Friday, February 29, 2008

Hillary's Foreign Policy Experience

I asked recently what exactly is Hillary Clinton's foreign policy experience.

It seems that finally someone in the press decided to ask this question of the Clinton campaign. The pregnant pause is priceless.
Lifted entirely from Matthew Yglesias,

Slate's John Dickerson asks an obvious question on a conference call with Hillary Clinton's campaign: "What foreign policy moment would you point to in Hillary's career where she's been tested by crisis?" After an uncomfortably long moment during which neither Mark Penn, Howard Wolfson and Lee Feinstein have anything to say, and then Lee Feinstein tries to step in with a save and starts talking about Clinton's endorsement by high-level military officials. Give it a listen:

And by the way, the actual question was not answered.

WTF took so long for someone to ask this simple question.

Perfect

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Daryl Cagle, MSNBC

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Obama Has SOOOO Much Money

Via First Read
According to a source who tracks TV ad buying, Obama campaign has bought two-minute blocks in every market in both Ohio and Texas on Monday. It's unclear what the content will be, but sounds like it will be some sort of closing message. As we find out more, we'll report more.

Imploding

The wheels are off the wagon and the Clinton campaign is imploding.

There have been a number of recent stories beginning the postmortem on the Clintons campaign with more and more backbiting from inside. The latest is from Harold Ickes who has no problem blaming Mark Penn -- the one everyone inside and outside is blaming.

Ickes is in the inner circle of the inner circle so it's a big deal for him to be scratching Penn's eyes out, on the record, before the campaign is over.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fall Campaign Preview

John McCain spouted off this morning, “…I am told that Senator Obama made the statement that if Al Qaeda came back to Iraq after he withdraws -- after the American troops are withdrawn -- then he would send military troops back, if Al Qaeda established a military base in Iraq. I have some news: Al Qaeda is in Iraq. Al Qaeda, it's called Al Qaeda in Iraq,..."

Obama fired back,
“I've got some news for John McCain, that is there was no such thing Al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade.

“I've got some news for John McCain. He took us into a war, along with George Bush that should have never been authorized, never been waged. They took their eye off the people who were responsible for 9/11 and that would be Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, that is stronger now than at any time since 2001. I've been paying attention John McCain!

“John McCain may like to say that he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of Hell. But so far all he's done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq that's cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars and that I intend to bring to an end so that we can actually start going after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and in the hills of Pakistan, like we should have been doing in the first place. That's the news John McCain!

“I respect John McCain, but he's tied to the politics of the past; we're about the policies of the future. He's the party of yesterday. We want to be the party of tomorrow. That's why I'm running for President of the United States of America.”

Tim Russert is a jackass

Paul Waldman has the details.

One Million Donors and counting

The Obama campaign is reporting more than 1 Million donors as of today.

This is really a remarkable achievement and makes campaign finance reform irrelevant.

Dull

I caught the West coast reply of tonight's debate here in my hotel room in Salt Lake City.

Frankly, I thought it was boring. Maybe just because I have primary fatigue.

The night began with Hillary whining about first questions and a very lame reference to SNL to make the point, I suppose, that everyone knows the world is against her. There's no question that Obama has gotten more positive coverage, but then he has been more positive. If the MSM really wanted to do Hillary in, they would be explaining every day that she has been mathematically out of this race since her losses in the Potomac primaries, and asking her every day for her justification in staying in the race with no practical hope of overtaking Obama on committed delegates. She should shut up and count her blessings.

The back and forth over their virtually identical health care plans was tedious.

The Farrakhan question gave Obama a chance to address nationally the controversy over Farrakhan's endorsement and he handled it very well. Russert was, true to form, a jackass reading in Farrakhan quotes that had nothing to do with Obama or the campaign but Obama showed his unflappable temperament. It was his best moment.

And the Farrakhan question was Hillary's worst moment. Hillary had the chance to be classy on Farrakhan and instead chose to classlessly attempt to score a cheap hit on Obama whom she knows perfectly well has nothing to do with Farrakhan.

So, to conclude, it was dull. Hillary is better in these debates on policy issues but came off as a little whiny and borderline shrill. Obama carries the day because he wasn't knocked out and responded to Hillary's relentless jabs with calm responses.

Stick a fork in her, she's done. Hillary will at best win very narrow victories in OH and maybe Texas, and step aside before March 11.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Foreign policy experience

What exactly is Hillary Clinton's foreign policy experience?

Let me guess. She was crucial to the success in Kosovo and uninvolved in the disaster in Somalia, and anyone who questions this is a liar.

Cumulative Vote Totals to date

Building on these earlier numbers, I've updated the popular vote totals to include WI and HI.

Total Vote excluding FL and MI:

Obama 10,047,688 52.3%
Clinton 9,136,409 47.6%
Others 727,019 .03%

With FL and MI*

Obama 10,616,729 47.8%
Clinton 10,321,768 46.5%

*Obama did not appear on the MI ballot

Foreshadowing

The surest way to determine if the Clintons will lose an upcoming primary is when they explain why that state doesn't count in the race for the White House.

Texas doesn't count.

The list of states that don't count is getting long,
  • Iowa
  • South Carolina
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • Kansas
  • N. Dakota
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Utah
  • Idaho
  • Colorado
  • Missouri
  • Alaska
  • Louisiana
  • Nebraska
  • Washington
  • Virgin Islands (not even a state!)
  • Maine
  • DC (again, not a state!)
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • Hawaii
  • Wisconsin
And now Texas. The list of states that do count is actually embarrassingly short.

Irony

It's more than just a little ironic that even has John McCain has attempted to force Obama into public financing he is trying desperately to get his campaign out.

Apparently McCain-Feingold is not working for him.

Dodd endorses Obama

Sen Dodd is by all accounts a good guy, an excellent Democratic senator and anyone running for president would be honored to have his endorsement.

But it's hard for me to imagine that this will move any votes in Ohio or Texas.

Monday, February 25, 2008

McCain declares victory in Iraq

It seems the great maverick has flip-flopped.

It apparently has sunk in that one hundred 'happy' years in Iraq will not get McCain elected so he has walked back and promised "My friends, the war will be over soon, the war for all intents and purposes although the insurgency will go on for years and years and years, but it will be handled by the Iraqis, not by us,..."

One time war champion Andrew Sullivan asks some good questions,
What does McCain mean by the end of the war, then? Does he mean the vanquishing of al Qaeda in Iraq, an entity that was not in Iraq in any great numbers before we invaded? Does he mean the pacification of the country - a task that is clearly beyond anyone. Does he mean Shiite control of the south? But that's already a fact. I don't know what he means, except that he understands that if he runs on waging this war in Iraq for his entire term, he won't get elected.
My guess is that this position will last until the press starts asking him about his plans to withdraw troops which he opposes. Or at least he did.

On the road again,...

I'm presently in Twin Falls Idaho via Seattle and Boise. I have a deposition tomorrow and drive to Salt Lake City for a depo on Wednesday hoping to get home on Thursday.

The landscape south of Boise is bleak. High desert scrub brush with cattle ranches. Houses stuck on the baron landscape with no trees in sight.

A couple highlights. An eletronic warning sign of elk grazing on the side of the interstate ahead, a bald eagle flying over the car, snowy mountains on the horizon and crossing the snake river canyon just outside Twin Falls.

Wacky polls

Mydd reports that Obama Leads By 12 Point -- or 2 Points -- According to Gallup. Both polls have a margin of error or +-3 points so you figure it out.

On Über Tuesday it was Hillary who had the indentical 12 point lead in the Gallup daily tracking poll, even as 22 states voted within four tenths of 1 percent of 50-50.

Obama up by 4 in TX

Obama up four points in Texas, according to latest CNN poll.

Polling has seemed especially wacky this year, so I don't put too much stock in such polls but if nothing else, better to be up by 4 than down by 4.

A sad ending

It's sad that Hillary Clinton's presidential hopes will end on a transparent play for pity.

It's clear that in talking up their Alamo Stand in TX they are hoping for a reprieve ala New Hampshire. I fully expect daily waterworks from now til next Tuesday.

Don't get me wrong. I would not be surprised if the Clintons won both Ohio and Texas. Their problem is that even a 5 point win in Texas and Ohio won't save their campaign and that is a reality they must face. Winning both Ohio and Texas by 5 or 6 points would still leave them 100 delegates behind Obama with no hope of making up that margin.

"35 years of experience"

Obama has a point when points to Hillary's support of NAFTA as a criticism of her record.

Hillary can't have it both ways. If her" experience" is 35 years which includes 8 years in the White House than she has to take the bad with the good.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wow, real Journalism, how refreshing

In Thursday nights debate, Obama told the story his campaign had gotten from a US Army Captain whose men in Afghanistan were so under-supplied that they found it easier to get weapons from the Talaban than from the Army. Not surprisingly, the lunatic chorus immediately denounced Obama a liar (see here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here).

Sadly, it has become all to common in this modern age of media for a news outlet to report the Obama statement, then allow those who disagree to call him a liar and call it fair and balanced.

But not for ABC's intrepid reporter, Jake Tapper. Jake decided to check-out the Obama claim, and not only has he confirmed the story, but got a much more compelling story from the captain in question.

Now NBC News has also confirmed the story by talking to the Army Captain in question.

HT to TPM

Lies, lies, lies

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Rex Babin / Sacramento Bee

As Josh reports, in his rush to deny, deny, deny, it seems that Sen McCain has made a number of statements that are "demonstrable false" which is how journalists politely describe lies.
McCain said and his office later released a statement claiming that McCain hadn't met with anyone from either Paxson Communications (the broadcaster wanting the favors) or Alcalde & Fay (the lobby shop trying to get them the favors). Today, though, Newsweek's Michael Isikoff dug up a 2002 deposition in which McCain said that he had discussed the issue directly with Lowell Paxson, the head of Paxson Communications. Now the Post has asked Paxson himself, now retired, and he says, Yep, I met with McCain and asked him to write the letters. And he thinks he remembers Iseman being in the meeting too.
Hypocrisy and cover-ups will get you every time.

The Republican race just got interesting.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Straight Talk My Ass

Campaign Finance Version.

You may have read in the last week or so that McCain secured a loan for his primary campaign in which he pledged or didn't pledge (depending on the paragraph in the loan document) public financing as security.

In a letter to McCain this week, Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason says the presidential candidate “can’t drop out of the primary election’s public financing system until he answers questions about a loan he obtained to kickstart his once faltering presidential campaign.”

By the way, this is exactly the kind of hypocritical and sanctomonious behavior on the part of McCain that pisses off his GOP Senate colleagues and is at the heart of his current problems.

Getting to the Heart of the McCain Story

Mark Kleiman points to the AP's version of the of the Vicky Iseman story with less innuendo, but a clearer explanation of actual misconduct:

In late 1999, McCain twice wrote letters to the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of Florida-based Paxson Communications — which had paid Iseman as its lobbyist — urging quick consideration of a proposal to buy a television station license in Pittsburgh. At the time, Paxson's chief executive, Lowell W. "Bud" Paxson, also was a major contributor to McCain's 2000 presidential campaign. McCain did not urge the FCC commissioners to approve the proposal, but he asked for speedy consideration of the deal, which was pending from two years earlier. In an unusual response, then-FCC Chairman William Kennard complained that McCain's request "comes at a sensitive time in the deliberative process" and "could have procedural and substantive impacts on the commission's deliberations and, thus, on the due process rights of the parties."

McCain wrote the letters after he received more than $20,000 in contributions from Paxson executives and lobbyists. Paxson also lent McCain his company's jet at least four times during 1999 for campaign travel.
HT to Matt Y.

Obama's Legislative Accomplishments

Hilzoy has looked into them and they are not insignificant.

I'm camped out at the Buffalo airport but I will write more on this later.

More on the McCain Story

Josh offers some insights on the McCain story. When you read the story, it's clearly very lawyered.

Listening to conservatives this morning I picked up a couple things.

First, suggestions that the story is thinly sourced. The Times had two off the record sources close to McCain and one on the record. For a story of this nature, that's solid sourcing. The Monica Lewinsky story started with the anonymous betrayal of Lewinsky by one friend, who was a very disgruntled former WH low level staffer. Republicans had no problem with that sourcing.

Second, the timing of the story. The Times has had the story since at least December, and had they broke it earlier Republicans may have made a different choice. I think this is a legitimate question. Word is that The New Republic was about to run a story about the NYT newsroom in disarray and paralyzed ala the Judith Miller days. To save themselves embarrassment and blunt the TNR story, they ran the McCain piece. If true, that's a real shame and The Times gets what they deserve, again.

Final thought before I run to the airport to fly home. This story is about much more than just a piece of ass. It's about the Chair of the Commerce Committee doing favors for a piece of ass and much like McCain's Keating involvement was about favors for a crooked business man / big donor.

The push back right now seems to be against The Times. Will the McCain haters inside the GOP use this against McCain or rally to him and bash The Times. These kinds of stories against Dems get legs because they are pushed hard by the GOP. Dems don't push such stories so it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Watch this space.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Obama and Public Financing

John McCain, who is not accepting public financing, is going to press Obama hard on his earlier comments about public financing. Obama at that time, should have been more clear.

Paul Waldman outlines what should be Obama's reply,
The argument would go something like this: "I said I would 'aggressively pursue an agreement to preserve a publicly financed election' with my Republican opponent. And I'm happy to have our two campaigns sit down and see if there is a way to make the debate between me and John McCain, within the publicly financed system. But as long as there are 'independent' Republican groups out there planning on spending hundreds of millions of dollars attacking me, it would be pretty foolish to lock myself into a spending limit that makes it impossible to respond. So I ask Senator McCain: Can you call off the right-wing hit squad? If you can do that, I'll be only too happy to say we should both accept public financing. But if you can't, I'm not going to sign away my ability to compete."

McCain had a girlfriend!

From the New York Times,
Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.

Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.
The McCain campaign issues a statement,
U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign today issued the following statement by Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker:

"It is a shame that the New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit and run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.

"Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career."
Even excluding his service in Vietnam, John McCain has been in public service for more than 30 years but I guess they don't count the Keating Five years where his conduct was something less that honorable and his integrity suffered.

UPDATE: The WaPo has a less sexy version of the same story.

Clintons Taking a Step Back?

ABC News: Even Devoted Husband Bill Says It's Do or Die For Hillary in Texas

More on F-22s

The F 22 air superiority fighter is a plane without a modern world mission what with winning the cold war and all. The Air Forces wants lots more despite the fact they they are of no use in either Iraq or Afghanistan. "The reality is, we are fighting two wars ... and the F-22 has not performed a single mission in either theater," Gates said in an appearance before a Senate committee last week.

Matthew Yglesias makes a good point,
In the Air Force's defense, I would say that both the point about the aging of the F-15s and the point about the number of F-22s currently on order looking a bit small have some merit to them. But this is an entirely self-generated problem. Instead of finding a cost-effective solution to the problem of aging F-15s -- like building new, somewhat upgraded F-15s -- the Air Force decided to design an impractically expensive new air superiority fighter. Having done so, the country now can't afford these planes in the quantity the Air Force deems desirable. It'd be as if the NYPD first insisted that in the future it would only buy cars from Lexus and then wound up puzzled as to why they didn't have enough cars.
What hostile or potentially hostile power has a plane that an F-15, 16 or 18 couldn't handle? And we are building the modern F-35 joint strike fighter (with ground attack and air superiority capability) with several allies all of whom want to buy them. The f-35 is half the cost of the F-22. No one wants the F-22 but the USAF.

While every other advanced nation or soon to be advanced nation in the world is investing in modern infrastructure, we can't aford to do that because we spend absurdly disproportionately on military defense.

2005 US military spending (excluding Iraq / Afghanistan) compared to the rest of the world.

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Pro-Clinton 527?

Marc Ambinder broke the story on his Atlantic blog that a group of Clinton supporters are setting up a 527 to run ads in OH, TX and Penn. They want to raise $10M.

We first heard about a possible 527 at the end of January when the Clinton campaign was broke and I read somewhere -- can't remember where -- that setting up a 527 takes a lot of time, and getting IRS approval can take months. I'm not sure if the IRS must allow the 527 status before donations can be solicited or if they simply need an application on file.

At this late date, how many donors could they find willing to throw good money after bad and risk being on the outs with the Democratic nominee in the general election?

I'm very skeptical. The Clintons may have a lot of friends with money, but how many willing to jump off the bridge with them? That's would be a much smaller number.

UPDATE: Ben Smith has found the first ad created by the group and intended for Ohio. No ad buy yet.

19%

Approve of the job George W. Bush is doing as president.

This number reflects a 14 point drop-off from last month, and I think makes it suspect.

Even Tempered Matt Weights In

Matt Yglesias gets to the heart of the matter,
...It's astounding that the Clinton campaign has, in essence, wasted an enormous amount of senior staff time on trying to spin reporters and bloggers about superdelegates. The only way they could possibly persuade superdelegates to rally around the Clinton cause would be to start putting some convincing wins together. Having lost 187 primaries and caucuses in a row, at this point that means very solid wins in Texas and Ohio -- not more bluster about Michigan.

...See, for example, this sort of bullshit isn't the kind of thing they need to be wasting their time on. Persuade some people to vote for you!

Machinists Union Goes All In

Tom Buffenbarger, President of the Machinist Union launched into a vitriolic diatribe last night in his introduction of Hillary Clinton.
“So now we have a decision to make. Will we rely on the Harvard Law Review editor? The silver-tongued orator from Kansas, Hawaii and Illinois? The man in love with the microphone?”

Taking off the gloves, he said, “Barack Obama is no Muhammad Ali. He took a walk every time there was a tough vote in the Illinois State Senate. He took a walk more than a 130 times. That's what a shadow boxer does. All the right moves. All the right combinations. All the right footwork. But he never steps into the ring.”

But it was Obama supporters for whom Buffenbarger saved his most vitriolic contempt, and he proved that the Democratic Party’s coalition is nothing if not fragile. Channeling Howard Beale from the movie "Network," he yelled into the microphone, “Give me a break! I've got news for all the latte-drinking, Prius- driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies crowding in to hear him speak! This guy won't last a round against the Republican attack machine. He's a poet, not a fighter.”
Or, um,...the Wellesley educated Yale Law Review Editor?

And for the record, I drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee, do not own Birkenstocks, and am not the beneficiary of a trust fund (I wish!), but I do enjoy a non-fat latte whenever I get the chance.

New Zogby

I think we all need to be very suspicious of all national polling right now, because they are all over the place. Add to that they for some reason Zogby seems to bias toward Obama.

With this caveat, Eric Kleefeld puts up the latest Zogby at TPM:

The new Zogby national poll gives Barack Obama a huge lead over Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, with 52% to her 38%. The internals show the two tied among women voters, with Obama winning men by about two to one — consistent with his Wisconsin win last night.

The poll also shows Obama to be a much stronger Dem nominee against John McCain:

Obama (D) 47%, McCain (R) 40%
McCain (R) 50%, Clinton (D) 38%

There is one caveat, though: Zogby's polls for the state races on Super Tuesday showed significant error in Obama's favor. On the other hand, the internals of this poll match up pretty well with the Wisconsin exit polling.

I think the better course is to follow the polling summary at pollster.com.

Where we stand

Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, et al at First Read have a nice post this moring summing up the status of the race.

Regarding delegate math, they provide this sobering take,
Clinton needs to win 58% of all remaining pledged delegates simply to get the pledged delegate lead back. Forget 2025. And if you assume Obama wins Vermont, Wyoming, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, Montana, and South Dakota, then the magic percentage number in the states Clinton wins rises to 65% -- SIMPLY TO GET THE PLEDGED DELEGATE LEAD BACK...
How do the Clintons face the media, Democratic voters and operatives, donors, etc. and justify their continued campaign?

The ONLY position left to them to justify going forward is that they fully intend to strip the nomination from Obama despite his having won the primary / caucus race. They must tell their donors, supporters and even voters in the upcoming states that they deserve their support because they are going to steal this nomination.

Forget Bill Clinton, his political career is over, but when does Hillary start thinking about her future? As a retired Governor with no job, it was easy for Bill in 1992 to run a scorched earth campaign -- Like Richard Gere in 'An Officer and a Gentleman,' he had no place else to go. Hillary has a job and a very bright future in the Senate.

Increased Scrutiny

If this morning's buzz means anything, the Obama campaign had better be prepared for the increased media scrutiny they are going to be getting moving forward.

The press considers Obama to now be the presumptive nominee.

Justification Going Forward

What is the Clintons justification for staying in the race? They haven't just lost 10 consecutive races, they've suffered 10 ass kickings.

For perspective, Obama did better in Wisconsin, than Hillary did in New York. Obama won 58% of the vote in WI and 76% of the vote in HI.

By challenging Obama in WI, they held his victory margin to just 17 points. Again, Obama has won every demo (including women) except white women over 50.

Money has to be drying up for the Clintons. How do they justify staying in this race?

Are they telling supporters not to worry about the delegates they can't win from voters because they will just poached them at the convention?

The morning meeting in Hillaryland will not be fun.

UPDATE: Although I did not hear it, Joe Scarborough and crew were saying the Clinton surrogate Wes Clark was on the air today dumping all over the Clinton campaign organization which he described, per Joe and his sidekicks, as in complete disarray.

All the Democratic politicos want a job in the next administration and are not going to be keen about going down with the Clinton ship. The inner circle of Clintonites aren't going anywhere (Harold Ickes, etc) but at some point the others are going to be wanting to save themselves.

Look for the defections to begin.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

MSNBC has just called WI for Obama

It's curious what they were waiting on,.....

MSNBC: Obama has "Substancial Lead" but too close to call

Russert is saying that Obama has again won the white working-class vote that until last week were safe Clinton voters.

If Obama wins be more than 5 points, it's a big deal. Although they haven't called WI, to hear Russert, Tweety and Olberman talk, it's a good night for Obama and they are already talking about all of the Clintons problems going forward.

Clintons targets pledged delegates

I missed this story today while I was traveling.

The Clintons' intends to go after the pledged delegates Obama has won in primaries and cacuses if she needs them to win the nomination.

Harold Ickes An anonymous "high-ranking" Clintons campaign official informed Roger Simon of the plan.

The ruthless nature by which the Clintons are plotting to steal the nomination they couldn't win from voters is just breathtaking. Simon didn't manufacture this story. I assume the aide who leaked this story to Simon was testing the reaction.

And after having leaked their own dirty plan, the Clintons attempt to turn in on the Obama campaign by demanding he state he has no intention stealing from them.

One neutral Democratic operative told Simon, “If you are Hillary Clinton, you know you can’t get the nomination just with superdelegates without splitting the party. You have to go after the pledged delegates.”

They're like a cornered animal and it's not pretty. I really don't think I will ever respect either Clinton again.

Don't Forget about Hawaii

Hawaii's caucus is today but it doesn't even start for 4 hours.

Gallup Daily Tracking

The Gallup Daily Tracking Poll is all over the place.

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Being Teased

I watch the election returns on MSNBC. They're not perfect but seem to bug me less than CNN (Blitzer is as big a jackass as Russert and not as smart).

Right now they are teasing the hell out of us with tidbits from the exit polls.

TPM is teasing us too calling out attention to the fact that Wisconsin a demographic dream for the Clintons full of white working class Democratic voters. This has always been the Clintons group but they lost them in VA and Maryland last week.

The Clintons clearly have more to lose tonight because this would be 9 consecutive losses and they have challenged Obama to slow or stop him. The post-mortem will be heavily focused on it being mathematically impossible for them to come out of the process with a committed delegate lead. And a big win by Obama in their demographic will be a huge news story.

On the other hand, even a tight Clinton win will generate a massive amount of negative press full of baseless wild-ass speculation on how he lost. Not what you want going into the TX Ohio battle.

AHHHH! I just want to know.

Rochester via Buffalo

I'm in Rochester NY tonight in a Hampton Inn waiting for the WI results to come in.

Wanted to see Niagara Falls but the blowing snow made that not possible so I headed to the Anchor Bar in Buffalo to have Wings and a beer.

Pakistanis Deal Severe Defeat to Musharraf in Election

It would appear that Musharraf's party has been defeated by the Bhutto's party. This should be a nice challenge for the State Department.

Note that when given a vote, Pakistanis (again) did not choose fundamentalism.

Fidel Castro Resigns?

That's the story. It's really hard for me to believe there is not some catch.
[....]Mr. Castro resigned permanently in a letter to the nation and signaled his willingness to let a younger generation assume power. He said his failing health made it impossible to return as president.

“I will not aspire to neither will I accept — I repeat I will not aspire to neither will I accept — the position of President of the Council of State and Commander in chief,” he wrote.

He added: “It would betray my conscience to occupy a responsibility that requires mobility and the total commitment that I am not in the physical condition to offer.”

All Eyes are on Wisconsin

I'm traveling today on business and won't be able to blog until tonight.

My observations for WI are pretty obvious. The Clintons have challenged Obama in WI unlike several other states since Feb. 5th.

Will they stop or slow Obama's momentum? Polling suggest a tighter race, so we are going to find out.

Monday, February 18, 2008

McCain's Dirtly Little Secret,....

Oddly enough is Tom Daschle.

Josh explains that shortly after Bush's election to his first term McCain was seriously negotiating to leave the Republican party and has been lying about it ever since.
The person who knows most about those discussions is former Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD). And Daschle is not only a supporter of Obama. He's played a key role in putting together the team of staffers and campaign operatives who make up Obama's inner circle.

Daschle has touched on this in the past but pretty lightly. And of course it wasn't until recently that McCain was running again as Mr. Republican. But I would think that at some point -- should Obama become the nominee, and possibly even if Clinton does -- Daschle's role in the campaign and what he knows about McCain will come into some tension.
It will be interesting to see if they becomes an issue in the campaign.

Texas Getting Tight

Via TPM, A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll shows a virtual dead heat between Clinton and Obama in the Texas primary. She is up 50-48.

As we've been discussing here, that is very bad for the Clintons.

$100 Million Doesn't Go as Far as it Used to

The Blog world is abuzz this morning with the news that the Clintons have only just now realized the the delegates rules in Texas may prove challenging to their grand strategy.
Several top Clinton strategists and fundraisers became alarmed after learning of the state's unusual provisions during a closed-door strategy meeting this month, according to one person who attended.

What Clinton aides discovered is that in certain targeted districts, such as Democratic state Sen. Juan Hinojosa's heavily Hispanic Senate district in the Rio Grande Valley, Clinton could win an overwhelming majority of votes but gain only a small edge in delegates. At the same time, a win in the more urban districts in Dallas and Houston -- where Sen. Barack Obama expects to receive significant support -- could yield three or four times as many delegates.
These unusual rules will not surprise regular readers of The Ward Report.

Publius* at Obsidian Wings wins the prize for best response,
Good lord, let’s see if I have this right. The Clinton campaign decides to cede every post-Super Tuesday state to Obama under the theory that Texas and Ohio will be strong firewalls. After – after – implementing this Rudy-esque strategy, they “discovered” that the archaic Texas rules will almost certainly result in a split delegate count (at best).

While they were busy “discovering” the rules, however, the Obama campaign had people on the ground in Texas explaining the system, organizing precincts, and making Powerpoints. I know because I went to one of these meetings a week ago. I should have invited Mark Penn I suppose. (ed. Maybe foresight is an obsolete macrotrend.)
Publius goes on to point out that Texas is simply a microcosm of everything that is wrong with the entire Clinton campaign.

The entire campaign strategy laid out by Mark Penn was more than just flawed, it was negligent as in malpractice. Penn has billed the Clintons campaign millions of dollars ($2.3M just in Q4, 2007) and laid out a primary strategy that had no basis in how delegates are actually awarded, which has allowed the Obama campaign to run circles around them. Recall, from last Friday's WaPo, where we learned that Obama won more delegates in Idaho -- a state abandoned by the Clintons -- than the Clintons won in NJ where they spent lavishly. Obama's advantage in this battle? They simply read the rules. This is a huge story that is just now starting to be reported.

* I agree,... 'handles' like Publius for bloggers are beyond annoying and pretentious as hell in a very pseudointellectual way.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Overtaking the Clintons


The past several days have been a watershed moment in the Obama campaign. Obama has now overtaken the Clintons by a majority of polls as this graph from pollster.com shows.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Deep Thoughts

Mark Penn explains that just because Hillary can't win among Democratic voters doesn't mean that she won't win Independents or Republicans in the general election. Republican voters love her!

Well, he said something like this.

"Our Moment is Now"

Running in Tx and Vermount.

Obama on the air in VI and RI

Obama Responds in WI

Obama responds to the Clintons latest attack ad in Wisc.

Obama will pick up some NYC delegates

The New York Times reports that the "unofficial counts" in many parts of NYC seriously under counted votes for Obama. The unofficial counts in several heavily black districts showed Obama getting zero votes. Now, as the official count is still taking place, Obama is picking up votes.

Obama is expected to pick up a delegate or two at the Clintons expense.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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Robert Ariail / The State

They finally get it right

This is a good negative ad. It has all the elements and is direct and to the point.

Friday, February 15, 2008

It's the Caucuses Stupid!

The Clintons decision to skip the caucuses has likely cost them the White House

Dan Balz explains,
Here is a simple way to understand the consequences of that choice. Take two states that held Super Tuesday contests on Feb. 5: big New Jersey, with 107 pledged delegates at stake, and tiny Idaho, with 18 delegates up for grabs. Clinton won New Jersey's primary and made headlines for doing so early on that night, while Obama won Idaho's caucuses long after many of those watching had gone to bed. But because of the rules of proportionality, Clinton netted just 11 more delegates than Obama from her New Jersey victory, while he gained 12 more than her by winning Idaho.

That pattern held through other states on Feb. 5 and Feb. 9, as Obama rolled up substantial margins and, as a result, harvested delegates in numbers that belied the relatively small size of some of the states. Eight states held caucuses during that period -- Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Washington -- and together awarded 305 pledged delegates. By the Obama team's calculations, the split out of those states is about 209 for him and 96 for Clinton -- an advantage of 113 delegates.

Pride

A 21 year old reader of Andrew Sullivan's blog,
There's one salient reason why people of my age are supporting Obama and that's because we feel that Obama will finally show us what it means to be proud of our president.

I read more than I should about politics and US history and am always confused as to how Americans can love their president so. Intellectually I understand why Americans love(d) Lincoln and the Roosevelts but I never felt why they did.

Andrew, people my age are too young to remember Bill Clinton. All we have is George W. Bush. The office of the President to us is a mockery. We don't link President Bush to concepts such as leader, we link it to ignorance and idiocy. Most people my age have never felt proud of our President. We grew up on the Daily Show, we only know how to make fun of him and mock him.

I attended an Obama rally a few days ago and was amazed at how filled up with emotion I was. Halfway through his speech, other 21 year olds just like that filled the Hall were screaming their heads off, waving banners, and grinning. Everyone was giddy, hell even I was giddy. I was smiling and chanting along to "Yes We Can." I didn't know what that feeling was because I had never felt it. But then I realized it. It was pride. I was proud of Obama.

I know you've felt proud of Reagan and others have felt proud of Bill Clinton. I can't wait to actually know what it feels like to be proud of my President and not embarrassed by him. That's why at least my generation is turning out in droves to make Obama president. We've finally got a taste of what it feels like to be proud of our President and we're not giving that feeling up.
I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff. I was 29 years old before I voted for a winner in a Presidential election and I know how I felt as the Clintons stood triumphant on that stage in Little Rock in 1992. Of course, I spent the next 8 years defending them in the face of every outrageous attack from the right, and also remember how I felt when that blue dress was found and when Bill, on his way out the door pardoned Marc Rich and FLAN. It was very much a mixed bag and not a time I'm interested in returning to, hence my support of Obama.

Contacting me

I just realized that somewhere along the way I inadvertently removed the email button. That has now been restored.

I don't bite. I used to get a fair amount of email from readers. I respond to every email that asks for a response. Sometimes when I'm busy with life, the response can be slow, but not often.

Obviously, the best way to respond to a post is to leave a comment. I read all the comment and often respond where appropriate.

Sometimes readers want to say something that they don't want to leave in a comment, so then please feel free to email me.

Gallup Daily Tracking

I'm working hard to get over my addiction to following these polls too closely. I've decided to post them here twice a week.

The latest Gallup Daily Tracking poll is the first to include 3 days of tracking post VA, MD and DC.

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Not Especially Comforting

Apparently, few Democrats think Dean is up to the job of brokering a solution to the Clinton / Obama, Florida / Michigan delegate fight.

On the other hand, I still believe come March we will have a presumptive nominee with enough delegates to make these issues moot. The superdelegates will do as God intended and rally to the leader putting him/her over the top and ending controversy. Uninterested Democrats like Gore, Pelosi, etc. will go to the losing side and have the 'come to Jesus' talk about getting real and out of the way.

And as far and Florida and Michigan are concerned, those delegates will never be seated if doing so decides the race. There isn't a Federal judge in the country that would allow delegates to be seated against the candidate who removed his name from the ballot or didn't campaign in the state pursuant or to the rules that existed at the time of the election.

'Calling the Bully's Bluff'

A Democratic Hill aide checks in at TPM:

I can’t remember which show it was – something like the Brady Bunch – where the protagonist is being picked on by a bully and at a certain point lashes out and inadvertently bloodies the bully’s nose (and ends the bully’s tyrannical reign, etc). It seems that the House may have inadvertently done just this. In the face of an all-too-familiar pattern of administration fear mongering instead of cowedly acceding to the administration’s wishes (and tacitly reinforcing the effectiveness of the administration’s fearmongering) the House seems, through something other than a concerted response, to have stumbled into a situation where they have bloodied the administration’s nose. Short of cancelling his Africa trip and spending all of next week demagoging this issue, I don’t see how the admin keeps their credibility on this. A line has been crossed.

Immunity to Telecoms

Why, you ask, is president Bush so hysterical to secure immunity to companies like AT&T and Verizon who knowingly and willingly violated the law at the request of the administration, months before Sept 11, 2001?

The answer is pretty simple. These companies are under the juridiction of the Federal Courts and they cannot claim executive privilege. The Separation of Power may allow Bush to say 'no' on document request, but AT&T is not in such a position. AT&T, BellSouth (now AT&T) and Verizon can be compelled by a court to turn over all the information they have about the Bush Administrations domestic spying program. Should the lawsuits go to trial, all this messy stuff could be aired publicly.

And it's very possible that crimes have been committed in this domestic spying mess.

The Bush Administration has asserted a States Secrets privilege to block disclosure but has so far be unsuccessful in this effort (but it's not over as I understand the situation), leaving only a gratuitous Congressional act to save the Bushies from exposure. The impotent Harry Reid has done everything under the sun to please Bush on this issue, but the House has found a little spine.

Judge a President by her Campaign?

It has become a political cliche' that you can tell the kind of president a candidate will be by how they run their campaign. Like any cliche' there's some truth in it, and some exaggeration.

What I find most telling are the people any candidate chooses to run their campaign.

I've not followed the press reports on Hillaryland because I always assumed such accounts to be gossip filled hit pieces. But now that the wheels are coming off the Hillaryland wagon, I can't seem to get enough of them. And what I'm learning is that none of the Clintons' current problems are coming as a surprise to those who have followed the drama since last summer.

If you are so inclined, Josh Green's current piece in The Atlantic, Inside the Clinton Shake-Up, is a good place to start.

Here is the money quote,
Rather than punish Solis Doyle [for nearly bankrupting her Senate re-election campaign in 2006] or raise questions about her fitness to lead, Clinton chose her to manage the presidential campaign for reasons that should now be obvious: above all, Clinton prizes loyalty and discipline, and Solis Doyle demonstrated both traits, if little else. This suggests to me that for all the emphasis Clinton has placed on executive leadership in this campaign, her own approach is a lot closer to the current president’s than her supporters might like to admit.
Indeed. The more you read about all the trouble in Hillaryland, the more concern you become with the striking resemblance of her leadership style to that of our current President.

But in fairness, the press and the blogger world don't seem to fully appreciate the need a president, or presidential candidate, has for absolute loyalty from their inner circle. They will never survive the many crises that will buffet them, if their inner circle isn't completely loyal.

Loyalty is not a substitute for competence, but competence is no substitute for loyalty. No matter how big the crisis, a president has to be able to go to bed at night knowing that his captains will be there in the morning serving by her side and not spilling their guts to the papers in hopes of placing blame anywhere but on them. One doesn't find such people easily or let them go lightly.

Reverse Sally Field

Peggy Noonan,
Her whole life right now is a reverse Sally Field. She's looking out at an audience of colleagues and saying, "You don't like me, you really don't like me!"

Although of course she's not saying it. Her response to what from the outside looks like catastrophe? A glassy-eyed insistence that all is well. "I'm tested, I'm ready, let's make it happen!" she yelled into a mic on a stage in Texas on the night of her latest defeat. This is meant to look like confidence. Whether or not you wish her well probably determines whether you see it as game face, stubbornness or evidence of mild derangement.
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Kevin Siers / The Charlotte Observer

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Facing Down Bush

To my surprise, the House Democrats faced down Bush today by not buckling to pass the Senate FISA bill that includes telecom immunity. The House has adjourned for the President's day holiday. The current temporary bill expires tomorrow.

Bush has zero credibility and no one believes his death, death, death rants anymore. He's become a public joke so why don't the Dems do this more often?

Sen Reid? Are you paying attention?

The China Canard

I'm amazed at how many people don't seem to understand that the cold war is over. Of course, they will tell you the cold war is over but they don't seem to understand that the end of the cold war should cast doubt on 500 BILLION DOLLAR military budgets full of cold war weapons in search of enemies.

Here is another example. As Fred Kaplan writes today in Slate, the Air Force doesn't need any more F-22s. The F-22 was designed during the cold war to replace the venerable F-15, and be a response to a MiG that was never built because the cold war ended. Today, the F-22 has no mission but the AF wants 380 them to tide us over until they are replaced by the F-35 currently in production.

When confronted with the indisputable truth that the F-22 ($138 million each, thank you very much) is a weapon without an enemy the only response the Air Force can offer is that many years from now China may build a fighter.

Kaplan refers us to the DoD's own study which concludes that China is not now, and may never be a military threat capable of projecting force, despite the fact that they are increasing military spending.

It's funny that while the US operates 11 supercarriers and has 3 more in production, China is considering one day building a single aircraft carrier. Well, it would be funny but we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars every year to fight a rival superpower that doesn't exist.

Should Al Qaeda develop and build 21st Century advanced air to air fighters we'll be glad we have those F-22s.

This is the biggest taxpayer rip-off in world history and I'm still waiting for someone to tell me what's fiscally conservative about any of it.

What was it Eisenhower said about the military-industrial complex?

Latinos and Blacks

With Texas coming up and again a lot of talk about the Clintons and Latino voters and the relationship of Latinos and African Americans I want to highlight the January 28 column of Gregory Rodriguez from the LATs.

Rodriquez took exception to the Clinton pollster Sergio Bendixen's suggestion that Latino voters have “not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates.” Bendixen was saying publicly what the Clintons' people were whispering for months and the result was to get talking heads to start spreading the misinformation which they did (Tucker Carlson, "Hardball," NPR).

The problem, Rodriquez says, is that the statement is not true.
[....]the evidence is overwhelming enough to make you wonder why in the world the Clinton campaign would want to portray Latino voters as too unrelentingly racist to vote for Barack Obama.

University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto has compiled a list of black big-city mayors who have received broad Latino support over the last several decades. In 1983, Harold Washington pulled 80% of the Latino vote in Chicago. David Dinkins won 73% in New York in 1989. And Denver's Wellington Webb garnered more than 70% in 1991, as did Ron Kirk in Dallas in 1995 and then again in 1997 and 1999.

He could have also added that longtime Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley won a healthy chunk of the Latino vote in 1973 and then the clear majority in his mayoral reelection campaigns of 1977, 1981, 1985 and 1989.

Here in L.A., all three black members of Congress represent heavily Latino districts and ultimately couldn't survive without significant Latino support. Five other black House members represent districts that are more than 25% Latino -- including New York's Charles Rangel and Texan Al Green -- and are also heavily dependent on Latino voters.
A skeptical Rodriquez concludes,
At the Democratic presidential debate in Nevada, Tim Russert asked Clinton whether the New Yorker quote represented the view of her campaign. "No, he was making a historical statement," she said. "And, obviously, what we're trying to do is bring America together so that everybody feels like they're involved and they have a stake in the future."

Really?

Obama Responds in Wisc

The Clintons put an ad up in Wisc accusing Obama of ducking debates.

Obama has responded.

Delegate Counts

Literally everyone's is different.

Buried in this New York Times story was this interesting tidbit,
Mr. Obama’s campaign said that he had a lead of 1,139 to 1,003; by the count of the Clinton campaign organization, Mr. Obama was doing even better: 1,141 to 1,004 for Mrs. Clinton.
UPDATE: NBC updated their count,

Official NBC News Hard Count (as of 2 p.m. Feb. 14)
DEMOCRATS
Obama 1,116
Clinton 985
Edwards 26

NOTE: There are 44 still unallocated, including 19 from MD, 10 each from CO and GA and one each from IL, NM, NY, TN, DC.

The House GOP has their boxers in a knot

All class these House Republicans.

They're furious over the contempt citations of WHCoS Josh Bolton and former counsel Harriet Miers.

So furious are they, that they interrupted a funeral service for former Congressman Tom Lantos, and then as the vote came-up on the Contempt resolution they walked out en mass.

Geez, it's not like anyone was impeached.

Needless to say, the contempt resolution passed but nothing is likely to happen to Bolton or Miers anytime soon.

The NYTs Does the Math

Adam Nagourney explains the bleak math for the Clinton's in today's NYTs.
because Mr. Obama not only won a series of states, but also won them by large margins — over 20 percentage points — so that he began picking up extra delegates and opening a lead on Mrs. Clinton.

And that is the problem for Mrs. Clinton going forward. If these were winner-take-all states, Mrs. Clinton could pick up 389 delegates in Texas and Ohio on March 4. Now she would have to beat Mr. Obama by more than 20 percentage points in order to pick up a majority of delegates in both states.
Obama has so far won 15 states by 20 or more points. In contrast, save Arkansas the Clintons have won ZERO states by a 20% margin. For all the talk of the Latino voters in Cali, the Clintons took a mere 52% of the vote. In her home state of New York she had 57% of the vote and won by a 17% margin.

There is no objective reason to believe the Clintons will do better in OH, TX or Penn than they did in NY. Add to this the insanely complicated way that TX awards delegates,
In Texas, Mr. Penn said Mrs. Clinton would be helped by the Latino vote — which he said could ultimately be as much as 40 percent of the electorate.

But Mrs. Clinton faces another problem there in the form of that state’s unusual delegation allocation rules. Delegates are allocated to state senatorial districts based on Democratic voter turn-out in the last election. Bruce Buchanan, a professor of political science at the University of Texas at Austin, noted that in the last election, turnout was low in predominantly Hispanic districts and unusually high in urban African-American districts.

That means more delegates will be available in districts that, based on the results so far, could be expected to go heavily for Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton, Dr. Buchanan said, “has got her work cut out for her.”
Better late than never, Clintons chief strategist Mark Penn, to whom the Clintons have paid millions ($2.3 in Q4 2007 alone) to get them to where they are now, has decided that they can't keep ceding states to Obama. Turns out that there are two Clintons and only 1 Obama. So Bill is in Wisconsin today and Hillary has 3 appearances before Tuesday. The Clintons won't win Wisconsin but they will keep Obama from racking up another +20% win. It's this kind of keen political advice that has made Mark Penn so famous.

Talk is cheap

Via TPM from The Boston Globe,

Hillary Clinton will take the Democratic nomination even if she does not win the popular vote, but persuades enough superdelegates to vote for her at the convention, her campaign advisers say.

The New York senator, who lost three primaries Tuesday night, now lags slightly behind her rival, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, in the delegate count. She is even further behind in "pledged'' delegates, those assigned by virtue of primaries and caucuses.

But Clinton will not concede the race to Obama if he wins a greater number of pledged delegates by the end of the primary season, and will count on the 796 elected officials and party bigwigs to put her over the top, if necessary, said Clinton's communications director, Howard Wolfson.

"I want to be clear about the fact that neither campaign is in a position to win this nomination without the support of the votes of the superdelegates,'' Wolfson told reporters in a conference call.

"We don't make distinctions between delegates chosen by million of voters in a primary and those chosen between tens of thousands in caucuses,'' Wolfson said. "And we don't make distinctions when it comes to elected officials'' who vote as superdelegates at the convention.

"We are interested in acquiring delegates, period,'' he added.

Blah, blah, blah. And Rudy Giuliani wouldn't withdraw even if he lost Florida. I don't buy it. They can't admit now that they are all but done, so they have to talk tough, just like Rudy. But if the math isn't working for them come March 5, they will be under tremendous pressure to step aside.

Next Tuesday the Clintons will loss Wisconsin and Hawaii probably big. Next Wednesday everyone will be talking about the math and superdelegates will be delivering bad news to Bill and Hillary.

What started as a whisper in Springfield,.......

Cat Fight

The well oiled machine that is the Clintons campaign via the Wall Street Journal,
[...]top Clinton advisers gathered in Arlington, Va., campaign headquarters to preview a TV commercial. ‘Your ad doesn't work,’ strategist Mark Penn yelled at ad-maker Mandy Grunwald. ‘The execution is all wrong,’ he said, according to the operatives. ‘Oh, it's always the ad, never the message,’ Ms. Grunwald fired back, say the operatives. The clash got so heated that political director Guy Cecil left the room, saying, ‘I'm out of here.”
Hillary Clinton, Ready to Lead the Nation!

Clintons Caught 'Flatfooted' after Feb 5

Today's NYTs describes a disorganized campaign that literally had no plans after Feb. 5th. Even now, as the Clintons place all their hope on TX and OH, they only have one office in OH and plan to open a TX office this weekend.

The Clintons have a top heavy campaign and have spent heavily in a few big states while Obama wins all the rest. Minnesota is a good example,
In Minnesota, “the Clinton campaign was in triage mode,” said Lawrence Jacobs, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota. He said Mrs. Clinton appeared to have allocated her dwindling resources to New York and California, the biggest prizes in the Feb. 5 contests (and which she won), investing almost nothing in media advertising in Minnesota and leaving her campaign there “like a M.A.S.H. unit.”

At the same time, Mr. Jacobs said, Mr. Obama “had developed almost a new style of campaigning.”

“He merges modern campaign technology — he has the list of names, the follow-up effort, all the literature distribution — with these phenomenal rock-arena political revivals,” Mr. Jacobs said. “In a caucus state, it’s formidable.”

Mr. Obama won Minnesota by 34 percentage points.
Guy Cecil, the Clintons field director has promised that the Clintons "will not be outmaneuvered again", but they already have! Obama has had multiple offices in Texas and Ohio for several weeks even as the Clintons hope to open 1 office in TX this weekend.

If Hillary Clinton is so damn ready to run the nation, why is her campaign in a shambles?

Video Evidence from Gitmo Lost?

The odds of a successful prosecution keep getting better and better.

Per the WaPo,
[....]Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby, who said video surveillance recordings in several areas of the facility have been automatically overwritten and no longer exist.

"In January 2008, it was brought to my attention that such . . . [recording] systems may have been automatically overwriting video data contained on recording devices, at predetermined intervals," Buzby wrote. "That is, only a specified number of days' worth of recorded data could be retained on the recording devices at a time."

Defense lawyers said the admission suggests that the military has not complied with a 2005 court order to preserve such evidence, even if the deletion of the recordings was inadvertent. They claim that the tapes were of potential use at forthcoming court hearings and trials, a view supported by a Seton Hall University report slated to be released today.
The legal term is obstruction of justice, and last I checked, it was still a crime.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

An Interesting Twist

With violence in Iraq on the rise as the surge subsides, Iraqi commanders Petraeus and Odierno have suggesting a "pause" in troop reductions to pre-surge levels, and SecDef Gates gotten on board.

Unfortunately, the Iraqi governments has other ideas. No pause.
U.S. forces should keep withdrawing from Iraq this year without a pause, Iraq's national security adviser said on Wednesday, disagreeing with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, whose post gives him a senior security role in the Iraqi government, said he would like to see U.S. forces draw down steadily to below 100,000 by the end of 2008.

End Game

Sometime after the March 4th primaries and before the March 11 Mississippi primary the Clintons will suspend their campaign ceding the nomination to Barack Obama.

Is violence on the rise again in Iraq?

McClatchy Washington Bureau,
BAGHDAD — Violence is increasing in Iraq, raising questions about whether the security improvements credited to the increase in U.S. troops may be short-lived.

Car bombs in Baghdad on Monday killed at least 11 people and injured a prominent leader of one of the country's most influential American-allied tribal militias.

[....]After months of declining violence, February is certain to be the third straight month to see increases in the numbers of Baghdad residents killed in car bombings and suicide attacks.

According to statistics kept by McClatchy, the low point in such killings came in November, when 76 people died. Thanks to a pair of pet market bombings that killed 99 people Feb. 1, February's tally already is 131.

Straight Talk My Ass

John McCain just voted against a bill to outlaw waterboarding.

More FISA Drama

An odd coalition in the House has killed an attempt to extend the temporary FISA bill for 21 more days while the conference works out the differences between the House and Senate versions.

The temporary bill expires on Friday.

Congress has approved a very generous bill to extend FISA. Bush said today that lives would be lost if the bill expires and he will veto any bill that doesn't include Telecom Immunity (the Senate bill).

Why in the hell don't the Congressional Democrats grow some balls and calls his bluff?

If FISA is as critical as he claims (It's not ) how could he veto the bill? He holds NO cards in this negotiation.

Bush has Nixon's approval rating. Let him veto the extension and be done with it. It's a terrible bill anyway.

What are Reid and Pelosi so damn afraid of?

VA Primary Fun Fact

Barack Obama received more votes (623,141) than McCain (244,135), Huckabee (198,247), Paul (22,056) and Romney (17,532) combined.

"It's Morning Again in America"

Ezra Klein loves Hillary Clinton. They are both policy dorks in general and health care policy dorks in particular.

In a recent post Ezra attempted to explained why Hillary is not dead yet but conceded that Obama may actually run better against McCain in the fall. He then shared this,
...in my off-the-record conversations with professional conservatives, they seem unanimously afraid of Obama. It's not so much that they're sure he can win (and none deny the possibility that he could lose), but they're definitely not sure how they can beat him, and they fear he has the potential to win big. With Clinton, by contrast, they feel they know how to attack her, and don't worry about anything game-changing.
In recent days I've been thinking about the presidential campaign that took place the year Ezra was born, 1984.

Last night I listened to McCain, Clinton and Obama speak and again I thought of 1984.

No doubt at least some of the conservative pros with whom Ezra has spoken remember that campaign very well and that's why they are concerned.

People much younger than I have no recollection of Ronald Reagan's re-election campaign that year. It was the first presidential campaign I was ever invested in and it was a major ass kicking with Reagan getting 59% of the vote and carrying 49 states.

Anyway, to my point. In 1984 the US was coming out of a very long funk. The evacuation of Saigon, Watergate, years of inflation that led to 'stagflation', Pres Carter on national TV chewing our collective asses for a 'malaise' that (quite understandably) hung over the nation, mortgage interest rates that hit 15%, the first oil shocks, and the final humiliation of the Iran hostage crisis (and failed rescue attempt) in which the US was completely impotent in the face of a handful of students in Tehran. It was during this bleak time that I came of age but by 1984 things had begun to turn around for the first time in more than 10 years (and in my memory).

Walter Mondale had the job of taking on Reagan and Mondale ran a campaign about telling the American people the truth about tax cuts and increased spending doubling the national debt in 3 short years (aka Reaganomics), etc. Mondale wanted us all to know we were being sold a bill of goods and that we were going to have to swallow a bitter pill to pay for it, etc. No one wanted to hear that message with the first signs of light coming in 10 long years.

I thought of Mondale last night as I listened to John McCain talk. McCain loves to talk bitter pills we need to swallow (100 years of war in Iraq, etc). Hillary Clinton like to talk about bitter pills sometimes too but even more she likes to talk about policy details that make Ezra's heart swoon.

Our current situation does not compare to America in the early 1980's but there is nevertheless a real yearning in this country to get past Sept 11, fear politics, bitterness in Washington, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, etc. People want to be given the hope of better times, and that is where Obama comes in.

In 1984 Ronald Reagan went on the air with the most famous political TV ad in history, "It's Morning in America Again". Mondale had no way to run against it, and this is exactly what the conservatives fear about Obama's message of a fresh start and a new beginning -- Something no Republican can deliver and something a Mondale-esque McCain has no intention of even trying to deliver.

Here was Reagan's response to Mondale's bitter pills,



Every time I hear the soaring rhetoric of Barack Obama I think, it's morning in America again.

Bush Will Have Telecom Immunity

Both houses of Congress have passed a bill to greatly expand Presidential spying on American citizens, with the details between the two bills to be worked out in conference committee.

In a statement today from the Oval Office President Bush was perfectly clear where he stands. President Bush will jeopardize "the lives of countless Americans" to secure retroactive Telecom immunity for unlawfully spying on American Citizens.

No human life is more important than Telecom immunity.

Congress has been warned.

Cumulative Vote Totals to date

Chuck Todd adds up the cumulative vote totals so I don't have to, and again, the math doesn't look good for the Clintons.
Total Vote %
Obama 9,373,334 50%
Clinton 8,674,779 46%
Others 726,095 4%

With Florida
Total Vote %
Obama 9,942,375 49%
Clinton 9,531,987 46%
Others 984,236 4%

With Florida and Michigan
Total Vote %
Obama 9,942,375 47%
Clinton 9,860,138 47%
Others 1,249,922 6%
Slice it or dice it any way you like, Obama leads the popular vote.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Delegates

MSNBC gives Obama an 107 delegate lead with 1074 pledged delegates to the Clintons 967.

On to Wisconsin and Hawaii.

UPDATE: Overnight NBC added 4 more delegates to Obama for a total of 1078, and 2 to Clinton for 969, giving Obama an 109 delegate lead.

Wins To Date

Obama wins 24 states:
  • Iowa
  • South Carolina
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • Kansas
  • N. Dakota
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Utah
  • Idaho
  • Colorado
  • Missouri
  • Alaska
  • New Mexico
  • Washington
  • Nebraska
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • US Virgin Islands
  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • District of Columbia

The Clintons have won 10 states:
  • New Hampshire
  • Nevada
  • Tenn
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Arkansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Mass
  • Arizona
  • California

Can't Make This Stuff Up

Rudy's campaign manager Mike DuHaime sings praises for the Clintons strategy to layout after Über Tuesday and wait for Ohio and Texas.

In fairness to the Clintons, they didn't just concede the remaining February states to Obama. The Clintons didn't have the money to contest them.

HT to Josh.

The Math for Hillary

NBC political director Chuck Todd has just explained the math going forward for the Clintons and it's very tough.

Todd basically concludes the Clintons really will need 60% plus margins in Ohio AND Texas to stay in the race. For perspective, the Clintons only got to 57% in New York, and with the exception of Arkansas have never gotten to 60% anywhere (52% in Latino heavy Cali).

Howard Fineman just reported that he's been in touch with his sources inside the Clintons campaign who have conceded that they cannot use superdelegates to strip the nomination from Obama if his lead in pledged delegates is more than a very small margin.

More importantly, it's becoming increasingly clear the superdelegates have no interest in taking the nomination from Obama if he has more pledged delegates.

Bottom line: The superdelegates will rally to the candidate with the most pledged delegates to end any possible controversy and push the nomination over the threshold to prevent a divided convention. Exactly as it should be.

UPDATE: Here's Fineman,

Ass kicking

With 99% reporting in Virginia, Obama won by 29 points with 64% of the vote!

That is a serious ass whipping in a state that many thought the Clintons had wrapped up a few weeks ago.

Maryland Exit Polling

As amazing as Virgina's exit stats were, Maryland even more so.
  • 62% of Democratic voters were women.
  • 54% felt Obama was most qualified to be Comm in chief
  • 64% of with no college degree and 60% with a college degree voted Obama. (Obama won all educational demos).
  • 65% of those making less than $50k and 62% more than $50k.(Obama won all income breakdowns except over $200k).
  • Obama won on major issues: economy (63%), Iraq (65%), Health care (57%).
  • 62% of Dems and 68% of Independents voted Obama.
  • 60% of self-described liberals, 66% of moderates and 57% of conservatives voted Obama.
  • 81% say US ready to elect black president/83% ready for women.
  • 54% of white men voted Obama and 55% white women voted Clinton.
  • Obama won all age groups including over 65 (51%).

Maryland and DC called for Obama

Obama cleans up on Crab Cake Tuesday.

NBC calls "Substantial" victory in Maryland for Obama.

Brokaw

Brokaw right now sounds like he's eulogizing Clinton.

It's way too early for that. If she wins OH and TX big, it's game on again.

Obama in VA

From CNN's exit polling Obama cleaned up. So much so that it seems hard to believe.
  • 57% of the voters were female and 43% male
  • 59% of women and 67% of men voted for Obama
  • 61% of non-college educated and 64% of college educated voted Obama
  • 55% felt Obama was most qualified to be Comm in chief
  • 60% making less than $50k and 64% making more than $50k
  • Obama won those who thought economy (61%), Iraq (66%) and health care (59%) most important.
  • 61% of Dems and 66% of Independents voted Obama.
  • Self described liberal (60%), moderate (64%), conservative (70%) for Obama
  • 50% of whites went for Obama to 49% to Clinton.
  • 84% say America ready for black president/ 83% ready for woman president.
  • 56% of white men for Obama and 54% of white women voted for Clinton.
  • Obama won every age demo.

Virginia to Obama

Wow. I turn on the TV at 6:15 PM CST and they've already called VA.

Looks like Obama won big and won in nearly every demo.

McCain on Iraq

With Obama and the Clintons otherwise indisposed, the DNC picks up the slack.

Virginia is the Momentum Yardstick

How Obama plays in Virginia will be very telling as to his actual MO. Virginia is nearly demographically identical to Missouri which Obama won by 1% on Über Tuesday.

A big win today in Virginie' for Obama will be something to brag about. Likewise, a tight win or loss will breath a little more life into the Clintons campaign, just as they are nearing life support.

Metaphor?

Via First Read, NBC's John Boxley reports that "the Huckabee press van taking us to airport and then to Little Rock, AR has run out of gas. We are stuck on side road."

And if that wasn't bad enough, it happened a SECOND TIME!

Obama the Pragmatist

John Pethokoukis makes the case in his Capital Commerce Column at USNews.

Indeed, some lefty bloggers before getting swept away, raised concerns about Obama's "pragmatism".

More on Superdelegates

First, I've noted that the NYTs treats "superdelegate" as one word. I've been treating it as two words but will conform from this point forward.

An interesting sub-text from today's NYTs piece on the status of the Clintons campaign is that despite all the rank and file concern about superdelegates stealing the nomination from the "people" such an outcome is not very likely.

The superdelegates (even those now "pledged" to the Clintons) are poised to act as God intended and bring order to the process by rallying around the candidate winning most committed delegates.
“She has to win both Ohio and Texas comfortably, or she’s out,” said one superdelegate who has endorsed Mrs. Clinton, and who spoke on condition of anonymity to share a candid assessment. “The campaign is starting to come to terms with that.” Campaign advisers, also speaking privately in order to speak plainly, confirmed this view.

Several Clinton superdelegates, whose votes could help decide the nomination, said Monday that they were wavering in the face of Mr. Obama’s momentum after victories in Washington State, Nebraska, Louisiana and Maine last weekend.

Some said that they, like the hundreds of uncommitted superdelegates still at stake, might ultimately “go with the flow,” in the words of one, and support the candidate who appears to show the most strength in the primaries to come.
There is nothing the media would like more than a convention brawl with the Clintons on one side. However, the party has other ideas.

There is no stomach even among the Clintons supposed pledged superdelegates to steal this nomination. This is of course why media outlets should not be counting these delegates in anyone's total. They are not bound by any commitments.

How Do the Clintons Compete?



I guess the short answer is that they can't.

8 Questions the Potomac Primary Could Answer

Dan Balz asks 8 Questions the Potomac Primary Could Answer.

Potomac Primary

Today is Crab Cake Tuesday with Maryland, The District of Colombia and Virginia voting in primaries.

By all indications Obama should win all three comfortable, but there is something about Virginia that makes me nervous.

Virginia is the most conservative of the three states and should be a good measure of Obama's momentum. A big win in VA would be very big in my estimation.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Coming down toTex and Ohio

The Clintons backs are against the wall. They are circling the wagons to brace for an Obama sweep tomorrow in Maryland, DC and Virginia and again next week in Hawaii and Wisconsin when Obama will have gone 9 -0 since Über Tuesday.

Obama has the chance to deal the knockout blow March 4, but it's a tall order.

From tomorrow's New York Times,
[....]Mrs. Clinton held a buck-up-the-troops conference call on Monday with donors, superdelegates and other supporters; several said afterward that she had sounded tired and a little down, but determined about Ohio and Texas.

They also said that they had not been especially soothed, and that they believed she might be on a losing streak that could jeopardize her competitiveness in those states.

She has to win both Ohio and Texas comfortably, or she’s out,” said one superdelegate who has endorsed Mrs. Clinton, and who spoke on condition of anonymity to share a candid assessment. “The campaign is starting to come to terms with that.” Campaign advisers, also speaking privately in order to speak plainly, confirmed this view
Both states had been considered safe for the Clintons, but Obama now has all the momentum and most the cash. It would appear that narrow Clinton victories are not enough. My feeling is that Obama has a real chance to win Ohio but I don't know what to think about Texas. Oddly, I can find no polling on either state although I have to believe both states will be polled very soon.

Gallup Daily Tracking

The Gallup Daily Tracking Poll has been erratic since Über Tuesday, when the Clintons seemed to be pulling away again even has they both had 50% of the vote that day.

Tomorrow is Crab Cake Tuesday (aka The Potomac Primary) so we shall see how the voting comes out.

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