Thursday, January 31, 2008

upgrade at the Ranch


No, Ralph, the question is, which side are YOU on?

Ralph Nader steps up to the plate for the GOP for the third time.

Guess Ralphie's ready for another dive in that Republican trough.

Si, se puede

Some of you may already have noticed the endorsement button on the right. I always leaned Obama but never totally committed to him and not Edwards. Yesterday John saved me the trouble of having to choose between them.

Now, if only Edwards would throw his support over Barack's way before all his supporters go elsewhere. I will point out my long Edwards prediction, wherein I said:
He's going to place 3rd in NH, but it's in SC and NV where the Edwards campaign will suffer back-breaking losses. Those are his "last stand" states. He may stick around until super duper Tuesday, though it would only be to spite Obama, and I don't think he'll do that for reasons below.

...Chances are that whomever he throws his support to will gain enough support to run the table on the other candidate, and I think it's more than a little significant that his Iowa Caucus night speech began with him saying that "the status quo lost and change won." He could lay the death knell to the Clinton campaign with an endorsement of Obama just before Super Duper Tuesday, after he loses his firewall states.

It didn't sound like he was planning to endorse anytime soon, but his 62 delegates and influence over his supporters are depreciating in value by the day. Chances are he won't get many more delegates, and chances are his paltry number won't be enough for him to play kingmaker in a brokered convention.

The moment of maximum impact is now.


Though I stand by my assertion that Fred Thompson was the least prepared candidate I've ever seen, I don't think I've ever seen a campaign implode as spectacularly as Giuliani's. Can you believe this guy was the presumptive frontrunner only a couple of months ago by huge margins?

Rudy Giuliani bowed out after going 0-4 in the early primaries and placing third in his last stand state of Florida with a grand total of 2 delegates. 95 fewer than John McCain at this point. 72 fewer than Mitt Romney. Four fewer than Ron Paul.

I think in Giuliani's case the problem was partly that he's just an a$$hole and partly that he had the worst advisors I've ever seen. I mean, who'd'a thunk voters would increasingly abandon an otherwise popular, well-known mayor the more they saw of him, if he spent 6 months nakedly exhuming the corpses from the World Trade Center wreckage and dangling them in front of the camera every time anyone asked him a question about anything? And certainly nobody could have predicted that ceding the early states (only after blowing a ton of cash in them) and not making a stand until frakin' Florida, the 5th primary, might be a bad idea. Ya know, just because praying for all the frontrunners to die in a horrible accident, henceforth known as "the Battlestar Galactica gambit," hasn't met with much success in the past.

Then again, I guess Rudy got this far by being well-positioned to exploit a tragedy...

video of CAFO workers abusing sick cattle

More videos like this. People need to see this stuff to understand what is wrong with CAFO's and the way we deal with the animals that feed us. It doesn't have to be this way.

Nothing disinfects like air and sunlight.

Monday, January 28, 2008

the real issues

Mitt Romney's inability to fold a burrito properly clearly bodes ill for his chances in California.

not your grandfather's Senate campaign commercial

As Chris Matthews would say, "HA!"

America's overreach in Iraq and the end of hegemony

A great if wordy article in the NYT on the future makeup of world politics/economics and how the U.S. must reorient its foreign policy strategy to regain its footing and succeed in that world.

Surprisingly, engaging in numerous unilateral wars, telling everyone they're "with us or agin' us," and giving the UN the finger are not included among the ideas for success.

Also, did you see the 60 Minutes interview with George Piro, Saddam's FBI interrogator? Wow, fascinating. Lots of stuff about Saddam's personality, how actual, non-torture interrogations work, and the subtle ways to influence a guy like Saddam.

...oh yeah, and then some filler about how Saddam really did dismantle his weapons programs in the '90's and considered bin Laden an enemy and a dangerous fanatic. Of course we've known that since the last presidential election season.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Joe Lieberman joins McCain campaign

No, I mean he literally joined his campaign. From the Boston Globe:
Sen. Joe Lieberman has been named a chairman of Republican presidential hopeful John McCain's state leadership team.

Lieberman, an Independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats, has endorsed the Arizona senator and campaigned for him in Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

He is heading McCain's Connecticut campaign with Republican Rep. Christopher Shays.

George Jepsen, former state Democratic Party chairman who supported Ned Lamont's successful challenge of Lieberman in the 2006 Democratic primary, said Lieberman's endorsement of McCain is an affront to Democrats who believed Lieberman when he said two years ago that he was committed to helping put a Democrat in the White House in 2008.

Arguing that he would help put a Democrat in the White House was actually used as a primary excuse to justify supporting Lieberman for many Democrats, both voters and elected officials. Once the primary in 2006 was over, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton supported Ned Lamont in the general, which makes one wonder if there's something personal in Lieberman's decision to stab his party in the back.

Of course, we've been heading in this direction for a couple of years now, so we're not exactly in "nobody could have predicted..." territory. Lieberman also co-wrote the war with Iran bill (ya know, "Kyl-Lieberman") that Clinton's been catching so much hell over, he's gone over to the dark side on torture, and most tellingly, endorsed Republican Susan Collins in her upcoming re-election battle in Maine, a prime pickup opportunity for his now former party, and has even raised money for her (partly because she supported his re-election over Ned Lamont and Alan Schlessinger).

I would like to point out, in the interest of gloating accountability, one of my scribblings from 6 months ago:
The transformation of Joe Lieberman from (D-CT) to (R-Military Industrial Complex) is fully underway, and far more advanced than most are willing to acknowledge. He's no longer any more Democrat than Republican, and he's fully admitting to that. It's not a campaign slogan, people.
But make no mistake, people: by the time Campaign '08 gets into full swing, Lieberman will be working for the bad guys.

I also predicted that Joe Lieberman will be the keynote speaker at the 2008 Republican National Convention. That may well happen, but it's becoming increasingly likely, if McCain wins, anyway, that he may be making that speech as the VP candidate on the GOP ticket.

Kentucky waterfall


Evan Bayh: coward

From TPM:
Well, one down. The Senate just voted to kill (table) the Senate Judiciary Committee's surveillance bill, which did not contain retroactive immunity for the telecoms.
The final tally was actually 60-36, not 60-34, and the full list of Dems voting to kill were: Sens. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Tom Carper (D-DE), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and Ken Salazar (D-CO).

There is a bill introduced by the Republicans that will grant immunity from litigation to the telecommunications companies that handed over complete records of all your phone and internet activity to the NSA, and were paid for it with lucrative government contracts. The government now knows every call you've made or received, and every site you've visited and email you've written or read thanks to these companies. And if the GOP bill passes (which Evan Bayh apparently wants), the president will no longer need warrants to tap your phones.

Which means that, since so much of our business occurs online and over the phone now, the 4th Amendment is basically void.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

See You Next Tuesday

Yes, this is real. It's a group started by Roger Stone, a famous Republican trickster.

The group on which he got his start is a particularly apt acronym: CREEP.

worst people in the world

From ThinkProgress:
Opening his radio show with funeral music yesterday, Fox News host John Gibson callously mocked the death of actor Heath Ledger, calling him a “weirdo” with a “serious drug problem.”

Playing an audio clip of the iconic quote, “I wish I knew how to quit you” from Ledger’s gay romance movie Brokeback Mountain, Gibson disdainfully quipped, “Well, he found out how to quit you.” Laughing, Gibson then played another clip from Brokeback Mountain in which Ledger said, “We’re dead,” followed by his own, mocking “We’re dead” before playing the clip again.

What did Ledger do to deserve this? Is it just because he played a gay cowboy?

Gibson represents a certain mindset that you see commonly with these movement conservative, scorched earth fanatics. Their ability to empathize with another person is dependent entirely on whether that person is "one of us" or "the other side." And it takes almost nothing to make you persona non grata to these brownshirts; all Heath Ledger did was play a gay guy in a movie and develop an addiction to sleeping pills to become a "weirdo" with "a serious drug problem" whose untimely death merits only derisive laughter.

Thankfully, it's not a pan-conservative phenomenon, however. Joe Scarborough of "Morning Joe," a former Republican congressman during the Gingrich years, heard this clip, and apparently it blew his mind. He goes on and on for 5 or 10 minutes about the "stunning" inappropriateness of these comments.

And in other news, another radio care bear, Michael Savage, is quickly losing his advertisers. A campaign by Brave New Films to shame Savage's sponsors into pulling their ads from his show has gotten 4 of his 10 advertisers to drop him, and another (GEICO Insurance) is expected to follow suit. Some choice Savage-isms highlighted by Brave New Films:
"90 percent of the people on the Nobel Committee are into child pornography and molestation, according to the latest scientific studies"

Savage advocating "kill[ing] 100 million" Muslims

Savage on immigrant students' hunger strike: "[L]et them fast until they starve to death. ... Go make a bomb where you came from"

Citing more sex-change operations, increased lesbian fertility clinics, Savage said of 9-11: "That was God speaking"

On MLK Day, Savage called civil rights a "racket" designed to steal "white males' birthright"

To "save the United States," lawmakers should institute "outright ban on Muslim immigration" and on "the construction of mosques"

U.S. Senate "more vicious and more histrionic than ever, specifically because women have been injected into" it

"Jimmy Carter is like Hitler"

"Burn the Mexican Flag!"

Savage on the tsunami: "I wouldn't call it a tragedy. ... We shouldn't be spending a nickel on this"

There's something wrong with these people psychologically. They're emotionally broken. How damaged to you have to be to say these things, to laugh over and over at the death of a young, talented actor, or to advocate the indiscriminate slaughter of 100 million people? This is the kind of behavior we're used to seeing in junior high kids who lack a fully developed sense of empathy, but it's pretty stunning to see gray-haired old men display such inhumanity.

And they're spokesmen for a whole "movement."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

new stuff

I've added a couple of elements to the ol' homestead, including a search engine, a Wikipedia search, and most importantly, hangman. Enjoy!

Fred Thompson drops out

(highlight reel of Thompson's first debate performance)

I've gotta tell you, admittedly I haven't been around for many presidential elections, but Fred Thompson: male prostitue may have been the least prepared presidential candidate I've ever seen, at least as a campaigner. He never seemed to be up on the news or any of the local issues where he was campaigning, he didn't have any positions on, well, anything, and spent so long fiddle-farting around on the sidelines that he was on his third campaign manager before he even announced his candidacy. I mean, for God's sake, people, he was still using note cards in the last debate! Note cards!

This early exit also says a lot about the state of the GOP, the "electability" opinions of its primary voters, and perhaps, just perhaps, the direction of the party. The most conservative candidates in the race were Tancredo, Hunter, and Thompson. And the first three to get bounced? Tancredo, Hunter, and Thompson.

Meanwhile, the three with the most dubious conservative cred? McCain, Romney, and 9iu11ani. And who did Fred Thompson spend the last month calling "a liberal on everything but abortion?" Mike Huckabee.

the post-Roe era

Of all the potential ramifications of this election that people are speculating about, perhaps the only outcome that is simultaneously the most obvious, the one that will most impact people's lives, and the least discussed is the future of Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court, at this very moment, is one judge away from overturning Roe, and it's a virtual certainty that the next president will be replacing 87 year old liberal justice John Paul Stevens.

All of the Democratic front-runners have publicly advocated "a woman's right to choose." All of the Republican front-runners have publicly advocated the destruction of Roe v. Wade and promised to appoint "strict constructionist" judges. In no case is there any reason to doubt them.

Yet I've yet to hear anyone state the obvious here: if a Republican wins the presidency, Roe v. Wade will be overturned, thus turning the abortion question over to the states and igniting a firestorm of campaigning, legislation, and court battles in nearly every state in the union.

Below is a US map that I've colored to represent the immediate legal ramifications of the repeal of Roe.
*RED states have "trigger laws" on the books that will ban abortion in the state the moment Roe falls.
*PINK states have similar legislation on the books called "statements of policy" that, unlike trigger laws, are not legally binding.
*PURPLE states have pre-1973 state bans that could be reactivated with a simple lifting of a court injunction.
*DARK BLUE states have legislated enduring abortion rights regardless of Roe's fate.
*LIGHT BLUE states have constitutions that state judges have determined implicitly guarantee abortion rights.

It should be noted that several of these states, such as New Mexico and Tennessee, have both abortion bans and implicit abortion guarantees and would likely spark a legislation/judicial battle to decide which side wins.

Were Roe v. Wade to be overturned, and southern states to do what one would expect southern states to do, lonely little New Mexico could end up as the only place where women can get a legal abortion between Yuma and the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

That's a distance of roughly 2,500 miles.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"no other voting bloc"

I imagine if CNN's Randi Kaye thought a bit harder she could come up with at least one more.
Recent polls show black women are expected to make up more than a third of all Democratic voters in South Carolina's primary in five days.

For these women, a unique, and most unexpected dilemma, presents itself: Should they vote their race, or should they vote their gender?

No other voting bloc in the country faces this choice.

Heh, wow.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Maxed Out

See this movie. It's one of the best documentaries I've seen in a long time. I don't even have any credit card debt, and parts of this movie puckered my sphincter.

We are so f**ked.

It reminds me of an important point that Atrios made a couple of months ago, the long and short of it being that people implicitly trust financial institutions more than, say, used car salesmen, but nowadays that trust is badly misplaced. Millions of people are paying dearly for assuming that Bank of America wouldn't intentionally push them to take on a loan or credit line they aren't equipped to handle.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Super Bowl to be tainted with FOX News election coverage

GODDAMNIT! From the NY Observer:
On Feb. 3, a k a Super Bowl Sunday, in an original News Corp. smorgasbord, reporters from FOX News will be teaming up with reporters from FOX owned and operated stations from around the country for a three hour broadcast event, focusing on—USA! USA!—presidential politics and professional football.

Shepard Smith, of FOX News, will headline the production from Glendale, Ariz., the site of this year’s Super Bowl. FOX News anchor (and Cincinnati Bengals fanatic) Bill Hemmer will contribute from New York, along with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly.

As the anchors toggle back and forth between discussion of the Super Bowl and Super Tuesday, they will chew over political dispatches from FOX Broadcasting reporters from around the country.

As an added bonus, we'll also be getting regular interruptions to our frakin' Super Bowl coverage so FOX News' Carl Cameron, America's prissiest hyperconservative, can wax poetic about the musky manliness of John McCain. We can expect some serious FOX News-style journalistic integrity, as well, seeing as this is the guy who covered the cretin from Crawford on the campaign trail while his wife was working in W's campaign.

I mean, Goddamnit! We've already had to deal with Dennis Miller and Rush f**king Limbaugh belching their bile all over NFL broadcasts, and despite how spectacularly both of those clowns crashed and burned, we now have to endure FOX News? Are you kidding me? Yeah, sure NBC put Keith Olbermann on Sunday night football, but a) KO doesn't talk politics in his football segment, and b) his journalistic work has been primarily as a sportscaster with ESPN and, coincidentally, FOX Sports.

It's possible, too, that injecting politics into the Super Bowl could backfire spectacularly considering that many people watch sports to take their minds off the "real world" and I'm willing to bet that most Americans do not think sportscasts are an appropriate place to talk politics.

Why do Republicans have this urge to mix their politics into our football? And more importantly, can the TiVo at Chez O'Zee save us from this monstrosity?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

words: they mean stuff. Don't abuse them.

Good morning, internets,
I am hereby confiscating the following words: straw man, random, fascist, zero-sum game, and ironic. You may have them back when you learn what these words mean.

Thanks a bunch,
el ranchero

P.S.-- Here is a long, humbling list of commonly (in some cases universally) misused words.

Mercury turns us the other cheek

Bad Astronomy has a brand new beautiful picture of a side of Mercury we've never seen before, taken by the Messenger spacecraft now in rendezvous with the solar system's closest planet. From Darksyde @ dKos:
NASA’s Messenger Mission has completed its close approach and flyby past planet Mercury obtaining the first close up pictures of that small world in over three decades. This is harrowing journey for the plucky little spacecraft and a powerful affirmation of the quality of science and engineering at NASA and JPL (APL?). In addition to matching velocities with the tiny, hurtling planet over a period of several years, the delicate instruments onboard this Extreme Machine must endure unprecedented, brutally rapid temperature swings, from a bone shattering 300° below zero to a searing 600° above.

Unfortunately, an unplanned scheduling conflict with another spacecraft will delay acquisition of all 1200 images. Mission planners were able to retrieve one wide angle shot of a side of Mercury never before captured [the shot at Bad Astronomy].


Speaking of the planets, this made me laugh.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

From the NYT:
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles tracked the eating habits of 602 area women taking part in the federal W.I.C. program. Some of the women were given $10 in weekly vouchers for vegetable and fruit purchases at a nearby farmers’ market or supermarket, while a control group received coupons for non-food products in exchange for sharing information about eating habits.

After six months, women who shopped at the farmers’ markets were eating about three additional servings of fruits and vegetables a day, compared to the control group. Supermarket shoppers consumed 1.5 extra servings.

Amazing what direct interaction with farmers and actual fresh produce (not the stuff that's shipped across the country, waxed for sheen, and sprayed with water to mimic dew) will do to people's buying habits.

And speaking of diet and buying habits, Michael Pollan has a new one out: In Defense of Food. He argues for moving away from the center of the grocery store and toward the periphery and buying more locally grown food.

Locally grown food: it's just better.

And Adam Stein is a foolish contrarian working for right-wing hacks, writing articles that curiously resemble his diet (waxed to a shine but lacking in substance) and still fighting the War on Hippies 30 years after the last one rejoined society. Why is he agin' locally grown food?

Answer: because the Deadheads in his head are for it. What a sad existence.

He's also, apparently, suffering from a bit of an identity crisis. After deriding Chris Dodd for being a "northeastern liberal" who he expected to solve poverty by handing out rebates on iPhones, Stein tells us about his grocery trip:
Marcona almonds from Spain that were so much softer, sweeter and nuttier than any I can get here; Greek olives; Brie from France; smoked salmon from Scotland. I thought about getting a rack of lamb from New Zealand, but I couldn't resist asking the guy behind the seafood counter for the fish with the most frequent-flyer miles. I was going to get the opah from Fiji, but then I spotted the Chilean sea bass from South Georgia island, southeast of Argentina -- more than 7,000 miles of travel just to get eaten for a magazine article ... I added some asparagus from Peru to my shopping cart and, for dessert, threw in a pineapple from Hawaii (which was cheating, it turned out, at just 2,500 miles, but it looked so good and my sense of geography is so bad) and a young coconut from Thailand.

Yeah, 'cuz you're clearly a real salt-o'-the-earth kinda guy. Remember to wash the axle grease from your hands before preparing your brie and Chilean sea bass.

Friday, January 11, 2008

"Hey Mirror, you look like a retard!" by Jonah Goldberg

From the review of Jonah Goldberg's new steaming pile of... writing... on Salon:
To sort of start the story, the reason why we see fascism as a thing of the right is because fascism was originally a form of right-wing socialism. Mussolini was born a socialist, he died a socialist, he never abandoned his love of socialism, he was one of the most important socialist intellectuals in Europe and was one of the most important socialist activists in Italy, and the only reason he got dubbed a fascist and therefore a right-winger is because he supported World War I. [emphasis mine]

Yeah. He really did write that. You can tell this one's a winner, eh?

You can probably see how Goldberg's getting teed up even before you read it:
You've talked about Mussolini remaining on the left and remaining a socialist, and in your book you've got a lot of quotes from the 1920s about that, but I'm wondering -- how does that fit in with what he wrote and said later, especially "The Doctrine of Fascism" in 1932?

I'd need to know specifically what he wrote in "The Doctrine of Fascism." It's been about three years since I've read it.

He says, for example, "Granted that the 19th century was the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy, this does not mean that the 20th century must also be the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy. Political doctrines pass; nations remain. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right ', a Fascist century."

That's the moment where, in an academic conference, the grad students wince and the other presenters blanch. Goldberg just got served.

REAL papers

From AP:
WASHINGTON - Residents of at least 17 states are suddenly stuck in the middle of a fight between the Bush administration and state governments over post-Sept. 11 security rules for driver's licenses — a dispute that, by May, could leave millions of people unable to use their licenses to board planes or enter federal buildings.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who was unveiling final details of the REAL ID Act's rules on Friday, said that if states want their licenses to remain valid for air travel after May 2008, those states must seek a waiver indicating they want more time to comply with the legislation.

Chertoff, as he revealed final details of the REAL ID Act, said that in instances where a particular state doesn't seek a waiver, its residents will have to use a passport or a newly created federal passport card if they want to avoid a vigorous secondary screening at airport security.
The American Civil Liberties Union has fiercely objected to the effort, particularly the sharing of personal data among government agencies. The DHS and other officials say the only way to ensure an ID is safe is to check it against secure government data; critics such as the ACLU say that creates a system that is more likely to be infiltrated and have its personal data pilfered.

In its written objection to the law, the ACLU claims REAL ID amounts to the "first-ever national identity card system," which "would irreparably damage the fabric of American life."

Do you have your papers?

An interesting potential political knot: in my Southern Baptist church when I was young, we were taught that the "666" that everyone would have to wear on their forehead or right hand in Revelation was, in all likelihood, a symbol for a national proof of identification, first a card and then a microchip embedded under the skin, that also contained their bank/credit card information. The implication was that good Christians would rather die than comply with such a law.

the Reagan coalition

It's a little-known fact that Ronald Reagan was also ten feet tall. Ronald Reagan won the Cold War by challenging Gorbachev to single combat in the famous "Berlin Wall Brawl," throwing the Premier over the wall and breaking his neck with his trademarked "Gipper Flipper." Ronald Reagan is the illegitimate father of over half of white conservatives in the South, and yet it is rumored that Reagan's mother died a virgin. And he had an actual, real-life tax-cutting magic wand, created from the skeletal middle finger of Barry Goldwater and magically bound with the soul of Ayn Rand.

Do the GOP presidential candidates dramatically underestimate southern conservatives in these debates, or are South Carolina Republicans really this succeptible to blatant mythopoiesis? Do southern Republicans watch this tripe and really say, "Well, I would vote for Mike Huckabee, but he doesn't love Ronald Reagan as much as Mitt Romney does?" Do South Carolinians watch these debates and ever think, "Ya know, the way they're all using Reagan's corpse as a ventriloquist dummy is really pretty crass and obnoxious?"

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Clinton takes NH

Well, I feel better having blown it knowing that EVERYONE blew this one. It looks like one of two things (or perhaps both) happened:

1. pollsters noted that they underestimated Obama's performance in Iowa and dramatically overcompensated.

2. something happened today to shift the vote some 10 percentage points.

Maybe Hillary's moment of letting her guard down affected a lot of people, as well as the press' (and John Edwards') callous and misogynistic treatment of Hillary's momentary vulnerability, the revelation that Chris Matthews and the high school popularity police are going to shove her into crass gender stereotypes no matter what she does, alternating between calling her a weakling who throws a tantrum when she loses, a manipulative charlatan who intentionally turns on the waterworks to make people feel sorry for her, and a ball-busting bitch.

I can sympathize; it pissed me off, too.

I wish Obama had won this one, but in all honesty it is nice to see voters openly reject that shit. The one thing that really galls me, though, is that this probably means unionbuster Mark Penn lives on.

Civics test

According the Palm Beach Post, college students who took this civics test did not perform too well.

Look at me, 88%! Smarter than the average college student!

yeah, I like pancakes, ya know I had pancakes the morning of September 11th...

From Tim Grieve at Salon:
Rudy Giuliani on Hillary Clinton's emotional moment: "This is not something I would judge anybody on one way or the other. And the reality is, if you look at me -- Sept. 11, the funerals, the memorial services, there were times in which it was just impossible not to feel ... the emotion."

Monday, January 07, 2008

correction: impending BLOWOUT in South Carolina

Oh my God. From Kos:
SUSA and Rasmussen give us the first polls of South Carolina in 2008.

SurveyUSA. 1/4-6. Likely Democratic Primary voters. MoE 4.2% (12/17-18 results)
Obama 50 (39)
Clinton 30 (41)
Edwards 16 (17)

Rasmussen. 1/6. Likely Democratic primary voters. MoE 4% (12/16 results)
Obama 42 (33)
Clinton 30 (33)
Edwards 14 (17)

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

And Clinton still has the Obama post-NH blowout bounce to look forward to.

classic Washington press myopia

Wow, a second article in a week perfectly crystallizing the skewed, cloudy vision of the Washington press corps. This one from the Washington Post:
Obama is promising something very different, what skeptics call an oxymoron: sweeping bipartisan change.
In Obama's first years in the Senate, he showed little interest in the middle, where moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats coalesce, often to thwart their leadership.

In 2006, he won a 95 percent rating from Americans for Democratic Action, a liberal rating group, and a 93 percent rating from the AFL-CIO. In 2005, both groups gave him ratings of 100 percent. In contrast, the American Conservative Union ranked him at 8 percent, the same figure awarded to Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), two unapologetic liberals.

This is precisely what is wrong with our punditocracy, and in a way, even the political spectrum in which we mold all political ideas.

To be "bipartisan" or "post-partisan" is not to become part of the squishy center. "Bipartisan" and "centrist" are the same thing. To be centrist is to fall into the comfortable fallacy that being in the middle is being right, simply because one is in the middle and not on one of the poles.

Being bipartisan or post-partisan doesn't mean selling out your ideals. It simply means understanding that people who disagree with you are not sub-human or evil or traitors or stupid and that, at the end of the day, we all have to live with each other, and arguing your case and negotiating on that assumption. It's about building working coalitions from among all parties according to the particular issue being discussed.

This is not a ground-breaking idea. It's not rocket science. Yet the Washington Post is incapable of comprehending an end to gridlock that doesn't begin and end with "the political center" saving us from "the fringe."

nothing circular about this firing squad

c/o TPM. Two interesting things that Marshall has noted about Romney and the GOP primary that are well highlighted in this video:

1. Mitt Romney does not react well to jokes made at his expense, and it probably doesn't help his image in the debates.

2. This doesn't look like mere politics; it appears that the other GOP candidates genuinely despise Mitt Romney.

I'll be totally honest: I felt a little pity for ol' Mitty there on stage, especially after McCain's jab about being "the candidate of change" (though it doesn't change the fact that it was a good line). Even if I were a Republican, it probably wouldn't make me want to vote for him, and I would wonder why it is that the others seem to loathe him so much, but nevertheless, I saw him wince at some of the barbs and I felt pity.

That may also be because McCain has a look on his face as this mugging is going on that reminds me a little bit of the expression on an elementary school bully's face when s/he gets the whole class to laugh at the nerdy kid: cruelty and schadenfreude. It looked like he genuinely enjoyed humiliating Romney, even beyond the electoral benefits, because he thinks it's fun to tear weaker people down in public, which I guess makes sense coming from the guy who publicly made a teenage girl the butt of a malicious joke just because she had the temerity to be the daughter of a Democratic president.

where the lobbyist money is going

Opensecrets, a non-partisan outfit, draws us a picture.

The order of candidates may surprise you, but the one on top (with 1 1/2 times the number two's total) probably won't.

Obamarama: New Hampshire edition

Via TPM Election Central, it looks like Obama's running away with NH. Zogby checks in today with a 10-point Obama lead after only giving Clinton a 2-point one just 2 days ago. According to Zogby:
As in the closing days in Iowa, Clinton is slowly losing her support among women (she leads 37% to 33%), Democrats (Obama leads 36% to 32%), and Liberals (Obama leads 34% to 32%). Obama leads among Independents (47% to 22%), men (45% to 21% for Edwards and 18% for Clinton), and 18-29 year olds (47% to 22%). Obama also leads Clinton among all voters under age 65, Moderates (by a 45% to 25% margin), and among voters in union households (40% to 22%).

Ouch. Clinton is losing or has lost her lead among Democrats and Independents, Liberals and Moderates, and men and women? I think we can safely say at this point that Obama's going to win big in NH, giving him even bigger 'Mo (if that's even possible) going into NV and SC.

SC, as I'm sure we'll hear plenty after Tuesday, is going to be an interesting test for the candidates as it's the first majority African-American state up for grabs, and they've so far been a lot more cautious about Obamarama than most, and Clinton's lead there has looked rocksteady for months. Check out this fantastic post from Shanikka on dKos for reasons why.

Though it is worth mentioning that, in SC as in NH, the game changed after Iowa.

It's kind of hard to see Clinton recovering from a blowout loss in New Hampshire, though admittedly if there's any candidate who can do it, it's her. Going 0 for 3 after South Carolina, though? The only demographics Clinton appears still able to claim a purchase on are the old and African Americans, and SC will be the first big measurement of the latter. We all know how strong the Clintons' ties have been to the African American community since Bill's presidency, so SC's been something of a firewall for Hillary all this time. Her campaign's in this primary for the long haul, but as far as her chance at the nomination goes, she'll be on the ropes after NH, and Obama would probably deliver the knockout punch with a win in SC.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Mike Huckabee: foreign affairs genius

Hmm, a dim southern-fried Christian conservative running on "compassion" with this level of world knowledge... nah, Republicans would never vote for a guy like this!

race and the Obama candidacy

It's really, really long, but this is the most thought-provoking essay on Obamarama, inchoate racism (among conservatives and liberals) and "white guilt" that you will ever read. I guarantee it.

it's not like anything important's on the line, right?

Wow. Michael Scherer at Time's fetid swamp blog actually did it: he perfectly described the Washington press' (including his own) perspective on presidential elections. Unwittingly, of course. The correct term, my friends, is sophomoric, in all of its definitions. You should read the whole thing, but it can be boiled down to this graph:
So here is the situation that Republicans in New Hampshire face on Tuesday: Do we elect the jock or the overachiever? Do we go with cool and confident, or cautious and competent?

The "jock," of course, is John McCain, and the "overachiever" Mitt Romney, and that is "the thing you need to know": which flawed high school stereotype they would fit into best. Not such droll minutiae as which candidates want to keep our soldiers in Iraq until the next century, or which one thinks we should spend countless billions of dollars deporting the millions of people who had the audacity to seek out the American Dream before sitting through all 4 CDs of the Living Languages English series, or which one thinks we should bet our Social Security checks on the stock market.

To Michael Scherer, TIME Magazine, and much of our press, policy is boring and political philosophy is irrelevant and you're probably too stupid to understand it anyway and Lord knows it would suck for them to have to sit you down and explain it to you! They'll make sure to use small words and simple, easy-to-understand metaphors that you can understand.

So remember: John McCain is cool, we all like him, he's the big strong quarterback that's a smooth talker and scores the hot chicks. Mitt Romney is a nerd. Like "Honors Calculus" nerd. Loves homework and academic decathlon and plays french horn in band. Now who do you want to vote for?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

more notes on Iowa: John Edwards

Apparently I forgot to mention, but it should be obvious enough: Edwards is toast. Edwards needed Iowa in a way that not even Obama did, because he isn't ahead anywhere else. "By making a last stand marathon effort and having a 4 year head start, I managed to lose to Barack Obama by a half-point less than Clinton" isn't exactly a convincing statement of viability. He needed to show that a) he can beat Hillary, and b) he's the more "electable" of the two non-Hillaries. He's going to place 3rd in NH, but it's in SC and NV where the Edwards campaign will suffer back-breaking losses. Those are his "last stand" states. He may stick around until super duper Tuesday, though it would only be to spite Obama, and I don't think he'll do that for reasons below.

Edwards does have the opportunity to play kingmaker at this point, however. Chances are that whomever he throws his support to will gain enough support to run the table on the other candidate, and I think it's more than a little significant that his Iowa Caucus night speech began with him saying that "the status quo lost and change won." He could lay the death knell to the Clinton campaign with an endorsement of Obama just before Super Duper Tuesday, after he loses his firewall states.

Lastly is the question of where Edwards goes from here: possible Attorney General nomination?

being "traditionalist" means never having to admit you're wrong


Obama's victory speech

Great speech.

On another note, I'm starting to get a little annoyed at some of the liberals with the biggest microphones. Both Kos and Paul Krugman have been beating the drum that Obama uses right wing talking points for several months now. Krugman, in fact, has been so relentless in his attacks that, at times, I wonder if he's committed to supporting Clinton or Edwards but isn't willing to come out and say it lest he lose the appearance of objectivity. Kos and Atrios, meanwhile, brutalized Obama for having the audacity to bring up Social Security as a problem he would try to fix because the Democratic grass/netroots had to fight back privatization so hard (of course, Obama would have a Democratic House and Democratic Senate, which I'm pretty sure isn't going to opt for private accounts). Yet when Clinton rebutted Obama's suggestion to fix Social Security by eliminating the payroll tax cap with "Obama wants a trillion-dollar tax hike on the middle class" (the payroll tax cap sits at $97,000/year, an income level only surpassed by some 6% of the population; the US median income in 2006 was $44,451/year), where was the outrage? When Hillary Clinton answered Obama's proclamation that he wouldn't use nuclear weapons against Pakistan (a nuclear nation, need I remind you) with "I would keep all options on the table," where were the framing police?

So today I read this at Huffington Post:
Upon her arrival in New Hampshire this morning, Hillary Clinton signaled that she intends to play on Obama's as yet unexploited political weaknesses: "Who will be able to stand up to the Republican attack machine?" she asked at an appearance in Nashua.

Hillary's aides point to Obama's extremely progressive record as a community organizer, state senator and candidate for Congress, his alliances with "left-wing" intellectuals in Chicago's Hyde Park community, and his liberal voting record on criminal defendants' rights as subjects for examination.

Along the same lines, ABC reported that Clinton aides gave the network various examples, of Obama's controversial stands. The aides cited Obama's past assertion that he would support ending mandatory minimum sentences for federal crimes, pointing to a 2004 statement at an NAACP-sponsored debate: "Mandatory minimums take too much discretion away from judges."

Kos highlighted it, and good on him for it, but here was his comment:
One does get the sense that Hillary's operation is just throwing mud against the wall to see what will stick. Obama needs the independent vote in NH, and the Clinton campaign is obviously trying to scare them away from Obama.

Yeah, 'cuz it's not like she was trying to make Obama look like a naive, lefty peacenik fraking months ago.

And are we going to hear any outrage from Krugman?

Thursday, January 03, 2008


For what it's worth, I find it very unlikely that Richardson and Biden are sending their support to Obama, even though that's the rumor at the moment. Supposedly, conventional wisdom is also congealing around the most likely final result of:
I'll certainly take it, though I would certainly be surprised at a 3rd place finish for Clinton.

UPDATE: I'll be damned, it turned out exactly that way. Expect a drop-off in support for Clinton going into NH. Dunno how much (if any, of course), but if Obama can turn out the independents over John McCain and Ron Paul (it's an open primary), she's in trouble. Strong second is all he really needs there; first place means the other states and candidates will start lining up for the anointed. Needless to say, also expect a surge in Obama's SC numbers.

Also expect an uptick for Huckabee in NH, but not remotely significant enough to put him in the race. Romney got 2nd, which is bad, but McCain did pretty shitty. Then again, if the press spins it as a victory for McCain (they do love them some McMaverick), Romney could also be in deep doodoo. McCain appears to have overtaken him in NH, and I know there's no rule against it, but history bears out this little factoid: no GOP candidate has EVER won the nomination without taking at least one of Iowa/New Hampshire. Last time I checked the SC poll numbers, it was Huck/Romney/Thompson with McCain rising fast, and if that continues, there's plenty of time for McCain to take 2nd in SC. Expect Thompson to close up shop after SC, especially if McCain performs well.

Also, Dodd and Biden pack it in tonight. But the real question is, what the hell is Duncan Hunter hanging around for?

a BIG reason for marijuana legalization

I think what many peeps in the blogosphere aren't really getting is that many, many people in this country are looking for "post-partisan" figures like Obama not because they think all partisanship is bad (though they may couch their arguments to sound like that) but because they think it's gone too far.

They've spent the last several years listening to politicians and pundits escalate their partisan rhetoric to the point of absurdity, now calling each other "traitors" and "Satanic" and "objectively pro-terrorist" and "Nazi" and "Stalinist" (sometimes applying all of them to the same person) on increasingly politicized TV News networks and radio stations. They just saw a Christmas commercial from one particular candidate-- as part of a bevy of political Christmas ads ostensibly trying to tone down the partisanship for the holiday season, no less-- featuring a Santa Claus that hates the Democratic presidential candidates. Speaking for myself, it was probably the creepiest campaign commercial I've ever seen.

And that's all before they even get on the internet.

They've noticed conversations with friends and family on politics becoming increasingly uncomfortable and emotionally charged, and may have even inadvertently damaged some of their relationships.

They're watching Congress and the president marshaling ever more arcane practices and questionable logic to try to force each other's hand on legislation because compromise in the Senate has become virtually impossible (in the Senate!), thanks largely to a record-setting rate of filibuster by Senate Republican leadership, who have openly admitted their intention of paralyzing the government for as long as possible and blaming it on the Democrats. Thus our problems go untreated and continue to fester, ultimately becoming more fodder for the spin war, yet no steps are taken to solve them (in fact, more than a few people think Democrats don't particularly want to fix any problems early because that would result in less fodder).

Granted, I think this view is insufficiently critical of the GOP, who are in my opinion almost entirely to blame for the gridlock. Democrats haven't fought as hard as they perhaps could by taking issues to the Supreme Court, refusing funding for the war, or sending the congressional Sargeant-at-arms to arrest Bush Administration members guilty of contempt of Congress, for instance, but I can at least sympathize with the desire not to set up a constitutional crisis.

I can also sympathize with the desire to see the spirit of compromise restored to Washington, even though I also understand that "people disagree about stuff" and that we don't all want the same things and that's ok. The problem is, right now the legislative sabotage has gotten so pervasive that nobody's getting anything done, and the rhetoric on the radio and TV and online has gotten so heated that, on both sides, discussion of the political opposition and other adversaries often becomes dehumanizing and even eliminationist.

For many people, I suspect, toning that down is about as high a priority as health care or Iraq, which may partially explain why Barack Obama, he of the "One America" 2004 speech, is making so much headway among such stiff competition, and for that matter why he's finding himself with so much support among non-Democrats.

Fiesta Bowl beatdown

All the talk after the big USC win was how next year's top 4 will be arranged between USC, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Florida.

Heh. West VA 48-Oklahoma 28.

Not exactly the situation one would have expected: Steve Slaton leaves the game early in the first half, and the Mountaineers get faster? I'm not quite sure how that works, but it's always fun to watch the Sooners get mauled by underdogs. And aside from upsets in Lubbock, it's sweetest when Oklahoma gets humiliated with millions of people watching.

This is turning out to be a pretty sweet bowl season, surprisingly enough.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

football notes

First and foremost, congrats and bon voyage to Lloyd Carr. Beating Florida in Orlando? Well played, sir!

And was that a wild Gator Bowl or what? An auspicious start to the new year: Texas Tech 31, Virginia 28.

Turns out I was right about one thing: Hawaii had no business in a BCS bowl. Neither does Kansas, as we'll see tomorrow. This is what happens when you rate consistently whupping shitty teams over quality wins. The ability to come from 21 behind at Washington doesn't really tell us if your team is any good (in fact, I would argue it says precisely the opposite), nor does drubbing a sub-.500 Nebraska team that also got pwn3d by Mizzou, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma St. Mizzou should've been the team in the Orange Bowl and the 38-7 beatdown they delivered to Arkansas throws that fact into relief even more glaringly than the flagrant injustice of polls elevating Kansas over Mizzou specifically because Kansas failed to win their division and proceed into the inevitable meat grinder against Oklahoma. And are is any question whatsoever that the Jayhawks would've been humiliated in Norman even worse than the tigers were had they the unlikely misfortune of securing the Big 12 North?

I didn't think so.

NASCAR strategy

I know it's mean, and I'm sure there's more to NASCAR than what we uninitiated see, but this is pretty funny.

Also, the same news service has provided your annual horoscope prediction, and here is the funniest mock-up photo of the 2008 election.