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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Obama picks up 5 more superdelegates today, +6 net

Per the AP, Obama picked up 5 more superdelegates today, including two switches from Clinton. Clinton gained one add-on which makes the net +6 Obama.

The AP now has him ahead in superdelegates.

That ship has sailed.....

The Clinton campaign is still saying that their "best case" is to get the pledged delegate lead inside 100.

Can you imagine any realistic scenario where superdelegates would overturn the Obama presumption?

As I've said so many times, she doesn't need a better argument, she needs an overwhelming argument. (and right now she doesn't even have the better argument.)

Why she talked about white people....

In my opinion, Hillary Clinton infamously spoke about "white people" in order to frame the upcoming W. Virginia primary. She's hoping to use the lopsided (and meaningless) victory (among white people) to influence to the superdelegates.

Picture of the Day

(Willie Mae Dabney, a Barack Obama supporter, stands outside Miracle Temple Church Tuesday, May 6, 2008 in Gary, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond))

The bastards of Burma

This is why aid has been delayed to millions.
Myanmar's military regime distributed international aid Saturday but plastered the boxes with the names of top generals in an apparent effort to turn the relief effort for last week's devastating cyclone into a propaganda exercise.

Burma's military government said Friday it had cleared a U.S. military relief flight for cyclone victims, declaring itself ready to accept aid from "all quarters." But the junta reaffirmed that it alone will handle distribution, without foreign workers, a restriction that international agencies reject.

A Sadrist ceasefire?

A rather interesting story trickling in from Iraq. Sadr's spokesman has stated that they have reached a ceasefire in Sadr city. McClatchy has kind of an overview, but the AFP version has some interesting details.

Apparently, a final deal wasn't struck before the Sadrists made the announcement with only 10 of the 14 negotiating points having been settled, so the Sadrists, by claiming the ceasefire now, get credit for the effort and manage to take the last 4 negotiating items off the table, one of which was the disbandment of the Mahdi altogether.

And in Lebanon......

Hezbullah has taken over large swaths of Beirut. The Lebanese military has mostly stood by and fallen back to protect the leadership of the other parties. The majority of the street battles are between Hezbullah and non-govermental militias among the Sunni and Druze communities.
One casualty of the recent confrontations has been the widespread notion that Sunni militias capable of countering Hezbollah were being trained in Lebanon, said Mr. Naoum, the columnist.

As it turned out, the young Sunni fighters loyal to Mr. Hariri’s Future Movement — part of the government majority — were no match for their better-armed Shiite rivals. Mr. Hariri apparently recognized this, and ordered a withdrawal rather than face a massacre. On Friday, numerous men in the Sunni neighborhood of Tarik Jadideh complained that they had been given instructions not to fight, and now felt humiliated.

The Lebanese government and US are looking to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc, for help.

And, in a troubling sign, who wants to step in to rebalance the Sunni effort?
Al-Qaeda has reportedly called on its operatives to go to Lebanon and defend what it called the Sunni community of the country.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Something lighter.

It made me laugh.

Obama picks up 9 superdelegates

Obama picks up 9 superdelegates in the AP count, . They're coming too fast to list. Clinton got one. In the AP count, that makes them tied.

Picture of the Day - 2

While John McCain repeats that he thinks Obama is the candidate for Hamas (a backhanded way into the Muslim slur) Joe Lieberman stands by him and laughing and telling jokes.

It's one thing to endorse McCain over issues. It's another to gleefully laugh with him as he slurs.

On the bright side, McCain is pretty terrible at this.

(...at Liberty State Park today, in Jersey City, N.J.(AP/Jeff Chiu))

Obama's "hidden value"

Just want to throw this out there. As the superdelegates are "weighing the race," they must have in the back of their mind Obama's unbelievably huge donor list, email list, and now, with the voter registration drive, volunteer list.

In the political world, millions and millions of politically active contacts and donors are a whole lot of weight to throw around.

Political bits

The LATimes has a piece chocked full of interesting quotes from people in and around the Clinton campaign looking at when and how she might exit. (Not a must read, but a should read.)

(Ambinder) Three more superdelegates. One to Clinton, one to Obama, and one switches from Clinton to Obama. Net: Obama +2.

(LATimes) Add one more Obama superdelegate. Obama +3.

ABC says Obama now leads in superdelegates, but most other counts say it's Clinton +5 or so.

(ABCLocal) Even Leon Panetta is saying Clinton should drop out.

(NYTimes) Two more people come forward (Dem supporters) to claim that McCain was running around in 2000 saying that he didn't vote for George Bush. (On the other hand, it does give McCain some distance.)

(WaPo) A frontpage article on the dicey land deal that McCain spearheaded that made millions for a top donor.

Fun Fact: "In fact, in seven counties in Ohio—Putnam, Brown, Shelby, Belmont, Warren, Delaware, and Clarmont—the vote totals for our two Democratic candidates in the 2008 primary exceeded the votes for John Kerry in the general election...."

And, I would expect Obama to start to go after McCain hard to dispel the last Clinton argument that he's not tough enough.

Later: (HuffPo) Longtime Clinton loyalist Rahm Emanuel, "At this point, Barack is the presumptive nominee..... Hillary can't win but something could happen that Barack could lose the nomination."

And, Rasmussen has decided to stop polling about Hillary Clinton.

Picture of the Day

(CNN Producer Chris Welch reports the presidential candidate sported blue jeans Wednesday night — the first time all year he has done so. (Getty Images))

Whoops. Those weren't Iranian weapons

It's funny how after his breathless and unchallenging reporting last week, NYTimes/Bush administration figure Michael Gordon didn't report this.
A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was canceled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran. A U.S. military spokesman attributed the confusion to a misunderstanding that emerged after an Iraqi Army general in Karbala erroneously reported the items were of Iranian origin.

Where does the Obama Muslim smear come from? An ex-CIA officer, of course.

McClatchy has a very interesting piece on dirty, dirty politics being practiced outside the campaigns and parties. One of the early pushers of the Obama-Muslim story is a retired CIA man who built a dossier and even tried to shop it to foreign intelligence services to give it credibility.
In late 2006, convinced that an Obama presidency would be disastrous for America, he decided to start an anti-Obama operation. He combed the public record on Obama. He used a couple of allies and informants — half-jokingly dubbing his group "The Crusaders" — to learn about Obama's background, especially his Africa connection and how he came to be the editor of the Harvard Law Review.

He assembled a dossier on Obama, including allegations that Obama attended a madrassa, or Islamic religious school, in his youth in Indonesia.

Then the retired spook tried to get Israeli intelligence officials interested in his Obama dossier. They weren't, to his chagrin. He also shopped it to some foreign reporters. Again, no luck.

He wound up posting some of it on a blog — and where it went from there in the vast world of cyberspace is anybody's guess.

But a few months after the man began his work, the allegation that Obama was educated in a madrassa appeared in an anonymous article in Insight Magazine, an online publication of the Unification Church, in January 2007. It also claimed that Clinton operatives had dug up the information. The article was cited by several conservative commentators, including on Fox News, before it was debunked.


Thursday, May 08, 2008


Chris Matthews to Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson,
“You’re like one of these Japanese soldiers that’s still fighting in 1953.”

Superdelegates - more

Obama picked up two superdelegates today, Brad Miller, NC Congressman, Rick Larson, Wa. Congressman, and an endorsement from former House whip (and Edwards campaign manager) David Bonior.

By most counts, that puts the superdelegate gap inside 10, meaning that, more than likely, Obama will pass Clinton in superdelegates very, very soon.

Also of interest, Obama is indirectly courting John Edwards SC pledged delegates. The rumor is that "a handful" of Edwards pledged delegates are thinking of moving to Obama, (if Edwards approves, I would assume.)

(Politico) Clinton is asking supers to commit to her "privately" so that she can get a sense of where they are. (Wouldn't they just tell both campaigns they're on board?)

(TPM) One Obama superdelegate counter says she knows they have support that hasn't declared.

And, The NYTimes reports on Clinton's worsening finances. Only $1+ million after Indiana.

Picture of the Day - 2

(AP) "Cindy McCain says she will never make her tax returns public even if her husband wins the White House and she becomes the first lady...."

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

What's this about?

(NYObserver) "Hillary Clinton has begun to ask her influential backers to be in Washington on May 14 for a meeting at her home, according to a major fund-raiser. Separately, the fund-raiser said, Bill Clinton will be speaking with top donors this afternoon on a conference call."

Florida and Michigan coming in?

From FirstRead,
Everything we're hearing is that a deal over Florida and Michigan could be cut in the next few days. The Obama campaign apparently realizes they have plenty of room to give. The hurdle isn't Clinton and Obama anymore, though; it is folks in the DNC who believe those two recalcitrant states still need to be punished in some form, so states realize there are consequences to doing this in 2012. The latest offer from Michigan is a 69-59 split, with supers going however they want.

(PS. Such a deal would also extinguish Clinton's excuse for staying in until May 31.)

Later: Then I guess it's no wonder that the Clinton camp summarily rejects this Michigan settlement. (That the pols of Michigan are proposing!)

Later: The Florida party head denies that a Fla deal is near.


I linked this below, but I thought it might deserve a little more prominence.
"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

"There's a pattern emerging here," she said.

Yes, there is a pattern, and it's in the conduct of your campaign.

....maybe she wants to be pushed out......

Weinstein threatened Pelosi

CNN now has some backstory on those big donor Clinton supporters who threatened Nancy Pelosi awhile back.

It's particularly interesting that this leaks now and in such detail. It's just another little point of indirect pressure being applied.


The Obama campaign seems set to continue the superdelegate drip, rather than a flood.

Today's first name appears to be former House Dem Whip David Bonior, who also served as Edwards' campaign manager.

Also of note, the NYTimes now has Obama within 8 on superdelegates. FirstRead/NBC, which I have been using as standard, still shows it at about 13.

Regardless, when he starts to pass her in the superdelegate counts, it will be huge news.

Picture of the Day

(Sen. Barack Obama talks on his cell phone as he boards his campaign plane at Midway Airport en-route to Washington DC. (Getty Images/Mark Wilson))

On Florida and Michigan

If you're going to seat either Florida or Michigan in some form, my solution would be to seat some proportion of the pledged delegates (elected by the people,) but refuse to seat to the superdelegates (because they're the ones who moved the primaries.)

This will never happen, of course, because the Florida superdelegates are the ones doing the negotiating.

The Clinton campaign post mortem

Karen Tumulty has a much cited Time piece looking at the mistakes in the Clinton campaign, inevitability, underrating delegates and caucuses, a big donor fundraising model, and the assumption of early victory, but I'd like to throw in one of my own.

To me, the semi-racist explanations around South Carolina were a huge turning point. It was at that point that African Americans, and a substantial percentage of the Democratic Party recoiled, and that, coupled with the Clinton campaign's over focus on big states, led to the tie on Super Tuesday.

(WSJ) Obama's non-traditional fundraising swamped Clinton's (previously) record setting traditional model.

(NYTimes) For the Democrats, Signs of a Possible Changing of the Guard

Could Clinton concede without quitting?

I could be very wrong, but I don't think Hillary Clinton is quitting soon without a big push from the outside. That's not to say I think she should continue campaigning to win. I think it's to her benefit to stay in now, although in a decidedly different tone.

I think it's in her interest to try to use her remaining time to rehabilitate her image, dropping all negative (or as non-negative as a Clinton campaign can constitutionally be.) She could run as a populist, she could run as "I feel you, America," she could try to use the next month to rebuild herself, and then on June 3 (or maybe May 20,) very graciously and very unifyingly concede.

If she changes tone and mixes her stump with personal feeling, attacks on McCain, and tamps down the back and forth campaign hostility, her continuation in the race would be far less problematic.

In effect, she could concede without quitting and use her remaining time in the media light to reburnish the Clinton image.

Alot has been made about Obama's need to reunify the party, but at the same time, it would also benefit the Clintons to spend some time mending some primary fences. If she left today, there would still be so much anti-Clinton out there among key segments of the Democratic Party, young, African Americans, college educated, etc., and for reasons of Bill Clinton's presidential legacy and Hillary Clinton's political future, it would make alot of sense to spend the time (and money) now to try and repair that damage.

If she quit today, that "kitchen sink," slightly racist, negative, negative, negative would be how we remember things.

For this to work, however, she will have to transmit this shift (and coordinate with the Obama campaign) which could be a little tricky.

(Frankly, Obama being named the nominee only to be trounced in West Virginia doesn't look good from the Obama side, either.)

To me, this course makes sense for Hillary and Bill Clinton. They could leave this race in alot better reputation than they are now, and any way I look at it from their perspective, that's better for them than quitting the race today.

Of course, all of this assumes she's willing (or capable) of going this route, and that she's not pushed out.

(PS. The signs yesterday were not that she was going this way, citing her "white support" and pushing the pretense that Florida and Michigan put her back in the race.)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Picture of the Day - 3

Clinton wanes

Fundraising problems.
Clinton advisers said they were concerned that her online fund-raising, which boomed after her Ohio primary victory in March and her Pennsylvania win in April, had slowed by comparison on Tuesday night and Wednesday, and that her donor base was either tightening up somewhat or playing wait-and-see, despite her public appeal for money during her post-primary address on Tuesday night.

Jim Rutenberg of the NYTimes sums up the media's conventional wisdom that it's over.

And the opeds should start tomorrow.

Undeclared Superdelegates

As I've said before, I really doubt there are that many "undecided" superdelegates. What we have are large numbers of "undeclared" superdelegates who don't want to pick sides and anger parts of their constituencies.
The Associated Press interviewed more than 70 undeclared superdelegates or their representatives Wednesday, and many said they don't want to get involved until the voting ends June 3.

However, the comments of some of the uncommitteds were anything but encouraging for Clinton.

They're staying quiet and hoping it will resolve without them.

Dear Obama supporters,

Don't dance in the end zone. It's divisive, and that's not what we need right now.

Picture of the Day - 2

(Politico) "House Republicans will hold a rally with President Bush on Wednesday morning, with all 199 members invited to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to show solidarity with the president, according to GOP sources."

Hug him tight, GOP. Hug him tight.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Superdelegate fun

George McGovern went on MSNBC to publicly switch from Clinton to Obama. He has been a long term Clinton supporter.

On the other side, NC Rep and superdelegate Heath Shuler actually pledged to Clinton today. (His district went for Clinton.)

Also, Obama is heading to DC to meet with undecided superdelegates tomorrow. (Clinton is meeting with some today.)

LATER: (AP) Obama has picked up four more superdelegates today including a second who has flipped from Clinton to Obama.

And, (TheHill) Sen. Feinstein "will ask the former first lady to detail her plans for the rest of the Democratic primary." (Sounds like the beginning of a flip.)

Later Still: Clinton picks up an Indiana superdelegate who also cites his district's voting as his reason.

Picture of the Day

One of the Obama campaign's toughest tasks going forward will be to guide the Clinton supporters through the five stages of grief in a timely and non-disruptive manner.
1. Denial and Isolation.
2. Anger.
3. Bargaining.
4. Depression.
5. Acceptance.

We've been hearing alot of anger, "I'll never vote for him," and I would expect to hear alot of bargaining in the next few days, Obama/Clinton joint ticket and Florida and Michigan, if, if, if...

The question is, can Obama's oratorical skills pull them through to acceptance. (And how much does Clinton help.)

(Supporters cheer as Mrs. Clinton appeared at a rally at Pitt Community College in Greenville, N.C. (Damon Winter/The New York Times))

The pressure

The media/narrative pressure I outline in the next post, but the backroom pressure will be just as interesting to watch. Hillary Clinton is meeting with superdelegates today (some hers, some undecided) and she also has an (open to the press) Washington DC fundraiser scheduled tonight.

There's also a floating question about her money. Her campaign is set to release information today on financing with one of the big questions being whether she loaned her campaign more money.
(Update: She loaned her campaign another $6.4 million.)

Will people in and around her campaign begin to push? Does the enthusiasm inside the campaign die? Does this "over" narrative fade or grow in the days ahead? Do we see significant superdelegate movement or defections from Clinton?

If you're looking for a definitive answer this morning, there isn't one, but, it does appear that "the tide has turned."

The narrative

Howard Kurtz has a roundup of some of the headlines and tones (starts middle of page 2,) and the general tone is that it's over.

Mark Halperin also has a collection of the openings on the morning shows, and a few more print items on tone.

(NYTimes) Patrick Healy has a piece loaded with quotes from Clinton advisers and others around the campaign suggesting that it may be time to end it.

From the WaPo's "news" piece, "while Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton posted a razor-thin win in the hotly contested Indiana primary as she sought to keep her shaky candidacy for the nomination alive."

If you didn't see it, Tim Russert pretty much called it last night on MSNBC (YouTube,) "We Now Know Who the Nominee Will Be."

(It's also interesting that this time, the onus isn't on Obama to "close the deal," but instead on Clinton to justify continuing.)

And, because of the late night, the critical Op/Ed's will likely be coming in tomorrow, not today.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Picture of the Day - 3

(Supporters of US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton wait for her arrival at her Indiana primary election night rally. (REUTERS/Brent Smith))

Fascinating reading

Tom Shales at Salon runs the numbers if Hillary Clinton had been losing the black vote 80/20 rather than 90/10. (She'd be even/ahead in popular vote and +60 in pledged delegates.)

That short term effort to diminish the South Carolina loss through racial levers may have cost her the presidency.

Filling your need to know

This isn't the full day, so treat it for what it is, but here are early exit poll descriptives from the AP and ABC.

30% of the turnout in Indiana was Independents and Republicans?

Per TalkLeft: "Fox reports the rural vote in Indiana is less than expected, and the vote in Indianapolis and Gary is high. On the other side, Republicans are turning out in bigger numbers than expected."

(And, If you want to see the overall early exits (highly unreliable) look here.)

This is what we're fighting about.....

On the Clinton math:
"Her strategists say their most optimistic calculations show her finishing about 100 (pledged delegates) behind Obama."

The politics of attacking America

Two interesting, but unrelated items today.

(AP) A PKK spokesman said the Kurdish independence group "could launch suicide attacks against American interests to punish the U.S. for sharing intelligence with Turkey."

And, Former Iranian moderate President Khatami attacks the Ahmadinejad regime by saying it's going against the Khomeini revolution.
"What did the imam (Khomeini) mean by exporting the revolution?" he asked in the speech Friday to university students in the northern province of Gilan, according to the Kargozaran newspaper.

"Did he mean that we take up arms, that we blow up places in other nations and we create groups to carry out sabotage in other countries? The imam was vehemently against this and was confronting it," he added.


Picture of the Day

(Michelle Obama pushes her daughter Sasha on roller skates towards Senator Barack Obama at the Great Skates fun park in Lafayette, Indiana, May 3, 2008. (REUTERS/Jason Reed))

Political bits

With Obama now only 273 delegates from the 2,025 finish line, the Clinton camp once again tries to move the goalposts to a Florida and Michigan including 2,208 delegates. (Say Anything.....)

Once again, Dan Balz's 8 Questions piece before a primary is about the most interesting reading out there.

(HuffPo) Arianna Huffington claims that John McCain (and his wife) told her they didn't vote for Bush in 2000.

(Politico) An anti-abortion group targets Obama, and only Obama, in the Indiana primary. (Trying to help Clinton.)

(Milbank) The major press isn't even showing up for the White House Briefings anymore.

The last Indiana polls close at 7 ET. NC polls close at 7:30 ET.

And, What???? (Reuters) "Rebels who have stepped up attacks on Nigeria's oil industry in the last month said on Sunday they were considering a ceasefire appeal by U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama....."

The Clinton-Drudge pipeline continues

The Clinton campaign uses Drudge to try and reset NC,
"Look, we worked hard and gave it our best shot, but the demographics, well, they are what they are," a top campaign source explained to the DRUDGE REPORT as voting began Tuesday morning.

The campaign now believes a 15 point loss, or more, would not be surprising. Her team will work hard throughout the day to lower all expectations in North Carolina.

There's not one poll out there to support that, but they got it headlining on Drudge, so all the media will cite it.

From the WaPo, a more realistic expression, "The Clinton campaign has labeled Indiana a must-win and is also hoping for a stronger-than-expected finish in North Carolina, if not an outright triumph...." (But they're expecting to lose by 15 points, right?)

Say Anything.......


An 18 cent a gallon gas tax and Rev Wright are the biggest crises facing America.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Picture of the Day - 2

(Sen. Barack Obama looks out the window of an SUV before greeting volunteers and supporters at Blue Coffee Cafe, in Durham, N.C., Monday, May 5, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong))

The inevitable math

Take a minute to look at this NYTimes "delegate counter" slide bar. If Obama and Clinton split the remaining pledged delegates, Clinton needs 73% of the remaining supers to win.

Via FirstRead, after tomorrow, there will be only 217 pledged delegates left available. There are 268 undeclared superdelegates.
Here are the basics of what each candidate needs: Assuming he wins half of the delegates tomorrow (93), Obama needs just 38% of ALL remaining delegates to get to the magic number of 2,025. If Clinton wins 94 delegates on Tuesday, she will need 66% of all remaining delegates.

Also, Obama picks up 4 more superdelegates today, three from Maryland, and one from Oklahoma. The superdelegate gap is now only 15.

(And, Two Clinton supers in California publicly wobble.)

Punch, kick, punch, kick..... Make nice on the last day.

I just want to point out the Clinton pattern in all of these recent primaries. She and her campaign kick and flog Obama as hard as they can, and then on the last day, Clinton the candidate makes nice for the nightly news while her campaign carries on kicking.


When you look at that polling saying Clinton supporters will vote for McCain instead of Obama, ask yourself this: Are the Democratic "base" women who support Hillary Clinton (right now) really going to carry their pique in the face of another Republican administration that would likely pick the next two Supreme Court judges, likely jeopardizing Roe v Wade?


Blaming Iran

The Iraqi government is forming a committee to document evidence of interference by the Iranians that will then be presented to the Iranians at some future undisclosed date.

The headlines and article tone varies from the very factual Reuters to the more accusatory WaPo to the almost breathless NYTimes piece by Michael Gordon (famous for reprinting administration cases.)

Despite the US headlines, this sounds more like an Iraqi attempt to bury/put off the issue that the US is trying to force on them.

Picture of the Day

(Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks from the back of a pickup truck at a campaign rally in Gastonia, N.C. Saturday, May 3, 2008. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola))

Sunday, May 04, 2008

McCain - 11 or 12?

A new NYTimes/CBS poll out tonight. Short version, Obama has mostly bounced back from Wright (although concerns linger) and he again leads Clinton substantially. (He's also back on top in the Gallup national tracking.)

Also of interest in this poll, the gas tax holiday backfired.
At the same time, an overwhelming majority of voters said candidates calling for the suspension of the federal gasoline tax this summer were acting to help themselves politically, rather than to help ordinary Americans....

On the gasoline tax, the survey underlined the risk Mrs. Clinton is taking in embracing a position that most Americans — including a majority of her own supporters — appear to view as political pandering. More than 60 percent of voters in the poll said that Mrs. Clinton said what people wanted to hear, rather than what she believed.

(And, it's notable that McCain now trails both Dems by over 10.)

Say Anything (Part II)

At least the Clinton effort at positioning is clear.
"Why don't we hold these Wall Street money-grubbers responsible for their role in this recession?" Clinton asked at an Indiana Democratic Party dinner in Indianapolis tonight.

Hillary and Bill Clinton, populists (who earned $109 million in 8 years, almost all from the incredibly wealthy.)

Say Anything (Part III)

When asked about the gas tax proposal,
"I'm not going to put my lot in with economists," Clinton said when asked to name an economist who backed her proposal.

"We've got to get out of this mind-set where somehow elite opinion is always on the side of doing things that really disadvantage the vast majority of Americans," said Clinton, a former first lady who would be the first woman president.

(Robert Reich throws in his 20 cents a gallon, and the Obama campaign closes with an ad slamming this issue.)

Picture of the Day

(Residents gather at the al-Sadr hospital compound after rocket attack in Baghdad's Sadr City May 3, 2008. Two rockets landed near the al-Sadr hospital, wounding 20 people including women and children, and incinerating or damaging 11 ambulances, police and hospital sources said.(Kareem Raheem/Reuters))

Going after Iran in Iran

Still pretty speculative reporting, and "drawing up plans" is many steps away from actually doing anything, but this does mark a significant ratcheting up.
The US military is drawing up plans for a “surgical strike” against an insurgent training camp inside Iran if Republican Guards continue with attempts to destabilise Iraq, western intelligence sources said last week.

It should be noted that this is being put out into the newsstream rather than leaked, so it's a pressure point they want out there.

Related: There was also this very off the path report from Andrew Cockburn on Friday that I would treat with some skepticism.
Six weeks ago, President Bush signed a secret finding authorizing a covert offensive against the Iranian regime that, according to those familiar with its contents, "unprecedented in its scope."

Bush’s secret directive covers actions across a huge geographic area – from Lebanon to Afghanistan – but is also far more sweeping in the type of actions permitted under its guidelines – up to and including the assassination of targeted officials. This widened scope clears the way, for example, for full support for the military arm of Mujahedin-e Khalq, the cultish Iranian opposition group, despite its enduring position on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.

Treat this one with some doubt, but, as a story, it would fall into an increased pressure effort.

(Also: The Iranians have turned down the next round of security talks on Iraq.)

Sunday reading.......

(WaPo) "Almost eight years after al-Qaeda nearly sank the USS Cole with an explosives-stuffed motorboat, killing 17 sailors, all the defendants convicted in the attack have escaped from prison or been freed by Yemeni officials....."

(WaPo) Analysts Divided on Clinton's Arab Defense Plan. (And no real answer as to why, if it was an intentional policy statement, she surprisingly revealed it as part of a debate answer.)

In Iraq, 4 US soldiers killed in Anbar Thursday, no details released, and a US missile hit a building in Sadr City right next to a hospital that wounded many (McClatchy, NYTimes, and AP.)