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February 19, 2008

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Ugly:

But it was Obama supporters for whom Buffenbarger saved his most vitriolic contempt, and he proved that the Democratic Party’s coalition is nothing if not fragile. Channeling Howard Beale from the movie "Network," he yelled into the microphone, “Give me a break! I've got news for all the latte-drinking, Prius- driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies crowding in to hear him speak! This guy won't last a round against the Republican attack machine. He's a poet, not a fighter.”

Hilzoy: yes, quite disheartening news about the posssibility of the Clinton camp starting to "bring the hammer down" - on Barack Obama, rather than on the Republicans, as they should be doing. I'm just wondering, though, whether this new tack isn't a case of "too little too late" to be effective much, if at all, in the remaining primary/caucus states where Democratic voters still have a chance to make a choice.

Fundamentally, IMHO, Hillary's "positive" message hasn't gotten the expected traction among Party members nationwide: why do they believe that a "negative" approach will garner any more?

Especially as Sen. Obama has mainly run a "positive" campaign - saving most of his attacks for McCain and the GOP. And this approach has paid off for him. So far.

I could be wrong, but ISTM that the Democratic voter base this year has, for the most part, expressed a fairly clear rejection of negative messaging as far as support of their own Party's potential cadidates goes: why would the Clinton campaign expect this to suddenly change in the next two weeks? (since I think the CW is right: March 4 will be Doomsday for Hillary's campaign absent a HUGE win in TX and OH).

Oh, and to add to what (the other) Jay said @ 9:46: yes: I think the main problem in that scenario is that Bill and Hillary Clinton, and their associated machine, are the "party leaders" (or at least a significant faction of same) - and simply have too much time, money, effort and prestige invested in Hillary's candidacy to be able to "let go". Without a bloody internecine fight, that is.


What's to prevent someone who wraps up the nomination sooner rather than later from going ahead with building up infrastructure in more states in preparation for the general?

I confess I don't have time to follow the link and read the extended reasoning, but as stated here, it makes no sense to me.

And it also seems to depend on the assumption that it's really already over. Otherwise, "damaging her reputation" even further seems like a really dumb way to prepare for the general.

Sorry, my 12:13 was in response to KCinDC at 12:09. I should have specified.

JanieM, if you have to build up a get-out-the-vote operation for the primary in a particular state, then that same operation can be used in the general. Those volunteers and lists and other infrastructure won't evaporate. If there's no primary battle in that state, then those people don't get activated until much later, if at all.

Also, another commercial saying that he's a fabricator that made up his autobiography

I think that the autobiography will come into it, but not as fabrication. The “communist” slur seems to be gaining some ground.

I can’t see the Clinton campaign making this charge though – it will be more effective coming from the right. This “mentor”, the supporter with the Che flag, endorsed by Daniel Ortega, etc… I expect to see more of this.

The “communist” slur seems to be gaining some ground.

You're kidding. Next they'll be calling him a flat-earther.

Also, I agree that damaging her reputation is a bad idea for Clinton to prepare for the general, but the scenarios necessary for that to happen are becoming increasingly far-fetched if you look at the math. In any case, she's apparently decided, probably correctly, that at this point the only way she has a chance of getting to the general is to somehow cause a complete Obama meltdown, so what else can she do but go more negative?

KCinDC, part of my questioning came out of having read somewhere recently about Obama's campaign training and organizing volunteers last August. I thought that was on one of these recent threads, but I can't find it now. I don't know a thing about campaigning, but the notion that you can't start now for next fall just struck me as one of those conventional wisdom kinds of things that might not turn out to be true, like that the Clintons are smarter politicians than everyone else.

In fact, it struck me as almost unbelievable. If you knew you were going to be the nominee and had the organizational effectiveness that the Obama campaign has exhibited, what would you be doing for the next six months?

That's true, JanieM, but having an actual contested election going on energizes a lot more people and gives volunteers valuable experience for the general.

KCinDC -- okay, I get the enthusiasm around a contested election, and especially allowing volunteers to gain experience. If I get time later, I'll follow the Kos link and read the whole thing. Meantime, I guess I still wonder about the trade-offs: the organizational advantage of more primaries on the one hand, versus the possible turn-off of having the Dems wage internecine war on the other. (Though really, I doubt it will be internecine war as such. I think Obama has already shown that he can't be forced to play someone else's game, and it seems to me that part of his enormous appeal is precisely the game-changing nature of his candidacy.)

As I said above, I really wonder at this point whether all the harm the Clinton campaign can do at this point is just to themselves. It does seem that maybe lots and lots of people have just had enough of it, and the more the Clinton people go down the negativity road, the more people they push toward Obama. I do hope so!

"Fundamentally, IMHO, Hillary's "positive" message hasn't gotten the expected traction among Party members nationwide: why do they believe that a "negative" approach will garner any more?
Because it will. It won't be enough to win, but it will peal off some voters, and it will last with some.

You're fooling yourself if you think otherwise, and believe that, suddenly, magically, negative ads and campaigning, which peole always say they don't like, but which a major number of people are always influenced by, will suddenly cease having any effect.

Some people will pick up on a charge, find it plausible, and tend to believe it. That's why.

"What's to prevent someone who wraps up the nomination sooner rather than later from going ahead with building up infrastructure in more states in preparation for the general?"

That people won't come out in as large numbers, absent an immediate stimulus.

Tens of thousands of people are working in Texas and Ohio over the next couple of weeks, many from other states. They wouldn't be flying in and sleeping on people's floors next week, working solidly through the 4th, absent the primary/caucus.

Same for the other states that have held caucuses, and primaries. I had 37 people come out in my precinct to caucus. However, I'm the only one who volunteered to be precinct captain. A couple of people showed up at our set of precinct caucuses; but only a fraction will do any further work, and we wouldn't have a clue who those people are this early absent the caucuses drawing them out.

Same for every state. It's not that you can't try to recruit people eight months in advance. It's that not nearly as many will show up, absent the time focus of be here for the primary/caucus next week. Showing up to work for the next 8 months is a very very very different sort of commitment.

"but the notion that you can't start now for next fall just struck me as one of those conventional wisdom kinds of things that might not turn out to be true,

You misunderstand. It's not that "you can't start now for next fall."

It's simply that you can't get as many people involved without first getting as many people involved.

"A couple of people showed up at our set of precinct caucuses;"

Should be: "A couple of thousand people showed up...."

those conventional wisdom kinds of things that might not turn out to be true, like that the Clintons are smarter politicians than everyone else.

Actually, a good case could be made that the Clintons are lousy politicians.

Look at the record. Bill lost after his first gubernatorial term. Yes, the comeback was impressive, but still. As a national candidate, he did not win the popular vote either time, and his coattails were not big enough despite an economic boom for his Veep to win squarely either. As leader of the party, he presided over chaos -- he got Sam Nunn's nose out of joint by pushing gay rights in the military without consultation, with the result that Nunn torpedoed him and wrecked his momentum for most of the first two years. Then he let the Republicans take the initiative with their Contract With America, perpetual attack strategy, and other innovations, with the result that he was creamed in the midterms.

If Reagan was "Teflon," Bill was velcro. Everything thrown at him stuck. His charm and intelligence kept him afloat, but he let everyone else take the initiative. He alienated party leaders, he secured few if any strong allies in the media, and he routinely let his opponents walk all over him, culminating in his idiotic surrender to their demand that he appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate a 10-year old land deal.

Hillary's failures are well known, primarily her sheer effrontery in stepping so far beyond the traditional First Lady role. I didn't mind that much myself, but it apparently took her by surprise that so many people did, which does not speak well for her political instincts. She got into the Senate by sheer luck: if Giuliani's health had not forced him out of the race, he would be Senator now.

Both Clintons have many good qualities (e.g., a passion for public service, intelligence, dedication, flexibility, multitasking talent). But political geniuses they are not. Bill Clinton has great natural charm, which is not the same thing. Hillary lacks even that.

OT: but, wow: Bush is at 19%.

Gary -- thanks, that helps.

From Ugh's 12:09 quote:

"Birkenstock-wearing"

Well, I was trying to picture the uniform Bill thought we'd all be wearing come 2009, but I was fancying myself in a tunic and a beret (pants optional) forcing hope down the throats of the likes of Bay Buchanan, as she painted Socialist murals on the walls of the recently nationalized Ed Sullivan Theatre as part of her volunteer effort.

"the 'communist' slur seems to be gaining some ground"

I read the Lisa Schiffren piece in NRO cited way upthread and OCSteve's cite.

In the first instance, this is indeed a grotesque slur, he said, without using the word #&ck in any way, because the last thing I think of when looking at Schiffren is #5ck*&@.

I was wondering when the projectile vomiting would begin from the Right. Look, it was the racist insult du jour back then to conclude that if a white woman was with a black man, the former was suffering from some sort of jungle fever. If that didn't fly, the fallback position was that the woman was receiving a good ideological rogering for the good of the masses.

This feeds into the entire "civil rights movement equals Communist subversion" dismissal prevalent in the 1950s and 1960s. That it raises its ugly head again in 2008 is testimony to the rank filth at the heart of today's Republican Party.

Is the O.J. trial coming up this Fall? That will be the lead in to every story about Obama's campaign stops. FOX already thought of it.

Schiffren has obviously been putting out for too many boring white Presbyterians.

In the second cite, we see the rise of the "Manchurian candidate" meme that was tried with earlier Muslim slurs against Obama. We will see attacks on him this Fall (if he wins the nomination), sanctioned by the Republican Party, tying the two together and portraying him as the Communist Muslim antiChrist.

They will go after Michelle Obama too, as they are in fact doing with her "proud of America" remark.

There is something in the American DNA that equates soaring rhetoric with suspicion of outside, malign, foreign influence, unless its soaring rhetoric by a swarthy foreigner about cutting the capital gains tax.

There is something funny, in a dry hacking laugh sort of way, that if Obama, a mixed race Liberal Democrat, uses the words "City on a Hill", the incorrigibly stupid think Moscow, Peking, and now Tehran.

I don't think I have the patience any more to put up with this stupid stupidity, especially in its retro, Bull Conner, Richard Nixon's sweaty upper lip form .... in 2008.

Hillary Clinton's people would do well to lay off this stuff too in the primary.

OT, but important. I've read several places that John McCain has a jocularly adversarial, but open and accessible relationship with the press hordes following him. Obama, on the other hand, reportedly keeps the media at a cool arms length with tight control of message.

Sorry, but that's not good for Obama once the campaign begins. The media will crack through this, so I hope he loosens up and sits in Chris Matthews lap whispering lots of detailed policy positions into his ear.

Actually, I wish he'd hire Hilzoy to deal with this aspect of things, though I understand if she doesn't want to sit in Chris' lap.

Obama needs to start giving the press free booze the way McCain does, and he needs to make sure his booze is better.

Bravo, John Thullen.

John Thullen: *shudders*

Communist? Maybe they shoudl accuse him of being a confederate or a tory. Its like mclinton is trying as hard as possible to look old.

Accusing Obama of being a Confederate would probably help him with chunks of the Republican Base.

"Communist? Maybe they shoudl accuse him of being a confederate or a tory. Its like mclinton is trying as hard as possible to look old."

What's Clinton got to do with the communist charge? Is she posting at NRO now? To what are you referring? Cite?

is this accurate:

O’Reilly: “I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels”

what else can she do but go more negative?

She could ferociously attack McCain, for one.

But I think the reality is that there is nothing that Sen. Clinton can do at this point. All her opportunities are in the past.

It's time to speak openly, about the criminality of the Republican enterprise over the last eight years. Sen Clinton, who will not be the Democratic nominee for President, is ideally situated to speak bluntly: she can throw the knives without endangering the Dem. candidate.

I'm trying to figure out the pathology of the anti-Obama feeling among Dems (anti-Obama feeling on the right is, I think, a deeply buried reflex reaction that seems part of their body politic) and I think that it is some sort of Eeyore reaction, and if something goes wrong, it permits them to step back and say, see, we told you so. It's like they want to play Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men and prove that they are smarter than everyone else.

She could ferociously attack McCain, for one.

I don't think there's any way that could produce the blowout wins over Obama that she needs now to have any chance of getting the nomination. No-holds-barred smearing of Obama has some small chance of collapsing him enough for her to win (possibly with the help of superdelegates). So that's the path she'll take, regardless of the damage it might do to the party or the likely nominee.

"But I think the reality is that there is nothing that Sen. Clinton can do at this point. All her opportunities are in the past."

Senator Clinton should start preparing her campaign to succeed Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader.

She's said to have good legislative skills, and be good at working with Republican Senators. Presumably the position would play to her strengths, and give her power and the ability to get things done.

Who knows, in 8 or 12 years, she can run for president again: she's only 60 years old. Meanwhile, she's hardly being sent to Elba, or irrelevancy.

Regarding the "Prius-driving" slur -- I suspect whats-his-face is probably unaware that more Americans bought a Prius last year than any other car. (It marked the first year Prius beat out Ford Explorer).

I'm not so sure I'd use the single most popular model of car sold in America as a slur. Seems like a bad idea, you know?

OT - just bumped into Alan Greenspan at the DC DMV. Turns out there are some things in life you just have to do yourself (though he did have an assistant with him). I didn't have the heart to ask him if he still had an interest-only mortgage, mostly because he didn't seem to be all there (like the equity in my house).

If only I could have remembered one of Thullen's comments that referenced Greenspan, that would have been interesting.

I'm not afraid of rightwing attacks on Obama. Sure they'll throw slime. And the right is better at throwing slime than Hillary is, plus more likely to get the help of the press.

But a lot of the conventional wisdoms are wrong this year and I suspect that one of them is the CW that negativitiy works.

An awful lot of people, not just liberals, are sick of it. I'm guessing tht this is the year that independents will see right through rightwing slime.

Obama is very good at dealing with slime so far. He cut Faux down to size, he nver apologizes or even behves in a way the would invite someone to demand an apology from him. He has demostrated that he understands that the best way to defend is to attack with someting irrefutable (like responsidng to Hillary's plagarism slur with an attack on her high disapproval ratings)

he keeps the press on an intermittent schedule of reinforcement which keeps them hungry and humble.

Sure some of the negativity will stick, but he can afford to losesome popularity and still win the election.

A real Clintn scandal: her campaign is tryiing to game the caucuses by turning Obama pledged delegates into Clinton ones.

I’m in Vegas and last night myself and a dozen or so other Obama supporters were at the Culinary Union calling our Obama delegates. I probably made about 100 calls and about 95 said Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been calling them "all day" or at least once already.

LoLoLaLa's diary :: ::
The fact that they're calling them isn't a big deal, NV's Democratic party put out a list of delegates that doesn't include who the individual is a delegate for. However, we crossed their list, with our list of supporters and we're calling OUR delegates.

What gets me heated is, everyone who said Hillary's campaign called them also said they were encouraged to switch their support from Obama to Hillary . One man even said the person who called him "wouldn't let it go" and when he angrily told them he wasn't going to drop his support for Obama, they just hung up the phone on him.

The Clinton campaign has called me three times already since 2pm yesterday.

Any other Obama supporters in the Las Vegas area, please come to the Culinary Union or SEIU and phone bank with us from 5-9pm. Friday register early for the Clark County Democratic Convention in between the times of 4 and 9pm at Bally's Hotel. You can register the day of the convention at Bally's between 8 and 10am. The convention starts at 10am. There is no registration fee.

If you want to volunteer, show up at bally's 3pm on Friday.

Tags: Pledged Delegates, President, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Howard

This is fro a diary on the recommended list of Daily Kos

Completely OT: Chris Bowers had a really excellent article about the division between Hillary and Obama. Definitely worth reading.

CNN's reporting that Obama will get the Teamster's endorsement. Is that big news?

OT: Bombers didn't have Down Syndrome

The U.S. military said Wednesday that two women used as suicide bombers in attacks earlier this month had undergone psychiatric treatment but there is no indication they had Down syndrome as Iraqi and U.S. officials initially had claimed.

Apologies if this was posted before.

kovarsky: Yeah, it's accurate.

I have scorned a few women in my youth and would like to make a few comparisons between my experiences and the Hillary/Obama dynamic:

1. I was as respectful as the situation allowed;
2. The women I dated were generally decent, secure people
3. The women I dated did not harbor a twenty-five year grudge for which they expected to be compensated through a position of power;
4. Regardless of items 1-3, it was not uncommon for them to throw things and tear at my ears.

It is worse than Hilzoy fears.

If Barack gets the nomination, Hillary will kneecap him in the general election so that she gets a chance to run in four years. That’s the end of her window.

"But a lot of the conventional wisdoms are wrong this year and I suspect that one of them is the CW that negativitiy works."

This is nonsense. Of course it works. That's not remotely a question.

The question you mean is "will negativity be as effective against Barack Obama in the year 2008, running against John McCain?," and the answer is "no."

Discussing what types of negative ads and campaigning have which levels of different effect against different candidates, and their specific characteristics, and circumstances, in the context of their opponent's specific strengths and weaknesses, in the overall context of the specific issue and event circumstances of a given time makes perfect sense.

Declaring that "negativitiy" has ceased to "work," on the other hand, is insane. Obviously, countless people buy into and believe negative political claims every moment of the day. I mean, I'll go knock on some of my neighbors' doors, and get some quotes, if you like. Or just go out into the street and ask the next ten people you can get to answer if they believe the following, and ask them ten questions about ten not-very-true charges against Obama or Clinton McCain.

This isn't "conventional wisdom." It's not being blind to people around one's self, and delusional.

"A real Clintn scandal: her campaign is tryiing to game the caucuses by turning Obama pledged delegates into Clinton ones."

A scandal is a violation of laws, or at least a rule. In 1980, there was a rule binding delegates to vote for the candidate they were bound to on the first ballot. Ted Kennedy tried to get the rule revoked. A scandal? Should he never have been re-elected, or supported by Democrats again? Should we denounce him now?

This year, there is no such rule. It's perfectly within bounds to try to persuade delegates, pledged and unpledged, to vote for you. Like it or not. We don't rewrite the rules to our liking retroactively, as we keep saying regarding Michigan and Florida. This isn't a principle we get to through out when it's inconvenient.

It's not a tactic that will matter in the slightest, anyway. There's no possibility of a significant number of pledged delgates flipping, and if somehow it magically happened, the backlack, absent some obvious and reasonable cause, like a truly major scandal about a candidate erupting, would be more destructive to the candidate's chances than it would be beneficial.

It's neither something to worry about, nor something "scandalous." Harrumphing about it is a lot of pearl-clutching, and it's a waste of time and misplaced priority. Want to do something useful with that energy? Sign up to call people in Texas.

It bugs the crap out of me when people make up non-existent, or retroactive, rules, because they'd like them to exist, and call their "violation" "scandalous."

How much effort does it take to find out if a rule exists, before going on at length about it?

"There's no possibility of a significant number of pledged delgates flipping...."

For clarity's sake, that should read "flipping on the first ballot...."

spartikus,

That's very interesting. I at least have not seen it. Thank you for posting it.

So, to review:

1. the US and Iraqi governments put out a story

2. this story had no basis in fact

3. this story was highly emotionally charged and produced a visceral response

Hearing this story didn't cause me to think any less of Iraqi insurgents, even when I assumed it was true, but I'm strange. I wonder about the people who heard this story and were outraged at the horrific new low insurgents had sunk to...do they turn any of their anger onto the governments that deceived them and manipulated their emotions?

I'm guessing that the vast majority will not, just because the original story was headline news but the revised version will be relegated to page A34 if its even deemed worthy of comment. For those that do manage to stumble on this story, I'm guessing that most will not blame the governments (twas an accident you see -- just look at the careful weasel wording we used in our initial announcement) because...I really can't even speculate, but I'm sure the rationalization will be brilliant.

Perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe Seb is writing a front page post right now harranguing the government for manipulating him.

"kovarsky: Yeah, it's accurate."

O'Reilly isn't worth discussing, in an intellectual sense, but in the amazing context that he has a major cable news channel tv show, and all that, occasionally some time must be wasted on him.

He said of Michelle Obama: "If that's how she really feels -- that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever"

Setting aside discussions of how strong "bad" might or might not mean, according to different intents, these two possibilities O'Reilly puts forward, seemingly to imply they are close cousins, if not outright synomyns, are of course extremely different.

While "bad" might merely mean "flawed," or it might take as an extreme a meaning as "unredeemably evil for all time," and it is more apt to mean something in between, by any definition, it's a strictly negative description.

"Flawed," on the other hand, merely means "not perfect."

Very few things in this universe can be described accurately as "perfect."

No country makes the list.

Or is it O'Reilly's contention that the U.S. is not merely a good country, not merely a country in which he believes that most people try their best to do good, but a perfect country, in which every single human being is flawless, the peak of perfection in every possible way, as are each and every one of our buildings, our inventions, our art, our behavior, our policies, our very thoughts?

All perfect?

Is that what O'Reilly is claiming that Michelle Obama would be wrong about, if she, or anyone else -- I'm having chest pains -- hypothetically said that America was "flawed"?

That America has no flaws whatever?

I guess so, and we know it's true, because the one thing Bill O'Reilly never does is complain about anything any American has ever said or done.

But O'Reilly ever does say a cross word about an American ever doing anything, or saying anything, or being, flawed, I say we get up a petition to get rid of this man who so hates America that he would utter such calumnies against the United States of America.

I bet he has ancestors who weren't even born here.

A scandal is a violation of laws, or at least a rule.

Wha? So you're saying that if it turned out that, say, one of the candidates was having affairs with multiple college students of both genders, that wouldn't be a "scandal" because it's not a violation of law or a rule?

Maybe the Clintons won't be fighting to the bitter end after all:

Even Clinton's most devoted surrogate -- her husband, Bill Clinton -- acknowledged the do-or-die stakes on Wednesday in Beaumont, Texas, conceding that a loss in Texas or Ohio would likely doom her candidacy.

"If she wins Texas and Ohio I think she will be the nominee; if you don't then I don't think she can. It's all on you," the former president told the audience at the beginning of his speech.

That story has perhaps the stupidest graphic I've seen on a major news site.

Gary, O'Reilly has already spelled out what he believes is the appropriate response to such anti-American behavior, and a petition ain't it.

Turb: I could be wrong, but iirc the US government (specifically, the military) was agnostic on the story about suicide bombers with Downs' syndrome.

A scandal is a violation of laws, or at least a rule.

Wha? So you're saying that if it turned out that, say, one of the candidates was having affairs with multiple college students of both genders, that wouldn't be a "scandal" because it's not a violation of law or a rule?

Poor phrasing on my part.

Rather, a serious scandal (as opposed to a meaningless celebrity kerfuffle) is a violation of mores that rises to the level of a significant crime, or at least the breaking of a significant rule or some sort, which can include deeply engrained moral rules.

Sure, "scandalous" is a word used fairly loosely, and it's not my intention to suggest otherwise. But in a political context, I prefer to use the word carefully, since a political scandal, unlike a celebrity scandal, can kill a career (see Gary Hart), and I prefer to not use it as regards a non-existent rule that we'd like to exist because it would confirm our preferences.

"Gary, O'Reilly has already spelled out what he believes is the appropriate response to such anti-American behavior, and a petition ain't it."

Good point.

"If she wins Texas and Ohio I think she will be the nominee; if you don't then I don't think she can. It's all on you," the former president told the audience at the beginning of his speech.
I find it interesting that he's not even trying to spin a win in one, but not the other.

But one may need to read or see the whole speech to see if it comes up elsewhere, or if there's spin about winning the popular vote in Texas, but not the majority of delegates being allegedly unfair, oh, it's such an impossibly complicated system, who could ever understand it, oh, my head hearts, fetch me an asprin, oh me oh my, etc., as they've been doing for a few days now.

But if not, interesting. Maybe they're moving on to a new Kubler-Ross stage.

Turb: I could be wrong, but iirc the US government (specifically, the military) was agnostic on the story about suicide bombers with Downs' syndrome.

hilzoy,

My memory agrees with yours -- at least initially, the US Army didn't comment much on this issue. However, the article that spartikus linked to includes a quote from an Army spokesman where he says US medical personal concurred with the Iraqi assessment. The same quote is in this article:

As a campaign gut check, I queried the U.S. military about the incident. Here’s the latest from Army Lt. Col. Steve Stover of the 4th Infantry Division:

“Based on our division surgeon’s assessment the two women have facial features indicative of Down’s syndrome. We believe the two women to have a reduced mental capacity and were likely not willing participants. We also believe both the suicide vest and backpack, which contained 10mm ball bearings, were remotely detonated. Both women looked to be in their 20’s to 30’s and could have been related. My personal opinion, this was the act of a sick, twisted, and evil mind - the target being the Iraqi people and the victims including the two unwitting participants.”

Re: "I'm curious whether, if Clinton performs poorly in Texas/Pennsylvania/Ohio, she'll withdraw gracefully or go down swinging."

They just reported on NBC that a Clinton conference call today said the plan was to stay in, keep attacking, and hope that a combo of bad press, their efforts, and a full attack by McCain, etc would convince the superdelegates that Obama is unelectable and thus give her the nomination. I'd love confirmation on this. If true, way to demonstrate that her political ambition makes no room for a Dem win in 2008 unless it belongs to her.

"They just reported on NBC that a Clinton conference call today said the plan was to stay in, keep attacking, and hope that a combo of bad press, their efforts, and a full attack by McCain, etc would convince the superdelegates that Obama is unelectable and thus give her the nomination. I'd love confirmation on this."

It may not be true, but it is plausible, because the only other options are along the lines of hoping for UFOs to kidnap Obama, authentic pictures of Obama having sex with Muslim goats are found, some major disaster happens in the next couple of weeks that leaves America stunned, reeling, and confused, and somehow that translates into Clinton votes, Obama to be found in a hotel room unconcious with a syringe full of heroin sticking out of his arm, or something of similar nature.

What else are they going to do? They have to keep hoping, to keep working, and they have to keep working at least through March 4th.

After that, well.

I heard an interview with Clinton today (came in late so I don't know who the interviewer was) where Clinton continues to believe she will be the nominee. I have nothing against that, and in fact I admire it.

However, the interview then said something to the effect of "But surely you have considered that you might not be?"

The response was simply, "No, I haven't."

And this is a problem because she has not considered what impact going negative on Obama now may have in the general if she isn't the nominee. Or she has and knows that it might result in McCain winning and then she can come back in 4 years.

I can confidently predict that if that happens, she won't have a chance in 2012 in the primaries.

However, the interview then said something to the effect of "But surely you have considered that you might not be?"

The response was simply, "No, I haven't."

And this is a problem because she has not considered [...]

I'm a little confused, John. You can't be seriously suggesting that she was being honest when she said that, and that we should draw conclusions from the premise that she actually believes completely and utterly that she'll be the nominee.

No matter what she believes, no matter what the ratio of hope/realism/uncertainty is in her head, she couldn't possibly, conceivably, say anything other than "no, I've given no thought to anything other than that I will be the nominee and President" until she gives her concession speech.

Because if she does, that's the concession speech. Most of your volunteers walk away, contributions cease, and it's over.

But if you're not taking her at her word, it doesn't follow that she's making attacks on Obama with no thought at all to the possibility of what it might do to his candicacy as the nominee. It means that she simply thinks that she's gotta do what she's gotta do for now, and that that's politics, and that she'll worry about the good of Obama when she's not running against him any more.

That that may or will be harmful to Obama to some degree later simply isn't something she's going to prioritize until she decides she has to.

Unsurprisingly, I think it would be best for the party and all of us if she did that five minutes from now, but it's not going to happen before March 4th.

"[T]he good of Obama" and "that may or will be harmful to Obama" should actually read "and the party and the country" as appended each time.

There isn't a ruleabut pledged delegates being true to their pledges, but it is an agreememt, an agreement between the delegate and the people who voted for the delegate. It is not a ccepted practice to try to flip them. "Pledged" means "pledged". The normal protocol is for pledged delegates to stay with their candidate as lonng as ther candidate is in the race. Normally when a candidate drops out he or she will give thhe delegates instructions on who to vote for or release them to make their own choice. Pledged delegates are not like superdelegates. They aren't expected to just do whatever they want.

We had a discussion onn this site once about how the caucus system is vulnerable to manipulation by unscrupulous people. Well this is an example of that vulnerability: an unscrupulous candidate is attacking and I think it is a scandal or ought to be one.

"It is not a ccepted practice to try to flip them."

On the contrary, one of the most consistent traditions at any contested national political convention in American history is to work your damnest to flip delegates.

When there were rules forbidding delegates from doing that on the first ballot, it couldn't happen, absent suspending or removing the rule, which is why, I repeat, Ted Kennedy tried exactly that in 1980.

And now there isn't such a rule.

Look, I'm an Obama alternate delegate at the county level, I'm fervently for Obama, and I want nothing more than for Obama to win as quickly and with as large numbers, as possible.

But I'm not going to surrender my intellectual honesty on the way, and while trying to flip delegates on the first ballot isn't going to work, as I said, one overwhelming reason being how it would play politically, compared to how few you could possibly get to flip for a candidate who looks doomed, there's no rule against it, and trying to bring history into it makes the argument even more incredibly ludicrous, since there's pretty much no deeper tradition of American national political conventions than trying to flip delegates while there's still a contest.

I mean, no offense intended, but there are about ten thousand political monographs and histories of the conventions available, of which you might want to read one or two about this, if you're unfamiliar with convention history and practices. I'd particularly recommend looking into 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972, 1980, and 1984 for recent convention examples of candidates trying like mad to delegate flip (after the first ballot, when the rule that no longer exists, which did at times in the past, equally allowed for it).

"Normally when a candidate drops out he or she will give thhe delegates instructions on who to vote for or release them to make their own choice."

There's no such rule as that, either, incidentally. It's simply a matter of personal loyalty and judgment.

"We had a discussion onn this site once about how the caucus system is vulnerable to manipulation by unscrupulous people. Well this is an example of that vulnerability: an unscrupulous candidate is attacking and I think it is a scandal or ought to be one."

Say what? What's this got to do with caucuses? We're talking about flipping delegates to the national convention: what do caucuses have to do with it? How are delegates appointed or selected via primaries different from those selected at a state convention, as regards the propriety of their flipping?

As regards the propriety of their flipping there is no difference between delegates coming from a caucus system and those selected via primaries (though I'm surprised Gary sees no difference between flipping on the first ballot when your candidate is still in the race and later flipping). I'm not so sure about how they compare in the likelihood of their flipping, since I'm a little distressed that the delegates percolating up through the caucus system seem to start as just random people who show up at a precinct rather than as people vetted by the campaign (generally volunteers for a particular candidate), like those who stand for election as delegates in primary states. But maybe I'm misunderstanding something about the caucus process.

"though I'm surprised Gary sees no difference between flipping on the first ballot when your candidate is still in the race and later flipping)"

I didn't say anything of the kind.

I said that there's no rule against it now. That's all.

I also said that it would never play politically, and it's also not something that more than a handful of delegats, if any at all, would possibly do, one overwhelming reason being that it would never play politically.

I specifically discussed the differences between flipping on the first ballot, and later, and elaborated and repeated on how there used to be a rule preventing it, but that there no longer is such a rule.

How you could possibly say that I "see no difference" when I discuss the difference, repeatedly, and its history, I'm at a loss to understand.

"since I'm a little distressed that the delegates percolating up through the caucus system seem to start as just random people who show up at a precinct rather than as people vetted by the campaign (generally volunteers for a particular candidate), like those who stand for election as delegates in primary states."

What? You're distressed by voters being the root of the process? Are you sure you don't want to try that again?

Would you prefer it if we cut voters out of the caucus system entirely, then, since their presence distresses you?

Maybe you just phrased that poorly; it's uncommon for you to say something that so surprises me.

Gary, when you wrote, "I'd particularly recommend looking into 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972, 1980, and 1984 for recent convention examples of candidates trying like mad to delegate flip (after the first ballot, when the rule that no longer exists, which did at times in the past, equally allowed for it)," it certainly appeared that you were treating flipping after the first ballot (as in the history you gave) and flipping on the first ballot (which was what was being discussed) as equivalent.

As open-thread stuff, I'm pleased to note that ten minutes ago I finally received an email that went out to all Boulder County Precinct Leaders (there were 442 precinct leaders elected across the state, a record) Field Team Leader for GOTV, with a lot of detail about upcoming training, and the like. I'd been getting impatient, as I'd had no contact whatever from the party after the caucus, and was on the verge of starting to make inquiries. Good timing. And good to know that there's some organization happening.

"Gary, when you wrote [...], it certainly appeared that you were treating flipping after the first ballot (as in the history you gave) and flipping on the first ballot (which was what was being discussed) as equivalent."

And yet I still repeatedly wrote about the differences.

In that very same comment, I wrote:

When there were rules forbidding delegates from doing that on the first ballot, it couldn't happen, absent suspending or removing the rule, which is why, I repeat, Ted Kennedy tried exactly that in 1980.
What did you take the meaning of this to be, if not the first ballot, and the previous rule as regards the first ballot? What rule was it I was discussing Kennedy calling for the removal of?

I can't believe you're quoting this, and not reading it:

I'd particularly recommend looking into 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972, 1980, and 1984 for recent convention examples of candidates trying like mad to delegate flip (after the first ballot, when the rule that no longer exists, which did at times in the past, equally allowed for it).
Which part of after the first ballot, when the rule that no longer exists, which did at times in the past, equally allowed for it is unclear?

Prior to that, I wrote:

[...] In 1980, there was a rule binding delegates to vote for the candidate they were bound to on the first ballot. Ted Kennedy tried to get the rule revoked. A scandal? Should he never have been re-elected, or supported by Democrats again? Should we denounce him now?

This year, there is no such rule.

You're telling me you didn't read me distinguishing between the first ballot and subsequent ballots there?

I'm absolutely fine with being disagreed with, but I really wish people would stop to read carefully before writing responses to stuff.

Gary, I'm talking about the distinction between the first ballot nowadays (not in earlier years) and later ballots, either nowadays or in earlier years. You seem to be treating attempts to flip delegates in those two cases as equivalently unobjectionable (or at least nonscandalous), simply because there's no rule against it. Otherwise what's the point of bringing up the later-ballot flipping at all?

Trying to flip delegates on the first ballot for a candidate who is still in the race seems to be in a whole other league from doing the same to delegates pledged to a candidate who has dropped out or to any delegates after there's been an inconclusive first ballot. Do you have any evidence that it's a normal practice, rather than just something that's not against the rules?

The case of attempting to flip delegates on the first ballot in earlier years when there was a rule against it is of course distinct, as you write, but it's also irrelevant to discussion of today's situation.

What? You're distressed by voters being the root of the process?

I'm distressed by what seems to be a greater possibility that the delegates will not represent the will of the voters. As I understand it, the delegates in a caucus system are just voters who show up at the precinct and are selected at the time of the caucus. Most of the people voting won't know anything about them, and we've had reports of Clinton supporters being selected as Obama delegates.

In the primary system I'm familiar with, the voters are still involved and voting for delegates, but the lists of possible delegates pledged to each candidate are carefully selected beforehand so there's (it seems to me) more likelihood that they will actually vote the way they are pledged.

"As I understand it, the delegates in a caucus system are just voters who show up at the precinct and are selected at the time of the caucus."

That's correct, although I don't know why "just" deserves to be in the sentence.

"Most of the people voting won't know anything about them,"

That's wrong. You vote after everyone has been through the period of discussion of the candidates, and after everyone who is standing for election -- only a handful of people, as a rule, if it's even more than one -- gets to make their speech about why you should vote for them and who they are.

Inevitably, the people who have talked most persuasively and seemed most impressive during the discussions of the candidates are the ones most apt to be elected to represent the precinct if they choose to run for delegate.

In my precinct, I was elected precinct leader, because I was the only nominee, because I was the only volunteer.

Of the four separate elections for delegates and alternates to the County Convention (presidential delegate selection process to go to the State Convention) and the County Assembly (delegate selection for the State Assembly, which selects the nominees for state and local offices), of the 42 people who showed up from precinct 99, only six of us volunteered to run. You've heard a fair amount of talk from all of us, even if you missed an hour of earlier conversation, even if you are a complete stranger to everyone -- which isn't at all always the case with your neighbors, is it? -- by the time a vote is taken.

"and we've had reports of Clinton supporters being selected as Obama delegates."

I'm kinda skeptical, and I can't see how this could begin to be a widespread or significant problem, absent Invasion of The Body Snatchers. It doesn't make sense. You'd have to have thousands of stealth voters across every caucus state, able to infiltrate thousands and thousands of separate precinct caucuses (as I said, more than 442 in Colorado alone), and fool all the people in each precinct with your ability to pretend to be all about Obama instead of Clinton.

That's out there in loony conspiracyland theory, if you ask me. If there are more then ten such people out there, out of the tens of thousands of precinct-level delegates across America, I'll be quite surprised.

But most importantly, I'm astounded that you'd be bothered that it's "just" voters who are electing fellow voters to represent them.

The entire point of the voters of the precinct who take an interest voting to elect a fellow neighbor to represent them at the county level is that we voters are best able to choose who should represent us.

You're saying that bothers you, and apparently instead you'd prefer the party, or the candidate's campaigning, choose who should represent us.

Beg pardon, but screw that. What the hell kind of democracy is that?

I've said I'm not for unrestricted pure democracy uber alles in all situations, being a checks-and-balance, bill-of-rights kind of guy, but I'm darn well not for doing away with the grassroots level of democracy altogether.

"In the primary system I'm familiar with, the voters are still involved and voting for delegates, but the lists of possible delegates pledged to each candidate are carefully selected beforehand so there's (it seems to me) more likelihood that they will actually vote the way they are pledged."

Wait, you're equating delegates to the national convention with precinct-level delegates? That also seems completely uncalled for.

At the county convention, you're not going to get elected to the State Convention unless you're known to a large number of fellow precinct delegates across the county, or unless you somehow impress enough delegates at the county convention to vote for you over enough of the other delegates running to put you into a slot.

That tends to be, even in periods when large numbers of newcomers have flooded in, people with some history and record and multiple contacts in the local Democratic Party. Certainly the overwhelming majority of delegages selected to go to the state convention will be, or will have been pushed by the campaigns. So there's your first level of "vetting."

And then at the state level, it would be impossible to get elected to the National Convention, which is what the primary-selected/appointed delegates you refer to do, without being voted in by sufficient numbers at the State Convention, and those slots are entirely going to go to dedicated party activists, approved by the campaign, no less vetted than any primary delegate.

So your comparison doesn't make any sense, I'm afraid, and no offense, but I don't see that your worries are grounded in reality. But you did say you might misunderstand how caucuses work.

Open thread: they're claiming a hit. Still going on about the hydrazine tank, and the unlikely story that that's what it's all about, too.

Interesting tidbit in the Cleveland Free Times today:

At the very end of a jam-packed rally for Barack Obama at Antioch Baptist Church on Feb. 15, Cleveland Councilman Kevin Conwell was dragged up on stage by fellow Council member Nina Turner to make a dramatic announcement. Conwell, who had been elected Jan. 3 at the 11th district caucus to be a Hillary Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention, said that he recently met with constituents in his ward, including block club presidents, precinct committee people and executive committee members, or as he called them, "my bosses."

"My people jumped on me," he said. "Some people actually cried. I got a whipping that night."

The upshot: When Conwell realized that 80 percent of his "bosses" supported Obama, he called the Clinton campaign and resigned as a delegate. He joins East Side Councilwoman Turner, Sabra Pierce Scott (both Obama delegates to the national convention), Phyllis Cleveland and Fannie M. Lewis in the Obama camp.

But most importantly, I'm astounded that you'd be bothered that it's "just" voters who are electing fellow voters to represent them.

Of course I didn't say I was concerned about "just" voters doing the electing. The "just" voters I'm concerned about are the ones being elected. Similarly, I'd be even more concerned if any other elected positions (city council, say) were being filled by a similar process, in which an unknown shows up at the precinct one night and makes a speech. I don't think that makes me a foe of democracy.

You're saying that bothers you, and apparently instead you'd prefer the party, or the candidate's campaigning, choose who should represent us.

I'd prefer that they be involved in selecting the candidates for delegate, though the voters still choose from among those candidates. That would make me more confident that the delegates chosen will actually represent the will of the voters who chose them.

But the difference in confidence is slight, especially since you've reassured me that those ultimately chosen as convention delegates are actually vetted as I'd like even in a caucus system. Thanks for the explanation.

Still going on about the hydrazine tank, and the unlikely story that that's what it's all about, too.

I look askance at that explanation, too. I think this is most likely a demo; the big question is who the target audience is.

As big as that satellite is, and as accurate as that missile is, it'd be very hard to miss, unless for some reason we were at the edge of the interceptor's kinematic envelope. Which I strongly doubt. They had several orbits to track it, and they had their pick of launch times on any number (finite, but at least low double-digit) of orbits, so to my way of thinking, it was barrelfishing.

It's hard to find specs on the SM-3; with the SM-2 it might have been a bit of a stretch, but the SM-3 is supposed to have more reach. Obviously it was enough.

Given the nature of the engagement, and I hope I'm not being tedious, here, the intercept you can look at as more getting in the satellite's orbital path, than anything else. The velocity of the missile, earth-relative, is going to be a fairly small fraction of that of the satellite at intercept,which means that it has to get near the intercept point long before the satellite does.

Probably the big challenge to this is not so much getting there, as making sure that any of the various solar arrays (if present) antennas, etc don't muck up the computed aimpoint. It'd be fairly worthless to just take out a solar panel.

Not a surprise, but Obama wins Democrats Abroad by 65% to 32%, for his 11th straight big win.

all I know is that well if Obama wins the delegate count and hill wins the super del's, it will be like running into a brick wall for the Dems, no to menion I dont put it pass Hill, i mean she won al the votes in 80 precints in NY, including Harlem. 5 million can go a long way

Scott Horton on The Great Guantánamo Puppet Theater

The theory that best makes sense of this is that the timing of these show-trials is going to be carefully orchestrated so that the victims are condemned to death in time for the November election... but the outgoing Bush administration will leave the executions to be performed by their successors.

If the next administration spares them, or disputes the show trial or the sentence, they look like softies: if they carry out the execution, they're neatly implicated in the Bush administration's crimes.

No worries that the Bush administration won't be able to arrange that their victims are convicted and condemned to death: the overseer of their tribunals is quoted as saying "We can’t have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals, we’ve got to have convictions."

Somehow even a march of black youth for the right to vote in the US failed to bring tears to my eyes.

The theory that best makes sense of this is that the timing of these show-trials is going to be carefully orchestrated so that the victims are condemned to death in time for the November election

I thought they were going to do this for the 2006 elections, clearly they're thinking longer ther than I.

Did I break the blog?

I really can't imagine they can get to sentencing that quickly, unless they can get guilty pleas. In a real court you'd need way more time; in this fake court, with the judges looking over their shoulders at the judgment of history (which won't be long in coming) it's be frankly shocking.

CharleyCarp, that's not quite as reassuring as I wish it was* - but it is quite reassuring, since the main stumbling block in the path of the Bush administration attempting to try/convict the Guantanamo detainees seems always to have been the professional ethics of the military lawyers who are assigned to defend them. I shall continue to hope.

*Since it appears that the "trials" are quite stringently controlled by the Bush administration...

Open thread, this was initially surprising to read. Innocent mistake, to be sure.

Gary, is that the link you intended? Did you mean to link to a particular comment, or something completely different?

More on Clinton's funding/spending/budget problems.

"Open thread, this was initially surprising to read. Innocent mistake, to be sure."

Whoops, cut and paste failed me. The paste was supposed to be this.

This had some interesting observations on the Pennsylvania primary, I thought.

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