Blogs

Election '08: Ch-ch-ch-changes

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 1:32 PM EST

If you aren't smiling half way through this video, you're the election grinch.

Also on the topic of videos, Barack Obama is having so much success online he now has his own YouTube. Introducing YouBama. No affiliation with the campaign, apparently.

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A Primer on the All-Important Role of Delegates

| Sun Feb. 3, 2008 3:07 PM EST

obama-clinton-happy250.jpg In the early states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, the presidential candidates pushed hard for victories that would yield few delegates but garner them momentum and media buzz, and separate them from the rest of the pack. But now that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have reached February 5's almost-nationwide primary, they've adopted a new strategy: pushing for "close enough."

It's a product of the all-powerful but little-understood role of delegates in deciding primary elections. In this historic and unique election, the technical details of how delegates are awarded may have more to do with choosing a Democratic nominee than all the media buys, GOTV operations, and newspaper endorsements put together.

Under Democratic Party rules, states divide their delegates proportionally according to vote totals at the state and district level. The rules for awarding delegates are very complex and vary from state to state (which will make figuring out the true results of Super Duper Tuesday a challenging task for the media). But in most places, the system works like this: say four delegates are up for grabs in a congressional district; if one candidate wins 30,000 votes in that district and the other wins 20,000, both will take home two delegates.

In the example, one candidate won 60 percent to 40 percent—a very substantial victory. But in order to give three delegates to the winner and a single delegate to the loser, the final vote would have had to be closer to 75/25. The less unfair but still imperfect way to divide the district's four delegates is to give two to the winner and two to the loser.

This creates a focus on districts that have an odd number of delegates. Districts which, through the quirks of state party rules, have five delegates will give three to the winner and two to the loser in even a 51/49 split of the popular vote.

Check out "Yes We Can," Pro-Obama Video

| Sat Feb. 2, 2008 6:02 PM EST

From ABC.

I have no idea who most of these extremely young people are, but I have it on good authority that they're big stars.

Update: Check out the video by clicking "continues inside."

These Guys for Colbert's New Black Friends: Negroes for Huckabee

| Sat Feb. 2, 2008 1:31 PM EST

A press release I received just now:

Black Conservatives Rally to Urge Mike Huckabee to Stay in Presidential Race
PRESS CONFERENCE
Monday, February 4, 2008
9:45 AM
National Press Club
529 14th Street NW, DC

(DC) – A broad coalition of black conservatives from across the country are holding a press conference to urge former Governor Mike Huckabee to stay in the presidential race for the Republican nomination until the Convention.

"Governor Huckabee should not be intimidated to stop his bid for the republican nomination," states Don Scoggins, veteran GOP activist and among other conservatives hosting the press conference. "The momentum of the grassroots that propelled this party into victory is behind Mike and will not stop fighting for him regardless of his bank account," also states Scoggins, president of Republicans for Black Empowerment, a DC based national grassroots organization.

Clintons Take Note: This is How Its Done

| Sat Feb. 2, 2008 1:21 PM EST

When an Obama adviser, retired Gen. McPeak, dropped the M (for 'misogyny') bomb on Hillary and said:

Obama "doesn't go on television and have crying fits; he isn't discovering his voice at the age of 60" -- references to Clinton's much-publicized show of emotion during the New Hampshire primary campaign and her speech after winning the contest in which she declared that she had "found my voice."

Obama did this.

Class, style, grace, and political savvy. I'm digging Obama more and more everyday.

Maybe the famed Clinton War Room should have focused on recovering from its own mistakes and not just on responding to attacks.

Blacks Can't Accept Clinton's Apology if He Denies He's Apologizing

| Sat Feb. 2, 2008 12:50 PM EST

According to CNN, Bubba is barn storming black churches to apologize for his...'misunderstood' comments while campaigning for his wife.

Two prominent African-American politicians plan to join former President Bill Clinton on a tour of black churches this Sunday in Los Angeles. Sources say one of the officials has described it as Clinton's "mea culpa tour" to the black community.

But that, apparently, depends on what the meaning of 'apologize' 'is':

A spokesperson for the Clinton campaign in California confirms the former president will be visiting African-American churches this Sunday, but disputes the notion the stops are intended to make amends with the black community before the state's voters head to the polls this Tuesday.
"He's very popular with Latinos, African-Americans, it's absolutely not a mea culpa tour," says Clinton California spokesperson Luis Vizcaino.

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Circular Firing Squad Warning: Obama the Wonder Boy Had Better Get Out Ahead of the Impending Black vs. Hispanic Implosion

| Fri Feb. 1, 2008 7:28 PM EST

To date, the defining dynamic of the fight for the Democratic nomination has been race versus gender—which will the left symbolically end first? Race won, once Clinton's race-baiting went several bread crumbs too far. Major upheavals both likely and notwithstanding, the dilemma now facing both candidates, but especially Obama, will be surfing the coming tsunami between blacks and Hispanics, America's largest minority group. All that's at stake is the disintegration of the Democratic coalition.

Obama is running 3 to 1 behind Clinton among Latinos (25 percent of the electorate) in vote-rich California, for instance, with Super Tuesday looming. Similar realities confront him across America. If Obama wants to be the nominee—and survive his first term as Prez—he'll have to close that gap without alienating blacks, a tightrope I would happily ask my worst enemy to walk. What's the brother to do?

Huckabee in San Francisco

| Fri Feb. 1, 2008 7:05 PM EST

NHPhotoThumb08.jpg

Multiple corporate conferences dominated the lobby of San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel yesterday, and at first glance, one never would've guessed that the Republican candidate who had stormed to victory in the Iowa caucuses was in the house. I found the Terrace Room, where Mike Huckabee was addressing the small yet powerful group that is the Bay Area social conservative set, by following the screams of a Code Pink antiwar protester (dressed sharply in a business suit to match the well-healed crowd) being dragged out. As her cries of "Out of Iraq now!" faded, Huckabee turned back to the crowd and remarked that the beauty of America is that the protester was not going to be taken out back and shot. Laughter ensued: The audience might have been small, but it was boisterous enough at that point (and at other times) to make up for the empty seats at the fringes of the room.

After a cordial Q&A with his supporters, Huckabee made his way into the adjoining Vanderbilt room, where local media were decidedly less friendly. They focused on two issues about which most San Franciscans strongly disagree with Huckabee: gay rights and immigration. And for the occasion, the ex-Governor of Arkansas toned down his usually fiery religious rhetoric.

Asked if he had spoken to the mother of Ryan White, the young AIDS victim who was expelled from school at the beginning of the epidemic and around that time that Huckabee said that HIV/AIDS patients should be quarantined, he said that they recently had a very long phone conversation with Ms. White-Ginder. When the questions turned to gay rights, he came out strongly against firing someone in a government position based on sexual orientation (yet left the door open for the possibility of firing a gay church employee). These answers were obviously tailored to the assembled group, and this was probably the first time he has dusted them off and trotted them out in public.

China to Stop Rain for Olympics

| Fri Feb. 1, 2008 6:43 PM EST

beijing-rain.JPGAn article in the Los Angeles Times notes that the Chinese are planning to keep rain away from the roof-less Olympic stadium—by force if necessary.

The Chinese are planning on using "cloud seeding" to ensure good weather. To do this, they have farmers sitting not too far from Beijing with anti-aircraft guns. When the farmers see a cloud that looks like it might rain, they fire silver iodide into it. The particles of iodide makes the cloud's moisture condense around them, creating rain.

That's not all China has up its sleeve. In the Mother Jones January/February 2008 issue we noted Chinese plans for "rainmakers" and a new, low-emissions, public transit system for the Olympic village.

For more on Beijing's attempt to make 2008 Olympics go off without a hitch (or a CO2 emission), check out Beijing Goes Green.

Dem Debate: Buzzed, Annoyed and Inspired

| Fri Feb. 1, 2008 6:16 PM EST

kodak-LA-150.jpgBarack Obama and Hillary Clinton went mano-a-mano during a Democratic presidential debate broadcast from the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles on CNN Thursday night. The debate left me feeling buzzed, annoyed, and inspired. Here's why: