.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Credit where it's due

I don't really know how they did it, but the Clinton campaign seems to have (at least temporarily) killed the conventional wisdom coming out of Wisconsin that she had to win both Texas and Ohio by a wide delegate margin in order to continue.

Now, the press and pundits seem to be accepting the argument that winning only Ohio, and only by a little, is enough for her.

We'll have to see if that expectations game holds up in the face of election results, but give a little credit where it's due.

However they pulled this off, that's pretty good politics.

Picture of the Day

Weren't we supposed to be working on a Mideast peace settlement? Wasn't that a top priority for the year?

(Haaretz) Gaza offensive looms as violence spirals

(AP) Israel warns Gaza invasion impending

(AP) 24 Palestinians killed in clashes

(TimesOnline) Israel threatens to unleash 'holocaust' in Gaza

(Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice alights from her airplane upon her arrival at Tokyo's Haneda airport February 27, 2008. (REUTERS/Issei Kato))

Clinton is losing Texas

Getting very little coverage is the fact that Obama has passed Clinton in the Texas polls. (Fox +3, Rasmussen +4, Zogby +6, Belo +1, and ARG +7 all in the last 24 hours.)

For more, take a quick look down Pollster's collection of polls beneath the graphic. Almost everything in the last week has tipped Obama and the momentum is clearly that way.

Now, alot of these are within the margin of error, and, of course, the standard boilerplate polling disclaimers apply, but, considering that Texas is broadly perceived as a must win for Clinton or she's out, I'm surprised that all of this polling tipping Texas for Obama isn't spawning more coverage.

Of course, polls don't count, election day does.

And, still a strong Clinton lead in Ohio, Clinton + 6 or + 8.


(CNN) 45 killed in Pakistani funeral blast in the Swat valley. (Iraq tactics go to Pakistan.)

(AFP) "The number of Iraqis killed in February rose by 33 percent over January, reversing a six-month trend of reduced violence. ("The metric" is at 721, not the 3,500 of last summer.)

(AP) Petraeus will recommend "a pause" in the drawdown of US troops in Iraq.

(WaPo) "The United States and Saudi Arabia have launched a joint campaign to pressure Syria to end its political interference in Lebanon, including the U.S. deployment of the USS Cole and two other warships off the Lebanese coast, according to U.S. and Arab officials."

Friday, February 29, 2008

Was Clinton's "Daisy" ad a last swing?

The Clinton campaign put out an ad last night that has quickly come to dominate the discussion today and presumably throughout this critical weekend. (Video)
"It's 3:00am and your children are asleep," the voice over says. "There's a phone in the White House, and it's ringing. Something is happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call."

The Obama campaign responded with sharp comments like those here, here, and especially here, finally ending the day posting this rather nasty retort ad pointing to Clinton's Iraq war vote.

This ad clearly targets women (what used to be called "security moms") by using children in their beds in the framing.

I don't know if this ad moves votes, but it will serve as a highly incendiary topic changer to get the news shows over the weekend to talk about this ad and the "experience" issue rather than the fact she's looking likely to lose Texas.

It's a bit of a desperate swing, and she has taken some blowback, but they've gotten the topic change (at least for today,) and from where they are, that's pretty important.

(One more bit: Apparently, there was a long awkward pause on the Clinton conference call when someone asked, "What foreign policy moment would you point to in Hillary's career where she's been tested by crisis?")

The Expectations Game for Mar. 4

Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe comes out with this,
“They have a huge task in front of them, which is to try to erase this pledged delegate lead,” Plouffe said on a conference call with reporters. “They are going to fail by that measure. … This isn’t whether they can skate by and win the popular vote narrowly.”

But the prize has to go to Mark Penn of the Clinton campaign.
Seeking to raise the expectations for for its rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign said Friday that Sen. Barack Obama needs to sweep the March 4 primaries.....

"If he fails to garner big wins, there's a problem," memo states.

Wow. So it's no longer "Clinton has to win in Texas and Ohio," it's now "if Obama doesn't blow her out, that's good news"?

Later: Take polling for what it's worth, but maybe this is why the Clinton camp is attempting to radically reduce expectations. (Rasmussen) Clinton +2 in Ohio. (One poll, but it's definitely getting tighter in Ohio, and Texas may already be gone.)

(Texas polling in the updated "Political bits" post below.)

Picture of the Day

(Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain speaks at a town hall meeting in San Antonio, February 27, 2008. (REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi))

Political bits (Updated)

I'm guessing that John Edwards endorsement isn't coming.

(NYTimes) Obama Cutting Into Clinton’s Edge Among Superdelegates. ("Her Feb. 2 lead of 105 superdelegates over Mr. Obama has since been cut to 42 superdelegates.")

Later: I count at least 5 new superdelegates for Obama just today. Four here, plus Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

(MSNBC) Texas Republicans cross over to vote for Obama (I don't know about their estimate of 9%, but I'm hearing Republicans talk about voting for Obama. There's alot of anti-Clinton in Texas.)

Two Texas polls for what they're worth. Rasmussen has Obama +4 and Zogby (which has leaned Obama) has Obama +6. (Later: Belo Texas tracking poll, Obama +1, and ARG Obama +7.)

Later: Add the Fox poll. Ohio-Clinton +8, Texas-Obama +3.

(Politico) The Clinton campaign is sending out invitations to top fundraisers to meet in DC on March 11.

(FirstRead) "Obama campaign has bought two-minute blocks in every market in both Ohio and Texas on Monday." (That's HUGE money. There are 20 media markets in Texas alone.)

And, The Texas caucuses are going to be chaos. We've never actually had a primary vote that counted, so any kind of turnout at all is going to stress the system.

(McClatchy) Clinton aides threatened lawsuit over Texas caucuses, officials say.

(FWStarTelegram) "The source, who asked not to be identified, said Clinton's political director, Guy Cecil, had forcefully raised the possibility of a courtroom battle."

Later: A Texas political blog theorizes that the Clinton camp is raising the lawsuit threat only to try and delay the release of the caucus included delegate count.

(EDITED: I pulled all the links on the Clinton "red phone" ad up to this post.)

Turkey edges out of Iraq

The Iraqi government is saying Turkey is pulling back out of Iraq. By their current reports, the Turks killed 237 PKK members. Estimates put the number of PKK trained at around 4,000-5,000.

So, here we are again. Israel and Hamas or Hezbullah, NATO and the Taleban, Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers..... Did this operation accomplish enough to offset the bolstering effect it will have on the PKK? You have to figure it brought in new recruits.

And I'm willing to speculate that the 237 killed did not include the significant leadership.

Picture of the Day

Haven't heard Dick Cheney's name in awhile.

(Vice President Dick Cheney looks towards President Bush as he speaks about the economy, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak))

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A new strategy towards Pakistan Al Qaeda?

There was another apparent US missile attack that hit an Al Qaeda/Taleban target inside Pakistan, the second in a month. It's difficult to draw a trend from two points, but do these more frequent US actions signal something?

Is the US picking off targets as they become known (off new intel) or does this represent a fundamental shift in the Pakistan/US burden sharing? Or maybe the US is picking off all they can before Musharraf goes away?

Misplaying Pakistan

The NYTimes has an article saying that the majority of the Pakistanis(you know, the ones that swept the election) are growing increasingly upset by the Bush administration's continued backing of Musharraf.

(Maybe a weak Musharraf needs the US most of all???)

Picture of the Day - 2

Supporters of Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama peer over a fence in hopes of seeing Obama during a town hall meeting Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008, in Duncanville, Texas. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Political bits

(AP) The Clinton campaign raises $35 million in Feb.

(Politico) "Obama spokesman Bill Burton.... the Illinois senator has raised "considerably more than that" in the same period."

(Chron) A moderately influential Houston political figure and superdelegate switches to Obama.

(AP) Huckabee keeps pressing McCain's campaign finance problems.

(RollCall via TPM, ThinkProgress) After fighting for wiretapping immunity in the new telecom bill, "GOP leadership aides are grumbling that their party isn’t getting more political money from the telecommunications industry. ("But we did the pro-Quo...")

Note, be very careful about some of the "junk" polling being thrown about from Texas. CNN is pushing this "poll of polls" that is complete garbage because 1/3 of the poll is the ARG which is a huge outlier.

And, A little hint: If you're going to attack Barack Obama on TV for not wearing a flag lapel pin, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), perhaps it might be a good idea to be wearing one yourself.

The Obama CTV story

I don't know what to make of the CTV story saying that Obama had contacted the Canadian government recently to tell them not to worry about his NAFTA language.

The Canadians deny it as does the Obama campaign, but that certainly doesn't mean it's not true. The main reason I'm suspicious is because it comes so near the critical Ohio primary.

(This smells like GOP to me. Maybe a Canadian government official telling a story as a favor to the GOP who wouldn't mind seeing Obama weakened in swing state Ohio.)

McCain's already attacking. (ABC) "Citing Canadian TV Report, Republican Says Democrat Isn't Offering 'Straight Talk'"

It just seems too convenient, you know?


(WaPo) Sunni forces losing patience with US. (Nothing revelatory, but it does collect the growing frustrations of the US sponsored Sunni militias.)

(AP) Robert Gates tells Turkey that it "should end its offensive against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq as soon as possible...."

(AFP) "Turkey said Thursday its offensive against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq will continue "as long as necessary," rejecting pressure.... from US Defence Secretary Robert Gates."

(AP) "Iraq's presidential council rejected a measure Wednesday setting up provincial elections, sending it back to parliament in the latest setback to U.S.-backed national reconciliation efforts."

(LATimes) "Lawmakers in northern Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region authorized their military Tuesday to intervene if Turkish forces pursuing anti-government rebels bring their battle into civilian areas."

(CSM) "The Defense Department says it needs more troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. But an Army general warns that troops already in the fight are under too much strain."

One of the biggest mistakes we make in both policy and arguments over Iraq is the presumption that the US is the primary driver of events. "We should so this... We should do that...." assumes a level of control over events that the US no longer has.

Quote of the Day

“She is better than her campaign.” - Harold Ickes

Picture of the Day

I think someone needs to have a talk with her advance team.

How do you let these photos happen?

(Senator Hillary Clinton looks at the crowd during a campaign rally in St. Clairsville, Ohio February 27, 2008. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton))

Tony Fratto

McClatchy has a piece on a new estimate for the total cost of the war in Iraq,
Coming up on the fifth anniversary of the invasion, a Nobel laureate now estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing America more than $3 trillion......

What does the White House's official spokesman have to say?
"People like Joe Stiglitz lack the courage to consider the cost of doing nothing and the cost of failure. One can't even begin to put a price tag on the cost to this nation of the attacks of 9-11," said White House spokesman Tony Fratto, conceding that the costs of the war on terrorism are high while questioning the premise of Stiglitz's research.

"It is also an investment in the future safety and security of Americans and our vital national interests. $3 trillion? What price does Joe Stiglitz put on attacks on the homeland that have already been prevented? Or doesn't his slide rule work that way?"

Calling an economist a coward is aces. Especially when you've proved your courage by.....?

(And, I'm assuming you're capable of making your own "Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 and nothing to do with terror" argument.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I think this estimate might be charitable.

What does it say that someone who has shilled for administration policy comes out with this?
More than six years after the U.S. invaded to establish a stable central regime in Afghanistan, the Kabul government under President Hamid Karzai controls just 30 percent of the country, the top U.S. intelligence official (Mike McConnell) said Wednesday.

Has the "smart money" moved to Obama yet?

Let me start off with a definition:

When I use the term "smart money," I intend the term as in an investment framework (not that these people are smart for supporting Obama.) The "smart money" chases returns. In political terms, that would mean buying access, political support, or favor down the road. I would equate it to lobbying money, business money, and political ally/superdelegate support.

As Obama looks more and more likely to be the next President, you have to figure that these people must be out there trying to buy their place at the table, and ,similar to the endorsements, they're likely all starting to come in now.

Have we seen a big surge of "smart money" support for Barack Obama yet? Is that a part of the big dollars coming in now?

With their campaign themes, we can hardly expect the Obama campaign to trumpet a wave of insider money, but you have to figure that's going on, right?

We won't really know until May, but if this is the case, there's no way Clinton could compete past Mar. 4 based solely on the money.

(In superdelegate news, Rep John Lewis officially switched to Obama today, and the Clinton campaign, in a very telling reversal, is now imploring superdelegates not to commit, to hold their voice and their vote.

Later: ND Sen. Byron Dorgan for Obama?)

Picture of the Day

Give it up for those crazy sombitches in Ohio.

Outside the debate. (AP/Mark Duncan)

Good Morning

(AP) "Oil prices broke through a new intraday high of $102 a barrel Wednesday..."

(AP) "Euro Soars to Record High $1.5057"

(Bloomberg) "Gold rose to records in London and New York..."

(NYTimes Page One) "Gasoline prices.... are suddenly rising quickly, with some experts saying they could approach $4 a gallon by spring."

Political bits

The Obama campaign claims its one millionth donor.

(NYPost) Mark Penn is spending some of that sweet, sweet Clinton campaign pay on a monsterhouse in DC.

(YouTube) Bill Cunningham, the radio guy who was repudiated by McCain yesterday, finds himself another outlet on FoxNews with Sean Hannity. (This dude is CRAZY! If you've got a minute, check it near the end.)

(Politico) Red State downticket Dems are hopeful about Obama coattails.

(Politico) Texas Hispanics still up for grabs.

(Politico) "Boehner tells GOP to get off 'dead asses'" over the lackluster NRCC fundraising.

(AP) Ann Richards' two sons object to suggestions their mother would have backed Clinton. (The daughter says she would have. (The estimated endorsement of dead people?))

(Reuters) McCain retracts comment he could lose on Iraq

Cilizza looks at how to define a Clinton win next Tuesday.

(FirstRead) "It's happening in all four states. In fact, per TV ad expert Evan Tracey, Obama has outspent Clinton $23 million to $14 million in the last 30 days." (Plus the SEIU, UFCW. In Houston, it's about 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 Obama ads on my TV.)

And, the debate was actually the third political story in Houston's only local paper. The lead story was far more interesting: (Chron) Black voters crucial to Texas' primary battle. ((My former professor Bob) Stein predicts blacks will represent 30 percent of the vote Tuesday, while Hispanics may account for 25 percent.)

The short version of McCain's FEC problem

Just a nice, brief description McCain's FEC problem.
McCain applied for public financing last year, when his campaign was faltering. In February, when his campaign had turned around, he wrote the FEC seeking to exit the system. But to do so, McCain needed to show he had not yet received any federal funds and had not used the promise of those funds as collateral to borrow money.

Should the FEC or a federal court force him to remain within the system, he would have to abide by a $54 million spending cap until September, when the primary season ends. His campaign had spent $49 million as of Jan. 31, reports show.

He could opt out in the general, but basically his campaign would be unable to spend a penny of "primary money" until the Republican Convention in September.

Some of that spending could be made up by the RNC or outside groups, but effectively, his campaign couldn't even have paid staff.

Right now, McCain's plan seems to be to ignore all this and keep spending.

(And, Huckabee is pressing this all over the place.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Picture of the Day - 2

(Rev. Jesse Jackson greets Chelsea Clinton before a Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato))

Political bits II - More endorsements?

(AJC) A rumor that Rep John Lewis will endorse Obama soon.

(CNN) A newly furry faced Bill Richardson talks cagily about the prospect of endorsing someone (Clinton?) or not.

(Ambinder) Clinton endorsed by retired Maj. Gen. Taguba.

(Ambinder) "(Clinton) Advisers figure that a loss in Texas is as likely as a win in Ohio; a large number of staffers appear to be willing to quit en masse next Wednesday if there’s a split decision and Clinton gives notice that she intends to fight for another month." (Treat as very rumory.)

(CNN) Huckabee's flogging McCain's FEC problem.

Greg Sargeant takes a look at the latest Clinton claim, that the media wants them to lose.

(SUSA) Clinton +6 in Ohio.

(ThePage) Two more superdelegates for Obama.

Howard Dean when asked about a possible convention mess.
"I think when someone gets to 2,025 it will be pretty clear," Dean said.

O'Donnell pointed out, "Well that's not going to happen in March or April, Governor."

"It could," Dean responded, "because I think you're already seeing movement among the superdelegates, the unpledged delegates and there will be more pledged delegates assigned as we go through this next round of primaries."

Dean ended with this prediction: "I think the odds are much better than 50-50 that the nominee will be decided before we ever get to Denver."


Picture of the Day - 2

What did we learn yesterday?

The dude is bulletproof.

(Barack Obama plays with Eric Hansen, 11 months, during a visit to Nicky's Cruisin' Diner Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008, in Bangor, Maine.(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer))

Dodd to endorse Obama and Political bits

I think this may be significant for momentum as Dodd would be the only former candidate to endorse (I know, Dennis endorsed,) but it's not like Dodd brings that many voters with him.

I'll be very curious if we get any backstory. Why now?

Also, SUSA has Obama up by 4 in Texas.

(AP) Bush predicts GOP will hold White House (And Iraq lasted weeks not months. Bring 'em on.)

(NYTimes) SEIU spends heavily for Obama in Texas/Ohio.

Two WaPo analysts deconstruct an Obama stump speech.

The NYTimes has a good graphic on the delegate distribution in Texas.

Mike Allen's take on the Drudge photo thing, "Team Obama lures Team Clinton into a Drudge match on the day she's making a foreign policy speech with military and defense luminaries."

Chuck Todd keeps bringing up those pesky delegates, "Nevertheless, according to our delegate math, Clinton winning both Ohio and Texas by 52%-48% would net her a combined 5-6 delegates."

(Politico) The Obama campaign is shutting down the press.

And, There's a debate tonight. No Chris Matthews, but we will have to sit through Tim Russert, and you know he is going to drill on about that photo.

Pakistan and Afghanistan

(Reuters) The Pakistani army chief is about to name a new head of military intelligence replacing a longtime Musharraf ally.

(AP) The Pakistani army is occupying the Swat valley.

(WaPo) NATO confronts a resilient Taleban.

(Globe) "US officials are quietly planning to expand their presence in and around the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan by creating special coordination centers on the Afghan side of the border where US, Afghan, and Pakistani officials can share intelligence about Al Qaeda and Taliban militants, according to State Department and Pentagon officials."

(WaPo) U.S. Struggles to Find Envoy, Hindering Effort to Stabilize Afghanistan. (Karzai shot the last one down.)

(AP) "A roadside bomb hit a vehicle carrying five policemen and a child in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing all six."

Picture of the Day

Monday, February 25, 2008

Clinton getting smashed in the national polls

I know they're technically meaningless to the primary race, but the numbers are substantial.

NYTimes/CBS - Obama 54, Clinton 38.
USAToday/Gallup - Obama 51, Clinton 39.

(Later: I was a little angry last night, so I didn't make this point. This is almost all Obama going up and not Clinton going down. She's down a bit, but she kinda ceilinged in the national polling around 43-45.)

A Step Too Far

I've been getting angrier and angrier about this Obama photo thing all day, but it wasn't until this that I went over the top.
"I know nothing about it," Clinton told ABC affiliate WFAA. "This is in the public domain. But let's just stop and ask yourself: 'Why are you -- why is anybody concerned about this?'"

Why? Why? Because after your campaign tried to float drug allegations, after your campaign, including your husband, tried to use racism as a lever on his own party, now somebody in your campaign has been pushing this photo around with the clear intent of trying to slime Obama with the blatantly false, right wing driven Muslim smear!!!

Look, you can try and argue that Clinton or the campaign officials knew nothing about it, but by their response, that doesn't matter. They could have denounced this, but instead they're playing this cute little game. They're not even carrying out the pretense of pretending to find out who did it.
But he stopped short of denying whether a Clinton aide may have passed it to the DrudgeReport. I'm not in a position to ask 700 people to come in," said Wolfson.

The Clinton campaign has used race, sex, and now religion in this campaign and they're still losing. (Top Clinton officials are trying to push the Weathermen story, too.)

This needs to end soon.

Later: I calmed down a little overnight. The amazing thing is, I was actually praising the Clinton camp over the weekend for their effective attack (Clinton finally finds a good attack footing.)

The question was whether they would "hit and get out" or whether they would push it too hard and go too far. Guess which I think happened.

And, it doesn't matter that it started on Drudge. My issue is the way the Clinton campaign handled it. I barely mentioned the thing yesterday morning, but the way they jumped on it that pissed me off.

Political bits

(Politico/TPM) The Clinton camp is issuing alot of outrage, but no real denials regarding the Obama photo that was fed to Drudge.

PS. Hitting on the Muslim resonance is so classy.

(Reason) After having little success defending against Obama's NAFTA attacks, it appears the Clinton camp has decided that the best thing is just to attack back on NAFTA with a mailer. (Who reads the mailers? Do you read the mailers?) Later: Also a robocall.

(CNN) Finally got some polling for Ohio. Clinton +11 in Quinnipiac, +8 in University of Cincinnati, +10 in ARG, and +4 in the less credible PPP. (Movement towards Obama from two weeks ago, but stable with a healthy Clinton lead over the last few days.)

(Politico) Clinton made a "major foreign policy speech" today, and it got no coverage. (As Ben Smith points out, "But then, she's no longer making news, and instead has returned basically to the core message.")

(YouTube) A new Obama ad being run by the UFCW.

Also, Texas polling: Clinton +1 in Rasmussen and a less credible Obama +8 from ARG.

Later: Add one more Texas poll. CNN has Obama +4.

And, (ABC) Bill Clinton on Texas' primary then caucus process. "The doors open at 7 and they close at 7:15. It would be tragic if Hillary were to win this election in the daytime and somebody were to come in at night and take it away."

(Because the legal and procedural process of caucuses is stealing? These were the rules from "Day One"! Why should they not apply?)

Not to be preceived as racist/sexist, but.....

If this doesn't say it all. (From Politico)
The Republican National Committee has commissioned polling and focus groups to determine the boundaries of attacking a minority or female candidate, according to people involved.

Picture of the Day

(A supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton cheers outside the Texas debate, February 21, 2008. (REUTERS/John Gress))


Rereading the next post, maybe Clinton's newer negative tone and attacks over experience are aimed more at discouraging Obama momentum and slimming down Obama's independent and Republican support. That could well be the difference here in Texas.

Clinton takes one more swing at experience versus "fairy tale"

Clinton goes with a new, very dismissive stump attack mocking Obama. (Video/NYTimes has text)
"Let's just get everybody together. Let's get unified. The sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect. Maybe I've just lived a little long, but I have no illusions about how hard this is going to be. You are not going to wave a magic wand and have the special interests disappear."

And, She echoes it with different words on a conference call with donors,
"In Houston last night, it was, 'We Want Experience, Not An Experiment,' and 'The White House Is No Place for Training Wheels,'" she said.

As she said herself at a fundraiser,
"We're going to emphasize more and more the experience gap," ..... "You'll hear a lot about it the next eight days."

This is a tricky game because she can't help feed John McCain. Remember at the last debate she was asked whether she thought Obama wasn't ready on day one, and she smartly declined to answer. She needs to be careful in this or all we'll be hearing for eight months is "Even Hillary Clinton doesn't think he's ready."

So, is open derision her answer? Or is she trying to bait Obama into a mistake?

And, do I believe Drudge that the Clinton campaign is pushing this photo around?

I need polling to make sense of all this, damnit!


(DPA) Another major figure in the pro-US Sunni militias is killed.

(CNN) A "wheelchair bomber" killed a top police official in Samarra.

(ArmyTimes) If you haven’t deployed yet, stand by.

(Guardian) The Turks send more troops and tanks, "reinforcements," into Iraq.

(CNN) The Iraqi government gets a little stronger in their condemnation of the Turkish incursion.

And, Juan Cole summarizes the LATimes' description of the circumstances around the Iskandiriyah bombing that killed at least 40 Shia pilgrims. It's a snapshot of sectarian friction and escalation.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Political bits

(AP) Nader's running. (Really? Are there Naderites left?)

(Politico) Clinton reaction: “Well that’s really unfortunate. I remember when he did this before. It did not turn out very well for anybody, most especially our country,” she said. “This time I hope it doesn’t hurt anybody. I hope it’s kind of a passing fancy that people don’t take too seriously.”

(Politico) Obama reaction: "And I think the job of the Democratic Party is to be so compelling that a few percentage of the vote going to another candidate is not going to make any difference."

(AP) Obama continues to go after Clinton over NAFTA. (Very effective in Ohio, but down here in Texas, not so much.)

(CNN) Clinton (sort of) apologizes at the Black State of the Union forum for Bill Clinton's remarks in South Carolina. "If anyone was offended by anything that was said, whether it was meant or not, whether it was misinterpreted or not, then obviously I regret that."

(WaPo) Howard Dean is filing a complaint with the FEC over McCain's public financing imbroglio. (Does all this blunt McCain's attack on Obama over the supposed public financing pledge?)

And, shouldn't I be swimming in polling right now?

Picture of the Day

Cover up John. She heard about Vicki Iseman.

(Senator John McCain and his wife Cindy look at a 2008 Ford Focus as they tour Ford Motor's assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan February 21, 2008. (REUTERS/Sam Varnhagen))

Turkish incusion a "prelude"?

First time I've seen this anywhere, but it grabbed my attention.
Turkish forces used jets and heavy artillery to pound the bases of Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq yesterday, as a prelude to a major assault in the coming days. Turkish news agencies reported more troops moving towards the remote border area.

If this happens, you have to wonder how long the Kurdish government can keep its opposition to only statements.

And, in another article on the Turkish incursion, (AP) Turkish jets fly into northern Iraq, we get this unbelievable quote from US Sec Def Robert Gates,
"After a certain point people become inured to military attacks," he said, "and if you don't blend them with these kinds of nonmilitary initiatives, then at a certain point the military efforts become less and less effective."

(Same article, Sadr smartly takes up the Kurdish cause.)

"Conservatives" attack Obama on patriotism

Nedra Pickler helpfully carries water for the Republicans and outlines one of the likely smears Obama could face in the fall.

What no one seems to remember about 2004 is that the Swiftboaters themselves weren't all that much. It was the media who gave them months of free airtime and treated them credibly that did the damage.

Will they do that again? Maybe.

The press is very aware of what went on and what their role was. I have no doubt we'll see the ads, but will Chris Matthews, Wolf Blitzer, etc give it the same "controversy" coverage?

They might be overtaken by a frenzy, but my feeling is that the environment is different.

Later: Obama is asked about all this at a press conference.

Later Still: CNN carries a website poll: Does Barack Obama show the proper patriotism for someone who wants to be president? I'm not kidding.