Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

What's Wrong with People? [UPDATED]
At 5 this morning I'd have rather been in India than waiting to get into a Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, some poor souls are required to be there: the employees.
A Wal-Mart employee in suburban New York died after being trampled by a crush of shoppers who tore down the front doors and thronged into the store early Friday morning, turning the annual rite of post-Thanksgiving bargain hunting into a frenzy.

The 34-year-old employee, who was not identified, was knocked down by a crowd that broke down the doors of the Wal-Mart at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, N.Y., and surged into the store. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 6 a.m.
Though they will probably be spared by a claim of something like "shoppers' derangement syndrome", I wish people would go to jail for this. And Wal-Mart should have to pay their statewide profits for the whole insane day to this man's family.

[UPDATE: CYA underway:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark., called the incident a "tragic situation" and said the employee came from a temporary agency and was doing maintenance work at the store. It said it tried to prepare for the crowd by adding staffers and outside security workers, putting up barricades and consulting police.

"Despite all of our precautions, this unfortunate event occurred," senior Vice President Hank Mullany said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those impacted."
Also, apparently, police are looking at video surveillance to try and identify shoppers. You can imagine how well that might go.]

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving
But if you have a good day, remember to thank Chuck Norris, who is saving the holiday from the infidels.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Overall, rates of diagnosis, and death, are falling.
“Each year that you see these steady declines it gives you more confidence that we’re moving in the right direction,” said Dr. John E. Niederhuber, director of the National Cancer Institute, who is not an author of the report. “This is not just a blip on the screen.”
Of course, much of the decline is related to a precipitous drop in lung cancer rates among men - see the chart on the right. Breast cancer rates too have fallen, now that women have stopped cancer-linked hormone replacement therapy. But in fact, the NYTimes article makes clear, many, many forms of cancer are on the rise.
Among men, incidence rates increased for cancers of the liver, kidney and esophagus, and for melanoma and myeloma. Among women, incidence rates increased for cancers of the lung, thyroid, pancreas, brain and nervous system, bladder and kidney, and for melanoma. Rates of leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma increased in both sexes.
Still, the bottom line stat is good news and more evidence that banning public smoking is the right thing to do.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Losing the Millionaire Farmer Vote
The President-Elect had yet another press conference today, this to announce the leaders of his Budget Office and his plans to cut unnecessary government spending. You can read his prepared remarks here.
Not Me
Actually, no, I have not "always wondered what it would be like to live of the greatest financial panics of all time." Also, was not curious about living through a bad war, or the worst President ever. Count me as equally unexcited over being able to watch mankind destabilize the world's ecology. Other things I do not await with a spectator's fascination: what it's like for my air bags to deploy in my car, or the oxygen masks to fall from the cabin ceiling during a flight, being diagnosed with a debilitating disease, or enduring the next great boy band.

We have our own civil rights cause (gay marriage), our own environmental catastrophe (global warming), or own foreign policy disaster (Iraq), and our own revolutionary technological development (the Internets). We really don't need an economic depression we can call our own to feel like we're living in interesting times. Thanks, anyway.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What have you been reading, watching, listening to?

Political Spectacle
Doug makes the very reasonable speculation that Sarah Palin may simply be an elaborate performance art piece. As such, she belongs in Media Monday. It's the best explanation I've heard yet. Andrew Sullivan has the latest installation.

Household Art
Some of these are really cool. I like the thumb tacks and the sponge picture. (via Andrew Sullivan)

Free Song For a Day

A new song from Bruce Springsteen is available for free download, but just today.
It's the first offering from Springsteen's upcoming album, also titled "Working on a Dream," which will be released January 27, five days before the rock star and the E Street Band perform at the Super Bowl halftime show in Tampa, Florida.
You can get the song via iTunes or his website.

The Pope and John Lennon Work it Out
Who says the Vatican doesn't engage in a little moral relativism? Exposed to contemporary rock music (the kids today...), the Pope's decided the Beatles weren't so bad after all.

The Fireman
In other Beatle-related news, Paul McCartney's alter ego has a new album:
So now, young freak-folk indie-rockers have serious competition from actual ’60s titans like Mr. McCartney. On this album he sets loose his inner hippie — playful, tuneful, enigmatic, benevolent — in songs like “Traveling Light,” a Celtic-mode waltz in which he plinks a thumb piano, sings a lot of high oohs and whispers, “I glide on the green leaf/not asking for more.”
Weekend Box Office
1. Twilight
2. Quantum of Solace
3. Bolt
4. Madagascar 2
5. Role Models

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cabinet Speculation Deep Thought
Where's Wesley Clark? Weird that his name is not being even mentioned for anything, so far as I have heard.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weekly Address
It's great that Obama is releasing the weekly address on video. Today's noticeably avoids mention of the auto industry bailout, but does give an idea of the shape of an enormous, job-creating, economic stimulus he's planning.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Challenged Ballots
This is pretty interesting. Minnesota Public Radio has posted pictures of a handful of challenged ballots in the Senate race. The recount has started (Coleman's lead is down to 168 with about 19% 143 with about 30% of the votes re-counted), but 200 500 or so ballots have been challenged so far - that is, not re-counted yet but sent on to a panel of judges to determine. Follow the link to have a look at the kind of thing they will be considering. Some are pretty simple, some maybe not so much.
I'm Warning You: Don't Do It
Thursday Time-Waster
Good News
There's not much of it these days. Economy continues to blow. But if you care about bold health care action without delay, apparently the selection of Daschle for HHS is a good sign. And if you care about a serious energy/environment policy, there's really good news.
Representative Henry A. Waxman of California ousted Representative John D. Dingell of Michigan from his post as chairman of the influential Committee on Energy and Commerce on Thursday, giving President-elect Barack Obama an advantage in his plans to promote efforts to combat global warming.

By a vote of 137 to 122, House Democrats ended Mr. Dingell’s nearly 28-year reign as his party’s top member on the committee. Besides installing a committed environmentalist as head of the energy committee, the outcome also removes one of the auto industry’s best friends from a key leadership post.
Change we can believe in.
Obama Cabinet
If the grapevine is correct, it's shaping up:
Secretary of State - Hillary Clinton
Secretary of Defense - Robert Gates (retained from Bush)
Attorney General - Eric Holder
Department of Homeland Security - Janet Napolitano
Secretary of Commerce - Penny Pritzker (oops, not her)
Secretary of Health and Human Services - Tom Daschle
9 10 more to go. Napolitano is the current Governor of Arizona. Pritzker is the billionaire founder of Hyatt Classic Residences, and was the head of Obama's Presidential finance committee.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Children and Obesity
They're not eating too much; they're eating the wrong things.
Our Life in the Ghosts of Bush
This is depressing. Are we ever going to get rid of the Bush-Cheney stink?
The transfer of political appointees into permanent federal positions, called "burrowing" by career officials, creates security for those employees, and at least initially will deprive the incoming Obama administration of the chance to install its preferred appointees in some key jobs.
Between March 1 and Nov. 3, according to the federal Office of Personnel Management, the Bush administration allowed 20 political appointees to become career civil servants. Six political appointees to the Senior Executive Service, the government's most prestigious and highly paid employees, have received approval to take career jobs at the same level. Fourteen other political, or "Schedule C," appointees have also been approved to take career jobs....

The personnel moves come as Bush administration officials are scrambling to cement in place policy and regulatory initiatives that touch on issues such as federal drinking-water standards, air quality at national parks, mountaintop mining and fisheries limits.
Myths About Detroit
If your impression of Detroit auto manufacturers, like mine, comes from the 80s and 90s, read "6 Myths About the Detroit Three", a column in yesterday's Free-Press.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lieberman Deep Thought
Now that he's kept his chairmanship, don't you think that Senator Lieberman tonight is sharing a bit of a laugh with his friends over Democrats' unwillingness to send him packing? I mean...literally laughing at Senate Democrats? He must feel like the most powerful Senator on the Hill. And, it would seem, he's right, isn't he?
Auto Bailout?
A longtime reader asks why I haven't had anything to say on the proposed bailout of the auto industry. My first response is that I don't know the first thing about that stuff. But then, when has that ever stopped me from giving an opinion? So there must be some other reason I've been laying off. I think I know what it is: I'm genuinely conflicted.

Clearly, as corporations, the Big Three deserve to die. Their products have developed a well-earned reputation for being expensive, inefficient, unreliable and unattractive relative to their competitors. They have stubbornly refused to face the reality of the environmental concerns which now drive many of their would-be customers, and in fact would lobby the government to their dying breath to fight regulations (CAFE standards) and opportunities (the electric car) that may have saved their asses had they only embraced change instead of combating it.

On the other hand, we can't remove the cancer that is this corporate incompetence without doing great damage to workers and communities that don't deserve it, compounding the country's economic horror along the way. We would be sending the employees of these companies - and of the companies that depend on them for business, literally millions - to the unemployment line. And there is no booming manufacturing industry waiting to snap these people up, many of whom lack the education and training to quickly find another kind of work. We're talking about second and third generation factory workers, who traded in their chance at higher education for a union job that would help support a middle-class family. If we let these companies fall, the corporate executives who so miserably failed will be just fine. But we will be taking an entire region of the Midwest that is already struggling and decimate it, and send dependent pockets around the country crumbling.

Wesley Clark has another point as well. Suppose that during World War II, for example, we didn't have an auto manufacturing base in this country?

So, if it sounds like I'm leaning toward supporting a bailout I guess I am. But I do admit that I wonder if we wouldn't be better off in the long run re-building from scratch, investing in startup auto companies that emphasize electric and hybrid plug-ins and the chance to lead the global industry rather than always stumbling a few steps behind.

Of course, we should do both, right? Offer money to the Detroit auto industry but with significant strings attached. But how many times lately have we heard "No Blank Check" only to find out that's exactly what we've written. It's as if the government hasn't tied a regulatory knot in so long it just doesn't remember how to attach strings to corporate money.

So, if it sounds like I'm also leaning against a bailout, well sometimes I am. But in the end, I can't be one to support a plan that devastates that much of our economy. If I thought we could rebuild a manufacturing base from scratch in a few years, as opposed to the generation or 2 I suspect it would take, I would be more for letting GM get its comeuppance. Today, anyway, I'm hoping some middle road gets the job done more quickly and less painfully. But consider me persuadable.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What have you been reading, watching, listening to?

Why Have I Never Heard of This?
Who's read Lewis Hyde's The Gift? And would you recommend it? There's a big spread about the author in the latest NYTimes Magazine. It sure makes the book out to be essential.

Bang it, Shout it, Play it
Paul McCartney wants to release a 14-minute track of the Beatles that never made it into record bins. Normally, I would think....great, just in time for Christmas he's trying to milk us Beatles fans for even more. But this tune is maybe not the most likely moneymaker, as it sounds, from the description, like it was created in the spirit of Revolution No. 9.
McCartney, usually regarded as the most melodically minded Beatle, told the BBC he had a long-standing interest in avant-garde music. He said "Carnival of Light" was inspired by experimental composers John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

He said he had wanted to include the track on the Beatles' "Anthology" compilation, but was vetoed by his bandmates.

Weekend Box Office

1. Quantum of Solace
2. Madagascar 2
3. Role Models
4. High School Musical 3
5. Changeling

and coming in at 29? One I'd honestly like to see...Jean-Claude Van-Damme is....JCVD:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In Case You Missed It
60 Minutes tonight was devoted to a post-election interview with the President-Elect (and Michelle for part of it). You've got to sit through commercials to watch the whole thing, but it's pretty good.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Friday, November 14, 2008

Would Hillary end up as Secretary of State? I keep thinking this rumor is just somebody's stupid speculation, yet it persists and nobody denies, and apparently she met up with Obama to talk about it. This doesn't make much sense.

First, is there any doubt that John Kerry would be a better SOS, if he wants it like he seems to? Second, why would she give up a lifetime job in the Senate (wasn't she going to be the next Ted Kennedy?) for at most a term serving Obama? She doesn't even break any gender ground here as we have had not 1, but 2 women serve as head of the State Dept.

All I can figure, cynically, is this - and it may go equally to John Kerry's plans as Hillary's. The scheme has 2 parts:

1. If, God forbid, something happens to Obama during the first term, heading up our foreign relations would give her a good platform from which to run against Biden in 2012.

2. Even if she has to wait until 2016, she has a couple of years out of the public eye, raising money, and most importantly, not having to go on record with votes in the Senate they can use against her in a presidential campaign.

And she would give up her dream of leading health care and other domestic legislation through the Senate, at a time when Democrats have a solid majority? For this political calculation? Is there some other reason?

Could it be - don't roll your eyes - that she really means this: "I want to be a good partner and I want to do everything I can to make sure his agenda is going to be successful"?

Last thought: Does this Hillary story indicate that one of President Obama's most influential advisers will turn out to be...Doris Kearns Goodwin?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Breaking News
Dick Cheney just devoured Joe Biden's liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.
Don't Blame Me... My Brain's the Asshole
Researchers from the University of Chicago...wanted to learn whether the brain of an aggressive youth responds differently to violence than the brain of someone who is not a bully. In a chilling finding, the researchers found aggressive youths appear to enjoy inflicting pain on others.
When the aggressive youths watched people intentionally inflicting pain on another, the scan showed a response in the part of the brain associated with reward and pleasure. The youths who were not aggressive didn’t show the same brain response. The study, published in the current issue of the journal Biological Psychology, suggests that the brain’s natural impulse for empathy may be disrupted in the brain of a bully, leading to increased aggression.
I wonder if there is some basis for the assumption that "the brain's natural impulse" is "for empathy". Doesn't it seem just as likely that the development of empathy disrupts the brain's natural impulse for aggression, instead of the other way around? (and which would be better news, by the way?) Is that just a telling bias here, or do we really have a reason to believe that empathy is the "natural" state?

Beyond that, is this even news? Did we really think the world's bullies are reluctant aggressors? Of course they enjoy it, and of course that enjoyment (like all emotional response) shows up somewhere in the brain. The bigger questions are: At what age does it first register as enjoyment? Did cultural/social behavior nurse the growth of this neural pathway (or whatever it is)? Behavior that could be avoided? How prevalent is this response? Do a high percentage of males share this reaction but have simply learned to curb their actions to suppress it?

If you're interested you can read the study here.(pdf) It might have the answers to some of my questions but it's written in science, so it's hard for me to make heads or tails of it, at least with just a scan.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Timewaster Alert
Seriously, do *not* try this, whatever you do. It's not quite as addictive as Trap the Cat, but it's twice as maddening. Somehow I got through the last level, but I think the game just pitied me in the end. The last couple of rounds I was no where close to solving it correctly.
November Question
Did the 8 years of Clinton seem as long to Republicans as these Bush years have felt? It's taking forever to get the guy out of there. Haven't we transitioned long enough?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

With All Due Respect...
Via Steve Benen...With word that John Edwards is giving a speech at University of Indiana tonight, CNN asks, "can he make a comeback"?

Let's rewind the tape. John Edwards lost a bid for President in 2004, then lost as Vice Presidential nominee in a lackluster performance, before losing again a presidential run in 2008. So, am I the only one asking: a comeback to what, exactly?

Seems to me the room he has for a comeback is a little more close to home.
I Don't Have a Pet...
So, PediPaws, will you please stop sending me 20 emails a day?
Lieberman [UPDATED]
Why do DC Democrats insist on underestimating Lieberman's determination to kick them in the balls?

There's being magnanimous, and then there's being self-defeating. Obama's team is sending the message that they don't hold any grudges. Likewise, Senators are reminding everyone that he agrees with them on almost every issue. My question: if that's the case, why can't we make him chairman of a committee that deals with one of those issues then, and take him off of Homeland Security where his views are diametrically opposed to Obama's and the Democrats?

[UPDATE: Looks like Reid will have a caucus-wide vote next week to determine the fate of Joe's chairmanship. Not a bad way to go, I guess. Here's hoping it's a secret ballot.]

Monday, November 10, 2008

What have you been watching, listening to, reading?

Only 5?
Paste Magazine offers the "top 5 not-so-thinly-veiled references" to male genitalia in classic Blues and R & B.

The Indian of the group
Rest in Peace, Jimmy Carl Black

Weekend Box Office
1. Madagascar 2
2. Role Models
3. High School Musical 3
4. Changeling
5. Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Energy Priorities
In the NYTimes, Al Gore lays out a 5-point plan for President Obama: 1) Offer economic incentives for companies to build solar, geo-thermal and wind-power plants; 2) Begin work on a new nationwide power grid; 3) Subsidize conversion of the auto industry to plug-in hybrids; 4) Initiate a projects to re-insulate buildings across the country, and replace windows and lighting with energy-efficient alternatives; and 5) Lead the world in crafting and supporting a new global treaty to replace Kyoto.

The whole thing is worth a read.

It's #2 that interests me most and seems the most essential. #1 and 3 would be useless without it, #4 would be insufficient to the problem, #5 would be rendered just talk with no grid to execute the next steps. If we can't pull that off - to literally unite the country with a next-generation infrastructure to handle delivery of new energy sources from the regions that can produce it to the regions that use it - then the dream of energy independence will remain distant. But it strikes me as an awesome undertaking, the importance and difficulty of which has not gotten enough attention.

Obama likens the goal of energy independence to JFK's call to put a man on the moon. But isn't it more like the creation of the federal highway system? It's not just the job of a small group of specialists in laboratory city, but a far-reaching job requiring the cooperation of federal, state and local government agencies from coast to coast.

Friday, November 07, 2008

First Obama Press Conference
You can read it here. Not much news in it, and not sure a joke about Nancy Reagan was the way to go, but still nice.
Don't Stretch
At least not the way you were taught when you were a kid. Clearly this is why I never developed into a world class athlete (or even a neighborhood class athlete): too much stretching ruined my chances.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Election Continues, Feeding Addiction
What are we supposed to do now that the campaign is over? I was confused when there were no new tracking polls this morning to investigate. Luckily, close and contested results, along with a runoff in Georgia, will help wean us off of election obsession.

It would seem there is actually hope that Franken can take the Minnesota seat after all the ballots are inspected in a mandatory statewide recount. Al trails by less than 500 250 votes. MN uses all opti-scan ballots. Those that may not have been counted by the machine but will be counted in a recount include those in which voters made a mark for a candidate but failed to fill in the oval properly. Apparently, this happens often enough.

In Alaska, there is also some slim hope that Begich can overome Stevens' 3,000-vote lead. 60,000 votes remain - some early and absentee votes, as well as their provisional ballots.

Oregon's Jeff Merkley won after all, so Democrats are up to 57 in the Senate, +6. Should Begich and Franken somehow win, the Georgia runoff would be for #60.

In WA-08, Darcy Burner trails by about 2,000, but lots still to count. [UPDATE: Burner lost.]

In Virginia, the awful incumbent Virgil Goode is behind by 31 votes, with provisionals still to come.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Future: Still Hard to Predict
My brief post below hints at something I've wondered today: what will be the Republican route back to power if an emerging Democratic stronghold in the West and a consolidation of the Northeast including PA, leaves even OH and FL not enough for the GOP to win the White House? Where do they try to chip away?

At the same time... I guess you never know what's going to happen. Talk of long-lasting majorities is pretty silly. Stealing from Atrios' post, think back to where you were on election night, Nov. 2000, specifically the exact moment Florida was called for Gore, and all assumed he would become President (including me who took that news as the cue to head downtown to the Gore acceptance speech). Now imagine someone from the future came to visit you just then, and this is what they told you:

"Don't be so excited. Gore isn't going to win because really Florida is tied, and the Supreme Court is going to hand the White House to Bush. And he's going to screw things up so badly that Americans are willing to elect a black man to replace him. No, really. He's this 39 year old guy you've never heard of who just earlier tonight got his butt kicked in a Democratic congressional primary. Oh yeah, and his middle name is Hussein."

Chances are you would discount this prediction. Hard to figure what's going to happen in future presidential elections, I guess.
Emerging Majority Deep Thought
Even if you had to win by 10 percentage points to get a state's electoral votes, Obama would have won 262.
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Obviously, it's a big night for the country and for Democrats and everyone who believes in calm leadership based on knowledge and reason.

It looks like we are falling a bit short of what could-have-been in the Senate. Al Franken trails by 500 votes after all precincts reported. There will be a recount, but not sure the chances that it will make any difference. Probably a runoff in GA which I expect the Democrat to lose handily (what's going to get all those young people and African-Americans to the polls for a Senate runoff?). Oregon is still counting, but Merkley is behind. If he doesn't make it, and the others stand, that will put Dems at 56 w/Lieberman, a gain of only 5 - what seemed like the very low end of possibility going in.

Disgustingly, Rep. Michele Bachmann won her re-election and can take her place at the head of HUAC, I suppose. I can only presume that if she can't be beaten in an atmosphere like this, she will be able to keep that seat forever. Shockingly, convicted felon Ted Stevens looks like he will be re-elected (still some absentee ballots to count). Everyone's calling on him to resign, he may face prison time and a censure, but hey let's re-elect him. Most disappointing outcome of the night, Prop 8 in CA successfully nullified state recognition of the beautiful marriages of gay couples. Progress comes slow, I suppose, but I think a better result there may have really been a leap forward.

Still hard not to feel good knowing President Barack H. Obama is on the way.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Prediction Thread
Bumped---Ok here is my prediction.
Obama - 53%
McCain - 46%
Obama wins 337 EVs with OH, PA, NC, VA and MO, falling just short in GA, IN and FL. We gain 7 Senate seats, and Al Franken loses a heartbreaker to Norm Coleman (I just don't like the way MN usually ends up more GOP than expected), but the GA race goes to a runoff for the 60th seat.

What say you?

By the way, get your handy election scorecard as described in the post below, in case you missed it.

Monday, November 03, 2008

(As Andrew Sullivan says..) Know Hope
51 years ago, on the 3-year anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, Dr. King took to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial - 6 years before he would deliver his "I Have a Dream" speech there. Distressed by the lack of real progress, and feeling betrayed by both major political parties' failure to pass and enforce meaningful legislation based on that landmark ruling, he joined leaders of the NAACP and about 20,000 supporters to urge elected officials to act. Their request was simple. Speaking last, this is what he said:
[O]ur most urgent request to the president of the United States and every member of Congress is to give us the right to vote.

Give us the ballot, and we will no longer have to worry the federal government about our basic rights.

Give us the ballot, and we will no longer plead to the federal government for passage of an anti-lynching law; we will by the power of our vote write the law on the statute books of the South and bring an end to the dastardly acts of the hooded perpetrators of violence.

Give us the ballot, and we will transform the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens.

Give us the ballot, and we will fill our legislative halls with men of goodwill and send to the sacred halls of Congress men who will not sign a "Southern Manifesto" because of their devotion to the manifesto of justice.

Give us the ballot, and we will place judges on the benches of the South who will do justly and love mercy, and we will place at the head of the southern states governors who will, who have felt not only the tang of the human, but the glow of the Divine.

Give us the ballot, and we will quietly and nonviolently, without rancor or bitterness, implement the Supreme Court's decision of May seventeenth, 1954.
And then he turned to the frustrated crowd to exhort them as well, to promise them that these things they dreamed of would become reality so long as they continue to seek change in the name of love and not hatred, in the spirit of humility and not retribution, with faith in themselves and in the better nature of those who oppressed them.
Go out with that faith today. Go back to your homes in the Southland to that faith, with that faith today. Go back to Philadelphia, to New York, to Detroit and Chicago with that faith today: that the universe is on our side in the struggle. Stand up for justice. Sometimes it gets hard, but it is always difficult to get out of Egypt, for the Red Sea always stands before you with discouraging dimensions. And even after you've crossed the Red Sea, you have to move through a wilderness with prodigious hilltops of evil and gigantic mountains of opposition. But I say to you this afternoon: Keep moving. Let nothing slow you up. Move on with dignity and honor and respectability.

I realize that it will cause restless nights sometime. It might cause losing a job; it will cause suffering and sacrifice. It might even cause physical death for some. But if physical death is the price that some must pay to free their children from a permanent life of psychological death, then nothing can be more Christian. Keep going today. Keep moving amid every obstacle. Keep moving amid every mountain of opposition. If you will do that with dignity, when the history books are written in the future, the historians will have to look back and say, "There lived a great people. A people with 'fleecy locks and black complexion,' but a people who injected new meaning into the veins of civilization; a people which stood up with dignity and honor and saved Western civilization in her darkest hour; a people that gave new integrity and a new dimension of love to our civilization." When that happens, "the morning stars will sing together, and the sons of God will shout for joy."
50 years later, occasional Republican shenanigans notwithstanding, the ballot belongs to us all. And after all are counted tomorrow, chances are good that an African-American who was not yet born when that address was given will receive more votes than anyone ever has in this country. 20,000 had the nerve - the will, the fortitude, faith and courage - to demand the ballot. By 1963, they would become 200,000 and then more. A milestone that must have seemed a distant dream then is now on the verge of reality, just a half-century later. There lived a great people, indeed.
Election Night Survival Guide, Short Version [UPDATED x2]
By popular demand.

[UPDATE: I've prepared a one-sheet scorecard (pdf) that should be handy in following the presidential returns. It works like this: the states are divided between Obama and McCain in the way most likely to lead to a 269-269 tie. Once a candidate wins a state from the other guy's column, you subtract those electoral votes from the loser's total, and add them to the winner's. That should make it easy to look ahead and see what has to happen for either to hold on for the win.]

President: If it's close or McCain has an early lead, let's not panic (this is for me as much as anyone). If some of these so-called battleground states start to look like they are going McCain's way: GA, IN, NC, OH, FL, MO, NV, AZ, and even VA, we will not freak out, because Obama doesn't have to win any of them. His most narrow path only requires holding PA...then adding CO to his wins in IA and NM (which seem certain). Essentially, to beat Obama, McCain must run the table on those "battlegrounds" above and also win either CO or PA. Once any of them start falling for Obama instead, we can start to relax.

If McCain pulls the upset in CO, Obama can replace it with *any of those other battlegrounds* and still win. (though if he only wins NV out of that bunch, it will be a 269-269 tie and go to the House.)

If McCain pulls the upset in PA, but Obama wins as heavily expected in NH, NM, and IA, Obama can win with any combination of FL (27), OH (20), GA (15), NC (15), VA (13), MO (11), IN (11), AZ (10), CO (9) NV (5) that adds up to 27 Electoral votes.

Senate: Including Lieberman, Democrats have 51 Senators in its caucus. They look to add [GOP incumbent in parenthesis]: NH (Sununu), NC (Dole), VA (open), CO (open), NM (open), OR (Smith) and AK (Stevens) making 58. To get to 60, they need to win 2 more out of these 4: MN (Coleman), GA (Chambliss), MS (Wicker), KY (McConnell). [UPDATE 2: Just a note. If neither candidate in GA wins 50%+ of the vote, it will go to a runoff at a future date. Let's win outright so we don't have to worry about all that turnout again.]

House: Who knows? Predictions have ranged from a net gain of 20 to 35 for Democrats. I'm looking especially at Bachmann's seat in MN, Shadegg's seat in AZ and Musgrove's seat in CO, all loathsome Republicans in varying degrees of trouble.

Other: The night will be bittersweet if CA passes proposition 8. Let's hope reason prevails and discrimination against gay couples goes down to a big NO.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Was 2004 a Blessing in Disguise?
Kevin asks a decent question... I can't quite go there but interesting to think about. What would this election be like if Kerry had won? (on the other hand, what shape would the country be in?)
Election Night Survival Guide, Part V (final)
By 10 PM Eastern, barring a judge leaving polls open late, 11 states will be left to close. There could be lots of close states still not called. Iowa, Montana, Nevada and Utah will close the polls at 10. One hour later California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Idaho, and North Dakota will stop, and 2 hours after that, at 1 AM, Alaska will close. Most of these will not be close. Obama should add 84 EVs after IA, CA, OR, WA, and HI. McCain will add 15 with AK, ND, ID, and UT. McCain is trying in IA, but I don't think he will be successful, polls have shown double-digit Obama leads - a key Democratic pickup from 2004. If we add those totals to the projections I've already made - giving GA, IN, NC, AZ and WV to McCain and NM, NH, MN to Obama - Obama will lead 243 - 186.

Other races to watch out West? I've got my eye on 3: California's Prop 8 which would overturn the court's gay marriage provision, if passed. Should be close and will be one of those disappointments to make the night less jubilant if it is successful. In Oregon, Democrats expect to pick up Jeff Smith's Senate seat, a necessary one for the fight for 60. And netroots favorite Darcy Burner is giving a second try to take Dave Reichert's House seat in WA-8.

As for Pres, this hour adds 2 states - MT and NV - to the waiting list.

Montana would be gravy, and with a popular Democratic Governor, it could go for Obama but is not necessary, or really expected. Let's assume McCain pulls it out eventually, making his total 189.

Nevada is becoming a key state to join CO and NM in a Western state strategy to overcome possible loss in PA. Obama seems to be ahead here and even if everything up in the air goes McCain's way all night, they are the last line of defense that would still send Obama to the White House.

At 243, that leaves Barack 27 short with FL (27), OH (20), MO (11), CO (9), VA (13), PA (21), NV (5) still to be determined. Let's take Ohio off the table, if only because I believe if he wins OH he will have won PA and the presidency right there. So give that to McCain to make it 243 - 206 with 6 states left. Even if OH goes down, here's how Obama wins - with any one of these scenarios:
1. Win Florida. Voila. 27. Lose all the rest including PA and he's still President.
2. Win PA plus any of the other 4: CO, VA, MO or NV (though NV would leave it at a 269-269 tie and send it to the House. Nightmare.)
3. Win VA + any 2 of NV, MO, CO.

Even if McCain is successful in PA (and OH and FL), he has to hold off Obama in VA to pull the upset.

Shorter late-night version: Assuming New Mexico comes through as indicated by polls, hold PA and only one other thing has to go our way, with many to choose from. Plus options remain even if PA falls.
Election Night Survival Guide, Part IV
(See Part I, Part II, Part III)

At 8:30 AR closes and is called quickly for McCain, making the count 82-75 for Obama with a handful of states still counting in which the outcome is not clear. Let's presume that with a strong close for the underdog, McCain gets IN and NC finally called for him putting him ahead 101-82. As the polls close at 9 Eastern in 14 more states, we're still waiting on VA, PA, FL, OH, MO. Those 14 will boost McCain's total to 161, after KS, LA, WY, TX, NE and SD, and Obama's to 154, after RI, NY, WI, MN and MI. Some of those may take longer to call than others (MN for Obama, SD for McCain), but I think not too long over the course of the hour once vote tallies start coming in.

Of these states there is one race to watch: Franken v. Coleman in MN. I am skeptical of Franken's chances, if only because MN always seems to close up in the GOP favor. But if there was no other election on Nov. 4, I'd still be glued to my TV for results in this one. It is key to the Dem chances of getting to 60 Senators. It's also a grudge match as Franken has always loathed Coleman for his treatment of the Wellstone tragedy 6 years ago.

Minnesota also holds one of the House races to watch, as Michele Bachmann tries to hold on to her seat after suggesting we should have investigations into whether members of Congress (and Barack Obama) are "anti-American". Until she said that on national TV, she was going to win easily. Now, she may not.

Back to President, that adds 3 more states to those we're waiting on for results, as it will be too tight for networks to make a call before they get significant actual vote totals: AZ, CO, and NM. I just can't believe AZ will go for Obama so let's suppose McCain holds his home state after an hour or 2 of worrying over the numbers, putting him ahead 171-154.

New Mexico: Obama should win. It could take a while. New Mexico was counting into the wee hours of the morning in 2004 and in 2000. Assuming some of those early close states start to tilt McCain (GA, IN, NC, FL, OH, even VA), then NM joins a group of Western states that should help Obama over the top at the end, along with especially...

Colorado: If McCain looks to be winning all of those big Bush '04 states like OH and FL, then CO becomes a key buffer. Obama is ahead there but not by much. If somehow McCain is toppling PA too, CO is one of the states we will be counting on to undo that.

Let's give NM to Obama - where his lead has been fairly strong, making the McCain lead 171-159 and leave CO in the tossup line with VA, PA, OH, MO and FL, heading into 10:00, and even though this looks to give the GOP an advantage a little too late into the night, I am breathing easy, so long as it looks like Obama is doing well in PA...and now watching CO. Those are 2 he *should win* and are the only 2 of those I would say he *needs to win* to keep me from entering a phase 1 panic.

Shorter Version of 9 PM Closing: After this hour, network calls may have the race looking pretty close, but it's really about only a couple states. Even if everything goes right for McCain, it's about PA and CO at this point. If Obama takes CO, he will be eating into the Bush map with a clear route to victory. If McCain takes PA, he will be undercutting that path on one of his only chances to win. Assuming Obama wins them both, he can lose VA, OH, MO and FL (along with all the other close ones I've given to McCain) and still be well-positioned to win.