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More Cartograms

Posted by Ogged
on 11.06.04

Very cool mappings of the election results, with counties drawn to reflect population, margin of victory, etc.

First batch. (The claim that 307 counties voted nearly 100% for Kerry must be wrong [Yes, it was wrong, but the map is correct and they've noted the correction at the linked page.]). via the apostropher

Second batch. via crooked timber


 

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Maps and legends

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.06.04

Some great electoral maps-- worth a look. I found this particularly chilling. It shows Kerry/Bush disparities (by number of votes) by county. Bush's support is evenly distributed-- he wins by smallish numbers all over the place (though, of course, some of the small numbers represent an overwhelming majority in rural counties). Kerry's support is massive in some urban areas but nonexistent outside them. Fascinating.


 

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Sappy Sappy

Posted by Ogged
on 11.05.04

I just want to note that when I post all the time, this is a pretty good blog, but when everyone posts, it's a great blog. Good to hear from you, guys.


 

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Perhaps This Blogger Jumped to Conclusions

Posted by Ogged
on 11.05.04

Well, shit.

These differences hold up at the state level even when each state's past Bush vote is taken into account. When you control for that variable, a 10-point increase in the percentage of voters citing terrorism as the most important problem translates into a 3-point Bush gain. A 10-point increase in morality voters, on the other hand, has no effect. Nor does putting an anti-gay-marriage measure on the ballot. So, if you want to understand why Bush was re-elected, stop obsessing about the morality gap and start looking at the terrorism gap.

Read the whole thing, please.

AND: Here too.


 

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You're grieving

Posted by Bob
on 11.05.04

Take care of yourself. Treat yourself to something nice.


 

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Survey

Posted by Ogged
on 11.05.04

I'll take a momentary break from feeding my anger to address a question that's come up in the comments. Rather, to ask you to address it. Fontana writes,

I'd like to note that it's really fucking sad that we are collectively having trouble seeing such really delicate nuances as "I don't like it but I don't think it should be illegal." I mean, this isn't the most subtle distinction ever made.

So, people of blogdom, what is the most subtle distinction ever made?

Apostropher nominates:

"I love you, but I'm not in love with you." The divorce that followed wasn't so subtle, though.

I'd put money on the difference between being and the opening of being. (Knock yourself out.)

As I'm writing, apostropher has another one.

My co-blogger Froz once had a child ask him, "Is that a real clown or a pretend clown?"

Fuck, that's tough to beat.


 

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Pictures!

Posted by Ogged
on 11.05.04

FYI, there are several good maps of election results in this post, and even more if you scroll through the comments.


 

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Heartland hearts and minds

Posted by Bob
on 11.05.04

This is Jane Smiley in Slate. I take it more as an angry lashing out than as something constructive, but it's exactly how I'm feeling right now when I'm not distracting myself with sandwiches.

Here is how ignorance works: First, they put the fear of God into you—if you don't believe in the literal word of the Bible, you will burn in hell. Of course, the literal word of the Bible is tremendously contradictory, and so you must abdicate all critical thinking, and accept a simple but logical system of belief that is dangerous to question. A corollary to this point is that they make sure you understand that Satan resides in the toils and snares of complex thought and so it is best not try it.

Next, they tell you that you are the best of a bad lot (humans, that is) and that as bad as you are, if you stick with them, you are among the chosen. This is flattering and reassuring, and also encourages you to imagine the terrible fates of those you envy and resent. American politicians ALWAYS operate by a similar sort of flattery, and so Americans are never induced to question themselves. That's what happened to Jimmy Carter—he asked Americans to take responsibility for their profligate ways, and promptly lost to Ronald Reagan, who told them once again that they could do anything they wanted. The history of the last four years shows that red state types, above all, do not want to be told what to do—they prefer to be ignorant. As a result, they are virtually unteachable.

Third, and most important, when life grows difficult or fearsome, they (politicians, preachers, pundits) encourage you to cling to your ignorance with even more fervor. But by this time you don't need much encouragement—you've put all your eggs into the ignorance basket, and really, some kind of miraculous fruition (preferably accompanied by the torment of your enemies, and the ignorant always have plenty of enemies) is your only hope. If you are sufficiently ignorant, you won't even know how dangerous your policies are until they have destroyed you, and then you can always blame others.

On the positive side, the coming campaign for the hearts and minds of the heartland will be a good fight to fight. It's not politicking, and it doesn't have to be dirty. Convincing people to embrace compassion and cultural diversity will feel a lot more honest than pushing John Kerry's war heroism. I'm with the don't-move-to-the-right crowd on this one. Winning Obama/Madonna 2008 is an important objective, but right now I'm more interested in making sure that when we do win, it's a victory of ideas rather than just a victory of images.


 

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Character II

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.05.04

This is from the same source:

Kerry Anger Over Swift Boat Ads. By August, the attack of the Swift Boat veterans was getting to Kerry. He called adviser Tad Devine, who was prepping to appear on "Meet The Press" the next day: "It's a pack of f---ing lies, what they're saying about me," he fairly shouted over the phone. Kerry blamed his advisers for his predicament. (Cahill and Shrum argued responding to the ads would only dignify them.) He had wanted to fight back; they had counseled caution. Even Kerry's ex-wife, Julia Thorne, was very upset about the ads, she told daughter Vanessa. She could remember how Kerry had suffered in Vietnam; she had seen the scars on his body, heard him cry out at night in his nightmares. She was so agitated about the unfairness of the Swift Boat assault that she told Vanessa she was ready to break her silence, to speak out and personally answer the Swift Boat charges. She changed her mind only when she was reassured that the campaign was about to start fighting back hard.

That it happened at all is shameful; that it happened in the service of a man like George W. Bush is monstrous. I thought I was over this, but not so much, it turns out.


 

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From the Inside

Posted by Ogged
on 11.05.04

Not just because he agrees with me, but because it's a damn fine comment, I'm pulling up the apostropher's comment to this post.

***

1. This election is a disaster on several fronts, from our moral standing in the world, to fiscal sanity, to civil liberties, to the environment, and so much more. But America voted for it and America will get what it deserves. I know many on the right take some perverse pride in being hated by foreigners, but when the entire room thinks you're an asshole, there's about a 99% probability that you've been acting like one.

2. I grew up in Southern Baptist churches in eastern North Carolina. I do understand the opposition. It isn't Republicans or Christians at large that bother me; that group includes a lot of my extended family and many of my closest friends. The group that scares me are Jesus' Stormtroopers - not because I don't know them, but because I do. I know that Bush's whole bloc isn't angry homophobes, but the entire angry homophobe bloc belongs solidly to Bush and considers him one of their own. I'm angry with the rest of the Republican coalition for empowering and kowtowing to the Flat Earth wing of Christendom. If you can only win by pumping up the fury of that crowd, you deserve to lose. If the Democrats were beholden to the Nation of Islam, I'd be just as outraged.

3. No more moving to the right. The point is not winning elections; the point is creating a better country. The Bush path leads to an ugly America. Zygote, that isn't the reason you support him. Fine. But the end result is still the end result. The fundamentalists are empowered and the ones here, in their own way, are every bit as crazy as the ones in the Middle East.

You're right, Ogged: the fundamental question of 21st century American politics is secularist government vs. quasi-theocratic government. The Democrats do have to be the secularist party and if that means a spell as a powerless minority, then that's what it means. The danger of the other path may have to be experienced to be driven home to a majority of Americans.

The reality-based community will be over here waiting when they figure out that the Christian zealots are about as much fun as the Muslim ones.


 

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Back to the important issues

Posted by Bob
on 11.05.04

1. The whole deep-fried turkey thing seems to have died a merciful death -- but what's up with turducken? Passe yet? Worth the trouble?

2. For those of you in or near Philadelphia, there's a sandwich you must try. It's the Angelo Cataldi at Bitar's. A longish, narrow pita-wrap filled with charbroiled chicken, lettuce, marinated string cheese, and some kind of pureed roasted-red-pepper sauce. Simple composition, but the result is greater than the sum of its parts. Messy, though. Great with grape soda.

3. There was a good Eric Asimov piece in the NYT a couple weeks ago which unfortunately got eclipsed by campaign news. It deserves a look -- as do, apparently, farmhouse ales.


 

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Character

Posted by Ogged
on 11.04.04
Kerry, the opportunistic flip-flopper.
Looking for a way to pick up swing voters in the Red States, former President Bill Clinton, in a phone call with Kerry, urged the Senator to back local bans on gay marriage. Kerry respectfully listened, then told his aides, "I'm not going to ever do that."
Note please, that that is precisely what George Bush, whose views on gay marriage are likely not much different than John Kerry's, did do. BUT: Jack O'Toole reads this differently. I'm not sure I agree with Jack on this one. There seems to be a difference between saying "I don't approve, but it's up to you locally" and saying "Go ahead, Oregon, ban it." I suppose the question becomes, what did Clinton mean by "back local bans?"

 

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On the other hand...

Posted by Unf
on 11.04.04

Whenever I feel overwhelmed at work (which is often), I find it helpful to sit down and write out everything I think I have to get done. I'm always as specific as I can be. Everything always feels a lot better afterwards. It seems that a similar exercise would be helpful to relieve some of the election-related depression my blog buddies are feeling. So consider the following questions/comments.

1) A little perspective is in order. Transport yourself back to 1861 or 1930 (or 1877 or 1893 or 1919 or 1947 or 1963 or 1972 or 1981). Do you really think that the country is worse off, or in greater peril, or less respected internationally, now than it was then? If so, why?

2) In the same vein, consider the Republican Party in 1936 or 1964 - please try to show why the Democratic Party is worse off now than the Republican Party was then. When you do, consider who just won the last election.

3) Name a successful second term President since the advent of television.

4) We've been in wars that have gone badly (and where we've behaved badly) before. I believe our current most serious dispute with Vietnam is that we don't like how much shrimp they sell us.

5) White House + House + Senate does not necessarily equal Legislation. Consider, for example, FDR's second tem or Clinton's first. Bush has shown a talent for fucking things up - did the election results somehow cure him of that?

6) Majorities overreach, and power corrupts. Especially those inclined to overreach and those eager for power.

7) On the international side of things, what exactly do you think Bush will do that will be so terrible? Invading any of Iran, Syria, or North Korea is not on - not without a draft. He could invade Iraq - except that he already has. He could ignore the Israeli/Palestinian situation - except that's what he was doing for the last four years. Now, he might not do all the things we hoped Kerry would do, but what else will he do that's so, so terrible? Be specific.

8) Please explain why a President Kerry would have eliminated (or even greatly reduced) the threat of Islamic terrorism against the US. Isn't this a threat we face regardless of who's in the White House, or what we're doing in the Middle East? Or to put it differently, the USS Cole attack, the embassy bombings, and the Khobar Towers bombing occurred during what administration?

9) Same question as 7) above, but on the domestic side. Why do you think a filibuster of social security privatization won't work? Why do you think any kind of radical changes to the tax system has any chance of passing? Did the deficit disappear overnight? Did the bond market? Did the business cycle?

10) Do you think acceptance of gays and lesbians will generally increase or decrease over time? Consider recent historical evidence when answering.

11) You live in a country that has seen the likes of the following: John Calhoun, Ben Tillman, Charles Coughlin, Joseph McCarthy, and Pat Buchanan. Why are you so surprised with your fellow citizens? Are current Republicans really worse than these men?

12) Which amendment to the Constitution comes between 21 and 23? How many heart attacks has Dick Cheney had? How much greater than 49 is 51?

13) What can the Supreme Court do that can't be undone either 1) by passing legislation, or 2) by repealing legislation? If your answer is declare the New Deal and/or the Great Society unconstitutional, point me to a specific piece of legislation that the Supreme Court would overturn, and tell me why they'd get away with it. If your answer is that we need the Supreme Court because the majority of the country is against us, consider whether that is ever a tenable position to be in.

Just a few thoughts to consider in the days ahead.


 

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Fool Me Once

Posted by Ogged
on 11.04.04

I spent yesterday in the slough of despond, but today, my liberal friends have thrown me into a pot of anger.

1. It's just one election, we'll get 'em next time.

No. Remember all that jabber about the "most important election of our lives?" That was true, for two reasons.

We just had a referendum on Abu Ghraib and the disastrous conduct of the invasion of Iraq, and we endorsed both. We have slipped, in the eyes of the world, and in fact, from a war of ideals into a religious war--one in which no holds are barred. Remember when Bin Laden said that the people in the WTC weren't innocent because this is a democracy? Now it's true. There are no more innocents.

Second, at almost every point at which citizens interact with the government, it's not run by elected officials, but by career civil servants, and they are being replaced by ideological hacks whose terms don't expire with each administration. The state, that is, that part of the government that acts in our lives, is becoming an extension of one party--this was prevented in the past by vigorous opposition, and, even more, by a gentlemen's agreement that some parts of governance were beyond partisanship. Those safeguards are gone now.

Apocalyptic is the new shrill. People who manage to look at what's happening and deny that we're fast becoming a war-mongering theocracy will come around. It'll be too late, but they'll come around.

2. We have to try to understand the opposition.

Don't you know they hate your guts? Maybe the philosophy professors will like the Fallacy of Integrated Evil. The fact that you can have perfectly pleasant interactions with the great mass of your fellow citizens, the fact that they're basically upstanding and well-meaning, doesn't mean that they aren't also endorsing, with clear heads, evil policies.

And who will be your interlocutors? Surely you've talked to your fellow citizens. How many coherent arguments have you heard either on the Republican or Democratic side? Argument and understanding have nothing to do with it. A few people on either side set the terms and the agenda, and everyone else falls into line. The Republicans setting the agenda will be more than happy to talk to you, and while you go earnest and noble, you'll get rolled...again.

3. We have to move right to win elections.

Don't you see how far right we've already moved? There are no compromises available. Moving right merely shifts the playing field farther right, it doesn't buy us anything. The pull right is coming from religious true believers, not people interested in working out a compromise. If you move right, so will the Republicans, and they'll always be closer to the extreme, and you will have sold a bit more of your soul for nothing. I'll post more about this later, but if there's to be any hope (and, personally, I don't believe there is), liberals have to become the party for the separation of church and state--and they have to do it in a confrontational, rather than accommodating way.


 

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Blog anthropology

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.03.04

Ogged 1:

And I'm ashamed that I live in such a cocoon--despite efforts to get out of it--that I really didn't see this coming at all.

Ogged 2:

So, I despair, because I want to live in one nation, where the people are my people, but today, I want to wipe out the people in this nation, people I can't understand.

I'll admit to both these reactions, to some extent. I didn't see it coming, really, because I live in the echo chamber. Let this be a lesson, etc. But I do, in my better moments, want to understand the sorts of considerations that motivate Bush voters, and I want to understand them in as charitable a way as possible. My counterpart pollwatcher was a decent enough guy on the surface, and I'd like to believe that it wasn't just on the surface. I want to be able to recognize the majority of my fellow-citizens as people who are more like me than they are alien, and I want them to recognize me as a robust part of the 'real America.' But-- and this cuts both ways-- this is a very difficult task for true believers.


 

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The language of morals

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.03.04

It stings a bit, really, to hear what voters had on their minds when choosing a president:

Moral values — heavily emphasized by the president — edged terrorism and the economy as the top issue.

No, not moralizing per se, but a grotesque parody of moral thought. Someone call RM Hare: ossification begins at arm's length.


 

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America

Posted by Ogged
on 11.03.04

I'm going to let the despair speak for a moment. I'm not, like Bob, and other friends, sad or angry. I'm despondent, and well-intentioned sentiments like this aren't speaking to me.

my concern over the last few months has been that if Bush won, all of these groups and organizations and incipient infrastructure would simply be allowed to wither, as though it had been tried and found not to have worked ... this is the test for people who care about this kind of politics and these sorts of values -- making sure that what has been started is not allowed to falter. This isn't 1964 or 1972 or 1980. This wans't a blow-out or a repudiation. It was close to a tie -- unfortunately, on the other guy's side. Let's not put our heads in the sand but let's also not get knocked of our game. Democrats need to think critically and seriously about why this didn't turn out 51% for Kerry or 55% for Kerry (and we'll get to those points in the future).

That, to my ears, sounds like admiring the roofing while your house floats down the river. My despair isn't a response to George Bush getting over 50% of the vote; it's a respose to the fact that he can get even 40%, or 30% of the vote. Alan Keyes got over a quarter of the vote in Illinois, running against one of the best candidates anywhere in a generation.

I'm not thinking in terms of elections. I'm thinking in terms of the people I share this country with. And the fact that they seem like aliens to me, and I to them. If John Kerry had won 51% of the vote, the other 49% of people wouldn't have just disappeared. There are as many of them today as there were yesterday, and they truly--not figuratively, not metaphorically, and not even hyperbolically--scare the shit out of me. Because they really do think we're in the midst of a religous war; and that gays are disgusting; and that life is more important than liberty.

So, I despair, because I want to live in one nation, where the people are my people, but today, I want to wipe out the people in this nation, people I can't understand.


 

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Two Questions, Not Rhetorical

Posted by Ogged
on 11.03.04

What happened?

Why am I shocked?


 

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Wet

Posted by Ogged
on 11.02.04

This is worth posting, though I'm really too tired to string words together. If Kerry loses Ohio, and thus, the election, the story has to be the weather. The precinct I was in was about 90% African American. Before the rain, the rush of voters was astounding. People lined up long before the polls opened at 6:30am. All through the morning, there was a steady stream of voters. Then it started to rain, then it really rained, and then poured, and got cold. By around 5:30pm, when you expect the second, and even bigger rush of voters...nothing. Maybe one a minute. Then, from about 6-7:30pm, maybe one every few minutes. It's hard to shake the feeling that if the rain had held off, it wouldn't have been very close at all.

UPDATE: I pretty much take this all back in the comments. Rain schmain; this was nationwide, and not about the rain at all.


 

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Short Version

Posted by Ogged
on 11.02.04

No one reads this thing anyway, right? A Democratic political operative whose name would make you quiver with excitement, if you'd ever heard it, thinks (not for the press, but thinks) that it'll be Kerry with between 300-311 electoral votes. Still, we all watch and wait. [UPDATE: Hahaha. This is why you don't attach names to pure rumor: latest, from the same source, is forget 300, because Florida is going for Bush. You know, everyone should go to bed and let the poor people stuck counting, count. Source also tells me that I shouldn't be at the party "chasing tail," nor should I be in my hotel room, "God damn it, you need to curb those instincts," but I should be at headquarters, gathering information for him. Info junkies man, they're dangerous.]

About today: have you ever been so cold and wet that you had to take a shower just to dry off? Slept 90 minutes last night, reported at 5am, set up outside the polls at 6, stayed there, with rain for about the last 8 hours, until 7:30pm. (This isn't by way of self-pity, because I loved every moment.) I thought I was fine until around 5pm, when I decided to warm up a bit in the car, and I couldn't turn the key in the ignition because I couldn't feel or grip with my hands. It took me both hands and about 30 seconds to start it.

I'll spare the details until tomorrow, when I can decide what's interesting. Our Republican challengers (shockingly, two middle-aged white guys) were cordial and committed to monitoring, rather than challenging. I heard that other precincts were much more contentious. Sounds like post-election litigation is likely in Ohio.

Tonight, the whole wet crew is at some shindig, but I decided to pass, and just had my yummy room service, and will be here, on the blog and net, for at least a couple of hours yet. Feel free to jump in.


 

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This Is It

Posted by Ogged
on 11.02.04

Ok, who's in?

I just heard back from Kerry folks I'd contacted in Ohio, and they sent me lodging info, etc. and said that they can use all the people they can get. I'll be in Akron from the 30th through election day. If you can join the crew for all or any of those days, send me an email (ogged at unfogged).

Those of you who will be elsewhere or can't travel can still do plenty. I'm going to leave this post up top through the election, and please jump into the comments to let people know what you're doing, how it's going, or to give suggestions to folks about what they can do. It'd be great if it becomes a place where folks can chat about their efforts to help.

The first thing to do is sign up, if you haven't already, at the Kerry campaign's volunteer center. It's really quite well done, and will give you lots of information about things going on in your area (good info, even if you don't live in a swing state). Once you've done that, you can go to http://calls.johnkerry.com and help get volunteers to where they need to be. Every bit helps, so even if you can call a few people, or give up one weekend day, it's worth doing, and you'll feel better for having done it.


 

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Honkies

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.02.04

Maybe not such a good idea to work the wealthy suburban neighborhood after dark. Large homes, large plots, no house numbers, total darkness. But my sales pitch has been honed to razor-sharp perfection:

I say, "Ma'am, may I have a moment of your time?" If she says no, I leave. If she says yes, I say, "Thank you, I won't be long. I know you're probably extremely busy keeping up this big-ass house of yours."

After an hour I gave up and made phone calls. No one's home anyway. It's in your hands now, Army of Lawyers.


 

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Hello, Clarice

Posted by Unf
on 11.02.04

Reading various hacktastic right wing web sites today, I am reminded of the following from one Hannibal Lecter:

"You stink of fear and and that cheap cologne."

The cologne thing, admittedly, doesn't make a lot of sense. But I think the "stink of fear" bit works.


 

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Though our promise counts for nothing, we must keep it nonetheless

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.02.04

Rumors: our students are getting misleading phone calls about poll locations. One precinct judge is challenging student registrations illegitimately. We'll get through it. MoveOn is sending people out on foot again-- one last push. I'm out on the streets tonight, just trying to get it right. Axl Rose and John Frickin' Kerry, baby.


 

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More (useless) news

Posted by Unf
on 11.02.04

Just spoke to Ogged on the cell phone for a little while. He says its raining buckets in Akron, but turnout was strong nonetheless this morning. Everything seems to be going pretty smoothly and he says they've helped at least 20 people vote (people who didn't know where to go, what to do, etc.). The Republican poll watchers seem like pretty nice guys and don't seem to be causing any problems.

He actually called me because he had been outside all day and totally cut off from the Internet. Let me tell you, he was jonesing, big time. So I read him some Drudge headlines about the exit polls and I think I took the edge off.


 

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This just in

Posted by Unf
on 11.02.04

For those of you who, like me, are finding it just about impossible to get any work done today, go take a look at some preliminary exit polling data.


 

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Just Checking In

Posted by Unf
on 11.02.04

Thought I would break my blogging sabbatical to give some mad props to both Ogged and FL (and Bob, though he's been kind of MIA), who are doing good work. May they both have the opportunity to hit on attractive and receptive female election judges.

My own polling place (on the north side of Chicago) was, as one woman in line put it, more crowded than its ever been. Of course, it was a crowd of only about eight people at around 8 am. But then again, its not like I'm living in Columbus, OH here. After all, about the only thing interesting in this election for a Chicago voter is whether Barack will set some kind of world record for a non-Stalinesque margin of victory. So I can only conclude that the 10 minutes I had to wait to vote means Kerry is a lock to win the election.


 

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Election day: morning

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.02.04

Up at five on three hours' sleep-- a student had a logic emergency last night, so I was in the office late. I set up the MoveOn table in front of prime polling-place real estate around 7. Offered cookies, asked voters if they're on our list. Blank stares, but the cookies build goodwill. Democratic people show up shortly thereafter & start handing out voter cards. Precinct judge comes out to say that he's opposed to volunteers saying "Would you like a brochure?" but he's ok with offering literature silently. He defines the polling place broadly, to include the land as well as the building, and he says he can move us 10' off it, which would put us across the street. This would effectively scuttle our efforts, so I urge politeness and compromise. The republicans show up at 8-- a man and woman, looking from central casting with a drawl to boot. They start verbally offering the literature. We explain the compromise, but Mr Man goes off about the first amendment. Judge comes out; they have words; man calls legal team. My first thought: this guy is what Cheney would call a major league a-hole. Within five minutes [sic] an SUV full of republican operatives pulls up. They have words with the judge. Another compromise: ten feet from the door, say only "good morning, can we offer you some literature?" Fine. Mr Republican chats with us amiably. He turns out to be a nice guy, and we talk dogs and politics. Everyone I ask about MoveOn gives me a blank stare. They keep loving the cookies. The judge comes out again and he really loves the cookies. Bipartisan support for sugar. I'm relieved at 9. I make a coffee run for our friends across the aisle. I rush over to my own polling place and pull the levers with pride.


 

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Walking the Earth

Posted by Ogged
on 11.01.04

I won't keep you in suspense: the redhead was just down for the weekend, so I didn't, and won't, see her again. I learned this by chatting with an absent friend's friend, whose girlfriend's friend the redhead is. Naturally.

Long day today. Spent a little over five hours just walking, sticking our glossy "literature" in people's doors. This morning, with three other people: a thirty-something guy from DC; a fifty-something woman from western Massachusetts, and a fifty-something woman from here in Akron. Amazing. I was saying to someone tonight, if Bush wins with shenanigans, there's going to be an army of very angry, motivated, and organized people. Whoever wins, let's hope it's by a lot.

I foolishly went on the evening's canvass alone, in what turned out to be a geographically massive area. But, finally, I'm glad I did it, because the area I walked was fascinating. It's bisected by a major thoroughfare and on one side, it was an entirely white, big dog-having, truck-driving set of folks. And on the other, entirely black. Two vignettes:

Just before the sun went down, I walked up a long driveway and saw a woman on her porch, about to sit down to dinner. She was perfect white trash. Cigarette in hand, frizzy blondish hair, a scratchy-squeaky voice, and a too-big t-shirt on. I told her I had some literature and she just put up her hand to stop me. "Who's it for?" "John Kerry." She bade me forward, and took it. Here's the thing. Her house was new, and massive, and on a plot of land that was easily the size of two football fields side-by-side. In fact, all the houses on the thoroughfare were like that, and, probably, so were the occupants. And right behind them, on the side streets, their kith were living in the houses that you think people "like that" live in: like patches of grass that grow between cracks in concrete.

On the other side, after dark, I turned down a side street, and an African-American boy, about 12, greeted me in his deepest voice, "Who the fuck are you?"

"You old enough to vote?"

"No."

Then we chatted, and he excitedly told me about all the calls they've been getting, then his friend joined in, and I told them to make sure their parents voted, and kept going. I'm guessing that not many white-ish people go door-to-door in their neighborhood after dark, and I ran across several teens in the streets, and they all eyed me suspiciously, but the "Are you old enough to vote?" question is rather disarming, and then they were happy to chat, and to make sure I didn't forget their house, and happier still to badger their older siblings through the window, "Don't forget to vote!"

If you're wondering what the hell is going on with Ohio's challenge law, the short answer, as of midnight tonight, is that no one is sure. A couple of hours before I left, people were calling the lawyers who were going to be Democratic challengers to make sure that they would still show up tomorrow morning, because we just don't know if they'll be let in or not. If not, that's great news, and I'll be bumped off outside poll-monitoring activity, which the lawyers will take over, and probably start driving people to polls, and getting out the vote. Have to wake up about four hours from now for one very long, very hectic, and, one hopes, very happy day.

And...it's not too late to help. You can still sign up to volunteer at the Kerry site to get information about your local offices, which will probably be making (important!) calls to swing states to make sure Kerry voters are going to vote. Some random guy in the Bay Area started getting friends together to help out on election night, and now he has about 150 folks ready to call, and when I was doing call center allocation last night, it was a huge help to have that extra capacity. If you're not doing anything else, make the calls. You can even probably go down to your local office and pitch in and watch the results come in with people who want W to lose just as much as you do.

Just hours to go. See you on the other side.

P.S. Forgot one thing. The weather. The forecast calls for rain in Ohio tomorrow, which, as you know, is bad for the Democrats. But, the folks I talked to about it here didn't seem too concerned because it's also supposed to be fairly warm. The things fate is made of...


 

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All in

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.01.04

Josh Marshall:

As I said a couple days ago, if you're part of the ground operation, this is in your hands.

Right where we want it. I'm headed out with my last list of names. Go to it, people.


 

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Slime turned slapstick

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.01.04

Via atrios, a hilarious-because-ineffective effort to sway an AME congregation: "Gay Parents for Kerry" shows up at the polls.


 

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Among the People, A Few

Posted by Ogged
on 10.31.04

So, when a Middle-Eastern guy rings the doorbells of the homes of Akron, the people of Akron pretend they're not home. I was partnered with a 40-something local woman, each taking one side of the street in our designated neighborhood. As I rang, waited, dropped literature ("If someone tries to deny your right to vote, call...") and walked away, I could hear doors opening on the other side of the street, and my partner chatting with young and old. I particularly liked the ones who didn't budge even when I could see them inside.

For the first hour, I spoke to three people. All of them children. Then, a few Bush people opened the door. They weren't going to be convinced, but just one--a young man with cropped hair in a faded Labatt Blue t-shirt--gave me the death stare. No matter. It turns out, I kind of like canvassing. I'm curious about people, and nobody's curing cancer on his couch in Akron on a Sunday afternoon, so they can spare a couple of minutes. Eventually, I got some friendlies, and one who claimed to be undecided but considered her vote private.

(To talk about the purpose of all this for a minute--there's a tremendous amount of time and effort expended for what must be, literally, swings of a few hundred votes statewide. When I called, I didn't get anyone whose mind was changeable, and the same goes for canvassing. It might be that calling or knocking encourages a few people who wouldn't have voted otherwise to do so, but that's just a hope, and it's hard to argue with Fontana's reservations.)

The final ratio of doors opened for me vs. for my partner was probably around 1:3. Not, I would guess, the result of chance. One thing was striking. It's almost impossible to tell from appearances who people support. This gives the lie to the caricatures that people on both sides make of their opponents. I had working folk who couldn't speak anywhere nearly as well as George Bush tell me what an idiot he was, and young, almost crunchy couples say they'd be voting for Bush. The Labatt Blue guy had an opposite number: a similarly built, shaven-headed dude with music blasting from his house who was bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet, flashing me a thumbs up and asking me to put up a lawn sign for him. A guy you'd instinctively hate, driving a tricked-out Prelude, wearing reflective shades, stopped and jumped out of his car to ask for a sign to put up, and waved as he drove away.

Best incident: one guy, a lukewarm Kerry supporter, agreed to let me put a sign on his lawn. I did, and went to another house across the street. I heard a door open and turned to see him, first looking down the street one way, then the other, and finally making a mad dash to grab the sign off the lawn and run back inside. Completely nuts, yes (wait a few minutes, dude!), but generally when a married guy does something completely nuts, it's because his wife told him to.

I'm not sure of the differences between the operations of folks like MoveOn and the Democratic Party, which is who I'm volunteering for. There's not much explicit structure here, but there's always something to do, and I've been there all day both days. When I got back from canvassing, I was roped--"What do you know about Excel?"--into helping someone allocate call center resources. Then, because I'd done tallying of calls the night before, I became the tallying trainer. Soon, I was surrounded by about 15 undergrads in varying states of alertness, listening to me explain--"If they've already voted, cross them out, and count them as a 'Y;' if it's entirely blank, don't include it in your counts..."--the worst kind of mindless activity: one where you have to pay attention.

Then, I took out the trash.

I was telling someone yesterday: almost none of what one does is interesting; but the sense of gathering with other people, all working for the same goal, is exhilarating.

Tomorrow, probably more canvassing, and who knows what else. On election day, I'm to report at 5am for my poll-watching marching orders. Finally...would the very cute redhead that I keep not getting a chance to talk to, like, make the first move or something, please?


 

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Get your war on

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 10.31.04

Satisfying. Via Apostropher.


 

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Feet: tired; soul: rested

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 10.31.04

Today's vote-pimping adventure started badly: some miscommunication resulted in a few wasted hours. I was finally assigned to some guy who told me he'd coordinate while I was out knocking on doors; it was pretty clear that in his ideolect 'coordinate' means watch the Ravens game and work off a hangover.

The door-to-door was much better the second time. Moment of courage: I'm really creeped out by very old people, but I went to the retirement home anyway, even though the guy on the porch looked eerily like Dick Cheney. Everyone at dinner. I went back. Everyone votes absentee there anyway. It's not the Mekong Delta, Big John, but still, it's a personal triumph. Ain't no Viet Cong ever called me sonny.

As I did the work I reflected on my distaste for it. Best guesses:

(a) interrupting someone else's day is no good

(b) I feel overly apologetic for having done so

(c) Walking around town to remind people to vote in what could be the most important election in decades is necessary only insofar as people are lousy; they should know this & be committed to voting anyway

(d) Hence the act presumes something really appalling about human psychology

(e) the effectiveness of this confirms it, so my success tells me something I don't want to know

(f) and I generally hate instances of the squeaky wheel getting the grease (as a sort of free-rider problem) and that's what's happening here: we're all pandering to Mr Indolence.

Next up: Monday I'm booked at work; I'll spend Tuesday afternoon driving people to the polls, working the phones, and buying snacks for fellow laborers.


 

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Hello World

Posted by Ogged
on 10.31.04

The only good thing about being awakened one hour early, thanks to a goofy alarm clock, is that I caught a snippet of a dream. I was in some race-like configuration in the street, with people behind and ahead of me, and a vengeful god was exercising his wrath upon us. He sentenced the guy behind me to a horrible, gruesome death. Then it was my turn, and I said to Him, "You're going to the next guy, right? I got shit to do. Oh well, whatever." No sooner had I said it, than I knew what was coming. I only remember parts: "You will live forever...meet every honest criminal...live in a basement beneath a gay couple named Monique...."

So much more interesting when I'm asleep.


 

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