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Thursday, January 31, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Canada PM issues Afghan ultimatum

Canada has told US President George W Bush that it will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan next year unless Nato deploys more soldiers there.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is demanding that a further 1,000 Nato troops be sent to Kandahar province where Canada’s 2,500 troops are based.

Canada’s current mission in Afghanistan is set to expire in February 2009.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

As though he read my questions from this morning, Edwards answers (via the AP): John Edwards to quit presidential race

Democrat John Edwards is exiting the presidential race Wednesday, ending a scrappy underdog bid in which he steered his rivals toward progressive ideals while grappling with family hardship that roused voter’s sympathies but never diverted his campaign, The Associated Press has learned.

A press conference in scheduled for 1pm EST.

Such inevitable moves always make me wonder why candidates so vociferously promise to stay in the race. While I recognize the need to stoke the passions of the faithful, the bottom line is that it isn’t necessary to make such strident promises when one knows that one is unlikely to be able to fulfill them.

CNN’s write-up is here.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Setting the table for Super Tuesday.

The Republicans. It is now a two-man race with Huckabee hanging on for one of three (and not mutually exclusive) reasons: 1) in hopes of a miracle comeback, 2) in hopes of being the veep, or 3) for strategic reasons to help his preferred nominee, which one presumes at this point is McCain (and therefore could also be linked to reason #2).1

Paul persists because he has the money to do so and has a message he wants to spread.

A quick run-down:

  • McCain: Given that he is leading in the polls in places like NY and CA, one has to assume that McCain is the clear front runner as he emerges from Florida with a victory (and he is the delegate leader at the moment).
  • Romney: Are we seeing the “Stop Romney” coalition emerging with McC and Rudy? So it would seem. And while it is clear that many in the party (e.g., the Rush Limbaugh’s, Hugh Hewitt’s and many at NRO’s The Corner) may lament that fact, the bottom line is that Romney now has an uphill battle to face.
  • Huckabee: See above.
  • Giuliani: The word is, as I noted last night, that Giuliani is to Drop Out and Endorse McCain. Certainly in last night’s speech Rudy sounded like a man who knew he was done, speaking of his campaign in the past tense. I think the McCain endorsement is a logical move as one suspects that most Giuliani voters would more likely go to McCain rather than Romney. One suspects as well that Rudy is hoping for a cabinet position in a potential McCain administration. I must confess, AG Giuliani or DHS Secretary Giuliani is not an outcome that I relish.
  • Paul: The most interesting thing about Paul is that he represents a clear ideological position and he was able to raise large amounts of money to fuel a nationwide tour to display those ideas. Is this a new phenomenon in the era of the internet and narrowcasting to raise funds, or just Paul-specific? One could argue that Howard Dean was the first, although he had a far broader appeal than Paul has. I guess we will see in 2012.

The Democrats.

A quick run-down: Less to say here, as last night really was of far less importance to the Democrats. The Clinton-Obama fight going into next week, however, is quite intriguing.

  • Clinton: I would respect her position on Florida a lot more if she had said all of this from the get-go. Instead, she was willing to remain silent on the un-democratic moves of her party when she didn’t want to offend the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, and only found her voice in regards to Floridians when it came time to pander to them. Not impressive.
  • Obama: Still basking in the post-SC afterglow.
  • Edwards:
    One does being to wonder what his goals are here. Surely it isn’t to be the veep candidate again. Does he have a strategic goal? Clearly he may simply want to spread his message, but in all seriousness, one does begin to wonder if he couldn’t put his time, effort and resources into a more productive venue to fight for the social causes he is currently campaigning on. Is he setting up a 2012 run? And at what point does running for president cease to be a principled effort and become a rich man’s hobby? He has every right to run, and more ideas in the debate are fine, but at some point one does wonder if one is being heard/what one’s endgame looks like.
  • Gravel: I think Gravel is technically still running.

  1. The argument being that Huckabee supposedly drains more votes from Romney than he does McCain by staying in, but I haven’t really looked at the numbers to confirm to be the case. Also, Huckabee has been verbally kind to McCain throughout the campaign. Of course, what will Chuck Norris say if Huckabee eventually throws in with McC? []
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Tuesday, January 29, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Via The Page – by Mark Halperin (@ Time:

SOURCES: Giuliani expected to endorse McCain, as early as Wednesday — in Los Angeles or Simi Valley.

Howard Fineman is currently reporting on MSNBC that this is in fact that case and that the McCain-Giuliani campaigns are trying to figure not if this will happen, but how.

And interesting development, should it pan out this way.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Well, it’s clear that Rudy’s delusional Florida fantasies have crumbled to the bottom of the toaster.

The question is: how long until he is officially out of the race?

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By Steven L. Taylor

Some places to go in preparation for tonight’s Florida primary:

  1. *Sigh** []
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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Florida primary could boost GOP winner.

Really, could the effect of a win tonight be anything other than a boost to the winner?

If either McCain or Romney wins, they will crowned the front runner extraordinaire in the press.

If Giuliani wins he will be deemed the Lazarus Candidate, making the “Comeback Kid” look like a piker.

If Huckabee wins, it will be declared a miracle.

If Paul wins, the collective apoplexy of the Ronulans hordes will through the Earth off its axis.

So, yes, the “Florida primary could boost the GOP Winner.”

Who writes these headlines?

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By Steven L. Taylor

Boz notes the hemisphere highlights from SOTU and Greg Weeks further comments on the issue of trade.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the LAT: A Cold War redux is seen on the horizon

Growing friction between the United States and Russia over Iran is only part of an increasingly difficult relationship that many diplomats and experts consider to be in its worst shape since the end of the Cold War, and at risk of further deterioration.

Although U.S. officials are publicly playing down the rising tension, a series of conflicts has prompted some within the Bush administration to conclude that, for domestic and geopolitical reasons, Russia is now more comfortable with the U.S. as an enemy than an ally.

While a true return the Cold War is rarely unlikely,1 it is clear that our relationship with Russia is increasingly adversarial.2

Underlying the mounting friction is Russia’s shift in the last few years from a country that once strove for full integration with the West to one that now seeks to serve as an independent power center that can check what it views as the excessive influence of the United States. Russian leaders calculate that opposing an unpopular Bush administration will consolidate their domestic position while helping them gain leadership status abroad.

Despite the important evolution in this relationship, I would note that it has hardly been mentioned in the campaign. Indeed, as I think back to the various Foreign Affairs essays put out by the candidates, Russia was mentioned only in passing (if at all).

  1. In other words, it is rather difficult to see two global alliances poised in an ideological struggle that dictates most of US and Russian foreign policy for the foreseeable future. Further, despite their nuclear arsenal, Russia simply isn’t the same type of threat to US interests that it was during the CW. []
  2. Despite all that looking into Putin’s heart that the President did some years ago []
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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Russia to limit election monitors

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