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

Saturday, August 30, 2008

They Think You're Stupid

The early results are not promising:

The first national polls on John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin yesterday came out today from Rasmussen and Gallup -- and contrary to what the GOP probably hoped, she scored less well with women than men.

Here's a finding from Gallup: Among Democratic women -- including those who may be disappointed that Hillary Clinton did not win the Democratic nomination -- 9% say Palin makes them more likely to support McCain, 15% less likely.

From Rasmussen: Some 38% of men said they were more likely to vote for McCain now, but only 32% of women. By a narrow 41% to 35% margin, men said she was not ready to be president -- but women soundly rejected her, 48% to 25%.

This seems to me like a classic example of a bunch of men deciding what women would want. Palin's gender is not nearly as important as her views on women's issues. She is aggressively anti-choice, is likely to be anti-birth control and wants our kids to be taught creationism. She doesn't believe in global warming and doesn't know anything about Iraq. Women are far more likely to look at the facts and not the chromosomes when it comes to this; if the first female Vice President is an unqualified disaster it sets back the cause of feminism years. That's unfair but just factual. And women are going to vote for someone who needs quick tutoring from an old man before he dies (that's the MCCAIN CAMPAIGN'S FRAMING):

Mr. McCain’s advisers said Friday that Mr. McCain was well aware that Ms. Palin would be criticized for her lack of foreign policy experience, but that he viewed her as exceptionally talented and intelligent and that he felt she would be able to be educated quickly.

“She’s going to learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that he’ll be around at least that long,” said Charlie Black, one of Mr. McCain’s top advisers, making light of concerns about Mr. McCain’s health, which Mr. McCain’s doctors reported as excellent in May.

I agree with Molly I - the McCain campaign believed the PUMA hype to such a degree that they thought going with a woman as some kind of bone to throw would be enough. It's classic Republican superficial thinking. And it's not going to work.

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Proud To Be An American

Despite attending the DNC convention, the presence of protesters wasn't all that prominent unless you knew where to look. The security presence was palpable, and there definitely were lots of anti-abortion activists in the streets, but overall you had to look for and find the more wide-scale protests that were expected. And the cops actually facilitated the Tent State march on the Pepsi Center on Wednesday by leading the parade.

The RNC is far different, at least so far. Before one activist has hit the streets, before the delegates have even assembled, there is a coordinated effort by law enforcement to raid suspected protesters and imprison them.

Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with sub-machine guns drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.

Jane Hamsher and I were at two of those homes this morning -- one which had just been raided and one which was in the process of being raided. Each of the raided houses is known by neighbors as a "hippie house," where 5-10 college-aged individuals live in a communal setting, and everyone we spoke with said that there had never been any problems of any kind in those houses, that they were filled with "peaceful kids" who are politically active but entirely unthreatening and friendly. Posted below is the video of the scene, including various interviews, which convey a very clear sense of what is actually going on here.

Here's some streaming video of an ongoing raid as well. Lindsay Beyerstein has further info on another raid. There are reports of law enforcement snatching people off the streets as well. The National Lawyers Guild is dispatching attorneys to these sites and then THEY are being detained. This is a full-on police state in the Twin Cities so the authoritarians can hold their party without being burdened with dissent.

This is the 21st century reality of a growing surveillance state and how the feds handle big events - with brute force and ruthlessness. The STASI would be impressed.

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They Don't Like Her

I'm sure the right-wing will fall in line eventually, unless Sarah Palin is bounced off the ticket within a month, but for the moment they're not thrilled with the pick:

* Charles Krauthammer: "The Palin selection completely undercuts the argument about Obama's inexperience and readiness to lead.... To gratuitously undercut the remarkably successful 'Is he ready to lead' line of attack seems near suicidal."

* Noah Millman, presenting a defense for Palin: "I realize, of course, that she's totally unqualified to be President at this point in time. If McCain were to die in February 2009, I hope Palin would have the good sense to appoint someone who is more ready to be President to be her Vice President, on the understanding that she would then resign and be appointed Vice President by her successor."

* Ramesh Ponnuru called it "tokenism," adding, "Can anyone say with a straight face that Palin would have gotten picked if she were a man?"

* David Frum: "The longer I think about it, the less well this selection sits with me. And I increasingly doubt that it will prove good politics. The Palin choice looks cynical.... It's a wild gamble, undertaken by our oldest ever first-time candidate for president in hopes of changing the board of this election campaign. Maybe it will work. But maybe (and at least as likely) it will reinforce a theme that I'd be pounding home if I were the Obama campaign: that it's John McCain for all his white hair who represents the risky choice, while it is Barack Obama who offers cautious, steady, predictable governance.... If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?"

What makes this more incredible is that the Palin pick was intended to please the right wing of the party, particularly the theocons. It was probably one of the only ways to resurrect the fundie phone banks and the church-based ground machine. However, it's very late in the game to get those started, and the fact that the establishment right-wing is offended by the pick - in the same way they were offended by the Harriet Miers selection - almost negates the benefit.

And more dirt is coming out about her recent past.

The governor's appearance on KWHL's "The Bob and Mark Show" last week is plain and simple one of the most unprofessional, childish and inexcusable performances I've ever seen from a politician.

Anchorage DJ Bob Lester unleashed a vicious, mean-spirited, poisonous attack on Senate President Lyda Green last week while our governor was live on the air with him.

When we played the tape on my show the day after it happened, we received 130 calls. Even some Palinbots were disgusted.

The Daily News posted the recording on its Web site and it fired up bloggers.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial writers demanded the governor apologize. The Juneau and Ketchikan papers also ran the editorial.

The Daily News opinion page addressed the governor's gaffe. They wrote "She came off looking immature herself, almost high-schoolish. It was conduct unbecoming a governor."

It was conduct unbecoming a human being, never mind a governor.

Here's the call. The radio host called Green a "cancer" (she's a cancer survivor) and a "bitch" and she laughed.

McCain's people are scrubbing the evidence wildly after the fact, but there is so much out there. The vetting process was abominable. What a crash and burn this is.

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Cat 4

And growing. I have absolutely no faith that DHS and FEMA have the evacuation under control. We're in for more trouble if this hits the Gulf Coast.

Gustav swelled into a fearsome Category 4 hurricane with winds of 145 mph on Saturday as Cuba raced to evacuate more than 240,000 people and Americans to the north clogged highways fleeing New Orleans.

Gustav already has killed 78 people in the Caribbean and the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said it could strengthen even more after hitting Cuba and entering the warm Gulf of Mexico on a projected course for the Katrina-battered U.S. coast.

The people who brought you government as the problem are unequipped to deal with crisis, again. Forget cancelling the RNC. Cancel the Republican Party.

UPDATE: When Joe freakin' Lieberman still has questions about FEMA's effectiveness, that makes me want to sob.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

The New Nixon

There's quite a lot to say about Sarah Palin. There's actually quite more to say about Barack Obama's magnificent speech, but John McCain kicked the soccer ball and the media herd is chasing it. So we'll go with Palin for now and come back to Obama's speech on the weekend.

What's striking to me is what has happened in Alaska since Palin was swept into office as a reformer. In 2006, sitting governor Frank Murkowski finished third out of four in the primary due to corruption scandals. A good chunk of the Republicans in the state legislature are either under indictment or under suspicion. Ted Stevens will go to court in September. Palin offered a new direction from that culture of corruption.

And then she came into office and did the same thing as every other Republican in Alaska. The most prominent scandal, for which she is currently under an ethics review, concerns her trying to get her sister's ex-husband fired as a state trooper.

Gov. Sarah Palin, a rising young GOP star mentioned as a possible running mate for John McCain, could see her clean-hands reputation damaged by a growing furor over whether she tried to get her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper.

A legislative panel has launched a $100,000 investigation to determine if Palin dismissed Alaska's public safety commissioner because he would not fire the trooper, Mike Wooten. Wooten went through a messy divorce from Palin's sister.

Palin has denied the commissioner's dismissal had anything to do with her former brother-in-law. And she denied orchestrating the dozens of telephone calls made by her husband and members of her administration to Wooten's bosses.

There's actually tape of a Palin aide pressuring the Public Safety Department to fire Wooten. And when the Public Safety Commissioner wouldn't, she fired him and replaced him with someone who would. Someone who had a history of sexual harrassment and is now the PUBLIC SAFETY commissioner.

That's shades of Archibald Cox and Elliot Richardson and William Ruckleshaus. I understand that the state trooper and her sister had a messy divorce, and he's been alleged to have done all sorts of terrible things to the sister and the kids, but firing people who refuse to carry out your wishes - well, that's good for Woodward and Bernstein's career, but not for the country.

And there's more.

Siun reports that Palin broke the law to ensure that Alaskan water would stay dirty:

It is against the law for the governor to officially advocate for or against a ballot measure; however, Palin took what she calls "personal privilege" to discuss one of this year's most contentious initiatives, which voters will decide Tuesday.

Along with taking a position on the big mine's side, Palin's administration apparently used state Department of Natural Resources resources to lobby for defeat of the Clean Water Initiative under the pretense of creating a state run website to "educate" citizens. The citizen group Alaskans for Clean Water responded by filing “a complaint against DNR for a recently-launched state website meant to clarify the issue for voters. “

The complaint alleges that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) improperly attempted to influence the outcome of an election by publishing information against the initiative on its website. It also alleges that DNR failed to report to APOC the expenditures, including employee time, related to creation of the information.

“It has become clear to us that the Department of Natural Resources is working hand-in-hand with the industry, and that the state is inappropriately making efforts to influence voters on this ballot initiative,” said Art Hackney, a co-sponsor of Ballot Measure #4.

Now, this reflects Nixon as much as it reflects our current White House resident. When the laws constrain you, use a "personal privilege" or make a signing statement. The point of similarity is contempt for the rule of law and a belief in the expansion of executive power.

There are a lot of ways to talk about Palin. She is a creationist-loving anti-choice, environment-despoiling gift to the fundie right who's resume is so thin that she doesn't really know what the Vice President does. It's clear that McCain, who has only met Palin a few times, sees the election as an uphill climb and tried to use the pick to command the news cycle with a surprise. Maybe that works for a day, but over time this could backfire heavily. Like Eagleton heavy.

Not to mention that she is completely in line with Fourthbranch Cheney and Spiro Agnew and the rest of the Corruptocrats on the issue of abuse of power. The Anchorage Daily News put it best:

She can look you in eye and tell you black is white.

Especially when there's oil involved.

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Outsourcing Commentary

I am still in Denver but WiFi is scattershot and I don't have a heck of a lot of time before getting on the plane. So I'll delve into Obama's excellent speech and the choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as John McCain's VP later.

I'll say this, though:

Palin doesn't know what the Vice President does.

She is embroiled in an abuse of power scandal involving trying to fire her former brother-in-law who was involved in a messy divorce with her sister, and then firing the public official who refused to fire the brother-in-law. Very Nixonian. Shades of Archibald Cox and Elliot Richardson and William Ruckleshaus. (Even the REPLACEMENT for the public official has a terrible record of sexual harrassment. Bad judgment all around).

She was clearly a one-day story pick, designed as a desperation pass to keep everyone from talking about Obama's excellent and persuasive speech last night.

On that front, I'll say a lot more later. It was great to be in the room, and experience it live with the other 86,000 folks. The argument made was against not just McCain but conservatism, the yo-yo society (you're on your own) that they've created, their attack-dog, character-based, patriotism-questioning style of electoral politics, and how we've all had ENOUGH of these past eight years of failure. That's quite encouraging.

OK, gotta run.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Twittering Invesco

So there's going to be no way to liveblog the proceedings in Denver from inside the stadium tonight, but what I can do is use my cell phone to Twitter. So you can follow along with my brilliant insights at


There's a Storm Coming

Well this could be just awful.

Energy companies on Wednesday braced for the worst storm to threaten the U.S. Gulf of Mexico oilpatch since 2005's devastating hurricanes as Tropical Storm Gustav churned toward the heart of U.S. offshore production.

No company had reported output cuts as they began evacuating staff from offshore oil and natural gas platforms, but Shell Oil Co, which has the largest offshore operations, said it may begin shutting output as early as Thursday while it works to evacuate all of its 1,300 Gulf workers by Saturday.

Gustav is expected to morph into a powerful hurricane as it gains strength from the Gulf's warm waters, and about 85 percent of U.S. offshore oil and gas production could be in its path.

By midday Wednesday, weather forecasters were saying the storm could, as did Katrina and Rita, become a catastrophic category 5 hurricane with winds over 155 mph (249 kph) as it crosses the Gulf, which provides a quarter of U.S. crude oil production and 15 percent of the nation's natural gas output.

"We do believe Gustav is going to emerge into the Gulf as a major hurricane, category 3 or better," said AccuWeather Inc Forecasting Director Ken Reeves. "It has a chance for a brief period to be a category 5."

"Whether or not it can produce the same amount of damage as Katrina or Rita remains to be seen," Reeves said.

In addition to devastating the Louisiana coast, including the city of New Orleans, Katrina and Rita shut 25 percent of U.S. oil and fuel production. Gulf energy companies needed months to restore operations close to their full capacity.

This was a business article so the focus was on the oil offshore (hey, I thought Republicans told us that not a drop of oil was spilled during Katrina?), but it's already hitting Jamaica and could be on the way toward New Orleans.

If anything the federal government is even more tattered and incompetent now than in 2005, if only because of a massive case of senioritis. It ought to be recalled where John McCain spent his birthday that year, on the very day that Katrina hit.

But for now, light a candle for the residents of the Gulf Coast.

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Day 3 Impressions

So I did my liveblogging at Calitics and at some point I stopped cross-posting over here, so I thought I'd just wrap it up. I thought Clinton delivered the consummate professional speech, and he attacked not just Bush and McCain, but Republicans, and their failures. The line about how everything started going bad once they took control of Congress and the Presidency in 2001 was first-rate. We need more speakers and surrogates to de-value Republicanism and conservatism.

I thought John Kerry delivered the speech of the convention, and Josh Marshall agrees. In one of those "only at the DNC" moments, after the night was over I ran into Chris Hayes of The Nation, and told him that I thought John Kerry gave the best speech of the night, and the guy next to him said "I wrote it."

It really was tremendous, and I was saddened to hear that the cable nets didn't show it. Kerry had the moral authority to call out McCain for his flip-flopping ("using before it before he was against it" was great) and his dirty campaign tactics (specifically saying that lobbyists and Rove acolytes run his campaign), and he delivered that speech about as well as he possibly could. "Next stop, Baghdad" kind of got lost in the room, because he stepped on an applause line to say it, but it was awesome that he brought up McCain's bloodthirsty-ness to invade Iraq right after 9/11. He kicked off the Bush/McCain Freudian slips of the night, too.

Joe Biden delivered his speech well, but I don't think it was all that well-written. The call-and-response of "that's the change we need" or "that's not the change we need" doesn't flow off the tongue. I understand that Biden wanted to define change a little bit, but on domestic policy it didn't quite work. Kerry's "who do you trust" call and response was much better. On foreign policy, I did appreciate that Biden ripped some things that should have been in the headlines and showed the collapse of the Bush foreign policy and McCain's treading down the same path. The personal story of Biden in the speech was gripping, and his son Beau was excellent.

Overall, this was quite a good night for the party. And Barack Obama coming out at the end put everyone over the top. He pre-butted the Republican hissy fit about using Invesco Field for the acceptance speech, not that it'll matter.

more in a bit...

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This Incredible Moment

I don't want to rush past this moment too quickly. Today Barack Obama became the first African American nominee of a major party in history. That is a tremendous accomplishment that I honestly wasn't sure I'd see in my lifetime. I talked to some California electeds about the meaning of this moment.

Steve Westly jumped aboard with Obama early. He told me that he decided to support him in 2006 when he saw Obama appear at a rally in 2006 for Phil Angelides. All that year prospective Presidential candidates were coming through the state to campaign. John Kerry got maybe 100 people to events. Hillary Clinton got 300 or 400. Barack Obama had practically the entire USC campus out on the Quad that day. And Westly saw that this was something special, the kind of moment that you saw with the Kennedys.

My seatmate Debra tells me that this whole election cycle has almost been beyond belief. These are things that she never thoght she would see. "I was a girl who wasn't allowed to take a drafting class in high school. The world has changed."

Kamala Harris has her own story. She was the first African-American district attorney in the history of San Francisco. In a speech for the new majority PAC Vote Hope, she spoke on this, and the fact that Obama's nomination represents a hope for every person of color in America.

Let's stop and reflect on this for a second. An African American nominee. Of our party. The party of inclusion. The party of all Americans.

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Kerry Speech Liveblogging

He's supposed to rip into McCain, so let's see how it pans out. Debra told me that, when he ran into Kerry along with Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, he said to her, "where were you in 2004?"
The Bush/McCain Freudian slip was kind of funny, in a "Kerry can't give a great speech" kind of way.

This is definitely a red meat speech. He said that Bush misled us into war, that Obama and Biden would shut down Gitmo, respect the Constitution, and never, ever torture. He started slow but he's got some passion tonight.

"Every day now I learn something new about candidate McCain. To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick... look at candidate McCain and Senator McCain."

This is good. "Talk about being for it before you're against it."

"Before debating Obama, he should debate himself."

Explicitly calls out the Rove-McCain tactics... mentioned how McCain said "next stop, Baghdad" after 9/11.

"Who can we trust to keep America safe? Barack Obama!"

Now he's headed into how the Bush foreign policy is now finally coming around to Obama's position time and again.... this is a magnificent speech. "McCain-Bush Republicans have been wrong again and again... they can't win on the issues so they go into the gutter."

Great stuff. I don't know if TV is even showing this, but Kerry just introduced Obama's gerat-uncle, Charlie Payne, the WWII vet who helped liberate Europe. The room is really liking this speech.

"You don't decide who loves this country, you don't decide who's a patriot... that flag doesn't belong to any ideology or party, it belongs to all of us."

Well, that was a SPEECH.

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Clinton Speech Liveblogging

I expect him to hit McCain hard. They've given out flags to the whole audience. Debra has eighteen of them.
...he comes out to "Don't Stop." It must be interesting to be personally associated with a pop song.

...Wow, that was a LONG standing ovation. And after he announces his support for Obama, even longer. "I love Joe Biden, and America will too."

..."Last night, Hillary said she'd do everything she can to elect Sen. Obama. That makes two of us. Actually, that makes 18 million of us. Like Hillary said, I want all of you who supported her to vote for Barack Obama in November.

...Clinton is making the argument. Why America is in a perilous moment in history, and why we can't afford more of the same. He explicitly says that Barack Obama is the man for this job. But what about his facial expressions?

...This has gone into a direct testimony, and the Obama campaign must be beaming. He is making the national security argument, the economic argument, and the argument that Obama has been tested by the primary wars and is ready to lead America. "He is ready to honor the oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

...I like that he specifically cited Obama's desire to fight AIDS/HIV at home.

...FANTASTIC LINE: The world is always more impressed by the power of our example than the example of our power. would be better if he tied this stuff to Bush and McCain and not Republicans for political purposes. Now he's getting into it, of course after saying that McCain is wrong on the two key issues of the day. It is GOOD for the country for him to paint this as a REPUBLICAN failure, though. Because Republican orthodoxy, the wrecking crew, is the key problem. "Despite all this evidence, their nominee is promising more of the same."

...Good framing: they want us to reward them for the last eight years by giving them four more. In this case, the third time is not the charm... they said I was too young and inexperienced. It didn't work in 1992 because we were on the right side of history. And it won't work in 2008 because Barack Obama is on the right side of history.

...Debra Bowen's reaction (she's my seatmate): "He's still awesome."

...The final point: "I still believe in a place called hope." Showing that, as we know, all political themes are timeless and repeated over and over.

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Controller Chiang on the Budget

I just chatted a bit with John Chiang about the ongoing budget stalemate. He was unaware that Gov. Schwarzenegger remarked yesterday to the SacBee that he would be fine with a budget in November or December. Chiang's reaction was that it would cost the state hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to wait that long. Basically, there are two types of borrowing systems - one that assumes an imminent budget, with a discount rate, and one that does not, which has the normal rate. If we keep delaying the budget, we will be funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to the financial services industry, and in the words of Chiang, "put Wall Street above Main Street."

This is another aspect of the Yacht Party's holding hostage of the budget process - enriching a key constituency.

On the coming lawsuit over the slashing of state employee pay to the minimum wage, the hearing is scheduled for September 12. Chiang has asked for the case to be moved to federal court, which would delay it a couple months, but the main reason is because California would have no immunity if the state upholds the wage cut, and the federal courts overturn it.

About speaking at the convention yesterday, Chiang felt pretty good about it, and he offered a little secret that may explain why a lot of people are speaking over their applause lines. Apparently the speakers get a very strict set of time at the podium. After they go over, they start beeping and flashing lights at the podium speaker to get them to wrap up.

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Presidential Nominating Process: It's On

Speaker Pelosi has just hit the floor, and the Presidential nominating process has begun. Dolores Huerta is making the nominating speech for Hillary Clinton right now. People are pretty rapidly taking their seats.

It's important to note that a roll call vote is a completely perfunctory and normal process. Some may have been outraged by the fact of a roll call, but it's wholly unsurprising and will end with Barack Obama as the nominee, just as Bill Clinton became the nominee on the third night of the convention in 1992, and Clinton in '96, and Al Gore in 2000, and John Kerry in 2004. It's a nominating convention. This is how it works.

UPDATE: Hillary released her delegates, making them free to vote for whoever they want. As many feel the obligation to vote the way their constituents asked them to vote, Hillary will still get a lot of votes. Also, Hillary signed her ballot for Barack Obama this morning.

UPDATE: Obama is about to be nominated. The applause for Obama's nomination is defeaning. There will be no fight on this floor. A registered Republican from Tennessee, Michael Wilson, is offering the nomination. He's an Iraq war vet. "I support Barack Obama because America needs a President with the strength, wisdom and courage to talk with our enemies and consult with our allies."

UPDATE: Apparently everyone in the West wears a bolo tie.

UPDATE: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a strong Hillary supporter in the primaries and co-chair of her campaign, is seconding Obama's nomination. "No matter where we stood during the campaign, Democrats stand together today." Seriously, the disunity idiots need to stuff it.

UPDATE: The roll call is beginning, and it will continue until there is a nominee. Alabama is kicking it off, so it looks like they'll go alphabetically.

UPDATE: Alabama - 48-5 for Obama. Alaska - 15-3 for Obama. American Samoa - 9-0 Obama. Arizona - 40-27 Obama. Arkansas - 47-0 for Obama (in a call for unity; Clinton crushed Obama there).

UPDATE: So Barbara Boxer and Art Torres announced that California passed on its roll call vote. There's a very good reason for that. First of all, the floor is being managed so that a certain state puts Obama over the top. Second, if California voted now, less states would be part of the process, because when Obama reaches the threshold for nomination the roll call immediately ends. So don't go reading anything into this.

UPDATE: Actually, Chairman Torres just explained it to me a little differently. A lot of the superdelegates never checked in with their vote with him ahead of time. He's legally required to go to their delegated proxies for a vote, and a lot of them didn't know about the voting either, so he would have had to announce significantly less votes than the 441 California is granted. Anyway, that's what he told me.

UPDATE: I haven't been totally keeping up with the count, but the overwhelming majority of votes are going to Sen. Obama. It's kind of fun to be in the room for this, but calling it a "floor fight" would be kind of absurd. I'm going to try and talk to Sen. Boxer soon.

UPDATE: Right next to me, Bob Mulholland and some CDP staffers are frantically tabulating votes from Representatives and their proxies. So that appears to be the reason for the pass.

UPDATE: Gasbag emeritus David Gregory is chatting with Boxer and Torres right now. I'm sure that, after the explanation, Gregory will claim that the pass was because of disunity and Democrats who hate one another.

UPDATE: Word is that New York will ask for a voice vote and Obama will be put in by acclamation.

UPDATE: They should really have a running total somewhere in the hall. Mistake. I guess Obama was up to 744 by the time they got to Kentucky, but it's hard to keep track.

UPDATE: New Hampshire, Arkansas, and a couple others have gone entirely for Obama out of unity. New Jersey is up now and they just did the same thing. Let's see if that rumor about New York is true.

UPDATE: So New Mexico yielded to Illinois. And Illinois will yield to New York. And there will be a voice vote... and Hillary has come out to call for it. The whole crowd is on their feet.

UPDATE: It's over. Pelosi moved quickly to do the ayes and nays. It was a nice moment. Lest California delegates worry, all votes will be counted.

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No Brains At All

The wingnut hissy fit has been found! It's Barack Obama's staging! How dare he use a backdrop looking like the Lincoln Memorial on the 45th anniversary of MLK's I Have A Dream speech! How dare Obama use Greek columns the way Bush did in 2004!

Really, sometimes I hate being alive because of these people.

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From The Floor: Day 3

I just got settled in my seat here in the Pepsi Center. State Senator Leticia Van de Putte of Texas is calling the session to order. The room is more crowded than usual this early because there's going to be a roll call vote on the nomination around 3:45MT. The California delegation actually already did their vote back at the hotel, but any delegate who hasn't will be able to cast a ballot on the floor.

I want to thank the DNC for offering this type of access for state bloggers. I know that the national bloggers are stuck in some windowless room, a step backward from 2004. And that's not right. But the state blogger access is really a mirror of politicians going to the local press instead of the national press. They are getting great blogging press in the localities, and I think it's offering a far better perspective of the convention than the traditional media, which came up with their headlines two weeks ago and is now just filling in their words. Maybe it's because I'm here, but this is the most shameful job I've ever seen from the media in terms of a disconnect between their own paranoid fantasies and reality.

As for the local and state blog strategy, it's an extension of the Dean 50-state strategy. I hope they only increase the access in the future.

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They're Not Covering The Same Convention

A lot of people have asked me, in media interviews and the like, what bloggers are covering in the convention that's different from what the traditional media is covering. After 2 1/2 days, I figured out the difference. Bloggers are, by and large, COVERING THE CONVENTION, whereas the traditional media is covering a fantasy world of their own making based on a group email written about a week ago signaling the storylines they are going to cover.

Hillary Clinton delivered a strong, gracious, professional speech that made the definitive case that Democrats must unite for the good of the country and support Barack Obama. It was incredibly received in the room and was an EXTENSION of the unity seen here in Denver.

That's the actual story. In the media, we have body language experts claiming that Hillary's heart wasn't in her words. We have deep cover McCain operative Ron Fournier wondering if Clinton meant the words that she said. We have Craig Crawford concern trolling that she wasn't "personal" enough about Obama. We have a great speech from Brian Schweitzer virtually ignored, and an even better speech from Dennis Kucinich completely ignored, except for the one line that the Obama campaign cut (of course, if you hear the speech you know that Dennis held nothing back). We have gasbags talking over all the speeches to the degree that they clearly have no idea what anyone said. There are stories in the media today about Clinton delegates leaving the city, which have no basis in fact.

In essence, we have a media narrative disconnected with reality to maybe the most shocking degree I've ever seen, though that could just be because I'm sitting here seeing the reality. Digby put this best:

I don't know who Dowd has been talking to, but there is likely a bit of Heisenberg principle involved when it comes to the delegates. Sure, I've seen a few examples of both Clinton and Obama diehards being obnoxious. But it has been very, very rare. Unlike Dowd, nobody recognizes me and I don't spend time hanging with professional political operatives with axes to grind. I walked miles in that Pepsi center and around downtown Denver yesterday, eavesdropping on conversations of ordinary attendees and her convention is not the convention of the rank and file.

For instance, I was riding on a tram yesterday with a delegate from the midwest who was festooned with Hillary buttons. I asked her if she was excited about the speech to come and if she expected it to be controversial. She said that she hoped Hillary felt free to bask in the glory a little bit but that she knew she would come through for Obama. I asked her if she was going to vote for her in the roll call and she said she was sent there by people who voted for Clinton and she wanted to cast that vote. But she also said that as soon as he was announced the winner she was going to take off all of her Hillary buttons and put on her new collection of Obama buttons, which she pulled out of her bag to show me. I asked if she would work to get him elected and she chuckled and said, "of course I will, I'm president of the Democratic Club!"

The media see people like her as exotic birds or amusing chimps playing in the trees and consider them decoration for the real event --- the careerist posturings and gossip of the elite insider class, which they present as what these rank and file delegates --- committed Democratic activists and grassroots workers --- think about all this. For them, this is really just one big Georgetown party, displaced from "their town" by necessity in order to keep the serfs happy. The only story that interests them is the story they tell each other about themselves.

Exactly. We were talking about this last night. The traditional media is a set of sportscasters who DON'T LIKE SPORTS. It's fascinating. They are contemptuous of policy, beyond the fact that they refuse to understand it, and so these little bits of spin machine operative talk gets magnified and everything goes back to their personal stories. You have to wonder why they participate in an industry they so clearly hate, but I think it had to do with some kind of "Great Man" theory. They imagine themselves to be standing astride some consequential moment in history, and that force gives them meaning. So the story becomes how THEY perceive what is being said instead of what is said. It becomes how events validate their preconceptions rather than the events themselves.

They are the most dangerous force in politics, thwarting progress at every single turn. I have nothing but absolute disgust in my heart for these puffed-up gasbags who actually believe their Heather-like takes on the narrow set of issues they care about actually matters.

It's shameful. 100% shameful.

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Things Not Happening In Denver

• Ted Stevens won his primary. That's excellent news. Mark Begich is going to slaughter him in November. Meanwhile Don Young and Sean Parnell are separated by 150 votes with 98% cast. We won't know the outcome of that for a while.

• John McCain has a private lake that he stocks with fish. And he has a tax plan that would save hundreds of thousands of dollars for the kind of people who stock their own private lakes. This isn't rocket science, people. Republicans have been a party of, by, and for the rich for many many years.

• Steny Hoyer shows some rare fire in the drilling debate. Using George Bush to shut down arguments should be as elementary as McCain using his POW status.

Demonstrators in background:Drill now, Drill now...
Hoyer: You know, some people don't listen as you noticed. Some people are so convinced of the righteousness of their position, they don't think that they need to listen to others. That's been the history of this administration for the last eight years, why it's been an abysmal administration.

It is a hear no evil, see no evil, but speak a lot of evil administration that is reflected here.

Demonstrators in background: Complete silence

• Bush apparently is kicking himself that he didn't get to lock in 12 years of war and will have to settle for just 8.

• McCain has a new ad up about Obama minimizing the threat of Iran. But wait, he's being completely dishonest about it in addition to the fearmongering! It's truly amazing to see these big tough guy neocons wet their pants over a country like Iran when we have an incalculable military superiority. What a bunch of wimps. Meanwhile, Steve Benen explains the McCain campaign's "video press release" strategy, making a new ad every day that they never air anywhere to troll for media coverage.

• The Census Bureau released new data showing a slight drop in the number of uninsured Americans, but most of the drop is due to a rise in public insurance programs.

In other words, if not for more robust public insurance, it's likely far more people would be without medical coverage. And that's true of the long-term, as well. Employer-sponsored insurance has declined over the last 30 years or so, as rising costs have made it harder for employers and employees to pay for it. If not for the expansions of eligibility for Medicaid and establishment of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, many more people would be without insurance and, as a result, struggling to pay their medical bills.

So the case for expanding public insurance -- ideally, to help cover everybody -- isn't weaker because of the new numbers. If anything, it's stronger.

And of course, the list of uninsured does not count the underinsured.

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Stoller is accurate that progressives are somewhat marginalized here. Actually I think it's that all sides go to their corners. If you wanted to have a fully progressive convention and see great progressive speakers and meet with them and brainstorm, you certainly can. I ran into Jane Hamsher and Ned Lamont yesterday and out of that might come a great counterpoint to Joe Lieberman's RNC speech. There are also insiders and lobbyists, and that's a different convention that has better food and a decent view of the action. And they don't let progressives in.

GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, it’s amazing. And essentially, we probably tried to interview twenty-five, thiry people going in, and every last person refused to even give their name, identify themselves, say what they’re here for, what the event is for. It’s more secretive than like a Dick Cheney energy council meeting. I mean, it’s amazing.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what are you here for? Why do you want to interview people?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, because, I mean, it’s extraordinary that the same Blue Dogs that just gave this extremely corrupt gift to AT&T are now attending a party underwritten by AT&T, the purpose of which is to thank the Blue Dogs for the corrupt legislative gift that they got. So AT&T gives money to Blue Dogs, the Blue Dogs turn around and immunize AT&T from lawbreaking, and then AT&T throws a party at the Democratic convention thanking them, and then they all go in and into this exclusive club.

There isn't a party thrown not sponsored by some corporate behemoth, so it's hard for me to get worked up about any individual one. What does bother me is all the corporate signage that really swamps the convention. The coal industry has a bunch of young kids passing out fans with "clean coal" messaging on it. Interesting, they're giving me something that harnesses the wind to create energy. It was a hot day, so I took it from them to use for a few seconds. Then I gave it back, saying, "Here, it's renewable."

Interestingly, one of the most prominent corporate presences here is Trojans.

To spin it out and see the partitioned convention as an example of an Obama Administration hostile to progressives takes a little bit of extrapolation, but it's clearly true that any leader of a party is going to mold it in his image. Obama is stage managing the podium speeches, for example. And as progressive power in Washington isn't exactly strong, then progressives will be shoved to one side as well. Our challenge is to collectivize our power and grow it from the bottom up, making ourselves impossible to ignore.

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Day 2 Wrapup: This One Was For The Gasbags

So I was in the hall last night, albeit barely. We spent about 15 minutes and all of Lily Ledbetter's speech trying to find a seat, and the only ones forthcoming were behind the stage in the nosebleed section with a view through the rafters of a JumboTron.

Still and all, it was good to be in the room. In ascending order, I thought Mark Warner's speech was mostly wooden with brief flickers of passion; Ted Strickland's offered some OK red meat but he's not the best messenger; Deval Patrick completely lost the room, it was embarrassing; Brian Schweitzer was a knockout, credible on energy (though he has his own idiosyncratic beliefs on it like clean coal and CCS) and great taking on McCain:

And Hillary Clinton was, in a word, spectacular. Not one person in that room had a bad word to say about her performance. She delivered like a pro, calling for unity and asking her supporters to get off the sidelines and put away personality in favor of country. Digby was right, this was the best line:

"I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?"

I think the supporters selfish enough to react to that with indignation are infinitesimally small (they also happen to be skilled PR mavens and Republican ratfucks. A lot of this is not real). And what's more, the pundits, the morons who have been trying to drive this wedge for months upon months, can really just shut up now. I don't know what more Sen. Clinton can do to prove to everyone that she supports Barack Obama. Though the gasbags wrote the story a week ago and then tried their best to find people to fit into it, the disunity story is a dead letter. I talked to Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) yesterday and she said all these media types are coming up to her asking about the divisions in the party, and she said "I don't know what they're talking about!" Hopefully this speech puts it to rest for a little while.

Democrats love nothing more than to criticize other Democrats, so you're going to keep seeing that (and Bill still seems to be holding a little grudge, but he's a pro and will give a great speech tonight). But overall, there's a lot of unity in the party, particularly ideologically, where the left and right flanks have actually come together on a number of issues. One PUMA delegate (in an ad that played nowhere) isn't going to change that.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What's The Story?

Katie Couric puts on her serious face and talks to bloggers, who then post about her talking to bloggers, and the universe explodes on itself.

Meanwhile apparently this is the Hillary Clinton convention and the Democratic Party is at war, although none of us know it.

And oh by the way: Pakistan's government has collapsed (which is probably as it should be after Musharraf was dumped), Iraq's Prime Minister reaffirms the need for a hard timeline for all US troops to leave Iraq, the Prime Minister has also cut oil deals with China and Russia, the Russians have recognized independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and in the wake of yet another airstrike killing dozens of civilians in Afghanistan...

Frustrated by the mounting toll of civilian deaths from U.S. and NATO airstrikes in Afghanistan, the government of President Hamid Karzai called Tuesday for a full-scale review of foreign-led military operations in the country.

Our foreign policy is literally blowing up in our faces on multiple fronts, but the media is dead-set on whether or not someone with a sign somewhere is a PUMA or not.


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That Would Be Because You Are Racist


Businesswoman Sheila Johnson, who is the owner of the Washington Mystics basketball team and an African-American, was imploring the crowd not to let voters get distracted by Obama's mixed race heritage or his unusual name when a man wearing a "Hillary" button called out from the crowd.

"Hussein! Hussein!" yelled the man, a reference to Obama's middle name. Many in the crowd leapt to their feet, shaking noisy tambourines at him and drowning him out.

The man, Igor Zhivotovksy from New York City, said later he is a strong Clinton backer who thinks she was cheated out of the nomination — and he doesn't like Obama.

"We just finished getting rid of a guy named Hussein in Iraq and why are we trying to elect someone with the same name?" said Zhivotovsky. "Everybody thinks if you're against Obama you're racist."

Yes, well, you are. And if you continue to treat elections like a popularity contest, and threaten to take your fucking ball home if you don't get your way, we'll get the country we deserve - one that prepares to crumble into the sea.

I'm not one to get nervous about these things, and mainly I'm disgusted by a traditional media deliberately finding every note of discord and blowing it up into something immense, but I have a sinking feeling in my stomach. While I don't totally subscribe to the idea that we have to have to have to attack McCain every five seconds, there was no Biden bounce, at least in the tracking polling, and combine it with media sabotage and this has a hint of 2004's Democratic convention, when there was no bounce at all. Mark Warner is fixing to piss me off tonight as well.

I don't scare easily. All I have to say is that Hillary had better give one hell of a speech tonight.

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Disconnected Thoughts

• The media narrative of this convention is that Democrats aren't doing enough, they're being too boring, they're not giving enough specifics, they're not attacking McCain enough, they're attacking McCain in the wrong way, they're too divided, Michelle Obama mentioned Hillary too much... I mean it's all over the map. I wish we had an adult campaign for serious, adult times, and everybody quit with the blather. Republicans, by the way, will not have to do anything at their convention.

• This was very good from Hillary Clinton:

Mrs. Clinton, preparing for her own speech Tuesday night, appeared before emotional members of her home state delegation this morning. She urged the party to come together while taking a shot at new campaign commercials by Senator John McCain that seek to foster division between Clinton backers and those of Senator Barack Obama, the soon-to-be nominee.

“Let me state what I think about their tactics and these ads,” she said in an appearance at a downtown hotel. “I’m Hillary Rodham Clinton and I do not approve of that message.”

This PUMA thing is the most media-savvy non-story in history. Celebrilawyer Gloria Allred was at the California delegation today claiming that she had been "gagged," and she had a gag around her mouth and everything.

• Steve Benen has more thoughts on Jim Leach.

• The recent polls I've seen, none of which really matter before the convention, are somewhat mixed, but it is notable that McCain can't win his own state handily and will probably have to campaign there.

• McCain, who thinks candidates shouldn't talk about their military service, continues to... talk about his military service, using his POW time as a convenient excuse (even though CBS edited it out of yesterday's newscast). McCain, meanwhile, has a crappy record on veteran's issues.

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Ladies And Gentlemen, Welcome To Tuesday

So I'm hanging out at the California delegation area while waiting to do an interview. Jimmy Carter is giving an interview to CNN. Terry McAuliffe just walked by. And there's some country band doing a soundcheck.

Having not been inside a Democratic convention facility before, it is undeniably impressive and it came through nicely on television last night. The buzz over the Michelle Obama speech seems to be generally good, with the pull quote "stop doubting, start dreaming" seeming to be the one all over the newspapers this morning.

Teddy Kennedy obviously gave a powerful, emotional speech. Many people I talked to didn't know he was coming out at all. I'm a little perturbed that Jim Leach's speech was passed over by the media so quickly. Here's a Republican who served in the US House for 30 years, now completely excoriating his party, particularly in the area of foreign policy, and it didn't raise an eyebrow. Even though it was in prime time I'm not sure anyone showed it. If the tables were turned, you can be sure it would be a major story.

Lots of Californians on stage tonight, but obviously all the focus will be on Sen. Clinton's speech. I saw James Carville by Radio Row and he said to the assembled media that they would "all be disappointed" tonight, because it would be a unifying speech. I'm sure the media will latch on to some word or facial tic and relentlessly hype it.

Anyway, Lucas will be taking you through this evening from the floor.

UPDATE: Leach's speech:

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Riddle Me This

If a 30 year Democrat spoke at the RNC
And excoriated his former party
And endorsed the Presidential candidate of the opposite party
Would the media cover it?


DNC Update: Day 1

So I've been basically anchored to the Big Tent all day. There were some solid speakers at the Digg stage, and hey, free beer. They aren't running sound out of the main tent area right now, but they should have it up for the major speeches. The traditional media is definitely pushing this PUMA angle here, although Chuck Todd pushed back. The Republicans are really skillfully ratfucking this convention and getting the media to cover it. The RNC is holding a "Hillary happy hour" tonight. They blanketed the area behind Chris Matthews today with McCain signs. They are managing the media response to this convention and doing it pretty well, honesty. But it doesn't entirely matter. What matters are the speeches - that's what resonates into November. Sure, the wingnuts will manufacture a hissy fit somewhere along the line, but if Sen. Clinton, Sen. Biden and Sen. Obama are powerful, I think we'll be fine.

Julia Rosen has some good pictures of the floor from the vantage point of the California delegation (where I'll be) here.

And Jon Stewart speaks for me.

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Actual Headline

On CNN right now: Wife To Praise Husband.

I can't wait for the other hard-hitting breaking stories like "Hungry Man To Eat Dinner" and "Water To Remain Wet."

There really is nothing to cover here.

Hey guys, here's an actual story:

Today, the Obama campaign launched a new website aimed at simplifying the election process for voters as we gear up for a historic general election. is a new voter registration tool where voters across the country can verify their registration status, register to vote for the first time, or get the relevant absentee voting information for their state – all online.

"The number one reason that people don't vote is because they don't understand how easy it is to register to vote", said Jason Green, Director of Voter Registration. ", simplifies the process. It allows voters to register, check registration status, or find a polling location – all at the click of a button. By simplifying and explaining the process we believe that new voters will register, become involved in our movement for change and elect Senator Obama president in November."

I spoke with Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan about this today. The Obama campaign is really on top of this like no other candidate in the recent past, and he needs to be - the ground game is crucially important.

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Van Jones, Green Jobs, and Happy Meal Politics

Some great people have been sashaying through the Big Tent to huddle up with the bloggers. And the traditional media has joined them, to take exciting pictures of people typing to show how the bloggers kick it. Rockin'!

I did get a chance to spend a few minutes with Van Jones, an environmental and green jobs activist, to talk about the future of energy and how we can beat the Republicans at their own game. He also offered a candid assessment of the state of the Presidential campaign.

Jones thinks that the progressive movement and Democratic groups have been "hurt by having a good candidate. We were so galvanized against Bush in 2004 that every outside group went nuts, threw everything we had at the Republicans, and we almost came up with the win despite a less inspiring candidate. This year, the spirit of 2004 has been lost. Obama made the mistake of defunding the outside groups and we've become complacent to an extent." Jones said that last week's hit by the Obama campaign on the McCain housing issue was good, but it needs to be a 10-week phenomenon, not a 1-week phenomenon.

On green jobs, which is Jones' real focus area, he stressed that we need to move the environmental conversation from a cultural one to a political one. The green-collar economy "can be a place for people to earn money, not spend money. We need collective action for green citizenship, to create the jobs of the future in a Green New Deal. As long as carbon is free we're never going to move forward." He was pleased by the recent efforts by municipalities and states (green jobs bills have been passed in Massachusetts and Washington state, and the US Conference of Mayors is on board as well), but recognizes that the federal government must be involved as well. "This is about laws, not gizmos. Technology cannot be the savior. This has to be a bottom-up, inside-outside AND a top-down strategy. If the Feds are MIA, human life will be MIA in the future."

We talked about the offshore drilling debate, where Jones clearly stated that the Republicans won the day by lying to the American people. He had three major points:

• There is no such thing as American oil. There is oil drilled by multinationals that is sent overseas to China and India. American offshore driling will do nothing to solve any American oil problems.

• We banned drilling in offshore areas not to save birds and fish, but because of coastal families and coastal communities, because kids were walking into the water and coming out with oil on them, because property values were plunging. Democrats should not be willing to throw away America's beauty for a 2-cent solution in 10 years.

• We've seen the new phenomenon of the "dirty greens," who want to have an "all of the above strategy" on energy, with solar and wind, but also clean coal and drilling offshore and shale and all these dirty polluters. "All of the above" is not a strategy. It's not a wise choice, but a stupid swipe at a persistent problem.

Democrats are right on price - if you cut demand and expand supply through renewables, the price will drop. They are right on people, because those steps will create millions of jobs. And they're right on the planet, because it's the only solution to preserve our environmental future. What the Republicans are offering is Happy Meal Politics, the kind of politics that offers everything for free with no residual consequences.

Jones is a great messenger, and a real leader in the green movement. Democrats would do well to listen to him.

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Because There's Nothing To Investigate

California won't look into Chuck Schumer's role in the IndyMac failure, because he didn't have one and the claim was put together by Swift Boaters. Good for Jerry Brown.

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So I attempted to get into the "soft perimeter" area to see Digby's panel, and at first I got through, then I tried to go into the wrong building and I had the wrong credential, so I left, and when I tried to return they had restricted the area I originally accessed.

This place is locked down. The security is "the worst I've ever seen it," according to a couple people I've talked to who have attended many conventions. You can feel the presence.

It's borderline creepy.

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Pelosi at the California Breakfast

While my pal Lucas and I were sitting here bullshitting, Nancy Pelosi was apparently holding a press avail. We're good journalists. Todd Beeton was there, and I guess it was a litany of wanker traditional media scribes asking "Is there unity? UNITY? UNITY!!!1!????"

UPDATE: Speaker Pelosi has just taken the stage at the breakfast. Lots of Congresscritters are here as well. I may lose power here in a second. Pelosi: "California will give Barack Obama and Joe Biden the biggest victory in the history of our country... the most votes ever for a Presidential candidate... are you ready to come together in unity and support Barack Obama and Joe Biden?... I bring this up because reporters ask me all day about this... but as we gather here... remember, it's not just about us and what our feelings are about the campaigns. It's about the hopes, aspirations and challenges of the American people. And they are looking to us to come out of this convention with unity, organized and focused to take this country in a new direction. We owe them that... this is about our country."

UPDATE: Pelosi: "If people want to talk about drilling offshore, don't come around California with that kind of talk. Let's talk about the connection between oil, which belongs to the people, and the record profits from the oil companies, and how they take it out of the ground with no royalties (in California)." Pelosi is talking about green jobs and renewables.

"If you're a senior, and you care about Medicare, Obama is right and John McCain is wrong. If you care about children's health care, where George Bush said we can't afford covering 10 million children for one year, which costs 40 days in Iraq, Obama is right and McCain is wrong... McCain supports George Bush's failed economic policies... and on the most important foreign policy issue of our time, Iraq, Barack Obama is right and John McCain is wrong."

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I Am A Very Famous Journalist

I think Richard Cohen is actually some character being played by Andy Kaufmann:

But Milbank’s not the only Post staffer who’s been dropped from the left’s Christmas card list.

“I used to get a lot more on the right,” said columnist Richard Cohen, who broke with liberals when he supported the Iraq war. More recently, the left has picked apart columns that are perceived as being favorable to John McCain.

“If you’re a little bit critical of Barack Obama, you get really a pie of vilification right in the face,” Cohen said, adding that his liberal critics “were born too late, because they would have been great communists.”

Cohen, the guy who said "only a fool, or a Frechman" would dispute Colin Powell's presentation on Iraq WMD at the UN, lost his credibility years ago. But Fred Hiatt forgot to tell him, so he continues along as if he's just the smartest man in America. He doesn't recognize that a whole lot of liberal bloggers freely criticize Obama, too. What we have little patience for is rampant, relentless stupidity. Which is what defines Cohen.

Cohen was obviously born too late and in the wrong country, because with his silencing of all dissent and belief in his own superiority, he would have made a great African dictator.

Wanker emeritus.

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Denver Impressions

Well, yesterday was uneventful for me. Just getting in and getting my bearings around the city. The first thing I saw was a parade of four pickup trucks full of cops riding toward downtown.

Later, a friend of ours took us down by the Platte River to a spot near the enormous REI store, where fire spinners congregate every Sunday night. Afterwards, we stopped in on some vegetarian restaurant holding a poetry slam, and Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich were in there having dinner. While most people in from out of town were eating their corporate-funded cocktail weenies, I stumbled upon some actual leftists for a change.

While George Bush won Colorado by 4 points in 2004, John Kerry took Denver by 40. This city grows more and more Democratic with each passing year, and raising turnout here - and keeping them in the Democratic fold - would be a key to victory in the state, I gather.

This morning there's a breakfast for the California delegation, and as a member of the press, I'm going but certainly not getting any breakfast. I believe Hillary Clinton will be there, and I've seen over the last couple days the McCain campaign try to drive a wedge between her supporters and Sen. Obama, with multiple ads trying to stir up some resentment. It doesn't have to make sense in the politics of spite. They even found a PUMA for today's offering:

Clinton released a statement after the first ad, and it's not entirely fair that she'll have to do such heavy lifting in her speech tomorrow night, but it will certainly be closely watched.

That's all I've got. Digby's panel is at 11 AM MT, I'm goign to try and make it so maybe I'll do a wee bit of liveblogging.

...Oh yeah, the big rumor is that Ted Kennedy will be making a surprise appearance. The crowd should go crazy.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Free WiFi In Phoenix Int'l!

Very exciting. Email doesn't seem to be working though. Let's see what's on the Internet!

Mark Halperin, in case you didn't know, is the dumbest man alive, but fortunately, he's not running Democratic campaigns, though his mindset is pervasive. I think Obama is less concerned with what the opposition is going to say about him than your average Democrat (oh noes! Rev. Wright! Bill Ayers!).

The WaPo reported that Obama's campaign overloaded the text message network, leading to some supporters not getting their announcement. But the LAT reported the opposite. They probably should have sent it at midday Friday, but you can always second-guess these things, and anyway it'll be a real boon to build their texting list going forward. In fact, they might use it as early as this Thursday.

Joe Biden got the call for VP during his wife's root canal.

John McCain is digging such a big hole on this POW defense he's going to hit China. Even MoDo is starting to mock him for this. Apparently the McCain campaign thinks it's a winner.

Advisors say if Obama gets "nastier" on that issue that opens the door for them. Advisors say the "Rezko deal stinks to the high heavens." They will be prepared to show McCain's "home" in Hanoi by using images of his cell. They claim they have not overused the POW element and insist they have "underused it." They say Americans think most people in presidential politics are wealthy and will point out that Obama "made himself a multi-millionaire after he entered public life."

OK, it worked in 1982 when you said it in a debate ONCE. It's now beyond parody.

Florida and Michigan will have full delegations at the convention.

OK, my battery stinks.

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The Rest Of The Week In Review

Putting this up early just to get it out of the way. I'll be on planes most of today, anyway, and the rest of the week will be consumed with the DNC convention. So here's what I missed:

• In the latest developments in the anthrax case, the FBI was forced to release more details after they admitted that they botched key elements of the investigation.

But F.B.I. officials acknowledged at the closed-door briefing, according to people who were there, that the sample Dr. Ivins gave them in 2002 did in fact come from the same strain used in the attacks, but, because of limitations in the bureau's testing methods and Dr. Ivins's failure to provide the sample in the format requested, the F.B.I. did not realize that it was a correct match until three years later.

This is quickly becoming a debacle. Sen. Grassley is going to hold hearings in the Judiciary Committee.

• The good news: Michael Bloomberg is committed to bold plans for renewable energy, including installing wind turbines all over New York City. The bad news: he wants to break term limits and run for another term. Term limits aren't all that great, but they make more sense for an executive, and the way Bloomberg is going about this - leaning on Big Media figures to endorse his proposal - smacks of collusion and a corporate takeover.

• I didn't flag it at the time, but there's an interesting article in last week's New York Times Magazine about education policy in post-Katrina New Orleans. It's quite the conservative project they've got going on down there.

• The Swift Boaters have moved from attacking John Kerry's military record to making up lies about Chuck Schumer's role in the failure of IndyMac Bank.

• What do you know, a majority of Americans want religion out of politics! How could they have gotten that idea? It wouldn't be because of the theocratic incursion into practically every aspect of American political life, would it? Or the Congress returning to an extraordinary special session to keep one woman on life support?

• Some days I can't believe what's become of America. There have always been outrages, of course, but things like this seem almost routine, and completely unremarked-upon in the larger debate. We get plenty of thinly-veiled cover stories that shill for Administration lies, but nothing about the ICE detainee who was murdered, essentially.

• So this Cheney Administration acolyte is bucking for a high-up job at the Energy Department. What's unclear to me is whether he's being tapped for a career position or a political job. If it's a political job, I don't see how it matters at all; it's not like he can take Cheney-Bush further to the right on energy policy.

• Did anybody think that illegal immigrants self-deporting would work? Anyone? How much money was spent on this program to get 8 people to leave the country?

• On the California front, Arnold Schwarzenegger's new budget plan is virtually identical to his old budget plan, so he could have put this out three months ago and sped everything up. The proposed three-year increase in the sales tax will galvanize conservatives against it, so I don't see any sort of end-game here. The Yacht Party solution is just to say no - it's fundamentally at odds with reaching any solution. Arnold can call the legislature girlie-men all he wants.

• The right wing has found the seat of power in America, and they're taking action to fight Wikipedia. They are brave warriors.

• What's with Mia Farrow and Blackwater CEO Erik Prince having lunch together?

• In case you were wondering where your favorite liberal blogging stars were located these days, here's the primer. Best to Matt Yglesias, Kevin Drum, Steve Benen and Hilzoy for their new gigs.

• And finally, careful, McCain campaign, pro-Obama the Dungeons & Dragons crowd is mobilizing. Where's my limited-edition Obama/Biden Bag of Holding? I don't know, but you can buy the T-shirt.



World Report

Because I'm almost out of here, I'll just mash these together, but they're all important, and would all merit a post of their own.

• So the ruling party in Pakistan chose Benazir Bhutto's widow, Asif Ali Zardari, to be their President. Of course, when Bhutto was Prime Minister, she and Zardari bilked the country for millions upon millions. Zardari doesn't want to reinstate Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the head of the Supreme Court, because Chaudhry might then arrest him. So this is cutting a wedge through the fragile coalition. The former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, wants to slash the Presidential power before Zardari accedes to the position. Sharif's Muslim League also wants Chaudhry back on the bench. Pakistan is a mess, and a mess we can't afford right now.

• While George Bush finally came around on a withdrawal timeline, he's still not all the way where Muqtada al-Sadr needs him to be:

The debate over a deal that would chart the future of U.S. troops in Iraq has reignited the rhetoric coming from Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr, who denounced the plan Friday for not setting a firm date for American withdrawal [...]

Iraq's government spokesman, Ali Dabbagh, reiterated Friday that any departure of U.S. troops was "subject to Iraqi national security" and that the dates were hypothetical. The final departure date "will be jointly set" by Iraq and the United States, he said, downplaying suggestions that the draft was the final deal.

At the weekly prayer service in Sadr's Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City, chants of "No to the agreement!" rang out through loudspeakers positioned along the street. Worshipers responded with applause and repeated the chant as the service ended and people drifted away [...]

At prayer services across the country, Sadrist preachers said any deal struck with the Americans was a blow to Iraq's sovereignty. In Sadr City, listeners agreed.

"Everyone is talking about how it will really serve the interests of the Americans, not the Iraqis," said Mohammed Fadim, whose well-stocked grocery store overlooks the wide avenue where worshipers knelt side by side in prayer. "Everyone knows the U.S. administration. Once they occupy a country, if they want to make an agreement to stay, 80% of the terms will fulfill their interests."

This is bad news. Sadr leads a cultural movement regardless of who holds the guns, and Maliki was pushed to a timeline in the first place because of pressure from the Sadrists. If Sadr turns against a deal pushed by the Parliament, Maliki's team will be crushed in the provincial elections. Just the act of getting this ratified (Maliki is going through the Parliament) could rip the country to shreds. Not good.

• In a neglected corner of the "war on terror," Somalia is going to crap.

Islamic militants said Saturday they had seized control of Somalia's third largest city after three days of fighting that left about 70 people dead and saw thousands flee Kismayo.

The Islamic courts movement, which controlled the capital, Mogadishu, and much of the south for six months in 2006, said it wrested control of the southern port city of Kismayo from clan militias.

The ICU never really stopped fighting, as the US paid little or no attention, despite the fact that Somalia, with almost no real government and extreme poverty, is a hotbed for extremism. This goes down as another failure of Bush-era foreign policy.

• Russia is leaving Georgia. Mostly leaving. Georgia is apparently disputing the checkpoints Russia has set up in Georgian territory. It's a bit dodgy, but to characterize it as the greatest crisis since the Cold War is king of nuts.

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The Law Catches Up To Fourthbranch?

This is intriguing (h/t Think Progress):

A two-year-old letter by Vice President Dick Cheney that pushed a controversial Alaska natural-gas pipeline bill is getting renewed scrutiny because of recently disclosed evidence in the Justice Department's corruption case against Sen. Ted Stevens. In a conversation secretly tape-recorded by the FBI on June 25, 2006, Stevens discussed ways to get a pipeline bill through the Alaska Legislature with Bill Allen, an oil-services executive accused of providing the senator with about $250,000 in undisclosed financial benefits. According to a Justice motion, Stevens told Allen, "I'm gonna try to see if I can get some bigwigs from back here and say, 'Look … you gotta get this done'." Two days later, Cheney wrote a letter to the Alaska Legislature urging members to "promptly enact" a bill to build the pipeline.

Fourthbranch should know his Nixon - the tape will get you every time. And was there any doubt that a corruption scandal involving pay for favors between government and the oil industry would involve him?

This should absolutely not be investigated any further. Like Scott McClellan said, it would be "divisive".

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