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January 15, 2016


My own take is that there is one significant parallel to 2008 for the Democrats.

Early polling is, as much as anything, about name recognition. And both times Hilary Clinton had a huge apparent lead as a result.

But as the campaign moves along, alternatives start to get some visibility. And it appears that Democratic voters, while they definitely recognize her name, are not really the great Clinton enthusiasts that they are commonly assumed to be.

The conventional wisdom is that Obama caught fire when he demonstrated, in Iowa, that white people would vote for a black candidate for President. Similarly, if Sanders demonstrates that a supposed "socialist" can win votes in Iowa and maybe Nevada, perhaps he will catch fire, too.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

There's a major difference between 2008 and 2016. In 2008, Clinton had a significant lead in endorsements, but Obama had quite a few himself, and there were a bunch of Democratic politicians sitting on the sidelines prior to Iowa, who then started endorsing Obama once he showed that he could win in a nearly all-white state. In 2016, Clinton has already vacuumed up nearly every available endorsement from Democratic politicians: http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-endorsement-primary/

She's sitting now at a level of endorsements that is higher than most Democratic nominees had in recent years at the time they clinched the nomination. And those Democratic politicians will be making their organizations, voter lists, and resources available to her when competing in their states. Unless her current backers start defecting outright to Sanders, at a considerable reputational cost, she's already sucked up so much of the oxygen in the room that there's not enough left for Sanders to catch fire.

There’s definitely an elevated concern expressed in the cloakroom and members-only elevators, and other places, about the impact of a Sanders nomination on congressional candidates,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.).

Considering that Steve Israel is the person most to blame for congressional losses in both the 2010 and 2014 election, that statement seems a bit much.

Doesn't mean Mr Israel is wrong, however. Note that he isn't just saying he is concerned. He is reporting a far more wide-spread concern. (Albeit perhaps not accurately. But then, how universal is the concern of the Republican establishment about Trump and/or Cruz?)

Meanwhile, in elections across the Pacific, it appears that Ms Tsai Ing-Wem of the DPP has won the Presidential election in Taiwan.

Since the DPP favors declaring Taiwan independent of China, the PRC was really unhappy in the run up to the election. Now that the worst (from China's perspective) has happened, look for lots of bluster -- just like the last time that the DPP won.

And, given Mr Xi's track record in China, probably some preliminary restrictions on trade between Taiwan and the mainland. Whether it goes beyond that is anybody's guess. But after China's behavior in the South China Sea last year, there may be reason to be at least a little nervous.

Steve Israel is simply full of shit. He is occupying one of the very comfortably upholstered apple carts that stand to be upset if Bernie tries to implement his domestic policies.

Not disagreeing that Mr Israel has a substantial self-interest in Sanders not getting the nomination. Doesn't mean he isn't accurate that others in Congress don't share that concern.

Indeed, it would be surprising if they didn't. From how well Trump and Sanders are doing, one could easily believe that the world is changing when it comes to US politics. And anyone who is comfortable with the old world is going to get twitchy about whether they will be as able to do well for themselves in the future as they have been in the past.

With luck, many of their fears will be well-founded. It's past time for some new blood, some new approaches, in politics. Some of those new ideas will turn out to be bad ones, of course. But that's the price we pay for getting jacked out of the rut we have been in.

Changing direction. Today we have a very strong contender for understatement of the year.

Lithium hydroxide, which is how lithium for batteries is shipped, is a fine white powder. Major suppliers include Chile, Bolivia, and Australia. It is in increasing demand, as battery usage, including for electric cars, shoot up. It's not all that rare, but users are trying to secure supplies.

From the current issue of the Economist:
"Bacanora, a Canadian firm, said it had signed a conditional agreement to supply Tesla with lithium hydroxide from a mine that it plans to develop in northern Mexico. Bacanora’s shares jumped on the news—though analysts noted that shipping fine white powder across the United States border would need careful handling." (emphasis added)

Ya think?


Yes. I think.

I have a good friend who runs a small biotech company. They were shipping some samples of their product, in the form of a (totally harmless) fine white powder, to a potential customer. On top of all else this was in the middle of the anthrax scare.

Unluckily, the package popped open while being handled by Fedex, and my friend spent several unhappy days, which began with a 2AM phone call from some federal agents. This despite the fact that, as a matter of prudence or regulation, the package included a description of the product, handling instructions, and so on.

I suggest they seal their packages well.

Palin was not a surprise, but Bob Dole effectively endorsing Trump...

Guess he really, really, really doesn't like Cruz.

I wonder how many of the others in congress who share these concerns have primary challenges? Who might not want a wave of starry eyed Bernie newbies hitting the polls.

Hmmm. Perhaps the Governor of Michigan would make a great VP nominee for the GOP. Seems to have a great handle (well, until the last few days) of the relative importance of keeping the (state) government out of local matters.

wj, if you or I (or Count, in a fit of rage) poisoned a municipal water supply with heavy metals, we'd probably be facing some serious felony charges, possibly including terrorism.

Unfortunately, there seems to be one type of "justice" for us peons, and a much gentler form of "justice" for our GOP lords and masters (best summarized as "Whoopsie! Bygones!")

Changing the subject, what does everybody think about who the VP candidates might turn out to be, and how might they change the dynamics? Can anybody think of someone who could make a big difference in the general election? On the GOP side, since they have more people in play, which of the current (or recent) candidates might the eventual nominee pick as a running mate (depending, of course on who that nominee ends up being)?

I'm of the opinion that Trump and Cruz will have a struggle getting a good choice, so probably a Tea Party House guy, or retired general. Anyone else will try to get Nikki Haley.

I suspect that a VP choice will not have a major positive impact. For either party's selections. Gone are the days when you could assure carrying a swing state by nominating its governor or one of its senators.

But the choice can have a negative impact. (For example, I seem to recall reading recently that Sarah Palin was estimated to have cost McCain a couple of million votes.) That can either be because of something about the VP candidate or, more often, because what the choice says about the Presidential candidate's judgement.

I'd agree that the smart choice for the GOP would probably be Haley. No big negatives (beyond a political philosophy, which pretty much any option would share), and on the positive side a chance to at least look like a "big tent" view of the world is on offer.

Marty, Nikki Haley may have turned too 'risky' a choice these past few days when she became the target of a fire/sh|tstorm from prominent RW media outlets/figures. Anyone who might be branded a heretic during the campaign by those who have the ears of the base could be considered (rightfully or not) to be a dealbreaker and thus avoided like the infectious disease du jour. The less insane the final candidate is the more he* will be expected (as in: ordered) to choose a base-pleaser of the worst kind to prove his bona fides.

*the probability of the GOP POTUS candidate being female this time is essentially zero even without any pressure from the religious conservatives that find the very idea abhorrent. I doubt that Fiorina is even on the long list of VPOTUS candidates and her chances of still becoming the main candidate by now is negligible.

i can't imagine who Sanders would pick. his ideological niche doesn't have a lot of residents in high-profile positions.

hilarious... GOP NC Senator says he'd vote for Sanders over Ted Cruz.


Cleek, Sanders wouldn't want someone else from his ideological niche. He'd be a prime example of a candidate looking to "balance the ticket."

I don't know who he would look to. But it should be sufficient that his VP be willing to support him. Not necessarily be someone who would come to the same policies independently.


seems to me that a lot of the things Sanders wants are going to require some pretty heavy political lifting. and to get them done, he'll need someone who is interested enough in those things that he/she will be willing to put in the required effort.

i don't think he'd get much support from a moderate who thinks his agenda has no chance.

Clinton would probably pick someone horrible but loyal like Rahm.

Off-the-wall question: is Biden constitutionally eligible as a VP nominee?
I'd love, love, love to see a Sanders-Biden versus Trump-Palin race.


The 22nd Amendment only talks about the office of President. And the 12th Amendment only restricts people who are not eligible to be President from being Vice President.

So there should be no bar on Biden being VP again, no matter how many years he has spent as VP already.


OMG. could you imagine the piles of word-salad the two of them could produce together ?

OMG. could you imagine the piles of word-salad the two of them could produce together ?

Lettuce pray!


Clinton would probably pick someone horrible but loyal like Rahm.

Oh, I *don't* think so. Someone from the South -- one of the Castro brothers would be my bet.

the Castros do make sense. they're hitting the talk show circuit pretty hard these days.

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