Thursday, January 24, 2019

Soak 'em

My grandpa was an Iowa farmer back when there was a large number of small family farms in Iowa. Not the small cluster of large corporate ones that exists today. Long retired from the field, and an octogenarian widower at the time, he married a restaurateur from Albert Lea, Minnesota. Shortly after, he read something I had just written in college and told me about a visit he recently had with some of his new wife’s wealthy relatives. A cousin or the like, during what was evidently an inappropriate dinner conversation involving politics and possibly religion cut the thick air by quipping something towards the newcomer in the group that approximated: “What we need in this country are politicians that are good common sense farmers like Elmer Moeller. Elmer, what would you do if you were president?” His wry reply to her, he told me smiling: “The first thing I would do is raise taxes on the rich people.”

Common sense tends to hold majority opinion, and 59% of poll respondents (of The Hill newsletter) that are registered voters say they agree with 29-year-old Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s idea to raise the top marginal tax rate to 70% on income over $10 million per year. In the same poll, even 45% of Republicans say they supported this idea. And these numbers are despite the fact that no Washington politician has explicitly promoted an idea such as this in more than four decades.

A top marginal rate of 70% was the number all the way up until the Reagan presidency dawned in 1981. The rate had plunged to 28% before he left office, and has only slightly come back since—to 37%. As I inferred, this has absolutely not been a political issue in this country until this very moment. Democrats have avoided it like a mud puddle in the middle of the street. In awe of Reagan's charm, each attempted to replicate him and turn the party's focus from wooing working people to the ballot to trying to outdistance Republicans in Wall Street fundraising.

Gallup has been polling on the issue of taxing the rich since the early ‘90s and the support for higher taxes hasn't strayed since then outside the range of 60 to 70% in the data. Only about 10% of people, at any given time, have supported lowering government revenue on millionaires and billionaires. Now that Ocasio is on the march, the gatekeepers of the government-- from the cult of Ayn Rand-- are positively terrified. They’ve gone after the freshman lawmaker for her supposed lack of education (she’s a summa cum laude graduate in economics), her social media presence, her physical appearance, anything that might possibly stop the approaching train of economic sanity. She’s supposedly a counterfeit champion of the working class with a secretly-expensive wardrobe and/or a hidden upper crust upbringing. Her given name-- from her Latina parents-- is Alexandria, but her nickname in high school in the Bronx was the more whitebread... Sandy! Aghast!

More menacing than the personal attacks upon the change agent are the lies and misinformation being spread about the plan itself. Perhaps the first and loudest lie against one of the most consistently popular political ideas in America was that Ocasio is talking about a 70% rate on all income. She is not. The working class and the poor have already been held hostage to a national tax policy that lays an unfair burden upon them. As I said earlier, the 70% rate applies to income after and above the $10 million level. How many of you reading this just fell out of your (tax) bracket? And this is a modest number. In the early '50s, during perhaps the most lively economic era in the nation's history, the rate topped off just above 90%.

Oh my god, how the super-rich hate this. They have urine running down their leg, collectively and figuratively-speaking. At the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland Tuesday, the billionaire class came armed with pillows, blankets, and warm milk. The chief of investments at Guggenheim Partners called it "scary," and said the likelihood of something like this policy coming to fruition was "quite real," although I think he was just trying to reverse-jinx it. The billionaire CEO of Blackstone, Stephen Schwarzman, attempted to label the U.S. "the second most progressive (my italics for emphasis) tax regime in the world." (And don't you just adore his pointed use of the sinister word "regime"?) Some supply-siders are arguing that the plan is doomed to fail because the rich could still find ways, as they do now, to hide their gains and offset their losses, but better, I say, not to concede defeat just because the uber-rich are disreputable and contemptible outlaws. Conservative Democrats in Congress, which still describes most of them and the sum of the party leadership, are doing their familiar dance-- ducking under their walnut desks and telling their executive assistants to tell visitors that they're "in conference," but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doubled down at a birthday tribute Monday to one of the critical forebears of her theories on economics and common sense, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr...

"I do think a system that allows billionaires to exist when there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don't have access to public health is wrong." In a follow-up tweet, she posited: "It's wild that some people are more scared of a marginal tax rate than the fact that 40% of Americans struggle to pay for at least one basic need, like food and rent."

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

The bathtub

America's right political wing has done a masterful job of selling government social action as an overstep and an expensive waste of money. The military and defense budget ballooned to $590 billion in FY 2017, and President Trump proposed an increase in that line item to $681.1 billion for 2019. The director of the Joint Staff, Kenneth McKenzie, told the Senate Armed Forces Committee, during a hearing last month, that "anything below $733 (billion) (for 2020) would increase risk" for our nation's military. And then we continue to hear each day from the legislative warriors that protect these battlefield warriors that the government that governs least, governs best.

So that addresses a certain hypocrisy, but what about the concerted effort by think tanks, foundations, and research organizations to destroy government effectiveness and thereby weaken public support for government of any kind? Neoconservative Grover Norquist famously said, with casual brutality, that he didn't want to abolish government, he just wanted to shrink it to a size small enough where he could drown it in a bathtub. (Seriously, what can you drown in a bathtub? A child? A puppy?) Ineffectiveness IS the strategy. Remember that fact when the president speaks-- or tweets-- to you. Slash taxes, create deficits, and finally, step three, decimate public services with austerity budgets. Naomi Klein spelled it out for us in her vital book The Shock Doctrine, and after being tested out on the peoples of Russia, Argentina, Chile, Poland, Indonesia, and a host of other nations, it came home to the country that birthed the idea. It's Milton Friedman/University of Chicago economics. The right wing doesn't want to decrease deficits. It's playing pretend. Deficits enable them to take their desired action.

We're told that bureaucrats and regulations suck the lifeblood out of our economy. Say you're trying to get a building permit at the local zoning office, where the budget has been slashed 50 percent. Only one clerk is available to process your paperwork, and precious time slips away. You blame the bureaucracy of having to secure a permit. We underfund. Things don't work. We underfund more. Things don't work more. This is our public schools in a nutshell. Our public housing. Our meager attempts at environmental protection. They get their government-run health care while they rob you of the same security. Their stenographers in the national news media are eager to print the outline and affirm a new truism. Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez are "radicals" because they support single-payer, government-provided health care, which the skeptics in the senate and the house say will weaken the quality of health care, yet not a single one of those legislator-skeptics gives theirs back.

Mother Teresa was one of them. She was a true believer in the starving of the poor. For her, that somehow brought glory to God. She palled around with Charles Keating and the Duvaliers of Haiti. She opened a mission in the Bronx, and because of all of the positive publicity surrounding her public persona, donations poured in. A building was purchased for the price of one dollar from New York City and renovations of it were planned. City regs insisted that an elevator be installed to assist the disabled patrons. Teresa refused the elevator. It was inconsistent with her beliefs about charity and keeping people as sick as possible and nearer my God to thee. Sound like a major political ideology we cope with in this country? The plans for the building fall through because an elevator for the disabled is deemed unacceptable. But then the larger point to be made is how the New York local media in 1990 then handles the entire story. (This NY Times metro article from that period is downright hilarious.) It's "bureaucracy" that killed the plan. "Political correctness" in support of the disabled nullified the best intentions of the missionaries.

Government bashing is relentless here. It's a hysteria. A cult. Armed resistance is not considered out of the question in their verbiage and in their literature, and even congressional members and candidates sniff up to this line. Corporations are permitted to move in and fill the void left by a shrinking government, and that, friends, then becomes the reality of fascism. Remember it's not the actual size of government. Military spending explodes in size. Corporate giveaways are rampant. The main targets are social spending, taxes, and regulations on business. This ineffective government becomes the scapegoat for each of your problems-- and chances are, you have plenty of problems. Can't pay your bills? It's taxes. Didn't get that promotion? Government affirmative-action programs and unchecked immigration. Crime and moral decay got you down? Well, the government forced prayer out of the schools. Won't be able to retire? The government won't let you invest your Social Security in the stock market. One size-- and one product-- fits all. The single cause of anti-government keeps the Republican Party from ripping apart at the seams, separating the have-quite-a-lots from the have-almost-nothings.

Attacks on government are really then an attack on the most vulnerable of ours. Not only does it strip them of their basic necessities, it strips them of their will to fight. It works to strip away a century-long legacy of successful safety-net programs for the protection of the least of us. That makes the anti-government agenda the most radical one that exists in U.S. politics.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

The Einsteins of Comedy

Bob Einstein was a terribly funny man. Right up there with the funniest of them. You loved him on Curb Your Enthusiasm, as the brilliant but unfortunate comic daredevil Super Dave Osborne before that, and as Officer Judy on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour before that.

There’s a pedigree with that Einstein gang. Father Harry was a Vaudevillian dialect comic known professionally as Harry Parke, or Parkyakarkus, who infamously died of a heart attack at the dais of the Friars’ Club during a roast for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez in 1958. Bob’s brother, Albert Brooks, who changed his surname when he entered show business to avoid cheap laughs, is the equally brilliant writer, director, and star of several hit films, an Academy Award nominee for the film Broadcast News in 1987. A much older brother, Charles, more than two decades senior to both Bob and Albert, was a writer of a popular baseball book during the ‘50s, The Fireside Book of Baseball

My favorite Einstein family anecdotes are these…

When Harry died, the comics at the Friars felt they could not continue with the show, but Milton Berle asked singer Tony Martin to perform a song. The crooner’s choice was entitled “There’s No Tomorrow.” At Harry’s funeral, contemporaries Berle and George Jessel, ever the classy gentlemen, both paid tribute to Harry by performing their acts next to the casket.

Albert was pals with Rob Reiner at Beverly Hills High School during the 1960s. Rather infamously, Carl Reiner went on a now-long-ago-erased episode of the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and told the host that the funniest person he knew was a high school friend of his son, a kid named Albert Einstein. Albert would later become a favorite guest of Johnny’s during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, and if you have some time tonight, do a YouTube search for “Albert Brooks speak and spell.”

Bob—as Super Dave—told my favorite joke on David Letterman in 1990. I watched it the night it aired when I was 15 and it was the only joke I told for about 20 years. If somebody were to say, tell a joke, or we need a joke, I had this one. It’s a talking dog joke. When Super Dave tells it to Dave, he tells it from a “book” of adorable dog stories he has purportedly written for children. This particular story begins, “Once upon a time a guy walks into a bar…”

 And it goes a little something like this—with the setup starting at about the 2 minute mark.

After the joke, there's a clip from Super Dave's Showtime series, but there was a problem with the tape and the clip is not really ready to be shown. There's a mishap that takes place and an adjustment that's needed for the ending and you won't want to watch the clip but Super Dave will be back later when everything gets ironed out with the tape.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The perpetual war enters another calendar year

Start the new year off right-- with this absolutely precise report on Syria and the U.S. military state from center-right commentator Andrew Sullivan. 

After 17 years, we’ve gotten nowhere, like every single occupier before us. But for that reason, we have to stay. These commanders have been singing this tune year after year for 17 years of occupation, and secretaries of Defense have kept agreeing with them. Trump gave them one last surge of troops — violating his own campaign promise — and we got nowhere one more time. It is getting close to insane.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Body Briefcase

Sports uniforms mask a great reality. They come in all designs and colors. The different colors and creative logos become such a rich tapestry in each professional sport that you start to really believe these teams are entities separate and distinct from each other when in fact they are part of a whole. The athletes are actually one single group of employees in the same industry with the same set of bosses.

Often, it's the athletes themselves that get most confused about this, and yet, at times, an athlete shocks you with his or her intelligence and shrewdness. In the National Football League, a standout employee named Le'Veon Bell refused his service this year to the league. It was the last year of his current employee contract, and Bell plays a position-- running back-- that puts him through a sort of meat grinder physically. All football players endure it, but at running back, the grind is particularly harsh. His team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, gave him 406 touches during the 2017 season, which was more than any team gave any other player in the league. He was naturally expecting more of the same workload this season, and with the Steelers and everybody else not necessarily planning to reward him financially, at the age of 27 this coming summer, at such a physically-brutalizing position, Bell vowed to keep his body as (relatively) healthy as it can be this year in anticipation of his next contract, presumably the last and most lucrative of his career.

Bell is betting on himself, as the rest of us working stiffs must also do at one time or another during our working careers, and many of Bell's colleagues have understood what he was doing. His sacrifice took $14.5 million in guaranteed money out of his hands this year and put it back into the hands of the Steelers and the NFL. Veteran running back Jonathan Stewart said, "At the end of the day, it's just a business and your body is your briefcase. If your body is banged up, if something happens to your body, then your briefcase isn't worth anything... He's banking on himself, which a player should always do." Bell's bosses had offered him a contract this year that put him financially with the top group of players at his position, but Bell's talent and achievements have been above that. And when a group is being exploited, it often requires that a member of that group make such a sacrifice to draw attention to the exploitation.

But for many of Bell's Steelers workmates, the grumbling, private and public, started early in the holdout this summer. They complained to the local media that Bell was being less than loyal-- to the uniform. This was the breaking of a long and sacred tradition for players on any team not to comment publicly about the contract situations of other players. His head coach and work supervisor, Mike Tomlin, a former player, was asked about the effect of the holdout on the team, and replied, "We need volunteers, not hostages." This past week, when the deadline passed for Bell to join the team and still be eligible to participate in the postseason, and Bell still refused to cede, a group of his teammates ransacked his locker and looted his possessions. His nameplate was ripped off. One, linebacker Bud Dupree, posted a viral video about the pair of Bell's Air Jordans he was taking for himself.

It's already been an NFL season during which another player, safety Vontae Davis of the Buffalo Bills, retired from the business at half-time of a game. This was also an unprecedented action. In doing so, Davis said his body no longer possessed what it needed to continue playing. He had missed much of the 2017 season due to injury, and it was clear to observers that he had been struggling during the first two weeks of 2018. One play, one sideswipe, one collision, that's all it takes, but Davis' teammate, Rafael Bush, said, "I think I did lose a little respect for him as a man"-- and then pronounced that because Davis had quit mid-game, he had been disloyal, yes, to the uniform.

In the second half of the Bills game, Davis' defensive unit only gave up three points, and likewise, the Steelers' entire team has thrived without Bell-- a 7-2-1 record so far, and currently a six-game winning streak. Just as importantly, a new running back has stepped in and thrived. James Conner is 23 years old, three years-- and three seasons--- younger than Bell, bound to the Steelers with his individual contract for several more seasons, and ready to be put through the meat grinder Bell has already endured. He's on track for 349 touches this year.

When Bell took to Twitter this week and asked his followers what they were thankful for during this holiday, Steelers rooters en masse snidely responded to the question with the words "James Conner." It turns out that maybe Bell was disposable. According to many fans, he was. And that's his point exactly. He gets that it's a business. Fans will be fans. They're loyal to the uniforms. They root for laundry, as Jerry Seinfeld used to say in his standup act. But with the Collective Bargaining Agreement coming up in 2021, and a strike or work stoppage being a certainty, according to the executive director of the players' association, the raiding of Le'Veon Bell's locker sends the exact opposite message of player solidarity. His co-workers should be showing the utmost respect for a player that's making a sound financial decision, one that benefits all of them, but too few are. League-friendly writers of this most loyalty-inspiring sport will now take to slamming Bell in the media, downplaying his "market value," and it's a distinct possibility that he'll face the full Colin Kaepernick treatment this off-season, if the teams collude to make Bell an example case to suppress any changes in the next labor agreement that might fully guarantee contracts, offer lifetime health benefits, and/or find parity pay with other professional sports.

Le'Veon Bell understands his power though. Athletes, professional and amateur, have only barely begun to tap into it collectively. As a 20-something wielder of extraordinary cultural influence, he's another Kaepernick or Eric Reid. He's Northwestern University's former quarterback Kane Coulter, who co-founded the College Athletes Players Association, and the University of Missouri football players, who boycotted a major college game a couple years ago over systemic racial injustice on the Columbia, Missouri campus. Bell is placing himself at the very front of the major issue facing his industry, and the biggest one facing the future of any North American sport-- the players' physical protection. Upon the topic, league officials have evaded, obstructed, filibustered, and outright lied. They will continue to do those things. The players are not of 32 different teams, as the bosses would have us believe, they are of one team. Bell is refusing to volunteer up his body to simply be chewed up and spit out, and he needs to desperately care for that talented and vulnerable body because nobody else will.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Teaching the Pilgrims progress

We all get it, right? That the aboriginal people of present-day Massachusetts, the Wampanoags, bailed out the Pilgrims in those years surrounding the first Thanksgiving in 1621? It was an English tradition to have a feast to celebrate the fall harvest, but the first Europeans to arrive in this area at this time were woefully unprepared for the New World. They were religious separatists-- ministers, teachers, radicals of a sort, bounded together by a faith. What they were not necessarily was the either of hunter-gatherers or farmers.

This was the land of plenty, but they were starving. Des Moines native Bill Bryson wrote about it years ago in his book Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States. Without the natives, our holiday dinner fare would be something along the lines of salt pork, hard tack (a severely baked, almost impenetrable biscuit), dried peas and beans. John Winthrop, a lawyer, wrote home that all he could find to eat in the new colony was oysters, duck, salmon, and scallops when he sorely missed his mutton.

But the newcomers were not just ignorant because they were newcomers. The reality is that they found a more sophisticated agriculture here than existed anywhere in Europe. In today's America, we still all flock to restaurants that serve us the traditional foodstuffs of England, Ireland, Belgium, and the whole of Scandinavia, those great culinary outposts (sarcasm), it shouldn't surprise you to know how sophisticated the Native Americans would have seemed to them. The Indians were enjoying more than two thousand different foods, an unimaginable number to Europeans living in the 17th century. Bryson lists white and sweet potatoes, peanuts, pumpkins, squash, persimmon, avocados, pineapples, chocolate and vanilla, cassavas, chili peppers, sunflowers, tomatoes, and (king) corn. And typically what both continents of people enjoyed on their plate, the North American version was superior-- strawberries and green beans.

It wasn't just the advantage of climate or a rich soil. The natives knew more about nutrition. They knew that balance in diet was the key to living healthier. They effectively taught the whole of Europe about the concept of crop rotation. Planting beans among the corn, for example, replenished the nitrogen to the ground that corn would take away from it, and Iowa farmers still practice this strategy of sharing in the ground. The Europeans sometimes took the product, but not the lesson. The white potato became a staple with the Irish, but it's likely that a lack of genetic diversity surrounding the crop led to the Irish Potato Famine of the 1800s. And then onto the boat came even more Europeans, bound for the New World.

The natives also had much to teach about food preparation. Boston baked beans? Native American. New England clam chowder? Native American. Virginia's Smithfield ham? Native American. Succotash, corn pone, cranberry sauce, johnnycakes. The Puritans preferred deep boiling, lack of seasoning, served lukewarm. Probably in line with a religious tradition of deprivation.

So great was the Wampanoegs' surplus of food in 1621 that they could share it, in Bryson's words, with "a hundred helpless, unexpected visitors for the better part of a year." Without this bounty, who knows if more Europeans would have even followed in the Pilgrims' wake? The "land of plenty" had to be demonstrated and explained.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Noises your TV didn't make on Tuesday night

The Democrats spotted the Republicans their usual electoral advantage during these midterms. In my purple-state television market, we watched ad after ad depicting Mexicans and Central Americans climbing over a desert wall, but didn't see any that I know of depicting brown children being held in cages. One side plays tackle football, the other plays touch.

While domestic squabbles keep us occupied at home, dividing us into a simplistic pair of primary colors, Washington stands unified on nearly all international issues, with virtually no media attention being paid to the U.S.'s impact on the rest of the globe, and instead substituted with a lot of cheerleading for American democracy. This is what your TV did not sound like on Tuesday night...

Polls have closed in most states on the East Coast. And we have a few projected winners already. In Virginia, Mary Stone is victorious. She made the war and resulting famine in Yemen a central part of her campaign. She ran TV and radio ads condemning the Obama-era drone strikes and saying she would get U.S. intelligence and logistics out of the area, ending our support of the Saudi bombing campaigns. Voters polled there say they were concerned with the U.N. report during this election year that says 13 million Yemenis face starvation as a result of the violence. Those predictions would make it the most deadly famine on Earth in 100 years. Debra has some projections in the Northeast...

Yes, New Hampshire voters followed suit, Susan. The murder of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi government seems to have galvanized support against our national economic partnership with the Saudi royal family. Brenda Lake, who has been the most vocal critic of the Saudis in the Senate, has been overwhelmingly elected to a third term. She led the fight against President Trump's $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis in 2017 and voters were very eager to come out and give her their support. Only Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu believes the Saudis should get a pass for murdering Khashoggi, but obviously Netanyahu is not a voter in New Hampshire, Susan.

And now, we can project this one out of New Jersey. Carl Stewart, a first-time candidate at the state level, becomes the first district's choice in the House. He centered his campaign on U.S. military operations in Africa. The U.S. has an imperial-scale presence on that continent-- the major regional base in Djibouti, and network bases of AFRICOM in Mozambique, Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, CAR, Chad, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Egypt, Morocco, and elsewhere. The military presence exists there only to justify itself, and has become a substitute for diplomacy, academic research, trade, and investment. Stewart traveled to Africa this summer, and his opponent ceded the race during a televised debate two weeks ago, admitting on air that he was unaware of AFRICOM and not qualified for the job of congressional representative. Stacey, polls are closing now in Illinois and some Midwestern states?

That's right. And out of Illinois comes the re-election of Margaret Shipley. She's one of the lions of the Senate and she'll be headed back there for a fourth six-year term. Since her first election, in the year following 9-11, she's been the most vocal advocate for improving U.S. diplomatic relations. She was expected to face a tougher fight than the one she got today, but last month, the U.N. General Assembly voted to condemn the U.S. embargo of Cuba. 189 member-nations signed on to the condemnation, with no abstaining votes. Only the U.S. and Israel voted against the motion. This U.N. vote was seen as a sort of "canary in the coal mine" for the "leadership" of a nation that Pew Research found carries a 70% unfavorable rating for itself and its president in 25 different polled countries. The U.S. continues to thumb its nose at the world, imposing targeted sanctions at countries and withdrawing from multiple international agreements. The Cuba vote was a piece of good timing for the political fortunes of Shipley, and she's headed back to Washington to continue being a thorn in the paw of the president. Jim is at the electoral map, and we've got a race too close to call in Nebraska. Jim, there's a lot of piggy-backing that's taken place on a key issue to voters in the Cornhusker State...

That's right, Stacey. Guatemala is a place that not many Americans knew much about, but Anna Greenblatt and Ameera Abdul both made it the centerpiece of their opposing campaigns, linking the violence there and across Central America to the U.S.'s failed drug policies and new attempts by the U.S. to intimidate a commission that has held up a fragile peace against an increasingly-militarized Guatemalan government. According to exit polling, older Nebraskans still clearly remember the military-committed genocide in Guatemala in the early '80s, and voters of all ages say they have found it easy to connect the problems of violence in Central America to increased human displacement into North America and then directly to the human violation of Trump's border separation policy for families. This is the passion for human rights and peace among voters that Greenblatt and Abdul were both trying to tap into, and it looks as if a record number of voters have gone to the polls in that state. Only three thousand votes separate the two women with 40% of precincts reporting, and this one is simply too close to call at this point. We're likely headed towards another of Nebraska's famous re-counts. Debra, back to you if you have the projections with polls closing on the west coast. We have a new Senator in the Golden State?

Jim, it's 29-year-old Tyresa Long. Iraq and Afghanistan are still resonant issues with California voters, a state with a lot of military installations. George W. Bush's "axis of evil" was back on people's minds just before election day with Trump advisor John Bolton ushering in the phrase "troika of tyranny" to describe Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua in this hemisphere, and Trump telling reporters that he was once again considering the military option, reminiscent of his predecessors' war follies as well as his own during his first two years in office. The legacy of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan still do not sit well in this part of the country, especially as the U.S. continues to issue sanctions on the former country and virtually occupy the latter. Susan...

Jim, Stacey, Debra, it's going to be a long night here in the studio with many races still to be decided and unknown which of the SIX major American political parties will have wrestled control of Congress by the time all the votes have been tallied. We pause now for a commercial message and to turn it over to our affiliates for your local results. We will be back her at midnight eastern time. 

You've been watching Election Night in America 2018.