Friday, November 28, 2008 Cool website for factchecking.

They've got an article up now researching Hillary Clinton's foreign affairs experience that is relevant to her upcoming Secretary of State nomination.

Dick Morris' comments about her are particularly offensive,
"Clinton critics like Dick Morris, a onetime political adviser to President Bill Clinton, ridiculed her foreign agenda as little more than ceremonial fluff.

'During her international travels, there was no serious diplomacy, just a virtually endless round of meetings with women, visiting arts-and-crafts centers, watching native industries and photo opportunities for the local media,' Morris wrote recently."

As though "meetings with women" are inherently trivial. Grr.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fashion Slide Show - Michelle Obama

I like how she is always smiling, and radiates such warmth and energy.

And here's an article on the dress she wore on election night.


Universal Voter Registration

New York Times is reporting growing support for a federal system that would automatically register all eligible voters. This is way past due. We don't have a Department of Voter Registration in the federal government because states have authority over election issues. But we really need federal oversight, or help at least. My understanding is that most of Western Europe uses this kind of system. I spoke with a woman from the BBC who said that in England when you turn 18, you get a notice in the mail, saying your voter registration is ready, and you just have to go down and sign it. The system proposed in this article sounds even simpler, you would be registered automatically. One question I have is - what are the opportunities to register for people who for some reason get accidentally left out?

"There is also increasing support for broadly expanding voter registration rolls, possibly by having the federal government require the states to make registration automatic for all eligible voters. Supporters say universal registration could reduce registration fraud and the confusion at the polls that results when voters are purged from the rolls.

Such a plan would be costly and technologically difficult, and it could run into resistance from Republicans who have been wary of expanding registration, citing concerns about ineligible voters being added to the rolls. Some state officials say they would prefer to set registration standards themselves.

But independent experts say easier registration and voting methods would ensure that huge crowds like those on Tuesday turn out without being discouraged by the long delays experienced in many states."


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Triumph's Advice to Voters

Here’s the cool video that Triumph made for the “Holler Back” benefit.

The music is from Corb Lund - who is in the soundtrack of the film. The track is called Expectation and the Blues. It's an awesome song.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Video the Vote Instructions


Or watch it on youtube.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

4 Swing States

Courtesy of JustOneMinute

"Karl Rove sees four battleground states for the Presidential race - Colorado, Virginia, Michigan, and Ohio."

An excerpt from Karl's Op Ed in the Wall Street Journal
"Other states will see serious competition, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Hampshire, Missouri and Wisconsin. But Colorado, Virginia, Michigan and Ohio are likely to be the center of the action. To win, Mr. Obama needs to pick up 18 electoral votes more than John Kerry received, meaning Mr. Obama must carry Colorado or Virginia and add another small state to his column. If Mr. McCain carries Michigan as well as Ohio, it would make Mr. Obama's Electoral College math very difficult. And if Mr. McCain can limit GOP losses to one or two small states from those won by the GOP in 2004, he'll be America's 44th president."


Monday, September 29, 2008

Why Vote? The Candidates Don't. reports that McCain and Obama may both skip the vote on the bailout. The article says that Obama hasn't cast a vote in the Senate since July, and McCain has skipped all votes since March. According the the voter guide prepared by Project VoteSmart Obama missed 6 of the 17, or around 30% of the votes they considered significant and McCain missed a whopping 9 of the 17 - or almost 50%.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

2 Views of Sarah Palin

Kirsten Powers

"Since they didn't know anything about her, they started making things up. Anything that fit the caricature of a right-wing hypocrite was thrown up with, seemingly, no fact-checking.

They said she opposes contraception, when she said in a campaign debate that she is pro-contraception. They said she cut funding for pregnant teens, when she provided a massive funding hike.

They accused her of cutting funding for mentally disabled children, when she raised it 175 percent over the former administration. She was said to have been a member of the wacky Alaska Independence Party; The New York Times had to run a retraction."

Deepak Chopra

"Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from “us” pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of “I’m all right, Jack,” and “Why change? Everything’s OK as it is.” The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness."


Friday, September 5, 2008

Both Campaigns Raking in the Dough


"John McCain's campaign expects to leave the Republican National Convention with $200 million in the bank and be able to match the Democrats' spending in the next two months, an aide said.

...Obama, 47, has raised more than $400 million for his presidential campaign. Since clinching the nomination in June, he has raised about $80 million a month for his campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

His fundraising goal, if met, may mean $100 million more to spend on the campaign than the Republicans."

Imagine if the campaigns spent $50 million dollars each and the rest of the money went to teach civics in the schools. That might be a real contribution to better government.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Reflection on a Potential McCain Administration

The Palin controversies point to something much more important than her daughter being pregnant. They indicate that John McCain, under pressure from social conservatives made an immensely important decision - who will be President, if he's elected, and something happens to him - in haste, and without full knowledge or preparation. The NY Times is reporting an almost nonexistant vetting of Palin.

"Representative Gail Phillips, a Republican and former speaker of the State House, said the widespread surprise in Alaska when Ms. Palin was named to the ticket made her wonder how intensively the McCain campaign had vetted her.

'I started calling around and asking, and I have not been able to find one person that was called,” Ms. Phillips said. 'I called 30 to 40 people, political leaders, business leaders, community leaders. Not one of them had heard. Alaska is a very small community, we know people all over, but I haven’t found anybody who was asked anything.' "

We've all seen in Iraq that rushed decisions made under pressure from certain segments of a president's team can have disastrous consequences.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Obama assassination plot revealed

"One of the men arrested, Nathan Johnson said the other two men, Tharin Gatrell and Shawn Robert Adolph, "had planned to kill Barack Obama...on Thursday...," which was why they were in Denver, and that "Adolph was going to shoot Obama from a high vantage point using a 22-250 rifle which had been sighted at 750 yards." According to the FBI, "Johnson was directly asked if they had come to Denver to kill Obama and he responded in the affirmative." The Denver police found in their possession two high-powered rifles with scopes, 85 rounds of ammunition, a bullet-proof vest, walkie-talkies, wigs, fake I.D.s, hotel reservations near the convention and 4.4 grams of methamphetamine, an amount, however, too small to be charged with more than simple possession. (Yet, for some reason, Colorado U.S. Attorney Troy Eid put a much greater focus on this relatively little amount of meth and their use of it than on the other apparent highly incriminating pieces of evidence obtained, including Johnson's statements). All three men have long criminal records, are suspected of having ties to white supremacist groups, and one of the men, Adolph, who was on the Weld County, Colo., sheriff department's "Most Wanted" list for burglary, larceny, aggravated motor vehicle theft and other charges, has a violent criminal history and is being held on $1 million bond for outstanding warrants."

"During U.S. Attorney of Colorado Troy Eid's peculiar press conference Tuesday night, he characterized the men as "just a bunch of meth heads," framing his question-and-answer session with reporters more like an anti-drug campaign sloganeer than a chief law enforcement official: "You know, I don't know, uh, bunch of meth heads get together, I don't know what they do, I don't get inside their brain. But we take them very seriously what they do. I have to just emphasize this is a group of people, there were a number of people, that are using meth. I don't know how many of you know meth, anyone here not know about meth? This is a really terrible drug. People do all sorts of stupid things on meth." He followed that response with: "There is no credible threat right now and there was no credible threat based on the evidence that we have to Senator Obama or anybody else related to what we know about this case." Asked what the weapons could be for (not to mention the ammo, bullet-proof vest, wigs, fake I.D.s, etc.), Eid answered only, "You know, I don't know what they were for and we'll keep looking into that." Eid went on to say, "You know, they didn't, they didn't reveal a plan. I think what you can see in the affidavit was, uh, a lot of racist rantings and a lot of dislike for the idea of Senator Obama as an African-American person of color being able to pursue that office."


Sarah Palin

From this article about the 3 women who were under consideration for the Republican VP pick, including Sarah Palin.
Sarah Palin

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin may be nationally unknown, but in her state she is nothing short of a political phenomenon.

Palin, 44, would add youth to the GOP ticket. As governor she has shown a willingness to veto some of the state’s large capital projects, no small plus for fiscal conservatives. But it’s her personal biography, which excites social conservatives, and reformist background that might most appeal to McCain.

She’s stridently anti-abortion, and recently brought to term her fifth child — who she knew would have Down syndrome. A hunter, fisher and family woman with a rapid professional rise, Palin is a natural for Republican framing.

In 1982, Palin led her underdog high school basketball team to the state championship, earning the nickname “Sarah Barracuda.” Two years later she won the beauty pageant in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska — and was also named “Miss Congeniality.” By her early thirties, she was the mayor of Wasilla.

In 2003, as ethics commissioner on the state's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, she risked her rising political star by resigning her position in protest of ethical misconduct within the state’s Republican leadership as well as then-Gov. Frank Murkowski’s acceptance of that impropriety. Though this briefly made her an outcast within the party, within a year several state Republican heavyweights were reprimanded for the conduct she’d decried.

Her reputation with the party thus redeemed, Palin defeated Murkowski in the 2006 Republican primary on the way to being elected governor.

As governor, she’s continued challenging the state’s powers that be, even winning tax increases on oil companies’ profits. Her approval rating has soared as high as 90 percent, making her one of America’s most popular governors.

“Palin is becoming a star in the conservative movement, a fiscal conservative in a state that is looking like a boondoggle for pork barrel spending,” said Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster who specializes in women’s politics.

“She’s young, vibrant, fresh and now, and a new mother of five. She should be in the top tier,” Conway continued. “If the Republican Party wants to wrestle itself free from the perception that it is royalist and not open to putting new talent on the bench, this would be the real opportunity.”


Monday, August 25, 2008

Mo Money, Mo Problems

Democrats are hosting a lobbyist feeding frenzy at the convention, in spite of Obama's supposed commitment to get special interest money out of politics, according to ABC News.

"Despite a campaign that attacked corporate and special interest lobbyists as evil and banned their money and participation, Sen. Barack Obama has done little, if anything, about their pervasive, free-spending presence at the Democratic convention in Denver, ethics watchdog groups say...

'The demand is over the top, you've never seen anything like this,' said chef Taylor, especially for his signature King Crab terrine appetizer with white champagne caviar.

At the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where rooms for Democratic VIP's are now going for $2,000 a night, the executive chef, Andre Jimenez, says even the room welcome gifts need to be elaborate for the 35 top donors and celebrities, including "the rarest peaches in America."

"It's only for the best of the best that we host here," the chef told ABC News.

'We're seeing lobbyists gone wild,' said Craig Holman of Public Citizen, a non-profit group that lobbied for the new ethics law enacted last year, aimed at curbing lobbying abuses."


Friday, August 1, 2008

Negative Ads

Kirstin Powers has a column on negative McCain Ads.

"Another ad falsely accused Obama of choosing to go to the gym instead of visiting wounded troops in Germany. But Business Week reported yesterday that the McCain camp had another ad script ready to go if Obama had visited the troops - saying that he was using them as campaign props."

...which led to this article by David Kiley on negative McCain Ads. It talks a lot about the Republican attack machine and it's connection with Fox News, including this tidbit at the end:

"Scott McClellan told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that the White House does, in fact, provide Hannity and other Fox News and on-air talent their daily and weekly policy 'talking points.' We knew that, but it’s nice to hear someone admit it who was in on the transaction."


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ohio Case Investigating Election Fraud Moves Forward

Blogged by Steven Heller at Bradblog

"At a press conference this morning in Columbus, Ohio, Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case of King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell, announced that he is filing a motion to 'lift the stay in the case [and] proceed with targeted discovery in order to help protect the integrity of the 2008 election.'

...This case has the potential to put some of the most powerful people in the country in jail, according to Arnebeck, as he was joined by a well-respected, life-long Republican computer security expert who charged that the red flags seen during Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election would have been cause for 'a fraud investigation in a bank, but it doesn't when it comes to our vote...This entire system is being programmed in secret by programmers who have no oversight by anybody,' the expert charged, as Arnebeck detailed allegations of complicity by a number of powerful GOP operatives and companies who had unique access both to the election results as reported in 2004, as well as to U.S. House and Senate computer networks even today.

...Arnebeck said 'We think [Rove] is an individual who has been at the center of both the use of corporate money to attack state Attorneys General and their elections and candidates for the Supreme Court and their elections in the states, and also in the manipulation of the election process...We anticipate Mr. Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio.'

...The King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell case was filed on August 31, 2006. At issue was 'whether the rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed to Plaintiffs by the Civil Rights Act, and the First, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution have been violated by the past and ongoing conduct of Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in connection with past elections in Ohio.'

Much more at Velvet Revolution.


Monday, July 28, 2008

A Love Child?

Edwards is more hip than I thought. Here's Rielle Hunter, the supposed mother of his extra-curricular family.


Whining is not Presidential

Nice article by Kirsten Powers here about the ineffectiveness of whining as a campaign strategy.

"And what if the media really turned its glare on McCain? Perhaps they'd give more time to his claim this week that there's an Iraq-Pakistan border or his confusion about when the surge began. Or his reference last week to "Czechoslovakia," which is no longer a country.

Really, McCain should be thankful the press isn't paying much attention to him when his campaign clearly doesn't have its act together

Here's the video of the "Iraq-Pakistan" border remark.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008 is an awesome site. And I use awesome in the same context as Bush when he called the Pope's speech "awesome."

They break down the ads for you fact by fact, so you can see how the candidates are lying. Here they break down a Republican ad claiming Obama voted 94 times to raise taxes. Turns out some of those votes were for things like helping Hurricane Katrina victims, or raising the minimum wage.

They catch Obama polishing his resume a little here. Obama's ad says, "That's why I passed laws moving people from welfare to work, cut taxes for working families and extended health care for wounded." points out that it would be more accurate for him to say that he "helped" pass laws, since one of the bills wound up not even having his name on it. Still he was involved with initiating those bills, and they did what he says they did - so if that's the worst thing they can catch him at - it's not bad compared to the outright lies they've got on McCain and the GOP.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Character Assasination, or Resume Ressurection?

On June 4th, Yazmany Arboleda attempted to put up a political art installation in a storefront across from the New York Times. You can view some photos of the exhibit about Barack here. And photos of Hillary's exhibit here. Some of the pieces on Hillary are especially sharp (as in cutting). And some of Barack's pieces are especially inflamatory (as in a large black penis on the wall).

According to the New York Times
"New York City police detectives and Secret Service agents briefly detained and questioned an artist on Wednesday morning as he installed an exhibition with the title, 'The Assassination of Hillary Clinton/The Assassination of Barack Obama.' "

The Secret Service emphasized that they didn't shut the exhibit down. They just weren't keen on the word "Assassination" being in the title.

Mr. Arboleda defended himself on The Huffington Post against charges of racism, sexism and media whorism:

"My goal was to create a mirror through which we might perceive the way traditional and online media continues to preach racism, sexism, ageism, and homophobia. I created The Assassinations to better understand how American society communicates and how visual codes appeal to cultural stereotypes, prejudices, desires, and fears. The result has been a maelstrom of dialogue more passionate and pervasive than I ever anticipated."

The original exhibition during the month of March at the Naomi Gates Gallery could be seen by appointment only due to the controversial nature of the work. It seems that appointments did not generate enough of a "maelstrom of dialogue" for Mr. Arboleda, so he re-staged it in a setting more conducive to dialogue (across the street from The New York Times). Artists are to be forgiven if they feel the need to point out the importance of their work to a pre-occupied public that is often too busy to notice masterpieces. Even Walt Whitman wrote and published rave reviews of his own work anonymously.

The Naomi Gates gallery characterizes the work as exploring "the figurative but highly effective attempts by the American populace to assassinate Barack Obama's reputation during his historic candidacy for president... In the all-encompassing installation that explores the themes of sexism, racism, ageism, and religious intolerance, one questions to what end we are willing to go to tear down our leaders in the process of electing them. "

The sarcasm in the exhibit is crueller to Mrs. Clinton, for example placing photos of her under the slogan "Politics as Usual". The sarcasm in the Obama exhibit tends not to be pointed at him, but instead is directed at the media or the larger racial subtext of our culture; like in the room full of nooses with photos of white smiling faces. In one piece there is a slight dig at the "Obama Brand" next to Gap and Budweiser signs, but it's a pretty gentle knock compared to the slam that Clinton takes with "Most Likely to Compromise" next to her yearbook picture.

Arboleda seems like someone who approaches problems creatively, and he re-staged parts the show as a video exhibit:

My boyfriend says that the exhibit is akin to throwing a grenade in a crowded theater, and was not impressed. Although I don't think he saw the video piece.

Sable Verity says that she never called him a racist, but has some other choice words for him:

"...maybe he needs to read up on the laws of this country. Using the word “assassinate” in reference to a presidential candidate or a Senator is a crime. What the hell were the cops supposed to do? Can you imagine the 911 calls that came in on that one?

Can you imagine walking down the street and doing a double take, the words assassinate and Obama in the same sentence, with nooses hanging in the background?

How cute that the concept is nothing more than a metaphore [sic] for Mr. Arboleda. For the rest of us? Yeah, not so much.

Mr. Arboleda, you need a lesson sir. You need to be schooled, as they say, and I am more than qualified for the job. My doors are open to you, 24-7.

Class is in session.

You’re late.

Here is some of Arboleda's earlier work.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Meet Meghan McCain

Fascinating biographical article about Cindy McCain in Newsweek. Her daughter Meghan blogs here. Here are some of the videos she and her Blogettes have produced. I like this one about her little sister Bridget, who was adopted from Mother Teresa's orphanage, and initially had a cleft palate.

UPDATE: Btw - Obama called and apologized personally to the Muslim women who were barred from sitting behind the podium at his rally.

BONUS: Great article about 3 Republican women being considered as possible running mates for McCain.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ethics and Hypocrisy

Obama volunteers offend Muslims in a hypocritical PR move to block them from appearing on camera at a rally.

The New York Times confirms that Michelle Obama made more than $300,000 a year in her job at a Chicago hospital. Buried on page 3:
"Mrs. Obama is on leave from her more-than-$300,000-a-year job."

... and Obama opts out of Public Financing in the general election saying the system, "as it exists today is broken," and that the other side would game it with money from outside organizations.

"...Obama's clear financial advantage over McCain is offset in part by the resources of the Republican National Committee, which has far more money in the bank than the Democratic National Committee. Both national parties can spend money on behalf of the presidential candidates.

Obama said McCain and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and political action committees.

'And we've already seen that he's not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations,' Obama said.

Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer said he had met with McCain lawyers to discuss terms for both campaigns operating in the public financing system, but he said they could not agree on how to limit spending by the campaigns and outside groups heading into the late summer party conventions."

To be fair, it looks like he said he would try to participate, but never actually committed, previously. From the same article:

"In response to a questionnaire in November from the Midwest Democracy Network, which is made up of nonpartisan government oversight groups, Obama said: "Senator John McCain has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."

On his website Obama says that he supports Campaign Finance Reform:

"Obama supports public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests. Obama introduced public financing legislation in the Illinois State Senate, and is the only 2008 candidate to have sponsored Senator Russ Feingold's (D-WI) tough bill to reform the presidential public financing system."

John McCain has sent mixed messages about Public Financing of Campaigns, and has used it when he needed it, and discarded it when he needed to raise more. So his support of it seems more pragmatic than principled at this point. Historically he has been a strong supporter, and co-authored the McCain-Feingold bill, the strongest national campaign finance reform legislation passed so far.

John McCain's website doesn't mention Campaign Finance Reform on it's Ethics Reform page. He focuses on limiting earmarks and special interest lobbying saying,

"John McCain would shine the disinfecting light of public scrutiny on those who abuse the public purse, use the power of the presidency to restore fiscal responsibility, and exercise the veto pen to enforce it."

That's pretty vague. The line item veto was declared unconstitutional at the federal level, so what he would do exactly is unclear. Is he really going to veto the budget bills?

His criticism of lobbyists seems to be fluid as well. When his campaign was broke he brought lobbyists on board to raise money, and then fired many of them when conflicts of interest started emerging. And of course there was the infamous New York Times cover story focusing on Vicki Iseman, a female lobbyist they claimed he had a "close bond" with.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

McCain's Planes & Gays' Brains

A good article on McCain's Naval record here. According to Jeffery Klein, he was a poor student and crashed 5 planes.

"Some of the unreleased pages in McCain's Navy file may not reflect well upon his qualifications for the presidency. From day one in the Navy, McCain screwed-up again and again, only to be forgiven because his father and grandfather were four-star admirals. McCain's sense of entitlement to privileged treatment bears an eerie resemblance to George W. Bush's.

Despite graduating in the bottom 1 percent of his Annapolis class, McCain was offered the most sought-after Navy assignment -- to become an aircraft carrier pilot...

After McCain had returned from Vietnam as a war hero and was physically rehabilitated, he was urged by his medical caretakers and military colleagues never to fly again. But McCain insisted on going up. As Carl Bernstein reported in Vanity Fair, he piloted an ultra-light, single propeller plane -- and crashed another time. His fifth loss of a plane has vanished from public records, but should be a subject of discussion in his Navy file. It wouldn't be surprising if his naval superiors worried that McCain was just too defiant, too reckless and too crash prone."

On a completely different note, research suggests that "The brains of gay men and women look like those found in heterosexual people of the opposite sex...

The Swedish study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, compared the size of the brain's halves in 90 adults.

Gay men and heterosexual women had halves of a similar size, while the right side was bigger in lesbian women and heterosexual men.

A UK scientist said this was evidence sexual orientation was set in the womb."


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Not Nice to Call Your Wife a C***

Cliff Shecter exposes McCain's temper in his new book. And then exposes himself as extremely partisan on the Huffington Post.

What we know about the candidates' wives so far is that Michelle Obama is "unpatriotic", and according to her husband, Cindy wears too much makeup. I decided I'd like to know at least a little bit more about them.

According to, Cindy works for 3 volunteer organizations including one that she founded:

"As an advocate for children's health care needs, Cindy founded and ran the American Voluntary Medical Team (AVMT) from 1988 to 1995. AVMT provided emergency medical and surgical care to impoverished children throughout the world. Cindy led 55 medical missions to third world and war-torn countries during AVMT's seven years of existence. On one of those missions, Mother Teresa convinced Cindy to take two babies in need of medical attention to the United States. One of those babies is now their adopted daughter, 16-year-old Bridget McCain.

...In addition to her humanitarian work, Cindy is the chairman of her family's business, Hensley & Company, which is one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributors in the nation."

Her family makes their money distributing Budweiser. What's more American than that?

Michelle Obama is on 6 Boards:
"Michelle's impressive resume includes: Former associate dean at the University of Chicago; a member of six boards of directors including the prestigious Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and Tree House Foods; and Vice President, Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals. In this position she was responsible for all programs and initiatives that involve the relationships between the hospitals and the community as well as management of the hospitals' business diversity program."

The salary she received at the University of Chicago Hospital caused the conservative National Review to call her a hypocrite, saying that she was encouraging others to go into low paying service positions when she herself was making a hefty salary.

"What she doesn’t mention is that the helping industry has treated her pretty well. In 2006, the Chicago Tribune reported that Mrs. Obama’s compensation at the University of Chicago Hospital, where she is a vice president for community affairs, jumped from $121,910 in 2004, just before her husband was elected to the Senate, to $316,962 in 2005, just after he took office."

Obama has said that his wife is off limits in the campaign, and as far as I can tell there is no information about her on the campaign website, except a brief sentence at the end of his bio - "But above all his accomplishments and experiences, he is most proud and grateful for his family. His wife, Michelle, and his two daughters, Malia, 9, and Sasha, 7, live on Chicago's South Side." She is campaigning with him and for him though - so I think the idea that she's not a legitimate target is a stretch.

According to Squidoo (what the heck is Squidoo?)... Michelle was Barack's mentor at a Chicago Law Firm where he interned. Well she seems to take mentoring very seriously.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

STIFF, SOFT (money), and a Few Fun Puns

I'm in Seattle for our screening here on Tuesday at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival (STIFF). Seattle is a fun town. Kind of obsessed with SEX. They have a make your own porn contest. And the girl at the University paper who was supposed to review my film, was reviewing a book about a porn star who gets gang banged by 500 guys... I was worried no one would be interested in the film, since there's no porn in it - but people have actually been pumped (pun intended) to talk about it. One dude here at the youth hostel kept tracking me down to add another thought to our conversation, until finally I was like - "Dude, are you stalking me?". So politics and porn are apparently compatible.

There's a new website by the Republicans featuring mostly nasty things that Hillary Clinton said about Obama, like - "Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience to the campaign...Obama will bring a speech that he gave in 2002." Ouch.

I do find it strange in the experience department that people often don't count Obama's years as a community organizer. He talked about that experience in his commencement speech at Wesleyan, and it was very persuasive in demonstrating that he followed through on his convictions. He got a low paying job working in an tough neighborhood where he felt he could personally make a difference. That's the kind of experience I wish more of our lawmakers would put on their resume.

Both McCain and Obama are emphasizing service as a theme in their campaigns, and it is heartening to see that become more of an emphasis for national leaders. The RNC put out this press release where McCain says, "My friends, each and every one of us has a duty to serve a cause greater than our own self-interest."

Here are the better and worse angels of the conventions:

Better Angels:
The Republican convention staff has been doing volunteer work in the Minneapolis-St Paul area.

But the NY Times reports that both the Dems and Reps are using the conventions to raise millions of dollars in "soft money" and promising close consultation with elected officials in return.

"Brochures being sent to potential corporate donors by the Denver [Democratic] host committee say that “as a sponsor” of the convention, corporate executives will have access to as many as 232 members of Congress, 51 senators and 28 governors in what is being marketed as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. In addition, the more a company gives — with donations of as much as $1 million being sought — the more “V.I.P. access and other benefits” are offered, according to the brochures....

Whereas $1 million will buy the top sponsorship at the Democratic convention, the top sponsorship at the Republican convention, which provides the most access to politicians, has a $5 million price tag. Minnesota companies are getting squeezed the hardest — Fortune 500 companies based in the state are being asked to give at least $1 million, while smaller companies are being approached for donations in the $250,000-to-$500,000 range."


Monday, May 26, 2008

VP Picks

Obama and McCain possible picks courtesy of


Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Empire Strikes Barack


Thursday, March 20, 2008

First Radio Interview!

I'm in Tampa Florida for the premiere of the film - tomorrow Friday at 2:45 pm. The Screenings link on the website has the location, and a link for tickets.

WMNF The Tampa Public Radio station will be airing an interview with me about the film between 6:30 and 7pm today. Check it out!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Nader on the Radar

Nader is entering the race. He seems to be primarily focused on spotlighting Single Payer Healthcare - which is different from the Universal Health Care plans the Dems are promoting. Since Kucinich left the race, there is no one with national prominence promoting the Single Payer message. So I think it's understandable that he is joining.

The quotes in this article from Obama and Clinton are typical to me of the way that he communicates more efficiently and with more depth than Hillary. They each have one comment.

"In many ways he is a heroic figure and I don't mean to diminish him. But I do think there is a sense now that if somebody is not hewing to the Ralph Nader agenda, then you must be lacking in some way," Obama said.

"Clinton called Nader's announcement a 'passing fancy' and said she hoped his candidacy would not hurt the Democratic nominee.

'Obviously, it's not helpful to whomever our Democratic nominee is. But it's a free country,' she told reporters as she flew to Rhode Island for campaign events."

Obama in 2 sentences manages to show Nader respect, but also that Nader's out of touch, making his own campaign look more relevant by comparison. Clinton has 3 comments, but only trivializes Nader, and doesn't bother to show why she would be a stronger choice.


Presidential Paintball

This is not PC but very funny.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Capitol of Democracy

On the day that Fidel Castro resigned and we're focused on bringing Democracy to Cuba, it's good to know that we've got it under control here at home. Check out this day in the life of an election worker from the newsletter.

A Ballot-Less Nightmare in the District
No fuzzy math: High turnout + not enough ballots = election-day chaos

By Dan Seligson

WASHINGTON, D.C.- During the past seven years as an journalist covering election reform and as an election administration analyst for both and, I drove around on election day looking for trouble. Which polls had long lines? Where were voters having problems casting ballots? What precincts were drawing the other reporters, campaign volunteers and poll watchers?

On Tuesday, I didn't have to go far.

It was my own polling place, a short walk from my house in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood in the northwest section of the District of Columbia. And I was the touch-screen ballot clerk.

As my precinct descended into chaos during the evening rush, and as I scrambled to activate voter cards, help people navigate the touch-screen machine and explain why the system required three separate verifications before casting the ballot, I caught myself thinking: damn, this is the place that was always out there on election day and I always wanted to find.

Then I thought - I really want to get out of here.

It was my third stint as a poll worker, which I consider not only a community service, but an essential component of my understanding of the election process.

My first was a 2006 mayoral primary. It attracted a huge turnout, as primaries usually do, since the winner among the Democrats is assured victory in this basically one-party town.

I served as a precinct technician in that election, responsible for the functioning of both the optical-scan and direct-recording electronic (DRE), or touch-screen voting machine. Both are offered in the District; however, the vast majority of voters opt for the paper-based optical-scan system.

The second, a 2007 special election to fill a school board seat, had a miniscule turnout. We averaged only a few voters an hour, and fewer than 100 for the entire day.

Neither one prepared me for Tuesday's primary.

A brief summation - we ran out of ballots three times. Voters waited well over an hour during the evening rush to cast ballots on a DRE voting system without voter-verified paper trails many said they had strong objections to using. Some voters might have cast two ballots. The provisional voting system was cumbersome and confusing. The DRE audio output confused the only voter of the day who needed it. The Spanish-language ballot wasn't programmed in Spanish.

But on to the specifics:

One of the first voters of the day, a neighbor who serves on my community's condominium board of directors, asked me why she had two ballots. "Is one for practice," she asked. I took one of them and apologized for the error. Then another voter asked the same question. Apparently, the first batch was sticking together, or else the paper ballot clerks just weren't noticing. Either way, I hope we followed the "one person, one vote" rule, but I wouldn't stake my life on it.

By late morning, 500 voters, the vast majority of whom were Democrats, had cast ballots. It became clear we were about to run out. The District's Board of Elections delivered another packet.

A Spanish-language ballot on the direct-recording electronic machine was less than half programmed. A voter who chose the Spanish language option saw the election name, "presidential preference primary" and the date in Spanish. However, all other controls on the DRE, "next," "review," "previous" and "touch here to cast ballot" were in English, causing confusion among a number of voters, including one who accused me of telling her she "made a mistake" when I told her the review button was used if she wanted to make any changes or corrections on her choices.

The three separate verification screens - one to review the choices, the second to cast the ballot and the third which asks if voters are sure they want to cast the ballot -- confused some and annoyed just about everyone else.

The instructions for visually-impaired voters confused the one man who used the audio system. When I listened along to see if I could offer assistance, I heard the slow-talking male voice instruct me to "touch the yellow triangle." I wondered aloud whether District officials and Sequoia technicians realized that people who can't see also can't see colors.

Instructions on casting provisional ballots on the DRE (a necessity once we ran out of paper ballots) were exceedingly difficult to follow. The precinct captain had to call the headquarters for step-by-step instructions at least three times during the day. During that time, all of the voters in the precinct lined up to use the DRE had to wait, as the precinct's only card activator, was tied up.

We ran out of ballots again in the mid-afternoon. This time, the city delivered another small batch, but said "this would be the last time," sounding somewhat punitive. (I guess we should have discouraged people from voting?)

As we started to run low on ballots, a voter came over after making a mistake marking her choice. Another ballot clerk, who was growing concerned over the dwindling pile of ballots, admonished the voter for "not paying attention."

Just before 6 p.m., at the height of the evening rush, we ran out of Democratic ballots for the last time. Voters started lining up behind the one method alternative for voting - using the DRE machine. About every third voter expressed concern that the machine would not count their vote. Comments reviews ranged from "cool" to "evil." As the touch-screen clerk, I was the gatekeeper, and when tempers started to flare, they tended to flare in my direction. At the worst of the line, voters waited approximately 90 minutes to cast a ballot - after waiting 15-20 minutes to check in.

Throughout the day, we were short on the blue index cards (for Democrats) that are handed to ballot clerks to make sure the number of voters who check in does not exceed the number of ballots cast. We resorted to using scraps of paper. At the end of the day, when we performed our counts, the scraps of paper were either bundled together with the index cards or rewritten if we had the time to do it. If the election is audited, good luck to the examiners working their way through the scraps and ripped white paper that is supposed to represent each Democratic Party voter.

D.C. delivered more ballots around 7:20 p.m., giving the much-preferred option of paper to Democratic voters again. The lines dissipated in about 20 more minutes, and by 8 p.m., we were ready to close on time.

The District closes registration rolls nearly one month before elections. Voters and poll workers alike marveled at the Board of Election's miscalculation of ballot distribution. The media, the voters and poll workers all knew a competitive primary in a politically active city with an overwhelming number of Democrats would draw a huge turnout. Yet, we ran out of ballots three times, while the same happened elsewhere in the city. Whatever formula was used to allocate ballots for the primary has to be reconsidered. It was an utter failure on Tuesday.

The District's closed primary - in which only registered party members can cast ballots in the election - left many confused and more than a few disappointed. A few Republicans said they wanted to vote for Sen. Barack Obama (D). Statehood/Green Party members said they weren't expecting the ballot that they received and independents wanted to be able to vote at all.

While the District has no requirement for voter identification, the vast majority of voters presented their drivers' licenses or voter registration cards twice without being asked; once when checking in and again to receive their ballot.

Throughout the day there were a few bright spots.

Our precinct captain, Mary, was absolutely unflappable. As chaos raged around her, she remained competent, attentive and in control. Her steadiness anchored the rest of us as things got ugly. In the District, precinct captains have an incredible array of responsibilities, from setting up polling places to organizing registration lists, signage and ballots at the end of the day. They troubleshoot, fill in for workers eating lunch and communicate with unhappy voters. Mary handled them all.

When things were calm, the sense of community in the precinct was overwhelming.

While some voters were understandably upset at the long lines, most said they were pleased to see the high level of interest. Some first-time voters said they really enjoyed the experience - even though many said they were disappointed they wouldn't get to use paper ballots.

The results produced a clear winner in my precinct and in the rest of the city, so it seems unlikely that all of the problems we experienced will amount to much. In my experience, that's usually the case. A large margin of victory overshadows even the messiest election. But this was one of the messiest I can recall.


A Democracy, Really?

Did you know that the delegates to the democratic convention that were ELECTED by the voters in the primaries and caucuses, do not have to vote for the candidate they were elected to vote for? WTF??


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Climate Change - Comparing Candidates

This is a helpful video series that Katie Couric did comparing each candidate's views on climate change, and the solutions they have in mind.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Were the Polls Wrong? + Issue Meat

Some of the news organizations are running articles now about the problem with polls.
MSNBC.COM - Of what use are opinion polls?
Newsweek - a lengthy interview where Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll eats crow, while pointing out that polling for the Republican lead candidate was very accurate.

"We don't think that there was a flaw with the polling per se. By that I mean a sampling or methodological problem. The poll was well done. That's underscored by the fact that on the Republican side the estimates were remarkably close to what actually happened. We had McCain up by four, and he won by five. That leads us to believe there was something going on with Democratic voters in New Hampshire, and that it wasn't actually a problem with the polls themselves."

Lots of great updates by Bev Harris on the recount going forward in New Hampshire. It looks like only the democratic recount is going forward. I read somewhere that the Republican candidate Albert Howard's bank had held up the check and he missed the 3pm deadline set by Sect. of State Gardner. Can't remember where I read that, but Bev says that Howard has been cut out.

"Albert Howard, was cut out of the recount altogether. I'll write more on the details later this week."

Democracy for New Hampshire is reporting that they wil count all of the ballots by hand:

"Okay, I just got off the phone with the Sec'y of State's office; ALL ballots, from EVERY jurisdiction in New Hampshire, are being trucked to Concord for the recount. That means EVERY SINGLE BALLOT CAST will be recounted, and the PAPER ballots from the Diebold districts will be counted (as opposed to simply recounting the machine totals). The recount will commence at approx. 900am, today, at the Archives Building in Concord, located at 71 South Fruit St. Anyone in the public is welcome to come, so I suggest anyone checking in here please go down and monitor the process closely. The campaigns are allowed to name particular monitors (I imagine they get a position close enough to read the tick marks on the ballots, whereas the public just watches the process from a gallery). I'm going to notify the campaigns as best I can, but if any readers know people from inside the campaigns, please notify them and have them contact the Secretary of State's office to insure access."

And is reporting that contrary to MSNBC's Chris Matthews, the exit polls were not showing Obama ahead.

"Daniel Merkle, who heads ABC News' "decision desk" -- ...said the data indicated "a very close race on the Democratic side," and "that's what it ended up being."

"It was within a couple points," Merkle said. "When we're seeing an exit poll within a couple points, that's a close race." The exit poll numbers, he added, were a "surprise" compared to pre-election polls. "The exit poll was not showing an 8- to 10-point Obama lead. It was showing a close race."

On another front - once the voting starts the emphasis on whose ahead or behind becomes overwhelming. So I'm going to try to put up links that emphasize policy issues.
This is a good article on Obama's legislative track record.

Here are a few links about Mike Huckabee's "Fair Tax Plan". He wants to eliminate the IRS and institute a national sales tax instead. Some estimates say that the sales tax would have to be as high as 45% to raise the same amount for government services.

Here's support for the plan.
Skepticism here.
A "Fairer Fair Tax" here.

Something to consider: When we were doing research for the film, we looked into how long on average it takes to do your taxes. If I remember correctly (I'm blogging away from home) the IRS estimates it takes on average 15 hours per year. That's the same amount of time Dr. Jamieson at the Annenberg Public Policy Center told me it takes to stay informed in a Presidential campaign: 15 hours per election. I'm not saying that if Americans weren't spending all that time on tax forms they would automatically watch more debates - but I think there is a large segment of the population that is overworked and overwhelmed, and if they had a little more free time, would like to follow current events more closely.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Primary Registration Deadlines are Here

Today was the deadline to register to vote in the New York primary. Other deadlines are coming soon:

This is a link to the primary schedule, and if you scroll down the deadlines to register for each state are listed.


California Sect. of State visits New Hampshire

courtesy of Democracy for New Hampshire


Mixed Messages

I saw some data this morning for the first time that seemed to support the demographic argument that Hillary won by winning big in the big cities. Look at this chart:

Take a look at just the hand counts in small, medium & large towns.


Clinton small 33.635% Obama small 39.591%
Clinton med 34.662% Obama med 38.823%
Clinton lg 44.172% Obama lg 31.605%

I have a good deal of faith in the New Hampshire hand counts. I have seen videos of how they are done, and they seem meticulous and open. So assuming these are accurate figures - they are said to be from data at - It looks like Obama is winning in small towns, but when you get into the large towns Clinton nails him by over 12%. There were even more large towns that voted by machine, so if she maintained that spread in most of the large towns, it's easy to see how she could overcome a 4-6% he lead he might have had in small and med sized towns.

There are some odd things happening in the Republican spread however. Romney seems to be ahead in the Machine count everywhere. And Huckabee lost almost 9% points between the machine count and the hand count in large towns. That's a little strange, since, except Romney all the other candidates did about the same when comparing same size towns.

I've been up all night, and I'm beat, so please check the charts yourself, but that's what it looks like to me.

The problem is really that the huge gaping holes in the Diebold security leave room for a lot of doubt and speculation. So it's hard to ignore blog posts like this:

"Update: Some more statistics from the data shows that Obama in non-Diebold towns garnering 38.7% of the vote to Clinton's 36.2%. The results in Diebold towns show the exact opposite: Clinton with 40.7% of the vote and Obama with 36.2%. Not only are the positions swapped but the informal statistics have the second place candidate holding 36.2% in both cases, which could easily be a pure coincidence. What doesn't make a lot of sense to me right now and this could be a mathematical mistake on my part is where Clinton got the extra 2% of votes in Diebold towns. All the other numbers almost exact for every candidate, even Edwards who recieved 17% of the vote in Diebold towns compared to 17.6% in non-Diebold towns. That still doesn't make up for the extra 2% vote Clinton is receiving when she leads in certain towns compared to when Obama has the lead."

Also, Chris Matthews has acknowledged that the exit polls showed Obama ahead. That's significant, because exit polls are always considered more reliable than preliminary polls.

I think it's important that the blogosphere try to get some coverage in the main-stream media (MSM - as they're known out here). I've written a note to the BBC, part of which I'll excerpt here:

"It is important that you handle the results of the New Hampshire primary with caution and healthy skepticism...

It is very difficult to say what happened in New Hampshire. There are aspects of the election that have never faced voters here - both a woman and an African-American as serious contenders for the Presidency for the first time. So it's hard to draw conclusions. But the security problems with the voting equipment are real, and add an element of suspicion to the entire process. This is leading many voters here to view the entire election as unreliable at best, and possibly a complete facade."

I liked the idea in one of Brad's comments to get Bev Harris on Oprah. I think that could open a lot of minds. The important thing is to get rid of the machines that are owned by companies like Diebold, Sequoia and ES&S, and put reliable, transparent counting methods such as hand counting, or machines and software that are owned and well-maintained by the state (that's what they have in Oklahoma). All machine counts need to be accompanied by parallel hand-counting in the precinct on the night of the elections.

Oh Kucinich is calling for a recount, along with one Republican candidate - Albert Howard. But if you read the Bradblog, you don't need me to tell you that. Brad Friedman deserves a blogger pulitzer for his 24/7 coverage of this story. (Although the comments there have gotten unpleasantly profane). And Holy Toledo Batman! Bev Harris' Op Ed about how the recount may not give us the answers is right below The LA Times and The Boston Globe on the google news links!!!

That made my day.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hand Counts vs. Machine Counts

The difference in the results between the hand count precincts and the machine count precincts in the New Hampshire primary is worth looking at. I emphasize worth looking at. On the various blogs, people are assuming that because someone is pointing out discrepancies or asking for a recount they are claiming that the vote count was manipulated. There are actually 2 problems.

1) The actual possibility that the count has been tampered with. That is a serious and real problem, because the machines have been demonstrated to be vulnerable by a variety of computer scientists.

2) The appearance that the vote has been tampered with combined with the possibility that it could have been tampered with undermines people's confidence in the process. Fewer people participate, and the winner of the election ultimately has less legitimacy because there is the suspicion that the count was not accurate. That in itself is a serious problem.

Here is a post on the bradblog that illustrates that:

"Honestly though it really makes little to no difference whom steals what anymore as they are ALL crooked & corrupt plus the Congress is utterly worthless and clearly in the pocket of that top 2% so not a damn thing is ever going to change until we change EVERYTHING."

Here are the specifics about the hand count/machine count discrepancies:

Clinton and Romney went up in the machine count. All other candidates went down, or stayed approx the same. Why isn't it more random? Some up, some down?

Clinton by machine: 39.618%
Clinton by hand: 34.908%

Obama by machine: 36.309%
Obama by hand: 38.617%

Edwards by machine: 16.853%
Edwards by hand: 17.584%

Richardson by machine: 4.330%
Richardson by hand: 5.548%

Romney by machine: 33.075%
Romney by hand: 25.483%

Huckabee by machine: 10.560%
Huckabee by hand: 13.318%

McCain by machine: 36.766%
McCain by hand: 39.322%

Ron Paul by machine: 7.109%
Ron Paul by hand: 9.221%

The breakdown here makes it look worse.

Here is a possible demographic explanation, from about 1/2 way down the page:

Wed, 01/09/2008 - 10:11 — Anonymous (not verified)
Bullshit from a New Hampshirite

"No, no, and no. I'm a born and bred New Hampshire, one who is interested in both candidates, and I'll tell you right now: this doesn't fit the political profile of New Hampshire. We're genuinely one of the squeakiest-clean states when it comes to corruption. The big-city-rural-debate makes much more sense here. Look at the map at the NY Times on where Obama was popular--out in the western part of the state by Keene--VERY rural besides Keene--and right up the river to Canada--VERY rural, excluding Hanover, which is not really a city either. Lots of hand counting.
Take your conspiracy theories elsewhere, bub"

But other comments point out that it seems implausible that Obama did worse in the cities.

Here is a map, with the breakdown of the vote by region.


The Diebold machines that were tested and de-certified in California were the Diebold GEMS/1.18.24/AccuVote, including the AV-OS (AccuVote Optical Scan), Central Count AV-OS, AccuFeed and Smart Cards.

In New Hampshire they list there machines simply as "ACCUVOTE" and don't say what model. Diebold has a long history of saying that they were going to fix problems, and then not fixing them.

On this page you can find out more about how the machines were approved. The clip called - Diebold Vendor John Silvestro Admits Product is Defective (3.4 MB) is worth looking at.

Here is a list of the various studies showing the vulnerabilities of the Diebold systems.

Photo courtesy of Midnight Research which has this to say about hacking Diebold:

The Open voting Foundation released information on alternate booting configurations for the Diebold voting system. This includes hi-resolution picutres of the internals of the system and also show the exact jumpers to configure. According to them, a “completely legal and certified set of files can be instantly overridden and illegal uncertified code be made dominant in the system, and then this situation can be reversed leaving the legal code dominant again in a matter of minutes” — which is pretty scary. The worst part is that they say the flash could be read from a “field-added” piece of flash memory, which implies that one could run whatever they wanted on the system.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Don't Look at the Man Behind the Curtain

If you watched TV coverage you heard the commentators, trying to grapple with how the polls could have been so wrong in the Clinton/Obama race. It certainly does seem improbable that 8 well-known polls would be accurate in all races, but miss the mark on that one race by double digits in some cases. Hmmmmmmmmmmn.

About 81% of New Hampshire votes are counted by Diebold Optical Scan machines. These are the same machines that have been de-certified by California.

The Red Team is the team of expert computer scientists that was hired to hack the voting machines in California. You can read the Red Team report here to see all the ways they were able to compromise the machines. Here are a few:

(p. 10 & 11) They were able to hack the Windows platform that it runs on and access the system as an administrator. Once they had administrator access they used it to corrupt and manipulate the database, which could lead to manipulated vote totals. They were able to take these actions without being traced.

(p. 12) They were able to gain "sufficient access for an attacker to manipulate every setting on the networking devices and on the server." And then establish remote access through a wireless device.

(p. 12) "The Red Team was able alter vote totals in order to change the vote results on [the] machine."

(p.17) They summarize by saying that they were able to, "...alter vote totals, violate the privacy of individual voters, make systems unavailable, and delete audit trails.

You will find concerns about the New Hampshire vote totals at, and at, which also has an older post about how the same Diebold Optical Scan machines were hacked in 2000 in Volusia County Florida. That hack was well-documented in the media.


Hillary Lets Her Guard Down