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9 years 41 weeks ago

January 7, 2008

18:14

As you can see in the two posts below this one, the wheels are off the Clinton bandwagon. She faces an epic Obama surge with few options to stem the bleeding. But just when I was feeling sorry for her, she has to morph into Giuliani:

Facing the prospect of defeat in tomorrow’s primary, Hillary Clinton just made her strongest suggestion yet that the next president may face a terrorist attack – and that she would be the best person to handle it.

She pointed out that the day after Gordon Brown took office as the British prime minister, there was a failed attempt at a double bombing in London and Glasgow.

“I don’t think it was by accident that Al Qaeda decided to test the new prime minister,” she said. “They watch our elections as closely as we do, maybe more closely than some of our fellows citizens do…. Let’s not forget you’re hiring a president not just to do what a candidate says during the election, you want a president to be there when the chips are down.”

The scary terrorists will attack us if we don't elect Hillary! Or something.

An act of desperation for a campaign dead in the water.

Categories: Politics
18:10

Earlier today I posted the Rasmussen poll showing an Obama surge:

        1/7  1/6  1/5  1/4  1/3

Clinton  33   36   38   38   41
Obama    29   25   25   26   24
Edwards  20   23   20   18   17


Now, Gallup, one of the best pollsters in the biz, shows even better numbers for Obama:

        1/4-6  12/14-16

Clinton    33     45
Obama      33     27
Edwards    20     15

This thing is becoming a tsunami, and that's before Obama even wins New Hampshire and South Carolina. I don't see how Clinton recovers.

Categories: Politics
18:05

SUSA and Rasmussen give us the first polls of South Carolina in 2008.

Democrats:

SurveyUSA. 1/4-6. Likely Democratic Primary voters. MoE 4.2% (12/17-18 results)

Obama 50 (39)
Clinton 30 (41)
Edwards 16 (17)

Rasmussen. 1/6. Likely Democratic primary voters. MoE 4% (12/16 results)

Obama 42 (33)
Clinton 30 (33)
Edwards 14 (17)

SUSA seyz:

There is across-the board movement away from Clinton to Obama. Among women: Clinton had led by 17 points, now trails by 14 points. Among blacks, Obama had led by 20 points, now leads by 46. Among white voters, Obama had been 3rd, is now 2nd, tied with Edwards, the two of them 9 and 10 points back of Clinton. Among Moderates, Obama was tied, now leads by 23. Among voters age 65+, Clinton had been at 61% a month ago, 40% today. In the Low Country, Clinton had led by 13, now trails by 16. Upstate, Obama had been tied, now trails by 16. In the Midlands, Obama had led by 5, now leads by 26. South Carolina Democrats name the Economy as the issue the next President should focus on ahead of all others. Among voters focused on the Economy, Obama leads Clinton 2:1. Among voters focused on Health Care, Clinton leads Obama 41% to 37%.

And note the Iowa effect:

One quarter of SC likely voters say they could change their mind before the SC Primary. Of those who may change their mind, Edwards' support is the weakest, Obama's the strongest. Among voters who made up their mind AFTER the Iowa Caucuses, Obama leads Clinton 63% to 13%.


Republicans

SurveyUSA. 1/4-7. Likely Republican primary voters. MoE 3.9%

Huckabee 36 (30)
Romney 19 (19)
McCain 17 (10)
Thompson 11 (18)
Giuliani 9 (13)
Paul 5 (0)

Upstate, Huckabee leads by 22. In the Midlands, he leads by 16. In the Low Country, he leads by 14. South Carolina Republicans think the next President should focus on Immigration ahead of all other issues. On Immigration, Huckabee and Romney had been tied, Huckabee now leads. Among Republicans who say the Economy is most important, Huckabee's support has quintupled over the past 60 days and he is now 2:1 preferred over all other.

And Republicans remain unsatisfied with their field.

43% of SC likely voters say they could change their mind before the SC Primary, significantly higher than the percent of SC Democrats who say they may change their mind. Among the comparatively few SC GOP voters who say they made up their mind after Iowa, Huckabee leads Romney 41% to 10%.

Categories: Politics
17:28

This is one case where a Republican retirement would not be good news

Embattled Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.), who is under federal investigation over his ties to imprisoned former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, will drop his bid for a 10th term, according to a California political blog.

Doolittle may drop out as early as this week, according to the California Majority Report, clearing the way for former state Rep. Rico Oller to run for the seat.

Doolittle's office did not respond to a call seeking comment at press time, although House GOP insiders said the report was true.

The blog in question is California Majority Report, and the story has also been reported at TPM.

Since the story broke, however, the Politico has updated with a quote from Doolittle's chief of staff:

Doolittle's office, while not commenting directly on the California Majority Report item, is denying that Doolittle is dropping his reelection bid.

"There is nothing new to report at our end at all," said Ron Rogers, Doolittle's chief of staff. "Mr. Doolittle is moving ahead with his plans for this year, including reelection."

Doolittle barely hung on in a highly favorable district last year, winning just 49% to 46%, and the polls were terrible for him if he stuck around. Retiring would be the smart play for him, if he cares at all about the GOP retaining the seat.

So far, however, his arrogance has kept him in the race, and long may it continue to do so.  

Our candidate is retired Air force Lt. Col. Charlie Brown, who ran a fine race last year and was poised to take the race against Doolittle this fall. If Doolittle does hang up his Abramoff-dirtied spikes, one likely candidate for the GOP (with Doolittle's rumored blessing) is former State Sen. Rico Oller.

Any Republican not reeking of eau d'Abramoff, as Doolittle is,  would be a stiff challenge for Brown in this district, but Doolittle's legacy and Brown's relative popularity in the district may well enable us to win anyway, particularly if Doolittle' successor can be tied to him (as Joy Padgett was to Bob Ney).

Of course, if his people are to be believed, he's not going anywhere. And that's perfectly good news for us.  

Categories: Politics
16:28

This was the question as the posted start time for the Hanover stop of John McCain's "the Mac is back" tour approached: Would McCain circa T Minus 1 outdraw Biden circa T Minus 9 Months?

McCain would be appearing in the Dartmouth College room Biden spoke in last spring, but his staff had used curtains to block off maybe one third of the room for McCain and his audience, and were frantically urging attendees to move toward the small stage that had been set up. In the end, McCain did outdraw Biden somewhat, and one of the curtains was removed. But en route to that moment, the McCain campaign revealed the stagecraft of campaign events more blatantly than I have ever seen, revealing in the process that they wanted the crowd to be uncomfortable if it would look good for the cameras. So people were forced to stand in a room that could have accommodated them in chairs, and harangued to crowd together long before the candidate arrived, and forced to listen to some of the same godawful songs more than once due to McCain's lateness. One man even took a break from urging people toward the stage and tried to lead them in call-and-response cheers. ("Who do we want for straight talk? McCain!" etc - he gave up pretty quickly.)

Despite the view of the McCain supporters standing next to me that, being a military man, he would surely be on time, McCain, wife Cindy, and the governor of Vermont were nearly 40 minutes later than his planned arrival time (as opposed to the posted start time, 15 minutes before that). Delivery of the line "without a doubt, Mac is back" fell to Governor Douglas, who then had to encourage the crowd to applaud policy items such as middle-class tax relief but found applause came easier for the hoary old "straight talker" line. Cindy McCain did the feminized relational work of apologizing for their lateness, and then McCain took the microphone. For like fifteen minutes.

McCain's brief stump speech opened with a few lame jokes before hitting three issues. Climate change came first: McCain walks the tightrope on that touchy-for-Republicans issue by saying that while he is convinced by the science that says climate change is real and human-caused, people who do not believe that should consider that the result of wrongly believing in climate change is leaving a cleaner planet for our children while the result of wrongly dismissing it is damaging their future. He goes on to push nuclear power as a clean alternative, noting that the Navy has used nuclear power on ships for decades without accident, and that the French also use nuclear power. This devolves into a round of scripted France-bashing, leading to the question: Is it a straight trade? As a Republican acknowledging global warming, are you required to push nuclear power and make at least three anti-France jokes to atone?

Next he spoke briefly about government spending, aiming his pitch largely at the young people he imagined would be in the audience at a college (there were a few, but it was a fairly old crowd), and highlighting his appearances at an MTV forum and on the Daily Show. For the older people (or in the belief that college students venerate Reagan? I don't know) he promised to veto every earmark presented to him using a pen given to him by Saint Gipper himself.

Finally, the "transcendental challenge of radical Islam," "perhaps the greatest evil we've ever faced." Straits of Hormuz, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, General Petraeus, I criticized Rumsfeld, surge a success! If we leave Iraq, Al Qaeda will have won and that will not happen while I am president! (But if you happen to be opposed to the war yet willing to consider voting for me, I understand that and will not accuse you of hating the troops.)

One more suck-up to the New Hampshire primary, and he turned and dashed out. The crowd didn't linger, either.

Categories: Politics
15:48

The WSJ has a story today about the Nataline Sarkisyan case, with reference to John Edwards. It's a story well covered here at Daily Kos. The comments from specialists not associated with the case are interesting. What's especially interesting (beyond the story), buried in the article, is this:

Karen Ignani, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, the main industry lobby group, said it's addressing the desire for health-care change by making its own proposals for universal coverage. Last month, it offered a proposal for guaranteeing access to individual health insurance to anyone who applies. The industry has long opposed that idea in practice.

The group also plans to work with medical societies on how to finance or cover experimental treatments. "We're not taking a P.R. approach to this but a policy approach," she said. "People want us to solve the problem, not just discuss it." [my bold].

Still, Robert Laszewski, a health-care consultant in Washington, said the industry often muffs its public-relations strategy. Cigna's delay in reversing its decision on Nataline's transplant "shows just how tone-deaf" the industry is, he said.

While they may be tone-deaf, they're not stupid. Does anyone think that guaranteed individual health insurance, even an industry-driven version, would even be on the table unless the industry smelled the possibility of a Democrat in the WH?

Categories: Politics
14:54

SUSA's latest poll of Iowa shows Obama with ridiculous leads on his GOP rivals. I've edited in the results from SUSA's last Iowa poll 12/13-15.

Today, 01/07/08 …

Obama defeats McCain by 17 points. (+12)
Obama defeats Huckabee by 23 points. (+13)
Obama defeats Romney by 26 points. (+12)
Obama defeats Giuliani by 40 points. (+19)

Today, 01/07/08 …

McCain defeats Clinton by 4 points (within the margin of sampling error). (-1)
Huckabee and Clinton tie. (+1)
Clinton defeats Romney by 8 points.  (+3)
Clinton defeats Giuliani by 16 points. (+5)

New head-to-heads from Ohio as well.

McCain defeats Obama by 7 points. (-9)
Obama and Huckabee tie. (+1)
Obama defeats Romney by 12 points. (+1)
Obama defeats Giuliani by 8 points. (-6)

McCain defeats Clinton by 2 points  (tied)
Clinton defeat Huckabee by 1 point (+12)
Clinton defeats Romney by 8 points.  (+11)
Clinton defeats Giuliani by 8 points. (+9)

Categories: Politics
14:35
  • Romney is playing the expectations game in New Hampshire. He now thinks it would be just awesome if he got a close second to McCain, despite the fact that he's spent $3.9 million in advertising on WMUR, the state's only (added: network) television station, while McCain has spent just $1.1 million.
  • The Carpetbagger Report looks at more Huckabee evangelical dog whistle language. Specifically, the word "vertical."
  • More from the Carpetbagger: why campaign reporters travel in packs.
  • Dday announces the beginning of Wankstock.
  • There is a major announcement forthcoming from Duncan Hunter.
  • An interesting observation in the Nation:

    How overwhelming was the rejection of the Republican party and its presidential prospects?

    Consider this:

    Almost 25 percent of all Iowans who caucused last Thursday did so for Obama.

    Another 20.5 caucused for Edwards, while 19.8 caucused for Clinton.

    And what of the winner of the Republican caucuses?

    Mike Huckabee won a mere 11.4 percent.

    So a quarter of Iowa caucusgoers came out for the winner of the highly-competitive Democrats while barely 10 percent came out for the Republican victor.

    If the independents-go-Democratic scenario plays out again in New Hampshire, the Democratic primary winner will almost certainly be Obama. And the winner of a Republican primary cleansed of independents and dominated by the conservative base would not necessarily be John McCain.

    (DemFromCT)

  • Yet more CIA officials connected to the torture tapes are lawyering up. (smintheus)
  • Robert Kuttner discusses (Alan) Greenspanism (h/t shirah):

    What was so striking about that book (Greenspan’s The Age of Turbulence), was that half of it is a screed against the need for government regulation—you know, free markets are self-regulating—government doesn’t need to mess with free markets. They’ll correct themselves. And the other half of it is Greenspan’s memoir about all of the times he used the Federal Reserve to bail out failed bets by free markets. Now, how can you have it both ways? Well, if you rule the roost, you can have it any way you want. Fine. But there’s a hypocrisy and there’s a lack of intellectual consistency. Either free markets regulate themselves and the government really shouldn’t do anything—yes, Alan, the Fed is part of the government—or, if you think the markets run the risk of going haywire, you have a duty to regulate on the front end and not just bail them out on the back end.

    (smintheus)

Categories: Politics
13:35

Bloggers are continuing to offer great on-the-ground coverage of campaigning in New Hampshire. There's more to be found, but here are some reports to start with.

Blue Hampshire's Mike Caulfield continues to get video of primary events. In addition to videos I linked yesterday of Richardson volunteers shoveling a town square for an event and John Edwards' parents phonebanking, he selected clips of Obama and Edwards talking about change for about a minute and a half each, to highlight their differing theories of how change happens. Blue Mass Group also has wall-to-wall NH primary coverage, including some video of Clinton from Pericles.

At MyDD, Todd Beeton compares the question-answering styles of Edwards and Clinton:

And Hillary Clinton, to her credit, is back to taking questions, albeit (in the case of the event I went to Friday) at a distance from questioners that comes with standing on a stage above the crowd. But her questions were not terribly challenging, or if they were, as one appeared to be from the answer Clinton gave, she didn't repeat it for all to hear. Where John Edwards relished in being challenged by audiences, Clinton seemed to fear it, although I'm not sure why as she shines in that setting. As a sidenote, I was amused to run into a guy at the Obama rally yesterday who'd asked her a question at the Friday Clinton event and was accosted by media afterwards demanding to know if he was a plant; this guy couldn't have been further from a plant if he tried.

Also at MyDD, Transplanted Texan reports that an Edwards diner meet and greet at 6:30 this morning brought out hundreds of people, and what was supposed to be a Q&A turned into a rally. Transplanted Texan also has some debate night observations, including the fact that in the post-Republican-debate spin room, his volunteer responsibility was to stand around so the room would look full. But this is priceless:

I headed back to my car around midnight - and who should I find on the empty sidewalks but a lost David Brooks, unable to find his car. He asked if I knew where the media lots were, and then proceeded to head in the opposite direction. Having parked near a media lot, I can now say with some confidence: David Brooks asked me for help, and wound up even more lost when he didn't take my directions.

The question is, is this funnier than Blue Mass Grouper David's Broder encounter at the previous NH debate?

OK, the Broder story.  He and I were the only ones on the shuttle, so we made a bit of small talk on the ride from the lot to the building where the press hangs out (Alumni Gymnasium, if you're keeping score).  When we got to the credential pickup spot, I presented my photo ID and was handed my credential, no questions asked.  But things didn't go so smoothly for Mr. B.  "David Broder, from the Washington Post," he said.  "Hmmm," said the checker.  "Broder ... Broder ... from the Washington Post, you say?"  "Yes," Broder replied.  "Did you fill out a credential request?"  "My newspaper did," he replied.  "They told me it was all taken care of."  The checker perused the list for a few moments, and then declared Mr. Broder's name absent.  She handed him a form to fill out.  I was still standing there, and I assured the checker that he was, in fact, David Broder from the Washington Post.  That seemed to reassure her, since I was the second person to have done that.  I found that extremely funny -- imagine the headline: "Blogger helps Broder gain admittance to restricted press area."  What planet are we on, again?

Categories: Politics
13:32

Promoted from the diaries ~ smintheus

As mcjoan noted, The FISA plot thickens:  The Bushies have banned most senators from reading documents that offer legal grounds for warrantless surveillance. Sen. Dodd argued that all Senators should be allowed to read the documents before voting on telecom amnesty...and for good reason. Sen. Whitehouse read the documents, which he characterized as advocating a "legal doctrine for presidential lawbreaking."  

The FISA plot thickens again. Bush wants to keep Senators clueless because telecom immunity also gives Bush immunity. Telecom immunity includes by definition the approval of two condition precedents:  Bush had constitutional authority for the warrantless surveillance and the surveillance was determined to be lawful.  Under the doctrine of Congressional ratification, the effect of this approval is to retroactively "legalize" Bush's authority and program. This means that Bush may have immunity from prosecution.  Moreover, for years, Bush could not cite any statutory authority for his theory of unitary presidential prerogatives. Bush will now have precedent.

My judicial clerkship with state supremes taught me that arguments are a little like onions:  Sometimes you need to peel away the surface claims to uncover the real issues.

Bush argues that retroactive immunity is imperative to protect the telecoms from financial ruin from lawsuits and to avoid unfairly punishing patriotic telecoms which cooperated after receiving assurances of lawfulness. Neither of these grounds is presently an issue facing the telecoms. The law already immunizes telecoms and if financial ruin becomes an issue, there are remedies which have been used in the past which do not involve retroactive immunity.  In fact, there is no political or legislative precedent for retroactive immunity under these circumstances.

If the telecoms do not actually need immunity at this time to address issues that presently do not exist, what is Bush's real motive for pushing retroactive immunity now? The answer lies in what may happen to Bush if the telecoms are not provided immunity now:  The courts may review evidence showing that Bush acted illegally. Telecom immunity would provide grounds to dismiss the lawsuits to prevent the disclosure of this evidence. However, if the telecom immunity clause only provided immunity to telecoms, then Bush would not be protected from other forums --- like independent media, prosecutors and Congress --- that could investigate his domestic surveillance programs.

Coincidentally, the telecom immunity clause is structured to also provide retroactive immunity to Bush.

1.  There Is No Precedent For Telecom Immunity.
 
The first step in peeling away the top layer of Bush's deceit is to look at the historical precedent for Congress enacting a law to retroactively immunize prior illegal conduct by corporations.  Twice Congress considered and rejected retroactive immunity for companies who engaged in similar conduct and raised similar arguments to justify immunity.

Glenn Greenwald found "only one prior attempt" of Congress considering retroactive immunity for "lawbreaking corporations." In 1965, some lawmakers wanted to retroactively legalize some bank mergers which a court held were illegal under antitrust laws. Glenn noted the "virtually identical" circumstances between the bank anti-trust case and the telecom case.  In both cases, the corporations knew when "they broke the law that their conduct was illegal," and after a court ruled the companies violated the law, then they "ran to Congress asking for a special law to be passed legalizing their criminal behavior (on the ground that the American economy would be crippled if the mergers were undone)."

Senator Robert Kennedy opposed retroactive immunity for the banks as a dangerous precedent that could later be "logically applied to murder or any other crime."  Telecom immunity raises the same dangerous precedent that it will pave an easy road for immunity to be provided in another context.

However, the bank anti-trust case is not the only time that an industry sought and was refused retroactive immunity from Congress.

In the 1970s, the telegraph communications industry sought Congressional immunity for assisting our government in a case very analogous to the telecom industry today. There was a government operation known as Project SHAMROCK where the Armed Forces Security Agency and its successor, the National Security Agency (NSA) were provided "access to all Americans' incoming, outgoing, and transiting telegraphs." The NSA then analyzed 150,000 messages a month.

The "NSA had eavesdropped on the international communications of US citizens" as well as the communications of anti-war protesters.  Similar to Bush's domestic spying, SHAMROCK had a "watch list" of "people in the U.S. whose conversations would be identified and plucked out of the ether by NSA computers." There were 600 American citizens on this watch list, including "singer Joan Baez, pediatrician Benjamin Spock, actress Jane Fonda and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr."

Similar to the proposed telecom immunity, Congress considered protecting the telegraph companies on the same grounds urged by Bush for telecom immunity.  The Church Committee considered not disclosing the names of the telegraph companies which had "cooperated purely out of patriotic motives" so that they could avoid lawsuits. The Church Committee "decided to leave the names in the report, even after repeated pressing by the Ford Administration that such disclosure would damage national security."

Congress actually investigated the illegal domestic surveillance and "widespread intelligence abuses by the CIA, FBI and NSA." It was the now-deceased Rep. Bella Abzug who hauled the telegraph companies before Congress in 1976 to investigate deeper into SHAMROCK. Abzug  subpoenaed current and former FBI and NSA officials as well as the CEOs of Western Union, ITT and RCA Global. President Ford whipped out executive privilege, which the FBI and NSA officials obeyed. For the first time in history, Ford also tried to cloak the private corporations with executive privilege, asking them to honor the privilege, but the companies testified and provided documents to Abzug.

Despite pressure, Congress did not provide immunity in exchange for testimony. There was no immunity (pdf file) for witnesses to testify before the Senate Select Church Committee, no civil immunity and no criminal immunity despite pressure for Congress to enact legislation to protect the companies. The remedy by Congress was not immunity, but Congressional insistence that the intelligence community must comply with laws, which was reinforced by enacting FISA.

So, twice Congress considered providing retroactive immunity for prior illegal acts by domestic industries but ultimately rejected. As Senator Dodds noted, this telecom proposal would provide "unprecedented immunity."

This is important because the US Supreme Court does consider historical legislative practices when interpreting the nature and scope of Congressional constitutional authority.  Thus far, it appears that Congress does not have a legislative practice of providing retroactive immunity to corporations under these circumstances.

Analysis continues below the fold.

Categories: Politics
12:51

Speech below the fold. Musgrove isn't my favorite kind of Democrat, but he has a son in Iraq. And if nothing else, the Senate could benefit from having a few people in that deliberative body with a personal stake in what happens in Iraq.

And finally, our son Michael couldn’t be here today.  He’s a graduate of Ole Miss with one year of law school under his belt, and last May he got married to his wonderful soul mate Maggie who is with us this afternoon.  But Michael is back serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.  He’s a Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps and is stationed at Al Asad in Al Anbar Province.

Melody’s biggest worry used to be whether or not Michael would get injured playing starting center on his state championship high school football team.  The worries are a little different

now … and he’s in our prayers every moment of every day.

Then again, reading the speech, there no further mention of Iraq. it's as if his entire campaign will be a crusade against pork. Has anyone ever won a race on cutting the federal budget? I'd like to say Tom Coburn in Oklahoma, but his race was all about the culture wars, not really about budget cutting.

If nothing else, I hope Musgrove forces the cash-strapped NRSC to spend a lot of money in this race.

And don't worry, the less we like him around these parts, the better it's for him in Mississippi. There's a reason he took a gratuitous swipe against California and New York in his speech. The best way for us to help win that seat is to hate on Musgrove, and I'm sure he'll oblige plenty in the coming 11 months.

Categories: Politics
12:30

Let's see what Iowa has done for the race:

New Hampshire

        1/5-6  1/4-5  1/4   12/18  

Obama    38     39     37    28
Clinton  28     27     27    31
Edwards  18     18     19    18


National

        1/7  1/6  1/5  1/4  1/3

Clinton  33   36   38   38   41
Obama    29   25   25   26   24
Edwards  20   23   20   18   17


That national lead, and what it could mean for Hillary in the Super Tuesday states, is all she has going for her now that she's pretty much headed for defeat in NH, SC, and probably Nevada as well. She loses that, and she's got nothing else on which to fall back.

Categories: Politics
12:07

Okay, this is Kentucky, friendly territory for the GOP. We were never going to win it.

But this is the reason we can't take Huckabee for granted. As I've been writing for years, and despite all the GOP's establishment's best efforts, the more people see him, the more they like him.

SurveyUSA. 1/7. Registered voters. MoE 4.2%  (12/16 results)

Huckabee (R) 53 (46)
Clinton (D) 41 (47)

Huckabee (R) 54 (51)
Obama (D) 35 (38)

For whatever reasons, Clinton was overperforming the partisan index of the state, and she's still doing strong against Romney and is competitive against Giulini in the state (unlike Obama). But McCain always had stellar numbers, and now Huckabee has joined McCain at the top.

Interestingly enough, there's not much movement in the rest of the matchups:

Romney (R) 42 (44)
Clinton (D) 48 (48)

Romney (R) 43 (46)
Obama (D) 44 (40)

McCain (R) 51 (50)
Clinton (D) 41 (44)

McCain (R) 54 (53)
Obama (D) 35 (35)

Giuliani (R) 46 (45)
Clinton (D) 44 (47)

Giuliani (R) 47 (50)
Obama (D) 41 (40)

This is a trend worth watching as SUSA releases the rest of their state-by-state polling over the next couple of days. Will the Huckabee bounce be limited to states like Kentucky with large evangelical followings, or will it be a nationwide phenomenon?

Whatever the answer, go Romney!

Categories: Politics
11:40

Last results: 1) Clinton, 2) Obama, 3) Edwards, and the rest.

The last rankings were from 12/13, after Hillary had suffered a couple of bad weeks. Well, the holidays were no better, and she continued bleeding support through the end of the year and into the new year. Then Iowa happened, and, well, she's no longer at the top.

THE TOP TIER

1. Barack Obama

He won Iowa, New Hampshire is falling in line for the expected rubber stamp, and the Clinton campaign is reeling (see below). His youth participation numbers are off the charts, independents love him (and may even help deprive McCain of a big NH victory because they'd rather vote for Obama), and the Republicans have no idea how to respond to him:

"Senator Obama has adopted the position of every liberal interest group in the country," said Thompson.

Republicans spent so long running against Hillary, that they've been left having to improvise responses to Obama. And since their entire schtick seemed to be "I'm the one best able to defeat Hillary", their reason for existence is threatened. Calling Obama a scary "liberal!" isn't quite going to cut it.


2. Hillary Clinton

Her campaign is in civil war mode. Her advisers are conceding likely losses in New Hampshire and South Carolina. And suddenly the firewall becomes Florida -- alongside Rudy, two New Yorkers praying against hope that transplanted Yankees breathe new life into their campaigns.

I'm not necessarily going to discount Hillary's chances in places like New Jersey and California (New York seems a given) or places like Texas, but her "inevitability" theme -- deeply wounded by Iowa -- would be a rotting corpse after a full month of primary losses. Designed to scare off strong opposition and dry up her opponents' fundraising, the "inevitability" thing simply set her up for a bigger fall. Oops.


THE SECOND TIER

3. John Edwards

Edwards clearly aligned himself with Obama against Hillary in Saturday's debate, perhaps hoping that the rest of the contests this month deliver a Hillary knock out. But a 1-on-1 contest between Edwards and Obama favors the frontrunner, as Obama has the money, crowds, and organization that Edwards was never able to generate. Yet his fiery rhetoric often set the tone for the campaign, and his leadership on issues as diverse as the Nevada Fox News debate and Iraq helped push the primary in a decidedly progressive direction.

THE REST

Some Richardson is playing for Veep, the others are playing for ... I don't know why. I won't try to guess.

Categories: Politics
10:27

Time for this week's edition of the Daily Kos Straw Poll. Here are last week's results.

Categories: Politics
08:29

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE...

Continuing our Pulitzer-snubbed series, we put another front-pager in the lukewarm seat: Yes, McJoan, We're All Staring At YOU!

How and when did you first discover blogging?
I started reading blogs in the summer of 2003, when my Deaniac sister and b-in-law drove me to it. I really had no choice but to join them. Of course, my first blogging love passed away into obscurity long ago....

In how many towns/countries have you lived?
I don't think you can count 4 months studying in the USSR (yes, I'm that old) as living there, so other than that, just here in the good ol' USofA. I started out in Corral, Idaho then graduated to Boise, then Portland (the other one), then New York, back to Portland, then DC, then Seattle. I briefly flirted with the idea of going out there to the middle when I got a job offer in Urbana-Champagne, but the flat horizon made me queasy.

Did you grow up in a politically-active family?
Heh. Greatgranddad was in Idaho's second legislature, 1892-93. He was a populist and an early environmentalist, responsible for enacting a season on deer-hunting, among other things. My father was state chair of the Idaho Dems for a few years in the glory days, and he and mom were very active in working on a number of campaigns.

What kind of music makes you feel invincible to the GOP horde?
I gravitate more toward artist than type. Liz Phair. Steve Earle. Wilco. Outkast. But my favorite is James McMurtry--best road trip music ever.  

Speaking as a pesky voter, what is your #1 election issue for 2008?
Three guesses.

Which politician comes closest to your idea of the perfect Democrat?
These days? Not too many of them. Probably Russ Feingold. Jon Tester is going to be.

Finish this sentence: In the kitchen I make a mean...
Spanikopita.

If you could snap your fingers and cure one disease, which would it be?
Cancer.

What do you do for fun when you're not blogging?
Huh? Not blogging?

The one book that every Kossack must read NOW is...
Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72. Perspective, baby. Perspective.  

No waffling here: dogs or cats?
Cats. I live in an apartment and travel a lot. But when I make that move to Montana....

What are your favorite blogs besides Daily Kos?
There's the can't miss: Atrios, digby, TPM (particularly Horse's Mouth), TalkLeft, Balkinization, Carpetbagger, Orcinus, National Park Traveler, and then all the regional and state blogs for the West: New West, Ridenbaugh Press, HorsesAss, Washblog, McCranium, Loaded Orygun, Blue Oregon, Left in the West, 4&20 Blackbirds, Red State Rebels, Mountain Goat Report, 43rd State Blues, Colorado Confidential, SquareState... man I'm leaving a lot out. That's the problem with making lists.

Who would you cast to star in a movie about your life?
I've had two people tell me I look like Faye Dunaway. I find that very strange and unsettling. Other than that, I have no idea how to answer this question. Probably because a movie of my life would be really, really dull.

How do you want your epitaph to read?
I'm spiteful. I'm going to make whoever is left behind figure that one out.

I have one question left, but I have to go pee.  Please ask and answer the final question yourself.

What did you want for Christmas?
World peace, an end to hunger, and a date with George Clooney. What I got: socks.

Argyle, I hope.

Cheers and Jeers starts in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Categories: Politics

January 6, 2008

23:22

(Tonight's selections are brought to you courtesy of the Rescue Rangers. SusanG)

This evening's magnificent Rescue Rangers are claude, PaintyKat, ezdidit, Patriot Daily, TruthofAngels, watercarrier4diogenes, and joyful. Joyful is driving the Editmobile tonight.

kath25 has tonight's Top Comments 1.6.08 ñ Meetup Mania!

Enjoy, and please promote your own favorite diaries in this open thread.

Categories: Politics
21:09

Words such as infuriating, embarrassing, and appalling.

In a pair of interviews with foreign journalists during the 10 o'clock hour on Friday (h/t WIIIAI), George Bush showed once again why we cannot permit another such dope to occupy the White House. First he spoke to Israeli reporters:

Q Mr. President, you just mentioned Iraq. Can you clarify to us whether there was any Israeli involvement in your decision to invade Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: No, not at all. None whatsoever. My decision was based upon U.S. intelligence, based upon the desire to provide security for our peoples and others. It was based upon my willingness to work with the international community on this issue. Remember, if you look back at the history, there was a unanimous vote in the Security Council: disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. And when he defied, when he refused to allow the inspectors in, when he made a statement by his actions that he didn't really care what the international community said, that I decided to make sure words meant something.

The words "refuse" and "in", however, have no meaning for Bush. Just see if you can follow the logic as he proceeds to explain how he gave meaning to words.

And so I acted based upon our own security interests. And -- but it also fit into this notion of -- and remember, Zarqawi, there was some terrorist connections -- not with the 9/11 attacks, but terrorist connections; Abu Nadal; he had been using -- he'd been funding families of suicide bombers. In other words, as far as we were concerned, he had weapons of mass destruction which could have been used in a deadly way. It turns out he didn't have the weapons, but he had the know-how on how to make weapons, which could easily have been reconstituted. The sanctions regime turns out to have been corrupt and wasn't working. In other words, there's a variety of aspects to my decision, all of which were aimed at making sure that U.S. security, first and foremost, was enhanced.

Hussein had the weapons "as far as we were concerned". Ok he didn't have them, but he did have something else. Thus behind Bush's decision to create a quagmire in Iraq there were "a variety of aspects", otherwise called "delusions" (when words are given their meaning).

In a second interview with Arab reporters, Bush made an even greater ass of himself, if that's possible. The opening is like an Abbott and Costello routine:

Q ...Mr. President, I wanted to ask you, your visit to the region will not include the Maghreb Arab.

THE PRESIDENT: Will not include --

Q The Maghreb Arab --

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, that's right.

Q -- Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Those countries actually played a very important role in the peace process in the past and I think that they are willing to do it again. And my question, Mr. President, if there is any reason for excluding the Maghreb Arab from your visit?

THE PRESIDENT: Only because I ran out of time. It's certainly not as a result of any lack of respect or understanding that the contribution of those -- of that area would be a significant contribution to achieving peace. ...

And having said that, one of my great trips as a civilian -- I guess you'd call me a civilian -- non-President, non-political figure -- was when I went to Morocco. I had the great pleasure of going to Marakesh, for example, and I'll never forget drinking crushed almond milk, and enjoyed the wonders of the desert, and then was able to see snow-capped mountains shortly in the distance, in the short distance. And so it's -- I threw snowballs in Morocco one time in the Atlas mountain range. So I had a wonderful experience there. Not to be kind of nostalgic, looking back, but -- you know, it's interesting -- for example, there are a lot of Moroccan Jews in Israel.

Q And in Morocco also.

THE PRESIDENT: What?

Q And in Morocco.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, and in Morocco, which provides the King an interesting opportunity to be a healer and a unifier. And I believe he's committed to that.

Seven years into his presidency, and Bush still has a child's perspective on the wider world, one in which it's nifty that Moroccan Jews should live in Israel...and if in Israel, then why not in Morocco as well?!

The most disturbing part of these interviews, however, comes later when Bush is asked by a Kuwaiti reporter about prisoners held in Gitmo:

Q ...Now, back in Kuwait, as your visit is approaching, the Kuwaitis are actually wondering if there will be an end to the four Kuwaiti detainees in Guantanamo. There are four of them; to the best of our knowledge all paperwork has been done, all security assurances have been --

THE PRESIDENT: To be transferred back to --

Q To Kuwait.

THE PRESIDENT: -- from Guantanamo to Kuwait. We'll look at it. Our strategy, by the way, is to transfer as many Guantanamo detainees back to their countries of origin as possible, subject to the no torture agreement.

Q The security assurances and the paperwork --

THE PRESIDENT: Security assurances -- right, as well as the assurances that the people will be treated humanely. I just will have to look into this.

Q That will be great news, Mr. President, actually.

Doesn't that just make you cringe? Foreign nationals pleading with the President to intervene personally to liberate men who should have been freed a long time ago. There's an imperial president enjoying the feel of raw, unchecked power.

Nice touch, to worry that Kuwait might torture the men after the U.S. is through working them over.

Categories: Politics
18:53

1/5/08:

Where Is The Bounce?
by Mark Penn, Chief Strategist
in
1/5/2008 5:13 PM

Two polls that had the race within a few points before the Iowa caucuses have the race tied after the Iowa caucuses.

In today's CNN/WMUR poll, Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama are tied at 33 percent -- their last two polls had Hillary up 4 points and before that had Hillary down 2 points, so there is no statistically significant change in their numbers before and after the Iowa caucuses.

And the Concord Monitor is out as well today with a poll showing the race at 33 percent for Hillary Clinton, 34 percent for Barack Obama, and 23 percent for John Edwards -- exactly the same margin as before Iowa.

Contrast that with the 17 points John Kerry gained in 2004 in the Boston Globe poll, which catapulted him from a 17-point deficit to a 20-point lead in New Hampshire after the Iowa caucuses. Or with the 7 points Al Gore gained in 2000 in the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, increasing his lead in New Hampshire from 5 points to 18 points.

New Hampshire voters are fiercely independent. They will make their own decisions about who to support.

1/6/08:

With two days to go until the New Hampshire primary, a new CNN/WMUR poll out Sunday afternoon suggests that Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois has opened up a double digit advantage over New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Jeez. It was the same damned poll, Mark. One freakin' day later.

[UPDATE: Some people aren't getting this, and it's not the clearest sentence in the world, but what I mean here is that it's the same polling outfit -- CNN/WMUR -- and therefore the same crew and methodology, not that Penn has confused the 1/5 poll with the 1/6 poll.]

And what's it, just a couple days since you were caught lying through your teeth about the Iowa polling?

This thing wasn't supposed to be about replacing reality-challenged Republican advisors with Democratic ones, dude.

I mean, how could you not know what you were walking into? They really pay you?

God damn it, I'm in the wrong business!

For the sake of the future of the free world, dump this bozo yesterday.

Categories: Politics
16:23

This year, I'm going to lose weight.  I don't mean the kind revealed so unkindly when I pay a rare visit to the scale – though since my blood pressure is racing gasoline prices to quadruple digits, I should probably work on that one as well.  But I want to work first on weight in another sense.  I want to walk more lightly in the world.

This year, I will reduce my carbon footprint.  I will drive less, walk more, and turn the computer off when I'm not actively using it.  I will finally unroll those bundles of insulation that have been snoozing in my basement for three years.   I will not use the television to add a background mumble to the house when no one is around.  I will appreciate the silence.

This year, I will reduce the clutter in my life.  The extra clothes – especially the ones that I've been planning on wearing when I lose some of that other kind of weight – will go to people who can wear them now.  The old computers and electronics will go to a recycling program.  The junk will just go.   I will appreciate again the beauty of this old log house by removing the things that stand between me and contemplation of the whorls and knots and glow of yellow pine under layers of old shellac.

This year, I will  take things less seriously.  Everything. Including myself.  Including the wins and loses of candidates I favor.  I will lighten up in that Sheryl Crow sense, so that when opportunities arise, I don't just wish I could take them – I take them.

Here, let me tell you a story of someone I knew.  Someone who made her life so light that in comparison I might as well be living under a rock.

She worked with me a few years ago, at a time when our office was going through one of its regular interludes of pointless but frenetic activity.  In the midst of hundreds of people hurrying to "reform business processes" or "transform the supply chain," she was a Zen breeze.  She came, and she went, with remarkably little "stuff."  No house, no car, next to no furniture in her small apartment.  

While the rest of us fretted about where we would work when this company recovered from its bout of mania, she was pondering a question of another sort: what were the lives of women like around the world?  Not glamorous women in metropolitan hot spots, but ordinary women in ordinary lives.  What did they think?  What did they feel?  What did they hope for?  

So one day, she walked away from the job, reduced everything she owned to the contents of one small backpack, and  went to find out.

She went first to Haiti.  She shared a night in a hotel there with a woman from France who had won a ticket to anywhere in the world, and picked Port au Prince from a map because it was in the Caribbean and the name sounded pretty.   Then she spent six weeks living with a family in a ramshackle home on a muddy slope.  She helped with the chores, played with the children, attended a wedding, spent the long nights talking, and left with a larger family than she'd had when she arrived.

She repeated this experience In Macedonia at a time when eating dinner outside meant seeing the flash of bombs falling in the distance.   She crossed China on a train where her ticket didn't allow her to sit down, clutching a piece of paper that had an address she could neither read nor say.  She lived with families in Moscow, in Delhi, and Phenom Phen.  She greeted the new year at the temples of Angkor Wat.  My favorite picture of her is one in which she is defiantly removing her headscarf in front of a huge painting of the Ayatollah Khomeini on the streets of Tehran.    

If all this sounds like the indulgence of a wealthy American, let me hurry on to the end of the trip.  Eventually, she came to Africa and by train, and car, and on foot, found herself in Zimbabwe.  The arrangements she'd made to stay with a family there fell through, but at a time when the country was in turmoil and even diplomats were being removed for their safety, she didn't leave.  Instead, she took a job working at an orphanage.  There she worked with the older kids, the ones no longer babies, the ones who at two or three still could not walk because they'd never had a chance to try.

Most of the children she worked with were thought to have AIDS.  It was assumed that their short lives would involve only a crib and a coffin.  It was also thought that, after so long without contact, these children would never be able to love.  But when she looked at one young boy, she thought she saw a spark.  She thought he has suffering from hunger and neglect, but only from hunger and neglect.  She thought he was something special.  The more she worked with him, the more she thought he was an amazing survivor in a terrible place.  She took him from his crib and into the sunshine.  She taught him to walk, play, and love.  And she loved him in return.

She asked to adopt the child, but was refused.  Zimbabwean law was strict on allowing adoptions by foreigners.  So she stayed in Zimbabwe.  Stayed long enough to apply for citizenship.  Stayed long enough to badger the courts into agreement.  Stayed until she won her adoption and got her child.

Then, in the dark of night, she took her new child in her arms and like thousands of other refugees fleeing violence and starvation in Zimbabwe, she walked across the border.  

I've only seen the child once.  He was laughing as he ran around a park in St. Louis, deliriously excited by water tumbling from a fountain.   She looked just the same after all her journeys.  Slender and beautiful, with blue jeans and a backpack, a half smile on her face as she watched her son. Just the same as I remembered when I would see her sitting on a park bench at lunchtime, reading Walden, or a Kurt Vonnegut novel.  

They're in the United States now.  She has an ordinary job again and a child to raise, but I'd bet that her life is not heavier, not even by a gram. She went to discover something about the lives of women, and she found it.

My own plans don't involve world travel.  Quite the opposite.  I'm planning to put out some sweet potatoes, white corn, carrots, and peppers of every color.  I'm planning to pull those wood working tools out of the closet and tackle a project I've put off for a long time.  At the end of the year, I'm hoping that I will be sleeping on a bed that I made, and be eating more food from my own garden.  The scale may not agree, but I think I'll be lighter.

Categories: Politics