the campaign. "There's no use trying to talk about anything else," Nixon told his northern California chairman, "because it's all the people want to hear about." This was sure to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

During their travels across the state that spring, Nixon and Douglas had rarely crossed paths. Douglas, aware of her rival's talent as a debater, avoided joint meetings. One day, however, they appeared separately in a small town in the north. Nixon's aide Bill Arnold went out to hear what she was saying, came back, and reported to his boss. This was during a phase when Douglas, angered by Nixon's gibes, sometimes lost her composure and referred to him as a "peewee" who, like Joe McCarthy, was trying to get people so scared of communism they would be afraid to turn off the lights at night.

When he heard what she had said, Nixon muttered, "Why, I'll castrate her!" That would be literally impossible, Arnold pointed out. "I don't care," Nixon responded, "I'll do it anyway!"

As a woman, Helen Douglas was particularly vulnerable to charges that she lacked the toughness to oppose the Communists. But Chotiner reminded his candidate, "You can't get into a name-calling contest with a woman. The cost in votes would be prohibitive." Still, Nixon would later admit that Douglas's emergence on the Democratic side "brightened my prospects considerably."

On primary night, Helen Douglas, dressed in a simple black dress--but still movie-star radiant--joined her mostly female staffers at her Los Angeles headquarters. She had won a solid victory, defeating Boddy by a two-to-one margin and rolling up more than 150,000 votes in the GOP primary. Her supporters, true believers, responded with whoops and hugs, as if she had already won the election. She asked much, sometimes too much, of her aides, but they remained devoted to her. Some of them felt that the voters (particularly women) admired what Douglas stood for, and she was a fabulously vibrant campaigner, so there was no way she could lose. Red-baiting had ultimately failed Boddy, so Nixon would not dare revive it.

The candidate's personal satisfaction on primary night was marred by an uncomfortable moment at headquarters involving a male volunteer, a Greyhound bus driver who demanded a private conference with her. She soon discovered that he was more interested in sexual favors than political favors. Douglas knew that the passions of a campaign often become sexually charged but still faulted herself for not recognizing the bus driver's agenda earlier.

Unlike many of her supporters, Douglas knew she was far from a shoo-in. Simple arithmetic told her that Nixon's combined vote in the GOP and the Democratic primaries exceeded one million, whereas hers did not quite reach nine hundred thousand. This in itself was not fatal, for the Democratic turnout would likely soar in November. But there was something more troubling. For nearly four years, she had observed her colleague Richard Nixon at dose range in Congress, and she knew him to be smart, dynamic, daring, a formidable speaker--and out to win at almost any cost.

A new editiion of Greg Mitchell's The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics,  winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize, has just been published.

Friday DAYBOOK: Crist Surges, Krugman Warns, Gawker Misfires, Stewart Schedules, 'The Office' & Warren Zevon Howl

 WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.


Poll finds Chuck Crist closing to 7 percent behind Rubio as Meek collapses in Florida.... Bombshell: Bill Clinton nearly got Meek to quit race last week. Meeks denies it, sort of.

Paul Krugman tells us exactly HOW bad things will be if GOP takes House. "In fact, if they get their way, we’ll get the worst of both worlds: They’ll refuse to do anything to boost the economy now, claiming to be worried about the deficit, while simultaneously increasing long-run deficits with irresponsible tax cuts—cuts they have already announced won’t have to be offset with spending cuts."

Jon Stewart's rally schedule partly out: The Roots, Jeff Tweedy, Sheryl Crow, unfunny Father Guido, more TBA.... David Carr: More than a 1000 have asked for press credentials... As Jon said last night, nice day forecast..... David Brooks & Gail Collins debate Stewart rally... After his Obama did Daily Show, Robert Gibbs said at press briefing: "Jon Stewart is about as good an interviewer as there is in public domain right now."

Believe it or not, Rush Limbaugh is on the cover of next week's Newsweek.

Relatives says man arrested for threatening Democratic Senator was ‘Under the Spell That Glenn Beck Cast’... Amanda Terkel on rise in right-wing election violence this month. 

Clinton & Meek "drop out" case reminds me of 1934 race when FDR sent emissary to California to try to get Democratic nominee Upton Sinclair to quit  governor's race. Also didn't work.   

Andy Borowitz: "In New Tape, Bin Laden 'Furious' That Giants Reliever Brian Wilson Has Scarier Beard."

GAWKING INDEED Controversy rages over anonymous piece at Gawker by man claiming (with aid of photos) to have had one-night-semi-stand with Christine O'Donnell three years ago. And he may have already been IDed.

CAPITAL CRIME NYT, continuing its great and long tradition, with another anti-death penalty editorial.

TAIWAN FOR THE AGES   Review the midterm election highlights, 3-D Taiwanese animation style. 

SURVEY LEAKED Pentagon finding that majority of soldiers don't object to serving alongside gay comrades.

ON THE CAN-PAIN TRAIL  New poll shows Feingold trailing by nine in WI-Sen race... Inevitable ad in Kentucky: "The Rand Paul Stomp".... Fun, scary, Daily Show collection of harshest attack ads this year .... Write-in looking good for Murkowski in Alaska, but fate will be tied to endless court cases .

PERRY BAD INDEED Another NYT piece on big GOP and American Crossroads money man Bob Perry.


This "trailer" for a Halloween The Office movie might be funnier than last night's TV Halloween episode.




To get you in the Halloween mood, here's the late Warren "Excitable Boy" Zevon calling up the "Werewolves of London."


DAYBOOK for Thursday: Obama, Jon & Bloggers, Olbermann & Tea Party, Arcade Fire & Lies, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.


Nick Kristof backs legalizing pot: "Our nearly century-long experiment in banning marijuana has failed as abysmally as Prohibition did, and California may now be pioneering a saner approach."

Summary here of Obama on Daily Show. When Obama said Larry Summers has done "heckuva job," Stewart had to remind him about Brownie. Alessandra Stanley complains that he asked too many questions based on liberal concerns!

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 1
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity


Besides Jon Stewart, President Obama met with some other key liberals on Wednesday—a group of five political bloggers, who asked tough and lame questions. Here's transcript. Closed with question about who he likes in the World Series and Obama says Cliff Lee "looks like a tough pitcher." A few hours later, Lee got bombed. Let's hope Obama's forecast for election night goes better.

Rush Limbaugh yesterday: Obama "is the most unqualified imam—er, guy—in any room he walks into."

Eliz Warren posts at White House blog on exactly what she's up to.

My latest daily "coverage" of Upton Sinclair's incredibly influential race for governor of California in 1934.

TPM: Another day, another young female progressive assaulted while protesting.... Colbert Takes On The Rand Paul Head Stomper (VIDEO) 

TODAY's NUMBERS Fewer people apply for unemployment benefits in US, fourth drop in five weeks. Good, or just giving up? 

STEWART LITTLE? David Brooks and Gail Collins debate Jon Stewart rally. David admits he thinks Dennis Miller and P.J. O'Rourke are still funny..... Will Bunch's take on people attending Jon Stewert sanity rally w/o knowing what it's for... LA Times covers bee hive of liberal activity online around rally—already a plus?

WEAK TEA Last night: Keith Olbermann 'Special Comment' Recites Laundry List Of Tea Party Offenses. 

ON THE CAN-PAIN TRAIL Dems claim they are "winning" and cite new numbers on leading in early voting in 11 states.... But Nate Silver says GOPers still likely to pick up 53 seats in the House, well beyond the 39 needed for takeover....  New NYT poll finds mixed results on views of Obama, and by 45 percent to 41 percent most want health care reform to stand... Jerry Brown now up by 10 points in Calif in Field poll....Rand Paul up by 7 over Conway....

WIKI WHITEWASH? The Columbia Journalism Review on the NYT's WikiLeaks coverage—"tame to a fault"—"whitewash"—among other things.

THE SPITZER EXPERIENCE My new interview w/ Alex Gibney on his new Spitzer film: A run for office in Eliot's future? And about those high black socks....

PALIN AGONISTES Facing the tough questioners as usual, Sarah Palin in "exclusive" interview told Mary Hart of Entertainment Tonight that  she'll run for prez in 2012 "if there's nobody else to do it." You mean besides the fellas already running?... Meanwhile, her guy, Joe Miller sinks like a stone in AK-Sen race, although only means other GOPer Lisa Murkowski will win. 

GOLD FOR STERLING? For 'Mad Men' fans: That Roger Sterling memoir from the show actually coming out as a real book for Xmas. 


"I Wanna Be A Political Wife"—even to stand by him when scandal hits.




 Some vintage Arcade Fire: "Every time you close your eyes /  lie, lies." Just in time for the George W. Bush memoir.



Wednesday DAYBOOK: Maddow on Miller, Obama on 'Daily Show,' Maureen Dowd on Keith Richards, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.


John Burns defends his Julian Assange profile in NYT, hits Glenn Greenwald, reveals scope of criticism.  Greenwald, of course, responds.... In Defense of WikiLeaks Foreign Policy's site.

President Obama set for Daily Show tonight.... Robert Gibbs at press briefing Tuesday: Obama signed up to do Stewart show long before Stewart announced rally. Hasn't talked to Obama about the rally..... Washington City Paper issues fun guidelines to staffers on attending Jon Stewart rally—unlike NPR staffers they are allowed to attend, but must not laugh.....

Will Stewart's rally only enrage conservative voters? And who cares if he does? Also, Tim Noah of Slate doesn't want those elite Easterners to mock as stupid people who, you know, are certain Obama was born in Africa and is a Muslim. 

Yet another possible US soldier suicide in Iraq. This kid was to come home in 13 days and propose to his girlfriend. Update: Unconfirmed report that he may have been murdered with another in "berserk" rampage.

Web site for alleged 2nd attacker in "stomping" of MoveOn gal by Rand Paul backers—note the "come and get them" gun and girl photo.

George W. Bush's upcoming memoir already on half-price at Amazon—and this time he can't order a bailout.

HONKY TONK WOMAN LOVER? Maureen Dowd on Keith Richards revealing himself as true "gentleman" in his new book.  

MADDOW & MILLER Rachel Maddow tracks down, interviews Alaska's Joe Miller, in Anchorage on gay rights. Today she is on the tail or trail of Sharron Angle in Nevada.... Juan Williams: Fox News more "enlightened" than NPR. Funny what $2 million can buy.

UPDATES Palin endorses that GOP candidate in North Carolina—his race is a tossup—who killed 2 unarmed Iraqis (shooting them 60 times) and desecrated bodies, even cites his Marine service..... Whatever happened to fired CNN staffer Octavia Nasr?  

AND LINDA RONSTADT WAS #1 Great Jerry Brown ad quotes Meg Whitman saying she moved to California because "everything was possible in Calif 30 years ago"—and points out Jerry was gov then. Whoops.

ON THE CAN-PAIN TRAIL Nate Silver on Democracy Now! with grim election forecast for Dems. Our own Ari Berman also on today's show on grassroots stuff...  A look at the Tea Party and other GOP groups' plans to claim fraudulent voting next week—to suppress minority turnout.... Jon Ralston, the ace Las Vegas commentator, on Hardball: Democrats' main tactic now is "calling Republicans crazy—and guess what, some of them are."

SAFE AT HOME Obama to annouince today new policies against domestic violence.... Lobbyists already courting expected new leaders of House panels after GOP takeover....


It got a zillion views on YouTube, so the NYT did a big piece this week. Here's the Obama hip-hop everyone is pro and con on, "Head of State." Language not safe for work.




You young 'uns might have read a few tossed off references to once and future California governor Jerry Brown at one time famously dating some singer named Linda Ronstadt. Well, here she is back in first Brown era (when she and Jerry were both riding high).


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