12 November 2008

The Newman Map

For those of you, like me, who are lost without all the eye candy that the pre-election electoral maps represented, take heart. There's still plenty of colorful representation to go around. Mark Newman shows us what the red and blue map looks like when we account for state populations as opposed to land mass.

Not bad, eh? Makes me want to ask Jon Meacham if we're really and truly a center-right nation. Much more eye candy at the source. Thanks, Cody, for the link.

11 November 2008

Obama Win=Increased Flag Sales

Susan Greene points up the spike in sales of the red, white and blue since Nov 5. I'll simply throw in my two cents that this is the same novel strain of patriotism that was piqued in me during the Democratic National Convention. For the first time in my life during those days in August, I heard people talk about the United States of America in ways that resonated deeply.

I'll say it without backpeddling: last August and again last Tuesday, I felt proud of my country for the first times in my life. Yeah, actually--flying a flag doesn't sound funny to me at all.

Cohen Makes the Case for Gore

For Secretary of State. Several popular and capable names have been mentioned, including Kerry, Richardson, and Lugar. And I see pros and cons to them all. But this one stops me in my tracks for the out and out gravitas such a pick would project. Not that an Obama admin needs to prove anything in that department. The transition team, just like the campaign, appears to be moving with intent, thoughtfulness, and in Obama's own words, "deliberate haste," to attract people who are not only good at what they do but may be great for the country and the Obama legacy.

Critics might see such an appointment as too much reliance on an old Clinton hand, but Gore has with certainty risen beyond the Clinton shadow. And forget Gore as merely a steward of the environment. He would be a widely effective messenger for America and for Earth.

Anyway, just a bit of wild "what-if?" speculation to start the morning. FWIW, Obama called Lugar yesterday, and the Indiana senator's office emphatically denies that the call was about the SOS position. So that means it's Lugar, right? Or does it really mean it isn't? Ah ha ha ha ha!

10 November 2008

Keeping Friends Close . . .

Via Benen, word is that Obama wants Lieberman in the caucus. No hint as to which side of the adage that puts old Joe.

Citizens' Groups May Press White House For Emails

Daylight cometh, albeit not quickly enough. See here.

It's a New Day

Just when you think you've maybe had enough of will.i.am, the Obama montage-to-music proves irresistible all over again.

Did I just connect Barack to Kevin Bacon?

Gracias, Luke, for the link.

FOX Has the Fraud Guns Loaded

At FOX News, John Lott tries to explain why if Al Franken ekes out a win in Minnesota it will be due to fraud.

Not-So-Random Pic

Has everyone seen this picture?

Miriam Makeba 1932-2008

Miriam Makeba, an African classic [make that a world treasure! --ed.], dead at 76, still doing what she loved.

09 November 2008

Musgrave Not Over It

I'm particularly pleased to see the Denver Post run this article pointing to the blatant poor sportsmanship exhibited by Marilyn Musgrave and her campaign. Five days after the election, Musgrave still has not conceded the race, has not congratulated her opponent, and has not returned calls for comment. This only reaffirms, in my mind, the rather unflattering opinion I hold for Musgrave's character.

The reason I'm happy to see the Post run this short piece is because the Post, much to the chagrin of readers statewide, offered Musgrave its blessing this election cycle on some mighty thin rationale.

08 November 2008

The Right Words

Garrison Keillor offers up some practical advice and heartfelt thanks to the president-elect.

07 November 2008

On Rahm

A lot of folks are uncertain about whether Obama has tapped the right guy as chief of staff. Rahm Emanuel has a history as a bit of a . . . pit bull, ironically. He's a highly partisan, inflammatory figure in the political world. The right has been quick to point out the blatant about-face from Obama the campaigner to Obama the president-elect. The left has been scratching heads and musing about whether we all got hoodwinked. Meanwhile, Obama himself says "No one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel."

What to make of it all? Who knows. Could the honeymoon be over so quickly? Perhaps. But take this into consideration. If Obama is interested in getting hard work done quickly, if he's not interested in hearing "No," and if he's aware that his first steps in office will be embattled from the beginning no matter who his chief of staff, then maybe he's not worried about taking everybody's feelings into account on this. He has a long working relationship and friendship with Emanuel. He trusts Emanuel, and voters as of Tuesday appear to trust Obama.

It's worth pointing out that on Tuesday night, President-Elect Barack Obama did not take the stage grinning from ear to ear. He would have been forgiven had it been the glory of the win that took center stage. Instead, I was struck by the gravity of his demeanor. He smiled, yet he looked exhausted, not elated. And if he projected a single, overriding characteristic at midnight from Grant Park, it was that he appeared resolute. He appeared as a man who knows, after two years of relentless hard work, that the real challenge is just underway. To win this campaign, Obama surrounded himself with brilliant, committed people and did not get caught up in the attacks and questions from cynics and armchair quarterbacks. Today he is lauded as having run perhaps the most flawless campaign in presidential history.

If Obama is an effective president, nobody except a few historians and political geeks will be talking in the future about who his chief of staff was. And if it turns out that he is not going to be an effective president, then there will be plenty of finger pointing and bombast to go around. Let's just wait and see, shall we?

06 November 2008

Headline of the Day

This makes me laugh out loud. As if the requests hadn't piled up already.

Results: CO CD 4

For those out-of-staters who were interested in the results of Colorado's CD 4--the brutal race to oust Marilyn Musgrave--I'm happy to post that Betsy Markey won. Decidedly. And Musgrave, according to reports, went down very much in the same fashion that she legislated. Bitterly.

05 November 2008

Much to Do

When I say "much to do," I'm not just talking about Obama's transition team. A palpable fug of denial hangs over me for what my world involves between now and Monday, so I'll keep this brief.

There's been a lot of curiosity over what the polls looked like yesterday. I was prepared to face long lines, conflicts, manipulations, election incompetence, and the like. Aside from being shy a couple election judges when we opened Casa Loma (an affordable housing facility for seniors) to voting for Denver precincts 414 and 415 yesterday, everything went quite smoothly. Initial observations that struck me:

  • Between the 8 election judges who worked our polling location yesterday, we numbered 7 registered Democrats and 1 unaffiliated voter.
  • Poll watchers for the Colorado Democratic Party and the Campaign for Change (also Democratic) arrived at the polling location before the polls opened. Student poll watchers and a couple of ACORN-type poll watchers (read "young hippies") popped in and out during the day. Only one Republican poll watcher checked in at our location all day. We had not posted numbers yet as a result of late ballot pickups, and he did not stay more than 15 minutes. We did not see him again, nor any other Republican poll watcher, all day.
  • While there were signs approaching the polling place (beyond the 100-foot zone) for Obama, Udall, No on 48 and Yes on 59, there was not one sign for McCain or any right-leaning propaganda of any sort.
  • No voter was challenged on eligibility in our location all day.
  • Voter wait times may have reached 30-40 minutes during a rush at 7 am when we opened the doors and only had one election book judge to check voters in. The rest of the day, most voters at Casa Loma walked right in and were voting within 3-5 minutes.
  • We handed out approximately 240 regular ballots and helped voters complete perhaps 50 or 60 provisional ballots, which remain to be counted yet after the decisive early returns last night. Fairly light turnout.
  • Speculation yesterday suggested that over 50% of Denver House District 4 had already voted before Tuesday, November 4.
  • The election judges with whom I worked were gracious, hard-working, patient, and extremely capable. The poll watchers who turned out were ethical and conscientious. On the whole, I have a quite favorable impression of the Denver Elections process, from what little I saw.
  • Despite being in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood, there was no bilingual election judge. I was as close as we had, y mi espaƱol es muy, muy feo. But with a little patience and a sense of humor from a couple Spanish-only voters, I did help at least two very excited voters to successfully cast their ballots.

That's about all I've got. We were breaking down already 10 minutes before closing time (7 pm). We kept several of the 20 election booths standing. They remained empty. Only one last minute mail-in ballot came in at the wire. I was at the bar watching results come in by 8 pm.

04 November 2008

Get Out The Vote

No posts today on plavwriter. Today's a big day, and we all gotta get out there and do what we can. Take it from Matthew Broderick:

Volunteer. Make phone calls. Drive neighbors to the polls. Remind family and friends to make the time. And remind everybody: don't get out of line. Hang in there, even if the lines are ridiculous. The campaign has crews prepped to deliver water and snacks to voters who are kept waiting.

Everybody votes. Don't take no for an answer, and don't let anybody get pushed out of a polling place without voting.

03 November 2008

Denver, 66 Days Ago

Denver, 66 Days Ago

Denver, 66 Days Ago

For Obama, From Around the World

We've been getting notes and updates recently from friends worldwide. Here are a couple of quick hits on the eve of an election that literally the whole world may be watching. If you have more from friends and acquaintances far and wide, please send and I will post here.

Jeff from New Zealand:

You have worked hard for a cause and I hope that it all goes well for you (and the rest of the world) as we need the change even here in New Zealand. . . it is a real shame that Obama's gran did not get to see what will be one of the biggest changes in US political history. I am in Australia at the moment and it is big news here too.

Amy from Canada (via Facebook status update): "Amy is on the Obama train!"

Cody, in Dakar, Senegal (via Facebook status update): "People are talking in the streets of Dakar: 'I hope Obama wins, incharlat....'"

From Joss, a Brit living in Hungary:
I have to say I am once again uncontrollably excited about things going on in your house which I have no say in. I do trust that this time we won't be in for a scare result. That Obama man is just so convincing he only makes you feel good about the future.
Anything to add?

Poll Tax

Think the poll tax was abolished 44 years ago? Rachel Maddow says think again.

Heartbreaking: Obama's Grandmother Dies on Historic Eve

Madelyn Dunham: October 26, 1922 - November 3, 2008. Information here and here.

Barack Obama: Credible

In the course of my work today, I was compelled to look up the word "credibility" at Merriam-Webster Online. Here's the definition: "the quality or power of inspiring belief."

People all over the world have come to recognize Barack Obama's credibility. So it's only fitting that his picture really does appear under the dictionary definition, in the form of an online advertisement to get out the vote.

McCain a Raiders Fan

Oops. Bad news for the McCain-Palin ticket in Denver yesterday. Yes, the Broncos lost, which put Coloradans in a bad enough mood to begin with. But then there was this.

Colorado CD 4

There are few Republicans whom Democrats would like to unseat as badly as Colorado's Marilyn Musgrave. And campaign contributions tell the story. According to the Colorado Independent, challenger Betsy Markey's campaign has benefited from generous sums from Democratic Party heavyweights.

Congressional Dems Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, James Clyburn and Rahm Emanuel have contributed at least $40,500 from their own warchests in addition to campaigning and fundraising for the candidate. The Independent cites Stuart Rothenberg in suggesting that, at this point in the race, Musgrave appears to be the underdog. Meanwhile, we wait to see.

What Next for Obama 2.0?

Open question: What's to become of Obama's dynamic and impressive social networking platform, my.barackobama.com, after the election?

Softening up the Ground

Colorado's county clerks, and Secretary of State Mike Coffman, counsel voters not to expect tallies before sometime Wednesday.

Of note in the article, almost 50% of registered Coloradans have already voted as of Saturday. That's without counting the flood of 500,000+ mail-in ballots coming back today and tomorrow.

Forgetting the rest of the ballot for just a moment, that's going to make for a real nail-biter as we watch and listen for the results of the Musgrave-Markey battle royal in CD 4.

02 November 2008

Protect Your Vote

Report irregularities or abuses on election day. Here's a host of resources, courtesy of Mother Jones.

. . . And Counting

Picture this: you're in a swing state with 72 hours to go before the close of arguably the most intensely contested presidential election in history. 72 hours and counting.

What do you expect a campaign field office in a highly contested state in a hotly contested election to look like? Answer here.

01 November 2008

Whirlwind: Obama's Aunt

On the subject of Obama's alien aunt, Steve Benen offers what I think is a silly statement. "I have no idea why anyone would find this even remotely interesting."

To be fair to Steve, I rarely find myself in anything but agreement with his observation and analysis. That said, I find his comment decidedly in-credible.

As a nation on the eve of a momentous election, we are interested and fascinated with all things electoral. And this certainly qualifies.

Given how carefully the Obama campaign has moved throughout the paces of this campaign, I am of a mind that this either A) really is a surprise, clear out of left field, or B) the campaign had this information and knew it might come up, and made a conscious decision not to address the issue proactively. Here's the thing: she was in the book. That means, to my thinking, that she's been vetted. Does anybody in the country really believe that a campaign this well orchestrated did not know of the aunt's status? I find that hard to swallow. Obama has drawn a pretty clear line about issues of family as they arise in the campaign. And it does not appear that he and his aunt, his father's half sister, are close. Nevertheless it's family, and more importantly it's a case of human livelihood. Being deported to Kenya qualifies as a major upheaval, and probably not for the better.

Now, Steve is right that no rational person would read this story and decide that, on account of an asylum-seeking aunt kept shrouded in secrecy until the final days of the election, our country would be better off with John McCain's backward looking tax policies and obvious insensitivity to the nuances of global diplomacy. But this is not about rational behavior. This is about the media cycle and American blood lust. It's about a right-wing machine that has proven highly effective at tipping tight elections. For more on the power of the media narrative, check out this piece from Kevin Drum. Not about politics, as it happens, but very much about the media's ability to tell people what matters (and to actually influence how events fall out as a result).

I do not believe that this event alone will necessarily decide an election. Furthermore, a lot of votes are already in, so despite the media response--and the public response--this thing may prove to be a blip. Obviously, this is not a mistress or a love child, nor is it a bribery scandal or similar jaw-dropping type disaster. But a November surprise is a November surprise. It's not the content of the charge, it's the timing. And that's why Americans will be interested in this little issue.

Iowahawk: T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII Endorses Obama

I think this send-up is perfectly hilarious. So do Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Reynolds, and Bill Kristol. Which makes me wonder what I'm missing. Or is the Republican party really so deeply out of step with right-wing conservativism (and I think we know the answer to that is yes), that Rush, Glenn, Kristol, and I are all actually laughing at the same thing? It's some type of full-blown, ideological, eclipse-like phenomenon that allows the far right and the left to come together in a moment of mirth. This really is the election of a generation.

Obama's Aunt

LATER UPDATE: The Obama campaign has commented.

LATE UPDATE: Josh Marshall thinks the leak came from the Bush Admin and is illegal.

UPDATE: Plenty of grist from the right. And here. It's worth noting that Malkin's post portrays Aunt Zeituni's total contributions to the Obama campaign ($260) as a big deal. "Will the Obama campaign return the many donations from this illegal alien?"

Jeebus. What next? Photos of Obama with Ayers, Rezko, Wright, and Aunty Zeituni?

Is Barack Obama's aunt about to become a footnote in political history? This AP story certainly leads one to believe it's possible.

In a nutshell, Obama's father's half-sister, Zeituni Onyango, has been living illegally in South Boston since a judge refused her asylum request in 2004. How she managed to stay this long under the radar, and how she managed to qualify for public housing without legal status, are both mysteries.

In an interesting aside, according to the piece, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has issued a directive making clear that any deportation orders between now and Tuesday must be made known to regional supervisors. Neither ICE nor either of the campaigns has commented on Onyango's status.

If a deportation order comes between now and Tuesday, then Obama will find himself in a politically unsavory situation. In the event of such an order being issued, the nation will either watch Obama stand aside as his family member is forcibly removed from the country, or the nation will watch as Obama inserts himself into the affair in order to keep his aunt here. Neither of these seems like where the candidate wants to be in the final 72 hours of the campaign.

Of course, the order may not come, and thus Obama's aunt won't be the political wedge (cudgel) she could be. But after this election season, I would be shocked if the McCain campaign passes on this opportunity to at least ratchet up some pressure on Obama. It's unknown where the news about Onyango leaked from.

At the same time, after this campaign season, I'd say I'm encouraged that Obama and the campaign may be ready to deal with just about anything. And perhaps nothing moves as quickly as I imagine. Knock wood. And stay tuned.