UPDATE, Nov. 13, 2012
We still don’t know much about the methods that campaigns use to
persuade voters, including the mining of Facebook data. But
ProPublica brings us some information in an article titled
“Everything We Know (So Far) About Obama’s Big Data Tactics.”
While this doesn’t have much to do with water issues, it certainly
ties into the email that Susan Berta received on election day.
Earlier today, Susan Berta of Orca Network received what appears
to be a computer-generated email from President Obama’s campaign
headquarters. The email, probably part of a final push for votes,
has generated some election-day levity.
Here’s the message:
“Hey Susan — don’t wait a moment.
“Share this on Facebook with Lolita and xxxx — and tell them to
vote today. They live in battleground states where, even at this
time on Election Day, this is still anybody’s race. They’re more
likely to vote if you remind them — and when the polls close,
you’ll know you gave President Obama a nice last-minute
Lolita, of course, is the killer whale from Puget Sound who has
spent most of her life in a tank in Miami’s Seaquarium. (See
Water Ways, Oct. 24.) Florida is indeed a battleground state
where both President Obama and Mitt Romney are looking for every
vote they can get.
Susan probably received the message based on her personal
Facebook page, where she is signed up as friends with numerous
advocates who would like to bring Lolita back home to Puget Sound.
Some people use the word “Lolita” in the name of their Facebook
page dedicated to the whale. No doubt some computer made the
connection between Susan and her “friend” Lolita, who is old enough
to vote … if only she were human.
Susan told me she didn’t want to post anything political on
Network’s Facebook page, but she couldn’t resist sharing this
email with a wider audience. I told her this isn’t political; it’s
Now, if whales were given the power of the ballot, what kind of
voting block would they become? And how would candidates appeal to
this minority group?
U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks summed up his place in the next Congress by
quoting former Seahawks coach Chuck Knox:
“You have to play the hand you are dealt.”
Norm Dicks, the Belfair Democrat, is well known for bringing
home federal dollars to restore streams and estuaries throughout
Puget Sound. Everywhere he goes, he’s patted on the back for the
many restoration projects that seem to be improving conditions for
fish and wildlife. After last week’s election, everyone from
shellfish growers to Gov. Chris Gregoire must be wondering what
will happen next to Puget Sound funding.
Norm told me after the election that he has always worked well
with Republicans on the Interior and Defense appropriations
subcommittees, the two bodies where he has recently served as
chairman. (See my story in
Sunday’s Kitsap Sun.) Before 2006, as ranking minority member
of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, he helped launch an
initiative to restore facilities in rundown national parks, an
effort that continues to today.
Maybe Norm’s 34 years in the House gives him a special
perspective, but he seems undaunted by House Republicans, who
appear to be in no mood for major spending on programs like the
national parks. To me, it looks like we’re going to have gridlock
between the House, controlled by Republicans, and the Senate,
controlled by Democrats.
Dicks wishes more voters nationwide would have recognized how
many jobs were created by the federal stimulus package. He doesn’t
think cutting taxes, as Republicans propose, will create many new
jobs. And reducing the federal budget will cause layoffs — at least
in government — with ripple effects in the economy.
I enjoy political humor, and I look forward to the “change” we
can anticipate with a shift in political party and power.
Can we expect Barack Obama to supply us the raw material for
political humor to get us through the next four years? YES WE
I tend to favor humor that turns issues on their sides and
upside down, giving us a surprising perspective on familiar and
expected events. I’m uncomfortable with the harsh ridicule of
With Obama’s inaugural this week, I turned to The Onion and You
Tube to celebrate this event.
The first video below is a congressional debate over a
ceremonial dance to be held at the inaugural. The second dwells on
the remarkable swoon over Obama’s candidacy and successful
election. The third satirizes the expectations for an Obama
presidency, with a final poke at the verbal foibles of President
We all want Obama to succeed in these serious times, but let’s
try not to become bogged down in the nation’s problems. Laughter
has a strange way of lightening our load. I hope we can laugh with
Obama and even at him over the next four years, because he is not
Superman and we don’t wish him to be.
Although presidential nominees John McCain and Barack Obama are
both opposed to drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge, it appears this decades-old debate over Arctic oil is
beginning to warm up again.
Higher gasoline prices and the outspoken support of McCain’s
running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, seems to have opened the
door to new discussions about drilling anywhere in the United
States — especially Alaska.
So, as an environmental reporter in the state closest to Alaska,
I’m beginning to think about how and when to cover this story. A
lot has been written about this issue through the years. I can dust
off my old files, track down recent reports about drilling
technology and begin to consider the political forces at work.
Let’s see how the upcoming election shapes the debate.
In the meantime, here are some recent columns and stories I
David Shukman of the British
Broadcasting Corporation wrote a cursory story about the issue
yesterday, complete with a video fly-over of Alaskan oil fields. It
serves as a quick refresher on the debate.
Rick Steiner, a University Alaska professor, took Palin to task
for what he sees as her willingness to sacrifice Alaska’s
environment. His column was published in Sunday’s
Lars Laestadius of the
World Resources Institute suggests that a prerequisite to
drilling in the Arctic should be “public monitoring” of oil
exploration and development like nothing that’s ever been done
If anyone comes upon an interesting story about drilling — in
the Arctic or anywhere else — feel free to pass along a link as a
comment on this entry.
I’ll preface this entry by saying that Jon Stewart often
over-simplifies what the Bush administration is doing (now there’s
a setup for a punchline), but you have to admit that this issue
involving the e-mail from EPA was pretty amusing.
On a somewhat serious note, out of dozens of amateur videos on
the Internet about the candidates, it was hard to find some that
poked fun or held them up to ridicule without crossing the line in
hatefulness. I was disturbed at the level of anger that some people
have against a candidate they oppose. I probably won’t be wasting
any more time searching for appropriate political humor in the vast