October Surprises

With the increasing popularity of mail-in and early voting, the prospects of “October surprises”, or at least the effectiveness of them, decreases. George Will wrote about this recently http://www.newsweek.com/id/161202 and his apparent problem with early voting. I disagree.

Everyone should vote, of course the problem of every vote being legitimate is a problem with organizations like ACORN around, and the people who support them, like Barack Obama and the congressmen who put in the recent bailout language a provision to divvy up profits towards groups like, and possibly including, ACORN. Gladly, that language has been removed, but who inserted it? And who demanded it be stripped out? Possible Surprise #1.

But back to the point, no one wants to be standing in a long line for hours on Election Day, watching the magic hour of 7pm creeping closer and closer and voters left wondering if they’ll be able to vote at all. With way too many amendments here in Colorado, the wait could be long unless people do some serious studying ahead of time. Or, people will just not even bother to vote on these amendments. What a waste of time and effort for the people who brought these issues to the ballot.

So with incentives galore, many people will probably opt for early voting (info at our Vote! Longmont site), so those October “surprisers” need to get to work early. What could be looming on the very short horizon? A few possibilities, and surprises usually work against the guy people know the least about, in this case Obama. John McCain’s been around a while, a fact his detractors chortle with glee about as they point out his age. But with that comes familiarity, not a whole lot of surprises are possible or probable when it comes to this candidate.

But with Obama, the questions just don’t go away, regardless of his “Fight The Smears” campaign. First, there’s the ACORN and bailout connection above, then the story about his convicted felon buddy Tony Rezko apparently tiring of prison and may want to sing like jailbirds often do to cut a deal. Next up, Obama’s “truth squad” in Missouri being called out for what they are by Governor Matt Blunt. If you missed it, here it is:

“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.

“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights. The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.

“Barack Obama needs to grow up. Leftist blogs and others in the press constantly say false things about me and my family. Usually, we ignore false and scurrilous accusations because the purveyors have no credibility. When necessary, we refute them. Enlisting Missouri law enforcement to intimidate people and kill free debate is reminiscent of the Sedition Acts – not a free society.”

Pretty harsh, and not from a commentator, pundit, or partisan blogger. Next up is a story circulating about the Jopek family asking Obama to no longer wear the bracelet he mentioned at the recent debate. They made this request last March! First he made a smarmy glance towards McCain after saying “I got one, too”, and then couldn’t remember the Sergeants name.

Lastly, I cant believe we’ve heard the last of his ties to unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, and Obama’s connection to the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debacle, you know, the underlying reason we find ourselves in the mess we’re in requiring this bailout?

These are all very serious issues and not likely to go away after the election, regardless of its outcome. By all rights, Obama should be 20+ points ahead of McCain in an election year that should heavily favor the Democrats, especially facing a party that’s been in office for 8 years. It’s fairly normal over our course of elections to have this pendulum swing in such situations. The only recent example when it didn’t happen was 1988, when Bush Sr. took over for Reagan – but it was just delayed 4 years. Then again, look who the Democrats put up against Bush, Dukakis for crying out loud. Even Dan Quayle couldn’t lose that election for Bush.

So why isn’t Obama way ahead when he should be? All of those questions above, and the general questions “Who is this guy? Why should I just take it on faith he’ll do alright while he’s receiving on-the-job training?” Wasn’t that Hillary Clinton who asked that second question?

For Obama to win, he needs to hit it out of the park repeatedly over the next couple of weeks, make no mistakes, and pray not a single one of the above issues get any legs in the press for any amount of time. In other words, hide, lie, and cover up your true self, or else people wont elect you, no matter how many hundreds of millions you raise and spend. What a great campaign strategy!

Election Prediction Update

Every six weeks or so I like to go back to Intrade (www.intrade.com) and see how people are placing bets on which way the election is heading. The last time I checked it was back in the first week of August, with the Democratic nominee (Intrade just lists DEM and REP in the state-by-state picks) was up 311-227 (Electoral College Votes – need 270 to win). I personally put it closer than that, putting the Democratic candidate up 279-259. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then.

According to the latest numbers, things have tightened up considerably in the race. They have the Democratic nominee winning 273-265, I have the Republican nominee winning 274-264 (for the sake of simplicity, we’ll just say Obama(Dem) and McCain(Rep) from this point on). The difference? One state. Colorado.

Last time around, “Unaffiliated” had the highest amount of registrations in the state. According to a recent AP article, Republicans now hold that edge, which means the majority of those registered in Colorado are either Republicans or Unaffiliated, which could be important swing voters. But on the Democratic side, it shows their Senate candidate (Mark Udall) with a 73-26 advantage over Republican Bob Schaffer. I think it will boil down to how much early voting there is, and the many ballot initiatives and who they bring out to vote. With a glance at some of these (TABOR-killing initiative, definition of a “person”, and ending race preferences) I give the edge to Republicans showing up more, which should amount to more McCain votes. The polls, which had Obama up by as many as 9 points, have gone back and forth on who is leading, amounting an average of an ever shrinking Obama lead that’s less than most margins of error.

Besides Colorado, which is the closest on Intrade (54-45 Obama), there are a couple other states that are close, a couple are surprises and weren’t in this category 6 weeks ago. New Hampshire is the next closest with it now 56-45 Obama. I left this in the Obama category, but there is something for Democrats to be worried about here: the last time I checked registrations, “Unaffiliated” held the lead at 44%, second place was Republicans with 30% and then Democrats with 26%. This was a surprise, and may have changed some since, but these numbers don’t usually jump up or down more than a few percentage points over the span of a few months.

Next is Nevada at 58-45 McCain, where registrations are nearly identical between the two parties, I expect McCain to carry this state. Then New Mexico at 60-45 Obama, which is a 13 point drop in the last 6 weeks, but many more Democratic registrations, so even though this is right in McCain’s backyard, I still give it to Obama. Then Virginia, which shows 61-42 McCain (registration numbers weren’t available), and while this may get close, I still think McCain will carry it. Lastly, Michigan, which I never guessed would make this list, is showing 62-40 Obama. While it may get some attention, the only way I see McCain winning this state is if there’s some unforeseen landslide. The rest of the states have larger spreads than this, including Ohio and Florida (McCain), and Pennsylvania (Obama).

Lastly, Intrade has a Presidential Election Winner betting option. The last contracts were 52.4 McCain to 47.1 Obama. If there truly is a greater than 5% gap in the popular vote like this, there should be an even greater gap in the Electoral College totals. But it’s not all gloom and doom for Democrats: Intrade shows them keeping control of both houses of Congress, and it’s not even all that close.

Predictable, Typical, Despicable

For the next couple of months, along with my usual Longmont related articles, I may dabble from time to time on the national issues. In all reality, if you look back through the last couple of years, I’ve already done this in regards to the Iraq War, Electoral College reform, Immigration, predicting elections, energy conservation, sports, and music.

But I prefer to mainly focus on Longmont and the surrounding area. Why? Because there’s plenty of voices out there already talking about all of those other issues, most have done it longer and better, and it’s their main career. To put it bluntly, I’d rather be a bigger fish in a small pond than a little fish in a big ocean. But the main reason has always been what I’ve always considered the lack of enough local coverage, which leads to less interest of people to their community.

But sometimes you have to throw in with the bigger fish.

I don’t carry water for any political party or ideology. I sometimes get told what I am, but mostly I’m not even sure what that is, and the labels aren’t that important anyway. But I know what I’m not. And as time goes by, and events unfold, I’m convinced even more of not only what I’m not, but never want to be.

One of the best compliments I receive is when people can’t figure out whether I’m coming from the left or the right. I was described once as a Conservative blogger, then I was once told I was not a Conservative, another time told I was a Libertarian, (throw in the left wing and right wing wacko comments as well) and once my dad said he couldn’t tell what I was. But I asked a friend of mine that I have respect for his intellect and honesty what he thought (I’m pretty sure he leans left, but I don’t ask). He said he’s not quite sure, but he was pretty sure I wasn’t on the left.

After the events of the last couple of weeks, and especially the party conventions, there’s not much doubt about that now.

Not because of soaring rhetoric or buying any lines and feeling lifted by speeches. But seeing in one side, the left side, despicable behavior that is not representative of this country and the great people in it.

This is not a generalizing slam on Democrats, something the left is very good at doing to their enemies. This is for the fringe element that makes all Democrats look bad. I know too many from that party that are decent, a large majority of my extended family are of this party, and some fairly well connected. They know who I’m talking about, and it’s not them.

I’m talking about the ones who have reportedly attacked cub scouts, the elderly, and delegates trying to get to the Republican convention in St. Paul. I’m talking about the ones who drop sacks of cement, and bags of urine on buses from freeway overpasses. I’m talking about the ones who, after their candidate got to speak and make his case without a single interruption, wouldn’t think twice about trying several times to disrupt the Republican Presidential nominee John McCain from addressing his own convention. I’m talking about the overt sexism towards the Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.

I’m talking about a group, who now claims to own the Democratic Party, who now can’t even be controlled by their Presidential nominee, Barack Obama. I’m talking about a group who knows they can’t win fairly if it requires an equal opportunity of both sides to discuss the issues. Their tactics are to smear and disrupt under any means necessary because they know on the issues they are not on the same page as most of America. That America, they look down on. From their leaders all the way down to their mouthpieces – often picked up by a more than willing partner in the media.

So they attack, daily, often with bigotry and misogyny. Sometimes they eat their own, but save the worst of their bitterness for the right. They are not representative of this country, but they think they are. And if you don’t think like them, you’re ignorant. Just ask them. As a friend recently put it, “If they are not stopped at the character assassination level now, what’s to stop the lynch mobs in the future?”

They claim to be for the “little guy”, but are using unheard of amounts of money to spread their message. It’s not a message of hope as they claim; it’s a message of power, at any cost. Tell the “little guy” why this party and its candidate are amassing and spending nearly $400 million for this power.

Recently when I was talking to my son, I surprised him when I said I think the majority of people are good, not bad, not evil. But I also think there are many that are misguided and scared. This is part of this group’s problem, but it’s also a perceived victimization, some larger wrong done to them. But in reality, nothing was probably done to them personally or anyone they know. No rights have been taken from them (surely not Freedom of Speech), no ones taking their house (unless they stopped making payments), and no ones eating at their benefits (except for their own bad decisions or poor planning).

When they can’t accept the blame themselves, they blame “daddy”. Daddy” comes in many forms. Sometimes it embodies an actual person (Bush) or ideology (Conservatism or the “vast right-wing conspiracy”). They have no qualms and make no apologies in reference to their political bigotry. I don’t assume for a second that this bigotry knows to stop at race or sex. In my life, I can say that the worst bigotry and hatred I’ve faced has come from one direction. And it’s not from the right.

In a perfect world, the opposing sides would get to make their case as best they can, and the voters decide what they want. Quotes like “Here’s what I stand for, vote for me if you agree. If not, vote for the other guy.” But when these distracters (I’m not going to give them the compliment of calling them protestors) clearly try to block the message from getting to you, the voter, you should first ask why, and then you should get angry.

Since I believe most people (Democrat and Republican) are decent people, I’m going to assume they were outraged by the pathetic behavior in the last few days towards Sarah Palin and the Republican convention. If not, than they aren’t decent people and aren’t worth the time of day. There’s no understanding them, and they don’t warrant the gift of association. Do so at your own and your party’s risk.

This is not a call to vote one way or the other; I couldn’t care less how someone’s registered or how they vote. Similar to religion, I don’t ask. I speak and write to try to get people to think, not to try to get people to agree with me. I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt that someone can think for themselves – this is contrary to the above mentioned group, and why they should be turned away by thinking, independent minds of all political stripes.

(Image from Robert Stolarik/NY Times)

Udall’s Dirty Money

Most of the time I don’t bother with stories that are national in scale. Plenty of other people better than I can do that. But when an aspect of a national story has a local connection, I think it’s worth reporting. This is especially the case if the Longmont paper barely glosses over it, or as in this case doesn’t mention it at all. Quite often the paper will republish an Associated Press story; I didn’t see that done either.

The story here is disgraced Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu and the connection to Colorado congressman Mark Udall, who also has announced he is running for the U.S. Senate in 2008. At first glance the $1,000 Udall accepted from Hsu seems fairly small and he’s said he’s going to donate it to the Colorado National Guard Foundation. Of course there’s more to this story, there always is.

Anyone with an ounce of brains should be wary of what I’ll call the ” 5 C’s“, The Clinton Chinese Campaign Contributions Connection. Do the names John Huang or Maria Hsia ring a bell? I know some of you would like to forget or sweep this under the rug, but at least 17 people were convicted for fraud and funneling money from Communist China to the Democratic National Committee. Further, Al Gore attended a fund raising event at a Buddhist temple. It is illegal under U.S. law for religious organizations to donate money to politicians or political groups due to their tax-exempt status. The DNC had to return this $100,000.

So, a 15-year Chinese fugitive from the law wants to ” help” out the DNC, any takers? You bet, plenty. Names like Clinton (Hsu’s a ” Hillraiser“), Kerry, Kennedy, Boxer, Feinstein, Franken, and Obama lined up. And of course, Colorado’s own Udall. On top of the $1,000 he’s giving back, let’s not forget the $5,000 he got from the Hsu funded “For A Change PAC”, the $10,000 from the Hsu funded “Searchlight Leadership Fund” (Harry Reid’s PAC), and $40,000 from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committees, also recipients of large Hsu donations.

Given recent history of Chinese contributors (more “Friends of Bill”), wouldn’t you run for the hills if someone like this approached you? This speaks poorly of Congressman Udall and his staff’s judgment at the very least. If accepting these donations were no accident or coincidence, it says much worse. Cunningham and Abramoff better make room for company, and I’m not talking about visitors.