Friday, October 31, 2008

It’s Still All about Pennsylvania

“Buyer’s remorse” is setting in as Republicans who have been toying with the idea of voting for Obama because they were pissed off at George Bush appear to be coming home. That phenomenon has shrunk the Democrat’s lead heading into the final four days.

I’ve looked at the trends and analyzed the data. Since this is Halloween I can’t think of a better day to predict the results of this race.

Take Pennsylvania and put it off to the side for a moment. Barack Obama will win all the rest of the states won by Kerry plus Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. That will give him 257 electoral votes.

McCain will win all of the remaining states won by Bush in 2004 including the so-called battleground states of Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Missouri. That will give him 260 electoral votes.

Whoever wins Pennsylvania will win the election and we won’t know that until the early hours of the morning of November 5th.

My fear is that McCain squeaks out a win in Pennsylvania and wins the election 281 – 257.

Why am I afraid this could happen? Because (1) I think the race is really closer than the public polls are showing, (2) the youth vote is not going to show up in the quantities that Obama needs and (3) the “Buyer’s Remorse” is going to be much worse than usual this year with large numbers of folks reverting at the last minute.

This is my nightmare scenario. I'm afraid of sitting there with Obama stuck at 257 votes while one by one the "too close tocall" states that could put him over the top fall into the McCain column.

Should my nightmare scenario come through, we're in big trouble. McCain and the Republicans will just try to continue down the same path with the Democratic Congress fighting them every step of the way. A good definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.

You think this country is divided now? You ain’t seen nothing yet. We’re talking about four years of total gridlock while literally everything deteriorates. Don’t expect much out of Washington while things are going to hell beyond partisan finger pointing and recriminations.

It’s not likely I’ll live to see the 2012 elections. Look for Hillary to go for it again and McCain may, or may not, be in a position to run for re-election. He may face a revolt from the extreme right wing of his own party. Hell, we might see Sarah Palin stab him in the back and end up as the Republican nominee. Dang, Hillary against the born in an igloo dingbat, I’ll be sorry to miss that one.

Hopefully this is just my natural paranoia and pessimism raising its ugly head. I’d never be so glad to be so wrong. But I'm not the only one that's worried. The internet traffic is pure angst and paranoia. You know the old saying, no smoke without fire. All of us must be sensing something in the numbers.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

McCain Campaign Convinced Race is Tight

McCain and his campaign are more convinced then ever that they will win this campaign. Their internal polling shows the races in all of the key battleground states within the margin of error and apparently they even believe that Iowa is back within play.

The guy in charge of polling for McCain is Bill McInturff and he is a skilled professional with a reputation for honesty and competence. If he says this race is close then he has good reason to say so.

In the meantime Mason-Dixon reported the Pennsylvania race at just +4 points for Obama.

I am also seeing mathematical rumblings that bother me. I’m especially bothered by the fact that the polls are scattered all over the map. They can’t all be right. The polls are clearly making different assumptions and crunching the numbers different ways to be getting such a variation.

That means that some are right and some are wrong. Averages, if they include garbage data, can be extremely misleading and all of the projection sites I’ve seen use weighted averages of one type or another.

What if McInurff’s assumptions and number crunching are the only ones that are accurate? If that’s the case, then November 4th is going to turn into a disappointment of colossal proportions.
The other possibility is simply that his data is fresher than the public polls and he is already seeing a trend that may, or may not, become apparent in the days just before the election. If this is the situation it will give the election projection sites an opportunity to wipe a little of the egg off their faces.

If nothing else McCain appears to have gotten his campaign focused on the economy and particularly on the mantras that Obama wants to "redistribute wealth" and will penalize those who work hard and succeed. I think the Joe the Plumber angle, which his campaign has continued to pound away at despite it being discounted by many as a gimmick, is having an effect as well.

Can the gap be closed quickly enough in enough places is the question. They seem to have a high degree of confidence that they are doing precisely that.

Dang, I’m SO depressed now. I was really hoping I was way off base thinking that this election was going to be a real nail biter.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

California’s Proposition 8

Almost as important as the need to elect Barack Obama is the need to defeat California’s Proposition 8. This proposition would overrule the California Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized gay marriage in California.

Aside from the problem of establishing second class citizens, opponents of Proposition 8 have engaged in utterly reprehensible practices.

A field trip by a California class to attend the wedding of their teacher to her longtime partner was filmed, edited and turned into a video TV commercial in favor of Proposition 8. For good measure, the Prop 8 proponents threw in a whole slew of distorted information about California’s “Opt Out” rules which allow parents to pull children from school activities to which they object for religious and other reasons. In fact, two parents did “Opt Out” their children from that particular field trip.

The parents of the kids used in the video, educators across the state and teachers are going absolutely bonkers over the whole thing AS THEY SHOULD.

The parents are demanding that the video cease being used, have asked the San Francisco Chronicle to intervene on their behalf and are threatening legal action. Educators and teachers are calling on the Yes campaign to stop lying about the “Opt Out” rules which are easy to invoke and are fairly routine for a whole host of activities including field trips.

Educators have also called on the Yes campaign to stop implying that young children, including kindergarten kids, are taught about marriage when in fact they’re not.

I understand the Catholic Church supports the Yes campaign, I wonder how it can possibly condone the kind of crap being peddled here.

Less than a week to go

I can’t take this. I have never been so emotionally tied up in an election and it’s driving me nuts. I’m absolutely obsessed. I cringe at every piece of bad news and mumble “I hope they’re right” at every piece of good news.

Nothing really has changed as far as I can see it. It’s still all about Pennsylvania. If McCain loses Pennsylvania then that should do it. He may even win Pennsylvania and still lose. Slate has Virginia firmly in the Obama camp and it looks like Nevada is on the verge of joining Iowa, Colorado and New Mexico in the Democratic column.

Assuming all of those states do in fact go for Obama, and he carries all the Kerry states other than Pennsylvania, that would be 270 electoral votes.

Obama gives his half hour Infomercial tonight. I think it’s the right thing to do but there’s the old saying, if it ain’t broke, than don’t fix it. We shall see what we shall see.

In the meantime McCain and Palin continue to lie, cheat and steal. I mean, political spin ok, but outright lying? I’m simply flabbergasted by the number of media organizations and individuals that have had to stand up and criticize the McCain campaign’s statements and ads. Forty workers at a telemarketing firm in Indiana walked off the job, without pay, rather than make calls about Obama being easy on criminals that the McCain campaign had paid for. Then there was the McCain campaign worker who made up a story about being attacked by a black man which, almost unbelievably, the McCain campaign tried to cash in on and then lied about trying to do so.

Yet, the man remains confident that he will win both Pennsylvania and the election. I read a memo from a McCain pollster explaining, statistically, why the public polls are actually way off and the election is in fact too close to call.

In the 2000 election, when we still had confidence in things like projections and exit polls, when the networks called Florida for Gore, I pretty much assumed that was a done deal. I had never remembered the networks calling a winner and then having to retract the call. Still, I remember clearly an interview with George Bush after the call and he was supremely confident that he would win Florida just like McCain appears supremely confident that he will win Pennsylvania.

Of course, McCain doesn’t have Katherine Harris and brother Jeb Bush to help him out like Dubya did.

Still, there’s enough criticism to go around and most people, including myself, tend to focus on things which support their pre-conceived notions.

I’m nervous as hell about this election and I just want it to be over so I can either celebrate or begin the healing process. Enough with the preliminaries already, LET’S FIGHT.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let’s talk about Race

Race is a factor in this election.

The math is really very simple. Southern Rednecks won't vote for Obama. White Evangelicals will, mostly, not vote for Obama and white working class folks will, mostly, not vote for Obama. What's really sad is that most of these people will be voting against their own economic interests.

If the man were white, this election would be long over. Apparently McCain is holding to his Pennsylvania strategy after all and McCain and Palin will be spending most of this week appealing to the baser natures of Pennsylvania's white working class. If they succeed, this thing could get very sticky. I see a number of scenarios with Obama stuck 5-10 electoral votes short while a half-dozen or so states remain in the "too close to call" category.

It could be a very long and frustrating night.

Democracy ceases to function effectively when a significant portion of the electorate ceases to vote in its own best interest but rather it allows itself to be swayed by false issues.

What is a false issue? A false issue is one which has absolutely no real effect upon the electorate but for which there has been constructed a passionate partisanship.

Gay marriage is such an issue. About 95% of the American electorate will never even encounter a gay couple never mind be negatively influenced by whether they call their relationship marriage or a civil union. It’s a false issue. It should be a big don’t care.

The same thing is true about a candidate’s race. It doesn’t matter. What matters are his qualifications and his positions on key issues.

I was just reading an article about McCain and Palin campaigning in Beaver County Pennsylvania where they expect to find fertile ground for their planned Pennsylvania comeback. Beaver County is on the Western edge of Pennsylvania, is 92% white working class and has a median family income of around $37,000.

When you talk about “the war on the middle class” or “the squeezing of the middle class,” the folks in Beaver are precisely those people getting hurt the most. They have been mauled by the economic decisions of the Republican Bush administration and are precisely the people that the Democratic campaign is looking to help with tax cuts, tuition aid and health care. Yet many, if not most of them, will probably vote Republican either because they’ve been hoodwinked into believing that Obama is planning to raise their taxes or because of Obama’s race.

The first point is a flat out lie and the second is a false issue yet you can be sure that the Republicans will pound away at both these points, the first overtly and the second by implication.

Please don’t tell that there are legitimate reasons why these people would be better off with a Republican administration because it’s sheer bull. I would probably be better off with a Republican in the White House but not most of these people.

The CEO of AIG, one of the major collapses in the current economic crisis, got a $6.9 million bonus last year despite $4 billion in company losses. No one deserves a $6.9 million dollar bonus. Even if the company had made $4 billion it wouldn’t be deserved. This is more money than the overwhelming majority of American workers will make in their entire working career. You will excuse me if I’m not particularly worried if he has to pay 39% of that in income taxes rather than 36%.

The poor baby will only have $4.9 million to spend rather than $5.1 million.

To the folks in Beaver, it’s only fair to ask you boys, whose side are you on?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yin and Yang

The Giants win, my unemployed daughter gets a job nibble but McCain guarantees a victory on November 4th.

Hmmm, all logic says McCain is dreaming so why do I continue to have this uncomfortable feeling in my gut? Call it butterflys, call it apprehension or call it fear. Any normal person is familier with the feeling.

If you are physically engaged, it can egg you on to incredible feats; if you are a spectator it just makes you feel uncomfortable and helpless. I feel uncomfortable and helpless.

There are things called unrealistic fears that we all have from time to time. I hope this falls into that category but I just don't trust the American electorate. If Obama has a weakness it's that those segments of the electorate in which his support is strongest are also the segments of the electorate that historically have had the worst turnout on election day.

McCain says they're doing just fine and it's all going to hinge on the voter turnout where clearly the Republicans expect to win it. Either that or they've obtained access to the voting machines.

He's right about voter turnout being the key so MAKE DAMN SURE YOU VOTE because NOW is the time and HERE is the place. OBAMA '08.

I Guess I Just Don't Understand Politics

Either that or I’m really dumb because I’m really confused. McCain’s strategy looked reasonable. Concede Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado, hold the other traditionally Red battleground states and deny Obama Pennsylvania. If it could be pulled off, he wins.

So what the heck are he and Palin doing campaigning in Iowa, Colorado and New Mexico? I guess John’s not satisfied with just a win and he’s looking for a clear electoral mandate. Either that or he's decided it would be easier to deny Obama Colorado than Pennsylvania.

That would also work except Obama winning any other state, inclding Neveda which would mean an electoral college tie, would give Obama the election.

I have to ask the question again, what does McCain know that the rest of us don’t know? I have this really bad feeling that we’re going to be spending the night of November 4th and the wee hours of November 5th looking for that one state to take Obama over 270 while a half dozen or so remain too close to call.

The other wild card is in the reports that Sarah Palin is chaffing under her handlers and wants to have more direct access to the media and to pitch her own message. In the words of the McCain camp, she’s going Rogue.

I have no idea if that will be a stunning success or backfire so completely as to finally sink McCain. She’s just too much of an unknown quantity. I do know one thing, if the polls are right then the Republicans have little to lose.

My natural paranoia, given how low the bar is for Palin, and how the media tends to gush over her, says that she’d have to say something unbelievably stupid for this to backfire. That means they might just let her have her reins and, given the fragility of this race, that could throw a monkey wrench into the whole thing. My fear is that might turn out to be exactly what McCain needs.

Please, don't let this turn into the biggest turn around in political history. I don't think I could take it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It’s all about Pennsylvania

Obama takes Pennsylvania and he wins. That’s why McCain is focusing on the state. The other reason is that Pennsylvania always turns out to be closer than it looks. I learned last night that internal campaign polls show the state to be essentially a toss-up and there are clear signs of concern within the Pennsylvania Democratic organization.

Here’s how the math goes. If you take Pennsylvania out of the mix, Obama looks on track to win all the other states carried by Kerry in 2004. McCain may argue about New Hampshire but that looks more like nostalgia than reality. That’s a total of 231 electoral votes.

Obama also appears on track to win Iowa, Colorado and New Mexico with a total of 21 electoral votes. That brings Obama up to 252. Pennsylvania, with 21 electoral votes of its own, is an opportunity for McCain to wipe out the three Democratic gains. If Obama also takes Pennsylvania then turn out the lights because the party is over. That’s 273 votes and none of the other swing states matter.

However, if Obama doesn’t win Pennsylvania, that means he will have to take at least one and possibly two additional Red States. Either Ohio or Florida would put him over the top but both are traditionally Republican states that are very close and still have a fairly large undecided contingent. This late in the game, undecided voters tend to go their traditional way and that means Republican in these two states. I think McCain wins both Ohio and Florida.

That means Obama would have to win Virginia and either North Carolina, Missouri or Nevada. These are all states that twice voted for George Bush. North Carolina hasn’t gone Democrat since 1976! Personally I don’t see either North Carolina or Missouri going Democrat.

That leaves Virginia and Nevada. The only problem is the most recent pole in Virginia shows the state a two point toss-up and Nevada isn’t much better. I seriously think Obama needs to win Pennsylvania or he runs a very real risk of losing the election but I don’t think the Obama campaign sees it that way. McCain has a damn good chance of stealing Pennsylvania, and therefore the election, right out from under the Democrats noses.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Confusion on Top of the Cake

Reading all of the political stories on the web can give you an absolute headache. Now the Associated Press is saying that its poll puts the race dead even with Obama at 44% and McCain at 43%.

However, I have to admit I was a little confused at the way the numbers were reported. The AP stated that this was among 800 “likely voters” out of 1,101 polled. The numbers of everyone polled was Obama 47% and McCain 37%. That would mean that Obama leads among “unlikely voters” by 55% to 21%! Allow me to suggest that the Obama folks might want to work on getting these people to the polls. Enigmatically the AP also reported that Obama leads among “registered voters” by 5 points.

This poll is also showing 13%-16% still undecided which is a huge number at this stage of the game.

In the meantime Sarah Palin told James Dobson in an interview that the election is “in God’s hands.”

I knew it was only a matter of time before this came up. I’ll tell you what. If it’s in God’s hands, does that mean you’ll look upon whoever wins as God’s anointed? That’s what good old Paul claimed. Allow me to quote Romans 13:1.

Romans 13:1 - Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

If I remember correctly this was the justification for the idea that the king ruled by divine right. If you buy this one, then the American Revolution was a revolt against God’s will. Sort of makes the ideas of “In God We Trust” and “God Bless America” sound a bit silly doesn’t it?

Actually, it’s Christianity that’s silly. If there is a God he (she? it?) clearly doesn’t give a hoot whom we elect to govern the country for the next four years or are you telling me that he (she? it?) wanted George Bush in the White House?

Dang, even I consider that blasphemy.

Less then 2 Weeks to Go

We’re now officially less than 2 weeks to the Presidential election and the focus has squarely shifted to the electoral math.

Pew Research upset the apple cart yesterday by releasing a large sample poll (over 2,400) showing Obama with a whopping 14 point lead. Then the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll followed up on that last night by releasing figures that showed a 10 point Obama lead.

To further confuse the issue, a number of organizations now believe that some polls may have been understating Obama’s numbers due to the phenomenon of cell phone only households. Cell phone only households are overwhelmingly young voters and young voters favor Obama by a ginormous 67% to 27% margin. This wouldn’t apply to Pew Research though as they claim to be taking the cell phone only households into account. We shall see about this one when the actual results are counted. This is too good to be true and if it seems to good to be true...

Of course none of this matters one iota. What matters is the electoral math. Strange as it sounds Obama could, in theory, win the popular vote by 10 points and still loose the election. Let us not forget that Al Gore won the popular vote by 543,000 votes and we still ended up stuck with George Bush.

On the electoral side things don’t look nearly as flush. CNN is reporting that the McCain campaign is pulling out of Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado to focus on Pennsylvania. As I pointed out last week this is a very risky approach. Current polls have McCain trailing in Pennsylvania by 51.7% to 40.7%. Still, that’s better than last Thursday when I reported him trailing by 53.6% to 40%.

McCain apparently also believes that he has an ace up his sleeve in New Hampshire and the last I heard he hasn’t yet conceded in Wisconsin. I have to ask the question. What does this man know that the rest of us don’t know?

According to the polls McCain trails in New Hampshire by 52.2% to 42.8% and in Wisconsin by 52.2% to 40.8%. What the hell? Could the public polls really be that wrong?

The McCain campaign also appears to feel that Virginia, North Carolina and Missouri are safe and are focusing primarily on Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. In all of these states the candidates are within 3 points of each other with the exception of Pennsylvania as noted above and Virginia where Obama is reported ahead 52.8% to 44.8%.

Why is this man smiling especially considering that the demographics, the money and the plunging popularity of the callow and shrill partisan, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called Palin, are all working against him?

If the parties were reversed and it was the Democratic candidate facing these kinds of numbers we all would be declaring it over except for the punishing of the innocent so WTF is going on?

Easy, it’s the Democrats stupid and they are masters at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Besides, the election always tightens near the end and I'm not sure why this race should be any different. Personally I think McCain is relying on “people returning to their roots” between now and pulling the lever. That’s a euphemism for, when push comes to shove, white people aren’t going to vote for a black man. I wish I could say with conviction that this is not going to happen. The shadow of Tom Bradley still lingers.

Either that or the Republicans have gotten control of the voting machines in the key states.

I can’t discount that possibility either. I still believe that Obama needs Pennsylvania. But if somehow McCain pulls out New Hampshire, that sets up the possibility of an electoral vote tie.

In that case it goes to the House of Representatives where each state would get one vote and 26 votes would be needed to win. It would be the newly elected congress that votes so it's not 100% certain what that would mean. At the moment the Democrats have a majority in exactly 26 states and might pick up more but who knows?

If no one gets 26 states then the Vice President, selected by majority vote in the senate, would become acting President. The Democrats should have a majority in the Senate so that means Joe Biden should win.

If through some weird warping of space (or the Republicans manage to sabotage the Senate voting machines somehow even though the Senate doesn't have voting machines) and the Senate doesn’t choose a Vice President, then the Speaker of the House who, baring the second coming, should be Nancy Pelosi, would become President.

Bottom line, a tie means a Democratic president. Most likely Barack Obama (like about 99.9% probability), but in an oddball situation could actually turn out to be Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi.

Either that or we'll get Jesus making his grand entrance to judge the sheep and the goats.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The New York Daily News Endorses…

Barack Obama! I never thought I’d live to see the day. Come on guys, even the News can see Obama’s the right guy in this time and place. Stop worrying about whether or not it might cost you an extra dollar or two and think about how much better off we all will be in the long term.

Think especially about how much better off our kids and grandkids will be. If there is a god, think about how you’re going to justify not taking this opportunity to do what’s right because you were too worried about your pocketbook.

Obama leads McCain in newspaper endorsements 112-39. Kerry barely led Bush in 2004 213-205. Are there that many less newspapers or have less than half issued an endorsement?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Last Debate

Here’s the deal. When Obama was talking I felt confident and comfortable. When McCain was talking I was looking for cover because I thought he was about to hit me!

Talk about an angry young man. Sheesh! I’m sure his combativeness will make his under 100 IQ trailer park base yell YE-HAH! Unfortunately for McCain, the rest of us would prefer a President with a little more control over his emotions.

McCain made some good points and Obama sidestepped some specific questions such as the question of nuclear power. But the fundamental problem, and it has been a problem in all three of the debates, was that while Obama addressed what McCain said in real time, McCain addressed straw men.

This was especially obvious during the health care conversation. Whatever plan McCain was attacking, it wasn’t the plan that Obama was articulating at that moment and, as far as I can tell, has described fairly consistently since the beginning of the Presidential debates. It’s fairly obvious to almost anyone when one candidate says my plan is A-B-C and the other candidate criticizes plan D-E-F.

As far as Joe the Plumber is concerned, if he’s in a position to buy a business which nets $250,000 a year, the cut off point in Obama’s tax scheme, I’m not sure why any of us should be worrying much about him. Hell that’s like feeling sorry for the poor executives at AIG who will have to forego their free company paid hunting trip this year.

I’d also like to know what the hell McCain was thinking about when he implied that folks coming out of the armed forces could immediately become teachers without having to go through the certification process that most states require. Teaching is not simple. I know. I tried it with mixed results. My wife is a teacher. Trust me; it’s a lot harder than it looks and teacher training and certification are definitely needed.

Ignore the pundits; I’m keeping an eye on the Intrade market. After last night the price of an Obama becoming President share, which had been holding around 77, jumped to 86. The price of a McCain share, which had been holding around 22, dropped to 13.8 so that makes it pretty obvious who won the debate.

Despite McCain trying to give the election away I still feel this thing is something of a toss-up because there are large portions of the American electorate I just don’t trust. According to a report this morning McCain has pulled out of all the Blue states other than Pennsylvania (however, it appears that report was incorrect and apparently McCain is still contending New Hampshire and Wisconsin in addition to Pennsylvania). That means he’s essentially conceding 231 electoral votes and by any reasonable estimate he has 174 votes locked up. That brings us to the 112 electoral votes in states that went Red last time but are on the edge this time and the 21 electoral votes of Pennsylvania.

Obama needs 39 of those 133 votes. McCain needs 96 of those 133 votes. Iowa (52.8% for Obama, 41.0% for McCain), Colorado (50.4% to 44.6%) and New Mexico (50.7% to 42.3%), with coincidentally a combined total of 21 electoral votes, look like long shots for McCain. Assuming those states are lost, that brings Obama up to 252 votes so McCain must win Pennsylvania along with everything else.

At the moment McCain is trailing in Pennsylvania 53.6% to 40% and they’re pushing for, and will probably get, a much high voter turnout in Democratic Philadelphia. I guess the McCain camp figures that concentrating on Pennsylvania rather than going after Iowa, Colorado and New Mexico would be more efficient.

I see no way he can swing Pennsylvania with a 13 point Obama lead. Every week I get requests from the Obama camp to drive down to Pennsylvania and help out so they clearly still have their eye on the ball.

That gives Obama 273 votes and that’s the most I believe he can expect. Maybe 278 if Nevada holds. I don’t for one minute believe that Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Missouri or Ohio, regardless of what the polls say, is going Blue.

So Obama needs Pennsylvania, Colorado, Iowa and either New Mexico or Nevada. He can also win if he loses either Colorado or Iowa and wins both New Mexico and Nevada.

Like I said, it’s going to be close.

One very definite potential issue I see is Obama may have peaked a tad too early. From where he is at the moment, he has no place to go but down. Call me an alarmest but the news that Sarah Palin is going to be on Saturday Night Live concerns me a great deal.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Republican Base

Apparently things are getting ugly at the Republican rallies as Sarah Palin riles up the base. Cries of “traitor” and “kill him” aimed against Barack Obama have been heard from the crowd. The Republican elite, including John McCain, is appalled at the reaction and looking to calm things down. McCain also appears to be muzzling Palin a bit which sounds like a really good move.

Why is this kind of reaction a surprise? For years the Republicans have been cozying up with the lunatic fringe and waging an assault on the emotions of the under 100 IQ trailer park set. Now they’re surprised when Bubba six-pack gets upset? DUH, here’s another reason not to vote Republican. I thought only Dubya was too dumb to understand the implications of his actions.

You play with fire and eventually someone gets burned.

In the meantime…

Life goes on even as the Presidential election moves into the home stretch. Last week Connecticut became the third state to approve gay marriage. Unfortunately, in the second state, California, a ballot initiative that would introduce a constitutional amendment outlawing Gay Marriage called Proposition 8 is leading in the polls by a 47-42 margin.

The approval of Proposition 8 in California would be an enormous step backwards. Every major newspaper, Governor Schwarzenegger and numerous celebrities have come out against the proposition but a well financed anti-gay marriage campaign, at least for the moment, appears to be winning.

Ironically it appears to be Blacks and Hispanics, the folks who have the most to fear from discrimination, who are supporting Proposition 8. Allow me to suggest that these folks might want to consider whose side they’re on.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Let’s Talk about Bill Ayers

McCain and Palin are trying to make a big deal about Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers and Obama is trying to play it down. Personally I think the ties between Obama and Ayers were more than Obama’s willing to own up to and I also think it doesn’t matter one iota.

Only the Republican faithful would give a crap. I don’t care if they’re bosom buddies. Ayers was a radical 40 years ago. Those days are over. He’s currently a Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois for Christ’s sake. Watch my lips, he’s teaching teachers how to teach.

While Ayers still believes opposing the Vietnam War was a social imperative, he has apologized for his part in the violence. He spent 10 years underground. Both his children were born while he was underground. I think the guy has paid for his mistakes.

More importantly Obama has openly condemned Ayers actions back in the 1960’s and 1970’s when Obama was all of 8 years old.

Keep in mind that no one was killed in these “terrorist attacks.” They were small explosives aimed at property damage rather than killing innocents and therefore fundamentally different from Islamic Terror attacks or the Timothy McVeigh variety of attack.

Most of Ayers and the Weathermen’s activities were big flops. The “Days of Rage” in Chicago attracted no more than 200 participants who, after damaging some cars and shop windows, were rounded up by police and dumped in the hoosegow to cool their heels.

The Weathermen were most dangerous to themselves. When they decided to switch to an anti-personnel nail bomb, they botched it and Ayers best friend, Terry Reynolds, and his girlfriend, Diane Oughton, were both killed.

The charges pending against Ayers and his wife, the former Bernadine Drohn, also a Weathermen (Weatherperson?), were dropped as a result of the COINTELPRO scandal of the late 1970’s. That investigation revealed the extent of illegal FBI activity aimed not only at radical groups, like the Weathermen and KKK, but also at mainstream social activists groups such as the NAACP, CORE and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

So here’s the deal, who cares? I’m sure Obama also smoked grass while he was at Harvard. It’s ancient history that’s going to have no impact at all moving forward. There are no lessons to be learned from 40 years ago that are nearly as important as the lessons to be learned from the last 10 years. The Republicans don’t want to talk about those so why the hell should I care about what happened in the 1960’s? Besides, I was there, and you had to be there to understand.

So where are we in this election?

Damn good question. Less than four weeks until election day and, as far as I can see, this thing is still a toss-up. There are an awful lot of swing states still hanging by a thread and I think McCain would be making a massive mistake to go down and dirty like some of the far right whackos in his party are urging him to do.

I thought Obama won the second debate handily. Allow me to suggest that media attempts to level out the result are more aimed at keeping the ratings and interest level up than they are at providing an honest appraisal.

I’m seeing signs of panic in the Republican camp that I believe are totally unfounded. The simple fact is that North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada are all still very much in play for three reasons.

The first reason is that all of these states have at least 10% undecided and voters who choose late are more likely to go with the “safer” choice. Putting Sarah Palin aside, I suspect that most people still view McCain as the “safer” choice. I suspect that Palin is going to hurt McCain here if he doesn’t muzzle her. Suddenly embarking upon what could be viewed as a personnel vendetta would definitely hurt him here.

The second reason is, despite what I’m hearing from academia, we still can’t be sure we’re not going to see a significant “Bradley effect.” Named for Tom Bradley, who ran for governor of California back in the 1980’s, the Bradley affect occurs when people tell pollsters what they think they should say, or what they think the pollster wants to hear, with regards to a black candidate and then change their mind, or let their true colors show, when they enter the privacy of the voting booth.

Figures lie and liars figure and you can use statistics to argue almost anything position if you’re selective enough and spin it right. Same folks claim the Bradley effect is real and is going to be a factor, some say it’s a phenomenon of an America that no longer exists, some say the effect never existed in the first place and some are even claiming that more likely is what is being dubbed an Obama effect going the other way because pollsters aren’t properly taking into account younger voters that tend to be more cell phone than land line oriented.

Personally I think the effect is real and is going to be a factor. I can almost guarantee you it will be a factor in the states listed above. What I don’t know is how big a factor.

The third reason is what I can only call the “buyer’s remorse” effect. For whatever reason, things tend to tighten in the last month of the campaign because folks who have reached a tentative decision to vote for the leading candidate start worrying if they’re making a mistake. That leads to paying more attention to what the opposing candidate is saying. Invariable that leads to some conversions. This doesn’t happen on the other side because folks figure their candidate is going to lose anyway.

Pulling against this would be the so-called “bandwagon effect” where folks decide to go with “the winner” simply because he’s winning. Things are way too close for this to be much of a factor in my opinion.

So there are potentially three things pulling in McCain’s direction, therefore it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it’s a stunned McCain giving the victory speech in the wee hours of November 5th while Obama is wondering what the hell happened.

Obviously, I hope I’m completely wrong about this but I doubt it. Even if the election were held today I don’t think the poll numbers would hold up and I expect them to tighten between now and election day assuming nothing dramatic occurs.

Promoted to Goddess?

Speaking of Religulous, I see in the AP that a new Royal Kumari, considered to be a living goddess, has been appointed in Nepal. Not to worry however, it’s only until the 3 year old girl reaches puberty.

At that point she gets demoted back to mortal and can try to adjust back to a normal life after spending nine or ten years isolated in a palace in Katmandu.

Apparently the girl, selected by a panel of judges and having passed a final test where she had to spend the night in a room surrounded by the heads of slaughtered animal, is viewed and worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal as the incarnation of the Hindu deity Taleju.

The Royal Kumari lives in the Kumari Ghar in Katmandu, always dresses in red and has a representation of a third eye attached to her forehead.

As soon as menstruation occurs, a new Kumari is selected and the previous one gets divested of her symbols of divinity in a ceremony over a four day period. At the end the girl is left with a gold coin, a scrap of red fabric from her previous regalia and memories. Superstition has it that men who marry a former Kumari die young by coughing up blood so they’re not exactly high on the date list.

It seems there are actually several Kumaris in Nepal. It’s just the most famous one that is the Royal Kumari in Nepal. One Kumari got into deep water after she attended a screening of a documentary about the living goddesses at the Silverdocs film festival in Maryland. She almost lost her position because the visit to the U.S. had “tainted her purity.”

Hey, I’ve been to Maryland, going there would taint anyone’s purity. Nah, I’m only kidding. Maryland is the home of the world’s best crab cake.

Consider how ridiculous this whole living goddess thing is, especially given the multiplicity of them. Oh well, I guess it’s not much more ridiculous than the concept of a trinity is it?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Religulous Reviews

Overall, the movie appears to be pretty funny although clearly even some of the professional reviewers appeared miffed at the topic.

Of course the User’s Reviews were an absolute hoot. About the first 40 on Yahoo were unanimous in giving the movie all F’s. After that it becomes more distributed but with a preponderance of A’s as the atheist camp tries to swing things the other way. No movie is worth a perfect string of A+.

Clearly all the people giving the F reviews didn’t see the movie and were part of a failed effort to water down the rating. All you need to do in order to figure this out is read the comments and notice the spelling. It’s just another example of Christian dishonesty. Do they really think the rest of us are stupid enough to be fooled?

Have I gone? No I haven’t. My daughter asked me if I wanted to go next Saturday but I’d signed up for a registration drive so I figured I’d wait and see if I get called to do that first.

I’ll get around to it (I think).

Here Comes the Mud

If you can’t win on the issues, resort to character assassination. I have to assume that’s advice right out of the politician’s handbook

The new McCain strategy is to attack Barack Obama personally or at least to attack some of his associations. McCain has Palin acting as attack dog and over the last two days Clueless from Alaska has described Obama’s association with former Weatherman Bill Ayers as “he pals around with terrorists.” Palin has also attacked Obama for his association with good old Reverend Wright.

*Yawn*. Haven’t we been down this road before? Obama has denounced Wright’s racist statements and left his congregation. He’s also repudiated Ayers Weather Underground activities. Activities I might point out that Ayers participated in 40 years ago when Obama was 8 years old.

Please tell me that people in this country aren’t stupid enough to be taken in by this kind of nonsense? Clearly the Republicans think they are. Personally I feel insulted.

If I was a woman, the so-called primary target of Palin’s current push, I’d really feel insulted. Sarah Palin is opposed to everything the feminist movement has fought for and accomplished over the past 40 years. The Republicans seem to think the Hillary fans are going to toss all of that out the window and vote for Palin just because they can empathize with her as a woman.

I don’t believe the female half of the population is that dumb.

There are real issues for the future on which the two candidates and the two parties stand miles apart. Too bad we can’t talk about them.

I’m no fan of George Bush (how’s THAT for an understatement). I think he’s a moron with flawed judgment who’s incapable of understanding the potential implications of his actions. A guy who goes with what he believes rather than what the evidence says and a man who doesn’t mind lying if he thinks he has to in order to advance what he considers a greater good. His policies have been a disaster from which the country may never recover.

However, I can’t honestly say I’ve ever felt a personal dislike for the guy. For McCain and Palin on the other hand, I’m really beginning to develop a personal distaste. I’m sure I’ll get over it, but I’m just not sure when.

Friday, October 03, 2008

After the VP Debate

Heaven help us if McCain and Palin win. Prior to the debate I figured that ANYTHING would be an improvement over George Bush. Now I’m not so sure.

Both Palin and Biden avoided embarrassing themselves but again, the Democrats in particular, and the left in general, continue to make the mistake by believing it’s about issues. It’s not. It’s about stapling more glittering generalities to your body than the other guy.

Biden talked issues. Palin made folksy and slung a record number of glittering talking points around the arena. It was almost like she had a list of words and phrases that she had to make sure she got in every few minutes whether it made sense or not. Let’s see, there was “Maverick,” “Energy Independence,” “getting government back on the side of the people” and a half dozen or so others.

Of course all of these were what we call a BFA. BFA stands for “Bald-Faced Assertion.” You say it often and loud and hope that no one notices that you don’t provide any evidence to back it up. Good old Joe had a few of those also but at least he didn’t drone away at the same word or phrase 10 or 20 times.

I thought it was interesting that the Republicans still think they can build prosperity from the top down. I’d rather build it from the bottom up.

Here’s the problem. The guys at the top are good at holding onto money. That’s WHY they’re at the top. They’re also pretty damn good at hiding that money from the tax man. That’s another reason WHY they’re at the top.

The rest of us can’t afford to hold onto it. We have bills to pay, kids to send to school and we’d like to have some enjoyments, a dependable car, decent clothes, a nice TV with a cable or satellite hook-up, go out to a show and dinner every once in a while and look forward to a reasonably secure and comfortable retirement.

I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the cash to trickle down. The way it should work is the marketplace competing for the dollars of the consumers. If they want to expand their business, attract the customers and the revenue to justify it first, and then expand rather than expand first, and hope the customers follow.

So here’s my idea, rather than giving the cash to the top and trusting those greedy bastards to do what’s right for the rest of us, give it to us and trust us to do what’s right for the whole country including the greedy bastards at the top.

One other thing, it would have been nice if Palin answered the actual questions a bit more often. I was a little shocked to hear the NBC commentators complimenting her on not answering questions she didn’t want to answer, probably because they hadn’t prepared her to answer it, and simply talking about whatever she wanted to.

If I had been the moderator I would have repeated the question until I got something approaching an answer.

One last point, Geraldine Ferraro is an idiot. She was an “expert” commentator for NBC and was so happy that Palin demonstrated that a woman could stand toe to toe with an experienced Senator like Joe Biden.

Yo Geraldine, where you been? There have been an awful lot of women that were obviously capable of that. Ever hear of Shirley Chisolm, Gloria Steinem and Hillary Clinton? And oh yeah, wasn’t there a woman Democratic Vice Presidential candidate that was thought to be so obviously qualified that no one ever questioned her credentials? Her name escapes me at the moment.

Overall this debate, especially given the low expectations for Palin going in, can only help McCain. But at least Joe doesn’t resemble a flayed moose although he might by the time the pundits finish gushing over Palin’s scripted performance.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Before the VP Debate

This one scares me. I’m very much afraid that Sarah Palin is going to gut and flay Joe Biden like a moose she just shot. I have this impression of Biden striding toward the debate like Casey heading up to bat, waving to the adoring crowds and throwing kisses to the girls. In the meantime Palin is loading up the ball in a way that would make even Gaylord Perry blush.

Don’t be lulled by the recent disastrous interviews Palin has had. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if those were just a ploy. The American public has a very short memory and if she does well in the debates, the memory of all the gaffes in the TV interviews will vanish. And what better way to insure success in the debates than by lowering expectations through a few rocky interviews?

I’m seen clips from those interviews and nobody is that dumb. Even if she is that dumb, Palin is now going through debate boot camp where all kinds of information and techniques are being drummed into her pretty little head.

Biden and the Democrats still seem to think elections are about issues. They’re not. They’re about which candidate can manage to associate the most glittering generalities with themselves. The debates aren’t about issues either. They’re about impressions. If Sarah Palin can establish the impression that she is qualified to be Vice President at Thursday’s debate, she wins, and if she wins, that’s big trouble.

Palin has two major advantages over Biden. The first is that, as a woman, she can be aggressive and say stuff that a man could never get away with. If Palin mocks and taunts, Biden can’t win. If he answers in kind, he’s bullying a woman. If he just takes it, he’s a pussy that just got beat on by a woman.

The other advantage is that she’s a lot prettier than he is.

Too bad Obama didn’t pick Hillary. Hillary would have eaten this lady alive.

So Joe, stop being so confident; you’re being lulled and lined up for the slaughter. Be very wary and please, please try not to screw this pooch too badly.