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Iowa Isn't Quite What You Think: Remember Jesse Jackson in '88

| Fri Jan. 4, 2008 1:39 AM EST

There are a lot of reasons not to compare Barack Obama and Jesse Jackson, but Obama's romp in Iowa tonight does bring to mind 1988, when Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition captured 11 percent in the Hawkeye State—coming in behind Dick Gephardt, Paul Simon (both veteran pols from neighboring states), and Michael Dukakis, but still astounding in a state where conventional wisdom had pegged Jackson as a quasi-fringe candidate (and where, as commentators never tired of pointing out, the black population was less than 1 percent). Back then, as I recall, some of the things that worked in Jackson's favor were cadres of passionate field organizers; some really smart strategizing that the campaign never got credit for; a deep, deep anger over the way ordinary people had been hung out to dry in the farm crisis; and, well, that thing that just might make Iowa a useful participant in the primary sweepstakes after all (okay, go ahead and flame), which is that people there seem to insist on making their own choices, conventional wisdom be damned.

Update: Yes, I'm confused too: some sources I've seen say Jesse got 11 percent, some say 9, and he's entirely missing from the Wikipedia entry; what's up with that?

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Biden and Dodd Out; Richardson Stays In With Some Guile

| Fri Jan. 4, 2008 12:20 AM EST

CNN is reporting that Joe Biden and Chris Dodd are dropping out of the presidential race. According to the current count, Biden took 0.94 percent of delegates and Dodd took 0.02 percent. And though Richardson's press secretary told me in November that "a top three finish is all we need," Richardson is going to take his fourth place finish (and 2.10 percent of delegates) and move forward. "We made it to the final four," Richardson said in a statement. "My staff and volunteers worked their hearts out to get us here. Now we are going to take the fight to New Hampshire."

There's some intrigue with Richardson. I heard a Richardson precinct captain say he was told personally by someone in the Richardson campaign to throw his caucus-goers to Obama if Richardson wasn't viable. The reasoning given, according to this precinct captain, was that internal polling was telling the Richardson campaign that Obama needed the most help, and by throwing support to him, no clear frontrunner would emerge in the race. The move also insured that Biden and Dodd didn't get any additional support. After all, what does a few extra percent for someone like Obama really matter?

Richardson, however, will have to drop out soon, barring a miraculous comeback. It will be interesting to see if Biden, Dodd, or Richardson endorse a remaining candidate.

Edwards Tips Hat to Obama in Concession Speech

| Thu Jan. 3, 2008 11:10 PM EST

Edwards just took the stage to speak—introduced as the "second-place finisher in Iowa," which isn't exactly finalized—and began his remarks with the statement, "The status quo lost and change won." He then transitioned quickly into this standard stump speech.

I'm telling you, folks. Edwards is looking for the number two spot on an Obama ticket if he doesn't take the nomination.

The Edwards perspective tonight: he trails substantially in New Hampshire and wouldn't have survived a bad loss. His second place or close third place finish probably means that he'll receive a moderate bounce; people will likely take another look at someone who could hang tough with the Clinton machine. The size of that bounce relies heavily on the size of the Obama bounce. If Obama shoots through the stratosphere in the next few days, there may be few voters left over for Edwards to grab. In fact, some Edwards partisans may shift to the Senator from Illinois.

Iowa Caucus Sees Record Turnout for Dems

| Thu Jan. 3, 2008 11:00 PM EST

I wrote this week that the Iowa caucuses were a 120/135/150 game. If 120,000 people showed up, it would be heavy on Edwards' hardcore supports. If it was closer to 135,000, you'd have the hardcore plus Clinton's older voters. And if it was 150,000 or more, Obama got the youth vote out.

The Iowa Democratic Party just released this one-line email:

"With 93.5 percent of the precincts reporting we are seeing record turnout with 218,000 caucus attendees."

By now you probably know that Obama won Iowa, and won big. He may have won amongst the old, the white, the female—he may have won on other people's turf tonight. We'll find out soon. But what we do know is that he dominated on his turf. The Des Moines Register gets it right again.

Update: New email. "With 96 percent of the precincts reporting we are seeing record turnout with 227,000 caucus attendees." This may be a whole new paradigm...

Update Update: Another email. "With 100 percent of the precincts reporting we are seeing record turnout with 239,000 caucus attendees." I'm going with, yes, new paradigm. Turnout in 2004 was 125,000. For the record, this turnout isn't all Obama: an exceptionally strong set of Democratic candidates is creating enthusiasm across the board. So says Howard Dean: "Record turnout for Democrats—nearly twice as many people participated in the Democratic caucus as in the Republican caucus—shows that voters are excited about our candidates and that our Party is strong."

Breaking: Obama Wins Iowa. Clinton and Edwards Tied for 2nd. Ron Paul Kicking Rudy's Ass

| Thu Jan. 3, 2008 10:56 PM EST

Those are the results with 91% percent of precincts reporting. Best part is this:
Ron Paul 8,549 10.1%
Rudy Giuliani 3,053 3.6%

More here.

McCain in NH: Would Be "Fine" To Keep Troops in Iraq for "A Hundred Years"

| Thu Jan. 3, 2008 9:43 PM EST

The United States military could stay in Iraq for "maybe a hundred years" and that "would be fine with me," John McCain told two hundred or so people at a town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire, on Thursday evening. Toward the end of this session, which was being held shortly before the Iowa caucuses were to start, McCain was confronted by Dave Tiffany, who calls himself a "full-time antiwar activist." In a heated exchange, Tiffany told McCain that he had looked at McCain's campaign website and had found no indication of how long McCain was willing to keep U.S. troops in Iraq. Arguing that George W. Bush's escalation of troops has led to a decline in U.S. casualties, McCain noted that the United States still maintains troops in South Korea and Japan. He said he had no objection to U.S. soldiers staying in Iraq for decades, "as long as Americans are not being injured, harmed or killed."

After the event ended, I asked McCain about his "hundred years" comment, and he reaffirmed the remark, excitedly declaring that U.S. troops could be in Iraq for "a thousand years" or "a million years," as far as he was concerned. The key matter, he explained, was whether they were being killed or not: "It's not American presence; it's American casualties." U.S. troops, he continued, are stationed in South Korea, Japan, Europe, Bosnia, and elsewhere as part of a "generally accepted policy of America's multilateralism." There's nothing wrong with Iraq being part of that policy, providing the government in Baghdad does not object.

In other words, McCain does not equate victory in Iraq--which he passionately urges at campaign events--with the removal of U.S. troops from that nation. After McCain told Tiffany that he could see troops remaining in Iraq for a hundred years, a reporter sitting next to me quipped, "There's the general election campaign ad." He meant the Democratic ad: John McCain thinks it would be okay if U.S. troops stayed in Iraq for another hundred years.....

Well, it was straight talk. And McCain's combativeness livened up a session during which he alternated between the old McCain (as in punchy, feisty, humorous) and the old McCain (as in just plain old). He moved a bit stiffly on the stage set up in the middle of the Adams Memorial Opera House. And he--somewhat oddly--shared the spotlight with Senator Joseph Lieberman, who has endorsed him. Lieberman did not merely introduce McCain; he stood by McCain during the entire event, helping McCain to answer questions about education, climate change, and the Iraq war. Several times, Lieberman gave more coherent and animated replies than did McCain. Repeatedly, Lieberman maintained that McCain could rack up bipartisan successes as president. (The Lieberman sidekick bit was curious. But an elementary-age girl in the audience did say, after being handed a microphone, that Lieberman was her role-model and that she fancied McCain. Lieberman hugged her, and the whole crowd oohed at this cuteness.)

Update: Video after the jump.

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Evolution Education a Must

| Thu Jan. 3, 2008 8:40 PM EST

433843536_b22dbb1592.jpg A coalition of 17 organizations calls on the scientific community to become more involved in the promotion of science education, including evolution. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Institute of Physics, and the National Science Teachers Association (among others), the introduction of nonscience, such as creationism and intelligent design, fundamentally undermines education—including learning how to use the scientific method, understanding how to reach scientific consensus, and distinguishing between scientific and nonscientific explanations of natural phenomena. The article appears in the January 2008 issue of the FASEB Journal (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology).

Based on a national survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters, the study reveals that respondents favor teaching evolution over creationism or intelligent design, and are more interested in hearing about evolution from scientists, science teachers, and clergy than Supreme Court Justices, celebrities, or school board members. "In an age when people have benefited so greatly from science and reason, it is ironic that some still reject the tools that have afforded them the privilege to reject them," says Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "The bottom line is that the world is round, humans evolved from an extinct species, and Elvis is dead. This survey is a wake-up call for anyone who supports teaching information based on evidence rather than speculation or hope; people want to hear the truth, and they want to hear it from scientists."

Amen.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

CO2 Emissions Kill People

| Thu Jan. 3, 2008 7:54 PM EST

morgue.jpg A Stanford scientist spells out for the first time direct links between increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and increases in human mortality. Mark Jacobson's findings come just after the Environmental Protection Agency's recent ruling against states setting specific emission standards based in part on a lack of data showing the link between CO2 and health effects. The new study details how each increase of 1 degree Celsius caused by CO2 would lead annually to upward of 20,000 air-pollution-related deaths. "This is a cause and effect relationship, not just a correlation," said Jacobson, whose study has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters. "The study is the first specifically to isolate carbon dioxide's effect from that of other global-warming agents." It's also the first to find that rising CO2 increases mortality due to rising levels of ozone, particles, and carcinogens in the air.

Jacobson's work stands apart, using a computer model that takes into account many feedbacks between climate change and air pollution. Developed over the last 18 years, it's considered the most complex and complete atmospheric model worldwide, incorporating principles of gas and particle emissions and transport, gas chemistry, particle production and evolution, ocean processes, soil processes, and the atmospheric effects of rain, winds, sunlight, heat and clouds, among other factors.

Let's hope it can be used to strongarm the EPA toward something resembling sanity. Maybe give up the useless time- and life-wasting court fight?

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

Romney's Message of Change Less Interesting Than Slamming Huck

| Thu Jan. 3, 2008 7:16 PM EST

romney-tiny.jpg WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — As you can tell from the photo at left, I sat at the very, very back of a Romney campaign event today. The former Massachusetts Governor visited the corporate headquarters of the Principal Financial Group. He emphasized the need for new solutions to meet America's challenges, a campaign message of Romney's that has been overshadowed by the fact that he seemingly redrew all of his political stances in order to match the old Republican establishment. "We need a very different kind of foreign policy," he said. Modernizing Islamic nations and partnering with moderates in potentially extremist areas were priorities. "We need to realize there's an end in sight to our traditional sources of energy," Romney said, calling for new solutions to America's energy needs. And we need new economic solutions to compete with the surging India and China.

Really, though, the one thing that might win this state for Romney tonight are his negative ads against Huckabee. The Huckabee surge has been slowed of late (Huck and Mitt are neck and neck here) not because of Romney's message of change (which has been largely ignored by the media), but because Romney released very effective ads that showed Huckabee's record on crime, immigration, and other issues. Also helpful has been the Club for Growth ad showing fat Huckabee okaying tax raises. It's still running constantly here. I'll put them below. If Mitt wins, you'll know why.

New Music: The Raveonettes - Lust Lust Lust

| Thu Jan. 3, 2008 7:11 PM EST

mojo-photo-raveonettes.jpgWhat to make of a Danish duo who seem obsessed with vintage American rock but can't help filtering it through a Jesus and Mary Chain fuzzbox? Well, with a name like "The Raveonettes," they're wearing their influences on their sleeves, and they've often been written off as a retro novelty act. But similarly to better-known male-female duo The White Stripes, the band's self-imposed stylistic restrictions often allow them to soar.