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Posted via LiveJournal.app.

Edit: not you, [livejournal.com profile] actjack, I'm sure you already have ones that look like that. :-)
topaz: (shooting stars)
The current story of the day is: Obama wins the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize!  OMGWTF?  He hasn't done anything for it yet!  He got the prize for not being George W. Bush!  This is just cheap politics!

To which I say: I am shocked, shocked, to learn that politics may have been behind the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize!
topaz: (thinky)
I missed this over the last couple of days, but, apparently, on Tuesday Obama plans to give a speech to public school kids across the country, telling them to work hard and stay in school.  That announcement has left conservatives apoplectic with rage at its socialist message.

Some parents are pulling their kids out of school to make sure they are not tricked into staying in school!  In response to parental pressure, a number of school boards have chosen to issue permission slips or not show the speech at all, thereby remaining shrewdly neutral on the question of whether or not kids should go to school.  (I think that for a school board to take this stance must be an example of what they call "reverse psychology.")

I wish I could say that this was an Onion headline, but holy shit, it's really happening.

Is it possible that we have reached peak wingnut?  I almost hope not.
topaz: (Great Brook)
The cover of this week's New Yorker completely blew me away:

topaz: (Default)
I've been wanting to write something more about what this year's presidential election meant to me personally.  It's not just the tremendous relief after the disastrous policy of the last eight years, or the exhilaration of actually electing an African-American president, or the anticipation of repairing our relationships with other nations.  It's all of those things, but it is much, much deeper too.

So I need to tell you all a little about Al.


Al Lowenstein was a New York congressman in the early 1970s.  He was one of the first people to try to bring the horrors of the government of South West Africa to light in the 1950s and 1960s.  As an activist in the late 1960s, he became something of a minor figurehead in the anti-war movement.  He earned himself a spot on Nixon's enemies list.

He was, in other words, our kind of people.

My parents worked enthusiastically on his Congressional campaign in 1972.  As a result of their involvement they got to know both Al and his wife Jenny quite well.  For years afterward we would vacation with their family often.  Al's kids were like cousins to me -- closer, in some ways, than my blood cousins -- and to this day Jenny is one of my mother's closest friends.

Al Lowenstein was assassinated when I was nine years old.  I was much too young to have a first-hand memory of his political work.  But I grew up hearing stories about his charisma, his energy and his optimism.  How he could arrive late for a speech, tie askew and hair rumpled, to an audience of cranky, impatient listeners who had been waiting for thirty minutes in a crowded and stuffy auditorium in the height of the summer -- and how, from the moment he entered the room, he would hold his audience spellbound, riveted, hanging on his every word.  How he could start with a room full of dispirited, dejected people and leave them pumped up, rejuvenated, and convinced they could make something happen.

I grew up with these stories in my ears.

Then, last January, when Obama won the Iowa primary -- "They said this day would never come" -- they came to mind again.  And again at his "A More Perfect Union" speech in Philadelphia.  And again.  And again.

Because when I hear Obama speak, I hear Al's words in my ears.  When I hear Obama talk about change, I hear Al inviting me to imagine just what we could do if we all worked together.

That is what Barack Obama's election means to me.  It is the legacy of Al Lowenstein.  Al's dream was millions of people, convinced that by working together they can make a better world.  Last week we took another step to make that a reality.  And in my mind I am thanking Al Lowenstein.
topaz: (hands)
I posted something about this in [livejournal.com profile] ronebofh's journal, but it's been getting a lot of attention, so:

Did California's Proposition 8 pass because of increased black turnout in the state?  Barack Obama's Presidential campaign this year dramatically increased the level of black voter participation over its usual level, but exit polls indicated that black voters favored Proposition 8 by a 70-30 margin (whites opposed it by 49-51).  Obama himself is on record as opposing same-sex marriage, and has taken some heat for expressing only very lukewarm opposition to Prop 8 and only in the final days of the campaign.  So white liberals have begun asking: did Prop 8 pass because Obama incidentally drew homophobic voters to the polls?

CNN posted exit polls that tell some of the story: http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls/#CAI01p1.  We have to assume that the exit polls are reasonably representative of how the general population actually voted.  That's not necessarily a safe assumption, but since people are already saying that black voters votes 70% in favor of Prop 8, it's clear that we've already accepted that premise.

Now, I'm no Nate Silver, but I don't think this question is that complicated:

10,357,002 votes cast on Prop 8.
5,425,000 were yes votes.

63% of all votes (6,525,000) came from whites.
49% of those (3,197,000) were cast in favor of Prop 8.
That's 31% of the total of all votes cast.

10% of votes (1,035,000) came from blacks.
70% of those (725,000) were cast in favor of Prop 8.
That's 7% of the total of all votes cast.

18% of votes (1,864,000) came from Latinos.
53% of those (988,000) were cast in favor of Prop 8.
That's 10% of the total of all votes cast.

So of all 10 million votes cast in California:
31% of them were white voters who voted "yes" on 8.
7% of them were black voters who voted "yes" on 8.
10% of them were from Latino voters who voted "yes" on 8.

So what?


1. Black voters didn't pass Prop 8.  In terms of the percentage of the "yes" votes cast on the ballot measure and in the absolute number of votes, they were dwarfed both by white and Latino voters who voted for it.

2. Increased black turnout for Obama didn't pass Prop 8, either.  Black voters usually make up 6.7% of the electorate in California.  If Obama's campaign drew 300,000 more voters to the polls than usual, and 70% of those people voted for Proposition 8, that's only about 200,000 votes.  Proposition 8 passed by half a million.  It would have passed even if the black vote was at its usual non-Obama levels.

And, at the risk of sounding like the Monday morning quarterback:

3. Same-sex marriage advocates failed at outreach.  We knew that black turnout in this election was going to be extremely high, and that urban black voters have not tended to favor gay rights issues in the past.  In the end, 70% of black citizens voted to kill gay marriage.  We had an opportunity to engage in a more aggressive dialogue there and we blew it.  Not that we didn't try.  But it wasn't enough.

4. Same-sex marriage advocates failed at organizing, period.  White voters did vote against Proposition 8, but only by a razor-thin margin -- 49-51.  We should have been able to do much better than that.  Gay advocates got complacent with our early polls showing a landslide against the amendment, and we let the Mormons outflank us.

5. Dan Savage needs to get over himself, girlfriend.
topaz: (Default)
This morning I drove past the "his & hers" signs I posted here last week.

Only the "hers" sign was still up.
topaz: (profile)
Election Day 2008, Carlisle MA

Carlisle, Massachusetts
November 4, 2008, 8:55am
topaz: (Default)

his & hers, originally uploaded by qwrrty.

Now this is what I call democracy in action.

topaz: (Default)
Obama buttons are here!  I'm not likely to be in Cambridge/Somerville this weekend but will find a way to get these to y'all as soon as I am able.
topaz: (Quinn - bike)
My friend Allen's post on what six-year-olds think of the election reminded me of this recent conversation from our household:

Me: Do you have a preference for who you want to be President?
Morgan: Yeah, Barack Obama.
Quinn: I want John McCain to be President.
Me: Really?  Why is that?
Quinn: I don't know.
Me: What do you like about John McCain?
Quinn: I don't know.


Quinn: Is John McCain the one with dark skin?
Me: No, John McCain has white hair.  Barack Obama has dark skin.
Quinn: Oh, yeah, Barack Obama.  That's who I mean.
topaz: (tiger!)
I stole this from [livejournal.com profile] urbpan, mostly so I wouldn't have to copy all of the links myself.

Are you an Obama supporter?

Do you wear buttons?

If so, you really really need to get yourself to DemocraticStuff.com:


And that's really just the tip of the iceberg.
topaz: February 20, 2008 (lunar eclipse)
Yesterday's On Point addressed the competing economic plans of John McCain and Barack Obama, with Larry Summers arguing for Obama's plan and John Taylor arguing for McCain.  (Summers and Taylor have apparently been serving as economic advisers to the Obama and McCain campaigns, respectively.)

There's audio for this interview here: http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/2008/09/the-financial-crisis/

The debate turned into a shouting match pretty quickly.  Lots of fireworks between from about 16:00 to 24:00.  This was one of the highlights for me (starting about 19:27):
Summers: "John, are you prepared to make available a detailed budget, documenting your claim that Senator McCain will balance the budget by 2013, for external scrutiny, and to show where the cuts are from? You've made that claim in a very strong and direct way.  Is that something you're prepared to make available for external scrutiny?"

Taylor: "Well, the information has already been made available to the Tax Policy Center---"

Summers: "And what was the Tax Policy Center's conclusion, John?  Its conclusion was that there will be trillions of dollars of extra deficits in Senator McCain's plan, relative to Senator Obama's plan, was the conclusion of the Tax Policy Center -- trillions of dollars of debt that would --"

Taylor: "I don't think they included anything on spending, they included nothing on spending on this, and so I'd say the information is there, you're welcome to go look at it, but their interpretation, where you just don't include any spending control, is completely--"

Summers: "John, I am -- I'm sorry -- I am sorry that you are speaking in this way."
You can hear him biting his tongue, trying not to call Taylor a liar on the air in as many words.  Marvelous theater.

Andrew Sullivan has been writing on what he calls the "odd lies" of Sarah Palin.  What makes these lies odd is that they are so naked -- so easily disproven.  It makes you wonder why they would even try to lie about such things.  Taylor seems to be doing the same thing here.  What does he think he can get away with?  It makes no sense.
topaz: (madblog)
U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) slams McCain for picking Sarah Palin for VP: "She doesn't have any foreign policy credentials," Hagel said in an interview published Thursday by the Omaha World-Herald. "You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don't know what you can say. You can't say anything." (AP)

FiveThirtyEight.com reports on the state of the race and asks: Is McCain In Trouble?  (Hint: yes, they think he is.)

"This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.... 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." --Wick Allison, former publisher of the National Review.

(The fuckin' National Review!)
topaz: (Default)
"There was a protest by approximately 80 Obama supporters going on outside the Pavilion. They were loud, and clearly served their purpose of infuriating the 1,000-1,500 folks standing outside watching on the big screen. I watched as grinning University of Nevada College Republicans easily filled volunteer call time and canvassing sheets as the Obama folks did all the recruiting necessary.

Since it seemed so absurdly counterproductive to loudly chant “liar” over every speaker (bad manners backfire in many parts of the world, certainly in this one) I inquired with both the Obama protesters and with Obama’s field office whether this was coordinated in any way. Both told me no, and the Obama field office answer came with an eye roll. That gave me all I needed to know about what the campaign thought of the protesters spending a Sunday afternoon not making phone calls or knocking on doors and instead inspiring Republicans to work hard against them."

(From FiveThirtyEight.com, "On The Road: Carson City, Nevada")

topaz: (HTH)
La la la la, we're all about the "lipstick on a pig" today, aren't we?  Boy!

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com had this to say about the whole foofraw:
My first reaction upon hearing Barack Obama's "lipstick on a pig" remark was that it was deliberate. Not a deliberate attempt to smear Sarah Palin per se, but a deliberate attempt to provoke exactly the sort of fanatical reaction that they have gotten from the Republicans. The McCain campaign has spent a week campaigning on big themes and big personalities, and gotten a fair amount of mileage out of it. This takes everyone back down a notch, back down to the tedium and banality of partisan politics. It would be wishful thinking to call it a momentum-changer, but it may by default be a momentum-stopper. The convention/Palinmania phase of the news cycle -- a phase the Republicans clearly thought they were winning -- is now over. ("Lipstick", FiveThirtyEight.com)
Nate is a number cruncher -- a statistician whose day job is as a managing partner at Baseball Prospectus.  He's not a professional political analyst.  But I think sometimes he should be.  His posts at FiveThirtyEight are absolutely required reading for this campaign.  He brings a rigor and frankness to his polling analysis that, as far as I can tell, no one else is doing.  It's extraordinary.

Having said that, there's something to be said for sticking to what you know, and what Nate Silver writes about political strategy should certainly be taken with a grain of salt.  But he still is one of the calmer, more level-headed political observers I've seen out there this season, and I think that his data-driven approach puts him in a better position to evaluate each campaign's strategy than most of the blowhards.  It's marvelous stuff.
topaz: (frowny)
For the love of God, people, can we drop this nonsense about how maybe Trig Palin is really Sarah Palin's granddaughter?  Christ on a crutch.  This story is so stupid it makes the "Barack Obama in a limousine with cocaine and gay hookers" line sound like an NPR report.

At the moment the Democrats are not, for once, the dumbest party in the country.  Let us please keep it that way for another few months.  Thank you.
topaz: (Default)
Barring some completely out-of-the-blue catastrophe (like two debate halls in a row being destroyed by meteors), in January we will have either a black President or a female Vice-President.

No matter what we think of either candidate, it's a long-overdue step forward.
topaz: (Default)
More reasons why I like Obama: the guy's got brass.
Barack Obama is turning his attention to winning over traditionally Republican-voting US states in his campaign to be the next US president.

Days after gaining enough delegates to win the Democratic Party nomination, Mr Obama is holding rallies in Virginia - last won by a Democrat nominee in 1964. (BBC)

April 2012


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