Monday, March 31, 2008

Chelsea and Kid Gloves

I'm getting extremely bored with the current campaigning and can't wait until the Dems resolve their mess so we can get back to a legitimate national dialog about ideology and progress. I intend to spend more time in the next few weeks writing about issues independent of the 2008 Presidential Election before turning attention back when we get closer to April 22nd and voting in Pennsylvania (where I am currently registered and where I will cast my ballot for Barack Obama). One thing on my mind today, unfortunately, is the role of Chelsea Clinton in her mother's campaign.

This has gone on for quite a while, but I think it's getting to border on ridiculous. Chelsea has been enlisted to campaign on behalf of her mother in places where high youth turnout promises to affect the election. That's great. It's good to see the young woman who grew up in the White House spotlight now out in public, using her voice, and intelligently supporting the cause of her political family. What's unacceptable is the insistence by the Clinton people that Chelsea is off limits to reporters during her stumping. Of course she's not politically sophisticated enough at this point in her life to deal with a few sneaky, contrived questions, but they sent her out in public on behalf of a public servant and I believe she is then accountable for her words, positions, and personal connection to the candidate. She must be allowed to speak to reporters and no questions ought to be out of bounds. If she doesn't want to answer, "no comment" is a perfectly acceptable response, but she has to be open to dialog with the 4th Estate.

That issue, however, is secondary to this situation. The primary complaint here is that Chelsea has agreed to answer questions from the students at her events, yet gets her back up when asked something uncomfortable. Several students have now asked her about the Monica Lewinsky situation and she has repeatedly reacted with near revulsion at the idea that someone dare ask her about that personal moment. I agree that it's something close to sleazy, but (1) it was a major national event and hardly something we can consider private, anymore than Watergate or Iran-Contra, and (2) she put herself in public to answer questions. Again, I believe that (1) the president's affair doesn't nearly approach the breach of trust that Watergate or Iran-Contra caused, and (2) she has the right to a "no comment." However, it is a part of her family's public history and affected her father's ability to govern. He put himself in that position, and the Right wing took advantage of it. She can't get away with standing up there promoting her mother, refusing the press, and only taking softball questions from adoring fans. This is politics, not American Idol.

Instead of being horribly insulted by the questions, she should take them in stride, learn a little poise in the face of sticky public situations, and open herself up to the press, who would presumably ask more high minded questions (except for Fox, of course). This is a young woman who graduated with honors from Stanford University, earned a Masters in International Relations from Oxford, and now holds down a job at a high power hedge fund in Manhattan. She is intimately familiar with her father's work, as her undergrad thesis was on his mediation of the 1998 Belfast Agreement, and her work has been provided to her by financial supporters of her parents political ambitions. I'm not saying that she didn't earn her degrees and her professional position, but we're not even allowed to scrutinize her while she's out on the stump. If the Clinton's insist on putting her out there, but demand she be afforded child-like protections, they might as well keep her home. Give us all a break.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I Love the Nationals

Good friend and fellow blogger Brian McFadden gives us a roundup of the first pitch thrown at the new stadium in Washington, DC as the Nationals kick off their 2008 season. Who threw that pitch? See for yourself:

Hot Dog - $3.50
Beer - $7.50
Parking - $27.00
Upper Deck seat - $55.00
Booing George W. Bush - Priceless

Friday, March 28, 2008

Are These Your Politics?

There are some who do not support Barack Obama who openly wonder why so many have chosen his candidacy. Of course, for some of those people the crux of their wonder is a simple differing in ideology or method. That's fair and legitimate. That's the political process. For others there is the misinformation and propaganda machine that has reared its ugly head since day one of his campaign. For the record, I think Obama has stood up to address the lies and deception aimed at him very effectively, and I think the mainstream press has done so as well, although not as aggressively as I would prefer.

The propagandists, for the most part, are of the Karl Rove school of politics. They primarily come from the scorched earth, Right wing fringe who have hijacked the Party of Lincoln and have turned the American political scene into a filthy gutter. Anyone who wonders why Barack Obama has drawn so many to him and how he survived the Reverend Wright "scandal" relatively unscathed need only understand that the promise of a higher minded leadership is the key. Wonder why George Bush has a 28% approval rating and why Congress is at 21%? Look no further than the negative tone that has been established. Make no mistake, I blame this on the Right wing fringe, but everyone has bought into it and everyone is guilty at this point.

This campaign has turned particularly ugly, however, as I think the tone is racist, xenophobic, and intolerant. It's subtle in many ways and overt in others. Republican supporters can easily stand with a straight face and shrug their shoulders asking, "What's wrong with saying his middle name?" or, "Why doesn't he wear a lapel pin?" but it's all code for "He's a Muslim. He's not American. He's not patriotic. If you vote for him, he'll sell us all out to the enemy. He's not one of us." If anyone tries to defend the Right wing propagandists on this, they're fools. I'm sorry to be so blunt and inflexible, but I've never been more sure that I'm on the right side of an issue than I am now. This is racism at its most insidious and divisive. Reverend Wright's comments were overt, over the top, out front, and non-apologetic. This campaign is covert, subtle, back region of the brain, and offensively defended as nothing serious.

Take a look at this clip, borrowed from a recent post at DailyKos:

The people who are behind this are invisible vampires, represented up front by largely anonymous Congressmen and GOP Party stooges. The reason I decided to write on this topic today is the most recent John McCain ad which breaches decency in a similarly covert and fear mongering way. Again, borrowed from a DailKos post:

Why the "American President" for the "American People" line at the end? The ONLY purpose for that strange wording is to subtly highlight that the opposition isn't American in some way. The theme of the whole ad is that McCain is a true patriot while others (specifically Obama) is an America-hater and somehow non-American candidate. It plays into all the dirty rhetoric that we saw above. It's under the radar racism.

Last word on this. I used to be a registered Independent. I always said that I'd keep an open mind about who I voted for and I believed deeply that no party held the moral high ground or the complete monopoly on solutions to America's pressing issues. I saw deep flaws in both major parties and vowed to use my vote to support the best person regardless of affiliation. I'm a progressive, but I'm also a political pragmatist in many ways. I think many people have registered as Independents along similar lines of thinking. That said, the Karl Rove brand of politics and the neocon brand of hijacking our government that has damaged our nation and the common people of America has, perhaps, permanently pushed me to the Democratic Party. I see the fight, at this point, as a battle to make one of the parties more representative and less divisive. The Democrats, for all their flaws, stand closer to the America that I love than the undead that have hijacked good conservatism in the GOP. This is that battle in its most glaring form.

Wiki Vandals

I was browsing the Wikipedia page of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson tonight and I happened to do a double take at an item in the right sidebar. See if you can find it here:

You might need to click on that image to enlarge it, but I'll save you the trouble by highlighting the offending vandalism here. This is not an unusual phenomenon at Wikipedia and it's really the main problem with open source platforms in general. In this case the heat of the Democratic primary campaign has obviously led some poor, deranged individual (perhaps James Carville) to besmirch the good name of Bill Richardson. Shame. Shame on you anonymous Clinton supporter (probably James Carville). I didn't scan the entire Wiki entry on Richardson for other unflattering edits. It's possible that someone put reference and link to Judas in the article (probably James Carville) or mentioned something about branding (likely someone with the initials J.C. - and not the REALLY famous one either). If this makes you angry, sad, frustrated, cranky, sleepy, amused, or just plain bored donate to the campaign of Barack Obama for President of the United States of America. It will cover the inevitable anti-Wiki-vandalism expenses of the run for the White House. I think someone at Clinton central has a project in mind for on-line sabotage (probably a Cajun we all know and love).

By the way, I alerted the good people at Wiki-central about the vandalism, so it probably won't be up by the time you head over to look, but try anyway.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

400 Pound Gorillas

Recently, we've heard revived talk of an Obama/Clinton ticket. In the beginning, the idea was floated as a way for Democrats to have their cake and eat it, but I think the sense of that notion has changed a great deal. When the subject was breached initially, pundits and laypeople alike flip-flopped the names in that Democratic combo plate, mulling over the special ticket that would emerge to oppose the Republicans. With the bitter feelings that have emerged, and with the lead that Obama has built in pledged delegates and popular vote, the Obama/Clinton version of that ticket seems to be floating on the wind. This time, however, it comes in response to the anger and division that have been growing within the Democratic ranks over the nastiness of the campaign.

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times wrote about it on Wednesday, and Chris Matthews dealt with it during his roundtable on Hardball as well. Dowd claims that the Clinton people are quietly floating the possibility to insiders, while the Hardball gang simply wanted to take it on as a hypothetical. I was struck that the only person who wholeheartedly endorsed the idea was Pat Buchanan, to which Matthews quizzically wondered if partisan Buchanan was speaking or analyst Buchanan. It seemed too mischievous, his enthusiasm. For my part, before this flares up again as a national debate, I can't think of a worse idea.

I don't say that as a bitter Obama supporter, who has grown weary of Hillary Clinton. I do have those feelings, but I'm also a pragmatic Democrat who wants the Party to win in November. If I thought that an Obama/Clinton ticket would be the best way to win, I'd consider it long and hard. I, personally, think it would be a disaster of immense proportions and political suicide for Barack Obama. Think about it for a second.

The president is the 400 pound gorilla in any room he or she walks into across the entire planet. There is no greater alpha character in the human race at this point in history than the president of the United States. Well, with an Obama/Clinton ticket you'd have President Obama in front with President Bill Clinton in the background and at least for a large handful of Democrats President Hillary Clinton. Forget the "Vice" part of that title. If some Democrats already see her as the most presidential candidate in this contest, that won't change if Obama happens to be first on the ticket. Let's think about the problems associated with that arrangement.

1. In any crisis or delicate situation, does anyone believe that the Clintons wouldn't be secretly tapping into their legion of supporters to be the power brokers? They have an established political machine that would overlap with Obama's administration in many places, but act independently in others. Why would anyone deal directly with Barack Obama with a former president sitting in the wings and his powerful wife, the Senator from New York.

2. How would that appear for the first African-American president to be backed up by the Clintons? I'll tell you how it would look. It would look like the American people only put him there because they knew the backup were good White folks. It would make him look safer to people who couldn't accept him for his own merit and brilliance and it would undermine all that he's worked for without their help.

3. Who's the top gorilla in a White House with three 400 pound gorillas pacing the halls? Yes, Barack Obama gets the Oval Office, but anytime Bill or Hillary are in there to meet with him, wouldn't it feel like he was in someone's seat. If the Clinton's weren't in the administration it would be easier to see Obama as the big man in the room, but if Hillary were a heartbeat away and her husband was there backing her up, it would create a poor perception of leadership for Obama.

I could go on and on, but the point is very easy to make. If Barack Obama is going to be president, he needs to stamp his own identity on the role and he needs to make a clean break from those who have been there before. Fresh blood assures the American people of fresh ideas and that's what his campaign is all about, isn't it? If he is "Clinton-free" as president, there will be no question about who the boss is in the White House and there will be no question where the Clintons are hanging out either. Away from the Oval Office and in plain sight (as much as that's possible anyway).

In the end this is only marginally about a distaste for a Clinton return to the White House. I am a huge Al Gore fan and always have been, but I wouldn't want him on the ticket with Obama either. The same can be said for John Edwards, who I like, or John Kerry, who I don't particularly care for. They've been on the ticket and Obama needs a fresh face.

Personally, I'd go with a governor and someone with good national security credentials. There aren't all that many out there to be honest, but I have ideas about how Obama could construct a very plausible cabinet of people that address whatever perceived weaknesses he has while maintaining his own brand of governance. Tim Kaine, governor of Virginia, shares many of Obama's beliefs and would help him to win a state that has been Red in recent years, but could go Blue in this election. As a VP candidate he could also help with the Roman Catholic vote that has gone largely to Hillary Clinton during the primaries. Enlisting Bill Richardson as Secretary of State and hinting at it broadly during the general election could help to win Hispanics and people in the West that might otherwise go McCain. It would make Colorado very competitive for the Democrats, especially given Obama's wise positioning of his campaign HQ in Denver. Of course the governors chairs are very very important to Democrats and one would hate to give up two to the Obama administration, but these two strong political figures could offset some problems that he would have in Ohio and Florida. Just a thought.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Campaign Notes

There aren't many specific issues going on in the current presidential campaign that merit their own post, but there are a number of developments that may be worth a short mention. As a result, this entry will be a lightning look at the current state of affairs and a possible preview of the coming days and weeks.

1. Obama and Race

The Reverend Wright controversy seems like so much nonsense to me. With all the important things going on in the United States and the world, the fringe rants of a pastor are only important to the mainstream media and the gutter campaigning of the current environment. The association of Obama with Reverend Wright is certainly worthy of some critique, as are the endorsements of several controversial preachers in the McCain campaign, but it's only so revealing about the candidates themselves. Obama is a fairly straightforward political character. He isn't the type to have radical skeletons in his closet. On the topic of race, there is little doubt in my mind that he is a healing force with a distinctly balances perspective that reflects much of mainstream America's lukewarm sentiment on the issue in this new millennium. I thought his speech was very good and accomplished a lot of things simultaneously. The irony is that the larger audience will still hear whatever they want to hear from the speech, regardless of its overarching treatment on American racial environments. Personally, if I want to hear an honest discussion of race (particularly African-American perspectives) I will turn to Cornell West everyday and twice on Sunday.

For the record, since this early campaign moment Cornell West has said some intriguing and supportive things about Barack Obama, available here in this Rolling Stone article.

2. Hillary's Sniper Story

Dueling controversies in the Democratic Primary campaign seem to be the state of things. Hillary Clinton has run her campaign on "experience" and has largely been unchallenged by the mainstream media on precisely what experience she's talking about. Her recent accounts about coming under fire in Bosnia during her co-presidency of the 90's has been debunked in the most harsh and telling fashion as video has been put out showing her photo op on the tarmac in Bosnia well after the peace accords had been established. Combined with her debunked story about assisting in the brokering of the Northern Ireland peace accords, her experience is looking a lot less "3am-worthy" than it did only a week ago. If this incident has legs and turns into a greater scrutiny of her "experience", perhaps a new perspective will emerge in that debate over who's ready on day one.

3. John McCain's Free Pass

McCain has been stumbling along the campaign trail with multiple misstatements about Iraq, Iran, Al Qaeda, and his endorsements. If this were a general election season, he'd be facing the music in the polls and probably sinking like a stone. Since the focus has been squared so firmly on the Democrats, McCain has relied on his buddy-buddy relationship with the mainstream media to soften the mistakes and hide in the shadows. I look ahead a bit to a one on one campaign with Barack Obama (probably) and think that John McCain is in serious trouble. That leads me to my next point....

4. Iraq and 4,000

The death toll at the 5th anniversary of Mission Accomplished hit the round number of 4,000 in the wake of renewed violence in Basra. The Mahdi Army of Al Sadr has set aside the tentative cease fire with the US military and are now clashing with Iraqi forces on multiple fronts. The last two weeks have been the bloodiest since the Fall and the so-called Surge is looking a lot less like a success and more like a bloody stalemate. The neoliberal economic system imposed by the Coalition Provisional Authority is stalling in Iraqi Parliament and any reasonable observer of the Occupation has to admit that reconciliation of any kind cannot happen under the current arrangement and in the current climate. To be honest, as a Progressive, I support the idea of an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq but I also have my doubts. I consider my perspective to be more pragmatic, and I think there's a reasonable chance of genocide should we pull out quickly, leaving a military void.

That may sound like the product of the neocon fear campaign, but I would ask anyone watching the situation on the ground to offer evidence to suggest that outcome is unrealistic. I think our presence is divisive and counterproductive, but I think our absence is potentially a humanitarian disaster. We can thank Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, and the rest of the neocon lurkers for putting us in this impossible situation. McCain would have us stay to preserve the peace and give the Iraqi government 100 years of opportunity to realize a stable national identity. The Dems would have us walk away. Neither seems right to me. Were I president, I think I'd engage in a 2-year, phased withdrawal of troops but only after securing United Nations support in the form of ground troops to ease the transition and a more balanced economy built on nationalizing oil and other key resources until such a time that Iraq is prepared to deal with opening its markets voluntarily.

UN help with reconstruction is a must, as is a nationalization of profits from the resources of the people. If 100% of the money from oil sales are put back into reconstruction, it seems reasonable that Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds would equally benefit from the resource. Water, electricity, and human services could be supported across the board and the basic needs of the people could establish a more lasting peace. If life looks good, the attraction of death as an insurgent is less prevalent. Less insurgents means more stability. Nationalization of resources would seem to accomplish this best.

5. Where All This Goes

I see no clear path to the nomination for Hillary Clinton. She will continue to take from Obama in an effort to steal the nomination via superdelegate coup, but it won't happen. Think about it. If Clinton were to steal the nomination by garnering the support of the superdelegates there would be a civil war. Increasingly, there is a sentiment that a Clinton coup would split the Party and no reasonable superdelegate would let that happen. The strikes against Hillary are far more daunting than the media currently reports. She has a huge chest of money that compares favorably to Obama at first glance, but she also has a huge debt that is unaccounted for, where Obama has none. Her money looks good on paper, but dissolves substantially when we consider that she has to use much of it to pay off that debt. It looks worse when we realize that the bulk of the remaining money is earmarked for the general election. By all accurate accounts, Obama's money advantage is beyond enormous.

Likewise, the sentiment among Party insiders is strongly in Obama's corner, particularly among the DNC crowd, governors, and congressional committees. They know that Clinton's national "coattails" are nearly non-existent in a season where Democrats hope to score 25-30 additional seats in the House, and several in the Senate. There are a few governor's jobs that could also swing in 2008. Obama has shown his ability to drive local elections in Democrats favor, notably in the recent win for Bill Foster in Illinois's 14th District. That area is squarely Republican and was formerly occupied by House Speaker Dennis Hastert. The win is emblematic of the type of victory the Democratic Party is looking for across the country. It is widely believed that an Obama candidacy would sweep up competitive races and deliver for the Party, while Clinton's national profile is divisive enough that local elections may be less successful with her at the lead. This was certainly true in both 1994 and 1996, when Bill Clinton failed to deliver for the Party and ended up presiding over a huge net loss of Democrats in government, giving up the majority to the GOP and ushering in the era of the Bush Administration.

John McCain's money situation is bleak. He'll get about $84 million via public funding in the general election, while Obama (probably) can expect to bring in double that total, if not more. Likewise, the turnout for Democrats in the primary elections bodes ill for the GOP as the economy sinks deeper into recession and Iraq sinks back into chaos. The money, domestic climate, foreign climate, and image advantage all go to Obama. What looks like a McCain strength now, might look a lot different once Obama gets the nomination and stands on the stage in Denver to raucous crowds of Party loyalists. I expect the polls to stay close until Denver, at which point every week will bring a wider gap for Obama....

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spitz the Bit

Oh man. The New York Times is reporting that ethics champion Eliot Spitzer is admitting to links to a prostitution ring. This is shocking news for New Yorkers and Democrats around the country. The governor of New York hiring prostitutes. Ugh.

I've been an ENORMOUS fan of Eliot Spitzer since his days as Attorney General of the State of New York. He took on some of the most powerful industries in the country and forced them to reform. His run to the governor's mansion was bumpy and he's clashed with parties from all sides while holding the highest office in the State. This news kills me. He was a champion, and now it looks as though he's going to be a disgrace.

This will develop, and Spitzer will make a statement soon. I'll have more once that happens. Bad news.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Write-In Barack Obama

I've started a campaign to write-in Barack Obama for the presidency should he lead the delgate count at the end of voting but lose the nomination to the superdelegate process. We need to have our nominee reflect the choice of the voting public and the threat of a split vote in November seems to be just the thing to pressure the Democratic National Committee in this regard.

Take a look at the blog and sign the petition. Make sure our voices decide our candidate, and not some political insiders in a "smoke-filled room."

Friday, March 7, 2008

...Because You're Hurting America

In this election cycle I've found myself watching WAY too much MSNBC and CNN. As a graduate student, a husband, and the father of a small child I've been pleasantly preoccupied with actual life for the past 4 or 5 years and generally avoided television in favor of books and the internet, when the need for an electronic media fix arose. There are still moments when I'm happy to sit in front of the television and enjoy some frivolous entertainment. I like to watch sports and old sitcoms. I've attached myself to the news networks to follow the election process. The sports and old sitcoms work for me. The news networks....not so much.

Here's the thing. Since I gave up watching television more or less, I increasingly turned to various online news sources and a handful of newspapers and periodicals for my news. Coming back to television, I remember all the reasons that I left in the first place. I find myself unusually stressed out by the coverage of the primaries and it occurs to me that the biggest part of that stress is the volatile, self-serving, vindictive punditry that prefers to make news via speculation, in fighting, partisanship, and distortion than to cover it. These people of various ideologies and loyalties spout opinionated spin for hours at a time while talking heads like Lou Dobbs, Chris Matthews, Tim Russert, Wolf Blitzer, and others egg them on and lick their salivating lips at the prospect of making themselves look authoritative and in the know. It the ultimate exercise in self-aggrandizing egomania and it extends from the anchor desks to the punditry to the people behind the scenes. You can forget the Rush Limbaughs and Bill O'Reillys of the world, the networks are now in the game and they are twice as loud and omnipresent.

Notice that I excluded the names of Keith Olbermann and Anderson Cooper from the earlier group. It's not that they don't belong in that group, but there's a kernel of something I like in each of them. Cooper seems more humble than the flock. He does a lot of CNN fluff nonsense and tows the company line, but I get the sense that there's something real going on underneath the facade. He seems bothered by the criticisms of CNN reporting and the sensationalism of the news cycle. He doesn't stand up against it, but at least he seems to take the criticisms personally. Olbermann is a hyperactive partisan for the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party. He's blatantly anti-Hillary and he's vehemently anti-Bush. He wears his opinions on his sleeve and pulls no punches. I don't think his brand of vitriol is good for America, but to be dirty little pleasure is to watch him harpoon the people I don't like. I let him off the hook because we share the same ideology and because....well.....F them anyway. Progressives are tired of being the punching bags for the lunatic fringe of the Right wing and his rants are a sort of catharsis.

If I had my way, however, there would be no discourse of its kind on major network news. I'd gladly trade in my guilty pleasure, watching Olbermann, to do away with Matthews, Dobbs, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and the rest. It hurts America. Just my opinion. This post serves a dual purpose. First, I want to point to one of the most poignant moments on national television in modern history (as far as I'm concerned) and second I'd like to offer a contrast and lead you to something that needs your support.

Paul Begala was a key figure in the campaign to elect Bill Clinton to the presidency. He was half of the political consulting team of Begala and Carville. Of course, anyone who's paid attention to national politics over the last 15+ years knows James Carville as the loud-mouthed cajun with a knack for framing things in a way that just "makes sense." I have a great deal of affection for James Carville as a Democrat who came of political age during the 1992 election. The documentary "War Room" is a classic political inside look at campaigning and the election process. Begala, on the other hand, has always struck me as the kid in class who slightly embellished everything to prove how clever has was, how important. He clearly has issues of some kind with confidence as is apparent in his nervous, twitchy, rapid fire speech pattern that is often punctuated by nervous laughter and quick glances at the people around, as if to confirm that he's said something clever or interesting. That's my amateur psychology at work, anyway.

The clip I'm about to post features Begala and Tucker Carlson hosting the CNN program Crossfire. Tucker Carlson is a privileged boy who never finished his university education. He used to wear a ridiculous bow tie as some sort of attempt to live up to the Ivy League/Young Republican image that would give him entry to the William F. Buckley branch of conservatism. I believe he named one of his children "Buckley" as a matter of fact. He's the boy in class that always took a snooty, better than you attitude as long as the teacher was around to prevent a bloody ass-whooping. The pairing of Begala and Carlson eventually led to the end of Crossfire, I believe as a result of the following clip (although John Stewart has repeatedly denied playing any direct role in the cancellation). Enjoy. It's rather long at 14+ minutes, but as I said it's one of the great moments in modern television and worth every second:

Thanks for your patience with the first part of this post. The following is a ringing endorsement for a different sort of journalism that is both desperately needed and perilously in danger. Tonight I sat down to watch the Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. The topic was the McCain campaign and conservatism in America. Moyers is a veteran newsman of the highest standing and a real American hero in the face of the dumbing down of our national discourse. He's clearly a liberal politically, but he converses with conservatives with the comfort and ease of a true statesman. He's an intellectual, persistently fair, and invites the sort of guests of all ideological persuasion that uphold his own respectable example. The discourse is genuine, balanced in the truest sense of the word, and somehow manages to transcend the fray of sensationalism that television as a medium seems to love so much.

Moyers and the PBS family need money to continue providing the last surviving forum of decent journalism on television. It's up to you whether you value this service or not, but I hope you'll at least think about supporting them with a few extra dollars if you have them. Think of the contrast between the clip featured above and the following video aired recently about Congressional earmarks and maybe it will help you make up your mind. Follow the link to Moyers program on the internet and continue to look in on his work to get some decent news from time to time.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Old Fashioned Ass Kicking

Texas and Ohio have now made Hillary Clinton the comeback kid. In a crushing blow to the Obama campaign, having outspent Hillary Clinton 3 or 4 to 1 in this week's primaries, the big ticket states overwhelmingly gave their support to the woman who's promised to take their 3am phone call.

What does it mean?

1. We're going to Denver. There will be a bitter fight all the way to the convention and there will be blood.

2. We're going negative. It clearly worked. Fear motivates as much as hope and she is going to scare the piss out of you if you're leaning towards Barack Obama.

3. We're going to get a big Michigan/Florida push going. She's not going to give up on those states (nor should she) and we'll see some kind of do-over where she crushes Obama in Florida and probably beats him handily in Michigan as well.

4. McCain will get to load up and get his general election campaign organized. He has no money and needs to get the base more on his side, but he'll have time and plenty of help from the established Republican machine.

5. Obama has to rethink his strategy to address the "fighter" Clinton that has obviously resonated with people in blue collar areas. He talks like a diplomat and a statesman, but that demographic like Rocky. He needs to find that inner Stallone to balance out the softer, more cerebral Obama. His inner Wesley Snipes. "Always bet on black!"

6. The math doesn't lie. Obama might actually GAIN delegates after all is said and done on March 4th. It won't matter to the headlines and it won't matter to the newly energized Clinton base, but it is something. Presuming he goes on to win Wyoming and Mississippi in the next week, he can extend. He also is rumored to have 50 superdelegates waiting in the wings to back him. After tonight, you have to wonder how solid that is, but it could keep tilting the math in the Obama direction.

At this point the winners on March 4th are John McCain, Hillary Clinton, the Republican Party, headline writers and Saturday Night Live. The losers are Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee, the Democratic Party, and mathematics. This is going to be long and painful. To wrap this up, I want to revisit my own pre-Super Twosday predictions to hold myself accountable.

I predicted that Obama would win Texas by 10 points and wipe up after her in the caucuses. I think it's obvious that Obama fell flat in the primary, but I think he still looks on target to deal her a delegate blow in the caucuses. I predicted that Clinton would win Ohio by 6 to 8 points and I thought it looked like possibly more. I was right on with that prediction as Clinton will win Ohio by roughly 10 points. It was in the tea leaves. I gave Rhode Island to Clinton by about 10 points, but she drank Obama's milkshake to the tune of 18 points there. Not completely unexpected, but stunning to the Obama people nonetheless. Finally, I was looking at a 15 point win for Obama in Vermont and he delivered by more than 20 points. It's very interesting, but my final prediction was that Obama would come away with more delegates in the end, and that Clinton would get the ammunition to run this campaign all the way to the end. And there you have it.....

Obama 2025: One Scenario

That's not the name of a sci-fi thriller starring Will Smith. I happened to be playing around with CNN's delegate counter game to look at what kind of scenario might play out with the remaining states, and how likely it is we'll see one candidate or the other get the nomination. What I found was very interesting. Click the graphic below to enlarge:

I simply decided to award delegates at random by sliding the bar into either Clinton or Obama's side, awarding them each state by varying margins. I tried to make most of the states close except where I thought it was fair for one candidate or the other to take away more delegates. You may agree or disagree about who will win each state, but it's not all that important in the end as you'll see.

For the hell of it, I divided the states into these camps:


West Virginia
South Dakota
Rhode Island
Puerto Rico


North Carolina

I also awarded more superdelegates to Hillary Clinton. I don't think, for the record, that this is how it's going to play out. I think Obama will win more of these states, offering that Clinton may end up performing slightly better in a couple of Obama's wins. The point here is, Clinton wins more of the remaining states and more of the remaining superdelegates and still doesn't stop Obama from reaching 2025. What I expect to happen is that Obama will win the larger portion of the remaining superdelegates and will win a few of those states in Clinton's column. This game was intended to see how Hillary Clinton could still clinch the nomination and I gave her an advantage that I thought would do it. When I looked up at the bar graph for the two candidates, oddly it landed at exactly 2025 for Obama. I expected that I'd just given Clinton a slim majority when I looked up, but it worked out so neatly that I had to post this. It also shows that Hillary Clinton's quest for the nomination is still a virtual impossibility.

One note: I believe this CNN delegate game counts the Florida and Michigan delegates for Clinton. It definitely gives her those states on the colored-in map. If that's true, and they did factor in the numbers.....more bleak.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Fear vs. Think/Hope

Hillary Clinton's ad:

Bill Clinton 2004 Presidential Campaign:

That's all you need to know. Bill Clinton endorses Barack Obama.

Super Twosday Predictions

I'm calling this set of primaries that includes Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont "Super Tuesday II Twosday for its serious political consequences for both the Obama and Clinton campaigns. The stakes are very high all around and we could either see an effective end to the Democratic nomination or a long (I mean loooooooooooong) month and a half until Pennsylvania. I'm going to make a couple of predictions about each state and then an overall prediction about how this campaign is going to move forward.


I believe, despite narrow polls in Obama's favor, that Barack Obama will win Texas by nearly 10 percentage points. The strange primary/caucus combination will make things a bit unclear, but Obama has outperformed the polling numbers by an average of nearly 8 percentage points since the primary contests started in Iowa. He currently has a 3 or 4 point advantage by most counts. More than the impressive win here, Obama will actually score a huge majority of the delegates as a result of the Texas system of allocation that gives more delegates to the urban areas that Obama will run away with. The loss in Texas for Senator Clinton, especially in my margin of victory holds true, should be the end of her campaign, but I don't think that's going to be the case, because.....


Senator Clinton has held a good lead in Ohio, again despite narrowing poll numbers, and got a bit of a boost today when some memos surfaced showing an Obama aide hedging on the rhetoric about NAFTA in a meeting with the Canadian Consulate in Chicago. People in Ohio, already on Hillary's side, will see this as a betrayal and I can't see him surviving a death blow like this at the 11th hour. I would have predicted a very close race here with either candidate poised for a 2 or 3 percentage point victory, but I now predict a Clinton victory by 6 to 8 points (if not more). Ohio will give the Clinton campaign its needed "big win" to drag out the inevitable.

Rhode Island

RI will be the cherry on Clinton's Ohio sundae as she should win the state by nearly 10 points. Obama has shown the ability to close polls to within single digits, but I think that she's going to coast to victory in Rhode Island with a comfortable win. I'll go with 10 points here.


I expect Obama to win this small state by 15 points and grab the lion's share of the delegates in the process. This will be a very big win for Obama, as it turns out, because it will help him to keep the delegate lead for Super Tuesday II. Although Clinton will be able to boast a split of states on this day (and she will) the overall gains that Obama makes in delegates might be significant.


Despite the overall delegate gain for Obama on this day, I would consider my predicted outcome a loss. Hillary Clinton will be able to make the case for a campaign that extends to Pennsylvania on April 22nd and we'll be forced to watch an increasingly ugly campaign drag the Democratic Party into the gutter. Make no mistake, this extended campaign and its negative tone is hurting the eventual winner a great deal. If there was a more dynamic Republican on the other side, this would be a fatal disaster. McCain has issues of his own to deal with and looks a bit tired already. Still, we may end up looking back at Super Tuesday II Twosday as the day that ultimately jeopardized the general election more than any other. Terrifying prospects for Democrats.

Note: If Obama can make a last second comeback to win Ohio, I expect Clinton to end her campaign. If she loses 3 states, it will be hard for her to continue with the DNC breathing down her neck. If she ends up continuing past a set of losses that includes both Texas and Ohio, you'll see her lose PA by double digits and you'll see dozens of superdelegates endorsing Obama.

Also, I just saw a Fox promo for their "Super Tuesday II" coverage, so I had to change my little name for the day. I can't use the same corny joke that Fox has employed. My corny joke has to be above that, so I'm going with Super Twosday. Ugh.