Monday, December 29, 2008

Just Me?

Is it just me or are the advertisements appearing on the right bar of this page now generating South African ads? If so, that's what three months here will do to you (or your blog!).

Sweeeet.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Cape

After a long month of travelling I'm now in Cape Town enjoying the sights. This morning was museum/gallery morning, highlighted by a tour of Slave Lodge, The South African National Gallery, and a Bushmen art gallery.

 
Primarily dominated by local crafts, I presumed South Africa's contributions to fine art would be few and far between. The National Gallery here (not to mention the gorgeous surroundings of Cape Town's Botanical Gardens) has changed my impressions not just of the city, but of South Africa as a whole. From the modern genious of Andrew Verster to the evocative portraits of Mustafa Maluka, today has been a fantastic day of cultural exploration. 
What a great city!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It Just Keeps Getting Better


To be completely serious, I miss snow.

But...

South Africa just keeps on keeping on being its wonderful sunny and beautiful self. From Plett to Hluhluwe to Underberg to Coffee Bay and finally now to Chintsa. Christmas on a sunny day may not be that bad after all...

Friday, December 19, 2008

On The Horizon

In addition to a love of politics, photography, and travelling around I happen to be quite a big U2 fan. So, despite the news having been released a few hours ago, I'm celebrating the upcoming release of the rockers' new album, "No Line On the Horizon" this coming March!

I've been excited to return home for quite some time, but the impending release of a new single around the time of my arrival just adds to the fun.

Christmas approaches!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Week

7 days left until I'm back in Plettenberg Bay for a South African Christmas. (Apologies to the vegetarians...) The lambs are ready for slaughter and I've been told there will be a tree to decorate, but it's sunny and warm here, not the kind of holiday season I'm used to.

I could get used to this view though...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Off Again

After a quick overnight in Durban it's off to the Drakensberg Mountains this afternoon.

A 3-day horse ride over the mountains into Lesotho...perfect.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

From Rage to Remote

I'm about to hop on a bus for the (very long) trip to the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi region of eastern South Africa. Though I don't really know what to expect, I found the following picture while doing a search of photos from the area, so hopefully a similar foggy sunset awaits me!



(photo: Chris Berger)


I'm leaving behind a wild week of parties and clubs here in Plettenberg Bay...it is Plett Rage Week by the way, so that explains why this small community has been transformed into the playground of South Africa's wealthiest and craziest post-exam students. As much as I enjoyed it, the above picture looks like a lot more fun than being out to take the picture below was.



Off on an adventure!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Falling Into Place


With two months behind me here in South Africa I'm now looking at a nice old chunk of time traveling around the country from coast to coast and from mountains to the sea. Downed trees and powerlines have made planning painfully difficult, but four days from departure things are beginning to come together nicely.

As Al Franken continues to edge closer in Minnesota and we have a clearer and clearer picture of Obama's new crew in Washington I will be here packing up and scrambling to make plans in advance of a Saturday departure.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

There are no turkeys here in South Africa but it's been a lovely Thanksgiving Day nonetheless.

To everyone back home, have a happy Thanksgiving and safe travels this holiday weekend.

Catch you back here in a few days!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Where to Next?


I'm no longer the "18 year old high-school student/political blogger."

As of this morning I'm the "19 year old college-age political blogger."

Something tells me that's not as easy to market...

Despite having put another year behind me some things don't change. First, I'm still fascinated by watching and covering American elections. Second, I still love to write, take photographs, design graphics, and shoot video.

In the late winter of '07 I set out to attend a few campaign events and type up summaries online. By Election Day I had been on the floor of the RNC, shaken hands with the two party nominees, been on television as a political analyst and a game show contestant, and had my blog posts syndicated around on various news sites.

So what do I have up my sleeve now and what am I aiming for looking ahead to the 2012 election? It's a secret for now, but you'll find out soon!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hillary and Mitt

Two names I didn't expect to be paying much attention to in late November, but following Romney's provacative New York Times op-ed today and the (perhaps) looming nomination of Sen. Clinton as Barack Obama's Secretary of State it's hard to ignore them.

Romney came out swinging today by penning a piece for the Times suggesting that the best thing for Detroit (and the American economy in the long run) is to allow the "Big Three"--Ford, GM, and Crysler--to go bankrupt and change the way they do business. As much as I disagreed with and disliked Romney during Campaign '08 it's hard to disagree with the arguement he lays out:

Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check

Second, management as is must go. New faces should be recruited from unrelated industries — from companies widely respected for excellence in marketing, innovation, creativity and labor relations. Investments must be made for the future.

No more focus on quarterly earnings or the kind of short-term stock appreciation that means quick riches for executives with options. Manage with an eye on cash flow, balance sheets and long-term appreciation. Invest in truly competitive products and innovative technologies — especially fuel-saving designs — that may not arrive for years.

Read the full article HERE.

The article that drew my attention to Hillary Clinton comes from the conservative Weekly Standard. Some Democrats will play off any notion that one of their own being popular among conservatives is a good thing for the party, but Noemie Emery's piece makes me realize just what it was about Hillary during the closing months of the primary fight that I loved so much. Emery writes:

As her previous base was collapsed by Obama, she responded by taking the only route open: She morphed by default into the champion of middle-aged, middle-class, small-town and middle America; of the more conservative, post-Reagan Democrats; and, by her party's standards, the hawks. In no time at all, Hillary Rodham of Wellesley and Yale became the new voice of the Democrats' social conservatives, defending rural voters and small town inhabitants against charges of "bitterness," saying elites had degraded the culture, knocking back shots of Crown Royal in bars.

She didn't just change, she seemed authentic in changing, as if a woman who had gone through multiple makeovers during decades in politics had finally found a persona that fit her. Martha's Vineyard flaked off, revealing the soul of a Midwestern scrapper.

This shift in the Hillary Clinton persona did not go unobserved on the left, which commenced to tear her apart in the same terms of endearment it would later unleash upon Sarah Palin, and had used before on George W. Bush and Joe Lieberman. Moveon.org, founded ten years ago by liberal Democrats to defend the Clintons against impeachment proceedings, now assailed her with the savage ferocity they had once reserved for Ken Starr. As a result, perhaps, Hillary later refused to attack Sarah Palin, and treated her, and McCain, with personal courtesy throughout the campaign.

As for the conservatives, many of those who began 2008 willing to do anything to defeat her tended to end it feeling sorry she lost. They began to tell themselves and each other they would sleep better at night if she were the nominee of her party, for reasons having to do with the now-famous three a.m. phone call. She would not, they said, have gone to Berlin and said that the city was saved by the world coming together; she would have known that the Air Force had something to do with it. As thoughts turned later on to possible cabinet picks, the thought of Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin staring into the clueless eyes of John Kerry and/or Bill Richardson roused still more anxiety. Better the steely gimlet-eyed stare of a Hillary Clinton.

A fantastic article that any Democrat (Obama supporter or Hillary fan) would do good to read. Check out the whole piece HERE.

Crossing my fingers for Sec. of State Hillary Clinton...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sick.

I've slept for fifteen of the last twenty hours and planning to head back to bed soon.

Unfortunately, due to a timely software malfunction, my iPod deleted all of the 4,700 songs I had on it.


A bad headache, a fever, chills, no music to keep me happy.

At least I've got this nice sunset view out the window...


Sunday, November 16, 2008

An Outstanding Summary

Ron Suskind's NYT piece today is well worth a read.

Catch it HERE.

Capetown






Can't wait to return in December!



Thursday, November 13, 2008

Back "Home"

My extended weekend in Cape Town has come to an end and I'm back here in Plettenberg Bay until I begin traveling again the second week of December.

Cape Town was a whirl of activity, and being there I was able to start grasping the magnitude of last week's election. Bars in Cape Town had "America Nights" (cheap drinks for Americans), Obama was the subject of many toasts around town, and it seemed like Americans were popping up everywhere from previously-hidden existences. To confirm the media stories of "global celebrations" to Obama's victory, I can definitively say that Cape Town was celebrating along with everyone else. How refreshing!

I'm going to upload some photos of the South African newspapers that I have been able to snag over the past week. The Obama editorials, cartoons, headlines, and reader letters have been amazing...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Long Weekend

I tried four or five times today to sit down and write a nice post-election blog entry summarizing my feelings now that everything's finished and Obama will be the next president.

As is clear from my lack of such a post, I was unsucessful in cramming so many thoughts and emotions together, so I'm going to use my long weekend trip to Cape Town to collect myself and hopefully I will next week with a fresh perspective on things (and a new ability to blog coherently!).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The First Family

IMG_2790

Whether you hated him or loved him I can imagine millions across the country waking up tomorrow and knowing what "The American Dream" feels like for the very first time. Obama's victory means so much to so many that it's hard to ignore the importance of what has occurred tonight.

John McCain's life and service to America is unparalleled and a McCain victory would undoubtedly have stirred a sense of pride in many Americans too, but this has been Obama's year through and through.

Now the most difficult task begins.

We've just given Obama four years to see what he can do to turns things around. The clock starts in January.

What an election.

(Photo Credit: 2008. Luke N. Vargas. All Rights Reserved)

Retiring

The first streaks of blue have hit the sky and it's time for me to go to bed.

5:00 AM CAT.

Fingers crossed overnight for Al Franken to pick up Norm Coleman's Senate seat in Minnesota--it should be close.

I'm still feeling a narrow Obama win in Indiana, despite current results that have him trailing slightly.

Check back tomorrow for LOTS more coverage and opinion.

O-H-I-O

Nothing spells a big Obama victory better than a nice win, as is predicted, in Ohio.

This is it.

Sunrise: 5:22

In under an hour the sun will rise over South Africa.

My money is on having a very good idea of where the night is going when I sign off to bed as the sky starts to brighten up.

Camera is ready.

An Indiana Nailbiter (and other, clearer races)

With 60% in Obama is down by 3%, but full results from Porter and Lake Counties that I identified earlier as having the capability of bumping Obama into the lead have still not arrived.

Expect some movement soon as final numbers arrive in from Indianapolis (pulling strongly for Obama).

Meanwhile on the national map nothing is looking good for McCain as Obama keeps up great numbers in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio.

Hagan It Is

Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole is G-O-N-E.

North Carolina has a new Democratic Senator in Ms. Kay Hagan.

If things keep up North Carolina may just elect Barack Obama the next President of the United States.

North Carolina can seal the deal in the next 25 minutes.

Developing...

Obama Can Start Smiling

IMG_0953.JPG

In no particular order:

- Things are looking terrific for Obama in Pennsylvania. Exit polls show Obama leading McCain 60/40 among women in the state, enough to all but guarantee a crucial Keystone State victory.

- Early votes from Ohio throw Obama pretty far into the lead and exit polls statewide show him holding an 8-10% lead--a figure in line with polls conducted over the past weeks and days.

- Well, that might just be it. McCain admitted yesterday that he needed Pennsylvania to win and, save a miracle for him, it's looking like he's not going to get that. With Obama holding close (and poised to jump ahead) in Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana, McCain is riding in the back seat tonight; if Obama wins ANY one of those three states the election is over.

Simple as that.


(Photo credit: Luke N. Vargas. 2007-2009. All Rights Reserved)

Granite State Slump

New Hampshire Republicans may have lifted John McCain to primary victories in 2000 and 2008, but McCain doesn't look to be getting much help statewide this time around as h currently trails Barack Obama by nearly 20%.


UPDATE: AND THERE YOU HAVE IT--THE AP HAS CALLED NH FOR BARACK OBAMA.

States Within States

Northwest Indiana (Lake & Porter Counties) are more like Chicago suburbs than parts of Indiana, so expect those areas to help chip away at the 4% deficit Obama is facing currently in Indiana. Lake and Porter counties pulled heavily for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in April's Democratic Primary.

Similarly in Virginia, the band stretching from Richmond to Virginia Beach will pull heavily towards Obama and help break away at McCain's current (and very temporary) 13% lead.

States within states...

Georgia Results vs. Georgia Exit Polls

The first wave of numbers have come in from Georgia and are showing McCain up be a sizable margin. Exit polls, however, are predicting a very tight race.

In Georgia, as well as in Indiana and Virginia, exit polls have put Obama in better position than is being seen in official results; McCain is still leading in Indiana after 20% of votes counted.

Was the McCain campaign right in predicting exit polls would lean towards Obama? Time will tell, but it may just be...

Much Too Fast

It's only the very beginning of the night but the results are pouring in faster than I can make sense of them. Here's what I am seeing through the confusion:

- Obama's moving into the lead in Indiana, a position it looks like he'll remain in. Indiana is a quick pickup for Obama that pulls out the support under a potential McCain comeback. Indiana is a Bush state voting for Obama, enough said.

- Virginia's results are also filtering in and exit polls combined with early numbers show another win for Obama. McCain would have needed a Virginia win to sure up electoral votes to make up for lost GOP states such as Indiana. Should McCain fail to pick up Virginia, this thing could be over very soon

- Finally, in Kentucky, Democrat Bruce Lunsford is still holding even with incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell after 13% of the vote count. It looks like McConnell will eventually win the state, but the numbers are troubling signs for the Republicans.

Indiana and Kentucky

Indiana (at 3%) is a 50/50 matchup. No surprise.

Kentucky (at 9%) is a 50/50 matchup as well, with Mitch McConnell currently trailing Bruce Lunsford by 1%. I don't expect Obama to hold near 50% in Kentucky (and I wouldn't be surprised if he dropped a great deal from where he is now), but the existence of McCain/Lunsford voters (albeit in small quantities)--those who go for McCain on the top ticket and vote out an incumbent Republican in the Senate--could signal success for Kay Hagan in North Carolina even if McCain wins the state...

developing...

My Races

CNN.com has a wonderful feature up today that allows you to select up to 35 races across the country (from presidential contests to Senate, House, Governor, and Ballot Measure contests) and automatically receive updates on a customizable page! Quite exciting for a junkie like me...

Here are "My (Top) Races":
-Georgia Presidential
-Pennsylvania Presidential
-North Carolina Senate
-Minnesota Senate
-California Prop. 8 (Ban on Gay Marriage)
-Massachusetts Question 1 (Repeal State Income Tax)


Waiting on the 1:00 hour...

Only 12:55 AM

Ready to move out of the midnight hour and begin hearing faint whispers of results from Indiana. Exit polls numbers should start swirling around within minutes.

Seemingly Unimportant

...but perhaps a bit telling.

Tonight I'm wearing my red and blue Iowa State t-shirt that I purchased at the Iowa Caucus this past January. To me the '08 Caucus stood for two things, John McCain at his strongest and a knockout win for Barack Obama.

A big win for Obama tonight would certainly fit into my t-shirt omen, but I wouldn't count out McCain "coming off strong" tonight, whether it be in pockets of electoral strength around the country or in a dignified response to an Obama victory. McCain may not win but he can certainly take a high road out of this election if he choses to.

The Middle of the Night

Fresh (but still pretty groggy) from a two-hour nap I'm back at the computer thinking ahead to 1:00 AM Central African Time when, should the data start flowing relatively quickly, results from Indiana should begin to trickle in. The arrival of exit poll results at midnight is hardly news, and I won't be seeking out any of those numbers.

2:00 AM brings in Indiana, Virginia, and Georgia, three very interesting states whose results can start to paint the picture for what to expect in traditional Republican strongholds. Though I'm hardly predicting an Obama upset in Georgia, if it comes down to less than 4-5% it could indicate the beginning of an Obama blowout.

3:00 AM will usher in results from the all-important states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida--states that McCain has to win.

3:50-4:15 AM Should everything pan out the way I'm seeing it now, the election should be called by most networks during this time. The clouds should be parting on numbers from Ohio and Pennsylvania. If McCains makes it past the results of VA, OH, NC, PA, and FL he'll be way ahead of expectations and we might be in for a close fight, but it is this 25-30 minute window where I can see the breakpoint falling.

Cheers to a long night!

Thank God for Facebook?!

Funny to think that the "Today is Election Day, Get Out and Vote!" banner on Facebook.com will get out more votes than two $500 campaigns...

...off to make a timetable for tonights results...

Here for the Day (and Night)

It's presently 2:54 PM Central African Time. I've been awake for nine hours already, and with the first votes coming in at 6:00 PM EST and Daylight Savings Time now in effect I have another twelve hours to wait before any official results are released.

Thankfully there is no television or radio where I'm staying, so the only access to election results will be through the internet. On top of that I've customized a CNN.com results page with key races to watch and have cropped the window down to prevent me from sneaking a glimpse of the "analysis" that any of the news networks are going to toss around today.

It's all about the numbers tonight.

So as the day continues make sure to return to the Political Courier for some election day insight all the way from lovely the lovely town of The Crags, South Africa!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Close

One final day.

John McCain and Barack Obama take the mound for their last pitches to the American people.

"Freedom" from John McCain


"Something" from Barack Obama


In true form Obama continues to hammer down "change," "bringing America together," and "one nation, one people." Obama's ad also features the massive crowd displays that have been such a driving force in promoting his public appeal.

McCain contrasts with Obama in emphasizing his career, experience, and values. Sen. McCain also presents voters with a more specific choice in dealing with the problems our country faces--"don't hope for a stronger America, vote for one."

McCain drives home his role as a politician and presidential candidate while Obama presents himself as a movement. No surprises or strategical changes here.

Watching these final television advertisements it's amazing to see just how far this election has come. Not only do all the pieces come together (McCain's crowd footage was taken during the debut of his running mate, Sarah Palin, when many questioned the presence of cinema cameras a the event) in the final days of the campaign, but the full weight of our country's upcoming decision is beginning to set in.

Should America decide not to elect Obama we will have passed on a promising Democratic leader promising long-overdue change to the way business has been handled in Washington, not to mention the failure of a rare political cult figure to capitalize on the biggest, most expensive marketing campaign and cultural movement in history.

Should America choose not to elect John McCain we will have passed on one of the most potentially-moderate, experienced, distinguished, and honorable Republicans to be presented to voters in the coming decades. No Republican candidate with credentials and merit like McCain seems to be coming down the pipeline anytime soon.

A historic choice and a historic 48 hours await us.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Finally, the Simpler Things in Life

Snapshots of a pre-election weekend in South Africa that feels like anything like a pre-election weekend.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

"A Sign of Unease"

A great read from John Hopkins' Fouad Ajami.

Save in times of national peril, Americans have been sober, really minimalist, in what they expected out of national elections, out of politics itself. The outcomes that mattered were decided in the push and pull of daily life, by the inventors and the entrepreneurs, and the captains of industry and finance. To be sure, there was a measure of willfulness in this national vision, for politics and wars guided the destiny of this republic. But that American sobriety and skepticism about politics -- and leaders -- set this republic apart from political cultures that saw redemption lurking around every corner.

My boyhood, and the Arab political culture I have been chronicling for well over three decades, are anchored in the Arab world. And the tragedy of Arab political culture has been the unending expectation of the crowd -- the street, we call it -- in the redeemer who will put an end to the decline, who will restore faded splendor and greatness. When I came into my own, in the late 1950s and '60s, those hopes were invested in the Egyptian Gamal Abdul Nasser. He faltered, and broke the hearts of generations of Arabs. But the faith in the Awaited One lives on, and it would forever circle the Arab world looking for the next redeemer.

America is a different land, for me exceptional in all the ways that matter. In recent days, those vast Obama crowds, though, have recalled for me the politics of charisma that wrecked Arab and Muslim societies. A leader does not have to say much, or be much. The crowd is left to its most powerful possession -- its imagination.

Check out the full article here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why This One's More Difficult

Last summer there were a number of bloggers (including myself) and political observers that saw a road forward for John McCain when times were bad.
Return to your principles. Continue being "The Maverick." Lose the campaign staff that's saying your campaign is finished. 
John McCain did what he needed to do and came from behind to win the New Hampshire Primary and the Republican nomination.

Now McCain is in a similar hole, but this time he's only got one week left to dig himself out. Are eleventh hour comebacks possible in general elections? Of course, simply look back to Bush in 2000, Reagan in 1980, or Nixon in 1968. What I see McCain lacking here is a platform from which to persuasively deliver his closing argument.

The debates are over (and seemed to benefit Obama), McCain has gone negative and tried with little success to go after Obama on Bill Ayers or ACORN (two things that I thought would and should have been given more media attention), and Obama's "redistribute the wealth" comments aren't scaring the living daylights out of voters like they would have happened eight or even four years ago.

It's that "closing argument," the final establishment of your campaign's tone, that can turn around an election. Judging by the courses of that Obama and McCain chose to take with their final tones, I'm ready to rule out any hope of a McCain comeback.

When Barack Obama was most successful in blowing past Hillary Clinton he pretended she didn't exist; he didn't reference her name in speeches, and he fast-forwarded us to a vision of the country with him as the nominee. Clinton, on the other hand, tried to draw distinctions between herself and Obama. The issues Hillary focused on were important ones, but her strategy was doomed to look lackluster compared to Obama's "it's about me" course.

Now Obama is doing the same thing. As John McCain has been repeatedly talking about Obama's "redistribute the wealth" vs. his own "create wealth," Obama has merely returned to talking about the "change" that an Obama victory would bring.

Not bothered by money, ahead in the polls, and with more and more early votes being cast for him, Obama is well on his way to walking off with a win.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Breakpoint

13 days to go.

The first "Landslide Like Reagan" articles are starting to circulate around and the stars are beginning to line up for a Obama blowout.

But just as linkely as an Obama blowout is a narrow McCain victory. McCain is going all-in on a strategy that requires a seemingly impossible victory in Pennsylvania--a state that just doesn't like it's going Republican no matter how much money the GOP pours into it--but states like Colordo, New Mexico, and perhaps a nailbiter victory in New Hampshire could hold the ticket to turning around John McCain's fortunes.

As politicians reduce expectations before debates and primaries, McCain (despite having the odds stacked heavily against him) is reducing his own election day expectations by "pulling out" of Colorado and New Mexico this week.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ballot. Cast.

And so it was that I cast my first presidential election ballot while sitting on the floor of the farm living room in The Crags, South Africa. Straining to read the ballot measures in the darkness and skipping over the section marked "President of the United States" for fear that I would make the wrong decision, I slumped against the couch and took as long as possible to enjoy the moment.

On the ballot measures, my votes broke down as follows:

Question 1 (to eliminate the State Income Tax by 2010): NO
Question 2 (to decriminalize marijuana possesion): YES
Question 3 (to ban dog racing): YES

Not much to report on Senate, Congressional, and Statewide races, but the decision of picking a President did slow me up. Neither candidate stood for all the positions that I support:

- Energy independence through alternative energy subsidies, a corporate carbon tax, and domestic oil drilling
- No timetable for Iraq withdrawal
- Comprehensive immigration reform that a) doesn't create two classes of Americans and b) that puts the emphasis on strengthening our southern border with Mexican
- Education reform utilizing charter schools, vouchers, and teacher pay incentives
- A foreign policy of limited intervention and ending the United States' policy of nation-building

You can't always get what you want, but one candidate did edge out the other for me. So what did it come down to?

Well, it was as easy as asking what a certain woman/Senator would have wanted me to do...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Absentee-Time?

Batch1 009

A number of absentee ballots for New York and Maryland residents have already arrived here in South Africa, but I'm still waiting to receive my trusty old Massachusetts ballot.

When I do I'll provide my final thoughts on the two candidates and break down which issues will influence my vote. Other than that, don't expect to hear how I voted until the lovely morning of November 5th.

Checking the mail...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Through the Grapevine

Despite being half a world away in South Africa, I read in the papers today that Bush said the following on the economic crisis (the exchange rate here is terrific, but apparently things arent going very well back home!!):

"We are a prosperous nation with immense resources and a wide range of tools at our disposal ... We can solve this crisis and we will."
Words I wish we had heard from Bush on an issue like global warming...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bringing Back the Past

For anyone visiting here for the first time (or not) I'm rehashing a list of links to some of my posts from the past twenty months of this site. Of the 451 posts I've published since March 12, 2007, the following are my all-time favorites:

"'Super Volunteers" Reshape America: A Profile" — May 7, 2008

"How to Have a Conversation" — April 1, 2008

"My First Vote" [Video] — February 6, 2008

"Two Americas Came Together" (Edwards ends campaign) — January 30, 2008

"The Road We've Already Tread" (Hillary Clinton endorsement) — January 13, 2008

~IOWA CAUCUS COVERAGE~ — January 1-5, 2008

"Who Shows Up" (Barack Obama in Des Moines, IA) — January 3, 2008

"Sticking Around" (Joe Biden in Plymouth, NH) — October 11, 2007

"A New Dodd" (My Dodd endorsement) — August 31, 2007 [My #1]

" 'God Bless Him' " (Dennis Kucinich in Dover, NH) — August 17, 2007

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Goodbye For Now

I'm boarding a plane for South Africa this morning, and will only be updating this site sporadically in the coming months. Don't expect election commentary or updates, but rather some occasional photos and travel updates.

Thank you for making this election such a pleasure to cover.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Nothing to Like Here


If there's anything worse than an economic crisis, it is when leadership stops leading.

Hate him or love him, I felt reassured by President Bush in the days after 9/11.

Though bank failures, the fact that millions of American economic futures are in question, and our crashing stock market are not the same as the kind of crisis when our country is under attack, our economy is very much at risk. All the while our Congressional leaders have continued to goof around like nothing really matters, offering very little of the post-partisan guidance that we so desperately need.

House Republicans blamed Nancy Pelosi for delivering a very partisan speech before today's vote on the bailout measure, saying that she injected politics into a bill that Republicans had been planning to vote for. Some Dems defended Pelosi, however, saying that the Republicans had been posturing politically as well.........so what. The Democrats are the majority party and it is their responsibility to bring the minority side into the picture and get important bills moved through Congress.

Terrible leadership from Congressional Democrats.

Hmmm...

Superduper partisan? Yep.

Still interesting? Yep.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Important Steps

A lot of people labeled McCain's decision to return to Washington earlier this week as political grandstanding, but once the publicity settled on that story it is worth pointing out that McCain is back in D.C. today working on the bailout proposal.

Meanwhile, Obama is holding two rallies today in Virginia.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Debate — Political Courier Webcast

Late-Breaking

Late-breaking news, however "breaking" it is, doesn't tend to get much attention these days, so I figured I'd give this some press.

BARACK OBAMA MISSTATED KISSINGER:

“Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level.”
So, if it's worth going back and changing the scorecards around, McCain wins the Kissinger issue...

Working on a Scorecard

Off to the draft-room to cook up a debate summary.

Check back before midnight.

LIVEBLOGGING: Wrap-Ups Pt. 1

Obama: "We are less respected than we were eight years ago."

If Obama has one single weapon that will always be in his arsenal, it's his notion that he will change America's reputation around the world. I agree that he'll improve our international reputation, and I'm not surprised Obama is finishing up with this point.

One of McCain's final 'prepared' lines drives home the issue of Obama's relative inexperience.

Change vs. experience.

Nothing new.

LIVEBLOGGING: Disorder

As one friend of mine says, this debate has turned into "a conversation."

In addition to looking at the scorecards that political "experts" release after the debate on Obama and McCain, I will be curious to see what the reviews of Leher are...

LIVEBLOGGING: A Little Naivety

Obama links McCain to Bush by bringing up one of President Bush's comments about the Fmr. Russian President.

McCain identifies Obama's "naivety"

McCain: "I looked into Putin's eyes and saw three letters: a "K," a "G," and a "B.'"


(This debate is all over the place, it's hard to keep up!!)

LIVEBLOGGING: Negotiations

McCain—North Korea has broken every diplomatic agreement they've entered into...how can you expect to sit down and negotiate with a country like that?

McCain fires up a fiesty line about sitting down to talk with Iran's Ahmadinejad...I'll find the quote later. 

LIVEBLOGGING: A McCain One-Liner

McCain: "I'm not going to set the White House visitor schedule before I'm President."


The Blogosphere Reacts

Obama says "I've got a bracelet too."

Here are some interesting blog reactions that highlight how different sources are going to score this debate in very different ways:
"I've got a bracelet, too." ROFL!!!! What a tool. "No soldier ever dies in vain." Huh? WTF kind of logic is that?"

"Brilliant oratory"

"At least we know, no matter who wins, they both have bracelets. God Bless America."

LIVEBLOGGING: The Threat from Iran

MCCAIN—Iran is a threat to Israel and the region. "We cannot allow a second holocaust." The Russians are holding up action in the United Nations. McCain brings up one of his more interesting proposals: "A League of Democracies"—a group of like-minded nations (without the veto power of countries like China and Russia) that can help push forward a common diplomatic policy.

OBAMA—Warns about the nuclear threat of Iran. "We cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran." Warns that Iran going nuclear could set off a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race. Unlike McCain, Obama wants to bring China and Russia into the debate. Highlights difference with McCain: Obama would negotiate directly with Iran. 

"I've Got a Bracelet, Too"

Obama responds to McCain's comment about a bracelet given to him by the mother of a fallen soldier.

I expect the two candidate to compare ankle bracelets next...Ridiculous.

Did Obama shoot down McCain with that answer, or come off as rather snippy and not serious? I keep replaying that part of the debate and trying to figure out how I feel about it...

Here's my debate reaction:


LIVEBLOGGING: More Audience Reaction

"Leher should step in more—this is getting off topic."

"I want Hillary!!"

LIVEBLOGGING: McCain Admits a Mistake, Tells Obama How to Negotiate

McCain—After we cleaned the Russians out of Afghanistan, we washed our hands of the region. I regret that.

McCain tries to paint Obama as reckless on matters of foreign policy. "Obama would unilaterally attack targets within the borders of one of our allies."


LIVEBLOGGING: Admiral Mullen

Obama and McCain argue over what Army Admiral Michael G. Mullen has said about each Senator's proposals for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama: "He said we don't have enough troops to effectively deal with Afghanistan"

McCain: "He said Obama's plan was reckless"

LIVEBLOGGING: McCain Wipes Obama Clean

McCain: "The next president of the United States is not going to have to address the issue as to whether we went into Iraq or not. The next president of the United States is going to have to decide how we leave, when we leave, and what we leave behind 

McCain, in one fell swoop, tries to make one of Obama's biggest points irrelevant. 

UPDATE: Obama—"It's about judgement." 

McCain—"There's a difference between judgement and a strategy."

LIVEBLOGGING: The Lessons of Iraq

McCain "The lessons of Iraq are clear. You cannot have a failed strategy that will cause you to nearly lose a conflict."

He's talking about Rumsfield's failed Iraq policy—a policy he long opposed (unlike other Republicans)—and then his decision to follow up the failed policy with a "winning policy"—"The Surge." Obama will now be forced to defend his opposition to "The Surge."

Instead, Obama talks about how he opposed the war before anyone else did.

How is that possible? He had no intelligence and wasn't in the United States Senate.

LIVEBLOGGING: Health Care

The discussion turns to health care.

Obama—We can't give up $300 billion from tax cuts—that money needs to go to help provide health care for all Americans.

McCain—I've fought to cut spending. Obama has added hundreds of billions of dollars in spending. I think we can move around our spending to take care of most important priorities.

Obama—"John, you presided over this 'orgy' of spending."

LIVEBLOGGING: Energy

McCain talks about new job possibilities regarding new nuclear power facilities. 

Up until now the only talk has been about how many jobs can be created through solar, hydro, and wind energy projects.

LIVEBLOGGING: Vocab

McCain addresses Obama as "Senator Obama"

Obama continually refers to McCain as "John"

Intentional? You bet. 

Rude? Yes. Patronizing.

LIVEBLOGGING: Obama Makes the Rules, eh?

Obama decides not to answer Jim Leher's question about what programs he'll have to give up given the high cost of the bailout.

Instead, he ticks off a list of his talking points about what CAN'T be cut. By doing so, he can bring up education, health care, alternative energy forms—issues that were not going to be discussed tonight.

(McCain doesn't answer the question either)

Leher responds: "It doesn't sound like you're going to cut anything!"

LIVEBLOGGING: McCain on Earmarks

Tonight is one of the few nights of this entire campaign in which McCain has been able to show how the earmark issue is relevant outside of the mere $18 billion that Obama says the issue is vs. $300 billion in tax cuts.

McCain: "Well, $18 billion may not seem like a lot for Barack Obama..."

LIVEBLOGGING: Audience Reaction

Though the crowd in Mississippi is silent, here's some of what I've been hearing in a room full of Democrats:

On McCain's comments about Eisenhower's two letters — "He seems very authentic, he's not as nervous anymore"

On Obama's statement about how we got into this economic crisis — "I did this, I foresaw this...I, I, I"

On McCain vs. Obama's positions on spending — "This is the traditional Republic arguments an vs. the traditional Republican arguments"

15 Minutes to Go

video

What to Watch For: The First Presidential Debate

As luck would have it, tonight's debate is the only presidential or vice presidential debate that I will be able to watch on television. So, with extra enthusiasm for tonight's session, here are a few quick things to watch for:

1) How does McCain describe his work in Washington on the bailout package yesterday and today?

2) Does Obama try to paint McCain as having attempted to dodge the debate?

3) Does a "tied" result coming out of the debate get spun by the media into an Obama victory?

4) Body language. Remember Kerry's very close handshake with George W. Bush in 2004 that showed his obvious height advantage...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Is it About Experience?


Thinking back, maybe Wesley Clark should have steered clear of even talking about John McCain's military experience back in June—they are, after all, both military men and could have left it at that–but it is interesting to consider what constitutes the proper experience to be president. Barack Obama and John McCain have lived very different lives and though McCain has more years under his belt it's still up for debate which man is more qualified for the job.

Mitt Romney argued that a President ought to be a businessperson with good managerial experience...

Mike Huckabee made the case that a President ought to be a person of faith...

Rudy Giuliani implied that the best President is an "American hero"...what he falsely believes he is...

Senator, Governor, Ambassador, Mayor, CEO, outsider, former Vice-President, war hero, activist, community organizer...the list of potential backgrounds for a President goes on and on. Barack Obama and John McCain can each make their claim that they are the most experienced or the best prepared for the Presidency, but I can't help but think that the candidate with the most experience has not been the winner of a Presidential election in a long time.

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John Kerry, Al Gore, Bob Dole, and George H. W. Bush (though he was elected to one term) all served as either high-ranking political leaders and (with the exception of Gore) decorated soldiers but were ultimately unsuccessful in their bids for the White House. That begs the question of whether John McCain's obvious advantage (in my opinion) in the experience category will necessarily help in his fight against Barack Obama.

I bet it won't, though in an ideal world it should.

When one stands at a disadvantage in a certain area it's common practice to try and go after the person with the advantage. For a good example look no further than George W. Bush's successful belittling of John Kerry's far superior military background in 2004. 

John McCain began his career as a national political figure in 1983, the same year Barack Obama graduated from college, but with the underdog's upper hand and the ability for half-billion dollar campaigns to create and shift campaign narratives, I just don't see experience playing as big a role in this election as it should.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sep. 24 — Political Courier Webcast

On the Same Damn Page


For a long time I've been hearing candidates talking about their plans for making the health care system more efficient and effective in providing the best patient care.

Besides calls for universal health care, "streamlining the industry by digitizing medical records" is a common pledge by both Democrats and Republicans. Today I realized why such a system would be much better than the mess we face currently.

On Monday I went to the Mt. Auburn Hospital Travel Clinic to receive vaccinations for my upcoming travels in South Africa and Southeast Asia. Instead of consulting with my primary care physician or a digitized report of which shots I had previously received, the travel "specialist" began telling me which shots I had and had not previously received. Based on her professional opinion of which shots teenagers "always" receive at certain times, I was given a vaccination that I had actually received only 11 months before. A simple call by my doctor would have avoided the mistake, but when your doctor doesn't give you the time to explain what you think your medical history may be, problems are bound to ensue.

I blame both the travel doctor and the health care system for allowing this mistake to occur, and I cross my fingers that whoever is elected president will make some progress in streamlining the practices in the health care industry.

Stupid

Barack Obama has gone negative and off message. Why? He says it's because McCain went negative first.

Fair? Sure. Smart? Absolutely not.

Barack Obama wandered off the high road long, long ago.

Going after what cars John McCain owns? Stupid.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ammunition

Ever wonder why conservatives can always attack "liberal hippie environmentalists?"

Look. No. Further.

PETA continues to show how irrelevant they are in the American political arena...

Sept. 23 — Political Courier Webcast

The Man of the Day: John Tester (D-MT)


Tester:
"I'm a dirt farmer. You guys [referring to Sec. Paulson and crew] have been in the business.

Why do we have one week to determine $700 billion that has to be appropriated, or this country's financial systems go down the pipes? 

Wasn't there some opportunity sometime down the line where we could have been informed of how serious this crisis was so we could take some preventative steps before this got to this point?"

A tremendous (and tremendously simple) question that we have yet to hear an answer to.


UPDATE: A reader responding to a similar article to this one on Salon.com wrote: "Unfortunately, Dodd stepped on the question a bit after Sen. Tester was done. You'll also note that no one ever answered Tester's question."

Yes, for all the things I like about Senator Dodd, he dropped the ball today on that question, most likely because Tester's question was a deviation from Dodd's prepared remarks.

The Man of the Week: Chris Dodd


Chris Dodd. Finally.


To be clear, "man of the week" does not imply that Dodd has done anything good this week, it simply means for the time being he is one of the most important figures in American politics. In fact, Dodd is at the very center of the debate in Washington over the proposed $700 bailout to try and correct our struggling economy. 

As chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, it is Dodd's responsibility to lead the questioning of Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson—the Federal Reserve and Treasury heads that are looking to push the bailout through Congress as quickly as possible. 

In some respects, a large part of Dodd's reputation rests upon his leadership of the Committee and how he balances the demands of immediate action from President Bush and responsible decision-making on the bill that many Democrats want. Should Dodd allow Paulson to walk into his Committee, sweet-talk Congress into passing the proposal, and giving President Bush exactly what he wants.

Thank heavens for C-SPAN3!


Monday, September 22, 2008

It's About Time


Who did they think they were? North Dakota?

I can't say I didn't call it...back on February 5th.

Terrific Work

Who knew The Onion was making videos?....and great ones at that?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Reading List


Recently completed: "The Revolution: A Manifesto" by Ron Paul

Currently reading: "From Power to Purpose" by Sen. Sam Brownback

Upcoming: "Shake Hands With the Devil" by Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire

I'm hoping there's not a dip in the excitement during Brownback's book, but I've met the Senator three times on the campaign trail (FOX RNC Debate, McCain rally in Iowa, RNC) and have been able to strike up very nice (albeit often brief) conversations with him about everything from life in Kansas to his joint Iraq strategy with Joe Biden.

Crossing my fingers as I dive into "From Power to Purpose"....

One Part of Our Economic Problem


Nice work, megamillions.com.

The lottery is a great addition to a healthy family economic plan.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Getaway


I'll be back with a webcast and some posts tomorrow evening, but for now it's time for a massage, a quick overnight trip, and a nice rest after a long and rough week.

Ciao!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Simple Metaphor for a Confusing Week

I was watching the Today Show yesterday morning and struggling to believe what I was hearing. Two guests were trying to explain why our banking system and housing market are in such shambles.

Their answer: corporate greed.

To them, the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, with their excessive wages and bonuses, were to blame for such a widespread problem as we currently face. Are we supposed to believe that if CEOs accepted pay cuts and passed on that money to the average employee we would not have a financial crisis? Absolutely not.

To the contrary, I have produced a simple metaphor that explains what exactly is going on. How am I an expert qualified to offer my opinion? Well, if the Federal Reserve was so knowledgeable, why are we here in the first place?

Here goes:

The problem rests primarily on our nation's debt.

Imagine the Federal Reserve as a cannon that can, at its choosing, fire off a load of cash into the economy--effectively lowering interest rates. Likewise, that cannon can also turn into a giant vacuum and suck cash out of the economy, raising interest rates. The system works fine until you run out of cannonballs, or, in reality, the government has no hard cash to launch into the economy.

So, when the Fed lowers interest rates, all it's doing is launching a big air bubble--one with NO cash behind it--into the economy. The result: the banks that lend money to each other begin trading in rather...airy, imaginary money.

When average folks hear of lower interest rates they take out a "cheaper" loan, buy a house they didn't think they can afford, but slowly find large pockets of air in the walls and floors of their new home.

When the market rights itself the goverment raises interest rates--turning on the vacuum--sucking the "money" out of the banks and the air out of the many newly-purchased houses, causing them to crumble. As their houses begin to collapse, homeowners can't afford to borrow at the newly-raised interest rates, and are stuck with piles of worthless property.

Could less corporate greed be a source of harm in our economy? Perhaps. But instead of blaming American workers (even the greedy ones) for the difficult times we're facing, we should also acknowledge the serious threats to our economic security that our national debt causes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Here We Go

Tune In!

I will be on CN8 (Channel 3) Comcast Cable News tomorrow morning @ 6:30 to discuss youth involvement in this year's election.

If you don't wake up with the sun, I will post a YouTube video of the segment later tomorrow morning.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What is "Youth Political Involvement?"


That question has been on my mind for a long time.

For many months of this election TV commentators and political observers have noted that young people are incredible involved in this election and that, especially with the help of Barack Obama, a new wave of political activism is brewing in America's up and coming generation.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't feel the same way. In fact, after looking at the electoral map projections this morning (HERE) I started to wonder just how long this "youth involvement" is going to last.

When I was in high school I helped to start a political magazine compiled with opinion pieces, news articles, and photographs all written or taken by students. After three issues the number of students involved rose from 15 to about 25, an accomplishment I was proud of. Though I don't believe that magazine can grow to encompass a much larger group of students, I strongly believe that once created, a rallying point for student political interest like a magazine can sustain itself over time. The same is true for established Model United Nations groups and "College Democrats"-type organizations. Sustained involvement in presidential politics is a lot harder to establish.


In the same way I have heard African-American political analysts note that no matter who wins the election this November, the ongoing fight for equal rights and racial equality in America could be set back (as some would say that electing a black president is the last significant hurdle yet to jump), I view youth involvement in politics similarly.

Should Barack Obama win this November, millions of young people who skipped classes on primary day to hold "Honk for Change" signs will feel like their political involvement was the key to Obama's victory, their minimal actions seemingly all that it takes to put their first beloved candidate in office. And should Barack Obama lose, millions of young people who made hundreds of phone calls, knocked on doors, volunteered at their local Obama campaign office, etc., will feel like their extraordinary efforts did nothing to change the American political landscape.

Either way, it seems hard to imagine a scenario in which youth involvement can increase after the 2008 election. Why? Can you imagine young people marching in the streets with "Joe Biden for Change 2016!" or "Hillary for Hope!" signs?

Barack Obama is the dominant force behind the present increase in young political involvement, not a collective realization among young people that issues like the War in Iraq, healthcare, and the banking crisis desperately need to be resolved.

How many young people rallied around LBJ after JFK?

Sept. 15 — Political Courier Webcast

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A McCain Victory

Here's what it looks like right now. 270-268 electoral votes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Changing Pace

From one book to the next.

I have some neat observations about McCain's book, and I'll share them on here soon.

Ron Paul time!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Endorsing Jon Hecht

Thankfully, a two hour debate was all the time I needed to determine what's going to happen next Tuesday in the Watertown Democratic Primary race for State Representative. It seems the informal polling that is counting yard signs has been quite accurate; Jon Hecht not only is the most visible candidate across Watertown, but he commanded the debate last night.

Hecht is one of four candidates running for the office. His opponents include Julia Fahey, an SEIU attorney who has received the endorsements of many local unions and politicians, Stephen Corbett, a former hospital administrator and local businessman, and Josh Weisbuch, a former Clinton White House intern and technology consultant. Hecht is the current Town Councilor of Watertown and serves as a member on a handful of local advisory panels and commissions.

Unlike higher offices where sitting politicians like Senator John Kerry seem to lose touch with voters of their home state quickly as they become consumed by the forces of Washington, experience and comfort with the roles and responsibilities of the State Legislature is a valuable commodity in local elections. Jon Hecht seemed to know the power players in Massachusetts politics, he was familiar with recent pieces of legislation, and skillfully answered the moderator's questions while also keeping the ball in his court. Sitting next to the obviously unseasoned Weisbuch who frequently dismissed questions about the Mass Pike, nurse staffing levels, and casino gambling as being "red herrings" that distracted voters from larger issues, Hecht supplied the crowd with the answers they wanted time and again.

This coming Tuesday I will cast my vote for Jon Hecht and help to send an experienced public servant to the State House.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Young Voters and the Party Conventions

I was thinking this morning about which party did a better job of reaching out to young voters at the conventions these last few weeks.

New voter registration numbers indicate that the Democrats are registering many more voters, especially those under 25 years old, than the Republicans are, but the momentum seems to have changed in the last few days.

While the RNC crowd lacked many young voters and the four day program seemed to lack much attention to the issues most important to young people, the selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate his stirred up a new wave of enthusiasm among young conservatives.

One article I read last week said Sarah Palin "has lived the life of the voters who will decide this election."

That line has stayed with me ever since.

"Hockey Mom," as opposed to "Hippie Mom," finds its place in the middle of the new American family:

—Hockey Mom
—Parents were high school sweethearts
—large, young family
—a special needs child
—a teenage pregnancy

That certainly is not the typical First or Second Family of Presidents passed, but it's the portrait of an increasingly common family in the United States.

Another noteworthy distinction between the "Hippie Moms" and "Hockey Moms," is that there is often less angst among the sons and daughters of Hockey Moms towards their parents. Where young voters wouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton because she reminded them of their annoying parents, young voters in St. Paul for the RNC confessed to me that Sarah Palin reminded them, at least in part, of their mother or a close friend's parent....in a good way.

Barack Obama's daughters may be very telegenic, but Sarah Palin and her family's story seems as if it's been pulled straight out of a MTV reality show.

We'll see if the momentum among young voters stays with McCain/Palin in the coming weeks....

Friday, September 5, 2008

In Transit

On my way back to Boston! There will be a webcast tomorrow if I don't get around to it today.

One Amazing Introduction

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008

Evening Update Webcast

Sept. 1, 2008 — Political Courier Webcast

...who knows why I said it was Saturday twice...

Flying with the Sun at My Back (4:15 AM)

It's bright and early in Boston and I should be touching down in St. Paul, Minnesota in just a few hours.

I'll be jamming out to Robbie Seay Band's "Song of Hope" this morning, and if you're in need of a great way to start your Labor Day morning, give it a listen HERE.

See ya in St. Paul.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Aug. 29, 2008 — Political Courier Webcast

McCain-Palin

McCain-Palin

I brought her name up for some serious consideration on July 13th.

We still thought it would be Pawlenty through last night, but it would have taken an IDIOT to pick Mitt Romney, and John McCain is a smart smart man.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Done Deal

IMG_2790
[Photo: Luke N. Vargas.]

Meet the new First Family.

Getting ahead of myself, you say?

Well, my (Democratic) predictions have done alright so far...

Predictions

The Competition

"The 15,000."

Uh oh.

Last Minute RNC Hotels

In case you're traveling to Minneapolis/St. Paul, rooms are still available at:

St. Paul's Hotel 340

and

The Hotel Minneapolis

Other than that, good luck; Minneapolis is fully booked.

Make it Official


The Political Courier will be in St. Paul next week for the Republican National Convention.

Prepare yourself...

Who Is Ben Domenech?

I wish I'd found this guy earlier.

It's always fun to listen to Republican pundits after a week or more of Democratic talking heads providing their VP and DNC spin.

Ben Domenech (founder of RedState—a great GOP read) chimes in on his own site to offer some stellar John McCain vice presidential speculation:

Biden slightly hurts the rationale for Romney. I do think that Romney would've been a bad choice from the get-go, and very out of character for McCain, but this makes it even less appealing, because Romney eliminates a good 2/3rds of the attacks that can be launched on Obama-Biden - on flip flops, on using quotes from debates against each other, on the economy. Romney's chief attributes shine when he sounds like a technocrat - but Biden is going to go populist in response, and I doubt Romney is an astute enough debater (he certainly didn't show it in the primary) to avoid getting tripped up and coming off as out of touch, wealthy, etc.

Blue collar executive experience = good.

White collar executive experience = bad.

Well put, Mr. Domenech.

Quicker Isn't Always Better



It seems Boston now falls under the NH media market, because Granite State Senate ads have been all over television coverage of the DNC this week.

Senator Sununu's opponent, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, spoke today at the DNC. While Shaheen is far from energizing and youthful, Sununu doesn't have a shot at holding onto his Senate seat this year.

Why?

Because "younger, faster, quicker, great dad, big-hearted, funny, and kind" aren't the keys to winning a campaign in New Hampshire.

Hold me to it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy I'm Not Picking Vice Presidents

IMG_4871—E.jpg
Photo: Luke N. Vargas.

Evan Bayh, for all he might have done in delivering Indiana for Obama, didn't deliver tonight the way I expected him too.

Good, but not great.

Let's see how Biden (and President Clinton!) performs...


The Moment We (I) Had Been Waiting For

Some people find it hard to believe that the Obama campaign would allow Hillary Clinton to take over one whole night of the DNC. In truth, while Clinton was the main focus of last night, the Obama campaign put the "keynote" speaker of the convention, Mark Warner, on the same night.

So, for the sake of Democratic party unity, I'm glad Clinton gave the speech she did and made sure the focus was on her.

I'm not one of those ex-Clinton supporters who automatically jumped the fence and decided to vote for John McCain this November, but it has never been easy for me to get excited about Barack Obama. That lack of enthusiasm is not rooted in a belief that Barack Obama is a weak candidate that cannot win the general election, but because I never felt Obama and his campaign properly acknowledged Hillary Clinton; joint appearances by the two weren't enough to pacify me.

In Unity, NH, the small New Hampshire town where the Obama campaign sought to introduce Obama and Clinton voters to each other with a big rally, I picked up on a hesitation among Clinton voters. They felt it was difficult to cheer proudly for Hillary Clinton with Barack Obama sitting behind her and with avid Obama fans surrounding them in the audience. If they cheered too loudly or began chanting "Hillary," they could almost hear reporters blogging away at their keyboards about "unhappy Hillary voters" and sense heads turning all around them.

Plain and simple, Clinton supporters needed a moment when they could join together, raise their "Hillary" signs, chant, cry, and cheer as much as they wanted. It's not that Hillary Clinton supporters dislike Barack Obama, but we simply don't want Hillary Clinton to be presented to us by Barack Obama.

Last night, Hillary Clinton was ours again. It was nice to picture the Obama campaign advisors sweating a bit as she began delivering her speech, unsure if she was going to call in the air-strikes and ruin all their fun. But anyone who knows Hillary Clinton or supported her in the Primaries knew she wouldn't do that; Hillary Clinton may have needed her time in the spotlight, but her supporters needed it one last time as well.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In 100 Words : Michelle Obama's DNC Speech

"She's been on the trail for more than a year, but still gives the impression of being a little realer than the seasoned pols."                                  — Ben Smith, Politico.com

I can't agree more.

On three occasions I've watched Michelle Obama deliver prepared speeches, each time reacting similarly to the awkward, albeit charming, beginnings to her remarks.

To fully appreciate what Michelle says, look past what Obama’s staff insert into her scripts and find the parts where Michelle speaks naturally and from the heart; that is where the lasting importance of what she says exists.

And you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that even though he had this funny name, even though he'd grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine.                                                                                   — Michelle Obama

Simply put, Barack and Michelle share an upbringing that, despite the Democrats’ lack of direct McCain attacks tonight, is 180˚ different (and a better sell in battleground states) than the “Seven Houses” McCains.

The Democrats need Michelle Obama.

Monday, August 25, 2008

NH Schedule

I'm off for a few days in New Hampshire interviewing voters around the state to gauge Obama's support leading up to his convention acceptance on Thursday.

I am planning trips to Keene, Manchester, and Peterborough to survey young voters before attending a Manchester "convention watch party" on the 28th.

Not So Fast

I mobilized very quickly Sunday night to try and arrange airfare, hotels, rental cars for a last-minute trip to the DNC in Denver. Though I won't rule out the possibility of somehow ending up at Invesco Field on Thursday night, I'm holding off on the trip for now.

Why?

Because the main reason to travel out to Denver would be to "say I was there," and looking back, I've been fortunate enough to be able to say I was at a lot of the big moments of the '08 campaign already, and have had countless memorable experiences:

—Unity, NH
—A GOP Primary Debate
—The Oprah/Obama rallies
—The Iowa Caucuses
—Seeing Hillary in Indiana
—The Pennsylvania Primary
—Interviewing John Edwards
—Hearing Mike Huckabee play rock n' roll
—Meeting Dodd, Huckabee, Biden, McCain, Kucinich, Richardson, Romney, Gravel, Edwards, Duncan Hunter, Tancredo, Brownback, and Giuliani


I'm sure I could walk out of Denver with some good photos and stories, but the best stories from the election aren't always where everyone else is looking, and EVERYONE is staring straight at Denver this week.

Enjoy some good old Granite State political coverage the next few days!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Stuck Between the DNC and a Hard Place


There's a chance I'm off to Denver, Colorado tomorrow to cover the Democratic National Convention....the thing is I don't have any credentials...

If you see me loitering outside the Pepsi Center with my laptop and my usual black shirt and jeans, feel free to say hello.

Do I go to Denver? Do I not go to Denver?

....crossing my fingers on getting into Invesco Field....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Framing This Soon

An already great photo takes on some new importance.

IMG_0596_2

Friday, August 22, 2008

Make it (99.9%) Official

There's a damn good chance Senator Joseph Biden will be the Vice President of the United States in January, 2009.


Hallelujah.


Biden may have been one of a few great candidates on Obama's "shortlist," but there are precious few statesmen like Biden left in politics, and Obama is lucky to have him on the ticket.


...though we agree with the comment left by "Eli" (likely an Evan Bayh supporter) on NBC New's online forum:


Suffice to say Obama will not win Indiana now no matter how many offices he opens there.