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Brewing Dobson-Frist Smackdown Who

Brewing Dobson-Frist Smackdown? Who heard today's Focus on the Family segment with Dr. James?

Dobson says he can't bear being "stabbed in the back by somebody that I thought was a friend … [And] that is what I think has happened here. This is not personal ... Sen. Frist has not put the knife in my back. But it’s essentially placed in the backs of all pro-life and pro-family people around the country."

Final results are in.

Final results are in. And it's Schmidt over Hackett, 52%-48% -- a spread of about 3500 votes. The key was that Schmidt's home turf was late reporting.

This is a solid Republican district, though. And Hackett made them really work for it.

It'll be interesting to see what lessons and signs can be gleaned from the results.

As of 1020 the

As of 10:20 the last I've heard is still a 50%-50% race, with Schmidt up over Hackett by just under a thousand votes and 662 of 753 precincts reporting.

Hackett started with a slim lead, lost it after about half the votes had been counted and then pushed the margin back to the result above. But the outstanding votes, as far as I can tell, come from Schmidt's home turf.

We're discussing the results in this thread.

We'll post updates as we hear them.

If youre looking for

If you're looking for informed play-by-play on the congressional race tonight in Ohio's 2nd district you'll probably want to head over to either Swing State Project or MyDD.

But just for my part, even now, this is looking like it could be a pretty exciting evening. According to Chris Bowers latest numbers it's Hackett (D) 51.99-48.01 over Schimdt (R) with 250 of 753 precincts reporting.

That's close enough that you really can't interpret those numbers without knowing precisely which precincts have come and the precise contours of the district.

But remember: this is a heavily Republican district. And with a third of the vote in, Hackett is managing to hold on to a razor thin lead. At worst, Hackett is giving Schmidt one hell of a run for her money. And at best ... well, let's wait and see.

Late Update: Schmidt pulling ahead in the stretch ... with 508 precincts reporting, 52% for Schmidt, 48% for Hackett.

Later Update: 660 precincts out of 753 reporting, Schmidt up by less than a thousand votes. 50%-50% by percentage. -- 9:51 PM

(We'll be watching the numbers at this thread at TPMCafe.)

Over his site Ed

Over his site, Ed Kilgore's got a partial answer to the Ralph Reed mystery. That is, how Reed is still managing to run for state-wide office in Georgia even though he's been centrally implicated in the Abramoff Indian gambling shakedown scandal. Ed says, just be patient. Lots of people in the state seem to realize Reed's goose is cooked. The question, says Ed, is just when between now and election day it all catches up with him.

Heres something Im not

Here's something I'm not clear on.

Jack Abramoff has totally clammed up about his starring role in his own eponymous scandal. But what about Ralph Reed, who's certainly up for supporting actor billing in the Abramoff debacle?

Reed was the rousting agent in the Abramoff gambling protection racket. With Abramoff's direction and financial support, Reed would whip up local opposition to gambling. Then Abramoff et al. would swoop in to offer their lobbying services to protect the casino owners from Reed.

As I said, Abramoff isn't answering questions, as is his right. But what about Reed?

Reed is actually running for something: Lt. Governor of Georgia.

Reed's dealings with Abramoff suggest not only that he is corrupt but that his morality issue grandstanding is utterly cynical. But as near as I can tell he's yet to take much of a hit for any of this back in Georgia.

What gives?

Theres a rather problematic

There's a rather problematic article in Tuesday's Times on the subject of Robert Novak's new column about the Plame matter.

It's by Anne Kornblut.

The question the article seeks to answer is the mystery of why Novak referred to Joe Wilson's wife as Valerie Plame when she had already for several years been going to by Valerie Wilson. The question has never had any legal significance per se. But it does have evidentiary significance, as Kornblut notes, in as much as the use of the name may shed light on Novak's sources and, as Kornblut doesn't note, on their motives.

Along the way, Kornblut appears to buy into Novak's absurd argument that the need to keep Plame/Wilson's identity secret was in any way related to which name she went by.

Writes Kornblut ...

Any request that he withhold Ms. Wilson's name from his column of July 14, 2003, would have been "meaningless" once he had been told she was married to Mr. Wilson, Mr. Novak wrote on Monday, because she was openly listed in the directory. But Mr. Novak also wrote that he would never have used Ms. Wilson's name had anyone from the C.I.A. told him that doing so would endanger her or anyone else.


Again, this is nonsense.

The disclosure was identifying Wilson's wife as a CIA operative, not that he had a wife, which needless to say was not a state secret.

On these points my only criticism of the article is that Kornblut seems to go along with Novak's diversion, making the issue of the name appear to have more legal consequence than it has.

The real problem, though, is that Kornblut doesn't examine another series of potential motives and the abundant evidence of Novak's mendacity on this subject.

Novak's use of Plame's name has been used to try to narrow down who his sources may have been -- something that Novak has a strong interest in concealing. Many have also speculated that Plame/Wilson was identified by the name 'Plame' precisely to cause the most damage to her career and the clandestine networks she had been involved in, since this was name she'd used through most of her career.

In other words, there's a very clear potential motive for referring to her by her maiden name. It's not a meaningless distinction.

In his column yesterday, Novak suggests that anyone could have figured out Wilson's wife's name by looking him up in Who's Who. And Kornblut, perhaps not unreasonably, takes this as a suggestion that this may well have been what Novak did.

That may be true. Someone could have done that.

But why should we believe Novak?

There is very strong evidence that Novak has been lying about his exposure of Plame from the start.

As I've noted here on a number of occasions, Novak's claim that he used the word 'operative' either accidentally or through sloppiness is simply not credible -- on the basis of simple logic and a review of his previous columns. Novak only came up with his 'accidental operative' story after a legal inquiry got underway.

And the same seems to be the case with his dust-kicking claims about discovering Plame's name from Who's Who.

Timothy Phelps and Knut Royce got to Novak a week after his original column ran. And he said nothing about having to track down Plame's name himself or any second-guessing about the word 'operative'.

He was quite clear. When Phelps and Royce asked him about his exposure of Plame he told them: "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me. They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."

Bear in mind that he made that statement in the context of an article that was all about how he came up with Plame's name and why he had revealed her identity as a covert agent.

The bottom line here is that Novak is simply not a reliable source. By all indications he has already lied publicly in an effort to protect both himself and his sources. There's simply no reason to take what he says at face value when he comes up with new and improbable stories which again have the clear effect of reducing the legal vulnerability of his sources and further damage to his own professional reputation.

In response to the

In response to the post below about Denny Hastert's new-found desire to weaken the rules governing privately-funded congressional travel, I got a note from one of my more right-leaning readers harping on about all the Democrats who have also had to revise or refile traveling disclosure forms.

For the most part, this is a bogus point. There's a reason all the attention is being heaped on DeLay, Ney, etc.: in short, their infractions are part of a very large system of organized influence-peddling, of which the Abramoff scandal is simply one part.

But this does present an opportunity for a post I've been mulling for the last few days. I'll frame it as a question.

Can we be sure we're pushing for a sufficiently robust reform agenda so long as a significant portion of the Democratic leadership on the Hill doesn't have to be dragged to it kicking and screaming?

Think about that for a moment.

This has always been a concern to me. The DeLay machine has made the House of Representatives (and at a secondary level, all of capitol hill) as corrupt as it's been for upwards of a century, perhaps more than a century if the true analogue is to be found in the 1880s and 1890s. But a lot of the current Democratic leadership still remembers the days before 1994. And though they may want to clean things up a bit, and certainly want to drive the Republicans from power, I think a lot of them don't want to change things that much. Because it'd be nice to have the perks from the old days back again. That's not surprising. That's human nature.

But for those of us not sitting up there. It's something to think about.

I'm opening up a thread to discuss this. Drop by to share your thoughts, disagreements, agreements, suggestions, etc.

GOP goofball buzzword alertAccording

GOP goofball buzzword alert!

According to a story just out from Roll Call (sub.req.), Speaker Denny Hastert has placed congressional "private travel reform" on the agenda in the House.

What is congressional "private travel reform"? Well, according to Republicans, the current rules for regulating when private interests can pay for junkets for members of Congress are themselves responsible for the likes of Ney, DeLay, et al. getting in trouble for taking fancy trips on the dime of cronies and fixers like Abramoff.

Rep. Alan Mollohan (W.Va.), Democratic ranking member on the Ethics Committee, has rebuffed Speaker Hastert's request for a rule change.

In particular, he told Hastert, "It is also important to note that in proceeding on the matter of privately funded travel, the Committee must take care to ensure that there is no suggestion that the rules themselves are to blame for any problems that have occurred — i.e., there can be no suggestion whatsoever that this is an effort to scapegoat the rules for improper Member conduct. I believe we can all agree that Members who are sophisticated enough to pass the laws of the land are sophisticated enough to understand the straightforward House rules on privately funded travel."

No word from Hastert on how it feels to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Tom DeLay.

Late Update: We've posted a copy of the Mollohan letter here.

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