Blogs

Changing Climate Requires Change in Water Planning

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 10:11 PM EST

flood.jpg Guess what? The past is no longer a reliable base on which to plan the future of water management. So says a prominent group of hydrologists and climatologists writing in Science. The group calls for fundamental changes to the science behind water planning and policy.

Managers currently operate on the premise that historical patterns can be counted on to continue. But human-induced changes to Earth's climate are shifting the averages and extremes for rainfall, snowfall, evaporation, and stream flows. These are crucial factors in planning for floods or droughts, in choosing the size of water reservoirs, and in deciding how much water to allocate for residential, industrial and agricultural uses. Even with an aggressive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, warming will persist and global water patterns will continue to show never-before-seen behavior.

"Our best current estimates are that water availability will increase substantially in northern Eurasia, Alaska, Canada and some tropical regions, and decrease substantially in southern Europe, the Middle East, southern Africa and southwestern North America," said lead author Christopher Milly, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Drying regions will likely also experience more frequent droughts.

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Meet the New Bill Richardson!!

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 9:40 PM EST

WASHINGTON D.C. — MSNBC just showed a quick clip of Bill Richardson, who is appearing for an interview in the next few minutes. He has a beard and is deeply, deeply tanned. He looks like a Bond villain. I'll try to have a photo ASAP.

Update: Got the photo. It's low on quality but high on awesome.

richardson.jpg

CA Live Blog: The Polarizing Politics of Pronunciation

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 9:40 PM EST

SAN JOSE, CA — This place is packed! Some forty phone bankers are pitching some major woo. They're doing a great job reading their scripts, except when they get to this part: "It's time to move beyond the polarizing politics of the past." Ok, sure, Scarlett Johansson pulls off this line in robo calls without a hitch, but for average people, it's kind of a persistently perilous problem. Chuck from Chicago, who's sitting next to me, has said the PPP at least 100 times, and he's still not sure he's mastered it. "I can't figure out how to make it sound natural," he said. It might be time to try out something else. Maybe our readers have some suggestions. Nattering Negativity of the Nineties?

Arkansas Goes for Favorite Son, Daughter

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 9:24 PM EST

WASHINGTON D.C. — MSNBC took just one minute after polls closed in Arkansas to call the state for Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and Mike Huckabee on the Republican one.

Now would be a good time to remind folks that "winning" means different things in the Democratic and Republican races. On the Republican side, winning a state usually (but not always) means taking all of that state's delegates. That's because the Republican Party has embraced winner-take-all rules. On the Democratic side, however, winning a state means little because delegates are awarded proportionally at the district and state levels.

For more on this, see my primer on delegates and how they work.

And while we're on the South, here's a note on the evangelical vote nationwide. According to exit polls, 33 percent of evangelicals went for Huckabee, 31 percent went for Romney, and 30 percent went for McCain. No romp for Huckabee among that demographic today.

More States Called - Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Etc

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 8:55 PM EST

WASHINGTON D.C. — Taking an early look...

For the Democrats
Illinois: Obama (recent polling showed Obama up 30+)
Oklahoma: Clinton (recent polling showed Clinton up 30)

For the Republicans
Illinois: McCain (recent polling showed McCain up 20)
New Jersey: McCain (recent polling showed McCain up 15)
Massachusetts: Romney (recent polling showed Romney up 25)
Connecticut: McCain (recent polling showed McCain up 20)

All of those polling numbers come from here. Clearly, no surprises in the early states of the night. The only news of note: McCain skipped campaigning in some close states (California, for example) in order to reach for Massachusetts. Winning Romney's home state would really be a finger in the eye of McCain's key opponent. The strategy didn't work. We'll see if the lost opportunity hurts McCain elsewhere.

Update: MSNBC just called Tennessee for Hillary Clinton. She had a 20 point lead there is recent polling.

The Unbearable Disorganization of the Clinton Campaign

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 8:40 PM EST

NEW YORK, NY — Out on the campaign trail Hillary Clinton has frequently touted her experience, telling voters time and again that she is the candidate most prepared to be president "from day one." If her campaign's preparation for her gala celebration in New York City tonight is any indication, that argument doesn't wash.

You would think a campaign that had been going on for so long, in so many states, dealing with so many reporters and volunteers, would exhibit some semblance of organization for its biggest rally of the race. You would think it would have the savvy not to piss off hundreds of reporters who showed up six hours early to cover its event. You would think wrong.

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Gay Rights: Obama and Clinton's Checkered Past

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 8:16 PM EST

This Super Tuesday is a historic day for equal rights—a black man and a woman are the front-runners for the democratic presidential nomination. But the ghosts of prejudice and politics as usual still haunt today's elections. Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown has revealed that four years ago, when San Francisco was receiving worldwide attention for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Barack Obama didn't want anything to do with the city's endorsement of equal rights or the man responsible for it. Brown told the San Francisco Chronicle, "I gave a fundraiser, at [Obama's] request...He said he would really not like to have his picture taken with Gavin [Newsom]." Back then it would have been political suicide to be associated with Mayor Newsom's controversial move.

During the 2008 campaign, however, Newsom hasn't been carrying as much baggage. Hillary Clinton reveled in the mayor's endorsement and last night Bill even shared a stage with him. So does this mean Clinton is a greater advocate for equal rights, or would she have done the same thing that Obama did four years ago? It's probably the latter. Clinton supported the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, yet during this campaign season her stance on gay rights is markedly more progressive and nearly identical to Obama's. They both think "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" should be revisited and say they'll vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Both opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006. Both support civil unions, while maintaining that marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman.

CA Live Blog: What to Expect Tonight

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 8:02 PM EST

SAN JOSE, CA — Polls in California close in four hours, but it might not be possible to declare a winner in the state until Wednesday morning.The high turnout, high numbers of absentee voters, and use of old-fashioned paper ballots in some areas (Diebold machines were nixed here as unreliable) means it will take a long time to tally everything. That said, the Obama folks in here in Santa Clara County hope their districts might be decided by around midnight, and I'll be here as long as it takes. If you're a true political junkie, stick with me. This is in many ways a belwether district--whoever wins here has a good shot at taking the majority of the state.

Early Exit Polling Now Available; Georgia for Obama

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 7:56 PM EST

WASHINGTON D.C. — These are completely unreliable, but fun to look at.

They show a huge night for Obama in the making. But again, I caution, they are completely unreliable. The only thing we do know right now is that Georgia, the first state to report, has been called for Obama.

Black voters were 52 percent of voters in Georgia; they voted 86 percent for Obama. Among white voters, Obama took 43 percent, much much much better than the white vote he recieved in South Carolina and Florida.

Josh Harkinson, sitting in Obama's Norcal HQ, writes to add:

News just hit Obama HQ in San Jose, where I'm live blogging. "Take that enthusiasm and have it in California!" someone yells. Not exactly Obama-esque speechifying, but for this crowd, it will do.

Oh, and PS — Exit polls show the economy as the most important issue for the plurality of voters.

Live Blog from CA: Bring in the Big Guns!

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 7:17 PM EST

SAN JOSE, CA — Just now I was reading the California newspapers from my fold-out table in Obama HQ when a woman sat down at my elbow and logged into a MacBook. She hunted and pecked, fretting over her email. I figured her for just another first-time volunteer. Turns out she was U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, pecking out an email to the county's top voting official. You've got to love Lofgren--if not because she's campaigning for Obama, then for her ability to carry off the standard-issue DC pantsuit along with a very cool pair of blue-and-pink silk Chinese slippers.

Lofgren and her son had just come from eating lunch downtown at Teske's Germania, where she dines before every election. She'd ordered a gigantic pork shank. "It's kind of a good luck charm," she said. "I was going to actually order a salad because I've been trying to lose weight, but I didn't want to break the luck."

Lofgren has been in Congress for 14 years and has never seen an election bring in so many new volunteers. "In a Democratic event I walk in and I know everybody by name," she said, looking around the room. "These are all new people." Most volunteers didn't know her either--no crowd had gathered round until word got out who she was.

This is to be expected of a campaign that has harnessed a new wave of young voters. Several guys working the phones right now haven't even started growing facial hair. It's fun to watch these kids make things up as they go. This morning San Jose State student Sarah Bronstein was talking with another college kid about the Obama pitch they were reciting over the phone to voters. "It's a shitty script," she said. "They should write is as if someone is actually talking." So she tweaked it--one of countless of small examples today of DIY.

Excitement today goes beyond young people and Obama. This is the first time in recent history that California has played such a prominent role in choosing the presidential candidate, and the first time since the '50s that the election didn't feature an incumbent president or VP. Turnout is expected to resemble the much higher numbers of a general election. Of course, the bigger crowds at the polls have made snags more likely--which is why Lofgren has swooped in to fire off an email to the county elections chief. Obama staffers here had received a few reports that poll workers were incorrectly telling independent voters that they couldn't vote in the Democratic primary. If that problem becomes widespread, it would favor Clinton and hurt Obama, who polls better among independents.

Update: Lofgren's concern appears to have been merited. The Washington Post reports that confusion over independent voters and Democratic ballots has been widespread. Still, it does not yet appear to be a major factor in the race.