ciphergoth: (election)
Oliver Burkeman captures what's in my head:
Personally, I'm more worried about withdrawal symptoms: not the identity of the winner, but the abrupt halt, after so many months, of the race. It's hard to imagine the day will come when I won't be interested to know about a three-point shift in the voting preferences of white Catholics in Virginia, or the scale of the Republican National Committee's TV advertising purchases in Colorado, but presumably it will. Actually, a scarier thought: maybe it won't. Come 2010 - as the ever more greying President Obama dials back on another policy promise, citing the absence of funds - perhaps I'll still be sitting in a darkened room, compulsively checking TalkingPointsMemo.com and the Gallup daily tracking poll, over and over, like a conditioned laboratory rat, or a formerly captive bear that doesn't realise it's been freed.
ciphergoth: (election)
I must buy champagne and popcorn. Champagne, of course, for November 4th, when (barring either a major event between now and then or electoral fraud on a scale I think even the Republicans would find hard to pull off) Barack Obama will be elected the 44th President of the United States.

But popcorn for the upcoming bloody civil war within the GOP! There's plenty to say about this, but this is worth a giggle. Right Wing News emailed more than 240 right-of-center bloggers and asked them to answer questions about the election. 76 blogs responded.
October 27, 2008

1) Who do you think is going to win the election?

A) John McCain: 53% (39)
B) Barack Obama: 47% (34)

2) Do you think Sarah Palin has been a plus or a minus to the ticket?

A) Minus: 9% (7)
B) Plus: 91% (68)

3) How do you feel about Sarah Palin as a candidate?

A) I really like her!: 80% (61)
B) She's so-so.: 12% (9)
C) I'm not a big fan!: 8% (6)

4) The Republican Party did poorly in the 2006 election and even if McCain wins is on track to do poorly again in this year's Congressional races. If you had to choose between these two options, do you think that's because they were...

A) Too conservative: 9% (7)
B) Not conservative enough: 91% (67)
ciphergoth: (Default)
David Sedaris on undecided voters:
I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.
(nb the rest of the article isn't as funny)
ciphergoth: (election)
Obviously the left-to-right political spectrum is a massive oversimplification, but just trying to squeeze politics into one dimension for a moment, I have a question...

[Poll #1281545]
ciphergoth: (Default)
This witty campaign ad tickled me: embedded video )

In an almost misstep-free campaign, Obama's biggest misstep was encouraging the 527s like Moveon.org to shut down. Once the fire started coming in from the Republican 527s, he reversed his position, but it took them a while to get back into play.

How come they're allowed to use words like "vote", "elect" and such, btw? I thought there was a list of key words that 527s weren't allowed to use? Or have I been watching too much West Wing?
ciphergoth: (election)
So you know why I'm so chipper :-) I'm working on my Election Day web application. Read more... )
ciphergoth: (Default)


This is a Zeiss STARMASTER ZMP star projector - $3M of the most advanced star projector in the world. It reproduces the positions, colours and magnitudes of stars with stunning, unprecedented fidelity, and is so precise that it can project deep sky object images which are only visible with binoculars (yes, binoculars inside the planetarium).



This is an overhead projector.

It seems John McCain can't tell the difference.
ciphergoth: (election)
Biden - scrupulously refers to "Gov. Palin" throughout, even correcting himself when giving full names of both tickets. Attacks only the top of the ticket. Mostly ignores Palin.

Palin - does not explode, quickly forces every question into one of her pre-rehearsed talking points. Disconnect between what she's asked and what she says sometimes breathtaking, but of course many won't notice.

Right-wing pundits - make "ha ha" noises at her failure to actually explode

Undecided voters - those who express a preference break 2:1 for the Dems.

Glad I didn't actually watch it, really. Though I've watched snippets. Anyone got any snippets they recommend actually watching?
ciphergoth: (election)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican John McCain says he's going to be at the first presidential debate, even though Congress doesn't have a bailout deal. With less than 10 hours until the debate was scheduled to start, the McCain campaign announced that the Arizona senator would travel to the University of Mississippi. The campaign said after the forum he will fly back to Washington to continue working on the financial crisis. — AP Top News at 11:40 a.m. EDT
The 90 minute debate starts at 2am BST tonight, and will be broadcast live online on this incredibly annoying MySpace page. I may well stay up to watch, in which case I shall also hang out on irc://irc.netgoth.org.uk/potus if you want to share a virtual beer.
ciphergoth: (election)
In the latest bizarre twist to afflict this year's Presidential elections, John McCain has called for tomorrow's Presidential debate to be postponed; Obama is refusing. How is this going to turn out?

[Poll #1266740]

Intrade have a market open on this

Update:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican John McCain says he's going to be at the first presidential debate, even though Congress doesn't have a bailout deal. With less than 10 hours until the debate was scheduled to start, the McCain campaign announced that the Arizona senator would travel to the University of Mississippi. The campaign said after the forum he will fly back to Washington to continue working on the financial crisis. — AP Top News at 11:40 a.m. EDT
ciphergoth: (election)
Previously: While Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, victims of rape in that town were charged $500-$1000 by the city for the costs of their forensic examination. Yes, really.

  • The story has now hit the mainstream. This USA Today story seems to have led the charge.
  • It seems to be pretty much established as fact that it was going on, so the only remaining question is whether she knew about it.
  • It obviously reflects badly on her if she did know about it and did nothing to stop it, and almost as obviously it reflects pretty badly on her if it was going on under her nose in her tiny town and she didn't know about it.
  • Palin's people have responded to the story:
    Palin spokeswoman Maria Comella said in an e-mail that the governor "does not believe, nor has she ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test."

    "Gov. Palin's position could not be more clear," she said. "To suggest otherwise is a deliberate misrepresentation of her commitment to supporting victims and bringing violent criminals to justice."

    Comella would not answer other questions, including when Palin learned of Wasilla's policy or whether she tried to change it. The campaign cited the governor's record on domestic violence, including increasing funding for shelters.

    In other words, evasion on the central question of the story - did she know about it at the time?
  • Update: Finally another meaty bit of mainstream coverage, from CNN.
    In a statement, Jill Hazelbaker, communications director for Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, said that "to imply that Gov. Palin is or has ever been an advocate of charging victims for evidence gathering kits is an utter distortion of reality."

    "As her record shows, Gov. Palin is committed to supporting victims and bringing violent criminals to justice," Hazelbaker said. "She does not, nor has she ever believed that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence gathering test."

    Those who fought the policy are unconvinced.

    "It's incomprehensible to me that this could be a rogue police chief and not a policy decision. It lasted too long and it was too high-profile," Croft said.

    Again, the campaign avoids the question.
  • Reporters would probably like to ask her directly, but of course she has not held a press conference since joining the ticket three weeks ago. There's a lot more to say about her avoiding the press but it's a subject for another entry.
  • Weak evidence that she knew is provided here: she signed off on a budget that included charges for these kits.
  • She fired the previous police chief to appoint Fannon, the police chief responsible for this policy. The fired chief claims the policy started with Fannon.
  • The only defender of Palin writing about this I can find doesn't seem to advance any kind of defence at all. (Update: another non-defence, and another)
  • Updated: the National Review has a more serious go.
  • It's sometimes pointed out that health insurance will carry most of the costs of the kits. However
    • The poorest women may not have health insurance, and they deserve justice too
    • Even those with health insurance will have to pay an excess
    • Even if neither of the above were true the charge is wrong in principle - where else are victims expected to pay the cost of evidence gathering?
  • Given Alaska's unusually high rape rate, we might expect that about 30 or so women will have reported rapes in the time between her appointing Fannon as police chief, and the 2000 legislation barring the practice across Alaska which Fannon spoke against. If she didn't know about it, we're expected to believe that of those 30 women who were charged for their kits (and their friends) not one drew this extraordinary injustice to the attention of the mayor. I'm hoping we'll be hearing from some of those 30 women over the coming weeks.
ciphergoth: (election)
Greta Christina writes in the Blowfish Blog:
I care that, as mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin was responsible for a policy in which rape victims had to pay for their own rape kits [ie pay for the costs of their own forensic examination following a rape, which is up to $1000].

(No, I’m not kidding. A policy that not only further victimizes the victims, but ensures that rapists of poor women will get away with it. And a policy, btw, that McCain also supports, with multiple votes in Congress.)

Is this for real? Is there some other side of the story I'm missing?
ciphergoth: (Default)
You can buy shares in Sarah Palin being dropped from the GOP ticket at the bargain price of 11.7 as of right now. That means that you can spend $11.7 on such a future, and it will be worth $100 if she's not on the ticket by election day (and $0 otherwise). I reckon it's worth at least twice that, and if I had spare money for gambling I'd buy a few...
ciphergoth: (Default)
Two recent polls have Obama ahead in Florida by four to five points. The polls currently show Obama having a 74 vote lead in the Electoral College. My lovely graphs are starting to keel over, because all the lines are bunching up at the top: they currently show that Obama would have a 55-75% chance of victory even if he were to lose three percentage points against McCain nationally; on current form they show an 88-99% chance of victory.

This November we could be looking at total meltdown of the Republican party, with wipeouts not only in the Presidential elections but in the House and the Senate too. The Dems could have a sufficient majority to kill off the ridiculous procedural crap the GOP keep pulling. Let's just hope they find enough spine to use it.

Updated: Of course, this is before the coming advertising blitz has its effect. John McCain has announced that he's going to join the Federal "matched funds" programme, which means that he accepts a donation cap of $84.1M in return for a matching $84.1M from the Federal purse, giving him about $170M to spend on advertising in the coming months. This programme has been in place since 1972 and all Presidential candidates have accepted the matching funds in that time.

Except for Barack Obama, who announced yesterday that he will not be taking part in the scheme. This is because the Obama camp anticipate raising up to $500M from donations, largely small donations made online. In other words, starting from a seemingly unassailable lead in the polls, Obama will outspend his rival 3:1.

Oh, and just in case that's not enough, the Democrats are also going to sue John McCain for violation of campaign finance rules he signed into law.

Yee-har!
ciphergoth: (Default)
I'm very disturbed to find myself in a position where I might be calling for people to vote for the Tory in a constituency election. I refer of course to the upcoming Haltemprice and Howden by-election.

It's starting to look like the only candidate running against David Davis will be former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who is running on a pro-police-state ticket, as very nearly prophesized by this blogger ("I almost picked it. The Scum are running with one tit, not two.") If it's a choice between a Tory arguing in favour of civil liberties and a Murdoch attack dog arguing against them, we're actually going to have to argue for the Tory.

Not that he's not a reactionary bigoted scumbag, you understand, and under normal circumstances I wouldn't piss on him if he were on fire. But at least he's the one saying things like this:
There are now 266 state powers allowing officials to force their way into the home. Six hundred public bodies have the authority to bug phones and emails and intercept the post. Forget the security services: councils and quangos conduct 1,000 surveillance operations every month, using powers that ought to be the preserve of law enforcement agencies. [Telegraph, 2008-06-13]
while Kelvin McKenzie's attitude is more like this
Humphrys then asked MacKenzie if he always did what he was told. "I do if it's Rupert Murdoch, strangely," he replied.

When pressed that people would be asked to vote for Murdoch's man, MacKenzie said: "It would be vote for me, the Sun's man. I would be doing it on behalf of the Sun. I have been associated with the Sun for 30-odd years and so I have an umbilical cord to the paper."

[...] "the Sun has always been up for 42 days or perhaps 420 days" [Guardian, 2008-06-13]
Obviously if the vote is not tight then don't vote for either of these bastards; vote for the lefty candidate, or spoil your ballot. But if it looks like there's a real danger that McKenzie might get in, then even Davis could be the lesser of two truly great evils.

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