In today's Atlanta Journal Constitution, Army spouse Elisabeth Kadlec writes:
When we married our spouses, I am sure that none of us were signing up to be single parents. But in essence that is what we become. Many people I know, like my husband, have already been deployed more than three times, and will go again. Most of these deployments are to Iraq or Afghanistan. It always amazes me when people ask me if my husband has to go back. I even laugh at this question!
I think it shows that the public has no idea how many troops make up the armed forces and how many are deployed at a time. Somehow, that message has been lost when we talk about the war. I am pretty much resolved that my husband will be deployed almost every other year. You can only imagine what this does to a family, and how important it is to us that smart decisions are being made for military members.
I don't know Ms. Kadlec, but I sure do know a hell of a lot of people like her - enough to know that she is far from the only military spouse who will be voting Obama this year. She understands, as does every member of every Army family, that the current deployment tempo cannot go on forever, or even for much longer, without causing long-term damage to the army as a whole.
In other news, updates here will be fewer and farther between than normal this week. I'll be spending most of my free time working at the Obama campaign's Pensacola office.
The Democratic nominee for President is giving one hell of a kick ass speech at the moment. I really hope this is the Obama we see for the rest of the campaign.
Senator John McCain, it appears, is not a fan of William Jennings Bryan. In a recent interview with USA Today, the Republican Party's nominee for President compared the three-time Democratic nominee for president from the turn of the last century to the Party's current nominee:
"I believe that people are interested very much in substance," McCain said. "If it was simply style, William Jennings Bryan would have been president." (Bryan, a noted orator, lost three presidential elections as the Democratic nominee in 1896, 1900 and 1908.)
It would be easy for me to dismiss McCain's dislike of Bryan as a rare point that he and I can agree on. Bryan's legacy, after all, is dominated by three great failures and one Pyrrhic victory: the Presidential elections, and his successful prosecution of one John Scopes for the crime of teaching Darwinism. Given my strong support for teaching real science in science classrooms, it probably wouldn't surprise anyone if I were to say that McCain got this one right.
The problem is, he didn't.
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Senator Hillary Clinton has apparently decided to join John McCain in calling for a "gas tax" holiday for the summer. Their plan would suspend the 18.4 cent per gallon tax on gas (and the 24.4 cent tax on diesel fuel) from Memorial Day to Labor Day, giving consumers a temporary break from the high cost of fuel. If, that is, the companies that sell the fuel don't decide to raise their prices and erase the relief.
In a Presidential campaign season that's been marked by more than its fair share of stupid ideas, this one's still a standout. Nothing says "responsible leadership" (or, for that matter, "intelligent campaigning") in times like this than proposing a measure that would:
- Potentially result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs that are created by the federal highway projects that the gas tax pays for.
- Result in a massive spike in gas prices at the end of the summer, two months before election day.
- Create benefits for the average consumer only if the gas companies don't decide to raise their prices to collect some or all of the federal subsidy.
- Encourage consumers to buy more foreign oil this summer.
- Increase demand (and possibly well-head prices) during the summer.
- Provide a disproportionate share of the benefits to consumers who purchase massive, gas-guzzling SUVs.
Thank you, Senator Clinton, for once again reassuring me that backing Obama isn't as bad an idea as the alternative.
By now, there's a good chance that you've read something or another about the whole "Is John McCain a "Natural Born" Citizen" thing - it's caught quite a lot of attention over the last few days. It's certainly caught mine - not because I'm concerned about the question of whether military brats born overseas can be president, but because so many people are acting like complete idiots.
If you're not familiar with the story, here's a quick rundown. The Constitution requires that the President be a "natural born" citizen. John McCain was not born in the United States. He was born in the Panama Canal Zone while his father was stationed there. On Thursday, the New York Times ran a story that addressed the question of whether or not McCain is a "natural born" citizen. (The short answer: McCain's almost certainly a "natural born" citizen, but the question has never actually been tested, so there's a limited amount of room for doubt.)
The Times story has lead a number of people to act like complete fools. The schmucks in question include (in no particular order): Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri; NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams; and the various wingnuts who are up in arms about the Times article being another partisan attack against McCain.
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There were three more Presidential primaries yesterday - Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC. Turnout in all three of them was high yesterday, at least on the Democratic side. The numbers for all three areas are good, but I'm most excited by the Maryland numbers.
In 2004, Democratic candidates received a combined total of 481,476 votes in the Maryland presidential primary. As of right now, Barack Obama has 457,053 votes. That's the figure with 96% of precincts reporting. It doesn't include the absentee ballots, and it doesn't include the provisional ballots that were cast during the extended voting hours that were added because they were having a flipping ice storm there yesterday.
In Virginia, Democratic candidates received a combined total of 396,223 votes in 2004. Obama currently has 623,141 votes, and the combined total is near 1,000,000.
It's enough to make you think that people are actually getting interested about politics.
Is the party. Again.
In every single state that had a primary on Super Tuesday, Democratic turnout was up from 2004. The details are below the fold, and they're pretty cool to look at.
(Update 1: I've started to look at the Republican numbers. There are some things I'm seeing that they're probably not going to like. Details can be found at the bottom of the post.)
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It looks like there's definitely going to be a little bit of good political news for everyone tonight - a statement released by leading theocon James Dobson:
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It's been a couple of days since I posted on the New Hampshire recount. At the time, I fully expected that I wouldn't do another post on the topic, but a couple of things that have happened since then changed my mind. First, Scibling Chris Chatham included me in a list of people who he thinks should get off their "soapboxes", stop "hurting America", and focus on the statistical anomaly he's identified. Second, and far more importantly, preliminary recount results are in from a number of precincts.
First, let's look at this "Diebold Effect" thing again. When I took my first look at the results, I decided that a detailed statistical analysis would not be appropriate, and I stand by that. My decision to avoid the potential pitfalls of an inappropriate statistical analysis is not merely because I "assume" that demographic factors don't always explain all of an election result, but because I think that there's a factor that should explain at least some of the results, but which isn't included in analyses that focus on the demographics: campaign effort. We do not have data about where the campaigns chose to focus their efforts during the period between Obama's win in Iowa and the New Hampshire primary.
In fairness to Chris, he did attempt to take this into account after I pointed this out the first time. He found a list of Clinton campaign offices, included their presence as a variable in his analysis, and found that the "Diebold Effect" was still significant. Unfortunately, I don't think that the variable he used as a proxy for campaign effort was remotely adequate. The presence of a campaign office might reflect decisions about where to focus effort that were made early in the campaign, but it's unlikely to reflect last-minute decisions about where to focus effort. (For example, did the campaign shift volunteers from office to office?)
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In the week since the New Hampshire voting, a number of people have become increasingly concerned about some of the things that they've seen in the results. Two things, in particular, have gotten a lot of attention. The first is the difference between the pre-election polling, which had Obama ahead by a considerable margin, and the final result, which was a clear victory for Clinton. The second is a difference in outcome when hand-counted precincts are compared to precincts where the ballots were counted using machines. Obama came out ahead in the hand-count areas, while Clinton came out ahead in the machine-counted regions.
Some people are concerned enough about this that they want to see a recount, and it looks like there will be at least a partial one. Dennis Kucinich came up with a little under half the money needed for a full statewide recount of Democratic ballots, and the state has agreed to count until his money runs out. I expect that they'll find some differences between the machine totals and the hand-count (it would be shocking if there was 100% accuracy), but I'd be surprised if there's a large difference, and even more shocked if the discrepancies between machine and hand tallies systematically favor one candidate.
Clinton did receive a much greater percentage of the vote in machine-counted precincts than she did in the hand-counted areas, but I think there's a single factor that can explain most (but not all) of the difference. Imagine that you are running a statewide campaign. Wining the state is very, very important to you, and with less than a week to go before the election, you are running way behind in the polls. Where do you focus your effort and resources in the time you have left?
When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton famously replied, "because that's where the money is." If you are behind in the polls and want to win an election, you're going to focus your efforts (if you're smart) where the votes are.
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