Category Archives: elections

It's Not A Liberal or Conservative Issue

It is my general feeling that amending the United States Constitution is something that should not be suggested lightly. There’s a whole slew of proposed amendments that never really went anywhere.

Still, I’m mulling over this e-mail I got from Uthaclena which reads in part: “As you are undoubtedly aware, the Supreme Court recently decided that Corporations are Persons who are entitled to spend as much money on ‘free speech’ to effect elections as they like. I believe that most Americans, be they Liberal or Conservative, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, or Independent, thinks that this is ludicrous. The ruling legitimizes the business of BUYING elections, which is already a grave threat to our democracy. This is an issue that should unite us despite the partisan contention of the last decade.”

Well, yes. When I commented on the court case initially, my view was what it was, one commenter suggested, because I was liberal. I AM a liberal, but the issue was that the Court seemed to cede power from the people to the corporate state. It seemed radical. People complain about the “activist” court when some “progressive” ruling down. Well, this was the height of judicial activism. Along with the Griswold decision to essentially allow eminent domain for “economic” reasons, this court has put the people last.

So I’m feeling inclined to support such a measure.

“Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Congressman John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, have co-sponsored a bill to send a Constitutional Amendment to the States for ratification that would allow corporation’s influence to be limited. The proposal reads:

H. J. RES. ___
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States permitting Congress and the States to regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations engaging in political speech.

Ms. EDWARDS of Maryland (for herself and Mr. CONYERS) introduced the following joint resolution; which was referred to the Committee on __________________

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States permitting Congress and the States to regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations engaging in political speech.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

‘SECTION 1. The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, Congress and the States may regulate the expenditure of funds for political speech by any corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity.
‘SECTION 2. Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.’.

You can voice your support of Representative Edwards here.

But more importantly, contact YOUR OWN Congressional Representative and ask them to support this resolution so that it can move forward. If you are uncertain who your representative is or how to contact them, use the locator.

The source article can be read here.

(WARNING! Leftie blog!! ;-)”


What does patriotism mean? QUESTION

My wife is reading a book called Deep Democracy by Judith Green (no relation) as one of the required readings for her summer courses. My understanding of the book, and I haven’t seen it, is that deep democracy isn’t just a flag pin on the lapel; it’s working for the opportunity to make sure that each individual has the opportunity to pursue the American dream.

So what does patriotism mean to you? For me voting; but also being an informed voter. Perhaps working on a campaign; I owe time to TWO of them this year. Participate in the “marketplace of ideas”.

I believe that participating in the Census qualifies.

Civil protest, when injustice exists.

How about you?

And what do you think of this new study of sixteen countries, which “shows that in nearly every democracy surveyed, government helps assure that every eligible citizen is registered to vote. If the United States were to modernize voter registration in this way, it would add between 50 and 65 million citizens to the rolls.” How do you feel about compulsory voter registration? I think I’m against it, but I can be convinced.


What did you REALLY think? QUESTIONS

Regardless of who you WANTED to win on Tuesday, what did you REALLY think would happen? Go ahead, admit it You thought there’d be another Florida 2000. My guess for that was Missouri, which IS very close for McCain…NOT THAT IT MATTERS.

I thought:
Obama would win, initially with 364 electoral votes, as noted here. But I got nervous and changed to 311. He’s at 365, including one in Nebraska with Missouri still in doubt, so I should have stayed with my first instinct. Incidentally, I favor the Maine/Nebraska model of allocating electoral votes by Congressional district, with only the two votes going to the statewide winner. If only we could do something about the gerrymandering that tends to make certain districts heavily leaning towards one party or another.
Hey, does anyone know someone who could look at the last several Presidential elections to ascertain what the Electoral College vote would have been had the Maine/Nebraska model been in place NATIONALLY?

I knew Sen. Liddy Dole was going down in NC, and deservedly so.

I thought Sen. Ted Stevens would lose in AK; if he wins, I think the Senate will boot him, and the governor of Alaska (who is the governor of Alaska, I wonder) will pick someone, perhaps herself.

I was disappointed that the anti-gay marriage proposals went down, but was surprised only in CA.

I’m sorry Chris Shays, the last Republican in the House from New England, will be gone.

I guessed a pickup of 7 Senate seats and 29 House seats for the Democrats; so far, 5 Senate seats and at least two dozen House seats.

I was hoping Linda Hall would win in the race for Onondaga County Clerk, if only because we went to church together when we were kids. Onondaga County includes Syracuse, NY.

I’m not surprised that Rahm Emanuel’s heading Obamas’s staff. I saw him on Meet the Press with MN Gov. Tom Pawlenty and had him for lunch.

I was surprised by the margin (61-39) of victory for Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, in
the Congressional district adjacent to mine, a Democrat running in a GOP district who won last time largely because of domestic violence allegation against the imncumbent. Her opponent this time, Sandy Treadwell, is rich and spent lots of money. In fact, this may have been the most expensive House race in the country. Part of Gillibrand’s district is Rensselaer County, where Obama did less well against McCain than Kerry did against Bush.
Someone I know well says he’ll have me defenestrated if I don’t show up to this:

Monday, 4:30 PM Albany Law School. “Maggie Thompson on the big screen, free Buffy comics, and hot food after. What more could you ask for?” More hours in the day. Say, does anyone know what “defenestrated” means? thanks to high school French, I guessed correctly.
Samhain Wax Magic by people I know.
Remembering John Leonard, who I particularly loved for over a decade and a half on CBS Sunday Morning. He was unapologetical erudite in a world where “dumbing down” seemed more popular.


Dear President-Elect Obama

Congratulations on your historic win. Not only am I glad that you were victorious, I’m happy that it wasn’t decided by the interpretation of a few hundred hanging chads somewhere. You ran, for the most part, an excellent campaign. You gave a very moving acceptance speech, embracing those who did not support you. I’m betting even Condi Rice shed a tear or two of happiness. Not only black people, but white people, Asians, Hispanics and not insignificantly, those who identify as mixed race, were inspired that your election could happen in the United States of America.

Before I get too far into this, my condolences to you and your sister on the passing of your beloved grandmother. Her death, practically on the eve of the election, gave you no time to grieve properly.

Wow. I’m so used to voting for people who run for President and lose. I’m now 2 for 10.

One of the things I saw on the news that hadn’t occurred to me was a story in a barbershop, the barbershop of Steve Osumsami of ABC News. One man noted that young black men can’t going around saying they can’t achieve because they didn’t have a father around. He said he’d point out Barack Obama and note that a fatherless black child can become President.

I know you know what a big job you have. Moreover, you doubtless know how much you’ve already been undercut, perhaps less by your race and more by a bunch of pernicious lies that may have been a cover for race or a different form of “otherness”. Some of it was particularly venal.

One of the effects of this particular poisoning of the well is that you will need to show that you’re not part of some wacko conspiracy to undermine the country. One of the ways for you to do that is to do less.

Please follow me here. One of the most egregious things done by your soon-to-be-predecessor is his unprecedented grab of Presidential authority. Signing documents, secret dealings and other tools in the toolkit that made the last eight years far from the balance of power I believe the Founders intended. in fact, the reason I favored the impeachment of George W. Bush was not to punish him but to set limits on the authority of the executive branch.

Failing that, I think you can build confidence of the American people, both those who supported you, and perhaps even more, those who did not, by relinquishing, or at least not utilizing some of the more venal methodologies used by Bush 43. Transparency, rather than secrecy, needs to be the watchword. You have given a lot of people tremendous hope in our future, in spite of the bleak economic forecast. They will follow you a long way as long as they know what they are following.

To that end, i think your website , which will be the “source for the latest news, events, and announcements so that you can follow the setting up of the Obama Administration” is a wonderful idea.

I do hope you can do something about health care, as you’ve indicated. I’ve found your story about your mother fighting insurance companies while fighting cancer deeply moving and I know will motivate you to have America do better.

Beyond that, I’ll just wish you well. But I do have this thought: I realize that voting is a function of the states. Is there something you might champion that would champion some sort of nationwide early voting? Also, it 1polls open 12 hours for a Presidential election seems severely short when it means long lines, perhaps in inclement weather; it IS November, after all.

Finally, and I know it’s a quirk, but you say, when answering questions, “Look” as a stalling tactic way too often. Watch the Fred Armisen parodies on Saturday Night Live. Hey maybe you can appear on SNL – all your opponents (Clinton, McCain, Palin) have. Maybe it’ll be a sock it to me?” moment.



So here’s the plan for the day: Get up at 5:45, throw on some clothes, walk the 5 blocks to my new polling place – my old one was less than 2 blocks away, but that library’s being renovated.

Vote. This undercuts the need for anyone (this means YOU, Working Families Party) to have to CALL me to REMIND me to vote. I ALWAYS VOTE. (Can we get early voting someday, New York? Oh, you’re arcane and backwards? I take that as a “no”.) Also, I’ll beat the crowds AND I’ll have a fallback position to come after work, should the machines not be working.

Since my wife has the day off, she’ll take the child to day care, so I can just go to play racquetball, then go to work. Try to ignore all polling news; I just don’t care anymore.

Go home, eat dinner, do the evening routine with the child. Turn on TV at 9 pm EST and watch the voting results until shortly after the California polls close, then go to bed for a few hours, getting up early to see what was unresolved tonight.

I must say that Charlie Gibson of ABC News seemed a bit apoplectic last week about the early voting that’s taking place, saying in essence, shouldn’t all the voters have exactly the same opportunity to get as much information before pulling the lever, or whatever it is one does on an electronic machine? I think Evanier said it as well as anyone: “Seriously, a lot of us just want it over. How long has it been since you heard anything from either candidate that might have changed your mind?” Everything I hear now is preaching to the converted. Here’s MY contribution to that effort:

Local (Albany County) advice.
My Personal ‘Faith Priorities’ for this Election by Jim Wallis of Sojourner Magazine
“The other day, a guy who played a game of basketball against Barack Obama said that Obama spent the whole game ‘trash talking.’ He also said Obama’s trash-talking is
eloquent, high-minded and inspirational.”
— Conan O’Brien



1. Regardless of your political persuasion, who do you think’s going to win the US Presidential election. Will it be:
a. McCain wins the popular vote, but Obama wins the electoral college.
b. Obama wins the popular vote, but McCain wins the electoral college.
c. McCain wins both.
d. Obama wins both.

I’m leaning towards d, but fear b.

2. How will the swing states go? As of yesterday, Electoral Vote attributes MS, SD, WV, and AZ(!) as weak McCain, GA, IN, and MT as barely McCain, FL, MO, and NC as barely Obama, CO, NV, OH and VA as weak Obama, and ND a dead heat. What’s interesting to me is how much bluer the map has gotten in some places and redder in others. AZ was solid McCain and MO barely McCain just last week, but IN moved from barely Obama. I expect Obama to win FL because of the Great Schlep. Traditionally, at least where I grew up, there were lots of blacks and Jews working together on civil rights issues so I’m hoping that translates to votes this year. The state Obama could win that would least shock me is Georgia. Not only is former Congressman Bob Barr running, but the early black vote has been strong, I’ve been told.
Actually, any state that isn’t solid red may be in play for Obama. Maybe I’m crazy, but in the Evanier poll, I picked 364 electoral votes.

3. What will be the “Florida 2000/Ohio 2004” for 2008?

Of course, I fear shenanigans. This story about NM just one example. Here’s a machine problem in WV. Democrats in Virginia are getting notices in the mail that tell them Democrats are to vote on November 5th instead of the 4th. Nevadans with Hispanic names are getting calls that they can vote by phone. In some places, letters are going out saying that when you show your ID, you’ll be checked for outstanding warrants or parking tickets. I was hoping Ohio would be cleaner than before under new management, though indications suggest that its troubled history will be replicated.

And it may not even be intentional. This from a friend of a friend – NOT an apocryphal tale:
Although [the 89-year-old man] voted in the primary election, the Early Voting officials could not find his name or address on file. [The man and his daughter] went the Craven County (NC) Board of Elections office… The officials “tried to re-register him only to find Dad and his address no longer existed. Well guess what, they finally found him in their records only to inform me that he was listed as DECEASED as of 7/24/08 per the State of North Carolina. They were still unable to find his residence. I happened to have his tax papers in my pocket book but of course that didn’t help. I was told that this problem was a mistake made in Raleigh and that it would be after the election before the problem could be fixed. Dad was given a Provisional Ballot and we were assured me that his vote would be counted.

If this happened to someone who voted in the primary, what about those elderly people who haven’t voted recently? Here’s hoping that everyone, who knows elderly persons who are planning to vote, tell them DO NOT WAIT UNTIL ELECTION DAY BECAUSE IT MAY BE TOO LATE. Make sure that they vote early just in case they have been listed as deceased and taken off the roll.”

Still, I’ll pick Missouri as the most likely trouble spot. There’s no early voting, it’s a significant state and it’s in play. It may or may not matter at the end of the day, but there it is.

Other political notes:
Precautions to take. Albany-based, but may be useful to others.

Some see gold in ‘Osama’ ballot goof. Those Rensselaer County (NY) ballots that had Osama for Obama are going for $50 to $100 on Craigslist.

A Poem for The Young Voter.

And this gem from earlier in the month, which I missed:
7th-Grade teacher to students: Obama is a ‘N’-word. Angry parents in the northwest Florida community of Marianna want a middle school teacher fired after he put the “N”-word on the board to describe Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama. The Marianna Middle School teacher, Greg Howard, is now serving a 10-day suspension after writing an acronym on the dry-erase board on Sept. 26: “C.H.A.N.G.E. – Come Help A N*gg*r Get Elected.” But many parents want the 17-year teacher fired. The seventh-grade social studies teacher’s class has 17 White students, six Black students and one Asian student. Initially he was suspended for the day without pay, but that was elevated to the 10-day punishment. He must also write a letter of apology to students. “We feel like the punishment is sufficient,” Larry Moore, superintendent of the Jackson County School District, told The Detroit Free Press. “We did not feel he had to be fired.” NAACP officials say they will reserve their actions in the case until their investigation is complete.


QUESTION: Political endorsements

As you probably know, Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for President. In his conversation with Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press, he noted that if he had just wanted to endorse the black candidate he could have endorsed Obama months ago. Powell’s a Republican and would have endorsed McCain but for his unfocused and nasty campaign and his choice of Sarah Palin. Naturally, commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan suggested that Powell endorsed Obama because they’re both black; my favorite resdponse to that.

1. Do political endorsements matter to you? If so, from whom?
It’s much more likely to matter to me in a local race where I don’t have enough of the facts.
2. Do you think political endorsements matter to the population at large?
I was struck by the number of newspapers that endorsed Bush in 2004 who are endorsing Obama in 2008.
3. Can this election be stolen?
But I’m much less worried by ACORN than I am by polling stations with long lines (as has already happened in early voting in Florida) and/or with machines that don’t act as they should. This recent New Yorker column speaks to my concern:
“The idea that Democrats try to win elections by arranging for hordes of nonexistent people with improbable names to vote for them has long been a favorite theme of Rove-era Republicans. Now it’s become a desperate obsession.”
More cynical people than I believe that bringing up the Bradley effect is a screen for hiding voting machine manipulation and disenfranchisement strategies. Tell people to call their COUNTY board of election and make sure they’re registered and verify the voting location. (My voting location has changed, but it’s not reflected on the STATE Board of Elections site.)
4. Would you like to know more about the health of the four candidates for President and Vice-President on the major party ticket? This article suggests we don’t know enough about ANY of them, especially McCain and Biden, but also the status of Obama’s cessation of smoking. The mysterious circumstances around the birth of Sarah Palin’s last child is pretty much the ONLY info the press has on her health.

[Stolen from the Frog.
STILL undecided?
Oooh, the photo above? That’s a shot of a lovely 8 by 10 color glossy that a relative of mine, a Republican but not a McPalin supporter, received from the RNC and gave to me, knowing just how much I would appreciate it. And I do, I really do. I obliterated the name so you can photoshop in the name of your favorite liberal and make him or her nuts.

Wait, what if someone did that [GULP] to ME?! And it must be a different Roger Green



Arthur, an expat American living in New Zealand, on one of his recent podcasts, maybe #116 or #117 (I’m too lazy to check) was talking about different ways to vote in different counties. One of the methodologies sound a awful lot like what’s being called around here instant runoff voting. Though I’ve never had the opportunity to vote by this method, I’m inclined to support it. You can read about it in the link I provided, but let me try to explain by example.

Let’s say there were five people running for President. Just for fun, we’ll call them Barr, McCain, McKinney, Nader and Obama. IRV allows one to vote for the candidate one most desires without worrying about “throwing away” a vote on a minor party candidate. So one could vote for 1. McKinney 2. Nader 3. Obama 4. Barr. If someone gets a majority of the vote, then the race is settled. But let’s say that the vote is 34% each for McCain and Obama, 14% for Barr, 10% for McKinney and 8% for Nader. In turn, the Nader votes would be distributed to Nader voters’ second choice. Since a majority still would not be reached, McKinney’s and then, if necessary, Barr’s votes would be distributed. It may still come down to “lesser of two evils”, but one could vote for a third party candidate without concern that the candidate would be a spoiler.

This would be most important in those jurisdictions, such as Louisiana, that REQUIRE a majority vote. Those runoffs, unless they are held on the day of the general election, almost invariably involves an even smaller number of voters than the first round. add to that, an extra round of voting is expensive. Instant runoff voting would eliminate the need for those costly redoes.

Of course, the problem with the system is that there is a real possibly that people might actually ELECT a third party candidate if they’re not discouraged by the notion of a wasted vote. The machinery of the Democrats and Republicans alike will see in in their best interest to oppose it. Yet it has made headway in a number of cities and towns across the country.

Anyone who’s actually an expert on IRV and wants to dispute any of this, feel free.

Oh, here’s a new flash animation on a variation of instant runoff voting used in elections for more than one seat – making it a system of proportional representation.
The Racialicious podcast on Why you shouldn’t listen to polls, an interview with David W. Moore. A main point: Americans weren’t as rah in favor of the Iraq war as the polls suggested, based on the formulation of the question. Last month, a Wall Street Journal review of Moore’s book, the Opinionmakers, criticizes this specific point, noting (correctly) that more people were leaning towards supporting the war. But the leaners, who were forced to come down on one side or another on the issue, might have answered differently had the question been phrased differently, or if “no opinion” was a real option.


Very short takes

Today is the day folks go to the polls in many locations in New York State, everywhere except in the largest cities and vote for the school budget and the school board members. For some reason, the city of Albany only votes for the budget now, and the school board in November. More on that and Rex Smith speaking at the Friends of the Albany Public Library annual meeting this eveninghere.
Don’t care about Dancing with the Stars, but I do care about my wife, and SHE cares about DWTS. So I got the phone number from the end of the taped performance and tried to call in a number of times, but kept getting a busy signal. Then I went online to do so, but it required to be registered with Lo and behold, I WAS registered with, though I don’t recall why. Five votes for Kristi Yamaguchi & Mark Ballas, who got 60 out of 60 points from the judges (the competition got 51 and 52 votes.)
I haven’t sent out my mixed CDs yet because I saved them to the drive, then the burner failed to put the data on the disc. I have figured out a workaround, but can’t get to until this weekend; sorry. It is sequenced and I do like it; Gordon will recognize the inspiration immediately. So far got mine from Gordon (like it), Tosy (listened to about half), and Lefty (haven’t played yet). Details to follow.
Best wishes to Edward Kennedy after his medical episode. I was looking at my Bushisms calendar, where W. referred to him as Theodore, one of the more understandable mistakes in the gaffe-filled daily.
The Subway series played out this past weekend. For me, the excitement is tempered, maybe because they are, at least so far, two mediocre teams, though the Mets, who swept, less mediocre than the Yankees.
The only parts of the NBA playoffs I have watched has been when I’ve taped ABC World News and the game has run over. For instance, I saw the last 18 seconds of the Celtics Game-Seven win over Cleveland, which took about 10 minutes, with all the fouls and timeouts.
Happy birthday, PixieNona!Are you sure it was a cold and not allergies? Your symptoms were very similar to mine last week.
In answer to a comment to this story DNA cleared them, but they’ll never feel free and some of the comments: “There’s particular disdain for the prosecutors of these crimes because, often, the prosecution withheld evidence that could have exonerated the defendant, esp. in Dallas County, TX. At least some of these people were home and with their families or at work; the assertion that ‘people doing the right thing don’t get mixed up in this stuff’ is simply inaccurate much of the time. There is also mistaken identity by witnesses far more often than most people realize. With all that, there’s no way to blame the juries, who can only weigh the evidence presented.”


Here Now the News

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 08 Election

Al Jaffee’s fold-ins for Mad magazine, from the 1960s to the present, in interactive form, from the Noo Yawk Times.

China Celebrates Status As Number One Polluter

Pat Paulsen for President. “Resurrect and Elect!” “Think Inside the Box.”

‘Gays Too Precious To Risk In Combat’

We Are The World redux.

More news here.

And, of course, the big news story of last year: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash
Breaking News: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash

Don’t know if any of this is ha-ha funny, but it’s certainly peculiar/funny. Rather like the date itself.