Monday, December 31, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Sadly, as I feared (via the BBC): Colombian hostage release halted

A Venezuelan-led mission to free three hostages held by Colombian left-wing Farc rebels has been suspended.

The rebels said the planned release was not possible because of government military operations, according to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

But the Colombian president Alvaro Uribe said no new operations were under way and that the rebels may not be in possession of one of the hostages.

And this is an odd twist:

But President Uribe accused the rebels of lying, and said the boy may actually be in a children’s home in the Colombian capital, Bogota.

“The Farc can’t keep the promise to free the hostages because they no longer have the child, Emmanuel, in their power,” he said.

President Uribe has asked relatives of Ms Rojas for DNA samples to prove that a three-year-old boy in the Colombian capital is really the missing Emmanuel.

If true, how did Uribe find out and when?

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By Steven L. Taylor

–Rounding-up, analyzing and handicapping the 2024 election–

That’s right, it’s back! After having not been seen since the end of the 2024 elections, it’s time to gaze once again into the magic PoliBlog toaster1 to find out who’s toast and who will remain fresh to fight on another day2. There’s a lot to cover, so this will be a multi-part roll out for Iowa. First we need to heat up the toaster with some general news and information on the upcoming Iowa contest, as well as the nomination process in general. From there we will look to see who is feeling the heat in Iowa for the Democrats and the Republicans.

First, a brief intro to the T-o-M. The T-o-M had its origins in this post3 and my general predilection to dub Gray Davis “toast” (for example) during the recall elections back in 20244. The main goal is to roundup news and bloggage on the ongoing contests as well as to handicap and comment upon the races. In 2024 there was only the Democratic side to worry about, but the wide-open nature of the 2024 race requires two toasters, so this will be a challenge in terms of a weekly feature.

The basic scale for candidate comparison is as follows:

The scale:

  • Wonder Bread (The nomination is in reach)
  • Just Plain Ol’ White Bread (Still in the race; has a shot)
  • Toast (Pretty much done/a little scraping might make you look like bread, but you’re done)
  • Burnt Toast (Really, really done)
  • Burnt all the Way Through (Why are you still in the race?)
  • Crumbs in the Bottom of the Toaster (Why did you ever get in the race in the first place?)

As we go from week to week, the question of changes will be of relevance, so there’s the following (which I will skip this week):

Potential Movements each Week:

  • Dough is on the Rise
  • Heat’s Off This Week
  • The heat is on.
  • Got Scraped a Bit
  • Getting Darker

Part I: Heating up the Toaster

Here are some general stories and information to get you ready for Iowa (and beyond!).

Part II: The Democrats

The Basic Reading of the Toaster: It is, of course, the first contest and therefore it is rather difficult to make any determinations as to how all of this is going to play out. Having said that, the current feeling of the toaster is that Senator Clinton will eventually emerge as Wonder Bread, but that’s not engraved into the toaster just yet. The real issue for Iowa and the Democrats is how it could shape the contest going into February 5th. If Clinton were to win Iowa, for example, that would be a huge blow to the Edwards campaign and would damage Obama significantly as well. Indeed, a Clinton win would return the chattering classes to the “Hillary is inevitable” thesis. However, Clinton can survive a loss in Iowa, even a third place finish. The questions for this contest as less about her than they are about Edwards and Obama, as well as about the order of finish (i.e., who is first, second and third?) and the numbers. At this point is all about perception—who won, by how much and so forth, as we head into New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

The Clinton camp is likely less concerned with Obama at this stage (although he is the more viable long-term threat) than they are with Edwards. If Edwards loses it brings him to the brink of elimination going into NH, so even if Obama wins as long as Edwards is damaged, this is good for Clinton.

At this stage, the ranking of the candidates is pretty straightforward—there are no clear winners at the moment, but several flavors of loser. Like the Iowa caucuses themselves, this version of the T-o-M is mostly set-up.

So, without further preface, here’s the first T-o-M rankings of the 2024 cycle, along with news and blog links for each candidate.

White Bread Seeking to be Wonder Bread
5 In other words, these are candidates currently positioned to make a serious run at the nomination, but no one is in a clear lead. The T-o-M currently ranks the freshness of the candidates as: Clinton, Obama and Edwards.

Senator Hillary Clinton

Senator Barack Obama

Senator John Edwards

Toast. The nice thing about tier two is that you might be worthy of being considered for the Vice Loaf.

Bill Richardson

Burnt Toast. Quite frankly, one has to wonder why these guys are still in the race. They will make the list of veepables, but likely will just go back to their day jobs.

Joe Biden (Actually, I could see Biden in a prominent cabinet position in a Democratic White House)

Christopher Dodd

Crumbs at the Bottom of the Toaster. It is rather difficult to distinguish burnt toast from the crumbs, although basically we are talking here about candidates who don’t even qualify for a Vice Loaf mention, and who (if they are mentioned at all) are typical noted for purposes of comic relief.

Dennis Kucinich6

  • An example of the comic relief part: on this week’s Chris Matthews Show the only mentioned he received was in the context of the UFO comment.
  • His home page can be found here.

Mike Gravel (If you said to yourself “who?” then you have a good grasp of the notion of crumbs at the bottom of the toaster).

~~Coming Soon: The GOP loaf~~

Update: The GOP edition of the Iowa T-o-M is here.

  1. If Sabato can use a crystal ball, why can’t I use a toaster? []
  2. If you can’t take a healthy helping of flippancy with your political analysis, then the T-o-M isn’t for you. Also, if you find bread-based metaphor offensive, move along []
  3. Wherein you can also see how wrong I was about Kerry… []
  4. Or, as I liked to call them, the ReCal []
  5. With apologies to Senator Obama, but the functional analogy here is bread types, so I’ll stick with “white bread” as generic bread. However, it does make me think back to Chris Rock’s Nat X character and his rants about The Man []
  6. With apologies to Matthew []
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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Miss. congressman replacing Sen. Lott

Gov. Haley Barbour on Monday announced his choice for Trent Lott’s replacement in the Senate: Rep. Roger Wicker, a conservative congressman.


Wicker will serve until a state-mandated special election is held Nov. 4. He is expected to be a candidate in that race. The winner will serve out the remainder of Lott’s term, which runs through 2024.

The Clarion-Ledger ‘s report has a few additional details, inclusing the following:

Barbour’s decision will leave a new vacancy — this time in the U.S. House of Representatives. He did not say who he would appoint to serve in the interim or when a special election would be for Wicker’s post.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Colombia hostage mission delayed

An operation by Venezuelan helicopters to collect three hostages due to be released in Colombia by the Farc rebel group has been delayed for a third day.

Venezuelan officials said the group had not provided the co-ordinates for the handover and that there was not enough time to complete the mission on Sunday.

I commented on the story yesterday. Sadly, no added optimism after the additional delay.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Pakistan delays election decision

Pakistan’s election body has delayed a decision on whether to put back elections planned for 8 January in the wake of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

Despite the delay, it would appear that the elections1 will, in fact, be delayed.

Apart from the general chaos, there are some practical issues that need addressing:

At least ten local election offices have been burnt down in the rioting which followed Benazir Bhutto’s death.

Ballot boxes and voting screens have been destroyed and the printing of ballot papers – and their delivery around the country – has also been disrupted.

  1. Such as they will be []
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Sunday, December 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via McClatchy: Edwards surges, Huckabee’s bubble bursts:

John Edwards has clawed his way into contention to win Iowa’s caucuses on Thursday in the first vote for the Democratic presidential nomination, gaining strength even as rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have lost ground, according to a new McClatchy-MSNBC poll.

The numbers are: 24% for Edwards, 23% for Clinton and 22% for Obama. Richardson is 4th with 12% and Biden at 5th with 8%.

Given the clustering of the top three, it will be especially interesting to know who the second choices are of the caucus attendees. Even there, while Edwards is favored, the split is more evenly divided than one might expect:

If all second-tier Democratic candidates fall short and their supporters switch to other candidates, Edwards gains the most, rolling up a clear lead at 33 percent to 26 percent each for Clinton and Obama.

And there’s still the 8% undecideds along with the fact that:

One in five Iowa Democrats say they could still change their minds.

On the GOP side, the possible mind-changers is even higher:

One in three Iowa Republicans say they could still change their minds.

And while Huckabee has slid into second, I am not sure that the headline’s talk of a burst bubble is on target. At the moment Romney has 27% and Huckabee 23%. Given the margin of error is 5%, that still means that Huckabee could be ahead of Romney. And so while Romney has gained ground since the start of the month, it isn’t exactly a clear lead at this point in time.

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By Steven L. Taylor

At the beginning of December, I noted that Huckabee was promising the impossible, i.e., “sealing” the border. I was first challenged by an e-mailer (who worked for the Huckabee campaign, in fact) and a commenter that Huckabee didn’t actually use the word “seal” (however, ends up he did).

Well, today on MTP he was deploying the phrase “seal the border” yet again (and rather emphatically, I might add). I will post the appropriate transcript portion when available.

This type of rhetoric is, no doubt, music to the ears of many in the pool of potential GOP primary voters. However, it is utter nonsense and wholly fantastical (for reasons detailed in this post). It is very difficult to take seriously anyone’s propositions on the border/immigration who deploys such language. Further, the “plan” that he is touting that would have all 12-15 million illegals leave the US in a 120 day window and start the process of return in their home countries is similarly from the Land of Wish.

It would be nice for someone to talk about the border intelligently for a change, including that simple fact that it is impossible to stop illegal crossings, and that the economic interchange between the US and Mexico (which is vital to both countries) makes talk about “sealing” the border utter nonsense.

I will give him credit–he gives a nod to the notion that a) we need these workers in our economy, and b) the US bureaucracy regarding the processing of persons entering to work is broken. However, the vagueness to which he addresses the issue, coupled with the breezy way he deals with impossible actions (such as getting millions to voluntarily leave) makes it impossible to take his position seriously. The fact that he has changed views from his time as Governor on the question of illegal immigrants to make them more palatable to the GOP electorate also makes it difficult to take him seriously on this issue.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Colombia hostage mission delayed

An operation by Venezuelan helicopters to collect three hostages due to be released in Colombia by the Farc rebel group has been delayed for another day.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Venezuelan officials said the guerrillas had not yet given them the co-ordinates for the handover.

I first noted this story over a week ago (here and here) and hope that the handover takes place. However, it is not surprising that it has been delayed and I will not be surprised if it doesn’t take place. If the FARC can find a way to fail to turn over the hostages and in so doing find a way to make it look like it is President Uribe’s fault that the handover fails to take place, I think that they will be more than happy to take that route.

At the moment, the exchange could take place today or tomorrow.

For the sake of the captive and their families, I pray that it happens soon and without any problems.

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By Steven L. Taylor

After a half-a-year-plus absence, I have returned to the pages of : the Press-Register:

Due to date change, state’s primary vote will matter this year
Sunday, December 30, 2024
Special to the Press-Register

The new year will be a political one, without a doubt. For the first time since the advent of the current nominating process (i.e., basically 1972), we have wide-open races for the presidential nomination in both political parties.

Indeed, the sheer mass of politics for the year 2024 is going to be so great that it was necessary for it to protrude back in time into 2024 (if not 2024), as Campaign 2024 has clearly been anything but contained to one calendar year.


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Saturday, December 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Marilyn Manson officially divorced.

If Marlyn Manson can’t keep a marriage together, what hope do the rest of us have?

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