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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The NYTimes fills in some crumbs

In yet another long NYTimes Clinton campaign retrospective, we find out a couple of interesting new bits on pages 3, 4, and 5.

1) The original quit plan was that after SD and Montana, "she planned to take two weeks to think through her options."

2) Hillary Clinton and Patti Solis Doyle have not spoken since she was fired.

3) Bill Clinton was "playfully competitive" with Hillary Clinton as returns came in, claiming that the counties he campaigned in were doing better for them.

4) By the time Pennsylvania came around, Mark Penn "showed up at campaign headquarters outside Washington to watch the returns but virtually no one would talk with him and he left early."

5) With Terry McAuliffe's crazy TV appearances, "aides developed “Terry Bingo” with 25 boxes listing his most common lines of spin — “More electable,” “Can still win” — and marked the boxes as he uttered them again and again."

Clinton and Obama "cross-siting"

The top item on the Obama website is a 1/3 page "thank you, Senator Clinton" insert. If you click on it, it takes you to a page that enables you to "send a message of support" to Hillary Clinton (along with all your contact information.)

If you go to the Hillary Clinton website, the top item is a 1/3 page "sign up to support Obama" feature (which also asks for all your contact information.)

They may not be openly asking for fundraising for each other, but they are trying to channel contact information/mailing list/fundraising info to each other.

The big donors will be leaned on by the campaigns, but if they can each get their small donors across it will go a long way towards helping both of their situations. Obama raises funds from Clinton supporters, and Clinton gets to pay down her debt.

(Mailing lists are power in Washington.)

Just another sign of a deal having been made.


(Bloomberg) One of McCain's top economic advisers says that Bush has little understanding about the economy, and blasts Bush over spending.

And for humor,

John McCain is expected to announce a policy of opening his fundraisers to the press..... The print press only, with no photographers or video.

Don't want those pictures of McCain actually among Republicans or with Bush.

Less important

There's alot to discuss in that speech, I'll leave that to the pros, but one of the smaller and less important elements I found interesting were the efforts towards legacy.

There was the serious framing of her candidacy as an issue of women's rights (and the implication that sexism is what lost it,) she fully credited herself with cracking the glass ceiling, and there was also the very interesting reframing of her husband.

She emphasized that Bill Clinton held two of the three Democratic presidencies in the last 40 years, spoke at some length that we should hope to get back to/extend the positives of his presidency, and, perhaps most interesting, made no real mention of anything contemporary about him. It seemed to be an effort to put him back into the past successes of his presidency and not mention anything over the past year.

She did everything she could for the ticket in that speech and should be applauded for that, but as this is her last big moment in the spotlight, her last chance to shape the understanding of what's gone on, I found the less important elements of legacy interesting.

Picture of the Day

"Today, I am standing with Senator Obama to say 'Yes, we can.'"

Zoloft soldiers?

Two articles this morning on the incidence of US soldiers in theater taking psychiatric drugs, anti-depressants, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, etc. (Telegraph, Time)

Time Magazine cites a number of "about 12% of combat troops in Iraq and 17% of those in Afghanistan are taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping pills."

Is that outside the normal population?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Picture of the Day

Imagine the damage he could have done if he hadn't taken the most vacation days in Presidential history. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Can we vote George Bush out of office now? Right now?

Frickin' George Bush. Frickin' useless war. Frickin' unnecessary debt. Frickin' falling dollar. Frickin' oil prices. Frickin' credit crisis. Frickin' bad jobs report. Frickin' falling markets......

Oh, but he has a new plan now.......

Political bits

Chuck Todd has a very interesting look at some of the "party development" things from back in 2005, and 2006 that caused problems for Clinton in '08. (Starting on Page 2 because that's where it gets interesting.)

(TPM) Lanny Davis' VoteBoth, the top organization pushing for Clinton as VP has gathered only 25,000 signatures, only 15,000 since Tuesday. (Out of 18 million supporters, and what, 3/4 million donors?)

Speculation: You have to figure that the Obama VP vetting team is already contacting alot of the prospectives, so when I see a big name like John Edwards rule himself out, do I gather that they've told him he's not in contention?

Note: The Obama Clinton meeting apparently took place at Clinton's invitation, which according to Ambinder was actually made Sunday or Monday before Tuesday night's non-concession. How different was the real meeting to what she had planned when she made the invite?

McCain campaign starts on weaknesses?

It seems very odd strategy to me that the McCain campaign is starting out so much on the defensive. First was the speech in New Orleans trying to argue he's not Bush's third term, and now we have the first big campaign ad buy called "Safe" which closes with "I hate war."

It just seems very odd to start out so defensively.

Picture of the Day - Monkey God?

Maybe with the "secret Muslim" stuff bouncing around, you ought to put the monkey god away.

(Amongst the things that Barack Obama carries for good luck are a bracelet belonging to a soldier deployed in Iraq, a gambler’s lucky chit, a tiny monkey god and a tiny Madonna and child. (Brooks Kraft/TIME))

(PS. As Todd points out, the Monkey god is Hindu. My point was, that "strange" to middle America is not good.)

Obama is fine among Latinos

Without even really campaigning for the segment yet,
A new Gallup Poll summary of surveys taken in May shows Obama winning 62% of Latino registered voters nationwide, compared with just 29% for McCain. Others have found a wide gap as well. The pro-Democratic group Democracy Corps compiled surveys from March through May that showed Obama with a 19-point lead among Latinos. And a Times poll published last month showed Obama leading McCain among California Latinos by 14 points.

Despite all the insiders crediting McCain for his immigration position, that assumes a subtlety of understanding that most voters don't share. McCain is running as the head of the anti-immigration GOP and he will pay for that.

(And it's not like McCain can win this group by pressing his immigration position. That would cost him more among his base.)


(AP) "Turkey and Iran have been carrying out coordinated strikes on Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq, a top Turkish general said...."

(WiredBlog) The firing of the Air Force's top command had more to do with budget issues and the ongoing conflicts over the Air Force's role in Iraq (drone deployments) than with the nuclear mistakes. (The Air Force will always fight for piloted planes.)

(BBC) Pakistani officials broke up a terror ring likely looking to attack either Musharraf's residence or the military headquarters.

(AFP) Olmert directly threatens new operations in Gaza.

Mission accomplished

For years, Republican Senate Intelligence chair Tom Coburn has been sitting on/stalling the SSCI's Phase II Iraq report looking at the use and misuse of intelligence by administration figures in the run up to the war.

Well, Phase II finally came out (NYTimes, WaPo,) and its conclusion that should shock the conscience, that top administration officials including the president knowingly misrepresented the intelligence, is now such "old news" that it's been buried off the front pages.


Two more bits. 1) McClatchy pulls out an important bit looking at Michael Ledeen's meetings with Manucher Ghorbanifar to point to suspicions in the report that Rumsfeld's "Office of Special Plans" and Cheney's intelligence operations were the victims of an Iranian intelligence operation to supply false intelligence to pull the US into war.

2) As far as I can tell, the Niger forgeries are not even discussed.

More on the Obama Lieberman talk.

The WaPo has a piece on Lieberman "savoring life" in his efforts to get a Republican president. Two bits on the conflict of Lieberman promoting McCain (attacking Obama.)
Lieberman's outspoken advocacy for John McCain's GOP presidential candidacy crossed a line this week, prompting Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to corral the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee into pointed face-to-face discussions.

Lieberman went beyond simply promoting McCain's candidacy on Wednesday. He joined a conference call in which Republicans attacked Obama's position on Iran moments after the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee had delivered a foreign policy address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

On page 2, there's another description of the spirited talk between Obama and Lieberman on the Senate floor. Nothing new.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Picture of the Day backstage aipac

(A day after the final primaries, the Democratic candidates huddle behind the scenes at the AIPAC summit in Washington. (Callie Shell/TIME))

Political bits

(TPM) The Obama campaign is keeping Howard Dean on as Chair of the DNC. (Good.)

(NYTimes) Clinton very publicly disavows the VP push. (Smart.)

(Halperin) A very thought provoking list of ways McCain might be underestimating. (Not an endorsement of the thinking, but almost every point spawned thoughts.)

A beauty of a quote, "(Geraldine) Ferraro said she has not been asked to raise funds for the Obama campaign."

And, read this characterization of the Obama-Lieberman meeting on Senate floor and tell me it doesn't strike you as funny.
"While it was unclear what the two were discussing, the body language suggested that Obama was trying to convince Lieberman of something and his stance appeared slightly intimidating."

"Using forceful, but not angry, hand gestures, Obama literally backed up Lieberman against the wall, leaned in very close at times, and appeared to be trying to dominate the conversation, as the two talked over each other in a few instances."

"Still, Obama and Lieberman seemed to be trying to keep the back-and-forth congenial as they both patted each other on the back during and after the exchange. Afterwards, Obama smiled and pointed up at reporters peering over the edge of the press gallery for a better glimpse of their interaction."

Obama through a smile, "Yes I am threatening you, Joe, but smile because the cameras are on us. Now wave."

Later: (NYDailyNews) The "vast majority" of the NY Congressional delegation, some of Clinton's strongest superdelegate backers, are skipping her farewell speech? Interesting.

The Brilliant Obama Campaign

The Obama campaign has not been the best at quickly responding to wildfires in their image, but their positioning/branding vis a vis opposing candidates has been brilliant. (Look how they took Hillary Clinton's inevitability and turned it into institutional insider-ism by embracing the branding of "Change." It took her three months to recast as underdog/fighter and by then she'd lost.)

Now, it looks like they're setting up to expose McCain. Along with the report in the next post, the Obama campaign is also making the relatively unprecedented move of opening all his fundraisers to the press again putting McCain on the spot.

Either McCain has to refuse to match this financial "openness," or have all those pictures of McCain fundraising with Bush and Cheney, or cut them out of fundraising altogether and take that hit, both financial and political.

Think about how these two small steps leverage John McCain on his self-proclaimed strength of being a "reformer." He can match Obama's moves and get hurt financially where he's already much weaker, or not match these steps and take the hit on his core campaign image.

This Obama camp has used their branding brilliantly, and now McCain is seeing how it's done. Roll it out, boys. Roll it out.

(Besides, as Obama already learned, in the days of camera phones, there are no closed fundraisers anymore.)


From Mike Allen's Playbook, (CNN, too)
Obama "will announce today that the Democratic National Committee will no longer accept contributions from federal lobbyists or PACs -- consistent with the policy of his campaign. His declaration makes it clear that he will try to make the influence of Washington insiders one of his key arguments against Senator McCain."

(His way of dealing with the public financing flap? I mean, there's no way the GOP would match this.)

Later: The more I think about this, the better this is.

McCain has committed to public financing (limiting him to $85 million in the last 2 months.) The assumption has always been that the RNC would make up the difference, and now Obama is trying to pressure them into limiting their take. They won't, so he gets the talking point that McCain/GOP is funded by lobbyists, PAC's, and Washington insiders.

That beats the public financing pledge.

Picture of the Day - 2

"She could accept losing," one adviser said. "She could not accept quitting." (WaPo)

A Clinton email to supporters frames the direction she is going.

(Probably my favorite Clinton photo.)

The "bully dynamic"

One of the more interesting things that went on Tuesday night were McCain's plaintive cries, "stop calling me Bush."

After so many years of watching Republicans play the bully on Democratic contenders, it was pretty weird to watch McCain whine. And it's not the first time.

Look at some of the responses to McCain's gaffes. "We're down to pre-surge levels" turned into "they're just picking on me for misusing verb tense." "100 years in Iraq" turned into "they're misrepresenting my position."

The GOP worships strength and McCain is not broadcasting that.

The Sadrists are using truck mounted rockets?

Within this story of a truck exploding killing 18 in Baghdad, we learn that the Sadrists are firing rockets on the Green Zone, in part, through truck launches.
Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Baghdad, said Shiite militiamen were attempting to fire rockets at a U.S. base from the back of a parked truck about 800 yards away. But he said the rockets, which were supposed to be detonated by a fuse or timer, exploded early.

I don't think we've heard about that before.

A happy byproduct of politics

Two candidates competing for the "good government" mantle might have some positive effects.
Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are quietly working together on a good-government bill despite their campaign-trail battle over who is tougher against Washington’s special interests.....

After learning that Obama and Coburn were introducing the bill without his backing, McCain’s staffers immediately contacted Coburn to express concern and a desire to be named as an original co-sponsor of the update. They then called Obama’s office.

Obama staffers were happy to comply with McCain’s request to sign on, an Obama adviser said, because they knew support from the two presumptive nominees could propel the legislation to passage in the final months of a packed legislative schedule.

Chaff regarding the US-Iraq security deal

At this point, I'm not really sure what to believe about the leaks regarding the US-Iraq security agreement. There's huge opposition to it among the Iraqis and the Iraqi politicians, so I find the leaks of these closed discussions by Iraqi politicians outside the room fairly suspect.

Anyway, here's the latest. The GulfNews says the agreement would allow the US to attack any country from Iraqi territory, and Patrick Cockburn, who reports with definite politics, prints some leaks which sound pretty unbelievable.

(The UN mandate for the US presence runs out on Dec. 31, and if this becomes an issue in the Iraqi provincial elections in the fall, you can bet that those elected will be against it.)

Picture of the Day

(WaPo) "Yesterday, Obama, who has generally declined to wear an American-flag lapel pin, wore a joint U.S.-Israeli pin..."

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bill Clinton's finances are a VP "dealbreaker"

As I've written several times, the vetting process has always been the way out of the Clinton VP mess.
But close advisers to Sen. Obama signaled an Obama-Clinton ticket was highly unlikely. People in both camps cited what several called "a deal-breaker" -- Bill Clinton may balk at releasing records of his business dealings and big donors to his presidential library.

To me, this is actually a very good outcome as it makes rejecting the VP nomination a choice by the Clinton's, not a rejection by Obama.

This takes the heat off the Obama campaign and lets Hillary Clinton walk away with her head high for choosing not to take the job.

For both camps it can play as a win-win.

Do we have a Clinton dropout date?

Updated/Corrected//Cleaned up post.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will endorse Senator Barack Obama on Saturday, bringing a close to her 17-month campaign for the White House, aides said. Her decision came after Democrats urged her Wednesday to leave the race and allow the party to coalesce around Mr. Obama.....

One adviser said Mrs. Clinton would concede defeat, congratulate Mr. Obama and proclaim him the party’s nominee, while pledging to do what was needed to assure his victory in November.

Two thoughts. One nice, one not so nice.

First, I really do think she should suspend rather than abandon her campaign. I think she should carry her delegates to the convention and I think they should be called out. I think that would be a great moment about the Democratic party and, to some degree, it would pay her her due as a historic candidate.

Second, on CNN, some of the Clinton supporting analysts were talking about the need for Clinton to stretch this exit into many events (weeks?) so she could "bring her people around." One very important element of this process is that she step back and cede the floor. After Saturday, Hillary Clinton should no longer be the story.

Later: Thinking overnight, I think it would be a really good thing for Dems everywhere (alot of the figures of the party) to use this time to tribute her historic run.

Picture of the Day - 4

Add the DNC front page to those who are not waiting for Clinton.

Fracturing Clintonland

Today, we have some serious fracturing from three long time extreme Clinton loyalists in different ways, Rangel, Rendell, and Hilary Rosen.

(Also today, long time Clintonista Rahm Emanuel endorsed Obama, and Nancy Pelosi emitted a first warning nudge.)

Call me a cynic, but the more I look at this, the more I think Clinton "stayed in" for a few more days of emotional fundraising to try and make back some of her debt.

Picture of the Day - 3

(Senator Barack Obama bumps fists with his wife Michelle before his speech at his South Dakota and Montana presidential primary election night rally in St. Paul, Minnesota June 3, 2008. (REUTERS/Eric Miller))

Political bits

Right after the Clinton speech (and I mean right after,) Dean, Pelosi, Reid, and Joe Manchin issued a call for all superdelegates to declare by Friday, creating a second wave of Obama superdelegates likely to make Clinton's position much weaker.

(Politico) Maybe Clinton's efforts to drive traffic to her website are not so much about messages of support as financial support,
Supporters who do send a message using the form on the homepage are sent directly to a page requesting money.

(Can't raise money and pay off your debts if you dropped out last night. The VP talk and continued "fight" sure gives fire to take more money from those small donors.)

(Ambinder) A good post on the Clinton VP garbage.

(Politico) It did seem that Obama was offering Clinton some form of healthcare czar in his speech (rather than VP.)

The Clinton campaign "mistake lists" are everywhere (WSJ, WaPo's Fix, ABC's Dowd,) but I really don't care about that today.

(Caucus) " The Obama campaign says there were 17,000 people inside the arena where he spoke and 15,000 outside."

(FirstRead) Obama gained 59.5 superdelegates yesterday.

I know it doesn't play into the breathless speculation, but I would expect Clinton to step back and endorse by the end of the week.

And, in NM, Heather Wilson lost her primary.

(More throughout the day, I'm sure.)


Terry McAuliffe last night at the Clinton gathering,
Introducing Clinton, he asked: "Are you ready for the next president of the United States?"


A crew from "The Daily Show" joined the (Clinton) party, and, hoping to keep Clinton in the race, struck up a cheer of "Four more months!"

Picture of the Day - 2

I've said it before, but, seriously GOP, this is the best you can do?

Musharraf is being hounded out of office

Despite Musharraf's repeated defiance that this is coming, the new government of Pakistan seems set to push him out.
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, threatened by possible impeachment, is reconciled to stepping down before he is hounded out of office, according to a senior adviser to the new government.

The new normal

What does it say that fairly credible claims of rendition and the facilitation of torture by the US is no longer the lead in the story?

Make the VP talk go away

As I posted a couple weeks ago, the easiest way for Obama to end the Clinton VP talk is to simply ask the Clinton's to submit their vetting documents immediately, including Bill Clinton's business dealings over the past eight years and the donors to his foundation.

He could get her to rule herself out through "transparency."

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

Sure. Go ahead and play it again.

The McCain trainwreck

This speech is like watching him fall down stairs.

Who thought this was a good idea?

We were outraged for a reason.

And there it is,
Hours before the polls closed Tuesday in the final two Democratic presidential primaries, the Republican National Committee began circulating a video of Hillary Clinton questioning Barack Obama’s qualifications to be commander-in-chief, and acknowledging John McCain has this important presidential credential.

“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 that he gave in 2002....”

"And I think it is imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold. And I believe I have done that. Certainly, Senator McCain has done that. And you will have to ask Senator Obama with respect to his candidacy.”

Framing for the McCain speech tonight, I'm sure.

Picture of the Day - 2

Taken outside the Xcel Center in St. Paul around 2:45 p.m. central. Obama is not scheduled to speak until after 9:00 PM.

Threading the needle - Clinton's Challenge

If you take as literal the assertion that Hillary Clinton really doesn't think Obama can win the general election, the estimations of her straddle tonight (acknowledging Obama's delegates but not suspending her campaign or endorsing) make alot more sense.

If she truly believes that Obama will struggle at some point (or get assassinated) before the convention, her goal may simply be to go dormant and wait for that moment when she thinks he's showing weakness to remake those phone calls to superdelegates.

Frankly, I don't think she'll be allowed to do that, but it's a theory.

Later: Maybe I'm not crazy. Reportedly,
Mark Penn...has emerged (to no one's surprise) as the strongest advocate of her remaining in the race regardless of what happens in the next 24 hours....

His argument: Suspend the campaign if you must, but don't end it, because all those Obama supers will flock to Hillary if more dirt on O emerges before the convention.

Think about what a nasty little undermining presence that would be to Obama's campaign.

McCain tries to get a little limelight.....

John McCain is staging a "much touted" speech tonight from New Orleans. Supposedly, it's intended to lay out the differences between McCain and Obama, but I think CNN probably hits closer to the truth, "McCain to highlight differences with Bush in New Orleans."

So, the official campaign launches with McCain trying to defend himself against being linked to Bush? Or does he just go nuts and attack Obama?

I don't see how he wins this.

(And if you've been watching the McCain crew over the last few days, you can bet that he's going praise Clinton effusively to try and poach some of her angry supporters.)

Picture of the Day - 2

(Waterford, Michigan June 2, 2008. (REUTERS/Jason Reed))

PS. Is that a bulletproof/armored bus?

This might be your twist

All the reporting seems to be that it is more or less over, but, of course, there's a twist.
They said Mrs. Clinton was not likely to withdraw from the race on Tuesday night, probably waiting until later in the week, once Mr. Obama’s victory appeared clear.

Mrs. Clinton has no public traveling schedule through the weekend, other than to Washington, reflecting what is, for all practical purposes, a campaign in suspension. Her associates said that no one in her campaign saw any way she could win the nomination, and that the only question now was when Mr. Obama could claim victory.

And here's the twist. The reporting this morning out of the Clinton camp seems to emphasize that she will suspend her campaign rather than end it. (WaPo, NYTimes)

Now, "suspending" is not uncommon. John Edwards suspended. Mike Huckabee suspended. That's usually what they do. It's a way to hang on to your delegates rather than just releasing them.

However, this has a little more impact in relation to Clinton because she's still making comments about trying to win over delegates throughout the summer and into the convention.

The most amazing line comes from the NYTimes version,
The most likely situation, some of Mrs. Clinton’s aides said, was that she would suspend her campaign later in the week and would probably — though not definitely — endorse Mr. Obama.

We'll know alot more over the next 48 hours.

Something to watch

Clinton's "celebratory" speech tonight is going praise her campaign, supporters, and accomplishments, but is she going to continue to try and make a case before the superdelegates?

If that second element is in there, it will be a completely different tone. (And does the press treat her as crazy at that point?)

Also, The Chicago Tribune quotes a source, "at least five to 10 House members would endorse Obama on Tuesday morning, at least 10 senators will endorse him by the end of the day and an additional 10 superdelegates will also endorse him during the day."

Australia, Australia.....

Not only is the Australian presence in Iraq now officially over, but the PM of Australia launches on a point by point argument of why the decision to invade Iraq was "wrong."

(Not gonna get that White House invite any time soon.)

Department of very, very poor planning.

Who the hell put the Iraq "warrior transition" barracks at Fort Benning within earshot of a very busy firing range?

Nothing like training fire to relax those out of a war zone.

Picture of the Day

McCain at the AIPAC conference June 2. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The slogan was for Israel, but....

This headline made me laugh out loud

(AP) McCain to try to claim mantle of change

Monday, June 02, 2008

Does anyone stay in after this?

Watching politics as long as I have, this is a big deal,
Clinton will huddle with advisers and husband Bill Clinton at her mansion tomorrow, according to people familiar with her plans. She will monitor results from the final 2008 primaries in South Dakota and Montana and decide whether, how and when she will end her campaign as Barack Obama nears the nomination threshold.

This certainly doesn't mean she drops out tomorrow, but nobody ever emerges from their "huddle with advisers" to declare victory.

What's really important......

It's no longer about changing America, or fighting for enfranchisement, or looking for influence, or trying to win.....
In a conference call with major donors this afternoon, contributors were told by Harold Ickes, a senior Clinton adviser, that she was unlikely to pull out of the race until the issue of her massive debts was resolved.

One source close to a major donor said: “It’s not about the vice-presidency or any other position she might get. It’s about the money – in particular the Clinton family money.”

She's not trying to get money back for that boy who sold his bike and videogames to donate to her, but the Clinton family money.....

Rumors of a superdelegate flood

Another rumor towards the end, (FirstRead/Chuck Todd)
Buzz on the Capitol Hill suggests that has many as 34 of the undeclared superdelegates residing in the House will endorse Obama by Wednesday. As many as 18 of these 34 -- many of them elected to Congress in the last four years -- will come out for Obama tomorrow so he can edge closer to his magic number before the vote counting ends in South Dakota and Montana. The biggest Obama get in the House to date will come tomorrow when House Dem Caucus Chairman Jim Clyburn officially declares.

No other member of the Dem leadership is expected to endorse Obama while Clinton is still running.

The Clinton campaign is vigorously denying that they'rer planning to end the campaign, but, really, what do you expect them to say?

Picture of the Day

(Senator Barack Obama tries to quieten the cheering crowd as he takes part in a town hall-style meeting at Troy High School in suburban Detroit, June 2, 2008. (REUTERS/Jason Reed))

McCain vs. Obama

Just something to ponder that seems to run counter to what the pundits and Clinton campaign are shouting. (From a GOP pollster.)
McCain is not doing well enough among men to bridge the historical gender gap with women. The presidential voting pattern for the last 20 years suggests that the Republican candidate needs to win among men by at least 8-12 points to make up for the party’s usual gender gap with women. The so-called gender gap is not one-sided. McCain wins men by four points but loses women(to Obama) by 10 points. This is a problem......

Obama is cutting into historical GOP success with white voters. At this point, McCain is only winning the white vote by two points. Compare that to 2004 when Bush beat Kerry among white voters by 17 points (58% to 41%).....

McCain is winning among evangelicals by 25 points, getting 56% of that vote. However, this is 22 points below what Bush got against Kerry in 2004 (78%). In fact, Bush captured 80% of the evangelical vote in 2000 against Gore.

More signs that it's over

According to Politico,
Members of Hillary Clinton's advance staff received calls and emails this evening from headquarters summoning them to New York City Tuesday night, and telling them their roles on the campaign are ending, two Clinton staffers tell my colleague Amie Parnes.....

Clinton's senior aides didn't respond to requests for comment on her Tuesday night plans.

Maybe this from FirstRead,
For yet another hint at what Clinton's week is going to look like, Terry McAuliffe announced on Morning Joe that Clinton will be giving her Tuesday night victory speech in her elective office home state: New York.

Also, reinforcing my "threat from the party heavies" theory,
On NBC’s “Today”: Andrea Mitchell said “top Senators” plan to endorse Obama some time after Tuesday’s primaries, and Clinton is deciding whether to concede by midweek.

Later: CNN reports that "most" of the uncommitted Senators will endorse Obama after Tuesday.

More: (Ambinder) Clinton campaign urging staffers to turn in receipts.

And, (AFP) "I want to say also that this may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind," the former president told Clinton supporters in South Dakota, ABC and NBC reported on their news websites."

And, (Politico) On Clinton's Tuesday night appearance in NY, "
And Clinton's finance director, Jonathan Mantz, sent an email out to top donors inviting them to the event, of which I've obtained a copy."

The fantasy of superdelegates switching to Clinton

On the plane yesterday, Hillary Clinton began to paint her last fantasy sequence (echoed by a few campaign figures in various places,)
"One thing about superdelegates is that they can change their minds," she told reporters aboard her campaign plane Sunday night.

Right. Okay. So, I am a superdelegate, and I am expected to publicly switch from the likely next president of the United States, the effective leader of my party, pissing him off, pissing off his advocates who are in the ascendancy for what reason again?

When a co-chair of your campaign has to say this, maybe it's time to stop dancing.
Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor and a national co-chairman of Clinton's campaign, said Sunday: "It does appear to be pretty clear that Senator Obama is going to be the nominee. After Tuesday's contests, she needs to acknowledge that he's going to be the nominee and quickly get behind him."

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Baitullah Mehsud held a freaking press conference

If you want to know how the war in Pakistan/Afghanistan is going, top Taleban leader and admitted author of innumerable operations in Afghanistan, Baitullah Mehsud, held an extended press conference in South Waziristan.

(Also some good depth on Mehsud and his relationships.)

And, then there's this unverified report that Benazir Bhutto herself smuggled nuclear secrets to North Korea in 1993 in exchange for missile information.....

Later: (NYTimes) "A car bomb exploded outside the Danish Embassy in an upscale area of the Pakistani capital Monday, killing at least six people, according to reports from hospitals."

"Floating Prisons"

We've seen a few passing mentions of US using navy ships to house detainees, but this is probably the most complete information coming from the human rights group Reprieve.

From previous mentions, I have little doubt that the core of this is true, that detainees were held and interrogated aboard US vessels, but the details, as they come out, will matter. Was this a temporary local fix in areas where the US had no facilities or were the detentions long term? Were the ships chosen specifically because there was no oversight and no limits? Are these detentions another effort to get around torture and detention laws, another "secret prison" system, or were these just brief in theater fixes?

The "what" sounds pretty ugly, but I think the "why" will tell us more.

No signs of shutting up yet

Just shut up. It's over. You are not going to convince 190 of the remaining 205 superdelegates to back you.
Ken Vogel reports that the Clinton campaign is using the (Puerto Rico) results to openly argue that Barack Obama has a problem with Hispanic voters — an idea Clinton backers have previously mentioned only behind the scenes.

How this ends.....

Assuming the Clinton camp isn't already privately telegraphing a dropout date and the Obama camp doesn't hit the magic number Tuesday night, I would think that Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid will be in contact with the Clinton campaign sometime over the next few days to set a deadline for Clinton to withdraw.

The message will be, "we, along with x number of other superdelegates, are going to endorse Obama on "date x" and there are two possibilities. We would much prefer to give the speech praising you after you've dropped out......."

(Clinton stayed in too long if she wanted VP or some other concession. Her negotiating power is now much weaker.)

On the other hand, Obama was feeling so comfortable he was catching flying pancakes this morning.

(Sen. Barack Obama catches a pancake on a plate during a gathering of veterans and military families in the armory at the W. H. Lyon Fairgrounds in Sioux Falls, S.D., Sunday, June 1, 2008. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson))

Putting the onus back on Clinton

I think, after watching the freakshow yesterday, the Obama campaign has decided that they've had enough,
Asked if Obama would wait to get a concession call from Clinton before claiming the nomination, (Anita) Dunn said the onus was on Clinton now that the Democratic Party has firmed up the number of delegates needed to claim the party's nod.

"He's not going to wait by the phone like a high-school girl waiting for a date," said Dunn. "That's not Barack Obama."

"After Tuesday," Dunn added, referring to the final contests of South Dakota and Montana, Clinton "can decide how united she wants this party to be."

Picture of the Day

Ahhhh... Visual metaphor, my old friend.

(Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws committee co-chair Jim Roosevelt tries to fix a fallen sign as co-chair Alexis Herman, second from left, Patrice Taylor, center, Phil McNamara and Stacie Paxton, right, try to help, Saturday, May 31, 2008 in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh))

YouTube fun

Here are two Clinton supporters coming unglued at the DNC meeting yesterday on YouTube. I'm sure there are more....

And, I thought this was pretty funny. While the Florida delegation was holding its press availability on their agreement to the settlement, Clinton hack Lanny Davis stands out in the crowd of reporters begging for someone to pay attention to him.

(On the bright side, that thing yesterday was so totally unwatchable, that most people won't be inflamed by it.)

Bush is creating Intelligence chaos on his way out the door.....

The Bush administration starts this now?
A Bush administration plan to issue new orders realigning the chain of command over U.S. spy services has triggered turf-related skirmishes across the intelligence community.....

A spokesman for Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell declined to comment on the revised order but said it was expected to be completed in mid-June.

If this goes forward, it pretty much guarantees the next President begins his term with almighty intel turf battles going on, hamstringing any early efforts towards Al Qaeda and likely making the country less safe. No clear chain of command, and many officials more concerned with internal, rather than external, issues.

The state of Iraq....

I'm not quite as thrilled as many because we're still talking 19 US soldiers and 500+ (reported) Iraqi civilian deaths, but, still, it is nominally better than it has been.
Nineteen U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq in May, the U.S. military said on Sunday, the lowest monthly death toll since U.S. forces invaded to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The number of Iraqi civilians killed in the same month plunged to 505 after reaching a seven-month high of 968 in April figures obtained by Reuters from Iraq's interior, defense and health ministries showed.

On the broader front, I think it's important to note that, while there is still lots of violence, none of the topline Iraqi (non-Al Qaeda) factional leaders are openly calling for fighting right now.

However, none of the underlying issues, oil-sharing, powersharing, minority rights, provincial elections, Kirkuk, have been dealt with so the reasons for violence still stand, and I would still think it's likely that any one of those issues could/will reignite the conflicts.

And, of course, we've seen lessenings before....

(PS. Their elections, a very likely flashpoint, have now slipped into November.)