Just a couple. I thought McCain hurt himself here. In the one big mixup with Romney, I thought he was clearly on the wrong side, trying to push a point that was somewhat unfair. There are plenty of things to hit Romney on. This was not the thing. Otherwise he just repeated a lot of things he's said many time before (including the same jokes, gag). Romney didn't look much better though.
I was once again somewhat impressed by Huckabee. I don't agree with him on much, but he actually seemed thoughtful, serious and adult... which I couldn't say for either McCain or Romney.
And of course Paul... despite his flaws, which are many, he continues to be the one candidate I agree with on the most issues. His approach toward the proper role of government is much closer to mine than anyone else in either party. Yes, I disagree with him on a few things, but at a far lower percentage than any other candidate. I really long for a serious candidates that shares these basic libertarian values, but is actually a strong candidate in other ways too, in terms of character and political savvy and experience and such. I agree with him on 90% of the issues. But can I imagine actually having him, as a person, as president? No. I have real trouble with that. Which leaves me conflicted. In 2004 I declined to vote for the Libertarian party candidate as they were a total nutjob (much more so than Paul). In this case I so much WANT to vote for the person who most closely represents my views... and that would be Paul. But individual policies aside, can I actually say Paul would be the best president of the people running? Even of the Republicans running? No, I'm not sure I can say that. Not that I have to worry about him winning, but if by some strange quirk of fate Ron Paul were actually to win the presidency, I think he'd be completely and totally overwhelmed and out of his league the day he was sworn in.
But I still feel tempted to support him, because he DOES represent many of my views better than anybody else. By FAR.
I think I've decided that statements I have to sign about being either a Republican or a Democrat aside, when we get to the Washington State Caucus, I *will* attend one of the two caucuses. Either the Republican Caucus to vote for Ron Paul, or the Democratic Caucus to vote for Obama.
Right now I am still somewhat conflicted on which direction to go.
I will decide after I know the Super Tuesday results.
Honestly though, I hope Ron Paul makes it easy for me and drops out after Super Tuesday makes it mathematically impossible for him to win the nomination. (It might not seal the deal on the #1 spot, but it might seal the fate of Paul.)
In that case I could caucus for Obama without feeling guilty about not voting for the person I agree with most closely on the issues. Why I would vote for Obama when I disagree with him on many issues will probably need to be the subject of another post at another time though.
Of course, the fact that I am somewhat hoping for Paul to drop out so I can feel good about voting for Obama should probably tell me something in and of itself about who I *really* want to vote for. And I guess it does. But I still feel somewhat conflicted here.
For now though, on this debate, I think Huckabee and Paul were actually the most compelling, but that won't end up mattering, because it is really McCain vs Romney now. I stand by my McCain prediction. He's got a seemingly huge lead right now in so many states it is a major uphill battle for Romney. I think this debate might hurt McCain and help Romney a bit though.
Hard to say though. I cheated and read a little bit of blog commentary before writing this post though (I usually try to write my own opinion before being tainted by the opinions of others) and there seem to be a decent number of people thinking Romney knows it is over and was phoning it in and hurt his cause here. That's not what I saw. But we'll see if there is any bump in the polls over the next few days I guess.
And tomorrow is the Clinton vs Obama debate. Obama really needs to crush on that to close the gap with Clinton in the polls in so many states. But he really sucks at debates. They should just let the two of them give side by side 20 minute speeches. Then he'd crush. At a debate? We'll see if he can manage to hold his own. Clinton does much better in the debate format usually.
The big news is of course that McCain pulled out a narrow victory... but Florida is a winner take all state, so it made a HUGE difference in delegates. Winner take all is a whole different ballgame than when the states allocate proportionately.
McCain now takes the delegate lead by a decent margin, now having 47% of the delegates awarded so far compared to Romney's 36%. Before today it was Romney 49% to McCain 26%. Big difference. Despite the media narrative that changed several times, Romney had been ahead in delegates this whole time except for a couple of days between Iowa and Wyoming when Huckabee was ahead. Now McCain has the lead and the momentum.
Of course, once again, Super Tuesday will allocate far more delegates than have been allocated so far. Everything could change once again. But the national polls are showing McCain with a substantial lead... and with 20 states in play, the national polls are actually instructive for once. Pollster now has results up for 12 Super Tuesday states. Most of them don't have enough polls for trend lines, but by my reckoning McCain is ahead in at least 7 of those 12 states. If he gets some additional momentum out of Florida, and Guiliani dropping out and endorsing him as is now expected... and captures a bunch of winner takes all states... he could come out of Super Tuesday with a commanding and perhaps insurmountable lead... Romney has some serious work to do in the next week to keep this competitive. If he does so, there are also a few states where Huckabee is ahead. If he manages to capture several of those... and enough delegates to keep either McCain or Romney from reaching 50%... then we may still be in for a nice fight all the way to the convention... Having said that, I think we're going to come out of next Tuesday with a huge McCain lead and it may effectively be over. We shall see.
Oh yeah, the Dems. Despite what Hillary might wish, there were no delegates awarded in Florida tonight. CNN did adjust the superdelegate count slightly though, so the updated graph is above. The gap between Clinton and Obama narrows further. The trend over the last few months has been clear, with Obama slowly catching up. The question is if there is enough time for him to actually catch up. In terms of delagates left to be allocated, there is certainly enough, but is there TIME. Super Tuesday is only a week away. Looking at Pollster again now that they have all these new states... of the 12 states with polls... Clinton is ahead in 9... now, this is based on VERY limited polling, and there are still 8 states with no polls represented here... this may not reflect movements after Obama's South Carolina win. But never the less, Obama has a LOT of ground to make up here... now, unlike the Republican side there isn't a winner take all nonsense happening here... and with proportional delegate selection, Obama can get lots of delegates even in states he does not win. So chances are even if Clinton wins most states, things will still be competitive... but if she comes out of next Tuesday with a substantial delegate lead, the momentum could make it just the beginning of the end for Obama. A lot depends on how much ground Obama can gain in all of these states over the next week.
On both sides, the debates this week will be quite important. This will be an intense week for all involved.
And once again, the whole world will change after Super Tuesday, and we'll have to reevaluate everything. There is the potential on both sides for one candidate to open a huge lead and even if things aren't mathematically wrapped up, become "inevitable". There is also the potential to come out of next Tuesday with both sides in the situation with two leaders not that far apart in delegates, with a third candidate with enough delegates to play kingmaker.
There we go. After Obama's big win we can see that the lines moved... a little bit...
Actually, even though it wasn't by a huge amount, this is the first time you can see the Hillary line make a move that didn't seem trivial. She dropped from having 54.8% of the delegates yesterday to having 51.9% of them now. Now, that is still more than 50%, but it is dropping.
Obama went from having 31.9% to having 34.3%.
For the Dems, next stop is Super Tuesday. So far there have been 443 delegates determined. On Super Tuesday there will be almost 1700 determined. In other words, aside from "momentum" factors, what has happened so far isn't worth all that much. So all those percentage lines may well make sudden step-change moves on that day rather than the sort of gradual stuff we have seen so far with Clinton basically holding steady, Obama slowly gaining, and Edwards gradually dropping. There will be nothing gradual about Super Tuesday. We will come out of it, and things will have just changed.
And the next 10 days... they will be intense.
In the mean time... Republicans on Tuesday in Florida.
And a meaningless Democratic Primary in Florida too... except it may show if Obama gets any kind of bounce out of South Carolina. And of course, Hillary wants to change the decision about seating the Florida delegates. If she has her way, it may matter after all.
Now that's a margin. With 99% reporting as I write this, Obama got more than DOUBLE the number of votes that Hillary did. That is big. This will get some momentum going into Super Duper Tuesday. It is mathematically impossible for us to exit Super Tuesday with an absolute majority in anybody's hands in this race. It is possible however for somebody to get a commanding lead and momentum at that point. I hope that doesn't happen though. It is VERY possible at this point that we come out of February 5th with the game still not over.
As of the last polls I have seen, Clinton is still ahead in all the big Super Tuesday states. We'll see if that starts changing in the next 10 days. I think this win is big enough, and the distaste at the tone of the Clintons in the last week or so may well start to change that.
We shall see.
But this result is EXACTLY what was needed to make this a big battle and continue things forward. The only thing that would have made it more so is if Edwards had done better today. But one can't have everything.
At the very least Edwards has promised not to get out of the race. To go all the way to the convention. And that is exactly what is needed to enable the brokered convention scenario. So, for the moment, GO EDWARDS! :-)
Having said all that, Obama really is inspiring. As much as I may or may not agree with him on many issues, just listening to him makes me want to vote for him. And I still stand by my pre-Iowa predictions. He will win the Democratic nomination. McCain will get the Republicans. And then Obama will win in the general election. That is not only my prediction, but the more things go on, the more I feel like any other outcome will just make me massively depressed.
(Assuming of course Ron Paul doesn't make a come from behind win. :-)
Author: J. K. Rowling
Started: 13 Jan 2008
Finished: 20 Jan 2008
652 p / 8 d
So, having just finished the big text book thing, I figured it was time to catch up on Harry Potter. I was two books behind. So Harry Potter Book 6 it was.
It was OK. But I'll be honest, I was a little disappointed. Now, I read Book 5 in 2005... so it had been awhile and I can't say my memories for comparison purposes are very good. But it seems like less happened in this one. It was a lot slower paced.
Of course most of that was delving into memories to learn more about Voldemort. And that was all interesting stuff, but it didn't have the, oh my, I must turn the page right now to find out what happens next sort of quality to it.
And the big thing at the end... unfortunately, by waiting as long as I had before reading it, I had indeed been exposed to a spoiler, despite working very hard to try to avoid it. As I remember correctly, it was a post on BoingBoing talking about a t-shirt someone was selling covered with spoilers of various things, from Rosebud to Who shot JR to Luke's Father to the ending of Harry Potter Book 6. It really pissed me off at the time, and I think probably reduced the effect of the last few chapters of the books.
Anyway... I'm still looking forward to Book 7. And so far I'm spoiler free.
I averaged a healthy 82 pages per day on this book. Much faster than the textbook before this. :-)
A non-fiction is next. I started it within seconds of finishing Harry Potter last weekend. But I'm letting one non-work non-fiction into the mix before the next work non-fiction. And then maybe I'll let my next fiction book be the last Harry Potter. :-)
This is really annoying. Yesterday I spent a lot of time talking about CNN taking a bunch of superdelegates away from various candidates, hurting Romney more than anybody else. Guess what. Today CNN put them all back. The totals are exactly where they were two days ago. Whatever happened yesterday? Doesn't look like it was a real change in the opinions of superdelegates. Doesn't look like it was a change in CNN's methodology either. What does it look like? Someone at CNN just screwed up and accidentally posted something that didn't include a bunch of delegates. They then realized their mistake and changed it back. Doh! And now my graphs will have that dip forever. Grrr...
I wasn't expecting another meaningful update to my Delegate Graphs until the Democratic South Carolina Primary this weekend (unless they zeroed the Thompson or Hunter delegates), but between yesterday and today CNN updated a bunch of their delegate totals... basically taking delegates away from folks. I have only been tracking the totals, not all the state by state breakdowns, so I can't tell EXACTLY what changed unfortunately... but I think what is going on is simply that CNN has taken some of the superdelegates (called unpledged delegates on the republican side) who they had previously placed in one person or another's column and put them back into the undecided category, presumably because the latest CNN survey of those delegates showed that change in preference.
Anyway, here are the updated charts:
On the Democratic side the change was pretty minor. Clinton lost eight delegates, dropping from 210 to 202. Obama lost seven delegates, dropping from 123 to 116. Edwards lost one, going from 52 to 51. In terms of percentages, this helped Hillary and Edwards, and hurt Obama. But these were minor adjustments.
The change on the Republican side is much more dramatic. A *lot* of delegates that had been previously allocated to one candidate or another are now no longer in anybody's column. And it hurt one candidate very badly. That candidate would be Romney. CNN's estimates of his delegate support dropped from 72 to 48, losing 24... a full third of his delegates. McCain lost 5. Huckabee lost 1. In terms of percentages, this hurt Romney badly. Everybody else's percentages went up.
Now, of course all this points out that these delegate totals are ESTIMATES. As mentioned, I think the big factor in these changes is superdelegates. CNN has to somehow determine which columns to put these people in. I'm using CNN's estimates, but there are a number of other places also giving delegate totals... and they all have somewhat different numbers. Because they use different methodologies to determine how to count these "free" delegates. Some only count them if they have made a public declaration of their preferences. Some count them just if their public statement seem to favor one candidate or another. Etc. I'm not sure exactly what CNN's methods are though. I do wish I knew if this change in the Romney total is due to an actual exodus of delegates who had previously been for him, or if it is just a change in CNN's methodology. But I don't know that.
Oh, and the other source of potential flux in some of these numbers is of course that the states that have caucuses rather than primaries usually have a multi-stage process. With the initial precinct caucus actually electing delegates to later county caucuses, who then elect delegates to an even later state caucus, who then finally elect delegates to the national convention. So the "delegate totals" reported for caucus states have to make assumptions that at each stage the delegates will do what they originally were pledged to do and not change their minds, etc.
For that matter, while there is strong tradition and pressure against it and it is unlikely, there is apparently nothing that would actually prevent the delegates at the national conventions from changing their minds and voting for Bugs Bunny rather than whoever they were pledged for originally... even on the first ballot. Remember, in all of this there is *NO* direct connection between the voters voting and what actually happens at the convention. The primaries and caucuses end up selecting actual human beings called delegates who then go to the convention and vote. It isn't automatic. Delegates are people, not robots, and can do that human thing called changing their minds.
So anyway, my graphs are based on whatever the CNN methodology is for determining these delegate counts, and for whatever reason they took away a crapload of Romney delegates today from their totals, making the Republican delegate race look a lot closer than it did yesterday.
Now, again, I don't know if that is a REAL change, or just a change in CNN's methodology.
However, even with a change this big, it will be dwarfed by the number of delegates up for grabs on February 5th... and between now and then everybody is all amount momentum anyway, and everybody is considering McCain the frontrunner even though he has less delegates, etc... so... looking in detail at these things at this point is really only for delegate race junkies like me. :-)
It is the time of year to do annual reviews and such in my company. Today I have to do my self-review. Soon I will need to do peer reviews and reviews for those working for me. So of course I have that whole phenomenon where I have a blank text entry box on a web form staring me in the face, and it makes me want to go to the cafe to get a drink, walk down the hall and back... do a quick one minute blog post... or anything other than fill in that blank spot on the form. And the other blank spots further down the page. Sigh. Well, it must be done.
I was out of the house when it was live, but I just finished watching it off the Tivo. I'm sure by now all sorts of other people have said this, but WOW... did that get vicious. Clinton and Obama were at each other's throats... especially in the first half. The antipathy between the two of them was palpable.
I wonder who will end up benefitting in the end. I actually think Edwards came off sort of as the adult just for not being quite so negative (although he got a few good barbs in against both of them as well). But I'm not sure that will matter at this point.
Of Clinton and Obama, I personally think Obama came off better... but I like Obama better, and also have a definite dislike of Clinton. So I'm not sure my view accurately represents anything. I'm sure most Clinton supporters thought she did better and most Obama supporters thought he did better. The question is if this sways anybody who hadn't made up their mind yet.
Just a few days until South Carolina. Obama is ahead in the polls at the moment, but Clinton has been gaining on him. Obama needs to win this to keep things in play. A loss here will hurt him badly on Super Tuesday. It quite possibly would make Hillary "inevitable" again. If Obama wins South Carolina by a decent margin then Super Tuesday will be a major competitive battle and there will be the possibility of the nomination continuing to be a battle for a bit longer.
Of course, the most fun scenario is a brokered convention, and for that we need Edwards to stay in until the end, and get there with a decent number of delegates... enough to keep either of the others from being over 50%... So we really need for Edwards to manage to get some delegates out of South Carolina too. :-)
OK, I know most of the Republican candidates didn't even "play" in Nevada. But, and I hadn't realized this earlier, but then I saw a comment about it on MyDD.
Take a look at the Official Results now with 100% reporting. Ron Paul came in second to Romney. OK, fine, it was a distant second. But he broke 10% with his 14%. And not only beat Guiliani (who he has beaten in most of the states so far) but also beat McCain, Huckabee and the rest.
On Wednesday I got an email from a random visitor to the site saying they loved the True Binary Clock but asking if I could adapt it for iPhone or iPod Touch. Sure I said, I'd look at it this weekend.
So I made a new version of the page with all the extra text cut out and adjusted it a bit to fit in the iPhone browser window. Then since I don't have an iPhone myself (yet!) I made a quick trip to one of the local Apple Stores to try it out. While there I made a few final adjustments. It isn't anything spectacular, I just did the basics and made it fit, but none the less, here it is:
Before we left the Apple Store, Amy added it as a front page bookmark to almost all of the iPhones in the store. I've been getting random hits from those iPhones all evening. Ha. I'm sure they will reset those iPhones to their defaults soon, but kind of fun for the moment. :-)
Delegate Graphs with Preliminary Results from Nevada and South Carolina Republicans
OK, these include preliminary delegate counts as of when I pulled the data from CNN a few minutes ago. If Michigan is any guide, some of these numbers may change further before tomorrow's update. If so, I'll post again. But as of right now...
Democrats: The annoying thing here is just looking at what is happening with delegates, and comparing it to what I am hearing the anchors say on CNN. On CNN it is all about the "Big win for Clinton" in Nevada. But what do delegates look like? Clinton and Obama both got 14. A tie. And, because 50/50 is a smaller lead than Hillary had before today in delegates, that means in terms of percentage of delegates, Clinton actually dropped and Obama gained... now, not by much... this wasn't a huge number of delegates, and Clinton is still WAY ahead in the overall delegate count, and is over the magical 50% mark still. But the end result of the delegates allocated so far tonight? Obama narrows Clinton's lead (a little bit). But is that the way it is spun? Of course not. Not even close.
Republicans: Again the media narrative is a bit off from what is actually happening with the delegates. Now, I was out earlier and by the time I got home Nevada was old news, and all the talk was about McCain winning South Carolina and pretty much nothing about Nevada. Of course, earlier in the day Romney had won Nevada. On balance (at least as of when I am posting this) McCain got 23 delegates today and Romney got 18. So this is definately a McCain day overall. And so when the media keeps saying that this was a big win for McCain, they are absolutely right. But some of them are starting to call McCain a front runner, etc. Excuse me? Yes, today was a blow for Romney. Romney went from 53% of the delegates down to 46%. McCain now has indeed jumped ahead of Huckabee, but at 24%, he is still WAY BEHIND Romney. Now, we do of course have to look at momentum and where the next few states will go. And this will help McCain's momentum. On the Republican side the next state is Florida on the 29th. Right now the Polls there are basically showing a four way dead heat between Guiliani, McCain, Huckabee and Romney. This will probably give McCain a boost that puts him in the lead in Florida... which if it happens probably WILL boost McCain into a commanding position, and may well kill off Guiliani... but that is not where we are YET. Right now we have Romney with a strong lead, and McCain in second. But yes, McCain was one of tonight's winners. The other was Paul, who also had a big positive move forward in percent of delegates, moving from 2% to 4%... on the verge of catching Thompson.
Anyway... very interesting results. I'll update the charts again tomorrow if the delegate counts change at all.
Next up... South Carolina for the Democrats a week from now. At the moment Obama has a decent lead in the polls, but Hillary seems to be closing the gap in the newest few polls. If Nevada gives her any kind of bump, then it might be neck and neck. The big question, does Obama manage to get a win here? And if he does, can he capture enough delegates to actually further close the gap with Clinton in the delegate count? Can he push her below the 50% threshold? Can he get enough momentum going into Super Duper Tuesday to be competitive? Or will Super Duper Tuesday just be the day Clinton wraps this up?
In any case... this is all very exciting still. I wish Clinton would drop under 50% though. As long as she is way up there, all she has to do is keep up the pace and she wins outright. On the Republican side Romney is ahead, but under 50%... which means that if the current pace keeps up, we still don't have a winner... which means brokered convention, which would be awesome. But we still have a long way to go before that. McCain could easily take the lead after Florida. So exciting!
Although she, and most people, would look at a calendar and say it happened yesterday, on Friday... I of course calculate using the true astronomical length of a year and all that... and I know that in just under an hour and a half, at 06:42 UTC today (which is 1:42 AM Eastern) my sister Cynthia will be exactly 18 years old.
18 years old!!!! When did that happen? Last I knew she was the kid in this picture. But she's not any more. She's a senior in high school. Top of her class. Ready to go to Oberlin in the fall.
I was 18 (and a few months) when she was born. I remember being in my room at Hampshire Hall in Pittsburgh when I got the news. It seems like a lifetime ago, and I guess it was.
Anyway. My sister. 18. It blows my mind.
Just wish we weren't a 2750 mile drive away from each other and I could see her more often.
Well, I guess in the fall she will move to Ohio and we'll only be a 2375 mile drive apart. That's much better. :-)
Yesterday when I posted the post-Michigan results, while the winner had been declared, all the counts actually were not in yet, so the delegate counts were actually still in flux. When I made my post the CNN page where I get this data had Romney getting 10 delegates and McCain 8. By the time things were fully settled (and by when I did tonight's update) the revised estimates based on the full results had Romney getting 22 delegates, McCain only getting 5 and Huckabee getting 1. This gives Romney a much bigger win than that early incomplete estimate gave. Today's revised graphs show this:
We can see that at this point Romney has really opened up a big lead in delegates. With his lower Michigan delegate count, McCain now barely moves ahead and no longer appears to be "about to catch Huckabee".
At this point both Romney on the Republican side, and Clinton on the Democratic side have more than 50% of the delegates awarded so far. Which are pretty strong leads.
Now, of course, only a small percentage of the total number of delegates has been allocated at this point. (4% of delegates on the Republican side, 9% of delegates on the Democratic side) These "big leads" can be erased by the results in only one big state, let alone the flood of delegates coming up on February 5th. So things are really still completely up in the air.
But it is very interesting to see how the media narrative is so very different than looking at the delegate counts.
On the Democratic side, Hillary has had a strong lead from the beginning. Obama has been catching up a bit, but Clinton is still WAY ahead.
On the Republican side, despite the wins by Huckabee and McCain, aside from two days, Romney has been significantly ahead the entire time.
Of course that brings up back to the small number of delegates awarded so far, and how fast this can all change.
Bring on Saturday for Nevada and the South Carolina Republicans. A bunch more delegates. And perhaps more changes.
I really want to see both frontrunners drop below 50% of the delegates. That's when things are interesting, when nobody has more than 50%. So we need big wins by people other than Clinton and Romney to make that happen. Nevada Dems... could happen... it is neck and neck. Nevada Repubs... eh... we'll see... Romney could take this. South Carolina Repubs... probably McCain or Huckabee, probably not Romney. All of that is based on limited recent poll data though... and with the low attendance expected in Nevada, it all kind of depends on who bothers to show up... so they really all could go in unpredictable directions.
Anyway... we'll see in a few days.
Oh yeah... I've also adjusted all the graphs so the data points reflect the time of day I take the "sample" from the CNN page rather than showing all the data points at 00:00 UTC.
On the Democratic side there were no delegates awarded from Michigan. However CNN (where I get this data) updated their numbers based on more superdelegates declaring their support for Obama and Clinton... and Richardson's delegates going away.. and for some reason Edwards actually losing one delegate too:
Clinton still retains a commanding (over 50%) lead in delegates already committed. But as a percentage, she has pretty much been holding steady. So has Edwards. Obama is gaining.
On the Republican side, there were indeed delegates awarded today. Romney got 10 and McCain got 8:
Aside from the two days between Iowa and Wyoming, Romney has been ahead the whole time. With his win in Michigan tonight he increases his lead somewhat. He's got about 45% of the delegates so far and has stayed about there through the last couple of states. Huckabee hasn't gotten any new delegates since Iowa, so his percentage has been dropping. McCain has been rising and is just short of catching Huckabee at the moment.
Next up... Saturday gets us Nevada for both parties, and South Carolina for the Republicans.
Nevada on the Dem side... three way race between Obama, Clinton and Edwards... could go ANY way.
Nevada on the R side... who knows... only one poll so far, also looks very up in the air... McCain, Giuliani, Romney and Huckabee could all do OK.
South Carolina on the R side... looks like Huckabee vs McCain if you look at the most recent polls. With McCain ahead in all the recent polls.
So... craziness on both sides.
Bring on Saturday. This is so much fun.
[Edited 04:44 UTC to update totals gained by Republicans in Michigan with later figures.]
[Edited 17:34 UTC to revert to the totals and graphs I originally posted with... I shouldn't have changed it in the first place... history revisionism and all... in any case, all delegates from Michigan had not yet been allocated at the time of my post, so there will be a further update tomorrow... in a new post, not this one.]
Eh, I wasn't excited by any of that. I guess the Air is OK, but I'm more a MacBook Pro kind of guy. We'll be in the market for a laptop for Brandy in the next month or so most likely. I was really hoping for a MacBook Pro update for her. We shall see if those come soon. They are overdue.
I guess I do like Time Capsule. If Brandy does get a new laptop soon as planned, we'll probably get one of those with it so it can be backed up easily. And to upgrade our base station to N at the same time.
Only 12 hours until the MacWorld keynote starts. Woo! Of course, I have a meeting at that time. So I'll have to catch up after it is all done instead of hitting refresh every few seconds on one of the sites liveblogging it. Drat.
Book: Data Mining: Concepts and Techniques: Second Edition
Author: Jiawei Han and Micheline Kamber
Started: 20 May 2007
Finished: 13 Jan 2008
770 p / 239 d
This is a book that was suggested to me as being useful for work. A textbook that would be useful for work. A long textbook for work. Anyway, I got it and started reading it when the next non-fiction slot in my rotation hit, jumping it ahead of other non-fiction books that were in line.
The first 3 chapters or so went very quickly as they were high level overviews of various things. Starting on Chapter 4 though (Data Cube Computation and Data Generalization) progress slowed down greatly. The content was a bit denser. And the reading a little less fun. Chapter 4 in particular was a subject that I could not get excited about. So I slowed down. I would have to force myself to read more. And that killed my momentum. Chapter 5 and beyond were more interesting again (at least to me) but with me out of the habit of reading regularly I actually changed my evening routine o include a "block" of reading time after my blocks for email and bills, and before my block for genealogy. Now, on an average weekday, I try for two blocks, but often only get one. It is only weekends where I usually get to blocks 3 and 4. So this meant I was only reading this book maybe once or twice a week, for 40 minutes at a shot. Now, this was still faster than I was doing without having a specific time set aside, as I would rarely just get the "Hey, I want to read the Data Mining textbook this evening before bed!" sort of feeling. So this got me going again, although still slowly.
Also of course here, I was just READING, I was not doing the exercises and problem sets in each chapter. So I definitely was not getting everything I would if I had, say, taken a class that actually used this as a textbook. But never-the-less this gave a good overview of concepts relating to Data Mining, much of which is clearly relevant to the kind of things I am responsible for at work. So this is good. Now, do I know each of the concepts back and forth deeply enough to be able to be able to give a presentation on it or explain in detail to others? At a high level maybe, but at a detail level, no. But I am more familiar with all the concepts than when I started. Enough so to know what is being talked about if the concepts come up at work and to talk about them at a high level, and to follow discussions that go deeper. And I know where to look to refresh myself on details if I need them. So that is all good.
I do wish I'd forced myself through this at a faster rate though. That was just a matter of discipline. Taking almost 8 months to read this was a bit much. When actually sitting down and reading, I was running over a page a minute. I just didn't sit down and actually do that enough. I have to get better at that, because two more similar large non-fiction books for work are coming up soon in my queue. They will be similarly chock full of good information that will be useful for me, and often interesting stuff... but not exactly page turning reading where you just can't wait to sit down with the book to read the next chapter. So I'll have to work on that.
I'm thinking that rather than let the next work book take the next non-fiction slot I'll let one of my other non-fiction books take a slot. So a fiction book, a non-work non-fiction, then another fiction, then the next work-related non-fiction. We shall see.
And when I do the next work-related non-fiction I do have to make myself go faster. Doing this one at an average three pages per day killed my reading for 2007. In 2007 I only finished reading THREE books as opposed to ELEVEN in 2006. And I thought 2006 was actually a horrible year for reading for me. Once upon a time I read much more than I read today, and that is a shame. I need to start increasing that volume. I mean, come on, at LEAST one book a month, right? One a week would even be reasonable, but I think that is out of my reach right now...
Anyway, Data Mining by Han and Kamber... if you are working on Data Mining topics for work or school and need a good overview, grab this. If you are looking for fun reading on the beach... don't.
It was time for an Amy pick, but she actually watched this without us... saying she didn't want to watch it together. This of course made me more curious than I already was having just seen the title and the short couple sentence description before she got the movie. The basic summary was the story of a girl going to a Christian school who gets pregnant and how she deals with that. Wait, let me get the actual description from Netflix: "When Mary, a devout senior at a Christian high school, accidentally gets pregnant, she starts to see her peers and her faith in a whole new way."
Not having heard of this, I was worried it was going to be some sort of anti-abortion/pro-life propaganda film... I figured Brandy and I should definitely watch it in case any "conversations" would be needed afterwards... of course if I'd looked up any more about it I would have seen that was not the case. Quite the opposite. It was quite the satire of the born again crowd in terms of their attitudes toward... well, everything... but specifically toward teenage sexuality and teenage pregnancy and such. It was for the most part pointing out the absurdity of some of those attitudes. And all done in a pretty humorous way. There was lots of laughing out loud.
And I can understand why Amy wanted to watch it alone... just because some of those type issues are awkward at that age... especially around parents... but there was nothing in here I found any more objectionable than any other PG-13 movie. (Which Amy has been allowed to see for years, despite not being 13 yet.) Still a somewhat odd choice for her. But aside from the teenage pregnancy angle and the religious satire, the rest was your standard sort of teenage romantic comedy / high school hijinks kind of movie. And that is right up her ally.
Of course, it was a lighthearted comedy movie, so it had a happy feel good ending... so it never addressed any of the serious negative consequences that often do accompany teenage pregnancy... but that would be something that a more serious movie would do. This movie was mainly a movie poking fun at fundamentalist Christians whose own self-righteousness leaves them hopelessly out of touch with the reality around them.
And of course in the end everybody is happy (including the baby) and Jesus still loves them.
In just under an hour and a half... at about 05:07 UTC... it will have been two astronomical years since I first walked in the door of my current employer. Plus or minus the fact I can't quite remember exactly when between 17 and 18 UTC I walked in on 11 Jan 2006, so I'm calling it 17:30... :-)
Just a couple thoughts on the Republican debate in South Carolina.
First of all, Tivo guide data for live events sucks. I'd forgotten to pad the ending, and they ran over by a few minutes, so I missed the end of the debate at first. They did replay it overnight, but the guide data did not say that. So I ended up staying up late enough to verify that it was starting, then just setting the Tivo to record enough that it would catch the end. Anyway, I finished watching the debate after I woke up.
Two real points though.
#1) Fred Thompson woke up. All of a sudden he was actually there, engaged, and actually stealing the show. There have been how many debates now with him in them? And in all of those he barely registered. Now he was in there and aggressive. He went after Huckabee, but he also was just much better overall. It was an amazing difference. Maybe he is just finally getting comfortable with this running for president thing? Maybe he's getting serious because South Carolina is very soon and that is where he intends to make his stand. Dunno. But it was a big change. He was actually impressive. If he'd been like this when he first started his campaign, this race might look very different right now.
#2) Ron Paul was in good shape too. He for the most part refrained from his goofiest stuff and stuck to the stuff that while way outside of the mainstream, at least doesn't make him sound completely crazy. He did an "meh" job parrying the question about the 9/11 Truthers. Those aren't his views, he doesn't support those views, but he can't control what other people think. Fine. But it really doesn't go far enough. Part of a President's job IS to sway and influence other people's opinions. In the Libertarian view definitely NOT by the power of government, but certainly with the power of words and ideas. It is not enough to say one doesn't agree with the truthers, one should flat out say they are idiots with a questionable grasp on reality, and implore them to take another look at the clear facts. Now, having said that, I see no issue with continuing to take their money, or the money of people with any number of deplorable positions. If they want to give money to someone who doesn't agree with them, that is their own stupidity and one should take advantage of it. Of course, that is most likely a big reason Paul won't outright say they are idiots... there is a source of cash there that would possibly cut off. And that is a shame. Also though, the question itself was a misfire. The question SHOULD have been about the newsletters. The Truther question has been asked and answered many times. The newsletter, although it has been simmering for many weeks, only got widespread attention in the last week. Based on the weak responses he has given elsewhere, I think Paul would have given the same sort of "right, but not strong enough" sort of response as he gave to the truther question. Which just isn't good enough. He really needs to do better. He did manage to swing me back to where I could probably vote for him though. Most of this debate performance was right on track.
#3) As for the rest of the pack, while I know neither of the two I mentioned are in very serious contention right now, nobody in the rest of the group really stood out for me at all. They all gave their standard sort of performances I thought. I'd avoided commentary on the debate though until I finished watching it, so I'm sure when I go looking I'll find out that everybody thinks Romney won it or something strange like that. Oh well!
I was going to wait until I saw a "100% reporting" number, but I guess 99% will do. On this week's Curmudgeon's Corner I predicted that while I didn't know where he would place exactly, that Ron Paul would beat Rudy Guiliani in New Hamphshire. With 99% reporting on CNNs Tally Page the final was 20,387 for Guiliani and 18,276 for Ron Paul.
I guess the Paulites just didn't get enough turnout to manage it, and Giuliani did OK enough on his last couple debates to reverse his slide in the state.
Also, the revelations about Ron Paul's newsletter a couple decades ago can't have helped, although that was new news while the voting was going on. And despite Paul's disavowal of the content that was published under his name, I think he has reached his high water mark. This stuff has hurt him. And failure to break 10% in the first two states will dampen a lot of the enthusiasm of his big supporters. He may go a bit longer because he has the cash to do so, but I'm not sure how much longer.
And I think the stuff from the newsletters, disavowal or not, has enough people shaken that the support for pushing him to go ahead and run third party will falter. Paul has gathered a lot of strength, but his flaw has always been a failure to distance himself from the complete kooks that are drawn to him... and to fail to just know when to push some things and when to just shut the hell up... IE: The anti-war humble foreign policy stuff - Good... the government should leave us all alone stuff - Good... the limited federal government and federalism stuff - Good... the follow the constitution stuff - Good... the Federal Reserve is evil and lets go back to the gold standard stuff... just drop it, not going to happen, not a winning issue, just makes people think you are crazy...
I desperately want a good Libertarian oriented candidate who leans strongly in that direction... but yet makes some reasonable concessions to reality and distances himself from the crazies and nutjobs... and of course isn't one himself. Paul isn't that candidate.
I still agree more closely with Paul than any other candidate running on quite a large spectrum of issues. But he is not a candidate who will be able to move any of these ideas any further than he already has due to a lot of these fatal flaws he has.
Having said that, I still give him credit for pushing this kind of thing further than anybody else in recent years.
But I'm thinking his time is almost done.
If I were to vote in the Republican primary or caucus here in Washington state, or if Ron Paul ends up on the ballot in November would I vote for him??? A month ago I definitely would have. Today would I? Dunno. I'd have to think about it more carefully. I'm guessing a lot of folks who like(d) Ron Paul are having similar thoughts these days.
Just saw this posting by Brendan Loy. It points out that of course in delegates determined by the primary it was actually a tie, 9 Clinton, 9 Obama, 4 Edwards... but if you add in the votes of the 5 superdelegates (known before the primary) it becomes 12 Obama, 11 Clinton, 4 Edwards.
Oops. We'll have to change all those headlines now, right? Oh, guess not. Oh well.
If the convention were held today, New Hampshire's turn in the roll call would go something like this: "Mr. Speaker, the great state of New Hampshire, the Granite State, proud home of the first-in-the-nation primary, led by our great Democratic governor, John Lynch; New Hampshire, home of the 2007 Canadian-American League champion Nashua Pride baseball team and the 2006-2007 AHL Atlantic Division champion Manchester Monarchs hockey team; New Hampshire, whose state motto 'live free or die' was once again embodied last year when we became the first state to legalize same-sex unions without a court order or a threatened court order; New Hampshire, which cast its four electoral votes for John Kerry in 2004, and will once again proudly support a Democrat for president in 2008; Mr. Speaker, New Hampshire casts 12 votes for Barack Obama, 11 votes for Hillary Clinton, and 4 votes for John Edwards!"
I wanted graphs over time of the delegate counts, but hadn't seen one yet, so I went ahead and made a set of them. Since it was the easiest way for me, I just set this up on my wiki page. I will update these after each new primary or caucus (or if I notice any changes in between as superdelegates commit and such).
The following are graphs of the delegate counts for the US presidential race in both parties on a day by day basis. Data is taken from CNN's Democratic Scorecard and Republican Scorecard pages. At a minimum, graphs will be updated after new primary and caucus results. Changes to superdelegate totals between primaries and caucuses may or may not be caught on the day they occur. The totals are as of the start of the day, so typically results of primaries and caucuses will show up on the day following those contests.
Results are shown both as a total number of delegates, and as a percentage of the delegates which have been allocated as of that date.
It is interesting to note how everybody didn't start at zero before Iowa due to superdelegates and unpledged delegates who had already stated a preference.
CNN just declared the winner. Obama has conceeded.
Hillary pulls out an upset, completely contrary to all recent poll results. And once again the dynamics of the race change completely again. Will Obama's new found lead in South Carolina start to evaporate? Will Hillary's leads elsewhere consolidate?
If Obama had won the way the polls said, this would probably have been nearly over as the momentum grew.
Now... it is all wide open again... and the advantage has to go back to Hillary... she is ahead on delegates, and she is ahead in more of the upcoming states... and has better organization in the Super Duper Tuesday states.
And of course the Republican map is still completely crazy.
Wow. This is such a fun election season. Can't get better than this.
Here we are on yet another Primary day. I'm such a junkie. It is hard to concentrate on other things. But I will... for the next few hours. But at 01:00 UTC when results are supposed to start coming in, I'll make sure I'm in front of at least my XM Radio if not a TV. Not like Iowa where by the time I got to where I could hear live coverage they had already called it for Huckabee. No no... none of that. I'll make it in time for the beginning of the live coverage this time.
Cause I have a hunch we won't have to wait deep into the evening for the networks to start calling the winners.
There were a few moments, but for the most part the Dem debate was nowhere near as interesting as the Republicans. Whereas the Republicans were very much interacting directly with each other, even when the Dems were talking directly about each other, for the most part they seemed to be talking to the audience or the moderator, not REALLY talking to each other. Although it lightened up later, it seemed like all four of them spent the first half of the debate or so trying to avoid eye contact with each other.
A lot less of it seemed to be spontaneous. They all got in their prepared lines. I heard lots of things which I had heard verbatim previously in other debates or speeches. That was disappointing.
It was amusing to watch all four of them try to claim the "change" mantle.
Don't get me wrong, there were a few fireworks that were interesting. But it was a very different kind than on the Republican side. And the tension between them (well, maybe not Richardson) was much higher. You could just feel the antipathy. And there was less dynamic back and forth that seemed like actual conversations. Just talking past each other and a few attacks and parries.
I'm not sure how much either of these debates will change anything for Tuesday's vote. I don't think there were any clear knockouts on either party.
Now I'll have to spend some time into reading other people's reactions (I waited until I was done watching). Then sleep. It is past my bedtime and I have a podcast to record in the morning.
I *so* wanted to be able to hear what they were saying to each other when the Democrats and Republicans were on stage at the same time... which, by the way, was a great touch.
As for the rest of the Republican debate, I think it would have been even better if the whole thing had had the format of the first half. But even with the supposed rules in the second half, Gibson stood back and barely enforced them. It was also very good.
Definitely the best debate in either party so far by a long ways.
And Ron Paul can certainly not complain about the amount of attention he got. He got a LOT in. I'm not sure if they were in some way trying to make up for him being excluded tomorrow, but either way, he got a lot of good time. He didn't always make the best use of it, but he certainly had the time.
At this point I've only watched the first hour out of the four hours of debate tonight. And only about 45 minutes of it was actually debate. And this is of course only the Republicans, the Democrats come later.
But I'll say right now that the format for this first 45 minutes... Very few interruptions from the moderator, just occasional questions to get conversation started... and a lot of interaction between the candidates... and long form answers without buzzers or time limits... this is by far the most substantive and informative debate I have seen so far this election cycle. And at this point I have watched ALL of them. 17 Democratic debates and 14 Republican debates. Most of them sucked. Most of them just let the candidates make little speeches, or posture for the sound bites.
In this one I've seen the candidates interact with each other in a far more natural way. And I've seen them have the chance to spend several minutes explaining themselves, and then ask questions of each other, which were then answered in turn. There were some chaotic moments at times, but even then one learned something.
I gather the rest of the Republican debate will not have this same format. That is a shame. This is how all debates should be. I look forward to seeing the Democrats in the same sort of format once I watch the rest of the Republican debate.
I just needed to go ahead and post this now, because I was somewhat dumbfounded that, for once, I was actually seeing a real debate with some real content too it where I actually had the possibility of learning something new about the candidates.
3 hour delay aside, good job ABC and Charles Gibson. Bravo.
For once I was going to watch some debates live rather than weeks later on the Tivo. Until I find out that stupid ABC is delaying the West Coast feed by 3 hours like they do with all kinds of crap. The debates start in 3 minutes. I won't get to see them for 3 hours and 3 minutes. Pisses me off. Makes me not want to bother watching it "live" after all, because of course it won't be.
I need to get an extra Slingbox and Tivo to send to someone on the East coast just to avoid this kind of nonsense garbage. Bleh.
OK, I'm going nuts with posts tonight, mainly because I can't do my other normal evening work because I am spending the evening in the living room with Brandy who is recovering from some medical tests she had Thursday rather than spending the time in my office where I have access to my normal stuff.
So a few more thoughts. And yes, I know I haven't posted anything but presidential stuff for awhile now. Tis the season and all that. Although other things may come back soon, this is my main topic of interest at the moment.
Anyway, a reminder that of course in all this it is really number of delegates that count. And despite all the Iowa hype, Hillary is still ahead in delegates due to superdelegates that have already committed (of course they can change their minds).
I went looking for a place that had definitive delegate counts. CNN has pages for this. (It was just the first one I found.... it may or may not be the best such page.)
I'll be bookmarking those, or something like it if I find a better source...
Anyway, current standings as of this moment:
Democrats (2025 needed to win):
169 - Clinton
66 - Obama
47 - Edwards
19 - Richardson
17 - Dodd
8 - Biden
1 - Kucinich
Republicans (1191 needed to win):
20 - Huckabee
18 - Romney
3 - McCain
3 - Thompson
2 - Paul
1 - Guiliani
Of course, of these Dodd and Biden have already dropped out. Usually candidates who drop out either release their delegates to vote for whoever they want to, or ask them to please vote for someone that they specify. In this case though Biden and Dodd have dropped out so early that it doesn't really matter. Now, they could theoretically still get more delegates, as they will likely still be on the ballot in a number of states, and could get enough votes for more delegates to be awarded to them... but in reality they had low support to begin with, and people rarely vote for the people who have dropped out, so that will also be a very minor effect if it happens at all.
Of course, one important thing to note is that even though a very small percentage of the delegates have already been awarded... and if we were in a world where each primary was indeed an independent event and was not influenced by the results of the previous primaries, then the results so far would be pretty insignificant and meaningless. But in the real world, the results of these early states is much more influential than the results of later states. Because of them candidates start dropping out. And the ones who do well get more money, to better compete in later states, and the ones that do less well get less money, and so are disadvantaged... plus people have a tenancy to get on the bandwagon and start voting for the winners. They stop voting for people who look like they are losing. So the later in the process you get, the less people vote for the people they really agree with or think would be best, and more start doing the "well, everybody else likes them, so I should too" sort of thing... Which is why Iowa and New Hampshire get this kind of attention.
If somebody (read Obama) starts running the boards and winning state after state, this could be over quickly (at least on that side). If on the other hand we start getting different winners in different states, then it could last longer. This could happen on the Dem side, but it seems the biggest chance for it lasting longer is on the Republican side. Huckabee in Iowa. McCain in New Hampshire. Maybe Romney manages to pull it out in South Carolina (although Huckabee is looking good there right now). Giuliani in Florida. Etc. That could just drag things out nicely...
If after Super Duper Tuesday on February 5th nobody has a commanding lead, then the rest of the season will (for once) be interesting. We shall see I guess. And before very long too.
There is only occasional off handed mention of the Wyoming caucuses tomorrow. They are very small, and pretty much none of the candidates has spent any time campaigning there or worrying about it. I don't even know which places will be reporting the results and when. But I'll be looking for it. It should be an interesting blip. Maybe precisely because it HAS been ignored.
Going to be a little mean here, but... as I mentioned in my pre-Iowa comments, and felt even more strongly now, I think Hillary will not get the Democratic nomination. I now further predict that within 12 months of her officially admitting defeat she will no longer be married to Bill Clinton. I think she will know that she won't be trying this again in 4 or 8 years, and she won't need him any more as a Senator. And she will be very bitter. And so the two of them will go their separate ways.
I was going to do this on the next podcast, but then realized there would be debates before then, so here are a few thoughts.
For Clinton... and from what I've read about what she did on Friday, so far she is following this... resist the temptation to go negative. Contrast all you want, but if you actually start going negative, it will completely backfire. You will be done.
For Obama... at the debate this weekend, if Hillary crosses the line and gets even slightly mean and negative... just look over with that look you do and saw "Now Now Hillary, you don't need to do that, you're making yourself sound desperate." She will get flustered and defensive. OK, it is a little condescending, but if you do it right, you'll come out better.
For Edwards and Richardson... time to go home. Kucinich and Gravel too.
I was going to add some thoughts for each of the Republicans too, but I realized I don't have many for them. Other than for Huckabee to stick to being himself and not try to pander, because the this is a nice guy who says what he believes, even if you disagree with it thing is his one possible source of appeal outside the evangelicals, and he needs that.
I was a bit frustrated as I wasn't able to get somewhere that I could listen to returns (on CNN and Fox via my XM radio in my car) until about 01:30. They had already called it for Huckabee on the Republican side. And by a wide margin. Just a few minutes ago they called it for Obama on the Democratic side... margin still to be determined, and who comes in third, Edwards or Clinton still too close to call as I write... But this looks good for an interesting New Hampshire and beyond... and, so far, for my predictions. :-)
OK, forget about who I prefer... time for going out on a limb and making predictions... predictions which could very well be made close to impossible as soon as tomorrow depending on how Iowa comes out, let alone New Hampshire a few days later. I will of course adjust predictions if what I predict today becomes unlikely due to events as they play out... but as of right now, before Iowa and before the first votes, here would be my best guesses... but frankly, with so much in the air right now, and with so much in play... anything can still happen. These are my predictions, but I can't say I'd put down too much cash wagering on it... things are just too unsettled.
Republicans. I think Huckabee will peak and then start dropping. The evangelicals have his back, and he does have some general appeal, but I think the other parts of the Republican coalition will ultimately be too uncomfortable with him and I don't think the religious wing has enough strength to nominate him on their own. Giuliani is self-destructing, and the more people find out about him, the less they like him... and despite some of his super right wing tendencies in some areas, in others he is far too liberal for most of the party. Romney is losing momentum in the two early states where he is strong. We will of course see how that plays out in the next few days. But if he doesn't win both of them, I think he will sputter out soon after. Absent a major surprise, I think Thompson will probably be out of the race before too much longer. Before he got in it was all about what he might be. Once he got in in was more about "Oh, is that all there is?". I think he is done. With the strength of his internet support, Paul will stay in it the whole way I think (unless he bails to officially go 3rd party). But within the Republican world I don't think he'll ever manage to break the 15% barrier. Maybe not even the 10% barrier, although that might be possible as some of the others drop out. I do think he will out perform expectations though (perhaps even mine) due to the sheer determination of his supporters to get out the vote and keep on plugging. They are a stubborn bunch. But who does that leave? Unless we get the brokered convention scenario and someone coming into play that isn't even running, that leaves McCain. He had been consistantly losing support for the last year. But he has leveled out nationally, and has actually been regaining strength rapidly in both Iowa and New Hampshire in the last month or so. I think this is a show of the Republican candidates slowly ruling out everybody else on one point or another. McCain is a shadow of his former self from 4 years ago. And he also has problems which make many Republicans uncomfortable. And I don't think he'd be a strong candidate in the general election. But I think he is the one candidate that a majority of Republicans will end up being able to say "Well, he's not great, but he's OK, he'll do." And, in true Republican fashion, it is "his turn". I think we'll see slow and steady McCain slowly grab the support from the others. If he is lucky he will come in 3rd in Iowa. And he has a real shot at winning New Hampshire. If he does that, he will be on the road to consolidating an overall win. I think in the end he will pull it out. But it will be a weakened and divided Republican party that he presides over.
Now the Democrats. Nationally Hillary is still way ahead in polls by a large margin. (45% to Obama's 26%.) If she actually manages to win both Iowa and New Hampshire, she will walk away with the rest and be the "inevitable" nominee so many people have thought she has been all along. But her weakness is indeed those first two states. If she loses both of them, she will be in real trouble. She might be able to make it up. She still has very strong leads in all other state polls I have seen. But she has lost some momentum in South Carolina and may be weak there too. If Iowa and New Hampshire fall, her leads elsewhere may start evaporating quickly... or she may manage to hold them, although it would be difficult. But these two states are critical. And I do not think she will be able to hold them. I think in Iowa the "second choice" votes for the under 15% folks will fall toward Obama and not Hillary or Edwards. Edwards is surging in Iowa and he may be able to pull off a surprise win, but I think Iowa is going to go for Obama. (Of course, as I said above, this is a hunch, the actual evidence of polls and such just gives a big fat "it could be any of them".) If this happens, or, I think, even if Obama just comes in "close", it will boost him to a win in New Hampshire. He has been rising there for three months while Clinton has been falling. It is now neck and neck. Anything other than a solid win for Hillary in Iowa will show Obama is viable and electable and all of that, and I think push him over the edge to a win in New Hampshire. In that scenerio I see Obama rapidly narrowing the gap in South Carolina and winning that, and then proceeding to build momentum, eventually taking the nomination.
Right after Obama's 2004 convention speech, I sent this email to a couple of friends:
Date: 28 July 2004 14:43:38 GMT+00:00
Missed it last night, but just watched Obama's convention speech off the C-Span website. He hit it out of the park. Came off VERY well. I liked him a lot. I'll go out on a limb and say that he WILL be on a presidential ticket (not saying top or bottom) in 2008 or 2012.
I'll stick by that, and go a bit further now. Yes, predicting today, even though Hillary is still ahead almost everywhere, and nationally by a huge margin, I'd say that Obama will get the Democratic nomination. This time, not in 2012. And he'll be at the top of the ticket, not the bottom.
And if these come true and it ends up being Obama vs McCain in the general election? Well, first of all there might be some interesting effects if Paul ends up running 3rd party. (As much as I'd like this, if I had to bet right now I'd say he won't... I think it is clear he does not WANT to... although if his followers make enough of an uproar once he is eliminated from contention on the Republican side, I could see him maybe reluctantly agreeing.) Bloomberg, Dobbs and others are also rumored to be considering it. The right combination of people running might produce interesting things. But frankly, most of the names mentioned as possible 3rd parties would all pull more from the Republican side. And even if a left wing 3rd party candidate entered the fray, I think most people on that side of the spectrum are frightened by the "Nader scenerio" and would stick with the Democratic candidate. (Although I disagree with the contention that Nader and his voters are responsible for the Bush presidency as some folks believe.) So I think pretty much any third party possibility only hurts the Republicans further. And they will already come into this weak I believe.
In terms of both the nomination and the general election though I think it is going to be Obama for more "heart" reasons than "head" reasons.
There is charisma and energy there and the message of hope and unity, etc is compelling. Obama represents a turn to the future and away from the past. It would be a generational shift that would push beyond the old conflicts of the last century. (This would be especially clear if it did end up being Obama vs McCain.) He represents the best of the "American Dream" of yore. The story of his family and his life is inspiring. His energy is contagious. Seeing him speak just makes one catch that optimism and want to follow him. I don't remember a candidate like him since I have been old enough to be following presidential races closely. Historically he has the vibe of a JFK... or perhaps actually even more so he reflects the way in which I have heard people describe their feelings about RFK before his run for president was cut short.
This is relevant, so for the first time ever I'll do the embedded YouTube thing here on this blog...
Yes, most of that is from his four year old convention speech, but this does get to the heart of it... This is powerful moving stuff. It is a good message. It will appeal to a lot of people. Will it convince hardcore Republicans to vote Democratic? No. They will mock this sort of thing, not be drawn to it. But it will rally the Democratic base, and it will bring in moderates and independents. And that is what it will take to win. Obama has the charisma and appeal to bring it together and to win this thing. (Absent of course any currently unknown revelations that would damage him later on.) The type of compelling oratory and vision that Obama has is well fitted to the types of media campaigns of today. There may or may not be substance behind it. But you don't need substance to win. You need to inspire people and make them like you and make them think you are a good person who they can trust to do a good job... even if they may disagree with you on some things. Obama will be able to do that quite nicely. And with a good VP pick to balance out the "experience" criticisms... my guy Biden maybe... he would be very solid. Not saying that it still wouldn't be a race. I'm not willing to predict a landslide. 2008 may not end up being as close as 2000 or 2004, but it probably still will be somewhat close. But I think Obama would win.
So there we go. My prediction is Obama vs McCain (and maybe one or 2 third party candidates) in the general election, with Obama winning it in the end.
Now, of course that is saying nothing about how I think an Obama administration would actually GOVERN, because being President is a very different thing than running for President... but I think he has what he takes to win. And I think he will.
Of course, as I said at the top, making any predictions this early is foolhardy, and things are so incredibly unsettled that really ANYTHING can still happen... but these are my predictions as of right now.
Of course, if Obama fails to win either Iowa or New Hampshire, and Hillary does... or McCain fails to show decently in both Iowa and New Hampshire... and we'll of course know all of that very shortly... then everything I said goes out the window completely.
But hey, I thought I'd give it a shot. Worst case, I'm completely wrong. And that happens all the time, so I'm not too worried about it. :-)
Not that anyone cares, and of course the only people who matter at this exact moment are in Iowa, and as far as I know my blog has no regular readers from Iowa, but on the eve of the first actual event in the presidential season, here are my thoughts as of TODAY. I of course expect that as events unfold over the next 10 months my opinions will most likely change several times.
In any case, Democratic side first. I am somewhat torn here because my head and my heart say different things. In terms of story and style and vision and raw appeal, there is only one candidate who completely captures the imagination for me, and that is Obama. But in terms of the candidate who has impressed me most during the debates and who generally when looking directly at what they have said about various issues and how I think they would actually perform as president... I am drawn to Joe Biden. I think he is grounded, he knows his stuff and he could walk in and perform well as president on Day 1. When he talks in debates or elsewhere I am always impressed by his thoughtfulness and directness. I have liked him in previous election cycles when he has run, and I like him this time as well. If I was in Iowa and was caucusing as a Democrat I would vote for Biden in the first round. But of course Biden will not make the needed 15% in the first round. My second choice vote would go to Obama.
On the Republican side... Four years ago I might have liked McCain. I liked him in 2003. Didn't agree with him on everything, but I liked him. I liked his approach. I liked his attitude. I liked his "straight talk". I liked his "maverick independent" reputation. In the last four years though he has destroyed all that, and for me at least, lost all remnants of the appeal he had during that time. Huckabee has a few good points (I actually really like the "FairTax" plan for instance). And he seems like a nice guy. But for the most part I disagree with him on most other things. Nope. Giuliani? No. Romney? No. Thompson? No. Of course any of you who have known me for awhile know I am drawn to the Libertarian point of view. Strongly so in most cases. So it is of course obvious I'll go for Ron Paul here. If you go down a list issue by issue, I end up agreeing with him on most of them. Are there some where I disagree? Of course there are. But the level at which he matches my views is FAR greater than any other candidate in either party. And in many of the places where he does have a difference in opinion on something, it ends up not mattering, because both he and I agree that regardless of the right policy on the specific issue, it should not be the Federal government that decides, it should be a matter for state government, local government, the private sector, or individuals to decide. (Example: He apparently is a complete idiot on evolution, but it doesn't matter, since neither of us think that the federal government should be setting policy or involved in any way on education matters.) There are of course some policy places that would be on a Federal level that I disagree with him on as well... for instance immigration. But again, the areas where we agree far outnumber those where we disagree. And there is nobody else on the Republican side that I could even come close to endorsing. So, on the Republican side... Ron Paul would be my choice if I was caucusing as a Republican in Iowa today.
And of the two... Biden and Paul... I would of course choose Ron Paul. In plain terms of how close the two candidates are to my own views on issues, Paul is simply closer to me by far.
In many areas of course Biden's positions are far more realistic. If Biden became President, some of his adgenda might actually happen. If Paul would somehow become President, absolutely nothing would happen for four years, except the things Congress passed over his veto. Now, I think that would be a perfectly fine outcome, but... :-)
Of course, neither Biden or Paul have even the slightest chance of becoming their party's nominees, let alone President. So what they might or might not do as President is actually somewhat irrelevant. But they would be my choices on principle.
Too close to call in both parties with less than 24 hours until the first results start coming out of Iowa. This is so very exciting. I'll be rushing home from work as soon as my last meeting ends to spend the entire evening watching news coverage. This stuff is great!
Things to watch for besides the obvious "Who wins?":
Do the top three Dems essentially tie like current polls show, with one squeaking out a narrow victory? Or does someone manage to get enough of those "second choice" votes from the lower tier candidates to get a clear win?
Who gets third place on the Republican side?
In any case, the results of this will define the shape of the race... for at least the next few DAYS until New Hampshire, at which time it may completely change again.
This is great. Here's hoping for a long primary season where the ultimate nominee isn't known for as long as possible and every state is a close race in both parties! :-)
We've been watching a bunch of DVDs this last week it seems. This time it was time for Brandy's current Netflix movie. She had picked this one because of Christian Bale I think. But after the first 30 minutes Brandy was bored and was ready to just stop. I wanted to finish though. I wasn't sure what I thought of it, or if I liked it or not... I was leaning toward no... but I like finishing what I start when possible. So we continued to slog on.
I think it improved after it hit about the half way point. A little more was happening. But this is one of those slow atmospheric type movies. It is certainly not driven by action. Things happen slowly and deliberately, and a lot of the movie is just about absorbing the imagery and atmosphere and the slowly building emotional angst.
In the end I think it was perhaps a little TOO slow for this. The urgency increased as the movie continued, but it never really reached the levels where it was completely gripping. There was always the sort of watch checking and "is it over yet" sort of feeling. If I had to grade the first half I'd give it a D. The second half would get a B. Overall a C. If you are really into the atmospheric sort of movie that tries to mess with your head, then you might like this... I often like that kind of movie... but having said that, this one still never completely grabbed me.
And Brandy I think still wishes she'd stopped watching after the first 30 minutes. :-)
The winter before I was seven years of age I attended district school with my aunt now in her eighty seventh year (present date March 1st 1901.) at that time 19 years old. It was the old fashioned school about seventy scholars, and only one man to teach, and he seemed to know how to run the job. My class use to be called to take their places on the floor, and to toe a certain crack in the floor. The rule in this spelling class was for the one who left off at the head at last lesson for the day and woe to the one who missed and let some one go above him, but if he kept the head of the class through the day, he with much pride placed himself at the foot at the next mornings lesson. This was a great inducement to me. I remember the excitement I labored under, I know I would tremble when a missed word came to me.
Once at the word from the teacher, "The boys may go out." I had taken a doughnut from my dinner pail to eat when out, another boy knocked it out of my hand, others with their feet kept it hustling on the floor, but when they were called in by rapping, the master called up those large boys - men g? they appeared to me, there was quite a row of them. Then the master commenced the punishment with a ruler of hard wood on the inside of the outstretched hand. It was a quiet house, except some sobbing of the larger girls. I looked the performance in great surprise, comparing it in my own mind to the Emperor of China's punishment, this school masters punishment seemed large for so small an offense. Immediately after this happening on opening school there was not a ruler to be had all were broken up or were lost; the affair passed quietly until close of school when the master stated. That it was to be the duty of the scholars to bring rulers, as all writing was did on white paper the teacher ruling the lines at such distances apart with a lead plummet as his judgement suggested. The next day brought rulers; they seem to have been made in quantities, with a hole in one end, then strung on a cord, to my eyes there were hundreds of them, the teacher took notice of the generous quantity.
When the day was bright the scholars made a ring and then was wrestled according to size and one must be found to take the place of the one throwed. after several throws I was hustled in to throw Sam May, this I had not looked for, and I endeavored to escape. But that was not the rule. So Sam chinched me, and I was mad and did not work at any known rules of wrestling. But Sam pulled my hair some to get a good clinch, upon that I was entirely beside myself and knocked him over clinching my hands in his hair. There was a big yell from both sides to each favorite. Finally I was taken off from Sam with both hands full of Sam's flaxen hair. We were both in tears. I do not think I was ever so mad in my life. But they could not get Sam to tackle me again.
A year later when eight years there was a commotion in the school district, there were so many scholars for the one school that finally a division of the district occurred, and we on our side of the Otter Creek had a new building and it was called the Red School House. A woman teacher was provided and our school was more quiet. I recollect one teacher her name was Lucinda Lawrence; she had some faculty to punish without ferrule or beech rods. My next brother younger could not be kept in exact behavior, so Miss Lucinda found in her dress pocket a string or a ? cord, my brother Henry when he saw the cord. Wished to know if she was going to p? a horse? Yes, she said, and proceeded to tie him up to a convenient post in the room, this proved effective to maintain authority.
In the summer following a boy was admitted to the school one year my senior, he came from the larger district, brought the rough manners with him he considered it was his duty to run things at all recesses. After a day or two he went pushing and smashing the scholars generally, throwing a light weight boy of the name of Sylvester Harris against a writing desk knocking him senseless. I immediately grabbed Richard Wadleigh which was his name crowded him to the front door and pushed him down the nine steps. He went off home limping, at an examination by the committee I was exonerated from all blame, and the boys father was notified the boy could not attend that school.
(The full diary will be located here when complete.)
We decided to take advantage of New Year's to watch another DVD. What was next in order according to my current system was another "DVD I own which I haven't watched yet". Generally, I take the oldest DVD in that category... which would mean another Buffy. But sometimes, if Brandy or Amy really want to watch something that is a DVD that we own as a family (as opposed to one that is "mine") and I haven't seen it yet, I'll agree to watch that. Brandy really wanted to watch Bridge to Terabithia which Amy had bought for herself a few months back. Normally even though I hadn't seen it yet, I would have said no because Amy had seen it within the last 12 months, but it was New Year's and all, so I said yes.
And we got about 20 minutes into the movie, and it seemed OK so far, but then it started skipping and such. Amy has a tendancy to not put her DVDs away properly when she isn't using them, leaving them out wherever and unprotected... so they tend to get damaged and unwatchable. We stopped and Amy tried the toothpaste trick and got a few minutes further in the movie, but it started skipping again. Badly. So we were done with that movie.
Anyway, we fell back to what otherwise would have been the normally scheduled DVD, which is the last disk of the Buffy Season 2 set. This disk just has part part one and part two of the season finale "Becoming". This is one of those episodes that for whatever reason I have limited memories of. I don't know if I had actually NEVER seen it... I definitely remembered parts of it. So I guess I probably did watch it. But unlike some episodes (like say the oen with the fish on the last disk) where I remember way too much of it even years later and it diminishes things, on this one I was engaged the whole time through both episodes, with most of it feeling fresh and without me remembering details, even if I did remember the overall plot.
Anyway, these are good Buffy episodes. These are the kinds of episodes that make the series worth watching. It was fun. And it finishes off the Season 2 Box Set. Woo!