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Obama and Inslee Have Been Teammates Before

Monday, November 24th, 2008

For the record, I don’t think U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, is going to get a cabinet post.

Why?

Because too many people have already talked about it. The Seattle P-I’s Joel Connelly speculates on just such a jink and then goes on to jinx anyone with local ties. Writes Connelly:

SECOND ONLY TO the jinx that afflicts athletes and teams gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated is the bad luck that befalls those touted for top Washington, D.C., jobs by Seattle newspapers.

If Inslee truly aspires to such a post, allow me to diminish his chances by pointing out that he and former Senator and now President-elect Barack Obama did lead their chambers on a plan called “Health for Hybrids.” The plan would have had the federal government helping with auto company retirement payments in exchange for the companies investing in hybrid technology. You can read about the effort in this story from Congressional Quarterly.

The unusual proposal linked two of the nation’s biggest policy conundrums – America’s reliance on foreign oil and the surging cost of health care – but never gained enough traction, partly because it suggested Washington knew more about building cars and satisfying consumer demand than the auto industry.

Let me remind the court that after this effort, when the presidential campaigns began, Inslee endorsed Hillary Clinton.


Back in the Great Political Unknown

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

This photo by AP Photographer Elaine Thompson was taken at a time when the only sure bet in the presidential race was that Republican John McCain had his party’s nomination wrapped up. We, a group of Seattle-area reporters, traveled with the presumptive nominee on a smaller, local version of the Straight Talk Express from Boeing Field to a hotel downtown. It was in February, a day before the Washington caucuses.

The candidate was vigorous, confident and pleasant, except for when he’d had enough of the photography. He told Thompson that there does come a point when there have been enough shots taken. McCain later in the campaign made that same case about other shots taken, especially those at his running mate, but there wasn’t a whisper of that drama here.

That evening he told a group of a few hundred that the challenge ahead was big, but he thought he might even be able to win Washington on his path to the presidency. Now, those of us writing history’s first draft and the academics working on the second can dissect what happened between this rainy night in February and the day that was historic even to the likes of Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

One of my college professors was the first to call it to my attention that we often view the history we inherited as inevitable. It takes a picture, such as this one, to poke holes in those things we take as given. Michael Dukakis, George McGovern and Thomas Dewey all had shots at something they ultimately didn’t get. But at times before the final judgment, they had their own reasons to be optimistic. No verdict had come in.


Presidential Campaigns Were Hacked by Foreigners

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Newsweek is reporting that both presidential campaigns’ computer systems were hacked by an unknown foreign entity.

Officials at the FBI and the White House told the Obama campaign that they believed a foreign entity or organization sought to gather information on the evolution of both camps’ policy positions—information that might be useful in negotiations with a future administration. The Feds assured the Obama team that it had not been hacked by its political opponents.

This story is fascinating to me and it’s one that I hope gets more attention in the following weeks. Then again, we shouldn’t be clamoring for facts until we have someone to blame.
(more…)


A Democrat on ‘the Real McCain’

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Walt Washington, the apparent victor in the Kitsap County Auditor’s race, was among the many who called tonight’s win for Barack Obama “historic.” He didn’t think Obama would win by as much as he did. This election, he said, will be a life-changer for many Americans.

Washington was able to see McCain’s concession scpeech, of which he said, “He was the real McCain. That was the McCain I liked and admired. He was the McCain I thought he always was.”


Election Night Surprises

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Believe it or not, I’ve been out of the national loop for the last three hours. I missed both speeches, because I did have the whole covering a few local races thing to attend to. Now that I’ve been able to look bigger, I was surprised by a few things.

That Obama won follows what the polls had been telling us. I can’t find a single state that was projected to go blue that didn’t. As I write this, Indiana, North Carolina, Missouri and Montana are yet to be called. Montana going red would surprise me. It did surprise me that Obama won Ohio, Virginia and Florida. I guessed he might get one. I guessed that he’d win, but I expected the polls to be wrong somewhere.

At first glance it looks like Democrats did better tonight than they did in the August primaries. That is surprising for now, but if you recall Republicans did better with the later ballots. If that holds true this time, too, expected some gaps to close.

That Gregoire is ahead in the state, with so many King County votes yet to count, is amazing. I don’t know the context yet. Apparently some of the networks have already called the race for her. Perhaps the later numbers in other counties will close the gap, but I can’t see Rossi overcoming the numbers. Note that I say “I can’t see” it. I’m acknowledging that there may be something I’m missing. Consider this: Rossi won Kitsap County in 2004. As of tonight, Gregoire’s up by 5 percentage points here.

About 500 votes, all Kitsap County votes, separate Jan Angel and Kim Abel. Pierce County is yet to come in. You wonder, is the Pierce contingent of this district more conservative, or will the Obama coattails get Abel the win?


Not Dead Yet, Where Else to Look

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

A few days ago I wrote how we could know by 5:15 p.m. who won. We don’t know yet. That’s because no one’s calling Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, and as one that I would add, Florida. I’m adding Florida late, because those numbers might be in before Indiana and Virginia. Before I wrote that if Obama wins Ohio and one of the other two, it’s over. I had Florida, hypothetically going to McCain. If Florida goes to Obama and any of the other states do, it’s over. In that scenario, though, I had McCain taking all leaning states. Obama just picked up Minnesota and Wisconsin. It may not be over, but there are absolutely no surprises yet. It looks like it’s Obama’s night.

I’m checking a ton of sites tonight before I go hang with the Democrats in Silverdale.

Real Clear Politics
CNN
MSNBC
Fox
Ahem! Kitsap Sun, at least for the local stuff.


A Funny Concession Speech, or Not

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Watch this, if you’ve got five minutes, before reading the stuff below it.

When I saw this I thought it was funny, but some of it struck me as concessionary, if that’s the right way to use that term. To some degree it seemed like he was admitting the race was over. I couldn’t figure out why until I watched it again. It happens towards the end, when Palin goes rogue.

If someone impersonating McCain had been in the skit, then it would have been nothing but funny. With McCain being in a skit in which Palin is going off on her own is lending credence to a theory that isn’t helpful to his campaign. The rest of his appearance seemed fine. He was on Weekend Update and talked about going reverse and double Maverick. That was funny.

I could be wrong. I read the comments on the New York Times The Caucus blog and almost everyone gave it credit for being funny, which I do to. There was also a lot of this:

clever and funny. God bless john mcain. but I siill ain’t votin’ for him.

— Edward A Mabin

There was at least one who saw it the way I did:

He should have done this frivolous activity two months back when the lead of Obama was managable.Now it’s only accepting the reality od impending defeat and pretending to laugh it off.

— Arun Mehta


How the Presidential Election Could Be Over by 5:15 p.m. Tuesday

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

The main objective in the excercise below was to see what it would take to know with a large degree of certainty that Barack Obama or John McCain had won the election by 6 p.m. Polls will close on the East Coast by 5 p.m. To come to a clear conclusion I used the L.A. Times interactive maps below to make the case. For Obama, I took every leaning or toss-up state west of the Eastern Time Zone and gave it to McCain. That includes Florida and Indiana, because portions of those states are in the Central Time Zone. Here’s what you get for Obama under that scenario:

The three states listed as up-for grabs or only leaning for Obama on the East are Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina. If Obama wins Ohio and one of the other states, he wins. If Ohio is not in the mix, it’s not certain.

Now for McCain:

If you do the same thing, go west of first time zone, give Obama all the states considered toss-ups or only leaning, McCain loses by a lot no matter what happens on the East Coast. Remember, we’re dealing with how to be certain before the next round of polls close. So to get to a number he could win at given that scenario, we have to take everything away from Obama on the East, then give back states in the order of the largest projected margin of victory for Obama so far, until we arrive at the number at which Obama would get just under the 269 electoral votes he needs. Under that scenario, Obama gets the district, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut back. Throw in Delaware because of Joe Biden and Obama gets 268. So if McCain wins Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, you’ll know with little reason for uncertainty before the next round of polls closing that he won the nation.

Remember folks, we’re dealing with sure knowledge here, not best chances or probabilities. We’re talking about 5:15, not 6:15. So if Obama wins Ohio and either North Carolina or Virginia, it’s over. If McCain wins all the 11 states listed above, it’s over. Anything less than those two things or a surprise in what was thought to be certainty in one or East Coast two states and we’ll be fixed to the television and the computer for much longer that night. Not like in 2000. Probably not even like 2004.


UPDATED: Obama’s Citizenship Challenged

Monday, October 27th, 2008

I just received this from David Ammons from the Secretary of State’s office.

A King County judge has dismissed a case challenging Senator Obama’s “native-born” status and thus his right to be on the ballot in Washington state. A federal judge in Philadelphia dismissed a similar lawsuit Friday night. Jeff Even of the state attorney general’s office represented our office. The state election, already underway, continues, with the Obama-Biden ticket listed as the first ticket among the choices, since Senator Kerry won the state four years ago. Ballot order is spelled out in state law. There are eight tickets on the Washington ballot.

Originally posted 1:40 p.m. on Oct. 22: First I heard of this story was on Jerry Cornfield’s blog over at the (Everett) Herald. A Snohomish County resident wanted Barack Obama disqualified from the Washington ballot for president because Obama hasn’t proven to the plaintiff’s satisfaction that he was born in the United States. (more…)


Objectively, We Haven’t Been Nice to McCain

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

That’s what the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism is saying. It isn’t so much that the media loves Obama as much as the affair with McCain is clearly over.

Those who believe the media is leading the cheers for Obama won’t like this one:

One question likely to be posed is whether these findings provide evidence that the news media are pro-Obama. Is there some element in these numbers that reflects a rooting by journalists for Obama and against McCain, unconscious or otherwise? The data do not provide conclusive answers. They do offer a strong suggestion that winning in politics begat winning coverage, thanks in part to the relentless tendency of the press to frame its coverage of national elections as running narratives about the relative position of the candidates in the polls and internal tactical maneuvering to alter those positions. Obama’s coverage was negative in tone when he was dropping in the polls, and became positive when he began to rise, and it was just so for McCain as well. Nor are these numbers different than what we have seen before. Obama’s numbers are similar to what we saw for John Kerry four years ago as he began rising in the polls, and McCain’s numbers are almost identical to what we saw eight years ago for Democrat Al Gore.

Let me go on the record here, for those of you complaining there hasn’t been enough made out of Biden’s “mettle” comment, I probably agree. I’d like to see more digging into that.


Trust, but Verify that Presidential Poll

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Here is a good explanation why no one should bank on what the polls are suggesting.


Whose Numbers to Trust: Neither

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

The New York Times offers the most helpful way to determine whose numbers are closer to the truth when it comes to health plans offered by Barack Obama and John McCain. First here’s the problem:

Even the economists behind the forecasts say it makes them uncomfortable to hear candidates assert their numbers as indisputable fact, as if stating Derek Jeter’s batting average. What they are modeling, they emphasize, is ultimately unknowable. And the transformational nature of both candidates’ health care plans means that they can only guess at the future behavior of consumers, employers and insurers.

So here’s your solution:

A number of economists said voters would be wise to simply tune out all of the competing numbers and focus instead on the philosophical underpinnings of the candidates’ plans. Indeed, Dr. Reinhardt offered voters the same instruction he delivers to his students, that economics as practiced in the political arena is often “just ideology marketed in the guise of science.”


Biden: We’re gonna have an international crisis

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Bob Meadows referenced in another post Joe Biden’s comment last night at a Seattle fundraiser. He said within six months someone is going to “test the mettle” of Barack Obama. MSNBC reports that when Joe Lieberman said essentially the same thing in July, he was criticized by Obama supporters. He was reported by MSNBC to have said:

“Our enemies will test the new president early,” Lieberman said on “Face the Nation.” “Remember that the truck bombing of the World Trade Center happened in the first year of the Clinton administration. 9/11 happened in the first year of the Bush administration.”

Fox News has a “Democratic strategist and pollster: characterizing Biden’s comments as an uncomfortable truth.”

Democratic strategist and pollster Doug Schoen said Biden’s comments are “probably an uncomfortable truth, certainly not what you want as a Democratic strategist for your vice presidential candidate to say…. “But he probably is going to be tested and he hasn’t had experience and I’d like to think he’ll be up to the task with whatever we face, but politics is about making choices. But the question is given the failures of the Bush administration … do we want to go in that direction or do we want to go in a different direction?” Schoen asked.


Too Sacred to Mock

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Reading the comments today after the Biden story, at least two people thought Biden was out of line for his joke about Cheney Stadium. He suggested it be renamed Obama-Biden for the day, that Cheney Stadium would be in an “undisclosed location.”

We had a lot of time before the event, though not necessarily a lot of room to wander. The press entrance went right by a time capsule put in place in 1993. The plaque talks about Ben Cheney, for whom the park is named.

Nonetheless, I thought Biden’s joke was funny. Are those two commenters being oversensitive or looking for a reason to be offended? Or am I insensitive?

There’s a town in Utah called Clinton. If somebody made a joke about being an intern there, should locals get offended, because someone was referring to the wrong Clinton?

Should I have been offended when my friend teased me for my role in the swift-boating of John Kerry?

Are Ben Cheney, the city of Clinton and I owed apologies?


Waiting for Joe

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Another Joe post, this one about Joe Biden, the man who would be vice-president. There’s only one of those this time. It’s about 2:10, the music fades, there are giant J-O-E block letters in the stands, which are full. “We want change,” the crowd says. I’ll post more. Norm spoke, got a big hand.

The music comes back, then it fades again so a guy can tell the new people coming they have to go to the, um, uh, right field bleachers.

The stage is on about the pitcher’s mound, facing homeplate. My chair is about 30-feet away from third bases, where a Honey Bucket sits.

Sun is out.

Oh no, they’re doing the wave. Is no place sacred?

2:23 p.m. Wave ended quite a while ago. Earlier, about the time the sun came out, Norm Dicks got a genuinely enthusiastic welcome, certainly better than the one he got at the UW commencement. He led off with a “Darcy” chant. He told the audience Biden helped Warren Magnuson win in 1974. “Today he’s here to make sure Washington elects Barack Obama,” Dicks said.

Dicks then went into a pitch, from home plate you see, for “Christine Gregoire.” (There’s not a Rossi sign to be found. I’m just saying.) Dicks said Gregoire has done a good job for early childhood education, jobs and schools.

The biggest applause came from the news of the morning, that Colin Powell endorsed Obama. He quoted Powell as saying John McCain is weak on the economy. “He’s very observant,” Dicks said. The congressman said he can’t wait to begin working with Obama Biden to restore the health of Puget Sound, Hood Canal and salmon runs. He urged the crowd to keep working.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith did too. “We all have to stay paranoid for the next 16 days,” he said, telling the crowed work every day for the next 16 days like each candidate is behind by two votes.

I used to work for a company that did seminars. We’d always fewer chairs set up than we needed. That way, we could add chairs, giving the appearance of the event being in demand. That said, the organizers here probably set the stage up in the right spot. The only empty seats are behind the big American flag hanging from the roof on the right field side. The bleachers, well behind the stage, are pretty full. I other words, there are more people here than I expected. I’ll see if I can get a crowd size estimate. It’s 2:27 p.m. and we’re still waiting. The candidate is late. That I expected.

Our senators spoke. The governor’s talking now. I think the right-field bleacher crew got to see biden first. 2:51 p.m., Gregoire just intro’d Biden, Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” is playing.


Stop Looking at My Nametag

Friday, October 17th, 2008

In the past week a new demographic broke through that perhaps no one could have anticipated, but apparently both candidates were in on it from the beginning.

Today I got an e-mail from John McCain. Here’s part of what he told me.

We know that John McCain is prepared to bring bold solutions to solve our nation’s challenges. He’ll fight for the “Joe the Plumbers,” “Joe the Florists” and “Joe the Carpenters” of America to reduce taxes and allow more men and women to realize the American Dream.

First of all, I thought the American Dream was to own one’s own house. Second, I thought the dream was to get us much stuff as you can using someone else’s money. Then I thought it had something to do with Julia Roberts. I was wrong on all of those.

According to Wikipedia, which is never wrong, the American Dream phrase first surfaced in a book, Epic of America, penned (read: written, maybe typed) by historian and writer James Truslow Adams. Here’s how he described it:

“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

Notice, no mention of Joe, but McCain and Obama, especially McCain, are “Joe this,” and “Joe that.” You can be a plumber, a carpenter or even a florist and McCain’s got your back, as long a your name is Joe.

If you’re Joe running the rent-to-own business out of a former house? You’re good. If you’re a former college professor now running as a Libertarian for Congress, the candidates are with you, man. If you’re Joe whose career is based on selling furniture foam? It’s all good. If you’re Joe the serial arsonist who dabbles in writing unsigned threatening letters to random librarians? No problem. Do nothing but drink beer? Heck, you’ve got a place of honor. You’re Joe Sixpack.

Obama even chose one as a running mate.

What makes Joe so special? What about Andy the Reporter? Sure, he’s with the MSM, has a weak mustache and is so questionable that even Washington Mutual said “We need to talk.” But he’s got some say on Nov. 4.

So does, by the way, Steve the Reporter. If you just focus on the Joes of the world, you’ll be missing out on some major demographics. And frankly, I’m in the mood to be on the receiving end of some serious political butt-kissing.


As If . . .

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

. . . anything written about the presidential election now is going to change anyone’s mind. Is anyone here undecided? I searched all over the Web today about post-debate analysis and McCain got high marks for being aggressive and Obama got his for being cool. The one site worth posting here is FactCheck.org, which dissected some of the claims made. Even then I ask, does it matter enough to anyone here so much that your mind could be persuaded to change your presidential preference?

What would have to happen between now and election day for you to change your vote?


Meet the Real Joe the Plumber

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Here’s the video of Joe the Plumber, who is from Ohio.


Sounding Board Meets, Eats and Talks Debate

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

On Tuesday night members of the Kitsap Sun Sounding Board, a collection of locals who agreed to take part in our election coverage, got together for pizza and soda and some time to meet each other. And there was a debate.

We didn’t hold high expectations for major developments out of the meeting, just a chance for us to all know each other a little better. Maybe we’d understand each other too. For all the high-voltage stuff that gets distributed behind anonymity on the Internet, there is an equal amount of depth we get to see when we manage to interact with each other in person. Sure, even in person we can resort to sound bites, but Tuesday night’s event was refreshing.

Before the debate there was lots of conversation going back and forth. I didn’t hear a lot of it, but they apparently got into some depth.

It seemed to be a pretty even mix in the room, maybe more left-leaning than right. That’s a contrast to our earlier experiences with the live blogging.

David Nelson, local news editor, asked those attending what they got that was new, what struck them in the 90-minute exchange between the two senators who would be president, John McCain and Barack Obama.

Heather McClellan said she most noticed McCain’s last statement by McCain, one in which he recognized the sacrifices made by those in military service. “I know what it’s like to put country first,” she said.

Nikky Southerland pointed out the candidates’ differences on health care. McCain said it was a responsibility for government. Obama said it should be a right for individuals.

Jeff Kehring drew out McCain’s call for the Secretary of Treasury having the right to help homeowners renegotiate their mortgages. He also wondered whether Obama would be strong enough to kick against Democrats. “I can see him taking on Republicans,” Kehring said. “I don’t know if he’s strong enough to take on his own party.”

Susanne Hughes again criticized McCain for picking Sarah Palin as his running mate. Hughes was quoted in one of our stories saying she had been willing to consider McCain after her first choice, Hillary Clinton, lost. But Palin was the deal breaker. “She is absolutely in over her head,” Hughes said Tuesday. She cited McCain’s melanoma as reasons Palin is closer to becoming president than Biden.

Fran Lawrence sided with Hughes on the Palin pick. “I want somebody smarter than me and my buddies” as vice president, she said. Lawrence described herself as a social conservative and said McCain’s character has disappointed her. Overall her support for Obama has to do with her three children. She favors Obama’s “temperate and thoughtful” demeanor. “If my sons go to war I want to know there has been a lot of thought that went into it,” she said.

Colleen Smidt pointed out McCain’s answer on Israel as one of his strengths. McCain was decisive, Smidt said. That was a point Jeff Kreifels referred to as well. To them, Obama’s decision to first talk about prevention in a question about what to do should Israel be attacked seemed an avoidance.

Kreifels also referred to Obama’s failure to answer how Obama would have parents punished for not insuring their kids. Jane Rebelowski said it would be like parents who don’t get their kids educated. But it was not something that could be answered in our room, especially because it hadn’t been answered on stage.

My question was about whether a meeting like this would have been easier or tougher four years ago, during the Bush-Kerry contest. Most seemed to agree with me, that this election doesn’t seem to be as emotionally charged as the last one. Kreifels said he thinks it might be moreso, drawing attention to those who instantly pounce on opinions from others. I conceded that in the case of our Web site, that is true. We didn’t have story and blog comments four years ago, and from my memory that’s probably a good thing.

That said, overall I think this election is less extreme than the last one. Then again, I was covering Bainbridge Island in 2004.


Post-Debate Correspondence from Biden and Palin

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Click on the link below to read the pledge requests sent out by the two vice-presidential candidates after the debate.

(more…)


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