Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A $700 Billion Boondoggle

Remember a couple months ago when the Administration, with the assistance of both presidential candidates, rammed a bill through Congress which gave the Treasury Department $7oo billion to buy "troubled assets", credit derivatives and other overly complicated bad investments.

Today, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen announced that he's just gonna go ahead and spend the $700 billion on other things, such as bailing out auto companies and buying shares in banks. And it did not require a new act of Congress to change where all that money (the technical term is "shitload") would be spent. How is it possible that Congress gave so much money without imposing more strict controls on how it would be spent? Is Paulsen prevented from spending a few billion on a Paulsen theme park? I'm not so sure...

Chances in Minnesota and Alaska Looking Up

In the Begich (D)/Stevens (R) Alaska Senate race, they started counting absentee and questioned (Alaska's version of provisional) ballots today. This morning, Stevens led by 3,257 votes. After counting about half of the total number of uncounted ballots, his lead is down to 971. And reports are that the remaining ballots are disproportionately from pro-Begich areas.

The Franken (D)/Coleman (R) race in Minnesota is similarly closing. Right after Election Day, Franken trailed by 725. As precincts have updated/corrected their counts and started counting absentee ballots, it's down to 206. Soon they will begin visually inspecting the tens of thousands of ballots which did not register a vote for anyone in the Senate race. Due to the overlap between people likely to vote Democrat and the people likely to screw up filling out their ballot (e.g., writing X's in ovals instead of coloring them in), it's more likely than not that Franken will also emerge victorious when all the votes are counted.

So that leaves Georgia. Unfortunately, it looks like Chambliss will hold on, leaving the Senate 59-41. But, if Obama were willing to use a tiny portion of the massive amount of popularity and political capital he has at his disposal to help Martin, the Dem candidate, 60 is most definitely in reach, as long as they don't do anything stupid like boot Lieberman.

Update: Right after I posted this, I clicked over to MSNBC for Countdown. As counting has continued, Begich is now UP by three votes. Whoo!

Friday, November 7, 2008

You Can't Boot Lieberman Now

Let's review the story of Joe Lieberman. He lost the 2006 Connecticut Democratic Senate primary to Ned Lamont and then beat Lamont and an irrelevant Republican in the general election while running as an independent and being supported almost entirely by Republicans despite stating publicly that he would caucus with the Democrats (i.e., vote for Harry Reid for Majority Leader). This was a very important vote, because with the Senate having 49 Dems, 49 Republicans and 2 independents (Lieberman and Vermont's Bernie Sanders, who also caucuses w/ the Dems) meant that the Dems controlled the Senate and all the committee chairs. If Lieberman had caucused with the Republicans and voted for Mitch McConnell for Majority Leader, then it would've been a 50-50 split which would have been broken by Dick Cheney.

Then, as you might be aware, despite being a pretty standard, down-the-line Democrat on all issues outside of Iraq, he decided to publicly (very publicly, it must be said) support McCain for President, going so far as to speak at the Republican convention in September. Democrats were pissed, but, because Democratic Senate leadership and committee chairmen needed Lieberman's vote in order to remain Senate leadership and committee chairmen.

Now, with the new Senate based on Election Day looking like 55 Dems, 2 Independents, 40 Republicans and 3 still undecided (though all leaning, to varying degrees, toward the Republicans), it looks unlikely that Lieberman's caucus vote will matter very much. Being the 51st vote in a 100-vote body is a much stronger position than being the 57th, so now Harry Reid is ratcheting up the pressure on Lieberman to give up his committee chairmanship; he currently leads the Homeland Security committee. The likely outcome of stripping Lieberman of his chairmanship would be that he would caucus with the Republicans, making it 56-44 (assuming Franken, Begich and Martin fail to come from behind in any of their undecided races).

There are two reasons why stripping Lieberman of his position, effectively kicking him out of the caucus, is a terrible idea. The most obvious is that it's still possible that the Democrats will reach a filibuster-proof 60 seats, if they should manage to run the table in the three undecided races. It's also possible that, with 19 Republican seats and 15 Democratic seats up for election in 2010, that the Democrats will pick up the three needed seats in that election. Booting Lieberman out would mean they'd have to win 4.

But more importantly, it is utterly ridiculous for them to boot him out now, as opposed to the day after he spoke at the Republican convention. Stripping him only after his vote is no longer necessary to keep you in power is spineless, and far from a new sort of politics that President-elect Obama campaigned on. One of the few things that would make me respect him even more than I already do would be if he were to, as a matter of principle, instruct Reid to back off of Lieberman.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Forget Everything I Said....

...about Palin possibly being a good candidate one day. You have to read the summary: If you've got five minutes, watch the video on the same link.

Cameron relates how McCain aides were terrified of Palin's lack of knowledge of international, national, and even basic civic issues. Cameron reports that Palin was unfamiliar with the concept of "American exceptionalism," and that not only did she not understand that Africa was a continent rather than a single country but also that during debate prep Palin was unable to name all the nations in North America.

Palin was apparently a nightmare for her campaign staff to deal with. She refused preparation help for her interview with Katie Couric and then blamed her staff, specifically Nicole Wallace, when the interview was rightly panned as a disaster. After the Couric interview, Palin turned nasty with her staff and began to accuse them of mishandling her. Palin would view press clippings of herself in the morning and throw "tantrums" over the negative coverage. There were times when she would be so nasty and angry that her staff was reduced to tears.

Oh Lordy Do I Hate Alaska!

What a joke of a state Alaska is! Let me count the ways!

1. Obviously, we have to start with Palin. Of course, in such a sparsely populated state, maybe she's the best they can do.

(addendum: I'd planned a separate post on this, but there's really nothing to say about it than just to report, from Newsweek: "The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied." This is one of those times when I have to restrain myself from calling her the C word.)

2. Earmarks. These fuckers get a check from the state government every year for THOUSANDS of dollars, and yet they get more per capita in federal earmarks (i.e., money from you and me, who don't get fucking checks from their state governments) than any other state. Assholes! They got some fuckin' nerve taking all those federal bucks.

3. And finally, they re-elected a man just convicted of SEVEN FELONIES relating to corruption to the Senate. This isn't a guy gettin' a beej from a fat chick. It's taking money from rich people, and what do you suppose they got for their money? And these fuckin' jokers are sending him back to the Senate. Unbelievable

Fuck you, Alaska! Allen (or anyone else who might encounter an Alaskan), next time you see anyone from Alaska, give 'em a figurative kick in the nuts for me!

Good Morning!

I don't know what to think. It's so weird! My guy won!

Now we can look forward to 4 years of inspiring speeches and inspired leadership. Who's excited?!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Erroneous calling based on Ohio

I made a mistake based on Ohio, cuz I was double-counting New York, but....

Ohio! Chug-a-lug

Fuck Fate

It's time to celebrate!

Here's some pro-Obama babies!

I'm rather embarassed....

I was double-counting New York. So I guess it's still not OVER.

Of course, the 200 now for Obama plus California plus Washington plus Oregon is money, with Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Florida, Indiana and North Carolina, EDIT: and Missouri as potential overkill.

To New Mexico!


Now They're Just Being Ridiculous...

MSNBC calls Texas too early too call.

Yeah, right.


Another Thing to Consider

If MSNBC (or any other network... I just happen to be watching MSNCB) calls Virginia, they probably lost 10-20% of their viewers, so I shouldn't be surprised that they're not announcing anything. This is the problem with depending on information from people with a profit motive to not give information.


Fucking call something already!

I'll be honest....

Starting to get nervous about Virginia.

Virginia + Iowa (which is way Obama) is victory. Virginia closed an hour and a half ago, though. It's time for it to be called.

Obama Takes Pennsylvania!

This is the first time in my adult life that my candidate has taken the state I'm living in. Whoo!

Bottoms up!

No One's Calling Anything

My guess is they're having problems projecting because of the big proportion of early voters; no one's sure how much to weight those results. This sure is frustrating, though. I expected things to go faster one way or the other


No call in SC, no call in VA. I sure thought one of those two would be called by now. If McCain's doing better than expected, SC should be called. Same for Obama in VA. What's going on?!?

And We're Off!

Vermont for Obama, Kentucky for McCain.

No news there, apart from we're started.

Indiana Close

If Obama wins Indiana, it's over, cuz he'll certainly win Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Great News from Drudge!

Headline on Drudge:

"Exit polls claim 'Obama +15' in PA... Developing..."


Drudge usually has pretty good exit poll leaks. Do I believe that this means Obama will win PA by 15? no. But will he win? I'm far more confident than ever

Sticking With My Projection

I'm still going with 353 electoral votes, but if I had to take the over or the under*, I'd go with the over!

(To non-gamblers, if a casino puts the over/under at x, you could bet money on the over, meaning you think that two teams in a game are going to score more points than x, or on the under, meaning you think they're going to score less than x. So I'm saying that if I had to choose for my guess to be wrong for being too high or too low, I'd go with too low)

News from Virginia

The McCain campaign sued to force Virginia to extend the deadline for military absentee ballots from today to Nov 14th. His goal, of course, is to have more military votes, which go overwhelmingly for McCain, count in this vital swing state. A federal judge did order that late ballots be kept so that a future decision might count or not count these votes.

I can't express how badly I want these votes counted, even though it hurts my guy. Anything that moves toward more people getting their votes counted is a good thing.

Oh Yeah...

More damn MSNBC music. Crap...

Drinking Game Ideas?

We're going with a drink whenever a swing state goes for Obama. Our list, which is pretty much the same as the undecided states in my prediction post, include:

North Carolina
New Mexico

Also any state I expect McCain to win.

So say a toast and take a drink whenever one of these states is called. Why? Because I feel like less of an alcoholic if other people are doing the same thing. I'll post when MSNBC calls any of them from Obama

Not to Give Away My Plans or Anything, but...

Does anyone know where wine fits into the "liquor before beer..." thing?

Election Day!

We are live from The Doctor's Office in what the McCain campaign would have you believe is the swingiest of swing states, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Doctor and I just got back from knocking on doors in Pittsburgh, which along with Philadelphia and Penn State must run up enough of a lead for Obama that he can afford to lose the rest of the the state. It's s'pose to rain in Philly today, so let's hope he still gets the margins there.

By the way, you never really realize how hilly Pittsburgh is until you spend 7 hours walking around in it.

I anticipate a ton of posts tonight, so I'll do separate posts instead of one long one like for the debates. I'll try to consolidate a few thoughts into each post.

So stay tuned. Leave comments as the night goes on, if you want.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Expectation as Motivation

In watching this long campaign, it is clear that one's performance is much less important than one's performance relative to expectations. Obama's victories in VA, DC, WI and others in the primaries, while huge, did not change the tone of the campaign because his big victories were expected. Hillary's HUGE victories in WV and KY were similarly meaningless. Sarah Palin "won" the debate with Biden by not crapping all over herself in a fit of panic.

If Barack Obama is going to do any of the things he's campaigned on, whether specific policy proposals or changing the tone in Washington, he will need to put up a big win. 270 is of course the magic number, but if he only wins, say, Kerry plus VA, IA, CO and NM, for a total of 286, many will interpret his victory as a squeaker, a failure of Obama to close the deal, and a reaction to all the "socialist" talk in the last weeks of the campaign. Even with 56-59 Dem Senators and a majority in the House, it will be difficult to reform health care, expand education funding, or anything else without an obvious mandate.

So this is why, despite my 100% confidence that Obama will win tomorrow, I will be out knocking on doors for Obama in Pittsburgh all day tomorrow (pushing the start of the liveblog back to 8ish). And to all my readers in Ohio, that's a vital 20 EVs. Anything with a 3 in front of it is immeasurably better than anything with a 2, and Ohio could very well be the difference. Obama wins in Ohio and Florida pushes McCain perilously close to something starting with a 1. In the perception game, that's a big deal. So get out and vote, and when you're done with that, call all your friends. Maybe knock on some doors. It's important.

Beaten to the Punch by FiveThirtyEight

I had planned an hour-by-hour preview of Election Night, but Nate Silver of has one up on There's no topping it, so I'll just link to it.

Fearless Predictions!

Obama will win 353 electoral votes. He will win, going from states I'm most confident about to states I'm least (Things in bold are things I looked up after finishing the post; the rest was from memory, a sign that I've spent way too much time with this stuff):

All the Kerry states minus Pennsylvania (231 EVs)
Iowa (7 EVs)
New Mexico (5 EVs)
Pennsylvania (21 EVs)
Colorado (9 EVs)
Virginia (13 EVs)
Nevada (5 EVs)
Ohio (20 EVs)
Florida (27 EVs)
North Carolina (15 EVs)

It's also possible, but unlikely (from least to most unlikely), that he'll win Missouri (11), Indiana (11), Nebraska's 2nd District (1), North Dakota (3), Montana (3), Georgia (15), Arizona (10), West Virginia (5), Louisiana (9) South Dakota (3), Arkansas (6), and South Carolina (8). Which gives Obama an absolute ceiling of 438.

That leaves Alabama (9), Mississippi (6), Texas (34), Oklahoma (7), Nebraska's other votes (4), Kansas (6), Wyoming (3), Utah (5), Idaho (4), Alaska (3), Kentucky (8), and Tennessee (11) for McCain's safe states, totaling 100 EVs.

(Note: Some bolds there. In my defense, these states are perfectly safe for McCain and therefore boring.)

The Democrats will pick up 8 Senate seats, leaving them, sadly, one seat short of 60, again starting with the ones I'm most confident about:

There are 39 Democratic Senators not up for re-election; Obama will be replaced with another Democrat

All 12 incumbent Democrats will win, including Biden, who will also be replaced with another Democrat, possibly his son, Beau.

Udall in New Mexico over Pearce
Udall in Colorado over Schaffer
Warner in Virginia over Gilmore
Shaheen in New Hampshire over Sununu
Begich in Alaska over Stevens
Hagan in North Carolina over Dole
Merkley (only bold for spelling) in Oregon over Smith
Franken in Minnesota over Coleman

I feel very, VERY confident about the first six, pretty darn good about Merkley, and better than 50/50 about Franken. They also have an outside chance at beating Chambliss in Georgia, McConnell in Kentucky and Wicker in Mississippi. Any one, along with winning the 8 above that they're supposed to win, would mean 60. Depends on African-American turnout in these red states.

I haven't really read anything about governorships or House races, so look elsewhere for predictions on those races.

So tune in tomorrow and see how I did. You better believe there's going to be a live blog.

What if All This Electioneering Was Irrelevant?

From Marc Ambinder:
Obama leads in 18 out of the 19 states with the largest recent declines in home
prices, whereas McCain leads in 13 out of the 14 states with the largest recent
increases in home prices.

I know, I know. Correlation does not imply causality. But that's some impressive correlation!

Does Obama Want to Bankrupt Coal?

At the hospital tonight, people are freaking out about a quote from Obama that was released today:
So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it
will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all
that greenhouse gas that's being emitted

West Virginia (along with, more important in electoral terms, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Montana, among others) depends on the coal industry. 40,000 jobs in the state are directly in the industry. So even at a hospital in a non-coal region of the state, people are pissed.

So I've spent most of the past 6 hours or so trying to talk NICU nurses out of burning Obama in effigy. It's important, like with many political "gaffes", to look at the complete context of the quote. It's long, so I'll just post a link.

In short, Obama is talking about charging electric companies for the damage to the environment that pollution from their plants does. A traditional coal plant that pumps tons and tons of CO2 into the air would contribute to global warming. Obama wants to use a cap and trade system, under which companies are taxed based on how polluting their plants are, to encourage cleaner techniques, such as trapping CO2 instead of emitting it. So what he meant in the bad-sounding quote was if someone wanted to build a traditional, high-polluting coal plant, they can; it's just that it would bankrupt them..."

Obama is not suggesting ending the use of coal for electricity; he's just saying that consumers and producers should pay its true cost, instead of just releasing pollution for all of us to deal with.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Brilliant State-by-State Preview

Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director, has a wonderful summary of what to watch for on Election Day. I was planning on doing something similar, but Chuck's is so good that there's no point. It's definitely worth a read.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sarah Palin Talks With a Foreign Leader

Or, ya know, not:

Thanks, Bravo...

I was pleased to discover this morning that Bravo was having a mini West Wing marathon this morning; few things get the Democrat heart pumping three days before an election like some good liberal Presidential porn. They even included an episode featuring a wonderful soliloquy by Toby about not jinxing fate by celebrating before an expected outcome is final. But it ended on an awful note. The last scene in the marathon was of the President being shot by racially-motivated attackers.

I am absolutely terrified that Obama is going to be killed at some point during his (still-potential) Presidency. He is the first leader with both the ability and the (still-potential) political mandate to do all the things progressives want government to do. And it seems, I know this is crazy, like he actually believes in the issues he advocates. Like, Mrs. Doctor and I were discussing our federal student loans vis-a-vis the credit crisis the other day, and we wondered if it were possible that student loan programs might be cut. But then we realized that if Obama were elected, aid for higher education would be just about the last thing to be cut. How great is that? We're looking at the possibility of a talented leader fighting for a liberal agenda he truly believes in!

Which, if history is any guide, means that he's going to be assassinated. If there's any doubt that some Americans want to see it happen, check out a McCain/Palin rally.

Does the Right Know About Right-Wing Media?

Over on The Corner, the blog of the conservative National Review magazine, the NR's writers are lamenting the failure of the dreaded "Main Stream Media" to discover the existence of Obama's illegal immigrant aunt.

From The Corner:
[I]f Aunt Zeituni had settled in Wasilla - say, in lodgings across the way from Bristol Palin's boyfriend's ex-girlfriend's uncle's sled dog's veterinarian's ammunition dealer - the fact that she's an "illegal immigrant" might have come out a lot sooner, even if only from the Atlantic Monthly investigative unit driving by and asking her whether Joe the Plumber had ever serviced Trig's real mother's double-wide.
Rather than bitching about the "liberal" media not telling us about Aunt Zeituni before today, why don't they ask themselves why Drudge/Fox News/The New York Post et. al didn't find out about it themselves?

Just One Poll, But...

Drudge is reporting that in the Zogby national tracking poll due out in about twenty minutes shows a lead in yesterday's polling for McCain.

I'm officially freaking out. Obama's crushing McCain in big states like CA, NY and IL, while McCain has thinner leads in Texas and smaller states. So Obama has to win the popular vote by kind of a lot in order to win the Electoral College.

Breathe. Just breathe...

On the upside, one of my senior residents, who's a regular reader of this humble blog, showed me how to use the Google Translate function to bypass the SurfControl. Good ol' seniors

UPDATE: After a few minutes feeling like I was about to puke whilst doing some poking around the Zogby website, I am somewhat reassured. Zogby assumes that the Dem/Rep breakdown will be identical to the breakdown in 2004, when in fact there are a bunch more Dems now. He also only interviews 400 people a day, so it is by no means a large sample size. So this is a net positive for Obama, I think, cuz it might persuade some of his supporters that he doesn't really have it all locked up.