Archive for the 'voting' Category

Yes, you caught me… I admit that I was two-timing Broken Spines…

As Gen. David Petraeus has demonstrated for us this last week, even a rock of moral authority can fall from grace.  I know my various interests and activities have kept me from posting on Broken Spines in quite awhile but I felt I need to come back to defend my honor.  There are allegations out there that I have been two-timing by first blog… Broken Spines.  Well, I am here to set the record straight… those allegations are true.  In a moment of weakness, I built a WordPress blog (A Citizen’s Primer) more than five years ago with the intent of recruiting some of my fellow Pugilists to join me to:

“document our positions, ideas, and conclusion on today’s complex political topics.  Why us?  Why not… we feel that we a relatively informed individuals and that when we are able to break down complex topics that are swirling in the political ether we can come up with some plausible solutions that make sense.  We are not claiming to be experts but we do work hard to stay informed on political topics – reading books, magazines, & blogs – watching movies & documentaries – and discussing the issues with friends, family, & colleagues.”

Well, five long years has gone by without a single post until yesterday.  I decided to dust off the cover and share an editorial that I had originally submitted to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  The post was based on my personal frustration with the Republican Party for sitting on their hands over the last two years without one iota of progress or one hint of compromise.  My article was titled “As Minnesota goes, so goes the nation? We need to move beyond a political zero sum game” and it includes ideas for both Minnesota and National Republicans and Democrats to move forward after the election.  Well, there I’ve said it.  Now let the accusations begin, or perhaps… thou who are amongst you who have not sinned shall cast the first stone?

Do voters really vote in their self interest?

In conversations about the recent election I wondered how much people really vote in their self interest.  I came across an interesting article from earlier this year that I thought I would share.  The story from Bryan Caplan of the Washington Post suggests that there are 5 myths of voting.

  1. People vote in their self interests
  2. Unselfish voting will solve our problems
  3. Voters’ errors balance out
  4. Political disagreement is all about values
  5. Voters want serious change

My question is that if these are all myths then when someone invokes one as their reason for voting for a certain candidate what are they really voting for?  For example, when someone invokes that they are voting for McCain out of self interest… why are they really voting for them?  Fear, hatred, prejudice?  What are the underlying issues?

Sarah Palin for VP? Are you kidding me?

Is it just me or does John McCain seem to be grasping at straws here?  He chooses a 44 year old governor of Alaska that hasn’t had any national or international political experience as his Number Two?  As a matter of fact, she has not even seen two years in office as Governor!  John McCain has bashed Barack Obama for his lack of experience yet would leave the fate of the country in the hands of a novice if he fell ill?  I find it an interesting gamble for McCain… an opportunity to court the female Hillary Clinton supporter but her stance on the issues is the exact opposite of Hillary: she is against a woman’s right to choose an abortion, she is pro-death penalty, and she opposes same sex marriages (while claiming to have gay friends) enough to support a constitutional amendment barring benefits for same sex couples, and she supports the war in Iraq.  An interesting insight from colleague and State Senate President Lyda Green, a Republican who has often feuded with Palin, remarked, “She’s not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?”  Would a woman vote for her just because she is a woman… even if she disagreed with her politics?

The God Delusion vs. Audacity of Hope

Candidates can’t ignore values-based voters

“This much is clear: Presidential candidates ignore the importance of the values-based vote at their peril.”

“[In 2000] White voters identifying with the “religious right” grew from 14 to 17 percent of the total electorate. At the same time, the GOP’s share of the white religious right vote jumped 15 percent: from 65 percent in 1996 to 80 percent.”

“[In 2004] …although the war in Iraq dominated the headlines, it didn’t dominate at the polls. A small plurality of voters cited ‘moral values’ as the most important issue in the campaign; Bush crushed Sen. John Kerry among these voters by a whopping 62-percent margin, 80 percent to 18 percent.”

“‘If white evangelicals had not voted in 2004, Kerry would have beaten Bush by a 53 to 45 percent margin nationwide…'”

And, as such, their first opportunity to share the stage in a “forum” (not debate) will be in a mega-church.

All Fact and No Meaning

The other night I watched “Stranger Than Fiction,” a film written by Zach Helm, directed by Marc Forster, and starring Will Ferrell, the radiant Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, and Queen Latifah.  Ferrell plays an IRS auditor who finds himself the subject of narration only he can hear: narration that begins to affect his entire life, from his work, to his love-interest, to his death.


Reluctantly, I admit, I was swept away by Ferrell singing a song by Eric Wreckless, “Whole Wide World,” like Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s song from OnceFalling Slowly”: ”take this sinking  boat and point it home, we’ve still got time / raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice” – what great lyrics.


What’s got me in this sappy mood?  Like David Brooks, I am growing weary of the presidential campaign which is “all about message management, polls and tactics. The communication is swift, Blackberry-sized and prosaic. As you cover it, you feel yourself enclosed in its tunnel. Entire mental faculties go unused.”


For an escape, Brooks reads an essay written by Michael Ward, “C. S. Lewis and the Star of Bethlehem,”


…while we moderns see space as a black, cold, mostly empty vastness, with planets and stars propelled by gravitational and other forces, Europeans in the Middle Ages saw a more intimate and magical place. The heavens, to them, were a ceiling of moving spheres, rippling with signs and symbols, and moved by the love of God. The medieval universe, Lewis wrote, “was tingling with anthropomorphic life, dancing, ceremonial, a festival not a machine.”


When we say that a star is a huge flaming ball of gas, he wrote, we are merely describing what it is made of.


I am suffering from too many facts and too little meaning.


Whole Wide World

By Eric Wreckless


When I was a young boy

My mama said to me

There’s only one girl in the world for you

And she probably lives in Tahiti


I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Just to find her


Or maybe she’s in the Bahamas

Where the Carribean sea is blue

Weeping in a tropical moonlit night

Because nobody’s told her ’bout you


I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Just to find her

I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Find out where they hide her


Why am I hanging around in the rain out here

Trying to pick up a girl

Why are my eyes filling up with these lonely tears

When there’re girls all over the world


Is she lying on a tropical beach somewhere

Underneath the tropical sun

Pining away in a heatwave there

Hoping that I won’t be long


I should be lying on that sun-soaked beach with her

Caressing her warm brown skin

And then in a year or maybe not quite

We’ll be sharing the same next of kin


I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Just to find her

I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Find out where they hide her


PS Check out Agent Provacateur’s new campaign featuring Maggie.

Live from NY, It’s Hillary Night Live!

Read David Brauer’s MinnPost review.

Si Se Puede as Zeitgeist

Yeah, that’s right.  My vocabulary is so large, I title my posts in Sperman.

But really, what is going on in the Democratic party right now?  It’s about New Politics (with a nod to Adlai Stevenson).  Barack is reframing the debate, while Hillary offers more of the same.  It seems to me another Clinton administration will be busy settling old scores, while Barack would get about fixing the issues with our country on Day 1 by building new coalitions that don’t bear the burden of having to settle old scores.

As Frank Rich pointed out in last Sunday’s Times:

His upbeat notion of a yes-we-can national mobilization for the common good, however sacharine, speaks to the pride and idealism of Americans who are bone-weary of a patriotism defined exclusively by flag lapel pins, the fear of terrorism and the prospect of perpetual war.

Discussing the election over a pint of beer, fellow pugilist Bill B. laments, “too many Americans are resigned to what the process provides.”  What we ought to do is grab our misguided government by the lapels and say this is unacceptable!  We demand change! 

We have more in common than our politics over the last 16 years would indicate.  So rather than divvying up the country based on wedge issues and ceding half the country to the ‘others’, let’s focus on the 80% of issues we can agree on and get about the hard work of fixing this country.

Thank you for voting, but we’ll take it from here

Record turnout across the country in the Democratic primaries, with the majority of the popular vote going to Obama.  But, curb your enthusiasm, delegates are what matter here – and Clinton and Obama are essentially even (1,446 and 1,535 respectively including most of yesterday’s delegates; Obama needs 489 to win, Clinton 578 ; 256 SuperDelegates remain undeclared out of 712). 

For you glutonous politcal junkies, read Geraldine Ferraro’s editorial on why the Democratic primary system is the way it is.  For even more arcane analysis read Eric Black’s article in MinnPost about the brokered 1924 Democratic convention that went 16 days and 103 ballots.

Here’s a great summary of yesterday’s results from DCW:

State Delegates
% Vote In % Clinton %Obama Delegates Clinton Delegates Obama
Vermont 0 86% 38% 60% 6 9
Ohio 3 99% 54% 44% 74 64
Rhode Island 0 98% 58% 40% 13 8
Texas-Primary 0 98% 51% 48% 64 62
Texas-Caucus 45 36% 48% 52% 14 8
Tuesday Total 48   171 151
Previously Pledged Delegates (AP)
  1035 1187
Total Pledged Delegates
  1206 1338
Superdelegate Endorsements   240 197
  1446 1535
Delegates Still Needed to Win Nomination   578 489

Source for Vote Percentage is CNN. Source for Delegates is CBS and AP. Source for Superdelegates is DCW

Remember 2000!

As if the Democratic primary weren’t interesting enough, could the Democratic nominee win a popular vote landslide but lose the Electoral college?  As James Boyce points out, it is a distinct possiblity.

Electoral College in 2000:


Electoral College 2004:


Plane? Train? No, it’s MN’s SuperDelegates!


Read Doug Grow’s article in MinnPost on what it’s like to be a Super-Delegate.

Also read Joe Klein’s recent Time article “The Barack Blowout” on why Obama will be a better executive based on how he is managing his campaign.

The Fierce Urgency of Now

I, along with 20,000 of my friends, went to the Obama rally at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Saturday.  We weren’t smart enough to wait in the skyways, instead we waited for 2.5 hours in 20 degree weather and watched the new Twins ballpark being built (just north of the Target Center). 

You may ask yourself, what would cause a man to drag his three young sons out into the cold and wait for 2.5 hours to hear a politician?  Obama answers this by quoting Martin Luther King: because of “the fierce urgency of now.”  

George Will wrote that “if you get the girl up on her tiptoes, you should kiss her.”  Obama has America on her tiptoes with hope for a new direction.  Will goes on to repeat the warning of William Butler Yeats: “All life is a preparation for something that probably will never happen.”

Unless you make it happen.

So, last night I went to my precinct caucus where 217 of my neighbors showed up – more than twice the number that showed up in 2004 (which was a big turnout).  Across Minnesota 206K voted in the DFL caucuses and 62K voted in the Republican straw poll (with 86% of precincts reporting).  This compares to 56K DFL’ers who showed up on March 4, 2004.  Almost 4 times the turnout!  Norm Coleman must have cried himself to sleep last night.

 For you data junkies, here are some charts from the MN Secretary of State’s office



All Statewide Party Results

  Independence Party
   United States President
  Candidate Totals Pct      Graph
  Michael Bloomberg 0 0.00%  
  Sam Nunn 0 0.00%  
  Write-In 0 0.00%  

  Republican Party
   United States President
  Candidate Totals Pct      Graph
  Mike Huckabee 12365 19.88%  
  Alan Keyes 364 0.59%  
  John McCain 13646 21.94%  
  Ron Paul 9729 15.64%  
  Mitt Romney 25819 41.51%  
  Write-in 279 0.45%  

  Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party
   United States President
  Candidate Totals Pct      Graph
  Joe Biden 80 0.04%  
  Hillary Clinton 65761 31.93%  
  Chris Dodd 73 0.04%  
  John Edwards 946 0.46%  
  Dennis Kucinich 352 0.17%  
  Frank Lynch 121 0.06%  
  Barack Obama 137278 66.66%  
  Bill Richardson 91 0.04%  
  Uncommitted 1251 0.61%  

  Green Party
   United States President
  Candidate Totals Pct      Graph
  Jesse Johnson 0 0.00%  
  Cynthia McKinney 0 0.00%  
  Kent Mesplay 0 0.00%  
  Ralph Nader 0 0.00%  
  Kat Swift 0 0.00%  
  None of the Above 0 0.00%  
  No Candidate 0 0.00%  
  Undecided 0 0.00%  
  Write-in 0 0.00%  

  Constitution Party
   United States President
  Candidate Totals Pct      Graph
  Hillary Clinton 0 0.00%  
  Jerome Corsi 1 1.22%  
  John Edwards 0 0.00%  
  Rudy Giuliani 0 0.00%  
  Mike Huckabee 3 3.66%  
  Alan Keyes 3 3.66%  
  John McCain 0 0.00%  
  Roy Moore 0 0.00%  
  Barack Obama 0 0.00%  
  Ron Paul 65 79.27%  
  Mitt Romney 2 2.44%  
  Undecided 7 8.54%  
  Other 1 1.22%  


Results and statistics shown are for the selected district only.All results shown have been reported by the political parties of Minnesota. Reporting districts and categories reported may differ by party.The Secretary of State does not canvass or certify caucus results



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