Saturday, November 29, 2008

A view of the netroots left from the Right

Patrick Ruffini takes an admiring look at Left Blogistan:
The four-year ascent of Barack Obama from state senator to president marks not just the triumph of a man, but the coming of age of a movement.

That movement belongs to liberal (or “progressive”) Democrats, who in less than a decade have remade themselves. Once respected only in academia and the news media, they have become a fighting force. They systemically digitized the means of political organization and strategy, with the ultimate goal of dominating the political system — “Crush their spirits!” was Daily Kos blogger Markos Moulitsas Zuniga’s pre-election rallying cry.

The Left’s online movement is consciously modeled after the Goldwater-and-Reagan-era conservative movement. To those trying to build the Left, the vast right-wing conspiracy was an object not of scorn, but of admiration. They studied the Right’s network of think tanks, issue groups, and talk-show hosts, looking for clues on how to push a message with brutal efficiency. They took these lessons to heart and shaped them to fit the web. Ironically, today’s Right has much to learn from them.
Markos Moulitsas reacts to the above piece:
Yet here's the funny thing -- their machine is still bigger and better funded than ours. If I could trade Daily Kos for Fox News and the entire AM radio dial, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I'd make some major changes at those media outlets, of course (beyond a change of ideology), most of them dealing with how they interact with their audiences online, but really, their problem isn't that they don't have an equivalent to Daily Kos or MoveOn, their problem is that their ideas suck, and now progressives have enough of a machine to counteract their lies and smears.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Quinn loves to slide.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Liberal bloggers help prevent torture advocate from running CIA

Greenwald:

This is really exceptional news on multiple levels -- the best political news I've heard since the election:

Brennan out of running for top intel post

John Brennan, President-elect Barack Obama's top adviser on intelligence, has taken his name out of the running for any intelligence position in the new administration.

Brennan wrote in a Nov. 25 letter to Obama that he did not want to be a distraction. His potential appointment has raised a firestorm in liberal blogs who associate him with the Bush administration's interrogation, detention and rendition policies.

"The fact that I was not involved in the decision-making process for any of these controversial policies and actions has been ignored," he wrote, in a letter obtained by The Associated Press. . .

Obama's advisers had grown increasingly concerned in recent days over online blogs that accused Brennan of condoning harsh interrogation tactics on terror suspects, including waterboarding, which critics call torture.

[...]

It's certainly happened before that blogs have played a leading role in events like this -- the defeat of Bush's Social Security plan, the temporary defeat by the House of FISA and telecom immunity, the publicizing of the DOJ prosecutors scandal -- but it's very rare for the central role of blogs in such episodes to be so explicitly acknowledged by everyone, including the principal actors and the establishment media[...]
I'm proud to have been a small voice in that chorus.

digby:
In any case, I'm gratified that liberal blogs are considered critics with enough stature to sink a potential CIA chief. We've come a long way. If that means that anyone who had knowledge of this torture regime and failed to unequivocally denounce it in clear and unambiguous terms, simply cannot hold high office in the intelligence community, then we've done well.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Georgia Senate

Jim Martin, from his campaign website

The Dec 2 runoff between Martin (D) and Chambliss (R) is turning out to be quite close. Runoff elections are notoriously difficult to poll, because it's hard to find precedent for who will turn out to vote. You can contribute to the Democrat here. Every Democrat we put in the Senate will make it easier for Obama to implement things like a stimulus package, better health care, energy policy, etc.

Oh no! I've been duped into spreading right-wing propaganda!

linc on DailyKos points out that the civics test I linked to earlier has a right-wing ideological slant to it:

Yes, many of the 'test's' questions appear to be completely innocuous, but that's not the ISI's purpose. By getting our 'elected representatives' to take the damn thing and by getting us to take the damn thing without much critique of its purpose, we are solidifying, if even in a small way, their ideas on 'free-enterprise' and what 'american civics' are all about. It takes just one question in such a survey to help further their quite obvious agenda and in the very least, make us look like quite silly for playing along. Here are some choice examples, with my own, quick take on their purpose:

  1. The Bill of Rights explicitly prohibits:

A. prayer in public school
B. discrimination based on race, sex, or religion
C. the ownership of guns by private individuals
D. establishing an official religion for the United States
E. the president from vetoing a line item in a spending bill

The problem here isn't in the correct answer, its what isn't correct. Specifically, did you know that the Bill of rights doesn't prohibit prayer in public schools or that it doesn't prohibit discrimination? Hmmm...

I don't think the quiz is quite the propaganda piece that linc portrays it. But it was put together by conservatives and so we shouldn't be surprised if their values come through on some of the questions.

Pastor to flock: have sex with your spouse...a lot!

Glad to hear about one evangelical Christian preacher who is sex positive:

Mr. Young, an author, a television host and the pastor of the evangelical Fellowship Church, issued his call for a week of “congregational copulation” among married couples on Nov. 16, while pacing in front of a large bed. Sometimes he reclined on the paisley coverlet while flipping through a Bible, emphasizing his point that it is time for the church to put God back in the bed.

“Today we’re beginning this sexperiment, seven days of sex,” he said, with his characteristic mix of humor, showmanship and Scripture. “How to move from whining about the economy to whoopee!”

[...]

This is not a gimmick or a publicity stunt, Mr. Young says. Just look at the sensuousness of the Song of Solomon, or Genesis: “two shall become one flesh,” or Corinthians: “do not deprive each other of sexual relations.”

“For some reason the church has not talked about it, but we need to,” he said, speaking by telephone Friday night on his way to South Africa for a mission trip. There is no shame in marital sex, he added, “God thought it up, it was his idea.”
(HT: Pablo via email.) I don't agree with his advice to single people about fulfilling their sexual needs (“I don’t know, try eating chocolate cake,”). But it is so refreshing to hear a different tone about sex coming from the Evangelicals. And it's good to hear a Christian preacher taking the sensuality of the Song of Solomon seriously.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Are you smarter than our elected officials?

UPDATE: Warning, this test actually has some right-wing motives behind it.

I sure hope so, because they're pretty dumb, if this story is to be believed. Or more precisely, they are sadly under-informed on issues that bear immediate relevance to their work. Take the quiz yourself and find out. I got 33 out of 33 correct. A few questions I wasn't quite sure of, but I guess the guessing gods smiled upon me. Apparently our elected officials didn't do so well:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.

Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

"It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI's civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more dismal scores of elected officials, you have to be concerned," said Josiah Bunting, chairman of the National Civic Literacy Board at ISI.

"How can political leaders make informed decisions if they don't understand the American experience?" he added.

The exam questions covered American history, the workings of the US government and economics.

HT and headline from BarbinMD on DailyKos.

He's not THAT cool

Kevin Drum:
I will just say this. If this turns out to be right — if Al Franken really does win by 27 votes — then I suggest we eliminate elections entirely and simply allow Nate Silver to tell us who our congressional and presidential winners are in the future. It would be a lot cheaper, and probably just as accurate.
Heh.

Stepping back a bit, I'm going to make a prediction: As the amount of data available on the Internet increases, there will be more and more "Nate Silvers" in different areas: geeky individuals who use publicly available data to equal or outperform the professional priesthood of a given sector. Calling market fluctuations, predicting what movies will be hits, who knows what else. In the past, the information necessary to do this was locked in expensive reports that only insiders had access to. These days, the information available publicly is often good enough to make professional level decisions. Also, people who post their models and predictions on the Web can get instant feedback from informed people, and thus rapidly hone and refine their models. There's nothing preventing "traditional" experts from doing this, but I think the Web's "cycle time" is much faster than many pre-web folks are capable of taking advantage of.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

YouTube - Roubini: Worst yet to come

This is Roubini saying we need a $500 billion fiscal stimulus package
immediately. Every economist I've heard basically agrees. Even defecit
hawks are saying that a looming depression overrides their customary
squeamishness about government spending.

Why can't congress get its act together and do this? Our government is
fucking broken, and it's not just Bush's fault. Congressional
Democrats can't just wait for Obama. We need action now.


http://m.youtube.com/watch?desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dz6cyOtGnhyQ&v=z6cyOtGnhyQ


[I sent this from my iPhone, so please excuse any excessive brevity or
typographical errors.]
--Zachary Drake

Something I didn't know: Benford's Law

James Fallows has a good discussion of something I didn't know about: Benford's Law:
It turns out that if you list the population of cities, the length of rivers, the area of states or counties, the sales figures for stores, the items on your credit card statement, the figures you find in an issue of the Atlantic, the voting results from local precincts, etc, nearly one third of all the numbers will start with 1, and nearly half will start with either 1 or 2. (To be specific, 30% will start with 1, and 18% with 2.) Not even one twentieth of the numbers will begin with 9.

This doesn't apply to numbers that are chosen to fit a specific range -- sales prices, for instance, which might be $49.99 or $99.95 -- nor numbers specifically designed to be random in their origin, like winning lottery or Powerball figures or computer-generated random sums. But it applies to so many other sets of data that it turns out to be a useful test for whether reported data is legitimate or faked.
(Wikipedia entry)

Two narratives of the Obama win

Narrative one: There was nothing special about this election, it was determined by large scale phenomena that neither candidate had much control over:
  • Demographic trends are shifting towards the Democrats. The Republican coalition of 2000 and 2004 just doesn't add up to electoral victory anymore
  • When the sitting president is unpopular, the party of that president won't do well.
  • On economic issues, voters favor the Democrats. Economic issues were salient for voters.
  • When economic times are difficult during an election year, the party of the sitting president is at a disadvantage.
Narrative two: This election was the result of highly specific circumstances unique to this particular election and could have gone the other way had the campaigns done things differently:
  • Obama is a once-in-a-lifetime uber-being who has superpowers of rhetoric, organizing, and political manoevering that no one else could possibly equal.
  • John McCain shot himself in the foot so many times: Palin, not knowing how many houses he owned, "the fundamentals of our economy our strong", suspending his campaign, poor debate performance, etc.
  • If only Republicans had stayed true to conservative principles, they would have won!
  • Bush was hugely, spectacularly, singularly unpopular and that hamstrung McCain.
  • The media was in the tank for Obama.
  • People voted for Obama as a way to exorcise racist demons in themselves and in the country.
  • Obama's campaign was run by super-genius demigods like Axelrod and Plouffe whose flawless performance is responsible for the election outcome.
  • The timing of the financial crisis was what did in McCain. Oh, cruel Fate! The injustice!
I think you can tell by the snarky tone which narrative I prefer. I do think there were some specific things that made Obama's victory larger than it might otherwise have been. The campaign was well run. He had much more money. He had a much better ground game. He did better in the debates. He didn't pick a vice-presidential nominee who was completely ignorant about important issues. But I think fundamentals like demographics are far more important.

Part of me hopes that the Republicans subsribe to narrative #2, so they continue to suffer defeats. But I think the contry would be better off with a reality-based opposition party. The Republicans are going to have to figure out how to break out of their demographic death trap. There just aren't enough white, Christian fundamentalist, married, conservative, rural, angry, heterosexual men in Oklahoma and Arkansas to form a winning coalition. (OK, I'm being unfair there; the Republican coalition is larger than that.) I think the Republican party is going to require a major shift in focus: they're going to have to become the party that can offer a comprehensive green energy solution, or universal healthcare, or working class economic populism, or something.

A lot of Republicans seem to believe that if only they could find the right candidate, or the right campaign strategy, they could be victorious again. I disagree. I think it will require a full-scale re-working like the Conservative Party in the UK.

On the other hand, if Obama becomes associated with a huge economic collapse, I think the Republicans could easily come back despite their demographic disadvantages. In this case, the fundamentals would cut against the Democrats. But they'd still have to present bread-and-butter solutions.

Hey Obama: No John Brennan for CIA!

Nobody in Left Blogistan wants Obama to put John Brennan in charge of the CIA, due to his support of torture. People who have been particularly forthright about denouncing Bush's torture regime, like Sullivan and Greenwald, are particularly outraged at the possibility.

Greenwald:
But John Brennan is a different matter. To appoint someone as CIA Director or Director of National Intelligence who was one of George Tenet's closest aides when The Dark Side of the last eight years was conceived and implemented, and who, to this day, continues to defend and support policies such as "enhanced interrogation techniques" and rendition (to say nothing of telecom immunity and warrantless eavesdropping), is to cross multiple lines that no Obama supporter should sanction. Truly turning a page on the grotesque abuses of the last eight years requires both symbolism (closing Guantanamo) and substantive policy changes (compelling adherence to the Army Field Manual, ensuring due process rights for all detainees, ending rendition, restoring safeguards on surveillance powers). Appointing John Brennan to a position of high authority would be to affirm and embrace, not repudiate, the darkest aspects of the last eight years.
Sullivan:
Why is such a man even considered for the post under Obama? This man cannot end the taint of Bush-Cheney. He was Bush-Cheney. In fact, if Obama picks him, it will be a vindication of the kind of ambivalence and institutional moral cowardice that made America a torturing nation. It would be an unforgivable betrayal of his supporters and his ideals. It would be an acknowledgment that Tenet himself is not a war criminal, while the facts indisputably prove that he was.

In fact, I'd like to see much more evidence of whether Brennan himself is implicated in the war crimes and unlawfulness of the past eight years. If nominated, the Senate should find out. Whatever his qualities, Brennan is not change. He has even used Tenet's disgusting adoption of the Gestapo euphemism "enhanced interrogation."
If Obama is floating John Brennan as a trial balloon, I'd like to add Internal Monologue's guns to the blogospheric AA battery shooting it down. It is vital that we both substantively and symbollically utterly repudiate the moral and legal cesspool that is the Bush administration's torture regime. This appointment would not do so.

Note to liberals: Obama's election does not mean our work is over. He will be better than Bush. But he won't always do things the way we'd like. We have to exert pressure, rather than just sitting back and trusting his goodness will prevail. And of course sometimes we'll still lose. But not to even push would be a huge mistake.

Friday, November 21, 2008

You may have passed Prop 8, but now your prophet is gay!

In response to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' support for California Proposition 8, and taking a cue from the Mormon practice of posthumous baptism, RfrancisR on DailyKos has decided to embark on a program of posthumously converting Mormons to homosexuality:

My first Conversion is Joseph Smith.

Dear God of the Homos,

With your great and everlasting love that blessed the covenants of Achilles and Petroclus, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, and of Jonathon and David, bless then the soul of Joseph Smith of Sharon, Vermont with your divine penis. Let it pierce the anus of his soul, and let you be forever joined to him, since on this oppressive earth, he was denied the pleasure of the male sex.

Forever and ever, our brother Joseph Smith has now joined our family (We Sing the Hymn to Praise God of the Homos!).

Blessed be God of the Homos,

Amen

I'm in Inc. magazine!

Here's our president, Tan Le, on the cover of the December issue of Inc. magazine:

And here's me, quoted by name, in the article:

"Welcome to demo hell" is probably my most famous quote at this point. If you Google the phrase, the top two hits are about the event described above.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This thing thinks I'm an ISTJ

The "Typealyzer" claims to be able to determine your Myers-Briggs personality type by analyzing your blog. It thinks I'm an ISTJ. I've taken versions of this test numerous times, and I almost always come out INTJ, and I feel that describes me well. So getting 3 out of 4 isn't bad. I tried feeding different months of my blog into the Typealyzer to see if I got different results. Here are some:
March 2006: ISTP
April 2006: INTP
May 2006: INTP
...
Jan 2007: INTJ
Feb 2007: INTJ
March 2007: INTJ
...
May 2008: INTJ
June 2008: ISTJ
July 2008: INTJ
August 2008: ISTJ
September 2008: ISTJ
October 2008: ISTJ
November 2008: INTJ

Interesting to note: It does seem to get me right quite often, and it usually isn't too far off. Never does it call me an extrovert (E) rather than an introvert (I) or a feeler (F) rather than a thinker (T).

I also find it interesting that my personality type from August 2008 to October 2008 is labeled the "The Duty Fulfiller". This is around the time when we got Quinn's fragile X syndrome diagnosis. My "resting" personality type is "The Scientist". Certainly, I have recently felt a lot more like the former than the latter.

Question: Does the change in personality type represent random noise in my "blog signal", or does it represent actual shifts in my personality? I know personality is supposed to be a stable thing, over time. But maybe if there are persistent conditions in one's life, these can be hard to distinguish from personality traits. E.g. is Jill cranky, or is he just chronically sleep-deprived? Is Bob's depressed state an inherent trait, or just due to persistent relationship trouble?

Another interesting experiement: What will the Typealyzer think of Love and Survival with Fragile X, a blog to which both my wife and I contribute? It says ISTP. Now, I think my wife's type is ENFP. So it would appear from Typealyzer's point of view that my personality is "dominating" the blog. This is strange, because more of the posts are hers than mine. What does it think of Food Without Quotes, my wife's cooking blog? ESTP. But is that because a blog that has a lot of procedures and recipes is going to be more Sensing (S) (i.e. practical), than iNtuitive (i.e. theoretical)? And more Thinking (T) than Feeling (F)?

I'd love to know more about how this thing works.

California Supreme Court to hear challenges to Prop 8

Given that both sides wanted the court to rule on this, it's not surprising. Here's the MyDD article.

It might be "better" in some sense if this were overturned at the ballot box rather than in court. It would deprive the right of their "judicial tyranny" arguments (never mind that the CA legislature already passed gay marriage, or that one of the important roles of the judiciary is to protect the rights of minorities from the will of the majority). But it's more important that Prop 8 get overturned as soon as possible, so that people can marry who they want to. I'm not going to ask someone to wait to insist on fair treatment.

In the meantime, we should prepare to repeal Prop 8 a the ballot box. You can sign this petition if you haven't already.

All it takes is one person falling for it...

...and the "Nigerian"-style scammers make a profit and continue to flood the Internet with spam. I feel sorry for this woman who was conned out of $400,000, but I'm also angry at her. Because of the existence of the tiny minority of people who fall for this, the rest of us have to put up with those "Dearest one of God" emails phishing for our bank account numbers.

I feel this way about a lot of things: because a small minority of people steal, everyone has to lock their doors. Makes one want to retreat to an isolated utopian commune or a gated community.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Boo hiss: Democrats let Lieberman keep his committee chair

Kevin Drum isn't happy about this, and neither am I. How can the Democrats let someone who isn't even a Democrat and who actively campaigned against Obama keep a valuable committee chair that allows him to investigate the Obama administration? Shouldn't that chair go to an actual Democrat?

This action by the Democrats reaffirms the existence of the following incentive structure for politicians:
  1. Do something that pisses off the right, and the Republicans hammer you for it hard.
  2. Do something that pisses off the left, and Democrats let you get away with it even though it's well within their power to punish you for it.
...so why should we be surprised that politicians constantly drift to the right? Given that there is rarely a penalty for doing so, it only makes sense.

This just goes to show how the 2006 and 2008 elections have not really changed the political culture. The same people who never stood up to Bush in a meaningful way are still in control of Congress. There's still so much work to be done.

I think my fundamental disagreement with Obama is over this kind of issue: Obama is fundamentally a conciliator, and the netroots left (of which I am certainly a member) wants to see Republicanism crushed and discredited. Obama is just not interested in that project. So he's going to piss me off a lot. I hope Obama has the political skill and cunning necessary to get things done his way. It got him elected, so I'm fairly optimistic. But the Republicans are out to stop him, and no one loves getting attention by attacking Democrats more than Lieberman. And now he has a powerful committee chair from which to do so.

Attempts to undermine Obama already underway

dday has this post on how some in the military are trying to box Obama in on issues like withdrawal from Iraq, missile defense, and military spending. I think Obama will be able to win over some of the military, but I think he's also going to have to crack some heads. I hope Obama is willing to take on entrenched military interests, but there are POWERFUL interests protecting the status quo and they won't be afraid to shout "That Democratic sissy is making America weaker!" to get their way.

Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State

The Guardian (UK paper):

Hillary Clinton plans to accept the job of secretary of state offered by Barack Obama, who is reaching out to former rivals to build a broad coalition administration, the Guardian has learned.

Obama's advisers have begun looking into Bill Clinton's foundation, which distributes millions of dollars to Africa to help with development, to ensure that there is no conflict of interest. But Democrats do not believe that the vetting is likely to be a problem.

Clinton would be well placed to become the country's dominant voice in foreign affairs, replacing Condoleezza Rice. Since being elected senator for New York, she has specialised in foreign affairs and defence. Although she supported the war in Iraq, she and Obama basically agree on a withdrawal of American troops.

Clinton, who still harbours hopes of a future presidential run, had to weigh up whether she would be better placed by staying in the Senate, which offers a platform for life, or making the more uncertain career move to the secretary of state job.

I don't think this is the first time I've asked this: Why does The Guardian, a British paper, get this kind of scoop about American politics?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Iraq votes the US out

The Iraqis are kicking us out of their country. New York Times via Sullivan:
The draft approved Sunday requires coalition forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities and towns by the summer of 2009 and from the country by the end of 2011. An earlier version had language giving some flexibility to that deadline, with both sides discussing timetables and timelines for withdrawal, but the Iraqis managed to have the deadline set in stone, a significant negotiating victory. The United States has around 150,000 troops in Iraq.
As Sullivan points out, this is very important because the Republicans and neocons will try to blame subsequent problems in Iraq on Obama. But hey, they want us out. Which is fine with me. It's a win-win: they get an occupying army out of their country, and we can stop spending hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives on an occupation that pisses off the world and acts as a recruiting tool for terrorism. And with the recent reductions in violence, it could be that our withdrawal won't cause quite the calamity that it otherwise might have.

Why I could never be president

I couldn't risk having this happen to me:
President-elect Obama is a big user of his Blackberry, "but before he arrives at the White House, he will probably be forced to sign off," the New York Times reports.

"In addition to concerns about e-mail security, there is the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review, and the threat of subpoenas. A final decision has not been made on whether Obama could go against precedent and become the first e-mailing president, but aides said that was unlikely..."

"Obama, however, appears to be poised to make technological history in other ways: Aides said he hopes to have a laptop on his desk in the Oval Office. He would be the first American president to do so."
Dude, if anyone should have a mobile computing device, it's the President of the Frickin' United States. I'm an iPhone person rather than a Blackberry person, but the same dynamic applies. I understand about the security concerns though. It would have to be super-encrypted by the secret service or something.

J Ro at MyDD has concerns that being cut off from email might contribute to a "bubble" that cuts the president off from reality:
This is disheartening. Modern forms of communication like email, instant messaging, blogging, and more recently social networking and twittering have revolutionized the way we relate to each other. While it might be a stretch to expect Obama to become the first twittering or blogging president (we can hope!), certainly indispensable tools such as email (invented in the 1970s and thoroughly mainstream by the 1990s) shouldn't be beyond the grasp of the President.

Without these tools, Obama will be forced to relate to the outside world through his circle of aides and advisers, who it seems will have access to email. While this might look no worse than a clumsy work-around to some - allowing Obama to access essentially the same lines of communication - I'm not so sure. Again, the Times:

"Given how important it is for him to get unfiltered information from as many sources as possible, I can imagine he will miss that freedom," said Linda Douglass, a senior adviser who traveled with the campaign.

Even more than the campaign trail, the White House can be a bubble far removed from the outside world. Having access to information only through aides and advisers is guaranteed to remove a President from reality, at least slightly. Given that 1.5 billion people use the Internet (nearly 1/5th of the world's population), cutting the most powerful man in the world off from our society's most important communications device seems downright dangerous.

Both security and disclosure laws seem to be the issues holding back Presidential email, and these are two valid concerns. Still, there are no problems that can't be solved. I know our intelligence services use email and other online communication tools constantly. If they can handle sensitive data online, so can the White House. In my view, we should strongly consider updating whatever rules apply to allow the first truly 21st century President (possibly post-modern, too) to use 21st century tools so he can do his best to govern a 21st century country.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Quinn at Tumble & Tea

Quinn does the big slide all by himself

Excessively cute little francophone girl

Dude, the yarns little kids spin are just totally surreal:

Once upon a time... from Capucha on Vimeo.

Violence, theft, suicide, exploitation of the poor, this story has everything.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Krugman urges $600 billion stimulus, maybe GM should be saved

Now is not the time for shilly-shallying, says Krugman:

Finally, in normal times modesty and prudence in policy goals are good things. Under current conditions, however, it’s much better to err on the side of doing too much than on the side of doing too little. The risk, if the stimulus plan turns out to be more than needed, is that the economy might overheat, leading to inflation — but the Federal Reserve can always head off that threat by raising interest rates. On the other hand, if the stimulus plan is too small there’s nothing the Fed can do to make up for the shortfall. So when depression economics prevails, prudence is folly.

What does all this say about economic policy in the near future? The Obama administration will almost certainly take office in the face of an economy looking even worse than it does now. Indeed, Goldman Sachs predicts that the unemployment rate, currently at 6.5 percent, will reach 8.5 percent by the end of next year.

All indications are that the new administration will offer a major stimulus package. My own back-of-the-envelope calculations say that the package should be huge, on the order of $600 billion.
And here's an argument from Ezra Klein for bailing out General Motors:
Cohn's article argues, also, that this crisis is not just the latest coughing fit in the American automotive industry's decades-long decline. Rather, Cohn says that his reporting showed the industry has actually implemented many of the reforms folks would want, but that amidst their transformation, they were hit with an "unexpected trifecta of high gas prices, vanishing credit, and a deep recession." Cohn says that the difference between them and the Japanese automakers is, at this moment, cash reserves more than business practices or car quality. Indeed, Ford is now about as reliable as Toyota and Honda, while Chrysler's factories match Toyota's in productivity. All of this would make the auto industry a fairly good candidate for a conditional bailout, and given the harm that 3 million lost jobs would inflict on an already-sagging economy, it may be a good fiscal move, too. In any case, read the whole thing.

Thought of the day

I sure hope those beepers that go off when trucks back up save a lot
of lives, because they are annoying as hell.

[I sent this from my iPhone, so please excuse any excessive brevity or
typographical errors.]
--Zachary Drake

An optimistic assesment of legal challenge to Prop 8

Paul Hogarth, a California lawyer whom I know slightly through my friend Paul Dosh, takes a look at the legal challenge to Prop 8, and is more optimistic than before that the California Supreme Court might strike it down:
But after having read Herrera’s well-written brief and done some legal research, I am now more optimistic that justice will prevail. Prop 8 was not your typical “amendment” that merely tinkers with the California Constitution. It was a drastic revision that deprives a “suspect class” (gays and lesbians) of a fundamental right under equal protection. And a simple majority vote of the people is not enough to take that right away – especially when the purpose of equal protection is to shield minorities. While other courts have upheld marriage amendments in other states, they have different Constitutions – and court rulings have changed considerably in a short period of time. And unlike many states, California has explicitly found sexual orientation to be a “suspect class.” If the Court overrules Prop 8, it will be a powerful affirmation for justice – capping what has been a powerful year of “change.”
I don't know a lot about the differences between an amendment and a revision and the various precedents for making that distinction. But this argument does seem plausible.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What our country needs

Begich (D) now leads in Alaska

It looks like there will be one more Democratic senator. Why does it take so long to count votes in Alaska? That sounds like a setup line to a Sarah Palin joke. If you figure out a good punch line, put it in the comments.

Stephane from France says thank you for Obama

Stephane:

There is too much at stake, too many to help, to much to do. The time has come for us all. To roll up our sleeves.
We too had a dream. And today you made it a reality..

From the bottom of my Heart, and with tears of joy in my eyes,

With love, from France,
Stephane

He then shows a series of pictures of people around the world celebrating Obama's victory. Those pictures are wonderful.

(HT: Mad Latinist via email)

Same-sex family of the day

Amy Balliett and bride (I don't know which one is Amy).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How could Palin have happened?

Sullivan:
Let's be real in a way the national media seems incapable of: this person should never have been placed on a national ticket in a mature democracy. She was incapable of running a town in Alaska competently. The impulsive, unvetted selection of a total unknown, with no knowledge of or interest in the wider world, as a replacement president remains one of the most disturbing events in modern American history. That the press felt required to maintain a facade of normalcy for two months - and not to declare the whole thing a farce from start to finish - is a sign of their total loss of nerve. That the Palin absurdity should follow the two-term presidency of another individual utterly out of his depth in national government is particularly troubling. 46 percent of Americans voted for the possibility of this blank slate as president because she somehow echoed their own sense of religious or cultural "identity". Until we figure out how this happened, we will not be able to prevent it from happening again. And we have to find a way to prevent this from recurring. She is a dangerous, unqualified know-nothing who very nearly became the replacement for the most powerful person on earth.
I agree. Just because we avoided disaster this time doesn't mean something wasn't way broken in the system. Sarah Palin should have been eliminated earlier in the process. The feedback mechanisms in the Republican party are completely broken. Or rather, they are wired to the wrong inputs. Remember: this is the country that re-elected George W. Bush. And 46% of us voted for Palin. These kinds of folks will always be ready to come back. There is still a lot of work to be done. Yes, demographics are on our side. But that's a slow process. And the Republicans may figure out a way to make Palinism work among a broader audience. The stakes are very high. Thank God we won the presidency this time around.

Obama transition speculation

Noboby knows where this document came from, but I suppose it's as good a jumping off point as any. I haven't read it yet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The fate of GM

Ezra Klein agrees with what I posted earlier about the possibility of bailing out GM:
But what's the end game here? Depending on how you understood the financial crisis, the banks were either suffering from temporary illiquidity or insolvency. The problem was, in either case, transient, and not tied into to the fundamental business model. Buttressing them in the short-term would allow them to survive and return to prosperity in the medium-term. But GM's decades-long decline is a consequence of its business model. They've been in freefall for years now. Saving them in the short-term probably just means they die in the medium-term, or maybe are saved again. Presume the government does extend the loan. Then what? What reason is there to believe that GM is simply enduring a temporary solvency crisis rather than simply dying?
Save the workers. Save the communities. But unless GM comes up with a plausible turnaround plan, they can't be saved.

Great anti-Prop 8 sign

via Sullivan.

Caption of the day


"Obama Meets With Dangerous World Leader Without Preconditions"

Olbermann speical comment of Prop 8

If only we had woken up like this before it passed...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Obama = Dukakis + Demographics + Internet

Bowers makes the case that Obama wasn't a better candidate than Dukakis. It's just that demographic and technological changes since 1988 have made the terrain more favorable to Democrats. Worth a look:
These three broad social trends--the network neutral Internet, the increasing number of non-Christians in America, and the increasing number of non-whites in America (mainly Latinos)--were more responsible for the 2008 Democratic victories than any other factor. This includes the relative strengths of the two major candidates, the performance and strategic decisions of the campaigns, and even the pro-Democratic political environment caused by widespread disaffection with Republican governance. These demographic and media trends are the main reason non-southern Democratic nominees have once again become competitive in Presidential elections. Without them, all of our nominees who are not "good ol' boys" would end up suffering the same fate as Dukakis.
This ought to scare the Republicans: they lost not because Obama is a once-in-a-lifetime supercandidate, but because fundamental trends in our society are dooming them.

Gotta agree with the conservatives on this one...

Unless a bailout of the US auto industry is accompanied by a realistic plan to return to profitability, I'm afraid the additional $25 billion being talked about will only postpone the inevitable. Maybe they could get the money in return for better fuel efficiency standards, though that's something they should be doing on their own anyway. I think the conservatives have a point here.

Maybe we should let the companies fail, and instead bail out the people. Or bail out their communities. Turn Flint, Michigan into a massive public works project center or something. Build a green technology research and construction center there. I think the money would go further. I just don't think the US auto industry as a whole is a good investment right now. I'm fine with the government alleviating the suffering of the workers and communities that would be impacted by this. But until I see signs that the US auto industry is really ready to become globally competitive, I'm going to be skeptical of any bailout package.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Wordle

Here's a Wordle of Internal Monologue:


(The text was a bunch of cut-and-pastes from November and October. Hence the prominence of Obama.)

You can make your own.

Zac with a dolphin

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Quinn and the dolphins

I'm going to swim with them in a few minutes.

Quinn looking at dolphins

Same sex family of the day

I think I'm going to start a new feature on Internal Monologue: Same sex family of the day. I want to do my part to normalize the idea of gay and lesbian committed couples who start families. So I'm just going to grab random images from the web and post them every once in a while. I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but even that has its uses.

Repeal Proposition 8


One benefit of having a scandalously easy constitutional amendment process is that it's easy to amend it back. Let us pledge to do so.

Would you love me if I were a wookie?


In order to ascertain the profundity of my wife's love for me, I presented her with a series of sentient being types from the Star Wars universe, and asked her if she would still love me if I were a member of that species. Here are the creature types and her response to each:
  • Ewok: Yes
  • Wookie: Yes
  • Gungan: No (Jar-Jar ruined them for her)
  • Protocol Droid (e.g. C3-P0): Yes
  • Astromech Droid (e.g. R2-D2): No
  • Tauntaun: No
  • Rodian (e.g. Greedo): No
  • Jawa: Yes
  • Rancor: No
  • Sarlaac: No
  • Hutt: No
  • Yoda's unnamed species: Yes
  • Rodian (e.g. Greedo): No
  • Clone Trooper: Yes
  • Battle Droid: No
  • Sith: No
  • Someone who had Palpatine's facial deformity but wasn't actually evil: Yes
There may be others, but I have forgotten. I didn't ask every single creature type I could think of, but I think this is a pretty good sample. Overall, I'm pretty impressed by my wife's love for me. I'm a bit saddened that she couldn't love me if I was a gungan or a rodian; those species are pretty humanoid and they can speak. But I'm honored that wookie, ewok, Yoda's species, and Jawa are there. My wife emphasized that if it was really me, completely intact, trapped in the physical form of one of these creatures, she would love me no matter what form it was. But for purposes of this exercise, I was asking her to consider me as a member of the species in question, Zac translated from human into Ewok, if you will.

I highly recommend that everyone do this with their significant other. I think it reveals much.

Republicans: still delusional

The Republicans are in need of some serious wandering-in-the-wilderness therapy. Get a load of this:

Rasmussen's poll of the 2012 Republican presidential primary:

Sarah Palin 64%
Mike Huckabee 12%
Mitt Romney 11%
Bobby Jindal 4%
Charlie Crist 2%
Tim Pawlenty 1%
Undecided 6%

And the piece de resistance:

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Republican voters say Alaska Governor Sarah Palin helped John McCain's bid for the presidency.

Bwahwahwahwahwahwa.I think 69% of Republicans got confused. I bet Sarah Palin helped them get excited about McCain. She did not help him overall. I think the Republicans are going to need a lot of out-of-power time before they come to their senses. It took the British conservatives several years, and they didn't have the looney American right wing to deal with.

Note that just because Palin turned out to be a frighteningly ignorant backstabbing phony doesn't necessarily mean McCain was wrong to gamble on picking. The way things were going, McCain was narrowly but consistently behind. He was headed towards a respectable but inevitable loss. He needed to do something. It didn't pay off, but it might have been the best option available (assuming that he didn't actually give a damn about her inability to govern, that is).

Hail Mary passes usually don't work. But sometimes it's the best play to run.

UPDATE: More evidence that this defeat is driving conservatives more to the right. Rod Dreher:

Honestly, this is the brain trust for the future of conservatism? The same folks that have been big players at the top of the movement food chain for lo, these many years? And they conclude that the problem with Republicans this year is that they weren't sufficiently Reaganist? And now they're slap-happy to be free of those pathetic RINOs that were holding the movement back?

Man. Somebody take a snapshot of this moment. It's kind of like Andrew Ridgeley exulting in his future career prospects now that he's shaken loose of that loser George Michael.

Barack O'Bama

Every ethnicity that can claim a connection to Obama is doing so. The Irish, or at least this guy, have claimed him as one of their own. Give a listen:

HT: my Mom via e-mail

Obama gets 1 more electoral vote

One more for Obama. I think this is the first time Nebraska has split its electoral votes. While Obama hardly needed it, I think it's symbolically important that Obama is getting electoral votes from formerly "red" areas. There are more and more areas of the country where Democrats are considered viable.

By the way, I think the definition of "red state" is going to have to change. The Wikipedia entry as of this posting has the following map, based on '92, '96, '00, and '04 presidential elections:

Colorado and Virginia can't really be called red states anymore. And the rest of the map might have to shade a bit bluer. Frankly, I'm surprised this Wikipedia entry hasn't been updated already.

No committee chair for Lieberman

Let me add my voice to the chorus of progressives calling for Lieberman to be stripped of his committee chair. After supporting McCain and Palin, there must be some consequence. And we don't want him to have the power to issue subpoenas to members of the Obama administration.

I don't know whether he should be booted from the caucus, but I definitely think he should lose the committee chair. Here's a petition you can sign to that effect.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Darth Quinn!



More here.

South Park's Obama victory episode is already done

Quick hits

  • Obama might get one of Nebraska's electoral votes.
  • Rumors float about Senate Majority leader Harry Reid's conversation with Joe Lieberman. No decisions yet, but he may lose his committee chair, or even be booted from the caucus. Lieberman should not have subpoena power to investigate the Obama administration. He loves the spotlight too much and I fear he would abuse it.
  • David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist, will become a Senior Adviser to Obama in the White House. Let's hope his strategery there is as good as it was in the campaign.
  • Will the Daily Show still be funny once Obama is president?
  • Conservatives try to figure out what path to take next.
  • There is something very wrong going on with the vote count in Alaska. Republicans outperformed their projections by 12-14%. Votes tallied so far indicate a turnout much lower than 2004, which makes no sense. Nate Silver is on it.
  • Speaking of Nate Silver, it seems that I, Grishnash, and others in the blogosphere were right to cite him a lot. Sullivan points out that he was pretty darn good.
  • I was mentioning this to Sarah last night: I don't think the anti-Prop 8 campaign's strategy of dancing around the issue of gay marriage in their ads was a good one. Sullivan agrees. I'm still saddened by the loss. Things will sway our way, but how much suffering must there be until we get there?
  • The California Attorney General thinks that if Prop 8 passes and is upheld, it won't invalidate existing marriages. But this opinion might be challenged.
  • The biggest winner of this election? Marijuana, which won most of its ballot initiatives.
  • Salon's collection of wrong electoral punditry. Always good to see how spectacularly wrong people in the media can be.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Democrats take senate seat in Oregon

We're up to 57 in the caucus (if you include independents, I think). The Huffington Post:

PORTLAND, Ore. — Democrat Jeff Merkley has ousted Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, a victory once considered unlikely against an incumbent who had highlighted his efforts to work across the aisle in hopes of surviving a wave of anti-GOP sentiment.

Smith's loss _ the first for an incumbent Oregon senator in 40 years _ means Democrats are poised to have at least 57 votes in the Senate next year. He had been the last GOP senator standing in the three Pacific Coast states south of Alaska.

Steve Benen:

Smith, who had run campaign ads trying to tie himself to Obama, called Merkley this morning to concede. All of the votes are not yet counted, by Merkley enjoys a 2-point lead with votes in heavily Democratic areas yet to be counted.

The victory is no doubt gratifying for Merkley for a variety of reasons, including a vindication of sorts -- the Democratic establishment did not want Merkley to win the party nomination for this contest, fearing he was too liberal to be electable.

There are, of course, three more Senate contests that remain unresolved -- Alaska, Minnesota, and Georgia, the last of which is headed for a run-off.

Obama takes North Carolina

Another 15 EV for Obama.

Rahm Emanuel takes Chief of Staff position

Politico:
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), a wily, aggressive West Wing strategist under President Bill Clinton, has accepted the post of White House chief of staff for President-elect Barack Obama, Democratic officials tell Politico.
Apparently, the character of Josh Lyman on The West Wing was based partly on Rahm Emanuel. Which is funny, because apparently some of the inspiration for the Matt Santos character was Barack Obama. Santos chose Lyman as his chief of staff. Now Obama has Emanuel as his chief of staff. Does that mean that Obama has MS but hasn't been telling us, and that he will negotiate a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement? No. But the parallels are fun to point out.

Vader to Luke: "By the time I was your age..."

A great reworking of the Vader-Luke "I am your father" conversation from Empire Strikes Back. Graphical versions here: Page 1, Page 2.

Darth Vader: Obi Wan never told you what happened to your father.

Luke: He told me enough! He told me you killed him!

Darth Vader: No... I am your father!

Luke: No! That's not true! That's impossible.

Darth Vader: Search your feelings... you know it to be true...

Luke: NOOOOOOO!

Darth Vader: Yes, it is true... and you know what else? You know that protocol droid of yours?

Luke: Threepio?

Darth Vader: Yes... Threepio... I built him... when I was 9 years
old...

Luke: No...

Darth Vader: Nine years old! And what have you done? Look at
yourself, no hand, no job, and couldn't even levitate your own ship out of the swamp...

Luke: I destroyed your precious Death Star!

Darth Vader: When you were 20! When I was 10, I single-handedly destroyed a Trade Federation Droid Control ship!

Luke: Well, it's not my fault...

Darth Vader: Oh, here we go... "Poor me... my father never gave me
what I wanted for my birthday... boo hoo, my daddy's the Dark Lord
of the Sith...waahhh wahhh!"

Luke: Shut up!

Darth Vader: You're a slacker! By the time I was your age, I had exterminated the Jedi knights!

Luke: I used to race my T-16 through Beggar's Canyon.

Darth Vader: Oh, for the love of the Emperor... 10 years old, winner
of the Boonta Eve Open! Only human to ever fly a Pod Racer... right here baby!

Luke looks down the shaft. Takes a step towards it.

Darth Vader: Go ahead and jump. I was wrong... You're not my kid. I don't know whose you are, but you sure ain't mine...

Luke takes a step off the platform, hesitates, then plunges down the
shaft. Darth Vader looks after him.

Darth Vader: And get a haircut!
(HT: Mad Latinist via email).

What will happen to existing same sex marriages?

Short answer: nobody knows. Here's the best summary of the possibilities that I've found. Options include:
  1. Keep existing marriages valid (Volokh doubts this will happen)
  2. Automatically convert them to domestic partnerships
  3. Invalidate them
  4. The legislature intervenes and passes a law that converts them to domestic partnerships
Volokh also believes that Prop 8 will be considered an amendment, not a revision, and will therefore not be struck down.

I'm very sad that this is happening. I spent some time tonight at our church discussing this result with people. I think if more people heard stories from gay people about what it felt like to have 52% of your fellow Californians tell you your marriage was invalid, more people would have voted against Proposition 8.

Better than a circular firing squad!

It's a circular knife fight! After two months of pent up rage, McCain staffers stab Palin in the back. Kevin Drum has a great roundup. Highlight:
There was great concern in the McCain campaign that Sarah Palin lacked the degree of knowledgeability necessary to be a running mate, a vice president, and a heartbeat away from the presidency. We're told by folks that she didn't know what countries were in NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, that being Canada, the US, and Mexico. We're told that she didn't understand that Africa was a continent rather than a country just in itself. A whole host of questions that caused serious problems about her knowledgeability. She got very angry at staff, thought that she was mishandled, was particularly angry about the way the Katie Couric interview went. She didn't accept preparation for that interview when the aides say that that was part of the problem. And that there were times where she was hard to control emotionally. There's talk of temper tantrums at bad news clippings.
Oh My Fucking God, if that he's true she's ten times dumber than even I thought. Of course, these are bitter McCain staffers dishing to FOX, so they are hardly the most reliable sources. Here's the video:

McCain, you don't get to redeem yourself again for the umpteenth time

Nice McCain is back, starting with his gracious concession speech last night. But dday is having none of it:
The effort to raise John McCain's reputation from the dead has already begun. He'll give a TV appearance where he'll rend his garments and bat his eyes and talk about how sorrowful he was to see what his campaign perpetrated. And everyone in the Village will try to fall in line. It's as predictable as the conservatives who will immediately blame President Obama for not fixing the economy come January 22nd (they'll give him a one-day honeymoon).

Enough. You show your true character when put under the spotlight. John McCain showed his, and proved himself winning to go to any lengths to extend the glory to which he feels entitled. I'm not particularly interested in letting bygones be bygones. The Democratic nominee got multiple threats on his life as the anger of McCain-Palin rallies reached a fever pitch.

McCain will have to live with himself. And anyone that tries to throw him a lifeline will hear from me, at least.
I think I agree. I like it when McCain is nice and reasonable, but he only is so when it is politically convenient. dday quotes John Aravosis:

After eight years of having Republicans call me an un-American troop-hating fag-loving socialist, after months of John McCain embracing the hate to a level where his own supporters were calling out for Barack Obama to be assassinated, no one is going to be permitted to tell me with a straight face that "oh you know, both sides do it."

Your side was abominable. Your side was hateful. Your side race-baited. Your side gay-baited. Your side lied like we've never seen in recent presidential campaign history. Your side used a tax-cheat who would do better under Obama's tax proposal to be your everyman on the issue of taxes. Your side, in a veiled effort at race-baiting, said Obama doesn't put his country first. Your side had the audacity to call Obama a socialist. Your side suggested he was a Muslim. Your side suggested he was a terrorist. Your side suggested he was Osama bin Laden.

Spare me the crap about how both sides do it. You people are a disgrace, you've been a disgrace for eight long years, and all your hate and lying and venom and vitriol finally bit you in your collective fat ass.

The Prop 8 challenges are beginning

I knew this was coming:

The petition charges that Proposition 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution's core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group – lesbian and gay Californians. Proposition 8 also improperly attempts to prevent the courts from exercising their essential constitutional role of protecting the equal protection rights of minorities. According to the California Constitution, such radical changes to the organizing principles of state government cannot be made by simple majority vote through the initiative process, but instead must, at a minimum, go through the state legislature first.

[....]

"If the voters approved an initiative that took the right to free speech away from women, but not from men, everyone would agree that such a measure conflicts with the basic ideals of equality enshrined in our constitution. Proposition 8 suffers from the same flaw – it removes a protected constitutional right – here, the right to marry – not from all Californians, but just from one group of us," said Jenny Pizer, a staff attorney with Lambda Legal. "That's too big a change in the principles of our constitution to be made just by a bare majority of voters."

"A major purpose of the constitution is to protect minorities from majorities. Because changing that principle is a fundamental change to the organizing principles of the constitution itself, only the legislature can initiate such revisions to the constitution," added Elizabeth Gill, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California.

The groups filed the lawsuit today in the California Supreme Court on behalf of Equality California and 6 same-sex couples who did not marry before Tuesday's election but would like to be able to marry now.

The groups filed a writ petition in the California Supreme Court before the elections presenting similar arguments because they believed the initiative should not have appeared on the ballot, but the court dismissed that petition without addressing its merits. That earlier order is not precedent here.

"Historically, courts are reluctant to get involved in disputes if they can avoid doing so," said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of NCLR. "It is not uncommon for the court to wait to see what happens at the polls before considering these legal arguments. However, now that Proposition 8 may pass, the courts will have to weigh in and we believe they will agree that Proposition 8 should never have been on the ballot in the first place."

Winning this challenge to Prop 8 won't take a way the sting that about 52% of Californians votes to take away marriage rights for same-sex couples. But it will allow those same sex couples to get married. And protect the marriages that already exist.

As a married person myself, I just can't imagine a bunch of voters being able to legally annul my marriage. That's hideous. Of course, I don't think anyone knows exactly what Prop 8 does to marriages that already exist in California. Are the automatically converted to civil unions? Are they destroyed completely? Will they be "grandfathered" in? Do they have to divorce? The legal consequences could be very tangled.

What now?

Well Mr. Rove, we're doing really well in Arkansas

From the New York Times via georgia10 at DailyKos

The Republican party fared worse in most of the country, but the "McCain belt", shown in red, is where Republicans did better this year than in 2004. I see Rove's grand quest to turn the GOP into a disempowered regional rump is coming to fruition.

In this time of defeat, the Republicans will go through a lot of hard introspection and soul searching. As liberals, we should respect this painful process our fellow Americans are going through. I plan to to show my respect via gloating, insufferable smugness, and frequent posting of YouTube clips that depict Republicans are ridiculous wackjobs.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A LETTER TO ALASKA.

From Ezra Klein:

Sent to you via Google Reader

A LETTER TO ALASKA.

Dear Alaska,



WTF?



Sincerely,

People in this country who think seven criminal convictions should probably lose you your Senate seat



[I sent this from my iPhone, so please excuse any excessive brevity or typographical errors.]
--Zachary Drake

Dreams

Yeah, it hasn't quite sunk in for me either. Kevin Drum:

Sent to you via Google Reader

Dreams

DREAMS....I had a weird dream last night. Really vivid too. Obama had already won the election and he was giving a big victory speech at Grant Park. Crowds were cheering, people were crying, and there were celebrations around the country. I swear, it felt as real as if it had really happened.



But enough of that. So what do today's tracking polls look like? Has McCain made up any ground since yesterday?



[I sent this from my iPhone, so please excuse any excessive brevity or typographical errors.]
--Zachary Drake

Wee hours update

I'm so bummed that Prop 8 will probably pass. Prejudice strikes again. Time is on our side on gay marriage, but there is still work to be done telling our story to the people.

Getting Indiana for Obama is awesome.

World reacts to Obama win. Newspapers have covers. People celebrate.

Still some electoral votes still too close to call.

Franken losing by a hair to Coleman. Kos has called it for Coleman. CNN hasn't.

Why is it that the California Constitution can be amended by a simple majority ballot initiative? It's easier to amend the California Constitution than to pass a budget (which requires 2/3 of the legislature), for cryin' out loud.

Fireworks lighting up my neighborhood

I knew we were the bluest corner of a blue state, but this is the biggest spontaneous amateur fireworks show I've seen outside of the 4th of July.

Bloggers vindicated again

UPDATE 10:39 PM 11/6: OK, so Indiana went to Obama, and they had it for McCain, but only by a 1.5% margin. The only races they predicted to be closer than that were North Carolina and Missouri, which of course are not yet universally called for either candidate. A hugely impressive track record. Their only major whoops seems to have been calling Begich over Stevens in Alaska, and that's looking mighty fishy anyway...

Comparing the final electoral map to the projection at www.fivethirtyeight.com, with 4 states and two singular electoral votes still undecided, the predicted outcome of every state is exactly correct.

Biden wins twice

CORRECTION: I don't follow Delaware politics all that closely, and hearing that the Democrats still held the Delaware Governorship, I assumed it was still Ruth Ann Minner. Actually, she's retiring and the Governor-elect to make the appointment will be Jack Markell. That is all.

Joe Biden now not only has enough electoral votes to win the Vice Presidency, he has won re-election to his Senate seat as well. Most likely, he will take his seat in the 111th Congress on January 3rd, then resign by January 20th to take his seat as Vice President. Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner would then appoint his replacement until a special election could be held. A leading candidate for this appointment is Delaware Attorney General Joe Biden, III.

Singing off

I'm signing off.

Exit poll shows Prop 8 going down 52-48. But with 22% reporting, it's
ahead 54-46. I do hope it goes down.

[I sent this from my iPhone, so please excuse any excessive brevity or
typographical errors.]
--Zachary Drake

I'm Back

UPDATE AGAIN 10:18 PM 11/6: Or maybe not. It's really close again, and the electoral split is looking quite possible.

UPDATE 11:22 PM: Nope. McCain wins Omaha too. The Nebraskan delegation remains solid.

Sorry, bit of an interruption there after Obama clinched it... We had guests and dinner and all.

Back to election trivia... The electoral vote from the Omaha area in Nebraska is still too close to call. If it goes for Obama, that would be the first split of Nebraska's electoral votes since the law authorizing the votes to be split was passed in 1992.

McCain concedes

I'm listening to him now. I want to hear Obama!

Pretty gracious in defeat. But his supporters booing I don't like. But I can understand their disappointment.

NPR calls it as soon as polls close

NPR calls it for Obama. 50 minutes AFTER Internal Monologue.

South Dakota defeats abortion ban

Feministing is reporting that the proposed abortion ban in South Dakota has failed! Yay!

NPR calls Virginia for Obama

I feel bad for the NPR announcers. They can't call it for Obama, but it's so clear that Obama's won it. I can sort of hear the tension in their voices.

Grant Park in Chicago

Mad Latinist is in Chicago, one block away from Obama:

Chris Shays (R) loses in Connecticut

I think New England's congressional delegation is now entirely democratic.

Timing on posts

Some of our posts got switched around due to time stamp issues. But it's over. Obama has won!

Obama gets New Mexico, according to NPR

Udall wins the senate seat, too. The McCain campaign hangs by a thread...

New Mexico and the Presidency go to Obama

Obama now has 199 electoral votes secured. There is no way he loses any of California, Washington, Oregon or Hawaii. That makes 276. He is our next President.

Internal Monologue calls it for Obama!

I think Roy Orbison says it best:

The next state clinches it

Except for the "freebie" states, the next state Obama wins should put him over the top.

Is it too early for this?

Ohio goes for Obama

All networks are now following on this. I am ready to make a preliminary call that the race now heavily favors Obama. We need some western states like Colorado and New Mexico to close their polls before I can call this as a certainty, though.

NPR calls Ohio for Obama

Grishnash, does this put the nail in the coffin for McCain?

Apparently, FOX has done the same.

I think the only way McCain can win now is by something uber-freaky and poll defying happening. I doubt that will happen, because so far there haven't been any huge poll-defying surprises. So it would have to be a freakish occurrence that freakishly confined itself to states that haven't been called yet.

No North Dakota Shocker

McCain wins North Dakota. This shouldn't be newsworthy, but it's amazing this was even considered close.

The race moves to the west

UPDATE 5:58 PM: Alabama goes to McCain. Again no surprise.

In just a few minutes, we will be down to 100 electoral votes in states with polls still open in the west. Of these 100 still open to 7 PM Pacific or later, 77 are safe for Obama.

McCain at 7% on intrade?

I'm going to short it, just on principle. There is no way McCain has a 7% chance of winning.

...oops, I don't know how to short it. Oh well. Never mind.

PA to Obama

Multiple networks now all calling Pennsylvania for Obama. Colorado is now basically McCain's last hope by my calculations.

Arkansas polls close

Just 212 electoral votes left now in states with polls still open.

NPR calls Hagan over Dole

NPR calls this competitive senate race for the Democrats.

BREAKING: CNBC calls PA for Obama

I'm not calling it yet, but if this is true, McCain NEEDS Colorado to stay in it.

Zac's update: Ezra Klein says that the fact that the networks called Pennsylvania so quickly means that the exit polls were extremely lopsided in Obama's favor.

NPR has New Hampshire for Obama

Expected, but still good news for Obama.

NPR calls Pennsylvania for Obama

McCain is going to have a tough time now.

A whole mess of states about to close

UPDATE 4:59 PM: Aaaaand SC goes to McCain. Big shock. What took so long?

Most of the rest of the Eastern Time Zone except New York is about to close their polls. We should see the electoral count jump, since this contains safe states for both candidates, but the change won't be too meaningful. The fact that so many states are so close seems to be a positive for Obama right now, as McCain needs to start picking up tossups soon.

Indiana bellweather county breaking for Obama

New states up

Ohio, West Virginia and North Carolina now closing. Still no call on South Carolina? McCain can't like that.

Prediction

Prediction: by 10 pm Eastern time, pundits will run out of ways to say
"McCain is getting beat".


[I sent this from my iPhone, so please excuse any excessive brevity or
typographical errors.]
--Zachary Drake

Indiana

Still too close to call, but interestingly, Obama is holding his own, in a virtual tie, without a single vote yet counted from Indianapolis or Gary.

First races going to be called soon

UPDATE 4:01 PM: No surprises, nothing critical. VT to Obama, KY to McCain as expected.

Polls closing in Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, New Hampshire and the balance of Indiana and Kentucky in just a few minutes. Vermont should be an instant call for Obama. Kentucky may be called then as well.

Results coming in

As expected, Kentucky is going for McCain. Obama leading early in Indiana, but the rural votes aren't in. Nothing earth-shattering yet.

Half an hour left

I have to run out for a while. The first polls will close in 30
minutes, while I'm out. If they haven't called Kentucky for McCain by
the time I get back, it's going to be a long night for him...

Some perspective

From dday on Hullabaloo:
This map is floating around the Internets today. Survey USA polled a hypothetical matchup in 2006 between McCain and Obama. McCain took it 510 to 28 in the Electoral College, with Obama only winning Illinois, Hawaii and D.C.

Continuing Countdown

1 hour until the first release of exit polls. Not that I trust them
much after the last two times...