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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, May 03, 2008


Are we really to the point where we're watching Guam?

Obama +3 superdelegates, Clinton +1

The trickle of superdelegates continues, even on Saturday, as the add on delegates are named. Obama picks up two add ons and one endorsement. Clinton picks up one add on.

Indiana affecting?

Caught my eye....
As the report noted, a University of Washington study found that 28 percent of African-Americans in the state of Indiana do not have the proper ID to vote. African-Americans make up 9 percent of the voting population in Indiana.

Say anything.......

Right about now, I'll bet the Native Americans are wishing they had their own primary....
Guam's four Democratic delegates (not to mention its five superdelegates) are up for grabs in Saturday's primary, and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has told residents of that Pacific territory that as president she will work to give them the right to vote for president.....

Clinton also expressed her support for legislation to offer up to $126 million in reparations to Guam residents for their suffering during World War II at the hands of the Japanese military, which occupied the island.

Picture of the Day - 2

It's never a good sign when a President makes that face while talking up the economy.....

(President Bush delivers remarks on the economy, Friday, May 2,2008, at World Wide Technology, Inc. in Maryland Heights, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson))

Did I know that US soldiers have died in Pakistan and Uzbekistan?

I knew that US military was acting in advisory roles in Pakistan, but I wasn't aware of fatalities. (And in Uzbekistan...?)
As of Friday, May 2, 2008, at least 425 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department.....

Outside the Afghan region, the Defense Department reports 64 more members of the U.S. military died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Of those, two were the result of hostile action. The military lists these other locations as Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba; Djibouti; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Jordan; Kenya; Kyrgyzstan; Philippines; Seychelles; Sudan; Tajikistan; Turkey; and Yemen.

(Includes accidents/non-combat fatalities.)


It's not about the gas tax, it's about "the battle over" the gas tax.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Picture of the Day

(Barack Obama speaks to supporters during a campaign stop in South Bend, Indiana May 1, 2008. (REUTERS/Frank Polich))


Former President Bill Clinton was in West Virginia on his wife's behalf. In Clarksburg, he called her a scrapper and contrasted her appeal among working-class voters with the elitists he said support Obama.

"The great divide in this country is not by race or even income, it's by those who think they are better than everyone else and think they should play by a different set of rules," he said. "In West Virginia and Arkansas, we know that when we see it."

Is it getting dirty in here or is it just me?

UPDATE/REWRITE: I bought in. I linked to the Mickey Kantor video, but apparently it was a hoax. It has been removed from YouTube.

Very sorry. I'm zapping the text of this post so I don't propagate it.

Picture of the Day

From a racially conscious Kentucky.....

(Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to supporters during a visit to her campaign headquarters in Louisville, Ky. Thursday, May 1, 2008. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola))

Another DNC chairman comes out for Obama...?

From ABC's The Note,
Speaking of math -- the Obama campaign rolls out another former DNC chairman's endorsement on Friday: Paul Kirk, a superdelegate who led the party from 1985-1989, is coming out for Obama -- a day after Andrew's switch, an Obama campaign official tells The Note. (And don't count on that being it for the day, as the dribble continues.)

Also: Another Obama superdelegate, the youngest super.

(The broader story line right now seems to be Clinton gaining in polls, but losing in the delegate math. (AP, NYTimes))


Up through Super Tuesday, the Clinton campaign ran on the premise of "inevitability."

One of the more profound transformations in the recent rounds of primaries is that Clinton is now positioned as underdog/outsider complete with "fighter" imagery.

How would she be faring with white working class (Edwards) voters if she was still running as the inevitable Washington insider?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Picture of the Day - 2

Political bits

(Politico) The add-on superdelegates are starting to fall in. Clinton +4 out of NY, Obama +3 out of Illinois. (The important thing I would point out is the likelihood that the 60+ remaining add-on delegates will break about 50-50, meaning that Clinton's pool to draw from is shallower than it appears.)

(ThePage) A (non-elected) Tx. superdelegate for Obama.

(CNN) Poll: Bush most unpopular in modern history.

Later: Former Clinton staffer (and recently ridiculed "debate" moderator) George Stephanopoulos gives Hillary Clinton a free hour long "town hall" on national TV. (Exactly like a normal campaign stop except with a free national broadcast.)

Is this how it ends?

The big political story likely to hit the talkers today is this, "A leader of the Democratic Party under Bill Clinton has switched his allegiance to Barack Obama and is encouraging fellow Democrats to "heal the rift in our party" and unite behind the Illinois senator."

But what's really troubling is his explanation of this switch.
"I am convinced that the primary process has devolved to the point that it's now bad for the Democratic Party," Andrew said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.....

"a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote to continue this process, and a vote to continue this process is a vote that assists (Republican) John McCain."

"While I was hopeful that a long, contested primary season would invigorate our party, the polls show that the tone and temperature of the race is now hurting us," Andrew wrote. "John McCain, without doing much of anything, is now competitive against both of our remaining candidates. We are doing his work for him and distracting Americans from the issues that really affect all of our lives."

From CNN,
"The simple answer is that while the timing is hard for me personally, it is best for America. We simply cannot wait any longer, nor can we let this race fall any lower and still hope to win in November. June or July may be too late. The time to act is now."

Now he does go on to praise Obama on various points, but this sort of a default endorsement is hardly ringing. Effectively, it's "I'm endorsing him because he's ahead."

There's an appearance at 10 AM at which he'll probably be more positive.

(Is this just one, or is it a beginning?)

Related: Clinton picks up a (non-elected) superdelegate in Conn, but, as the WaPo and NYDailyNews point out, Obama is still closing the superdelegate gap despite Wright, Pa, and everything else.

On the other hand, there is some reporting expressing superdelegate questions over Wright. (NYTimes, TheHill.)

Politico's Mike Allen has a piece on the new "Clinton confidence." ("The mood inside her campaign is akin to that of a near-terminal patient who gets approved for new experimental therapies: Maybe something will work.")

Picture of the Day - 2

(Obama communications chief Robert Gibbs on the plane leaving Pennsylvania wears a shirt he bought on the streets of Philadelphia.)

Afghanistan and Iraq

(AP) Following on yesterday's post, "Pentagon officials are quietly considering a significant change in the war command in Afghanistan to extend US control of forces into the country's volatile south."

(AP) "Al-Qaeda has rebuilt some of its pre-Sept. 11 capabilities from remote hiding places in Pakistan, and terrorist attacks in neighboring Afghanistan increased 16 percent last year, the Bush administration said Wednesday."

(NYTimes) "The Iraqi prime minister is sending several senior Shiite leaders to Tehran to discuss their concerns that Iran is arming and financing militias in Iraq." (Also to meet with Sadr.)

(Reuters/WaPo) Lots of US military talk against Iran right now, and (VOA) A Pentagon official makes a point to say that Iran is also arming the Taleban.

(AFP) "Fierce fighting in Baghdad's Sadr City fuelled the bloodshed in April, with at least 1,073 people killed across Iraq and the US military's toll hitting a seven-month high...... 966 civilians were killed in April, as were 69 police officers and 38 soldiers."

And, it's the fifth anniversary of Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech and carrier landing. (The fifth anniversary is the wood anniversary.)

Picture of the Day

(President George W. Bush greets an unidentified member of the Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride at the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on April 24, 2008. (UPI Photo/Alex Wong))

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The bottom line......

Two polls released tonight NBC/WSJ and NYTimes/CBS both show a much more muddled picture in the Obama/Clinton polling (separate, of course, from any delegate counts,) but what really caught my eye was the relatively horrible polling for McCain.

McCain has now had almost two months of an unchallenged field, has spent months trying to define himself and his biography, all the while the Dems have been beating each other to death, and after all that, he still polls slightly behind/about even with them both.
(NBC) Obama besting McCain by only three points (46-43 percent) and Clinton topping the Arizona senator by only one (45-44 percent)

(NYTimes) In a head-to-head race between Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain, both candidates are backed by 45 percent of the registered voters. In a race between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain, 48 percent back Mrs. Clinton and 43 percent support Mr. McCain.

On the plus side for McCain, he is polling better than the generic Republican/Democrat matchup by over 10 points, but that will probably realign somewhat once a Dem nominee is finalized. (A post-nomination bump.)

Later: (DKos) More people are concerned about McCain's ties to Bush (43%) than Obama's ties to Wright (32%).

Some superdelegates declaring

So far today, Obama +3, Clinton +2.

Since Ohio, Obama +40, Clinton +9.

Since Pa, Obama +9, Clinton +5.

There are some 280 undeclared superdelegates left.

(NBC) Superdelegate total Clinton 268, Obama 247.
PLEDGED: Obama 1,490-1,334
OVERALL: Obama 1,737-1,602

Picture of the Day

(John McCain looks under a microscope during a tour of the Moffitt Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, April 29, 2008. (AP Photo/Scott Iskowitz))

The Marines charge into South Afghanistan

A rather big story in the Globe and Mail pointing out that the new "surge" of 3,500 Marines into Afghanistan is dropping them right into the middle of the British and Canadian presences in Kandahar.
A force of 3,500 U.S. Marines charged into southern Afghanistan this morning in an effort to reduce the heavy casualties suffered by Canadian and British soldiers in the region, bringing with them new pressures on Canada and its allies to adapt to U.S. tactics and methods....

But this new U.S. contribution is accompanied by a push to "Americanize" the 40-nation NATO mission, especially in the British-Canadian Southern Command. General Dan McNeill, the U.S. Army officer who currently commands the 40-nation NATO coalition fighting in Afghanistan, said in an interview that he hopes Canada and other nations will adopt U.S.-style tactics and doctrines, including lengthier deployments for soldiers, harder-line opium-poppy-eradication strategies and the use of military forces in reconstruction and humanitarian work.

The tone definitely seems to be that the Canadians and British are welcoming the assistance, but you have to figure that there will be command clashes and that the level of fighting in Kandahar is about to go way up.

Related: (NYTimes) Pakistan’s Planned Accord With Militants Alarms U.S.

The superdelegates have decided

The Politico has a piece that is likely to gain some attention (assuming we stop talking about Wright.)
Capitol Hill insiders say the battle for congressional superdelegates is over, and one Senate supporter of Barack Obama is hinting strongly that he has prevailed over Hillary Rodham Clinton.

While more than 80 Democrats in the House and Senate have yet to state their preferences in the race for the Democratic nomination, sources said Tuesday that most of them have already made up their minds and have told the campaigns where they stand.

Yeah. I'm not so sure I can guarantee Claire McCaskill's count, but, as I've said since Texas, it's nearly impossible to believe that all of these political insiders haven't already made up their minds.

The superdelegates have decided. They just don't want to pay the political cost of going on the record. So it continues......

(Later: I should probably couple into this that the superdelegates have some of their attention on Obama's huge donor list and his likely influential 50 state Democratic voter registration drive.)

One poll: Indidana to be decided by non-Democrats

One poll, so judge it for what it is, but I thought it was interesting that Indiana is likely to be decided by non-Democrats.
Howey-Gauge shows that self-identified Republicans favor Clinton 50-44 percent, while independents favor Obama 54-38 percent. ....

One in five likely voters in the Democratic primary are not Democrats.

(This poll cites "Rush Limbaugh Republicans" as significant enough to deserve mention.)

When was the last time farming was headline news?

Two articles on farming, food prices, and fuel issues.

(NYTimes) Shortages Threaten Farmers’ Key Tool: Fertilizer

(WaPo) Siphoning Off Corn to Fuel Our Cars

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


The 4 month "gas tax holiday" being proposed by John McCain and now embraced by Hillary Clinton is estimated to involve approximately $10 billion (assuming the supply demand curve doesn't simply readjust to the new price.)

The war in Iraq costs $12 billion each month.

Picture of the Day - 2

(Senator Barack Obama speaks during a campaign stop in Hickory, North Carolina April 29, 2008. (REUTERS/Chris Keane))

I think Obama's had enough of Wright

Obama held a press conference today to deal with the most recent Rev. Wright flareup and there was a noticeable change in tone. (Politico, CNN, FirstRead)

Obama has now moved to a stance where Wright is something of an enemy, which also moves him Obama to the side of most Americans.

The magic fairy dust of tax credits

John McCain came out today with what he thinks is a solution to the vast numbers of health uninsured, largely echoing the standard GOP line that tax credits solve all life's ills, but there's a bottom line fallacy in the fairy dust of tax credit solutions.

In general, a good majority of the people who need help don't make enough to pay any significant taxes, so tax credits are worthless to them.

(The McCain plan, as detailed today by surrogates, not the candidate, does include something they're calling a "tax rebate" which is, in effect, the government paying no-tax individuals directly.)

The main criticism of the McCain proposal, is that companies would have no incentive to offer coverage, meaning more individuals would be going to insurers as individuals, shifting more power to the insurance companies, meaning higher prices and a tougher insurer vs. individual relationship when problems arise.

Picture of the Day

From Matson at RollCall.

Afghanistan and Iraq

The AP carries a claim that the Afghani intelligence services knew that there was a plot to attack Karzai. (And yet it still came off?)

(Reuters) Baitullah Mehsud, the top Taleban leader in Pakistan's tribal areas, pulled out of peace talks with the new Pakistani government after the Pakistani's refused to pull all troops out of Waziristan.

And, A really eyeopening piece in the Independent about the trade of heroin for weaponry through Tajikistan by the Russian mob. One pound of heroin gets 6 AK's in the main trading market. (How hard is it for the Russian mob to find 6 AK's?)

(Note: So we have Afghani border problems to the east with Pakistan, to the north with the former Russian Republics, and to the west with Iran.....)

In Iraq, 4 US soldiers killed yesterday, bringing the AP count to 4,056 US soldiers killed in Iraq.

The heaviest current fighting is in Sadr City as the US tries to push in a buffer to protect the Green Zone from rocket and mortar attacks.

Political bits

Rev Wright is everywhere, but I don't really have anything to add.

Superdelegates: Obama picks up NM Sen. Bingaman and Clinton gets NC Gov Easley. (The Edwards' will not endorse.)

Bloomberg looks at the giant and politically valuable Obama donor list.

(TheHill) "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has requested nearly $2.3 billion in federal earmarks for 2009, almost three times the largest amount received by a single senator this year."

(IndyStar) In Indiana, it may be "white women" again.


Barack Obama on Rev. Wright yesterday,
“I think certainly what the last three days indicate is that we’re not coordinating with him, right?” Mr. Obama said.

Second quote,
I just want to emphasize that this is my former pastor.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The most powerful man in Iraq

McClatchy has a very interesting feature on the pivotal role in Iraq played by Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani who commands the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force.

Picture of the Day

(Cindy McCain introduces her husband, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, Thursday, April 24, 2008, at a town hall meeting at Xavier University in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer))


David Frum, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, argues that there's a tendency for a president to overreact to the failures of his predecessor. Bush was determined to be good at making decisions, Frum said.


Not feeling very witty this AM, so here're a few quickhits.

(AP) The Mahdi use a sandstorm as aerial cover to launch rocket attacks on the Green Zone.

(AFP) Another article citing US and Iraqi military sources saying Iran is supplying weapons.

(AP) In Gaza, an Israeli tank fired a shell into a house killing a mother and four young children.

(AP) "Millions of dollars of lucrative Iraq reconstruction contracts were never finished because of excessive delays, poor performance or other factors, including failed projects that are being falsely described by the U.S. government as complete, federal investigators say."

(Newsweek) You know, no one is talking about McCain's crazy foreign policy pronouncements, throwing Russia out of the G8, replacing the UN with a "league of democracies" making China and Russia enemies.....

(And even in criticism, there's some McCain media love, "I write this with sadness because I greatly admire John McCain, a man of intelligence, honor and enormous personal and political courage....)

And, (AP) Oil nears $120 following labor and military strikes

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Picture of the Day

(Two foreign security forces personnel take cover behind a vehicle during an attack by Taliban insurgents on Afghan President Hamid Karzai near the presidential palace in Kabul April 27, 2008. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters))

Most of the Afghani forces in the ceremony took off running.

This attack on Karzai was surprising for two reasons. 1) It came a day after Karzai very publicly called for the US to stop arresting the Taleban, and 2) It occurred live on Afghan national TV.

No real threat to Karzai, small arms over great distance, but 2 killed, 9 wounded, and a serious propaganda failure.

Political bits

(NYTimes) McCain Frequently Used Wife’s Jet for Little Cost

(Time) Obama picks up another superdelegate.

(AP) Electoral map favors a Democrat, has McCain playing defense

And, I thought this post was very interesting, on Obama, racism, Appalachia, and the upcoming primaries in Kentucky and West Virginia.

Torture by permission slip

If I'm reading this NYTimes story right, I think we have a clear admission that officials in the Justice Dept authorized violations of the Geneva Convention (torture.)
The Justice Department has told Congress that American intelligence operatives attempting to thwart terrorist attacks can legally use interrogation methods that might otherwise be prohibited under international law.

The legal interpretation, outlined in recent letters, sheds new light on the still-secret rules for interrogations by the Central Intelligence Agency. It shows that the administration is arguing that the boundaries for interrogations should be subject to some latitude, even under an executive order issued last summer that President Bush said meant that the C.I.A. would comply with international strictures against harsh treatment of detainees.