Thursday, 03 January 2008

THE IOWA POLLS

Ken Berwitz

Readers of this blog know how little I think of political polls, so there is no point in rehashing it again.  Even if this is your first visit, the previous sentence brings you up to speed on my opinion.

That said, I am going to post the latest Iowa polling from Zogby, via Reuters.  Let's see how it compares with reality (if Iowa caucuses can be characterized as reality) when the results are in tomorrow:

Obama grabs Iowa lead from Edwards

Thu Jan 3, 2008 7:20am EST

By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama surged to a four-point lead over John Edwards in Iowa, with Hillary Clinton fading to third just hours before the first presidential nominating contest, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Thursday.

Obama and Edwards gained ground overnight in the tracking poll, and Clinton fell four points to third place -- a finish that, if it held, would deal a dramatic setback to the one-time Democratic front-runner.

Obama was at 31 percent among likely Democratic caucus-goers, Edwards at 27 percent and Clinton 24 percent. No other Democrat was in double digits.

In the Republican race, Mike Huckabee expanded his lead to six points, 31 to 25 percent, over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the one-time leader in Iowa who has attacked Huckabee for his record as Arkansas governor.

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson is in third place in the Republican race at 11 percent and Arizona Sen. John McCain slipped two points to 10 percent. Texas Rep. Ron Paul also registered 10 percent.

"There is a clear Clinton fade," pollster John Zogby said. "None of it has been dramatic, but it has been steady."

He said Clinton, a New York senator, was losing ground to Obama, an Illinois senator, among Democrats -- as opposed to independents -- and self-described liberals.

"Under any circumstance, a 31-27-24 spread is still very close," he said of the margins for the top three Democratic contenders. "Edwards is right in the mix and he has made gains too."

About 6 percent of Republicans and 5 percent of Democrats remain undecided, leaving room for late swings.

The rolling poll of 905 likely Democratic caucus-goers and 914 likely Republican caucus-goers was taken Sunday through Wednesday and has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points for each party.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was fourth with 7 percent and Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden was at 5 percent. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd was at 1 percent and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich was under 1 percent.

Iowa opens the process of choosing the next U.S. president on Thursday night, kicking off a state-by-state battle to choose Republican and Democratic candidates for the November election to replace President George W. Bush.

Obama, Clinton and Edwards have battled for the lead in Iowa for months. Clinton, who would be the first woman president, holds a slight lead among women and is still strong among older voters. Obama leads among men and younger voters.

Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, remained the top second choice of Democrats. A candidate must have 15 percent support in each precinct to be viable or their supporters can switch to another candidate.

In the Republican race, Huckabee gained three points on Romney. The gains followed Monday's news conference where he said he would not air an ad attacking Romney because he wanted to keep the race positive -- and then showed it to reporters.

The move was heavily criticized in the media -- but his numbers have climbed since, Zogby said.

"Everyone outside of Iowa laughed at what appeared to be a Huckabee gambit, but Iowa Republicans seem to think it was genuine," he said.

"Huckabee is not pulling away, but it's now a six-point lead and he has moved above 30 percent."

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has largely bypassed Iowa to focus on later voting states, is at 6 percent. California Rep. Duncan Hunter is at 1 percent.

The rolling tracking poll concludes with these results. In a rolling poll, the most recent day's results are added while the oldest day's results are dropped in order to track changing momentum.

It will be especially interesting to see how Hillary Clinton makes out here.  Hubby Bill tried his best to lower expectations  a week or so ago, saying it would be "a miracle" if she won.  And, of course, she can try to use a loss in Iowa as a parallel to the path of Hubby Bill, who also lost Iowa in 1992 -- but then declared himself the "comeback kid" after the New Hampshire primary.

Here's something a lot of people don't  remember, though.  Bill Clinton lost New Hampshire too.  Paul Tsongas won that primary and Clinton finished second.  It is a measure of his transcendental political talents that Mr. Clinton talked Democratic voters into seeing his second loss in a row as some kind of win.

Does Hillary Clinton have that capability?  In a word, nope.

If Senator Clinton finishes behind Obama and Edwards, the aura of inevitability that she has worn for the last year is going to look pretty ridiculous.  And if she isn't inevitable, more and more Democratic primary voters may start thinking about who they want as their nominee instead of reflexively pulling the lever for Ms. Clinton.

In other words, she damn well better win one or both of these two primaries or she's going to sink faster than the Titanic.  And importantly, if the flying monkeys in her campaign staff (many of whom performed so capably for Hubby Bill) sense this, they are going to take down Obama and Edwards any way they can so that neither of them can win the presidency either.

Look at it this way; 

-If Hillary is not the nominee and a Republican wins, she can run in 2012 on the basis that Democrats made a mistake by nominating the loser of 2008; 

-If Hillary is not the nominee and a Democrat wins, she can't run until 2016, at which point it will be way too late (she'll be too old and too far removed from her white house years by then). 

So the bottom line is that, for Ms. Clinton's ambitions to be served in 2008, either she is the nominee or a Republican wins the presidency.

That should give you an idea of the importance Iowa and New Hampshire hold for Ms. Inevitable.


HONOR KILLINGS

Ken Berwitz

If you think I'm talking about something that happened in Sudan or Saudi Arabia or Iran, think again.

Here is the story, courtesy of www.sweetness-light.com.  I've left their comments at the end:

Father Sought For "Honor Killings" - In Dallas

January 3rd, 2008

From those defenders of the faith at the Dallas Morning News:

This photo released by the Irving, Texas, Police Department ...

Lewisville cabdriver sought in slayings of 2 teen daughters

Bodies of 2 Lewisville teens found in taxi; dating issues probed

Thursday, January 3, 2008

By WENDY HUNDLEY / The Dallas Morning News

Area police continue to search for a man who they believe killed his two teenage daughters and left their bodies in a taxi at an Irving hotel.

Police sealed off a street and surrounded the mans home in Lewisville for more than five hours Wednesday but found that Yaser Abdel Said, 50, a cabdriver, was not inside.

He is sought in connection with the deaths of Amina Yaser Said, 18, and Sarah Yaser Said, 17.

Both victims died of multiple gunshot wounds, the Dallas County medical examiners office ruled Wednesday

Police provided no clues about the motive for the killings. "There are several things were looking into," said Irving police Officer David Tull, noting that the suspect faces capital murder charges.

Officer Tull said there have been some "domestic issues" with the family, but he did not elaborate.

Police did say they are looking into the possibility that the father was upset with his daughters dating activities.

"Its something well worth looking into," Officer Tull told WFAA-TV (Channel 8).

Officer Tull said at a news conference that the mother of the victims is cooperating with police and that she and her 19-year-old son are in a safe place. He believes the couple is married, but he didnt know whether they had been living together.

Lewisville police responded to a call at the residence on Dec. 26 on a report of a missing person, Capt. Kevin Deaver said. He did not know who was reported missing or what action was taken to resolve the situation.

Mr. Said, who is from Egypt, has lived in the Dallas area since at least the mid-1980s, records indicate

Its unclear which of the sisters called 911 from a cellphone around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. She said she was dying, according to an Irving police report. She did not provide her location, but police traced the call to OConnor Road and Riverside Drive.

They couldnt find the caller but an hour later, police received another call about two unconscious females inside a taxi at a service entrance of the Omni Mandalay Hotel. Police located the vehicle and found the sisters.

"The victims mother provided information that pointed to the victims father as the suspect," the police report stated

Liz Marines, secretary of the Lewisville High School Student Council, had classes with both of the sisters and remembers their scholastic abilities.

"Amina was very nice with everybody. She helped me in [Advanced Placement English] class," she said. Sarah was a sophomore when she took an Algebra II class with Liz, who was a junior at the time.

She said the sisters, who wore typical American clothes, didnt talk much about their family. "I didnt know they were Muslims until she told me they were Egyptian and Muslim," Liz said

Now everyone will know that the girls were Muslim. What an honor.

By the way, note that our hero has been in this country for more than twenty years.

When reading this horror story, it is very important to understand what the term "honor killing" means.  It means that, within this man's understanding of culture and religion (which apparently is unaffected by 20 years in the USA), it is not only dishonorable for his children to stray from his beliefs, but perfectly honorable to kill them if they do.

I have pointed out many times and point out again that this is not - repeat, not - every Muslim's view of things.  Not by a long shot.  But it is radical Islam's view, and they are the ones telling us that they want the entire world to live by their rules.  And if they succeed?  Then YOUR daughters can be treated to the same lovingkindness.

We play politics with the war against radical Islam at our own peril.


WHEN THE REFEREE IS ON THE OTHER GUY'S SIDE.....

Ken Berwitz

Ed Morrissey at www.captainsquartersblog.com has an excellent analysis of how and why we lost Fallujah to al qaeda in 2004.  It is the kind of fact-based logic and common sense that, lamentably, you will have trouble finding in mainstream media. 

Hey, why would they talk about the problem if they are the problem?

Let me show you what I mean:

Who Lost Fallujah?

According to the Washington Times, the military reviewed the loss of Fallujah to Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaeda terrorists in 2004 to determine how the US lost control of the city. The Marine Corps should have beaten the terrorists in a straight up fight, but the Pentagon believes that the enemy had a lot of help from a surprising source -- surprising for everyone except those who watched it happen in real time:

"The outcome of a purely military contest in Fallujah was always a foregone conclusion coalition victory," read the assessment, prepared by analysts at the U.S. Army's National Ground Intelligence Center, or NGIC.

"But Fallujah was not simply a military action, it was a political and informational battle. ... The effects of media coverage, enemy information operations and the fragility of the political environment conspired to force a halt to U.S. military operations," concluded the assessment. ...

The authors said the press was "crucial to building political pressure to halt military operations," from the Iraqi government and the Coalition Provisional Authority, which resulted in a "unilateral cease-fire" by U.S. forces on April 9, after just five days of combat operations.

During the negotiations that followed, top Bush administration officials demanded a solution that would not require the Marines to retake the town, according to the assessment.

What happened? During the initial effort to retake Fallujah in April 2004 -- following the brutal murders of four Blackwater contractors -- Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya began broadcasting propaganda that Western media immediately repeated. The two Arab news services showed video of babies in hospitals and claimed the Marines had wounded these and killed more. Both channels made explicit comparisons to the Palestinians, and the American and European press ate it up.

The propaganda efforts worked. The Marines withdrew and the terrorists made Fallujah the center of their oppression over the people of western Iraq. It took months for the US to mount another offensive, this time with media embeds to counter the propaganda that the Western press seemed eager to indulge. In November 2004, the US finally cleared Fallujah, but not before losing a lot of credibility with the Iraqis who felt abandoned to the terrorists.

This is just a repeat of the Peter Arnett story. In the first Gulf War, Arnett famously repeated without any hint of skepticism the notion that the US bombed a baby-milk factory instead of a weapons factory. Years later, Eason Jordan would admit that CNN cooked its reporting to curry favor with Saddam Hussein, and would occasionally just read copy into the camera provided by the Saddam regime as though it was CNN's own. Rather than treat the Al-Jazeera propaganda with any skepticism at all, the Western media instead regurgitated it while insisting that American military sources could not be trusted to provide honest accounting of the fight.

We saw this at the time, and tried to point out the contradictions. It cost the lives of American Marines and soldiers, and it cost many more Iraqi lives. The media lost Fallujah, and had it not been for the determination of the Bush administration, they would have lost the entirety of Iraq to al-Qaeda terrorists as well.

For years, a great many media venues have tried to convince us that Iraq is another Vietnam.  In point of fact, when it comes to their coverage, it is.

With all the talk about how influential conservative talk radio is - and all the ratings success for people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and others - it cannot come close to having the impact of the media elite. 

If the New York Times, LA Times, Time and Newsweek, the network news shows, etc. do not want to act as if they root for the USA over al qaeda terrorists, it would be nice if  a few of them would at least consider indifference.


JOHN KERRY: TWO MONTHS AND COUNTING......

Ken Berwitz

During the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry's single biggest nemesis was a group called Swiftboat Veterans For Truth.  The group, comprised of swiftboat veterans like Kerry, made a series of claims about his service in that capacity.   It is likely that the "Swifties" changed enough votes to kill Kerry's chances for election.

For the past 3 years, Democrats and their willing mouthpieces in the media, have taken to using the term "swiftboating".  To be "swiftboated" in their eyes, is to be accused of something aggressively and falsely. 

But what exactly did the Swifties accuse John Kerry of that was false?  That's the issue.

By November of last year, Texas Oilman and avid supporter of the US Military, T. Boone Pickens, had enough of the derisive "swiftboating" term.  He offered $1,000,000 to anyone who could disprove any claims by the Swiftboat Veterans For Truth against John Kerry's military record.   

Here is what has happened since:

-Kerry immediately took Pickens up on his challenge. 

-Pickens said to prove the Swifties were wrong Kerry would have to provide his complete military records - records, it should be noted, that he has promised to provide for years. 

-Kerry said that he could disprove charge after charge but that Pickens was changing the rules (i.e. in Kerry's view, expecting documentation is changing the rules).

-Pickens has yet to pay the $1,000,000 because Kerry has not disproved anything.

-Kerry has yet to show any proof that any of the Swifties' charges were lies and has not released his military records.

I don't know enough about T. Boone Pickens to conclude that he is an honorable or dishonorable man. 

But I do know enough about John Kerry to conclude that he is a dishonorable man who has lied over and over again about his military service and has lied over and over again about releasing his military records. 

Because of the swifties' charges, Kerry had to change his story about being in Cambodia during Christmas, 1968.  Because of the swifties' charges, Kerry had to change his story about his first purple heart being won in combat.  I have yet to hear of even one thing that the swifties, as a group, said which they subsequently had to change based on facts supplied by John Kerry.

Kerry had three years to show the Swiftboat Veterans For Truth were liars before the $1,000,000 challenge was made and he didn't do so.  If these were easily proven lies, how come he didn't disprove them during his presidential campaign or in the years afterwards?

But then, when Mr, Pickens' challenge was issued, Kerry used his press muscle to make a grandstand promise that he would debunk just about everything the Swifties said. 

Well, two months have now passed.  Where is his proof that anything said about him was a lie?  Did you see it?  I know I didn't.

Maybe it's stored in one of Kerry's closets, along with the statement he made on Saint Patrick's Day which began "For those of us who are fortunate to share an Irish ancestry..." to mine Irish votes in Massachusetts (Kerry doesn't have a drop of Irish blood). 

A liar is a liar is a liar.  And anyone who pays attention to John Kerry will know as much.  Swiftly.


HUCKABEE AND LENO

Ken Berwitz

Just a quick thought:

We will never know for sure, but did Mike Huckabee help or hurt himself by leaving Iowa yesterday to do the Leno show?

I've been rolling this around in my mind and trying to think about how Huckabee's natural base of support - religious conservatives with strong family values - will react to him wisecracking with a TV star in LA instead of staying in Iowa to speak to them about the issues that affect their daily lives.

I can't come up with a way that this helps Huckabee, but I sure can come up with a few ways it hurts him.

Mike Huckabee has made several serious mistakes over the past couple of weeks.  But I wonder if his jaunt to the coast may be the biggest of them all. 

 


THE LAST IOWA POLLS BEFORE REALITY SETS IN

Ken Berwitz

Ok, this is it.

Here are the final polls from all the research companies compiled at www.realclearpolitics.com.  And one look at the differences from one to the next should tell you how unreliable they can be. 

Illustratively, there is a 16% difference between the American Research Group (run by Stan Greenberg, who has worked for the Clintons, it should be noted) and the Des Moines Register.  ARG has Clinton up by 9% and DMR has Obama up by 7%.

On the Republican side, Strategic Vision has Romney up by 2% versus a 6% lead for Huckabee in three other polls, including Zogby. 

There are also considerable differences from poll to poll for each individual candidate. For example, there is a 9% range from the highest to lowest percentages for Obama (34% - 25%), 10% for Clinton (34% - 24%) and 12% for Edwards (33% - 21%).  Interestingly, however, the ranges are much tighter for Republican candidates.

Now let's wait just a few hours and see how this "intelligence" compares to reality. 

I fully expect to be laughing at a lot of these data tomorrow morning.  Wanna bet you'll be laughing along with me? 

 

Election 2008 Iowa

Iowa Democratic Caucus

Thursday, January 3 | Delegates at Stake: 45

Poll Date Sample Obama Clinton Edwards Biden Richardson Spread
RCP Average 12/26 to 01/02 - 30.8 29.2 26.0 5.4 5.2 Obama +1.6
InsiderAdvantage 01/02 - 01/02 415 LV 34 32 33 -- -- Obama +1.0
American Res. Group 12/31 - 01/02 600 LV 25 34 21 8 6 Clinton +9.0
Zogby Tracking 12/30 - 01/02 905 LV 31 24 27 5 7 Obama +4.0
Strategic Vision (R) 12/28 - 12/30 600 LV 32 27 29 5 2 Obama +3.0
Des Moines Register 12/27 - 12/30 800 LV 32 25 24 4 6 Obama +7.0
CNN 12/26 - 12/30 482 LV 31 33 22 5 5 Clinton +2.0
See More Iowa Democratic Caucus Polls | Chart

Iowa Republican Caucus

Thursday, January 3  |  Delegates at Stake: 41

Poll Date Huckabee Romney McCain Thompson Paul Giuliani Spread
RCP Average 12/26 to 01/02 29.7 26.7 11.8 11.7 7.3 6.0 Huckabee +3.0
American Res. Group 12/31 - 01/02 29 24 11 13 6 8 Huckabee +5.0
Zogby Tracking 12/30 - 01/02 31 25 10 11 10 6 Huckabee +6.0
InsiderAdvantage 01/01 - 01/01 30 24 11 11 7 5 Huckabee +6.0
Strategic Vision (R) 12/28 - 12/30 28 30 16 13 4 4 Romney +2.0
Des Moines Register 12/27 - 12/30 32 26 13 9 9 5 Huckabee +6.0
CNN 12/26 - 12/30 28 31 10 13 8 8 Romney +3.0
See More Iowa Republican Caucus Polls | Chart

 


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