Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Battle of Tiffin, Ohio

Our Correspondent in Ohio: This news clip from CBS is about the town of Tiffin Ohio where my wife is from. Her Dad and Sister still live there. It's a sad little place these days. I'll bet McCain wins that county. We'll see next Tuesday.

Left Bank of the Charles: But who will win Tiffin next Tuesday on the Democratic side? Here in Massachusetts, Hillary carried the old working class cities big time. I think the polls say that Hillary has a small lead in Ohio but it’s a tight race in Texas.

Our Correspondent in Ohio: Hillary will win in Tiffin. However, given the small population base in the rural counties, I'm calling it for Obama statewide. The first Obama sign went up on my street over the weekend. Three McCain signs went up today. I've not seen one Hillary sign in Ohio and I've been traveling around lately. I do see Obama signs. Obama will win because Hillary supporters will stay home, especially if we have bad weather next Tuesday.

Left Bank of the Charles: My March 4 predictions:

Texas – Barack wins narrowly
Ohio – Hillary wins narrowly
Vermont – lock for Barack
Rhode Island – lock for Hillary

But, if Barack can win both Texas and Ohio, that probably gets him the nomination. It won’t be official, because he leads now by less than 100 delegates and even a clean sweep won’t be enough to officially clinch, but the pressure for Hillary to take the second slot or drop out will be high, and the losses will set her back enough to justify that to her supporters. Otherwise, it’s up to Hillary how long she hangs on.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cat fight in Wisconsin

There’s not much been happening in the Presidential primaries. John McCain has made it all but official with 919 of 1191 delegates needed to clinch. Barack Obama continues to score convincing wins and build on his small lead over Hillary Clinton (now 1319 delegates to 1250 with 2025 needed to win). Barack may need to write a new victory speech, as the one last night after the Wisconsin victory got a little long and dull for those of us who had heard it all before. And there are no more primaries or caucuses until March 4 when Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont vote.

The only mildly interesting development was Barack Obama’s wife being accused of saying she had never been proud of America, and John McCain’s wife taking a little swipe at her in response. Here is what was said:

"What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback and let me tell you something. For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I have seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues. It it's made me proud." Michelle Obama speaking in Madison, Wisconsin on February 18, 2008.

“I am proud of my country. I don’t know about you? If you heard those words earlier, I am very proud of my country,” Cindy McCain introducing her husband in Brookfield, Wisconsin on February 19, 2008.

"I love my country, and wouldn't be in this if I didn't care deeply and didn't believe that the kind of possibilities I had as a kid should be available to every single child." When asked if she had always been proud of her country, she replied "absolutely" and said she and her husband would not be where they are now if not for the opportunities of America. Michelle Obama speaking in Providence, Rhode Island on February 20, 2008.

So what did Michelle really mean? Being “really proud” for the first time is not the same as saying you’ve never been proud. And Michelle was born in 1964, which means she became an adult in the early 1980s. In Presidential terms, that means she wasn’t really proud of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush but leaves open the possibility that might have been really proud of Jimmy Carter, who was President before she became an adult. Now as she is a Democrat, who would expect her to be really proud of Reagan, Bush, and Bush? So what she really meant was that she wasn’t really proud of Bill Clinton!

We’ve seen this before. The comedian and pundit Bill Maher got booted off ABC for saying “We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly.” This was also judged unpatriotic. But who was Bill Maher calling a coward? The cruise missiles he alludes to were the ones fired by Bill Clinton in August 1998 at targets in Afghanistan and Sudan in response to the U.S. embassies bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. The coward: Bill Clinton.

Or maybe this is just a story for a slow news day.

Friday, February 15, 2008

John McCain's predicament

Q: Don’t you get the feeling McCain is going to blow up at some point. He’s getting the creepy label for some reason and that’s never good.

A: Yes, one has to fear the McCain implosion. He always has before. Maybe this time will be different.

Q: So where is this leading for the Republicans? Is Huckabee forcing McCain to the right as I have heard some commentators say? Lots of Dems and Independents seem to like McCain over Clinton or Obama. What's that going to mean?

A: Huckabee says he will stay in until McCain clinches with 1191 delegates. That will probably happen no later than March 4. McCain may have to pick a conservative running mate. Ideally, he would pick someone trusted by conservatives but who hasn’t made a name as a polarizing figure. For example:

Charlie Crist, governor of Florida (favor is owed?)
Mike Huckbee (props to his voters?)
Elizabeth Dole (go after the woman’s vote?)

Mitt Romney (not trusted)
Rudy Guiliani (polarizing, not trusted)
Condaleeza Rice (polarizing)

Barack Obama’s accomplishments

Question: Alright. I should have asked this earlier but do you think anyone can give me a list of Barack Obama’s accomplishments? Or are people voting based on rhetoric like Hope and Change?

Answer: (1) Beat Hillary Clinton.

Reply: Sometimes all it takes is (1) good one.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Remember the Alamo

“Since you have chosen to elect a man with a timber toe to succeed me, you may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.” – Davy Crockett

With Barack Obama winning handily in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC, and his next-door-neighbor Wisconsin and his home state Hawaii up next week, Hillary Clinton has decided to make her stand in the Texas primary on March 4.

This brings to mind the legendary Davy Crockett, who lit out for Texas after losing a Congressional election in Tennessee. He ended up at the Alamo during the Texas revolution for independence from Mexico. And after a 13 day siege by the Mexican Army, while the provisional Texas government argued over whether to send relief forces, the Alamo was overrun on March 6, 1836.

So, Hillary intends to defend Texas, while the Democratic Party argues about super delegates. My advice, Hillary, is to remember the Alamo.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Obama won Boston

Barack Obama’s big weekend in Louisiana, Nebraska, and Washington State has provided an opportunity to look closer at the numbers for last Tuesday’s Massachusetts Democratic primary. Lost in the Clinton victory in Massachusetts was that Obama actually won Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and a number of notable towns. But the Clinton margin in the old factory cities and mill towns was just too great. Fall River essentially cancelled out Boston and Worcester cancelled Cambridge.

Top 15 cities and towns for Obama by margin of victory:


Top 15 cities and towns for Clinton by margin of victory:

Fall River12,5443,1209,424
New Bedford11,2414,3776,864

Official results for Cambridge and Somerville:

No preference54110

The Huckabee Miracle

Mike Huckabee quote of the week: “I didn’t major in math. I majored in miracles, and I still believe in them.”

Huckabee seems to have scored a miracle over the weekend in Kansas, but we're not in Kansas anymore.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Apologies, Apologies

Look at all the apologies so far in February, and it’s still a week to Valentine’s Day:

Bill Clinton apologizing for remarks a week or so ago about Barack Obama: "I think the mistake that I made is to think that I was a spouse like any other spouse who could defend his candidate. I think I can promote Hillary but not defend her because I was president. I have to let her defend herself or have someone else defend her."

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC has been asked to apologize using the word guacamole in a context that might offend many Hispanic-Americans are sure to find racially offensive: “New York Senator Clinton and adopted Giants fan watched the game in Minnesota and told The Associated Press, ‘Super Bowl, Super Tuesday — we have one down, let’s get the other. This as her husband watched the game in New Mexico with the former [sic] Governor Bill Richardson, possibly asking Richardson for an endorsement and then would you please pass the guacamole.”

David Shuster of MSNBC has been suspended and forced to apologize for saying "But doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?"

Berkeley, California is being asked to apologize for voting to run Marine Corps recruiters out of town: "If recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome guests."

Rapper 50 Cent is in the hot seat for his remark, "I'm not sure America is ready to have a black President. I think they might kill him."

Friday, February 8, 2008

RE: Fat Tuesday didn't sing

Q: Is Ohio is in a position to make a difference with our vote on March 4? The polls I have seen project Hillary and McCain as big winners here.

A: Ohio on March 4 may well be a deciding factor.

Today’s news that Romney has dropped out pretty much leaves McCain the winner. Huckabee says he will stay in, but CNN now shows 714 delegates for McCain and only 181 for Huckabee, so that is largely a formality. McCain needs just 477 more delegates to make it official, which he can do easily if he wins just half of the 1,184 delegates up for grabs between now and March 4. With some booing McCain today at CPAC (conservative political action committee meeting), McCain probably needs to beat Huckabee a few more times without really looking like he is trying so the conservatives can feel they fought the good fight.

Barack has the momentum but Hillary technically has the lead, so there is no reason for either of them to quit just yet. As of today per CNN, Hillary has 1033 delegates versus 937 for Barack, with 2025 needed to clinch. There are 1040 delegates up for grabs between now and March 4 (596 in February and 444 on March 4). That’s not enough to clinch absent a sweep by one side or the other. But Hillary may be running out of money – she loaned her campaign $5 million and Barack says he already raised that and more online.

Q: I noticed Bill Richardson was on the ballot in MA, even though he's withdrawn from the race. Did you vote for him?

A: I noticed that too. What should you do when the candidate that you think is best qualified has suspended his campaign, but his name still appears on the ballot?

A Tale of Two Peninsulas

Q: I don’t really understand what happened in FL regarding the primary, delegates, etc. Can you give me a brief explanation? Why did FL move their primary?

A: Traditionally, Iowa is the first caucus and New Hampshire is the first primary. But other states are jealous of that, as they think that gives those states extra influence. So this year a number of states wanted to move up their primaries. The states can make their own rules about that. However, the national political parties get to decide how many delegates a state can send to their convention, and whether to admit the people who might show up claiming to be the duly selected delegates.

The two parties made some rules which said states couldn’t hold their primary before February 5, unless they were one of the traditional early states. Michigan and Florida (and South Carolina for the Republicans) decided to flout those rules (you make your rules, we make our rules). The punishment from the Republican Party was for the state to lose half their delegates (tough, but fair?). The punishment for the Democratic Party was for the state to lose all their delegates (real tough).

Why did Florida and Michigan do this, knowing they would be punished? Maybe they thought the extra influence of going early was worth it, or maybe they thought the rule wouldn’t stick, or maybe they had some inside game going. For example, McCain won Florida for the Republicans, and the momentum helped him win on February 5. Will he show his gratitude to Florida if he gets elected President?

On the other side, can the National Democratic Party make their rule stick? Obviously, if you are a delegate from Florida or Michigan, you might well show up at the convention, stand outside, and shout until they let you vote. And maybe some of your friends will show up and shout with you. And maybe your allies inside the convention will also stand up and shout. And since Florida and Michigan both voted for Clinton, they might have a lot of friends inside. And, of course, maybe the threat of that will exert enough pressure that the rules get changed before the convention.

I saw Michael Moore on Larry King last night. He is from Michigan, and is not happy the Michigan delegates are not getting counted. On the other hand, he seems to be an undeclared Obama supporter. So maybe he won't organize a demonstration.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fat Tuesday didn't sing

Fat Tuesday didn't sing and now we have to wait and watch as the rest of the states vote. How unfair.

McCain has won 680 delegates versus 462 for all his opponents combined, so he’s on the downhill slope with only 511 more to win. Romney now has the toughest decision on when to quit, as he is spending his own money. Huckabee has set himself up as a power broker by winning the Southern states McCain will need in the fall. In Montana, Ron Paul finished second with 25%, apparently picking up the Unabomber vote.

Clinton leads Obama 823 delegates to 741, but without the party big-wig super-delegates she trails 630 to 635. With 2025 delegates needed to win, they are both still climbing the hill. On the other hand, Hillary has the Michigan and Florida delegates who aren’t supposed to count in her back pocket. Not counting Florida? That’s an indefensible position for Democrats.

The big opportunity for the Democrats is what the turnout shows is likely to happen in the fall. In 4 of the 5 Southern red states that voted February 5, more people showed up to vote for Democrats than Republicans. The Republicans can’t win in November without these states.

StateRepublican votersDemocratic voters

One way for the Democrats to lose is if Clinton versus Obama gets nasty. They need to fight the good fight, make nice, and join forces. Will it be Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton? On the other hand, if the Iraq situation turns nasty again this summer, that could scuttle McCain.

How long can it last? The Democratic caucus in Puerto Rico is set for June 7. Could Puerto Rico pick the next President of the United States?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Fat Tuesday media guide

Lou Dobbs – CNN’s resident curmudgeon.
Anderson Cooper – Gloria Vanderbilt’s son, the dumbest newsperson on CNN.
Wolf Blitzer – Blitzer translates to "Barak" in Hebrew.
Larry King – old than McCain, his sixth wife is a Mormon.
James Carville – the ragin’ Cajun has become the ancient Cajun.
Jeffrey Toobin – still covering the OJ trial.
Mark Shields – still campaigning for Robert Kennedy.
David Gergen – hard to take seriously after the October 2007 banana affair.

Brit Hume – no, he’s not British.
Chris Wallace – son of 60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace.
Bill O’Reilly – who’s looking out for you has never been seen in the same room with Lou Dobbs.
Sean Hannity – just pray you never have to hear him sing.
Alan Colmes – token liberal on the “fair and balanced” network.
Greta Van Susteren – the dumbest newsperson on Fox, reported to be a practicing Scientologist.
Dick Morris – Clinton’s former pollster has become the leading Hillary hater.
Ann Coulter – “I'd rather deal with President Hillary than with President McCain.” (Hillary would be better for her book royalties, no doubt)
Susan Estrich – former Dukakis campaign manager is token Wellesley girl on Fox.

Keith Olbermann – MSNBC’s resident curmudgeon.
Chris Matthews – MSNBC’s resident cudgel.

Comedy Central:
Jon Stewart – don’t laugh, lots of folks get their political news from The Daily Show.
Stephen Colbert – doesn’t let his own kids watch his show saying, “I don't want them to perceive me as insincere.” He made Huckabee.

Rush Limbaugh – Can’t stand John McCain surrounding himself with liberals like Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

No one watches anymore:
Brian Williams – NBC
Katie Kouric - CBS
Charles Gibson – ABC

A footnote in Beatles history

From our friend DJBC:

Literally. I am mentioned at the end of a footnote in a book about "The evolving artistry" of Beatles music. But, I am in there! Pretty awesome to even be a footnote round those parts. Needless to say, I have ordered my copy.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Groundhog Day

It’s Groundhog Day and 3 days until Fat Tuesday, when 24 states representing around half the delegates will vote. All the candidates are out shriving for votes, but what about their shadows?

Bill Clinton – seems to be learning when to keep his mouth closed.
Michelle Obama – Jeri Thomspson and Elizabeth Kusinich had nothing on Michelle.

Cindy McCain – saw her campaign for John in a leather jacket, no respectable cloth Republican coat for her.
Ann Romney – the blonde former Episcopalian is Mitt’s first and perhaps only convert to Mormonism.
Janet Huckabee - Who is she? "If it wasn't for the grace of God, I'd have shot a few people already."