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

Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Picture of the Day

What does it say that President Bush polled a 28% approval rating in the latest CBS/NYTimes poll (.pdf), and that's no longer even news?

(He thinks he's like Lincoln.)

(President George W. Bush winks at a guest as Croatian President Stjepan Mesic speaks during a dinner at the President's Villa in Zagreb April 4, 2008. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque))

The "meta" on Basra/Iran's game of safety

After all the US charges that the Iranians are the main driver of violence in Iraq, it is definitely in Iran's propaganda interests to have the Shia in Iraq (and secondarily the rest of the world) know that they were the ones who stopped the fighting in Basra.

So it's significant that Sadr, and now al Hakim's son, are directly crediting them.

In effect, they're undermining the US case against Iran as instigator among the population most likely to make such an attack untenable.
British officials gave warning yesterday that America's commander in Iraq will declare that Iran is waging war against the US-backed Baghdad government.....

A strong statement from General David Petraeus about Iran's intervention in Iraq could set the stage for a US attack on Iranian military facilities, according to a Whitehall assessment. In closely watched testimony in Washington next week, Gen Petraeus will state that the Iranian threat has risen as Tehran has supplied and directed attacks by militia fighters against the Iraqi state and its US allies.

We always discuss Iran as an isolated decision. What happens to the US if the Shia of Iraq "respond" to any such activity against Iran? That's an awfully exposed "flank."

(AP) "U.S. forces are pushing Shiite militias farther from the Green Zone in an attempt to put the area out of range for rockets and mortars that have recently pounded the diplomatic and government enclave..... The strategy — which targets the southern outskirts of the Shiite district of Sadr City....."

Softening Petraeus' entrance

No coincidence that right before Petraeus is set to testify, the Army announces that it's cutting the tour length from 15 months back to 12.

Petraeus suddenly has an answer for all those Congresspeople asking about the toll on military families. "Yes, we're aware.... that's why we've...."

Friday, April 04, 2008

"Add-on" superdelegates - Another reason Clinton won't win.

If you're looking for something to read this afternoon, CJR has an interesting piece on the (yet to be locally appointed) "add-on" superdelegates.

The point of interest is this: Of the 330 superdelegates as yet undeclared, 69 of those are these add-on superdelegates. If Clinton needs to win X % of the remaining 330 supers, this batch of 69 probably changes that number as CJR believes they break at least 50-50, if not more, towards Obama.

So, assuming "add ons" break evenly, she would have to make up the delegate difference out of the other 261 superdelegates. (Currently Obama leads overall by about 130.)

And, (CNN) Michigan permanently rules out a revote.


Hillary Clinton has been, at the very least, considering a run for the White House since 2000. Do you really expect that there will be anything that incriminating in her tax records since then?

Later: They released the tax returns early to Drudge?

Picture of the Day - 2

Is this weird to anyone else?

(Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain stands on the balcony where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. (Photo: Ambinder))

Mark Penn first, Hillary Clinton second

Mark Penn has "apologized" for meeting with the Colombians regarding lobbying for the Colombian free trade deal calling it "an error in judgment."

Change to Win, the Labor umbrella group, has called for Penn to be fired.

(I'm really surprised there's not more mention that Penn is actively working/planning for his "day job" after the Clinton campaign.)

Picture of the Day

(Sen. Barack Obama checks to see who else wants hot dogs at Altoona's Original Texas Hot Dogs in Altoona, Pa., Saturday, March 29, 2008. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon))

Political bits

(WSJ) Less than three weeks before rust belt, job loss Pa primary, Mark Penn meets with the Columbian government as a lobbyist to help them pass their free trade deal. (I guess he's gotta keep his day job for "after," but, why in the hell would you give this guy the keys to your campaign?)

(Ambinder) After the Clinton donor's threatening letter to Nancy Pelosi and the DCCC, the Obama fundraising muscle, both big and tiny donors, begin to make up the difference. (Think the superdelegates noticed the unbidden fundraising power of the Obama machine?)

(Rawstory) Clinton on Leno last night. She entered with a joke that she was late because of "sniper fire" and then launched into an explanation/defense of the Bosnia gaffe before Leno even asked a question. (The whole goal of the appearance?)

Clinton's tax returns are coming. (Today?)

The Note collects some of the Clinton superdelegates, Murtha, Corzine, O'Malley, Cantwell, setting conditions for a switch. ("If she doesn't win the popular vote...")

Politico has a piece on superdelegates afraid to take a side, fearful of blowback. (And these are the people the Clinton folks expect to overturn the pledged delegate lead.)

(LATimes) Obama cuts into Clinton's superdelegate lead

(WaPo) Clinton Camp Feels Spent, and Outspent

(NYTimes) 81% “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.”

And, the WSJBlog has been running little contrasting bio bits about McCain against his bio tour. First it was his fling with a Brazilian model.

Today it's his time dating a stripper known as the "Flame of Florida." While they were dating, he took her to a staid gathering of married couples where she "withdrew a switchblade, popped open the blade, and, with a look of complete indifference, began to clean her fingernails.”

(Of course, things were different in the 50's.....)

Maliki tries to stay on the log

Yesterday, (AP) "Addressing a news conference, he singled out Sadr City and Shula — two Mahdi Army militia strongholds in Baghdad — as likely targets in the future crackdowns, saying they were under the sway of "criminal gangs."

Today, (AP) "Iraq's prime minister on Friday ordered a nationwide freeze on raids against suspected Shiite militants after the leader of the biggest militia complained that arrests were continuing even after he ordered fighters off the streets."

According to the NYTimes, more than a thousand Iraqi soldiers and police quit in the Basra operation including dozens of officers and "at least two senior field commanders in the battle."

But my best recommendation to catch all of Maliki's back and forth is this CNN piece where he denies the peace meeting.

Same article, "Al-Maliki also has promised a major offensive targeting al Qaeda in Iraq, a predominantly Sunni group, in the northern city of Mosul."

(Today is Friday prayers.)

Thursday, April 03, 2008


The NYTimes has an article extrapolating about a poll which shows a drop of 7 points in Obama's favorability among Dems over 2 months to a still high 62% favorable. (No mention of Clinton's favorable number, 38%.... her unfavorable 39%)

Josh Marshall sees almost all good news for Obama in the poll.

Anyhow, the bit that really made me laugh was down at the bottom.
53 percent said he(McCain) would favor the rich, while 16 percent said he would favor the middle class. Twenty-three percent said he would treat all groups the same. (The number of people who said a McCain administration would favor the poor was so small as to not register on the poll.)

And now the Clinton folks deny the denial.....

Just go read it for yourself.

Picture of the Day - 3

From the WaPo:
President Bush abruptly got up and left the last formal session of the day, .....

He left behind Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to represent him for the rest of the session, which concerned NATO operations in Afghanistan, but his departure was so sudden and unexpected that he left some of his motorcade behind, inculding his press pool, when he got into his car and headed back to his hotel.


Two more PA polls

For those watching this week's rush of Pa polls, Strategic Vision has Clinton +8 (down from +18 a month ago,) and Insider Advantage reports Clinton +2.

The reality is certainly in that Clinton +8 range, but the narrowing of the gap is consistent across almost all the polls. Obama won't win Pa, but he doesn't really have to.

(PS. I think the wide range of polling results is because the agencies are tinkering with the makeup of their samples.)

Later: The expectations game has already begun. On today's conference call, "as Wolfson put it, Clinton shouldn't be held to any margin-of-victory standard on April 22."

The weird jiujitsu of the Richardson/Clinton thing.

Last night George Snuffleopogus on ABCNews reported that in a conversation with Richardson (and presumably other superdelegates) that Clinton "starkly insisted" that Obama couldn't win.

There's been a bit of back and forth on this all day, but look where we are now. Now, Clinton is denying she ever said it. The next logical question would appear to be, "Do you think he can win the general election?"

She can't say a clean yes or her entire argument collapses, and she can't say a clean no or she's blasted by the party and her support collapses. Tricky, tricky spot.

She can work out of this, but it's definitely an "off message" couple of days.

Obama's fundraising and Clinton's money

(AP) Obama raised $40 million in March. 442,000 donors, 218,000 first time donors in March. Avg. contribution $96. (More details.))

(WSJBlog) "Factoring in Obama’s $36 million January haul, the Illinois senator has raised about $131 million for his nomination bid this year alone."

The Clinton camp has not released numbers yet, but their characterization was that they expect to be "close to" (read "under") $20 million. Less than half. Separate from the absolute numbers, the disparity seems to be growing larger.

Later: In a very curious sign for Team Clinton, (Politico) "Wolfson also said Clinton's fundraising totals would be out when the filings are due, around April 20." (Also CNN)

Why are they waiting? You generally don't hide good news. But maybe it's not a fundraising surprise, but another loan or more debt or something else they want to keep quiet (until 2 days before the Pa primary?) Very curious.

Later: Maybe some of that Clinton money is general election and unusable now even though it raises her total.


I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Dobson and other religious right figures are criticizing McCain for not reaching out to evangelicals at the exact moment McCain starts talking about VP candidates.

I'm sure that's coincidental. "Men of god" wouldn't play dirty, would they?

Picture of the Day

(Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, was checked by security personnel prior to boarding an airplane Wednesday in Los Angeles. (Photo: AP))

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Clinton is "starkly insisting Obama can't win"

George Snuffleopogus on ABCNews tonight
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and former President Bill Clinton are making very direct arguments to Democratic superdelegates, starkly insisting Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., cannot win a general election against presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

This came from "Sources with direct knowledge of the conversation between Sen. Clinton and Gov. Bill Richardson."
(Like maybe Bill Richardson?)

This really deals a tough situation to Clinton because she really can't say that out loud without being accused of "damaging" Obama, she really can't deny it, and it's attributed to her personally. Hardball.

(And I assume it's no coincidence that this came shortly after that report of Bill Clinton launching on an anti-Richardson tirade.)

Later: The Clinton camp responds with a "leak" of its own: "A source with knowledge of earlier conversations between the Clintons and Richardson tells NBC News that it was Richardson who insisted to the Clintons that Obama could not win because of his inexperience."

Picture of the Day - 2

Has he cost her again?

(Former President Bill Clinton talking with supporters following his remarks to senior citizens at a community center Monday, March 31, 2008, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer))

Our future

There's a pretty frightening report out from a group called America's Promise citing a 50% urban high school dropout rate across the country.

I don't have an absolute number, but imagine the student populations in the public school systems of the big cities, New York, Chicago, LA, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, etc, etc, and imagine half of those kids going out into the world without a high school diploma.

I'll leave the rant that education rates correlate directly to most societal ills for another day (crime, poverty, health, teen pregnancy, drug use, etc,) but, seriously, what kind of future are we building?

Political bits (Updated)

(Politico) The Obama camp denies the $30+ million fundraising number for March saying we'll get a number tomorrow.

(SFGate) Bill Clinton became unglued at a California superdelegate meeting when someone mentioned Bill Richardson.

(AP) Wyoming Governor endorses Obama. (+1 superdelegate.)

(Politico) Howard Dean sits down with the Florida Democrats and issues a statement of good will. (I read somewhere that the DNC had reserved the Fla. delegation's hotel rooms for the convention.)

(Politico) Rove on Obama. (Target white democrats and patriotism.)
(Would Rove trash Obama to run against Clinton?)

Later: (Politico) Obama picks up another superdelegate, former Montana Senator John Melcher. (That's 3 today.)

(YouTube) Really? The Clinton camp goes with another 3AM ad?

And, as you read this story about McCain's young romance with a Brazilian model, appreciate that she's likely died by now.

Picture of the Day

(Two members of the audience share a moment as Sen. Barack Obama speaks at a town hall meeting in Scranton, Pa., Tuesday, April 1, 2008. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon))

The Obama campaign begins to make their electability case

The Obama campaign begins to make their electability case.
Bringing new voters to the polls "is going to be a very big part of how we win," said Obama's deputy campaign manager, Steve Hildebrand, in an interview. "Barack's appeal to independent voters is also going to be key."

If I'm a superdelegate who is facing reelection, am I going to be more favorable to the campaign that's telling me they'll bring huge numbers of new Democratic voters to me, or to the campaign that is secretly whispering fear in the face of the GOP?

That's the key difference in this whole thing.

(This also has the nice effect of "looking past Clinton.")

Clinton's money part IV

According to Time, we have some campaign supplied numbers.
Barack Obama raised more than $30 million in the month of March, a campaign official told TIME on Tuesday..... "The number starts with a three and we are still counting. It's in the 30s."....

As of Tuesday night, the Clinton campaign had not released its March totals. But one Clinton campaign adviser hinted that the New York senator's total for the month will come close to $20 million. That estimate could not be independently confirmed.

So, Obama's in the low 30's, and Clinton is "close to" (below) $20 million.

(Why did Michael Duffy add that Clinton's number couldn't be "independently confirmed"? Is that caution, code or skepticism?)

The entire bottom half of Duffy's piece is about Clinton's debt.
While the exact size of Clinton's debt has fluctuated, Democratic party officials say, hers' remains above the norm in size for a campaign at this stage of a race.....(at times has reached nearly $9 million).....

One Clinton adviser wondered whether that what he called the "massive debt" was beginning to hang over not simply the campaign but Clinton's political future. How, this adviser asked, can the campaign climb out of "the debt hole if we don't win this whole thing?"

Reading a number of these neutral campaign pieces, I've come to the conclusion that there must be alot more more rumors/gossip than we're getting about the Clinton campaign's finances.

Iraq (And the US)

In the Basra operation, Juan Cole notices that Maliki rapidly sanctioned 10,000 ISCI and Dawa militia members to the Iraqi governmental forces to compensate for the thousands of defections.

(McClatchy) "The failure of Iraqi forces to defeat rogue fighters in Basra has some in the military fearing they can no longer predict when it might be possible to reduce the number of troops to pre-surge levels."

(WaPo) "Senior Army and Marine Corps leaders said yesterday that the increase of more than 30,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has put unsustainable levels of stress on U.S. ground forces and has put their readiness to fight other conflicts at the lowest level in years."

(Reuters) An IED "exploded near" the Iraqi generals in Basra.

And, Greg Mitchell at the HuffPo digs into the June 2005 suicide of Army colonel Ted Westhusing. The new news is that he was found with a note/memo addressed to Petraeus and Fil,
"You are only interested in your career and provide no support to your staff--no msn [mission] support and you don't care. I cannot support a msn that leads to corruption, human right abuses and liars. I am sullied--no more. I didn't volunteer to support corrupt, money grubbing contractors, nor work for commanders only interested in themselves."

This story is very murky so treat with caution.

The Torture Memo

The Pentagon released John Yoo's torture memo and, really, it's worse than you think. (WaPo, AP, NYTimes)

The political context of this memo should also be noted. The memo was published on a Saturday, just a day after Yoo's boss, Jay Bybee, "left" to become a judge.

Lee Hamilton endorses Obama

Iraq Study Group Chair, top ranking Democratic 9/11 commissioner, and former 35 year Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton endorses Obama.

(Also yesterday, There was a shift in Miss. +2 to Obama, meaning Clinton has to find 2 more superdelegates just to get even.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Picture of the Day - 3

I find it funny that on the same day there's a story in the NYTimes blasting Howard Dean for not doing enough in the presidential race, I also get a national story on how the Dem challenger in my Congressional district as symbolic of the Dems hopes for pickups.

My district is a prime example of the Dean "50 state strategy." Voted 64% for Bush in 2004., but with state and national help, elected a Democratic State Rep in 2006 in the national party's efforts to retake the Texas statehouse.

Howard Dean may not be playing traditional Democratic politics, but, really, in this target rich environment, is that such a bad thing?

(I think we're looking at a core difference between the traditionalist "Clinton" wing, and the Dean style populist "Obama" wing. Who wins the asserted power of the primary will likely effect the strategy all the way down to my district.)

(Howard Dean addresses the "Take Back America" conference in 2007 in Washington, DC. (AFP/File/Tim Sloan))


Reading this post that tries to build electoral maps off current polling (polling now, so "for what it's worth,") I got to wondering how does the very different Obama electoral map affect the issues and emphasis?

For a generation, the presidential elections have been waged on the battlegrounds Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Does shifting the key states to the west into Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, etc, create a different mix of issues or emphasis than Fla/Pa/Ohio? Does it change the evangelicals' influence, for instance?

Not endorsing that post, just thinking out loud.

Political bits

The Harold Ickes interview at TPM is getting alot of attention. (He said that they're trying to use Rev. Wright with the superdelegates, and that Clinton would continue to the convention and force the rift even if she was behind by every measure (including Fla and Michigan.))

(TPM) I really am of the opinion that Clinton telling states that Obama wants to disenfranchise them unnecessarily poisons those voters against Obama. (Let the Obama folks clean up her mess....)

(Politico) A Clinton superdelegate says, "I will be stunned if he's (Obama's) not the next president of the United States."

(WSJ) Clinton slipping on trust.

Picture of the Day - 2

Pretty funny blogpost from the WSJ blog. Attendance at this event at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va. was mandatory. Look at those excited faces.

"She said that attendance had been mandatory. Before she could say anything else, a school official hurried her off, saying she was late for lunch."

(Not feeling too bloggy. Maybe later.)

Picture of the Day

(Senator Barack Obama plays with a Slinky during a tour of the Johnstown Wire Factory in Johnstown, Pa., Saturday, March 29, 2008. The plant makes the Slinky. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon))

Rasmussen shows a tightening Pennsylvania

After some of the tracking polling showing Obama gains, I've been very curious to see the next round of Pa polling. (Grain of salt, one poll, Rasmussen has shown it closer than most, etc, etc......)
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in Pennsylvania shows Clinton leading Barack Obama by just five percentage points, 47% to 42%.

This is the first poll since all the "Clinton can't win"/"Clinton should quit." (This poll was conducted Mar 31.) Is that the effect?

It's all about momentum at this point, and Clinton is not in a place where she can survive even perceptions of weakness.

In the same poll a week ago, it was a 10-point spread.

(Tell me this won't be hyped. They'll spend their day fighting or denying this.)

Probably the next notable will be SUSA.

Later: SUSA is out and it shows Clinton +12 (more in line with most polls,) but it does show a similar change of Obama +7 from polling three weeks ago.
The movement in support came almost entirely from men, according to the survey results. Clinton had led by five points but now trails by seven....

So much for white men rejecting Obama. (Clinton leads among women 62-34, the main difference in the poll.)

Clinton's money

Still tracking the big question over Clinton's money/fundraising.
The Clinton campaign is maintaining that its cash flow is good, but just asking: What happened to those constant Clinton announcements a month ago that they were bringing in $1 million-plus a day online? And how is it that Obama outspent Clinton 5-to-1 on TV last week, per TV ad analyst Evan Tracey? Obama spent $2 million on ads in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and North Carolina, compared with Clinton’s $400,000 in Pennsylvania.

Later: Marc Ambinder has some guesses. Obama over $40 million in March, Clinton over $20 million, but they're just guesses.

Reading Basra and the core of the ISCI/Sadr split

The general consensus appears to be that the Maliki government lost and Sadr won, but I think the CS Monitor nails it: The US and its Iraq policy were the real loser.
But this time, analysts say, the widespread instances of surrender among the Iraqi forces and the seizure of their equipment and vehicles by the Mahdi Army shows that despite all the funding and training from the US, Iraq's soldiers remain greatly swayed by their sectarian and party loyalties and are incapable of standing up in a fight without US backing.

The fighting has also firmly wedged the US in an intra-Shiite struggle that has been bubbling for some time and will probably only intensify. The battle has also spawned more popular anger and frustration, especially in places like eastern Baghdad, toward both US forces and Mr. Maliki's government, which already had been teetering on the verge of collapse.

The thing to remember is that there's an underlying cultural division between the ISCI and Sadr's movement. The ISCI and many in Maliki's government are perceived to have fled to Iran during the worst of Saddam's atrocities against the Shia.

Sadr's father was symbolic because he stayed in Iraq through it all, and that's why Sadr's movement is a movement of the poor and lower class. Those were the people who couldn't get to Iran, and, as they suffered under Saddam (and then the US,) the Sadr family were the ones who stayed with them.

That's a good part of the underlying conflict here, and one of the reasons that Sadr's stance towards Iraqi nationalism has such appeal. It's not so much a religious or sectarian division as a division of history and experience.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The "credentials committee" strategy may be bunkum

Greg Sargent takes apart the rules on the Democratic convention's Credentials Committee. Short version: The committee roughly parallels pledged delegates, and, assuming a petition for Florida and Michigan got out of committee, it would have to pass a vote on the convention floor (where she'll have less delegates, too.) It's easier to read it there.

Four points: 1) I still think all of this Clinton "going to the convention" bluster is not about the convention, but about surviving today and giving her supporters hope today.

2) If Clinton stepped out of the race, Florida and Michigan would unquestionably be seated in some form at the convention.

3) All these charges of Obama "disenfranchising" voters in Fla, Mich, and elsewhere is unnecessarily poisoning those states against him.

4) If you think I'm pounding Hillary Clinton lately, I am. I'm sorry. She can't win.

Later: Politico concurs that the convention strategy is garbage.

Clinton's money (Read between the lines)

Howard Wolfson responds to the underground questions (like mine) about the Clinton campaign's fundraising. Take a minute to read between the lines.
“Our cash flow is good. Bills are being paid. We are continuing to raise a considerable amount of money. We had the best fundraising month in the campaign's history last month,” said Wolfson on MSNBC. “We are continuing to do well this month. The support that we’re receiving over the Internet especially is very, very strong.”....

he.... acknowledged that the former first lady is not yet on the air in Indiana and North Carolina, instead focusing on winning Pennsylvania.

“If we had the money, we'd be advertising everywhere in the country,” Wolfson said, adding, “I'm sure even the Obama campaign, as well-funded as it is, would love to have more. But we are going to have what we need for what we need to do.”

Okay, so first, the question wasn't about February fundraising, was it? That was a record Clinton month, but she ended it almost broke. What we want to know, is how is it going now?

Maybe I'm wrong, but "continuing to raise a considerable amount" sounds like it's not as good as last month, and the emphasis on the internet makes me wonder if the big donors may be pulling back. (Also, there's not enough money to advertise beyond the next contest?)

(And, the stories reporting that the Clinton campaign has not payed small vendors or their health insurance bills don't help. Do they pay them now out of current funds because of scrutiny?)

This may be a nothing issue, their money may be fine, but it may also be seized on as a barometer of the campaign's health, and the Clinton campaign is not in a position where it can survive much that reinforces the image of a campaign fading.

(I don't think there's any requirement for reporting this month, so it's all statements and assessments.)


The Pennsylvania primary is still more than 3 weeks away.

Picture of the Day - 2

(Former U.S. President George Bush poses with Texas cheerleaders during the NCAA men's South Regional finals, March 30, 2008. (Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters))

(PS. His team lost.)

What have we learned from Basra?

(WaPo) Sadr Tells His Militia To Cease Hostilities

(AFP) Sadr fighters disappear from Iraq's streets

(McClatchy) Iranian general played key role in brokering Iraq cease-fire

So, what have we learned? Sadr still has control of his militia which is still capable of matching the SIIC/government forces, and the Iranians(Quds) are completely running the Shia politics in Iraq.

(Some violence continues today, and the Iraqi government is continuing its "crackdown." We also learned that Sadr's in Iran.)

Picture of the Day

(Sen. Barack Obama pets a cow as he tours the dairy complex and barns of Penn State University in University Park, Pa., Sunday, March 30, 2008. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)) Mooo.......

Political bits

It looks like Obama will come out of the Texas primary/caucus system +5 pledged delegates from the state.

(MSNBC/WSJ) HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson is expected to resign today. Criminal investigation.

(NYTimes) Thus far, "Mr. McCain has so far managed to enlist only a fraction of the heavyweight bundlers of campaign contributions who helped drive President Bush’s two runs for the White House......" (Maybe just not yet?)

(FirstRead) Chuck Todd asks all kinds of questions about the pressure on Clinton to quit.

(McClatchy) Obama's PAC has given almost three times as much money as Clinton's PAC to superdelegates.

(YouTube) Bush threw out the first pitch at the Nationals game last night and got booed, and I mean booed. (From the AP)
Over in the Nationals' swank clubhouse, general manager Jim Bowden told the president he expected him to throw a strike. More pressure.

"Shhh," Bush responded. "Keep expectations low."

(PS. Of course Obama is not going to personally try to chase Clinton from the race, ("My attitude is that Senator Clinton can run as long as she wants.") He has to try and win her backers soon.)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Still not a wave of superdelegates, but a continuing flow

The superdelegates are flowing to Obama.
Slowly but steadily, a string of Democratic Party figures is taking Barack Obama's side in the presidential nominating race and raising the pressure on Hillary Clinton to give up.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is expected to endorse Sen. Obama Monday, according to a Democrat familiar with her plans. Meanwhile, North Carolina's seven Democratic House members are poised to endorse Sen. Obama as a group -- just one has so far -- before that state's May 6 primary, several Democrats say......

One North Carolinian confirmed that at least several of the state's House members would go public in favor of Sen. Obama before long. Meanwhile, elected officials in other states with upcoming contests, including Indiana, Montana and Oregon, are weighing whether to endorse Sen. Obama.

Later: A mass NC endorsement appears unlikely. (Politico/FirstRead.)

Picture of the Day - 3 (Well, graph, really.)

Now, standard polling disclaimers, plus the tracking polling disclaimers, but still, this poll is showing us something, at least a temporary move towards Obama.

For comparison, Rasmussen's tracking poll has Obama +5 pretty much without the longer trend, but with a small Obama ramp occurring since Thursday.

Maybe all that mid to late week "Hillary should quit" talk made a difference?

Clinton's money

We haven't heard much about fundraising from either Obama or Clinton this month, and I wonder how it's going. She still has very fervent support, but as the percentages on her winning go down, I wonder if she's still pulling as much money.

The Clinton camp has been shooting out fundraising emails almost every other day at this point, but that may indicate an awareness of the goalposts, not bad news.

As interesting to me, solely from subjective observation, I keep seeing neutral blog posts, "Obama goes up with a new ad in state x," but it doesn't feel like I'm seeing many/any Clinton ones.

Money may not matter as much with Pennsylvania being the last big media state left to go, but in a horserace sense, the perceptions from her fundraising could be significant. If Clinton is considered above whatever perceived benchmark there is, it's a sign of continuing support, etc, but anything below it may be portrayed as the end of the line.

I have nothing to say whether her fundraising is high, low, or anything. I'm just putting it on the table as something to watch. It may be one of the pressure points.

(And, after his record demolishing Feb, can Obama hit his line?)

Later: Politico's Ken Vogel talks about the Clinton campaign's unpaid bills to small vendors. (This may just be "dickish" strategy, not real money problems.)

"All the way to the convention"

All of this talk of Clinton running "all the way to the convention" seems somewhat silly to me. That path is still filled with about ten "ifs" and they all have to (unlikely) break Clinton's way.

What happens when she loses North Carolina?

Seriously, I think she's just trying to create a space for her supporters in Pennsylvania to not give up.

(And the insistence on Florida and Michigan may be as much about her next run as this one.)

Picture of the Day - 2

(Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., bowls at Pleasant Valley Recreation Center in Altoona, Pa., Saturday, March 29, 2008. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon))

The Iraqis "stand up"

(Reuters) "The United States confirmed on Sunday that U.S. special forces units were operating alongside Iraqi government troops in Basra..."

(Not to mention the air cover, artillery strikes, intelligence, etc.)

Sadr offers peace

This story is moving, so here's a few for now.

(BBC) Iraqi cleric calls off militias

(AP) Sadr offers Iraq truce.

(AFP) Iraqi officials in talks with Sadr group to end fighting

Picture of the Day

The ugly end of the global medicine supply chain. (Article)

(This family-owned workshop in Xinwangzhuang, a village in Juangsu Province, China, processes pig intestines. Mucous membranes from the intestines are used to make heparin. (NYTimes))