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Post Tagged with: 2008 Election

What Really Matters after 2012

What Really Matters after 2012

Barack Obama won. I won’t be enthusiastic, but I won’t be hateful, either. He was a better candidate with a better argument. The voters chose. Mitt Romney was an awful alternative. And, truth be told, I didn’t vote for either one. Quite clearly, my cynicism has evolved greatly since 2008.

Where do we go from here? There will be more elections, and more bitter contests. Although most people claim to belong to one party or another, I believe that all people have a soft spot for that one thing that matters more than anything else: our freedom. So here’s what I’m looking for in any candidate I support for any election in the future, regardless of party. I’m looking for candidates who support:

  • Freedom to choose whom I marry
  • Freedom to choose whom I work for and in what profession
  • Freedom to invest and save my wages as I please
  • Freedom for parents to choose schools for their children
  • Freedom for parents to pass their money onto their children
  • Freedom to make decisions about my health, both positive and negative
  • Freedom to vote without preconditions
  • Freedom to trade with foreign companies without penalty
  • Freedom to sell my labor for as much or as little as I am able
  • Freedom to sell any product or service I can provide for which there is a willing buyer
  • Freedom to believe in any god or no god at all

With this very simple metric, I will be able to tell which candidates deserve my vote in the future, and which candidates don’t. I don’t care about identity or politics, I only care about the odds for liberty.

Right now, the odds look a little better, with sweeping changes in four states in favor of gay marriage, and two states overturning marijuana prohibition. On the other hand, the bailouts of Wall Street and the auto industry just got a rousing endorsement. It will be hard to predict the next four years, but one thing you can count on after this generation demonstrated where it stands on social issues: the freedoms above are not unattainable. They just will require some work.

Congratulations, President Obama. Time to get moving.

November 7, 2012Comments are DisabledRead More
An American in Denver: Part II

An American in Denver: Part II


As these four days are drawing to a close, I find that I have seen the far-left side of this city’s politics that has not been covered in the mainstream news coverage of the Democratic Convention.  I also got a glimpse of what may be a problem for Barack Obama’s Colorado chances in the fall.

On Tuesday, I attended a forum hosted by the Progressive Democrats of America, a self-described Political Action Committee working within the Democratic Party.  However, it was clear from the onset of the day’s events that the group rested well to the left of—and arguably outside of—the Democratic party’s platform.  The guest speakers were Tom Hayden, a well-known anti-war protester and former California State Assemblyman, and Jim McDermott, a Democratic congressman from Washington.

Both Hayden and McDermott endorsed Barack Obama, but in both of their talks there was a call to greater action regarding some of the more extreme viewpoints in the Democratic party today, including a faster and more certain withdrawal of American forces from Iraq and an immediate impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.  To acclamation, Hayden lauded a book about the impeachment of Bush, and at one point he recommended that the audience “Learn more about 9/11 truth,” referencing a collection of “alternative explanations” for the September 11th Attacks.

At one point, a man in the audience jumped to his feet and demanded that Hayden or McDermott speak to the fact that “McCain is a war criminal and he should be tried as such,” and protested something else incoherently; he was cheered by many in the audience but neither speaker directly responded to his questions (although Hayden knew him by name).

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to see Rage Against the Machine in concert—they performed for free at the Denver coliseum alongside The Coup and the Flobots, a local Denver band.  I didn’t know at the time that the concert was organized by the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW).  However, in between bands, as people protested the war, veterans spoke on stage in full dress uniform, and Jello Biafra revved up the crowd with angry epithets toward the Bush administration and corporate America, it became apparent that the concert was a stage setter for what was to become the main protest against the Democratic convention this week.

Biafra, known by most as just “Jello,” was the lead singer of the Dead Kennedys and was right at home in this crowd.  He wore a t-shirt reading “F___ the Iraq War,” and walked with a crutch.  Now at 50, he is hardly different from the anti-right icon he established himself as in the 80’s.  Herein lies the biggest problem for Barack Obama this November.  The crowd of more than ten thousand screaming fans that came to hear Rage Against the Machine could not get enough of Jello’s far-left, and ultimately anti-Obama rhetoric.  To Jello, Obama is no different from McCain, and the two main political parties are two sides of the wrong coin.  The message Jello presented was clear:  “It’s better to vote for who you know will lose than to vote for who you know can win, but is wrong.”   By advocating third party support among this crowd, Jello did more than isolate his message from that of the mainstream Democratic party—he potentially lost the Democrats thousands of votes in November.  And in a battleground state like Colorado, far-left activists like Hayden and Jello can be the difference between a Democratic victory and defeat.

IVAW’s actual veterans presented a humble and moving image.  In full uniform, they stood at attention as taps was played.  For the full duration of the song, ten thousand screaming Rage-heads were silent.  The Veterans presented the audience with the open letter that they expected to deliver to the Democratic Convention that day.  It requested that Obama call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, full veterans benefits, and full reparations to be paid to the Iraqi people.

When Rage Against the Machine finally took the stage, the crowd went wild.  Then, four songs and many broken eardrums later, the band stopped and prepared for The March.  As the Denver Post reported, as many as three thousand people, led by Rage Against the Machine and Iraq veterans in uniform, marched from the Denver Coliseum to the Pepsi Center–a distance of 3 miles in blistering 80-degree heat–to protest the war and deliver IVAW’s letter to the Democratic National Convention.

As it turns out, the protesters, who had been advocating non-violence as a mantra throughout the concert, were overwhelmingly peaceful, and little incidents occurred during the march.  Hundreds of Denver police officers were present.

I did not go on the march, but to witness the events leading up to the march, including a rock concert that began at 11 in the morning, was a unique experience in itself.  I had no idea I was going to be at the kickoff event for the biggest protest against the Democrats–ironically, the party I’m going to support in November!  I never understood why anti-war activists would protest the Democratic convention instead of saving their resources for the Republican convention.  I can only hope that the RNC is more heavily protested next week.

And finally, on Thursday, the last day of the convention, I made it over to Union Station, and found myself in a mob of MSNBC fans.  MSNBC had set up a two-platform scaffold off of Wyncoop, and throughout the day as Chris Matthews was broadcasting live, hundreds of people gathered next to the platform, on national TV.  Some took the opportunity to make silly faces and wave Barack Obama signs, but some tried to take advantage in more serious ways.  During Hardball, a group of 9/11 Truthers gathered and began protesting.  Matthews said on air:  “There are a bunch of nutjobs behind me who believe that September 11th was a conspiracy…real nutjobs.”

Well, I had a chance to see these nutjobs up front.  About five people wore shirts that read “9/11 was an inside job” and an overweight, angry little man with a megaphone chanted “NINE E-LEVEN WAS AN INSIDE JOB,” over and over again, like a broken record.  The crowd thoroughly enjoyed this display, not because they agreed but because the “movement” was so easy to make fun of.  Even the man who held the “Drop Acid, not Bombs” sign got in on the fun.  A bunch of women started dancing to the rhythmic beatbox of conspiracy theory.  At one point, the crowd started their own chant:  “Get a life!  Get a life!”  I never got to see Obama speak in person, but the MSNBC protesters made it all worth it.  It was a true Denver experience.


August 29, 2008Comments are DisabledRead More
An American in Denver: Part I

An American in Denver: Part I


My first day in Denver was busy and long.  In the morning, I took the light rail with a friend from the suburbs downtown.  The difference between the outskirts of the city and the downtown area was staggering.  Hollowed out factories, run down cars, and strip malls dissolved into a labyrinth of shimmering chrome, glass and steel.  With the temperature hovering at ninety degrees, getting off the tram felt like stepping into a pressure cooker.  The sun beat down, multiplied by the glass cityscape which acted like a tanning mirror.

We had to make it to City of Cuernavaca Park to enter ourselves into a lottery to get into a concert Wednesday night.  It wasn’t a must-see, but it was a see-if-we-could, so we walked a mile and half, past Coors Field and the edge of the main city.  We knew when we were approaching the park when the smell of smoke overpowered the smell of diesel fuel.  Pretty soon, we were surrounded by tents, food stalls and people with long hair, tye-dye shirts, and sandals, who sported peace signs and handed out flyers against the war.  The day-long vigil during the lottery consisted of a middle aged black man extolling the  virtues of Martin Luther King, Jr. to the crowd of all-white, mid-20s next-generation hippies, the UC-Boulder crowd, the Rage Against the Machine liberals of today’s Colorado.  After entering the lottery, we left, passing by the booths set up in the park—the Iraq Veterans Against the War, the Tear Down Guantanamo Coalition, the Weed is Safer than Alcohol booth, and the popular “Bush is an Idiot” bumper sticker stall.

I suspected that these same people would be protesting later that night at the convention.  It occurred to me that the Democratic National Convention would bring all types out of the woodwork, and they all would descend upon Denver for the week.  I found that I was not far off.  Walking down the 16th Street Mall, the main thoroughfare in downtown Denver, we passed all sorts of types.  A bunch of young men handed out Trojan “love rings,” while a woman pinned me with a “Quesadillas for Obama” button.  Obama merchandise was everywhere, and you could buy an Obama hat, an Obama tie, an Obama bag or an Obama watch.  On one corner, a lonely threesome of McCain loyalists huddled together against the cold Democratic onslaught, gingerly holding McCain signs.  A block later, five protesters boldly held up bright yellow and black signs proclaiming “Jesus Saves” and “Homos are Going to Hell.”  Apparently, not everyone in Denver–from the restrained to the not-quite–was so excited about the Democratic convention being in town.  Aside from these colorful folks, there were cops in riot gear, a group of yellow t-shirt soldiers who branded themselves “CopWatch,” and a Tote Bag Brigade–about five middle aged women who sang the national anthem on infinite loop and sold American flag tote bags to the crowd.

We found a place to eat with a street view, and the passerbys ended up being more interesting than the food.  Hundreds of people wore credentials for the convention.  The street was red, white and blue, from flags, shirts, hats and a rottweiler.  A band sponsored by Rock the Vote played out of a medium sized van, with four players on the roof and the drummer stuck in the trunk.  In the middle of lunch, about forty middle-aged women stampeded past, pumping Hillary signs high in the air and chanting “Hillary is Down, but Not Out!”  It seemed like a damaging display of party disunity, but I didn’t give it much thought.

We then took the tram to Auraria, the campus for three Denver city colleges.  The campus is on the outskirts of the Pepsi Center, and we were hoping that we could cut through the back of the Center to get a glimpse of the action at the convention that day.  Unfortunately, our lack of credentials doomed our attempt from the beginning.  For a mile around the Pepsi Center, chain link fences and security barriers had been set up.  However, there was a “designated protest area,” we were told, so we decided to give that a try.  We walked along the perimeter of the fence and wound up in a parking lot, far out of view of the actual convention center, where a group of pink-clad old ladies yelled into a megaphone about who knows what.  I believe the actual protest involved the presence of the police on site.  I wondered why anyone would bother protesting, if they were guaranteed to be stuck in the middle of no-man’s land, with the media and convention itself completely unaware of their presence.

After walking around the Pepsi Center and unable to get in, for today at least, we decided to head home and watch the first day of the convention on television.  However, being in Denver helped set the mood for what I think will be a very exciting four days here.  Tomorrow, we will check out the non-Pepsi Center convention action, including a series of talks on women in politics.  Will update soon!


August 26, 2008Comments are DisabledRead More
269 – 269 Electoral Tie is a Possibility

269 – 269 Electoral Tie is a Possibility

Take a look at my previous post.  In that analysis, I have McCain winning Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania–a scenario that could still mean Obama wins, provided that he wins two out of the three states Missouri, Virginia and North Carolina.  However, Tim Russert in his last Meet the Press pointed out that if Obama keeps the 2000 Bush-Gore map, and wins New Mexico, Colorado and Iowa, then the Electoral College can be a tie.  This would be the map.

In this scenario, Obama wins Pennsylvania, loses New Hampshire, and wins Iowa, Colorado and New Mexico.  This is an entirely possible outcome, and will create a rare situation.  With no electoral victor, the decision will go to the House of Representative, where each state’s delegation will be represented by one vote.  According to the letter of the 12th Amendment, whereby our electoral system functions:

The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.

In this situation, clearly, McCain would emerge as the victor, as only 22 states (including DC) will have voted for Obama.  However, in choosing Vice President, an intriguing possibility unfolds:  Obama’s running mate could be elected Vice President.  According the Constitution:

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice.

This means that if Obama’s running mate, let’s say George X, is tied with McCain’s running mate, Michael Y, for Vice President, then the Senate must choose between the two.  The Senate would be expected to split along party lines, and in the Democratic-controlled Senate, George X is favored to win a Senate election.

However, there is the added caveat that Joe Lieberman, a staunch McCain supporter, has caucused with the Democrats these past two years and has guaranteed them the majority.  He is the 51st vote, the swing vote, and if the election is decided by the Senate it is not sure which way they will lean.  The selection of Vice Presidential nominees could be crucial to both sides, as it might guarantee the nominee the Vice Presidency in the case of a split electoral vote.  Assuming the Senate splits down party lines, Lieberman could find himself in the unlikely position of Kingmaker.  He would essentially have the sole power to decide who the next Vice President of the United States will be.

The 269-269 split is actually a very likely scenario, and it would create a very exciting couple of post-election months, especially if the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee is someone like Hillary Clinton, who could end up achieving the Vice Presidency without Obama on the top of the ticket.

June 29, 2008Comments are DisabledRead More
The New Battleground: 2008 Electoral Analysis

The New Battleground: 2008 Electoral Analysis

Election analysis is completely speculative; no matter how many times someone says “past data suggests this will be the case,” the opposite seems to happen.  If the Democratic primary was any indication, results rarely match expectations.

That being said, I want to take a look at today’s electoral map, and how it might look in five months, come November.  I was playing around on USA Today’s electoral vote analyzer and came (rather accidentally) to a pretty neat discovery.

Let’s throw up our default map, which is colored in based on who won the past four presidential elections.  States that did not have a consistent winner all four elections start off, naturally, as toss-ups.

Now, let’s make some assumptions.  I’m first going to assume that the “Hillbilly” coalition will vote for McCain.  This assumption is not difficult to make; even based on the Democratic primary between Obama and Hillary Clinton, it is pretty clear that a lot of people are just not going to vote for a black man named Barack Hussein Obama.  Unfortunate, yes.  But not something that is going to change between now and November.  In addition to Appalachia, I’m also going to assume that the solid South will go for McCain.  New Hampshire, given McCain’s popularity there, will probably go to him.

Now, I’m going to make an incredibly ridiculous assumption; one that will probably not be the case in November, but one that is worth considering.  Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania will go for McCain.  Ohio and Pennsylvania definitely seem plausible; Obama performed poorly there against an opponent who was already declared politically dead by the time the elections rolled around.  He lost by ten point margins in both states.  Ohio and Pennsylvania both comprise a large portion of northern Appalachia; a region that is predictably (and drastically) antithetical to Obama’s candidacy.  Florida is definitely a toss-up, and can go either way.  But if McCain can mobilize the Jewish vote, and get independents on his side, this is definitely winnable.  I foresee McCain spending a lot of time in Florida, and it will probably pay off.

At this point, the map seems to be filling in nicely for McCain.

Now, let’s make some more extrapolations.  In the Southwest, we are going to see a very different map come November.  Obama has clearly shown that he can attract upper middle class, educated, Western independents and Republicans, and the brand of sophisticated voter that one finds roaming under the open sky of Montana.  We can safely assume that Colorado will go for Obama.  The DNC isn’t throwing a 50,000 person party in Denver to see that state walk out the door.  Obama is popular in Colorado; he already has a strong field organization and he has shown that he can win that state.  For the same reason, Iowa should go for Obama.  He built a compelling field operation there in 2007 and the Iowans seem to really like him.

For the reasons above, we can safely assume that Obama will win Montana.  Aside from his normal constituency, in Montana Obama is strongly supported by Native American populations that make up a bulk of the Democratic demographic.  Finally, we can give New Mexico to Obama.  Richardson will be influential in bringing this state to the Democrats, and it is unlikely that Hispanics, a reliable Democratic voting bloc, will break for the Republicans because their initial candidate, Clinton, lost.  Of course, Arizona goes to the Senator from Arizona.

If you are doing the math, you probably have realized that at this point McCain is clearly the victor, having racked up 271 electoral votes–one more than needed to win the presidency.  Not so fast.  We quickly realize that three states showed overwhelming support for Obama during the primaries and should not be ignored:  Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  So we designate those states as toss-ups.

Now we’ve got an interesting situation on our hands.  The states that remain–Nevada, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia–seem like odd battlegrounds.  The latter three voted republican in the last four presidential elections.  Nevada voted for Clinton twice and Bush twice.  However, it is looking like Nevada will vote for McCain in 2008.  Union voters will probably back Obama, but rural Nevada is looking Republican, and the state where one of this season’s first push polls was distributed is not looking like its going to undo its defeat of Obama earlier this year.  Perhaps, but to be safe we put Nevada in the McCain column.  For the same reason, South Carolina looks like it’s going to have to go for McCain.  South Carolina is more “deep” South than our other toss-ups, and despite Obama’s sure-to-be-mobilized black support there, the much larger white population is not likely to put him over the top.  Again, Obama might win South Carolina, but to be safe we put it in McCain’s column.

Now we stand at Obama with 251 electoral votes, and McCain with 248.  Here is our map:

Wow!  Now we have three new battleground states, and it looks like we can’t predict past here.  Missouri is the bellwether, of course, and neither McCain nor Obama can be predicted to win there.  For one, both candidates won ties to win the state in their respective primaries; McCain won a three-way tie with Romney and Huckabee, and Obama won a tie with Clinton.  Their performances were neither impressive nor decisive.  Missouri could prove to disappoint analysts this year, as it doesn’t look like it will give much leeway to either campaign.

Virginia and North Carolina, of course, have been put in play by Obama’s terrific showing in both states.  Thanks to this grueling primary process, he now has a field operation in all “57” states, and they’re all in full swing.  It is no stretch of the imagination to see Obama winning Virginia, especially considering that he is tied with McCain in the current polls.

Mathematically, Obama or McCain need to win two out of the remaining three toss-ups to become President.  That is given a scenario based heavily on the assumption that Obama will lose the traditional toss-ups, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  If Obama can win one of these three, he will most surely win the election.

June 12, 2008Comments are DisabledRead More
McCain’s Faltering Campaign

McCain’s Faltering Campaign

I found John McCain’s campaign briefing video laughably hilarious.  Campaign manager Rick Davis bumbles through a list of “Reasons” why John McCain can talk about the issues that no one wants to talk about, including the War in Iraq, plus he seems to be reading from cue cards and noticeably pauses at inopportune times during his briefing.

Plus, he says “The political environment, probably one of the worst in our party’s history…”  I know this is what has been echoed on the blogs and on the news for months, but its not something a campaign manager says.  You don’t maintain a positive outlook on things by saying that your chance of winning is horrible.

I don’t see how talking about how you’re not going to win is going to help you win.  This briefing doesn’t say how they’re going to win…it says what they need to win.  In fact, it looks defensive, like someone’s in the same room going “I know Obama’s going to win, and you need to prove me wrong.”  Of course, by looking defensive, it looks weak.

McCain needs to get his act together if he’s going to have a shot at this.  Tuesday night’s speech in New Orleans, when McCain looked like grandpa green, was just terrible.  Of course, this could arguably big his biggest strength, as Obama is known to let his cockiness get the best of him, and it has hurt him in the past (New Hampshire, Nevada).

June 8, 2008Comments are DisabledRead More
Where’s the Sexism?

Where’s the Sexism?

With the DNC Florida and Michigan compromise decided, thousands of Clinton supporters are claiming that their voices aren’t heard.  Hundreds protested at the Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting Saturday in Washington, and countless others watched from across the country as their candidate was effectively blocked in her last effort to secure the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

The most outrageous claim that has been made so far in this process, from feminists to Bill Clinton to protesters on the street, is that Hillary has been the victim of good-old-fashioned misogyny.  Sexism, they claim, has been tearing their candidate’s chances apart from the moment she started her run.  The media is out to get her, Bill Clinton says.  “Women are never front-runners,” writes Gloria Steinem back in January.

I don’t buy it.  For one, Hillary Clinton was the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.  She was the front-runner in a big way–no one thought she could lose.  Back in 2007, when she was front-runner, she supported the decision of the DNC to withhold Florida’s and Michigan’s delegates because they had broken the party’s rules by moving their primaries earlier than February 5.  She didn’t think that it would matter.  Now that she needs those delegates to have a shot at the nomination, she claims that the people in Florida are victims of a Mugabe-level conspiracy to disenfranchise voters.  Suddenly, human rights are being violated.  And somehow, Clinton supporters have convinced themselves that sexism–not bad campaigning, a bad candidate or a bad decision by the Florida and Michigan Democratic committees–is responsible for Hillary’s downfall.

Sexism has certainly played a role in this campaign.  The “Bros before Hoes” t-shirts and the misogynist comments by some members of the media and the Hillary Nutcracker all reveal an ugly truth about American society…and how unwilling some people are to see a woman in the white house.  But to claim that these forces undid Hillary Clinton’s campaign, when there were a host of other factors, including a terrible front-loaded, ignore-the-caucuses campaign strategy, an incompetent staff and an irate, divisive ex-President, is to ignore the realities of the political process.  Barack Obama is winning, fair and square.  He’s winning despite racially charged ads and Reverend Wright and the Madrassa email hoax and the Muslim rumor and the countless “Osama/Obama” gaffes on TV.  To claim that Hillary Clinton is a victim of sexism–and moreover, to claim that that sexism is perpetrated by Barack Obama–is being a sore loser.

It is not sexism to deny Hillary Clinton the nomination.  If she campaigned hard, won more states and more delegates, and then saw the nomination handed to another candidate–that would be sexism.  If she ran for the nomination as a heavy favorite and then lost primary after primary despite being ahead in the polls–then you could question if sexism truly played a factor.

But she’s going to lose fair and square.  And that’s what equality is.  In a world that recognizes no difference between the sexes, good candidates can be both men and women, and bad candidates can damn well be women as well as men.  Isn’t that the end goal?  A world where a qualified woman can run seriously for President and lose fairly?  Not because she’s a woman, but because the voters decided she isn’t the best person for the job.  And in this nominating process, the voters have spoken.

June 1, 2008Comments are DisabledRead More