"Im-potent" People versus the Grand Poohbahs

I’ve been watching the Democratic Rules & Bylaws committee meeting in DC on C-SPAN for the last couple of hours. This “im-potent” group has adjourned for lunch after hearing oral arguments all morning. I ate mine while I watched these clowns, devouring some ribs left over from Monday.
They will be back at 4:15 pm, when the “im-potent” committee members will debate among themselves what remedies they will formally consider putting up for a vote.
When I first turned it on, I thought what I was seeing was simply hilarious – a cross between the O.J. trial and a meeting of Fred Flintstone’s Moose Lodge, the pace and the television crews reminiscent of the Trial of the Century, the “hail-fellow-well-met” salutations to the distinguished platform that seemed to go on FOREVER suggestive of the shenanigans between Flintstone’s lodge brothers and the “im-potent” Grand Pooh Bah.

The long lists of high minded introductory platitudes between sworn enemies, knowing that off camera they hate each others guts, had me howling. Alexis Herman wielded the gavel like a high school principal – more accurately, a high school principal played by actress Jenifer Lewis, who has a strikingly similar demeanor and sharp edged Southern drawl.

The state representative from Florida who spoke almost had me thinking he was running for office the way he beat the podium to make his points. Carl Levin, the senator from Michigan, practically breathed fire as he railed against Iowa and New Hampshire’s lock on the beginning of the primary process.

The “im-potent” representative who spoke for Obama, Former Michigan Rep. David Bonior was a typical Obama spokesperson – I’m going to have to write his campaign about this weakness they seem to have – a dry, straight forward speaker who was prone to stammering when he was asked a question. The ex governor of Michigan, Jim Blanchard, who spoke on behalf of the Clinton campaign, was about as much of a huckster as you could stuff into a size 48 suit, a man who looked like he learned to backpedal before he could walk.

I don’t know if there’s really a difference between the white women on the committee who support Clinton and those who support Obama. Maybe it’s the way the Clinton supporters have to steel themselves before attempting to justify their positions, making them a little anxious as they speak, that gives them a different vibe from the white women who seem to understand that righteousness, at least as it applies to today’s events, is on their side.

I was scanning the room as the cameras panned along the rows of committee members, the voice of Michigan’s ex-governor droning on in the background, looking at the faces of the black people who sat around the table, a group that was largely silent while I was watching. I was kind of upset with Donna Brazile, who seemed to be alternately bored and annoyed, for not making any attempt to speak.

All of a sudden, you hear her name being called, and then she turns on her mike. Brazile’s face has the scowl she has perfected this primary season on CNN. She makes the obligatory hot air introductions to the "im-potent" peoples.

“I know we’re hear today to make some decisions in the interest of the party. Political decisions is what we’ll be making. We all know that. But since you brought your momma up earlier, Governor, I’m gonna bring my momma into this too. I know, since you look like you were raised right, since you have grown into a fine (I almost choked at this comment) man, I KNOW your momma must have told you the same thing my momma told me.

You gotta play by the rules.”

She brought the house down.

But her ending comment, which didn’t have the same impact because people were still talking about her last statement, was actually more apropos. “And I’m sure your momma also told you something else. That when you change the rules in the middle of the game, or at the end, that’s called cheatin’. That’s right, cheatin’.”

All the posturing, message sending, feather ruffling, sidestepping, backpedaling, and lines being drawn in the sand stopped for a minute as Brazile hit everyone in that part of their psyches where the memories of their own mother’s sense of decency and common sense reside.

The irony of Brazile invoking the image of her brown skinned mother as a brown skinned man battles for the Democratic party’s nomination must have provoked Alexis Herman – a few minutes later, just as she was about to adjourn the meeting, she stopped to recognize Rep. John Conyers, announcing not only his name but his position as the House JUDICIARY Committee chairman.

It’s 4:09 pm. Time to get my peanuts and beer for Round 2.

Back to basics.

While the drama of who will receive how many delegates from Florida and Michigan gets underway today, Puerto Rico gears up for its primary tomorrow. Their polls are open from 8 am to 3 pm.

My man Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com gives us his take on what the voter turnout is likely to be:



And as such, taking the high and low end of the range, we'd estimate that somewhere between 34.7 percent and 64.0 percent of Puerto Rico's 1.27 million "likely voters" will actually turn out to vote. That would represent a turnout of between 441,000 and 813,000.

Puerto Rican officials expect a turnout of about 500,000. Joe Sestak, who might be echoing the expectations of the Clinton camp, says 450,000 to 500,000. Puerto Rican elections expert Manuel Alvarez-Rivera guesses 600,000. The record for turnout in a Democratic primary is 870,000, when Ted Kennedy made a visit to the island in his challenge to Jimmy Carter.



The word around the internet is that the electorate in the PR will be less motivated to get out and vote for a variety of reasons, including the obvious one – this thing is pretty much over already.


“Traditionally people in Puerto Rico see the primaries as something far removed from their political reality,” said Angel Rosa, a political science professor at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. “They don’t see this primary as any kind of opportunity to send a message to the United States.”



Nate Silver’s number crunching turned up an interesting phenomena, a sort of Get Out The Vote Catch-22. One of only things Clinton has left to talk about is the “popular vote”. Although it has always been an irrelevant statistic in the Democratic nomination process, it is a concept that seems to have become popular with the public after the 2000 general election meltdown in Florida. In order to get closer to Obama’s popular vote tally, Clinton needs to have a net gain of hundreds of thousands of votes in the last three primaries. Puerto Rico presents her best chance of gaining large numbers of votes. However, as Nate says below:


Moreover, there may be something of an inverse relationship between turnout and Clinton's performance. The GQR poll says that Clinton's margin is 19 points among likely voters, but only 13 points among all voters.

So if Clinton wants to maximize her percentage of the vote, she might hope for a lowish turnout. However, Clinton not only needs to maximize her percentage of the vote; she also needs to maximize turnout.



Basically, it looks like Camp Clinton finds itself entangled in a Gordian Knot, better known as the Democratic primary system. The harder they pull against it, the tighter the party rules Clinton's top advisors spent the last ten years perfecting are going to choke their own campaign.

The good thing is, the folks at Camp Clinton only have four days left to torture themselves (and us) - the last primary will finally be over Tuesday night once Montana and South Dakota close their polls.


Hallelujah!




Half Dollars and Half Delegates

Who these people are and why they are important appear to be glossed over by the mainstream press – giving credence to Hillary Clinton’s aggressive efforts to sway the outcome seem to be their only interest.

The Americans I talk to seem to see something different – to them, Camp Clinton has begun to act like a band of desperadoes who have fought the long arm of the law off as long as they could, and are now holed up in their hideout, their supplies running out, their water running low, about to mount their final fusillade of bluster and conjecture.

But the posse, 28 strong, who will be wearing the sheriff’s badges tomorrow are the members of the RBC. Thirteen of them publicly support Camp Clinton, which means there is an enormous amount of last minute arm twisting going on behind the scenes. 15 votes will be needed to pass anything, with two additional at-large members on hand in case there is a tie.

The RBC will conduct its business school board style, in front of an audience of several hundred spectators and members of the press. I cannot imagine what deliberations they will have to hear, or what evidence they will have to examine, but the committee chairs have already requested that the committee members retain their rooms “in case we have to reconvene on Sunday”.

The dilemma the committee faces reminds me of a story from my childhood that took place back when I was about five or six years old. We used to go visit my mother’s mother fairly regularly in the seventies. My grandmother was pretty old at the time, and had always had problems with her legs, so she was often bedridden.

There was a ritual we went through whenever my parents announced that we were about to leave that involved making one last trip to grandma’s bedroom to say goodbye. She’d say a few words and then wave me and my brother over one by one to present each of us with a Kennedy half dollar. There was nothing in the world like holding that big silver coin in your hands. I'd feel rich as I left her room and headed outside to the car.

Once, when we were leaving, my grandmother said, “I haven’t been able to get out lately, so I’m going to give you a paper dollar this time.”

Oh yeah? I was ecstatic – a whole dollar!

Then she told me WHY she was giving me a whole dollar. “You give half of that to your brother.”

I immediately turned to my brother, held the dollar up in front of his face, tore the bill cleanly in two, and handed him his half.

It is a story my aunts repeat even now, laughing at the naiveté of a child who didn’t understand that having half of a dollar bill was like having nothing at all.

Camp Obama has offered to compromise with Camp Clinton over the Florida and Michigan delegations – either recognize half the delegates from each state, or recognize all of them, but allow them to have half votes. Which would pretty much put Camp Clinton in the same boat my brother and I were in that day we stood in my grandmother’s bedroom, each of us holding our own worthless halves of a dollar bill in our hands. The DNC's lawyers, much to Camp Clinton's chagrin, have recommended just this week a course of action much along the same lines Obama's group has laid out.

Which is why when you turn your television to CNN or Fox News or MSNBC anytime during the next twenty four hours, you will probably hear that Clinton supporters are going to be demonstrating outside the hotel hosting the meeting.

"With a click of a mouse in the mid-Atlantic, we could get thousands of people there," Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, told reporters yesterday. "But in the interest of party unity, we are not encouraging a protest. We don't think a scene is helpful as we try to bring the party together."


The meeting Saturday might last all day. It might even go over into Sunday. There will come a point during the proceedings, however, where the RBC committee chairpersons will realize it's time to get to the end, much like my parents used to do on those Sunday afternoons at grandma's house when they announced it was time to go home. They will very likely award each candidates half-delegates to take home with them, much the way my grandmother handed her grandchildren those Kennedy half-dollars she had saved during the year.

Keeping The Tally From Our Eyes




"As you sow, so shall ye reap"



All these machinations that we will be privy to before the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee meets this weekend to decide how to handle the mess the Michigan and Florida state delegations have become will probably give us some new numbers to live by.

The end result of all the posturing and protesting that will take place Saturday at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC will most likely be the emergence of a new goalpost – maybe 2208 delegates this time – that Obama or Clinton will have to acquire in order to claim the nomination.


I have heard this story before.



Growing up, my father used to tell us colorful stories about his uncles and aunts and cousins who grew up around him in the country. One of the stories that has stuck in my mind for years was the one about an old plantation, located a few miles from my grandfather's house in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, that became a sharecropping operation after their slaves were freed.

His cousins had lived on this plantation's grounds for generations. They were still there at the middle of the twentieth century, even as the civil rights movement was fomenting around them. They worked the landowner's land by day and lived in the landowner's shacks by night.

Stores for groceries and clothes were far and few between – moreover, you needed to have cash money to purchase any goods. But sharecroppers didn’t need to go to local stores – the landowner had a store he operated especially for his help. This commissary was a place were the sharecropper could buy clothes and food on credit until harvest time, when his share of the crop went to market.

The theory behind sharecropping suggested that the tenant farmer had an opportunity to earn enough money to pay off what he owed to the commissary and put the rest aside. In practice, this never happened – no matter how much money your efforts yielded, the amount you owed was always higher than what you earned.

The ledger was not open for inspection – it was this part of the story, more than any other, that made my blood curdle every time I heard it. This power the landowners had, an authority so vast it allowed them to alter the details of previously agreed upon terms, a control so absolute it permitted these landowners to change the amount of money these hardworking men and women owed to them with nothing more than the stroke of a pen - this kind of power scared the hell out of me as a child.

My father would pause here, letting his description of the commissary arrangement sink in for a few seconds, answering questions from me and my brothers - why didn’t your cousins have any MONEY? - as well as my mother - you mean to tell me your cousins were still on the old plantation IN THE FIFTIES?.

Then he would plunge into the Brier Rabbit part of the story, relating to us how his cousins, having had enough, vowed to leave at the end of the next harvest. And the only way to leave was to pay off their debt. So the head of the family went to the commissary that fall and received his allotment from the harvest. It was weighed, a figure was arrived at, and he carried his scrip to the commissary, where he applied it to his bill. But this time, instead of taking a verbal accounting of how much more he owed, he asked the landowner to write it down.

The landowner handed him a slip with a figure on it. That’s all he walked out with – no flour, no sugar, no coffee, no salt pork, no rice, no toiletries – nothing but that slip of paper.

My father’s cousins went to work in earnest then, making what they had last as long as possible, borrowing what they could not do without from relatives like my grandfather, going back to basics as they hunted, fished, and gathered practically everything they ate for the next twelve months after toiling in the fields all day.

So the next fall, when it came time for harvest, when it came time to settle up with the landowner, my father’s cousins had enough amassed enough scrip to settle their tab. It is this part of the story that I have probably romanticized above and beyond the imagery my father provided, adding extra heft to the pasteboard suitcases they had packed to the gills, extra shine to the moonlight as they trudged away from their empty shack under the cover of darkness, an extra gleam in their eyes as they headed for the main road, their next stop the train station, their destination, New York City.

It is stories like this, stories told and retold, most of them containing more than a kernel of truth at their center, that make me and people like me wary whenever we see business that is meant to be public conducted in private, whenever we see men with knowing smiles emerge from smoke filled rooms…whenever we sense that someone is keeping the tally in the metaphorical ledger book from our eyes.

The Democratic Party Rules & Bylaws committee has a hard job to do. I don’t envy them. The piles of delegates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are standing on aren’t much different than the plantation token pictured above this commentary. Whether or not these delegates will retain their original value or be assigned a new unit of measurement is entirely up to the landowners, oops, I meant committee members, who will convene this Saturday, just before the candidates begin to harvest the fruits of their campaign labor.

Office Politics


49 48 47 delegates to go.


Over the last couple of weeks I’ve overheard bits and pieces of water cooler and lunchtime conversations – casual gatherings where people who work together often share things that are more personal than they would otherwise in the office.

I was leaving work fairly late last night when I ran into two co-workers standing around the receptionist’s desk (which is usually empty because we don’t have a receptionist), talking about Obama.

I couldn’t quite make out what was being said, but the man was very emphatic, gesticulating as he spoke, his head shaking a little as he brought home his point. The woman smiled when I passed them heading for the door, and the man turned as I put my hand on the door handle.

“What do you think about this…this…this liberal flip flopper Obama?” he asked me. He continued before I could answer. “He would turn us into a socialist state. Am I right?”





“Politics in the office isn’t a good idea,” I said slowly, although I was very curious about their conversation, and how he had gotten to the idea of a “socialist state”. Although I had my hand on the door, I wasn’t moving.

The woman grabbed her handbag. “I need to get home to my son,” she said. I stepped back so she could get out.

“Alright,” I said, “there’s nobody else here. So where did you get this idea that we were going to become a socialist country if we elected Obama?”

“Actually, either Obama or Clinton will take us there. Hell, McCain might too if we take our eyes off of him long enough.” His voice was rising as he spoke, but the way he looked at me was a bit wary, as if he was gauging my reaction to the things he was saying.

“What are you basing that on?”

“Look at their plans. Look at their platforms. All this stuff they want to provide – whose going to pay for it? They don’t have the money in the budget now, so they must be planning to raise taxes. Do you follow me?”

I frowned. “A lot of what they plan to do will never get off the ground. You know that. Kind of like one tugboat trying to move an ocean liner. It doesn’t move it very much. That’s about all the president can do – move us a little bit left or a little bit right.”

“Well, when you’ve got a guy who has sought out the most radical, the most extreme socialists and communists and anarchists all his life, you’ve got to wonder what’s going on in this guys head, don’t you?”

“I’ll admit, I haven’t read more than a few pages of either of his books, but I am pretty familiar with the timeline of his life. So when did all this happen?”

“When he chose to go to the most corrupt, most liberal educational institution in the United States.”

“What school was that? Columbia?” Now I was puzzled.

“No, Harvard.”

“Harvard? You mean Harvard University? Do you know what kind of people go to Harvard? The kind of people who want to get somewhere in a hurry. The kind of people who strive for big things. The kind of people who want to ‘join the club’.”

I could have continued, breaking it down further to point out that a graduate student in their late twenties who is a member of the law review has waay less free time than an undergraduate.

But I was simply amazed that in fifteen minutes, this man, who looked white but had a Cuban mother, a man who was the son of a college professor at a university here in the Deep South, had painted a picture for me of a candidate I did not recognize. It was as if he had overlooked all the good stuff, the things we could verify and substantiate, to focus on the conjecture, the rumors, the innuendo, basing his entire view of Barack Obama on these fevered musings of the discontented.

We had been dancing around it for awhile now, so I decided to out it out there, to see how far I could get those eyebrows to jump.

“You know what I think the real problem is?” I think there is lot of America that really didn’t pay much attention to this primary – yeah, there’s a black guy running for president, good for them – until now, when the reality is, this guy is likely to win the nomination and be on the ballot in November. Pushing that button is going to be hard.”

His eyebrows didn’t jump, they flattened out. His chin tilted down. “It’s gonna get ugly. That’s all I can say. It’s gonna get real ugly. You’re going to see people saying things they haven’t said in a long time to each other. At each other.”

“Something like the sixties, I would imagine.”

The wariness continued as we went back and forth, trading euphemisms and vague generalities, until he charged in with a declaration.

“Political correctness,” he said as his eyebrows inched skyward again, “is ruining the way we can communicate with each other.”

We stared at each other for a minute, both of us looking as if we were imagining the coarser ways, the violent ways, the misogynistic ways blacks and whites have communicated with each other in this country over the years. A few more exchanges and I was out the door, headed home to an internet full of anonymous people who were very, very happy to show the world how politically incorrect they could be.

But can this trumpeting of the dark and vile thoughts within your heart, a trumpeting that I too am guilty of participating in, can this be considered communication? Or are we staking out our territories for the battle ahead?

With only 49 48 47 delegates to go, I should feel good. I should be exuberant.


But the struggle, it seems, has only begun.



Assasinate - Rhymes with "playahate"


My flabber has been gasted.

I am fresh out of rage.

Hillary Clinton has graduated from simply calling "a spade a spade" back in South Carolina to reminding us that "I am leading among working class white voters" after Virgina to hauling out the granddaddy of them all, the "let's just burn/shoot/stab a negro because...well, he hasn't done anything wrong, but...well, because we can."

I don't know whether this latest episode "screwed the pooch", "jumped the shark", or was an example of "all balls, no brains."

But what I do know is that Hillary Clinton is first and foremost a lawyer.

My best buddy is a lawyer. Hell, my SO is a lawyer. And if there's one thing I know about even half assed lawyers, they are much, much more cognizant of the importance of what comes out of their mouths than the average citizen.

The thing that pisses me off more than what she said is the way the news pundits - AKA "the people who interpret the news for those too dumb to think for themselves" - gloss this over, paraphrasing the Clinton spin doctors - "her reference to Mr. Kennedy's assassination appeared to focus on the timeline of his primary candidacy and not the assassination itself" - in order to soothe the masses.

I watched the tape of her interview with the Argus Leader in South Dakota. There was no dependent clause after "We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California" to modify the declaration that stand-alone sentence made.

Don't try to PLAY us with that throwaway sound bite shit, Mrs. Clinton. And don't sit there circling the wagons around your girl when she goes too far, those of you in TV pundit land, with that ridiculous conjecture you don't even believe yourselves about why she said what she did.

Hell, I couldn't even see Baghdad Bob saying the kind of things she is capable of saying with a straight face.

Hillary, you don't fight against sexism by making snide remarks or having a "I can't believe you people are letting this happen to me" attitude written across your face every time the camera turns your way. If you need a quick tutorial on this, you can turn to your husband, a man who can LITERALLY charm someone's pants off, a man who intuitively knows, better than just about anyone, that you catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.

If Clinton's campaign coffers had more money in them or IF THE DELEGATE COUNT WAS CLOSER, my dander would be up. Waaaay up.

But these things that have come out of her mouth lately remind me of a two year old who threatens to do something terrible if you don't give them what they want.

I'm not all that current with urban slang, but I'm pretty sure I can get this closing thought right.

"Don't playahate, congratulate."

As the notorious comedian Katt Williams asserts in one of his monologues , "Haters hate. That's what they do."

So hate on, Hillary.

Hate on.





The Last Primary

The Last Primary That Counts

The phone calls have tailed off. The emails have slowed. The constant, near maniacal search for any information about Barack Obama’s chances in the next state level contest has petered out.

“I guess it’s over,” a friend of mine said yesterday.

“You know,” I said, “when you cut the head off of a snake, you’ve still got to be careful, cause that sum bitch is liable to bite your ass for quite a while afterwards.”

This is the part that Hillary has been waiting for – an arena in which she and her cohorts can do what they do best – plead, cajole and arm twist a small group of like minded people until they get what they want. And if you are black, you are probably going to do what a lot of my friends will be doing next week – wondering if she can really come back from the dead and burst the bubble on this fairy tale.

Which is why I am so glad I came across the charts below, which were put together by a guy at the 2008 Democratic Convention Watch:

FL & MI By The Numbers

There are all sorts of scenarios concerning Florida and Michigan. Some recently discussed scenarios include seating all MI/FL pledged delegates with 1/2 vote, (supers at 1/2 or full vote), and a proposal by Michigan Dems propose 69-59 split. We've taken five of the most likely and interesting ones and run the numbers.

The scenarios are:

  1. Do not seat Florida or Michigan. Current Official DNC rules
  2. Seat FL 1/2 vote, MI 69-59 split and supers full vote.
  3. Seat FL/MI all half votes, pledged and supers
  4. FL/MI, pledged half vote, supers full vote
  5. Seat FL & MI based on the elections that have taken place. This scenario is in the left sidebar.

Note that in scenarios 3-5, we do not assign any of the Uncommitted Michigan delegates to Obama. We understand he will get many, most, or even all of these Uncommitted delegates, but until we have some hard endorsements from specific delegates (which we're not tracking at this time), its easier to understand the numbers this way. Any further analysis of these scenarios should include some assumption of how many of these Uncommitted delegates should be placed in Obama's column.

We are not endorsing any of these scenarios. We're just providing information so our readers can judge how each scenario will affect the race.

List of Florida and Michigan superdelegates.


Others(1): Include Unknown, Uncommitted & No endorsements yet
NYA(2): Not Yet Assigned.
YTV(3): Not Yet Voted.

If you read this the way I did, you know there is practically NO way she can come out ahead. The "popular vote" may be "popular", but that has no real bearing on how the Democrats choose their convention delegates.

The thing that makes me stay up too late every night, tapping away at this keyboard, is the anger I can't let go watching her campaign heavyweights trot out this "mangy dog with fleas" idea that Florida and Michigan are ENTITLED (yes, I'll say it out loud) to be a part of their political party's selection process.

177 To Go




177 to go.



My phone was ringing off the hook last night from friends and acquaintances who know I am up to my ears in the minutiae of this primary.

"Why hasn't she dropped out yet?"

"What more do they want from him?"

"Why isn't this thing over yet?"

"What trick is the Clinton Camp going to pull next?"



For people who don't follow the political goings on in their own town, for those who could normally care less about the national political scene "because they are going to do what they want anyway", this is a harsh introduction to watching big time politics. There are so many conflicts within the Democratic Party right now - young versus old, black versus white (will come back to this one in a minute), the future versus the past, the many versus the few - that it will take a while for all of these things to settle down.

I wouldn't want to imagine being Hillary Clinton right now. This would have been an easier pill for Obama to swallow - remember, as he puts he, he wasn't supposed to get this far. But to be the front runner, the favorite, the one to beat - to already know what changes you were going to make in the White House bedroom to get rid of the stuff you didn't like the last time you lived there - it has got be one of the most horrible political and personal experiences a candidate has gone through in generations, somewhere up there with the"Wilkie Wins" headline THAT presidential hopeful went to sleep on.

I've told my friends to turn their TV's off - to go do something fun, or get some sleep, or reconnect with their families, or whatever it is they normally do to kill time - because everything else from here on out is just noise, mindless chatter to fill the airwaves until the conventions.

And for my more conspiratorially minded associates, I've had to reassure them that there will be no secret ballot, no "stealing" of the nomination, no magic wand that will help her snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Rest easy, I've told them - Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee. "You can take that to the bank."


177 to go.




183 To Go


183 to go.



That’s the number I stayed up until three o’clock in the morning ON A WEEKNIGHT to find out. That’s the number of delegates of any variety – pledged, super, rocky road, mint chocolate chip – that Barack Obama’s campaign needs to be able to plant the flag of victory at the Democratic National Convention later this year.


If you watched the Hillary Clinton victory speech in Indianapolis last night, you saw what I saw – a woman who was going through the motions as she spoke, her voice hollow, her posture limp, her eyes vacant as she willed herself to recite the meaningless campaign rhetoric to a crowd who could barely fake the listless level of enthusiasm they showed. Her husband’s face was red, his crimson cheeks and cherry colored forehead much more revealing than the professional politician’s innocuous smile he wore as she droned on about her will to win, her resolve to stay in the race, and her need, now more than ever, for more money to continue her odyssey towards the nomination.


I was on the phone with my brother as she spoke, spinning an alcohol-induced conspiracy theory about the lone county in Indiana that was refusing to report ANY vote totals as we got closer to midnight. I stopped in mid ramble – “Dude, this sounds like a concession speech – let me call you back!” – as her halting words came through the speakers. I didn’t need the detail of high definition TV to see her in a way the majority of the political commentators tried desperately to avoid describing accurately.



183 to go.



I think in a lot of ways it is harder for those of the pundit class to accept the fact that Hillary Clinton has absolutely no chance of earning – I’ll say it again here, EARNING – the Democratic nomination as the candidate the party will back for the presidency of the United States of America than it will be for the man in the street. These people have had to face the thing that the rest of America has been able to avoid up to this point – that in November, if you want to support the Democratic presidential candidate, you will be touching that screen or pulling that lever or checking that box for a man with brown skin.


If its still hard for me, a confessed political junkie these past few months, to deal with the enormousness of a black man who is one step away from being the president of this country, I know it must be three times as hard for those who have always expected to be led by someone who looks like them instead of someone who looks like me.



183 to go.



The Clinton campaign has canceled Hillary’s round of post primary public appearances on TV and radio that were scheduled to begin in a few hours. If you heard what I heard in the tone of Hillary Clinton’s voice as she claimed victory for the Indiana primary, you would recognize the sound of a woman who is wondering what just happened.

I know the feeling myself.

Although the campaign I ran for student body president of my high school almost twenty five years ago was not in the same league as a presidential bid, the dynamics were similar. I was the favored candidate, with lavish red, white and blue trimmed campaign boaters my supporters fought over, professionally rendered campaign posters, a slick slogan, and access to the school intercom as a voice behind the morning announcements. My opponent was a girl from across the tracks who was never organized and always late to everything.

In a student body of two thousand students, I lost by twelve votes.

The student council advisor was almost in tears. “I counted them three times,” she said to me. “I’m sorry.”

I had been so sure of victory that I had worn one of my campaign boaters to her office. How could I have lost? What went wrong? Who the hell were the thirteen idiots who couldn’t see that I was the better candidate?

After the anger faded I was embarrassed, ashamed that I had thought so much of myself, and humiliated by the thought of being beat by someone with less advantages on her side. It took awhile for me to see the things I’d done wrong. The things I’d ignored. And to understand that I had put more faith in symbols, like campaign hats, than the kind of substance that could make a few more students believe.

Mrs. Clinton has lived in another world, one that some have dubbed HillaryLand, for the past fifteen months. Emerging from the confines of this cocoon will be painful. It will be embarrassing, even though she will try not to show it.

She will survive.


Meanwhile, the O-Man will continue on his quest – on our quest – to be seated behind the desk in the Oval Office.


No red, white and blue trimmed Styrofoam boaters required
.



Right Back Where We Started From

Judging a political contest is like handicapping a horse race – you study a horse, know his strengths and weaknesses, how fast he is, what kind of track he runs better on, and stack him up against the rest of the field. Then you do it again for each horse in the field.

The real question today is whether Hillary Clinton can raise enough cash to keep her in the race – as to the concept that perception is reality, if she can win big enough in Indiana (whether by one point or ten, its hard to say what the magic number is today) she can continue to beat the fund raising drum.

Even as I write that last sentence, though, I know as well as anybody that her big donors are tapped. Her internet cash haul is growing, but as Obama’s people will tell you, it takes a lot of effort to garner all those small donations week after week.

If she can pull Indiana out and win North Carolina (about as likely as my hair growing back) then the O-Man is on the ropes, even though he would still be closer to the goal – the tea leaf readers will sense shifting momentum and trumpet it across the airwaves.

I don’t see Obama winning Indiana, and I don’t see Clinton winning North Carolina – if Obama’s urban congressional district routs hold up (that’s where the highest delegate counts are), though, he could net 10 more delegates than Clinton tomorrow…

…which would put us right back where we were two months ago.



What Do We Want? A Five Part Series

MONDAY


TUESDAY



WEDNESDAY



THURSDAY



FRIDAY








Tomorrow, the DNC’s Rules & Bylaws Committee (RBC) will attempt to come to some sort of resolution regarding the seating of the nominating delegates from Michigan and Florida, two states whose Democratic primary elections were held on dates that violated the DNC primary schedule.

Who these people are and why they are important appear to be glossed over by the mainstream press – giving credence to Hillary Clinton’s aggressive efforts to sway the outcome seem to be their only interest.

The Americans I talk to seem to see something different – to them, Camp Clinton has begun to act like a band of desperadoes who have fought the long arm of the law off as long as they could, and are now holed up in their hideout, their supplies running out, their water running low, about to mount their final fusillade of bluster and conjecture.

But the posse, 28 strong, who will be wearing the sheriff’s badges tomorrow are the members of the RBC. Thirteen of them publicly support Camp Clinton, which means there is an enormous amount of last minute arm twisting going on behind the scenes. 15 votes will be needed to pass anything, with two additional at-large members on hand in case there is a tie.

The RBC will conduct its business school board style, in front of an audience of several hundred spectators and members of the press. I cannot imagine what deliberations they will have to hear, or what evidence they will have to examine, but the committee chairs have already requested that the committee members retain their rooms “in case we have to reconvene on Sunday”.

The dilemma the committee faces reminds me of a story from my childhood that took place back when I was about five or six years old. We used to go visit my mother’s mother fairly regularly in the seventies. My grandmother was pretty old at the time, and had always had problems with her legs, so she was often bedridden.

There was a ritual we went through whenever my parents announced that we were about to leave that involved making one last trip to grandma’s bedroom to say goodbye. She’d say a few words and then wave me and my brother over one by one to present each of us with a Kennedy half dollar. There was nothing in the world like holding that big silver coin in your hands. I'd feel rich as I left her room and headed outside to the car.

Once, when we were leaving, my grandmother said, “I haven’t been able to get out lately, so I’m going to give you a paper dollar this time.”

Oh yeah? I was ecstatic – a whole dollar!

Then she told me WHY she was giving me a whole dollar. “You give half of that to your brother.”

I immediately turned to my brother, held the dollar up in front of his face, tore the bill cleanly in two, and handed him his half.

It is a story my aunts repeat even now, laughing at the naiveté of a child who didn’t understand that having half of a dollar bill was like having nothing at all.

Camp Obama has offered to compromise with Camp Clinton over the Florida and Michigan delegations – either recognize half the delegates from each state, or recognize all of them, but allow them to have half votes. Which would pretty much put Camp Clinton in the same boat my brother and I were in that day we stood in my grandmother’s bedroom, each of us holding our own worthless halves of a dollar bill in our hands. The DNC's lawyers, much to Camp Clinton's chagrin, have recommended just this week a course of action much along the same lines Obama's group has laid out.

Which is why when you turn your television to CNN or Fox News or MSNBC anytime during the next twenty four hours, you will probably hear that Clinton supporters are going to be demonstrating outside the hotel hosting the meeting.

"With a click of a mouse in the mid-Atlantic, we could get thousands of people there," Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, told reporters yesterday. "But in the interest of party unity, we are not encouraging a protest. We don't think a scene is helpful as we try to bring the party together."


The meeting Saturday might last all day. It might even go over into Sunday. There will come a point during the proceedings, however, where the RBC committee chairpersons will realize it's time to get to the end, much like my parents used to do on those Sunday afternoons at grandma's house when they announced it was time to go home. They will very likely award each candidates half-delegates to take home with them, much the way my grandmother handed her grandchildren those Kennedy half-dollars she had saved during the year.



One of the fallacies that has been propped up by our main stream media journalists for the last month and a half is that this primary is still a horse race. What almost all of them conveniently ignore is the tremendous amount of energy, time, money, and an improbable shift in the actual demographics of the remaining states that would be needed for the Clinton campaign to garner more than the 50% total of the outstanding pledged delegates she is projected to get based on current state by state estimates.

Which is why if you are unfamiliar, as most Americans are, with the way delegates are actually accumulated through the proportional vote totals of individual congressional districts, we are more likely to think of the way a sporting event is scored – that Clinton COULD upset Obama if she could “run the table” in the remaining contests.

But “running the table” – Obama having no net gain in delegates – is impossible. He would have to get less than twenty percent of the vote in each of the remaining states for Clinton to get within spitting distance. Most of the larger congressional districts out there have 4 to 6 delegates at stake. 62.5% of the vote in that district is needed to go from 2-2 or 3-3 to 3-1 or 4-2. In order to blank an opponent, the opponent has to have a vote total that is below the threshold needed to gain at least one delegate, which is usually 15%.

The thing that is maddening to me is that every journalist in the country who is on the political beat or is a political columnist sees this kind of information about each states primary delegate allocation methodology all day every day. Yet their headlines suggest that Obama is hearing Clinton’s footsteps as she gains on him.

These are the numbers as of yesterday, which is already off when you include the guy below for Obama:

Clinton is 430 delegates short of the 2025 needed to nominate and has to capture 62 percent of the 408 pledged delegates yet to be selected and the 286 superdelegates yet to commit in order to get there.

Obama needs just 295 delegates of any stripe to close it out.

295.

That’s it.

There are 191 delegates at stake over the next 6 days (May 3rd and May 6th). From where we stand right now, Obama looks to pick up 95 – 100 of them.

In the 14 day stretch after that (May 20th), there are 131 delegates at stake. From where we stand right now, Obama looks to pick up 55 – 60 of them.

There are only 86 pledged delegates left to fight over between May 20th and June 3rd. From where we stand right now, Obama looks to pick up 35 – 38 of them.

If you add 95, 55, and 35 – the low end of the estimates – you get 185, which puts him 110 delegates away.

In this scenario, Clinton gets the balance of the 408 delegates outstanding – 223.

If my math serves me correctly, from where she is right now, this would put Clinton 207 delegates away – only a hundred delegates but twice as far from the prize.

Something tells me there are more than 110 superdelegates who are wearing an “O-Man” t-shirt under their dress shirts. There are a lot more people who will be ready to get to the end of this thing, like the guy below, in the next two weeks.


110 and counting.



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