Terrible Tuesday Reads: Iowa’s Chaotic Meltdown, Clusterf#ck, Sh#tshow

Rainy Day, Columbus Avenue, Boston, by Frederick Child Hassam

Good Morning!!

Can we please stop letting Iowa go first now?

 

Eric Levitz at New York Magazine: R.I.P. the ‘First-In-the-Nation’ Iowa Caucuses (1972-2020).

The “first-in-the-nation” Iowa caucuses died Monday night after a protracted battle with advanced-stage omnishambles.

DeMoines Skyline by Buffalo Bonker

Or so we can hope. Iowa’s eccentric, endearing — and wildly anti-democratic — nominating contest has always been an indefensible institution. There is no reason why the most politically-engaged and/or time-rich citizens of America’s 31st most populous state should have the power to veto presidential candidates before anyone else in the country has a say. And yet, few of Iowa’s bitterest critics ever dreamed it would subject the country to something like this.

As of this writing, we are one hour into Tuesday morning and only a small fraction of Iowa precincts have reported their results. Officials currently say that they hope to have the numbers by “some time Tuesday.” The ostensible reasons for this are twofold. 1) This year, for the first time ever, the Iowa Democratic Party was required to report three distinct sets of results — the vote tally on “first alignment,” the vote tally on “final alignment” (when backers of candidates who lack 15% support redistribute their votes to higher-polling candidates), and the final delegate tally. In the past, the party was only on the hook for that last metric, which is much easier to tabulate. 2) To ease the burden of logging all this information from more than 1,600 precincts, the party developed an app for reporting results — which many precinct chairs could not figure out how to use. Thus, they began calling in the results on a telephone hotline. Much waiting on hold ensued.

Guess who pushed for the changes in the vote counting and reporting?

Politico: ‘It’s a total meltdown’: Confusion seizes Iowa as officials struggle to report results.

No results had been reported by midnight Eastern, and two campaigns told POLITICO that after a conference call with the Iowa Democratic Party, they didn’t expect any returns until Tuesday morning at the earliest.

Candidates stepped into the void. Pete Buttigieg went first by claiming victory — misleadingly, in the view of Bernie Sanders, whose campaign responded by releasing unofficial figures showing his strength. Amy Klobuchar also joined in by citing unverified results she said demonstrated a robust performance.

Edward Hopper cityscape

The biggest “winner” might have been Joe Biden. According to the Iowa entrance poll, he was hovering close to the viability threshold of 15 percent statewide. But the questions surrounding the vote-counting served to obscure a potentially poor performance. The former vice president, facing potentially ugly headlines going into New Hampshire and beyond, couldn’t get out of Iowa fast enough.

“We’re going to walk out of here with our share of delegates,” Biden declared to a packed room on the Drake University campus. “It’s on to New Hampshire!”

Conversely, it might have delivered a blow to Sanders and Buttigieg, who appeared on track to do well in the state. Whether the victor turns out to be Sanders or Buttigieg or someone else, that candidate was denied the chance to give an election night victory speech to a nationwide audience — a springboard heading into New Hampshire.

Read more at Politico.

The New York Times:

The app that the Iowa Democratic Party commissioned to tabulate and report results from the caucuses on Monday was not properly tested at a statewide scale, said people who were briefed on the app by the state party.

It was quickly put together in just the past two months, said the people, some of whom asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Life in the Suburbs, by Leonard Koscianski

And the party decided to use the app only after another proposal for reporting votes — which entailed having caucus participants call in their votes over the phone — was abandoned, on the advice of Democratic National Committee officials, according to David Jefferson, a board member of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan election integrity organization.

And let’s not forget what happened with the final Iowa poll. Ben Smith at Buzzfeed News: This Iowa Poll Was Never Published. It’s Still Influencing What You Read.

The Des Moines Register spiked its poll Saturday night, but by the next day it seemed most reporters here had seen the numbers — or something purporting to be the numbers.

Here’s what happened: As the Des Moines Register readied a cover story and CNN prepped for an hourlong special about the time-honored poll, Pete Buttigieg’s campaign complained that his name hadn’t been offered to some poll recipients. The pollster, Ann Selzer, quickly discovered the glitch in a Florida call center that triggered the error. It seemed likely to be just a minor error — but everyone involved cares about their reputation for trustworthiness, and they quickly decided to pull the poll rather than publish with doubts.

But the news organizations had already been preparing to publish the numbers, and a version of them began to circulate almost instantly. I won’t print those numbers: I haven’t been able to confirm that the numbers I’ve seen are the already-questionable official ones.

And yet, most veterans of coverage here trust Selzer’s surveys. So many acknowledged to me last night that they’d quietly taken the unreleased and possibly wrong numbers into account.

“Nobody was talking about Elizabeth Warren and now everybody thinks she has a shot because of those numbers,” said Rebecca Katz, a progressive political consultant who supports Warren. (It’s not the only reason, I should note: Other polls this week also showed Warren in a strong position, as did the last published Selzer poll in January.)

Read more at the link.

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight: Iowa Might Have Screwed Up The Whole Nomination Process.

In trying to build a forecast model of the Democratic primaries, we literally had to think about the entire process from start (Iowa) to finish (the Virgin Islands on June 6). Actually, we had to do more than that. Since the nomination process is sequential — states vote one at a time rather than all at once — we had to determine, empirically, how much the results of one state can affect the rest.

By Ron Francis

The answer in the case of Iowa is that it matters a lot. Despite its demographic non-representativeness, and the quirks of the caucuses process, the amount of media coverage the state gets makes it far more valuable a prize than you’d assume from the fact that it only accounts for 41 of the Democrats’ 3,979 pledged delegates.

More specifically, we estimate — based on testing how much the results in various states have historically changed the candidates’ position in national polls — that Iowa was the second most-important date on the calendar this year, trailing only Super Tuesday. It was worth the equivalent of almost 800 delegates, about 20 times its actual number.

Everything was a little weird in Iowa this year, however. And there were already some signs that the Iowa bounce — which essentially results from all the favorable media coverage that winning candidates get — might be smaller than normal….

But we weren’t prepared for what actually happened, which is that — as I’m writing this at 3:15 a.m. on Tuesday — the Iowa Democratic Party literally hasn’t released any results from its caucuses. I’m not going to predict what those numbers will eventually be, although early indications are that Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and perhaps Elizabeth Warren had good results. The point is that the lead story around the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses is now — and will forever be — the colossal shitshow around the failure to release results in a timely fashion.

In other news, The New York Times Magazine has published an article adapted from David Enrich’s forthcoming book about Trump and Deutche Bank: The Money Behind Trump’s Money. The inside story of the president and Deutsche Bank, his lender of last resort. It’s very long and involved, but here’s a brief excerpt:

George Grosz, Street Scene

Last April, congressional Democrats subpoenaed ­Deutsche Bank for its records on Trump, his family members and his businesses. The Trump family sued to block the bank from complying; after two federal courts ruled against the Trumps, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, with oral arguments expected in the spring. State prosecutors, meanwhile, are investigating the bank’s ties with Trump, too. The F.B.I. has been conducting its own wide-­ranging investigation of ­Deutsche Bank, and people connected to the bank told me they have been interviewed by special agents about aspects of the Trump relationship.

If they ever become public, the bank’s Trump records could serve as a Rosetta Stone to decode the president’s finances. Executives told me that the bank has, or at one point had, portions of Trump’s personal federal income tax returns going back to around 2011. (­Deutsche Bank lawyers told a federal court last year that the bank does not have those returns; it is unclear what happened to them. The Trump Organization did not respond to multiple requests for comment.) The bank has documents detailing the finances and operations of his businesses. And it has records about internal deliberations over whether and how to do business with Trump — a paper trail that most likely reflects some bank employees’ concerns about potentially suspicious transactions that they detected in the family’s accounts.

One reason all these files could be so illuminating is that the bank’s relationship with Trump extended well beyond making simple loans. ­Deutsche Bank managed tens of millions of dollars of Trump’s personal assets. The bank also furnished him with other services that have not previously been reported: providing sophisticated financial instruments that shielded him from risks and outside scrutiny, and making introductions to wealthy Russians who were interested in investing in Western real estate. If Trump cheated on his taxes, ­Deutsche Bank would probably know. If his net worth is measured in millions, not billions, ­Deutsche Bank would probably know. If he secretly got money from the Kremlin, ­Deutsche Bank would probably know.

Also, Trump will give his fake state of the union address tonight, and I won’t be watching. What are you thinking and reading today?


Manic Monday Reads: Iowa Caucus Day, Senate Gasbaggery and When will he take the sharpie to Missouri?

Oval lead "coffin" with a spell against Pytheas et al., ordered by an Pytheas' opponent in an Athenian law court (reading: W. Peek) Good Day Sky Dancers!

I think I could have a new hobby from what’s evidently a very old practice!  Ever heard of curse tablets?   Well, it’s an Athenian thing and maybe we should bring it back!  I  keep a list of graves I intend to dance upon nips and clits up.  (.e.g. Phyllis Schafly, Jerry Falwell and his spawn, Billy Graham and his spawn, you know the usual evil suspects).  But, an Athenian curse tablet seems much more righteous and long lasting!

Thirty lead tablets engraved with curses have been discovered at the bottom of a 2,500 year old well in ancient Athens. Discovered in the area of Kerameikos, ancient Athens’ main burial ground, the small tablets invoked the gods of the underworld in order to cause harm to others.

These curses were ritual texts, usually scratched on small lead objects. “The person that ordered a curse is never mentioned by name, only the recipient,” observes Dr. Jutta Stroszeck, director of the Kerameikos excavation on behalf of the German Archaeological Institute in Athens.

Before the discovery of the 30 specimens in the well, dozens of curses from the classical period (480-323 B.C.E.) had been found mainly in tombs of dead people who had died in an untimely manner and were therefore thought suitable to carry the spell to the underworld. One had also been found in another well. But there was good reason for the transition of ill-will from graves to wells in ancient Athens.

The well where the curses were found was excavated in 2016 by a team under Stroszeck’s direction while investigating the water supply to a bathhouse about 60 meters beyond the Dipylon – the city-gate on the ro to the Academy. It was a public bathhouse, not a private one, that operated from Classical to Hellenistic times,  the fifth to the first centuries B.C.E., and is thought to be the spa referred to by the comic playwright Aristophanes (Knights, 1307-1401). It was also mentioned in a speech by the 4th century B.C.E. Greek rhetorician Isaeus (against Kalydon, fragment 24).

So, as the Senate debates impeachment today … well, wait that might not be a good description.  It’s more like as the Republicans spout noxious talking points while the Democratic Party folks beg for something akin to constitutional justice.   So, as to whatever that thing is today that’s on TV with so much gasbaggery … consider finding the nearest well!  We could start a thing!

Image result for sharpie kansas missouri

I do have a well under my house so maybe I should consider digging the fill out for my new hobby.  Those old holier than God dudes might be dancing with the devil now but their horrid sons are still plaguing the world.  And of course,  we know who needs to go to a devil waiting with millions of hints about what to do with him!  He certainly showed Kansas last night that they were just fly over country! Or did he show the Show Me State of Missouri?

Here’s the headline via the Kansas City Star: “Trump congratulates Chiefs for representing ‘the Great State of Kansas.”  My mom used to actually write for this paper believe it or not!  Most of that side of my family is still all around the place although most now live on the Kansas side of State Line Road.  Which reminds me to tell you that State Line is of the interesting roads ever!  It used to be a stretch of road where of confederate Missouri  folk frequently yelled obscene things at the folks from the Free State of Kansas and it’s aslo got Joe’s Kansas City BBQ!  I’m as unlikely to go to or watch a football game as I am to enter a church any time in the near future but I do admit that this got a huge chuckle from me.  Such a stable genius!

President Donald Trump congratulated the Missouri-based Kansas City Chiefs for representing the state of Kansas after they won the Super Bowl Sunday night.

In a tweet that apparently disappeared — but was captured in screengrabs — Trump wrote: “Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs on a great game, and a fantastic comeback, under immense pressure. You represented the Great State of Kansas and, in fact, the entire USA, so very well. Our Country is PROUD OF YOU!”

caucus-history

We all know geography is no part of his very stable genius but to be President of a country should mean you know something about its biggest cities!  At least you think that would be a skill set you’d develop after three years or so.  Let’s hope Kansas and Missouri remember this coming election!

And, just to get you juiced up for those curse tablets!  Here’s the guy that really really needs a billion or so sent so everything i hell is waiting for him!  I should hope the world doesn’t act like his church because that would look a lot like hell!  Just think what will happen to all those kids of they think all those over 40 mothers and grandmothers can dance!!!!

So, I should probably mention another state around there that I spent an awful lot of time in given my Dad owned a business there for over 30 years!  That would be the Iowa caucuses

While Iowa’s always held a caucus, their popularity is only about 50 years old. So what has changed over the years?

There are two men that historians refer to for as to why the Iowa Caucuses are so popular. That’s George McGovern and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Both of them used first in the nation status as a way to show their strength as a candidate.

It all started in the 1970s.

“In 1976, when Jimmy Carter was here, these were very small events,” David Yepsen, of Iowa PBS, said.

A living room, church basements: those were the kinds of places where Iowans met candidates 50 years ago, offering a sense of charm in politics.

“I think the candidates like to try and recreate it, but the thing has gotten so big that they can’t,” Yepsen said.

Yepsen is a long-time journalist who started his career in the 70s, just as the caucuses were gaining fame. The democratic party was in the midst of reforms, so Iowa wound up going first. It wasn’t for any specific reason. That’s just how it happened.

Through the years, the Iowa caucuses predict a party’s nominee correctly about half of the time.

Usually though, the one who wins the presidency does well in the Hawkeye state.

“The only time that a candidate has not finished in the top three and has gone onto win the presidency was 1992,” Leo Landis, curator of the State Historical Society of Iowa, said. “That was when Senator Harkin was running and Bill Clinton comes in 4th.”

Image result for images iowa caucuses

Here’s some Iowa Caucus Day Reads!

Ronald Brownstein / The Atlantic:  “2020 Democrats Are Bringing Butter Knives to a Gunfight”

Heading into tonight’s Iowa caucus, the clock may be ticking faster on the Democratic presidential candidates than they believe.

All of the leading contenders have campaigned energetically and extensively across the state during the past few days, but none have moved to sharply contrast themselves with their rivals.

None of the candidates have offered a sustained challenge to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has surged to the lead in most Iowa polls and delivered an impressive show of strength on Saturday night with a raucous rally here that attracted some 3,000 people. Nor has former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, or Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota delivered much of an argument against former Vice President Joe Biden, though he leads them in the competition for moderate voters. “I think this is a pillow fight compared to previous caucuses,” says Jeff Link, a longtime Democratic strategist in Iowa.

This restraint partly reflects a widespread belief in Democratic circles that in a multi-candidate field, a conflict between any two candidates hurts both of them and opens a pathway for another contender to win. That’s famously what happened in the 2004 Iowa caucus, when the scorched-earth hostilities between former Representative Richard Gephardt of Missouri and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean allowed John Kerry to make a late surge, winning the state and, ultimately, the nomination.

NBC News:  “The stakes for Biden tonight in Iowa are enormous”

No one has more at stake tonight than Joe Biden.

A first-place finish in the Iowa caucuses here could put him the driver’s seat to win the Democratic nomination; a fourth-place finish could end his political career.

No other Top 4 Democrat has that wide range of possibilities.

Pete Buttigieg admitted on “Meet the Press” yesterday that he needs a strong showing to vault him to the later states, but finishing fourth wouldn’t end his political career (he’s just 38 years old).

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren could very well win tonight, but that wouldn’t put them in the driver’s seat for the nomination — at least not yet.

As Democratic candidates began a last-minute blitz across Iowa on Friday evening, nearly a dozen men gathered in a cavernous YMCA meeting room in downtown Des Moines to have a conversation that felt a universe removed from the 2020 race.

They were part of one of the largest groups shut out of Monday’s caucus: people with felony convictions. Iowans are barred from voting for life once they commit a felony, and people can’t vote even if they committed a crime decades ago. The state’s policy, one of the strictest in the country, means more than 42,000 Iowans out of prison won’t have a say in choosing a presidential candidate. Almost 10% of the black voting-age population can’t vote because of a felony conviction.

For decades, the Iowa caucuses have marked the beginning of the presidential primary, and often set the tone for the election year. But the event has come under increasing scrutiny for giving some voters – namely white and wealthy Iowans – outsized power in choosing the president in a state that’s already more than 90% white. Meanwhile, the physical and legal barriers built into the structure of the caucuses leave out large swaths of the population, whether they are disabled, work long hours, or were once convicted of a crime.

So, why does Iowa still go first?  And given that many newly enfranchised Iowans that work the local stock yards and do construction work along with plenty of other Iowa type things  have their heritage South of our border … what does Iowa think about this?

And there is the whiff of Troll in the Iowa air …

Anyway, this week will be wild.  Stock up on whatever gives you comfort!

And, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Iowa Caucus Morning After Live Blog/Open Thread

Matisse-Woman-Reading-with-Tea1

Good Morning!!

This morning I learned on NPR that Hillary Clinton has been declared the winner of the Iowa Caucus, but I can barely find anything on Google news about it. This is what we will face over the next few months if she continues to win primaries in more diverse states than Iowa and New Hampshire. The media will work hard to diminish or ignore any positive news for Hillary.

Bernie bros at Sanders headquarters were all class/s as they booed and yelled “you’re a liar!” during Hillary’s speech last night. Neither Clinton nor Sanders claimed victory in their speeches, but Rachel Maddow of MSNBC (in her new role as unofficial (official?) spokesperson for the Sanders campaign) claimed that Hillary had done so.

The media and Bernie bros seem to have completely forgotten that Iowa is far from representative of the rest of the country.

Michael Cohen of The Boston Globe with a twitter rant:

 

Still, I have to admit that I’m disappointed that Hillary didn’t win decisively. So it’s on to New Hampshire with a debate and a town hall forum before the primary next Tuesday.

Politico: Clinton ekes out win in Iowa against Sanders.

Hillary Clinton narrowly defeated Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses, according to results announced by the state Democratic Party early Tuesday morning — a dramatic finish to a race so close that the Associated Press declined to call it even after all precincts except one had reported results.

Clinton was awarded 699.57 state delegate equivalents, versus 695.49 for Sanders, Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire said in a statement. The results were the closest in state Democratic caucus history, and 171,109 Democratic voters turned out to caucus.

With 99.9 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton had 49.9 percent of delegates and Sanders had 49.5 percent, according to the Associated Press. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley received less than 1 percent then suspended his campaign. A single precinct had yet to report as of 5 a.m. Eastern time; that precinct, in Des Moines, is worth 2.28 state delegate equivalents.

Here are some more links to peruse this morning.

WaPo: Groundhog Day 2016: Punxsutawney Phil sees no shadow, predicts early spring.

LA Times Analysis: A dramatically reshaped presidential race drives into New Hampshire.

ABC News: Ted Cruz Credits Attack on Donald Trump’s ‘New York Values’ in Iowa Win.

Nate Cohn at NYT: Why a ‘Virtual Tie’ in Iowa is Better for Clinton than Sanders.

WaPo: Candidates arrive in New Hampshire, pitching a different set of voters.

Please post your links in the comment thread. 

 


Iowa Caucus Monday Reads

Let the Games Begin!!!

Waverly_iowaToday are the Iowa Caucuses that will likely make or break a lot of the more iffy candidates hanging on to the slim hope that somebody takes them seriously.  Iowa first is a long tradition with some interesting twists. Some of the things that I learned so far in the 2016 silly season include the idea of a “kiddie table” debate and that pundits take Uber and that all those Iowa Uber drivers seem to be the source of anecdotal evidence on voting patterns.

This Iowa Caucus is not the Iowa Caucus of my parents. My father was the Ford Dealer in Council Bluffs, Iowa for over 25 years.  They voted in the same elementary school where I practiced “duck and cover” during the Cuban Missile Crisis and saw my second grade teacher Miss Irma Long cry as she announced we’d be sent home because our President, Mr. Kennedy, had been shot in Texas.  Most of the candidates of the ilk we have today would’ve been a really odd sight on the stump back then.

I can only imagine what my parents and their friends would say if this crazy looking man from Northern Louisiana showed up looking as he does–which is like someone who’s been lost on an island for years ranting crazily from too much sun–to rally for a candidate. But, the same group of Baptists that harassed one of my father’s clerks for doing laundry on Sunday because they saw the steam coming out of the dryer vent is probably uber excited about Ted Cruz and the duckstasy of religious fever.  They want to holy roll all gay marriage supporters off the planet, I guess.

While stumping in Iowa for Ted Cruz on Sunday, “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson declared that gay marriage is a sign of growing “depravity” and “perversion” in America.

Robertson, notorious for his racist and anti-gay remarks, said of marriage equality: “It is evil, it’s wicked, it’s sinful and they want us to swallow it.”

“We have to run this bunch out of Washington D.C.,” Robertson said. “We have to rid the earth of them. Get them out of there.”

Cruz followed Robertson on stage, calling the reality TV star “a joyful, cheerful, unapologetic voice of truth.”

Cruz is in hot water for a number of things.  First, there are many they are still not convinced he meets the “natural born” qualification stated in the Constitution and Donald Trump mentions it every chance he can.  Additionally, Cruz has used a push piece that has come under criticism by the Iowa Attorney General. The Strump is making a lot out of Cruz’s possibly illegal mailer.2_0.685694001389844425_osage_iowa

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump condemned mailers sent by Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential campaign over the weekend, which implied Iowa voters had violated election law.

The mailer, which uses social pressure to urge potential voters to the polls, “grades” Iowa voters on their voting history — a practice not done by the state.

“I think it’s one of the most disgraceful things I have seen in politics,” Trump told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Sunday’s “Hardball.” “When you say violation, and then they’re giving you F’s for your voting records and they’re saying immediately come and vote. I think it’s one of the most horrible things that I have seen in politics.”

You can follow the link to TPM to see an example of the mailer.  Meanwhile, every time Trump uses music, another musician tells him to cut it out.  This time it’s Adele.

The Republican presidential candidate, whose slogan is “Make America great again”, has recently been playing Adele’s hit Rolling In The Deep as his “warm-up” music.

“Adele has not given permission for her music to be used for any political campaigning,” her spokesman confirmed.

It is not the first time Trump has been criticised for appropriating pop songs.

Lawyers for Aerosmith star Steven Tyler sent Trump’s campaign a cease-and-desist letter last year, after the politician played the band’s hit single Dream On at numerous rallies around the US.

The letter said Trump’s use of the song gave “a false impression” he endorsed Mr Trump’s presidential bid.

Trump responded on Twitter, saying he had the legal right to use the song, but had found “a better one to take its place”.

“Steven Tyler got more publicity on his song request than he’s gotten in 10 years. Good for him!” he added.

Blizzard conditions will be heading tonight to my childhood home in Council Bluffs which basically means there will be no fair weather turnout in a good deal of Eastern Iowa.  It also means that youngest daughter will be digging out on Tuesday since she’s out there in the Omaha Boonie Suburbs.

My continued fascination with the parallels between Bernie and the Strump has me thinking on how the both of them seemed to have made the Super Pac and the billionaire donor class appear irrelevant. Trump is self-financing his campaign. Sanders has just passed a record for collecting money from small donors. It’s amazing to watch Jeb Bush struggle for attention while swimming in all that money. 

With billionaire Donald Trump sitting firmly atop the Republican field, the willingness of big establishment donors to underwrite his competitors’ war chests has fizzled.

About 17 donors gave $1 million or more to groups backing Republican presidential candidates in the last six months of 2015, 60 percent fewer than the number who gave that much in the first half of the year, according to Federal Election Commission filings. And outside groups that can accept unlimited contributions accounted for about 27 percent of Republican fundraising in the second half, down from 78 percent.

Many donors contributed large sums early to create the perception that their candidate was financially viable to go the distance. Now, with the first-in-the-nation caucuses taking place today in Iowa and several other primaries happening in the coming weeks, much of that money isn’t being replenished as candidates enter a grueling and expensive phase of the campaign.

“Part of this is the Trump effect,” said Tony Corrado, a government professor at Colby College. “Some major establishment Republican donors are undoubtedly waiting to see which candidate will emerge as the best alternative to Trump.”

For some, that’s already begun. Marco Rubio, who has emerged as the leading establishment candidate in recent months, won the backing of two major conservative hedge fund donors — Paul Singer and Ken Griffin — each of whom gave $2.5 million in late 2015 to a super-PAC supporting Rubio, Conservative Solutions PAC.

Rubio’s also winning over some big money that previously backed Bush, who, as a frequent target of Trump’s jibes, has struggled to get traction with voters. After raising a record $103 million in the first half of the year, the super-PAC supporting Bush, Right to Rise USA, pulled in only $15 million over the next six months, the bulk of it from one donor.

iowa-grantsRubio joins Clinton and Sanders as the top fund raisers.

The former secretary of state brought in over $37 million in the final three months of 2015 and started the year with $38 million in the bank. At the same time, the campaign spent $35 million in those three months. She continues to benefit from millions of dollars raised by her super PACs, including Priorities USA, which said Friday it has raised $50 million through this month. Two other groups supporting Clinton, American Bridge and Correct the Record, brought in an additional $6 million total.

And while Sanders has sworn off super PACs and criticizes Clinton’s largesse, a group run by National Nurses United is backing the Vermont senator regardless and has raised $2.3 million, with about half of that remaining, the group reported.

Clinton’s haul also meant a windfall for the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties across the country, who worked with Clinton’s campaign to raise money for the Hillary Victory Fund. In total, Clinton’s campaign raised $18 million for the DNC and state parties.

“We’re heading into the first caucuses and primaries with an organization second to none thanks to the support of hundreds of thousands of people across the country,” said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager. “We will have the resources necessary to wage a successful campaign in the early states and beyond.”

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver touted the number of individual contributions — 3.25 million — the campaign has received. “As Secretary Clinton holds high-dollar fundraisers with the nation’s financial elite, our supporters have stepped up in a way that allows Bernie to spend the critical days before the caucuses talking to Iowans about his plans to fix a rigged economy and end a corrupt system of campaign finance,” Weaver said in a statement.

It looks like Hillary and the Strump are the expected winners tonight.  Sanders, Cruz and Rubio all appear poised to close with some delegates since Iowa is not a winner take all state.roseman-covered-bridge

It would be entirely reasonable to presume that Bernie Sanders has momentum in Iowa. He’s gained on Hillary Clinton in national polls. Hekeeps pulling further ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire. And he’s made substantial gains in Iowa relative to his position late last year. December polls of Iowa showed Sanders behind by an average of 16 percentage points; the race is much closer now.

There’s just one problem: Sanders’s momentum may have stalled right when it counts the most.

The Des Moines Register’s Iowa poll released Saturday, for example, had Clinton leading Sanders by 3 percentage points. That means Iowa is close and winnable for Sanders; polling errors of 5 or even 10 percentage points are not uncommon in the caucuses. But it also means that Sanders hasn’t gained on Clinton. The previous Des Moines Register poll, released earlier in January, showed Clinton up by 2 percentage points instead.

The same story holds for other polling companies that have surveyed Iowa twice in January. A couple of these pollsters — American Research Group and Quinnipiac University — show Sanders leading. But they don’t show him gaining; Sanders also led in the previous edition of the ARG and Quinnipiac surveys.

Location_Des_Moines_IowaClinton and Cruz are relying on a substantive ground game and good commit to caucus plans for GOTV activities.  Sanders and Trump are hoping for a large turnout and the ability to overwhelm the caucuses where they do have a base. Cruz appears to be the one Republican with a substantive ground game.  Cruz has a natural base with evangelicals that Trump has somewhat eroded.  Cruz goes after the right wing religious voters.

It’s little more than 24 hours before the pivotal Iowa caucuses begin, and the presidential campaigns are still going strong. Especially for Ted Cruz, who TIME reporter Alex Altman says digs deep to his religious roots to connect with his conservative voters on the trail.

“Ted, the voice of sanity, in this time of calamity!” a voter exclaims at a campaign stop in a public library in northwest Iowa.

Cruz has been touring several towns in Iowa, and is one of the few candidates who planned to stop in all of the state’s 99 counties.

“This is part of Cruz’s strategy to win it the old fashioned way,” Altman said, “which is to go hand-to-hand in small towns, visit people, and tell them why he wants their vote.”

Iowa is primarily a rural state although there are vast differences between the east and western sections of the state.  It is home to several really good universities and to the Amish. There are still plenty of farmers there including the grandfather of my future son-in-law who used to buy his F150s from my dad.   Iowa folks are also very fond of their agriculture and ethanol subsidies.  It’s going to be interesting to see how they weigh in tonight. I’m seeing lots of pictures and shots from places I recognize that don’t seem to have changed much in my 60 years on the planet. Parts of the state do not have reliable wifi still.  There is also a large contingent of immigrants that work the slaughterhouses.   It’s a state that looks like Mayberry in many ways.  We’ll just have to see.

We will be posting a live blog with the returns later tonight.  Caucus doors lock down around 8:30 cst.  The weather will be important as will the intensity of the supporters.  Who do you think is going to win tonight?


Monday Reads by The Numbers

letters-and-numbers-biagio-civaleGood Morning!

One of the hazards of my occupation is the use of statistics.  Statistics can be very useful for spotting trends and outliers in all kinds of things.  Many researchers and all politicians are selective about which statistics to share.  They generally want the outcome that proves their hypothesis or case.  I came across a variety of stories this weekend that caught my eye because descriptive statistics played a role.  I thought I’d share a few with you.

We are less than a year from the Iowa caucuses.  These odd little political happenings in an odd little state generally kick off the hopes and fears of presidential wannabes.  I lived in Iowa as a kid and my father owned a business there for 30 years so I know a little about the state and its quirks.  This essay in the Denver Post  makes some very good points to argue that  the “Iowa caucuses are a poor proxy for America”. Iowa manages to put forth some of the whackiest Republican candidates possible. They usually fail miserably when New Hampshire holds its primaries and fall out by the time the bigger states come into play.  Why does the press spend so much time in Iowa then?

Considering they are the first in the nation for presidential delegate selection, the Iowa caucuses present quite the contrast to the United States as a whole. Iowa is not remotely demographically representative of our nation.

It is significantly more white, rural and Christian than the national average. Only 12.4 percent of Iowans are minorities, while nationally minorities comprise 28 percent of the population. Thirty-six percent of Iowans live in rural areas or small towns, whereas in the United States overall, 19.3 percent do. About 54 percent of Iowans identify as religious, whereas 49 percent of Americans identify as religious nationally.

While the disparity in the level of religious involvement is not shocking, the percentage of those religious people who are Christian stands out. Of the 54 percent of religious Iowans, only .5 percent identify as Muslim, Jewish, or of Eastern religion. This is markedly lower than the 4.7 percent of Americans nationally who identify themselves as religious but practice a religion other than Christianity.

On a racial basis, the Iowa caucuses skew significantly from the national average. The attendees are really white. Indeed, at the Republican caucuses of 2012, a full 99 percent of attendees were white, while nationally about 89 percent of the Republican Party is white. There was virtually zero representation at the Republican caucuses from the near 12 percent of Republicans who are from minorities.

The makeup of the Democratic caucuses is somewhat more representative of America, but not much. In 2008, the last time there were contested caucuses in Iowa, 93 percet of Democratic caucus-goers were white, with 4 percent of attendees reporting as African-American and 3 percent reporting as another race. Nationally, in 2008, the Democratic Party was 66 percent white, 16 percent African-American, and 12 percent Hispanic.

Perhaps the lack of participation among minority voters has something to do with the caucus process itself.

JJ did an excellent job covering some of the events of International Women’s Day yesterday. One of the issues that has always been near and dear to me–and Patricia Arquette it seems–is pay equity.  Here’s some 42464400depressing numbers on that.  Basically, a report by the U.N. states that it will take 70 years for the gap to close at this rate.  That’s completely disheartening.

Women will continue to be paid less than men for the next 70 years if the gender pay gap continues to reduce at the present rate, according to a report by a UN agency released ahead of International Women’s Day.

The document published by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) comes 20 years after 189 countries adopted a blueprint to achieve equality for women in 12 critical areas, including health, education, employment, political participation and human rights.

The historic agreement marked the first time that the UN recognised a woman’s right to control her own sexuality without coercion, and reaffirmed her right to decide whether and when to have children.

However, despite the agreement women still lack access to education, training, recruitment; have limited bargaining and decision-making power; and still shoulder responsibility for most unpaid care work.

And while women have slowly taken up more places in the global workplace since the 1995 Beijing Platform, the percentage that women earn in comparison to men has only crawled up by one point to 77 per cent.

The report also revealed that women across the world are also faced by a “motherhood pay gap”, over and above the gender pay gap, with women in developing countries suffering the most.

3f7497dab478e8f2fec261190f95b232The country of Germany has taken one step to increase the number of women in corporate boardrooms.  They’ve legislated quotas.

Germany on Friday became the latest and most significant country so far to commit to improving the representation of women on corporate boards, passing a law that requires some of Europe’s biggest companies to give 30 percent of supervisory seats to women beginning next year.

Fewer than 20 percent of the seats on corporate boards in Germany are held by women, while some of the biggest multinational companies in the world are based here, including Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler — the maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles — as well as Siemens, Deutsche Bank, BASF, Bayer and Merck.

Supporters said the measure has the potential to substantially alter the landscape of corporate governance here and to have repercussions far beyond Germany’s borders.

In passing the law, Germany joined a trend in Europe to accomplish what has not happened organically, or through general pressure: to legislate a much greater role for women in boardrooms.

The law was passed after an unusually passionate debate, and much talk of milestones, cracking glass ceilings and making history. Chancellor Angela Merkel, in her 10th year in power, was on hand as deputies in her governing grand coalition of center right and center left stood to register their votes in favor of the law, which passed by a simple clear majority. The small opposition of Greens and leftist deputies abstained, believing the measure did not go far enough.

“You have to be sparing with the word ‘historic,’ ” said Justice Minister Heiko Maas, who with a Social Democrat colleague, Family Minister Manuela Schwesig, spent months steering the law over legal and political hurdles. “But I think today we can apply it.” For Germans, he called the law “the greatest contribution to gender equality since women got the vote” in Germany in 1918.

With women still lagging globally in corporate offices, on governing boards and in pay, and many still struggling with family-work policies, pressure has been growing for legislative solutions.

Norway was the first in Europe to legislate boardroom quotas, joined by Spain, France and Iceland, which all set their minimums at 40 percent. Italy has a quota of one-third, Belgium of 30 percent and the Netherlands a 30 percent nonbinding target.

Britain has not legislated boardroom quotas, but a voluntary effort, known as the 30% Club, has helped to substantially increase women’s representation. The group, founded by Helena Morrissey, a money manager, has used persuasion to help double the percentage of women on the boards of major British companies since 2010, to 23 percent.

The United States has also seen women’s representation grow slightly, up to 17 percent of board seats, without legislative mandates, though its growth has been extremely slow.

In-Control-24x36-e1358464005233 There seems to be a definite movement by corporations and religious types to make sure that schools don’t teach any form of critical thinking.  That and other trends make for an interesting question of the direction of culture in the US.  Here’s a few numbers and question on that from The American Scholar and Scott Timberg.

Traditionally, bookstores were where aspiring writers earned a living, and where readers went for sustenance and community. Yet in the two decades since the mid-1990s, during which the U.S. population has grown by 60 million—we’ve lost half of our independent bookstores, and record shops have virtually disappeared. The causes are mostly technological and involve online outlets like Amazon. Meanwhile, in parts of Europe, especially the German-speaking world and France, independent culture merchants are at least surviving rough times, and some are thriving. Are Americans hopelessly mired in neoliberal economics, technology worship, and the logic of winner-take-all, or is there something we can do to save these places and the people who work in them?

If you really want a deranged use of statistics.  Take a look at what USA just let my Governor pen for them.  There is a total disconnect between what Jindal has written and what’s in the news about the Jindal “economy” on every newspaper in Louisiana.  Why on earth would a newspaper publish such obvious bull shit and propaganda?  Who owns that damned newspaper?

Seven years ago, I ran for governor promising to make the economy bigger and the government smaller. We have lived up to that, accomplishing in Louisiana what the federal government has failed to do. We have balanced budgets, drastically reduced the size of government and empowered growth in our private sector.

Our state budget is nearly $9 billion smaller, with over 30,000 fewer state workers, than when we took office in 2008. And guess what? After reining in the size of government and lowering taxes, Louisiana’s economy is stronger than ever.

Since 2008, Louisiana’s economy has grown nearly twice as fast as the national economy, and private-sector employment has grown at a rate of two-and-a-half times the U.S. rate, while our budgeting practices have earned our state eight credit rating upgrades. We now have more people working and living in Louisiana, with higher incomes, than ever before.

For next year’s budget, a dramatic drop in oil prices has meant less money for state government. That’s OK. It should come as no surprise to anyone that we plan to address this challenge by continuing to cut the size of government without raising taxes.

This is what was on USA Editorial page however.  “Growth has been sluggish in Louisiana and Kansas, and the plunge in revenue has devastated their budgets.”images

Here’s one worth steering away from: Governors in Louisiana and Kansas have been experimenting with big tax cuts that advocates claim will unleash explosive economic growth. The results have been dismal. Growth has been sluggish in both states, and the plunge in revenue has devastated both states’ budgets:

  • In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed a big tax cut through the legislature after he took office seven years ago. Since then, the state budget has gone from a nearly $1 billion budget surplus in 2007-08 to a projected $1.6 billion shortfall for the budget year that begins July 1. Jindal, who long ago took a pledge never to raise taxes, has cut higher education and resorted to unsustainable one-time remedies such as draining reserve funds and selling state assets.

Louisiana’s jobless rate has gone from much better than the national rate in 2008 to much worse. Jindal claims his state’s economic growth has beaten the nation’s, but he cherry-picks the years and doesn’t mention that since 2010, the state has lagged behind the national recovery.

There’s like a total disconnect between what they’ve said on their editorial page and what they let Jindal blather on about. What a contrast in the Orwellian use of selected statistics by Jindal and the reality on the ground.  Oh, if you want to see what exactly type of industry that Jindal’s bringing in check out this shady deal.   This is a three part special from AJ called “China’s Louisiana Purchase: Who’s building a methanol plant on the bayou?”  It’s by the numbers, textbook environmental racism.

ST. JAMES PARISH, La. — A prominent Chinese tycoon and politician — whose natural gas company’s environmental and labor rights record recently started coming under fire in the Chinese press — is parking assets in a multibillion dollar methanol plant in a Louisiana town. And he appears to be doing it with help from the administration of likely GOP 2016 presidential ticket contender Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Not many locals in a predominantly black neighborhood of St. James Parish — halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge — know that Wang Jinshu, the Communist Party Secretary for the northeastern Chinese village of Yuhuang and a delegate to the National People’s Congress, is the man at the helm of a $1.85 billion methanol plant to be built in their town over the next two years with a $9.5 million incentive package from the state. The details of the project are unclear, residents say, largely because they were not told about the project until local officials, amid discussions with state officials and Chinese diplomats, decided to move forward with the project in July 2014.

“We never had a town hall meeting pretending to get our opinion prior to them doing it,” said Lawrence “Palo” Ambrose, a 74-year-old black Vietnam War veteran who works at a nearby church. “They didn’t make us part of the discussion.”

The Chinese company has filed for expedited permits to construct and operate a plant on a sprawling 1,100 acres — situated between a high school, two churches and an assisted living facility for senior citizens — from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, which is set to study the impact on the local environment and deliver its decision on March 6, 2015.

The plant is part of a recent push by New Orleans–area officials to reach out to Asia’s growing economic powerhouse to redevelop communities still devastated by the effects of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Some of those projects, it appears, have since gone sour. In one instance, which Al Jazeera will explore in the third installment of this series, a company contracted by the city government stands accused of stealing millions of dollars from Chinese investors seeking U.S. citizenship in exchange for building businesses in an underserved neighborhood.

Local economic development authorities told Al Jazeera that St. James Parish is an ideal location for the methanol plant because of readily accessible deep water and cheap fuel from the shale oil boom that will help cut production costs. But it remains unclear what the impetus is behind a methanol plant that plans to send the lion’s share of its product back to China, which is struggling to find a market for the methanol already being produced.

What is clear is that there are links between Wang’s U.S. subsidiary — Houston-headquartered Yuhuang Chemical Inc. — and the Chinese government and the Jindal administration.

e64a88734d242750dfeec0f1320ffc43It seems China’s tired of being a polluted pissing pot so they’re joining with Jindal to stick it the poorest of the poor in Louisiana. This story series is a freaking eye-opener.  Be sure to read all three parts.

Here’s a very sad story.  I used to love to go pick out sheet music at the local music stores and in music stores in big cities when I was young.  It seems the very last New York Classical Sheet music store has closed. 

Even the home to Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic isn’t immune to the realities of the digital age of music.

Frank Music Company, New York City’s last remaining store dedicated to selling classical sheet music, closed on Friday. Frank’s customers, a community of artists dedicated to playing music written with quills centuries ago, must now buy them online or download PDFs.

The store’s owner, Heidi Rogers, said dwindling sales killed the shop.

“Musicians are underpaid,” she said. “How can they buy music if they’re not getting paid enough?”

Here’s a number that’s a good one.  Baby giant tortoises were born on one of the Galapagos Islands for the first time in more than a century!!

For the first time in more than one hundred years, researchers have found newborn baby tortoises on the tiny Galapagos island of Pinzón. It’s a major win for a population that has struggled after being nearly decimated by human impact.

“We found ten tiny, newly hatched saddleback tortoises on the island early last month,” wrote a trio of researchers in the January 15th issue of the journal Nature. “There could be many more, because their size and camouflage makes them hard to spot. Our discovery indicates that the giant tortoise is once again able to reproduce on its own in the wild.”

So, that’s it for me today.  Just thought I’d let you know that I’ve gone back to gigging to try to make ends meet.  Yesterday, I played the most unique church service I’ve ever done.  Well, the service wasn’t unique if you understood Norwegian.  It was at the Norwegian Seaman’s church. It’s a Lutheran church funded by the Norwegian government for expats and visiting Norwegians.  It was truly an experience!  Oh, and Norwegian waffles are the best!!!  So, that’s the first adventure.  My second adventure will be on Bourbon Street where I will be playing three shows a night (4 times a week) as the straight woman and accompanist to Ms. Jessica Duplantier who is and up and comer and sure to head straight to RuPaul’s reality show Drag Race!!! So, how’s that for a stuffy old Finance professor?  Yes, there will be pictures, I promise!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  Any good news out there?


Tuesday Reads: SC Republican Debate, Karen Santorum, and Did Mitt Really Win Iowa?

Good Morning!!

Last night was the Fox News/WSJ South Carolina Republican Debate. As usual, it was a nightmare. It’s so strange to listen to people who feel they need to defend themselves if they ever did a decent thing in their lives or ever subscribed to some rational opinion or policy. And these men claim to be “Christians.” We had a live blog of the horrible thing, so check it out if you’re interested in what we said off the top of our heads.

I’m writing this late Monday night, so all the reactions to the debate haven’t come out yet. I’ll update in the comments in the morning, but here’s a preliminary report from Fox News.

Gingrich and Perry led the assault against Romney’s record at Bain Capital, a venture capital firm that bought companies and sought to remake them into more competitive enterprises.

“There was a pattern in some companies … of leaving them with enormous debt and then within a year or two or three having them go broke,” Gingrich said. “I think that’s something he ought to answer.”

Perry referred to a steel mill in Georgetown, S.C. where, he said, “Bain swept in, they picked that company over and a lot of people lost jobs there.”

Romney said that the steel industry was battered by unfair competition from China. As for other firms, he said, “Four of the companies that we invested in … ended up today having some 120,000 jobs.

“Some of the businesses we invested in were not successful and lost jobs,” he said, but he offered no specifics.

Romney claimed that the steel mill in SC that went bankrupt had been purchased by another company after he left Bain, and that all the employees were offered jobs, but not at union wages. Perry also demanded that Mitt release his tax returns. Mitt very nervously said he would “probably” do that in April. He is leaving the decision “open,” but made no definite commitment. Romney supported indefinite detention of American citizens without due process, while Ron Paul argued that American citizens should have the right of Habeas Corpus.

The Wall Street Journal had a live blog of the debate as did the Washington Post and Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast.

Did you know that Karen Santorum lived with an abortion doctor close to three times her age before she met and married Rick? There’s a pretty detailed piece on this at The Daily Beast. Mrs. Santorum’s

live-in partner through most of her 20s was Tom Allen, a Pittsburgh obstetrician and abortion provider 40 years older than she, who remains an outspoken crusader for reproductive rights and liberal ideals. Dr. Allen has known Mrs. Santorum, born Karen Garver, her entire life: he delivered her in 1960.

“Karen was a lovely girl, very intelligent and sweet,” says Allen, who at 92 uses a walker but retains a sly smile. A wine aficionado who frequented the Pittsburgh Symphony and was active in the local chapter of the ACLU, he lives with his wife of 16 years, Judi—they started dating in 1989, soon after he and Garver split—in the same large detached row house where he lived with the woman who would become Santorum’s wife. He and Garver also lived for several years in another house a few blocks away. “Karen had no problems with what I did for a living,” says Allen, who helped start one of the first hospital-sanctioned abortion clinics in Pennsylvania. “We never really discussed it.”

Karen Garver Santorum with former live-in lover

In fact, Karen told her older lover that he would like Rick, who was then pro-choice and “a humanist.” More from Hass’ story:

Mary and Herbert Greenberg, longtime friends of Allen’s through Herbert’s job as concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony, recall that Karen had seemed entirely familiar and comfortable with the subject of abortion when the couples socialized. In October 1983, Mary Greenberg (who had moved to Baltimore with her husband) flew to Pittsburgh to consult Allen about an abortion. He directed her to colleagues at the Women’s Health Center; Karen, recalls Mary, immediately offered to accompany her to the clinic. “She told me it wasn’t that bad, that I shouldn’t be worried,” says Mary, who ultimately went on her own, and met Allen and Garver for dinner later that night. “She was very supportive.”

Allen says they split up because Karen wanted to have children and he had been there and done that already.

I’m just fascinated by this. I spent most of yesterday reading about the Santorums, and trying to figure out when and how their dramatic conversion took place. Neither was raised in a fundamentalist home, and neither was particularly religious before they got married. Then something happened. It really smells cult-like to me. I’m wondering if Santorum was approached by a fundamentalist group when he entered national politics. According to friends, he was a moderate Republican at first and then suddenly went off the deep end. If I can figure out what happened, I’ll write a post about it.

This is interesting. According to the Washington Times, fundy activists are now fighting over the endorsement of Santorum by the group of 150 who met in Texas on Sunday.

In an evolving power struggle, religious conservatives are feuding about whether a weekend meeting in Texas yielded a consensus that former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is the best bet to stop Mitt Romney’s drive for the Republican presidential nomination.

A leading evangelical and former aide to President George H.W. Bush said he agreed with suspicions voiced by others at the meeting of evangelical and conservative Catholic activists that organizers “manipulated” the gathering and may even have stuffed the ballot to produce an endorsement of Mr. Santorum over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Santorum, who nearly upset Mr. Romney in the Iowa caucuses, won the first ballot ahead of Mr. Gingrich in Saturday’s Texas meeting but the margin was too slim for organizers to claim a consensus. It was not until the third ballot, taken after many people had left to catch flights back home, that Mr. Santorum won more than 70 percent of those still in attendance and claimed the endorsement.

Former White House evangelical-outreach official Doug Wead, who represented GOP presidential hopeful Texas Rep. Ron Paul at the event, said it appeared the outcome obviously was determined in advance by the choice of the people invited.

The article is pretty funny. Read it if you enjoy fights among right wing nuts.

There has been talk that Romney was credited with too many votes in Iowa and should have come in second. Now Byron York is saying it could be true. According to York,

there is a very real chance that the Republican Party of Iowa will announce this week that Rick Santorum, and not Romney, won the Iowa caucuses.

Results released on caucus night — actually, at 2 the next morning — showed Romney won by eight votes, 30,015 to Santorum’s 30,007. Many observers assumed that those results were final, especially when party officials said there would be no recount.

But the results were not final. Even though there is no provision for a recount in the party caucuses, state GOP rules do require that the results be certified, which is nearly the same thing. That certification process began the day after the caucuses and is expected to wrap up this week, yielding a final, official vote tally…..

In the past two weeks, party employees have been working nearly nonstop to certify the results from each of Iowa’s 1,774 precincts. During that time, they have regularly briefed campaign representatives on what’s going on. In the next few days, they are expected to finish tallying and certifying the last Form Es and come up with official certified results.

The final numbers will be different from those released on caucus night. One campaign source says the vote count as of midday Monday showed Santorum ahead by 80-something votes. If that number holds through certification of the last precincts, Santorum will win. Of course, there is always the possibility that some of the final precincts will contain discrepancies that put Romney back on top. It’s just not clear.

Hmmmmmmm….

Many internet sites, including Sky Dancing plan to go dark tomorrow, Jan. 18, as a protest against the Stop on-line piracy (SOPA) and Protect IP (PIPA) acts. The big news last night was that Wikipedia is joining the protest.

Might want to get your Encyclopedia Britannica set out of storage: Wikipedia will go dark Wednesday, joining a growing number of popular websites staging an online revolt against two anti-piracy bills.

Founder Jimmy Wales made the announcement in tweets on Monday, telling followers his goal is to “melt phone systems in Washington” in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate.

The online protest puts Wikipedia in the company of other websites such as Reddit and popular games such as Minecraft in leveraging its substantial size and clout to campaign against the bills. Wales suggested on Twitter the impact of the blackout could be significant, given that “comScore estimates the English Wikipedia receives 25 million average daily visitors globally.”

We’ll have more information today on Sky Dancing’s plans. As of now, we plan to black out our site beginning at 8AM Wednesday. The protest is scheduled to end at 8PM Wednesday night, so we’ll be posting after that.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Live Blog: Iowa Caucuses

Political signs in Des Moines, Iowa

The caucuses are just wrapping up, and it looks like I may get my wish.  Ron Paul seems to be leading at the moment with Romney second, and Santorum third. I can’t wait to see the elite Republicans freak out if Paul wins. From CBS News:

Doors have closed at caucus precincts across Iowa, and early results from CBS News entrance polls show a three-way race for the Republican presidential nomination among Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Entrance polling reveals that Paul’s voters are male, younger, and many are first-time caucus goers. Romney’s voters are looking for someone who can beat President Obama, while Santorum’s voters looking for a true conservative.

Much data has yet to be collected, and those arriving earliest may not reflect the total caucus voters. The precincts closed their doors at 7 p.m. CT, leaving Republican voters in the Hawkeye State to be the first to weigh in on this year’s presidential contest. Mitt Romney took the lead among the early entrance polls four years ago, but finished second in the caucuses to Mike Huckabee, who was then the choice of evangelical conservatives.

USA Today has a Live Blog of events in Iowa, and so does CNN. CNN also has live video from several caucus sites.

I’m listening to MSNBC on satellite radio. What are you watching or listening to? What are you hearing? Who do you think is going to win this thing? Let us know in the comments. If you have found a good place to watch on-line, let me know and I’ll post it up here.