Join us at the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally for an evening of politics under the influence. We begin at 8:00 pm at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E, but some of us will be there early for Dinner and to watch the Republican National Comedy show.
Tonight’s activity is a contest to turn this flow chart into a board game:
Tonight’s theme song could only be Sarah Smile by Hall and Oats:
If you find yourself in the Tri-Cities area this evening, check out McCranium for the local Drinking Liberally. Otherwise, check out the Drinking Liberally web site for dates and times of a chapter near you.
Geov and I were making our way down the pedestrian mall from one convention site to another the other day. The hot Denver sun enticed us to take one of the free shuttles that runs up and down the mall. We waited.
It seems the shuttles were temporarily shut down—perhaps something important was happening. We inspected the relatively quiet landscapes for a sign. Minutes later something stirred down the road.
It was a pro-McCain march. And a law abiding bunch of marchers they were, too. As the marchers waited for the light to change, Geov and I snapped photos and debated whether there were more marchers or more bicycle police. (Really…you can see the entire “rally” in the photo.)
Some people waiting for the shuttle next to us started chanting “Four more years! Four more years!”
That prompted one of the bicycle cops to swing around in front of our shuttle stop. He looked at our group through those menacing dark glasses and asked, “Did somebody say ‘four more beers?'”
There is no secret about it, our soldiers are not treated with the dignity they deserve. The shoddy treatment includes deployment extensions and stop-loss orders that add both length to and uncertainty in dwell times. Extensions and stop-loss are tools that the Administration chose for executing Bush’s Big Military Adventure.
Sober planning for the war and, especially, the post-war period should have dictated a national sacrifice: taxes to fund the war (and the right equipment), a draft to put the required number of boots on the ground, and a concerted effort to fund and provide quality services to our newest veterans. But Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld tried to do it on the cheap, and our soldiers and veterans shoulder the burden.
The Walter Reed tragedy provided gut-wrenching documentation of the disgraceful treatment our veterans received under the “stewardship” of the Bush administration. But for every Walter Reed story, there are numerous other outrageous stories of veterans and soldiers denied the basic medical and (especially) mental health services they need.
This afternoon I attended a meeting of the Veterans and Military Families Caucus at the Democratic National Convention. There were two panels comprised largely of veterans: Major general Scott Gration USAF (Ret.), Colonel Dick Klass USAF (Ret), Command Sergeant Major Michelle Jones USAR (Ret), Lieutenant Colonel John Medve USA (Ret), Sergeant Major John Estrada USMC (Ret), among others.
The mood in the room was not one of anger (say, the the kind of anger you get from bloggers like me who are outraged over the fraud perpetuated on our country by the Bush administration). There were no “swift boat” attacks on McCain from the panel. Rather, the mood was one of disappointment, hope for the future, and determination.
McCain’s record on military and veterans issues was vetted by the panel, not in anger but in disappointment. The bottom line was summed up by one panelist: “McCain doesn’t listen.” A man who should be in a position to offer leadership on military and veterans issues has been AWOL far too often. A high-profile example is last year’s Webb amendment that required periods of rest and recovery between deployments. McCain voted against the amendment. Another example…in May of 2006, McCain voted against a bill that provided an additional $20 million for medical facilities for veterans. Veterans and their families noticed these votes with disapproval and disappointment.
Much of the panel discussions were about the positive things Obama would do for soldiers, their families and veterans. Folks were quick to note that the very first committee Obama joined as a freshman Senator was the Veterans Affairs Committee. Likewise there was grateful acknowledgment and praise for Michelle Obama’s genuine interest in the families of soldiers (and these folks seemed to make up a large proportion of the audience). Barack and Michelle have listened to soldiers, their families, and vets. (If you want more information on Barack Obama’s positions on the military issues, BTW, check out his recent interview with Stars and Stripes.)
I’ve dropped in on a few of these meetings over the last two days. This one was different, and I found it personally very compelling and even, dare I say, emotional. The Veterans and Military Families Caucus meeting transcended “politics as usual.” It was an authentic dialog among people deeply concerned about America and her warriors. They expressed a genuine hope in an Obama presidency—hope for change that we owe to veterans, soliders, and their families after eight years of recklessness and abuse.
Credentials. It seems like everyone in Denver is wearing a few around their necks. Not only do they act as passes to get you into buildings and events, but they function as status symbols in a village that has sprung to life over a weekend. They are not unlike boy scout badges, military medals, or feathers in ones cap; they frequently serve as conversation starters. The can be a choking hazard.
The first convention-related thing Goldy and I did was to embark on a quest for credentials. We took light rail to the Sheridan Hotel in Denver where media credentials were distributed and got in line for our blogger credentials.
With credentials come bags (typically canvass bags) filled with advertisements and goodies. Lots and lots of goodies. Obviously the goodies are given away in hopes of some return. The goodie suppliers for the press bags might have been hoping for some product placement. But I don’t see United Parcel Service getting anything out of me for putting those delicious little mints in my bag.
As bloggers, we’re not quite treated with press status and as bloggers embedded with the state delegation, we’re not treated with delegate status (except we do get all the goodies—did I mention that ProLogis also put some refreshing mints in my bag?). We do get some of the privileges of each status, however. For instance, our blogger credentials came with a coveted floor pass in the Pepsi Center, with a seat, an ethernet connection, and a single power outlet reserved for us among the Washington state delegation. Sweet. That’s much better access than most members of the press receive.
Goldy and I also visited the “Big Tent” for a credential. The “Big Tent” is an independent facility set up by bloggers for bloggers (specifically, it is hosted by Daily Kos, Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado, and Progressnow.org). It serves as blogger central, with wireless internet, power, table space, food, beer, couches and even entertainment.
Goldy was able to score one credential for the Big Tent, but a little creative credential-swapping got all three of us access for the day. (I feel it is only proper to take a moment to thank the New Belgium Brewery for all the free beer they gave me in the Big Tent last night. I especially enjoyed their 1554 Enlightened Black Ale, which is new to me, but has worked its way up to my “preferred microbrews” list.)
The Bit Tent was wonderful, but a bit trying. The tables were crowded together, it was dark, hot, and the air was a little thick with…well, blogger. When the room thinned out later in the evening, however, it was great. There was plenty of lukewarm pizza and refreshing New Belgium Brewery products on tap late into the evening.
This convention is “distributed” among two main sites, and numerous smaller venues. The Pepsi Center is where the big events take place during the evening. A couple of miles away, at the Convention Center, there are numerous events going on during the day. As Geov and I made our way from the Pepsi Center to the Convention center yesterday afternoon, we met a couple of lads from Atlanta. They were filming content for their web-tv program (I don’t have the card on me, but I’m sure I’ll plug it when they actually get their web site up.) They arrived in Denver lacking any credentials, and were capturing on video their quest to secure credentials…any credentials. Just by asking.
By yesterday afternoon, they had only managed to score a “Big Tent” press credential. That’s right..the Big Tent folks created a class of credential called a “press credential.” As you might imagine, it is a totally second class credential that requires a staff escort, and gives no access to the pizza or those delicious New Belgium Brewery products.
At the Convention Center, Geov and I inquired about blogger facilities and were sent to the “Specialty Media Lounge,” where we signed in and were given another badge to hang around our necks. The Specialty Media Lounge is sponsored by Microsoft.
I returned to the Convention Center today, thinking my blogger credential would get me through the “credentialed press door” and avoid the long security line. Nope…the blogger credential didn’t work, but my Specialty Media Lounge tag did. Go figure.
So I am now writing this in the comfort of the Specialty Media Lounge. The room has a low population density compared to the Big Tent, it is air conditioned and well lighted. There is no 1554 Enlightened Black Ale, but plenty of conference center coffee, and piles of boxed lunches. There is a Microsoft Zune kiosk for the curious, and a Microsoft XBOX 360 station for the playful. I’ve yet to see anyone use the XBOX, but the thought was nice. Knowing geeks they way they do, Microsoft kindly provided a big basket of munchies on each table. (Dang…someone just grabbed the bag of M&M Peanuts I was eying. I’ll have to settle for a bag of Miss Vickies Hand-Picked Jalapeno chips.)
I’ve finished my free lunch (thanks Microsoft!) and raised my blood-caffeine titer to acceptable levels. I’m ready for my next challenge in CredentialQuest™.
Just after 5:00 pm Pacific time, Nancy Pelosi has called the convention to order—even in this atmosphere of festive disorder. A few minutes into her speech, she is clearly in the role of attack dog, and going after John McCain. “John McCain is Wrong,” she has the crowd chanting in unison.
The “John McCain is Wrong” part reminds me of that “priceless” McCain speech with the green backdrop. You remember that one…where McCain kept saying “And that’s not change we can believe in,” followed by a sheepish grin and a nasally, McGooish laugh. The difference here is that nobody is sheepish (but they are all grins). There is nothing but enthusiasm and, dare I say it, unity. Yes, I know, there is supposed to be disunity, especially among the Washington delegation (with whom I am sitting). While I ‘m sure there are some bitterly disappointed Clinton supporters around, there is most certainly a unity of feeling at the convention that America cannot afford a McCain presidency.
Today’s podcast from the Democratic Convention is something of a blogger- covering-the-media-covering-a-blogger- covering-the-media report.
I taped Cameron Gray, co-host of the POTUS 08 show on XM channel 130, interviewing our own Goldy. The interview will air sometime Monday morning on POTUS 08.
Apparently you can get XM channel 130 without a subscription, but a subscription is needed for the online feed. Go figure.
Horses Ass readers can listen to the full interview right here:[audio:http://podcastingliberally.com/podcasts/denver2_24_aug_2008.mp3]
En route to the Democratic convention Goldy and I ran into former Washington state Democratic Party Chair Paul Berendt and The Stranger Eli Sanders in the airport waiting area. I asked Paul for a quick take on Sen. Obama’s selection of Sen. Biden for VP. Unfortunately I screwed up the recording, so my brief summary will have to do: Berendt is a Clinton supporter and he would have liked to see Clinton as the VP. But, given that she isn’t, he was happy with the choice of Biden.
Somewhere over Utah, at around 40,000 feet, I found Mr. Sanders and asked him the same question. He offered the following insights:[audio:http://podcastingliberally.com/podcasts/denver1_23_aug_2008.mp3]
Here are a couple of micro-documentaries on the lives of the rich and famous:
(Who needs Saturday morning cartoons? There are links to some eighty other media clips from the past week in politics at Hominid Views.)
Apparently he even lied about his age in trying to seduce her….
Oh…and for the record…
Yep…it’s an Open thread.
Primary night festivities for me began at Drinking Liberally in Seattle. But “festive” didn’t really describe my mood. Rather I was feeling about 80 years old and in pain owning to a back injury I sustained Monday morning.
At 9:00, I shuffled back to my car and began the slow process of climbing in without the use of specific back muscles. I almost went straight home. But heading back to Redmond, I swung by the Darcy Burner party in Bellevue.
Perhaps it was my heightened sense of senescence, but I ended up in lengthy conversation with an older woman. She had something to get off of her chest and was eager to share it. I didn’t catch her name, but I’ll call her Daisy.
Daisy’s issue was the Bush prescription drug plan that, she felt, had needlessly cost her money. But, more importantly, the plan had made it impossible for some of her less healthy friends to afford the medications they needed. She mentioned cost issues (resulting in maxing out on benefits) and problems that some needed medications were simply not covered by the plan.
Daisy felt strongly enough about the issue that she had talked to Dave Reichert. She reenacted her conversation with Reichert, in which he didn’t seem to “get it.” Rather than listening to the specifics, Reichert simply asserted that she and her friends must be better off under the plan. That’s what it was supposed to do.
When she finished with her story I asked, “So that’s how you became a Darcy Burner supporter?”
Daisy responded emphatically, “No…that’s how I became: ‘Anyone. But. Reichert.'”
Thirty minutes later, I noticed that Daisy had struck up a conversation with someone else:
In the middle of a busy night filled with media, hugs, handshakes, and cheers, Darcy Burner took some time to listen to Daisy’s story. I’m guessing that’s how Daisy became a Darcy Burner supporter.
On my way out the door, I ran into Darcy and asked, “Can you share a few words with HorsesAss readers about tonight?” And she graciously obliged:
So that, dear readers, will have to serve as our podcast—let’s call it our micro-podcast—for this week.
There are rumors that Rob McKenna is a Podcasting Liberally aficionado. Go figure!
The rumors have come to light following a smear campaign against Democratic Secretary of State candidate Jason Osgood, who is running against Sam Reed. The tale is long and somewhat convoluted, but I have an unimpeachable source for the rumor: me. And the source of the smear campaign? Well…as the producer of Podcasting Liberally that rumor traces it back to…me. Or, stated more concisely, the smear originated from Rob McKenna’s misunderstanding of a podcast I produced, which McKenna is rumored (by me) to regularly enjoy.
Allow me to explain.
Last Friday, Washblog front-paged a diary by jeffuppy that traces the origins of the smear, so we begin our rumor/smear adventure last Wednesday at, of all places, a meeting of the 34th District Democrats:
Part of the night’s agenda included approval of proposals to donate money to Democratic candidates for statewide office.
…I stood and introduced a motion to contribute to Democratic Secretary of State candidate Jason Osgood. I expected little or no opposition….However, to my surprise, King County Council Member Dow Constantine stood to speak in opposition. Constantine was clearly upset with Osgood, and proceeded to trash him before the group. His anger was focused on public statements he claimed Osgood has recently been making to the effect that King County uses bar-codes on ballots which allow votes to be tracked back to voters. King County uses no such system….
…Jason Osgood has never said any of the things about King County ballots that he was accused of saying. In fact, Osgood has consistently and publicly said the exact opposite – that King County does not use bar-codes and that this is a good thing.
The donation motion did not pass, likely on account of the
information rumor that Constantine had been so helpful in sharing spreading.
Afterward Jeffuppy asked Constantine about the rumor, and he produced an email to the King County Council from Sherril Huff, the King County Director of Elections:
…misinformation has been shared at local public meetings as well as editorial boards regarding how timing marks on ballots are used in King County. Unfortunately a candidate running for office publicly misstated that King County ballots can be traced back to the voter using a bar code on the ballot.
Not fully satisfied by this email that was all spiced-up in bureaucrateese, Jeffuppy asked Huff for a plain-language translation including when and where she had heard Osgood make these statements. But she had not actually heard the statements. Rather, Nick Handy, State Director of Elections (an office that under the Secretary of State’s office), had shared this information with her.
So Jeffuppy asked Handy the same “when and where” question. Remarkably, Handy didn’t have firsthand knowledge either.
He had simply been told about them, he said, by Attorney General Rob McKenna and by Eastside State Representative Fred Jarret. They had in turn been told about them by unnamed citizens.
That adds two more generations to the rumor.
Chad Shue writing at the Seattle Examiner summarizes the chain rumor thusly:
So there you have it. Based on unchecked statements by “unnamed citizens” allegedly passed on by Republican office holders to the chief deputy of the incumbent Republican candidate for the office that oversees state elections, the Director of Elections for King County has (hopefully unwittingly) aided in the effort to undermine the credibility of the Democratic candidate for that office.
Or, more succinctly: it was a “he said that she said that he said that they said that people said that Jason Osgood said…” chain rumor.
Last June 10th, just as his campaign was starting up, we had had Jason Osgood on the weekly Podcasting Liberally panel. If he was going to make a misstatement on the record, this early appearance would be the place. I’ve pulled out the relevant segment where Jason discusses King County and the bar code controversy (which is really about San Juan county):[audio:http://horsesass.org/wp-content/uploads/secretballot2.mp3]
Osgood does mention King and San Juan counties in the same breath. I can see how someone might mistakenly think that Jason was flagging King county as one of the problem counties…particularly, if that someone is a closeted Podcasting Liberally buff secretly listening to the podcast in the privacy of men’s room stall in one ear while maintaining vigilance with the other ear. (As an aside, the “men’s room” stuff isn’t officially part of the rumor…I just threw that in as a hypothetical.)
Such an interpretation of Osgood’s words would be mistaken, as is clear from the transcript:
You know, I have studied King County the most, and Washington to a lesser extent. And nationally, I’m not very interested in Florida, New Mexico. I know that there are problems, but we are looking at King County. We’re looking a San Juan county and the issues that we’re facing here.
We have a constitutional right to a secret ballot. That means no one can determine how we vote—should not be able to determine—not possible. And in San Juan county and other counties using the same system, they have a unique bar code that is linked to your voter ID which is tracked—your mail ballot is tracked—all the way through to tabulation.
Jason mentions King county in passing but only before he raises the secret ballot issue, after which he only mentions San Juan county.
As long as politicians blissfully pass along unverified, fifth-generation rumors that tangibly cost a candidate money and support, I’d like to get in on the game. So, based on a simple plausibility argument (i.e. with no violations of the laws of physics), I offer a new rumor that sheds shocking new light on the fifth generation rumor about Osgood. My rumor is that Rob McKenna is a huge fan of Podcasting Liberally. That explains everything, because he obviously listened to our podcast, and simply misunderstood what Osgood was saying. McKenna started the Osgood rumor chain by passing his misunderstanding on to Handy and Huff.
Yeah, sure…I’ve got no real proof that Rob McKenna really enjoys the podcast—perhaps that is a stretch. By the standards of our esteemed politicians, however, spreading a rumor that McKenna enjoys the podcast is pretty tame stuff. And let me say, it is a real honor to have Rob as a fan of the podcast…I appreciate the patronage, even if it occasionally catalyzes a false rumor.
Oh…and Rob McKenna is a Muslim.
The most polled gubernatorial race in the country this election season, hands down, is Washington state. The rematch between Dino Rossi (“G.O.P. Party”) and Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) has had 36 polls taken, starting in August of 2005, just two months after a court declined to overturn Gregoire’s victory.
And now we have one new SurveyUSA poll to add to the collection. The poll of 714 people, taken on the 11th and 12th of August, shows Gregoire leading Rossi by a slim 50% to 48%.
The +2% advantage for Gregoire is smaller than the +4% found a week ago in a Rasmussen poll. It is much smaller than the +12% found in a late July Strategic Vision poll. But it matches the +2% found by a late July Strategic Vision poll.
That makes four polls all taken within the last three weeks. As can be seen in this figure of polling over the last three months, the race has scarcely moved provided one ignores those Elway polls.
Mr. Elway has offered a defense of his poll numbers, perhaps in response to a somewhat “underinformed” Eric Earling commentary. Elway discusses sampling differences (registered, known voters versus random digit dialing used by national pollsters), different modes of communications (humans used by Elway versus computer used by SurveyUSA and Rasmussen), question wording, and party identification (Elway uses the Washington state ballot labels). I think Elway’s arguments are all reasonable, and given Elway’s smaller sample size, I am not surprised to see this magnitude of difference between Elway compared to Rasmussen and SurveyUSA. Still, I’m not going to declare that Elway is “right” and the others are “wrong.” There is simply no way to know which pollsters have (statistical) bias until one can observe the performance against a number of actual elections. My preferred strategy is to take ’em all, and combine multiple polls that are close together in time, and hope any biases cancel.
A Monte Carlo analysis of just the current SurveyUSA poll (methods) suggests that, if an election were held now, Gregoire would have a 66.6% chance of winning and Rossi would have a 33.4% chance of winning. Here is the distribution of vote outcomes based on the polling information:
The more interesting analysis, however, includes all four of the polls taken in the last three weeks. This seems reasonable if we are allowed to assume that voter opinion has remained relatively static over these three weeks (i.e. no breaking scandals, “Macaca” moments, natural disasters, etc.)
The four pooled polls mentioned above give Gregoire 49.3% of the “votes” and Rossi 44.5% of the “votes”, with 6.2% undecided. There were 2,272 people surveyed who selected either Rossi or Gregoire. The Monte Carlo results suggests that Gregoire would win an election held now with a 95.9% probability and Rossi would win with a 4.1% probability. Here is the distribution of vote outcomes for the combined analysis:
Here are a couple of observations that back up these results. The last time Rossi led in a poll was in February. There have been 16 polls taken since then. One of those polls was a tie and Gregoire led in the other 15. Before that, one has to go back another seven polls, back to November 2006, before finding this poll in which Rossi led.
The take-home message is that (1) Gregoire has repeatedly held the lead in this race. It is highly unlikely that this has happened by chance (i.e. the lead is almost certainly real). (2) There has been very little movement in the polling numbers for Rossi or Gregroire over the last 1.5 years. (3) If the non-movement continues, Gregoire will almost certainly win a second term.
The appearance of Gov. Christine Gregoire at Drinking Liberally last night offered me the perfect opportunity for some gonzo-journalism. All politicians are alike, right? So in the interest of being “fair and balanced” in my journalistic endeavors I pulled out my video camera….