As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Just So You Kmow I'm Alive

Walked about 4 miles around San Francisco yesterday, with another 4 or so planned for today. The links on the side of the page offer an excellent opportunity for analysis. Here are some quick and unformed thoughts:

• Hillary Clinton needs to just hang in there over the next couple weeks. She is down big in Maryland and in Virginia, and today's primaries and caucuses in Washington, Nebraska and Louisiana don't look promising. Maine is tomorrow and that's probably her best shot. I think ads starring oily lobbyists like John Breaux aren't really the place to start.

• It could be worse: you could be John McCain, endorsed by George Allen and Mitch McConnell and John Bolton and George W. Bush:

On Fox News today, Time’s Mark Halperin said, “The President behind the scenes has told people for months that he thought McCain would be the nominee. Even during some of those dark periods he still thought he could win. And also that McCain would be the best to carry forth his agenda.”

Ouch. I think that'll be replayed.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Random Ten

Light posting today thru Sunday - I'll be on a weekend getaway.

I'm Housin' - Rage Against The Machine
Just Can't Get Enough - Nouvelle Vague
Kings Of The Rodeo - Kings Of Leon
Babystrich - Stereo Total
Fine - The Cardigans
America Is Not The World - Morrissey
Sleeping In The Flowers - They Might Be Giants
Skills Like This - Guided By Voices
Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash
Emerge (Junkie XL remix) - Fischerspooner

Sayonara. Oh, and if you're in the San Francisco area, some bloggers and myself will be getting together to hang out and watch the results of the Saturday caucuses at Portal's Bar, which I believe is 167 West Portal, a block from the West Portal Muni station.

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Democrats Need To Stop Smearing Democrats

Both sets of supporters in the Presidential primary, at least online, have stalked off into armed camps, and are lobbing grenades over the wall at each other. This is not true of the public at large; as I've said before, rank-and-file Democrats really like our candidates. I never got around to writing about my experience in the Nevada caucus at the Wynn casino in Las Vegas; there are some excellent contemporaneous reports here, here, here and here. My takeaway from that event, other than the fact that it was the only time you could see everyone who works at a hotel in uniform in the same place since the MGM Hotel fire, and that the kids from the nightclub were mulling around in the back of the caucus room because it's in their DNA to be too cool for everything (I think they set up their own VIP caucus with bottle service in the back), and that I saw a pimp vote, was that there was an absolute outpouring of affection and excitement for both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama (I think the final tally in the room, mirroring the final tally in the country, was something like 189-187). They were joyful, energized, and willing to cheer their man (or woman) on. Watching the two groups singing chants and waving signs, I was far from wondering if this was at all the right way to run a democracy (OK, I was a little bit); I was inspired.

But what has occurred in the last week or so has been detrimental, and given that we're going to have a protracted primary fight, while I don't think it'll really hurt the party, it will severely damage the progressive movement and the cohesiveness of the blogosphere. I mean, we know about irrational Hillary hatred. We see it all over the media, and as Bill Maher said a couple weeks ago, "If you hate this woman, that's your problem. She's done nothing to deserve it." But now we're heading into irrational Obama hatred territory. This Firedoglake piece about the Tony Rezko connection reads like something out of a Ron Paul mailer circa 1992. They even had to give as close as I've seen to a retraction with an additional post. And there are literally dozens of other examples. Websites on both sides have turned into oppo research shops and self-congratulation circle jerks. Half the internet (Hillary's side) jumped all over Obama for ducking proposed debates when the same article said he would agree to at least one, and now he's agreed to a couple.

There are legitimate points to be made about both Clinton and Obama and I'm not suggesting that both are somehow infallible and beyond comment. Obama's constant, somewhat dishonest rhetoric opposing health care mandates disturbs me. Clinton taking the call for debates to the extreme of agreeing to one on Fox News makes no sense when Democrats have gotten this far, and enchanted the country, without legitimizing a propaganda outlet. Last week's New York Times story about Obama eventually caving to Senate Republicans to take the teeth out of a bill that would have harmed a campaign contributor, seems like it might be significant, though the Obama campaign put out a fact-check on it. But the point is that these are singular events. Democrats are having such a hard time choosing a candidate because these two are virtually indistinguishable on policy. Neither are the scoundrels or the rogues that the darker regions of the blogosphere are spending so much time making them out to be. It's really made reading blogs a depressing experience, and driven me away from some good writers.

The tactics are eerily reminiscent of our friends on the right, and how they use character assassination to discredit our candidates. I don't understand the circular firing squad here. The candidates are generally as decent as a couple of cautious, centrist politicians can be. They were pushed to the left by John Edwards, and garnered massive followings that can be mobilized to hold them accountable. Either way it'll be up to us in the end to facilitate that mobilization. Do we really want half the 'sphere to react to some capitulation by the next President with a bunch of I-told-you-so's? To say nothing of the possible nightmare scenario of a brokered convention and superdelegates picking the nominee.

I don't know if there's a way to stop this; the snowball is rapidly moving downhill. But there ought to be something. The primary itself is not negative; online it's a sewer, however. And the movement isn't old and robust enough to already be cracking at the seams.

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Double Bubble Trouble - 94,000 Uncounted

We have a number to attach to the disenfranchisement in Los Angeles County due to faulty ballot design - up to 94,000.

Spurred by confusion over Tuesday's voting, acting Los Angeles County Registrar Dean Logan said Wednesday that his office will examine more than 94,000 ballots cast by nonpartisan voters to determine how many votes for presidential candidates may have gone uncounted.

Logan said he also will try to determine whether the uncounted ballots would make a difference in the way delegates are apportioned between the Democratic presidential candidates and, if so, will seek legal approval to count as many as possible.

In other words, he doesn't want to count them. Because we know that there will be little or no impact on delegate counts. I went through this in a comment thread on Kos, but allow me to replicate.

For those playing at home, Los Angeles County CDs are 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 and 41. Of these, 24, 39 and 41 are only partially in LA County.

24 - 8,000 vote spread, not changing
25 - 9,000 vote spread, not changing
26 - 12,000 vote spread, not changing
27 - 18,500 vote spread, not changing
28 - 17,000 vote spread, not changing
29 - 6,400 vote spread, in all likelihood not changing
30 - 4,000 vote spread but it's an even-numbered delegate allocation, not changing
31 - 18,000 vote spread, but if Barack picked up enough, he could get it back to a 2-2 split
32 - 31,000 vote spread, not changing
33 - 27,000 vote spread for Barack, not changing
34 - 29,000 vote spread, not changing
35 - 17,000 vote spread for Barack, not changing
36 - 8,000 vote spread, not changing
37 - 8,000 vote spread for Barack, not changing
38 - 37,000 vote spread, not changing
39 - 26,000 vote spread, not impossible but only a piece of LA county is in the district, so not changing
41 - 15,000 vote spread, not changing

There is no question as to the voter's intent; they asked for a Presidential primary ballot, requiring them to fill in a bubble certifying that is redundant and stupid. This isn't a delegate issue, it's a voting rights issue. And no matter what the impact on the outcome, those votes should be counted.

But the registrar appears to be doing all he can not to count them. Look at this spin.

Election workers will examine these ballots to see if voters marked a presidential candidate. But even if they did, it may be difficult to count them.

The presidential ballot for independents who voted in the Democratic primary was the same as the ballot for those who voted in the American Independent primary.

In the American Independent contest, there were three candidates running, while the Democratic Party had eight. The bubbles for the first three candidates in each party were in the same position on the ballot, making it impossible to tell after the fact if a voter was voting Democratic or American Independent -- unless that person also filled in the bubble indicating party preference.

I don't know if they moved them around from precinct to precinct or not, but the first three candidates on my sample ballot were Gravel, Edwards, and Dodd, who probably got 20 votes at the ballot box between them. So nice try.

(This, by the way, does resolve the mystery of the bubble a bit. They clearly had several types of scan-tron sheets; one for Democrats, one for Republicans, one for each lesser party like the Greens, and one for DTS. Because the Democratic and the American Independent party opened their primaries, the double bubble told the machine which primary the DTS voter took part in. The obvious resolution would be to have different scan-tron sheets for DTS voters in the Dem primary, and DTS voters in the American Independent Party primary, all 8 of them. OR, forget the capturing of DTS information and Democratic information differently, and just give them a Dem ballot. You'd know by the voting rolls if a DTS voter participated in a partisan primary.)

The Courage Campaign, which has spearheaded this issue, wants every vote counted, and they've put together a petition to submit to the registrar.

Unfortunately, Dean Logan, the Registrar in charge of Los Angeles County, is refusing to conduct a physical hand-count of every "Decline-to-State" vote before the official vote is certified in just a few weeks.

Every vote must be counted. And time is running out. Please sign our petition to Registrar Dean Logan today demanding that he conduct a physical hand count of all "Decline-to-State" votes cast in the Democratic primary. The more names we add to this petition, the more likely it is that the Registrar will count every vote.

Never again. Not in California. Not in America. Please sign our petition to Registrar Dean Logan right now.

And the Sacramento Bee is out with a scathing editorial.

A major voting disaster Tuesday shows the pitfalls of having each of the state's 58 counties set its own rules and ballot designs. Voters in Los Angeles County who belong to no party ("decline-to-state" voters) and who wanted to vote in the Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday got a raw deal [...]

Worse, acting Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters Dean Logan told county supervisors that the county had used the same "double bubble" design in 2004 and 2006. In those elections, only 40 percent of the county's decline-to-state voters' ballots were counted. It is outrageous that the county knew of this massive disenfranchisement and did not make changes. This calls for an investigation.

County election officials knew that the decline-to-state vote in the Democratic Party primary Feb. 5 would be huge. Yet they failed to establish a system that would ensure that nonpartisan voters' votes would count.

Registrar Logan now has said that the county will look at the 94,500 uncounted ballots to see if they can "clearly identify the voters' intent." A clear mark for a presidential candidate should be enough.

California's patchwork of voting rules is a serious problem, and the Legislature should change it. The exciting 2008 election has encouraged a massive surge of participation. The state shouldn't squander it by disenfranchising qualified voters.

It's absurd that we have 94,000 disenfranchised voters and a registrar who's seemingly OK with that. Sign the petition.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Prop. 93's Achilles Heel

As we reach the beginning of the post-Nuñez and Perata era in the California Legislature, I want to reiterate what I said in a comment thread to the Speaker's top spokesman, almost a year ago, just days after the term limits measure was announced:

If it's so disastrous to (Nuñez') career and future plans to go through with this, why doesn't he sign a simple pledge stating that he will not benefit from a last-minute change in the law? He can certainly run for a State Senate seat, or Congress, or LA mayor, or whatever. But certainly, signing such a pledge would remove any appearance of impropriety, and give the Speaker freedom to serve MORE time in Sacramento, making him even wiser in how to negotiate that difficult terrain.

So can I fax the pledge right over?

The bottom line is that if the law wasn't seen to have benefited the 120 legislators in office to an outsized degree, it would have passed, because this is what turned off liberals and Democrats. George Skelton agrees.

What really stunk up Prop. 93 was an incumbents' sweetheart provision that mostly helped senators, including Perata. It would have allowed incumbents to serve 12 years in their current house regardless of previous service in the other house. So some senators could have spent 18 years in the Legislature, six more than advertised in Prop. 93.

Voters probably would have accepted a straight-up deal that allowed incumbents to choose either the new 12-year arrangement or the old 14-year system, but not be awarded extra "transition" years.

"They could have had term limits on a silver platter, but they got greedy," says Dan Schnur, a Republican consultant who has worked for redistricting reform. "They could have passed it with both hands tied behind their backs."

Of course, there would be no incentive for them to pass a term limits change if they didn't benefit from it. Where would the money come from? Good government groups don't have that kind of scratch.

But if Nuñez and Perata held a joint press conference three weeks before the election and said "We thought it over and we will not seek another term. The other legislators are free to do as they wish, but we believe in improving the state of California more than ourselves," then the "No" side would have had their legs cut out from under them. It was their entire strategy to make the proposition a referendum on the leadership. And liberals and Democrats had problems with the narrow tailoring of the initiative. They would have gotten the 4% they needed to pass the thing; all they had to do was sign my pledge.

That said, I'm very excited with Darrell Steinberg as the new President Pro Tem; he's a solid progressive. As for the Assembly, if this part of the palace intrigue is true, there's going to be some serious pushback:

Meanwhile, very reliable sources tell me that Democratic Assemblymember Charles Calderon has been trying to put together a deal with the Republicans in the Assembly-who number 32 in all-and to cobble together at least 9 Democrats in the body to get to 41, the magical number to become Speaker.

If we have a Lieber-Speaker in the midst, that's not going to work out well, to put it charitably. This needs some attention.

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Ain't Goin' Out Like That

James Dobson, showing the stunning lack of an ability to count, endorses Mike Huckabee, who needs practically every single delegate available to win the nomination.

Dobson knows what he's doing, of course. He wants to have an argument to make after the election is over, that the Republicans lost because they didn't pick his preferred candidate. This is how they keep the movement alive; by calling anyone who loses an apostate, anyone who wins one of their own, and anyone who loses after he wins an apostate ex post facto.

The question, of course, is how actively Dobson and the theocons will undermine McCain. Will they simply not volunteer (evangelicals made up a substantial portion of Bush's ground team)? Will they stay home? Will they run Judge Roy Moore on a third-party ticket?

The world waits, and wonders.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, McCain gets the coveted 24% endorsement.

President Bush plans to give an implicit endorsement of onetime rival John McCain's conservative bona fides tomorrow as the Arizona senator seeks to consolidate the party behind his candidacy.

In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in the morning, Bush plans to say that the nominee of the party will be a strong conservative, according to excerpts released by the White House tonight.

"We have had good debates and soon we will have a nominee who will carry the conservative banner into this election and beyond," Bush says in the excerpts. "The stakes in November are high. Prosperity and peace are in the balance. So with confidence in our vision and faith in our values, let us go forward, fight for victory and keep the White House in 2008.

That's got to be good for a 5% drop in the polls right there, no? The political version of King Midas?

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When conservatives online try to mimic the liberal blogosphere and activist community, it never turns out right. Yesterday the "rightroots" announced that today would be an "F7" - a money-bomb of a day to stop Hillary (!) or Barack (!) from ruining our country with their homobortion white surrender flags.

Right now they have 28 donors. $2,440.

By contrast, Clinton and Obama have raised something like $13 million over the last couple days.

My favorite part of this is the first comment on this thread announcing the money, er, bomb.

Jeffrey Says:
February 6th, 2008 at 8:26 pm

I’ll donate $0

Thanks for asking.

Once the RNC decides to stick up for conservative principles instead of for their frat club I might consider donating to the cause.


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If The President Does It, Then It's Not Illegal

Mike Mukasey, Attorney General of the United States, before the House Judiciary Committee today.

Delahunt: You said if an opinion was rendered, that would insulate him from any consequences.

MM: We could not investigate or prosecute somebody for acting in reliance on a justice department opinion.

Delahunt: If that opinion was inaccurate and in fact violated a section of US Criminal Code, that reliance is in effect an immunity from any criminal culpability.

MM: Immunity connoted culpability.

Delahunt: This is brand new legal theory.

MM: Disclosure of waterboarding was part of CIA interrogation and permitted by DOJ opinion, would and should bar investigation of people who relied on that opinion.

Delahunt: Let's concede that waterboarding is in contravention of international obligation. If opinion rendered that amounted to malpractice, whoever employed that technique, simply by relying on that opinion would be legally barred from criminal investigation.

MM: If you're talking about legal mistake, there is an inquiry regarding whether properly rendered opinions or didn't. But yes, that bars the person who relied on that opinion from being investigated.

Delahunt: I find that a new legal doctrine. The law is the law.

MM: If it comes to pass that somebody at a later date that the opinion should have been different the person who relied on the opinion cannot be investigated.

Delahunt: Is there a legal precedent.

MM: There is practical consideration.

Delahunt: I can't cite you a case.

The Attorney General is saying that the President can do anything he wants, break the law any way he wants, as long as the President's own Justice Department, populated his own handpicked officials, validates it. And he's saying it directly to members of Congress, essentially telling them that they don't exist. They have no power to prosecute because the Justice Department won't take up the case, and the courts have no power to adjudicate because these are official state secrets. There is only one branch of government that matters.


President Bush has now laid down his most aggressive challenge to the very constitutional authority of Congress. It is a naked assertion of executive power. The founders would have called it tyrannical. His cards are now all on the table. This is no bluff.

Good thing we kept our powder dry on impeachment. That certainly didn't embolden a runaway President.

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Stimulus News

Well, the green energy package didn't get included, but the Senate will move a bill that adds $300 tax rebates for seniors and disabled veterans. The full bill doesn't help a whole lot. It doesn't give the help to those who need it the most. It doesn't use the opportunity to invest in our future rather than an ephemeral attempt at boosting consumer spending. But it does give a few bucks to my grandmother.


...Just to add, most taxpayers, many of whom don't need this stimulus, get $600 to $1,200 dollars. The poor, the elderly and the disabled, most of whom would actually use this money, get $300.


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The Coming National Surveillance State

Yesterday's Republican filibuster of the stimulus package had a second effect; it continued to hold up passage of any FISA bill to push Democrats up against the wall and raise the booga-booga factor to get them to submit to the will of Lord 24% George Bush.

Legislation to overhaul the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act remained stalled in the Senate Tuesday, held hostage by a partisan clash over procedures for consideration of an unrelated economic stimulus package.

A frustrated Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev., complained that Republicans were blocking his efforts to schedule votes on proposed amendments to the bill (S 2248). He questioned Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ’s commitment to the legislation, saying Republicans have declined to allow FISA to move forward.

“The Orwellian Bush administration has now slopped over into the Senate, and now the Republican leader is now becoming Orwellian himself,” Reid said. “They want to stall the FISA legislation as long as they can, and they’ve done a pretty good job, because they want this legislation to be completed at the last minute, to give the House and the Senate conferees little time to work on this.”

That lurch forward is still lurching, however, and yesterday we saw Ben Cardin's amendment to sunset the bill in 4 years instead of 5 go down to defeat, even though it had majority support in the chamber. Due to the pre-arranged rules, it needed 60 votes. It received 49 (to 46 no votes). And we'll keep seeing that, as every amendment to the bad Intelligence Committee bill, which includes amnesty for the phone companies, will be unable to make it over the bar set by Senate rules. As if to certify this, the President sent a little whiny note over to the Senate yesterday, warning that he would veto any effort to change the Intelligence Committee bill.

As emptywheel points out, the opposition to any and all amnesty amendments is a give, but particularly telling is the administration's focus on Feingold's amendments that limit the way the government uses this "foreign surveillance" to spy on Americans. None of these amendments (3979, 3913, 3915) would restrict collection of data of foreign persons--they each protect the privacy of people in the U.S. They are hellbent on spying on us. Emptywheel:

"We've been talking about this FISA stuff for almost a year now. All this time, the Administration has claimed that it was only interested in wiretapping foreign circuits that transited the US. But that's obviously just the start of what they insist on doing with this law.

They want to be able to spy on communications between the US and other countries without having to protect US person data through minimization or adequate targeting procedures. George Bush is basically trying to legalize his illegal spying program, all with the willing assistance of the US Congress."

It's really worse than that, and you have to look on this with a real sense of dread. Jay Rockefeller, in a series of statements on the floor of the Senate, is essentially advocating for the illegal spying of Americans, and worse, is intimating that drift nets will be legalized.

Rockefeller makes clear that the impending changes to the law aren't about making it easier for the National Security Agency to listen in on a particular terrorism suspect's phone calls. Instead, the changes are about letting the nation's spooks secretly and unilaterally install filters inside America's phone and internet infrastructure.
Rockefeller, the chief Democratic architect of the changes, explains:

"Unlike traditional [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] application orders which involve collection on one individual target, the new FISA provisions create a system of collection. The courts role in this system of collection is not to consider probable cause on individual targets but to ensure that procedures used to collect intelligence are adequate. The courts' determination of the adequacy of procedures therefore impacts all electronic communications gathered under the new mechanisms, even if it involves thousands of targets."

In short, the changes legalize Room 641A, the secret spying room inside AT&T's San Francisco internet switching center that was outed by former AT&T employee Mark Klein. That room sits at the center of a lawsuit against AT&T for its alleged illegal participation in the government's secret, warrantless spying program.

This bulk data collection by the nation's spy agencies would have almost no oversight and no checks. This is a surveillance state that these clowns are attempting to legalize, a manifestation of Big Brother.

Progressives are vowing to oppose any and all efforts at telecom immunity, but the other surveillance techniques in the bill are almost worse. And there is a deliberate attempt to give as little time as possible to their consideration.

This is disgusting.

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Five undersea cables have been cut, knocking countries throughout the Middle East off the Internet? What the hell is going on here?

This is really bizarre and would be an amazing coincidence if it's an accident.

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Re-Branding Torture

A couple weeks ago, John Negroponte blurted out that America has used the practice of waterboarding, but only a few times. The admission of a torture technique dating back to the Spanish Inquisition, you would think, would have led to Negroponte's sacking, mass protests lasting weeks, and in a Parliamentary system, a no-confidence vote against the current government. Instead it led to a new PR strategy:

Negroponte's comments, which were seen as confirmation that waterboarding had in fact been used before that, were not cleared beforehand and caught White House officials off guard, according to the senior administration official. "It was an accidental disclosure," said the official. It also forced a reassessment of whether the administration should at least publicly confirm Negroponte's remarks, if only to reap whatever public-relations benefit could be derived from the slip.

That third word is "benefit."

For while they're still spooked about defining waterboarding as torture - leading to inanities like DNI Mike McConnell saying "I said waterboarding was torture, but I meant that I don't like water up my nose" - they have no problem confirming these details in public, and even suggesting that we'd use it again:

“It will depend upon circumstances,” spokesman Tony Fratto said, adding “the belief that an attack might be imminent, that could be a circumstance that you would definitely want to consider.”

In other words, the message is, "Yeah, we did it, and we'll do it again, and what are you gonna do about it with your laws and regulations?"

This has been a persistent pattern. Faced with deliberately flouting the law, they turn the law into a partisan issue. Anyone who doesn't think America should torture is a dirty liberal who wants to tax our families and endanger our kids. They're so used to politics as a bar fight that they know politicizing everything is a winner - I mean, please, Dick Durbin, an investigation? What are you investigating? They told you they torture, and they're defending it.

The White House on Wednesday defended the use of the interrogation technique known as waterboarding, saying it is legal — not torture as critics argue — and has saved American lives. President Bush could authorize waterboarding for future terrorism suspects if certain criteria are met, a spokesman said.

A day earlier, the Bush administration acknowledged publicly for the first time that the tactic was used by U.S. government questioners on three terror suspects. Testifying before Congress, CIA Director Michael Hayden said Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubayda and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded in 2002 and 2003.

Waterboarding involves strapping a suspect down and pouring water over his cloth-covered face to create the sensation of drowning. It has been traced back hundreds of years, to the Spanish Inquisition, and is condemned by nations around the world.

The President is telling you that he authorized drowning terror suspects. He still claims it's legal, but his people won't investigate that because it's not true. He's demanding that the guy who wrote the legal opinion legitimizing torture be confirmed by the Senate, making them an accessory to torture. And somehow, there's this belief that this is the only secret that will be revealed. It's not.

For the first time, the top commander of detention operations at Guantanamo has confirmed the existence of the mysterious Camp 7. In an interview with The Associated Press, Rear Adm. Mark Buzby also provided a few details about the maximum-security lockup.

Guantanamo commanders said Camp 7 is for key alleged al-Qaida members, who must be kept apart from other prisoners to prevent them from retaliating against long-term detainees who have talked to interrogators. They also want the location kept secret for fear of terrorist attack.

And the official response from the White House will be "Yeah, we kept a secret detention camp at Guantanamo, and we'd do it again, because we believe in protecting your children, which our critics obviously don't!" And the media nods grimly, and somehow this bullying of the legal system and the Constitution continues, because nobody will punch back and use the handcuffs that are needed to take these criminals out of the White House.

This week a detainee died of natural causes at Guantanamo. It'll be a fate that will likely befall many other detainees. This particular one was accused of being a terrorist by people who held grudges against him and needed the bounty offered by the US government. He was never charged, never allowed to defend himself in court, and we'll never know just what he was guilty of doing. And if questioned, your leaders will tell you that his detention and death was necessary to protect your family. And you'll still believe that you live in a free society.

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Money Bombs

Not only did Sen. Obama raise $7 million online on Wednesday, but Hillary Clinton raised $4 million from 35,000 donors.

This is pretty amazing. While conservatives cry over Mittens and get together to yahoo about torture and war, Democrats gave 11 million dollars so their candidates can do the work of campaigning.

Granted, one side has a long fight ahead while the other has the nomination sealed. But the difference in enthusiasm is striking.

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Say It Ain't So, Mittens!

But you're such a good economic steward, as evidenced by your spending a million bucks or so per delegate! Tagg doesn't need a new house! Don't say the words!

John McCain effectively sealed the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday as chief rival Mitt Romney suspended his faltering presidential campaign. "I must now stand aside, for our party and our country," Romney prepared to tell conservatives.

"If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," Romney will say at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.

I'm watching this CPAC speech right now, and it's the first time I've seen anyone worked up over Romney. It's like a cult over a nonentity like Larry "Bud" Melman, or something. He's actually about to say how he's more noble than Reagan was in '76. What a brave soldier, stepping aside when he has no mathematical chance of winning.

Listen to these punks yelling "No!" It's like an alternate universe.

...I hope Hugh Hewitt is under sedation.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I mentioned them earlier today, but let me add a link to what's going on out there in the Mid-South with these awful storms and tornadoes.

Red Cross

United Way

Phoen number for donations: (901) 433-4300

(h/t Thers)

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Pop Quiz Time

So Mitt Romney, who was embarrassed in California, a beaten third all over the Southwest and really only strong in states he had a house in, has decided to spend Tagg's future kids' college funds and stay in a futile quest for the GOP nomination. And the bureau chief at Pravda Online Hugh Hewitt decided to make an analogy to commemorate this bold (some would say ignorant) decision. Now what public figure from the recent past do you suppose Hewitt would use in said analogy to describe Romney's choice?

I'll give you ten seconds. Hum the "Match Game PM" theme to keep time.


Give up?

Like Reagan In '76, Romney Is Staying In

Congratulations! Hugh Hewitt, you're the proud recipient of the Reagan Library's "One Billion References to Reagan" Award! We'll fly you and a guest first-class from Reagan National Airport to Simi Valley for a tour of the Reagan Library! That's right, you'll drive down the Ronald Reagan Freeway and onto Ronald Reagan Drive, where you'll take in the Reagan Oval Office, the Reagan legacy, and the Reagan Reagan, a special of this prize package!! And we'll give you a stack of Reagan dimes and a DVD copy of the CBS miniseries "The Reagans" for you to burn!! Reagan Reagan Reagan 9/11 Reagan!!!

Sheesh, if they could re-animate St. Ronnie's corpse... he'd do better than Mitt Romney. And actually that'd make at least 3 corpses running on the GOP side this year.

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Obama Camp Basically Saying They Can't Win OH or TX

Expectations game?

Barack Obama's campaign is forecasting that the Democratic presidential race will remain deadlocked after the primaries end, and the outcome may depend on a fight over whether delegations from Florida and Michigan are counted.

By the time the last primary is held June 7, Obama's advisers project he will have 1,806 delegates to 1,789 for New York Senator Hillary Clinton, according to a document outlining the scenario that was inadvertently attached to a release on delegate counts from yesterday's Super Tuesday primaries.

The forecast doesn't include Florida and Michigan, which were stripped of delegates by the Democratic National Committee for holding primaries ahead of the schedule set out by the party. Clinton, who won uncontested primaries in both states, is vowing a fight to have those delegates -- slated to be 366 in total -- seated at the nominating convention [...]

Obama's advisers are predicting victories in 19 of the remaining 27 Democratic primaries and caucuses, with Clinton winning the big states of Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to the campaign document. The final contest is a primary June 7 in Puerto Rico.

If Clinton keeps winning the big battleground states I don't see a very clear path to the nomination for Obama, honestly. If someone sweeps on March 4 there's going to be a lot of pressure put on the loser to get out. The superdelegates might move en masse to the opponent. And if Obama doesn't get out, then follows up losing Ohio and Texas by losing Pennsylvania, that'll be really the end.

There's going to be a lot of potential momentum coming out of February, they have to capitalize on that in my view. Maybe they "inadvertently" leaked this document to get it on the record that they are not favored to win Ohio or Texas, so that if they do, it's a fatal blow.

Of course, Obama has raised $5.4 million dollars today, so maybe they're being completely straight, and they're in it for the long haul.

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I'm John McCain, And I Approved Killing This Polar Bear And Denying Food To That Poor Person

So the Senate, not known for its boldness or its speed, got together and stood up for some additional important elements of the economic stimulus bill, including some pretty solid green energy tax incentives and jobs packages. They also included extensions to unemployment benefits, one of the simplest and most proven methods of injecting money into the economy. This was a fairly good bill.

It came up for vote today. It missed by one vote.

The U.S. Senate refused to consider a Democratic-backed $156 billion economic stimulus bill that would expand a House measure by giving tax rebates to more people and extending unemployment benefits.

The Senate's 58-41 vote was two short of the 60 needed to overcome Republican objections and consider the measure further. Republicans said the legislation passed by the Democratic- controlled Senate Finance Committee last week added too many provisions and would delay getting money into the hands of consumers.

"The president has made it clear that he doesn't want that extension of unemployment benefits," Republican Senator John Thune said.

The article says two votes, but Harry Reid voted "no" for procedural reasons so he could take it up again. So one vote would have made the difference.

58 + 41 equals 99. Who missed the vote?

Not that man of honor!

The Senate also addresses one of the biggest failings of last year's energy bill. Wind and solar power installations are growing at a sizzling pace, but that growth is fueled by production tax credits that expire at the end of the year. An extension was stripped from the energy bill because of an unrelated dispute over taxing oil companies. The credits must be extended as quickly as possible because investors won't pump money into clean power if there's a danger of losing their tax incentives. Renewable energy reduces reliance on foreign oil while cutting greenhouse gases and other pollutants; green technology is also an extremely promising growth industry that could help make up for the loss of manufacturing jobs.

The Senate vote has been delayed until Wednesday, mainly so that the two Democratic senators still in the presidential race, Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, will have a chance to return to Washington after today's Super Tuesday primaries in order to weigh in (both are expected to support the Baucus plan). That would put the count of those expected to vote in favor at either 58 or 59, according to lobbyists -- just shy of the 60 needed to avoid a filibuster. Which means the plan's success or failure could depend on one man, who has kept mum about his stance: Republican candidate John McCain of Arizona.

McCain has made much during the campaign about his determination to combat global warming. If he's the man of conviction he claims to be, he should return to Washington and back the Baucus bill.

Ducking a vote that would be tough to explain to your global warming-denying base; now that's some straight talk. I guess he can go up to the Antarctic and say "My friends, those polar bears aren't ever coming back.

I think I'm going to puke if I have to hear about the "honor" of John McCain for the next nine months.

UPDATE: John Sununu voted against poor people and polar bears, too. That's not going to work in a rapidly bluing New Hampshire. This vote will stick with those incumbents up for re-election.

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Obama's Connecticut Win, And What It Means For Our Movement

(the disclosure is I voted for Obama, but I would write this even if I was a Hillary supporter)

The one thing that didn't match up in last night's results, to me, was Barack Obama's victory in Connecticut. Hillary Clinton's leads in key northeastern states (Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York) all seemed to hold up - EXCEPT for Connecticut. He won despite exit polling showing that 59% of the electorate was female, and 30% was over 60. Why? What did this mean?

The New York Times thinks it has the answer.

Ned Lamont was not on the ballot, but his presence was nonetheless felt in Connecticut’s Democratic presidential primary.

It was the young, the rich and voters who called Iraq the top issue who helped provide the margin of victory for Senator Barack Obama in Connecticut, according to surveys of voters leaving the polls, narrowly defeating Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in her own backyard.

With 96 percent of the votes counted, Mr. Obama had 50 percent of the vote, compared with 47 percent for Mrs. Clinton. The exit polls, conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, showed Mr. Obama doing well among what some in that state might call the “Ned Lamont coalition.”

I am not trying to say that the Ned Lamont endorsement, which came late after Lamont went in strong for Chris Dodd, had an impact. No, I would argue it was not Lamont but THE MOVEMENT THAT LAMONT LEFT BEHIND that helped Obama the most. Bunches of new voters were energized by that campaign in 2006. It appears that they didn't go back to their couches and stew after the general election loss to Joe Lieberman, they stuck around and became part of a movement for change.

“The Lamont campaign was part of my political awakening,” said Bill Dauphin, 47, a technical writer who attended the Obama campaign’s victory party Tuesday night at the Sweet Jane Bar in Hartford. “That’s the thing that got me off the sofa and onto the street.” [...]

In a state where Mrs. Clinton consistently held double-digit poll leads until mid-January, Mr. Obama ran strong among voters who made up their minds in the last month, the last week and the last three days, the exit poll showed. Thousands of unaffiliated Connecticut voters joined the Democratic Party in recent weeks in order to cast ballots in the primary, and among the nearly 20 percent of voters surveyed on Tuesday who identified themselves as independents, Mr. Obama won 6 of every 10 votes.

My Left Nutmeg has a bit more.

While I actually have zero interest in linking Clinton to Lieberman, it must be said (as Scarce mentioned last night) that this primary cycle in CT cemented the realignment that happened in 2006 – Clinton's campaign in the state was made up of many of Lieberman's most enthusiastic post-primary Dem supporters (you know the list), and the results from last night showed their weakness.

That DeLauro and Larson joined up with Obama surprised me when I first heard of their endorsements – but in retrospect, it looks like they at least in part interpreted the political tides in a correct and savvy fashion. (That's why they're in Congress, and I'm just some schmoe. Ah well :)

Winning begets more winning. Ned Lamont, Don Williams, Chris Murphy, Rosa DeLauro, and John Larson are mainstream CT Democrats. I feel pretty good being in that coalition, personally.

It's frankly unfair to Clinton to link her to Lieberman; nothing could be further from the truth. But her war vote was probably a factor, as Iraq has been a galvanizing cause for the progressive movement.

This is why we have to keep fighting in these primary races. Real and vital infrastructure does get left behind every time we do a primary in one of these states, and it has residual effects. If we had a "50-state Ned Lamont strategy," the amount of activists and energy that would engender would be incalculable. It's a seeding strategy, where new leaders are cultivated.

Now, in a way there's a wistful quality to this, because Obama kind of screwed Lamont in 2006 by not going to bat for him completely. It's one thing to see a progressive movement defy odds, and another to direct where it channels itself. But over time, I believe those activists will get things right. I'm less concerned about who won and who lost here than the idea that a progressive movement borne from the ashes of a primary challenge can overcome structural disadvantages and win.

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Sen. Steinberg To Run For President Pro Tem

In the aftermath of Prop. 93's narrow defeat (and by the way, Arnold, we do have to move on now, because, you know, the voters didn't vote for it. Brilliant stuff, Gov), Anthony York reports the first candidate for the new Senate leader:

Now that Proposition 93 has been rejected by voters, the races to replace the two legislative leaders are officially under way.

Sacramento Democrat Darrell Steinberg was the first to publicly announce his candidacy to replace Senate leader Don Perata Wednesday.

“It’s no secret that I’m going to run for the position and I’m going to run hard,” said Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. “Obviously, it’s a decision for the caucus to make and I know this, whatever happens, the election will be amicable,something that reflects the congeniality of the senate. That is the tradition. I expect it will be that way.”

Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, also is a contender to succeed Perata. Conversations with several senators indicate that Padilla is actively seeking votes. Steinberg has been the prohibitive front-runner for the job since his election in 2006. Padilla, a former president of the Los Angeles City Council, is said to have waiting for a formal OK from Perata to begin seeking votes.

I'm a pretty big fan of Sen. Steinberg, for his engagement with Calitics and his advocacy for the mental health victims that the Governor tried to throw out on the street last year.

Rampant speculation begins in the comments!

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Is Obama Actually In The Driver's Seat?

My thought when I woke up this morning was that Obama needed a win in Texas or Ohio on March 4 or he was done. But that could be just as true on the flip side. This is good, because it raises the likelihood of an ending by March 4 unless there's a plit decision.

Turns out that Hillary is broke, so broke that she's not only thought about self-financing, she's already done it:

Now the Clinton campaign has finally answered: Yes, they are. Hillary spokesperson Howard Wolfson sends over the following:

"Late last month Senator Clinton loaned her campaign $5 million.The loan illustrates Sen. Clinton’s commitment to this effort and to ensuring that our campaign has the resources it needs to compete and win across this nation. We have had one of our best fundraising efforts ever on the web today and our Super Tuesday victories will only help in bringing more support for her candidacy."

The revelation suggests another emerging dynamic in the race: Now that the campaigns are committed to grinding it out for weeks and weeks, perhaps all the way until the convention. The Hillary camp faces the prospect of being dramatically outspent by the Obama campaign, which has enjoyed huge fundraising success.

So Obama has the lead in pledged delegates. He won on delegates last night and basically tied on votes. Overall, the vote race is probably a tie, taking out Michigan when only one was on the ballot, of course. And he has a huge cash advantage. And he has a definitive advantage in the primaries leading up to Ohio and Texas:

Feb. 8: Washington (caucus), Nebraska (caucus), Louisiana
Feb. 9: Maine (caucus)
Feb. 12: Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia
Feb. 19: Wisconsin, Hawaii

There are a few more insignificant ones in there (if anyone wants to hire me to cover the Virgin Islands primary, give me a call), but these are the biggies. Washington state has shown an Obama lead in the polls. Nebraska, as a Plains state caucus, favors Obama given current trends. The Chesapeake primaries and Louisiana have substantial African-American populations, and Virginia has Governor Tim Kaine's support and a big netroots community (Jim Webb's support could be key). Hawaii is a home state for Obama. Wisconsin is a toss-up, but there'll be a lot of momentum.

There's a fear that Clinton or Obama will go negative but I don't think so. It hurt both candidates to go negative, however slightly or however misinterpreted, in the past. That which doesn't kill Clinton or Obama can only make them stronger, and both sides know it.

So there's a plausible scenario here that Clinton goes into March 4 behind on total delegates (even with superdelegates), seeing the narrative go away from her, maybe losing endorsements to Obama as he is perceived as a worthy candidate (superdelegates are fickle and will move to power like flies to a lamp), and short on cash facing a massive burst of ads in two big states where the air war will be crucial.

Incidentally, this attack mailer is very interesting, because it goes after the Clinton's past record of losing House seats, Senate seats and the Governorship, and even without spelling it out, it's still a progressive argument that may appeal to progressives.

The flip side of this is that the Clinton campaign successfully (and pretty much rightly) pushes the argument that they won the big states like New Jersey, California and Massachusetts last night, they play in Virginia and try to make it a draw, win among low-information voters in Wisconsin and go into Ohio and Texas, where they have some built-in advantages, on an upswing. And Obama has to prove that he can win a big state.

I think it's up in the air how this will go over the next week or two.

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Double Bubble Trouble Update

Thought I'd explain some things about the Double Bubble Trouble that has led to the potential disenfranchisement of a bunch of DTS voters in LA County. BradBlog has a good summary but here's the context.

There are 700,000-some DTS voters, but they didn't all vote in the primary. LA County registered 46% voter turnout yesterday, and my guess is that DTS voters are less likely to come to the polls. Let's say 40% of them voted; that'd be 280,000 voters. And it's completely unclear how many of them neglected to fill out that extra bubble that said "Democratic."

I can say this: based on the current vote count, the most likely scenario is that it will not result in changing one single solitary delegate. Maybe if a bunch of DTS voters in CA-31 or CA-36 went for Obama it'd shift something, but it's unlikely.

That's not a reason not to fight for every vote, however, and there are efforts afoot to do that, and it will be done, and those votes will eventually be counted, and this will be fixed for the future, as long as we keep talking about this and keep identifying the problem.

This is not a partisan issue, it's a voting rights issue. And ballot design should be certified by the Secretary of State's office as surely as type of machine. This was not a coordinated attempt to disenfranchise but a massive error going back 3 cycles.

We need a competent registrar of voters in LA County, too.

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Matt Stoller:

Hoyer had signs up outside, and he loves the Maryland flag, though it made him look a bit like the Congressman from Medieval Times.

Get that man a writing job!

The context of this is the Donna Edwards-Al Wynn race in MD-04, which we can win. I know Mark Pera got trounced last night, and it turns out that John Laesch narrowly lost to Bill Foster, although provisional and overseas ballots could change that. But Donna Edwards, who came close last time, is the best opportunity for a progressive to beat an incumbent Bush Dog Democrat.

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On Texas

Great rundown by the Burnt Orange Report.

To put this in perspective, Texas voters have never played this role in a Democratic primary. Good luck on your targeting, and good luck exit pollsters. It's a first-of-its-kind election in more ways that one. The universe of likely voters just got much, much larger.

Who will win Texas? Here are some things to think about.

Hispanic voters. Hillary won big among Hispanics in California. I believe this advantage has more to do with voter familiarity with Clinton than any black/brown friction. Exploiting a perceived antipathy between blacks and browns is a losers game for Democrats. No matter what side anyone is on, we need to vigorously contest the narrative of black/brown friction. And we're about to hear a lot about it, fueled by Clinton insiders and Republicans as well, from national and state pundits.

Women voters. Clinton has been winning the votes of older white women. But when Hillary hit the national stage in the early 90s, Ann Richards was the hero of Texas women. Hillary was never the figurehead here she was in some other places. The Clintons have a few friends in Texas, but they never really played on this field, and consequently don't have the deep leverage they've had elsewhere.

Fairly or not, there's a perception among Democratic opinion leaders that while a Clinton candidacy in 2008 will have minimum down-ballot impact, a a Clinton presidency will set Dems back. 2010 is a target year for the Texas Democratic comeback. Many fear the 2010 presidential midterm election will not go our way if voters have suffered through two more years of right wing Clinton bashing. I'm noting only the perception, not the reality. The perception will play a role in the March 4 outcome.

The most recent poll had Clinton up 10, and early voting doesn't start for two weeks, precisely at the time when the calendar and the free media will be favorable to Obama. The system in Texas is a mocha blend of primary and caucus, and the math is byzantine. There are significant African-American populations in Dallas and Houston, and a lot of colleges. There are also a lot of Hispanic voters in hard-to-reach areas.

I think Texas could be extremely interesting. If Obama wins there and Ohio, then his "repsect the will of the voters" call actually means something, and the progressive movement will push hard on superdelegates to get them aboard.

UPDATE; Regarding the superdelegates fight, here are two sides of the argument:

Americablog: respect the voters.

Kevin Drum: why shouldn't superdelegates have a say?

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Go Howard

From a DNC email:

How we'll beat John McCain

Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are done. John McCain will be the Republican nominee -- he's the only one with a reasonable path to the nomination.

So how do we beat him? We stand up -- right now -- start fighting, and show the American people that he's not who they think he is.

We can't wait for Hillary or Barack to win the nomination. Now that the Republicans have a candidate, the dollars are starting to pour in from special interests who will do anything to beat the Democratic nominee. They're just waiting for us to decide so they can start smearing [...]

John McCain is a media darling, but don't trust his carefully-crafted image - he's worked for years to brand himself. From Iraq to health care, Social Security to special interest tax cuts to ethics, he's promising nothing more than a third Bush term.

After championing campaign finance reform and ethics legislation to score political points, he now has a staggering amount of lobbyists involved in every aspect of his campaign. In fact, two of the top three sources for John McCain's campaign cash are D.C. lobbying firms, and he looked the other way as Jack Abramoff bought and paid for the Republican Party and the Culture of Corruption.

On immigration reform, he's run as far to the right as he can, aligning himself with the most extreme elements of the Republican Party.

On the war, McCain scoffed at Bush's call to leave troops in Iraq for 50 years, saying "Make it a hundred!"

On a woman's right to choose, McCain has vowed to appoint judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

On the economy, one of the issues that the American people care most about, McCain has said: "I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated."

We can't afford four more years with a President who drives the economy into the ground. We can't afford four more years with a President who fights an endless war in Iraq. We can't afford four more years with a President who gives tax cuts to companies who ship jobs overseas; with a President who can't get every American the health care they deserve; with a President we just can't trust.

This is extremely smart to be thinking about this immediately. In 1996 the Clinton campaign defined Bob Dole so fast it made the general election campaign irrelevant. And the increased technology and the ability to go viral will improve upon that feat. The progressive movement has done a very good job of defining the Republican candidates, and Dean's frames on McCain are pretty accurate, and are already being seen in the traditional media. "He'll make Cheney look like Gandhi." "Less jobs, more wars." You can see these being used all the way to November.

Howard Dean is doing right by the party. I don't think Hillary or Obama will keep him around come 2009, but his 50-state strategy is too a major part of the story, in terms of driving turnout in all these primary states. They should commit to keeping that structure in place; it's been enormously beneficial.

You can help out Dean here.

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Turning To The Republicans

Mark Steyn, yes THAT Mark Steyn, was probably clearest about the events of last night.

Well, the heartland spoke last night and about the only message it sent was that, no matter what the talk radio guys say, they're not voting for a Mormon; no way, no how. The rationale for Romney continuing his campaign is that he's the conservative alternative to McCain. The message from Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee is that he will never be accepted as such by the conservatives' electoral base. With the loss of California, it's hard to see the point of Mitt pushing on. On the other hand, given the ongoing vote-softness of the "frontrunner," it's mind-boggling to think the GOP can't produce a viable alternative.

As to Huck for Veep, I assume, whatever anti-Mitt coordination there is between the two campaigns, McCain is planning to toss Huckabee overboard as soon as he's served his purpose.

The real story of the night, when you look at their rallies and their turn-out numbers, is that the Dems have two strong candidates either of whom could lead a united party to victory. Forget the gaseous platitudes: in Dem terms, their choice on Super Duper Tuesday was deciding which candidate was Super Duper and which was merely Super. Over on the GOP side, it was a choice between Weak & Divisive or Weaker & Unacceptable. Doesn't bode well for November.

The huge turnout disparity tells that story the best; it looks like Democrats had something like a 4 million-vote advantage last night.

Huckabee had a good night, but he didn't really complicate the GOP contest. He was the fallback option for those who hated McRomney in the South (remember, they were seen as identical in the early stages of this contest), but there's only one more Southern state left to vote - Mississippi (unless you count Texas). Some think that Huckabee's a VP lock because it would "unify the party," but the same people that hate McCain hate Huckabee more. Karl Rove flatly said no to a McCain-Huckabee ticket, and he's in the position to know. I think a Southern conservative is more likely. Here are some options off the top of my head.

South Carolina governor Mark Sanford? S.C. Sen. Jim DeMint? (I don't think he can get away with picking Huckleberry Graham.) Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour? Georgia Gov. Sonny "Pray for Rain" Perdue?

Something like that sounds right.

As for McCain, he is the Bob Dole of 2008 - the old coot whose time has come. Some elements point to him being a strong general election candidate (like the media love), some don't (like his total disinterest in national policy, his desire to militarize civic life as well as warmonger abroad, and the fact that he's running for Bush's third term). He's also a hothead and is ripe for a dramatic moment on the campaign trail that makes him look awful. Bring him on. I'm not worried. Let him spend the entire election cajoling his base, we'll go out and get the votes.

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A Moment for the Victims

While everybody was watching the primary results, these awful tornadoes killed as many as 52 in 4 states in the South, including Arkansas and Tennessee where people were getting out to vote. Just heartbreaking. And an anomaly, wild weather patterns like this in February are quite unusual.

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Ohio And Texas

This is absolutely a firewall for Clinton. And I believe that, unless Obama breaks through in one of these two big states on March 4, he can't win the nomination. Obama's going to have a lot of opportunities between now and then, including Washington state, Maryland, D.C., Virginia, Hawaii, etc. But if he can't win big states, he's not going to be able to catch up, and Clinton will have the delegate lead going to the convention, both from superdelegates and pledged delegates. She'll also be able to say that she won all the biggest states in the country that her opponent doesn't live in. Here's Joe Trippi:

He's got a good set of states coming up. February 9, Louisiana. He should do well in Nebraska and the Virgin Islands. I don't know if Nebraska is a primary or a caucus. If it's a caucus, he has a shot. [Note: It is.] The twelfth, you've got Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, where Doug Wilder was governor. So he could sweep those. He could be right back in it. The door slammer could be March 4: Ohio and Texas on the same day. So, she starts, has a great Super Tuesday, but it appears he's coming back because of Louisiana, the Virgin Islands, Virginia, D.C., Maryland. Then does she slam the door shut in Texas and Ohio? I don't know. Texas is a tough one for me. I don't know which one they [the Obama campaign] go for. It's not a natural place for either one. Ohio--she's got Governor Strickland.

Obama is claiming victory for yesterday, but he lost New Jersey and Massachusetts by double-digits, and California by 9. (If the late absentee votes and the double bubble trouble make this closer, perhaps the narrative is different.)

I could be wrong about this. Obama could have a decent enough pledged delegate lead going into March 4, and Clinton could bring it back down to a tie. Maybe Michigan and Florida (shudder) and superdelegates do come into play. But if Clinton wins every big state, I simply can't see how Obama goes on.

This is interesting:

He also told us something I didn't know about Texas, which has often been assigned to the Clinton column: It's a mixed primary and caucus system, with two-thirds of the delegates awarded through primaries and a third through caucuses open only to primary voters.

"It is an organizationally very intensive system and one that we think we are very well set up to execute," he said.

Hm. I think Obama's going all-in for Texas. His South Carolina field team is headed there. But you can't run a precinct operation in Texas, it's too massive.

UPDATE: Oh crap.

Hillary advisers also disputed the Obama camp's claim of a lead among delegates, arguing that they were ahead when you factor in superdelegates.

If Mark Penn is bringing superdelegates into play and defying the will of the voters, that's a problem. I really hope superdelegates, Michigan and Florida don't come into play. But it could.

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The Day After - California Analysis

I did a lot of district-by-district analysis over at my second home of Calitics. Obama actually had an excellent overnight. He kept contact in several districts, won enough in CA-09 for a 4-2 split, and I don't think CA-50 and CA-53 are worth calling yet until we see where the final votes are coming from; he's basically in the same position he was in CA-01. My approximations on delegates show that Clinton will win between 31 and 37 more delegates out of California. At one point last night it looked like 50-60.

My initial analysis wasn't all that off except for one key area: Clinton was able to get 3-1 splits in 8 key districts, almost all of them heavily Latino: CA-18, CA-21, CA-31 (hey, great job, Obama surrogate Xavier Becerra!), CA-32, CA-34, CA-38, CA-39 (awesome, Obama surrogate Linda Sanchez!), and CA-43. If Obama got enough votes in those districts to keep it close, and I mean a scant 35%, he would have basically been even or down by 5-7 delegates.

Those are districts that are dominated by Spanish-language media, that are in Los Angeles and Riverside and San Bernardino and Orange counties. They would be uniquely difficult to organize at the precinct level, and Clinton won based on paid media and name ID and connection to the Clinton policies of the past. Clinton's huge Asian vote probably helped as well, at least in CA-39. I also overestimated the value of endorsers like Becerra and Linda Sanchez and Adam Schiff. Congressmen don't necessarily have a machine to get out votes.

I should also mention that Charlie Cook did very well.

Hillary Clinton was up by a whole lot in this race and she ended up winning by single digits (about 9.5%). Given her early voting lead, depending on how many voted by mail she may have won by as little as 5% on Election Day. But she took the districts where she had a natural advantage strongly.

On the Republican side, John McCain won around 49 districts, Mitt Romney 4. Unbelievable.

UPDATE: Frank Russo notes something very important:

Of the 6.3 million ballots counted for Presidential candidates, 63% or over 4 million were cast in the Democratic primary and only 32% or 2.3 million and counting were cast in the Republican primary. Democrats and decline to state a party voters who participated in the Democratic primary far outperformed normal voting patterns in California. Democrats hold a 10 point margin in voter registration over Republicans in this state and decline to state voters account for 19% of registrations. There is a 31% spread between the Democratic primary vote here and the Republican primary vote.
That's extremely impressive, and a good harbinger for November. Russo also says there are as many as a million absentee votes that have yet to be counted, so these numbers could still move, which means delegates could shift as well.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Holy crap! I hadn't been looking in on this, and I don't know if this is being reported on the teevee, but John McCain is winning EVERY Congressional district right now. Every one, except the two in Alameda that haven't been counted yet. Only a few are even that close right now.

Every Congressional district on the Republican side is winner-take-all. McCain may SWEEP California. That should give him what he needs to take the nomination, no? Whatever the case, Mitt Romney is done. This was his firewall.

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I'm Back

Hung out for a while at our Drinking Liberally event here in Santa Monica. What I'm seeing nationally is essentially a draw on the Democratic side. A good roundup here. Hillary got California and that's very big. She won huge among Latinos and Asians. I was in Little Tokyo in LA last weekend, and all of the signs were Hillary. I didn't know her strength in the Asian community was that great, but maybe I should have known. The Asian community was completely forgotten in this talk about the state.

Obama won blacks and, apparently, whites, and lost the state. All I can say is wow.

I've tried to delve a little bit into the district-level races to see what I can see. Based on the big wins in the ethnic communities I can see Clinton getting a lot more 3-1 splits in the 4-delegate districts than I expected, but we'll see. It's unclear where these votes are coming from thus far. CA-01 looks to be going Clinton. CA-05, Clinton. CA-29 (Schiff's district), Clinton but it's early. CA-50, Clinton but it's early. Obama is running well in those heavily African-American districts in SoCal, except for CA-36 (Long Beach).

I should note that almost NOTHING is in from the Bay Area yet, so this will tighten.

UPDATE: Obama took Missouri. I knew it was fishy that everyone was holding out. Poblano has some good info.

Only NM is still outstanding, where Obama led by ~4 points in the exit polls.

North Dakota

New Jersey
New York

Too close to call:
New Mexico

Update #4: My back-of-the-envelope math has Obama winning the night by 27 delegates.

+39 net in New York
+37 net in California**
+17 in Arkansas
+14 in Massachusetts
+11 in New Jersey
+9 in Oklahoma
+9 in Tennessee
+5 in Arizona

+46 in Illinois
+30 in Georgia
+25 in Minnesota
+18 in Colorado
+15 in Kansas
+12 in Idaho
+7 in Alabama
+6 in Alaska
+4 in Utah
+3 in North Dakota
+2 in Delaware
+1 in Missouri

** This assumes that her final margin is +10%. All other numbers are based on current polling results.

Might even be a better night for Obama, based on what projections I've seen in Arkansas and Massachusetts.

This is a tie and each side can play up their victories and make a case that they won. March 4, with Ohio and Texas, is going to be the key.

UPDATE: Frank Russo:

The actual vote totals available on the California Secretary of State’s site as of 9:30 p.m. are not at all representative of the state and are skewed towards the smaller counties. With 15% of the California vote in, for instance, there are no votes at all from San Francisco and from Alameda County. Los Angeles has only 8% of precincts reporting, and it is virtually impossible to tell how many of the votes shown are from vote by mail ballots versus precinct day of election ballots.

Clinton will win, but the number will not be what you're seeing right now. 10 points would be the high end.

... "Frank discussions" to be had by the Romney camp tomorrow. He needed California, and without it, he's done. A McCain/Huckabee ticket is looking pretty obvious right now. Which will drive the wingnuts up a wall.

...Chuck Todd is saying that, when all is said and done, you'll see 841 delegates for Obama, 837 for Clinton.

Exciting! And Super Tuesday is a wash. Pack your bags for Denver (God I hope not).

UPDATE: This is the clearest-eyed take on the night that I've seen.

The February 5 landscape favored Clinton, and Obama managed to not lose any of "his" states while poaching Connecticut and narrowly grabbing contested Missouri. Clinton won, but most indications are that she won't have won nearly enough delegates to put this thing out of reach.

Now the landscape gets much more favorable for Obama. On Saturday, it's Louisiana, Nebraska, and Washington. Then on Sunday it's Maine. Then Tuesday offers Maryland, DC, and Virginia. Then February 19 offers Wisconsin and Hawaii. That's a lot of states, but not a ton of delegates. On March 4 comes the big showdown in Texas and Ohio. The question is whether Obama can build up enough momentum between now and March 4 to put Clinton away, or whether Clinton can draw enough blood in the intermediate states to shut him down on the March 4 firewall.

Who wins that is anyone's guess at this point. One thing I can predict is that you'll see a lot of handwringing about how this fight is dooming the Democratic Party. It's all, as best I can tell, total nonsense. Disagreeing about which of two strong leaders should go try to implement a pretty widely agreed upon vision of national policy is a healthy thing to do. Meanwhile, the stuff that really matters for general election purposes won't for many months.

Obama survived, but he'll have to break through on March 4. There will be a lot of time and his name ID can't get much higher. If he doesn't, no matter how many delegates he's won that'll have to be it. The story is whether he can ride the wave and have it crest on March 4, or whether Clinton just beats him down in a war of attrition.

(by the way, Washington, Virginia, Maryland and Wisconsin are pretty decent-sized states, actually. If Obama swept them all we'd be onto something.)

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New Thread

The Missouri results are very interesting. Right now it's a 10-point spread for Clinton, but that's definitely a state where St. Louis comes in late. I remember it breaking Claire McCaskill's way in 2006. Now, I don't know if that will be able to overcome a double-digit lead, but strangely, nobody's called Missouri yet. What's up?

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Kneel Before Richardson

"The New Mexico Governor is stronger than Superman!"

In the same post where I found this, by the way, Ezra Klein makes a very good point about Massachusetts:

In other news, MSNBC is calling Massachusetts for Clinton, which means she overcame the combined force of John Kerry, Teddy Kennedy, Deval Patrick, their attendant political machines, the media coverage generated by their endorsements of Obama, and Barack Obama's charisma. That seems pretty impressive to me.

I thought Massachusetts would flip, but it looks like Connecticut might, instead. Both campaigns are going to be able to call this a winning night, with all-important California lurking in the distance. And the delegates, why won't the news nets tell us about the delegates? Because it requires math?

...AHA! This is what I was looking for.

Clinton 23
Obama 12

Obama 60
Clinton 27

Obama 100+
Clinton 50+

Candidate who wins popular vote could lose the delegate split (93 delegates total)

Clinton 38
Obama 30

Clinton 23
Obama 15

That appears to favor Obama.

UPDATE: Obama looking good in Colorado, North Dakota, Minnesota and Idaho in early returns.

...CNN calls North Dakota for Obama. But Missouri looks good for Clinton, and her leads in Massachusetts and New Jersey are very healthy (New Jersey, with all those suburbs, is kind of a can't-miss Clinton state, I'm surprised I was duped into thinking it was a bellweather). Clinton's having a good night.

...Fox News apparently just called Connecticut for Obama. But that state is so close that the delegate count will be a tie. Significant in the spin game, however.

...Utah goes to Romney and Obama. But I thought only black people vote for Obama? I guess the Utah Jazz came out in FORCE!

Romney is having a TERRIBLE night, only winning his home states and losing significantly in the South as Huckabee overperforms to a significant degree. We knew McCain would win big tonight, but I thought Mittens would at least put up a fight. He's banking everything on California and I don't think he'll be able to make it.

...State updates:

Hillary Clinton:
New York
New Jersey

Barack Obama:
North Dakota

Markos sez Survey USA is doing well, which means Clinton is poised for a 10-point victory in California. Of course, he's basing that off of current numbers, and in a lot of states, the urban districts report late. Not sure if that's the case in NJ and MA, but if that's the final spread, why did it take so long to call the states?

If the MA and NJ numbers hold, Clinton has something to crow about. But with 9 victories already, so does Obama.

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Delaware To Obama, New York To Clinton

Advantage Clinton on that one, but Delaware was seen as a Clinton state and Obama came back to win. He's up in Connecticut too. The big one is New Jersey; it would be an upset AND it's delegate-rich.

...Great news from IL-14; apparently John Laesch is winning in a rout in the primary! Laesch is a real-deal progressive running against a centrist named Bill Foster. I met both at Yearly Kos, actually, and they both seemed fine, but Laesch had a great platform.

...More great news - the Kansas caucuses are through the roof for the Dems! I've heard the same about the New Mexico primaries. Turnout is the story of this primary season.

...OK, it's not all good news. Mark Pera is getting crushed in his primary race against Bush Dog Dan Lipinski. It's hard to unseat an incumbent. They have lots of built-in advantages.

...Alabama goes to Obama, New Jersey to Clinton. It looks like the exit polls floating around were way too optimistic for Obama. So far, Clinton has 6 states, Obama 4, but delegates are the key, and I think Obama is doing pretty well on that front.

...I didn't realize Kansas had been called for Obama. Not surprising, with Sebelius' support and the high turnout. So far we've got:

Hillary Clinton

New York
New Jersey

Barack Obama

Again, delegates are the key, and Chuck Todd on MSNBC said the delegates looked good for Obama in Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

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Two Good Candidates

This is an important point:

There's no doubt Democrats are torn between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But the early exit polls show they are not bitterly divided: 72 percent of Democrats said they would be satisfied if Clinton won the party's nomination, while 71 percent say the same about Obama.

That's what I see when I talk to actual Democrats, particularly those who don't spend all their time on the Internet. Not only do Democrats like both candidates, not only do they think they are going to get to vote FOR someone instead of AGAINST the Republican this year, but the primary is improving that view. I don't think either of these two are saviors, which is why I think a movement that will hold them accountable is the most important thing (as disclosure, it is for this reason I voted for Obama today). As frightened as Democrats are about a brokered convention and hurt feelings, it should be known that these two candidates are overwhelmingly acceptable to Democrats, and a longer primary contest (which would wind up with a scant 7 or 8-month general election instead of 9), if it's played fair - and I think there's an overwhelming desire for it on both sides to keep it fair, considering how negative campaigning has generally turned out in this race - will actually put Democratic ideas in front of the electorate in very positive ways.

This is a good example of what I mean:

As voters in 24 states go to the polls today, many express a deep pessimism about America's future. A Gallup poll last month found 73% of adults were dissatisfied with the state of the nation. A recent Associated Press-Yahoo News poll reported that 44% of Americans expected no real changes in Washington, no matter who's elected.

In more than two dozen interviews on the campus here -- in a state with a hotly contested Democratic caucus -- students largely shared that gloomy outlook.

But in a paradox that intrigues analysts -- and could well shape the election -- they still feel inspired to vote.

"They do think America's going to hell in a handbasket," said Curtis Gans, director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University in Washington. "But they have some feeling of hope, some feeling of idealism."

Sophomore Dillon Fisher-Ives put it this way: "As hopeless as voting might seem, not voting is worse."

We know the country is broken and that the political system is broken. Instead of turning away, we're going to work to change it.

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Here We Go

Top of the hour projections:

Illinois - Obama
Oklahoma - Clinton

NOTHING ELSE PROJECTED this early. That's fairly crazy. That means New Jersey, New YORK, Massachusetts, and Connecticut are too close to immediately call. This doesn't mean that Clinton will lose any of these states, but the closeness of them is pretty telling.


Illlinois - McCain
New Jersey - McCain
Massachusetts - Romney
Connecticut - McCain

McCain was campaigning in Massachusetts as late as yesterday. That looks like a bad move. Huckabee could win Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama, and Romney could take Missouri. Wow, McCain might not have nailed this one down after all.

UPDATE: New York hasn't stopped voting yet. Tennessee, Alabama and Delaware are too close to call on the Democratic side.

...Clinton gets Tennessee.

...Robert Menendez, Clinton supporter and Senator from New Jersey, made the interesting comment that what cost the election for us in 2004 was a big vote for Bush among "security Moms" and Latino voters. And those are Clinton's two strengths. Good point. However, I think the move of Latinos to the Democrats is going to be solid regardless of the nominee.

Huckabee has taken the lead in Georgia, McCain in Montana and Oklahoma, Huckabee in Missouri. Romney not doing a whole lot across the board.

...Clinton, Huckabee take Arkansas. No suprise, that's a home field advantage.

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Georgia Goes To Barack

Per CNN. That was very quick. An exit poll showed that 52% of voters in the primary were African-American, and 86% of them went to Obama. He could win it 2-1.

A pretty idiosyncratic electorate, but apparently Obama got 43% or so of the white vote, so read it as an omen if you wish.

(BTW, Georgia votes all touch-screen machines. Where are the Hillary haters calling for a fraud at the polls?

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Double Bubble Update

I just got off the phone with our pal thereisnospoon, an Obama precinct captain. He informs me that all Obama precinct captains in LA County are aware of this, and they are fanning out to poll sites to educate pollworkers about this problem.

If anyone knows about anything the Clinton campaign is doing, please email me or leave a comment and I'll update. I think this was referring to a different issue (there were other glitches reported in LA County today), but it's not encouraging:

From the inbox: This is really weird. From the Clinton campaign:


* False reports about voting problems in LA are being drudged up
– Everything is going smoothly in LA.

I hope they wake up to what's happening.

UPDATE ETC: I get emails, from the CA field director for Obama, Buffy Wicks:

Californians have reported problems voting as "Decline to State" voters, commonly referred to as "unaffiliated," "independent" or "non-partisan" voters.

Please read this email for clarification of how "Decline to State" (DTS) voters can vote in today's election for Barack Obama. Even if you've already voted, please make sure this information gets to as many voters as possible.

DTS voters have the right to vote for Barack Obama in the Democratic Presidential Primary.

DTS voters must identify themselves as DTS or non-partisan voters and ask to vote in the Democratic Presidential Primary when they arrive at their polling location. They will get instructions from a poll worker on how to vote in the Democratic Primary. If a voter gets into the voting booth and finds that he or she does not have an option to vote for Barack Obama, the voter should not cast his or her ballot. Instead, he or she should return the partially filled-out or unmarked ballot to the poll worker, and ask the poll worker to seek clarification from the supervisor at the polling location or from the County Registrar of Voters.

In Los Angeles County, DTS voters will be given a non-partisan ballot which they must take into a "Democratic" booth. They must mark both the "Democratic" bubble and the bubble for Barack Obama.

If you or anyone you know has any problems voting today, please contact the local County Registrar of Voters or one of our election protection hotlines at:

Los Angeles:

San Francisco/Bay Area:

Oakland/East Bay Area:

San Diego:

Or email

Thank you for your support.

UPDATE II: The city attorney of Los Angeles, Rocky Delgadillo (who, in the interest of disclosure, is an Obama supporter), issued this statement.

Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo Tuesday issued the following statement in the wake of numerous reports of wide-spread nonpartisan voter confusion over Los Angeles County's "double bubble" voter ballot:

"I have heard numerous reports from voters throughout the City of Los Angeles which point to wide-spread voter confusion over Los Angeles County's so-called 'double-bubble' Decline-to-State non-partisan voter ballot. We understand this ballot is unique to the County of Los Angeles.

"In light of these reports, I am calling upon Secretary of State Debra Bowen and L.A. County Registrar Dean Logan to review the county's unique and potentially confusing ballot design.

"It would be unfortunate if non-partisan voters, confused by the county's unique "double bubble" ballot design, did not have their vote counted.

"I urge the Secretary of State and County Registrar to do everything within their power to ensure that every vote is counted, and to carefully weigh voter intent against this confusing Los Angeles County ballot design.

"Los Angeles' non-partisan voters must not be disenfranchised because of a confusing ballot design."

One important thing to remember is that the more attention that gets paid to this, the more likelihood that the registrar and the Secretary of State will act in the proper fashion to ensure these votes are counted. But these votes will not be counted tonight... keep that in mind. California is unlikely to be called in any meaningful way tonight.

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