Friday, October 31, 2008

My Volunteer Experience

Tonight I went to the No On Prop. 8 campaign campaign office. To say it was crowded is an understatement. We called volunteers who'd agreed to work all kinds of hours on election day. From 6:30 am to 8:30pm on Nov. 4th we'll be working the polls, informing voters and dispelling the myths perpetrated by the hate-filled Yes On 8 campaign.

We had so many volunteers that we contacted all the volunteers in our list in the course of 20 minutes. With 2 hours to go iin our volunteer shifts we gathered up all the signs in the office. We didn't have quite enough, so we made our own too. We marched out into the streets, and staked out a 4-way intersection. We screamed and hollered, and I learned enough No On 8 slogans to last a lifetime. My theater years paid off: I lead many chants and was always the loudest voice at the rally. It was truly empowering. Here's a small sampling of the slogans:

"Vote no!/ Vote no!/ Vote no, Prop. 8 has got to go!"

"No on 8!/ no on hate!/ we do not discriminate!"

CALL: "What do we want?!"
RESPONSE: "Equal rights!"
CALL: "How do we get it?!"
RESPONSE: "No on 8!"

I had an amazing personal experience too. I was reminded about why I wanted to do politics. We were out tonight fighting for our civil rights. We have the power to shape a generation. We shouted at every car that passed, and asked every pedestrian to vote no. With a few exceptions, almost everybody said they would and smiled at us. One man though said nothing. He just smiled and showed us his ring. For me this will be the image that sticks with me as I go to the polls to fight for equality. I know what I'm fighting for. And I know what we stand to lose.

The time to take a stand is now! Visit for more info on fighting for equal rights for all. And most of all, VOTE!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The California Propositions: My Endorsements

Since I live in California, and most of my readers are voting in California, I thought I'd share how I voted on the propositions, with a little explanation.

Prop 1A: YES. As flawed as this proposition is, now is the time to finally start high speed rail in California.

Prop 2: YES. Humane conditions for farm animals should be a given. This proposition finally makes it a reality.

Prop 3: NO. As much as I respect the children's hospitals, the hospital haven't used the $ we gave them last time! Plus, these are private institutions with absurdly overpaid executives. Why is the state paying for them exactly?

Prop 4: NO, NO, NO! This is the 3rd time this has been on the CA ballot! It is essential that women of all ages can have safe abortions! Abortions are not a pleasant thing- nobody claims as much. Forcing parental notification however would only result in more illegal abortions and more unwanted births. Let's kill this monstrosity one more time!

Prop 5: YES. Rehab over prisons for non-violent offenders. This is just the kind of thing that California's bloated prison system needs.

Prop 6: NO! This is a sleazy "anti-gang" initiative, that's really just a "more people in prison" initiative. Send it down!

Prop 7: NO ENDORSEMENT (though I voted yes). There is much wrong with this proposition. It punishes microenergy producers in an unfortunate way. Despite of this however it would effect a move towards clean and renewable energy. I have very mixed feelings about this one, so follow your gut.

Prop 8: NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!!!! California is poised to uphold equal marriage rights for all. California could once again be the vanguard in civil rights for an entire nation. We can reverse the legal gay-bashing tide and take the USA into the future. Or if we vote yes, we can suffer for a generation. The time is now! Vote NO!

Prop 9: NO. "Vicitim's Rights". I call BS. Like Prop. 6, this is Prison Guard's Union double-speak. Victim's Rights means harder to defend suspects. And what does that mean? More inmates for our enormous prison system!

Prop. 10: NO. This energy proposition is much, much worse than 7. It is a thinly veiled payoff to natural gas interests. Natural gas is not clean energy. We need to move forward, not sideways.

Prop 11: NO. Redistricting. Yes gerrymandering is bad. No this is not the solution. This method is biased heavily towards Republicans and Independents and takes power away from our elected officials. No way.

Prop 12: YES. This is a renewal of our 12-year running bond for home-purchasing loans for vets. And even better? Since they're loans, the vets will pay for it over time. What's not to like?

In summary:

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!! on 4 and 8!

NO on 3, 6, 9, 10 and 11.

YES on 1A, 2, 5 and 12.

EH on 7

Remember, get out and vote! Don't let a perceived Obama landslide stop you! These propositions will dramatically affect our lives! So please, even if you don't care abotu the national election, stand up for women and same-sex couples on Nov. 4!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

McCain in Flames

I was struck when sifting through the news by how many signs of a
failing candidate that McCain is showing.

His party is rebelling.

He can't make conservative pundits stay in line.

And his campaign is having massive infighting. They are calling Palin a
rogue, and get this, a /diva/. One adviser said: ""She is a diva. She
takes no advice from anyone," the McCain source said. "She does not have
any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else."

Partisanship aside, McCain has lost control of his image. His party, the
media and his campaign team are all beyond his control. By political science
standards, McCain is a failing candidate.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fascinating Articles

Nate Silver has a fascinating New York Post article up on McCain's long shot chance for electoral success. It's incredibly unlikely, but probably McCain's only path to victory at this point.

In other news, Oliver North (yes that Ollie North) manages to compare Obama to Hitler, Kim Jong Il, Napoleon, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, and Robert Mugabe in the course of 2 pages. It's absurd, offensive and really, really typical of Oliie "Iran-Contra" North. This man can't seem to stay out of politics, even after his failed senate bid. Ironically, this article is called Messiah Defecit Disorder

Also, Dick Morris is still a dick

Monday, October 20, 2008

Quotes du Jour

Rove, WSJ: “This task, while not impossible, will be difficult,” Rove wrote. “If Mr. McCain succeeds, he will have engineered the most impressive and improbable political comeback since Harry Truman in 1948. But having to reach back more than a half-century for inspiration is not the place campaign managers want to be now.”

Republican analyst Torie Clarke, who once worked as McCain’s Senate press secretary and who appeared with Donaldson, had this advice for her former boss: “He has to ask himself some very tough questions, because one way or the other, this is the final chapter in his political career. And how does he want to write that final chapter? … Does he want to do anything in an effort to win, or does he want to go out the way he likes to think of himself — as a public servant?”


Friday, October 17, 2008

The Freak Show is Nervous...

Our lovely buddies in the "news" media, aka the Freak Show are nervous about election night. And not in a way that anyone else in America. The Freak Show is nervous about their dramatic election night extravaganza will be cut short by an Obama landslide! With the polls shifting dramatically in Obama's favor and McCain's prospects looking worse and worse, there's a good chance that the election will be over before voting results from the West start coming in.

As is usual, the colls will close on the east coast several hours before their west coast counterparts. In 2004, the media had a feeding frenzy with 2 extremely close races, each coming down to one Swing State. The electoral map this time though, barring a national crisis, is looking a little different:

If Obama starts the night with North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania, McCain is screwed. McCain has no reasnoable electoral strategy w/o Virginia, let alone North Carolina. McCain is playing major league defense right now. His electoral strategy appears to be a replication of Bush's 2004 map. He's been campaigning and spending heavily in Virgiia, North Carolina, Indiana and West Virginia, states he can't afford to worry about on the electoral map. In order to win McCain needs to be able to focus all his energy on traditional Swing States like Florida, Nevada, Missouri, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and especially Ohio. To reitirate, McCain is done without winning Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio:

<p><strong>><a href=''>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

In this example, McCain loses Virginia, which has less electoral votes than Ohio and Virginia which I here hypothetically give to McCain. What can he move from this map into the GOP column? Maybe the 2004 Bush states? He's thrown Iowa under the Straight Talk Express with his continued slamming of ethanol subsidies (which I kind of agree with him on), putting it all but out of reach. New Mexico similarly doesn't look like much of a contest this year. He would need to flip both or Pennsylvania to offset his Virginia loss. And if he loses Florida or Ohio right off the bat? Forget it.

So why does this have the media running scared? Simple. Its a huge conundrum for them. If the race ends early, do they call it for Obama? There are two significant downsides to doing so. 1. It hurts ratings. Doing so would force them to talk about something else substantive like the congressional elections. Wouldn't that be awful. 2. Their declaration could affect voter turnout. If the media declares it in the bag for Obama while its still daytime in the West, voter turnout could go down. Why vote if the election is already "over". States like Missouri, Nevada and Colorado could potentially be won by McCain because Obama voters are already celebrating. This would be a real shame, and deter from a truly representative electoral result.

So what are the media bigwigs going to do? Senior Vice President of CBS news Paul Friedman said: "We could say something like, ‘Given the number of electoral votes Obama already has, and given what we know about the voting so far in various states where the polls have not closed, it is going to be very hard for John McCain to win.’ I would sincerely hope that kind of language would not discourage people out West from voting.” Sam Feist, CNN's Political Director said "A night of early surprises would be a gift for John King's "Magic Wall" of computerized maps. Feist said: "If we know early in the evening that Barack Obama wins a critical state such as Virginia or Florida, we'll have a conversation about what John McCain would have to pull out of his hat now," such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, Colorado or Nevada". This is why we love CNN. John Kind just goes crazy with that newfangled thing. I miss the whiteboard.

On MSNBC, the diagnosis is not good for McCain. Joe Scarborough said on “Morning Joe”: “When it becomes obvious that one candidate’s going to lose, usually members of that party start jumping, like rats from a ship. You’re starting to hear from Republicans that are really afraid McCain’s going to lose, Democrats may [reach] 60 in the Senate, and this is going to be a historic rout.” That's not exactly a glowing prediction for McCain's Nov. 3 chances. I can't wait to see the media freak-out then.

(Thanks to Mark Halperin at The Page for directing me to the Politico article)

What the debates could have been

Why couldn't the debates have been like this:

Seriously! EVERYONE would watch! Alright Democrats, time to nominate Batman in 2016! The Republicans have the Penguin down.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Daily Show Hits Fox Where It Hurts

Remember America: we report, you decide. Or, to put it in the words of a certain Minnesota senate candidate: "They Distort, We Deride".

The Buckeye Bellwether?

With the polarization of the electorate, one of the most significant ramifications has been a shift in presidential campaigns to focusing on a few select swing states. The days when Reagan and FDR had landslide electoral college victories appear to be behind us. Even Obama, who's doing very well in the swing states ( and is currently projected to pick up at least 320 electoral votes in November, has no real shot at winning "red" states like Arkansas, Tennessee or Louisiana.(all of which were won by Bill Clinton in 1992). As such, states such as Ohio are getting a disproportionate of campaign attention.

With states like Missouri, Pennsylvania, Florida and of course Ohio liable to be won by either party in a given election, we've seen the advent of bellwether states. The basic idea behind a bellwether state is that the candidate that wins that state will go on to win the election. From a more scientific viewpoint, bellwether states are indicative of which way the other swing states are likely to vote. Ohio is viewed as one of the top bellwether states: it has only voted for a non-winning candidate twice since 1896 (once in 1944, and 1960). Since 1964, Ohio has always voted for the winning candidate. Following this logic, many pundits and strategists assume that if a candidate can win a bellwether state, they'll win the election. As such, most candidates have focused an inordinate amount of energy in the "bellwethers".

There are two glaring problems with this "bellwether" strategy though. 1st, the list of "true" bellwether states shrinks each election. One good example is that Kentucky and Tennessee are classic swing states, and yet are likely to vote against Obama in what looks to be a landslide electoral victory. Ultimately this bellwether obsession turns into media and campaign super-hype. With Kentucky not considered a swing state this year, the campaigns are both pouring absurd amounts of resources into Ohio and ignoring the neighboring state. With fewer and fewer states that "matter", the electoral process is diluted for the vast majority of opinions. If you don't live in a swing state your vote won't make a huge difference in the Presidential Vote. Kentucky citizens drive to Ohio to caucus, even when scores of undecided voters are present at home.

The second major fallacy of the bellwether states is that their designation is really reverse engineering. The view is that somehow these states' results will predict the election. In reality, it is not that these states are somehow special- it is a quirk of our antiquated electoral college that causes an undue focus on large states with divided demographics. In the case of Ohio too, 8 native sons have been elected to the presidency. This no doubt affected the vote in Ohio. Ohio's power as one of the most powerful swing states often allows it to make a huge difference in who is ultimately chosen as president, not vice versa. In short, the view of cause-and-effect is inherently flawed. Sure only 2 presidents have won without Ohio, but its hard without 20 swing votes.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Obama Landslide Map- Updated

<p><strong>><a href=''>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

The current economic crisis has changed the electoral map. A lot. Notice how a continued strong shift to Obama has put West Virginia, Indiana and Omaha into play. Craziness.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sarah Palin: Leader of the Free World

Even typing that post title makes me shudder. It's a horrifying thought, isn't it? And part of the horror is the unique plausibility of it all. Despite the trends going against him right now, McCain could still feasibly win the election. Statistically, McCain has a 1 in 4 chance of dying in office. Sure he has "good genes", but those are not great odds. If you include the chances of serious disability that would inhibit ability to function as president, the odds get closer to 1-in-3 for McCain.

What does all this mean? Well, all things considered, the odds aren't all that bad for McCain. A 25% chance of death isn't too bad. But what it does mean is that Sarah Palin is under increased scrutiny as a candidate for the Vice Presidency. McCain is the oldest major party candidate in history, and the voters know it. If McCain were to die in office, the woefully unprepared Sarah Palin would take his place. Voters know this, and as such Palin is campaigning really for a position in limbo between the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. This makes her shortcomings even more apparent. If Palin screws up the Thursday debate royally, it could seriously endanger the ticket.

For a political junkie this universal lack of confidence in the readiness of Sarah Palin opens the door for crazy possibilities. What about a 269-269 electoral vote (e.g. Obama gets Kerry states plus Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado minus New Hampshire)?

<p><strong>><a href=''>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

In this case, the election gets tossed to congress. Some say that an election tie would favor Obama. I would tend to agree largely because the 12th amendment gives each state delegation one vote (i.e. one for Wyoming, one for California), and the in the incoming House Democrats will in all likelihood have a majority in a plurality of the delegations. Imagine though that McCain won the popular vote by a large margin (i.e. had strong 2nd place showings in the pacific and northeast and great GOTV in safe red states). In this case, House delegations from strong McCain states w/ a majority Democrat delegation (i.e. Arkansas, Tennessee, South Dakota, North Dakota, West Virginia, etc.) might be "forced" by public opinion to support McCain.

If the House does pick McCain in such a scenario, who's to say the majority Democrat senate has to pick Palin? Considering her plummeting favorability ratings, terrible interviews and glaring unreadiness, the Senate could easily select the obviously ready, willing and able Joe Biden. Imagine living in a pre-12th amendment world where the President and Vice President are voted for independently on the November ballot. Now imagine a McCain-Biden administration. Now imagine the also theoretically possible reverse: an Obama-Palin administration. No, stop laughing. Think about it. It's the longest of long shots, but hell if it isn't a fascinating possibility.

To see what kind of monkey wrench Biden or Palin could possibly throw into their own campaigns, tune in on Thursday to the Vice Presidential debates. Trust me, it's going to be fun. That much I guarantee.