Saturday, March 08, 2008

Wyoming Decides...

The Wyoming caucuses have ended and, as expected, Barack Obama has emerged the winner, likely gaining 7 of the state's 12 delegates when all votes are tallied. Obama's organization skills-- and his embracing of the 50-state strategy-- pay off in these states and that's promising for November.

Next up? Mississippi on Tuesday, and then nothing until Pennsylvania on April 22.

[UPDATE: There was also a special election in Illinois for the House seat abandoned by Dennis Hastert. In an outcome that should have Republicans everywhere worried for November, the Democratic candidate Bill Foster won. Obama's coattails in action?]

Another Fine Veto

While it isn't as unamerican as children's health care or stem cell research, the President still couldn't allow Congress to ban waterboarding. What a patriot.

Presidential Race: More Odds and Ends

I can't keep with the news cycle anymore. But here's a post in which I try-

Good news for Democrats... the number of voters who say they're Democrats is on the rise, whereas independents are giving Republicans their lowest approval #s of the Bush era.

This chart has the most succinct summary of the Democratic race I have found. It shows how many delegates each candidate has, how many remain and in what states, and what the candidates' strategies are moving forward. The underlying fact remains neither can win without superdelegate votes.

One argument both will be making to said superdelegates is electability. A new poll finds that both can beat Sen. McCain in a general election... but Obama wins by a slightly better margin. What's truly interesting about the poll is a look at how the two candidates differ in shaping the electoral map (Hillary's wins are more traditional; Obama does better at blue-ing red states). Also to be considered is what effect each would have on the congressional and Senate races in each state.

And in the actual campaigns, Hillary wants you to know that she has crossed the "commander in chief threshold" and that John McCain has too, unlike that loser Barack O'McTalksALot. McCain > Obama? This sort of rhetoric is angering a lot of voters... including the never shy Keith Olbermann.

Keith Olbermann also did a report on the same show on the truth about the NAFTA story.

Sen. Obama, meanwhile, fires back on his ability to handle a crisis.

On the Florida and Michigan front, the Clinton team still seems reluctant about do-over contests. They still say the original votes must count... even though Clinton said last Fall that she was keeping her name on the Michigan ballot because "It's clear, this election they're having is not going to count for anything." Oops!

A top Obama advisor resigned this week after referring to Clinton as a "monster" in an overseas interview. Kudos. If only the numerous Clinton staffers who've thrown the kitchen sink at Obama this past month (African Muslim! Ken Starr!! Karl Rove politics!) had the dignity to do the same.

Glenn Greenwald, meanwhile, has an excellent post on how conservatives are saying they find "scary" the level of enthusiasm that Obama supporters are showing for their candidate. Greenwald reminds said conservatives of the cult of personality that they built, with no tolerance of dissent, around their hero, George W. Bush.

Moving on to the Republican side, a few people decide it's time to set the record straight on McCain's revisionist lie that he was critical of the Iraq strategy and of Donald Rumsfeld. A good start. The media has a very bad habit of taking McCain's lies at face value.

Finally, with the GOP primary over, a video tribute to what a circus it was.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Weekend Odds and Ends

It's 6pm. Do you know where your news update is? Oh, I found it...

Breaking news! Unchecked executive power abused! News at 11: "The FBI acknowledged Wednesday it improperly accessed Americans' telephone records, credit reports and Internet traffic in 2006, the fourth straight year of privacy abuses resulting from investigations aimed at tracking terrorists and spies." My bad!

Take heed, you fucking socialist moonbats! Big Business is looking out for your best interests: "Big industries are waging an intense lobbying effort to block new, tougher limits on air pollution that is blamed for hundreds of heart attacks, deaths and cases of asthma, bronchitis and other breathing problems."

And in related free-market/deregulation news of glory: "Nearly a year after being told to do so, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday he couldn't say when he would comply with a Supreme Court directive and determine whether greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles should be regulated." So what does the Environmental Protection Agency do nowadays anyway?

Meanwhile, the nation's natural resources crisis comes to California.

And in Congress, a decent bill passes amidst the usual rabble: "After more than a decade of struggle, the House on Wednesday passed a bill requiring most group health plans to provide more generous coverage for treatment of mental illnesses, comparable to what they provide for physical illnesses."

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, things are still in limbo after last month's elections.

Finally, in South America, shit continues to get ugly.

It's The You-Know-What, Stupids!

I'm generally a fan of liberal economist Paul Krugman (read his last book, link to his blog from mine), and I always read his columns in the NY Times. Still, he is doing about as good a job lately hiding his support for Sen. Clinton as I am mine for Sen. Obama.

His newest column-- 'The Anxiety Election'-- is mostly about making the argument that Democrats should focus on the economy this year (only sillyheads still care about the war!), but the underlying message is only Clinton is capable of cleaning up the GOP's fiscal messes, with her experience and health insurance mandates at her side.

I felt compelled to send him an email in response. Here is what I wrote-

Dear Mr. Krugman (re: 3/6/08 column),

You make the point in today's column that the Ohio primary results say that the economy is the most important issue to voters this year (no arguments there), and that no one trusts Sen. Obama on the economy, and this is why Sen. Clinton triumphed (as she was expected to). You seem to be using the result of ONE primary to validate the opinion we all know you've had for months. Is this fair?

After all, what then did all those dozens of primaries Obama has been winning say? What narrative can we have gleamed from his February winning streak? That Kansas, Virginia, or Maine don't care about the economy? What narrative will we gleam from Obama's likely win in Wyoming next week?

Do you believe the average voter has thoroughly read their websites to engage in a detailed comparison and internal debate about their respective policies and proposals? Do you believe that-- other than a mandate quibble which depends more on what kind of Congress we have in 2009-- Sen. Obama has not shown the leadership and intellectual qualities necessary to lead on this issue should he become the nominee?

Please don't be selective with these narratives. I'd be curious to hear your followup on this. Thank you.

If, by some miracle, I get a response, I will post it. Thoughts?

Quote of the Day

"Let's say it is Obama and Hillary... Let's put Hillary at the top — That's a position she's familiar with. Therefore, you've got a woman and a black for the first time ever on the Democrat ticket. Ahem. They don't have a prayer."
--The totally not-racist Rush Limbaugh, showing off his excellence in broadcasting.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Quick Thoughts on Florida and Michigan

I had hinted at this before, but now even Howard Dean is warming up to the idea of do-over primaries in June for Florida and Michigan. He's leaving it up to the states themselves, however, to come up with plans and financing if they want to do that.

The backstory here is, of course, that those two states moved up their primaries in violation of party rules, and the DNC punished them by stripping their delegates. All the candidates sided with the DNC-- yes, even Sen. Clinton-- and agreed not to campaign in those states, and not to be on the ballots. Surprise surprise, Clinton's name ended up on the Michigan ballot anyway and she won a victory there against "Uncommitted". She then won in Florida where she showed up that night to celebrate her faux-victory. She has since been demanding the decision be reversed and the delegates be seated at the convention. The reason, she insists, is not the personal benefit to her... it's that these voters have been disenfranchised!

And yet, with the possibility of those voters getting a renewed say (and a pivotal one to boot) in the election, the Clinton campaign doesn't seem to be leaping at the opportunity. How very odd.

While they are indicating they'd be open to this scenario, they don't seem too enthusiastic about it. "We believe that [original] vote ought to count," Clinton campaign communications director Howard Wolfson said. It's pretty obvious here that they are not excited at the idea of a new vote. Clinton wants the original ones counted because Obama got zero delegates since he wasn't on the ballot (unless he changes his name to Barack Uncommitted to score those delegates). In a new primary, Clinton would likely win Florida, Obama could win Michigan, but neither by decisive margins, so they'd basically end up splitting the delegates when all was said and done.

She'd end up no closer to catching up to Obama's delegate lead, and thus would like now to avoid another two-state fight, despite her current concern (after weeks of mocking caucuses and red-states, etc) for the voter's voices. They'll take a do-over over nothing, but it's clear they'd be disappointed by that outcome.

Howard Dean is calling Hillary's bluff here. That's my personal take on this story.

[PS- Think I'm tough on the Clinton campaign? Read what Tim Dickinson has to say.]

Is Your State in a Recession?

This piece has an interactive chart and a good accompanying article.

My home state of NY seems okay for now. California, Nevada, Michigan? Notsomuch.

Quote of the Day

"If you murder innocents to achieve a political objective, you're evil."
--President George W. Bush, today, saying more than he intended to.

Presidential Race: Odds and Ends

Because everyone is still obsessing over the fallout from Tuesday, here's the latest news...

One look at the delegate count from Tuesday shows Sen. Clinton with a net gain of only 4 additional delegates. Sen. Obama still has a lead on her of around 100 delegates. Like it or not, it appears, though, that the superdelegates will be needed to put one of them over the top, though it's how they make that decision that's the question.

If electability is a factor in these decisions, a new poll shows both candidates beating Sen. McCain in November, and concludes "Obama's advantage over McCain is the bigger one in this ABC News/Washington Post poll, a 12-point lead compared to Clinton's 6-point edge. McCain's endorsement by George W. Bush may not help: The president's back at his career low approval rating, matching Harry Truman in long-term unpopularity."

And what of Florida and Michigan? The possibility of do-over primaries is being suggested.

And some are saying that playing rough payed off for Clinton on Tuesday, but what was it? If it was the NAFTA issue, some new revelations throw that story for a loop, while the CBC has a good report. And Glenn Greenwald has an excellent debunking on the Whitewater-esque Rezko 'scandal'. And did the Clinton campaign make Obama look 'blacker' in some of their ads? Either way, they seem to be lying about it.

Still, some Obama folks seem to be saying he'll be campaigning a bit tougher from now on.

Meanwhile, Clinton continues to seemingly endorse McCain over Obama by playing the 'experience' card so heavily. How she thinks that won't backfire is beyond me.

Finally, Josh Marshall wants to know why the press is ignoring the McCain/Hagee story.

Freedom River

As an addendum, here's a cartoon from the 1970s that makes a very similar point-

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"...And Start Acting Like It."

Watching John McCain's victory speech last night, and the endorsement photo-op with the President today, was illuminating about the deep denial Republicans are living in. McCain was going on and on last night about how America is the best (best health care, best wars, best economy, etc) -- the bubble that national Republicans live in is the one bubble that hasn't burst in recent years-- and all I could think of was this classic Bill Maher rant-

I know I've posted this before, but it's always worth repeating. We've been resting on our laurels for decades now, and not making the tough decisions and sacrifices necessary for progress, and now we're paying the price. And you can't even discuss that basic fact in our politics without being accused of sedition and having an American flag shoved in your face. The truth hurts and nobody wants to hear it.

We've become our own worst enemy.

Stupor Tuesday Update

I have awoken from my slumber to discover that Sen. Clinton has indeed won the Texas primary, though Sen. Obama will likely win their bonus caucus. And so she wins the narrative war, even if the actual delegate victory was minimal at best.

I'm sure pundits are trying to figure out how this happened... what turned the tide? Did the smear campaigns-- Muslim emails, Kenyan garb photo-- have an impact? Was it that NAFTA thing? The 3am ad? The SNL-backed narrative of Hillary as a victim of the Obama machine? Anyone have their own theories? Whatever the answer, the race continues.

And as this all goes on, Hillary's war for delegates will be the real underlying story.

Ohio/Vermont/Rhode Island Decide... Texas Too Close To Call

I'm on the verge of falling asleep here, so bear with me. I'm still watching MSNBC and the pundits seem to be even boring themselves with their spin. The fact of the matter is that the contests seem to have turned out as expected... Sen. Clinton will win in Ohio and has won in Rhode Island, and Sen. Obama scored big in Vermont. Texas is still too close to call, with results from both the primary and caucus likely not known for several more hours.

Moreover, her victory speech was also exactly as expected... she's created the narrative that the game is back on, and that now America will come to her rather than Talky McHope. She says that she looks forward to "continuing the dialogue" with Sen. Obama as the primaries go on. Yes, ummm, this certainly has been some interesting "dialogue" that we've had.

Sen. Obama's speech was conciliatory and forward-looking. He brought up the delegate count, which even after tonight, even if Texas ends up going for Clinton, will still be solidly on his side. That's his biggest card and he knows it. He brought up his usual points about bringing America together, and focused his criticisms on Sen. McCain, not Clinton.

And so we move on to Pennsylvania and beyond. The real battles will now be behind-the-scenes... Sen. Clinton working over the superdelegates, and trying to get a deal done for Florida and Michigan. And many primaries through June. It's going to be a long and exhausting road to the convention. Are you ready? I am, but first I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It's Official... John McCain is Republican Nominee

With tonight's victories giving him all the delegates he needs-- and Mike Huckabee finally ending his campaign-- John McCain has now clinched the nomination of his party. It's being reported that he will be going to the White House tomorrow for a big-photo with the President and an endorsement. This is exciting.

The liberal media folks on MSNBC were gushing about how manly and awesome Sen. McCain is and how the Democrats should be very scared of the maverick's appeal. But his maverick myth is now only perpetuated by the media-- his base-- and not borne out by facts. He choose his path in 2004 and sold his soul for George W. Bush's 30 pieces of silver, believing that such fealty was necessary to gain the stamp of approval of the party. And while that may have begun as political necessity, he has now embraced Bush Republicanism fully, selling out on every issue from taxes to 'values' to torture.

Conventional wisdom was assuming a year or so ago that the GOP candidate would throw the insanely unpopular President (now at a historically low 19% approval) under the bus and run as an anti-Bush Republican. Luckily for us, John McCain chose instead to stay the course.

With the economy in shambles after years of bad policy, no end in sight in Iraq, and people demanding government action on health care and other crises, there's nothing better for Democrats-- not without their share of problems-- than to have the resourceful John McCain running for Bush's third term. If they can't win that battle, then god help us all.

Thoughts on Texas, Ohio, and Beyond

The conventional wisdom lately has been that today is Hillary Clinton's final stand and that anything short of a blowout victory will force her to drop out of the race (mathematically, her road to the nomination seems unlikely). And while I would like to believe this, so much about this primary season has been conventional wisdom getting turned on its head.

Short of losing Ohio (unlikely), Sen. Clinton will remain in this race for the long haul. Her whole life's ambition has been this race, and she knows that this is her one and only shot. And she feels cheated out of her prize (by voters, by the media, whoever else she can blame for her campaign's failures). I believe that she intends to see this whole primary season through (from today through Puerto Rico in June), because if you've been working toward something your whole life... what's another four months in the mud?

The main reason that I think she will stay in-- especially as she uses likely wins in Ohio and Rhode Island to create a "comeback kid" narrative like after New Hampshire-- is that Pennsylvania's primary next month seems tailor-made for her, and it's no small state. She has the Governor (and how!) and much of the political machine of that state working for her. She doesn't want that advantage wasted. She wants to win there, and then begin working over the superdelegates to get them back on the Clinton political gravy train.

And in between today and April 22-- in which there is a Wyoming caucus and a Mississippi primary everyone's ignoring-- she will continue her attacks on Obama... both subtle (the Kenyan garb photo) and explicit (the 3am ad), working to erode his support. Voters can be fickle, and she knows this.

Yes, her win in Ohio will likely only be a slim margin, meaning her and Obama would split the state's delegates, and give her no real boost toward the final delegate goal. But she wants the narrative back on her side, and that's what today is really about.

Climate Blogging

Balloon Juice's Tim F. has two good posts for those still in denial about climate change-

*The Many Stages Of Climate Denial

*Weather And Climate

Hillary's Last Stand

With crucial primaries less than a day away, Sen. Clinton did what anyone in her position would do... appear on 'The Daily Show' to get some last-minute mojo from Jon Stewart. After summing up the campaign to date, Jon had her on via satellite to make her case-

(Part 2 of the interview- here)

But to me, Hillary's most important appearance yesterday was the one in which she said this-
"I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002," Clinton says.

So basically she is saying that if Sen. Obama gets the nomination, you should all just vote for Sen. McCain instead. Between the 3am ad and this, it is becoming harder and harder to remember which party's nomination she is seeking. As I wrote in my post about the 50-state strategy, she is more than happy to sabotage the party's long-term prospects if it benefits her in the short-term. And if she were to get the nomination, she's screwed herself too by spending the last month making McCain's arguments. This really has to end.

[PS- Since she keeps bringing up Obama's 2002 Iraq speech, it's worth revisiting. It wasn't just that he was opposed to it, but that he accurately predicted what would happen-- the long-term cost, the splintering between the Iraqi factions, etc-- as opposed to the optimistic, and wrong, view the war supporters offered. This isn't an "I told you so" minor point, it establishes Obama's foresight and judgement... and that is why his 2002 stance has been so beneficial to his campaign, not because it was just 'pretty words'.]

Meanwhile, in Iraq...

The big Iraq news of the weekend was the visit of Iranian President Ahmadinejad to Baghdad... and the heroes welcome he received from the country's Shiite leaders (and he didn't even have to sneak in and out of the place like the Bush crew does!).

And how odd that our President made no mention of this historic trip. I can't imagine why he'd forget to discuss his biggest foreign boogeyman walking cordially around Baghdad with the Iraqi government that our soldiers are dying to defend. Probably the same reason he keeps forgetting to mention when he demands more billion$ and patience from the American people on Iraq how the insurgency-- both sides-- is now on our payroll. These things just slip his mind, you see.

We've had an awesome war. I look forward to President McCain continuing the fun forever.

[Andrew Sullivan: $3 Trillion... And all we got was this lousy photo-shoot?]

Monday, March 03, 2008

Odds and Ends

Is there a primary tomorrow? I haven't heard anything. Here's the news...

The AG swats away the pesky flies buzzing around his master: "Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused Friday to refer the House's contempt citations against two of President Bush's top aides to a federal grand jury. Mukasey said White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former presidential counsel Harriet Miers committed no crime."

John McCain <3's bigots. Will he reject or denounce them?

Hillary Clinton says she's continuing forward. Obama makes his final pitch to Texas.

More bad news for people who rely on that oil stuff (you know, like everyone): "The weaker dollar that has propelled oil and other commodities prices higher sent light, sweet crude for April delivery past $103.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange." But seriously, there's no reason to actually do anything about this.

You know you have a climate problem when you see headlines like this: 'Feds say water negotiations have failed'

Why won't those liberal constitution-mongers give up on FISA already?

Finally, craptacular news from around the world... Some shit is about to go down between Venezuela/Ecuador and Colombia. And we move another step closer to Mideast peace as Israel continues its assault on Hamas-run Gaza. The U.S. puts warships off the coast of Lebanon. You know we're nearing the end of another Bush presidency when we start bombing Somalia. Finally, Dmitry Medvedev scored a shocking (!!) victory in the Russian presidential elections, and will commence pretending that he runs the country instead of Prime Minister Putin.

Video Smörgåsbord: Bonus Monday Edition

I've got a case of the Mondays, time to sneak off to Chotchkie's for some drinks. While I'm away, here are some more videos I've come across. This first one is a response to the overwhelming ad attacks of this past week-

Elsewhere, someone does a hilarious parody of the Jack Nicholson/Hillary support video. Barack Obama speaks out on education and parental responsibility in Beaumont, TX... as well as gay and lesbian rights and Christianity. Finally, the newly bearded Bill Richardson expresses his concern that tomorrow should be "D-Day" for Democrats.

Finally, Hillary Clinton is scheduled to appear on 'The Daily Show' tonight. Set your TIVOs.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Video Smörgåsbord

I watch a lot of political/news videos (I need help). Now, I share them with you...

Satirist Lee Stranahan does a fitting sequel to Hillary's 3am ad. He did an even better parody ad in December that works even better now. And someone dug up another clip of Past Bill Clinton endorsing Obama! And as the zero hour approaches, Hillary enlists the help of Jack Nicholson to boost support. A cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live can't hurt either.

Elsewhere, Keith Olbermann de-spins the President's latest press conference. Bill Maher gives his New Rules on the anti-Obama smears... and later, the panel shares thoughts on William F. Buckley. Finally, George Carlin had another HBO special last night, a classic.

Democratic Analysis / Superdelegates, Not So Fast!

TPM gives us the latest look at the state of the presidential race-

My personal bet? Sen. Clinton is in the race through at least Pennsylvania in April.

Though as the momentum continues to swing toward Sen. Obama, so is the support of many party members... the mythical superdelegates. And so Sen. Clinton is now saying not so fast superdelegates, no committments until this race is over! I agree with that sentiment, but it's a noticeable change in tone from her camp on the matter.

And not to be outdone on her trying to game the rules to her advantage (see: Florida and Michigan), Clinton was apparently complaining-- with days left-- that the Texas primary/caucus rules are unfair, and demanding action to rectify them. There has a been clear record of the Clintons seeing themselves as above the rules and displaying contempt for a democratic process that hasn't delivered the outcome they wanted. I agree that so much of how these primaries have been set up is silly and needlessly complicated, and should be changed immediately after this contest is over for next time, but these are the rules and you don't change them mid-game because you're losing. There are many things concerning me about a potential Clinton presidency... this is a big one.

[PS- Mother Jones has a 10-point primer on how the two differ on economic policy.]