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Who Are the Expected Winners Tonight?

| Sat Feb. 9, 2008 8:24 PM EST

Let me devote one paragraph to the Republicans right here at the beginning, and then I'll likely ignore them for most of the night.

Mike Huckabee won Kansas by a three-to-one margin earlier today, a sign that in deeply conservative parts of the country (particularly those parts with lots of evangelicals) Republicans are not completely on board with McCain. He's got some work to do in winning these people over. That said, his delegate lead is so massive that it would take a miracle for Huckabee to win. Huckabee, knowing this, told the Conservative Political Action Conference today, "I didn't major in math. I majored in miracles, and I still believe in them." Maybe he thinks conservatives will coalesce around him as the alternative to McCain, but I doubt it. He is a social conservative, but isn't really an economic conservative. And he has no foreign policy credentials.

Okay. Republican results will come in for the caucus in Washington and the election in Louisiana. But unless something spectacular happens, I'm going to spend most of this lonely Saturday night blogging about the Dems.

So who has the advantage in the Democratic primaries today?

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Striking Writers Reach Tentative Deal

| Sat Feb. 9, 2008 6:49 PM EST

mojo-photo-strike.jpgHey, TV might be coming back! Hooray, TV! Union leaders and production companies have reached a tentative deal that covers online streaming: writers get $1300 for the rights to stream a show, and then 2% of the revenue. That's something, right? Guess it depends on who's counting revenue. They also get residuals for downloads, and if certain thresholds are met, they get one of those fruit bouquets. Not really. The New York Times called negotiations "sometimes heated"—ya think?—and Drudge has linked to Nikki Finke's dramatic (and endless) minute-by-minute timeline of the events this weekend. Okay, fine, but all we need to know is that Conan and Colbert and everybody have already invited their writers back, to start on Monday. Not that their efforts to waste time haven't been amusing.

Photo: LA Times

Hey, There Are Primaries This Weekend!

| Sat Feb. 9, 2008 12:15 PM EST

Thought you were going to get some time off after Super Tuesday? Think again! Tonight Louisiana heads to the polls and Nebraska and Washington head to caucuses. Tomorrow, Maine tries its hand at some caucusing as well. Political experts are expecting a sweep for Obama tonight (the Obama camp is really bad at managing expectations) and a toss up tomorrow. For more info, see this TPM post. I'll have coverage of the election results tonight.

You can find the schedule of the Democratic primaries here, by the way.

GOP: McCain is Chilling, But We'll Vote For Him

| Sat Feb. 9, 2008 11:36 AM EST

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran (R) speaking about John McCain on January 27:

"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."

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran (R) endorsing John McCain on February 8:

"I am supporting John McCain for the Republican nomination for president," Cochran, R-Miss., said in a statement released Thursday.

Mad props to Steve Benen, for catching this and other examples of GOP bandwagoning. We'll see if McCain can win over these folks.

What a Super Week!

| Fri Feb. 8, 2008 9:48 PM EST

Can you recall a more super set of seven days? Sunday gave us the Super Bowl, which lived up to its name for pretty much everyone in the world outside of New England. I mean, everyone loves an underdog, and how great was it that the biggest news of the day wasn't Tom Petty?

And arguably more super than the Super Bowl—a game which is manufactured expressly for entertainment—came just two days later, thanks to boring-old politics! There were no Victoria's Secret ads to lure people to the polls, no Doritos, no promises of perfection.

And yet they came. In droves. Droves so multitudinous that some places clean ran out of ballots. And what drew them? Good old-fashioned Patriotism. The real kind.

Super Tuesday Video: David Corn

| Fri Feb. 8, 2008 9:39 PM EST

David Corn gave San Francisco a special treat on Wednesday with his thoughts on the Democrats' less than decisive Super Tuesday results. Highlights include his music vs. math metaphor, a return to the campaign style of the 70's and the inevitable fatigue that'll likely meet the citizens of Pennsylvania.

Luckily we got the whole show on video:

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Waterboarding: Not So Illegal After All?

| Fri Feb. 8, 2008 9:28 PM EST

Yesterday I wrote about the minor firestorm that reignited over waterboarding in recent days, thanks to CIA director Michael Hayden's Tuesday testimony that his agency waterboarded three al Qaeda members in 2002 and 2003. The White House authorized that particular disclosure; I wonder if they authorized this? Speaking to the House Intelligence Committee yesterday, Hayden said the people who performed the torture were not necessarily trained CIA operatives, but instead unspecified outside contractors:

REP. SCHAKOWSKY (D-IL): Are contractors involved in CIA detention interrogation programs?

GEN. HAYDEN: Absolutely.

REP. SCHAKOWSKY: Were contractors involved in the waterboarding of al Qaeda detainees?

GEN. HAYDEN: I'm not sure of the specifics. I'll give you a tentative answer: I believe so.

This new wrinkle might explain the apparent confusion among the relevant government agencies over whether or not waterboarding is legal. (By today's tally, White House says yes, Hayden says no, and Mukasey remains noncommittal.) After all, what's illegal for the government isn't necessarily illegal for contractors. We already contract out a good deal of the war, so why not add torture to the mix and save ourselves the legal headache? Maybe this was what White House spokesman Tony Fratto meant when he said that we might still use waterboarding "under certain circumstances." Then again, maybe it's simply anybody's guess.

—Casey Miner

Why a Superdelegate Pledge May Not Be So Super

| Fri Feb. 8, 2008 9:03 PM EST

Let me humbly suggest that Nick's pledge idea has a flaw. Sure, you can try to compel Democratic superdelegates to vote for whichever candidate arrives at the convention with the most delegates. But few will sign such a pledge, whether or not the Obama and Clinton campaign ask them to do so. Why give up a privilege? Especially when--here's the real issue--outside events might change the landscape.

The last big-state primary (Pennsylvania) occurs on April 22 and the primaries altogether end on June 3. What if in between those dates and the Democratic convention, which opens on August 25, something happens? Maybe Barack Obama is in the lead, and a news report discloses he once sold dope to lobbyists for a health insurance industry. Maybe Hillary Clinton is ahead, and it turns out she did hide legal records during the Whitewater investigation and plotted with her husband to kill their political enemies. In such instances, superdelegates might want to mount a course correction.

Admittedly, these are extreme examples. But there could be other less extreme circumstances in which it would make sense for the superdelegates to reconsider the popular will. As I noted, my hunch is that superdelegates will not willy-nilly vote to hand the nomination to the second-place finisher just out of personal preference. They will be under much scrutiny. And blowing up the party to save a nominee will not be undertaken lightly.

Neato Viddy on the Intertubes: Dance Lessons With Khris Khaos

| Fri Feb. 8, 2008 6:49 PM EST

Okay, lately the Riff's been all super-serious, and commenters are starting to get mean. So in an effort to lighten the mood, and perhaps also help out those of you planning to hit the clubs this weekend, I present: Learn How to Dance for Women with King Khris Khaos, the King of Style!

Obama Musician Endorsement Update!

| Fri Feb. 8, 2008 6:04 PM EST

It's Obama-rocker-mania!Just when you thought it might end with the Grateful Dead, more musicians are coming out for Obama. First up, Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst spoke at an Obama rally in Omaha on Thursday (hmm: Obama, Omaha; Obama, Omaha), telling the crowd of 11,000 Nebraskans (and maybe Iowans) that he predicts Nebraska Democrats will caucus for the Illinois senator. He later apparently performed that annoying "When the President Talks to God" song at an event downtown.

Moving on to less whiny (and less youthful) musicians, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon tells Wonkette that she's supporting Obama, even though she admits that it's hard to distinguish him from Hillary, policy-wise. Wonkette points out that Obama is eight years younger than Sonic Youth's bassist.

And in "anti-endorsement" news, John Mellencamp has been asking the McCain campaign to stop using his songs, and they finally agreed, reports the AP. Mellencamp was an Edwards supporter, naturally; perhaps he can come along when Howard Dean tries to broker that deal. Ain't that America?