Saturday, March 08, 2008
Erasing March 4
Today, Obama wins Wyoming handily and likely picks up +2 pledged delegates, and I think it would be a stretch to think he'll not pick up at least 5 more out of Mississippi's 40 on Tuesday. (Plus you've got Obama +3 in superdelegates since Mar. 4)
Maybe I'm watching the scoreboard too much and not appreciating the style of play, but there it is.
In this week of Clinton's "huge" wins, she looks likely to come out minus on both pledged and super delegates.
I'm just sayin'......
Picture of the Day
The supposed "dream ticket"
(Briefly, I find it highly unlikely that Obama would want an extremely influential Clinton/Clinton team tinkering in his White House, and I find it difficult to believe that he would take the Clinton VP slot and accept that loss of control over his political future.)
So, why does Hillary Clinton keep throwing it about?
Really, it's pretty brilliant in that, within her context, it diminishes him as vice president material (about the worst thing you want to be called,) while at the same time delivering that slight in the frame of a unifying and complimentary message.
(I don't think he could get away with this the other way around, although I'm not really sure why. Would it be hot button because he would be appearing to diminish a woman?)
Sadr's next move.
CNN reports it as Sadr saying his influence is waning, that some elements are splitting from his pure goals of an Islamic state. More troublingly, the Chicago Tribune reports it as Sadr saying he's dropping out of politics all together.
And while this may sound like a good thing, Sadr stepping back, it would also mean that he's releasing the Mahdi Army from his promises of a ceasefire (or at least distancing himself from those who plan to abandon the ceasefire anyhow.)
(On the other hand, fracturing Sadr's movement does give the US a clearer hand at going after some of these Mahdi groups.)
As always, Juan Cole's opinion, (not as ominous,) Sadr is trying to echo the "Twelfth Imam" and plans to let the US clean out his ranks before re-emerging around the March elections.
Friday, March 07, 2008
(Newsweek) Florida is going to hold a "mail in" second primary? (I think I heard on NPR that Michigan is leaning caucus.)
The Chicago Tribune took Clinton's cue and looked at her "experience." (And another from someone involved in the Northern Ireland peace.) (Her campaign opened this door.....)
(AP) Clinton lowers expectations in Wyo.
(KosDiarist) In the counting of California, there has been an 8 delegate swing, +4 Obama, -4 Clinton. (Judge credibility for yourself.)
Slate did a "dial test" on Clinton's 3AM ad. (This may be meaningless, but look at the undecideds turn off at the end.)
And, I thought this was really funny. (ABC) Now indicted GOP Congressman Rick Renzi "allegedly defrauded dozens of pro-life organizations for hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund his first congressional bid." (So he damages his party now, and stole hundreds of thousands from the anti-abortion crazies. I'm starting to like this guy.)
Quote of the Day
"Superdelegates are politicians. They will not buck the will of the voters," said a superdelegate supporting Obama. "The danger point comes if the superdelegates don't see a vote for Clinton as bucking anyone."
That's the whole contest now.
Picture of the Day - 2
Another crazy "stadium" audience in Wyoming. I think it was 15,000. (By my math, that's about 3% of the state's population.)
Later: Maybe this figure's better, (AP) "About 59,000 registered Democrats are eligible to participate in Wyoming's 23 county caucuses."
(Barack Obama arrives to speak in Laramie, Wyoming March 7, 2008. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking))
I enjoy the people who come by to comment. I find it a wonderful process, but here I am again, for the second time in a month having to say that I'm sick of it all.
Take this blog for what it is. It's a hobby.
I'm under no obligation to protect or carry any viewpoint. I'm under no obligation to neutrality. I am not media. I don't get paid. I write what I want to write.
And, even separate from anything that I do, the comments going both ways have gotten increasingly nasty.
I've been doing this for years, and, this last month has been, by far, the most unpleasant.
This takes alot of time to do, and watching it turn has been a sad experience for me, so, maybe you'll forgive me for being a little less than patient.
(Out tonight. I've already written a post for tomorrow.)
Picture of the Day
McCain goes after the NYTime reporter
Keeping the next Iraq NIE secret?
A new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq is scheduled to be completed this month, according to U.S. intelligence officials. But leaders of the intelligence community have not decided whether to make its key judgments public, a step that caused an uproar when key judgments in an NIE about Iran were released in November.
The classified estimate on Iraq is intended as an update of last summer's assessment, which predicted modest security improvements but an increasingly precarious political situation there, the U.S. officials said.
They can maintain their claims that "the surge" worked so long as no one really examines the political and economic progress that has not happened.
(I would expect to see lots more McCain friendly "national security" acts by this administration.
Take this one yesterday where the NorthCom commander trumpeted that Al Qaeda is plotting to attack the US despite "no credible information telling us about an imminent threat to homeland at this time.")
Samantha Powers resigns from Obama campaign.
(And to short circuit the argument, no. This is not the same thing as the comments by nominee Clinton below. This is one aide saying something unforgivable, not a conscious campaign decision.)
Thursday, March 06, 2008
“I think that since we now know Sen. (John) McCain will be the nominee for the Republican Party, national security will be front and center in this election. We all know that. And I think it’s imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold,” the New York senator told reporters crowded into an infant’s bedroom-sized hotel conference room in Washington.
Calling McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee a good friend and a “distinguished man with a great history of service to our country,” Clinton said, “Both of us will be on that stage having crossed that threshold. That is a critical criterion for the next Democratic nominee to deal with.”
She effectively just endorsed McCain over Obama.
She's willing to trash the Democratic Party's chances at the presidency on the slim shot that she might somehow damage Obama enough that the superdelegates will overturn the pledged delegates.
She's willing to try to win through a bloody convention that will rip the Democratic party apart and leave just two months to try and put it back together before the election. (Not to mention the use of racist and gender based levers several times over the last few months.)
And all of this on a candidacy that is best described as mathematically nearly impossible.
Later: Here's more from yesterday.
"Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience to the campaign, I will bring a lifetime of experience, and Senator Obama will bring a speech he gave in 2002," a derisive Clinton said yesterday to the retired military officers at the Westin in Dupont Circle..
(Bloomberg) "A group of uncommitted ``superdelegates'' were ready to make a show of support for Obama by trying to pressure Clinton to give up, said Tim Roemer, a former congressman who's rounding up backers for Obama. Now, after her wins in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island, many will still back Obama without calling on Clinton to quit, he said."
(Hotline) The Obama campaign denies Brokaw's report of 50 superdelegates waiting to endorse en masse. (If it was there, Tuesday's results killed it.)
(CNN) The Obama camp seems to be trying to leverage the media into attacking for them by going after the tax records issue and asking the media to "examine" Clinton's claim of experience.
(Note: I'll bet Hillary Clinton now wishes they hadn't filed jointly.)
(TheHill) In defending against the calls for Clinton's tax records, “I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is a way to win a Democratic primary for the presidency,” Wolfson said. (Really? You really want to remind everyone about Whitewater, the cattle deal, Lewinsky and all that?)
(Politico) Two more superdelegates for Obama. (When was the last time you saw a new Clinton super?)
(RollingStone) A long article looking at the online/offline, national/local aspects of the Obama campaign.
(NYTimes) "Hundreds of thousands of dollars are missing and presumed stolen" from the NRCC. ("The party of business.")
And, this is really interesting. SUSA did an estimate of the general election looking at states and electoral votes. Both Obama and Clinton beat McCain by a little, but look at the very different maps by which they do it. Obama, Clinton. Obama loses Pa and NJ but picks up Va, and the west.
(I'm out for the afternoon.)
Viktor Bout arrested
Picture of the Day
(AP) "U.S. troop morale improved in Iraq last year, but soldiers fighting in Afghanistan suffered more depression as violence there worsened..."
(A soldier from the NATO-led coalition walks across a field after a day of heavy fighting against Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan in a November 17, 2007 file photo. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly))
Two very interesting "insider" pieces
First, this extremely odd article where CentCom commander Adm. Fallon vigorously denies an article praising him for his stance against an attack on Iran. It appears to be roiling everyone in the chain.
Second, a long WaPo piece outlining the increasingly heated arguments inside the Clinton campaign even after Tuesday's win.
With a flurry of phone calls and e-mail messages that began before polls closed, campaign officials made clear to friends, colleagues and reporters that they did not view the wins as validation for the candidate's chief strategist. "A lot of people would still like to see him go," a senior adviser said.
It's not that they're arguing, it's that they're arguing in the press. (Something I remember from the Bill Clinton White House.)
She needs to step in and shut this down right now.
The Canada/Nafta story
There's now a claim that the Clinton camp made the first "rhetoric doesn't mean anything" statement.
If you want to go in there, go ahead, but I'm not dealing with it.
Fires around Columbia
(Was that attack one of many things we'll see this year as countries try to get things done before the Bush administration goes away? Is that one reason Turkey is going now?)
Today, Ecuador and Venezuela have sent token troops to the Colombian border, and the Organization of American States passed a quick but watered down resolution mainly aimed at calming Ecuador.
But I think the most interesting story is this very politically convenient one.
Files in a laptop computer seized from the wreckage of a Colombian rebel camp in Ecuador offer new insights into Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's desire to undermine Colombia's U.S.-allied government.
Venezuela contends the texts are lies and fabrications.
Call me skeptical.
And don't miss this laptop gem from American contacts.
"They say the new president of their country will be (Barack) Obama," he writes, saying Obama rejects both the Bush administration's free trade agreement with Colombia and the current military aid program..
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
My Tivo/DVR is still full of campaign commercials.
I'm not going to be able to escape this thing for a month.
Picture of the Day - 3
Florida and Michigan
Ambinder has two bits on this. 1) Howard Dean's statement, and I think more importantly, 2) that the contests have to be designed, approved, and carried out before June 10.
This was always the likely solution (and the Clinton fallback position.)
This is a bad precedent.
A bloc of Ohio superdelegates is withholding endorsements from Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton until one or the other offers a concrete proposal to protect American jobs..
Picture of the Day - 2
Clarification to an earlier post
Picture of the Day
Clinton's black vote
If you go by the the Clinton's "black vote" precept, these primaries don't count, right?
(Important: That argument was garbage then, and it's garbage now.
I just want everyone to remember the ridiculousness of this when, just one week from today, the Clinton camp trots it out again in Mississippi. All votes count!!!)
I still don't think she can win.....
Last night is being framed as a good night for Clinton, but if she comes out roughly even on delegates, it wasn't enough.
The pledged delegate math is out there and pretty clear that she will not feasibly be able to overtake Obama in pledged delegates. In fact, it looks highly unlikely that she'll be able to even get inside of 50 which means that for Clinton to win, she will have to win through superdelegates.
The best argument I think Clinton has remaining, would be if she could find a way to claim a win in the popular vote.
Before last night, the popular vote stood at Obama 10,451,927, Clinton 9,540,370.
Last night, that gap closed by approximately 98,223 in Texas and 227,556 in Ohio, Rhode Island 32,862, and Obama won Vermont by 29,659
That leaves the popular vote gap at Obama +582,575.
That's not undoable, but it would have to involve some substantial wins from here forward, and even then, all it buys her is an argument to try to influence the superdelegates.
Then there's Florida and Michigan. I find it implausible that Florida and Michigan will be included as they stand now, so even if you factor them in, you can't use the delegate counts they have today. You have to estimate far closer numbers. (However, they could help alot in the popular vote argument.)
It comes down to this. Any scenario where Clinton wins has to go to through the superdelegates.
Now, you may not agree with this, but I find the scenarios for Clinton to win through superdelegates highly implausible when run up against the potential damage a contested convention would have for the Dems 2008 general election chances.
I don't believe the desire of a majority of the superdelegates to have Clinton as a nominee outweighs their desire to not have a fractious convention that would damage the general election candidate.
(You have to figure those superdelegates that want Clinton to win that strongly are already on board.)
The only superdelegate scenario I see working for Clinton is if they can so damage Obama that he is perceived as unelectable.
But before we get there, I would think the pressure on Clinton for going so negative would tip the supers to him. (Plus, the convention would still be chaos.)
But what do I know? I'm just some bozo with a keyboard.
Feel free to counterargue in the comments.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Turnout among women looks to be up in both states in these preliminary results -- they account for about six in 10 voters in Ohio, and not quite as many in Texas, compared with 52 percent in Ohio and 53 percent in Texas in 2004.
60% women in Ohio. Wow.
Later: These "early exits" are based on voting up to a point in the day. I know this may be sexist, but would they oversample women (stay at home moms)? Anyone have any data?
PS. The bloggers looking at these same early exits characterize "basically dead even in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island." (TPM, Drudge)
Or, maybe you prefer this characterization, "The Clinton campaign, having recieved leaked exit polls showing slim leads in both Texas and Ohio...."
(I think we can read into both of these that there will be no big delegate gain.)
I'm offline for awhile. Dinner and a caucus.
Thought for the Day
Losing 10-15 points in the polls in 2 weeks is a comeback.
(Later: Still waiting. No solid signals on how this thing is going.)
Playing Clinton off stage
Does he have a bunch of endorsements in his pocket waiting to be brought out to urge an end to the campaign? Will there be a rush of "neutrals" like Bill Richardson urging an end for the good of the party?
I keep getting the awards show image of Hillary Clinton talking at the mike while the music from the band keeps getting louder and louder and louder.
Later: Tom Brokaw reports that someone close to the Obama campaign told him they have 50 superdelegates waiting to come forward.
(And I think I should again point out how successful the Clinton camp has been at the expectations game.
Coming out of Wisconsin the conventional wisdom was that she had to win both Texas and Ohio by a wide delegate margins in order to continue, but, by today, barely winning Ohio is perceived as enough.
Clinton got a huge favor to her spin with this ABC/WaPo poll where 2/3 of Dems say she should stay in if she wins only Ohio.)
Have to wait and see how the votes shake out. (For tonight, how many speeches did the speechwriters have to prepare for each?)
Maybe that's the difference in the small state/big state results?
(ChuckTodd) "for all the talk of bias against Clinton's campaign in the media, does anyone believe any other candidate could have lost 11-straight contests, be this far behind in delegates, and be simply two victories away from being back in the game?"
The WaPo has a frontpage story on how Clinton's core female supporters feel she's been mistreated. (Because we expect them to be neutral analysts?)
(Bloomberg) Charlie Crist offers to pay for a Florida rerun. (The Republicans desperately want to keep this primary going.)
(CNN) Limbaugh tells his listeners to vote for Clinton to keep the Dems in chaos.
(Politico) Roger Simon looks at the "Clinton as victim" mantra. (Are they trying to revive what worked in New Hampshire?)
There's going to be nasty, nasty weather across all of southern Ohio.
RealClearPolitics polling average has Clinton retaking the Texas lead although it contains the dubious PPP and the poorly conducted Insider Advantage. (The Insider Advantage people called me and seemed to give me several opportunities to change my mind once I said Obama.)
(BBC) Condi Rice is stopping in Egypt as her first step to try and save the peace talks.
(BBC) It's getting nasty between Columbia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.
(AP) The US attacked (presumably airstrike/missile) a southern Somali town targeting an Al Qaeda figure.
And, this is a big deal in Iraq, (WaPo) Prosecutors dropped the legal case against two former top Shia government officials who were fairly clearly linked to death squad killings of Sunnis. (A huge blow to reconciliation.)
Monday, March 03, 2008
Picture of the Day - 3
The popular vote
From RealClearPolitics: Obama 10,451,927, Clinton 9,540,370.
According to Ambinder, "With the votes of Michigan and Florida Democrats factored in, the gap narrows to 288,476....."
Also: Chuck Todd has an interesting piece on McCain and why he needs the Dem primary to continue. (I thought the second page gaming out the general election was interesting, too.)
A point that needs to be made.
Your candidate is stupid and you're stupid for supporting them.
The Obama campaign's trying to set a high bar (Plouffe, "If they do not win Texas and Ohio by healthy double digit margins....")
The Clinton campaign is trying to pre-spin their results (They will fight on with a popular vote win in Texas, and, Wolfson says the Texas caucuses are a "science experiment".)
A couple of good polls for Clinton in Ohio.
But in the end, this is mostly a dead day. Everybody's waiting.
Picture of the Day - 2
Unbelievable Mark Penn
As the campaign faces a make-or-break moment, some high-level officials are trying to play down their role in the campaign. Penn said in an e-mail over the weekend that he had "no direct authority in the campaign," describing himself as merely "an outside message advisor with no campaign staff reporting to me.".
"I have had no say or involvement in four key areas -- the financial budget and resource allocation, political or organizational sides. Those were the responsibility of Patti Solis Doyle, Harold Ickes and Mike Henry, and they met separately on all matters relating to those areas."
Second Clinton campaign Quote. A shift in tone?
"I intend to do as well as I can on Tuesday, and we'll see what happens after that...."
Clinton wouldn't answer to comments made Sunday by prominent Democrats like Bill Richardson and John Kerry, an Obama supporter, both of whom suggested Clinton should consider leaving the race after Tuesday if she fails to close the delegate gap with Obama.
I would love to see the internal polling from both sides which tends to run a day or two ahead of the public polling. Read between the lines of this statement. (ABC)
But privately, Clinton campaign advisors say their own internal polls show the race tightening in Ohio and remaining very close in Texas.
"We're going to go full bore and see what happens," a senior advisor told ABC News, Sunday.....
In their best case scenario, Clinton aides hope she could win Ohio by 3 to 6 points and squeak out a victory in Texas. They would consider that a good night and reason to fight on to Pennsylvania, which holds its primary on April 22.
Their "best case scenario" is matching the public polling in Ohio? That's "best case?" That doesn't sound very affirmative.
Meanwhile, the NYTimes notes that Clinton is campaigning in a better mood. (Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose?)
Trying to read the tealeaves, so forgive any overinterpolation.
Later: Or, maybe the "campaigning in a better mood" is the result of some credible polls showing a Clinton uptick in Ohio.
Mike's little heresy
Picture of the Day
Questions for John McCain
(NYTimes Oped) Torture is coming up again this week. Remember back when McCain was pushing for the Army Field Manual standard? Well, that's not what Bush is doing. Will someone ask McCain the question?
(NYTimes) News Analysis: On Signature Issues, McCain Has Shown Some Inconsistencies in the Senate.
(Swampland) Even "centrist" Joe Klein has to ask about McCain's Iraq pronouncements, "Last time I checked, Iraq has a Shi'ite majority. McCain thinks the Shi'ites--the Mahdi Army, the Badr Corps (and yes, the Iranians)--would allow a small group of Sunni extremists to take over?"
Then, of course, there's tax cuts, and judges, and immigration, and all the rest. (Not to mention the barely explored telecom lobbyist.)
There's alot out there if the media wants to go after it.
Related: (Politico) McCain campaign stumbles early
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Picture of the Day - 2
About that Iraq war vote.....
Remember where we were then just a year out from 9/11. All the flags were still crisp and fresh. George Bush's approval was around 60-65%, the common belief was that Afghanistan was won easily and over, and the country was clamoring for more war. Remember that freight train of jingoism and pro-war news coverage?
Now, that's not a defense for the vote. The facts against the vote were there to be had, but that was the reality. If Obama had been in office and contemplating a 2008 run, he very well might have voted for the war like Kerry, Edwards, or Clinton.
But he wasn't, so he didn't.
Of course, the Clinton camp can't explicitly make this argument for obvious reasons.
Picture of the Day - 2
“Now, you know, as President Bush is leavin’ and comin’ home, waiting in that Oval Office are gonna be a lot of problems,” Clinton told the crowd. “So, the next president is gonna have to get in there and clean house,” she added.
“Now, I think we need somebody whose got some experience cleaning house to go into the White House,” she said to cheers. “So, I might ask you to grab your brooms and your mops, your vacuum cleaners and come on up and help me out,” Clinton said to an audience that included men but was majority female.
(Gloria Steinem "gave a nod to the few men in the audience promising to give them protection from the “upcoming revolution.”")
LATER: I would say that's one of the less controversial things Steinem said.
(Is the whole "mistreated by the press" a gender play?)
(NYTimes) Obama is spending his financial advantage to try and knockout Clinton. (Obama is on TV everywhere in Houston.)
(Politico) The Dallas Morning News got hold of Clinton "caucus training materials. ("DO NOT allow the supporter of another candidate to serve in leadership roles.")
(AP) "Clinton was heading to Fort Worth and Dallas, before flying to Ohio Saturday night to kick off an "88 counties in 88 hours" bus marathon through that state, stretching into Monday morning."
(Politico) McCain's campaign won't release their fundraising numbers for February. (A sure sign he got blown out by the Dems. Estimates around $12 million.)
(NYTimes) Obama-Rezco gets some coverage, but as far as I can tell, it's not linked on the NYTimes front page.
The CTV story on Obama, the Canadians, and Nafta is sounding more and more like a Republican favor/hit by the Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister. (As I suspected.)
And, (CBS) In a "tell" of their expectations, Clinton is rallying in Ohio the night of Mar. 4, Obama in Texas.
And, one more interesting. Obama is periodically talking up Republican Senator (and real maverick) Hagel, possibly as a future member of his administration. How would that mess up McCain's game? Would Hagel play along?
(BBC) Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has suspended contact with Israel in protest at an assault on Gaza which has killed about 100 people, an aide says.
(AP) Ahmadinejad is in Iraq, shaking hands and expressing friendship.
(AP) A third big suicide bombing in Pakistan in three days. This one targeted "tribal elders pushing for peace" and killed at least 40.
(NYTimes) The United States military is developing a plan to send about 100 American trainers to work with a Pakistani paramilitary force that is the vanguard in the fight against Al Qaeda.