November 11, 2008

The Onion on the Election Results

"Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are:"


And then there's this article: "Nation Finally Shitty Enough To Make Social Progress." 


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November 05, 2008

Obama's Organization

So much to be proud of.  One thing that stood out for me this morning, listening to the cacophony of commentary about "history in the making," is that we won a fair fight.  Obama had a better, more consistent message, incredible fund-raising, better debating skills (eventually), and perhaps above all, an incredibly solid organization.

One last story will illustrate my own experience, serving as I did as a tiny leaf in the giant organizational tree that was the Obama campaign. Tuesday morning I went out for one last day of volunteering, having let my colleagues know I was taking the day off.  I arrived at the meeting location at 8:15a, and by then there were so many volunteers that my precinct had already been given to another volunteer.  I took another one in the neighborhood (thankfully near a Starbucks).  A few people were home, all of them Obama supporters, most of them very nervous. I helped one woman locate her new polling location since the original location was closed.  The rest I just reassured, counting on Nate Silver's projections to hold. For those who weren't home I left door hangers with information about their polling station.

Returning to the meeting location, I looked at the grids on the wall listing all the precincts in the 46th District.  All of them had already been canvassed. Holy shit.  It wasn't even 11a. I found Erica, the regional organizer. She said that I could call the people who hadn't been home and leave one last message, but then another organizer came over to say they already had people calling all of them.  There were at least 500 volunteers in just this corner of Seattle. "Would you like to have lunch?" Erica asked.  "We have volunteers with turkey sandwiches."

In the end I went back to work, to the great consternation of my colleagues.  But at that point, it was done. All those volunteers over all those months had done their work.  Chris Gregoire, a good governor and a terrible campaigner who won four years ago by just 133 votes after two recounts, would ride to victory on Obama's coattails with a very safe margin (more than 130,000 votes with 64% reporting, and the margin likely to grow as King County comes in).

As so it was in so much of the country, where Democratic governors (seven), senators (at least five), and representatives (at least 19) gained ground thanks to a favorable political climate and thanks to the Obama organization.  What was maybe even overkill in Washington State was decisive in swing states: in Virginia, in Nevada, in Indiana?!?!, in Ohio, in Florida, and elsewhere.

I guess Obama's experience as a community organizer was worth something after all :)

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Freedom Fries?

Why the French never took John McCain that seriously:

Mccain foods

John McCain: not to be confused with McCain Foods.

McCain Foods Limited, fondée en 1957, est une entreprise canadienne spécialisée dans la transformation et la distribution de produits alimentaires. Elle est surtout connue en tant que productrice de frites.

McCain Foods is known above all for disgusting "American-style" microwave/freezer fries.  The French are often astonished that Americans have actually never heard of McCain fries; the company is Canadian.

I guess it's only fair; at one point I was surprised to learn that the French do not consider French fries to be français. "They're from Belgium!"

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November 04, 2008

Gregoire Wins

At least one TV network has declared Gregoire the winner of the governor's race here in Washington.

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November 03, 2008


In trying to guess what will happen tomorrow, I'm turning to Nate Silver, the poll analyst at Silver takes every reputable poll and feeds them into a giant statistical model which compensates for each pollster's lean, historical reliability, and other factors.  He then runs a number of simulations to estimate likely outcomes of the electoral college based on the weighted polls in each state. With voting just beginning now in New Hampshire, Silver's model shows the most likely outcome is 311 electoral votes for Obama (with 270 needed to win).

Here's his latest:


Overall he gives Obama a 98.1% chance of winning to McCain's 1.9%. 

RealClearPolitics predicts 338 electoral votes for Obama, and gives Obama 311 plus some portion of 85 which they consider toss-up.  The in-trade prediction market gives Obama a 91.8% chance of winning. 

Let's just say that things have changed a lot since my "we're losing" post of mid-September when was showing McCain at 270 electoral votes, and the in-trade market had McCain up at 52%.

Tonight, I'm going to be very optimistic (which my wife S keeps warning me not to do) and predict that Obama will take 378 electoral votes on the strength of the enthusiam gap.  I'll be out there tomorrow working to bring it home for Gov Chris Gregoire in Washington State. Nate gives Obama a 100% chance to win my state and I'm not worried about his chances here.

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November 02, 2008

Multiply Your Vote

Are you excited that Obama is ahead in the polls, but slightly worried that somehow John McCain and Sarah Palin will end up in charge of the country?

Have you considered volunteering Monday or Tuesday, but feel like it's not worth your time, or it will be a pain, or that the election is already sewn up? 

If so, let me try to convince you otherwise.

The Obama Get Out The Vote ("GOTV") effort is one of the most amazing organizational drives I have ever seen.  Frankly, you should volunteer just to witness it and be part of this historical event.  (If you're not sure how, just go to

But on a more practical level, you can literally multiply your vote by volunteering.  Here's what happened to me today.

I went with three members of my family to phone bank.  Many of the people we reached had already been called, and they would politely but firmly point this out.  One man in particular started to tell me that he had already voted, and that he was sick of the phone calls.  As I started to thank him for his support, he started to tell me that actually, he had a problem with his envelope and needed to drop off his absentee ballot in person.  I was able to provide him with the location to do that.  We then chatted briefly, and he then told me about the episode of Chocolate News which featured the electronic voting machine.  Pretty funny. Another voter, previously undecided but now voting for Obama, needed to know which hours the polls were open. 

These are the kinds of contacts that make the calls worthwhile. You may only have a few per hour that really make a difference. But each one has the opportunity to multiply your vote. And with a small army of volunteers, these contacts really add up.

Calling is great; if you can do it, going door-to-door is even better. It's a great way to meet your neighbors.  Almost everyone I meet canvassing is appreciative to see me on their doorstep. And you do not need to win over McCain supporters. The Obama campaign has pretty precise lists of which voters are supporting Obama, and which voters have a spotty record of voting in past elections.  Cross these two lists, and you have the population that you reach out by phone and in person.

Easy. Fun. Rewarding. 

What are you doing November 4th?

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October 26, 2008

Wassup, Obama?

True, true.

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October 23, 2008

Table Comparing Progressive Voters' Guides

I've published a table summarizing a variety of progressive voters' guides for the Seattle area, including The Stranger, The Fuse Progressive Voters' guide, the 46th District Democrats, and of course the Latte Voters' Guide, which is detailed in the previous post.

You can find the table here.

I haven't included the Seattle Times' endorsements in the table, though you can review their recommendations on their site.  I find them to be very spotty.  They're wrong on the gubernatorial race, wrong on Darcy Burner's congressional race on the Eastside, wrong on transit... About the only thing they have right is the presidential race.  Good thing we have alternative newspapers around here.

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October 22, 2008

Latte Voters' Guide

(Late update: See also this table comparing progressive voters' guides.)

A few friends have asked my opinion about some of the more obscure races on Seattle ballots. I wish I could point you to one voter's guide that I fully agree with, but none exist.  I look at The Stranger, the 46th District Democrats, the Fuse progressive voters' guide, the voters' pamphlet, and in the case of certain issues (like long-term care and specific judges races), I'm calling up friends with more experience than me. I'd love to hear your feedback, too. Here's where I'm at:

Initiative 985 on transportation: No! Another harebrained Tim Eyman scheme.

Initiative 1000 on death with dignity: Yes. The measure is well-crafted, and has proper controls to prevent abuse.

Initiative 1029 on long-term care: No. This issue should be decided by the legislature, not by initiative.

King County Charter

Amendment 1 Elected Elections Director: No. This job requires specific technical expertise and should be appointed.

Amendment 2 Prohibiting Discrimination: Yes! Self-evident.

Amendment 3 Regional Committees: Yes. Though for a reason I have yet to ascertain, the Dems are against it.

Amendment 4 Additional Qualifications for Elected Officials: No. As elected positions, the choice should be up to the voters.

Amendment 5 Establishing Forecast Council Etc.: Yes. 

Amendment 6 Budget Deadlines: Yes. 

Amendment 7 Charter Amendment by Citizen Initiative: Yes!  It's telling that Tim Eyman wrote the voter pamphlet statement against it.  Initiatives are often hijacked by special interests who mislead the public about their true intentions.  Initiatives result in our elected officials being over-constrained.  This amendment raises the bar to get initiatives on the ballot, while simplifying the process for those that are approved by voters.  Vote yes!

Amendment 8 Nonpartisan Elections: No. In heavily democratic King County, Republicans would love to hide their party affiliation.  Bad sign for the Seattle Times: they support it.


President & VP: Obama  & Biden!!!  For my reasoning, see all the other posts on this blog for the last year :)

US Representative Congressional District 7: Jim McDermott.  I'm endorsing him despite the fact he reminded the audience at my legislative district delegate caucus of Obama's middle name.  Why did he go there?


Governor: Christine Gregoire!  She's done more good than you think (e.g., expanded health insurance for children), and Rossi has some very bad policy prescriptions.  An eight-lane 520 bridge replacement with no toll?  That money is going to have to come from somewhere, most likely education or health care.  No one likes tolls, but no one likes failing schools either, and our schools are already underfunded.

Lieutenant Governor: Marcia McCraw.  I'm going with the Stranger's endorsement here and recommending the Republican.  It's telling that the Democrats do not endorse the incumbent Democrat, Brad Owen, who is running for his fourth term.  As the Stranger points out, Owen uses this largely ceremonial office to advance his reflexively anti-marijuana message, even for legal, medical use.  The progressive voters' guide recommends writing in a candidate, but if you do that you're just registering a protest vote while enabling Owen's re-election.  Owen had 12 years to get it right, it's time for a change.

Secretary of State: Jason Osgood.  For this position and the next few, I support the Dems.  With the possibility to manipulate elections like we've seen in Florida and Ohio, we just can't afford a Republican Secretary of State.

State Treasurer: Jim McIntire

State Auditor: Brian Sonntag

Attorney General: John Ladenburg

Commissioner of Public Lands: Peter Goldmark

Superintendent of Public InstructionRandy Dorn. A public school teacher I spoke to suggested none of the above here, and I very nearly agree, but in the end I believe I have a duty as a voter to decide. Frankly, I'm not sure Dorn's experience as director of a major teachers union is the right experience for this position, but at least he wants to reform the WASL.  It's time for change in this position, too.

Insurance Commissioner: Mike Kreidler

46th Legislative District (warning, you probably live elsewhere :)

Position 1: Scott White.  Thanks to Washingtons "top two" system, both candidates are Dems.  I'm following the Stranger again here.

Position 2: Phyllis G. Kenney

(Supreme Court Judges are all running unopposed.)

Superior Court

Position 1: Tim Bradshaw.  Both candidates are qualified. But the woman with the progressive sounding name (Parisien) is not our choice.

Position 22: Holly Hill. A solid, well-respected candidate.

Position 37: Barbara Mack. She has helped addicts get off the streets without putting them in jail.


Proposition 1: Pike Place Market Levy: Yes.  Pike Place is a key driver of tourism to Seattle. Without our assistance, small farmers could be driven out, and the Market's character could change.
Proposition 2: Parks Levy: Yes.  Parks are part of what make Seattle such a livable city.  This measure is worth the small investment per household.

Special Purpose District

Sound Transit Prop. 1, Mass Transit Expansion: Approved. I generally support more public transportation, having seen the benefits when I lived abroad.  This plan is a logical next step for the region.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your views on this issues. 

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October 19, 2008

Colin Powell Endorses Obama

It's worth watching the video; Powell's endorsement is incredibly powerful:

If you can't watch the video, here's the most powerful bit:

[Republicans have permitted it to be said,] "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian.  He's always been a Christian.  But the really right answer is, what if he is?  Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America.  Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?  Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine.  It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave.  And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone.  And it gave his awards--Purple Heart, Bronze Star--showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death.  He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith.  And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey.  He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourselves in this way.  And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I'm troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

So, when I look at all of this and I think back to my Army career, we've got two individuals, either one of them could be a good president.  But which is the president that we need now?  Which is the individual that serves the needs of the nation for the next period of time?  And I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities--and we have to take that into account--as well as his substance--he has both style and substance--he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president.  I think he is a transformational figure.  He is a new generation coming into the world--onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama.

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