Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wisconsin Primary Musings

We're back in the deep freeze again tonight, with temperatures forecast to go down to -5 to -10 degrees (F), with windchills approaching the -20 to -30 range. Ah, February in Iowa ... nothing like it (unless you're my buddy NDD in ND who's reporting even nastier cold, so he gets the bragging rights), although that's a dubious distinction at best!

Anyway ...

Political junkie that I am, of course I was glued to MSNBC tonight for their coverage of the Wisconsin primary. Not just because I'm intensely engaged in this nomination battle (I now have a designated 'horse in this race'), but because I spent eight years of my life in graduate school in one of our finest upper midwest deep freeze states. The people of Wisconsin are great folks ... typical friendly hard-working Upper Midwesterners who are generally open-minded and trending even more progressive in recent years. (However, let's not forget it's the home state of both 'Fighting Bob' LaFollette, the legendary early 20th century Progressive, but also one of the most ignominious Senators of the 20th century, the loathsome Joe McCarthy. As an aside, one of my goals in life is to make a pilgrimage to his grave and piss copiously on it. I know, that's a bit disrespectful, but that's a minor punishment for the damage he inflicted on this country in the 1950's.)

As it stands as of this writing, with 97% of precincts reporting, Obama leads Clinton with a 17% margin ... 58% to 41%. Yes, it's a clearly defined win, but I'd go a bit further and even say that Obama handed Clinton her ass tonight. Now, you might object by saying 'Oh it was just 17%, that's no blowout, but it is a win,' which is what I expect will soon be the spin from the Clinton campaign (just like that pronouncement about 'insignificant states' last week). No, I'm not basing my judgment on the hard numbers of primary results reported alone, because when you look at the internals of the exit polls, some remarkable numbers begin to emerge.

I know exit polls are much maligned by many, but they do provide some valuable indicators about the candidates if you take the time to read the internals and look at the numbers. I just spent some time looking at the internals that MSNBC has so kindly provided. If you take the time to work through them all, you can only conclude that Obama clearly has the edge in broad appeal among this year's electorate. If we can even dare say that the people have spoken this year, it's clear that they're shouting OBAMA! Granted, I've had my doubts about him all along, but at this point in the race, I still feel he's the clear choice among Democrats. We need to win this year. Otherwise, I fear our fragile 'Democracy' is doomed with all the erosion of basic rights and constitutional violations perpetrated by the Cheney/Shrub administration. I've felt for several years that a Clinton nomination was the best way for the ReSkunklicans to steal another election, and frankly, I'm having none of it.

A couple of side notes from Obama's speech tonight:
He promises to close Guantánamo.
He promises to restore Habeus Corpus.

That's good enough for me.

Ok, about those internals ...
(Overall percentage of voters/Clinton/Obama/"Uninstructed")
Obama is split 50-50 among women.
Obama takes the White Male vote 63% to 34%
White men3734630
White women5052470
Black men4---
Black women4---
Latino men2---
Latino women2---
All other races1---
Obama takes the overall White vote 54% to 45%
Hispanic / Latino4---
(No surprise) Obama takes the black vote 91% to 8%

Clinton takes the over 65 vote handily 58% to 41%, but that hardly seems like a surprise to me. Maybe her new ads need to emphasize the 'blue hairs for Hillary!' stat?
65 or over205841-
In all income brackets from $15,000 to 150,000, Obama takes them all handily.
Under $15,0007---
$15,000 - $29,999124652-
$30,000 - $49,999214456-
$50,000 - $74,999254257-
$75,000 - $99,9991534641
$100,000 - $149,999133565-
$150,000 - $199,9994---
$200,000 or more3---

In all education brackets, Obama again takes them all.
Did not complete high school4---
High school graduate2447510
Some college or associate degree314060-
College graduate2341590
Postgraduate study1936610
Among College Non-College educated, Obama also wins hands down.
No college degree5843560
College graduate4239600

With regard to political leanings, Obama also wins the day. Pay particular attention to those who self-identify themselves as 'Somewhat Conservative':
Very liberal1640560
Somewhat liberal3042560
Somewhat conservative113862-
Very conservative3---
Only with regard to the Catholic vote does Obama split even with Clinton.
Mormon / LDS0---
Other Christian183366-
Something else7---
And in the issues cited by voters as most important, Obama clearly bitch slaps Clinton.
The economy4541570
The war in Iraq2639600
Health care264654-
As for the "Change" theme, Obama clearly has the upper hand (is this a surprise to anyone?)
Can bring about needed change5422770
Cares about people like me164355-
Has the right experience22955-
Has the best chance to win in November7---

There's a lot more interesting results in these internals, but these were some of the demographics I found the most revealing in the Wisconsin primary. When you get down to the stats on who voted for whom, the results are pretty apparent, so I'll just skip those. Follow the link if you're really interested.

My conclusion about the Wisconsin primary? For a white bread upper Midwest state, these results are pretty impressive. If Obama's momentum keeps winning the day, I'm cautiously optimistic we have a historic winner on our hands. I guess we'll get a better idea come March 4, particularly in Ohio and (le maudit!) Texas.

I, for one, am hoping that dynastic politics loses big time this year. I used to greatly admire the Clintons, but this campaign has brought out their worst tendencies. Their time is past. Face up to it Bill and Hillary. Either go out gracefully and with a little bit of class or be consigned to the lake of fire and go down in flames!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Still Miss Molly Ivins

I wanted to post something tonight because the itch to write has returned a bit recently and needs to be scratched. But, being (putting it mildly) disheartened by our continuing string of snow and ice storms, I wasn't coming up with much.

Happily, as I was re-organizing my bookmarks tonight (almost as chaotic as the house in general!), I ran across a link to a 'posthumous' column by probably my all time favorite political commentator, Molly Ivins (who alas, died in January, 2007). For those of you who might not be familiar with her writing, she was the longtime editor of Texas Observer, many books, perhaps most notably Shrub (wherein she tried to warn the nation) ... widely syndicated in various publications around the country, and she also had a considerable presence online. If you have the slightest populist or progressive political leanings, it's likely you've read Molly. So, if you have read her, you know already what a brilliant brew she could concoct, full of acerbic humour, incisive political analysis, yet tempered with an unending well of warmth and pure humanity. If I could ever write as concisely and powerfully as Molly, I'd let myself believe I had truly accomplished something remarkable.

So, back to that 'posthumous column.' A few weeks ago while chatting with NDD, he passed this link along (yay!), which I now want to share with you, in case you're interested ... Here are the first three paragraphs:

I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president.

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.

The recent death of Gene McCarthy reminded me of a lesson I spent a long, long time unlearning, so now I have to re-learn it. It's about political courage and heroes, and when a country is desperate for leadership. There are times when regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times. There are times a country is so tired of bull that only the truth can provide relief.

Link to the full column here.

In what I envision as an ideal, politically aware world, I'd like for any undecided Democratic (or leaning) voters in states yet to vote (Wisconsin I'm thinking of you, for obvious nostalgic reasons! Go Madison! I know you can!) to read her last missive, which (apparently was written before the 2006 elections) presents her cogent, clearly delineated argument about who you should not cast your vote. And with our present choices narrowed down to two choices (FSM bless you, John Edwards, Chris Dodd and Dennis Kucinich!), time is running short to make the right decision this year.

As I size it up (in my humble, political junkie way) now, the only chance we still have for the potential of a truly transformational shift in our political landscape is to cast the die with Barack Obama. And he does appear to be on a winning streak lately, and I've been cheering him on, now that I no longer have the Edwards choice .... I knew that this year would be tumultuous and most likely nasty.

It's not over yet, and in fact it's relatively early in the 'game.' We have a lot of ugliness yet to face before the big day in November. But I do hope that by putting Obama out front as the nominee, we might still have some reason for cautious optimism.

As I've said frequently to Fernymoss since the Caucus in January, if you imagine Obama next to McCain --even knowing nothing about them-- who would you tend to want to vote for? As Jon Stewart might opine ... between bat-shit crazy old warmonger guy and energetic younger black dude? To me, the choice is a no-brainer.

I bet if Molly were still around she'd take Obama to task, but still give him a big benefit of the doubt. Hope I got that right, Molly. If not, bitch slap me from the beyond!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Of Leather and Sleeping Dogs ...

Constant flux in our living room configuration is now again at play at Casa IVG. In fact the whole house is in flux, as my job is going to a virtual office, so I have to be set up at home to do everything I did in the office ... it's been a bit daunting and I'm nowhere near done or happy with the space at present. But it's progressing --hey we have a wireless network set up now, even though it's incomplete one computer for a few days more-- and another week or so, it should be in more than workable shape.

So, what did I have to go out and do? The second picture explains that quite well without words.

Some of our nicest
pieces of furniture have come from World Market (dining table, a CD cabinet and the media armoire and the other leather recliner 'Bruno.') ... so this recent sale was a bit hard to resist, seeing that we needed a new good chair anyway. (You might remember the other flux time when we were getting rid of all the old hand me down furniture ... we're not done yet and that loveseat is soon history!) Anyway, this new one -- 'Tosca,' companion to good old 'Bruno' that I got a few years ago -- is a fantastically comfy recliner, well worth its sale price.

Now, I know some people drop by to see the occasional shots of the dogs (usually snoozing these days), so the first picture is probably of greater interest ... Pepa took an almost immediate liking to the piece of foam packing material and proceeded to claim it for the night, snoozing happily. As always it's difficult to catch her in her absolute cutest moments (the camera's never handy!), this one shows pretty well how she and Rolly spent most of their Saturday night.

Oh yeah, another 6" of snow and some ice and slush came in overnight, so that's how Fernymoss spent most of the day digging us out of the latest big snow. So here we are again, with over a foot of snow cover ... don't think we'll see the snowdrops much before March now unless things warm up drastically, which is certainly not in the short term forecast. Nor the crocus ... nor the squill ... we're done with this winter! I guess it's still not done with us ....

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Snowy Tuesday in Iowa

Well, wasn't Super Tuesday exciting? Not only did we have a slam bang (depends on your point of view, of course) night of Primary returns, we had the biggest snow of the winter so far here.

Official reports from the airport and local TV cited amounts ranging from 9" to 11" depending on the area of the city. Fernymoss, who spent most of his day off shoveling, estimates it's more on the 11-12" range at our house. And just looking out the windows tends to confirm that. From our living room windows on the north (the Woodland Garden area) the snow had drifted so high it almost reached the windows.

In the front garden (these shots were taken just to the left of our front steps) it had quite artistically arranged itself into cute little Coneflower caps (which Fernymoss captured during one of his stints shoveling). The snow was also piled so high and deep on the hollies that he needed to go knock the snow off, lest we have some branches break again, like they did during the big ice storm last March (the one that did in the truck, if you'll recall).

I've spent the last two days home sick with a nasty cold that came on Monday night and confirmed itself yesterday. I'd been able to stave off (via Zicam) the last couple of bugs, but this one was determined to make me miserable. And it did. Let's hope its residence is brief, because the coughing and sneezing has been wearing me out!

Nothing like a double whammy snowstorm and a cold to make one yearn even more for the temperate days of spring yet to come. The only consolation is that the bulbs won't get excited too soon about emerging this year, like they did last year ...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Endorsement from the Dead

I was particularly encouraged and amused to see this endorsement for Obama mentioned in The Nation yesterday by Ari Melber. And in the interests of full disclosure, I've been a long time Deadhead myself, though in recent years I've tended to listen to them less (the loss of Jerry Garcia in 1995 has a lot to do with that), they still remain one of the seminal rock bands in my life. I grew up with them rather late in the 1970's, but I followed them enthusiastically throughout the 1980's, attending all concerts I was near until about 1988, when I was finishing my PhD dissertation (which, unfortunately consumed most of my time for some odd reason).

No matter what you may think (or have thought) of the Grateful Dead, for them to come out at this time (granted it's only Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Billy Kreutzman and Bob Weir) is something that plays of value to this greying ex-hippie. I suspect it will have some marginal impact in California (at least in the Bay area) and that can only be a good thing. Anything that can help Obama whittle away at the Clintons' (the plural is deliberate) lead is encouraging.

To my knowledge, they have never endorsed a political candidate for President, and for the remaining (living) band members to do so now, seems to me to be a positive signal for a great number of potentially 'apolitical' voters to take pause. Maybe I'm ascribing too much to this, but I do think it will help galvanize some younger voters (who came too late to the party) to abandon the bongs for one day, load up their Ipods with US Blues and head out to vote. I doubt there's polling that could truly measure such a metric, but in my more optimistic moments, I'd like to think so.

So, I'm more than pleased that The Dead has come out and endorsed the last best hope for change in the Democratic Party and are throwing their support behind Barack Obama. Of course it remains to be seen whether their 'one time' reunion Monday night will have a real impact on the race in California, I want to believe that it will be yet another cog in the disparate elements of the Progressive community that will help propel Obama to the nomination. Of course we may be eventually disappointed in how it may all turn out in the general election, but for me, it is a more hopeful voter position than what we are faced with at this point. But I do think that Obama can bring more (yes, younger) voters into play this year than Clinton can, and faced with the options of John McCain (aka, Panderbear), can the electorate be that stupid in choosing the status quo? Yeah, I know it's happened before ... but this time around, when I have heard usual Republican voters express enthusiasm about Obama, can we really risk taking this chance? I'm not sure at this point, but I'm willing to give it a chance. Jeebus on the cross we had the idiocy to nominate John Kerry in 2004!

So... let's go full bore and go behind Obama now and take our chances between the flip-flopper panderbears Romney and McCain and 'let's all be a oh shucks Hucksterbee theocratic demolish the church/state barrier' and go for broke. I'm sorry, but the Hillary folks leave me cold. I didn't like how things worked out in the 1990's, so let's let this 'inexperienced' guy (BS alert!) give us our best shot against more war, more corruption and more redistribution of the wealth to the already filthy rich a decent chance! Go back to your sinecure in the Senate, Hillary and spare us the pandering and triangulation! I can tolerate you there (just barely), but at least we may have dodged the dynastic nature of what you and Bill (I used to like you, Bubba) are foisting off on us now.

We will see how it all turns out soon, but I'm hoping for the end of dynastic politics, no matter how it may turn out in the fall. I'd rather lose running Barack Obama (as much as I'd hate such a loss!) than the inevitable loss with a Clinton nominee. Ack, those were tough words to type, but it's the way I see it right now.