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Caucus Countdown For Dummies: From Point Panic, Iowa

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Walter Winchell cut his political teeth on the likes of FDR, Hitler, WWII and Josephine Baker. Bosses and conservatives alike told him to stay the hell out of politics and writing political articles. Pointedly, frankly he was told (and threatened): stick to Hollywood and gossip—that is your forte, your bread and butter. Winchell the man, the poet had his own ideas. He was a poet really who put pen to paper and poetry to politics. He was misunderstood, ahead of his time. Heloise gets much of that too. But what do they know? She will keep her own counsel and keep on writing and spewing nonsense on politics like it or not. And here’s what she has to say today:

It’s finally here people, the Iowa Caucus and the day we have been writing about for sometime. Caucus countdown goes something like this on  January 3: The Democratic part of the caucus does not begin until 6:30 p.m. CST. It is an intricate affair, subject to more parameters and many more rules by which the caucus goers must abide. Here's the official Web site. Since the caucus does not begin until the evening (when it's colder outside so only the most dedicated will venture out) results will not be known until some hours later, 'round midnight.  

(A) poll asked Iowa Democrats which candidates they would vote for if the 2008 Democratic caucus were held today. The top three candidates were Sen. John Edwards at 22 percent, Democratic U.S. Sen. Barack Obama at 22 percent and Vilsack at 12 percent. U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton of New York came in fourth at 10 percent. KCCI political analyst Dennis Goldford said that Edwards left himself well-positioned from the caucuses.

"Barack Obama is the rock star of the moment. What's interesting is Vilsack is ahead of Hillary Clinton in Iowa," he said.

The rules governing the GOP caucus goers and the Democratic caucus goers differ. The Dems must actually testify to their candidate. They talk among themselves (or caucus) then they must give a little speech in order to get their candidate in play. They vote. If their candidate, proves not viable, i.e., fails to make the 15% cut (or higher), then they are able to regroup and vote for another who is more viable. The GOP goers are under no such duress. They just have a secret vote and go home. That is why it is not called a straight-out primary like the upcoming New Hampshire primary. This small state will host the first real primary. Then there is February 5th AKA super-duper Tuesday. Thus many people are sitting Iowa out. But conventional wisdom and history tell us this would be a sagacious move.

Do polls lie or people?

The latest polls as of New Year’s Eve put all the Democratic candidates in a dead heat. I thought it was a dead heat the week before when Barack was leading the Iowa polls, the New Hampshire polls and the South Carolina polls, but suddenly the numbers were the same. It was anybody’s call: But it was, after all, the people of Iowa caucus: In a poll held the week of December 18-20th. Barack and Edwards were in a tie at 22% for the lead. 

A Rasmussen poll of the same week shows very different results: Obama 39.5%, Clinton 37%, and Edwards 31.7%. “In the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, it’s Hillary Clinton 42%, Barack Obama 23% and John Edwards 16%. No other candidate tops 2% nationally (see recent daily numbers). “

What is the meaning of the above-mentioned particular poll? It’s about the man or woman who will become the national party candidate, not just the potential winner in Iowa. Here’s what we must consider when voting or polling numbers top for Clinton: as the national Dem Party candidate for president, she wins hands down. Those polls, check out the Rasmussen numbers shows her winning that race each and every time. So, regardless to who wins Iowa, Hillary Clinton still touted as the candidate of the party and polled as the one most likely to win the nomination. That’s a completely different bet. And one that Heloise is not likely to engage.

Iowa: Barack Blast off?

Barack Obama (D-IL), in the latest and greatest polls, has pulled even-steven with Clinton and Edwards. Each one deigns to be either the top of the ticket (admittedly) or (un-admittedly) the bottom of the ticket (i.e., VP). But wait there was breaking news on that front too, tonight from Breitbart.com:

The poll by the Des Moines Register showed Obama, an Illinois senator, with the support of 32 percent of those surveyed, compared to 25 percent for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and 24 percent for former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

I predicted in a Daily Kos article and poll that Obama would gain exactly 1 percentage point by the day of the Iowa caucus. Thus he would go from 30% (at that time) to 31%. I predit that there will be no pity party at Heartbreak Hotel Iowa for Obama. We will leave that party to the second, nay the third place Candidate: (place your guess here). 

Who will be in attendance–caught on camera? Methinks it obvious who will fill the stands at the party: Yesterdays will fill most of the back seats. The Regret family has been invited as well as the Spin clan. Who will be sitting in the front rows? Well you know the answer to that question: The major networks: would a, could a, and should a, naturally in that order holding up their mikes to catch every crumb from the second- or third-placed candidate’s mouth. The MSM gleefully shout back “you’re not dead yet!” He, or she, shakes his head—confidence stirred but not shaken. Or better yet, might we rub together sticks leftover from the Edwards and Clinton campaign to start a Barack rally bonfire?

Tough Guy or Timid Guy?

Who is more prepared to be president: The tough-guy trial lawyer or the timid-guy community organizer? Who will be hosting that party? Will it be the attacked or the attacker(s)? What exactly the nature of personal attack ads? Do they work? Do they best highlight the well-heeled man or woman or show their weakness? The greatest weakness: lack of confidence. The most recent attack was said to come from Mr. "Nice guy" Edwards. His calling someone "nice" was on par with the housecat telling the tiger that they have nothing in common: Different stripes, but both feline. In all fairness to Edwards were his words a direct attack on Obama? Or mere suggestion that perhaps took a wrong turn on someone’s computer screen? Probably a bit of both. I know all that I want, or need, to know about Edwards from his last race. 

After reading books on, and by Obama I came to understand his life better. He bears the hallmark of compassion and change. He used his education and credentials for the people. On the other hand I found the wealthy, very wealthy trial lawyer shamelessly using my maternal home town for his campaign announcement! What irony, Barack lives down the street from my old stumping grounds (Hyde Park) and Edwards stands up in NOLA after Katrina. However, the irony does not end there:There is the little matter of the trial lawyer living in the palatial (28,000 square foot) mansion. Huh? Yeah, you heard right.

Tough or timid Barack "the Compassionate" Obama has pulled off the kid gloves in the final weeks. He had to. We had been urging him to hit back. Now that he has, the media and the other candidates are crying "foul." I think it was candidate John Edwards who has been the “nice” guy in this race. After all he was nursing a wife recovering from cancer. But was he? He was out on the stump in New Orleans talking to the few black people left in New Orleans. And who praytell was minding the mansion and the kids? Mrs. Edwards was also out on the stump and calling out Michelle Obama, good luck with that one. I hope Iowa hands him his hat (or a hat) to cover his $400.00 haircut. 

Truthfully, both Clinton and Edwards make me feel undecided. And what's worse uncomfortable about this race. I don’t want to see either one of them on the ticket at this point and people have been "playa hating" on me for that sentiment. Finally, I could be wrong, but Edwards, to my chagrin, had a pretty damn good week: Speaking of the devil: Nader endorsed Edwards today. I compared Ralph Nader's past presidential run to spoiler if there is a possible entry (or Obama endorsement?) by Michael Bloomberg, currently New York mayor. Are you thoroughly confused? Well, you're in good company. I hope this little article has helped you with links and rethinks.  

Finally, I leave the people of Iowa with these few words: If suggestions mean anything, then I would like to suggest that the second-choice votes go to Senator Obama.

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About Heloise

  • See, this is where the American election process really confuses me. Vilsack isn’t even running, and yet he’s third in Iowa???

    And my wife just got her California primary election information booklet. All that’s in it is statements from the various parties explaining why you should vote for their candidate. Not a word on who the actual candidates are or what they stand for.

    I think I’ll stick with quantum physics…

  • Any article about the primaries is for dummies. Your little greyhound race (what you call presidential) is pathetic to watch.

    Articles about the thieves here are more fun to read. Israeli politicians at least have the balls to steal (almost) openly. So unlike you “morally upright” Americans….

  • And a Happy New Year to you too, Ruvy.

  • STM

    Doc: “See, this is where the American election process really confuses me”.

    Is that the only bit that confuses you Doc??

    Why can’t they just vote for a government, and a rep in very seat?? And the one who gets more, wins?? Like advanced societies 🙂

    Seriously though, I don’t understand all that p.ssing about in primaries and what have you.

    Just do it, I say!!

    And I’ll add … lucky you’re not allowed to bloody vote then Doc, because God know’s who you’d elect if you used that pamplet thing.

    You are eligible for US citizenship, though, right, because of your missus?

    The good news: you can still be a pom AND a yank at the same time these days … can’t you??

    I know Aussies can now hold Aussie and Yank dual citizenship (so can Yanks, without losing their US status)), so I don’t see why it shouldn’t apply to your mob too.

  • Yes, Stan, it’s absolutely the one and only aspect of American life that confuses me. Well, apart from why they find it necessary to wear 50 foot-thick padding to play a game that to all intents and purposes is rugby. Oh, and why they think Everybody Loves Raymond is funny. Oh, and why they can’t make decent chocolate. Actually, there’s quite a few things…

    Dual citizenship… now there’s a thing (or should that be two things?). Strictly speaking, in US law, when you become an American citizen you’re supposed to give up your previous citizenship (divided loyalties and all that). In practice, hardly anyone does, and the government generally looks the other way.

    British law doesn’t have a problem with dual citizenship. No matter what country’s oath of allegiance you take, you’re still a subject of Her Maj unless you walk into a British consulate and sign it away forever. Now why would anyone want to do that?

    Myself, I’m a US permanent resident, can remain so indefinitely as long as I live here and have no plans to apply for citizenship – even though, as you say, I’m eligible through my wife. I’m a Brit, proud of it and taking another country’s oath just wouldn’t feel right.

  • STM

    Doc: “I’m a Brit, proud of it and taking another country’s oath just wouldn’t feel right.”

    So under that reasoning, if you came here, Her Maj being the Queen of Australia as well and the Union Jack still sitting very prettily in the canton of the flag, you wouldn’t become an Aussie either??.

    And yes, the US govt no longer adheres to that reasoning. There are plenty of Seppos here with dual US/Aussie citizenship, who have told the US govt they have no intention of losing EITHE citizenship. It’s no longer an issue in certain countries.

  • Clavos

    I would think that a seppo who acquires Australian citizenship while retaining his/her American citizenship would then be an Aussep, or perhaps a Seppaus.

  • STM

    Maybe they become an Auptic.

    BTW, you told me you were a fan of the Hormnblower books?

  • Clavos

    I am, indeed, mate.


  • STM

    Clav: I told you about the Sharpe series? I have some on DVD (which won’t work in the US and as they are tagged for different markets), but there are also about 20 novels in the series. It is set around 1808-1815 during the Peninsula War against France and then later in the European/Waterloo campaign that rid europe of Bonapartism, and is brilliant – along the same lines as Hornblower, only this time the lead character is the captain of a “Greenjacket” rifle company.

    The writer bases them on real events and introduces Sharpe and his mates into the books. They are a rollicking good read. All action and intrigue but not all fighting, which is probably what makes them more interesting.

    I have just finished one and it’s a cracker. I literally couldn’t put it down. Send me your email address as I’ve had to delete a lot of my files and I’ll shoot it over.

    If you like Hornblower, you’ll LOVE Sharpe, especially given your Iberian background.

  • Baronius

    Doc – primaries are simple. Laughing at Ray Romano, I’ll never understand.

  • I’ve got all the Sharpe’s episodes on DVD and have read all the books. Excellent stuff. And of course, if you like them and Hornblower you’ve got to read the Aubrey books by Patrick O’Brien – the ones that Master and Commander was based on. And then you have to go read George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series.


  • STM

    Ah yes … Flashman, cad and a rogue. An interesting cad and a rogue though.

    And of course, if you are going to read Flashman, you have to read Tom Brown’s Schooldays.

    I like Aubrey’s stuff too, but I’m enjoying the descriptive writing of Bernard Cornwell in a more up-to-date style.

    He’s a great writer. He’s made Sharpe as an anti-hero/hero a very believable character, and his historical settings are well researched.

  • I love the Aubrey books. Such great characterization, and the Napoleonic world brilliantly recreated in that contemporary pastiche style O’Brian pulls off so well. And there’s certainly never been a better depiction of life in Nelson’s navy, IMHO.

    I had to restrain myself from standing up and cheering out loud at the end of the last book, when Aubrey finally gets promoted to admiral.

    (Russell Crowe did a fine job in the movie, I thought, allowing for the limitation of being Russell Crowe.)

    O’Brian’s other nautical history novels, The Golden Ocean and The Unknown Shore, aren’t bad efforts either.

  • So under that reasoning, if you came here, Her Maj being the Queen of Australia as well and the Union Jack still sitting very prettily in the canton of the flag, you wouldn’t become an Aussie either?

    Probably wouldn’t feel the need, Stan, what with the whole Commonwealth thing. I guess it would depend how ‘at home’ I felt. I can tell you that on my previous visits Down Under, I felt very much more at home than most anywhere else I’ve been.

  • Clavos


    Watch yer email, mate…

  • STM

    Doc: “I can tell you that on my previous visits Down Under, I felt very much more at home than most anywhere else I’ve been”.

    Ah well, Doc, we do aim to please:)

    The general reaction: A cross between America and Britain, but with the bad bits gone (mostly). You too??

  • STM

    Gotcha Clav. I’m tuned in mate.

  • STM

    DD: (Russell Crowe did a fine job in the movie, I thought, allowing for the limitation of being Russell Crowe.)

    Actually, even though I loved his performance in LA confidential, and realised he was hamming a bit in Gladiator in the mold of Richard Burton (which probably isn’t a bad way to be regarded in truth), I thought he’d reached the limit of his ability in Master and Commander.

    He does a good Seppo, but not a Pom. You just can’t do a hero Royal Navy captain belting the shit out of the French at the very end of the world with an accent slipping into the Sydney Boys’ High 1st XV Rugby team every now and then (almost snooty, and nearly upper-class, but being Australian, not quite). I’m sure he’d disagree though.

  • The general reaction: A cross between America and Britain, but with the bad bits gone (mostly). You too??

    Kind of. I felt the American influence more in Queensland than anywhere else (maybe it was the climate).

    Sydney and Melbourne remind people of the US, but I think that’s mainly because of the highrises. Otherwise, they have their own unique feel, but with gratifying quantities of pubs and civilized eateries.

    I reserve judgment on Adelaide and Perth until I’ve been there!

  • He does a good Seppo, but not a Pom.

    Crowe’s really good in American Gangster (he has to be, he’s playing opposite Denzel Washington). Dunno if it’s come out down there yet. If not, I would highly recommend you take a turn down your local fleapit for a gander.

  • STM

    DD: “Kind of. I felt the American influence more in Queensland than anywhere else (maybe it was the climate).”

    It didn’t used to be like that, and then it kind of changed in south-east Qld. One of the things that had me thinking along those lines is the freeway between the Gold Coast and Brisbane, which in some long stretches is four and five lanes wide and surrounded by one long urban sprawl, like many of the freeways you see in the US. All the road signs pointing off the main roads look exactly like those in America too (But they do all over Australia). Big difference, though … steering wheels are on the proper side, and we drive on the proper side of the road 🙂

    South-east Queensland (and now far northern NSW which is caught up in the urban sprawl) these days is a very busy place. In contrast, Sydney, the biggest and busiest city in Australia, although now a maze of freeways, toolways, tunnels, flyovers and circles, has no express roads that are continuously more than three lanes wide on each side. Well, maybe they get to four and five on occasion at merging points, but it’s rare.

    It was that more than anything, and all the fast food places and the neon off the main freeway, that made me think the same way as you last time I was up in the Sunshine State.

  • Clavos


    What’s a “toolway?”

    And Queensland is your “Sunshine State?”

    Cool (well, maybe not). :>)

    Someone ought to start a “sister state” program between Queensland and La Florida.

    Back in the seventies, I was living in Atlanta working for a Brazilian company, and got involved with a Sister City program between that city and Rio. Jimmy Carter was still Governor of Georgia (ours, not the Soviet’s) then; he and his wife had started the program (well, Rosalynn, mostly) from the Georgia end.

    I worked on it for a couple of years; it was fun, and afforded lots of opportunities to meet some interesting people and help generate trade between the two cities.

  • STM: One of the things that had me thinking along those lines is the freeway between the Gold Coast and Brisbane, which in some long stretches is four and five lanes wide and surrounded by one long urban sprawl, like many of the freeways you see in the US.

    We took the train from Brisbane to the Gold Coast, which goes through somewhat more countrified landscape. But yeah, Surfers’ Paradise and the rest of the Gold Coast could just as easily be Miami Beach or Waikiki. Brisbane, especially the CBD, had a very American atmosphere. So did Cairns, actually, particularly because of the street signs and that huge casino*. It reminded me very much of Lahaina, only not so pretty.

    Clav: What’s a “toolway?”

    We’ll have to wait for Stan to enlighten us, but I’ll hazard a guess: an expressway too small/narrow for its traffic volume, and populated by atrocious asshole drivers (tools)?

    * And all the Americans wandering around.

  • Silver Surfer

    Just tooling along. Toolway … a tollway.

    And we’re all a pack of tools for paying the bloody fee.

    It WAS a typo though: )

    Yeah Clav, Queensland number number plates even have Sunshine State (or they used to) written on them. The further north you go, the more tropical it gets and they have tropical, multi-coloured plates up in Nth Queensland.

    All Queenslanders are mad, though (it’s the heat). I can attest to this as most of my immediate family are Queenslanders – didn’t orgainise things very well did I? My wife even sleeps with a doona (duvet??) on in the middle of summer in Sydney, which is about as hot and humid as it gets anywhere on this planet.

    Why? “I’m cold”.

    I’m sure they would have a sister state or some sister cities thing going with Florida. It’d be the obvious one, but then we’re talking about governments here, so maybe what’s obvious isn’t an issue.

  • Silver Surfer

    DD: “I reserve judgment on Adelaide and Perth until I’ve been there!”

    Perth’s good, and very prosperous. Great climate, lots of work, good pay, etc. Main problem is the isolation. They don’t really get distance, either, despite living in a state about 20 times the size of Texas and taking up nearly half a continent. I took a suburban train from Perth to Fremantle – a short 25-minute trip and the end of the line. A few people said they wouldn’t live that far out of town (it was beautiful, too). That kind of commute would be a godsend for me.

    But late last year when I was there, I got a cab from the hotel down to South Perth when the air race was on, and the driver said “Oooh, mate, the traffic’s bad for a Sunday … almost like weekday peak-hour”.

    So I’m looking around, and thinking, OK, we’re on the back streets. When we get on the freeway, it might be bumper-to-bumper gridlock.

    But no, every car is doing 100km/h and they’re about 10 car lengths apart and moving, well, freely.

    So I asked the guy, is this busy?

    “Busy mate alright, never seen anything like it”.

    There was a bit of traffic down near the river, but nothing bad. Lol. It just looked like a really quiet Sunday afternoon.

    As for Adelaide, it’s pretty, but a lot of people leave it and move to Perth.

  • Heloise politically prescient as always. Just revisited this blog and it is like a looking glass. Read it and weep Edwards.