Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Hastings to Howard: 'let my people go ... to the convention'
I interviewed a feisty Congressman Alcee Hastings on the day before the Florida primary (for a stringer story I did for American Urban Radio Networks,) and he had some sharp words for DNC chairman Howard Dean and the Rules Committee, who remain intransigent (for now) about not seating Florida's 210 delegates to the Democratic convention in August. Hastings said he would be firing off a letter to Dean after the polls closed on Tuesday, and fire he did. Here's the text of the letter (the letter is linked here in pdf form):
January 29, 2008

The Honorable Howard Dean, M.D.
Chairman
Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington DC 20003

Dear Governor Dean:

I write to urge your assistance in reinstating Florida’s 210 delegates to the upcoming Democratic National Convention (DNC) this August in Denver. Before today’s polls even opened, over 400,000 Democrats had voted early or by absentee. Before the polls close this evening, it is very possible that over one million Democratic voters in Florida will have cast their votes for the candidate of their choice. Given this deep interest in this year’s election, the DNC Rules Committee must act swiftly to avoid the further disenfranchisement of Florida’s Democratic voters.

You have publicly stated that our nominee will have the ultimate decision to reinstate Florida’s delegates at the National Convention. Further, one of our two front-runners has already stated that she will work to seat Florida’s delegates in Denver while the other broke the four state pledge and has been running TV ads in Florida since the South Carolina Democratic debate. As such, the only logical, responsible, and fair thing for the DNC to do is to reinstate Florida’s delegates immediately. In doing so, the DNC would be implementing a policy which just about everyone has already agreed is going to happen in any case. More importantly for the DNC and all of us involved, it will begin the difficult task of restoring faith in the Democratic Party in Florida, something which has been lost due to DNC actions.

Indeed, you and I have differences of opinions regarding the implementation of the DNC rules and the way our party runs its presidential primary system. But what we have never disagreed on is the need to ensure that Florida voters turn out and vote for our Democratic candidates in November.

The enormous turnout in this year’s primary contests is clear indication that voters are engaged and interested in this year’s election, and we have little to doubt that turnout in November will be at record levels. But if Florida’s Democratic voters continue to believe that the Democratic Party does not care about their vote, using Florida only as a fundraising ATM and not as a resource of ideas, then they may not only stay home in November, but many may change their party affiliations and some could actively campaign against us. I hope that you will agree with me that we can not afford this scenario playing out during the general election.

Despite the efforts of many, the country will be watching to see what happens in Florida today. The DNC created a situation in which it has been widely accepted that Florida Republicans count and Florida Democrats do not. I sincerely hope that you will work with me and my Florida colleagues to rectify this by reinstating Florida’s delegates to the national convention sooner rather than later. For me, yesterday is not soon enough.

Sincerely,


Alcee L. Hastings
Member of Congress


CC: The Honorable Bill Nelson and Florida Democratic House Members

Karen Thurman, Chairwoman, Democratic Party of Florida

I can tell you that Congressman Kendrick Meek and other elected Democrats are actively seeking delegates in their districts, and encouraging people to fill out applications and run. They're doing that because no serious person believes that Dean, Donna Brazille and company would have the cojones to disenfranchise 1.7 million Florida Democrats who turned out in record numbers to cast their ballots on January 29th. Hastings' implied threat, that Florida Dems might just stay home in November if Dean doesn't come correct, is by no means idle. The only way for a Democrat to win Florida is the way Bill Clinton did it: with 60 percent or better turnout in the only three counties that matter for non-Republicans: Miami-Dade, Broward (especially) and Palm Beach. Even a little dampening in enthusiasm will prove fatal for the Democratic nominee.

Of course, either nominee will seat the Florida delegation, no doubt. But Howard Dean could help himself tremendously if he did it himself. And soon.

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posted by JReid @ 2:38 PM  
The Florida tally
Turnout in the Democratic primary that supposedly doesn't count in Florida (again, don't worry, Florida's delegates will be seated in Denver in August...) was an astonishing 1,734,456 (updating the numbers from my previous post.)

The final tally for the candidates:

Hillary Clinton 863,787 (49.8%)
Barack Obama 570,432 (32.9%)
John Edwards 249,500 (14.4%)
Joseph Biden Jr. 15,574 (0.9%)
Bill Richardson 14,866 (0.9%)
Christopher Dodd 5,423 (0.3%)
Dennis Kucinich 9,625 (0.6%)
Mike Gravel 5,249 (0.3%)
Total 1,734,456

I'd like to meet those Mike Gravel voters ... or maybe not...

On the GOP side, 1,924,346 people voted, although the field was more spread out, and John McCain won with far fewer voters than Hillary did. Here's the final tally:

John McCain 693,508 (36.0%)
Mitt Romney 595,830 (31.0%)
Rudy Giuliani 282,503 (14.7%)
Mike Huckabee 259,598 (13.5%)
Ron Paul 62,146 (3.2%)
Fred Thompson 22,389 (1.2%)
Duncan Hunter 2,816 (0.1%)
Alan Keyes 4,004 (0.2%)
Tom Tancredo 1,552 (0.1%)
Total 1,924,346

I think it's now official that there are more crazy people inside the Democratic Party than inside the GOP. More about 1,000 more Dems pushed the red button for Mike Gravel as GOPers did for Alan Keyes.

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posted by JReid @ 11:06 AM  
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Quote of the day
Former New York City mayor Ed Koch on the political death of fellow former NYC mayor Rudolph "9/11" Giuliani:
Ed Koch, who has feuded with Giuliani for years, was delighted with Giuliani's crushing defeat in Florida. He crowed, before the final votes were even tallied, that he was certain the verdict by Florida's voters "will drive a stake through his heart. The beast is dead."

Ding dong, baby.

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posted by JReid @ 6:11 PM  
Edwards gives up the ghost
John Edwards is dropping out of the race. Barack Obama has got to be a happy man today. You've got to assume that the vast majority of Edwards' supporters will go his way, even without an explicit endorsement. (On the other hand, Camp Hillary is probably eye-balling Edwards' older, white southern supporters...)

Edwards, whom I admit to calling a "phony" from time to time (although he really does have great hair, and is very handsome in person...) will end his run in appropriate fashion for the way he ran:
The former senator will end his bid during a speech on poverty in New Orleans, where he began his White House campaign in December 2006.

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posted by JReid @ 10:16 AM  
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Update: Rudy to drop out!
Ding dong, the skull is dead! Having bet it all on Florida and lost (yes, sitting out the news cycle for a month is sooooo smaht...) Rudy is dropping out of the presidential race! (Effective tomorrow, somewhere in California.) The only thing that would have made this sweeter would have been for him to soldier on to Super Duper Tuesday (as if he had enough money...) and then get humiliated with a beating in New York... and New Jersey.

But I'll take it.

Bye, Rudy!

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posted by JReid @ 9:56 PM  
McCain, Hillary win Florida, Rudy gets the booby prize
Hillary won the Florida beauty contest (and don't fool yourself, the Democrats WILL seat the Florida electors in August. Trust me...) and gave a nifty victory speech to boot. The final tally was:

Hillary - 662,982 - 50.1%
Barack - 430,641 - 32.5
Edwards - 192,073 - 14.5
All others - 102,211 - 2.9%

Total votes cast on the Democrat side 1,387,907 ... for a race that supposedly doesn't count? No dear, they WILL seat those electors. Every ... last ... one of them. By the way, 1,574,934 Republican votes have been counted on the GOP side. Huge turnout for a contest where half the delegates supposedly don't count.

With considerable help from Florida's popular guvnah, (and from his late blooming friend Sideshow Mel, plus a gaggle of South Florida's Cuban-American pols,) John McCain edged out Mitt Romney tonight. I'm not sure if that's a concession speech Rudy Giuliani is giving, but it should be. He didn't win a single county -- McCain beat him in Miami-Dade and he also lost Broward, which is nicknamed "the sixth borough" because there are so many New Yorkers living here. In fact, in Broward, this was the breakdown:

McCain - 41.1%
Romney - 24.2
Rudy - 19.6

This, my friends, is called non-viability.

In Dade, the breakdown was as follows:

McCain - 48.5%
Rudy - 27.7
Romney - 14.9

Those two counties, along with Palm Beach, should have been Rudy's stronghold, and he was leading in Dade when just the absentee ballots were counted (older, retired voters and early adopters who voted ahead of his Judy-gate troubles...)

If you can't win those, you can't win Florida if you're a moderate Republican on social issues, even if you're a neoconservative on Iraq (oh, wait, most Republicans are sick of that, too.)

Update: No, that wasn't a concession speech ... at least I don't think. But Rudy sure did sound like he was trying to do his best Obama, talking about how Republicans need to reach out to all ethnic groups and races, classes and walks of life. He said "races" or "ethnic groups" at least three times ... and this from a guy who refused to cross the Brooklyn bridge when he was mayor because he'd encounter too many Black people there ... and he was BORN in Brooklyn!

Anyhoo, Romney is giving his rousing "don't call it a concession" speech now. He's also doing his best Obama, saying that "we can't change America by sending the same people back to Washington to rearrange the chairs." Very Titanic-esque.

Update 2: Mike Huckabee gave another great concession speech, which ended with, "we're going on from here! If you have friends that are voting for me, tell them to come along with me, if they're not voting for me, don't let 'em out of the driveway!"

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posted by JReid @ 9:26 PM  
Florida returns coming in
I'm watching the returns on MSNBC and also tracking them on the Florida Elections Website (and the Miami-Dade Elections website, since I'm also tracking a local issue on slot machine expansion.) So far, the incredible thing is the turnout -- on both the Republican and Democratic side (despite the DNC's foolish attempt to disenfranchise what could turn out to be half a million Florida Democrats.)

So far, Hillary is leading on the Dem side:

Hillary - 236,758 - 50.8%
Obama - 132, 459 - 28.4
Edwards - 80,560 - 17.3

With about 25% reporting.

Huckabee and McCain are locked in a death struggle on the other side:

Romney - 230,587 - 34.1%
McCain - 226,474 - 33.5
Rudy - 97,705 - 14.4 (must drop out or risk humiliation in New York....)
Huckabee - 88,237 - 13.0 (the Panhandle will come in last and help boost these stats)
Paul - 21,316 - 3.2

Oh, and like 1,300 people voted for Alan Keyes. Crazy Florida bastards...

Update: John McCain is now leading in Miami-Dade County. Chalk some of that mo up to the Martinez endorsement and the bona fides it leant McCain with Cuban-Americans.

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posted by JReid @ 8:20 PM  
posted by JReid @ 8:13 PM  
The spot
The new TV spot for Barack Obama by Caroline Kennedy is a good look. Here it is:



Meanwhile, the Clintons get Maxine Waters.

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posted by JReid @ 5:42 PM  
From the desk of: NOW New York
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Big Liz

Sebelius betrays women by failing to stand up for Hillary

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has betrayed women everywhere with her utterly outrageous decision to endorse Senator Barack Obama, rather than Hillary Clinton. By shirking her responsibility to support whatever woman candidate is running, she has shown herself to be a phony ... a 1950s house frau in a 21st century pantsuit. She should immediately turn in that pantsuit to the nearest Macy's and go to work at her REAL dream job as a topless hostess at the Naughty Kitten nightclub. Maybe some slobbering man can pay for her cute little haircuts with dollar bill tips.

How dare this woman -- she IS a woman, isn't she...? support a man, when clearly there is a woman standing for election. A woman with a HUSBAND, no less? Hell, that's more than we've got! Stop hating, Kathleen. Hillary is qualified, she's intelligent, she knows what the White House looks like from the inside, and most importantly, she once had the capability to breast feed. Withhold your support from her at your peril.

The foregoing is a satirical press release not actually sent by the National Organization of Women, New York. Please do not send any of your big, giant lady goons to beat me down...
posted by JReid @ 4:57 PM  
Bill, be nice
Just as Chris Matthews discovered the perils of going on too salty about a female candidate (and bashing her daily, and seemingly obsessively...) Bill Clinton has apparently learned a lesson about throwing Jesse Jackson references around in reference to his wife's African-American challenger: just say no. The NYT writes: Nice Bill is back.

Meanwhile, Jesse Jackson says he wasn't offended by Big Bill's reference to him winning South Carolina, just like Barack. Hell, he's probably happy to be compared to the Democratic phenom who is taking the presidential field by storm. And Jackson had some words of wisdom for Obama in a telephone conversation the two had after South Carolina:
In his conversation with Mr. Obama on Saturday, Mr. Jackson said, “He told me what Bill had said. And I said to Barack, as a tactical matter, resist any temptation to come down to that level. There may be temptations, especially when the media keeps saying ‘Barack is black,’ and they never said ‘Dukakis is white’ or ‘Hillary is white,’’ he said, referring to Michael Dukakis, who won the Democratic nomination in 1988.

But, Mr. Jackson said, “Bill has done so much for race relations and inclusion, I would tend not to read a negative scenario into his comments.” He said his chief concern was that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton not “bloody themselves” so much that they can’t unite against the Republicans in November.
Well said, Rev. Hey, he was also the guy who told us to "stay out of the Bushes..."

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posted by JReid @ 4:50 PM  
NOW for something really stupid
I was about to write a pretty nasty tirade about NOW New York's whiney jeremiad against Ted Kennedy for his endorsement of ... someone other than Hillary Clinton ... but as fate would have it, Americablog's John Aravosis tiraded better:
ever have I read a whinier, more sophomoric press release from a national organization, or in this case, their rather important state affiliate. Apparently, anyone who supports any Democrat other than Hillary is a misogynist. So does that also mean that anyone who supports any Democrat other than Obama is a racist? Truly one of the most ridiculous, knee-jerk, stuck-in-the-1960s, and downright offensive things I've ever seen from what I thought was a respectable organization.
In the immortal words of Patrick Swayze as the lead character in "Ghost," and at the risk of being accused by the NOW ladies of abandoning my responsibility as a woman not to let a man speak for me (unless he's Bill Clinton,) let me say, Ditto.

So what did the nattering nelly's of NOW have to say? Here it is:
Senator Kennedy Betrays Women by Not Standing For Hillary Clinton for President
January 28, 2008

Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few. Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills. We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.

And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton (they will of course say they support a woman president, just not “this” one). “They” are Howard Dean and Jim Dean (Yup! That’s Howard’s brother) who run DFA (that’s the group and list from the Dean campaign that we women helped start and grow). They are Alternet, Progressive Democrats of America, democrats.com, Kucinich lovers and all the other groups that take women's money, say they’ll do feminist and women’s rights issues one of these days, and conveniently forget to mention women and children when they talk about poverty or human needs or America’s future or whatever.

This latest move by Kennedy, is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation - to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who “know what’s best for us.”
Blah, blah, blah. The title alone is mind numbing. You mean not supporting Hillary is a betrayal of all women? Well vote me off the island! ... This is why nobody listens to this bunch.

Word to the ladies of NOW New York: Black women are, technically, women too. And many o us -- most by my count having spent the morning talking to people at polls here in South Florida -- happen to love Barack Obama. So where does that leave us? Are we duty bound to vote for Hillary, too, just because we share her chromosomal makeup? I mean for God's sake, if Teddy Kennedy -- a man, no less -- is duty bound to support the women, how can we escape our responsibility?

Perhaps it hasn't occurred to these guys ... I mean ladies ... I mean Women with a capital W ... but ... um ... just as it's not fair to expect every Black person to support Barack, it's not fair to expect everyone who supports equal rights for women to support Hillary (or to expect every woman to do so.) People ... wait for it ... have to make up their own minds, and choose the candidate who most inspires them. In fact, in most years, inspiration isn't even an option. People choose the candidate who will keep them up the least at night worrying about their finger on the button. This year, at last, there are multiple candidates, on the Democratic side at least, who provoke inspiration. Don't hate on Teddy Kennedy if Barack does for him the same thing he does for so many Americans, including a real, live woman-type person named Caroline. Funny your press release finger wasn't trained on her...

NOW New York, thanks for the straight talk. Your statements reveal you to be creatures of the politics of yesterday. The rest of us have happily moved on.

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posted by JReid @ 3:54 PM  
Florida goes to the polls!
It's Florida's big beauty contest day (I interviewed Rep. Alcee Hastings last night and he's what you call "38 hot" about the DNC's disenfranchisement of Florida. He's sending a letter to Howard Dean today demanding that the Florida delegates be seated.)

The Miami Herald has some info on what Floridians are thinking.

Number one issue for Sunshine State voters?

The economy - 38% and the war in Iraq - 19%

Most important quality voters want in a president?

Democrats:
- An agent of change - 19%
- Experience - 20%

Republicans:
- Represents my values (sorry, Rudy) - 27%
- Has a strong moral character - 21%

My polling place was doing a brisk business this morning. The line was already pretty long at 6:50 a.m. and it was growing when my kids and I left. Every Black person I talked to outside (interviewing folks for American Urban Radio Networks) was for Obama.

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posted by JReid @ 9:26 AM  
What if you gave a State of the Union and nobody cared ... not even Dick Cheney?
Could there be anything more emblematic of George W. Bush's irrelevancy than his SOTU address tonight, in which not a single thing mentioned was new, with the exception of those ridiculous rebates ... which themselves are a relic of Reaganomics. How sad that despite his supposedly triumphant moment in New York City after 9/11 (and his supposedly triumphant stint as a "war president" ... not ...) this president ultimately ends his administration the way he began it: as a marginal, tepid figure, who might as well spend the rest of his term on vacation. One of the dullest, most inconsequential speeches I've ever barely not slept through... and totally upstaged by the Kennedy endorsement of Obama earlier today.

Bush attempted to sound defiant tonight, even as the economic walls are crumbling all around the castle. He didn't offer any soaring rhetoric. How could he? There's, quite frankly, not much to soar about. Even his attempts to Baghdad John the war in Iraq fell flat tonight. No hoots and roars coming to him even from the Fox News side of the chamber. Hell, Sam Alito looked bored as hell.

In some ways, I'm actually moving past loathing of George W. Bush and straight on to pity. This is a man whose entire life was about being second best -- to his father, to Jebbie, and now, to Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy, and anyone else who cares to steal the news cycle. He's a war president without a country at war ... a man who elicits laughter in my household when he talks about appointing judges who respect the Constitution ... a man who has squandered not only his legacy, but his country's, and for nothing. Even the Wall Street titans he has propped up for all these years are going belly-up. Luckily for them, and for Dubya, there's a fat golden parachute to land with. The rest of us aren't so lucky.

On second thought, forget the pity. I'm back to loathing again.

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posted by JReid @ 12:39 AM  
Monday, January 28, 2008
Passing the torch
It's rare that I completely agree with Chris Matthews, but today, I do. As Chris just said on MSNBC, today, Ted Kennedy, his son Patrick and his niece Caroline "transferred all the majesty and magic of the Kennedy legacy to this one young guy," Barack Obama. (The endorsement just took place at American University in Massachusetts.)

Think about it: all that Camelot implies: the sea change in this country's search for racial justice and healing, the search for peace amid the cold war, and the hope of enshrining a new generation in politics, all handed, wrapped in soaring rhetoric, to a Black, first generation American -- a man who literally is both Black and White, ordinary and extraordinary, and as young as JFK and RFK were when they became America's knights in shining armor. I'm sounding Chris Matthews gushy right now, but I think it's hard to argue that this was not an extraordinary quartet of speeches at American University, and in my opinion, an historic one for the country.

The endorsement won't help Barack in the general, where Kennedy is seen as a very liberal figure, but in the primary it's big, especially since Kennedy will apparently concentrate his campaigning on eating into Hillary's current advantage with Latino voters.

Also: apparently Ted Kennedy ignored pleas directly from Bill Clinton not to make this endorsement. What an exceptional rebuke.

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posted by JReid @ 1:35 PM  
The sword in the stone
President John F. Kennedy with Robert and Ted Kennedy at Hyannis Port in 1960

First came Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg's moving New York Times op-ed endorsing Barack Obama as a man who could be the president her father was for so many Americans back in the 1960s. Now, Senator Ted Kennedy, the "lion of the Senate" and a personal friend of the Clintons, will endorse Barack, too.

Right wing bloggers may snicker at Kennedy -- fixated as they are on his most tragic moment -- but for Democrats, this is about as big an endorsement as a candidate can get. For Ted Kennedy, the last surviving son on the tragic Kennedy clan and the family's patriarch, to pass to torch, not to Hillary Clinton, whose husband made the iconic photo of his handshake with JFK on June 6, 1963 (five months before Kennedy's assassination,) into the emblem of his status as the prince of generational change back in 1992, but to Obama, has got to be devastating for the Clintons.


It's also a seminal rebuke of the manner in which Bill Clinton has been fronting his wife's campaign -- the negativity, the bully boy tactics, and the racial tinge.

The endorsement may not change anything -- white women are solidifying behind Hillary, and in states like Florida that have a huge absentee and early vote, she has already banked tens of thousands of votes. On the other hand, the double Kennedy blessing could be a huge boon to Obama as he looks to the Tsunami Tuesday primaries, which include Massachusetts and California, both states where the lore of Camelot could be a touchstone for voters.

The next step for Team Obama will be to have Teddy cut a killer national TV spot for the candidate, along with radio ads that can be strewn across Air America and Jones Radio Network talk shows. Obama has the cash to run a national TV and radio campaign, and Kennedy is the ultimate voice talent. And I would expect that with Kennedy opening the door (and likely pulling off a few stem-winder speeches for his guy as well,) the doors of the church are now open, and more prominent Dems will be falling in line behind Barack before Tuesday.

It's getting interesting again on the Dem side.

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posted by JReid @ 10:03 AM  
The second Black president?
Author Toni Morrison, who wrote two of my favorite books ever, "Song of Solomon" and "Beloved," and who also coined the term "the first Black president" in this 1998 essay in the New Yorker, referring to Bill Clinton as "Blacker than any actual person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime," is endorsing Barack Obama. Now, technically, if he wins, that would make Barack the first Black president ... supplanting the former ... first ... Oh, boy... Big Bill's gonna be hot now ... somebody get that brotha former brotha white man an ice pack...

Related: CBS News' Vaughn Ververs ruminates on Bill Clinton's squandering of his legacy with Black Americans. That last Jesse Jackson comment following Barack's big win in South Carolina was so far over the top, even I'm on board with the Bill bashers.

Author Toni Morrison in undated photo courtesy of Syracuse.com

Bill Clinton is clearly following a strategy of maximizing the white vote for Hillary, by "Blackening up" Obama. It's shrewd politically, but potentially disastrous for the Democratic Party's electoral prospects in November, should Hillary become the nominee.

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posted by JReid @ 9:38 AM  
Thad Cochran: 'John McCain scares me'
Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran endorsed John McCain last week, as you may have heard. And while it likely came in part due to the two men's disagreements on ... er ... pork (something supremely important to the country's poorest state, which also receives the largest amount of taxpayer lucre,) Cochran also took a shot at the famous McCain temper, which is worth repeating:
Cochran said his choice was prompted partly by his fear of how McCain might behave in the Oval Office.

"The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine," Cochran said about McCain by phone. "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."

This morning on "Morning Joe," Pat Buchanan made the very salient point that John McCain is giving us the ultimate straight talk, promising more wars ahead ... and we would be at war with Iran shortly after he would be inaugurated president.

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posted by JReid @ 9:32 AM  
Saturday, January 26, 2008
The Camelot letter


Caroline Kennedy's op-ed in the New York Times endorsing Barack Obama can be found here. A clip:
A President Like My Father
By CAROLINE KENNEDY

OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960. ...
And the devastating closer:
I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.
Score one for Barack.

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posted by JReid @ 10:58 PM  
Obama's South Carolina speech
Courtesy of CNN, the transcript of Barack Obama's fantastic, hard-hitting speech following his big win in S.C. tonight.

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posted by JReid @ 10:54 PM  
Caroline Kennedy-Schlossberg to endorse Obama
The endorsement will come in the N.Y. Times tomorrow, according to NBC News. Whither Ted, but this is no doubt huge for Camp Obama within the Democratic Party, where some on the left had been questioning his bona fides...

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posted by JReid @ 8:56 PM  
Florida watch
Governor Charlie Crist adds another endorsement to John McCain's kitty. This as the latest Mason-Dixon poll shows the GOP race as follows:

Romney - 30%
McCain - 26
Giuliani - 18
Huckabee - 13
Paul - 3
Undecided - 10

Note to Giuliani fans (all three of you) who news reports say are devastated by the defection by the Guvnah: At this stage, in order to win Florida, Rudy would have to get all of the undecided voters, PLUS take supporters away from either Romney or McCain. Theoretically, he could pull some soft Romney people who prefer a bald-headed flip-flopper to a curiously well-quaffed one. And he could sneak off with McCainiaks who like their neoconservatives to be all chicken hawk - no military experience. So there's hope then ... ahem ...

Update: Perhaps the only other hope Rudy has in Florida is the huge absentee ballot turnout that's expected in the state. Rudy's camp has to hope that enough early adopters locked in for him back when he was popular to put him closer to Romney and McCain.

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posted by JReid @ 8:40 PM  
Don't call it a comeback
The media is harping on Barack Obama's rout of Hillary Clinton among Black South Carolina voters (he got 80 percent of them.) But there are other big numbers that Hillary (and Bill) ought to worry about. First, the overall number. Obama is projected to win the state by a huge margin:

Obama - 53%
Clinton - 27%
Edwards - 19%

Even if those numbers don't hold exactly, Obama is looking at a huge victory.

The other troubling number for the Clintons: the 20 percent of Black voters who said they would be dissatisfied if she ultimately wins the nomination. Picture bridges burning ...

For the Obama campaign, there are minefields in these numbers, too. The Clintons, for better or for worse, were successful in framing the South Carolina contest as one mostly about race, and their strategy of pushing hard against the Black vote in order to turn out the White vote didn't help Hillary win, but it did reframe the overall contest for White voters who care about that sort of thing. This sort of comment on the MSNBC First Read site should be on the radar screen of Camp Obama:
More than 50% of the turnout was African American and ovevr 80% of African Americans voted for Obama. Lets us also remember that Jesse Jackson won South Carolina and a lot of other southern states in 1984 and 1988.

Recall that Barack Obama never intended to fight for the nomination on this ground. Hell, most Black voters didn't even support him until he won the Iowa caucuses. He has fought his entire campaign on the neutral grounds of change and unity, not on the toxic soil of race. The one-two punch of the simplistic media narrative and the take no prisoners tactics of the Clinton campaign, has forced him onto exactly the playing field he did NOT want to be on. Remember Barack's announcement that he would run last February? It was remarkable in that Barack made that announcement surrounded, not by Black people, but by White people. Particularly young White people. Now, as you look at his events, they are becoming more heavily populated by Blacks. Not a bad thing -- but it does set the stage for a contest that is at least in part, a test of racial loyalty -- for boty Blacks and Whites, particularly White men, since White Democratic women are pretty much Hillary's to lose.

That, is a shame.

However, I predict that the Clintons, having made their point in South Carolina, will back off on the racial insurgency. They don't need it anymore. My opinion is that it was very deliberate, and designed to make the expected (even by them) Obama victory in South Carolina seem pyrrhic, setting the stage for them to argue that the REAL contests are the ones ahead.

Mission accomplished.

So what should the Obama campaign do now? Two words: win primaries. They will need a couple of big victories in states that don't have a 45-50% Black Democratic electorate, in order to slow the Clinton machine down.

Update: For what it's worth, Pat Buchanan agrees with me on this. I don't know if I'm comfortable with the consistent level of agreement between us over the last few years...

Update 2: The exit polls should be sobering for the Clintons. Barack won not only Black voters, but also churchgoers, younger voters, and late deciders. And the majority of those who said that Bill Clinton's rhetoric affected their vote said that they voted for Obama.

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posted by JReid @ 8:23 PM  
Barack wins South Carolina
In a race eerily reminiscent in undertone, if not in intensity, to the Republican race in 2000, the South Carolina primary has ended, but this time, the actor playing the part of John McCain beat the actress playing the part of George W. Bush (and her husband Karl Rove). In other words, Obama wins.

NBC News is projecting Obama the winner "by a wide margin", with Hillary and Edwards fighting it out for second place. Of course, the media is focusing on what differences there were in the vote between Blacks and Whites. One thing Bill Clinton has been right about is that the media has fanned the race flames in this contest. But the Clintons are responsible in large part for the nasty, uncomfortably racial tone the race has taken, as are Black supporters of Obama's who have insisted on pushing his racial identity to the forefront, the better to excite Black voters, but the worse for his universal message of inclusion.

Update: According to exit polls, Barack got 81 percent of the Black vote. Hillary got 17 percent, and John Edwards got just 1 percent. Hot damn. I know the Clintons are seething. Barack got just 24 percent of the White vote, with Hillary getting 36 percent and Edwards pulling 29 percent. Barack did get 49 percent of the under 30 White vote.

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posted by JReid @ 7:10 PM  
Promise keepers
After welching on him last week, Sideshow Mel Martinez finally decides to follow through on his promised endorsement of Baghdad John McCain, who is now statistically tied with ... no, Chris, not Rudy ... with Willard Romney in the latest Florida polling.

And where does that leave Sir Rudy of 9/11, the man whose financiers (such as they are) and supporters (such as they are) reportedly were reportedly responsible for turning Melly Mel into a "tower of Jell-o" last week? He's somewhere down in third place in the must-win Sunshine State, tied with Mike Huckabee (who will probably beat him on Tuesday...)

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posted by JReid @ 3:43 PM  
My latest Broward Times article
On Black professionals who choose to remain in the inner city.

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posted by JReid @ 3:30 PM  
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
You can't win if you don't play

Rudy Giuliani is finding out the hard way that there really is no new way to run a campaign. You just don't skip all of the early contests, get locked out of the news cycle for a month, and then ride in on a white horse in Florida, and expect to blow by the competition after that.

Rudy has several core problems that the mainstream media has missed:

1. His last big news cycle was a disaster. The stories about police shuttling his mistress around before she was his wife weren't helpful for a candidate running on little else besides 9/11. Without some larger narrative, Rudy has always run the risk of getting sucked into the sinkhole of his pretty miserable personal story, once the 9/11 zombie juice wore off and the New York-based press started covering him again.

2. There was no next big news cycle. Just as Judygate was dying down, the news became all about the cat fights between Barack and Hillary, and all about the big wins for ... pick the Republican ... Huckabee! Romney! McCain! Nowhere in this media narrative could one find a guy named Rudolph Giuliani. And in politics, voters forget you faster than they forgive you.

3. While nobody was thinking about Rudy, he was busy burning through his scant campaign stash in the Sunshine State. Rudy spent his money in Florida like a drunken tourist on a cruise ship, and now that he's nearly out of cash, and paying his senior staffers with hugs (does Rudy actually hug, or does he just grimace with that skull face of his and pat repeatedly...?) there's no way he can out-gun his rivals where he has telegraphed to the entire world that he is going to make his stand: Florida. Florida is a pricey media market, and without money, he's becoming more uncompetitive by the day. And Super Tuesday is going to cost the candidates a hell of a lot more than Florida.

4. The media is wrong about Rudy's appeal in Florida. Rudy was popular for a minute down here with about a third of Republican voters, not because they're New Yorkers and they love him, but because they're NOT New Yorkers and he's a Republican who's tough on the so-called "war on terror," and Florida Republicans are conservative GWOT hawks. Truth be told, the New Yorkers who have retired down here are largely to be found in places like Broward County (dubbed the "sixth borough" of Manhattan), Palm Beach and Boca Raton -- and earth to media, they're mostly FDR Democrats, who hate Rudy's guts. In fact, I don't know a single New Yorker down here who likes Rudy. And don't get me started on former N.Y. firefighters... Rudy's support in Florida came not from nostalgic New Yorkers, but from hawkish southerners and anti-Castro Cubans. Now, both are walking away from him in favor of John McCain.

5. Rudy Giuliani is a terrible candidate. He is a one-noter, and with the Republicans mind-numbing the rest of us into believing that the surge has worked, combined with an economy headed to recession, Iraq, and the global war on terror, have suddenly gone off the front pages. Once the election shifted squarely toward "the economy, stupid," Rudy suddenly didn't seem so important. After all, he's known for his one day of glory (like the balding 40 year old who's still prattling on about that big, winning touchdown he made in high school to anyone who'll listen...) not for his economic prowess. And no matter what Chris Matthews tells you, Rudy's just not that likable, nor is he that electable without a major terrorism scare factor (something which also makes no sense, since he didn't stop 9/11, or predict 9/11, he merely survived 9/11 ... )

But will he survive past Tuesday?

As they say in Brooklyn, it don't look good...

New polls have Rudy trailing John McCain in New York (gasp! They can't stand him there, either!), New Jersey (where he's down 29-26) and California (where he's also given up a lead). And a new Florida poll shows Sir Rudy of 9/11 falling into ... wait for it ... third place:
Rudy Giuliani has hit the skids in a Florida freefall that could shatter his presidential campaign and leave a two-man Republican contest in the state between John McCain and Mitt Romney, a Miami Herald poll shows.

Despite hovering over Florida voters for weeks, Giuliani is tied for third place with the scarcely visible Mike Huckabee in a statewide poll of 800 likely voters.

With his poll numbers slipping back home in the Northeast, Giuliani's campaign will implode if he can't turn it around in the six days left before Florida's Jan. 29 vote, the final gateway before a blitz of primaries around the nation that could sew up the race.

''He may be running for president, but with these numbers he wouldn't be elected governor of Florida,'' said Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, whose firm conducted the survey with Democratic pollsters Schroth, Eldon & Associates for The Herald, The St. Petersburg Times and Bay News 9. Alluding to the timeworn song, Conway added: ``If he can't make it there in Florida, he can't make it anywhere.''

Asked about the 13 percent of the voters who haven't made up their minds, pollster Rob Schroth said he didn't expect them to fuel a Giuliani comeback.

''Giuliani for all intents and purposes has virtually no chance to win in Florida,'' he said.
Well when you've lost Kellyanne Conway... More on the Florida poll:
...the leading Republicans are waging fierce campaigns in Florida, the biggest prize yet of the primary season. McCain is narrowly leading the Republican field with 25 percent of the vote, followed by Romney with 23 percent. The gap is within the poll's margin of error, placing the Arizona senator and the former Massachusetts governor in a statistical tie.

Incidentally, McCain is leading Rudy by 10 points in South Florida, the place where the media would have you believe Rudy is strongest...
Statewide, Giuliani received support from 15 percent, down from 36 percent in a Miami Herald poll in November. The poll was conducted Jan. 20-22, after Fred Thompson came up short in the South Carolina primary but before he quit the race Tuesday afternoon.

Huckabee, a charismatic former Baptist minister, is popular among frequent churchgoers, young voters and residents of the conservative Panhandle of the state, according to the poll. Romney was the second choice for born-again Christians, suggesting that his Mormon religion is not a political liability. His stronghold is the southwest part of the state.
One more quote from Kellyanne Conway deserves mention. It's tucked into this nice little couplet:
''Giuliani has gone from a prohibitive favorite to a second-tier candidate. . . and the drop is traceable to dramatic erosion in South Florida,'' said Tom Eldon, Schroth's pollingpartner.

After retreating from New Hampshire weeks ago, Giuliani's campaign decided to hunker down in Florida and argued that the state would catapult him to the nomination. What the campaign failed to anticipate was that his poll numbers would plunge as rivals picked off smaller states with earlier contests.

''This Giuliani campaign strategy of betting it all on Florida somehow miscalculated how Florida voters would disregard his performance in other states -- it does matter to them if somebody has been a loser,'' Conway said.

''Giuliani's decision to pull out of the early states is going to go down in history,'' Eldon added.
Loser ... ouch ...

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posted by JReid @ 10:09 PM  
Another blow to Bush's war on terror
A Miami judge let reason be her guide in the case of supposed "dirty bomber" ... oh no, wait, the government never actually charged him with that ... terrorist conspirator ... um, okay, not quite ... terrorist sympathiser-type ... guy ... Jose Padilla, sentencing the former Chicago gang member to 17 years in prison for his "material support" conviction. The Bush administration had wanted a life sentence for Padilla, although they never could quite articulate what for. The key points, courtesy of the Miami Herald:
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke gave Padilla, a man inextricably linked to the Bush administration's war on terror, a prison term of 17 years and four months for participating in a South Florida-based conspiracy to aid Muslims in ``violent jihad.''

The judge's decision to grant far below a life sentence was a blow to the government. Cooke reasoned that Padilla's crime was not tantamount to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks or the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

''There was never a plot to harm individuals in the United States,'' Cooke said. ``There was never a plot to overthrow the U.S. government.''

Padilla, 37, a U.S. citizen accused of training with the global terrorist group al Qaeda, stared blankly as Cooke condemned his ''harsh'' treatment as an ''enemy combatant'' in a Naval brig before his transfer to Miami to face terrorism charges. Cooke deducted the time Padilla spent in military custody -- 3 ½ years -- from his total sentence.

''I do find that the conditions were so harsh that they warrant consideration,'' Cooke told a crowded courtroom of lawyers, media and family members.

Padilla's mentor, Adham Amin Hassoun, a Palestinian who had met him at a Fort Lauderdale mosque in the 1990s, and Hassoun's colleague, Kifah Wael Jayyousi, a U.S. citizen of Jordanian descent, were sentenced to 15 years and eight months, and 12 years and 8 months, respectively.
Cooke essentially made the decision that Padilla was not involved in a specific enough plot to warrant life:
On Tuesday, she called the crimes committed by the three men ''very serious.'' Still, she stressed they caused no harm to anyone or anything in the United States.

Cooke further said that while they conspired to help Islamic extremists abroad, they also sent food, medicine and clothing to embattled Muslims. She also said that Hassoun, 45, and Jayyousi, 46, were educated men -- one was a computer programmer, the other an engineer -- who had no criminal history. On the other hand, she noted that Padilla had a violent criminal record as a Chicago gang member before moving to South Florida.

She said the government's proposed life terms were out of sync with past punishment for more serious domestic terrorists. She cited the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, the ''20th hijacker'' in the Sept. 11 assaults, who was sentenced last year to life imprisonment. She also noted the case of Terry Nichols, who also received life for his role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. By comparison, Cooke cited the case of Yahya Goba, a Yemeni American who trained with al Qaeda and received 10 years after pleading guilty to providing ''material support'' for the terrorist group.

She also mentioned the case of David Hicks, who was released from an Australian prison in December after completing a U.S. sentence handed down at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He was caught fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan in December 2001 and spent more than five years at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba, before agreeing to be transferred to Australia to serve out a nine-month sentence.
A good story overall, but you've got to love this little bit of stenography by the reporter, Jay Weaver:
That allegation, among other accusations, was not pursued by prosecutors at trial because of national security reasons.
Riiiight... that, or they didn't have any actual evidence...
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posted by JReid @ 9:20 AM  
Fred goes back to bed
Thompson is out of the presidential race. No shocker, there. He has done his job, and now will wait the opportunity to form the oldest, dullest presidential ticket in history, with his friend John McCain...Link

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posted by JReid @ 9:16 AM  
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Our long national nightmare is over
Duncan Hunter dropped out of the race for president yesterday. ... I'm sure the front runners are breathing much easier tonight...

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posted by JReid @ 12:45 AM  
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Baghdad John buries the hatchet
John McCain buried the ghosts of 2000 in South Carolina, winning the primary (without an institutional smear merchant like Bush in the race, it was much easier) and winning the expectations battle against Mike Huckabee (who now must explain the rationale as to how he can possibly be nominated president if he cannot win South Carolina, a state that should have been his for the taking...)

Now it's on to Florida, where despite the media's best hopes for Rudy, McCain is now definitely the front runner.

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posted by JReid @ 11:54 PM  
How the frontrunners stole my joy

It has finally happened. For the first time in my thirty ... something ... years ... I am sick -- I mean really sick -- of politics.

No, scratch that.

I still love politics -- the sport of it, and the import of it. What I'm sick of is this presidential campaign, at least on the Democratic side. The nasty, no-holds-barred trench warfare between camps Clinton and Obama is wearing me out. Hell, I didn't even blog about the Nevada outcome (Hillary won, did ya hear?) And that's just not like me.

But I didn't, because I'm sick of the both of them. I'm sick of hearing about how one is a liar and a dishonest, racist reprobate (and her husband, too) and how the other is a phony who really wasn't against the war. I'm tired of the back and forth charges, including everything from voter intimidation and suppression to ... oh hell, whatever.

I'm sick of the Congressional Black Caucus fighting with one another over which side of history they ought to be on.

For that matter, I'm sick of the increasingly polarized racial politics surrounding the Democratic primary.

I'm sick of hearing (and saying) how pathological Chris Matthews' hatred of the Clintons appears to be.

I'm really sick of John Edwards. Would someone please yank that son-of-a-mill worker into a back room and billy club him until he agrees to drop out of the race? Dude, you aren't going to be president! Get over it already. Jeez... (Oh, and Politico? How can Edwards be king maker if he has no freaking delegates with which to make a king!!!????) God, just stop giving him attention, it just encourages him!

Damnit, I'm just sick of this primary season.

For god's sakes, can one of the frontrunners win the damn thing already and put the other on the ticket, heal the party, and get on with campaigning against John McCain ... or Mitt Romney ... or whoever...? Just wake me when it's over, will you?

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posted by JReid @ 11:30 PM  
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
40 percent
That's the percentage of the Democratic vote in Michigan that went to "uncomitted." Geez. Here are the final results:

(Candidate / votes / % / delegates) 96% of precincts reporting

Democrats

Hillary Clinton310,14655%0
Uncommitted224,25840%

Dennis Kucinich20,9914%0
Chris Dodd3,6741%0
Mike Gravel2,2820%0

Republicans:

Mitt Romney330,77139%13
John McCain251,65930%10
Mike Huckabee136,45116%5
Ron Paul53,2746%0
Fred Thompson31,3654%0
Rudy Giuliani24,1303%0
Uncommitted17,5122%

Duncan Hunter2,7650%0

Look at Rudy down there with Uncomitted. And he is the most electable candidate ... how...?
posted by JReid @ 12:02 AM  
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Wah ... wah ... waaaaaaaahhh...
What happened to all that McCain magic in Michigan? Wasn't this supposed to be Baghdad John's insurgent moment, when he took down that plasticine pimpernel, Mitt Romney, to seize the momentum, and the Republican nomination for president?

I spoke with a friend of mine in Michigan tonight, and she reminded me of a big, gigantic reason why the media, once again, got ahead of themselves on McCain's maverick potential in the industrial heartland:

Mitt Romney.

You know, the son of the very popular former governor of Michigan and president of American Motors -- in Detroit -- whose name is also Romney? (George Romney, that is.) And the guy who still has family members running around the place all popular like, and whose names are ... also Romney?

Yep. That Mitt Romney.


Mitt Romney pictured with his dad, former Michigan Governor George Romney,
in New York in 1964 (Romney ran for president as an unremarkable Mormon in 1968.)
Click here for a fascinating vintage article from TIME on George Romney's
"brainwashing" on Vietnam...


The guy who just won Michigan by about 9 points.

So where does Ole' Johnny go from here? Not to South Carolina, my dears. That's Huckabot territory (with Fred Thompson finally having a pulse and Romney beating expectations, I'd guess...) And Florida? Bible belt. Give that to the Huckster, too (Rudy? Um ... in Miami, maybe, but north of Orange County? I think not.)

Update: And what's with McCain's concession speech in which he slipped and said that the voters of "Mexi... I mean Michigan ... rewarded a native son...?" Is that the old, nasty McCain coming back, or a genuine slip of the tongue...? Hell, this is politics. That was the nasty McCain.

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posted by JReid @ 11:46 PM  
Win one for the Mittster
Mitt Romney gets a Gold in his dad's home state.

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posted by JReid @ 11:13 PM  
The least bitchy debate yet!
The top three Dems managed to debate with civility, and with a recognition that after all, they are all members of the same political party.

Good show (with the exception of the first half hour, during which I got the feeling Russert was conducting group psychoanalysis or auditioning someone to babysit his kids, rather than a future president of the United States.

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posted by JReid @ 11:10 PM  
35 minutes
That's how long the MSNBC debate hosts, Tim Russert and Brian Williams, went without asking a single substantive question on policy of any of the three Democratic front runners. Instead, we spent a full half hour on the various and sundry ways the candidates -- by virtue of their opponents' race, gender or likability -- have hurt each other's feelings.

Long after both Obama and Clinton had put to rest the racial dust-up, and declared their candidacies to be moving forward, and after poor John Edwards was forced to suffer the indignity of having to answer a ridiculous question that began with, "what's a white man to do..." Russert and Company were still asking pablum questions about why the candidates and their staffs talk so gosh-darn mean about one another.

I'd like to propose a thought experiment: let's hook up electrodes to Tim Russert's body and deliver a significant electric shock to him each time he uses the phrase "do you regret saying..."

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posted by JReid @ 9:47 PM  
The MLK Day truce
Not that their staffs have gotten the memo, but the Clinton and Obama camps have reportedly called a truce on the race issue, just in time for tonight's Las Vegas debate. Good move, particularly for Barack, who has benefited from finally marshaling the Black vote based on the dust-up (which helps him in South Carolina, big time,) but who doesn't want to fight the entire primary on that ground. For her part, Hillary gets out of hot water, and gets to send her hubby home to Chappaqua.

Winner: Obama.

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posted by JReid @ 7:38 PM  
Where is Stepha?

When you have hope, sometimes you block out anything and everything that has the potential to take it from you. That is, in some ways, what I believe Stepha Henry has done for the better part of a year, after her 22-year-old daughter Stepha disappeared after going out with a family acquaintance on the last day of Labor Day weekend last year.

For months, myself and other members of a local community organization, the Watch Group, immersed ourselves in the case, with a couple of us getting to know Ms. Henry and her family well. This is the outcome we dreaded, and were bracing ourselves for:
Miami Herald, Jan. 15 - The news of the arrest of a 32-year-old man on charges he killed Stepha Henry, the 22-year-old from Brooklyn, N.Y., who has been missing since Memorial Day weekend, provided mild relief to her father Steve Henry. [FYI: The man pictured in the photo at left is the suspect, Kendrick Williams, on the night he and Stepha went to Peppers Cafe in Broward County. When Gary Johnson and other members of the Watch Group went out with Texas Equusearch to try and find Stepha with other volunteers, they were looking for the white tank top and black blouse that Stepha has on in this pic, which was taken some time on the night of May 29.]

''We've been looking for Stepha for so long,'' he said Tuesday afternoon. ``They say they have this guy. We are sad but we are happy. Maybe he will lead us to her.''

Miami-Dade detectives arrested Kendrick Lincoln Williams in New York on Tuesday morning.

[Kendrick Williams is known to the Henry family.
He is a Grenadian who also has Trinidadian roots.
He also has a wife and child...]


They found him sleeping inside a vehicle in a parking lot at Canarsie Pier, in the Jamaica Bay section of Brooklyn.

He was charged with second-degree murder and tampering with evidence.

Henry, an aspiring attorney and a recent John Jay College honors graduate, had been in South Florida over the Memorial Day weekend to celebrate her 16-year-old sister Shola's birthday. They were staying with relatives in Miami Gardens.

Henry spent several days shopping and going to the beach. On the night of May 29, before she was to leave, she called her mother and said she was going to a nightclub.

Williams picked her up in a dark-colored Acura Integra at her aunt's home. He had purchased the car in New York and driven it down to Florida, Miami-Dade police said.

The pair went to Peppers Cafe nightclub in Sunrise.

A camera crew taping a promotional video at the club that night captured footage of Henry inside the club.

It was the last time she was seen alive. ...
Detectives found the car in September, apparently -- something my sources weren't telling me at the time. Once they did, it was just a matter of time before they picked this guy up. It's a sad outcome, and I pray that Ms. Henry and her family find some sort of closure, and the police put the screws to that murdering S.O.B. and make him tell them where Stepha's body is.

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posted by JReid @ 4:49 PM  
Monday, January 14, 2008
Who the hell listens to Bob Johnson anyway?
If you're Robert Johnson, and you've been almost single handedly denigrating the image of Black people -- women in particular -- over the last 30 years, and you're generally considered to be a man who would sell out your own people for the price of horse riding lessons for your spoiled-ass kids, you probably shouldn't get involved in the Obama-Hillary spat. But if you're Bob Johnson, you're just dumb enough to do so.
Bob Johnson Criticizes Obama

By PHILIP ELLIOTT – 21 hours ago

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — One of Hillary Rodham Clinton's most prominent black supporters said Sunday he was insulted by the characterization by rival Barack Obama's presidential campaign of her remarks about the civil rights movement.

Bob Johnson, the nation's first black billionaire and founder of the BET cable television network, said Obama's campaign had acted dishonestly and had distorted Clinton's remarks about Martin Luther King Jr.

Johnson also seemed to hint at Obama's acknowledged youthful drug use, an issue that led another Clinton campaign official to resign. Johnson later denied that was the case.

Clinton was quoted just before the New Hampshire primary as saying King's dream of racial equality was realized only when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Some black leaders have criticized that remark as suggesting Johnson deserved more credit than the slain civil rights leader for the passage and enactment of major civil rights legislation.

While introducing Clinton at Columbia College on Sunday, Johnson criticized Obama's camp.

"That kind of campaign behavior would not be reasonable with me for a guy who says 'I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sidney Poitier,'" said Johnson, owner of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. He commented after Clinton said in a televised interview Sunday that she hoped the campaign would not be about race.

Johnson also said Obama's own record should give voters pause.

"To me, as an African American, I am frankly insulted the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues — when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood; I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in his book — when they have been involved," Johnson said. ...

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posted by JReid @ 6:20 PM  
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Mike McConnell explains it all
National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell states the obvious:
Mr McConnell said it would also be torture if water-boarding, which involves simulated drowning, resulted in water entering a detainee's lungs.

He told the New Yorker there would be a "huge penalty" for anyone using it if it was ever determined to be torture.

The US attorney-general has declined to rule on whether the method is torture.

However, Michael Mukasey said during his Senate confirmation hearing that water-boarding was "repugnant to me" and that he would institute a review.
Good for him, but a shame that it's still even a question...

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posted by JReid @ 1:50 AM  
The race on race
The Clinton camp is trying to beat back a fresh tide of negative press over Hillary's rather ill-advised remarks about MLK vs. LBJ in the civil rights struggle. Camp Clinton is blaming the Obama team for the hubbub, and on the right flank, Big Bill is walking the media back from that "fairy tale" fairy tale (he really didn't call Barack's candidacy a product of the imagination, he was talking about the notion that Obama was always against the Iraq war, but there you go ... the media cycle is sound bite driven, and both Clintons should know that by now...)

Whatever the facts regarding the comments, they come on the heels of that "drug dealer" flap which emanated from a Clinton staffer, and they have brought something new -- and very old -- to the Democratic Party: racial tension. It's something the party dealt with half a century ago, but it's a new phenomenon for the modern party. And who would have ever thought the racial tensions would surround people with the last name Clinton... Worse, for Hillary, the drama is playing out in the worst possible place: South Carolina, at the worst possible time (the vote is January 26th).

I earlier speculated in this post, and this one, that the Obama-Clinton race may finally expose a fault line within the Democratic Party as regards race. Black voters are assumed to be Democratic enthusiasts almost as a matter of DNA, but if you peel the onion, you'll find a lot of resentment there -- Black folk feel routinely taken advantage of (at election time) and then taken for granted when the voting is done. Democrats seem to magically appear in the Black community (usually in church) six weeks before an election, and then, just as magically, they disappear after Election Day. But one thing that the punditocracy could always count on: the fact that Black voters love the Clintons -- or at least we love Bill.

Well...

The Obama candidacy is forcing many Black voters to question even that construct. Sure, we did well during the 1990s, and I personally am a big fan of the Clintons. But one has to ask oneself, with a strong, credible, qualified candidate like Barack Obama on the table, why should we feel compelled to repay the Clintons -- yet again -- for their decades-old largesse? What do we owe them? What do we owe the party? And do they not reciprocally owe us the opportunity to see the party's leadership expanded to include people who look like us?

As I've said before, the Barack Obama candidacy is the start of a long, possibly painful reorganization of the African-American political mind. It's a good thing, and a necessary thing.

Change, after all, is good.

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posted by JReid @ 12:31 AM  
Ha!
Christopher Matthews finally takes it on the chin over his Hillary hateration.

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posted by JReid @ 12:27 AM  
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Rudy barely ahead in New York ... and courting controversy in Florida
Rudy Giuliani has bet all his chips on Florida, which his chaos theory of campaigning postulates will sling shot him through to "Tsunami Tuesday" on February 5th, causing him to mop up states like an electoral Swifter Sweeper. Then, he laughs (demonically) all the way to the convention.

Okay, well let's say Rudy does win Florida (which I rather doubt will happen at this point, given the fact that he has run out of both money and media interest, while Mike Huckabee is catching on nicely, thank you, on the GOP side...) doesn't the Man Who Made NYPD Cops Walk His Girlfriend's Dog have to win New York ... too...?

A new poll suggests that John McCain is right on Rudy's tail in his home state. From Pollster.com:

Among 471 likely Republican primary voters, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani runs at 32%, Sen. John McCain at 29% in a statewide primary; former Gov. Mike Huckabee trails at 12%, former Gov. Mitt Romney at 7%, former Sen. Fred Thompson at 6%.

Not a good look for Rudy.

Neither is this. Rudy's Florida strategy is partly predicated on the fact that Florida is home to so many retired New Yorkers, whom he, and much of the media, assumes love the guy. But what if they don't? Broward County, where I live, is nicknamed "the Sixth Borough" of New York because there are so many of us here. But I don't know a single former New Yorker who likes ... scratch that ... who doesn't despise, Giuliani. For one reason or another, he is not necessarily beloved by all former Big Apple residents. One big group who is iffy on the mayor: firefighters. And Rudy is testing them, big time: he is scheduled to be in Miami tomorrow for the Three Kings Parade, where he will pal around with Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina. From the Herald:
Giuliani firetruck ride splits firefighters
BY MARC CAPUTO
Rudy Giuliani's plan to ride in a Miami-Dade firetruck in Sunday's Three Kings parade has outraged some firefighters who say the presidential candidate has ''lied'' about his 9/11 record because he did too little to equip and protect emergency workers.

The controversy -- unwittingly set in motion by County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa -- has politically pitted firefighters against one another in Miami-Dade as well as in New York. To quiet the feud, the IAFF's local Miami-Dade chapter, 1403, will cover its numbers on the union-owned firetruck by draping it with an American flag.

Giuliani's campaign said he will probably ride in the truck and walk beside it with firefighters.

The campaign responded to questions about his record with a statement that stressed his generous spending on New York emergency management agencies. It also dismissed some firefighter attacks on his mayoral record as a partisan smear linked to the Democratic-leaning International Association of Fire Fighters union, which released a popular but questionable YouTube video and website calling the Republican's leadership an ``Urban Legend.''

Jim Riches, a recently retired New York firefighter featured in the union's media, told The Miami Herald that Giuliani doesn't deserve to go anywhere near a flag-draped firetruck.

''This is improper. Rudy lied about what he did on 9/11. He's giving the appearance he's backed by firefighters and he isn't,'' Riches said, ``Rudy has to go all the way down to Florida to get firefighters to stand next to him because he can't get that support in New York.'' ...

...Riches said he believes his son, Jimmy Riches, died in the north tower of the World Trade Center because the radio system and command were so ineffective that he never got the word to evacuate.

''We had the same radio system we had when the World Trade Center was attacked in 1993,'' he said. ``We didn't have respirators to help with the cleanup and rescue, so now 70 percent of first responders are sick. And he promoted people to the top who all ran before the towers fell.''

Riches learned of Giuliani's invitation in an e-mail to all Metro-Dade Firefighters union members that listed local firefighter Joaquin Del Cueto as a contact. Closing with ''ALL HANDS ON DECK!!!'' the e-mail invites members to meet Giuliani, wear Giuliani T-shirts and walk beside the firetruck to ``GET OUT THE VOTE!!!!'' ...
I've spoken with a high ranking member of the southeastern region of IAFF, and I can tell you that Rudy cannot count on firefighters in Florida to go out for him. They are split between Democrat and Republican candidates like everyone else, but there's definitely no special love for Rudy among former New York firefighters, any more than there is among expat New Yorkers in general. That's just one of the reasons Rudy's election strategy is risky at best, and probably not too bright.


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posted by JReid @ 11:52 PM  
Who's the most polarizing?
Drudge is up with an advance on a CNN poll that if Drudge has it right, says some interesting things about Americans' attitudes. Wanna guess who the most polarizing candidate in the race is?
CNN/OPINION RESEARCH CORPORATION POLL
January 9-10
REGISTERED VOTERS
Would Definitely Vote Against That Candidate in November

Romney 62%
Giuliani 55%
Huckabee 52%
Clinton 43%
McCain 43%
Obama 38%

Sampling error: +/-3.5% pts
Wow. Americans really have a problem with the magic underpants! And who do you suppose has the most committed support? Think women...
CNN/OPINION RESEARCH CORPORATION POLL
January 9-10
REGISTERED VOTERS
Would Definitely Vote For That Candidate in November

Clinton 37%
Obama 30%
McCain 22%
Giuliani 19%
Huckabee 15%
Romney 13%

Sampling error: +/-3.5% pts

Very interesting.

More detail on the results for poll junkies like me:
CNN/OPINION RESEARCH CORPORATION POLL
January 9-10 (
Sampling error: +/-3.5% pts)
Registered Voters' Intentions If Clinton Wins the Nomination

Definitely vote for 37%
Consider voting for 19%
Definitely vote against 43%

Registered Voters' Intentions If Obama Wins the Nomination

Definitely vote for 30%
Consider voting for 32%
Definitely vote against 38%

Registered Voters' Intentions If McCain Wins the Nomination

Definitely vote for 22%
Consider voting for 35%
Definitely vote against 43%

Registered Voters' Intentions If Giuliani Wins the Nomination

Definitely vote for 19%
Consider voting for 25%
Definitely vote against 55%

Registered Voters' Intentions If Huckabee Wins the Nomination

Definitely vote for 15%
Consider voting for 31%
Definitely vote against 52%

Registered Voters' Intentions If Romney Wins the Nomination

Definitely vote for 13%
Consider voting for 25%
Definitely vote against 62%

Sampling error: +/-3.5% pts


If these numbers are to be believed, Barack Obama is the least polarizing candidate, and he and McCain merithttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif the highest consideration. But Hillary has the most committed support, probably because the survey had a large sample of women.

Interesting stuff...

Also, a pollster friend of mine pointed out rightly that Clinton was leading in all of the tracking polls going into New Hampshire, right up until the end. And my pollster friend provided this useful link to the great poll decoding site going: pollster.com.

Update: CNN.com spins the poll in McCain's favor. The media still loves him!

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posted by JReid @ 11:09 PM  
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Splitsville
The theme for this presidential year may be: coalition splitting.

On the Democratic side, I see a rift developing between two of the major legs of the base -- white women and African-Americans. The Barack-Hillary race could bring this to a head, probably in South Carolina.

On the GOP side, I have been stunned by the viciousness with which much of the "conservative" base hates Mike Huckabee (it's been clear for some time that Republicans despise their Libertarian cohort, represented by Ron Paul -- after all, Libertarians expose the GOP for what it has become: a big government, corporatist party.) I think that Huckabee in many ways poses the same problem, exposing the Republican Party for its phoniness on the issue of religion (in fact, much of the base despises and looks down upon evangelical Christians, much as liberal secularists do). Huckabee also exposes the idea of "compassionate conservatism" for the fraud that it is. Huckabee, as a traditional Christian, favors aid the poor, comfort to the afflicted, peace rather than war, and all the other tenets of the Book of Matthew. The bulk of the GOP do not. They despise the poor almost as much as they despise evangelical, "do gooder" Christians, and they only find use for the latter around election time -- when they use them as brazenly as Democrats use (and then ignore) African-Americans.

What's interesting about this year is that the veil appears to have fallen away from the eyes of many voters, who now see their own parties for the frauds that they are. Blacks are waking up to Democratic benign neglect and plantationism, in this case represented by the Clinton assumption that "their folks" will come along (aided by Black elected officials). For Republican "SoCons" (social conservatives), the realization has been harder hitting, with President Bush leading the let-down by failing to push for a single cause evangelicals hold dear (I've been trying to tell you folks that your Methodist president never had any such intentions on gay marriage or abortion. Methodists just aren't that motivated. I know, I was one...) And if the war in Iraq, the headlong rush toward corporatocracy and the abandonment of the compassionate conservative agenda hasn't sobered up the churchy set, the all-out war on Mike Huckabee should, in short order.

All that's left now, is the voting. Will people vote by rote, or will they vote their convictions? The candidates are on the edge of their seats, which is exactly where they should be.

posted by JReid @ 9:04 AM  
An excellent point
As usual, Keith Olbermann is the voice of reason in a sea of insanity (Chris Matthews). Last night on Countdown, Olbermann broke down the spinsanity in the wake of the New Hampshire "upset" by Hillary Clinton, who had been the front runner for the better part of a year before losing her momentum to Barack Obama in the closing weeks. Matthews and other pundits have been practically leaping out of windows in their overwrought condition after failing, for the second time in 20 years, to seal the downfall of the Clinton family. And Matthews in particular has been blaming everything from the pollsters to lying, racist, white poll respondents who lacked the courage to admit to their inner Archie Bunker.

Well ... a funny thing happened on the way to the polls.

As Keith pointed out, they may not have been as wrong as they seemed.

Here's what Barack Obama had going in to the primary, according to the major polls taken between January 5 and January 7:

Suffolk/WHDH-TV: 39%
ARG: 40
Reuters/CSPAN/Zogby: 42
Rasmussen 37
CNN/WMUR/UNH 39
Marist 36
CBS News 35

...for an average, courtesy of RealClearPolitics, of 38.3%.

In the end, Obama got 37% of the vote. That's pretty close, and it presents the frightening prospect that the Rasmussen poll was the most accurate of all... perhaps because it is a rolling snapshot poll, unlike the others, and had by far the largest sample.

What appears to have been wrong in the polls, was not the Obama number, but rather the Clinton number, and even that wasn't wrong, so much as it was missing a crucial part: the undecideds.

Let's take the Rasmussen poll, for example. It scored the race as follows:

Obama 37
Clinton 30
Edwards 19
Richardson 8

My math says that leaves 6 points on the table. If Hillary takes the remainder, she's even with Obama. But something else also appears to have happened -- late deciders and weak supporters of other candidates defected to Hillary as well. Either that, or Independents, who may not have been well represented in any of the Democratic race polls, broke heavily for Hillary in the end.

That is not to vindicate the pollsters. It's just to say that while all of us missed the boat on how strong the backlash would be among women against the media and opposition onslaught against Hillary, the polls for Barack were pretty stable, for the most part (although many had his numbers where I had them -- in the 40s, which clearly didn't pan out.)

In the end, I think the hand wringing is bad for Barack, and he would do well not to follow Chris Matthews' lead in whingeing about the outcome.

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posted by JReid @ 8:46 AM  
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
I wonder...
...if Hillary's win tonight, and the way it slammed the breaks on the euphoria over Obama's big win in Iowa, could be the thing that starts to break the spell the Clintons have over Black voters. Which way will they lean in South Carolina, particularly given some of the more caustic comments that have come from Camp Hillary (not to mention that drug dealing bomblet...) and Hillary's enduring hold over much of the Congressional Black Caucus?

Internal polling within both the Clinton and Obama camps showed Obama winning by 10 plus margins (as did my predictions), and it's causing some analysts to wonder whether the polls were wrong because white respondents weren't being quite honest about the way they would vote (commonly called the "Bradley effect"...) If that perception begins to take hold, will Black voters take their frustrations out on Hillary ... or on the Democratic Party writ large, particularly in November if Hillary is the nominee? I will confess to a feeling of disappointment over Barack's second place finish tonight -- I had begun to imagine him as the nominee, and had begun to shed a bit of my cynicism about the utility of the politics of bi-partisanship (my husband can tell you I generally don't believe it can be done. Barack damned near convinced me...) I imagine that many other Black voters are feeling the same way tonight, even if we rather like the Clintons... How that plays out in the next two primaries is anyone's guess...

And given Hillary's wide victory margin with New Hampshire women (read, white women) ... could we soon see the beginnings of a fracture of the Democratic coalition along the lines of Black voters, young voters and Democratic leaning independents versus white women voters?

And there's yet another variable, with the Nevada primary coming up next Tuesday: Latino voters. Where, oh where, do THEY wind up?

It gets even more interesting from here...

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posted by JReid @ 12:43 AM  
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Revenge of the white women
UPDATE: Hillary has won it in new Hampshire. Previously written post below...



The surprise showing win by Hillary Clinton (the former front runner, not for nothing...) in New Hampshire is mainly a surprise because of the polling going in (and the media's fervent hope that Hil would go down in flames and leave the way clear for an Obama ascendancy). But those of us who got caught up in the rapture (myself included, since I plan to vote for Barack, and see his candidacy as terrific for the country) ... forgot the bottom line in politics: it's not about the polls, it's about the ground game. GOTV (get out the vote) is the name of the game on election day, and the polls don't always tell you what's going on in people's minds on the day it counts.

Hillary Clinton has a few basic advantages to work with (leaving Bill aside for the moment.) Those include:

- The Clinton ground machine, which consists of some of the best GOTV teams in the country, and a national infrastructure that's strong in a lot of states, New Hampshire being one of the strongest. Barack, as a community organizer, knows how to fight the ground game as well, and I suspect that he will show as much in South Carolina (where he has definite advantages), but if you were anywhere but under a rock in 1992 and 1996, you know that the Clinton's know how to play this game.

- Harold Ickes. The Bill Clinton advisor who created ACT -- America Coming Together -- the 527 that I worked for in Florida in 2004. ACT raised more than $200 million, and compiled one of the largest, most sophisticated electronic voter databases in the country. I'm not sure what happened to that database in the end, but armed with thousands of Palm Pilots containing block by block data on every registered Democratic voter in New Hampshire -- including behavioral statistics such as how often the voter participates and polling info -- Camp Clinton could knock on thousands of doors of households with voting women. That might have made the difference for Hillary tonight.

- Women ... and those tears. Hillary's choke up this week might just have put Hillary back in play, believe it or not. Hillary's tears looked to me like exasperation with the tide that had turned so sharply against her, and with the media's obvious euphoria over Obama (and their zeal to write her obituary.) Perhaps women voters in New Hampshire finally tired of the media's Clinton hatred, and attacks by the Chris Matthews of the world -- combined with liberal talk radio (led by people like Ed Shultz and Stephanie Miller) goading, sniping, slapping and belittling Hillary, combined with the attacks by her competitors -- and I'm sure the Clinton camp helped that pique along. The numbers are showing that whereas Barack beat Hillary among women in Iowa, in New Hampshire she's beating him (47%-34%), while he's winning men by 42% to 34%.

The Clinton camp likely made the argument to its potential women voters -- particularly those over age 50 -- that "they" (fill in the blanks: the Obama campaign, the lefty bloggers, the mainstream media ...) are stealing women's historic opportunity to win the White House and handing it to that young whippersnapper Barack. The idea of trading one historic candidacy for another may not be pretty, but it just might work for Hillary with some women voters.

- The media. (See the previous paragraph.) The media's all-out assault on Hillary, starting with that now infamous Philly debate in which Tim Russert joined her opponents and goaded Barack into attacking her, which followed near demands by Chris Matthews and Pat Buchanan that Barack begin attacking Hillary ... or else ... coupled with the MSM's zealous scripting of the obituary for the Clinton Era, may have produced a backlash among New Hampshire women. If Hillary squeaks it out, that may be one of the reasons. In fact, Chris Matthews may go down in history as the pundit who hated Mrs. Clintons back into contention. (And he'll take Howard Fineman down the chute with him...)

- Emily's List. (See women, above.) Emily's List is a powerful organization run by Ellen Malcolm, which commands a huge database rivaling ACT's (they were a partner in America Votes, an umbrella organization that included both ACT and Emily's List in 2004). Team Clinton likely activated them, along with other women-centric voter organizations. So what was Emily's List up to in New Hampshire? From their website:
The 2008 WOMEN VOTE! program, a nationwide voter mobilization and education project of EMILY’s List, has begun a campaign to reach out to women voters through the mail in the final days leading up to the New Hampshire presidential primary. [Exit polls suggest 20% of New Hampshire voters decided in the last three days... 17 percent said they decided today. Update: it looks like Hillary and Barack split the late decider vote roughly evenly...]

The WOMEN VOTE! program hopes to reach more than 50,000 Democratic women voters throughout the state in these last days before the first in the nation primary. In particular, the program will target women who are reliable voters and who also tend to wait to make up their minds on elections in these final days. The series of mailings, the first of which will reach women voters this week, will share important information on Senator Hillary Clinton and her strength and experience as a leader.
- Bill in attack mode. Okay, the moment for leaving Bill aside has passed. His attacks on Barack's readiness for office might have put just the bug in New Hampshire voters' ears that Hillary needed to win over older, particularly older women, voters. And the media's view of the Clintons is so jaded, that they clearly missed the boat on how effective those attacks would be. And don't count out the impact of Hillary's consistent message (to older voters) that Barack's healthcare plan doesn't cover all Americans.

- John McCain and Independents. He pulled more Independents in New Hampshire than the media thought. The idea was that a vast majority would vote on the D-side. That apparently didn't happen.

Update: The race is still too close to call, with Hillary at 39%, Brack at 36% andd 17% for Edwards. BTW the exit polls are showing that 57 percent of those voting in the Democratic primary tonight were women, and a whopping 54 percent were white women (just 3 percent were non-white women, and 41 percent were white men). Young voters also made up a smaller portion of the voter pool, according to the exit polls, than they did in Iowa, with just 18 percent of voters in New Hampshire being aged 29 or younger. Meanwhile, voters agedd 50-64 made up a third of the electorate. That also played into Hillary's hands.

Update 2: The race isn't over. Hanover County, which includes Dartmouth College, isn't in yet. But even if Obama pulls it off, this is clearly a second wind for the Clinton campaign. The MSM has been bitch slapped. It's the Comeback Kid 2.0.

Update 3 (10:32 p.m.): NBC News has declared Hillary the winner in New Hampshire, 39% to 36%. Big Bill might just get some in the Clinton house tonight...

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posted by JReid @ 9:37 PM  
Great speech by Huckabee
What are they putting in the water in Hope, Arkansas? Mike Huckabee is the best retail politician I've seen on the stump since Bill Clinton. Nice third place speech, complete with Huck's now standard pop culture reference (Elvis' birthday -- funny, he left out R. Kelly's...)

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posted by JReid @ 9:10 PM  
The Democratic race is too close to call...
How wrong was I about the Barack momentum in New Hampshire? Way wrong...

My predictions in parentheses alongside the returns so far:

Obama 37% (45%)
Clinton 39 (35)
Edwards 17 (17)
Richardson 5 (3)

The race is too close to call with 26% of precincts reporting.

Update: Just got off the phone with a friend of mine in Michigan. She's dubious about the results so far and smells a rat. I don't know about that, but Bill Clinton was clearly smart to lower expectations and start sounding the dirges today, because the media is absolutely flummoxed by the results so far, given their breathless coverage of Obama thus far. I think Chris Matthews' head is going to explode. And he had given his triumphant Obama speech earlier today and everything -- speculating on how big a blow-out it would be. To be honest, I was looking for a big margin for Barack myself.

Let's see how the rest of those returns come in...

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posted by JReid @ 8:58 PM  
One for Baghdad John
McCain's independent base comes through for him big time in New Hampshire. There's a pall over the House of Romney (I guess those magical underwear aren't so magical, after all.) And yet, McCain has no clearer path to the GOP nomination than Romney does, and Mike Huckabee, with a solid third place finish projected tonight, remains in position to take South Carolina (for McCain, could it be a repeat of 2000, without the "nigger daughter" nastiness served up by the Bushies?) Time will tell.

Tonight, however, the McCain camp is feeling good, in a deja vu sort of way...

The numbers appear to be shaking out this way (with my predictions in parens):

McCain 37% (35%)
Romney 28 (29)
Huckabee 12 (19)
Paul 9 (10)
Giuliani 9 (7) -- Giuliani is just slightly ahead of Paul...

Not bad on my part. Now the Dems are a toooootally different story...

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posted by JReid @ 8:47 PM  
Predictions
No big mystery here: I'm calling New Hampshire this way:

Obama 45%
Clinton 35
Edwards 17
Richardson 3

On the Republican side, I think McCain will pull it off:

McCain 35%
Romney 29
Huckabee 19
Paul 10
Giuliani 7

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posted by JReid @ 3:03 PM  
New Hampshire voting ... and the wayback machine
MSNBC is reporting that polling locations in New Hampshire are doing a brisk business today, with record turnout expected, and some places running low on ballots. Also interesting, in the former lone red New England state (Gore lost it, Kerry won it by less than 1.5% in 2004...) is the fact that most of the ballots on request today appear to be Democratic ones. New Hampshire already has a Democratic governor, and I believe the state house is now majority Dem as well. So it could be a safe bet, that particularly if Barack Obama is the nominee, that New Hampshire could be in the Dem column in November.

And now for a bit of a flashback from 2004, on the states won by Bush or Kerry by very slim margins:

Close Kerry winners:

Wisconsin, +0.38%
New Hampshire, + 1.37%
Michigan, +3.42%
Minnesota, + 3.48%
Pennsylvania, + 2.50%
Oregon, +4.16%

Close Bush winners:
Iowa, +0.67%
New Mexico, +0.79%
Ohio, +2.11%
Nevada, + 2.59%
Colorado, + 4.67%

In the end, Bush won 31 states and 50.7% of the popular vote (about 62 million votes) and Kerry won 19 states plus D.C., and about 59 million votes.

For Obama to win the White House, he would need to not lose any blue states (and I can't think of one that would switch on him because, say, of the race issue -- Wisonson? Minnesota? Oregon? They have negligible Black populations, but that doesn't necessarily carry the day -- look at Iowa...) and he would have to pick up a couple of those close Bush states, with Iowa, Ohio and New Mexico being pretty good prospects.

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posted by JReid @ 2:48 PM  
Lady MacHillry
Hillary Clinton may have committed one of the cardinal sins in poliltics -- tearing up on the campaign trail with the cameras rolling. Unfortunately, as a woman candidate, who was running as the American Margaret Thatcher, showing her soft side probably wasn't a good look for Hil. In many ways, I think she was registering some of the personal frustration of watching the Obama train barrel out of the station, passing her by... here's the video:



And here's the analysis from one of the major media outlets that has worked hard over the last 15 years or so to fuel the fall of the house of Clinton: Newsweek.

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posted by JReid @ 1:29 PM  
Friday, January 04, 2008
The CIA was warned: don't destroy the tapes
Some non-Iowa news from NBC: California hawk Jane Harman warned the CIA not to destroy the now infamous torture tapes:
WASHINGTON - The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee warned in a 2003 letter that destroying videotapes of terrorist interrogations would put the CIA under a cloud of suspicion, according to a newly declassified copy of the letter.

"Even if the videotape does not constitute an official record that must be preserved under the law, the videotape would be the best proof that the written record is accurate, if such record is called into question in the future," Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., wrote in a Feb. 10, 2003 letter to then-CIA general counsel Scott Muller. "The fact of destruction would reflect badly on the agency."

Harman's office released the declassified letter on Thursday, a day after the Justice Department announced it had opened a criminal investigation into the destruction of the tapes. The letter notes that a copy also went to then-CIA Director George Tenet.
drip ... drip ... drip...

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posted by JReid @ 1:18 AM  
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Winners and losers ...

(Bumped) Tonight's winners are pretty straightforward:

- Barack Obama - big win (8 points), great speech, press corps love, and huge momentum coming out of Iowa.
- Mike Huckabee - big win, (9 points), press corps love, and he still manages to get low expectations in New Hampshire, leaving room for this man from Hope to declare himself the "comeback kid" if he comes in a decent second.
- Ed Rollins - he finally jumped on a winning campaign (Huckabee's), after that Katherine Harris disaster...
- Cornell West (and not just because I absolutely love the guy, for his mind, of course!) - he was an Obama guy before being an Obama guy was cool.
- Florida Sen. Fredrica Wilson - for the same reason as Cornell West. Ditto other Black pols who bucked the establishment. ... at least tonight...
- Small money - Huckabee spent just $1.4 million, versus $7 million for Mitt.
- Big money - Barack out-spent Hillary $9 million to $7 million, although I doubt that's what won it for him.
- Evangelicals - they don't rule the GOP, but they rule the Iowa GOP...
- The Washington press corps / mainstream media - they hate Hillary with a passion, and set out to take her down, starting with that Philadelphia debate. They succeeded in triggering her self-destruction.)
- Chris Matthews - same reason as above)
- Positivity - apparently, Iowa voters like it
- Democrats - turnout on our side was up a whopping 80 percent. Republicans beware. Who knew that Iowa has more registered Democrats than Republicans, and more Indepedents than the other two? Iowa is officially in play in November...
- Young voters - who said they don't show up to caucus? You GO boys and girls!
- Race neutrality - Sorry, Chris Matthews, but Obama's appeal to White voters isn't that he represents multiculturalism, so much as the fact that he represents a departure from racial identity politics.
- Likeability - it might be the new buzzword for the 2008 campaign.
- Michael Eric Dyson - look for his bookings on cable news shows to skyrocket.
- Change - generational, policy and otherwise

And the losers?

- Hillary Clinton - for obvious reasons, although her concession speech was very gracious.
- Bill Clinton - I love the guy, but he didn't make the difference for his wife in the end, and the same generational, sweeping change that he and Al Gore represented in 1992 may be coming back to bite the missus in the unmentionables. That and there's a new Man from Hope.
- Mitt Romney - equally obvious, and he now MUST win New Hampshire to remain viable, since South Carolina and Florida are not in his bailiwick, shall we say...
- John Edwards - He needed to win tonight and didn't, and the union vote didn't hook him up. Also, his speech included an attack on not just Mitt Romney, but also his fellow Dem, Hillary Clinton ("two candidates in this race thought their money could buy them victory...") meaning he still thinks negative campaigning and fratricide is the key to victory. Not a good look. And he failed to congratulate Barack during his "concession speech." I guess you can give a guy a $400 haircut but you can't buy him class.
- Ed Rollins - he apparently let loose at a restaurant and was overheard by a Townhall blogger trashing the competition. For some reason he strikes me as a guy who drinks a lot ...
- Huckabee hating RedStaters, and the "FisCons" and "DefCons" (fiscal and defense conservatives) who love them.
- The Congressional Black Caucus, which has mostly gone into the tank for Hillary, and whose members will now face the uncomfortable prospect of heading to South Carolina to campaign for Mrs. Clinton, even as the Obama juggernaut steams toward the 30-40% Black southern primary.
- The civil rights establishment, which has dissed Barack to the point of hateration (that includes Revs Sharpton and Jackson, Andrew Young, and others who have been dissing Barack from day one.)
- Black self-doubt Why do we need to wait for White voters to endorse Barack before we feel comfortable supporting him?
- Pat Robertson, who is totally discredited as a Christian "leader," having missed the Huckabee bandwagon as it passed him by, instead endorsing the most irreligious, amoral candidate in the pack... (and he's a nut.)
- Rudy - good luck getting any headlines between now and California, sport. And you might want to check the latest polling out of Florida...
- George W. Bush - Huckabee has been the most critical of his policies with the exception of Ron Paul, and he won in a state where Republicans still give Dubya high approval ratings.
- Mrs. Michael Eric Dyson (she has to hear her husband gloat -- a lot -- tonight)
- The Washington press corps / mainstream media - they called Hillary inevitable
- Unions - they failed to make the difference for Edwards tonight, and exit polls show John-boy didn't even get a majority of union members who did caucus.
- Lefty bloggers, lefty journos, and both real, and fake ... lefty radio hosts (... Ed Schultz) - they worship John Edwards because of his real? hard left rhetoric, and while their nemesis, Hillary stumbled tonight, their Johnny is finished, whether he has accepted it yet or not.
- Experience - apparently, it doesn't always count for everything...
- Conventional wisdom. Throw it out. Obama could win this thing.

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posted by JReid @ 11:56 PM  
Dodd and Biden drop out
Joe Biden and Chris Dodd won 1 and 0 percent of Iowa precincts tonight and both announced that they will exit the race. Both do so graciously and with nothing to be ashamed of.

Somebody please phone Duncan Hunter and let him know his time is up, too?

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posted by JReid @ 11:42 PM  
The calendar
In case you haven't memorized it yet, here's the primary calendar. The key, early contests (especially if your last name is Giuliani) are on January 29 and February 5th (here's the GOP with the delegate count included, and here's the Democratic list with delegate counts):
JANUARY 8, 2008:
New Hampshire - Presidential Primary

JANUARY 15, 2007:
Michigan - Presidential Primary (no delegates)

JANUARY 19, 2008:
Nevada - Presidential Caucuses
South Carolina - GOP Presidential Primary

JANUARY 26, 2008:
South Carolina - DEM Presidential Primary

JANUARY 29, 2008:
Florida - Presidential Primary (also disenfranchised by the DNC)

FEBRUARY 1-3, 2008:
Maine - GOP Presidential Caucuses

FEBRUARY 5, 2008:
Alabama - Presidential Primary
Arizona - Presidential Primary
Arkansas - Presidential Primary
California - Presidential Primary
Colorado - Presidential Caucuses
Connecticut - Presidential Primary
Delaware - Presidential Primary
Georgia - Presidential Primary
Idaho - DEM Presidential Caucuses
Illinois - Presidential & State/Federal Primary
Illinois - CD-14 Special Election Primary
Kansas - Dem Presidential Caucuses
Missouri - Presidential Primary
New Jersey - Presidential Primary
New Mexico - DEM Presidential Primary
New York - Presidential Primary
North Dakota - Presidential Caucuses
Oklahoma - Presidential Primary
Rhode Island - Presidential Primary
Tennessee - Presidential Primary
Utah - Presidential Primary

MARCH 4, 2008:
Massachusetts - Presidential Primary
Ohio - Presidential & State/Federal Primary
Texas - Presidential & State/Federal Primary
Vermont - Presidential Primary
It gets less interesting from there... The conventions are scheduled for :
AUGUST 25-28, 2008:
Democratic Party - Presidential Nominating Convention (Denver, Colorado)

and

SEPTEMBER 1-4, 2008:
Republican Party - Presidential Nominating Convention (St. Paul, Minnesota)
(Mind those airport bathrooms!)

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posted by JReid @ 11:04 PM  
Okay, now I'll make a prediction
Barack Obama, having won Iowa handily, will now very likely win New Hampshire and South Carolina. I spoke tonight with an African-American State Senator here in Florida who is a big Obama supporter. She may head to SC to campaign for him. Obama people should feel very good tonight.

Meanwhile, where does Hillary go from here? The only race she's sure to win going forward is Michigan -- and that's because hers is the only name on the ballot...

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posted by JReid @ 9:51 PM  
The feel good election
Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee win Iowa. ... Decisively.

Right now its

Obama - 37% (766)
Edwards - 30 (626)
Hillary - 30 (622)

on the Democratic side, and for the GOP its

Huckabee - 34%
Romney - 25
Thompson - 14
McCain - 13
Paul 10

And Barack's lead is only growing.

In short, Hillary is in trouble.

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posted by JReid @ 9:40 PM  
The only thing that's predictable about today
is that nothing is predictable. I won't even attempt to call the Democratic caucus results in Iowa. If it snows really badly, I'd put my money on Edwards' union supporters being the most likely to show up. If it's great weather, I'd bet Hillary's middle aged and older women will show. If Obama gets those young Starbucks sippers to actually caucus, his superiority in terms of supporter enthusiasm will carry the day.  Oh, and everybody likes Joe Biden. (The New York Times today describes the state of the Democratic race in Iowa as one of "happy paralysis.")

Obama, for his part, seems to be benefiting from better relations with the second tier -- Kucinich is already telling his supporters to caucus for Obama (not that there are many of them) and the WaPo is reporting today about a possible Biden-Obama deal to help Biden best Bill Richardson. It goes something like this:
A source close to the Biden campaign described a possible arrangement, now under discussion between the two camps, that could apply to certain precincts where Biden can't meet the 15 percent viability threshold, but where he is backed by local officials with the clout to move Biden supporters to Obama. In return, Biden could capture some of Obama's overflow in precincts where the Illinois senator has more than enough support to win.

Of course the details are secret, but team Biden knows exactly how much support it needs, and where, for the Delaware senator to finish fourth, ideally in double digits. Biden's poor showing in one public poll after another has confounded many Hawkeye political observers, given the large and enthusiastic crowds he draws, along with his impressive foreign policy resume. But while Biden was unable to raise the money needed to build the statewide ground organization needed to contend here, he did cultivate key relationships across rural Iowa. And some of these state and local officials have informed the campaign that they are backing Obama as their second choice.

A fourth place finish would not turn Biden into a favorite for the nomination, but it would allow him to participate in the Democratic debate on Saturday in New Hamsphire, one last chance for the political veteran to make his mark.

The Biden source described the possible Obama deal as "viability for victory."
Meanwhile, the WaPo's Dana Milbank asks, is Barack Obama another Howard Dean?

Who knows. But if he wins Iowa, I'd bet that he either wins or comes very close to winning in Independent-rich New Hampshire and then that means he probably wins South Carolina, too. Hillary would then have to pull a Rudy Giuliani, winning Michigan (where Edwards is strong, and the vote is early) and Florida.

The biggest pressure today has to be on Camp Hillary. If Senator Clinton loses big in Iowa, her road to the nomination becomes a marathon, and her inevitability is shattered. She must win or come very close today. Period.

On the GOP side (which I'm much less sick of at this point,) the nomination has become an all-out cat fight.

Romney must do well enough in Iowa and win New Hampshire, or he cannot buy the nomination.

Huckabee will probably win Iowa (that's my only prediction today) but probably cannot win New Hampshire. But he could take South Carolina, and maybe even Florida.

Rudy ... why even talk about him until Florida?

Ron Paul rocks, but once the voting starts, he stops being interesting (not to me, but to the press)...

And at this stage, nobody else really matters.

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posted by JReid @ 10:48 AM  
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Scotland Yard to assist in Bhutto death probe
Musharraf bows to international pressure to let outside investigators into Pakistan.

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posted by JReid @ 10:16 PM  
Right funny RedState
This may be ... the funniest ... best post I've ever read on RedState. Great send-up to Willard "Mitt" Romney, in all his chisled, pomaded glory... A clip:
Some may say that Romney is not a candidate who can be trusted. This is another bigoted lie. On the contrary: we can absolutely trust him! We can trust him to follow the path that our country charts for him. Are we not interested in representative government? Of course we are! And Mitt Romney is perhaps the most representative of all the candidates to ever seek the presidency of any nation, ever, even the imaginary ones with the aforementioned Oompah Loompahs—there is nothing untrustworthy about this man, not even his hair. When the electorate wants him to believe something, he believes it! When they want him to oppose something, he opposes it! When they are divided, he waffles! This is man is not just the one to lead our nation—he symbolizes it in all its indecisive, fickle greatness, just as Ronald Reagan did when he stopped being pro-choice!

Some may say that comparing Romney to Reagan is like comparing 98 Degrees to The Beatles. But they are by that very argument revealing themselves as nothing more than shallow bigots who have allowed their bigoted minds to overwhelm their slightly less-bigoted hearts to create a bigoted bigot-fest of bigotry.

The example, however, provides some interesting comparisons. It is true that America loves all things processed and manufactured—one need only note the aisles of meats, cheeses, music, television, and grande lite vanilla soy frappucino. But it is also true that for every giddy, screaming fan of such sparkling pre-packaged talent as Ashley Simpson, Jamie Lynn Spears, or Hannah Montana, there are also “player-haters” who denounce these sparkling nipped, tucked, remastered and vaccuum-sealed productions as “sickeningly sweet” or “almost repulsive” or “no-talent assclowns.”

Yet as the Republican brand faces an identity crisis, shouldn’t we take a cue from reality television and the boy band mafia? The American people LIKE things that are processed, predictable, and fluctuate as needed. Don’t we believe, as free market conservatives, that the market should get what it wants? This is an on-demand culture, and it’s time we met the demand with the man who understands how to adapt the best, and the fastest, to suit the needs of the moment.

The writer is Ben Domenech. Nice work.

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posted by JReid @ 10:02 PM  
Criminal intent
A criminal probe is finally opened in the CIA torture tapes destruction scandal. From AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department opened a full criminal investigation Wednesday into the destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes, putting the politically charged probe in the hands of a mob-busting public corruption prosecutor with a reputation for being independent.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey announced that he was appointing John Durham, a federal prosecutor in Connecticut, to oversee the investigation of a case that has challenged the Bush administration's controversial handling of terrorism suspects.
The CIA acknowledged last month that in 2005 it destroyed videos of officers using tough interrogation methods while questioning two al-Qaida suspects. The acknowledgment sparked a congressional inquiry and a preliminary investigation by Justice into whether the CIA violated any laws or obstructed congressional inquiries such as the one led by the Sept. 11 Commission.

"The Department's National Security Division has recommended, and I have concluded, that there is a basis for initiating a criminal investigation of this matter, and I have taken steps to begin that investigation," Mukasey said in a statement released Wednesday.

Durham, who has served with the Justice Department for 25 years, has a reputation as one of the nation's most relentless prosecutors. He was appointed to investigate the FBI's use of mob informants in Boston, an investigation that sent former FBI agent John Connolly to prison.

"Nobody in this country is above the law, an FBI agent or otherwise," Durham said in 2002 after Connolly's conviction.
Mukasey made the move after prosecutors from the Eastern District of Virginia, which includes the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Va., removed themselves from the case. CIA Inspector General John L. Helgerson, who worked with the Justice Department on the preliminary inquiry, also removed himself.

"The CIA will of course cooperate fully with this investigation as it has with the others into this matter," agency spokesman Mark Mansfield said.

Mukasey named Durham the acting U.S. attorney on the case, a designation the Justice Department frequently makes when top prosecutors take themselves off a case. He will not serve as a special prosecutor like Patrick Fitzgerald, who operated autonomously while investigating the 2003 leak of a CIA operative's identity.

"The Justice Department went out and got somebody with complete independence and integrity," said former Connecticut U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy, who worked with Durham. "No politics whatsoever. It's going to be completely by the book and he's going to let the chips fall where they may."
The House Intelligence Committee is also conducting an investigation, and they have asked Jose Rodriguez, the former CIA official who ordered the tapes destroyed, to appear at a January 16 hearing.

I have serious doubts about Mr.Mukasey's independence, but this Durham character sounds pretty solid (he supervised the prosecution of Republican governor of Connecticut John Rowland, among other things... not that it matters that he's prosecuted Republicans...)

So far, the WaPo approves.

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posted by JReid @ 9:48 PM  
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Another Bush blunder
George W. Bush has done some stupid things during his two terms as U.S. president, the invasion of Iraq being the dumbest. But here's another one for the tally, courtesy of the New York Times:
Six months ago, the Bush administration quietly eased some restrictions on the export of sensitive technologies to China. The new approach was intended to help American companies increase sales of high-tech equipment to China despite tight curbs on sharing technology that might have military applications.

But today the administration is facing questions from weapons experts about whether some equipment — newly authorized for export to Chinese companies deemed trustworthy by Washington — could instead end up helping China modernize its military. Equally worrisome, the weapons experts say, is the possibility that China could share the technology with Iran or Syria.

The technologies include advanced aircraft engine parts, navigation systems, telecommunications equipment and sophisticated composite materials.

The questions raised about the new policy are in a report to be released this week by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, an independent research foundation that opposes the spread of arms technologies.
As usual, the Bush administration puts favors for its corporate friends ahead of U.S. interests. So who are the friends?
the Wisconsin Project report, made available to The New York Times, asserts that two non-military Chinese companies designated as trustworthy are in fact high-risk because of links to the Chinese government, the People’s Liberation Army and other Chinese entities accused in the past of ties to Syria and Iran.

One of the Chinese companies, the BHA Aero Composites Company, is partly owned by two American companies — 40 percent by the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing and 40 percent by the aerospace materials maker Hexcel. The remaining 20 percent is owned by a Chinese government-owned company, AVIC I, or the China Aviation Industry Corporation I.

“In principle, you could find companies that would be above suspicion, but in this case they haven’t done it,” said Gary Milhollin, Washington director of the Wisconsin Project. “If you just look at the relations these companies have, rather than be above suspicion, they are highly suspicious.”

The Wisconsin Project report also charges that both Boeing and Hexcel have been cited for past lapses in obtaining proper licenses for exports.

Spokesmen for both Boeing and Hexcel said in interviews that they are fully confident that BHA has no ties to the Chinese military and that its use of aircraft parts and materials were strictly for commercial and civilian ends.

“Boeing is not involved in any defense activities in China,” said Douglas Kennett, a company spokesman. “All our activities in China are in compliance with U.S. export laws and regulations.”
Yet another reason to jettison the Bush form of "conservatism," which is more properly termed "corporatocracy" -- or profits at any cost.

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posted by JReid @ 6:21 PM  
A case of missing evidence
Benazir Bhutto emerges from the sunroof of her SUV just 
seconds before she is shot and killed by an unknown assassin.

TIME reports that key forensic evidence was literally "washed away" before an investigation into Benazir Bhutto's assassination could begin.
Within hours of the attack in the garrison town of Rawalpindi some 10 miles from the capital, authorities had already hosed down the streets. Pools of blood, along with possible evidence such as bullet casings, DNA samples from the bomber and tracks had been washed away. Retired Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, the former director general of Pakistani Intelligence, said he was shocked to see people cleaning up the debris so soon after the assassination. "It's a crime scene, and they're washing away all the evidence! We need to be asking why the hell was this thing done." One of the few pieces of evidence from the crime scene that remains is amateur footage showing a clean-cut man in a black vest brandishing what appears to be a gun. Behind him stands another man, a white scarf wrapped around his head. It is thought that he might have been the suicide bomber.

The situation had already been muddied by contradictory versions of how Bhutto died. Initial health official reports stated that Bhutto had been shot twice before a suicide bomber detonated himself seconds later. But by Saturday, the government reversed track. Bhutto had been shot at, said Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema, but the shooter missed. The force of the explosion knocked Bhutto, who had been waving at the crowds from her vehicle's sunroof, backwards. She hit her head on a protruding lever, and succumbed to the fractures to her skull. Cheema presented X rays to support his claim, but witnesses and close friends who rushed Bhutto to the hospital say that there was no doubt she had been shot.

Doctors who had attended Bhutto immediately after the attack initially said that she died of gunshot wounds, but over the weekend they released new findings in line with the Interior Ministry's claim that the official cause of death was head wounds sustained when Bhutto fell. The reversal has many people suspecting government interference. Says Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, an opposition member of the National Assembly and a former petroleum minister: "The government says it was the work of terrorists and they say someone has claimed responsibility. What I don't understand is why they keep changing the story of how Bhutto died? Why do that? These summersaults make everything look suspicious."

This as stills from the amateur videos of the shooting are making their way around the internet, including the one below, which appears to show the gunman, in dark glasses, and the bomber, in what may be a white burial shroud or scarf.



Photo 2, from the TIME story:


The TIME story raises the H-word: "Hariri"...
Bhutto's supporters have demanded an international, independent investigation into the events leading to her death. California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said that Washington needed to answer some "troubling questions" about Pakistan's investigation so far. At yesterday's press conference, Bhutto's husband Zadari demanded a United Nations investigation, saying "We want a [assassinated Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik] Hariri commission-style investigation... we are writing to the United Nations for an international probe into her martyrdom." According to Dawn, a local newspaper Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said that he would "consider" outside help during a phone call with British PM Gordon Brown yesterday, which many are interpreting as a "thanks, but no thanks" dismissal.

Meanwhile, the Pakistiani dictator, Musharraf, is set to address his nation tomorrow, and the Times of London reports that elections could be delayed until March, something that won't please the U.S.

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posted by JReid @ 4:57 PM  
Pakistan elections delayed ... or not ...
From CNN:


ISLAMABAD (CNN) -- Elections in Pakistan have been postponed for at least four weeks, sources at the country's Election Commission told CNN Tuesday.

The elections had been scheduled for January 8. They have been postponed until sometime in February in the wake of political unrest following the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the sources said.

The Central Election Commission of Pakistan had said a decision on whether to delay parliamentary elections would be made on Wednesday following consultation with political parties.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, commission Secretary General Kanwar Dilshad said various provincial government representatives had suggested that the elections be held after the Muslim month of Muharram, which follows a lunar calendar and this year begins on or about January 9 and continues until February 6.

The commission said it would looking at reports from provincial governments across Pakistan about the law and order situation in making its decision, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

Election offices in 13 districts of Sindh province have been destroyed, Dilshad said. Sindh is Bhutto's home province and was the main base of her support.

"The elections aren't postponed," Dilshad said on Tuesday, but also didn't rule out a delay.

"We will tell them (the political parties) about the 13 offices that burned down. We will tell them about the ground realities. And then after the discussions, we will announce," he said.

The meetings with the various political parties are expected to be completed by Tuesday evening, and an announcement made about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday (6:30 a.m. Wednesday GMT).

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posted by JReid @ 4:11 PM  
Kenyans burned to death in church
Post-election violence is spinning out of control in Kenya.
(BBC) Thirty Kenyans including many children have been burned to death in a church, after seeking refuge from the mounting violence over last week's elections.
A mob set fire to the church in Eldoret where many people from President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe were sheltering.

A Kenyan government spokesperson has accused supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga of carrying out "ethnic cleansing" against the Kikuyu.

Both President Kibaki and Mr Odinga have called for the killing to stop.

President Kibaki, who was sworn in on Sunday following an election that opponents claim was rigged, said political parties should meet immediately and publicly called for calm.

But Mr Odinga said he would only hold talks once the re-installed president "publicly owns up that he was not elected".

Pressure is growing on the Kenyan government both inside and outside the country to accept an international review of the election.

EU observers said the poll "fell short of international standards", and four Kenyan election commissioners have joined calls for an independent judicial body to re-examine the process. ...

Happy New Year. As to the church burning, the BBC reports:
About 400 people were said to be taking refuge in the Kenya Assemblies of God church when the attack took place at about 1000 (0700 GMT).

A pastor from the church, Jackson Nyanga told the BBC that many of the people were beaten before the building was set on fire.

"After torching the church, children died - around 25 in number - four elderly people. And our men and our people who tried to confront them were injured," he said.

Eldoret, in the Rift Valley, has witnessed some of the worst violence since last Sunday's controversial poll and has a history of inter-ethnic tension.

Correspondents say that over the past few days hundreds of Kikuyus in the Eldoret area have been taking shelter in churches and around the town's police station.

Eldoret resident Bernard Magamu told the BBC News website that many houses and businesses have been torched, and that roads in and around the town have been closed.

And TIME reports that the inter-ethnic tensions in Kenya could lead to tribal war:
Tribal violence erupted across Kenya Monday, claiming the lives of at least 124 people, after widespread accusations that President Mwai Kibaki rigged an election to defeat opposition candidate Raili Odinga.

... While both sides pleaded for calm, there were fears the violence could aggravate an enduring national tribal split between Luos, who support Odinga, and Kikuyus, who back Kibaki. The two groups co-exist in an uneasy rivalry in Kenya. On Monday, crowds of Kikuyus in the west of the country were reported to be fleeing across the border to Uganda, while six Kikuyus were hacked to death in the popular tourist port city of Mombasa. Police, given orders to shoot rioters on sight, imposed a curfew at locations across the country and barred people from leaving the slums, a tactic which may have contained the violence but also kept innocent people from fleeing. KTN, the national broadcaster, said 124 people had been killed, but other media tallies put the death toll closer to 150. ...

The rift is not atypical for Africa, unfortunately:
The chaos represents Kenya's biggest domestic political crisis since independence from Britain in 1963. It was also a major disappointment for a country that had been considered a bright spot in the troubled region of East Africa. The economy, particularly tourism, is booming and Kibaki was considered to be an improvement over his predecessor, Daniel arap Moi, whose Kanu party regime was seen as autocratic and corrupt. Five years ago when Kibaki won election as head of the Democratic Party on promises to clean up the massive corruption of the Moi era, crowds of close to 1 million cheered at his swearing-in ceremony.
Since then his image has slipped from that of a capable reformer to an aging and fragile stereotypical African "big man." The 76-year-old was sworn in Sunday in a hasty ceremony attended by party loyalists, less than an hour after the Electoral Commission of Kenya pronounced he had beaten Odinga, 62, by just 230,000 votes. (Odinga had led most pre-election polls in the weeks leading up to the election.)
Kibaki banned live television and radio broadcasts Sunday, and on Monday afternoon, at the height of the crisis, KTN aired children's shows in which smiling children sang "Paddycake, Paddycake." Political activist and anti-corruption campaigner Mwalimu Mati said: "It was really one man swearing in himself and using his presidential appointees to do it. That's the scary bit — our institutions have failed us."
Democracy is not having a good run these days...

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posted by JReid @ 3:13 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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