Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dems Reach Fla., Mich. Compromise

No word yet on how Hillary's going to take it now. Many pro-Obama types out here in the 'sphere fear she really will go to the convention.
Anyway, here's the report from DHinMI at Daily Kos.

Michigan delegation to be seated at half strength, 19 votes for, 8 votes against by the Rules and By-Laws Committee in D.C. today.

Again, 69 pledged delegates to Clinton, 59 pledged delegates to Obama, each delegate gets a half vote.

About two dozen Clinton protesters causing a ruckus, and they're being asked to leave.

Update by georgia10: What this all means:

The resolution increased the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination to 2,118, leaving Obama 66 delegates short but still within striking distance after the three final primaries are held in the next three days.

Obama picked up a total of 32 delegates in Michigan, including superdelegates who have already committed, and 36 in Florida. Clinton picked up 38 in Michigan, including superdelegates, and 56.5 in Florida.

Obama's total increased to 2,052, and Clinton had 1,877.5.

The Bush Gang

David Frum via Andrew Sullivan.

31 May 2008 12:03 pm

"George W. Bush brought most of his White House team with him from Texas. Except for Karl Rove, these Texans were a strikingly inadequate bunch. Harriet Miers, Alberto Gonzalez, Karen Hughes, Al Hawkins, Andy Card (the last not a Texan, but a lifelong Bush family retainer) — they were more like characters from The Office than the sort of people one would expect to find at the supreme height of government in the world’s most powerful nation.

McClellan, too, started in Bush’s governor’s office, and if he never belonged to the innermost circle of power, he nonetheless gained closer proximity than would be available to almost anyone who did not first serve in Texas. That early team was recruited with one paramount consideration in mind: loyalty. Theoretically, it should be possible to combine loyalty with talent. But that did not happen often with the Bush team."

Friday, May 30, 2008

Yo, Mama!

Send this to every superdelegate you know of. No, wait, they're mostly women over 45, aren't they?
Wait, so am I. So are most of you.

Why Obama Has More Delegates

The AP has a pretty good overview story up recalling the history of the Democratic Party's switch in the way it allocates convention delegates from the past practice of party insiders calling the shots to a more balanced, democratic process to permit ordinary voters more of a voice in candidate selection.
The Obama campaign's deep understanding of delegate selection and its tactical use of the rules is one key reason he was able to overcome Clinton's start-up advantage.

What made it especially hard for Clinton to catch up was that Obama understood and took advantage of a nominating system that emerged from the 1970s and '80s, when the party struggled to find a balance between party insiders and its rank-and-file voters.

Until the 1970s, the nominating process was controlled by party leaders, with ordinary citizens having little say. There were primaries and caucuses, but the delegates were often chosen behind closed doors, sometimes a full year before the national convention. That culminated in a 1968 national convention that didn't reflect the diversity of the party—racially or ideologically...

One big change was awarding delegates proportionally, meaning you can finish second or third in a primary and still win delegates to the party's national convention. As long candidates get at least 15 percent of the vote, they are eligible for delegates.

The system enables strong second-place candidates to stay competitive and extend the race—as long as they don't run out of campaign money...

Another big change was the introduction of superdelegates, the party and elected officials who automatically attend the convention and can vote for whomever they choose regardless of what happens in the primaries and caucuses.

Superdelegates were first seated at the 1984 convention. Much has been made of them this year because neither Obama nor Clinton can reach the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination without their support...

A more subtle change was the distribution of delegates within each state. As part of the proportional system, Democrats award delegates based on statewide vote totals as well as results in individual congressional districts. The delegates, however, are not distributed evenly within a state, like they are in the Republican system.

Under Democratic rules, congressional districts with a history of strong support for Democratic candidates are rewarded with more delegates than districts that are more Republican. Some districts packed with Democratic voters can have as many as eight or nine delegates up for grabs, while more Republican districts in the same state have three or four.

The system is designed to benefit candidates who do well among loyal Democratic constituencies, and none is more loyal than black voters. Obama, who would be the first black candidate nominated by a major political party, has been winning 80 percent to 90 percent of the black vote in most primaries, according to exit polls.

It wouldn't have worked without such a strong candidate, though, according to a former DNC chairman who supports Clinton.

Never Forget: We Were Lied To

Not just by the Bush administration, but by nearly all the media. Except the folks at McClatchy (at the time, Knight-Ridder).
The inside baseball folks on the progressive side of the media, print, broadcast and 'sphere, know who told the truth and who went along with the game plan in the build-up to the Iraq War, but unless you were paying close attention and looking for alternate versions of reality, or subscribed to one of their newspapers, you didn't know.
The McClatchy folks themselves decided to remind us again this week after taking about as much as they could stand of the media's uniformly defensive response to Scott McClellan's indictment of their reporting in his book.
It's worth a full read, but here's a snippet.
We confess that here at McClatchy, which purchased Knight Ridder two years ago, we do have a dog in this fight. Our team - Joe Galloway, Clark Hoyt, Jon Landay, Renee Schoof, Warren Strobel, John Walcott, Tish Wells and many others - was, with a few exceptions, the only major news media organization that before the war consistently and aggressively challenged the White House's case for war, and its lack of planning for post-war Iraq.

Something to Think About

Andrew Sullivan has a different quote up from a funny and on-point essay by Clay Shirky, someone I've never heard of before. But that's the beauty of the internet, it's full of people with something to say that I've never thought about before. File this under "what it all means."
I'm choosing a different quote, the lead-in, because you rarely see something this good at the beginning of an even better essay about the social transformation we're immersed in because of technology.

I was recently reminded of some reading I did in college, way back in the last century, by a British historian arguing that the critical technology, for the early phase of the industrial revolution, was gin.

The transformation from rural to urban life was so sudden, and so wrenching, that the only thing society could do to manage was to drink itself into a stupor for a generation. The stories from that era are amazing-- there were gin pushcarts working their way through the streets of London.
And it wasn't until society woke up from that collective bender that we actually started to get the institutional structures that we associate with the industrial revolution today.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Torture: Everything You Want to Know

Interesting result of the ACLU's ongoing FOIA request.

Balloon Twisting Fun

Pour yourself a little wine, relax, 2 minutes.

Is It Really Over Next Week?

Reid and Pelosi think so.

Traveling in California to promote his new memoir, Mr. Reid also told an audience in Los Angeles that the nominee would be known by Wednesday. He told others that a sufficient number of superdelegates are prepared to put Senator Barack Obama over the top quickly after Tuesday’s voting is finished. Both Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi have also said they agree that the delegates from Michigan and Florida should get some voice at the convention as well.

Obama said today that it will be.

As for Saturday (okay, you haven't been paying that close attention, but the DNC Credentials and Rules Committee meets to decide the fate of the Michigan and Florida delegates), the compromise being floated today gives each delegate a seat but only half a vote as payback for violating party rules by holding unsanctioned early primaries. Neither Clinton nor Obama benefit enough to win, but if the superdels come through for Obama, it's over. Sort of.

The question is, what will Hillary do? And, of course, will it matter? She can still take it to the convention if she wants. Stay tuned, news at 11. Next Tuesday.

(Oops, sorry, it's the Rules and By-Laws Committee.)

Future Female Prez Candidates

From somebody I never read via Andrew Sullivan:
According to interviews with Republicans in their home states, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill differ from Clinton by two important measures: They've managed to win elections without developing polarizing personas, and they've shied away from emphasizing gender in their campaigns.

Oh, and this:
And so we arrive at the real stumbling block for any future female candidate. One way or another, the naysayers all want to conclude (indeed, at times, Clinton herself is wont to conclude) that the Clinton campaign was ultimately derailed by the same pervasive sexism that will scuttle the next woman's chances. Never mind that this conclusion is belied by polls Zernike cites, which indicate that 86 percent of Americans say they would vote for a woman. Never mind that it's also belied by Clinton's own historic achievements.

But go read all of Dahlia Lithwick at Slate linked above, she's worth it and I'm adding her to my bookmarks.

Senate Race Update

Add Mississippi (Mississippi?!!) to the list of states where the Republican senatorial candidate is in trouble .
It's Trent Lott's vacated seat.

Who Got the Most Bad Press?

So Hillary says the media is too hard on her, and most of us thought the Bittergate and Wrightgate stuff went on way too long, but overall, it's John McCain who has failed "to control the media narrative," according to a new study released by the Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism.
Some key points:
Shortly after Clinton criticized the media for being soft on Obama during a debate, the narrative about him began to turn more skeptical—and indeed became more negative than the coverage of Clinton herself. What’s more, an additional analysis of more general campaign topics suggests the Obama narrative became even more negative later in March, April and May...

On the Republican side, John McCain, the candidate who quickly clinched his party’s nomination, has had a harder time controlling his message in the press. Fully 57% of the narratives studied about him were critical in nature, though a look back through 2007 reveals the storyline about the Republican nominee has steadily improved with time...

Public perceptions of McCain and Obama, a companion survey shows, largely tracked with the tenor of the press coverage’s major narrative themes. With Hillary Clinton, however, the public seemed to have developed opinions about her that ran counter to the media coverage, perhaps based on a pre-existing negative disposition to her that unfolded over the course of the campaign...

And as usual it's the horse race that has mattered most to the media, the easiest thing to report.

Fully 78% of the stories studied between January 1 and the first week of May have focused on political matters, such as who won the latest primary. By contrast, policy stories made up 7% of the stories, personal matters 7%, and the candidates’ public record, 2%. And few major storylines stand out.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gas Up, Driving Down

about 4.3 percent in March.
David Kurtz at TPM finds a Time magazine observation from 1947 that seems to stand the test of the years.
I especially like the part about mobile shelter for seduction. I think I resemble that remark.
The average U.S. citizen completely ignores the regularity with which the automobile kills him, maims him, embroils him with the law and provides mobile shelter for rakes intent on seducing his daughters. He takes it into his garage as fondly as an Arab leading a prize mare into his tent. He woos it with Simoniz, Prestone, Ethyl and rich lubricants--and goes broke trading it in on something flashier an hour after he has made the last payment on the old one. ...

By last week, this peculiar state of mind had not only sucked thousands of American oil wells dry, stripped the rubber groves of Malaya, produced the world's most inhuman industry and its most recalcitrant labor union, but had filled U.S. streets with so many automobiles that it was almost impossible to drive one. In some big cities, vast traffic jams never really got untangled from dawn to midnight; the bray of horns, the stink of exhaust fumes, and the crunch of crumpling metal eddied up from them as insistently as the vaporous roar of Niagara.

Dems In the Senate

Some people are actually paying attention to elections other than the presidential contests right now, and the news is good about gaining seats.
Minnesota — Al Franken is within striking distance of Republican scumbag and rumored wife beater Norm Coleman.
New Hampshire — Cindy Shaheen has a 7 point lead over incumbent R John Sununu.
New Mexico — Udall way ahead of either Republican.
Colorado — another Udall 6 points up on the R.
Virginia — former Gov. Mark Warner 18 points up on the R.
Alaska — Dem. Begich 2 points up on corrupt R. Ted Stevens.
Kentucky — corrupt, DINO business man ahead of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell by 5 points. (More Democrats now, better Democrats next time, I guess. Blogs say NY Sen. Chuck Shumer, head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee chose Lunsford because he can self-finance from money stolen from his nursing home company's stockholders.)
Other states where the Republican incumbent is down below 50 percent and seat is in jeopardy include North Carolina, Oregon, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi and Texas.
A blowout gives the Dems 61 seats in the Senate come January.

The Bush Twins

The new MoveOn ad is up and running in select markets and on cable.
Worth noting here that a high-end Bush fundraiser for McCain in his home state of Arizona was NOT cancelled BUT MOVED TO SMALLER VENUE when they realized ticket sales were in the toilet and they might have more protesters than attendees.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Positive Polarization

Josh Marshall today recommends a new George Packer article in The New Yorker that is basically a lengthy review of the book Nixonland as well as a sweeping overview of what the Republicans have been up to for the last 40 years from the perspective that the grand plan is finally bankrupt.
Or something along those lines. In other words, there's hope. I haven't read it yet, but here's a tempting tidbit:

Nixon was coldly mixing and pouring volatile passions. Although he was careful to renounce the extreme fringe of Birchites and racists, his means to power eventually became the end. Buchanan gave me a copy of a seven-page confidential memorandum—“A little raw for today,” he warned—that he had written for Nixon in 1971, under the heading “Dividing the Democrats.” Drawn up with an acute understanding of the fragilities and fault lines in “the Old Roosevelt Coalition,” it recommended that the White House “exacerbate the ideological division” between the Old and New Left by praising Democrats who supported any of Nixon’s policies; highlight “the elitism and quasi-anti-Americanism of the National Democratic Party”; nominate for the Supreme Court a Southern strict constructionist who would divide Democrats regionally; use abortion and parochial-school aid to deepen the split between Catholics and social liberals; elicit white working-class support with tax relief and denunciations of welfare. Finally, the memo recommended exploiting racial tensions among Democrats. “Bumper stickers calling for black Presidential and especially Vice-Presidential candidates should be spread out in the ghettoes of the country,” Buchanan wrote. “We should do what is within our power to have a black nominated for Number Two, at least at the Democratic National Convention.” Such gambits, he added, could “cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half.”

The Nixon White House didn’t enact all of these recommendations, but it would be hard to find a more succinct and unapologetic blueprint for Republican success in the conservative era. “Positive polarization” helped the Republicans win one election after another—and insured that American politics would be an ugly, unredeemed business for decades to come.