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06 January 2008


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James Pratt

I agree with you Col. this is not a year when insider politics sells very well. The Huckabee vote is upset at the numerous GOP lobbying and sex scandals and under a great deal of economic stress.Calling the Club For Growth the 'Club For Greed' and taking on Rush Limbaugh means Gov.Huckabee is a more dangerous rebel to the GOP money wing than the Anti-Iraq-War Dr. Ron Paul. The Obama vote started as an antiwar movement because of the speeches Sen. Obama gave in 2002 but has since broadened its appeal. The antipathy to the status quo of the Bush years is a majority passion. Everyone still standing after Iowa is suddenly about change.
This is the time to get them on the record. I hope somehow the oil, arms and health insurance industries lose their best of all possible worlds (for them) so that the rest of us can make some progress.

different clue

As a mere layman and voter myself, it feels like a "revolt of the voters" to me. We know very well who the masters of money and branding want us to vote for. The Corporate Establishment's obvious drive to coronate Clinton has filled many Democratic voters with a deep-seated,bitter and vicious resentment, for example. I couldn't say whether this is what happened on the Republican side in Iowa.
Perhaps the engine room wants to send the Bridge a message that the Bridge has lost control?


"This" I think is about disillusionment. W who many people thought they knew, turned out to be a very dangerous incompetent.

Why are people flocking to the good orators? Maybe they long for a president that has the basic skill of grammar, and are associating that with competence.


It is a very convincing claim that money is the do all and end all in politics, but it is not the case.

Were it THE case we would have had a Perot presidency and a Forbes presidency.

Mitt Romney is about to learn the limitations of money too.

For such a purportedly savvy businessman, this campaign appears to have been a bad investment.



Throw the bums out!

Get people in there that are a complete 180 from what we currently have.

All we need is leader that can talk to us in a manner that we can understand, in a manner that understands us, and most importantly will shake the status-quo.

Look what happened to Romney's money, Hillary's endorsement and the way the pundits are freaking out!

Things can get even more interesting if:


The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.
- Plato

“People came first; Empires/Nations were only second, while the Emperor was the least important.” - Mencius

David W

I agree that Obama is a gifted orator and popular politician, however, I'm not sure how much change he really represents, besides being a man of color and outside of the (current) political establishment. However, as per our earlier discussion on 'change,' I think that his constituency falls into the vague end of that spectrum, and cosmetic change and a few populist sops may be the extent of his idea of change.

Huckabee clearly falls into the likeable guy mode, however, I couldn't be more wary of the idea of 'having a beer with the guy.' I think this is a case of wishful thinking--especially when the guy is a teetotaler! By the same reasoning, the guy you'd want for your pastor at church is probably by definition not the man you want running a modern society that is a mixture of religious and secular beliefs.

Huck is playing well right now because of who he is not, and because the genial mask covers up some scary fundamentalist beliefs; a creationist as President might be one of the few ways we could dumb down this country after Bush II!

Personally, I think that Edwards is more an agent of real change--his message and platform are a direct strike at the corporate hegemony, and right now, I think the House Media organ is ignoring him in an attempt to limit the spread of that message. He's not the trendy pick, but I think he's got the goods to shake up the joint--which is why the media Kool Kids are trying to freeze him out.

Jim Schmidt

“Maybe this isn't just about money and marketing.” Pl

Is history moved by ideas or money?

I put this question to an Edward’s foreign policy advisor. Didn’t catch his name. He taught a class on Straussians and Neocons back east somewhere. Surprised by the conversation, he wondered if I was a professor. After all, he was in the middle of nowhere, wind howling outside, branches clacking with their heavy coat of ice, the landscape so monochrome grey even Ansel Adams would have trouble finding Zone 2. I told him no, just lots of reading (SST thank-you). But, there we were, talking, exploring, just one more talk among the many that went on by many over many months. To answer the question, he favored ideas. Good answer.

Ideas or money and marketing?

Money certainly was in play in Iowa, millions by some accounts, but, in the end, ideas won out. Simple ideas such as integrity matters, principles matter, people matter, families matter, neighbors matter, towns and cities matter, our country matters, the world matters. Simple ideas. For the money and utopian elites, the clever people playing us like marionettes these last few years, imagine the astonishment when they yanked and the strings came loose.

HC is still in shock. Her Schlieffen Plan never anticipated some gawky, junior senator from Illinois and his fleet of independents, women, first time voters and ordinary folk showing up, fighting back. How dare they? According to HC and the Beltway courtiers, she deserved coronation, not a messy street fight.
In fairness, I favored Hillary through the summer. I still think she would be a good president. However, her reflexive support for Kyl-Lieberman changed my mind and was the moment I lost interest. I heard this was a common experience. In the end I supported Joe Biden (I like lost causes), with Barack second.

PL categorizes this as a Strange Season for Politics. I prefer a Fun Seasons for Politics. This last caucus was the best I have experienced. It did not matter who you supported. Everybody, professional, volunteers, voters, seemed to all feel this was important work, that duty demanded seriousness, and that getting involved mattered.

In my state, and I see it in NH, ordinary people are getting involved, getting educated, asking tough questions, passing judgment.

Some in the press hate it. Hitchen’s called the caucuses a “scam” and Iowa a banana republic (actually, we are a Frozen Banana on a Stick Dipped in Chocolate Republic, but I quibble.)


Jeff Greenfield saw Brigadoon.


The political pundits were prolific in both errors and hyperbole about the nomination process, even though the methods a state party uses to nominates their candidates is really, state party business (read voters), not theirs. Criticism is always valuable, but this seemed way off the mark, the subtext being a shocked distaste for the spectacle of unruly natives defying their eastern masters.

Their point, I think, is that we all should hang our heads in shame, pay our taxes and shut up.

I was 2008 caucus chair in my precinct. In 2004, 74 people showed up, in 2008, 198. Of those 198, 70 were new voters or cross over republicans. We were packed. Big kitchen party. HC got the most votes, but split delegates evenly between Obama and Edwards. She lost an extra delegate when all the non-viables got together for the shear pleasure of taking the extra delegate from her. Such is politics.

So, this year, now, ideas rule. Lurking underneath is an old-fashioned idea that we the people, not the brokers and pro’s and our ever-loving friends the Straussians, matter.

Are we in for bitter disappointment? Who knows? But for now, I am listening to Brother Ray singing “America the Beautiful”, digging the thaw, sipping a nice, mellow Tennessee whiskey and enjoying the moment.

Go New Hampshire.

Cold War Zoomie

We all know that race relations haunt us in the ways that Faulkner expressed so well.

Faulkner's too hard to read for linear thinkers like me. God only knows how many times I've started "As I Lay Dying" but I do know how many times I've finished it: zero. (It is sitting among my other half-finished Must-Read-Before-My-Eyes-Give -Outs like "The Brothers Karamozov" and Kesey's "Sometimes a Great Notion") It's been over a decade since my last attempt. Maybe it's time for yet another try.

I've always preferred Flannery O'Connor.

Barack Obama is virtually an unknown quantity.

So was Arnie in California, politically speaking. He had absolutely no political platform whatsoever beyond his celebrity status. He won anyway. In fact, he may have won precisely because he had no platform. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

Almost forgot. USO's got another campaign going. Time for another shameless plug:

Time To Give To The USO

W. Patrick Lang


Ah, that's the hard stuff. I was thinking of "The Bear." pl


The lug nuts came off the wheels with NAFTA and the sweeping deregulation of industry under Clinton. Those regulations were there for many good reasons, but because we were in the upswing of a technology-driven economic expansion it was hard to tell at first that they would soon be a big problem. NAFTA (and the GATT/WTO and IMF) played in to the complex shifts of capital in a globalized world in ways that did not only hit working class Americans hard, but clearly created untenable situations for most of the less-developed countries in the world.

What no one in the Beltway figured was that many many Americans would figure all of this out and care quite a bit. That is what we are seeing now.

This country has competing histories, and the movers and shakers behind deregulation and corporate-centric gobalization did not just set out to undo the New Deal, they set out to re-establish a social order akin to the Gilded Age.

When NAFTA passed it looked bad in an early-80's we're losing our jobs to the Japanese kind of way. When the Seattle protests happened it created a nascent seed of awareness that it was more complicated than that. As people's options shrunk and their costs of living multiplied (as opposed to merely increasing) they began to become suspicious of the motives of our entire ruling elite. This happened in parallel with the ever more egregious abuses of power in the Bush administration. Disgust with ethical abuses and clearly complaisant (if not outright complicit) practises from the Democratic leadership and the entire Fourth Estate grew slowly, but has now found outlet.

Simply put, there has been for some time a growing awareness among a great many Americans that the people running the show are ripping us all off. No one is profiting but the people at the very top and it is obvious.

It is important to note here that there has also been a huge effort on the part of many thousands of people to communicate this for some time. What we are seeing is the result of an organic growing awareness dovetailing with consistent pressure from widespread international grassroots organizing, commited academic research and heartfelt compassionate acts of citizenship. The reason that the corporatist agenda isn't working is that most people actually care about other human beings. And it has become clear that the people running the show do not.

This is why it is Mike Huckabee on the Right and "Anodyne" Obama on the Left who have been lifted by this wave of democratic participation, because they CARE. And people are ready to get back to a world in which we care about each other rather than just mucking things up for any limited gain whatsoever.

The staggered electoral cycle and the existence of a directly elected national executive remain as testaments to the genius of this country's founders. This is the system working.

And if you're looking for some insight to the substance of Obama's agenda, here is an article about his "open government" proposals. I find these to be remarkably forward thinking and indicative of some dramatic "change" indeed.



In retrospect, look at the power of the NIE on Iran. It changed everything.

Hell, you had an op-ed piece in the Washington Post by Henry Kissinger, yeah Henry Kissinger, saying the NIE was full of bananas.

The NIE knocked the legs out from under the "establishment". It would be interesting, very interesting, to know more about its origins.


Jim Schmidt,

I live in Mason City, and caucused for Dodd, figuring I owed him one for his hold on the FISA bill. I then went for Edwards who was my candidate all along.

Clinton carried my precinct, followed by Obama, and then Edwards, though she received a minority of total delegates.

An interesting observation on how the media have spun the Obama win. I've now heard, more than once, how surprising it was that a black candidate could win A)a 95% white state, and B) a red state.

Contrary to that media wisdom, I never sensed the racial angle at all with any Iowans I talked to. Perhaps, the spin was just indicative of bicoastal elites assuming that everyone else is stereotyped as bigoted. Or then again, and more likely I think, they were projecting their own racial fears.

And the red state spin--yeah Iowa was in 04, but you have to go back to 84 to find the last time a republican pres carried the state.

Just my thoughts.

frank durkee

Just a couple of oservations concerning training I share with Obama, the Chicago Institutres training in community organization. It requiires that you ask the toughest questions you can find. That you listen to find out what is actually happening in the areas you seek to organize, that you get to know, analyze, and interact with the actual powerstructure of the population you are organizing. that you identify "leaders' among th poor, train them to do their own work, research, actions, etc, set the agenda. It holds to no permanent enemies and no permanent alliances. much of what the Col. and others have suggested concerning the Intelligence process is similiar. the content perhaps different but the goal is to kow as well as possible what is going on, who is doing it, what agena one is supporting and how to obtain it. A key element is the development of focused, researched action groups not of specialist but of the local leaders. Being able to listen, to speak, to analyze, and to act are all critical. An 'organizer sets out as one to build a trained self sustaining loval action group to interct with the powerbrokers oto enable change for the client group, the poor in most cases.
He's done this and in some tough areas on some tough issues as a youn man. It conditions and ahapes your orientation and actions in some useful ways for the political process. the goal is to create a sufficient ingormed powerase to initiate and obtain changee in a conflicted workd with other power players. You normally start with the weakest hand and players and if your good and to some extent lucky it happens with a lot of hard work. Much of the work is focused on knowing the issues well, knpwing what you seek to do and finfding the aviable allies to seek it. In an urban community it involves the whole structure of the community and how it actually works.
Somehow i think this is not irrelevant to Obama's effectiveness. His core trainin is in citizen facilitated change. Effective speaking is a component of that but only a component and not by any means the most siginificant. it is not a task for idealists, clear eyed realism and the work to arrive at that are the critical prequisites.
This isn't all he is or has done but it is perhaps a window into an important aspect of how he became who he is.
I have know some senior intelligence analysts and several excellent organizers and the mind sets are in many ways remarkably similar.
{ excuse wrrors o spelling and tyoing I'm both elderly sn dyslexic] Thanks.

Maybe this isn't just about money and marketing?

Money and marketing is a requirement to be competitive, but when all the so-called "top tier" candidates have both in spades then I think other factors start playing a significant role.

Like CWZ indicated, being an unknown quantity can be a benefit, particularly if the known quantities (or at least better-known) are unappealing.


Speaking generally:

Until you have taxpayer funded(government financed campaigns) you have a corrupt electoral process.

Re: Bam, Hill, and Hick.

Doubt that Obama and Clinton are electible nationally. Huck's a loon, ditto.

It will be interesting to see to what levels we sink in this election, before things get sorted out.

We might have to settle for something less than tout-acclaimed quality horse stock, before we find true runners.

Just a thought.


Please forgive this additional post if it is felt to be redundant. I quote from today's Post:

"Part of the reason I'm going to the Middle East is to make it abundantly clear to nations in that part of the world that we view Iran as a threat, and that the [National Intelligence Estimate] in no way lessens that threat, but in fact clarifies the threat," Bush said in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot released Friday.

Administration officials have been alarmed by what they see as Iran's efforts to develop a nuclear weapon and intimidate its Sunni neighbors. But their efforts to build support for sanctions and other pressure on Tehran took a serious hit last month when a National Intelligence Estimate -- representing the shared view of U.S. intelligence agencies -- concluded that Iran halted its nuclear arms program in 2003.

Administration officials insist that the estimate showed Iran remains capable of, and interested in, developing a nuclear weapon. But Israel, which is believed to have nuclear weapons, saw the report as a sign that Washington is flagging in its zeal to confront Iran, which they regard as a threat to its existence. And in Arab Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, which feel threatened by the rising Shiite power that Iran represents, the NIE renewed doubts over whether the United States might be seeking an accommodation with Tehran.

What's the point? The point is that the NIE took away the domestic constituency that Bush needed. He can go and live in the ME if he wants to, but his domestic consituency for bombing Iran is absolutely gone.

The NIE completely changed the rules of the game, and, specifically, has catapulted Obama permanently over Clinton.

Clinton has all the money in the world. It hasn't much to do with money.

Once again, it would be interesting to know how a document that has had about the same effect on the US as the Declaration of Independence ever saw the light of day.



I agree with the thrust of your post but I disagree with your assessment:

"Simply put, there has been for some time a growing awareness among a great many Americans that the people running the show are ripping us all off. No one is profiting but the people at the very top and it is obvious."

I think if this were true the two leading candidates would be Edwards and Paul. These two are the most consistent and passionate about the fleecing of America.

I think people, in a time of stress , are attracted to charismatic orators. Think Churchill, Hitler, and Roosevelt.


Sen. Obama's rise may seem illogical but it should be placed in context with his 15 year relationship with Chicago politcal consultant David Axelrod. Obama may be outisde the most visible power faction of the Democratic party but that does not mean that he is outside all power factions in the party or that those inclined to donate lots of money view him as a threat to the status quo. On the contrary, Sen. Obama has had no problem at all financing his campaign. If anything his ascendancy is an example of a masterfully executed politcal marketing campaign crafted with precision, implemented with patience and peppered with audacity. That so few recognize this is a testament to how well planned and carefully executed his progression to this point has been. His run was inevitable, the only surprise was that it was so soon.

I think the battle for the Republican nomination will be the place where we'll see the most genuine clash between the establishment understanding of how candidates are annointed and the potential success of another dynamic. While Gov. Huckabee is not a political naif nor utterly without his own faction from which to draw (and they are a motivated faction), that the GOP establishment is so clearly dismayed by his success speaks volumes. That Sen. McCain has lately enjoyed a huge infusion of money and media support speaks libraries. South Carolina will be fascinating.

Just a closing thought, at the risk of exasperating this company with a pop culture reference and marking myself evermore as one of those puddle-deep Generation X-ers I'll pass along a movie quote that has been running through my head since caucus night. It burned itself there the first time I heard it (nearly 19 years ago now) and has to some degree shaped both my personal and political thinking ever since.
"Ask youself why you seek the cup of Christ. Is it for His glory or for yours?"
No politcal candidate is wholly pure, either in motivation or action, but so far neither of the lately annointed "outsider" candidates look good to me through that particular lense.



If you never finish The Brothers Karamozov, try and make sure you at least read the chapter titled: The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor.

There are lots of reasons Dems are rejecting HC in favor of BO. But I would not underestimate the subtle linking of HC with Bush. Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton? The nation is, I suggest, sick of it. Sick of the entire era.

Stephen Calhoun

...just to give social science its proper gravity. Political scientists who study possible explanations for why one thing happens and another does not are compelled to consider the array of factors that are pertinent.

Exceptions may prove anything but the 'rule,' or so-called conventional wisdom.

There is no doubt candidates need resources but resources are just one factor.

Voting behvaior is well studied. People make their choices for lots of different reasons. Most here know that the informed or ill informed hunch, gut feeling, inchoate intuition, rule such choices where they are found to do so.

Also, participation closely tracks: age, education, householder economy, and, to a more dynamic (lesser) extent, ethnicity.

18-25 year olds don't have all those skins in the game but they will respond to appeals that in effect say to them, 'they matter.'

Sidney O. Smith III

For a good Southern prayer, I’d go with Huckabee. But for a good Southern drink, your best bet may be Fred Thompson, at least from what I can tell from watching the debates After prayers with Huckabee, you may hear the history of the Baptist church in the South. After drinks with Thompson, you may end up in a smoked filled bbq restaurant at 2 am, listening to him talk about the upcoming recruiting prospects for Univ. of Tenn football. Different Southern priorities, I suppose.

A Southern prayer and a Southern drink. That sums up much of Southern history. But you don’t want to get the two mixed up. I don’t think I’d ask Fred Thompson for a good Southern prayer followed by the history of the Baptist church and I most assuredly would not ask Huckabee for a good Southern drink followed by 3 days of tailgating at the Ark.-LSU game. Such a Southern faux pas typically leads to everyone feeling ill at ease and, to use a Southern term, puts a damper on things.

I am not voting for either but God bless ‘em both. If history is any indication, I’d probably go with the Southern drink and SEC tailgating experience but I am not Baptist, although I know a few who are. Some of them are very good and well intentioned folks, notwithstanding copies of “Left Behind” wherever you look.

William R. Cumming

Country is not really ready for a Saul Alinksy type (Chicage socialist and street/community organizer). Thus DEMS are left with a leading candidate of foreign financial interests and domestic corporate interests. Guess who? Finally if I had to guess now the voters feel a need for a mild revolution that leads to a Huckabee/McCain ticket. It does appear that these two are the most likely to not be tied to the interests that dominate US politics. But also true that they are the least likely to be dominated by foreign interests. Written by a fuzzy heady liberal secularist.



I pray, I sincerely pray, that Obama picks Webb as his running mate.

Isn't Webb a Libertarian for those of a Libertarian bent?

Of course, if Webb brought Virginia's electoral votes with him, well, that would make him the good Lyndon Johnson (as opposed to the real Lyndon Johnson). Note that Virginia went Republican in 2000 and 2004 and has 13 electoral votes.


Col: The big story is that despite media consolidation the people are rejecting the canned messages of the "acceptable" candidates.


If you want to know who Obama is, I suggest reading the autobiography he wrote when he was 32:


Sales of this and his other book "The Audicity of Hope" helped the Senator and his wife pay off their student loans.

I can't vote for Huckabee because I disagree with 98 percent of his policy positions. But if he was still a preacher rather than a politician, I would probably show up at his church on Sunday just to get a feel-good Jesus fix.

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