Archives: September 2008

Tue 30 Sep 2008

Electoral College: PA Strengthens for Obama, NC Flips to Obama

Two changes today, both potentially significant moves in the Obama direction:

Pennsylvania (21 ev): After spending most of the month of September as a swing state, Obama's lead in Pennsylvania once again moves over 5%, pulling Pennsylvania from "Lean Obama" to "Weak Obama". While Obama still can't take this (or any Weak state) completely for granted, at this point he should be able to feel much better about it, and not have to worry TOO much about McCain stealing it out from under him. Having Pennsylvania no longer close is a very good thing for Obama.

North Carolina (15 ev): For the first time, in the five poll average, Obama actually takes the lead in NORTH CAROLINA. North Carolina has gone Republican in 9 out of the last 10 presidential elections. (The one exception was 1976 for Carter.) Now, the usual caveat applies. This is moving from just barely McCain, to just barely Obama. Either way the state is close and should really be considered too close to call. Being slightly on one side of the line, or slightly on the other side, may not really be significant. However, having this state poke over to this side of the line is a definite indication of general McCain weakness right now.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 298, Obama 240
Obama Best Case - Obama 375, McCain 163

If everybody gets their leans - 301 Obama, 237 McCain

As of right now, the general state of the race is not quite back to where Obama was at his high point back in July... but it is getting close. A couple more states flipping in his direction and ge could get there.

And while McCain still has a best case (if he gets ALL the swing states) where he wins, the situation is looking more and more favorable by the day. Without any swing states, Obama now is only 30 electoral votes from the win. Without any swing states, McCain needs 107 electoral votes for the win. This race is once again getting quite unbalanced in Obama's favor.

Abulsme - Tue, 30 Sep 2008, 08:26:18 PDT
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Mon 29 Sep 2008

Look Out Below

Bailout bill failing in the House. Market plummeting. They are holding the vote open to try to change votes. Much drama. Wow.

Edit 18:14 UTC: It is official, the bill did not pass.

Abulsme - Mon, 29 Sep 2008, 11:00:10 PDT
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Curmudgeon's Corner: Bonzo, not Mister Ed

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Unlocked iPhones
  • Facebook Updates
  • Congressional Spin
  • Financial Bailout Plan
  • Suspending McCain
  • Prez Debate #1
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Abulsme - Mon, 29 Sep 2008, 10:17:25 PDT
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Sun 28 Sep 2008

Page Count

I note that the original Treasury Department proposal, extremely flawed as it was... was three pages long. The compromise that came out Sunday appears to be 110 pages long. Nice.

(Full text at Huffington Post and elsewhere.)

Abulsme - Sun, 28 Sep 2008, 20:21:04 PDT
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Sat 27 Sep 2008

I Called It!

(Of course, it was obvious, and lots of other people assumed it would be coming too.)

(via The Plank)

Of course, I thought they would make a better one than this one.

Abulsme - Sat, 27 Sep 2008, 19:53:09 PDT
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The Real Palin on SNL??

So says the rumor.

I guess I'll have to remember to try to watch.

Abulsme - Sat, 27 Sep 2008, 16:54:38 PDT
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Electoral College: Colorado Swings Again, Montana Stops Swinging

Three changes today, two of which are highlighted in the title, both of which are bad news for Obama. The third is good news for Obama, but less likely to matter.

Colorado (9 ev): Just a few days ago Obama's lead in Colorado topped 5%, moving the state out of swing state status. Well, his lead sags back below 5% in the five poll average today, so Colorado once again moves from "Weak Obama" to "Lean Obama". This may be a state like New Mexico though, where the reality is that we are right on the edge between these two categories, so new polls will cause the state to bounce back and forth.

Oregon (7 ev): This is the one piece of good news for Obama today. His lead in Oregon hits 10%, moving the state from "Weak Obama" to "Strong Obama". He looked pretty secure in Oregon anyway though, so this probably won't make much difference to anything.

Montana (3 ev): Another state in this part of the country that Obama had hoped to be able to flip to blue, or at least make competitive which now looks like it is not to be. McCain's lead in the five poll average grows to over 5%, making Montana no longer a swing state as it moves from "Lean McCain" to "Weak McCain".

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 319, Obama 219
Obama Best Case - Obama 375, McCain 163

If everybody gets their leans - 286 Obama, 252 McCain

The movement over the last couple of weeks is still in Obama's direction, but this is a reminder that things are still quite unsettled. And we still have 12 states and 156 electoral votes essentially up for grabs. Obama has an edge right now. But things can change drastically in just days.

By the way, of those 12 states, three have their candidate ahead by 4% or more in my five poll average... meaning that one new poll in the right direction could very easily push those states out of swing status. Those three states are Pennsylvania (21 ev) with a 4.6% Obama lead, Wisconsin (10 ev) with a 4.6% Obama lead and Colorado (9 ev) with a 4.0% Obama lead. If all three of those went over 5%, it would leave Obama 10 ev away from being able to win with only states he was ahead by more than 5% in.

Along the same lines, there is currently only one state where the lead the last five poll average is 1.0% or less. That would be New Hampshire, where Obama has exactly a 1.0% lead at the moment. One good poll for McCain could very easily move this back to McCain's side of the fence.

Edit 22:08 UTC - A few minutes after posting the above, I decided to also check on weak states that were most likely to move into swing category. In the process I started to look at the margins for all of the weak states. Almost immediately I looked at Tennessee... and discovered to my horror that although McCain's margin in Tennessee has *always* been over 10%, I have *always* had it listed as one of the "Weak" states... from the very beginning! I had never caught it before because the state is sparsely polled and had never changed categories. My apologies for the error. All current charts (including the one in this post) have been corrected, not just from now going forward, but retroactively. Charts in previous update posts remain how they appeared previously, with the "Strong McCain" red line 11 electoral votes lower than it should have been. All other lines were not affected. Because this was a weak/strong change, none of the best case scenarios were affected at all, so this in no way would have effected any of the analysis. (But the look at states likely to move from weak to lean will wait for another day.)

Abulsme - Sat, 27 Sep 2008, 14:04:53 PDT
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Big Green Musical Thing

Last weekend, joining a group from Amy's school, went to see the musical version of Shrek. It has been here in Seattle working out the kinks and such before moving to Broadway. We saw it on the last day here.

I had low expectations. But it was cute and funny and stuff. What you would expect Shrek to be when translated to the stage.

Bottom line, it was fun. For those of you near New York who might consider going to that sort of thing, probably worth a trip into the city one night.

Lets see though, what were the highlights? Shrek himself was OK, but as with the movie, Donkey and Fiona were better. The Gingerbread man was funny. Pinocchio was annoying.

We also waited with Amy's school group at the stage door afterwards for Amy to get autographs and such. She got a few. But nobody even noticed the three pigs when they left.

Oh yeah... and Amy wore Shrek ears for about 24 hours after the play ended, including all day at school the next day.

Abulsme - Sat, 27 Sep 2008, 12:34:49 PDT
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Fri 26 Sep 2008

Summary Thoughts on First Debate

Writing this before I watch or read any commentary on the debate.

Brandy thinks Obama absolutely crushed. I think he did very well as well. I think he looked more Presidential, had a better command of his thoughts and positions. Also, McCain was clearly just attacking over and over to try to make a dent. Obama, aside from a few attacks which were probably unnecessary, stuck more to talking about what he would do and what he thought. McCain on the other hand spent most of his time on the attack. It seemed weak.

However... while Obama may have "won" on style and substance... I don't think McCain "lost". He did OK. He stood his ground. He babbled a little. But he didn't have any major screw ups.

Neither did Obama.

My initial impression is that this will not change the mind of ANYONE who already had made up their mind in this race. Will it sway some undecideds? Maybe. Probably in Obama's direction. He just looked more in control. And these things are rarely about what they actually say, but more often about general impressions left.

But I don't think it will be a huge effect. Of course, in looking at polls, it will be impossible to separate the effect of this debate from the events of the last week. So we may never know.

But I think the momentum was in Obama's direction before this, and this does not change that.

Now, time to start watching the spin.

And then maybe go to the grocery store with Brandy.

Abulsme - Fri, 26 Sep 2008, 19:54:04 PDT
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Live Blogging the First Debate

I've never tried live blogging anything, so I thought I would give it a try. I won't make new posts, I'll just keep updating this post whenever I have a thought that seems it making be worth posting. Perhaps this will end up just being a blank post if I have nothing to say. Dunno. I'll try to remember to timestamp the comments as I make them. Timestamps will of course be UTC.

So, lets try a first one...

00:41 - 19 minutes until it starts. I'll be watching on MSNBC tonight. Not for any real reason, just when I looked for the debate on the Tivo, it is the first one I found. Olberman was just talking to some guy, but now there is a commercial.... There ya go. Amazing content, don't you think?

00:44 - My connection is being slow. This may get annoying. Also annoying, on the laptop I am on, the cursor occasionally jumps randomly around when I am trying to type.

00:47 - Brandy and I are going to be watching together on the big projector screen in our family room. Brandy isn't here yet though. She'll probably come down shortly. There should be popcorn.

00:49 - Speaking of Brandy... one quote from her that I've been meaning to post or mention on the podcast, but just never have... several weeks ago, reacting to some random thing Sarah Palin was saying on TV... "Go back to your igloo and have more babies, bitch." So, OK, it is somewhat offensive on a variety of levels, but it made me laugh.

00:53 - Brandy is making popcorn now.

00:56 - Thinking of my original prediction for this election. It holds up well.

00:59 - Less than a minute to go.

01:01 - I like Jim Leher. Here we go.

01:02 - This format should be good. Would be better if they were sitting at a table though. In come the candidates.

01:04 - Obama is answering the first question, but I can't think about anything other than the fact that Brandy is missing this and I should have told her to skip the popcorn. She doesn't care that she is missing this, but I do, and I can't concentrate on Obama while she is not where she is supposed to be. I have missed his whole answer.

01:06 - I paused it and went to get Brandy. Will rewind and be several minutes behind real time.

01:09 - Starting from the beginning again. Now 9 minutes behind real time.

01:10 - Being behind real time really bothers me too. But I don't think there are any commercials, so I will not be able to catch up. I am distraught. But there is now popcorn. I would rather be live though, and not have had this 10 minute disaster.

01:11 - They are on stage again.

01:14 - Obama's answer to the question about the bailouts - Bleh

01:15 - McCain bringing up Kennedy? What the hell. Kennedy wouldn't like that. "I'm not feeling to great tonight". Good start.

01:16 - Still can't stop thinking about how we aren't watching live and how much that bothers me.

01:17 - Whatever was wrong with McCain's eye seems to be better today. Brandy: "He must be confused, did he just say we need to fix it by fixing it?"

01:18 - Not impressed by McCain's first answer either. Now we get to see how the free wheeling 5 minutes works.

01:20 - Brandy is complaining about Obama's grammar. Jim is trying to get them to really have a conversation. It isn't working.

01:22 - McCain: "In the Wall Street"

01:23 - McCain is doing the bear joke again. Kill me.

01:26 - McCain is right about earmarks being bad. Obama is also right that it is a drop in the bucket compared to other things. I am getting calmer the more popcorn I eat. Oh, Obama interrupts McCain!

01:28 - Obama will go "line by line" through earmarks. Did a line item veto amendment pass while I wasn't looking?

01:30 - McCain keeps trying to pin the earmark thing on Obama. I don't think it will stick.

01:31 - Brandy on McCain: "That was just completely incoherent." Obama now responding on taxes, talking about loopholes. This is all just blah blah blah.

01:32 - Pivot to healthcare. Time for a new question. But where is the damn foreign policy? This is supposed to be the foreign policy debate.

01:33 - Brandy "He just forgot what he was saying... did he forget to take his Alzheimer's medicine?" on McCain.

01:34 - They are arguing now. Good.

01:35 - What are you going to have to give up to fund the bailout. Decent question. Still not foreign policy though. Obama is going through which things he wants to do. But so far hasn't said which he would give up. Completely avoiding the question. Said "it would be hard to say" and now is just rattling off things that cost money. It was a good question. Obama is not answering it. Very annoying.

01:37 - McCain is not answering the question... wait, he just said he would eliminate ethanol subsidies. And Cost plus contracts. He is not quite fully answering the question, but he is a lot closer than Obama was.

01:39 - Jim trying to call them on not answering the question. Obama has now said "John is right" several times already. If he says it much more, it will be in a commercial.

01:41 - McCain just proposed a spending freeze. Obama saying you need to be more careful than that. I think Obama wins the point. Was this a new proposal from McCain?

01:43 - Jim still trying to ask the same question. McCain likes nukes.

01:45 - McCain doesn't want to hand the health care industry over to the federal government. But apparently it is fine to hand the financial industry over.

01:46 - Obama said Orgy. Heh heh. Cue Bevis.

01:47 - Lessons of Iraq. Finally an actual foreign policy question. Brandy's response to McCain's first few sentences... "What?"

01:49 - McCain's answer was OK. Obama's is OK so far. Overall though this is boring.

01:51 - McCain: The next prez doesn't have to decide on if to go into Iraq. They have to decide what to do now. Very right.

01:52 - My bowl of popcorn is now empty.

01:53 - McCain is smirking madly. Obama "You like to pretend the war started in 2007".

01:54 - Obama doing a chorus of "you are wrong". Brandy: "You know this is not going to get any better. Obama is crushing him. McCain has no idea what he is saying. He is all confused."

01:55 - Brandy "Winning WHAT? What the hell are we winning?"

01:56 - Obama responding on troop funding. Explains the differences. Is trying to school McCain on the difference between tactics and strategy.

01:57 - They are talking over each other. Obama "that is not true".

01:58 - Brandy "You can tell he (McCain) is starting to get anxious, because that is when he starts to lisp more."

01:59 - Hey Mr Taliban, Tally me banana.

02:01 - Obama giving a long outline of what he thinks we need to do in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Calm. Collected. Sounds like he has thought about it.

02:02 - McCain chiding Obama for "saying out loud" things about Pakistan.

02:04 - Paused for a few seconds because Brandy couldn't find Roscoe. Now 10 minutes behind real time. I hope nothing REALLY dramatic happens. I would hate to not be watching live if fisticuffs broke out or some such.

02:05 - Roscoe was upstairs. Now he is here.

02:06 - Obama explains his "Osama Hot Pursuit" comments, calls on McCain to say if he disagrees. Goes for a low blow on the "Bomb Bomb Iran" song.

02:07 - Obama is sounding like a thoughtful grownup here. I haven't decided what McCain sounds like here.

02:08 - OK, I'll be fair, McCain is sounding thoughtful here too at the moment.

02:09 - The bracelet story again from McCain. Can we please stop with the standard stump speech crap?

02:10 - Rebecca in comments says McCain just pulled down his pants. She is not fooling me into fast forwarding to real time.

02:11 - Roscoe got excited when Brandy played with him. He is barking now. Have to pause until Brandy takes him back upstairs.

02:12 - She fed him instead. We'll see if this works. Obama has a bracelet too.

02:14 - Jim looks exasperated.

02:15 - Roscoe tried to knock over the table, so we are paused again. All good now. Brandy: "I still think McCain looks like someone who likes little boys. MAYBE little girls. I really think McCain is really incoherent here. Is he always like this". Me: "Yes" Brandy "Then how the hell did he get this far?" Now she is babbling at the dog and I will unpause again.

02:17 - McCain: "Senator Obama doesn't seem to understand."

02:18 - Iran is an existential threat to Israel. McCain talking about the League of Democracies. Said "straight talk". I think this is the first time this debate. Will work with others. Serious threat. Etc. Have no doubt about the ultimate result.

02:21 - Obama bringing up how the war in Iraq strengthened Iran and how current policy hasn't worked. But he just said "McCain is right" again about not tolerating a nuclear Iran. I tell you, a clip of Obama saying "McCain is right" over and over with a counter is being edited by someone as I type.

02:23 - McCain having trouble speaking.

02:24 - Talking about meeting the President of Iran. Obama is responding now. Saying he reserves the right to speak to whoever he wants if he thinks it will help.

02:26 - McCain looks tired.

02:27 - Obama giving strong defense of diplomacy and engagement. Using some of what W has done as examples. And Kissinger. Ooo... points out the Spain goof up by McCain. Low. You know he was just confused there. McCain responds by talking about the Presidental seal.

02:28 - "What Senator Obama doesn't understand". A theme there.

02:29 - McCain is intentionally misrepresenting what Obama has said... and just said two minutes ago. Of course he has to. Because what Obama is saying is perfectly reasonable. The only way to make it "scary" is to misrepresent it.

02:30 - McCain got off a zinger there "Oh please"

02:31 - McCain's eyes bug out when he gets all excited like he just did when they were arguing there. Oh, just noticed the time. The real debate should be over now. We're in the Tivo delay only now. People watching live are done unless they ran long.

02:32 - Talking about NATO now.

02:33 - Obama talks about what he would do. McCain talks about what Obama said. Oh no, the KGB joke...

02:34 - Reb says it is still going. Wonder if this is as true as the pants thing.

02:35 - Was this thing supposed to be 90 minutes or two hours? I thought 90 minutes.

02:36 - McCain: "Watch Ukraine". Trying to show his expertise in the area. Not bad. Obama "Senator McCain and I agree". There we go for the ad again.

02:37 - Arggh, spoilers from Reb!

02:39 - Exasperated sigh and shrug thing from McCain while Obama talks about energy.

02:40 - "I'm sorry John, that's just not true."

02:41 - Brandy: "Obama has pretty lips". Me: "And McCain doesn't?". Brandy: "He only has one lip, Obama has two."

02:42 - Talking about chances of a new 9/11. McCain talks about several things he did. Mentions Lieberman. Says "we should never torture ever again" which kind of admits that we have. Reb says it is over now in real time.

02:43 - Obama talking about nuke proliferation. Now Al Queda. "Last point" - the way we are perceived matters. Restore standing in the world. Duh.

02:45 - Gives McCain credit on torture. I would have too a few years ago, but he caved on that.

02:46 - "Senator Obama doesn't Understand". Again. This was McCain's tagline of the night.

02:47 - Obama smirked for a second. But looks serious again now.

02:49 - McCain "There are some advantages to knowledge and experience". Obama hasn't got that. As Rebecca said in her spoiler comments, McCain said Obama is too inflexible to be president. So he's complaining that Obama does not flip flop? OK. Although I'm not sure the record backs that up.

02:51 - Obama: father from Kenya, only country in the world, blah blah, heard it before. OK, good, he moved on from that. McCain "When I got back from prison". Blah!

02:52 - "And that ends this debate." Woo!

02:53 - I'll post some wrap up thoughts in a new post in a few minutes. But this exciting live blog is now done. Brandy says she wants to go to the grocery store after I watch some commentary, but didn't realize there will be hours of it. Anyway, this live blog is over.

Abulsme - Fri, 26 Sep 2008, 17:37:51 PDT
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Electoral College: Three States Move Toward Obama

In the past for my posts on the blog talking about the race, I've included the chart or the map, but not both. From this point forward I will always include the chart, as it gives more and better information. I will also include the map whenever it changes.

Today, three states change categories, and all three move in Obama's direction. In order of electoral college importance:

Michigan (17 ev): After being a swing state for a few weeks, Obama's lead in Michigan once again goes over 5%, pulling the state out of "Lean Obama" and back to "Weak Obama". Having Michigan as a swing state was bad news for Obama. Having it back in relatively safe territory again instantly puts Obama once again in a much stronger position.

Arkansas (6 ev): McCain's lead in Arkansas drops to less than 10%, moving the state from "Strong McCain" to "Weak McCain". It is however still quite a way from being a swing state, so the impact of this is minimal.

New Hampshire (4 ev): The usual caution applies here. The state moves from just barely on the McCain side of the line, to barely on the Obama side of the line. But New Hampshire did flip in the last five poll average, and Obama is once again ahead. The lead is still less than 5% though, so this is too close to call and still very much a swing state.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 310, Obama 228
Obama Best Case - Obama 378, McCain 160

If everybody gets their leans - 286 Obama, 252 McCain

At this point, all six lines I track peaked for McCain (or bottomed for Obama) and have now started to move in the Obama direction. The dates for these peaks:

McCain Strong States: Peaked 25 Sep 2008
McCain Strong+Weak States: Peaked 19 Sep 2008
McCain Strong+Weak+Lean States: Peaked 18 Sep 2008

Obama Strong+Weak+Lean States: Bottomed 18 Sep 2008
Obama Strong+Weak States: Bottomed 22 Sep 2008
Obama Strong States: Bottomed 16 Sep 2008

I think we can now safely say that on ALL metrics the trends are now in the Obama direction.

At least for the moment. Obviously things change quickly. State polls as of today still have not had a chance to react to the events of the last few days, which have been dramatic. So we have yet to see how the public is reacting to those events.

And of course we have a debate tonight. In most cases debates do NOT make a significant difference in presidential races... unless someone screws up horribly.

So pay careful attention to tonight's debate and see if one or the other candidate implodes.

Abulsme - Fri, 26 Sep 2008, 10:05:33 PDT
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Thu 25 Sep 2008

I Take It Back

After her speech at the convention, I said some things about how Democrats underestimated Sarah Palin at their peril, and that while inexperienced, she was very good and could be quite a challenge.

After watching her handful of interviews, most recently the Katie Couric one, let me revise those thoughts.

She is as dumb as a rock.

Carry on.

Abulsme - Thu, 25 Sep 2008, 23:57:07 PDT
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Electoral College: Colorado Moves Toward Obama, Stops Swinging

Four states change status today. Two move in McCain's direction, two move in Obama's direction. But only one of those four states is likely significant, and that one moves in Obama's direction. The specifics, in order of electoral college influence:

Colorado (9 ev): Colorado has been one of the critical swing states. With the exception of a few days earlier this month, Colorado has always been on the Obama side of the fence, but for almost the whole election season it has been just barely on the Obama side. Today, for the first time since March, Obama's lead in the state moves above 5%. This makes this a "Weak Obama" state rather than a "Lean Obama" state and means the state is no longer too close to call. It might be vulnerable yet to strong campaigning or major events, but at the moment it is safe to color blue.

South Carolina (8 ev): One of the states that a few months ago Obama hoped to be able to turn blue. That has now completely evaporated as McCain's lead now moves over 10% in the last five poll average. South Carolina is now "Solid McCain".

Iowa (7 ev): Obama consolidates his lead. The five poll average now has Obama's lead as more than 10%, so the state moves from "Weak Obama" to "Strong Obama".

Maine (4 ev): Obama weakens a bit in Maine. His lead falls to less than 10%, moving the state from "Strong Obama" to "Weak Obama". It is still a long way from transforming into a swing state though, so while this is movement away from Obama, it doesn't really matter too much to McCain at the moment.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 327, Obama 211
Obama Best Case - Obama 378, McCain 160

If everybody gets their leans - 282 Obama, 256 McCain

All in all, today's changes favor Obama. But we still have a wide open race with 13 swing states and 167 electoral votes which are essentially unpredictable. At the moment you do have to give Obama the advantage. But it is still a small one. It will take a few more states moving in Obama's direction for this to actually start looking like a significant Obama lead.

Abulsme - Thu, 25 Sep 2008, 08:39:05 PDT
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Wed 24 Sep 2008

Forget a Mini or a Smart

Perhaps I should get a Peapod...

(via Boing Boing Gadgets)

Abulsme - Wed, 24 Sep 2008, 21:38:28 PDT
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McCain on Letterman (not)

Abulsme - Wed, 24 Sep 2008, 18:13:31 PDT
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You have got to be kidding me...

Just got this text message...

CNN Breaking News - John McCain suspends campaigning to work on economy, requests postponing Friday debate; asks Obama do the same.
What a crock... is he really that scared of the debate? Really? What "work" do either of them have to do here other than perhaps vote on a proposal in the Senate when it comes up? It isn't like either of them are President YET.

Come on...

Abulsme - Wed, 24 Sep 2008, 12:03:02 PDT
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Tue 23 Sep 2008

Curmudgeon's Corner: If We Need a Great Depression...

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Financial Meltdown
  • Pakistan Bombing
  • iPhone Rumors
  • Election Roundup
1-Click Subscribe in iTunes

View in iTunes

Podcast XML Feed

Abulsme - Tue, 23 Sep 2008, 07:52:44 PDT
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Electoral College: VA Flips to Obama, Obama retakes the lead!

Two states of good news for Obama, but some words of caution on both.

Virgina (13 ev): With today's polls (including three new polls in Virginia) Virginia moves from "Lean McCain" to "Lean Obama". This change moves the overall "if everybody gets their leans" view of the race from an electoral college tie to an Obama win. However, as usual with this sort of change, there is a big caveat. In this case we have gone from an 0.4% McCain lead to a 0.6% Obama lead. There is not really a significant difference between those two numbers. What we have is a too close to call race in this state. *All* swing states are almost by definition states where the current polling numbers show a tight enough race that it would be folly to have any confidence in a prediction of which way the state will go. We had a close race in Virginia before, we have a close race now. Which side of the line the state is on this very moment does not actually significantly change the character of the race.

New Mexico (5 ev): New Mexico moves from "Lean Obama" to "Weak Obama", moving it once again out of swing state status. The caution here is that my boundary between these two categories is a 5% lead by Obama. With each new poll since the end of August, New Mexico has moved back and forth from just over 5% in my five poll average, to just below 5%. It just keeps bouncing back and forth. It appears New Mexico is basically flat, just staying exactly where it needs to in order to hover on the line between my categories and flip back and forth occasionally. I wouldn't put much stock in the state REALLY being in one category or the other unless it actually stays there for awhile. And once again, with the state being right on the line, there probably is not really a huge difference between where New Mexico was yesterday and where it is today.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 336, Obama 202
Obama Best Case - Obama 378, McCain 160

If everybody gets their leans - 282 Obama, 256 McCain

The lesson for today is just that small basically meaningless changes in individual states can make big jumps on the charts. This is in the nature of a winner takes all electoral college system. So when a state flips categories, great. But don't trust the sudden changes as indication of a trend... unless they last and are confirmed by other changes.

Having said that, the charts are now starting to look like we really are seeing a full fledged movement toward Obama in all categories... not just movement of "Weak McCain" states to "Lean McCain". It is still early though, and there is a chance some of these changes are ephemeral. So we need to continue waiting to see if new polls confirm and strengthen this trend... or not.

In the mean time, given the still huge 176 electoral college votes which are too close to call, we still have an overall election without a clear leader.

Abulsme - Tue, 23 Sep 2008, 07:10:37 PDT
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Mon 22 Sep 2008

Paul Retrospective

Damn it, he really should have run as an independent after he lost the Republican nomination. While I think Obama would make a better actual president, I agree with Ron Paul on a much higher percentage of issues. (Of course, on one or two things, he does jump off the deep end...) But it would be great to have his third voice in the middle of an Obama/McCain debate.

And yes, even with some of the obvious flaws he showed during the primaries, I'd have to very seriously think about voting for him rather than Obama. (Although, in the end, I might come back to Obama, because really, it is about more than just issues and positions.)

(via The Daily Dish)

Abulsme - Mon, 22 Sep 2008, 23:43:50 PDT
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Starting School

I didn't follow her and take a picture of her heading in with her backpack like I did for Amy (although I was tempted!), but Brandy started school yesterday. Just a few classes to start with. First semester is courtesy of Uncle Sam. Chances are that after that it will be courtesy of Sam I Am. But that is OK by me.

Abulsme - Mon, 22 Sep 2008, 23:23:20 PDT
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First Dude

'First Dude' Todd Palin Illustrates Alaska's Blend of Private and Public
(Alec MacGillis and Karl Vick, Washington Post, 22 Sep 2008)

Todd Palin grew up as the archetypal Alaskan -- salmon fisherman, champion snowmobiler, North Slope oil worker. But since his wife became governor 20 months ago, his portfolio has broadened: househusband, babysitter, senior adviser, legislative liaison, and -- when the occasion warrants -- enforcer and protector.

He has supervised renovations to the governor's mansion and hopscotched by plane back and forth to Juneau to juggle duties as father and "First Dude," as he has come to be known. And to a degree that has surprised many state government observers, Todd Palin also has become involved in policy, sitting in on his wife's meetings, traveling on state business and weighing in on some legislative issues.
(via Huffington Post)

Abulsme - Mon, 22 Sep 2008, 21:48:36 PDT
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The Conservative Obama

A week or so old, but still a good read:

A Conservative for Obama
(Wick Allison, D Magazine, 17 Sep 2008)

Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama's books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.

Most important, Obama will be a realist. I doubt he will taunt Russia, as McCain has, at the very moment when our national interest requires it as an ally. The crucial distinction in my mind is that, unlike John McCain, I am convinced he will not impulsively take us into another war unless American national interests are directly threatened.

"Every great cause," Eric Hoffer wrote, "begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket." As a cause, conservatism may be dead. But as a stance, as a way of making judgments in a complex and difficult world, I believe it is very much alive in the instincts and predispositions of a liberal named Barack Obama.
(via Daily Kos)

Abulsme - Mon, 22 Sep 2008, 20:11:20 PDT
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Electoral College: MN weakens for Obama and Swings

Those hoping for an end to the McCain bounce... not so fast!

In today's set of polls, there is only one category change. In Minnesota, it seems Obama peaked in July with a 13.2% lead. His lead there has been declining ever since. Today that lead slipped below 5%. That moves the state from "Weak Obama" to "Lean Obama". Minnesota is now therefore a swing state. This brings us to FIFTEEN swing states representing 181 electoral votes. I can't emphasize enough how huge that number is, and how much it means that this race is in a completely unpredictable position at the moment.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 341, Obama 197
Obama Best Case - Obama 378, McCain 160

If everybody gets their leans - 269/269 ELECTORAL COLLEGE TIE

While it is true that McCain "peaked" in national polls and things have been moving more in Obama's direction... and it is true that a number of "Weak McCain" states that he moved out of Lean status in the post convention period have moved back to "Lean McCain status" and are back int eh pool of swing states. But Obama has NOT stopped leaking "Weak Obama" states into "Lean Obama". What has been happening in the last week or so can best be described not as an end to McCain's bounce, but rather as more states from BOTH sides moving toward the uncertain middle.

Also, it is useful to compare to how things were immediately before both conventions. Using August 24th (the Sunday before the Democratic convention started) as a baseline to compare to today here is what we have:

McCain Strong States: Gained 60 electoral votes
McCain Strong+Weak States: Gained 6 electoral votes
McCain Strong+Weak+Lean States: Gained 22 electoral votes

Obama Strong States: Lost 5 electoral votes
Obama Strong+Weak States: Lost 60 electoral votes
Obama Strong+Weak+Lean States: Lost 19 electoral votes

(The Strong+Weak+Lean numbers don't represent a zero sum and differ by three because we got the first poll for DC in that time period.)

I note that Obama's position improved in the few days after the baseline I selected, although those polls reflected pre-convention changes. If I'd picked a baseline a few days later all of the above would look even worse for Obama and it might more accurately represent where he really was right before the conventions. But even as is the picture above is clear. In the wake of both VP picks and both Conventions, McCain is still the big winner.

So yes, you see some Obama momentum in regaining some swing states that McCain had pulled to his side right after the Republican convention. But the rest of the "lines" I track have continued to be neutral or in McCain's direction. People keep saying the bounce has peaked, but so far, really, we just have a race being blown wide open. We have gone from a pre-convention situation that was very favorable to Obama, to a very very even race.

We have a few more days (perhaps a week) more of polls representing the post-convention pre-debate period. We have the first debate at the end of this week. Then starting next week we'll start to see what kind of effect the debates have on this race.

Abulsme - Mon, 22 Sep 2008, 07:12:11 PDT
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Sun 21 Sep 2008

Electoral College: NC Weakens for McCain and Swings Again

Only one change today. North Carolina, which had flipped from being a swing state to being "Weak McCain" in the wake of the Republican Convention, now drops to below a 5% lead for McCain, and the state once again becomes a "Lean McCain" state and is in play as a swing state again.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 331, Obama 207
Obama Best Case - Obama 378, McCain 160

If everybody gets their leans - 269/269 ELECTORAL COLLEGE TIE

OK, NOW can we say the McCain bounce is over? I think we can certainly say that McCain seems to have peaked. The downside of the bounce is more complicated though. There is a clear pattern in what has happened so far. What we have been seeing is that "Weak McCain" states have been softening into "Lean McCain" states, perhaps putting them in play for Obama. This reverses SOME of what McCain achieved in his bounce.

Not all though. During the bounce, several states also moved out of "Weak Obama" status into "Lean Obama". Those states have not yet returned to the Obama fold. They are still swing states.

And the "everybody gets their leans" number is still stuck stubbornly on a dead even tie.

So the overall result of the last few weeks has simply been to put more states in play. We now have 14 states and 171 electoral votes in the swing states that are too close to call. That is a huge amount. This race is still very very unsettled.

The momentum toward McCain has definitely been reversed. But to see a real benefit out of it, Obama needs to start pulling Lean McCain states to Lean Obama states and Lean Obama states to Weak Obama. We've seen lots of movement from Weak McCain to Lean McCain, but in the end, that isn't enough. It just makes the "anything could happen" factor larger.

Having said that, McCain should be somewhat troubled. The big effect of the convention and Palin looked like it had been to strengthen the base and make red states redder. That seems to be fading.

Abulsme - Sun, 21 Sep 2008, 11:18:51 PDT
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Cinema: Traitor

Brandy and Amy wanted to take me to a movie for my birthday last weekend. So I picked one based completely on what I wanted to see, as opposed to also taking into consideration what all of us might like. So I picked this one.

I hadn't seen the commercials for the movie until after the movie, which is good, because they spoil a major item which is supposed to be a mystery and tell you right up front. But I was unspoiled. I still guessed the item in question of course, it wasn't that hard, but still.

In any case, this is a slowly paced movie. Some of the descriptions have it as a suspense/action sort of thing, but not really. It is really one of those slow paced political thrillers that is more about making you think than raising your heart rate. And yes, it has a political point to make, and it makes it.

Overall I liked it. I was also surprised to find that both Brandy and Amy liked it as well. Given the pacing I thought Amy at least would just be horribly bored. But no. Which is good. It means I get to watch more of this kind of movie in the future.

In any case. Good movie. Worth a watch. Probably will not be in the theaters very long, so if you want to see it there, hurry. Otherwise, wait for DVD.

Abulsme - Sun, 21 Sep 2008, 10:11:43 PDT
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Sat 20 Sep 2008

No Surprise Here

An interesting variant on the versions of this kind of test I've seen in the past, but with the same overall results when I take it:

You are a

Social Liberal
(78% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(75% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also : The OkCupid Dating Persona Test
(via Reality Hammer)

Abulsme - Sat, 20 Sep 2008, 17:56:49 PDT
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Yes, Of Course They Are

I just got one after finally giving up on waiting for a 32GB version and giving up on bitching about home activation, so of course they are going to. Any day now, I'm sure.

Apple prepping a 32GB iPhone update, bringing back at-home activation?
(Nilay Patel, Engadget, 20 Sep 2008)

We're not particularly inclined to believe them, but the whispers that Apple is about to bump the top-end iPhone capacity to 32GB are getting harder to ignore -- especially since 8GB inventory is drying up, leading to speculation that's it's going to be dropped as soon as next week.


AppleInsider also says customers will once again get the option to activate in-home, but we haven't heard anything about that -- we'll see what happens in the next few days.
I knew it would happen before too long, and I'm quite happy with my iPhone, but still. Sigh!

Abulsme - Sat, 20 Sep 2008, 17:37:22 PDT
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Electoral College: Swapping Some States

As always these days, lots of polls. But only two changes.

Missouri (11 ev): McCain's lead drops to less than 5%, once again putting Missouri in play as a swing state. It had slipped out of swing state territory into "Weak McCain" in the wake of the conventions. But that seems to have ended, and the state is reverting back to being a close state, although still on the McCain side of the fence.

North Dakota (3 ev): Since the beginning of this race North Dakota was one of the western states that Obama hoped to make a battle out of. And for the most part, earlier polls had shown McCain to be in the lead, but not by much. Recent polls though have started to change that, and today his lead moved above 5%, taking the state from "Lean McCain" to "Weak McCain" and pulling it out of the pool of swing states.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 331, Obama 207
Obama Best Case - Obama 363, McCain 175

If everybody gets their leans - 269/269 ELECTORAL COLLEGE TIE

Basically, the two states changing today are just swapping categories. We have the same number of swing states as we did before. Just a different mix of them. Although surely he would like both, for Obama having Missouri competitive is probably better than having North Dakota competitive since it has more electoral votes. So overall today is a net plus for Obama.

Given trends in national polls, one would expect things to start moving faster in Obama's direction. But at least using my technique of looking at the last five polls in each state and categorizing the results as I do, there has been some movement in Obama's direction over the past few days, but for the most part so far it has been in increasing the number of electoral votes in swing states by pulling states out of McCain's "Weak" column, opening up the range of possibilities some, but not yet actually pulling states over to the Obama side.

There are some states right on the edge though, so, as usual, we'll look for the next set of polls.

Abulsme - Sat, 20 Sep 2008, 15:04:59 PDT
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Fri 19 Sep 2008

DVD: Doctor Who and the Silurians: Disk 1

It was time for another Doctor Who DVD. We started a few weeks ago, but split the four episodes on this DVD up over a couple of weeks. This was the Third Doctor story Doctor Who and the Silurians which is interesting because it is the only Doctor Who story that had "Doctor Who and the..." in the title shown on screen. It was an accident. Somebody screwed up when producing the titles. Oops.

Anyway, it was in color! Woo! That is a welcome change after the older ones we'd watched lately. This one was first broadcast in 1970. Still before I was born, but getting closer. :-)

This one is about dinosaurs and humanoid reptiles in a cave below a nuclear power research station. What else can you say about that?

Well, actually there is a bit more to it. But this DVD is actually only the first half of the story. There is a second half, which we will eventually get to. And knowing a few spoilers, I gather we'll find out more about the origins of these humanoid reptiles in the second half.

So far it is OK. Like all of these older episodes, the pacing is much slower than modern shows. It still has a bit of charm though. I do like the Fourth Doctor and beyond the best though. I've never really been able to get all that into one through three.

For now though, this was OK. And we'll get the the second half sooner or later.

Abulsme - Fri, 19 Sep 2008, 23:43:19 PDT
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Begun, This Election Has

Virginia Sounds the Starting Gun for Early Voting
(Amy Sullivan, Time, 19 Sep 2008)

Even though bags of candy corn and other Halloween treats have barely hit drugstore shelves, Virginia voters will start casting their ballots on Friday at early-voting sites around the commonwealth. Another half-dozen states will open up early voting next week, before the candidates even meet for their first debate of the campaign. In all, 36 of the 50 states will allow early voting this year, including many key battleground states like Ohio and Colorado. As many as one-third of all voters are expected to make their selection before Election Day.
(via Slog)

Abulsme - Fri, 19 Sep 2008, 16:33:30 PDT
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Ties, Ties, Wonderful Ties

My own electoral college model has us at an exact tie again today. Given that, it seems like a good time to highlight what 538 is saying about this right now as well:

12th Amendment Update: Tie Probability Continues to Increase
(Nate Silver,, 19 Sep 2008)

The latest in our occasional series informing you about the country's worst nightmare: a 269-269 Electoral College tie...

As you may have noticed from our scenario chart, the probability of a tie has increased dramatically in recent days and now stands at 3.2 percent. This is partly because, as we draw closer to election day with the race remaining tight, the probability of any one candidate running away with the election diminishes -- meaning that all "close" electoral permutations, including ties, become more likely.

However, there is one specific scenario that is driving this outcome. That is the scenario wherein Barack Obama wins the Kerry states plus Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado, but loses New Hampshire. Of the 320 times that our simulation ended in a tie, this particular scenario was responsible 294 times. Indeed, we presently have Obama winning precisely the Kerry states plus Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado, so all that would be needed to make a tie occur is to flip New Hampshire back to McCain, and entirely reasonable possibility.


By the way -- the way that the tipping point math works out, about 80 percent of the tie outcomes involve McCain winning the popular vote. This is by far the messier of the two scenarios. Since the Democrats will almost certainly control a plurality or a majority of House delegations in the incoming Congress, a tie accompanied by an Obama win in the popular vote will lead to a lot of fanfare but ultimately little drama -- Obama will become the next President. But if McCain wins the popular vote, there will be far more pressure on Democratic Representatives to vote against their party.
Nightmare? Come on, it would be even more fun than 2000. I couldn't possibly be so lucky as to see two such cases in a lifetime, could I? It would be a blast!

Abulsme - Fri, 19 Sep 2008, 08:32:09 PDT
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Electoral College: That Didn't Last Long, Tied Race Again

Lots of polls since the last update, but only two category changes today.

Colorado (9 ev): Yesterday the five poll average moved Colorado from "Lean Obama" to "Lean McCain". Today it moves back. As I mentioned yesterday, with these "Lean" states flipping back and forth, it may or may not really mean anything. Really, regardless of what side of the line we're at at a given moment, the reality is that it is too close to call. But it does once again mean that after only one day of being in the lead in the count where everybody gets their leans, we are now back at an even 269/269 electoral college tie.

New Mexico (5 ev): This is another state that is right on a line. This time right on the line between "Lean Obama" and "Weak Obama". It has been bouncing back and forth a few times lately. And now it bounces back to "Lean Obama". Which means that New Mexico is once again a swing state. But really, since the end of August, New Mexico has just been hovering right around the 5% Obama lead line, thus going in and out of this category.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 331, Obama 207
Obama Best Case - Obama 355, McCain 183

If everybody gets their leans - 269/269 ELECTORAL COLLEGE TIE

So, is this a peak for McCain yet? It may be coming, but the state by state polls still don't show it yet. Yes, the "everybody gets their leans" count goes back in Obama's direction today. But that really is a tied state moving from just barely on one side of the line to just barely on the other. Meanwhile, New Mexico weakens for Obama and becomes a swing state again. (Although that could also be random fluctuation.) So there is still mixed news overall today.

So, definitely hints of a beginning of a reversal in momentum, but nothing definitive yet.

Abulsme - Fri, 19 Sep 2008, 00:13:25 PDT
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Thu 18 Sep 2008

Electoral College: Lots of Changes, McCain takes the Lead!!

There were seemingly hundreds of polls since yesterday's update. Just tons. Slogging through them all, we find there are polls in 35 states... and... finally... at long last... a poll in the District of Columbia. So we now have complete polling coverage across all electoral votes, and I will no longer have to say things like "and assuming Obama wins DC". Which is a good thing.

In any case, there are a full six states (and DC) changing status today. Four of those are good news for McCain, three are good news for Obama. So it is kind of a mixed day, but I'm going to have to still give the day to McCain, as one of the changes is a swing state (Colorado) flipping in his direction, and moving us out of a tied electoral vote situation and into an actual McCain lead in the "give everybody every state they are even slightly ahead in" metric.

I'll break up the states to report on today into which direction they are moving.

States moving in McCain's direction:

Texas (34 ev): Texas, which a long time ago early in the race had a few tantalizing polls indicating that maybe Obama had a chance, now moves to a greater than 10% McCain lead, making the state "Solid McCain".

Arizona (10 ev): Despite being McCain's home state, McCain's lead had always been less than 10%. No more. McCain solidifies his lead and moves his lead to more than 10% and puts Arizona into the "Solid McCain" category, where it possibly should have been all along.

Wisconsin (10 ev): Obama's lead in Wisconsin drops to less than 5%. This moves the state from "Weak Obama" to "Lean Obama". This makes Wisconsin now a swing state, and potentially in play for McCain. Despite the lower electoral college total, this is probably actually the most significant move toward McCain in today's update. It gives another place where McCain can push into Obama territory and put Obama even more on the defensive.

Colorado (9 ev): As usual I will caution that although this is the state that made me give the day to McCain, we have a swing state moving from "Lean Obama" to "Lean McCain". In today's update we went from Obama being ahead by 0.6% to McCain being ahead by 0.4%. Either way the state is really too close to call, and we should treat it that way. So this change in status, may not really be a change at all. We're just bouncing around within error of the zero line. But never the less, it puts the over all electoral college total in McCain's favor for the first time since May.

States moving in Obama's direction:

Florida (27 ev): McCain's lead in Florida, which a few days ago had moved over 5% pulling the state out of swing state category. But today, the five poll average once again slips below 5%, thus moving Florida from "Weak McCain" back to "Lean McCain". So Florida is once again a swing state, and is once again in play for Obama. Obama has never been ahead in Florida. But for most of the year it has been close. It is once again close.

West Virginia (5 ev): Perhaps a surprising one, although I have read a few commentators mention that this state could actually be vulnerable. And McCain's strength there is weakening. The state has been very lightly polled, with only four polls so far this year. But this latest poll moves the average to a less than 10% lead for McCain, so the state moves from "Strong McCain" to "Weak McCain". If Obama was still in a strong position overall, he might want to start throwing resources into West Virginia to try to turn it into a swing state. But the trends have been against him lately and he is actually behind overall at the moment, he'd probably be better off concentrating on the actual swing states right now.

District of Columbia (3 ev): This one is of course no surprise to anybody, which is one of the reasons that it has taken so long for anybody do to a poll here. Nobody expected anything different than what we got. The first poll shows 82% Obama, 13% McCain... a 69% lead for Obama. Yeah, this is "Strong Obama" country.

McCain Best Case - McCain 326, Obama 212
Obama Best Case - Obama 355, McCain 183

If everybody gets their leans - McCain 278, Obama 260

Has the McCain "bump" peaked yet? Well, Obama actually has some states with good news, which has been very unusual lately. And Florida being competitive again is definitely very good news for Obama. But I'm not ready to say yet that things are actually moving in Obama's direction.

If we start having a few days with more things moving in Obama's direction again than moving toward McCain then perhaps we'll be able to say that. But for today, I'd still have to say McCain wins the day. But barely.

Abulsme - Thu, 18 Sep 2008, 09:49:56 PDT
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Wed 17 Sep 2008

A Video Clip to Warm Ivan's Heart

Paul Begala Rips Carly Fiorina
(SilentPatriot, Crooks and Liars, 17 Sep 2008)

On Tuesday, McCain’s Chief Economic Adviser Carly Fiorina told Andrea Mitchell that both Sarah Palin and John McCain were unqualified to run a major corporation. Later in the day on “Hardball,” Paul Begala went to town on Fiorina, arguing that she is a massive incompetent who couldn’t even run Hewlett-Packard herself.
(Actual video is linked from the article above)

Abulsme - Wed, 17 Sep 2008, 21:25:07 PDT
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Electoral College: The Biden Effect!

Only one change for today, and for once, it is good news for Obama. But I'm not sure we can declare the McCain bump to be over quite yet.

For only the second time this year, and the first time since the VP selection, there was a poll of Delaware. As a result of this poll, the average for Delaware (normally I use a five poll average, but since there have only been two, I can only use two...) moves to Obama being ahead by more than 10%. Woo! Now those three electoral votes are in the bag for Obama! :-)

OK, I kid. Even before this, the one poll in Delaware had Obama up 9%. So nobody was ever worried about Delaware, or particularly interested as it was considered a lock for Obama. I had it categorized as "Weak Obama" since it was under 10%, but it was barely under. In any case, Delaware is now officially "Solid Obama". It does not change the summary:

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 319, Obama 219
Obama Best Case - Obama 328, McCain 210

If everybody gets their leans (and Obama gets DC) - 269/269 ELECTORAL COLLEGE TIE

If you look at the chart, you can see over the last week or so some small movement in the Obama strong and weak lines over the past few days. This is New Mexico coming back out of swing state territory where it was a few days ago, and today's strengthening in Delaware. It would be tempting to look at this and think that maybe this was the start for a reversal of the McCain gains of the last couple of weeks.

That would however be premature. The Delaware change, even though the poll just hit my charts today, probably represents a change that happened several weeks ago after the VP selection, or maybe even no significant change at all given the state was right on the line anyway and there are only two polls. In New Mexico the state "dipped below the line" to be a swing state, but only for a couple of days. It is right on the edge of "Lean Obama" and "Weak Obama" and that could be random fluctuations too.

Bounces typically last a couple of weeks. It takes a little bit longer for state polls to catch up. Watch carefully what happens over the next week or so. If there is a real retreat from the McCain bounce, we should start to be able to see bigger changes. But it is not there yet. For the moment, the pattern is still major McCain gains since the conventions.

Abulsme - Wed, 17 Sep 2008, 07:40:47 PDT
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Tue 16 Sep 2008

The Advice from Pollster

Lots of folks online and off are giving their "advice" to the Obama campaign on what they should be doing differently. Of the ones I have read recently, the following from had be nodding more than most of the rest. It is worth reading the whole thing in detail. I quote only the major headings below.

50 Days to Go and Obama Hits Back (Softly)
(Steve Lombardo,, 15 Sep 2008)

It is noon on Monday, September 15th and things are operating so quickly in the political world that major tactical--and sometimes strategic--campaign changes are happening in minutes (in previous campaigns they used to happen in hours or days). Welcome to politics in 2008. In accordance with the new world order here is our real-time read on what is happening:
  1. Obama is hitting back, and the mere act of doing so says volumes.
  2. But this Obama punch seems like a fairly weak body blow.
  3. We are in a financial meltdown (as of right now the Dow is down 250 points) and Obama is focusing on lobbyists and McCain's inability to email--this is political malpractice.
  4. Negative political messages must tap into a pre-existing belief.
  5. The Obama campaign has been seriously off-stride.
  6. Obama needs to forget Palin and get back to the economy.

Abulsme - Tue, 16 Sep 2008, 00:53:38 PDT
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Electoral College: McCain Keeps Bumping

A lot of polls today (as there are most days now) but only one small change in status. Once again it is a move in McCain's direction.

South Dakota (3 ev): McCain's lead in South Dakota grows to over 10%, moving the state from "Weak McCain" to "Strong McCain". South Dakota has been very sparsely polled. Today's poll is actually only the fifth of this election cycle. So my "last five poll average" actually includes every poll taken in the state this year. But with the data available, it does look like this state is very safe McCain territory at this point.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 319, Obama 219
Obama Best Case - Obama 328, McCain 210

If everybody gets their leans (and Obama gets DC) - 269/269 ELECTORAL COLLEGE TIE

There has been some talk starting to percolate that perhaps McCain's bounce has peaked at this point, and we'll start seeing an Obama recovery. There are perhaps some hints at that in the national polling. But with the exception of New Mexico returning to "Weak Obama" status after a brief flirtation with being a swing state, Obama has had no other moves in his direction in my state level classifications since August 25th. A full three weeks ago at this point. If there is an end to the McCain bounce and a move back toward Obama again, it has not yet started to show itself in the state level polls.

Of course, generally with the lower frequency of state polls, it does take longer for changes to show up at that level. At least that is how it HAS been. But as polling levels have increased, that is getting less true, especially for swing states. As an example, for the last 6 days there has always been at least one poll of Ohio each day, sometimes two. With polling continuing at this level (and presumably actually accelerating as we approach the election) we should actually be able to start picking up changes in the state by state situation almost as quickly as the national polls show changes. And of course the state by state view is more meaningful than the popular vote views.

Bounces supposedly usually last around two weeks. We're now in the second week. If the post-convention changes are going to start fading, we should start seeing it soon.

But we haven't yet.

Abulsme - Tue, 16 Sep 2008, 00:20:59 PDT
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Mon 15 Sep 2008

Paul in Montana

I've been meaning to post this one for awhile, just never got around to it:

Montana Constitution Party Submits Presidential Electors Pledged to Ron Paul and Michael Peroutka
(Richard Winger, Ballot Access News, 5 Sep 2008)

On September 5, the ballot-qualified Constitution Party of Montana submitted its presidential elector candidates to the Secretary of State. The party informed the Secretary of State that its electors are pledged to Ron Paul for president and Michael Peroutka for vice-president. Ron Paul was aware that the party planned to do this, and has said that as long as he can remain passive and silent about the development, and as long as he need not sign any declaration of candidacy, that he does not object.

Ron Paul is popular enough in that part of the country that his presence on the ballot may actually make a difference of some sort.

Abulsme - Mon, 15 Sep 2008, 17:47:53 PDT
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Ike Witness

A regular reader of this blog... a different regular reader than the one I posted about this weekend, passed this along over the weekend...

Yo Sam,


I wanted to let you know that I'm currently a Houston evacuee of Hurricane Ike! My parents and I have left to Austin.

However, one of my friends stayed behind. She lives just a quarter mile away from me in the same subdivision. She's been covering the storm's approach, including being enveloped by the eye! For now, she's without power, but there's plenty of backlog and I'm sure she'll be blogging as soon as power is restored. Since we live close to a water treatment plant I can assume we are a priority.

Her blog's url is:

You have a good weekend!
Looks like they still don't have power yet... at least assuming that posting on the blog would be a first priority once power was back... which of course it may not be.

Abulsme - Mon, 15 Sep 2008, 08:00:03 PDT
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13513.9614 Days

As I type it is eight hours and a few minutes until the exact time I'll be exactly 37 years old. It will happen at 20:02:23 UTC today. That's 1:02:23 PM Pacific, 4:02:23 PM Eastern.

I should be asleep right now, but I stayed up late to finished getting the podcast out the door. I'm off for a short bit of sleep, then up to do the election updates, then off to work. At the exact moment above, I'll be in a meeting at work. Then I need to leave work a little early to take care of reregistering my car before my current registration expires. Then I will probably come home and collapse.

Oh yeah, those using actual calendar anniversaries rather than the actual length of a year might not notice this anniversary until tomorrow. But I know better. Years are 365.242199 days long, and because of the distribution of leap days and such, the actual time of the anniversary drifts over the years when compared to calendar dates and times. My calculations of course take that into effect.

Anyway. Time for a brief nap before I have to get up and do stuff.

Abulsme - Mon, 15 Sep 2008, 04:52:12 PDT
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Goodbye Mother Merrill

"When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Merrill comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be." - The Beatles... sort of.

Good luck to any and all of my former coworkers from Merrill Lynch who are still there.

It doesn't sound like the coming months will be fun.

For anyone who has no idea what I'm talking about:

Crisis on Wall Street as Lehman Totters, Merrill Is Sold, AIG Seeks to Raise Cash
(Carrick Mollenkamp, Susanne Craig, Serena Ng and Aaron Lucchetti; Wall Street Journal; 15 Sep 2008)

The American financial system was shaken to its core on Sunday. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. said it would file for bankruptcy protection, and Merrill Lynch & Co. agreed to be sold to Bank of America Corp.

Bank of America to Buy Merrill
(Matthew Karnitschnig, Carrick Mollenkamp, Dan Fitzpatrick; Wall Street Journal; 15 Sep 2008)
In a rushed bid to ride out the storm sweeping American finance, 94-year-old Merrill Lynch & Co. agreed late Sunday to sell itself to Bank of America Corp. for $50 billion.

The deal, worked out in 48 hours of frenetic negotiating, could instantly reshape the U.S. banking landscape, making the nation's prime behemoth even bigger. Early Monday, the two firms said the directors of both companies had agreed to the deal, which will be subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.
It will be a "fun" day on Wall Street today, and a "fun" next few months for anybody at any of the firms involved.

Abulsme - Mon, 15 Sep 2008, 04:34:48 PDT
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Curmudgeon's Corner: It Doesn't Matter If It Is True

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Record Downloads
  • United Accidentally Plummets
  • Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and More
  • Financial Website Security
  • Tina Fey as Sarah Palin
  • Ike in Texas and Stupid People
  • North Korea and Kim Jong-il
  • Presidential Election Discussion
  • Gates and Seinfeld
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Abulsme - Mon, 15 Sep 2008, 04:32:15 PDT
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Sun 14 Sep 2008

No Internet

By the way, our Internet connection stopped working at 01:58 UTC on Saturday. Since then I've been leeching off a neighbor's unsecured wireless. Trust they don't mind and that's why they have it unsecured. :-) Brandy got off the phone a little while ago with our DSL provider. They think our DSL modem is fried and they are sending us a new one. Hopefully that will get everything up and happy again.

But, in case anyone has been wondering (yeah right!) that's why the AbulCam has not been fully functional this weekend.

But it makes me glad that I moved AbulWiki to paid hosting a while back. That is currently the part of my site that gets the most traffic (by far) and if it had still been hosted on my iMac, it would be completely offline. Of course, the additional traffic it has been getting over the last month probably would have made my iMac unusable too, but that is another story.

Abulsme - Sun, 14 Sep 2008, 15:45:02 PDT
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New Sitemeter

Sucks. Can I have the old one back?

Edit 22:18 UTC: Apparently I can. Pretty much everybody thinks it sucks, and they are rolling it back. Good. Not like the old system was awesome, but it was useful. The new one was unusable.

Abulsme - Sun, 14 Sep 2008, 15:15:27 PDT
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Electoral College: New Hampshire Flips to McCain... ELECTORAL COLLEGE TIE!

There are bigger states that change today, and they are probably ACTUALLY more important to the state of this race than a swing state moving from one side of the line to the other... either way it is still a swing state and REALLY too close to call... but, I have to put this one on top. New Hampshire flips today from "Lean Obama" to "Lean McCain". Which means that if each candidate gets all of the states where they are even slightly ahead, the result would be 269 electoral votes for McCain, and 269 electoral votes for Obama. Which would throw the election into the House of Representatives.

At the moment puts the odds of this actually being the result of the election at 1.09%. That is not a very big chance, but still. Thinking about that possibility gets any political junkies very very excited. And for the first time this election season, the model on this site actually shows it as the "current" situation. So, I admit, I squealed with excitement when I saw it.

Anyway, calming down a bit, there are two states with more electoral votes that actually move from being swing states to NOT being swing states today, which is arguably more significant to gauging the actual current state of the race.

For once, there is actually mixed news here, with some good for both McCain and Obama. McCain's good news comes in a bigger state, but given there has been no good news for Obama since before the conventions, the news there is significant too.

Florida (27 ev): McCain's lead in Florida has now gone over 5%, moving the state out of the swing state category and to "Weak McCain". Obama has never actually showed a lead in Florida, but at times he had been keeping it very close. No more.

New Mexico (5 ev): Just a few days ago new polls had shown McCain eating into Obama's lead in New Mexico and had pushed that lead to less than 5%. Today new polling moves the five poll average back above a 5% Obama lead, moving New Mexico back out of swing state territory into "Weak Obama" territory.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 319, Obama 219
Obama Best Case - Obama 328, McCain 210

If everybody gets their leans (and Obama gets DC) - 269/269 ELECTORAL COLLEGE TIE

Again, I must just say "wow" at how close this looks at this moment.

Another thing to note is that our inventory of swing states is shrinking. We now have only 10 swing states, accounting for 106 electoral votes. Given that neither candidate (at the moment) is even close to being able to win without swing states, those swing states, all essentially too close to call at the moment, WILL make the difference in this election.

Right now, the swing states are: Pennsylvania (21 ev), Ohio (20 ev), Michigan (17 ev), Virginia (13 ev), Indiana (11 ev), Colorado (9 ev), Nevada (5 ev), New Hampshire (4 ev), Montana (3 ev), North Dakota (3 ev).

If you live in one of those states. Pay close attention to this race. Your vote will matter.

Abulsme - Sun, 14 Sep 2008, 12:40:18 PDT
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Moo! Moo!!

Ah yes, she puts the same effort into picking staff as McCain put into picking her. Excellent.

Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes
Jo Becker, Peter S. Goodman and Michael Powell, New York Times, 13 Sep 2008

So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.

Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages.
(via Andrew Sullivan)

You know, I like spaceships. I think I should head up NASA in the next administration. Is that OK with everyone?

Abulsme - Sun, 14 Sep 2008, 08:53:34 PDT
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Sat 13 Sep 2008

Electoral College: McCain Bounce Continues

Only one state of bad news for Obama today, which compared to recent days is actually a good day.

Missouri (11 ev): Another state that has been red the last couple of elections that Obama had hoped to flip. At times it has looked like that might be possible. But as with the other states recently, it appears that McCain is consolidating his position. Today McCain's lead moves to over 5%, which changes this state from "Lean McCain" to "Weak McCain". Which means Missouri can no longer be considered a possible swing state.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 324, Obama 214
Obama Best Case - Obama 355, McCain 183

If everybody gets their leans (and Obama gets DC) - Obama 273, McCain 265

The two best cases are more balanced than they have been since early June. At this moment in time, the race really is looking very even.

Bring on the debates! :-)

Abulsme - Sat, 13 Sep 2008, 15:53:44 PDT
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Glad There is a Choice

The edit I made a few minutes after posting my last post made me think of one other thing. I am so glad that Hillary didn't win. If Hillary would have won, then even when you include the third party candidates (Barr, Nader, McKinney, etc) there would be absolutely NOBODY on the ballot that I would feel comfortable voting for. I would have gone to the polls thinking every single choice I had was a reprehensible scumbag.

I would have to write myself in, which unlike voting for a third party who actually is on the ballot, really is nothing but a protest.

But I would not have in good conscience been able to vote for Hillary Clinton. During the primaries, I actually said that if she won I would be considering McCain. I probably would have "considered" but his behavior over the past few months (which I admit might have been different if Hillary was his opponent) have made it so now I don't feel like I could vote for him, almost no matter who his opponents were.

Anyway, Obama won, so I don't have to worry about that. I can vote for Obama not only with a clean conscience, but with some level of enthusiasm.

I add of course that if he wins and takes office, he will without doubt almost immediately start doing things I disagree with sharply, and then I will of course start going after him for those things.

I suspect if he does win, I'll start getting upset and disappointed even before inauguration day, when he inevitably starts appointing old school Democrats to cabinet posts rather than truly new fresh faces.

Abulsme - Sat, 13 Sep 2008, 12:35:07 PDT
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Obama, McCain and Trust

OK, I decided I couldn't wait to answer that last part from my last post, so here goes. I also emailed this to the anonymous reader, but decided shortly after I started writing it that I would also post it.

"Obama says great and awesome things, but if you told me absolutely everything I wanted to hear, but I think you are full of it, how can I believe you?"

This is indeed the crux of the matter. When one person says one set of things, and one person says another, it is not just a matter of which one says the things you agree with the most, it is also about how much you trust the two people. I disagree with probably more than half of Obama's policy positions. If you actually look only at positions, there is even a chance that I actually even agree with McCain more often.

But I trust Obama, while to me every bit of trust I *did* have in McCain eight years ago (and I *did* trust him eight years ago) has been systematically eroded by his choices and actions over the last six years.

Meanwhile, while Obama only hit my awareness four years ago, most things (not all) that I have watched him do in the meantime have increased my respect for him and my trust in his ability to make good decisions.

I trust that even when I disagree with Obama, he will be making a well thought out decision backed by evidence and knowledge and doing what he really thinks is right. With McCain, I have no idea what he will do, I distrust the way in which he will make the decision, and have no faith that his motives are fundamentally good.

The thing I wonder, and would be glad to be enlightened on, is for those who, not on policy issues where the arguments are completely different, but on issues of trust and integrity, are supporting McCain over Obama... what specific things had McCain done or said over the last few years to make you have that faith in him? And on the flip side, which things has Obama done or said for you to not feel the same way about him?
Do any of my other readers agree with my anonymous reader? Can you enlighten me?

[Edit a few moments later: I should add that I had the same feeling of distrust with both Bill and Hillary Clinton, which is why I was a constant critic of Bill when he was President, and why during the primaries I was pretty loudly against Hillary, who I thought would be horrible... even though on policy she and Obama match on almost everything.]

Abulsme - Sat, 13 Sep 2008, 12:19:00 PDT
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Obama, McCain, Integrity and Experts

I've been having an email exchange with a regular reader of this blog about the state of the presidential race. This reader is someone who has been very unhappy with the Bush administration, but never the less is very strongly anti-Obama and is therefore supporting McCain. I find this a curious combination, and have been trying to get this reader to come on and be a guest on Curmudgeon's Corner for several weeks now, but technical difficulties (the reader does not have a microphone on their computer at the moment) have so far prevented this from happening.

One of the reader's latest emails prompted a long response for me. I thought it would be interesting to post here. Reading the exchange again (it is more than 24 hours old at this point) there are things I am tempted to edit and change, and there are things I asserted in the off the cuff email I'm tempted to double check and find confirmed sources for, but screw it, for accuracy I'll reproduce the exchange exactly as it happened. Well, OK, I'll correct a couple of misspellings, but that's it. :-)

The exchange started with a response to this post where I reported "Four States of Bad News for Obama".

Reader, 9 Sep 2008, at 13:51:08 UTC:

This make me very happy. On the Today show this morning they attribute the bounce to white women reacting to Palin... The more I learn about her the more I like her.
Me, 10 Sep 2008, at 14:53:26 UTC:
I still don't understand, and want you on the show to talk about it.

Do you have that microphone yet?

You can get a cheap headset for under $20.
Reader, 10 Sep 2008, at 15:06:55 UTC:
Don't understand what? That I like Palin, or that I don't like Obama?
Me, 11 Sep 2008, at 14:57:53 UTC:
I understand intellectually why various people would like Palin or McCain, the incongruous with your views on the current administration are intriguing though.
Reader, 11 Sep 2008, at 15:11:52 UTC:
But I am far from alone in that.

My biggest issue with the current administration is the complete absence of integrity, which is the same issue I have with Obama. I find him to be an egomaniacal windbag who could finish the job of destroying the country quite easily, since he, like Bush, suffers from the delusion that, despite the facts, he is always right. He scares the crap out of me! We had a one man show for 8 years, and it failed!

I won't ever say that I agree with all of the McCain policies, but I believe he will listen to the advice of experts; right now that is what I feel our country needs.
Me, 12 Sep 2008, at 06:50:27 UTC:
Wow. Not sure where to start on that. It is so completely opposite my view of these two men.

Let me take a couple bits at a time:

"[Obama] like Bush, suffers from the delusion that, despite the facts, he is always right."

Obama's messaging must be absolutely horrible for you to get that impression, and I'm curious which particular things he has said give you that impression.

Because a MAJOR theme of both of his books, his 2004 convention speech, his stump speeches and his 2008 convention speech, relates to him NOT knowing the answers, having a lot of doubts, and searching for how to find the answers. (Especially the books.) He talks about consulting experts and listening to advice and looking at objective studies to determine what works RATHER than doing anything based on either gut feel or ideology.

In many cases he has specifically talked about how important it is to even in cases where someone disagrees with him completely to make sure he understands where they are coming from and respects their views as being honestly what the other person thinks is right... and that even when he disagrees, there is often still much merit, and much to learn from the other point of view.

He has been known to before votes in the Senate call up experts in the field that he knows hold positions completely opposite to his own in order to hear them give as complete an argument as possible as to why he is wrong, to make sure he fully understands and has considered the opposite point of view.

Even his choice of Biden shows this, and shows it strongly. Before announcing his pick, he said that the person he picked would be chosen specifically so as NOT to be a yes person, to be someone who would not feel any hesitancy to call him out on something when he felt Obama was doing something wrong. So he picked Biden, who was a very strong critic of Obama in the primaries, and had specifically disagreed on several important policy positions.

He has talked time and time again about increasing transparency in government, making sure decisions are made in the full view of the public, so that the decision making process an be audited, etc.

This is actually SPECIFICALLY one of the reasons that makes me FOR Obama, is how strongly he has insisted in all his writings and speeches, about the need to seek out, understand, and absorb the best ideas out there... even if they come from "the other side". He has spoken specifically spoken very positively about both George H W Bush and Ronald Reagan. There are several other Republicans he calls out in his book as well for having very good ideas on several issues. He got in hot water during the primaries for much of this.

But his openness to ideas, willingness to listen to dissent, and insistence on trying to decide what to do based on empirical measurement of the effectiveness (or lack there of) of various policies is his strongest feature.

I do not see *at all* a person who gives the impression of thinking he is always right. Much to the contrary, he seems to be VERY deferential to the wisdom of others... he makes the decision in the end of course, but he looks for advice and information from many sources, weighs the options, and tries to come to a thoughtful decision.


"I believe [McCain] will listen to the advice of experts;"

I'm also not sure what McCain has ever said to give you that impression, because I'm completely missing that too...

McCain's whole reputation over the years has been built on NOT following the advice of experts. That's where the whole "Maverick" thing comes from. Not just from bucking his party a bit (something he did a lot in 2000-2002, but much less since), but from doing things based solely on his gut feel of what was right, what everybody else says be damned. On everything from economic policies to foreign policy he has time and time again shown disregard over the years for what the people who were "experts" and knew what they were talking about were saying on topics. Now, to be fair, sometimes McCain was right and the experts were wrong.

The most recent example... his choice of Palin for VP. The word from several insiders who were close to the process says that McCain really wanted Lieberman. But it became clear that major segments of the party were threatening a floor fight at the convention over the VP slot if he nominated Lieberman (or anybody pro-choice for that matter). McCain wanted Lieberman, but he couldn't get away with it. Meanwhile, the "experts" on his team were strongly recommending Romney or Pawlenty. Karl Rove and his group were especially pushing hard for Romney. Various other experts were pushing some other folks, but *NOBODY* was advocating Palin. Reports are that McCain picked Palin at the last minute, on his own, with little to no consultation with anyone else on his staff, surprising many of them, and basically giving a big "FUCK YOU" to all the experts who were advising him on the selection and recommending other people. Now, at least so far, Palin has been a brilliant choice... none of the other candidates would have had this great an effect on the dynamics of the election... so McCain may well have been right... but he certainly was not respectful of the opinions of the experts around him.

He has shown the same sorts of tendencies on item after item, not just during this election season, but going back over his whole career. He is KNOWN for making impulsive rash decisions without thinking them through and without consulting with experts or advisers. It's not just something he does sometime, it is one of the things he has always been known for, and for that matter has expressed pride in. He makes decisions on what to do based on what is "in his gut" and what he "feels is right", not on some thoughtful process based on consulting with experts and weighing the possible options to determine the right course of action.

Finally, going back to the start of your statement...

"My biggest issue with the current administration is the complete absence of integrity,"

Putting aside Obama for a minute (I do see integrity there, while you obviously don't), do you really see integrity in McCain? Today? Not just 8 years ago?

In 2000 I really liked McCain. If it had been Gore vs McCain instead of Gore vs Bush, there is a very good chance (probably at least 50/50) that I would have voted for McCain. (In reality in 2000 I voted for the Libertarian... I never even considered Gore... or Bush.)

In 2000 McCain had a well deserved reputation as a straight shooter. As someone you could agree or disagree with, but who no matter what, you would know where he really stood (even if it was one of those "gut" things with no thought behind it). He believed what he believed and he meant it and he would tell you without equivocation. And if you liked it and would vote for him, great. If not, too bad, but he stood for what he stood for.

Over the last eight years, and even more so in the last few months, he has eroded all of that.

On my own journey on this, the breaking point was when he caved on the anti-torture bill in 2006 or so... for awhile he was the lone voice on the Republican side of the aisle stopping the legislation which would retroactively give immunity to people in the administration who had broken anti-torture laws, and give the administration much greater latitude in interpreting the Geneva conventions with regard to what sorts of "harsh interrogation" would be allowed and on who... but then at a certain point he caved... he agreed to a "compromise" which added a little anti-torture language, but with no consequences attached, and with no actual change in the legal effect of the bill... and he now supported the compromise, something which basically made it legal for the US government to do to our prisoners worse things than the Viet Cong did to McCain in Vietnam... to me that was the exact moment where any semblance of integrity that McCain had went away...

Even so, when this campaign began, I thought the best possible outcome would be an Obama vs McCain race, because we would have, for once, good people on both sides, and whichever way things turned out, we'd have someone who could do a good job as president. Very different people, very different policies, but both would do OK.

But then he started pandering.

In 2000 he had called the religious right... I forget the exact quote... but he basically called them dangerous and narrow minded. In 2008 he started to suddenly agree with them on more and more issues.

In 2000 Karl Rove and his team masterminded the "whisper campaigns" in South Carolina that basically killed McCain's candidacy by spreading the rumor that he had illegitimately fathered a child with a black woman. (In reality, he and Cindy had adopted a Burmese child.) In 2008, McCain hired the very person who had started that campaign against him to coordinate the negative attacks against Obama.

In 2008 he is letting the right wing control his campaign. He is moving to positions he himself said were reprehensible 8 years ago. He is allowing the kind of negative campaign he railed against in the past. For instance, pushing this lipstick on a pig thing this week, the celebrity attacks a month ago, other ads which state things about Obama's positions on everything from taxes to war funding which are demonstrably false, etc... (That's not to say there are not excesses on the other side too, I think the whole "Bush's Third Term" thing is ridiculous, and the "doesn't know how many houses he has" and "middle class is five million dollars" things are silly, misrepresentative and unfair to McCain.)

Oh, and yes, even his choice of Sarah Palin shows a lack of integrity. It is turning out to be politically astute. At least for the time being. And maybe even longer if she comports herself well in the coming interviews and debates. Having seen what I have seen so far, I will not underestimate her, despite her other deficiencies, she is smart and very able to work a crowd and a microphone, and I will not be surprised if she can take on reporters or Joe Biden.

But she is fundamentally unfit to be President, and is therefore unfit to be Vice President. And McCain choosing her fundamentally means he cares more about winning than about the future of the country.

She is far far to the right of McCain himself. Specifically she is of the religious right sort of conservative, not the neo-con kind, not the paleo-con kind, not the fiscal kind, or any other kind. Which thrills that part of the base, but should put every other type of conservative, let alone non-conservatives, into a state of deep concern. I shudder to even think of the types of things she might try to do in office if she became President. (Once upon a time, I would have said I wasn't too worried, because checks and balances from congress and the courts would stop any excesses, but if the last 8 years have shown anything, it is that the other branches of government have lost their will to really check the executive.)

And OK, even though I disagree with her on those sorts of things, there are plenty of people who maybe don't think her views are too crazy, and who might vote for her, even if she was running for President herself. But here is the rub, I don't think McCain himself even really would feel comfortable with her views on things if he was being honest rather than pandering to "the base". He is not (or at least was not, before his recent changes of heart, THAT kind of conservative... her really was a moderate).

And more to the point, I think if you spoke to John McCain honestly and off the record and not in the heat of the election, even HE would say she is not "ready" to be President. He did NOT pick her because he really and truly thinks she would be the best person to step in and complete his agenda if he were to drop dead after being elected. He picked her for pure political reasons. And to piss off the folks who were annoying him by trying to get him to pick Romney, who he hates. And he did not take the time to really investigate her and find out for sure what he did or did not like about her. He just picked her. And then later he (and we) started out finding out more.

In terms of McCain's integrity here, either he really has shifted far to the right these last few years, and is now for torture, and for lack of due process, and for many more other things he used to resist... or he is pretending to be in order to try to win, but really still believes the things he did back in 2000.

Either way, he is not someone I can trust. I know longer feel that the "straight talk" he was once known for is happening at all. When he speaks I have no idea if he is saying something he really believes, or if he is saying what he thinks he needs to say to win.

Integrity? I think McCain once had it.

I do not think he has it any longer.

OK. I'm done.
As I mentioned, I might have said things a bit differently if I was originally writing for the blog, and for that matter just being a day later and knowing more than I did a day ago I would adjust some things, but there ya go. I'm sure readers will poke holes at several of the things I said, so have at it.

And I'm still trying to get this reader to come on the podcast. Having this person interact with Ivan would be quite amusing. I'm getting close to just ordering this reader a cheap headset to eliminate that excuse. :-)

Oh, and yes, I got permission to post the reader's part of the exchange in an anonymous fashion as I did above. I will not reveal the exact identity of this reader at this time. I will however say that it is one of these people. I just won't say which one. :-)

So far in response to my last post (other than giving me permission to post the above) the reader has only said that they have not had a chance to read my full response, so will save any full comments until they have had a chance to do so, but that "Having only skimmed it... what I read reads like an Obama Ad... But like I said I only skimmed it, so I could be wrong in my initial reaction. " She also added "Most of my statements are based on how I feel about the 2 men. Obama says great and awesome things, but if you told me absolutely everything I wanted to hear, but I think you are full of it, how can I believe you? "

That last bit gives me a lot to potentially respond with, but I have not yet done so. :-)

Abulsme - Sat, 13 Sep 2008, 10:16:58 PDT
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Fri 12 Sep 2008

Electoral College: McMentum Continues

The pollsters are ramping up their activities. Since my update yesterday, there were new polls in 14 states. In several of those states there were multiple polls. I may have to reevaluate what time of day I usually do these updates to be sure I actually have time to do them each day. In any case...

Of those 14 states, only 2 states actually changed categories, and both showed movement toward McCain.

North Carolina (15 ev): North Carolina had been one of those states where Obama had been hoping to break into traditional "red" territory. Obama had never taken the lead in North Carolina, but at one point he had narrowed McCain's lead to less than 1%. No more. Recent polls have shown large McCain leads. With three new polls today, and two earlier in the week, the five poll average now shows McCain leading by more than 5% (in fact, almost 10%). This takes North Carolina out of "Lean McCain" and into "Weak McCain" with momentum toward going even further. This takes North Carolina out of play for Obama and yet again diminishes his hopes for "expanding the Democratic map" and moves him more toward trying to hold Kerry states and battling in the "traditional" swing states like Ohio.

Georgia (15 ev): Georgia is another state that at one point Obama had hoped to flip, or at least force McCain into needing to expend resources there to hold it. Despite putting in a lot of resources here, he never really got very far. My five point average never showed McCain ahead by less than 5%. So Georgia has always been a "red state" and never slipped into being a swing state. But now McCain's position has been consolidated. In today's update, McCain's lead in Georgia moves over 10%, moving Georgia from "Weak McCain" to "Strong McCain". This is far enough away from being a swing state, that Obama probably shouldn't even waste any more effort here.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 324, Obama 214
Obama Best Case - Obama 366, McCain 172

If everybody gets their leans (and Obama gets DC) - Obama 273, McCain 265

So for now, McCain's momentum continues.

Abulsme - Fri, 12 Sep 2008, 08:13:36 PDT
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Popular Vote vs Electoral College

If this happens, do you think it will be the same people complaining that complained in 2000 when it happened, or will everybody suddenly and magically have exactly the opposite positions that they had in 2000? Huh? I think you know the answer.

Today's Polls: Palin's A Hit Everywhere -- But The Electoral College
(Nate Silver, The Plank, 11 Sep 2008)

An avalanche of polling today, but a consistent theme emerges:

And what is that theme? Well, it's that the popular vote and the Electoral College are significantly diverging. Although the Republicans seem to be polling stronger than they were in the pre-convention period almost everywhere, the differences are much larger in traditionally red states, particularly in the South and the rural West (Colorado and Nevada, by the way, are not rural states). Basically, I think the Republicans are getting the evangelical vote, and a significant fraction of the Perot vote.

Unfortunately, these are not particularly useful votes for them to have in terms of the electoral math.


McCain's gain in our popular vote projection has been 2.1 points. Note, however, that his gains have been less than that in essentially all of the most important swing states, including Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Only Virginia is on the other side of the line, and then only barely so.

As a result of all this, the Electoral College remains too close to call, even though McCain has a 1-2 point advantage in the popular vote. Obama now has an 8.4 percent chance of winning the Electoral College while losing the popular vote, which is far and away the highest that this number has been all year. And that number may get larger rather than smaller, once polling filters in from other red states like Texas, Nebraska and South Carolina. Palin may have been a brilliant VP selection -- I think even Palinophobes like me have to concede that right now McCain's looking pretty savvy -- but some of that sheen is taken off by her somewhat lackluster effect on the Electoral College.
As for me, I am a strong supporter of the electoral college concept, think it is far superior for a popular vote based system, and will not bitch about about how the electoral college is bad if the candidate I support wins the popular vote and loses the electoral college. Because it is not about the popular vote, it has never been about the popular vote, and even more so, it SHOULD NOT be about the popular vote. And every candidate knows the rules going in.

I note that despite the above, my analysis does show a decent bounce for McCain, even in the state by state view. At least so far. But Silver's analysis, which is presented in full at is considerably more detailed and involved than my own. I'm not entirely sure about some of the adjustments he makes in his models, and I think there is much to say for the simplicty of the way I map the race, but there is no question the 528 analysis is much more detailed and there is a lot more to dig into. And the section where he lays out odds for this sort of scenario are one of those benefits.

Another scary one of his stats... the odds of at least one decisive state being close enough that a recount would be required that would have the potential of changing the results of the election... 8%.

Abulsme - Fri, 12 Sep 2008, 07:03:09 PDT
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Thu 11 Sep 2008

Two KiloPosts

This is my two thousandth post on this blog. The first post was just an automated test post that was created when the blog was, but it was first damn it, so it counts. That post was at 00:23 UTC on 12 Jul 2003. I started this post at 03:37 UTC on 12 Sep 2008. The time between the two posts was 1889 days, 3 hours and 14 minutes. So my average time between posts has been... 22 hours, 40 minutes and 51 seconds.

When I reached 1000 Posts on 13 Jan 2007 my average had been one post every 30 hours, 46 minutes and 37 seconds. So, in addition to the fact that it took 1281 days for my first 1000 posts and only 608 for my second thousand, it looks pretty clear that I've sped up a bit. For this second thousand I've averaged more like a post every 14 hours and 36 minutes.

Go me!

Abulsme - Thu, 11 Sep 2008, 20:37:34 PDT
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Hello Ike

I've been mostly ignoring Ike, but now that there is about a 40% chance of Hurricane force winds in Houston, and an over 90% chance of tropical storm force winds, guess it is time to pay a little more attention. It is due to come ashore in just about 24 hours.

Abulsme - Thu, 11 Sep 2008, 20:32:06 PDT
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Electoral College: The McCain Surge Continues

The state by state polls continue to come in and as they do so they continue to confirm a big move in McCain's direction over the last few weeks. Today there are three states full of bad news for Obama. Once again in order of electoral college strength:

Pennsylvania (21 ev): Obama's lead falls to less than 5% moving the state from "Weak Obama" to "Lean Obama". With a lead this small, Pennsylvania should now be considered too close to call. It is now a swing state, and is within possible reach for McCain. Given the 21 electoral votes in Pennsylvania, this is a big deal. The only swing state with more electoral votes is Florida.

New Mexico (5 ev): As in Pennsylvania, Obama's lead falls to less than 5%, moving New Mexico into the swing state category. At only 5 electoral votes, this is less important than Pennsylvania, but given that Obama was hoping to make some inroads in the West, it shows problems in Obama's hopes to make "map changing" happen this cycle.

Alaska (3 ev): The Palin effect continues. One week ago Alaska moved from "Lean McCain" to "Weak McCain". Today the five poll average pushes McCain's lead in Alaska over 10% and moves the state to "Strong McCain". Before Palin, Obama had hoped to perhaps actually make Alaska competitive. When Palin was added, any hope of that essentially dissipated overnight. It has just taken a couple of weeks for new polls to push old pre-Palin polls out of the average and show this new dynamic.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 324, Obama 214
Obama Best Case - Obama 381, McCain 157

If everybody gets their leans (and Obama gets DC) - Obama 273, McCain 265

The trend over the last week has been very strongly toward McCain. Obama is now in the weakest position he has been in since late May. And things seems to have returned to the mode of late July and early August, where McCain is defining the agenda and the debate, and the Obama campaign is simply reacting and defending instead of pushing their own vision and direction.

Is this just a convention bounce for McCain which was large enough to completely overwhelm Obama's earlier bounce? Convention bounces usually last about two weeks in the national polls. It may take three weeks to see the effect in state polls. So it will take a few weeks yet to see if the gains of the last week are temporary due to the convention, or if they represent the true new state of the race. Of course, given how little time is left until the election, two or three weeks is forever.

For the moment though, while the overall situation still slightly favors Obama, all the momentum is in McCain's direction. McCain just needs to flip one more of Obama's leaning states (currently Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, New Mexico and New Hampshire) to take the lead in the "if everybody gets all states they are even slightly ahead in" count. At the moment, New Hampshire is the most vulnerable of that group, with Obama only having a 1.4% lead in the five poll average. An interesting note there. If New Hampshire flips and everything else stays the same, then McCain wouldn't actually take the lead in that count. We'd have a 269-269 electoral tie. (If any of the others flipped, McCain would have a clear lead.)

Abulsme - Thu, 11 Sep 2008, 08:44:12 PDT
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Tue 09 Sep 2008

Morning Meetings

To folks who schedule meetings for a time two hours before I normally come into the office, causing me to get up way early in the morning so I could finish my morning election updates in time to catch a really quick shower, then rush through traffic that is heavier than at the time of day I usually go to work, meaning I had less time than I thought I had, so that when I finally got to the parking garage I had to almost run the couple blocks to the building to try to be only a couple of minutes late, only to find out in the elevator on the way up when I checked my iPhone to be sure of the room, that the meeting had just minutes earlier been moved to Friday afternoon... to folks who do that... please don't.

Oh well, I'm now at work two hours earlier than normal, so once I get myself from this building to the building I normally work in, I'll have some extra time to catch up on things, which is always good.

But still...

Abulsme - Tue, 9 Sep 2008, 08:11:50 PDT
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Electoral College: McCain Bounce? Four States of Bad News for Obama

Because there were almost new state polls during the two weeks of the conventions, it was not really possible to see separate bounces from the two conventions. Right before the conventions, Obama managed to reverse some of the momentum McCain had in late July and early August. Now that the conventions are over, we are getting bunches of state polls again, now looking at the state of the race after both VP choices and both conventions.

Today the news is all bad for Obama. In order of electoral college votes, here are the states that change category in today's updates:

Ohio (20 ev): I am half tempted to not even report when "leaning" states flip from one side of the fence to the other. Either way, the real way to look at it is that the state is too close to call. The moving back and forth on who is slightly in the lead is probably just random. In this case, we go from Obama being ahead by 0.2% in my five poll average, to McCain being ahead by 0.2% in the five poll average. Either way, it is a tie race. But it gives McCain bragging rights to put Ohio in the "if everybody gets their leans" category.

Michigan (17 ev): Of the changes today, this is actually probably the most significant. Obama's lead in Michigan drops (once again) to less than 5%, thus moving the state back from "Weak Obama" to "Lean Obama" and bringing the state into the inventory of swing states that could easily go either way. With McCain having a shot in Michigan, it opens up the range of possible ways for him to win significantly. Instead of having to sweep seven swing states to find a path to victory, if he can bring Michigan into play, he gets a situation where the only "Must Win" state is Florida.

Virginia (13 ev): This is another one where there really isn't a significant change other than bragging rights to the current lead. Virginia goes from Obama being ahead by 0.2%, to McCain being ahead by 0.2%. In reality, this is just too close to call. As I keep saying, all of the swing states should really be considered too close to call... even the ones where one candidate is ahead by 4.9%. But in the cases of Ohio and Virginia, we really are just bouncing around the "completely dead even" line.

Washington (11 ev): As happened with several states in August, the five poll average in Washington now drops below a 10% lead for Obama. So the state moves from "Strong Obama" to "Weak Obama". Still quite a way from becoming a swing state, but it shows overall weakening, even in states that should be completely secure for Obama.

Given all of the above, the overall summary of the race changes a decent bit:

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 298, Obama 240
Obama Best Case - Obama 381, McCain 157

If everybody gets their leans (and Obama gets DC) - Obama 273, McCain 265

That last set of numbers, with everybody getting every state they are even slightly ahead in, is once again looking like an incredibly close race. One that could easily come down to very close results in one or two states.

I also note that although no category changes happened, new polls showed Obama weakening in Pennsylvania and Colorado as well. This was not a good poll day for Obama. The only bright spot for Obama was a very slight improvement in Florida.

Over all though, it looks like in the immediate aftermath of the conventions, McCain has undone Obama's "pre-bounce bounce" and we're in approximately the same place we were around August 22nd... which is an Obama advantage, with Obama only a couple of states away from the win when you give him all the states where he is ahead by more than 5%... but with McCain with the apparent edge in most of the swing states... enough to bring him right up to the edge of winning (but not quite) if he got all the states he is ahead in.

Abulsme - Tue, 9 Sep 2008, 06:19:50 PDT
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Mon 08 Sep 2008

Traffic Increases

Wow. I just went to the Sitemeter Who's On page for my site. It will be different by the time anybody seeing this post clicks on it, but it is now showing 25 visitors on right now. (Sitemeter defines "right now" as within the last 30 minutes.)

That is the highest I've ever seen it by far. Prior to this year I'd be lucky to see one or two people at a time on there, and there were often zero. Recently, having 5 to 10 has been common. But 25. Woo!

Almost all of that traffic has been going to the Electoral College Prediction page. Traffic to that page (and some excess which spills over to the rest of my site) has just been going up and up and up. I suppose there is a chance the trend will continue up until the election... then crash back down to zero. :-)

Abulsme - Mon, 8 Sep 2008, 08:57:44 PDT
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Sun 07 Sep 2008

Curmudgeon's Corner: Program Her Brain

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Fannie and Freddie
  • Here Comes Ike
  • Misleading Rumors
  • Governor Palin
  • Bounces
  • Convention Roundup
  • Rove Strategy
  • Small Expenses
  • Jobs and Recession
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Abulsme - Sun, 7 Sep 2008, 23:56:52 PDT
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Sat 06 Sep 2008

Vacation Productivity Update

So, I took most of two weeks off. Well, sort of. I consider the two weeks to have been 23 Aug to 5 Sep. In a "normal" two weeks, for the sake of argument, I would have worked 80 hours. There was an actual national holiday during those two weeks, so lets call that 72. But I wasn't really completely off. I went in a few times, I did some conference calls, I checked in on email a few times. Added up, those things end up being approximately 24 hours of work during that time. So really, I was sort of 2/3 on vacation. Out of 9 work days, I worked 3 and vacationed 6. They just were not actually divided up quite that cleanly.

So there were several purposes to the vacation. One was of course just relaxing. Did that. One was watching the conventions. I did a lot of that, but not as much as I wanted to or I should have. Also, I watched too much on news channels, and not enough on C-Span. Finally thought, I wanted to spend a lot of time on some of the personal projects I've let myself fall behind on over the last year. (I've allowed election stuff to occupy a large chunk of the time I would otherwise spend on such things.)

I had split those projects I wanted to spend time on into five categories: Quicken, Old Email, Genealogy, Reading, and "To Do". To Do included a bunch of other projects of various sorts and sizes.

Over the course of my time off, whenever I was ready to sit down and work on stuff, I'd pick one of those five randomly (at first using and later using MachDice on my iPhone). I did use the further restriction that I could not work on the same category twice in a row, so really each time I was choosing from four possibilities. Once the random item was selected I would set a timer and work on that item for one hour.

So, in the last two weeks, these are the totals:

  • Quicken: 5 hours
  • Old Email: 2 hours
  • Genealogy: 4 hours
  • Reading: 1 hour
  • To Do: 7 hours
That gives a total of 19 hours.

So I still did more work for work than on my home stuff, even on the vacation intended to work on home stuff. Sigh. Next time I try this, it will have to really be a contiguous bit of time with no work, rather than no work interspersed with bits of work. That didn't work too well, because it takes me awhile to switch mindsets.

Of course, I did do the other stuff. I relaxed, I went to Bumbershoot, I was there to take Amy to her first day of school and pick her up again, I watched a lot of political coverage, etc.

And yes, I did do a lot more of those other tasks than I would have otherwise. So that is all good I guess.

And I think I will keep the five categories and the dice roll to pick between them for awhile. And maybe try to make sure I do at least two of them per evening or something, and more on weekends.

Of course, my average for the two weeks I was "on vacation" was just 1.36 hours per day. So maybe targeting two hours a day when I'm not on vacation is overly ambitious. Maybe I should start with seeing if I can reliably do 1 hour a day.

Abulsme - Sat, 6 Sep 2008, 11:09:17 PDT
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Thu 04 Sep 2008

McCain Speech

OK, so I'll admit it. For the Obama speech I went downstairs, had the projector up and the sound up high and turned off the computer so I could pay very close attention. For the McCain speech I had it up in a small Slingbox window in one corner of my computer screen while I caught up on Google Reader and only half paid attention.

It seemed like a very good speech for McCain. He is usually not super comfortable with speeches. I think he did everything he needed to do. He even pushed some post-partisan stuff, despite other indications that he is pursuing the perhaps questionable strategy of consolidating his base rather than running to the middle. It was no Palin speech, but it was a good solid speech.

And now the real election campaign is on. We have 60 days, 1 hour and 50 minutes from the time I am writing this sentence until Dixville Notch, New Hampshire votes and kicks off election day.

Hold on tight, it should be exciting.

Abulsme - Thu, 4 Sep 2008, 20:10:51 PDT
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Electoral College: Alaska stops swinging, strengthens for McCain

After a drought of state polls during the conventions, they started coming out again in time for today's updates. Only one state changed categories though. Alaska, Sarah Palin's home state, which had recently moved into swing state territory, moves back from "Lean McCain" to "Weak McCain". The new Alaska poll was taken after the announcement of her VP selection, but before her acceptance speech. Over the next week or so we should start seeing if there is any other movement due to the after effects of the two conventions.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case - McCain 281, Obama 257
Obama Best Case - Obama 381, McCain 157

If everybody gets their leans (and Obama gets DC) - Obama 306, McCain 232

Abulsme - Thu, 4 Sep 2008, 16:39:52 PDT
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Final Republican Results

I still haven't found the "official" results posted anywhere, but one blogger listened through the whole roll call vote on C-Span and took notes (why didn't I do that!) and so from that source, the final results on the Republican side:

  • John McCain - 2343 delegates
  • Ron Paul - 15 delegates
  • Mitt Romney - 2 delegates.
There were 2380 delegates, which means 20 delegates did not vote or were otherwise not recorded.

I have updated my Delegate Chart Page to mention the final results.

Abulsme - Thu, 4 Sep 2008, 15:29:07 PDT
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Wed 03 Sep 2008

A Good Day at Home

Plenty of me, Amy and Roscoe over the course of a day (compressed into six minutes and fifteen seconds).

[Oh yeah, and for those who hadn't noticed, the external iSight healed itself a little while ago and is now in use again for the moment.]

[Oh yeah again, sorry about the black bars on the sides. Mismatched aspect ratios. Oops.]

Abulsme - Wed, 3 Sep 2008, 23:17:05 PDT
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Officially McCain

Arizona just put him over the top in the roll call.

At the moment it is 1223 delegates McCain to 5 delegates for "others". I think those others were mostly Ron Paul, but I didn't follow closely enough to catch them when they went by. I'll look for the final official results for the Republicans once they are fully official.

Abulsme - Wed, 3 Sep 2008, 21:04:41 PDT
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Actual Final Democratic Results

I've been checking periodically, although I hadn't in a few days. On Tuesday the DNC released the actual final voting results for the roll call that was cut off when Obama was nominated by acclimation.

2008 Democratic National Convention Roll Call Results

DENVER – On Wednesday, August 27th, in a dramatic move during the calling of the Roll Call of States, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) called for a motion to nominate Barack Obama by acclamation. The Democratic National Convention approved it enthusiastically, and on Thursday, in front of a crowd of 85,000 at INVESCO Field at Mile High in Denver and 38 million Americans watching at home, Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party's nomination.

Today, the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) Office of the Secretary released the official results of the state tally sheets that were collected during voting on Wednesday.
  • Barack Obama: 3188.5
  • Hillary Clinton: 1010.5
Not noted on the official site, but with Florida and Michigan fully seated, as they eventually were, the total number of delegates was 4415. So 216 delegates did not vote or otherwise were not recorded.

My Delegate Graph Page has been updated to note the final results.

Abulsme - Wed, 3 Sep 2008, 20:52:14 PDT
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Palin Reax After Speech

There is no die-hard Republican out there still wondering about McCain's choice here. They will all be sold after this. The only question they will be asking right now is why she is the bottom of the ticket instead of the top.

Of course, this may change once the initial euphoria wears off and we see her in unscripted settings. Or if more issues about her past or her more radical views come out.

But maybe not...

Now, will it flip many undecideds? I don't know. But it seems more likely today than it did yesterday.

Abulsme - Wed, 3 Sep 2008, 20:08:04 PDT
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Midspeech Palin Reax

Palin is good. Damn good. The Democrats (and I) have made a mistake and have been underestimating her. She may be light on experience, but she's got fire and energy and is a good spokesperson for her causes. She speaks better than McCain does for sure.

I still need to see her in interviews and debates. But she gives a damn good speech.

There are many of her views that I can't stomach at all. But at the same time, during some of this she is making good points on things which I agree with. And she does it well. And makes you take her seriously.

If the Republicans lose this election, I fully expect that unless in the mean time she screws something major up, she has the potential to become a major player on the Republican side of the fence. If they lose this round, I would not be surprised in the slightest to see her make a run in the Republican primaries in 2012. And maybe even be their candidate.

In any case, she is knocking this out of the park.

Abulsme - Wed, 3 Sep 2008, 19:48:04 PDT
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Tue 02 Sep 2008

Diary of Hiram Harvey Hurlburt Jr: Chapter 8

I am thinking now as I have reached seventy four years (March 5th 1901.) that it is an unhappy talent to have eyes whose perceptions are continually looking at things in hopes to find them orderly, that is, that when one sits down in a room to look a little. To find the doors cased awry. The casing at the top would in one instance a half inch out of square, would show that much if tried in the corner with a steel square, main part 24 inches arm 18 inches. Every time I went to grandmother Bullard's her room door to the dining room door was in this condition, the work was well done, good close joints, so I wondered how it came about, for if the house were racked by wind or foundation giving out those joints would have showed it. So I asked, how the door happened so? grandmother said. "It was done by Knight Sprague a blind man, it was all done by feeling, that was his trade to do of rooms in houses and when ??? I never saw him work. The greatest puzzle to me was, how he could drive a nail and not have them come out in sight at the point to disfigure the work, but his work was free from such faults, more so than a new house I painted inside at Butte Montana in the year 1900.

Another mechanic lived across the road from my fathers that made spinning wheels, reels for yarn, chairs and bedsteads. He, James Sawyer had a lathe made in such a way as this: There was a spring pole of springy timber stretched across through his shop over head, the large end made rigid, then a rope fastened on the smaller end, then came down to the piece of timber to be turned, wound around twice then down to the treadle for ??? foot to press down, when the chisel would tackle the object, then the spring would turn the stick the other way, then another pressure with the foot, when the chisel would renew the cutting, so half the time he was turning out the article, the other half to renew the power. This was called a spring lathe.

But the next trouble about my eyes was, to find out the color of other peoples eyes. There were two men than gave me a long study. I guess thirty years before I could accomplish the feat. One was Lauren Drake. When he spoke to you he just gave one quick as a flash look, then looked right around the other way. And when he asked another question the same fashion. Finally after my fathers death in California he asked me a question about it, and I was quite sensitive about it; and in trying to answer I came near breaking up. When he just gazed at me. So I found the color to be dark blue.

Another man gave me a hunt for a long time, it was Shubal Wales, he was cross-eyed and very quick motion. He always asked questions in a way that you was sure he was looking somewhere else. I caught at the color one day when he was hewing a stick of timber that was crooked. He had struck a white chalk line to hew by, and then when he got at the job, he said, He was not going to "Debbie" around after the line! The expression amused me so much, and I laughed so heartily, that he stopped apparently astonished looking at me steadily as if to find out what I could laugh at. Then I caught the color of his eyes as dark grey.

In mentioning of this trait of recognizing people by the color of their eyes I will relate. There was a man I knew all my younger days in the Town of Ripton, VT., Timothy Winter, one of his eyes were blue, and the other about one third brown and the other two thirds blueish green. As I did not in those days say anything about my peculiar method of recognition, it was several years before I heard any one mention this peculiarity. The division in Mr. Winters were from the pupil out toward the white of the eye.

As I advanced in years this peculiar quality of observing made me considerable embarrassment. I would see a stranger and before thinking would be anxious to ascertain the color of their eyes; I would find myself so intruding before I realized that I was impertinent, before I considered that my forwardness be taken as such.

(The full diary will be located here when complete.)

Abulsme - Tue, 2 Sep 2008, 22:46:29 PDT
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Ventura 2012?

I was a bit bored by the Republican Convention tonight, although Thompson was fiery and Lieberman was... Lieberman. But this little bit caught my eye a little earlier...

Ventura Visits Planet Paul
(Stephen Spruiell, The Corner, 2 Sep 2008)

Jesse Ventura just electrified the crowd at the Ron Paul convention. He started by saying that he hadn’t given a political speech in a long time, but that he felt that this was the occasion to come out of retirement. He encouraged the crowd to boo him if they felt like it, because as a former wrestling villain, he took booing as a sign of affection.


Ventura closed by saying, “I just came out with a book called Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me. Well, I’m here.” The crowd roared. “I’m here, and believe me, with people like myself, Dr. Paul, and all the rest of us, let’s get the revolution going.”

He added, “If I see it, over the next few years, and this country shows me that it’s worth it to me to do it, maybe in 2012…” The crowd went wild again.

So you heard it here first, America. If you show Jesse Ventura that it’s worth his time, he promises that, “In 2012, we’ll give them a race they’ll never forget.”
Wait... did he just announce he was running for President in 2012? Or at least he is thinking about it? If so, he really should have run for Senate in this cycle to prepare... but in any case, we're still in the midst of THIS election cycle. Is it too early to start getting excited about 2012? I'd pay money to watch a presidential debate with a Republican, a Democrat, and Jesse Ventura on stage. That would have to be almost as good as the three way debates with Ross Perot back in the day.

Run Jesse Run!!

Abulsme - Tue, 2 Sep 2008, 21:12:03 PDT
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8th Grade Ahoy

Abulsme - Tue, 2 Sep 2008, 12:40:05 PDT
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Mon 01 Sep 2008

Babygate Rumors

Yesterday rumors were flying all over the internet that Sarah Palin's fifth child Trig was not really hers, but was actually her teenage daughter Bristol's. (The most detailed version is here.) This was prompted by the fact that there were seemingly no pictures of Palin being visibly pregnant from the right time frame, that she didn't announce her pregnancy until the 7th month or so, then apparently after she went into labor she did a 10 hour flight home to Alaska rather than having the baby in Texas where she was at the time. Meanwhile, there were pictures from that time frame of Bristol looking possibly pregnant, and Bristol had been taken out of school for quite a few months. It all sounded pretty convincing.

Then late last night someone finally dug up some pictures of Sarah Palin where she looked like she might be pregnant, possibly squashing that rumor. (The post with that info is here.)

But then again, there is still more here.

Andrew Sullivan has also been following the story closely. (Perhaps even pushing it you could say.)

This morning though, the McCain Campaign and Sarah Palin confirmed that Bristol is indeed pregnant NOW. Bristol is 17, plans to marry the father, McCain knew about it before making the choice, etc.

All I can say is that all this has been a very strange episode playing out on the internet rumor mills over the last 24 hours or so.

Abulsme - Mon, 1 Sep 2008, 10:28:46 PDT
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Sun 31 Aug 2008

Curmudgeon's Corner: Wearing It Backwards

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Hurricane Gustav
  • DemCon
  • RepCon
  • Kaboom
  • Protesters
  • Palin
  • Texas Ballot
  • Sam's iPhone
1-Click Subscribe in iTunes

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Abulsme - Sun, 31 Aug 2008, 22:30:41 PDT
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