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72 Hours Out: Where Things Stand

DES MOINES, Iowa -- With Iowans set to caucus roughly 72 hours from now, uncertainty remains the name of the game. The Democratic race continues to come down to Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and former senator John Edwards, while former governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are battling for the top spot in the Republican contest.

Although the presidential campaign has been going full force here for the better part of a year, large numbers of voters remain undecided in the final days. Many of them have been attending multiple candidate events in an attempt to make up their minds.

Take, for example, Nancy Baldwin, who turned out yesterday for a rally for Edwards in Boone. She pronounced herself "very impressed" with Edwards after the event but still couldn't say who she would caucus for. "Clinton, Obama and Edwards all stand for change," she told The Fix. "I am ready for change."

Reaching and winning over those undecided voters -- and then getting them to show up on caucus night -- is the main challenge for the campaigns in the few remaining days. The campaigns are pulling out all the stops to do that, from appearances with symbolic surrogates (Ted Strickland, the governor of the perennial battleground of Ohio campaigned with Clinton over the weekend) and celebrities ("Superman Returns" star -- and Iowa native -- Brandon Routh introduced Obama last night in Indianola) to massive door-knocking and phone-calling campaigns.

Given the craziness in the final days, it's sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees. Here's our attempt to do just that.


The race -- as it has been for many months -- is a three-way affair between Clinton, Obama and Edwards.

What's clear from being on the ground here in Iowa is that Edwards's surge over the past week is real. The former North Carolina senator's closing message is extremely sharp, appealing directly to those who feel most disenchanted with the state of the country after nearly eight years of George W. Bush.

"They have an iron-fisted grip on your democracy," roared Edwards at the Boone event, referring to the insurance, drug and oil companies he has railed against for months. "I am not going to allow corporate greed to steal our children's future."

Edwards is also relying heavily on his personal story -- his father's work in a mill, his humble upbringing -- to speak to rural voters who are already inclined to be for him. Edwards appears to be be running strongest in rural areas in the western part of the state. It is no accident that his schedule yesterday took him to Carroll, Denison and Sioux City -- all in western Iowa.

Edwards's staying power has forced a recalculation on the part of Obama who at one time expected the caucuses to turn into a two-person race between him and Clinton. Instead, Obama now finds himself in an unexpected fight for the anti-Clinton vote with the increasingly feisty Edwards. Hoping to slow Edwards's momentum, Obama and his campaign have begun questioning whether Edwards is in fact an agent for real change in the political system by focusing on the amount of outside money being spent on behalf of the former North Carolina senator.

Obama is also seeking to draw contrasts between the paths that he and Edwards took to get to this place. At the rally last night in Indianola, Obama noted that he eschewed the chance to go to a high-powered law firm in order to become a community organizer -- drawing an implicit contrast with the affluence accrued by Edwards as a trial lawyer. (A side note: Obama is starting to use the term "trial lawyer" more often on the stump to describe Edwards, perhaps hoping to capitalize on the negative associations many voters have with that particular profession.)

While Obama and Edwards are clearly fighting over a similar pool of voters, Obama's strength is consolidated in the more urban eastern part of the state where the state's liberal base is primarily gathered.

As Obama and Edwards fight, Clinton is seeking to close the deal with an appeal to voters' pragmatism. In her own comments as well as those made by her husband, she is focused on convincing voters that serious times call for a serious politician -- one who has been tested before and knows what to expect once in office.

At the same time, the Clintons are trying to portray their Democratic rivals -- particularly Obama -- as risky choices for voters at a time when steadiness and dependability are crucial. Hillary Clinton today told USA Today that she was "not asking voters to take me on a leap of faith" and last night former president Bill Clinton spent 20 minutes detailing his wife's record of accomplishments dating to when the two met in law school. "She never picks up a problem that isn't better when she put it down," he said.

Anecdotal evidence points to a small gain for Clinton over the weekend, gains potentially attributable to the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benzanir Bhutto and the foreign policy discussion it triggered. But, it's important not to overstate that movement; senior strategists for each of the three campaigns acknowledge the race is stunningly close and that any of the trio could wind up on top or in third place on Thursday night.


If the Iowa caucuses had been held a week ago, there seems little argument that Huckabee would have won. On the shoulders of evangelical voters, Huckabee had passed Romney in most polls and seemed to be growing in strength beyond all predictions.

But then Romney's negative ads started to penetrate the collective consciousness of Republican voters. Romney has attacked Huckabee relentlessly on television for the past several weeks for his record on crime and illegal immigration -- two touchstone issues for Republican base voters.

Although voters insist they dislike negative ads and pay little attention to the claims made in them, the exact opposite is true. Negative ads are run because they work. And thanks to Romney's assault on Huckabee, the former Massachusetts governor has clawed back into the lead in Iowa thanks in large part to an erosion of Huckabee's support among evangelical voters.

Romney's ads have been all the more effective because Huckabee has chosen not to respond to them with ads of his own -- although word out of Iowa this afternoon was that the former Arkansas governor was -- finally -- going negative on Romney.

Why didn't Huckabee respond sooner? We don't know for sure, but two factors contributed to that decision.

First, Huckabee has struggled throughout the campaign to raise the millions of dollars that would allow him to compete on semi-equal turf with Romney. That funding deficits means that even if Huckabee had hit back against Romney earlier it would likely have been drown out by the flood of Romney advertising.

Second, Huckabee's momentum in Iowa was due in large part to the sense of hopeful optimism that surrounded his candidacy.That sentiment grew organically, but because Huckabee did almost no paid communication (TV, radio, direct mail, phone calls) to reinforce the idea with voters, he was decidedly susceptible to a quick reversal in voters' ideas about him. If he had pivoted to a negative campaign against Romney earlier, it might have undone in a moment all of the good will he had built up.

Huckabee has done himself no favors over the past week either, repeatedly flubbing details about the situation in Pakistan following Bhutto's assassination and, in the process, raising questions in voters' minds about whether he is up to the job. Remember that the final days of any race is when voters are really paying attention and trying to decipher which of the candidates they can see being president. Huckabee's slips on Pakistan are amplified given that context.

With Romney and Huckabee essentially tied in recent polling, turning out committed supporters is at the heart of each man's "win" strategy.

It's an open secret that there is no comparison between the field organizations built by Huckabee and Romney. Romney's is state of the art, well financed and tested; his strong win at the Iowa Straw Poll in August proved that his strategists knew how to find and turn out their backers.

Huckabee's organization, on the other hand, is an organization only in the loosest sense of the word. It is cobbling together of evangelical churches, home-schoolers and other allies of the former governor. But, there is very little cohesion between the various groups working for Huckabee -- no unifying force.

Today, the momentum and organizational strength clearly favors Romney. But, Huckabee has made himself a viable candidate in this contest largely on the strength of his personality, which remains his strongest selling point in the final hours of the race.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 31, 2007; 1:40 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: FixCam: New Year's Edition


I am still not convinced that it is even constitutionally permitted for the same presidential couple to occupy that White House for the third time. But most people will vote "ABC" anyway (Anybody But Clinton).

Posted by: dunnhaupt | January 1, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I just watched Edwards on tv, and i have to say, it's pretty tiresome to hear someone rally against "the rich" when they have 25 million dollars and a 25,000 sq.ft. house.

What a phony.

Posted by: julieds | January 1, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"Bill Clinton spent 20 minutes detailing his wife's record of accomplishments dating to when the two met in law school. "She never picks up a problem that isn't better when she put it down," he said."

Better because she's done something about it, or better because she's no longer doing anything? Just asking.

Posted by: KSVA | January 1, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Who do you believe the Iowa caucuses will more than likely settle it for?


Posted by: PollM | January 1, 2008 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Romney will win by a surprising margin. The big surprise is how far Huckabee falls.

Posted by: jsu8233n | December 31, 2007 6:43 PM | Report abuse


We as families of soldiers who have died as a result of war (primarily, but not limited to the invasion/occupation of Iraq) are organizing to be a positive force in our world to bring our country's sons and daughters home from Iraq, to minimize the "human cost" of this war, and to prevent other families from the pain we are feeling as the result of our losses. We are also hoping to be lifetime support for each other through our losses. PURPOSE -To bring an end to the occupation of Iraq. -To be a support group for Gold Star Families. WAYS TO ACHIEVE OUR PURPOSE: -Provide support and to empower those who have been victimized by the invasion/occupation of Iraq. -Raise awareness in the United States about the true human costs of the invasion/occupation of Iraq. -Reach out to families who have lost a loved one as a result of war. WHO CAN JOIN? -Anyone who has had a relative killed as a result of war. -Primarily, but not limited to the invasion/occupation of Iraq.


join up. Help real patriots tahat REALLY support the troops. Not political stogges who hide behind them for political or financial reason. FAscist pigs.

"this machine (the internet) kills fascists"

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 31, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Check it out check it out check it out.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 31, 2007 6:38 PM | Report abuse

"by digby

If this doesn't prove that Fox is just a mouthpiece for the GOP establishment, nothing will. They are excluding Ron Paul from the New Hampshire debate but including Fred Thompson, who is polling lower. (And, as we are all aware, Paul has raised a boatload of money from voters.)

Not that we didn't know that Fox was a simple Republican house organ, but it's never been more starkly illustrated than this. The Republicans don't like what Paul is saying and they told their boy Ailes to shut him down. They aren't even trying to hide it.

Just because this site is down for today


Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 31, 2007 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Cindy sheehan is having a protest at the parade. Go cindy. Do your thing girl. God bless you. MAy God shine wisdom and protection on you for eternity.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 31, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

This site is done for today? Ok. I'll take advantage.

"Sunday December 30, 2007 07:47 EST
Oligarchical decay
(updated below)

A new lengthy article in this morning's New York Times purports to set forth "new details about why the [CIA interrogation] tapes were made and then eliminated." Written by Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti (who broke the original story), what the article primarily does is rely on anonymous sources to assign principal responsibility for the tapes' destruction to mid-level CIA official Jose Rodriguez. But in doing so, the article identifies, in passing, the critical question that remains unanswered: what was the involvement of George Bush and Dick Cheney in the videos' destruction?

Scrutiny of the C.I.A.'s secret detention program kept building. Later in 2003, the agency's inspector general, John L. Helgerson, began investigating the program, and some insiders believed the inquiry might end with criminal charges for abusive interrogations.

Mr. Helgerson completed his investigation of interrogations in April 2004, according to one person briefed on the still-secret report, which concluded that some of the C.I.A.'s techniques appeared to constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under the international Convention Against Torture. Current and former officials said the report did not explicitly state that the methods were torture.

A month later, as the administration reeled from the Abu Ghraib disclosures, Mr. Muller, the agency general counsel, met to discuss the report with three senior lawyers at the White House: Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel; David S. Addington, legal adviser for Vice President Dick Cheney; and John B. Bellinger III, the top lawyer at the National Security Council.

The interrogation tapes were discussed at the meeting, and one Bush administration official said that, according to notes of the discussion, Mr. Bellinger advised the C.I.A. against destroying the tapes. The positions Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Addington took are unknown. One person familiar with the discussion said that in light of concerns raised in the inspector general's report that agency officers could be legally liable for harsh interrogations, there was a view at the time among some administration lawyers that the tapes should be preserved.

Shane and Mazetti previously reported that "several administration and intelligence officials provided conflicting accounts as to whether anyone at the White House expressed support for the idea that the tapes should be destroyed." In that article, they quoted one senior intelligence official "with direct knowledge of the matter [who] said there had been 'vigorous sentiment' among some top White House officials to destroy the tapes." The White House has simply refused to say whether they were behind the decision.

Just consider how significant that question is, and how striking it is that it remains unanswered. By the time Addington and Gonzales were discussing this matter, it was well known -- obvious -- that those interrogations tapes were critically relevant to a number of judicial proceedings and government investigations, including The 9/11 Commission's. It is thus highly likely, to put it mildly, that any decision to destroy that evidence would constitute the crime of obstruction of justice, the same federal felony for which Lewis Libby has now (in a different matter) been convicted.

And here are the two top legal aides to the President and the Vice President participating in a meeting where the destruction of this vital evidence was expressly considered, yet we do not know what it is that they said. Did they advise that the tapes be destroyed or give implicit permission for it? If so, it very likely means that Bush and/or Cheney (and certainly their top aides) committed serious felonies.

But does anyone really believe that we're going to find out the answers to those questions any time soon? And even if we did find out the answers, and even if they were incriminating, does anyone believe that there would ever be any consequences, any accountability, for this wrongdoing by anyone above a mid-level position of responsibility, such as Rodriguez?

* * * * *

In case after case, our political establishment has adopted the "principle" that our most powerful actors are immune from the rule of law. And they've adopted the enabling supplemental "principle" that any information which our political leaders want to keep suppressed is -- by definition, for that reason alone -- information that is "classified" and should not be disclosed.

The instruments used to secure these prerogatives are numerous and growing. Slate's Dahlia Lithwick this week summarized the Bush administration's 10 most egregious legal inventions to enable lawbreaking, including the "states secrets privilege" which has now "has ballooned into a doctrine of blanket immunity for any conduct the administration wishes to hide" and the claim that "everyone who has ever spoken to the president about anything is barred from congressional testimony by executive privilege." All of these developments have a common strain, a shared objective: ensuring that our highest political officials and our most powerful corporations are beyond the reach of the law.

Thus, our establishment believes that any information that would shed light on whether our most powerful actors have broken the law is information that shouldn't be disclosed. In those accidental cases when -- via unauthorized leaks -- information is disclosed that demonstrates that crimes have been committed, our establishment bands together to insist that nothing be done, that there is no need to investigate or hold anyone accountable, and that the only real wrongdoing is by those "leakers" who disclosed the lawbreaking.

This is the same pattern seen over and over: leakers reveal that Bush broke the law for years by spying on Americans without the warrants required by law, and every investigation -- legislative and judicial -- is successfully blocked, and Congress then moves to legalize the lawbreaking. The top aide to Bush and Cheney, Lewis Libby, is found unanimously by a 12-person jury to have lied deliberately with the intent of blocking an FBI and Grand Jury investigation into illegal leaks and is sentenced by a conservative judge to prison, yet is protected from jail time by the President while our media and political establishment cheer almost unanimously.

Our largest telecommunication corporations reap huge profits by brazenly violating numerous, long-standing federal laws (.pdf) for years by enabling government access to our communications without any judicial approval, and our political establishment bands together to demand that they be protected from any consequences and that any efforts to uncover what happened be squelched. Our government implements a secret torture regime that violates numerous laws and treaties and Congress acts to legalize it and provide retroactive immunity to the lawbreakers. Congress subpoenas numerous officials to find out why 9 federal prosecutors were fired and, when the subpoenas are literally ignored, nothing happens.

And now, our government just destroys evidence crucial both to all sorts of court proceedings and a comprehensive investigation into the worst attack on U.S. soil in our history -- part and parcel of its general pattern of destroying or "losing" key evidence -- and the Honorable, Independent Attorney General tells both the legislative and judicial branches that they have no right even to investigate. And although we know for a fact that the top aides to both Bush and Cheney were involved in discussions of whether the tapes should be destroyed, we have no idea what they said and are unlikely ever to know, and even if we did find out, it's impossible to envision anything happening as a result.

* * * * *

And thus we have a perfect oligarchical system in which, literally, our most powerful and well-connected elite are free to break the law with impunity, exempt from any consequences. While exempting themselves, these same figures impose increasingly Draconian "law and order" solutions on the masses to ensure that even small infractions of the law prompt vigorous prosecution and inflexible, lengthy prison terms.

As Matt Stoller recently noted in an excellent post on the bipartisan orthodoxies that are untouchable in political debates, "there are 1 million people put in jail for doing what Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George Bush have done" (buying and consuming illegal drugs) and "2 million people are in prison in America, by far the highest total of any other country in the world." It's almost impossible for the non-rich to defend themselves effectively against government accusations of criminality, and judges have increasingly less sentencing discretion to avoid imposing harsh jail terms. Punishment for crimes is for the masses only, not for members in good standing of our political and corporate establishment.

Where our political elite break the law, our leading media stars and pundits fulfill their central purpose by dutifully arguing that establishment figures who have broken the law have done nothing wrong and deserve protection, even our gratitude, when they do so. In the view of our establishment, even mere civil liability -- never mind criminal punishment -- is deeply unfair when imposed on lawbreaking corporations, as we see in the "debate" over telecom immunity.

This same warped principle is also expressed in how our establishment scorns the work John Edwards did in representing maimed or dead individuals against the corporations which, through recklessness or negligence, destroyed their lives. From a letter from Theodore Frank of the American Enterprise Institute to the New York Times today (h/t Jay Diamond):

There is a critical distinction between Mitt Romney's and John Edwards's wealth. Mr. Romney, as a businessman, made investments that created wealth. Mr. Edwards, as a trial lawyer, made his money through lawsuits that merely took from one pocket and gave to another, and probably destroyed wealth in the process. (Mr. Edwards's multimillion-dollar medical malpractice verdicts almost certainly hurt the quality of health care in North Carolina.)

Little wonder that Mr. Romney understands that to improve the economy, one needs to expand the pie, while Mr. Edwards's policy proposals focus entirely on the redistribution of the existing pie without thought for the future adverse consequences to the size of the pie.

Anything that results in accountability for our largest corporations is inherently bad, even when they're found under our legal system to have broken the law or acted recklessly. Thus, John Edwards' self-made wealth is deeply dishonorable and shameful because it came at the expense of our largest corporations and on behalf of the poor and dirty masses, while Mitt Romeny's wealth, spawned by his CEO-father's connections, is to be honored and praised because it benefited our establishment and was on behalf of our glorious elite.

Naturally, our establishment sees itself as Good, and thus, whatever their most powerful leaders do -- even when illegal -- is never really bad. It can't be, because they do it. Hence, George Bush's and Lewis Libby's felonies aren't really like the felonies of the "drug dealers" and the other street dirt. Neither the Law nor Jail are for the clean, good, upstanding establishment members, so sayeth Jay Rockefeller and Fred Hiatt and Joe Klein and David Ignatius and the rest.

* * * * *

Most revealing of all, anyone who insists that this should be different -- anyone who believes that our highest political officials and largest corporations should be held accountable when they break the law -- is a shrill "partisan," bent on vengeance and Guilty of obstructionism: trying to prevent the political establishment from operating in a harmonious, bipartisan manner to do their Important Work. At least under the Bush presidency, investigations into wrongdoing are bad and disruptive and mean-spirited, and calls for consequences for illegal behavior are shrill and nasty.

Digby yesterday analyzed the sudden emergence of the Bipartisan Centrism fetishists -- the David Borens and Sam Nunns and David Broders and other old System Guardians who are threatening to back the third-party candidacy of Michael Bloomberg unless they quickly see more "bipartisanship." As Digby notes -- and one should read her whole post -- these Harmony Mavens were nowhere to be found during the last six years when our government was fully controlled by a one-party machine that did what it wanted without the slightest consequence.

Only now that the prospect has emerged -- however small and remote it is -- that there appears to be some rumblings of dissatisfaction among the masses over the deep corruption pervading every pore of our establishment are they now decreeing that we need Harmony and Bipartisan Cooperation:

I wrote about it right after the 2006 election --- as soon as the Republicans lost power, I knew the gasbags would insist that it's time to let bygones be bygones and meet the Republicans halfway in the spirit of a new beginning. GOP politicians have driven the debt sky-high and altered the government so as to be nearly unrecognizable, so logically the Democrats need to extend the hand of conciliation and move to meet them in the middle --- the middle now being so far right, it isn't even fully visible anymore.
Digby's right that this is an effort to enforce establishment-protecting ideological orthodoxies. The campaigns of Edwards, Mike Hucakbee and Ron Paul each, in their own ways, signify that there is some intense unrest and deep dissatisfaction with our political establishment, and this has to be quashed by the concealing device known as "bipartisanship." But it is also an attempt to ensure that nothing of any significance is exposed, that none of the lawbreaking and corruption of the last six years -- which they all enabled and cheered on -- sees the light of day.

There is a mildly increased desperation that is palpable among our political and media elites to protect and defend their system. The extent of their wrongdoing over the last several years -- political, legal and economic -- is so extreme that the potential for upheaval in the event of accountability is extreme as well. Their chief weapon to protect those privileges is immunity from the rule of law, and most of our political controversies -- over presidential power and state secrets and executive privilege and torture and eavesdropping and these CIA videos -- really share the same root: the effort of the establishment to maintain their immunity from impropriety-exposing legal proceedings and, thus, from political consequences.

Just as the warantless eavesropping revelations did, the CIA video scandal presents an extremely clear and straightforward case of serious lawbreaking by our highest government officials. It's far less complex and far more serious than the scandals that brought down Richard Nixon. That a rational person would be highly skeptical about the prospects that we will find out what happened, let alone that there will be consequences for any of it, is pretty compelling evidence of the kind of country we are becoming.

UPDATE: On a not unrelated note, the annual survey of worldwide privacy rights conducted by Privacy International and EPIC has been released for 2007, and the U.S. has been downgraded from "Extensive Surveillance Society" to "Endemic Surveillance Society," the worst possible category there is for privacy protections, the category also occupied by countries such as China, Russia, Singapore and Malaysia. The survey uses a variety of objective factors to determine the extent of privacy protections citizens enjoy from their government, and the U.S. now finishes at the bottom for obvious reasons.

Evidence that we are becoming a lawless surveillance state is abundant. But let's forget all of that and figure out how we can best micro-manage the internal affairs of Pakistan and Iraq and Russia and Iran so that we can preserve Freedom and Democracy for the world.

-- Glenn Greenwald


Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 31, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Advantage Edwards and Romney in Iowa. A chance that, by tomorrow, there won't even be much suspense.

Posted by: parkerfl | December 31, 2007 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it sad we must do this? What coutnry are we now living in?

"Senate holds 12-second session to block BushStory Highlights
Senate holding "pro forma" sessions to block recess appointments

Democrats, President Bush disagree over Justice Department appointment

Only one senator needed to keep Senate in session"

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 31, 2007 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Ignore him TomIII . Zouk is a pig fascist propogandist. He represents his party perfectly. So muc so I think he is an edwards supporter. Nobody is that stupid.

Like his party he comes here to lie spin and discredit. It's all his party now has. He can blame his masters for what has befallen his party (rush hannity o'liely coulter savage fox).

The gop is done for thirty years. use that time wisely, like you did not use the last 30. Fix what is broken. Rather than pointign the finger, try taking accountability for once. You'd be surprised how far it would take you. Or lie spin and discredit, gop. See how far it get's ya. I'm betting not very

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 31, 2007 6:16 PM | Report abuse

"The GOP is a criminal conspiracy and should be RICOed. Dismantle the party, arrest and prosecute party chiefs, and make sure a hostile takeover of the US by criminals never happens again.

Posted by: TomIII | December 31, 2007 03:49 PM

HERe here. Factor in lobbyists (bribery). lock them all up. That is the only way to save our country. locking up the criminals in politics using our tax dollars to sifer money to their cult. how do you stop that. 30 years each. The next day the criminality stops. If we are unable of unwilling to throw bush and the rest of teh gop criminals in jail, we desreve whatever they do to us. Now they are choosing to destroy the country and our laws. If WE do not stop them, then who do we have to blame? this is america, the country of laws. Vote the bums out. That's all we can do as citizens. The last 30 years of gop rule (including clinton) has led us astray. Destroyed our country and it's laws. How to get it right? Vote the bums and traitors out. Take OUR money our of THEIR pockets and into the country. The fascist gop cult would call that socailism. I call it a normal functioning society.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 31, 2007 6:06 PM | Report abuse

drindl. What's up. did you see this. We're right next to russia and china in terms of security and servialance. these are not american values. These are republcian values. Big differance. And if they do nto represent america, who DO they represent?

"UPDATE: On a not unrelated note, the annual survey of worldwide privacy rights conducted by Privacy International and EPIC has been released for 2007, and the U.S. has been downgraded from "Extensive Surveillance Society" to "Endemic Surveillance Society," the worst possible category there is for privacy protections, the category also occupied by countries such as China, Russia, Singapore and Malaysia. The survey uses a variety of objective factors to determine the extent of privacy protections citizens enjoy from their government, and the U.S. now finishes at the bottom for obvious reasons.

Evidence that we are becoming a lawless surveillance state is abundant. But let's forget all of that and figure out how we can best micro-manage the internal affairs of Pakistan and Iraq and Russia and Iran so that we can preserve Freedom and Democracy for the world.

-- Glenn Greenwald


Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 31, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

"We now know from a film of the assassination that Bhutto was shot by one assassin before the second assassin blew himself up nearby.

This was a professional-style hit by Osama.

With the ISI looking the other way. Deliberately.

Osama can reach out and touch someone.

Who's next?

Posted by: TomIII | December 31, 2007 03:15 PM

you tell us whose next, gop. That's you rboy, right. He's being protected by GOP allies right. (notice I did not say american allies.)

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 31, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

"Bill Clinton spent 20 minutes detailing his wife's record of accomplishments dating to when the two met in law school. "She never picks up a problem that isn't better when she put it down," he said."

What about the problem of health care that she picked up with alacrity, then dropped like a hot potato and didn't return to for the balance of her 8 years of residence in the White House? Is this "experience" the sort that we might expect if she were advanced and were lucky enough to defeat the Republican candidate?

Posted by: FirstMouse | December 31, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I'll take the free college too, please. I swear to vote for hillary at least three times and to ensure my illegal yard workers max out to her campaign.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

While you are busy fixing every price in town depending on the purchaser, can you arrange to get me some milk at a discount. I spent all my cheese on beer and weed and my kid is thirsty. If the kid gets sick, due to my negligence, can you arrange for a Harvard trained doctor to treat him at no cost?
I promise to vote for hillary at least twice to get these discounts. I heard that was the deal.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

...and, luckily, we have Kouk, TomIII, and vbhoomes to assist us in a rational, fact-based decision-making process...

Posted by: malis | December 31, 2007 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I've narrowed my choices down to four realistic possibilities: Obama or Clinton; McCain or Romney (although these are only my preferences, I would guess the final winner comes from among these four).

First, I'll certainly vote for either Obama or Clinton over any of the fatally flawed Republicans. If Dems somehow nominate John Edwards, however, I'll at least consider the GOP (Edwards' anti-thought populism is way too close to the Pat Buchanan / Lou Dobbs path--a return to the "Know-Nothings"). Ah, if only Joe Biden had a chance (Biden/Obama is my ideal ticket).

Of the Republicans, I'd consider only two--John McCain or Mitt Romney.

I'd consider McCain because I believe him. He's honorable and pragmatic--I believe he'd make decisions based on the real world and what's best for the country, not just what would be most favorable to the pursuit of "the Permanent Republican Majority" (as demonstrated by his history on immigration and campaign finance). Given his age, I'd have to be satisfied with his VP choice too (i.e., Huckabee as VP would disqualify the ticket).

I may not be cynical enough yet, but I could consider Romney because I don't believe him. My best guess is that he's probably an intelligent, rational businessman who realized he'd have no chance at the nomination unless he convinced the GOP primary electorate (the farthest right of the right wing) he was one of them and, deciding the end justified the means, threw himself into that role wholeheartedly. I would hope that, once in office, he'd demonstrate the talent, ability, and judgment to be a decent centrist President (See what I mean by cynicism?).

Posted by: malis | December 31, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

so truth hunter - but never finder, I must assume you prefer america to operate as follows:

for sale: pardons. contact hugh clinton around back. use secret knock. Prices - americans $100K, fereners - $150K

all other products also dual priced - lincoln bedrooms, legislation, etc. conversion rate Saudis - double, chinese triple, Pakis - half - special sale this week. Please show passport to receive discount.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Checking in, I was struck by the substance of the column as described by Drindl about apostacy in Islam.

Months ago, I had a conversation in the Fry's parking lot with a non-fundamentalist Indian-American Moslem client of mine about that issue and BHO. Barkat says that the al quaeda types and their political kin WILL consider BHO an apostate and trumpet that, but its effect will be no more or less than calling America the Great Satan.
Just one more grain of sand in the sandpile of irrational religious hate.
Nobody was going to negotiate with Bin Laden, anyway, right?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 31, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

If Obama or even Edwards is nominated and then elected, Bill Clinton might be asked very seriously why he spared Osama bil Laden when he had chance not to. That is what is inspiring him right now. Win - win situation. His wife's nomination would not let dems to win general election, but would let him to void these inquiries from the beginning of this comment. Ther is no gambling with Hillary , of course. I am wondring how much time it would take her, if, god forbids, she is elected to creat another bloody 9/11 or worse.

Posted by: aepelbaum | December 31, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

TomIII... You are so right. What has happened to our financial institutions during the rule of The Decider and his bully boys is the selling of America. All those who don't get it are in for a rude surprise in 2008.

Posted by: Truth_Hunter | December 31, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

CC says: "But, Huckabee has made himself a viable candidate in this contest largely on the strength of his personality, which remains his strongest selling point in the final hours of the race."

If the strength of his personality is Huckabee's strongest selling point, then all I have to say to Iowa Repubs if they give him the most caucus votes.... you haven't learned a thing.

Posted by: Truth_Hunter | December 31, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Tomill you obviously do not have the intellect to serious discuss issues without getting silly.

Posted by: vbhoomes | December 31, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Tom111 - you are what's called an idiot in the English language. It means a foolish or stupid person.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

kingofpuke, you are what is called a "troll" in blogspeak. you don't ever discuss the topic, you just take cheap shots at the other bloggers.

Posted by: TomIII | December 31, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Bank of America cut out the soup and crackers from their employee cafeteria to save money.

And they've reportedly taken the soap out of their bathrooms.

One by one, our banks are being propped up by monied foreign interests. Either that or they will go under.

Posted by: TomIII | December 31, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I see we have a surrogate jackel today. No less batty though. Impressive.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

One issue none of the candidates will touch with a ten foot pole is our crappy economy.

Chimpynomics is killing our economy with ten trillion in federal debt. And you cannot trust any of the fudged economic figures coming from the politicized Federal government. Chimpyized.

Real inflation, with fuel and food costs, is over 15%. Manufacturing jobs have been dropping nearly every month since Chimpy took over. Over a million of them offshored. The real unemployment rate is also much higher than the phony Chimpy rate.

Posted by: TomIII | December 31, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

It is spelled wiccan, you uneducated Repuke troll. As for outrages, Chimpy and his crooks give us new ones every day.

The GOP is a criminal conspiracy and should be RICOed. Dismantle the party, arrest and prosecute party chiefs, and make sure a hostile takeover of the US by criminals never happens again.

Posted by: TomIII | December 31, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

this blog is actually intelligent, cogent and rational today. What is different than the other days -

No pack of angry drindl jackels.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 12:14 PM

I stand corrected, yet vindicated.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

drindl, running short of outrage, goes back to 2005 to find some.

Imagine being watched by poll-watchers while you invent votes from dimpled chads. Outrageous.

I think drindl has reached the penultimate level for a moonbat and must begin at zero again after the wicken new year where they dance to tribal drums all evening long.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Mitt Romney has skidmarks in his magic panties.

Huckabee has his own Willie Horton and he's lying to cover it up.

Trudi Julie Annie is still looking for a matching handbag.

Fred Thompson is taking a nap so please don't wake him.

And McCain is picking up corporate money with lots of strings attached.

The Repukes are all crooks, liars and flip-flopping hypocrites. None of them would make a good President.

Posted by: TomIII | December 31, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Proud, having an open mind requires having a mind as a pre-requisite. something the barkling mad moonbat drindl doesn't posess in the least.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

'Keep an eye on this one, because if Obama's the nominee, this Front Page magazine piece by the conservative writer Daniel Pipes is likely to be the template for a faux-legitimate assault on Obama's religion.

It opens with a line that a cynical observer predicted to me a month ago, almost verbatim, would open these attacks:

"If I were a Muslim I would let you know," Barack Obama has said, and I believe him.

The piece that follows is pretty stunning in the twists of its logic, and comes in two steps.

First, Pipes -- best known for his hostility to much of Islam, and to many prominent American Muslims -- decides that Obama's faith should be judged by Muslim law, and makes that case, quibbling with inconsistencies in aides' accounts of exactly how little contact with Islam Obama had as a child in Indonesia. (Options range from very little to none.)

Then, Pipes -- whose hawkish wing of the conservative movement isn't exactly known for its profound concern with making Muslims love America -- starts wringing his hands at the notion that Muslims won't like Obama.

"More significantly, how would more mainstream Muslims respond to him, would they be angry at what they would consider his apostasy? That reaction is a real possibility, one that could undermine his initiatives toward the Muslim world."

It's worth adding a second point: That Pipes, whose hostility to Islam is well documented, is one of Giuliani's foreign policy advisers.'

As reported here over the weekend, the co-chair of New Hampshire Veterans for Rudy was forced to resign after he said some unkind stuff about Muslims. There's just something in Rudy's rhetoric that seems to prick up the ears of folks with views like these.'

Posted by: drindl | December 31, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

EVERYBODY, WAKE UP! There is only one candidate - Republican or Democrat - who can objectively win a landslide victory in November 2008, thereby leading a REAL GOVERNING COALITION to bring about change in America. According to all experts, Zogby and Fox Polls, that is Barack Obama. There is no way Hillary Clinton could win because she starts off with more negatives than positives, plus she is even losing the Independents to hypothetical Republican opponents. America, please, awake from your slumber! Arise from your sleep.
Check out this link for an objective presentation of the most electable candidate on the Democratic side - the only one who can actually pull a landslide:

Posted by: JulioBats | December 31, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Romney loses national security advantage for GOP
Democrats are poised for victor in November. The only chance the GOP has is if foreign policy is at the forefront of people's minds.

As we saw last week, national security concerns can come upon us with fierce and sudden urgency. The Repulican candidate should be able to play to the GOP's traditional edge as the "Daddy" party.

If Mitt Romney is elected however, the GOP will lose on its home turf. Should the state of the world be a top issue, voters will go to whoever has the most foreign affairs experience. If the Dems nominate Obama or Edwards, Mitt can possibly win on that issue. But if Clinton is the nominee--she will laud her experience over Romney's lack thereof.

The GOP won't be able to run as the "Daddy" party until 2012. How is it going to win congressional elections in 2008 and 2010 with one hand tied behind its back?

Every vote for Romney is a vote to designate the GOP as the "Mommy" party for four years.

Posted by: prentis.clairmont | December 31, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

drindl, pining still for a Kerry administration? C'mon, he was a loser, just get over it already. Perhaps your party will nominate a winner this time. Unlikely though, as Bill Clinton is doing everything he can to prevent it with his "roll the dice" line.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | December 31, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Guiliani will only be "in" it still after IA and NH because he hasn't said he's out. He's done as soon as a few primaries/caucuses finish, as there will be no press on him. He's already done. Taking a few days off? You've got to be kidding me. I thought Thompson was the lazy campaigner. Guiliani wants it handed to him. He's delusional.

I think for the dems, if it's tight in IA, unless HRC is number one, the media are going to all go with how the mgihty have fallen blah blah blah. Obama will not win NH five days later, but will make a run for SC, while Nevada won't go his way at all, and Michigan will be firmly HRC. Florida will go HRC as well unless, Obama does well in SC.

As for Huckabee, if he is truly relying on evangenlicals, home schoolers (??!!), with no pro ground org, he's going to be lucky to get second. McCain may bring it on. At a minimum Romney will crush Huckabee by at least 10 points. Then Huck is done. If would have been able to keep the "second place is good enough" vibe, he would have been okay, but since he became a "front runner" he's done. McCain's strenght in NH will seal the deal on Huckabee.

Posted by: adriennemichael | December 31, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

minute shred of an open mind'

what a truly hilarious thing for YOU to say. and why should al queda bother with iraq, when they already have a safe haven where they can train and organize out in the open in pakistan--with the help of the government which they have infiltrated, and funded with US taxpayer money?

and zouk, king of the jackasses, you keep promising to leave, but you never do... still here every day, all day. what did you say you do for a lving again? it keeps changing, just like bush's reasns for going to iraq...

Posted by: drindl | December 31, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

'As we are embarking on the final lap of the race to elect the next Commander in Chief, it is important to consider which candidate(s) are prepared enough and have a strong enough understanding of the world today and our place in it to be CIC.'

Which is why it's important that it be anyone other than a republican -- who after all, have been responsible for creating the policies which excerabated 'the turmoil in Pakistan and in other countries'.

'stark reminder of all that we have to be thankful for, and all that we have to protect and defend for our future generations.'

we have a lot less to be thankful for than we used to...

'By Al Kamen
Monday, January 24, 2005; Page A13

As we begin the second Bush administration, let's take a moment to reflect upon one of the most historic episodes of the 2000 battle for the White House -- the now-legendary "Brooks Brothers Riot" at the Miami-Dade County polling headquarters.

This was when dozens of "local protesters," actually mostly Republican House aides from Washington, chanted "Stop the fraud!" and "Let us in!" when the local election board tried to move the re-counting from an open conference room to a smaller space.

With help from their GOP colleagues and others, we identified some of these Republican heroes of yore in a photo of the event.

Some of those pictured have gone on to other things, including stints at the White House. For example, Matt Schlapp, No. 6, a former House aide and then a Bush campaign aide, has risen to be White House political director. Garry Malphrus, No. 2 in the photo, a former staff director of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on criminal justice, is now deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. And Rory Cooper, No. 3, who was at the National Republican Congressional Committee, later worked at the White House Homeland Security Council and was seen last week working for the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

see the photo, which identifies all the republican rioters who shut down democracy when they shut down the counting of the votes. one of the blackest days in american history.

Posted by: drindl | December 31, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

We now know from a film of the assassination that Bhutto was shot by one assassin before the second assassin blew himself up nearby.

This was a professional-style hit by Osama.

With the ISI looking the other way. Deliberately.

Osama can reach out and touch someone.

Who's next?

Posted by: TomIII | December 31, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Dynasties in America.

Bush Clinton Clinton Bush Bush...Clinton.

So much for democracy.

Posted by: TomIII | December 31, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Well it looks like Huckabee continues his flaky campaign this morning by showing a negative add to the media and then telling them he's decided not to run it. Once he hired Ed Rollins, it was further proof he's in over his Head. GWB is a GREAT President and Mitt was very smart to go after his voters. Romney will be our Nominee before Super Tuesday on Feb 5. If Obama wins, the Clintons will fight him all the way to the end, thereby making sure if they don't get it, the nomination will be worthless to anybody else.

Posted by: vbhoomes | December 31, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

As long as we get a Democratic nomination and not a coronation, I'll be OK. I want my candidate battle tough and prepared for the Republican slime come the summer of 2008. I like what I'm hearing in the heartland. May the best candidate win the Iowa Caucus.

Posted by: Gharza | December 31, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

A three way dead heat between three corporate candidates.

Your choice has already been made for you next November. Repuke or Repuke Lite.

Either way we are all screwed.

Posted by: TomIII | December 31, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of the actual outcome, you can bet the spin machines will go into hyper-overdrive, cleverly explaining why 2nd place is good and 1st is a phyrric victory. the one good thing is that perhaps in about a week the field will be cut substantially.

viability after NH will be limited to:

the winner of both IA and NH, not the winner of a single victory, you must win both

Most likely to depart soon: dodd, biden, Kucinich, Edwards (must finish 1st in IA), Huck, Richardson, McCain (must finish 1st in NH and at worst 2nd in Ia).

We will be down to clinton/Obama vs romney/guiliani on no time. this wil be the baseline until Feb 5th.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 31, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

What if the caucus actually ends up a dead heat with the winner beating second place or second and third place by only a fraction of a percent? Will whoever comes out on top of that get a huge boost or will it just make NH the "real" contest?

Posted by: wintershag | December 31, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

This is all so unbelievably monotonous. I realize that in this day of CDs and iPods that the concept of a broken record is an unknown, but Jesus F. Christ, alright already, I agree with all my heart: there is no Presidential candidate of any party that has a clue about anything relevant to the actual functioning of any portion of the human race. There is far more intelligence in a 3 Stooges marathon than this crop weenies. We're toast.

Posted by: whizkidz1 | December 31, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

This last poll is very interesting. With not statistical significance between the candidates of either party we are definitely waiting for Friday morning to know who will win in the races.

You can tell who wants to win the most by their campaigns. It seems to me that all three democrats want to win Iowa and are working extremely hard for it. That is reflected in the polls where they are separated by a point each.

It seems that only Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee care about Iowa. I predict a Romney win mostly because of the strong organization of his campaign. His campaign is so well organized he has teams in every county working to get supporters out on Caucus night and to rally for him.

It will be a fun night to watch from Washington.

Posted by: MissRed | December 31, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Obama-Dodd 08.

altough Edwards is a nice second prize

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 31, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Ralph Nader was right: politics is all a matter of the packaging that money buys. Why else could Hilary, Obama, and Edwards lead Biden and Dodd. Talk about packaging, look at Romney. How else did we get such a lousy president as Bush?

How terribly sad.

Posted by: riskpref | December 31, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

CC writes about "the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benzanir Bhutto and the foreign policy discussion it triggered".

As we are embarking on the final lap of the race to elect the next Commander in Chief, it is important to consider which candidate(s) are prepared enough and have a strong enough understanding of the world today and our place in it to be CIC.

The turmoil in Pakistan and in other countries whose electoral processes are routinely marred by assasinations and counter-democratic measures serves as a stark reminder of all that we have to be thankful for, and all that we have to protect and defend for our future generations.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | December 31, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

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