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In the face of an ethics investigation, Bill Richardson has withdrawn as Secretary of Commerce nominee.  Obama has accepted the withdrawal.

The Clinton people, including James Carville, were pissed when Richardson endorsed Obama at a critical moment last March when Obama was reeling from the Rev. Wright revelations.

Just wondering.

I have to leave for Bull Creek to camp with my son’s class tonight, but I wanted to provide a thread for the RNC. Fred Thompson is giving a very good speech as I type. Some good swipes at Obama, and a very detailed and moving account of McCain’s POW years. He’s doing his candidate well.

He is repeating a fib re McCain and earmark spending. McCain has in reality brought plenty of pork back to Arizona. If I have the time, I’ll post a link or two on topic.

Thompson also said something about McCain being the toughest candidate since “we first started pledging allegiance to the flag.” I believe that’s just over 60 years.

Kos on Thompson’s Green Bay Packers reference.

Fred just told the touching story of McCain giving the names of the Green Bay Packers to his captors while he was a POW, which makes sense since they’re in Minnesota. Not like when McCain told the story, saying it was the Pittsburgh Steelers when he was in Pennsylvania recently. I can’t wait until he goes to Florida and says it was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Preceding him was a video mini-documentary on Reagan. I didn’t find it impressive, but then Obama’s video aside I didn’t find any of the DNC videos I saw last week particularly impressive either.

7:40 p.m. – Lieberman’s up. He’s about 30 seconds into it and he’s already putting me to sleep. Let’s see if it gets better.

7:44 p.m. – Well, he’s said that country is more important than party about seven times in a minute and a half. Got some cheers each time. Now he’s repeating his earlier comments about how it shouldn’t take a hurricane to bring us together. Put our country first.

Think he’ll bring up abortion?

7:49 – He just made the obligatory Michael Moore reference.

I wonder if he’ll make a special appeal to Jews, Palin being a concern having addressed Jews for Jesus favorably just two weeks ago.

Lieberman just praised Clinton. Very tepid clapping in response.

7:54 – He’s back to the country is more important than party theme.

8:03 – He’s through. I’ve forgotten how it ended. I’ve spent most of the last 20 minutes trying to find a black face in the crowd. I saw a very exuberant East Indian man, a more subdued East Indian woman. Other than that, a sea of white.

The stage is much more, well, conservative than the Democrats’. A black square box with a wooden podium and a huge screen behind, mostly showing flags.

Oh, there’s a black face. An MSNBC reporter interviewing Newt, who just said the GOP is “much broader than the Democrats.”

Newt just got testy with the reporter accusing him of “baloney” with regard to Palin’s record. The Republicans clearly don’t like the media coverage so far.

They just went to a commercial break with a clip from Bush. Did Bush really compare the “angry left” with McCain’s North Vietnamese captors? Sheesh!

8:13 – An e-mailing reader says of the Lieberman speech, “now I know how Gore lost in 2000.”

8:27 – Some of the commentators are marveling at Lieberman’s taking the kool-aid with regard to Palin. The odd thing is, I’ve now watched about a dozen Republicans, including Lieberman, interviewed about Palin’s qualifications and asked “do you really believe she was the best choice to replace McCain should something happen?” Not one straight answer. Lots of hemming and hawing about how it’s the top of the ticket that matters. But I remember a line from West Wing about the fictional president’s VP choice, “because I might die.”

The networks are suggesting that Palin’s speech may draw more viewers than McCain’s.

8:43 – Is Palin hiding from reporters? I’m off. Be back tomorrow.

For those of you wondering what happened at the private Obama/Clinton summit last night, all the news that’s fit to spit!

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California got the call from Hillary Rodham Clinton Thursday afternoon: Could she, would she let Mrs. Clinton use her home in Northwest Washington for a little sit-down with a certain senator from Illinois, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president of the United States?

Mrs. Feinstein had made the offer before and it was still good. And so a few hours later, at just about 9 p.m., Mrs. Clinton and Senator Barack Obama arrived for a face to face chat. No staff. No spouses. Just the two of them in Mrs. Feinstein’s living room.

The California senator had set up two chairs facing each other. She served them water. Nothing else. Two aides were sent to Mrs. Feinstein’s study. And Secret Service agents stayed outside.

And so it happened, The Meeting, that Democrats knew was inevitable, but for a long while thought would never come. It lasted about an hour.

And Mrs. Feinstein said she did not ask what was said. But in an interview outside the Senate chamber she said she hoped the two candidates had gotten some time to decompress and discuss the road ahead.

Wow! I feel informed. Do you feel informed? Water. Nothing else. Chairs in the living room. Got it. Did the aides in Mrs. Feinstein’s study play video games? Did Mrs. Feinstein have anything besides Solitaire and Minesweep? Did the aides get any water? Was it served with ice?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Addendum: Um. Speaking of water. Six seconds that confused the world.

?????

Second addendum: No wonder the fatigue set in. Obama visited 57 states.

Here is recently discovered footage of the Bosnia trip! Where was Sinbad?!!

Addendum: Meanwhile, we’re starting to hear talk of an Obama upset in Pennsylvania.

Second addendum: Major donors are trying to bully Speaker Nancy Pelosi into reversing her comment about Superdelegates following the dictates of voters.

And remember McCain’s FEC problem? Well, a formal complaint has been filed.

Third addendum: The filing.

And CNN took notice.

When I have some time I’ll try to dig up the appropriate law and comment. Scandals like this often start off low key and snowball, particularly where blogs are involved. It was Wolf Blitzer who whined a few years back that the blogs were “forcing” the mainstream media to cover stories they might not otherwise cover. He doesn’t look happy about having to cover this one. But if the law says that McCain can not spend more than 54 million without a commission decision to let him off the hook, it’s not just a campaign issue. He took public money and spent it know the restrictions. And if he did in fact break the law then maybe instead of a virtual signature people across the country should get hard copies of the complaint, insert their own names, and submit them.

CNN is calling Vermont (Northern California east) for Obama. No surprise there.

Ohio’s polls close at 4:30. I don’t know about Rhode Island, and Texas has an odd two-step primary/caucus process, the second half of which doesn’t even start until 7:00 their time.

More as I have it.

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Ohio is too close to call.

Meanwhile, a report of vote stealing in Houston.

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Trivia from CNN. Vermont is the only state President Bush has never visited.

Another note about Vermont. Check out the results map so far (only 10 percent of the votes counted, so the color could in theory change). The light blue county up in the north east is Essex County, which is so far the only county in which Clinton is winning. The county is one of the more affluent, and some years ago formally asked the Vermont State government for permission to secede and join New Hampshire, where the politics are more conservative and the taxes I guess lower.

You can view the results by moving your clicker onto the particular county on the map.

….

From DKos:

The Obama campaign has convinced a judge in Cuyahoga County to keep 20 precincts that ran out of ballots open until 9 p.m. So those previously closed polls are being re-opened.

Another county’s polling places are being kept open until 9 p.m. due to weather.

….

Looks like Obama is doing well in the urban areas of Austin, Dallas, and Houston. Most of the rest of the counties seem to be going Clinton’s way. Still only about 1 percent of the vote counted however. Actually that figure doesn’t make sense as over half a million votes have been counted. I seriously doubt 50 million people voted in Texas!

Update: I’m told that’s early voting, so the 1% is only figured into today’s votes. If these are the early voting counts around the state, then Obama has a blow-out! I’m skeptical, and I wonder if these are votes concentrated around those three urban areas. If so, it should get much closer.

….

McCain’s officially clinched the nomination with a four state sweep. Hucakbee is giving his concession speak right now.

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The Ohio and Texas vote counting have to be the slowest this season!

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CNN calls Ohio for Clinton. Obama really had to fire Goolesbee right away, and if there’s any truth to the Canadian memo, he could actually lose the nomination. He lost some credibility and I think that was even more important than the “red phone” commercial.

Texas is still close and the three primary urban centers haven’t reported all of their precincts yet. But today was Clinton’s day. It’s a new campaign. There’s probably be some movement, but I bet Obama doesn’t catch Clinton. He’ll win more delegates because of the caucuses, but the media is already calling this day a big win for Clinton.

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Kucinich is safe.

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Addendum: Did the Clinton campaign touch up an Obama photo to make him look blacker?

Someone in the advertising industry says “it’s no accident.”

What’s even more depressing than the fact of the manipulation itself is the proposition that it might actually have worked.

I’ll share some points later. I missed some of the debate taking care of dinner and kids, but I’ll watch what I missed later. Russert is more aggressive than he should be, and he’s annoying both candidates – Clinton a bit more. She responded with a wry smile when he challenged her on her 2000 promise of more jobs in upstate New York by responding, “I thought Al Gore would be president.”

And apparently Obama “rejected and denounced” Farrakhan. (Clinton told him that “rejecting” wasn’t strong enough and that he had to “denounce” – he then did both).

I actually prefer Clinton’s health care proposal to Obama’s, but they kind of went over the same old ground. Clinton’s proposal punishes poor people who can’t afford the insurance and doesn’t specify subsidies. Obama’s plan doesn’t allow for the economies of scale needed to assure the success of the plan, and besides Obama mandates coverage for kids. Etc.

Some highlights leading into the debate, yesterday’s sarcastic speech was probably Clinton’s best moment in the campaign. Too little too late, but a nice moment. See, in case you missed it in tonight’s debate, she’s “a fighter.” She said it about 5 or 6 times.

Obama emphasized the difference being that he draws a bigger crowd into his tent. Sen. Christopher Dodd endorsed Obama this morning, remarking: “For 27 years I’ve been hearing about ‘Reagan Democrats.’ Now for the first time I’m hearing about ‘Obama Republicans.'”

Both promised to pull out of NAFTA if they don’t secure better labor and environmental standards.

I think this is the SNL skit Clinton’s been referencing.

More later.

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Incriminating Obama photos! Hanoi Jane connection?

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Oops! Diebold just accidentally leaked the 2008 results! Also, the situation in Nigeria is very complex. And they’re imposing waiting periods on suicide bombing vests in Iraq.

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Okay, I guess I got sidetracked. Democratic Party nomination debate number 20 is in the history books. If I think of anything else intelligent to say about it I’ll post it here.

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Well I watched the portions I missed. The most interesting part was the question about what vote each would take back. Clinton said she’d take back the war authorization, which automatically makes her a candidate five times stronger than Kerry who wimped out on the question. And Obama apologized for not putting up a fight to keep the federal government out of the painful Terry Schiavo situation, where right wing senators played doctor and ultimately the autopsy revealed there really was nothing left of her brain (after the physicians who said so were raked over the coals all over the airwaves). Good answers both.

Oh, and I had it reversed. “Reject” is stronger than “denounce.” I didn’t know that.

And Tim Russert is a pompous jerk.

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Addendum: Here’s some background into the Farrakahn reject/denounce exchange last night, and perhaps a preview of what he’s facing in the general election campaign.

The artwork, by Iris Schenke, is posted on Artists for Hillary.

So, I guess March 4 is Clinton’s “firewall.” Ohio and Texas are states Clinton should do well in – in theory. Ohio being filled with economically hard-hit working class voters and Texas with a large segment of Hispanics and other demographics which did well by her on Super Tuesday.

But Wisconsin is also made up of voters which should have been favorable to her – working class white voters yearning for the Clinton era. She pulled out early, probably so she could wiggle out a defense that she had to focus on March 4 and so Wisconsin doesn’t really count anyway. She made no mention of Wisconsin in her speech last night. But I think she was counting on a closer win. Everybody, including myself, had been praising her organization and ground game based on her New York wins. But as Laura Flanders pointed out on the Peter B. Collins show yesterday, her organization is top down. Obama has made extensive use of volunteers in every state so that the campaign has been off and running before the paid people showed up in each state. Obama’s is the first campaign to successfully run on grassroots power in decades. Howard Dean had made the last attempt, but supporters of John Kerry’s campaign had to pull teeth just to get yard signs. Much is being said about Obama’s money, but it’s much of it has come from small donations.

And by all accounts he has an excellent ground game going in Texas, and while not quite as advanced his Ohio effort is coming together as well. And he’s just opened offices in Vermont and Rhode Island.

I expect Clinton to pull out all the stops. With nothing to lose, Bill will probably go back on the attack. The Clintons have always been at their best when their backs were against the wall. Will Ohio and/or Texas (and Pennsylvania in April) be her Trenton or Waterloo? And even if she wins both, will it matter? The math suggests it’s nearly impossible for Clinton to overtake Obama in pledged deligates. Will the super delegates give her the win if the elected delegates have chosen Obama? How will that play out in November?

Addendum: You say Obama, I say Osama. The media’s still not getting it right. Are we in for 8 years of this?

In one sentence.

“We didn’t put any resources in small states.”– Clinton Finance Chair Hassan Nemazee, quoted by the New York Observer, on why Clinton might lose the Democratic nomination.

Among other reasons. But it’s a good vindication of the Dean/Obama concept of the “50 state strategy.”

MSNBC is calling it for Obama. Maine was supposed to be the one realistic shot Clinton had for a win in February after Super Tuesday. And he won it big.

In Portland, waterlogged Democrats carrying “Obama” and “Hillary” signs waited to get into the citywide caucus at Portland High School in separate lines that snaked nearly three city blocks in opposite directions.

Colin Johnson, an Obama supporter, said the Illinois senator is not a typical politician. “I’m convinced he’s a once-in-a-generation leader,” he said.

The Clinton spin will be that he does well in caucuses, but not as well in primaries outside the south or midwest. Or Connecticut or Delaware. Or Utah.

He’s expected to sweep the Chesapeake Bay primary (Virginia, Maryland, D.C.) on Tuesday with double digit wins in each. The Clinton campaign has been trying to soften the blow with press statements saying they don’t expect to win anything until March 4 in Texas and Ohio. But it’s hard to sell the “it’s-all-going-as-should-be-expected” meme when you’re firing your campaign manager.

After Tuesay, all that’s left in February are the Hawaii caucuses and Wisconsin primary. Hawaii is probably a foregone conclusion given the vaunted Obama caucus advantage (influenced by zealotrous supporters) and the demographics, but Wisconsin should test the Clinton theory that Obama can’t win a big state primary outside of the south absent a huge black population. But they’re already trying to lower expectations. Obama isn’t spinning on expectations anymore. I think his campaign is beyond that. He’s looking to snowball right through Ohio and Texas with wins in each, including inroads into the Hispanic community in Texas. If he does that, even if he doesn’t have the delegates he’ll have some serious selling points to the Super Delegates and DNC bigwigs who’ll be pushing for some closure come April or May.

Addendum: Obama also won a Grammy.

The spread is a little surprising, but I was pretty certain Obama would win when I saw these photos of his rally in Bangor yesterday.

And what the hell happened with the ARG polls?

Clinton meanwhile is desperately playing for a grandstand ace-in-the-hole, but it may even be too late for that.

Second addendum: Another indication of the momentum, on my way home from Arcata listening to the radio tonight, Clinton is still talking about experience and work to be done (to contrast with Obama) while Obama was taking shots at McCain and Bush.

Third addendum: Maryland has a right wing alternative newspaper called the St. Mary Times. I almost never agree with their political positions, but I love the prose. The editor is sort of a right wing Bruce Anderson. In this column the editor endorses Huckabee for his opposition to the IRS, and Clinton because she’s a smart woman and Obama doesn’t hold his hand right during the National Anthem. It’s very straightforward and refreshingly blunt, even if it does kind of ramble along in slightly random train of thought.

She really is a smart operator, but a committed socialist. Obama? Who ever heard of him prior to two years ago and who in the hell wants to vote for a guy that has a problem with putting an American flag in his lapel and doesn’t know to put his hand over his heart when the National Anthem is being played.

He spent one year in the Senate before he thought he would offer himself to SAVE America. From what? Hillary? For all the guff she takes and we love being a contributor, she couldn’t do any worse at running this nation than the 43 men who have already been in the job. Perhaps its time for a woman to be President, but she is just too damn liberal. But she and Obama are the only ones left standing from the primary process and she is heads and shoulders better than him.

Democrats should vote for Hillary, she offers the best shot at winning and she would have no trouble telling everyone what to do and to make sure the whole village raises the idiots. After this is over, Reagan Democrats need to get behind McCain and make sure he wins. It’s a shame to have to deal with the Maryland Republicans as most of them are real bozos, but really, can you imagine who Hillary would appoint to the Supreme Court? God forbid.

Claire Iris Schenke has a new blog up with the above title. She also sent me a letter about a Hillary Clinton event of 25 thousand yesterday at the Orpheum which included speakers such as mayors Ronald Dellums and Villaraigosa. Also actress Mary Steenburgen spoke, and Helen Chavez who I believe is the daughter of Caesar Chavez. The Glide Memorial choir performed, which I guess would suggest an endorsement from Rev. Cecil Williams. Definitely an impressive assortment of supporters from a progressive perspective.

At the blog is Maya Angelou’s endorsing poem.

Addendum: Somebody read this post and cocked and eyebrow when she read that Clinton had fit 25,000 people into the Orpheum Theater. But it only sits 2,200 people, so I’m assuming the e-mail I got contained a typo. Thanks to the reader for the tip.

Second addendum: I guess the writer meant 25 thousand for the day rather than the specific event.

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