Tuesday Reads: Iowa Caucuses Edition

Good Morning!!

The Iowa Caucuses will be held tonight, and we’ll live blog the results later on. The outcome is still pretty much up in the air. I’m definitely rooting for Romney to lose, but I can’t decide whom I’d rather see come in first–Rick Santorum or Ron Paul. Neither one has a shot at the nomination, but I’d love to see the GOP elites scrambling if Paul wins it. I think they won’t get as upset by a Santorum win, but it would be irritating for them. Either Paul or Santorum could mess things up for Romney in New Hampshire, if they come out of Iowa with some momentum.

Nate Silver has his usual thorough analysis of the polls: Iowa Race Tightens in Final 48 Hours.

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Iowa, conducted Saturday and Sunday, shows a virtual three-way tie in advance of the Iowa caucuses. Ron Paul has a nominal lead with 20 percent of the vote in the poll, followed by Mitt Romney at 19 percent and Rick Santorum at 18 percent.

Our forecast model, which combines the Public Policy Polling survey with other recent polls of the state, also shows an effective three-way tie, although it has Mr. Romney ahead by the slimmest of margins. The model projects Mr. Romney to receive 21.0 percent of the vote, followed by Mr. Paul at 20.6 percent and Mr. Santorum — whose numbers have been on the rise — at 19.3 percent.

Silver notes that the PPP poll shows a weaker result for Romney’s than the Des Moines Register poll.

The most noteworthy feature of the Public Policy Polling survey is that it shows a slightly worse result for Mr. Romney than The Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, which was conducted Tuesday through Friday and had Mr. Romney at 24 percent of the vote.

We can interpret this in one of three ways. It may merely be random variance. It may reflect methodological differences between the surveys; the Des Moines Register poll calls cellphones, for instance, and uses live interviewers, which the Public Policy Polling survey does not. (Previous Public Policy Polling surveys have shown slightly better results for Mr. Paul, and slightly worse ones for Mr. Romney, than those conducted by other polling firms.)

Or it may suggest that that there has been a percentage point or two worth of erosion in Mr. Romney’s numbers, since the Public Policy Polling survey is the more recent of the two….There is some slight evidence for the latter theory in that Mr. Romney performed slightly worse in interviews that Public Policy Polling conducted on Sunday, receiving 18 percent of the vote to the 21 percent he received on Saturday.

Oh please, let Romney lose!

As for Mitt himself, he’s oozing confidence.

“You guys, I need you tomorrow night,” he told more than 600 people packed into an asphalt company’s truck garage. “I need every single vote in this room, and I need you to get a couple of other votes in your neighborhood, get them to caucus. I need a great showing here in Cedar Rapids. We’re going to win this thing with all our passion and strength and do everything we can to get this campaign on the right track to go across the nation and to pick up the states and to get the ballots I need and the votes I need to become our nominee. That’s what we’re going to get, with your help.”

Campaign aides later said that Romney meant he was going to win the nomination, not necessarily the caucuses.

Roger Simon of Politico says that Romney will be the nominee no matter how he does in Iowa.

If Mitt Romney wins the Iowa caucuses, the race for the Republican nomination is over.

If Mitt Romney comes in second in Iowa, the race for the Republican nomination is over.

And if Mitt Romney comes in third in Iowa, the race for the Republican nomination is over.

Why? Is his message of goodness and decency and American exceptionalism so overwhelmingly persuasive or are his personal attributes so awesomely compelling?

No. It’s because the Iowa caucuses do not pick winners as much as they eliminate losers. And the Iowa caucuses Tuesday are likely to eliminate from serious contention the only two men who might have blocked Romney’s path to victory: Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.

Now that’s depressing. If Simon is right, we’ll have nothing to look forward to but a year of boring back and forth between ultra-boring Mitt and even more boring Barack. Ugh!

But the Republicans still want to find a Romney alternative. Suddenly Rick Santorum is raising big bucks, according to CNN.

Rick Santorum’s poll numbers aren’t the only thing on the rise. The former senator from Pennsylvania’s fundraising figures are also skyrocketing.

A senior Santorum adviser tells CNN the campaign raised more money in the last week than they raised on-line the past six months, adding that fundraising is between 300% and 400% higher on a daily basis than it was just ten days ago.

Yup, they can’t stand Romney and don’t want to get stuck with him. I can totally empathize with that too. I wonder if it bothers Romney that he’s so unwanted? I supposed not….

The candidates are still saying some pretty outrageous things. Mitt Romney compared President Obama to Kim Kardashian because he didn’t live up to his campaign promises. Ron Paul claimed that Rick Santorum is “very liberal” [!]

Ron Paul dinged rival Rick Santorum Monday for being a “very liberal” candidate, saying the former Pennsylvania senator and staunch social conservative voted for too much spending during his time in Congress.

Speaking to CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash before a campaign event with his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, the White House hopeful said his rival had taken positions counter to true conservative ideas.

And Rand Paul called Santorum a “war mongering moderate” on a talk radio show yesterday. Here are the relevant Rand Paul quotes via TPM:

He’s also someone who never served in the military. Ron Paul served in the military, will use force against our enemies if it’s required and if Congress approves of it, but I’m a little concerned about someone who didn’t serve in the military like Santorum, who’s a little over-eager to bomb countries because I don’t think he’s maturely thinking through the process and the consequences of war.

Well, you know you’re starting to see that some of the conservatives have gone here and there and they’re looking for someone who they think is their champion. But before they settle on Santorum they need to realize he was a big supporter of Medicare Part D, the expansion of Medicare, a big supporter of No Child Left Behind, I’ve seen him asked directly about the Department of Education, he’s for it. … We still believe in eliminating the Dept. of Education, that there is no function on the federal level for that. But Rick Santorum’s a big supporter of the Department of Education; he in fact voted to double the size of the Department of Education with No Child Left Behind. So I call him a big government moderate and I think conservatives need to be wary before thinking Santorum can be their champion.

Supporting the Department of Education? The horror!

The Daily Beast published a primer on the workings of the Iowa Caucuses yesterday for those (like me) who need a review of the process. Here’s the gist of it:

What happens at a caucus meeting?

At 7 p.m., caucus-goers will recite the Pledge of Allegiance and elect officers to run the meeting. Representatives from each campaign—usually campaign staffers—will give a brief speech urging those present to vote for their candidate. After the speeches, caucus-goers will write the name of their preferred candidate on a piece of paper, and campaign representatives will watch while they are counted. The caucus will then report the results to the room, and then by phone to the Iowa Republican Party. Caucus-goers will finish the night by picking delegates and writing platform resolutions—building blocks of a party manifesto—for the county GOP convention. The Iowa GOP will announce the statewide results to the media and on its website.

Yes, there will be Democratic caucuses, even though there’s no competition for Obama.

Jan Bauer fondly recalls the energy that then-candidate Barack Obama brought to Iowa in the 2008 Democratic presidential caucuses and the razor-sharp ground game that paved his road from here to the White House.

Four years later, Bauer finds herself calling other Story County Democrats to remind them that they have important political work to do Tuesday just like their Republican counterparts – even if Obama is unopposed for their party’s nomination.

“A lot of Democrats aren’t even aware that we’re caucusing,” said Bauer, Democratic chairwoman in the county that includes Ames, home to Iowa State University. “We’re getting little to no attention in the media … but we still have to reorganize the party.”

Obama will be speaking to them by satellite.

There’s also an fascinating article at the Daily Beast about Obama’s tightly controlled reelection operation. These guys sound like a lot of frat boys–or maybe Skull and Bones members. I’ve annotated the following for those (like me) who aren’t hip to current yuppie culture.

The Obama campaign is not kidding around. I recently visited its headquarters in Chicago, and I can personally vouch for how much it’s not kidding around. Yes, there was a blue Ping-Pong table in the middle of the office—custom-made, evidently, because the Obama 2012 logo was emblazoned on it. (Twice.) There were printouts of people’s nicknames—Sandals! Shermanator!—where corporate nameplates usually go. There was a mesh trucker hat from South Dakota, which was blaze orange and said “Big Cock Country” on the crown. There was a cardboard speech bubble (“nom nom data nom”) affixed to an Uglydoll. There was miniature air-hockey table. A narwhal mural. A stuffed Rastafarian banana.

But do not be deceived. There was also a chaperone following me everywhere I went and digitally recording everything anyone said to me. Ben LaBolt, Obama’s press secretary, and Stephanie Cutter, his deputy campaign manager, closed their doors as I walked by. An underling clammed up when I asked what she and her colleagues do on the weekends. At one point my minder agreed to let me out of her sight for a few milliseconds, but then I got too close to a big whiteboard covered in hieroglyphic flow charts and she instantaneously materialized at my side, having somehow teleported the 50 yards from where I’d last seen her. “Sorry,” she said, not sounding sorry at all. “You can’t look at that.” The next day it was covered by a tarp.

Sigh…. These are the people who are running the Democratic Party …. and the country. Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


41 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Iowa Caucuses Edition”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    If I were a mainstream moderate Republican I would be cringing along about now. Imagine given the choice of one of these “beauties” and having to decide which one of them is even worthy of a vote?

    Bad enough we Dems are stuck with an unprimaried contender who is nowhere near deserving of a second shot at the presidency but to have to choose one of these lackluster bigots to lead the party has to be one of the most demoralzing events facing them today.

    If Mittens is the “best” they have to work with you know they are in serious trouble.

    Yikes!

    • dakinikat says:

      It really demonstrates how broken the system is and how captured by strict interests the process has become. It’s amazing to think that all of these folks have held elected office. Gingrich has been caught for corruption and all kinds of things and yet, here he is again. Bachmann and Santorum both belong in asylums. We’ve morphed into a very sick society.

    • dakinikat says:

      Here’s a good reminder of how insane Rick Santorum really is:

      http://www.mediaite.com/tv/fox-news-alan-colmes-flips-out-when-called-out-for-cheap-shot-about-rick-santorum-baby/

      In a wild exchange on Fox News’ Happening Now, longtime contributor Alan Colmes lost it a little bit when National Review‘s Rich Lowry pressed him over an attack on Rick Santorum‘s handling of the 1996 death of his newborn son. Colmes used Santorum’s reaction to the death of 2 hour-old Gabriel as an example of “some of the crazy things he’s said and done,” prompting immediate, sustained pushback from Lowry, and death-stares from Colmes.

      The segment was pegged to Santorum’s polling surge in Iowa, which Colmes argued wouldn’t last “once they get a load of some of the crazy things he’s said and done, like taking his two-hour-old baby who died after childbirth and played with it for a couple hours so his other children would know that the child was real…”

      “That’s a cheap shot, Alan,” Lowry interrupted, the first of many interruptions that would leave Colmes sitting back in his chair, staring daggers at Lowry, and asking to be alerted when it was his turn to speak again.

      The incident they’re referring to is the 1996 birth of a premature baby boy to Rick and Karen Santorum. The child only lived for two hours, and the Santorums dealt with the tragedy in an unusual way:

      The childbirth in 1996 was a source of terrible heartbreak — the couple were told by doctors early in the pregnancy that the baby Karen was carrying had a fatal defect and would survive only for a short time outside the womb. According to Karen Santorum’s book, ”Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum,” she later developed a life-threatening intrauterine infection and a fever that reached nearly 105 degrees. She went into labor when she was 20 weeks pregnant. After resisting at first, she allowed doctors to give her the drug Pitocin to speed the birth. Gabriel lived just two hours.

      What happened after the death is a kind of snapshot of a cultural divide. Some would find it discomforting, strange, even ghoulish — others brave and deeply spiritual. Rick and Karen Santorum would not let the morgue take the corpse of their newborn; they slept that night in the hospital with their lifeless baby between them. The next day, they took him home. ”Your siblings could not have been more excited about you!” Karen writes in the book, which takes the form of letters to Gabriel, mostly while he is in utero. ”Elizabeth and Johnny held you with so much love and tenderness. Elizabeth proudly announced to everyone as she cuddled you, ‘This is my baby brother, Gabriel; he is an angel.’ ”

      This is like psycho creepy.

      • dakinikat says:

        and it doesn’t even include the information about how Rick made his children sing to it and hold a dead fetus. Isn’t dragging around a corpse illegal and against some kind of health law? If they’d been told early on the pregnancy wasn’t viable, didn’t they have enough time to grieve over the entire incubation period?

        • Minkoff Minx says:

          It is disgusting…and beyond crazy. No wonder the Duggar’s endorsed him…they both did the same thing with their dead fetuses. Only Santorum took it to a whole other level. And then to write a book about it, using your kids in some twisted attempt to appeal to your other crazy ass followers.

          This is one fucked up dude.

          • dakinikat says:

            I can’t believe the freaks they put on reality shows. The duggers and that crazy guy that has 4 wives and all those kids should be put in jail. Not paid like some kind of circus freaks. At least the old freak shows weren’t about people who chose to be “freaks”.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I had heard it was a miscarriage, but I guess the baby was viable?

      • dakinikat says:

        It was never viable. They were told early on it had a fatal defect. It wasn’t ever going to survive. It basically was incubated longer to “die” more dramatically. No fetus can survive at that age. 20 weeks isn’t viable anyway. Even beyond that it was never going to survive. They just prolonged the inevitable.

  2. ralphb says:

    Montana High Court Says ‘Citizens United’ Does Not Apply In Big Sky State

    Good decision. Even the dissenter hates Citizens United and blasted the Supreme Court.

  3. Minkoff Minx says:

    That report on Obama’s campaign volunteers…and the way they act, is ridiculous. It sounds like some kind of hipster Etsy Admin operation.

    • ralphb says:

      Any group that has a large portion of young workers in it will gravitate toward something like that, if given the chance. It’s a way to make life in the cube farms more livable and not so depressing. It’s healthy in most cases.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Oh, I know Ralph, I had all sorts of stuff in my cubical when I worked…but the way they act…the attitude and the secrecy, that’s what I’m talking about.

      • ralphb says:

        That is somewhat different. But, a lot of those young people think they’re gonna help save the world. 🙂

      • northwestrain says:

        Cult like behavior — yep.

        At the caucus I went to 4 years ago in WA — the 0bowma 0bots were trained in group manipulation. They were sent in to work the crowds. What I observed was the the 0bots were until tight control and they in turn absolutely controlled the caucus. The description above of how the Iowa caucus operates is essentially identical to the Washington caucus models.

        My MA is essentially in Group Dynamics — from group therapy, to school and to work with large groups — business and political groups. We also studied and did role playing using cult techniques. Most of the group dynamic skills have been around since humans started forming social groups. Our professors wanted us to be aware of all the ways groups and individuals within groups can be manipulated.

        So as soon as the 0bots started they games — I could see exactly what they were doing. These people weren’t professionals — but they had training and they were using techniques that should NEVER be used unless the participants are informed. I’d say that these 0bots are con men/snake oil salesmen in the making. These jerks went to camps to learn group manipulation techniques (articles about camps were written four years ago).

        Apparently the cult training and control is still part of the 0bowma campaign. These people are sick — anyone who falls for the cult and the brainwashing is in trouble.

  4. dakinikat says:

    Here’s more of Santorum Crazy:

    Santorum: States Should Have The Right To Outlaw Birth Control

    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/01/03/396516/santorum-states-should-have-the-right-to-outlaw-birth-control/

    Santorum has long opposed the Supreme Court’s 1965 ruling “that invalidated a Connecticut law banning contraception” and has also pledged to completely defund federal funding for contraception if elected president. As he told CaffeinatedThoughts.com editor Shane Vander Hart in October, “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country,” the former Pennsylvania senator explained. “It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

    But an overwhelming majority of Americans — virtually all women (more than 99 percent ) aged 15–44 have used at least one contraceptive method — rely on contraceptives to prevent unintended pregnancies and limit the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. In fact, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that contraceptive services provided at publicly funded clinics helped prevent almost two million unintended pregnancies. Without funding from Medicaid and Title X, “abortions occurring in the United States would be nearly two-thirds higher among women overall and among teens; the number of unintended pregnancies among poor women would nearly double.”

    and we think the Taliban are the enemy?

    • bostonboomer says:

      WTF?!!

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      I just saw a tweet from Woman Voter on this, unfucking believable.

      • Woman Voter says:

        The hate towards women is so clear, and from the Democrats too. It is no wonder women around the world continue to suffer. Family planning is a Human Right! It is clear that it is all about the MALES when it comes to politics.

        Women wake up! Wake UP!

    • Woman Voter says:

      Heck, why don’t they just work to have the babies, that way they can be in control, and then they can vote to enslave themselves, without choosing family planning and we will go fishing. What a jerk, even ancient Catholics sought to curb the large family via the stone age r-method.

    • ralphb says:

      Sadly it makes no difference which one of them wins, except for maybe degree of loss. These people are insane control freaks.

      • northwestrain says:

        The dems have their stupid Stupak (D) etc.

        That article was just dem propaganda — women have lost a tremendous amount of ground under 0bowma’s rule — I really don’t see much difference between the two parties. Biden (D) got Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Count.

        So now we know that 0bots can write scary columns — that female who wrote the column is a flaming lying 0bot. She can go to hell — I don’t believe her anymore than I believe the GOP.

  5. ralphb says:

    Charlie Pierce, hot off the presses …

    Stuff in Politico That Makes Me Want to Guzzle Antifreeze, Field of Mediocrity Edition

    Rep. Steve King (R-BrownPeopleUnderMyBed) was just on MSNBC explaining why he has declined to endorse any candidate, floundering helplessly on the subject of why he gone squishy on Michele Bachmann, his colleague in the House. who he was pushing very hard back in the lazy, hazy, crazy days of corndogs last summer. (Here’s a hint, Steve: It’s because she’s polling in Celsius at this point.) I think he sprained an ankle, tripping over the obvious.

    I can’t help laughing my head off over this stuff.

  6. BB, great roundup! Thank you for sorting through the Iowa circus/caucus headlines so I don’t have to.

  7. Woman Voter says:

    Santorum apparently wants states to be able to outlaw birth control for women without anyone challenging this? Where is NOW, and I don’t mean that ditzy show on MSNBC, where the anchor sounds as if she is Moon Zappa.

    Are women’s rights not important?

    • peggysue22 says:

      ‘Are women’s rights not important?’

      The easy answer is ‘obviously not.’ The problem is that for the Religious Right and their adherents, women’s rights is synonymous with everything that’s gone wrong in America. So, a zygote is heralded as having the rights of a fully-realized, actualized female human being, The unemployment problem is partially blamed on women in the workforce and marriage decay and dissolution is dropped squarely into the lap of the 51%’s. If only we could regain the Golden years when women [and children] knew their place. Which is for the most part means remaining silent, standing behind their men, giving a rah-rah to ensure ‘they’ live up to their full potential and reap the goodies of the American dream into the family living room.

      My mother was discontented all her life, really born before her time. When I started watching Mad Men I began to understand more fully. We can’t get to where we’re suppose to be by always looking in the rearview mirror. But looking at the history assures me that the car should always be firmly in ‘drive,’ pushing forward. That’s where I strongly disagree with the Santorums of the world. They want to go back to a fictional Golden Age, a time that was very unpleasant for many, many women.

      As females, we have to dedicate ourselves in assuring that that doesn’t happen. It blows me away that younger women too often [or at least in alarming numbers] seem to shrug their shoulders on these issues, as if everything is safe and secure and can never be undone. Once things unravel, it’s very difficult to put them back together. Let’s hope that on these issues at least, that doesn’t happen. Because we’ll all pay the price, one way or the other.

  8. Caro says:

    >>a year of boring back and forth between ultra-boring Mitt and even more boring Barack

    My friend Brent Budowsky says it will be a contest between the weathervane and the Rorschach ink blot.

    Carolyn Kay
    MakeThemAccountable.com

  9. jawbone says:

    At least if Obama loses, then the Dems in Congress can actually oppose the kind of legislative crap Obama would be forcing them to pass. It won’t get a free ride with them with Repub prez.

    The Walll Street Banksters who gave Obama the big seed money to take on Hillary knew damn well that Obama would neuter Congressional Dems. How right they were.

    A second term with no need to face the electorate again may well be a new Circle of Hell for us 99 Percenters.

  10. Minkoff Minx says:

    Here is an update on the woman in NY: DA drops case vs. NYC woman arrested on self-abortion charge after fetus found with trash – The Washington Post

    Prosecutors said Tuesday they are dropping a rare self-abortion case against a woman arrested after her fetus was found among trash.

    The Manhattan district attorney’s office said it was declining to prosecute Yaribely Almonte but continuing to investigate. Prosecutors wouldn’t elaborate.