It's Over: An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

Dear Hillary,
Let me say this right off the bat - you're a top-notch candidate. Any other year, any other primary, any other opponent, and you'd be sailing to the nomination. But you're a better candidate than your campaign, and it's time for you to withdraw gracefully.

Oh, and if you could do it on March 7th, that would totally rock - it's the day I predicted to my students that you'd withdraw.

Let me give you the brief rundown before going into detail - your opponent has better on-the-ground organization, he fundraises like no candidate ever has (and without the desperate-sounding e-mails I get from your campaign), his rallies pack massive stadiums while yours leave empty seats at amateur hockey rinks, and your main line of criticism not only falls flat but boomerangs. As Eugene Robinson noted, if your situations were reversed, there would be daily calls for Senator Obama to step aside. And those making the calls would be absolutely right to do so.

On the issue of campaign organization, it's clear that you weren't prepared for an extended post-Super Tuesday contest - financially or managerially. A well-run campaign doesn't question the significance of nearly half the states. A well-run campaign invests the (relatively small) resources necessary to learn how the Texas hybrid system works and field a full slate of delegates in Pennsylvania - two states that will certainly prove their significance in the coming weeks. I might (might) overlook these sorts of oversights if you were running on a shoe-string budget, but you've spent well over $100 million to make the kind of errors any freshman Political Science major would giggle at. These are the opportunity costs of $100,000 of meat-and-cheese platters (to be fair, you may have also invested in fruit trays - I'm just an amateur observer).

You're blowing through cash like a 40-horsepower LeafMaster9000, but look at the bright side - you aren't raising nearly as much as your opponent. While you're sending me desperate e-mails, Senator Obama raised more than you, Senator McCain and Governor Huckabee combined in January and could be well on his way to raising $60 million in February alone. You're thinking about how many cleaning bills you could skip out on with $60 million, aren't you? Senator Clinton, please - I need you to concentrate. Senator Obama isn't only raising an unprecedented amount of money in a primary, he's doing it by convincing people like me to brownbag it for a week so we have an extra $25.01 for his campaign. He certainly isn't pushing nine out of every ten donors to their federal maximum!

I don't know how much it costs to hire a goth band (or, frankly, why anyone would pay pale teenagers dressed in black to whine at them), but if it fills arenas, then your money is well-spent. I think more people than Jose Bustos were expecting a little more. Although maybe they shouldn't have been surprised at the low turnout, since you're polling more points behind Senator Obama than asterisk-candidate Mike Huckabee is behind McCain. Senator Obama not only fills the home of the UW Badger basketball team past capacity ("We're risking the fire marshal's wrath for change!"), but has such a draw that tens of thousands are willing to wait outside for hours in negative-windchill temperatures for the opportunity to cheer for him. If you withdraw soon and ask politely, I bet you can still get a good seat at Citizen's Bank Park for the pre-Pennsylvania rally.

Finally, you've been critical of what you perceive as a lack of experience from Senator Obama. I realize you're busy, but maybe one of your highly-paid staffers could give this a quick read. It's daunting, I know - but I'm sure you wouldn't want your campaign to be misleading? Right? After all, your cries of plagiarism just before my state's primary not only failed to sway my fellow cheeseheads, the negativity may have actually hurt you! We're shockingly polite here - not quite Minnesota nice, but certainly a close second - it's natural that you'd underestimate us. I hope you learned you lesson when the same line of attack earned you boos in Texas. (Also, I hate to point this out when you're in such a delicate position already, but you're a little bit of a hypocrite, Hillary! I'm sure John's line was just so good that it stayed with you, so I hope Howard Wolfson will be e-mailing me an update soon!)

Senator Clinton, now is the time to gracefully withdraw from this race. Wait, I mean March 7th is the time to gracefully withdraw from this race.

Democracy in Action

Maybe you have friends who tell you they don't really feel like going out to vote - too much trouble, they say, especially for something that doesn't matter all that much. Send them the story of Prairie View A&M - they'll change their tune.

That's stupid, they might reply - why not just carpool? I'm sorry, who is the stupid one? What kind of carpool gets national media attention and an aerial escort?

(The photos look a little like a film version of The Long Walk)

Oh, hey

Well, lookit that.

Yes, we can! (snowblow)

The weather and the primary - these are the things that dominate my days. Well, those and the class I'm teaching and my dissertation. But between those four things (and the baby, plus trying to buy a house), these are the things that dominate my days. Also, conference papers.

The snow is the most visible of those - even more visible than M.Bro's protruding tummy. I knew we were well over the winter record (86.7" >>> 76.1" in 1978-1979), but I didn't realize how unimaginably far we were over the average Feburary 18th cumulative snowfall.

Snow-weary Madisonians are starting to crack.

When the forecast on Monday called for maybe an inch of snow but more than two inches fell in spots, Weather Central meteorologist Brian Olson started getting phone calls from irate citizens.

"People are at their wits' end," he said. "They just can't handle any more snow."

The good news this week? There is a chance for light snow on Thursday, but that's about it for snow the rest of the week.

The bad news? Look around.

"We've gotten 86.7 inches of snow so far this season," Olson said. "The normal snowfall to date is 36.2 inches, so we are 50.5 inches above normal."

Eau yeah!

Since Hillary Clinton is running ads calling Obama out for not debating in Milwaukee ("Why won't he speak to the voters?" - here's Obama's response), you might assume she's taking every opportunity to get out there and speak to the good folks of Wisconsin. You'd be wrong - in fact, she just cancelled a town hall meeting in Eau Claire.

Now why might Clinton do that? Could it be that she really did have some sort of a scheduling conflict? That's entirely possible - it sounds like they were still looking for a venue as of Friday. But it's also entirely possible that her campaign saw coverage of Obama's massive rally at UW-Eau Claire yesterday and decided to concede the area.

Thousands waited up to eight hours Saturday morning in a line that spanned lower and upper campuses. Shivering in blankets, spectators braved the cold to hear Obama speech at 1 p.m.


"I just think he's inspiring," said Dan Paulson, 51, of Bloomer, who was first in line at 5:15 a.m. "He's going to lead our nation to great things hopefully."


New Topic

I just found out that I'm going to be in the catalog as a member of the Environmental Studies program at NewJob!  Since NextProjectTM is about resource-related conflict and International Environmental Politics is one of the classes in my quiver, I'm very excited about this.  It's also a welcome way for me to begin filling the university service section of my tenure file.

More of the same

Even I'm getting tired of all my primary-related posting, but I owe this one to you. I predicted in class today that Hillary Clinton won't win one more state and will drop out on March 7th, so then you can just tune in for eight months of general election coverage.

Hillary Clinton totally rawks, d00ds(But Barack Obama is your new bicycle)

Wis-bama

Things which were observed by me at tonight's Obama Rally -

  • 19,000+ people in one room is a lot, and apparently there were even more in overflow rooms. Biggest Obama events so far?

  • Even Melanie was excited. "Whoah, that was so awesome," she kept repeating. She even told us she got a little teary-eyed when Obama talked about the crushing weight of student loans.

  • Line of the night, for me: "Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom." I'm stealing it for my own.

  • He didn't mention, or even hint at, Hillary Clinton - he's running in the general election now.

  • Rightly mentioned that the rest of you owe Wisconsin for the progressive movement. You're welcome.

  • My prediction, which I'm willing to make very public right now - Hillary Clinton won't win one more state.

  • One of the biggest cheers of the night happened when the CNN jumbotron-feed announced (after the VA results) that Obama had taken the delegate lead (including their superdelegate estimate)

  • If you have the choice between speaking before Obama and speaking after him, do yourself a favor and speak so far before him that your audience's children have forgotten what you said. Not that they were even listening, with all their mp3s and MySpaces.

  • Let's look at some pictures, OK? The last one is really something -









Update: Oh no, I was spotted by one of my students! He was next to the stage and saw us in the crowd -

It's a match!

I celebrated Lincoln's Birthday a little differently than I planned - I promised to be a matching donor instead of being matched. The end result - our donation has double the impact - is the same,but this way, I helped convince a first-time donor to take the plunge. There's a great little feature that lets me write my matcher a note, so I expressed my hope that our little contribution would help Bean grow up knowing Barack Obama as her president.

My donation was matched a couple hours ago, and here's the message Tracy in Nashville, TN wrote back to me:
Thanks for matching my contribution and congratulations on your first child! My mortgage is a month behind and I can't afford to go to the Dr. but I think donating to the Obama campaign is the long term answer. P.S. Goodwill is a great way to get baby clothes - usually brand new because many people get so many and babies grow so fast. I buy the ones with the original tags still on them. It's a great source of toys and books also. I think of it as being green, not being cheap or poor!

17,190

That's the capacity of the Kohl Center when it's set up for the Badger basketball team - what do you think the odds are of Obama hitting 20,000 at Tuesday's rally? With Obama leading by 10-20 points in Tuesday's "Potomac Primaries", I think we're in store for a rousing victory speech.

As long as Mel can find someone to work for her (and with a sister who manages the store, one would think it should be no problem to coerce someone into it), it will be her first campaign event. What an introduction to politics!

For comparison, here's a photo of the 10/29/04 Kerry/Springsteen rally in downtown Madison, which had 70,000-80,000 attendees. The fire chief called it the largest single gathering of people in Madison's history.

Only a question of by how much

FINAL UPDATE: WOOOOOOOOOO!!!!



(Hang on for a long, evolving post)

The Nebraska Democratic Party allowed individual counties to set their own caucus times, so we won't get official results until this evening. From the personal accounts caucus-goers have posted online though, I think we're looking at a 60-40 Obama victory!

Mister Vertigo may have gone, so I'll see if I can get him to post a Taming of the Blog exclusive.

For me, the victory isn't as sweet as the turnout. Spice sent me a link to an Omaha World Herald reporter's live-blog, which made me a little misty-eyed with pride - at Nebraska and at Obama. Here's an account of Papillion High School, where Mr. Vertigo would have gone to caucus:

The decision to have only one caucus site in all of Sarpy County appears to have been a bad one.

Reports are coming in that the caucus site in Papillion is overhwhelmed.

Thousands have turned up, when organized expected only several hundred.

They are still registering.

Traffic is backed up on Highway 370.

"All of Sarpy County is at this school and they've run out of registration forms," said Cindy Perich, of Papillion

You should read all the entries, but here are a couple of the most heart-warming comments:

It doesn't look good for Clinton at Monroe Middle School. The line to the Clinton box is empty. The line to vote for Obama is about a half block long.

At Metro in Elkhorn, "Plan B" was scrapped. An overflow room also became overran. Caucus leaders in Elkhorn are now allowing people to vote by a blue slip. At Monroe Middle School, people are now being asked to go into the parking lot.

Another Nebraskan checking in earlier this morning:

Heavily Republican Sarpy County is reporting miles of cars outside of their caucus site at Papillion LaVista South High School.

An Omaha caucus-goer's account of his site:

I was in the 9th district and Obama won 76 - 24, getting 8 of our 10 district delegates. More than 1200 there for Obama, and a bit over 300 for Clinton.

Some lady stood up in the middle of the counting and started ranting about Muslim's destroying the WTC on 9/11 and Obama being a Muslim (that blatantly false email). Anyway, she was chanted down by "No More Hate" and eventually, unceremoniously pitched out an exit.

More:

Just in from 31 - West Omaha - heavy Republican.

Officials were expecting 100 and over 700 showed up. There were 4 overflow rooms at the Steamfitters Union Hall. 6 delegates went to Senator Obama. 3 to Senator Clinton. Amazing turnout. Amazing energy.

My mother just phoned in from Dist. 39 (Elkhorn area - VERY heavy Republican) 900 people showed up at Metro Community College - 700 for Obama, 268 for Clinton and the rest left undecided. She didn't stay for the delegate count. My aunt who is a life-long Republican switched parties to day to caucus for Obama with my mother in Dist.39. If she's switching - LOTS of people are doing the same out here.

Extremely proud to be a Nebraska Democrat today!!!!

Pardon my french (Hi Mom!), but holy shit:

"Just got back from the Caucus.

My precinct, #2, at North High School, was declared as a state of emergency. They expected 300 - 500 people to show up and instead over 1400 showed up.

They filled the high school's auditorium and the cafeteria.

Final count:

Omaba: 1378
Clinton: 26

She didn't get 15% of the vote, so all the delegates went to Obama.

So far so good in NE."

A little more:

An early count showed that 6,000 people showed up at the school to caucus, including 2,000 people who registered Saturday. About 1,500 of the new registrants had switched from other parties. "There's a hell of a lot fewer Republicans in Sarpy County than there were yesterday,'' Summers said.


A Nebraskan explaining Obama's appeal:

I grew up in rural central Nebraska and have lived in Lincoln and Omaha both, currently in Omaha. People in this part of the country have a big chip on our shoulder about how the "big-money" people on the coasts look down on us or ridicule us as ignorant hicks. I've had a lot of family and friends, many of whom are in prime Hillary demos, tell me how much they respect Obama because he seems to respect us. He doesn't talk down to us or ignore us.

There's also a very strong "no bullshit" sentiment in this part of the country. Hillary seems to be full of shit, Obama seems to be genuine.


EVENING RESULTS!!

Holy cow, kids - 68-32 for Obama! With a delegate allocation so far of 15-7!

It was easy to predict, though - Nebraska's clearly Obama's demographic, with its huuge minority population, overwhelmingly high-tech white-collar workforce, and latte-sipping wine-and-cheese set.

Was it an error, Wolf? Was it?



Rotary Club


One of the benefits of staying in this part of the country after we move is keeping our cell phone contract. The signal is kind of spotty, but they've been responsive when we've had problems and very helpful when our phones were stolen in Hawaii. A bigger benefit (for me personally) is finally using my contract-renewal free upgrade. I realize Razrs are old hat to teenagers across the world, but man, am I excited about this doohickey. I'll miss my old Cylon phone, with its fancy chrome and now-defunct Cingular logo (plus the slit glowed red - I assume with rage - when I missed a call) , but this matte black one is just so purty! And the features! Don't even get me started on the features! A camera! My cell phone has a camera! So I can...uh...well....have a camera in (on?) my phone!

(In keeping with this blog's recent theme - would Barack Obama approve? Obviously, yes - it's quite a change.)

Start Spreadin' the Word

Have $5.01 you can spare...for democracy? Even better, do you have $5.01 and the e-mail addresses of a half-dozen other people with $5.01? On February 12th, let's help Barack Obama buy some airtime in Wisconsin! And keep the ball rolling into Texas! And Ohio! And Pennsylvania! YEEEE-AAARGGH!

(The significance of $5.01 donations is explained here)

(The significance of $0.01 is explained here)

Update: And if you donate through this link and help the Obama campaign reach 500,000 (!) online contributors (that's contributors, not contributions - lots of folks have donated small amounts lots of times), your contribution will be matched.

Obamamentum

Barack Obama is on board with Howard Dean's 50 State Strategy, and campaigning in Omaha today ahead of Saturday's Democratic caucus. Do you think I'll be able to convince the two Omahans I know - my little sister and Mister Vertigo - to caucus on Saturday?

Unfortunately, they're far, far too late to hope to get into the Civic Center for today's rally!

Crowds began forming this morning at about 9:30 a.m. outside the Omaha Civic Auditorium in anticipation of the Democratic presidential hopefuls appearance.

They came wrapped in black-and-white spotted blankets, farm caps with ear flaps and long underwear.

"We want to see the man," said Joe Kinnaman, a Lincoln businessman who arrived at about 11:30 p.m. "There is a lot of excitement going on here - we haven't seen this in years."

Barak Obama is coming to woo supporters to the Nebraska Democratic Party's first-ever caucus on Saturday. His visit marks the first time in long time that a major Democratic presidential candidates actually came and asked Nebraskans for support in their nomination quest.

Nebraska's caucus is going to be just like Iowa's:

What’s at stake: Results of Nebraska’s presidential caucuses will determine how 24 of the state’s 31 votes are allocated at the Democratic national convention set for Aug. 25-28 in Denver.

Who can participate: Democrats only, although you can apply to register as a Democrat at the caucus site and participate. Democrats as young as 17 can vote if they will be 18 by Nov. 4, election day.

How it works: Supporters of presidential candidates identify their choice by gathering in their candidate’s designated area of the room. Then, votes are counted.

A candidate must receive support from at least 15 percent of the participants in a precinct caucus to remain viable.

Participants who are not in a viable candidate group must either realign with one of the other presidential candidates or abstain from further voting.

Kim & Jason, you can go to www.nebraskademocrats.org to find your caucus site! Each of you take three people! Win it for the gipper! Wait, I think Ronald Reagan is the gipper! Or maybe the gipper is a football coach!

Romney

M.Bro, who has always been suspicious of Willard "Mitt" Romney, had this to say after hearing that he dropped out - "Good - even though it was kind of fun to see him lose so much of his money. Not that it probably put much of a dent in his wallet"

Emergen-Cee!

Wow, we're snowy! Here's how snowy, in statistics:

-13.3" since this morning
-35 mph winds
-2nd-highest one-day total in Madison history (17.3" in 1990 is the record)
-4000+ cars at a standstill on the interstate for 8 hours (and counting)
-State patrol and National Guard folks are snowmobiling through the traffic, warning people that it may not be cleared until tomorrow morning
-
Where will they use the potty?
-UW cancelled class after 3:30 today, only the third time since 1990 we've had a snow-day
-I hate snow
-Sheriff's office called most roads "completely impassable" early this evening
-There have been 68 days since December 1 - we've had measurable snow on 38 of them
-Cumulative snowfall for 2007-2008 is 74.3" - less than 2" below WI's all-time record for snowiest winter (76.1" in 1978-1979)
-We should break the record as soon as Saturday, according to the forecast
-I was born the previous snowiest year, Bean will be born this year - coincidence?
-Yes, almost certainly a coincidence

Back from NE

My grandmother passed away on January 17th, and this weekend our family held a memorial service. My dad, brother, uncles, cousins and I set up 250 chairs in the Brunswick auditorium, thinking that would be plenty. Monday morning, however, people were lined up out the door and around the block for my grandma. Another 50-60 chairs were brought in from the fire station across the street, but people kept coming and coming. By the time grandma's brother-in-law started the service, there were another 75-100 people standing in the back of the auditorium - 300+ chairs were too few to hold the number of people that wanted to say goodbye.

Brunswick, for comparison, had a population of 179 in the 2000 census.

The FCC won't let me be

On edge because of all the Obama-this and Mtt-Romney-is-Satan-in-a-human-suit-that? Tuckered out of Super Tuesday even though tomorrow's only Stupendous Saturday? Ready to kill a man in Reno just to watch him die? How 'bout you read some complaints lodged with the FCC to soothe your nerves. Some choice bits:

Dear Sir or Madam,; I wish to launch a complaint about Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; broadcast on NBC on Tuesday, October 23 at 10:00 PM. ; The program likened the behavior of US military in Iraq and in NY to that of; Dr Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi war criminal infamous for his; experiments at Auschwitz-Birkenau. ; This is indecent beyond belief. NBC writers must live in a topsy-turvy world; unrelated to reality. ; I’ll never watch Law & Order again. ; - thanks, Alex.

Last night I was watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, on the Comedy Channel, 7 PM, during one of the pieces about Madonna visiting Isareal, he mentioned her “TIT CONES” on TV. This type of ‘humor’ shocks and offends me. What do you plan on doing about this type of behavior and what type of constraints will be put in place to prevent this type of behavior again?

Thanks so much for providing the ability to report incidents. I’ve known about this for quite a long time and haven’t been able to find a way to report it.; During an episode of “Desperate Housewives” they showed a scene where the red headed star is getting into bed with her husband to be intimate (I believe the husband ended up having a stroke or heart attack if that helps you trace down the episode). The scene shows him moving down her body to kiss her
stomach … when the camera moves down it VERY plainly shows the woman’s pubic hair. ; I recorded the show on VHS tape and thought I saw something … when I went back and looked at it, I was correct in what I saw.

Um...yay?