Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Belated Re-cap

I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat. - Will Rogers

I think that quote is more self fulfilling than anything. Thursday was Missouri's congressional district caucus day. Unfortunately there was no wireless (on a university campus of all places...), so live blogging was right out, but here is the walk through as I took my notes throughout.

Doors there opened at 6:30PM and closed at 7:30. We got there just after 7. At the time there dozens of people milling about in the building's lobby and another several dozen in the auditorium/classroom where the main caucus was being held. A number of people were going around giving out form letters from Sen. Obama and a couple other party leaders recommending these people as national caucus delegates. I too walked around for a few minutes introducing myself as one wanting to be a national delegate.

Shortly after 7:30 we all took our seats as the head of the caucus meeting took the stage and called us to order. We then proceeded to go through roll call, going through twenty or thirty precincts worth of state delegates. Due to horrible communications, both at the precinct caucuses and in the month since, a large number of delegates didn't come to this meeting because they either weren't fully informed about the caucus or were told, as we were, that this was optional. After 45 minutes of this, there were 7 delegate seats for Clinton lost (I think just on the congressional caucus level, not state, but I'm not sure) and 18 Obama delegate seats. This left the Clinton caucus with 34 delegates and Obama with 70. Out of these, we needed to pick a total of 7 delegates to send to the national convention - 2 for Clinton, 5 for Obama and no alternates at our caucus.

To do this, we were split into our respective groups and a temporary caucus chairman was appointed to each group. For some reason, the main caucus chair already had a Clinton caucus chair picked, but asked for volunteers for the Obama caucus. The person in charge of our precinct caucus, Matt Robinson, was floated as a chair, but the main chair said "He's in charge of too many of my meetings lately, does someone else want to do it." Another gentleman near the front was the loudest one and most easily seen and was quickly appointed.

We then went upstairs to our separate conference rooms where the actual delegates were supposed to sit at the front of the room and alternates and observers were supposed to sit in the back. Of course, there was no enforcement of this so who knows what actually happened. After we all got in and took our seats, the temporary chairman was elected permanent chair because no one else wanted to compete for it.

Then came the mess of trying to pick our delegates. In order to be a national delegate and sent to the convention in Denver, we had to have already filled out Form F3, a fact not all of us were told in our precinct caucuses (Jaelithe and I only found out through her digging into it). This meant that many of us either didn't have the necessary paperwork, or didn't know if it was already filled out. So for the next thirty minutes we debated back and forth the best way to verify that all the potential delegates had the proper paperwork while the chairman repeated the quote above.

Eventually we started nominating delegates, men only first (we had to pick two men and three women) and the state officials with the list of people who filled out Form F3 (yes, there was a list, the debate was whether we should read out the names in advance or as the names were nominated) checked that we were eligible. Some people were nominating themselves, others were nominating boyfriends, brothers, sons, fathers, etc. My wife stood up and nominated me, making the comment that I was her husband. Later, I noticed that Mr. Robinson hadn't yet been nominated, even though I knew he wanted to be a delegate, so I raised my hand to nominate him. The chairman looked at me and said "I see your plan. Your wife nominated you and you are going to nominate her." Then he moved right past me and wouldn't listen to me. This completely ignored the fact that we weren't nominating women and people were nominating themselves. He went on making fun of half the other people nominated and complained that so many people wanted to participate.

Eventually twenty men were nominated. According to Form F3, we were supposed to be allowed one minute to make a speech and introduce ourselves. Instead the chairman was unwilling to give us any time, but was eventually forced to give us ten seconds each. And not a real ten seconds, instead the chairman would count to ten on his hand. If the candidate took less than "ten seconds" the chairman would then go on the mic and say "Wow, he only took 9 seconds!" (wasting more time than the speech itself.)

Then came the voting. Everyone was given a piece of green paper on which to write the names of two men. Now, according to the original roll call, we were only supposed to have 70 votes. The first vote, we wound up with more than that. Then we took fifteen minutes debating how to re-vote. Eventually we decided to do a roll call and give each delegate a piece of paper to do the second vote. So one person started calling out our names, and the chairman handed out the papers. Unfortunately, the names were called one after the other and were not matched against who was giving out the papers. After the second vote we had eighty-eight votes. Since it was the same number twice, we went with it.

While we were counting the men's votes, we started nominating the women. This time twenty-three candidates were nominated and, since most of the craziness was already worked out with the men, it went a bit smoother. The chairman still didn't want to let anyone speak, but was forced to give them the same "ten seconds" as the men. The best moment of this was when one of the women wouldn't give up the mic saying "You know we all have wanted to do this to him."

All the votes were finally counted. I ended with seven votes and Jae got ten. The winners however were Darryl Piggee, Burt Boxerman, Yaphett El-Amin, Jennifer Haro, April Ford Griffin - all party insiders except Jennifer Haro, who is the head of St. Louis's Obama group. I expect that these people will represent us well, but if it's just insiders in these caucuses, many of us outside may still question the outcome.

Here's hoping the state convention is better organized and maybe it won't be just insiders going to the national as Missouri's "at-large" delegates. Maybe they'll even have wireless...

For more info, check out my wife's write-ups over at her blog and Momocrats.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Picture is Worth

A moving mural by Nico Pitney, national editor of the Huffington Post.

Thanks to Kimy over at Mouse Medicine for sharing this.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

How the Media Got Wright Wrong

Florida, Iraq War, George Bush, Swftboats, Hannity, Coulter, Rove - you would think with a record like this of lie after lie people would start to catch on that Faux News has issues with telling the truth. But no, time and again the MSM goes back to them and repeats their talking points. This time it is Sen. Barack Obama and his former pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright Jr. who have drawn their ire.

All of you, those not living in caves, by now have seen the clips this "news" agency has put out on the reverend. All of you have seen media source after media source parrot the idea that Barack must harbor, exclusively, these 10 second sound bites and hate America and white people. And we, as a country, have eaten it up. If it's on TV it must be true, right?

But any honest journalist, especially one dealing with politics, knows that context is king. Just watching Colbert's "Better Know a District" segment will show you what a sound bite can be used for. You can make anyone sound like the biggest idiot or racist bigot if you get just the right 10 seconds. Yet the "journalists" at media outlet after media outlet failed to acknowledge this most basic fact.

Fortunately, Rev. Wright's former church has started a YouTube channel with the full sermons. Snippets like "America's chickens have come home to roost" are turned into sermons decrying violence as a response to violence and a call to love our enemies. "God damn America" is turned to God is a god of love who is against oppression.

I leave you now with the actual post 9-11 sermon Wright gave to Trinity United:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In Memoriam

This is my small contribution to the Iraq Blogswarm.

Iraq Blogswarm Mar.19

I am a member of an increasingly smaller group of Americans. I am a person who has not lost a close friend or relative to this war. But I don't live in a bubble. I do know some who have been directly affected by this travesty that has taken almost 4000 members of our armed services from us; this insanity that has left hundreds of thousands of our military members wounded and many permanently disabled.

The most personal was a girl my wife used to work with. Months before, she got engaged. This was just before her fiancee was called up and sent off to Iraq. She hung on every news report coming out of Iraq, always worried that the worst would happen. Just a month before he was scheduled to come home, he was killed. Many of you have heard or been a part of similar stories and my heart goes out to all of you.

I also work some weekends as a wedding DJ. Most of the time, I don't know too much about the people I am working for (I work for a larger DJ company that just gets me the show). But one time, late last fall, one of the couples I was working for brought me much deeper into their personal story. The groom and his brother both were serving in the Marines. The groom had already served one tour in Iraq and expected to have to go back. His brother was in Iraq during the wedding. Even so, he wanted to have a part in his brother's wedding. He sent his mother a video toast from the front lines. This was a complete surprise to the bride and groom and I don't think there was a dry eye left in the room afterward. Every time I hear of a local soldier killed, I pray that it is not a member of this couple's family.

These aren't unique stories, many of you others writing for this blogswarm I'm sure have much more personal stories of loss and bravery. I just want to add my voice to those honoring these brave soldiers' sacrifices. I ask that we don't use this loss to seek further revenge; that we don't fall into the trap of "we can't let these soldiers die in vain." They didn't die in vain; they died reminding us how precious all lives are. They died showing us how valuable and important an asset a strong military truly is and how it shouldn't be used fighting a lie like this war is.

I want to leave you with one good thing this war has done. It has brought an entire generation of citizens directly into the political process. It has shown us that politics isn't some nebulous thing that only affects us at tax time. It has shown us that politics is personal and can reach into our lives and tear out a part of us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Photo from CNN

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Road to the nomination

I recently put up a post with my prediction for the general election to answer the electability question for the two Democratic candidates (I have been updating it slightly as new primary results come in). Basically, it showed both are equally likely to be elected come November, but Obama had a lead in states that could be brought back into play.

Now I would like to turn those numbers to something a little more immediate, the Democratic nomination. I will be leaving currently unpledged super delegates out of the equation for now. My general idea on them is that both candidates are correct - Clinton is correct that technically they can vote however they want; Obama is correct that if they are seen to overturn the will of the people, there will be hell to pay.

They delegates, as they stand today (I'm not sure if they include the recent changes in Iowa and California) Obama is in the lead with 1,618 (1,411 pledged) against Clinton's 1,479 (1,242 pledged) - a healthy 169 pledged delegate lead - only 139 total. In order to catch up to Obama, Clinton will need to win about 65% of the delegates (there are 566 pledged delegates still open) from the remaining contests. Even so, Obama would need to win almost 72% of the remaining non-super delegates to make it to the 2,024 needed to clinch the nomination.

I don't see either of these things happening. Instead, this is the break down I see, based on current polls and similar states won (play with the delegate counts as you see fit on CNN):

PA Clinton - 55% 87
Obama - 45% 71
IN Clinton - 55% 40
Obama - 45% 32
WV Clinton - 53% 15
Obama - 47% 13
OR Clinton - 45% 23
Obama - 55% 29
SD Clinton - 40% 6
Obama - 60% 9
GU Clinton - 35% 1
Obama - 65% 3
NC Clinton - 48% 55
Obama - 52% 60
KY Clinton - 55% 28
Obama - 45% 23
MT Clinton - 44% 7
Obama - 56% 9
PR Clinton - 55% 30
Obama - 45% 25

This will give Obama 1,685 pledged, plus his current 207 super delegates is 1,892. Clinton would have 1,532 pledged (a 16 delegate gain), plus her current 237 super delegates giving her 1,769 total. There are only 351 super delegates that haven't pledged their support yet - Clinton would need about 73% of them to support her, Obama would need about 38%.

Oh, but wait! Clinton has also been asking that the Florida and Michigan delegates be seated. This would add 210 delegates from Florida and 156 delegates from Michigan (I couldn't find a break down of regular and super here). If we seat them as they voted already, that would add 191 delegates to Clinton's total and (if we give the Michigan undecideds to Obama) 132 delegates to Obama - pushing their totals to 2,024 for Obama and 1,723 for Clinton. Obama would win without any more super delegates. If they re-voted those totals would be greatly different, especially as Michigan may even switch to Obama (he would at least get better than the 40% "undecided" got almost two months ago).

Be careful what you wish for.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I see your bet

Too bad he can't raise McCain one.

Earlier today, John McCain called on fellow Senators Obama and Clinton to release the earmarks they requested. This is part of an initiative he is co-sponsoring to block all earmarks for one year. According to information released last month, Clinton was in the top 10 Senators requesting earmarks, having requested more than $340 million in 2007, Obama was in the bottom 25 Senators, having requested $91 million, and John McCain (and my home state Senator, Claire McCaskill) are among the 5 Senators that did not request any earmarks.

Both Democratic candidates have agreed to co-sponsor the amendment proposed by Jim DeMint amendment to the 2009 budget. Sen. Obama has also, with a very quick turn around, released a full list of his earmark requests, not only from the 2007 budget year, but also from 2006. This list also includes a full description of what the request would do. I haven't looked over the full list (it's $91 mil., and, just skimming it, the average request is for 1/2 to 3/4 of a million), but it includes requests for scientific grants for local universities, law enforcement funding, education, health, and others. Dig through it, let me know what you find.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Week of the Mighty Falling

This has been quite a week. From the Elliot Spitzer mess, to Geraldine Ferraro, to Clinton losing more ground in both the popular vote and delegates.

The Spitzer stuff has been much better covered by other bloggers, so I will leave it to them to discuss. I'm not from NY anyway, so my knowledge of him and everything else is limited. Suffice it to say it is sad to see someone who has been a fighter against corporate America fall and give those same corporate leaders a chance to dance with glee...

Where do I start with Ferraro? I can't think of any way she could have said what she did worse (at least not before she responded this morning). Anytime someone tells a minority that "the only reason you got to where you are is because you are a _____" you are asking to be labeled with an -ist. If I were to say to any woman CEO, legislator, or anything else that the only reason she was where she is is because she is a woman, I would deserve whatever she would dish out. The same goes for Ferraro. Do I think that she is a racist? No, I sincerely doubt it, but her comments were.

And I wish I could say that was where it ended, but it got worse. When Clinton was asked about the comments, her response was "I didn't say it." She went on to say she regretted that those words were said, but I still haven't caught any hint of a rejection or denunciation that she demanded so strongly of Obama after Farrakhan's endorsement. Then Ferraro responded by saying "They're attacking me because I'm white." My mind still can't wrap around what sort of mind set went behind that statement.

I also wanted to address the actual content of her statement. I do not believe that Obama got where he is now just because of his race, any more than Clinton got where she is because of her gender. Has identity politics entered into this race? Yes, for both of them. But the effect of that would favor Clinton by almost a 2 to 1 margin. Women make up 51% of the population at last estimate, African Americans are about 30%. The glass ceiling argument has also been used similarly, but again that favors Clinton over Obama, this time with 4:1 or better odds. Just a few numbers: there are 8 female governors currently, 29 historically - there are now (after Spitzer resigned) 2 black governors, 4 historically; 16 (80 in both houses) women Senators, 35 (251 in both houses) historically - 1 (42 in both houses) black Senator, 5 (121 in both houses) historically; 10 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, 4 black. Worldwide (outside of Africa) there have been (historically) 39 women elected heads of state; not one black (that I could find, updates are welcome).

Barack Obama is leading the presidential race not because he is black, that's been a negative in a number of votes. He is leading because his message and his vision for the future of the nation has resonated with more people. More people believe his policies are better than Clinton's. More people prefer the campaign Obama is running. These are not white/black issues; these are not male/female issues. These are the candidates themselves, and they have no one to blame for where they are in the race except themselves.

As for the elections themselves, Obama now leads the state count 28 1/2 to 14 1/2 (including FL and MI), delegate count 1404 to 1243 (pledged), and popular vote 12.5 million to 12.1 million (without FL and MI). If you include FL and MI, with Obama getting 0 votes in MI, Clinton gets a 146,956 vote lead, but if you give Obama the 40% undecided votes from MI, it swings back in his favor by 90,806 votes. The popular vote also ignores (dare I say, disenfranchises?) the voters in 14 caucuses, 13 of which went for Obama. This week also raised the number of states won by 20% or better to 18 to 1 in favor of Obama. (all stats via CNN's election center)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Note to self

When running a political campaign, make sure I know who the actors/actresses are.

Apparently, not only does she support Obama, she is a precinct captain and a delegate on her way to the state convention...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Electoral math

This is something that has come up again and again, especially as the delegates have been close in the Democratic race. Based on the primaries to date and the vote in 2004, here is the breakdown I see so far (the percentages won't add up to 100%, they are my guess to each candidate's chance of winning that state):

* - won by candidate
** - no candidates campaigned after mid 2007
*** - Only candidate on the ballot still in the race

Summary: I'm pretty sure, just going back over the percents I put up there, the primaries have slanted these numbers in the favor of the Democrats. Anything 60% or greater is almost guaranteed for that candidate, 40% - 59% are states that will have to be fought over, and less than 40% is not likely. For electoral votes this gives: Obama has 203 mostly guaranteed, 152 with a better than even chance and 123 that may be fought for; Clinton has 204 mostly guaranteed, 151 with a better than even chance and 101 that may be fought for; McCain has 121 mostly guaranteed, 195 with a better than even chance and 37 that may be fought for. This definitely gives the Democrat an advantage in the upcoming general election and gives Obama a slight edge by bringing more states in play.

What worries me the most is how the numbers from the primary turnouts will change depending on the candidate chosen by the Democrats. Obama has been able to get people to turn out that almost never do, especially not for primaries and caucuses - the young and the african-americans. Clinton has very strong support among women, many of whom may see the selection of Obama as a slight against women and may not turn out themselves, or may go the way so-called "security moms" have gone in the past and vote for the Republican.

What I believe, more than anything, is that both candidates need to work together if we want to win in November. The smear tactics that have been going on lately in the Democratic race need to stop. It will only weaken our position come November, and throwing this clear opportunity away would hurt us more than anything.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Emblematic of the campaigns

These are the two campaign chants that you hear most often in rallies for the two Democratic candidates and I believe show the heart of the actual campaigns and what they want to accomplish.

Yes WE can!

Yes SHE will!

The presidency isn't about ego. A democratic (small "d") leader works for the people.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

One of _______'s laws of politics

"If one candidate is trying to scare you and the other one is try get you to think, if one candidate is appealing to your fears and the other one is appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope."

Follow the link to see who is endorsing Obama's message now.