Friday, 11 January 2008


Ken Berwitz

Regarding the New Hampshire primary vote:  was the sudden jump in Hillary Clinton's fortunes real, or were there some fun and games being played?

In most cases I would dismiss this kind of talk as crybaby sour grapes stuff.  But I have to admit that the New Hampshire situation has caught my attention. 

First of all, there is a major difference in Ms. Clinton's fortunes, depending on whether the votes were counted by hand or machine.  It is literally the difference between her winning and losing. 

Most primary votes were counted by machine.  And when machines were used Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama by 40% to 36%.    However, in the precincts where hand counts were done, a funny thing happened.  Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton by 39% to 35%.

The most simple explanation for this is that, since most of the hand counts were in rural New Hamphire, rural voters preferred Obama to Hillary.  However, a) we don't know that for sure, and b) somehow the idea that rural areas went more strongly for the Black candidate while more urbanized areas went more strongly for the White candidate has a funny sound to it. 

Let me point out that I am not making any specific accusations here.  But I have to admit that the disparities in hand versus machine counts, and where they came from, have me thinking.

Then we have the fascinating influx of "voters" who may have showed up in New Hampshire on primary day and disappeared into the wind immediately thereafter.  Bob Parks has a pretty good piece on this, which I will show you below:

The New Hampshire Incident
Friday January 11th 2008, 12:10 pm
Recent history tells us that when liberals win an election, we were hearing the will of the people.  However, we also know when liberals lose, its because the voters were too stupid to know what they voted against, OR the election was stolen.

Many are showing their disdain for pollsters (who are held in close to the same contempt as telemarketers) and their glaring errors, calling the New Hampshire primary early for Barack Obama.  As we all know, they were way off and Hillary Clinton won by a few percentage points.

But what many of the analysts are not mentioning is that the pollsters were pretty much spot on with their predictions of the Republican race.  My question is this: How does everyone only get half a poll right?

Surely if the Democrat results were that way off, so too would be the Republicans.

So, a few things to consider.

The screwed up poll results involved a race a Clinton was desperate to win.

According to one of my sources, some who live in New Hampshire and work in Massachusetts heading home on the major highways noted massive traffic headed toward Boston from NH, which normally is almost none for traffic at that time of the early evening.  One even said that he thought there was more southbound traffic than northbound.

We agree this could have been college kids who went home to vote and headed back to a Boston campus.  This could have even been volunteers for campaigns heading home for dinner.  Or, it could have been a drive by voters from Massachusetts going up there to assist in the count.

According to the Democracy for New Hampshire website, If new election day registrants do not have an approved form of photo ID, they will still be able to vote, but their registration affidavit will be marked, and within 90 days of the election they will receive a letter of welcome from the Secretary of State.


If there was voter fraud, what are they going to do?  Take votes away from Hillary?  It aint gonna happen, and thats what some may be counting on.

As you can see, Bob is pretty cynical about who voted and how vote totals came to be.  And he makes a few pretty good points, the most salient of which may be that the same polls which had those cockamamie results for the Democratic candidates were far closer - and in correct order - for the Republican candidates. 

Fascinatingly, Dennis Kucinich (of all people) is demanding a recount in New Hampshire.  Since he got 3,793 votes out of the 287,580 cast for Democrats, it certainly isn't because he thinks he won.  So it must be for some other reason, mustn't it?

If media have 1/50th the interest in this controversy that they have shown when the voting controversy involves Republicans, this could get very interesting very fast.


Ken Berwitz

This is a sad story, not a funny one.  But it is also a "you can't make this stuff up" classic.  So, courtesy of the UK Sun, here it is:

Twin plight cruel beyond belief

Separated at birth ... twins have an intense and unique bond


Published: 12 Jan 2008

TWINS who unwittingly got married after they were separated at birth were victims of a quirk of fate cruel beyond belief, it emerged last night.

The smitten brother and sister adopted by different families discovered the shattering truth only after tying the knot.

Against all odds they had met and fallen for each other neither even knowing they had a twin.

The horrified British couple faced the heartbreak of seeking to have their marriage annulled in the High Court after eventually finding out their love was forbidden.

A judge was forced to rule the union was NEVER valid in law.

Last night the peer who uncovered the astonishing case told The Sun of the twins trauma.

Lord Alton of Liverpool said: Anyone hearing this story would feel heartbroken for them.


Its cruel beyond belief to discover that someone youre in love with is so closely related to you.

The twins were not named but it is known they were separated soon after birth. Each was adopted by different parents who never told them they had a twin. It was not clear HOW they eventually discovered they were brother and sister.

Experts said they would have been naturally attracted to each other because they were so alike.

Biological psychologist Dr George Fieldman said: Their mannerisms and even their odour would remind them of themselves. Psychotherapist Audrey Sandbank, a consultant for the Twins and Multiple Births Association, said: These twins were together until they were born and may have had a strong connection in the womb.

When they met they would have felt like soul mates particularly as like all siblings they shared approximately 50 per cent of their genes.

 The organisations chief executive Keith Reed said: This sad situation shows that in the majority of cases it is vital that multiple birth siblings are raised together.

Pro-life crusader Lord Alton, who used the case to highlight problems with the Human Embryology and Tissues Bill in Parliament, said it showed the need for children to know their biological parents.

Donors who help couples have children lost their right to anonymity in April 2005. A new law gave children the right to identify their genetic parents when they turn 18.

But there is still no legal obligation for the parents who raised them to tell them the truth about how they were conceived.

Lord Alton said of the twins marriage: We are opening the door to more cases like this one.

One of the most fundamental things of all is to know who you are. The issue here is about human rights. He told the Lords the saga of the twins was revealed to him by a High Court judge. .

I genuinely sympathize with these two poor souls.  What a horror show.

On the other hand, I recognize that it could happen here.  For this reason, I strongly urge that, at all costs, we try to keep keith olbermann and barbra streisand apart. The consequences could be disastrous.


Ken Berwitz

"Can (Hillary Clinton) win the nomination....?  Yes she can.  But it would be extremely hard.  And to do it she would have to attack Barack Obama in a way that could easily alienate many Black voters, who comprise the most reliably monolithic segment of Democratic support (93% in the last presidential election). 

If that were to happen, she would literally lose by winning, because without huge Black support she's DOA in the general election.

To say this is a major problem for Ms. Clinton is to grossly understate.  It is a severe problem approaching disastrous proportions.:  Me, January 6, 2008.

Ok, ok, I'm bragging, I admit it.  But I've been saying this for a while now, and some political analysts are just starting to catch on.  Since I'm about to show you what one of them has to say, I felt it was ok to remind you that my stuff predated his.

Here is an excellent analysis (absent a few paragraphs to make its size more manageable) by Ben Smith of .  It talks about - what else? - the problem Hillary Clinton has when she attacks Barack Obama, which Senator Clinton has to do to get the Democratic nomination:

Racial tensions roil Democratic race
By: Ben Smith
January 11, 2008 05:09 PM EST

 A series of comments from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, her husband, and her supporters are spurring a racial backlash and adding a divisive edge to the presidential primary as the candidates head south to heavily African-American South Carolina.

The comments, which ranged from the New York senator appearing to diminish the role of Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement  an aide later said she misspoke  to Bill Clinton dismissing Sen. Barack Obamas image in the media as a fairy tale  generated outrage on black radio, black blogs and cable television. And now they've drawn the attention of prominent African-American politicians.

A cross-section of voters are alarmed at the tenor of some of these statements, said Obama spokeswoman Candice Tolliver, who said that Clinton would have to decide whether she owed anyone an apology.

Theres a groundswell of reaction to these comments  and not just these latest comments but really a pattern, or a series of comments that weve heard for several months, she said. Folks are beginning to wonder: Is this really an isolated situation or is there something bigger behind all of this?

Clinton supporters responded to that suggestion with their own outrage.

To say that there is a pattern of racist comments coming out of the Hillary campaign is ridiculous, said Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones. All of the world knows the commitment of President Clinton and Sen. Clinton to civil rights issues  and not only the commitment in terms of words but in terms of deeds.

Referring to the King quote, Sheila Jackson Lee, another Clinton supporter, said Clinton was trying to contrast King and Obama, not to diminish King: "It really is a question of focusing on the suggestion that you can inspire without deeds  what is well known to the child who studies Dr. King in school is that yes, he spoke, but he also moved people to action."

But other black Clinton supporters found themselves wincing at the Clintons words, if not questioning their intent.

A Harlem-based consultant to the Clinton campaign, Bill Lynch, called the former presidents comments a mistake, and said his own phone had been ringing with friends around the country voicing their concern.

Ive been concerned about some of those comments  and that there might be a backlash, he said. 

Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones, a prominent Obama supporter, echoed those sentiments.

"Its very unfortunate that the president would make a statement like that," he said of Bill Clinton's criticism of Obama's experience, adding that the African-American community had "saved his presidency" after the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

"They owe the African-American community  not the reverse," he said. "Maybe Hillary and Bill should get behind Sen. Barack Obama."

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., through a spokesman, used even stronger language. "Following Barack Obama's victory in Iowa and historic voter turnout in New Hampshire, the cynics unfortunately have stepped up their efforts to decry his uplifting message of hope and fundamental change. 

"Regrettably, they have resorted to distasteful and condescending language that appeals to our fears rather than our hopes. I sincerely hope that they'll turn away from such reactionary, disparaging rhetoric." 

The series of comments Clinton critics cite began in mid-December, when the chairman of HIllary Clintons New Hampshire campaign, Bill Shaheen, speculated whether Obama had ever dealt drugs. In the final days of the New Hampshire campaign, however, the discomfort of some black observers intensified as Bill Clinton dismissed the contrast between Obamas judgment on the war and Clintons as a fairy tale and spoke dismissively of his short time in the Senate. And the candidate herself, in an interview with Fox News, stressed the role of President Lyndon Johnson, over Martin Luther King Jr., in the civil rights movement.

I would point to the fact that Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the president before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done, she said, in response to a question about how her dismissive attitude toward Obamas false hopes would have applied to the civil rights movement. That dream became a reality, the power of that dream became real in peoples lives because we had a president who said we are going to do it, and actually got it accomplished.

An aide later said Clinton didnt intend to diminish King, and later that day she went out of her way to stress his accomplishment and courage in leading a movement.

Then, when Obama lost New Hampshire, the first question on black media outlets like the Tom Joyner Show was whether white racism had defeated him, and when a Clinton supporter, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, said  though not directly in connection to Obama that politicians cant shuck and jive in early primary states, it only added fuel to the fire.

Thursday, a key player in black South Carolina politics, Rep. Jim Clyburn, told The New York Times hed consider endorsing Obama in response to what he considered a lack of respect in the Clinton campaigns approach to Obama.

For him to go after Obama, using a fairy tale, calling him as he did last week. It's an insult. And I will tell you, as an African-American, I find his tone and his words to be very depressing, said Donna Brazile, a longtime Clinton ally who is neutral in this race, on CNN earlier this week.

Asked in an e-mail from Politico about the situation Friday, she responded by sending over links to five cases in which the Clintons and their surrogates talked about Obama, along with a question:
Is Clinton using a race-baiting strategy against Obama?

Brazile later said she wasn't intending to raise the question herself, just to pass on a question that was being asked by others.

The black blogosphere was even less diplomatic, with the widely read site
MediaTakeOut calling Clintons comment on King explosive and the blog Jack and Jill Politics saying it pretty much solidified the image that whatever happened in the '90s, you are now some out of touch rich white folks..

Theres a concern about that kind of stuff  especially in the black community, said Bill Perkins, a New York state senator who is among Obamas leading supporters in Clintons home state. The dynamic changed in New Hampshire, and all these little mistakes contribute to the general sense that this isnt a mistake.

Clintons supporters dismiss the hubbub as the Obama campaigns strategy to woo African-American supporters in South Carolina.

Some of the Obama people are clearly trying to use Hillarys comments about Martin Luther King and distort them into something she did not say, which is outrageous, said former Pennsylvania Rep. William Gray. Its a hot issue in South Carolina, and theyre spreading the word all over. I hope that the good senator will make sure that none of his people are doing that. We dont need to have a debate about race or gender.

Obamas national spokesman, Bill Burton, wouldnt comment on Grays assertion.

Voters have to decide for themselves what they think about those comments, he said.

Clintons campaign also released a statement from a deputy campaign manager, Bob Nash, defending the senator.

The stress of the political season can lead people to say outlandish things and we assume that this was the case here. With Dr. Kings birthday upon us, its important to keep in mind that his legacy is about the things that bring us together as one people, he said.

But Lynch, the Clinton consultant who is advising Clintons South Carolina campaign, said he wouldnt advise Clinton to fight on this terrain.

The more you kind of defend it, the worse it gets, said Lynch.

The conundrum is obvious.  If Ms. Clinton does not go after Barack Obama hammer and tongs, he is going to win the nomination and she's over and out for four, maybe eight more years.  That's not an option.

If Ms Clinton does go after Barack Obama hammer and tongs and wins the nomination, she outrages a great many Black voters.  And if even a small percentage of them decided to sit out the presidential vote - or (gasp!) vote for a Republican (don't think a John McCain, for example, couldn't bring in a percentage of Black Democrats), the only way she'll ever get to the oval office is as a visitor.

Let me repeat what I've said over and over again:  If you think the Democratic party has an easy road to the presidency this year, think harder. 


Ken Berwitz

Here are a few random thought about last night's debate:

-John McCain came out extremely well.  He was forceful, his issues resonated with the audience and he probably improved his (already strong) position in South Carolina and, I suspect elsewhere too.  I don't make predictions, but if I were a betting man my money would be on McCain in this state's primary.

-Fred Thompson also came out pretty well.  In truth, just acting like he didn't wake up from a sound sleep for the debate improved his performance compared to the other ones.  He was very aggressive - especially against Huckabee (they are competing for the same votes in South Carolina) without acting like a jerk.  Probably a net gain, though I can't see him winning the primary.

-Mike Huckabee did ok but not great.  He tried deflecting some of the criticism from Thompson (and others) by using his celebrated sense of humor, but it didn't work as well here as it has previously.  Fred Thompson did a good job of painting Huckabee as a tax and spend liberal without offending the evangelicals both he and Huckabee are trying to pull in. 

Huckabee is still in the hunt for South Carolina, but was probably set back by last night's debate.  If he loses South Carolina I look for him to fall elsewhere.  This could be the point at which his campaign quickly spirals downward.

-Mitt Romney is what he is.  Slick, polished, damn good looking and very articulate (quick aside:  I think Barack Obama is articulate also.  Why would some people think I'm complimenting Romney and insulting Obama -- other than their own racism, not mine?). 

Romney held his own and even got a few applause lines in.  I think he probably treaded water in this debate, neither rising nor falling.

-Rudy Giuliani was disappointing.  While he had several good things to say, he sounded tentative, unsure and even distracted at times.  In a way, he reminded me of President Bush's father glancing at his watch during a debate in 1992.

Giuliani didn't have much of a chance in South Carolina walking into last night's debate, and probably has less of a chance walking out of it.  That's not the issue for him - the issue is whether this lackluster performance hurt him in Michigan, Florida and other key upcoming states.  Time will tell.

-ron paul sounds nuttier every time he opens his mouth.  He had a small but wildly dedicated contingent in the audience which was happy to scream in delight at every nugget he gave them.  But, although there were no face-shots of the audience,  I got the sense that a good many of them were listening to him with roughly the look that the stuttering lawyer got from the jury in My Cousin Vinny  - i.e. open-mouthed disbelief.


Ken Berwitz

It is hardly news that there are politicians who pander and news reporters who fawn over politicians.  But every now and again you find a classic example that makes you just sit back and shake your head. 

Here, courtesy of the Las Vegas News-Journal (most of the article is shown below), is an example of what I am talking about.  Frankly, it is hard to say who is more committed:  Senator Clinton to the pandering or the writer, Molly Ball, to the fawning over her. 

As usual, the bold print is mine:

LAS VEGAS STOP: Clinton pitch hits home

Democratic hopeful goes door to door

People in the Las Vegas neighborhood saw all the cameras and trucks and buses and police on the streets Thursday, and they began to trickle out of their houses to find out what was going on.

Soon, as a sherbet-orange desert sunset filled the sky, they got their answer, as New York Sen. Hillary Clinton began walking up the street of low-slung houses near Eastern and Washington avenues, accompanied by the area's representative, state Assemblyman Ruben Kihuen.

Clinton hugged Kihuen around the shoulders and asked about his family, and then the two began knocking on doors, the same doors Kihuen knocked on nearly two years ago in his first campaign. Clinton spent more than an hour in the predominantly Hispanic and black neighborhood.

Gilberto Santana, 38, sat on the edge of a chair as Clinton sat on the brown leather sofa in his living room next to his wife and two young children.

Santana told Clinton how his wife, Elizabeth, a housekeeper on the Strip, was barely supporting the family single-handedly while he was unable to work for two months because of an operation.

"We're sort of struggling," he said. "We're getting there, but you have to be strong to make it."

Clinton asked the couple questions about their mortgage and his disability payments, and answered his questions about immigration and the war and health care costs.

Stroking the 4-year-old girl's head, Clinton said, "I feel so strongly that if we don't take care of our children, we don't take care of our future."

Santana said, "We are going to do everything we can to make sure that everyone in Las Vegas votes for you."

That is the warm, earnest, human side of campaigning, politicians comforting people with detailed explanations of how they will solve their problems and flattering them with their presence.

After leaving the Santanas' house, Clinton walked across the street and took questions from a few of the dozens of reporters, standing in front of a faded American flag pinned to a dingy garage door.

Today, Clinton is scheduled to travel to Los Angeles, where she will give a policy speech about the economy and what kind of stimulus she believes it needs.

"I think we're slipping toward a recession," she said. "A couple of people that I met on the street, they work in construction. They tell me it's slowed down."

She reiterated her doubts about the caucus process, which requires in-person, on-time participation.

"That is troubling to me," she said. "People who work during that amount of time, they're disenfranchised. People who can't be in the state or are in the military, they cannot be present. ... If people feel like there's no reason to participate or they can't, then that's the same thing. So I think it's a problem."

Clinton and her busload of traveling press moved from there to the popular local Mexican restaurant Lindo Michoacan, where a "roundtable" that was actually square passed a microphone around to tell her people's concerns about the mortgage crisis and foreclosures. She took notes and munched on tortilla chips.

In broken English, one woman told Clinton how she wasn't making money as a broker anymore.

"I have no income at all," she said. "So how will I survive?"

Choking up with emotion, the woman said, "In my neighborhood, there are brand-new homes, but the value is nothing. I'm glad you are here so I can tell you, because you're going to be the president, I know."

A man shouted through an opening in the wall that his wife was illegal.

"No woman is illegal," Clinton said, to cheers.

Summing it up at the end, Clinton said, "We've only talked to a few people, but each of them talk about some part of the problem we are confronting. This is a problem that is only going to get worse if we don't address it."

Clinton said unscrupulous lending leads to bad mortgages, which lead to foreclosures, which lead to people with nowhere to go and vacant neighborhoods that can go rapidly downhill.

"We treat these problems as if one is guacamole and one is chips, when ... they both go together," she said.

In an interview, Clinton enthused about Nevada but didn't predict victory.

"I never make predictions," she said. "But I'm very confident. We've got a great campaign here, we've got a lot of support across the state, and it just feels good. But of course the big question mark is, how many people are going to come out? And I keep urging people, get out and do this, for yourselves, your families, your future."

Clinton said Nevada, which stands to break the current tie between her and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in terms of how many victories they've chalked up, will be an important indicator of "what the people in the West think," but is not the end of the race.

"We have an election that'll go through February fifth, maybe beyond. I've always run a national campaign."

Clinton said the race is "hard fought, as it should be. And I was very pleased that starting in New Hampshire we finally began to draw some contrasts and comparisons, because that's what voters need to have. They need relevant information to make up their minds."

She recounted her work to help establish the Children's Health Insurance Program, secure health care for members of the National Guard and Reserves, and oppose the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.

"I come with all of my experience and my lifelong commitment to making positive change for people with a record on issues that matter to the people of Nevada."

With change the buzzword on everyone's lips, and Obama's soaring speeches credited with inspiring a movement of hope, she said, "I think there's a difference between talking and acting and between rhetoric and reality."

Clinton criticized the ethics bill that is Obama's signature achievement, saying it doesn't prevent lobbyists from eating with members of Congress as long as they are standing rather than sitting.

"I'm not asking people to take me on a leap of faith," she said. "I'm asking them to look at what I bring to this race, and what I will do as president."

She blamed President Bush and the, until recently, Republican-controlled Congress for obstructing change.

"But change never stops," she said. "Change is going to happen whether anybody does anything or not. The question is, is it the right kind of change. Is it positive change?"

Clinton implied that Obama's career has mostly been spent running for office rather than governing.

Now THAT is pandering and fawning to the nth degree.

A couple of favorite excerpts:

-How about those three paragraphs (the first three that are in bold print) with Hillary barfing out her standard-issue platitudes about "our children", the, possible supporter assuring her that he would try to get "everyone" to vote for her, and the reporter drooling over how warm and earnest Hillary Clinton is.  It doesn't get more _________than that (you fill in the word.  I don't think I'm allowed to use it if this blog is read over interstate lines).

-Then there is the unbelievably pandering comment that "No woman is illegal".  What the hell does it mean?  That all women are legal?  Or that all women who are here illegally are legal anyway?  Or that only men can be illegal?  This is not only one for the Pandering hall of fame, it is one for the Mindless Idiotic Vomiting Out of a Platitude That Doesn't Mean Anything hall of fame too. 

-And as a grand final?  How about that reference to guacamole and chips?  How can these people NOT know the offensiveness it displays?  Would Senator Clinton go to a Black neighborhood and gratuitously toss out a reference to watermelons and collards? 

It is INSULTING.  It is OFFENSIVE.  It is a  STEREOTYPE. is also HILLARY.  So the reporter somehow didn't seem to (or, more exactly, didn't want to) notice.

So we see, as we have seen so many times in the past, that when you are a protected species you get a free pass on Insulting, offensive stereotyped comments like these.  And that, baby, is Senator Clinton, to a "T".

All things considered, I think it would be fair to say that Hillary was, literally, having a Ball.

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